Friday, 30 March 2012

The Phoenix ring....arises!

 I promised that if I ever found a new stone for my ring I would share it with you. For those of you to whom this blog post title makes no sense I would take a quick detour and read this post first.

I had remade the claw I melted and carefully re soldered all my joints of this ring some time ago and then I put the ring back in my work box until I could find a new stone.
A few weeks ago the same stone seller that I had bought the original stone from last year came to our class. I told him of my disaster and asked if he had anything a similar size but not for similar money. I had already spent a fair amount on a stone which I had ruined and could not justify paying out more. He smiled and said that he did have a similar one, he had the matching pair to the original stone. Not only that but he gave, yes seriously he gave it to me. I did offer to pay but he quite flatly refused. I could not thank him enough. I did a little skip and returned to the work bench where I very carefully tapped the new stone in. I did no fiddling and although it is set slightly high on one side, there it will stay. So my Phoenix ring has finally arisen and I love it.

It's so very hard to photograph but it is a lovely deep purple and sits quite high on my middle finger...quite a talking point. I plan to wear it this Sunday when I am celebrating a certain day ;0)

The week has continued to be totally amazing, more like summer than spring. It reached 22c in my sunny garden and I had to have my door open to my studio to keep a gentle breeze blowing through.

Billy loved it.

He actually had to seek out some shade as he got too hot.

My magnolia is in full flower.

The tulips are out

Just look at the glorious.

I have been out in my studio every day whenever I can and have heard bees buzzing and birds just singing their hearts out. I even spotted a butterfly this afternoon when I got home from work. We are promised some much needed rain next week but I am just enjoying this bonus time in the approach to Easter. My cards have been mostly Easter themed and I think this one is a lovely reflection of my time in the garden this week. This is my challenge card for today.

This is a new rubber stamp I bought from Lili of the Valley in their Spring Sale called Gift Wrapped. The sweet bunny lends himself to all sorts of celebrations but I though his first outing would be for Easter.

I coloured him with my trusty Promarkers and highlighted with my prismacolor pencils. I used some lovely mulberry paper flowers to compliment the colours of the flowers of the backing paper. I added some glitter to the butterflies wings for a bit of sparkle. I even added a piece of my beloved lace that's a rarity! A couple of heart buttons tied with Baker's Twine complete my card.

I would like to enter my card into the following challenges;
Lili of the Valley Ideas to Inspire National Craft month
Top Tip Tuesday Easter/animals # 73
Creative Craft Crew Spring #7
Simon Says Stamp anything goes
Scrapbook Sisters Easter #77
Lili's little fairies anything goes
Divas By Design stamp something #28
Paper Sundaes Spring blossoms #113
Squirrel and Fox Easter #14
Stamping for the weekend #6 anything goes
Totally Papercrafts #110 Easter

I am so looking forward to the weekend as my children, their partners and my parents are coming to celebrate my birthday. Yes unbelievable it is a whole year since this day and this celebration. We are returning to the same hotel for Sunday lunch but we have a cosy private room for 8 this time.
I hope everyone enjoys a wonderful weekend and if there is no sunshine in your part of the world I'm sending you some ours. Enjoy ;0)

Bye for now,

Jane x

Monday, 26 March 2012

Calligraphy at Denman College

My Mum is an avid WI (Women's Institute) member and many years ago she treated me to a weekend away at Denman College, Oxford. This is an amazing retreat where you can learn or improve any skill you can think of....cookery,  computers, history etc etc. At that time we attended a card making course and we had such a good time that we decided that on another occasion we would love to learn Calligraphy. Well this weekend we did just that and returned to Denman and spent from Friday night until Sunday afternoon being taught this wonderful skill.
The main house is a listed building set in 17 acres of stunning gardens. At this time of the year the daffodils were in full flower.

There were drift upon drift of my favourite flower to greet us. 

The accommodation is set in the grounds in small units named after different trees. Our rooms were in Holly House and they were so modern and comfy. My room was the top left window and my Mum's the bottom right.

This is my room and you can see the crafts centre where the courses are taught out of my window.

On the very first evening after dinner we we started our course. The first letter we learnt to draw was the letter O. We were learning Foundation Script which is a lovely rounded script which dates from the 10 century.

We learnt to write the alphabet in lower case, first with a large nib.


and then started to use a smaller nib and introduced capital letters.

Over the weekend we enjoyed delicious food, cakes and lots of walking in the sunshine in the grounds. The weather could not have been more perfect and the sun shone from dawn to dusk.

Our finished piece was to be a piece of poetry and I am sure those of you who know me well will guess my choice...yes "Daffodowndilly" by A.A.Milne. I chose it at home and it could not have been more apt for seeing the displays of daffodils at Denman.
We had a few practises and then we cut out the lines to check how they would look on the final copy.
And then it was time to write the final copy which we finished with pastel chalks.
I am hoping to use this new skill with my card making and also any signs that need writing for the wedding. It was such a great weekend. For those of you in the UK, Denman in now open to anyone, WI member or not; including men. It was such a real treat to learn something new in such wonderful surroundings. I can very highly recommend it (and I am not a W.I member). 

After such a sunny weekend I feel the need to share a cheerful Spring card for my card challenge today. This one is the card I made for my very dear Mum. 
I used one of Penny Black's Betsy Bluebell stamps and coloured her using my trusty Promarkers and Prismacolor pencils.

I cut some lovely yellow butterflies using my new Martha Stewart punch and added lots of Spring touches.

I even spritzed the flowers with Glimmer Mist glitter to give then some sparkle.

I would like to enter my card into the following challenges;
Scrapbook Sisters Anything Goes
Flutter By Wednesdays Open #195
Paper Sundaes #113 Spring Blossoms
Joanna Sheen Spring is in the air
Papercrafting Journey  #5 Pretty Pastels
Cupcake craft challenges Music or inspired by a song My song is the old hymn I sang as a child, "All things bright and beautiful".
The Secret Crafter Shabby Chic/vintage #178
Simon says Stamp Bingo my line is the middle line; glitter, lace, punches
Papertake Weekly Bingo my line is the right line; flowers, punched shapes, lace

Our lovely weather is still continuing today and the sun is up and the sky is blue. Sending some of it to you all wherever you are. Happy Spring and if you have any near you enjoy the Daffodowndillys which are bursting from their buds everywhere here :0)

Bye for now,

Jane x

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Four Peas in a Pod

After a very wet Saturday with some much needed rain the sun has returned and we are back to glorious blue skies and sunshine in the south of England. Today is a little overcast but the sun is already peeping through. Spring flowers are basking in the sun outdoors. Cherry blossom is bursting out everywhere.
The buds on my magnolia in the garden are nearly full to bursting but not yet open. However I spied the magnolia below on my way home from work which is in full flower already.

How glorious is that makes my heart skip a beat. I know that the magnolia flower is short lived but it certainly shares a lot of pleasure in a very short time.

I also spotted a gorgeous hot pink camellia in full flower.

I know that Spring has sprung today as not only is it the Vernal Equinox (when there are equal number of daylight hours and darkness) but also it is my darling daughter's birthday. She has been busy working nights for the last 4 days but lucky her rota (she is a doctor) has worked out that she has today off. I have been waiting to share with you something I made for her in my silversmithing  class...
Yes 4 Peas in a Pod! Now there is a story behind this. I started silversmithing about 9 years ago and at the time my daughter said that the one thing she would love me to make for her was a peas in a pod pendant. She has always liked that imagery and until now I have never had the skills to make it. But finally I have. The pod was made by using a metal fold forming technique. I will publish a post showing this in the future as I have also made some earrings using this method and it is fun to see the process. I made "tendrils" for the pod using silver wire and I soldered a wire leader into the centre to thread 4 freshwater pearl "peas" onto. The 4 represents the four of our family.

This is the view of the other side of the pendant. I bought a chain and put her gift  into a box for her to open with her other birthday presents this morning at her home. I hope she likes it...I certainly had fun making it and felt an achievement having come up with a workable design after all these years.

I can also now share with you the special spring Birthday card I made for her.
I made an easel card, well her brother had one so I cannot treat my children differently can I? I used one of my favourite Lili of the Valley Stamps called Dandelion Clock.

Here she is in close up, she is a really sweet stamp to colour. I used my Promarkers and highlighted her with my Prismacolor pencils and added some sparkle to her wings and dandelion using Glamour Dust glitter. I went to town with all the details..Martha Stewart punched butterflies, ribbon, buttons and gorgeous mulberry paper flowers...

Quite a bouquet here!

This is the inside complete with a sunbeam across it...

and this is a rather wonky side view showing you how the card stands up by itself. Although these cards take a long time to make they are worth it. A real spring birthday card for my spring daughter.

I would like to enter my card into the following card challenges;

Penny Black Allsorts Spring time
Pretty Little Ribbons #8 Spring Colours
Cupcake Craftroom Spring Bouquet
Ladybug Crafts Ink Anything Goes
Joanna Sheen Spring is in the air
Lili's Little fairies Butterflies and fairies
Papercrafting Journey #5 Pretty pastels
Really Reasonable Ribbon Spring with ribbon #44
Emerald Faerie Garden  Easel card
Totally Gorjuss Spring #123

Wishing everyone a very Happy Spring..we are there at last..and the days are now getting longer than the nights. What a wonderful thought.
 Happy Birthday to my darling Milly :0) and have a wonderful day.
Welcome Spring, you have been missed.

Bye for now,

Jane x

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Hopping through March

Wow...what fabulous weather we are having this week. The afternoons have really felt like spring...gorgeous warm sunshine. Billy has loved it and in the mornings has basked in the early sunshine on my studio roof. Usually he stays in the house when I go to work but this week he has chosen to stay out in the sunshine.
My pots of bulbs in the garden are now racing away and I have seen my tulips are pushing up fast.

On the left is a parrot tulip which should be in flower in the next few weeks.

All my Tete a Tete daffodils are now in full flower and spend the day nodding in the sunshine. Every time I walk past them they make me smile.

What wonderful flowers they are and they just last and last. Some of my later varieties of daffodils are also in bud and I look forward to seeing them. 

Just look how contented my Billy is, basking in the sunshine. He is so funny, I cannot  take any photos without him coming to check out what is going on.

So all this spring weather has got me thinking about Easter, my second favourite time of year next to my beloved Christmas ( I know that will grate with so many people,sorry Vivienne ;0).  I realised  that I have neglected making some more of my bag charms for my Etsy shop so I managed to find some really cute rabbit charms and made this one;

I have popped it (or should I say it has hopped) into my Etsy Shop here
*** * EDIT 15.3.12** This bag charm sold immediately (thank you V). I have listed a new version here in my Etsy Shop. If you would like a specific colour made just email me or convo me via Etsy. *****

I also had a recent purchase of 6 of my handmade cards from one buyer in my Etsy shop so I am trying to re stock those too.

And also on the same theme I decided to make a card to suit and came up with this newest one.

She is another Gorjuss girl stamp..I really do  love these. I coloured her with my Promarker pens and highlighted with Prismacolor pencils. I used some really bright spring colours inspired by looking at all my lovely pots of daffodils. I  was able to use my new Martha Stewart butterfly punch to hand punch some spring butterflies. Even the Prima Paper flower is inspired by my garden pots.I think that there is also a touch of St. Patrick's day about my card.......

Here she is in close up. She will also be added to my Etsy shop stock.
I would like to enter my card into the following challenges;

Joanna Sheen March Challenge Spring is in the air
Simon Says Stamp A bit 'O Green
Divas by Design Citrus Colours #26
I love Promarkers Anything Goes #108
Crafting for all Seasons Use Green and Yellow #22
Papertake Weekly Challenge For the Girls or Mum
Paper Sundaes Feminine Flair #111
Cupcake Inspirations Shamrock photo inspiration #151
The Squirrel and The Fox Someone or something you love from all my recent posts you should be able to tell that the something I LOVE are daffodils :0)
Penny Black Allsorts  March Challenge Spring Time
Cupcake Craft Challenge Spring bouquet

The sun is still shining brightly as I finish writing this post and it's gone 5pm. I noticed yesterday that it was daylight until nearly 6pm and at this time of the year the daylight lengthens by 4 minutes a day. So if you are reading this post later in the week we will have gained nearly half an hour's daylight.....yippee!

I have a day in my Studio tomorrow as I have one of those rare "at home" non working days.  I must get on with the Bridal Jewellery for my daughter's wedding. I shall be making up the pearl earrings and hopefully my necklace and bracelet. There are 136 days to go but the time is now flying past so I really do need to get a move on. I have the glass lampwork beads for my MOTB necklace and bracelet (that's Mother of the Bride to anyone who does not have marriage age children....I had no idea what is stood for when I first saw it) made by my great buddy in the USA Lynn  My wonderful UK lampwork buddy Laney is in the process of making some totally gorgeous beads for the bridesmaids. They are all totally unique one of a kind beads which match the dress fabrics. What a lucky girl I am to be able to have such talented ladies tailor make me beads for the wedding outfits. I will share some sneak peeks but cannot totally give away secrets of my outfit or the birdesmaids. As for Milly's dress that is TOP secret ;0)  I may be able to show her necklace and earrings but anything else will have to wait until after the Big Day!

Enjoy the rest of the week and I hope some of our sunshine can reach you wherever you are in the world. Happy St Patrick's Day for Saturday and Happy Mother's Day to all the UK Mums out there for Sunday.
Thank you all for your lovely visits and the kind comments that you leave; they bring even more sunshine into my days.

Bye for now,

Jane x

Friday, 9 March 2012

March, a month of many weathers

I love books and I have a great fondness for books from my childhood. As a child I was an avid Enid Blyton reader and I enjoyed everything she wrote from fiction to non fiction. I still have a few of my of my old books which I treasure. A few years ago my Hb bought me a wonderful reprint of a book she wrote in 1944. At first I was unsure about having a reprint but then decided that it would be a fantastic way of owning this gorgeous book. It is called Enid Blyton's Nature Lover's Book.
The illustrations are by Noel Hopking, one of my favourite illustrators of EBs work. It is such a sweet book, quite old fashioned in places but also very informative of what to find in the English countryside throughout the year. There are also two "walks" for each month of the year where 3  children, John, Pat and Janet,  take a walk and describe their adventures. The first walk in March talks about a month of many weathers and how true this is. The stories are such great fun to read.

Our March did not come in "like a lion, roaring and bellowing". We had a warm sunny start and despite the last few days being quite chilly and windy the sunshine is getting some warmth through. We have had some gorgeous sunny days but also some cold, chilly days. Here in the South we have also had some very welcome rain. We are nearly at draught status with our 2 very dry winters.

The illustrations are wonderful. I shall come back to my book during the year and share some more of them with you.

I had a little walk around and found
there are plenty of my dear daffodils unfurling everywhere.

Buds are appearing on my magnolia in the garden.

  I have even been able to enjoy a cup of tea sitting on my patio. Perfect!

The 2nd "walk in March" from my book is called "Marching into spring".
We are certainly at the cusp of the change into spring here...and it is most welcome. One of the thing I am most looking forward to is getting back to working here
I have not been able to work out in my studio since just before Christmas as it was just too cold and my little heater could not cope with warming it up enough. I can't wait! I have been crafting indoors and it will be so nice not to have to clear everything away, I will be able to leave my projects out in my Studio.

So what is today's card...well I though I wanted something bright and cheerful so I wanted to show you a card I made recently.
I used another of the sweet Penny Black Betsy Bluebell images which I coloured with my Promarkers and highlighted with my Prismacolor pencils.

Here she is in close up. I used some pretty pink backing papers and added a pink polka dot ribbon and some mulberry paper flowers which I add some glitter glue to make them sparkle.

I would like to enter my card into the following challenges;
I love Promarkers #107 Ribbons and Bows
Papertake weekly challenge Anything goes
Ladybug Crafts Ink Pink and Girlie
Party Time Tuesdays Riches at the end of the rainbow #58 there are lots of riches on my cards...ribbon, pearls, glittered flowers and even a little "diamond" on top of the parcel.
Dream Valley Mother's Day/Female themed creation #27
Simon Says Stamp Mother's day/Special Girl Card
Divas By Design Favourite things #25 my favourite "thing" I used on my card are the lush mulberry paper roses which I glitzed up with glitter glue.

It's the weekend again and the forecast is looking good for another mild one. Yesterday was glorious but today the dullness is back so it will be great to see the sun peeping through again. Enjoy your March walks (or should I say marches ;0) and seeing everything bursting into life again, just like in my Nature Lover's book.

Bye for now,

Jane x