Saturday, 30 April 2016

A new Oriental Stencil...step by step project.

Hi there!
Thanks for popping in,

Have just finished putting the finishing touches to the TV demos,
have checked and double-checked the gear to take.

And now I just want to sit for a bit and chat to you 
before I go pack my overnighter. 

Just went through the artboxes with all the fresh samples 
from our Design team.
Wow. What a brilliant group of artists. 

They make my job so much easier!
If you think I have vision, 
wait until you see what these girls come up with!

here’s a quick step by step of one of the pieces 
I may or may not get to tomorrow.....

There’s a new, very lovely pair of Oriental stencils 
coming up tomorrow.

One of them looks like an ornate trellis 
or exotic window frame...

So I placed the 7" x 7" stencil on a piece of copy paper,
 and coated it with Versamark ink by dabbing the ink pad all over the stencil.
Laid the wet side of the stencil down on a piece of 
7" x 7"Stencil Card,
ran it through my Ebosser, like a mangle,
so that the Versamark ink transferred to the card.

Tipped Detail clear embossing powder over the card.
It catches the Versamark.

Tap off excess powder and heat set.

Lay the Paris skyline mask over the top 
and brush Chipped Sapphire Distress ink over the buildings.
Wipe the ink from the mask into the buildings with a make-up sponge. 

This is what it looks like when you lift off the mask.


Now add a huge moon and dust in some sky.

When you lift the moon mask, it will be too white.
Lightly dust the brush over the moon and bring out the embossed trelliswork.

Doesn’t it look as though you are looking over Paris 
through an ornate window?
No? Squint at it. 

Then just trim it and mount it and finish it off!

Hope you can join me tomorrow and Monday.
I am doing the 2-3, 5-6 and 8-9pm tomorrow,
and the 9am Monday.
Paul is taking over at 12 noon and doing 4pm and 7pm.

I can’t hack 7 hours live TV like I used to.
Admittedly, we sold out the last two Mondays by lunchtime, 
so I was done anyway!
But seriously, no can do. 

And Paul is brilliant at flicking a light switch on and off too!

Have a great Bank Holiday Weekend, 
whatever you are up to. 

Love & Hugs,

Friday, 29 April 2016

Is it bedtime yet?

Sorry I am sooo late today.

It has been a very long day.
Seven hours of live TV on Sunday/Monday to prep for -
and the clock tick-tocking on the wall.

It’s the Groovi Prep which takes so long!!
Paul and I were cracking up by 10pm tonight.

Remember Peter Cook and Dudley Moore?
Well, in those voices, this is how it went...

“Well Paul, tell me, when did you start making that card?”

“In 1946.”

“No, no I think it was actually 1846.”

“It was actually an Engagement card...”

...“but he died in the Boer War.”

Who’s that strange bloke on the full fat Coke?
AHA!! There’s my phone! Been looking for it all evening!

This is one of the cards I made today.
I do enjoy Groovi Parchment immensely;
my issue is the time it takes 
when I am trying to run a business too.

There’s no way I could do this kind of art if it weren’t for Groovi.
There’s no way I could find the time it takes to go down the traditional parchment road. 

But there is a great sense of satisfaction when a piece is complete. 
I shall be giving one like this away on Sunday evening. 

In fact, each hour we are giving away the art we make 
during the hour

Do hope you can join me. 



It really is brilliant.
In fact, once you’ve used it,
you wonder how you ever got on without it !!
(and the light tablet! )

Bedtime said Zebedee....

love & hugs

Thursday, 28 April 2016

NEW IN !! The most exciting Groovi Gismo EVER !!!!

Hi there.
Thanks for popping in.
Having had a fabulous day at the V&A 
and an excellent evening at the 2016 Folk Awards yesterday,
today is catchup with TV prep day!

All good though.
I am actually enjoying revisiting a bunch of old stamping 
and brayering techniques,
and I look forward to sharing them with you on Sunday.

preppy preppy preppy.
Stagey stagey stagey

No wonder you think I know what I’m doing by the time 
you see it on telly -
I have done it a dozen times just to set the stages!!

(And this reflection technique? Oh my. If I had a pound for every one of these I have done over the past 20 years, I could buy a new car!)

That said,
don’t have a great deal of time to get arty here.
If I spend 2 hours making a blog project, I will get into a pickle.
And nobody likes to see a bird over 50 in a pickle!

Tell you what though.
I am so delighted to tell you that our Groovi Black mats 
have landed!

Hahaha! Believe it or not, over 2,000 people will be really excited about this black A4 dual purpose hard/soft mat!
And they’ll be even more chuffed to hear that it also comes in A5! 
Perfect for the A5 Club-size Groovi Plate Mate.

If you have the Groovi Starter Kit, 
you already have the Blue Dual Purpose A4 mat.

Hard one side for colouring and general craft mat.
Soft the other side for whitework and piercing. 

Without wanting to sound as if I am trying to flog you 
yet another mat (or 2!)
I am!
The blue one is great, but I think that it is a bit busy with the white grid marking on the soft side when you are embossing, 
which is why I always recommend that you wipe the grid off the soft side with a baby wipe before you start. 

Meanwhile we have moved forward on our Groovi Parchment journey, and started piercing and perforating. 
Aha! We need a second mat for that, otherwise you prick away merrily using the same blue mat, but then when you go to use it for your whitework, you have holes and dimples to deal with! 

So we have brought in a simple all black mat.
Use the blue one for piercing and pricking
and treat yourself to a black one for soft work, 
embossing and colouring in.

For those of you who really get me,
we have even put the A4 and A5 black mats together 
and knocked £1 off !

I know.
It doesn’t get much more boring than a pair of black mats.
But I can tell you, 

Available on our Website from now. 

Got to go - 
Brayer calling....

love & hugs,

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

A date with Joan Armatrading!

Hi there!
Thanks for popping in.
I have got exactly one hour 
before we have to catch a train to London.
What?? Another day off, Gray??
Yeah, well, Bank Holiday weekend I is slavin away on telly....
you’ve got to get your R & R where you can!

Really excited to be going up to the Albert Hall
for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
Joan Armatrading is picking up a Lifetime Achievements award.
I want to stand up and give her a standing ovation for that one. 

Shall we find out a little more about Joan?

Well the first thing that struck me was that her name is 
Joan Anita Barbara.
That made me smile because 
my oldest and dearest schoolfriend is Anita.
So we both got included!

I love finding out about where people come from, don’t you?
Joan Armatrading was born in 1950 in Basseterre on the Caribbean island of Saint Kitts as the third of six children. Her father was a carpenter and her mother was a housewife. When she was three years old, her parents moved with their two eldest boys to Birmingham, England, while Joan was sent to live with her grandmother on the Caribbean island of Antigua. In early 1958 at the age of seven, she joined her parents in Brookfields, then a slum district of Birmingham.The area is now mostly demolished and has been absorbed into the district of Handsworth.
Antigua to Brookfields. That must have been a shock.
Her father had played in a band in his youth, later forbidding his children from touching his guitar. At about the age of 14, Armatrading began writing songs by setting her own limericks to music on a piano that her mother had purchased as "a piece of furniture". Shortly thereafter, her mother bought her a £3 guitar from a pawn shop in exchange for two prams, and the younger Armatrading began teaching herself the instrument.
She left school at the age of 15 to support her family, and her first job was at Rabone Chesterman, an engineering tool manufacturer in Hockley, Birmingham. She lost the job after taking her guitar to work and playing it during tea-breaks.

So how do you get from those humble beginnings to one of the most revered songwriters ever? And an MBE. An MBE !!!
Three times she has been nominated for a Grammy. Twice she has been nominated for Brit Awards best Female Artist.
Over the last 40 years she has released 18 studio albums, as well as several live albums and compilations.

When I was a teenager, I would listen to her tirelessly.
I soaked up her lyrics like a sponge.
Knew every song, every pause, every breathe.
So I feel very excited and privileged to be present at the Royal Albert Hall this evening,
when she gets the recognition she so deserves. 

I bet if we interviewed her, she would say it hasn’t been an easy road though. 
I think she got to this point because of dogged, unswerving dedication.

I think getting anywhere as a woman was hard in the seventies.
Getting anywhere as a poor woman was harder
and getting anywhere as a poor black woman was definitely harder still. 

So I shall definitely be cheering for Joan Anita Barbara Armatrading tonight.

Not only because she is a brilliant songwriter artist;
but also because she represents Anita and Barbara and every other girl in the seventies who had a dream. 

She is proof to me that you move towards what you picture in your mind. 
When she took her guitar to the factory at 15, 
I wonder if she dreamt about playing at the Royal Albert Hall.... 

Gotta go!!! I shall miss my train!!!
Lunch with Jim and Dave at the V&A.
More wonderful culture!

Well, why not....

love & hugs

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Clarity Classics Revival!

Hi there.
Thanks for popping in.
Can’t stay long myself this evening.
Am still at the office with Jim, working on new designs 
and trying to get ahead before our hols.

Funny old day. 
I don’t enjoy being the boss really. 
But somebody’s got to do it. 

Here’s a little piece of art which I did ages ago,
but which I thought would make a pleasant blog.

Can’t do step by steps every day,
but I am sure you understand that. 
The background is brayered - that I can tell you!

I am back on TV on Sunday. 
2pm and 5pm are Claritystamp shows.
I decided to go back in time,
 and get to grips with some of the old techniques again.

Claritycard and Brayers here we come !!!
So many new people have joined us over the last year or two,
and they probably missed the Brayer wave - which lasted about 20 years I think !!!
It used to be a standing joke at the shows.
“There’s that bird with the roller again!”

So on Sunday, I am getting out the trusted brayer 
and the old classic Claritystamps as well.
My old faves. 
Willow Lady, Humming birds entwined 
- really looking forward to it.

Not that we aren’t forging ahead with new new new. 
You know we are!

On Sunday evening we are launching something that is very VERY useful to any artist.
Especially a Groovi artist who has started getting into coloured parchment.....

But I believe that some of the old tricks are gold tricks, 
and shouldn’t be forgotten. 

No cutting and layering,
flat as a pancake. 
All a layering illusion

And yes.
Happiness is time spent with a friend.
So I think I shall go home and spend some time with mine.

love & hugs,

Monday, 25 April 2016

Guess who’s joining the party....

Hi there!
Thanks for popping in.
I am so excited!! 
I couldn’t wait to get upstairs here to my little den
and share some (what I consider to be)
with you.

Today I had the pleasure of meeting
a certain young lady called Tina Cox.
Do you know her?

She is a parchment artist, 
and her art is fabulous.
Absolutely sublime.

We spent the day together at the house,
and she taught me so many new parchment tricks!
She is such a lovely teacher!
A one-on-one lesson with Tina Cox!
Well I’ll go to the bottom of the stairs!!!

I was so in need of a little guidance!

Tina showed me a card where she had combined Groovi 
with a little cutting trick.

“I can see how you got the frame 
with the Nested Square Groovi Plate,
but how did you cut out the centres?”

And so the games began...
This is the easy bit.

Holds the 2-needle upright and goes in from the front...

Up one side, always placing the back needle in the hole 
you just made, so that the pitch is exactly the same.
(pitch=distance between the two holes)

Go round the inside of the box.

Then came the cutting.
Tina says hold the scissors how they feel right for you 
until you get the best result. 

One perfect hole.

My turn next.
Practice makes perfect, as they say.
By the time I have worked my way round this card, 
I too will either have mastered it,
or at least established what is NOT my forté!

Bit ropey, but not bad for freehand.

“So Tina”, says I, “have you tried this with our Groovi Grids?”
“Well, let me show you...”

I’m telling, you she was impressed.
Tina loves our Groovi system.
She’s a member of our club, you know, and she’s got loads of our plates! She was telling me that when her daughter wants to chill in between revising for her GCSE’s, 
it’s invariably the Groovi work she goes to.

Although Tina is a traditional parchment tutor,
she says that the Groovi system 
is just what the parching world needed to revive the art. 

So we spent a happy couple of hours, 
pricking holes in parchment and sharing stories.

It was enjoyable, inspirational and very exciting,
because  - and the parchers among you will get this -

Tina Cox is joining Clarity!

As Emma Burns so aptly put it:
this is a marriage made in heaven. 

Yep, she coming on board as an art designer, 
as a tutor and as an all round expert Groovi chick!

This is a great day indeed for Clarity. 

Here is just a little snippet that I rustled up when she left....

I hope you will all join me in welcoming 
Tina to the Clarity family. 

Love & hugs,

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Lily of the Valley stamped on parchment....

Good Morning!
Thanks for popping in!
Sun’s shining, birds are nesting in the garden.
All good. 

Here’s a little easy step by step,
combing stamping and Groovi

One of my favourite stamps is our Lily of the Valley,
which our Melanie drew a while ago.

It comes in a little 2-stampset, with the verse I used here yesterday:

Thought I’d combine it with our new coloured parchment....

Using an Archival Olive ink pad,
stamp the stamps onto the colour flooded sided 
of the green parchment.
You can tell because it’s darker.

Let the ink dry completely.
You can blot it. Takes about half an hour.
Maybe use your heatgun to gently speed it up?
We will be working from the back.

Get your soft mat out from your Groovi Starter Kit 

and let’s make the darling flowers white 
using our No. 4 and then No. 3 embossing tools
(also in the Starter Kit).

Really easy little exercise, but looks so pretty.

Working from the back,
colour in the leaves with a Yellow pencil.
Add a little green shade.

This next bit was the only bit I had to focus on to get right.
Using the no. 1 stylus, very very gently add a white drop shadow.
Took me a while to get into my stride...

Nice though. Just lifts it, don’t you think?

Now we need the Square nested plate to frame the piece.
Make a double-frame at one end,

then slide along and do the other end.
And that’s how you make a rectangle out of the nested Square.

So much easier to finish now!

I think a little landscape in the background will be effective.
back to the plate in the Start Kit!

Colour in the hills with Distress Markers. 
We have a large shipment of the full sets coming in from Ranger next week.

The yellows and greens change the green coloured parchment beautifully. Always working from behind here....

Add a couple of birds from the sign on the side of the 
Groovi Plate Mate from the Starter Kit...

Attach and layer to yellow card and more green parchment with bradsbefore you set it on white.
The white brings out the little flowers beautifully....

Ran out of yellow brads, so there’s an odd one...
Whatever....don’t sweat the small stuff.....

The Coloured parchment is super.
We have 5 different colourways:

just go to coloured parchment on our website if you fancy some. 
A selection pack will be coming out soon.

Have a great Sunday! 

love & hugs,

PS the Green Frog and the Eggnog limericks have been a great hit, haven’t they.
We have had some real belly laughs .
So so funny...
If you missed them, go to the comments Friday’s blog.....
all 127 of them! Not to be missed.

But to pick a winner????!
Now that is hard.
The one that really made me crack up 
(every time I thought about it)
was the one about being legless in France. 
It didn’t even rhyme, but it sure did hit the spot.

Let me go find it....

There once was a lazy green frog
who drank way to much strong eggnog;
whilst in a drunk trance
he booked a shuttle to France -
and now he really knows the meaning of being legless!

So thank you to all of you who contributed 

I actually think that this is the best batch of poems
since we started this game! 

The Dancing Cockerels were very good too though, 

weren’t they...

But a winner we must have.

Jomada-Dawn’s husband is the winner.
Well done that man!!!! 
(Email me your address and I will send a £20 Gift Voucher to your husband....)