Samples, samples, more samples…

I have FREE promos for you!  This month, I’ve been swapping bits & pieces with some other crafty types, and now have some great little tasters so that you can sample their wares.  How?  Simply place an order of £5 or more (excluding p&p) in the TangleStore, and I will throw in a free (randomly chosen) promo sampler with your order, while stocks last.  Spend over £10 and I’ll include one of each!  I only have a few, though, so it’s first come, first served…

Here’s a preview of the samples I have for you… Continue reading Samples, samples, more samples…

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Faux Postage Trials, Part 4

The lovely Britta (of JaguarSnail) has found yet another potential faux postage perforation solution for us to try and I, for one, am sold!

While rummaging in a junk/antique shop recently Britta came across a pair of rusty, slightly odd-looking scissors with teeth on one side, where the blade would normally be.  When she asked what they were for, she was told they were thinning shears, used in hairdressing.  Who knew?!  (Not us, but probably many other people in the world…)  Anyway, I tried out Britta’s shears and they did indeed make neat-if-square-ish perforations which tore off nicely, so I immediately ordered a cheap pair of (new!) thinning shears to try for myself.

New TangleStamp perforations
New TangleStamp perforations

Mine arrived this morning, and when I tested them out, not only did they make a lovely perforated edge to my new artistamps, but they separated them in the same swift movement, without any need for tearing!  (I’m assuming Britta’s shears only pierced holes because they had been dulled slightly with with age and use.)

I’ve just made a new series of artistamps, printed on self-adhesive label paper, using my most recent postage stamp collages as background images.  Here I’ve done a comparison test, first using a serrated pattern tracing wheel to tear off a stamp, and second using the thinning shears (not shown to scale!).

Faux postage perforation comparison
Faux postage perforation comparison

The auto-separation of the paper after using the shears means that rather than pre-perforating a whole sheet of stamps to tear off as needed, I will be cutting off one stamp at a time, but I like the clean edging so much, I’m pretty sure I can live with that compromise!

I designed the sheet of artistamps from notebook covers collaged in July.  This is my first notebook collage of August in a combination of some of my favourite colours: an imaginary landscape which only narrowly missed the window of joining the artistamps above!  Check out the TangleStore listing for more details.

The latest imaginary landscape
The latest imaginary landscape

For more info about faux postage/artistamps, please see my Faux Postage Q & A page, plus all of these previous posts!

Catching up, Craft fairs & Colours (oh my!)

At last I have time to write this long overdue catch-up post! The last month or so has been a whirlwind of non-stop activity/work for me, but in a good way. In June I re-entered the world of local craft fairs after a break of more than 2 years. I was somewhat swamped with preparation – stock was easy, but signage, packaging & presentation are a whole different kettle of fish from selling online. With a lot of work, though, I managed to get everything straight and had a really good day (including many conversations about stamp collections!).

Following on from the first craft fair, I had a busy week of collaging to replace sold stock, talks about a commission for a local independent restaurant (I’m designing & hand-binding their new drinks menu!), contact from a UK magazine about a couple of spots coming up over the next few months (more on that to follow later), plus top-up preparation for a local Vintage & Arts Market yesterday. Here I am in situ:

craft market 050714

It’s a lovely courtyard venue and we were very lucky with the weather (a fine, dry day, after very wet evening & morning preceding). Had lots of interesting conversations with customers & stallholders alike, and various possibilities have arisen from the day, so definitely another worthwhile (ad)venture. As you can see from the photo above, my display so far is largely of the make-do-and-mend variety, using display materials I already had on hand (spot the toast rack, camping plate & dishes!). It’s a work in progress, though – I’ve learned something useful and new from each fair I’ve attended so far – and having now made the decision to continue with local fairs as well as selling online, I will be continuing to work on signage, as well as swapping in a few more purpose-built props for future events (although I’m pretty sure the plate & dishes will stay!).

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Are you based anywhere near Derby/shire?  You can keep track of my upcoming events here!

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As it’s such a long time since I last posted, here is a little gallery for you of my new range of notebooks:

(Find the above notebooks & more in the TangleStore!)

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I’ve been creating ‘imaginary landscapes’ and discovering that however hard I try, there are always certain colour combinations that I’m drawn back to. It’s interesting, isn’t it, how different colours speak to us in different ways? Interesting how not only do we simply have different taste in what appeals to us, but how we can each perceive exactly the same colours from a different perspective, and draw a different inference entirely. In fact the ‘palette’ a particular artist uses is entirely a part of what makes their work recognisable.  I used to think I was somehow ‘failing’ by not catering to every possible colour preference one of my customers might have; but I’m now pretty well convinced that actually it’s more important to work with the colours that inspire you. Push yourself sometimes, of course, and try out something different just to see what happens; but mostly, I say go with the flow. 🙂

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Don’t forget to stop by the TangleStore to see what’s new!  The above is just a sampling, and although it’s a while since my last post here, there are new additions to the store regularly.   You can also follow me on Twitter – @TangleCrafts – for daily updates & other snippets that catch my eye from day to day.  And in case you missed it, be sure to check out my previous post for a special July discount coupon!

Postal Patchwork Prisms

This post is really more of a ‘show-and-tell’ for one of the notebooks I included in my last post’s mini gallery.  I was so pleased with the way it turned out that I decided it justified having a little more of a showcase:

Rainbow Postal Patchwork Pinwheel (large)
Rainbow Postal Patchwork Pinwheel (large)
Rainbow Postal Patchwork Pinwheel (mini)
Rainbow Postal Patchwork Pinwheel (mini)

The pattern began as an expansion of the pinwheel motif on the mini notebook shown right, but when expanded it takes on all new qualities.  The pinwheels combine to produce new illusions – diamond shaped colour-blocks, and an overall prismatic effect.  I realise quilters (etc) are probably quite familiar with how this process works, but it’s a lot of fun to see in action, especially when you don’t know in advance what the overall effect will be.  I love the way the colours play/bounce off each other; would be interesting to experiment with multi-tones of a single colour family, too…

Mother’s Day Postal Patchwork

Today I took a short break from Etsying in order to actually make my mum a handmade Mother’s Day card for once.   I know my overseas readers don’t need to think about this just yet, but over here in the UK, Mothering Sunday is this weekend, so I was cutting it a bit fine!

PP Mum

The pattern is mostly abstract, but if you look at it the right way, it does actually spell out MUM (in quite angular, blocky letters!) – follow the pink/purple from left to right…can you see it?  Not incredibly obvious, I concede, but my mum will like the colour combination, regardless! 😉  I added an insert of cream coloured lokta paper inside, to give it a touch more ‘finish’.  Now all I need to do is get it into the hands of the lovely Royal Mail (before they put their prices up, on Monday!).

Give or take a bout of flu, I feel like I’ve been on the production line for the last few weeks non-stop – same old story: too many ideas, too little time!   See mini gallery below for a sampling of new collaged notebooks (in varying sizes), some very prismatic rainbow postal patchwork, and a glimmer of Springtime in the end-of-winter weather led me back to the Secret Garden, with new zines, DIY seed packets & more.  JaguarSnail's WolfNot to mention some gorgeous wolfish notebooks from Britta’s latest hand-carved stamp.

Hop on over to the TangleStore & take advantage of a 15% discount using coupon code MADMARCH at Etsy checkout – only valid for a few more days! (coupon expires March 31st)

Diversion – organising my ideas

A couple of years ago, I realised that it would be necessary to keep a notebook about my person at all times, in order to jot down ideas when they come to me.  Being me, of course it is always on the days I have failed to throw a notebook in my bag that I need to make notes.  But that’s okay, because there are always scraps of paper to hand, and often whole sheets (which I can then fold down to mini-zine format).  Excellent.

I’ve never been a sketchbook person, because I don’t consider myself an artist, but of late, I’ve realised that sketching quick diagrams to accompany words is actually quite handy; and it really doesn’t matter if the sketches are not those of a talented fine artist.  If they convey the point I’m trying to put across, that’s good enough.  So now the multitudinous notebooks of my life have been joined by a smaller host of pocket sketchbooks (okay, notebooks with blank pages).

As I work at my laptop every morning, I always have my to-do list notebook by my side – which in addition to my long lists frequently finds itself home to numerous scribbled asides and diagrams because it is handier than either notebook, or sketchbook (which I could obviously go and fetch but simply don’t).

You can see from this haphazard summary that I am less than organised  when it comes to organising my ideas.  When it comes to getting a particular idea off the ground, I can always visualise in which notebook or on which scrap of paper I made my notes, but then I have to waste time remembering where I have currently stowed those particular pieces of paper, waste further time digging it/them out, then work surrounded by open notebook/s and/or scraps of paper, while I collate my notes for that particular idea.

So it occurred to me that what I need is a larger sketchbook (scrapbook?) in which I can pull together all the scrappy notes into something slightly more coherent.  Somewhere that I can literally cut and paste torn out pages from smaller notebooks or loose scraps or pictures I’ve found in a magazine.  Then add some extra notes, of course.

Okay, that makes sense: a larger sketchbook.  Not something I would carry around with me, I’m clear on that; because I’m lazy, and a pocket notebook is the largest extra weight I’m willing to carry on a regular basis.  It would be unwieldy, too, and not very practical to whip out for notes-on-the-go.  But how would pasting all my notes into one larger sketchbook work?  Because my ideas rarely come in a coherent flow, and are frequently jumbled up with ideas for different projects from day to day (or hour to hour).  If I pasted them all into one large sketchbook as the ideas came, it would be equally difficult to collate related thoughts when the time came – flipping backwards and forwards through the pages to find the relevant bits.  So, a series of sketchbooks, one for each different idea?  This could get complicated.  And expensive.

My next thought was a ring binder.  Just hole-punch the pages, add in plastic pockets to hold cuttings etc, and easily switch around the pages to re-organise thoughts, and keep notes for individual ideas together.  Problem is, I just don’t like ring binders.  Those rings always get in the way.  And everything looks scrappy very quickly unless you keep everything in those plastic pockets; but then everything is visible but inaccessible.  Hmm.

Bingo!  Well, maybe.  How about an index card system?  I’d only ever seen standard 3″ x 5″ index cards before, but I just noticed that my local office supply shop sells 8″ x 5″ index cards (and holder boxes) that would be perfect for organising ideas.  Cards are sturdier than paper, so would be less inclined to get scrappy (so quickly) and are easily shuffled back and forth, organised and re-organised according to whatever whim I am currently working on.  I’m liking this idea.  Hey, I’m liking this idea even better:

  • a shoebox
  • plus cut-up cereal box index cards
  • plus all those blank postcards I have in my stash that I have never found a use for as file cards (write/paste on the blank side, obviously)
  • equals cool handmade index card system!

Or, I could go the whole hog and just use an actual filing cabinet with a separate file for each idea.  Wow.  That sounds a bit scarily organised.  I think the shoebox is a bit more me…

Of course, realistically (because like I said above, I really am lazy), I would still never get around to actually filing my ideas until the point at which I wanted to turn the idea into something.  But I would have spent some happy hours preparing the filing system.  And I would have a better way of keeping the ideas organised while I was working on them.

And of course, the only reason I am thinking about this now is because I have forbidden myself from new projects until after the house-move so I am obviously twitchy to be doing something creative rather than practical.  Must distract self from distraction…

(Will update on Friends & Faux project soon – please accept my apologies for continued delay, I’ll get there shortly, I promise!)

Projects in progress…

Firstly, I’ve had quite a few updates on the Friends & Faux project over the last week or so, which I have thus far failed to update here on the blog.  Bear with me, I will be caught up soon! In the meantime, I just wanted to share a couple of projects I’ve recently been playing with…

A couple of weeks ago, I helped out a new friend (illustrator & comic artist Sally Jane Thompson) with a comic & bookmaking event.  The event was held as part of a local ‘celebration of drawing’ called the Big Draw, which sees events held across the city, with the aim to get as many people drawing as possible.
(If you have access to A4 paper, there’s a short booklet you can print to celebrate the celebration!)

Now, I am really not much of an artist, but in the spirit of the day, I decided to doodle some doodles, while I was helping out the kids – just to show that you really don’t need to be able to draw to actually draw something.  If you see what I mean!  I had pre-printed some mini-zine templates (which I have just added to the mini-zine freebie page – enjoy!) because I thought some people may find a completely blank page slightly daunting.  I personally definitely found it easier to start drawing when I had a manageable-sized space before me!  This is what I doodled on the day:

I started with the ‘flowers’ in the lower left corner, then worked my way around anti-clockwise.  I stumbled upon zentangling about a year ago, but despite being quite enthused about it at the time, I never really got into it.  I really enjoyed my afternoon of doodling, though, and am definitely going to finish off what I began.  This morning, I discovered a nice blog, the Open Seed, which has inspired me to try my hand at a couple of new patterns, and reminded me that I really need to get going with completing the above!

The other current work in progress I wanted to mention began in a supermarket.  No, really, it did!  I fell in love with a multipack of Dorset Cereals muesli boxes, and had to have them, despite not having a clue what to use them for, at the time.  I banned Corey from opening them, so that he didn’t ruin the boxes in the meantime, of course  (I’ve since emptied the mini packets out into a single ‘lucky dip’ muesli mix).  It was soon quite self-evident that what these boxes really wanted to be was notebooks, so after a quick glance through my craft library for ideas, I was ready to play:


I chose Japanese stab stitch for the binding, then proceeded to execute a very non-thorough job of researching!  As a result of my lack of planning: you can see that the stitching is very unevenly spaced, because I didn’t stop to think about measuring etc; I couldn’t have as many pages inside as I wanted, because I only had a pushpin to hand rather than a bookbinder’s awl; and I also didn’t leave a wide enough margin on the lined pages I printed off for the inside.  But overall, I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and I definitely plan to make some more – after a little spot of fine-tuning!  Lucky I like learning by trial and error (and lucky I like alliteration). 😉

Other things I like about this project: I like the ‘hemp leaf’ stitch pattern, which I thought complemented the leaf design of the cereal packet nicely; and I like the little pocket that I made on the inside front cover, by folding in some of the box flaps (I cut most of the flaps off).  I also love that there is a recipe for making lemonade on the back cover, although I can’t take any credit for that! 😉  Once I’ve played around with the idea a little more, I’ll probably write a tutorial; but if you want to experiment in the meantime, this is a good place to get started.