Saturday, 31 December 2016

Out with the old.....

Hi there.
Thanks for joining me on the last day of this year.
I spent the morning today up in my artroom alone.
Mark and Alex have gone up to London, 
to see the New Year in with Mark’s buddies from school.
So I withdrew to my cave as it were,
to spend some time in reverie. 

I think we need that sometimes.
Peace and quiet, and head space,
just to let the thoughts wander, come and go,
pass like traffic.
Some pleasant, some sad, they pass through, 
but I musn’t latch on to them - just let them pass.

So this card I have made you to ring in the New Year 
is no masterpiece, no work of art. No no no. 
Although it took a while, as all parchment work does,
it was more important to think about things,
about Clarity, about you, 
and about what we are doing together here.

So I used it as a little Groovi train ride, 
with my daydreams and thoughts.

Dave and Steve are working again today, finishing up the new area in the factory. That’s what my Dad called it, you know, when Dave took him over to the Clarity Unit on Christmas Eve, to show him what we have achieved in the time since he last visited, which was when we launched with HOCHANDA. 
That was August 27th 2015. 
I shall never forget it. 

Dad couldn’t believe it!
Transformational, he called it. A factory. 
So yes, Dave and Steve are still at work,
getting things ready for the New Year.

I’ve put 2016 to bed in my head now, 
 and I am all set for the New Year.
How about you?
I’m not one to dwell in the past much; 
serves no real purpose and wastes my life NOW.
More more fruitful to enjoy NOW with what is happening NOW.

Mind you, I really like the drop shadow on the numbers.
Tomorrow, I’ll blog the step by step,
so any newcomers to Groovi get the picture and the how-to. 

Here it is, my little haven, my space.
Bit messy. But who cares?

I hope you have a pleasant evening,
spending it with who you want to spend it with,
 and doing what you fancy. 

Me? Dave, log fire and Jooles Holland.

Friday, 30 December 2016

What a difference a Dave makes!

Hi there.
Good of you to drop in!

Friday’s blog a private peak, right?
2016. Has it been good to you?
Or has it been one of those years 
you would just rather put behind you and move forward?

Me? I don’t know really. I have been too busy to take stock.
Nothing earth-shattering has happened in my little world.
Actually, when I stop to think about it, 
I guess 2016 has been a very good year. 
The positives far outweigh the negatives
 - I suppose that’s the truth of it. 

When I peep out over the parapets at the rest of the world,
it sickens me, angers me, frightens me. 
And 2017 looks pretty bleak in that regard.
I am sitting in front of my window ledge, 
full of stark reminders... 

But in Grayland, all is well. 
So in Grayland I shall stay.
I can’t convince Trump and Putin to back off, 
or terrorists to stop the atrocities, any more than you can.

But I can do the best that I can do with what I have to work with. 
We have built a little craft company and a superb creative community is growing up around it.
We help and support each other, 
and we endeavour to be kind to each other. 

The new year is full of promise and I am excited to share some new plans and ideas with you. It’s not all about the money either, 
but I think you know that.
Of course we have to turn it over to keep going, 
but money never was my driver, nor will it ever be. 

So now I’m off to spend the afternoon with my folks.
Mark wants to hook up with his cousins 
and introduce his girlfriend to his grandparents.
You see, that’s what I call a day well spent, 
in the company of people I love and who love me. 

Where’s Dave?
Well he and my brother Steve have been working flat out 
at Clarity while the cogs have stopped turning in between Christmas and New Year, building a new machine room. 
I have to tell you, what Dave has managed to build inside our old barn over time is unbelievable! He has quietly been going at it in the period leading up to Christmas and this week, getting up at 5 every morning and coming home late every evening. 
I’m not allowed to look till it’s finished, 
but I already know it will be brilliant. 
I’ll take some photos to show you next week.

What’s for tea at your tonight?
Turkey Curry here. And Dave even cooked that!

Love & Hugs

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Oh we do like to be beside the seaside.....

Hi there!
Greetings from sunny Brighton.
December the 29th, and what a glorious day!

Everyone and his brother went to the coast darn sarf today!
And why wouldn’t you ?
It was beautiful,
the sun was warm on your face, but the air was icy cold. 
Parked right along the waterfront and walked miles.

Mark, his lovely girlfriend Alex and I spent the day together.
Fish & chips on the pier.

Then we dived into the Lanes, 
bobbing and weaving through the throngs of happy shoppers,
all looking for those post-Christmas bargains....

Personally, I couldn’t be bothered. 
I did find a very cool jacket for Dave, 
but I’ve had enough of shopping to last me at least a year.

I was much more impressed with the super excellent Christmas lights! Aren’t they brilliant?!

I do like Brighton.
I love the architecture. It’s all those Victorian balconies I like.

Don’t these two make a handsome couple?

It was a shame that Grace and Nick missed Brighton 
and the glorious sunshine.
But New York was a-calling....

And before you knew it, 
the sun was setting and the sky was perfect.
“Look Mum!” said Mark, “It looks just like your brayer artwork”
Now how many 24 year old lads do you know 
who know what a brayer is?

So we wandered back along the waterfront,

waved goodbye to the Pier,

and came home to a tasty piping hot Cottage Pie 
I had prepared earlier. 

I have been full of gratitude today.
After the traumatic news of Carrie Fisher’s death and her poor mum Debbie Reynolds’ death just a day later, 
what else is there except gratitude?
I am grateful Dave is so well this year. 
I am grateful to have spent so much time with my parents 
and kids this Christmas.
I am grateful I don’t do drugs or drink.
I am grateful my kids aren’t tormented by drugs or drink.
It guarantees nothing, but it certainly reduces the probability of a premature exit. 
And as I walked along the waterfront today, 
it just felt good to be alive and sober.

Until tomorrow...
Love & Hugs,


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A Grayt And Deelightful Paper Solution.

Hi there.
Thanks for popping in!
Finally we get to the last stage of the Groovi Card.
The Groovi part - the design and the outline were a cinch
using the Would You like to swing on a Star pair of plates designed by our Mel.

The white work took a couple of hours, but spread over a couple of days. That’s fine - I had plenty of other things to do in between!

But this is the point in the proceeding 
where I usually end up spending as much time again 
looking for a suitable background to make the artwork come to life!

So my dear friend Dee Paramour and I got together 
and came up with a solution:

Introducing the first set of 4 background paper packs.

They are printed of course, but each design is a handmade paper.
Not clip art, not borrowed.
Proper inky, hand cut and layered.
Dee spent hours and hours creating these papers....

There’s nothing like a handmade original ....

Even the prints look handmade.

And that’s the reason why these paper pads are so awesome.

All 4 of the pads include perfect Parchment backgrounds;
the Northern Lights pad from the Natural Wonders Collection
is especially Groovi. 

I looked EVERYWHERE for a solution.
Wasted many hours looking for a background for the Groovi work.
In the end, I created my own. This is my baby.

Here you see the back and front of one leaf. 

See? Dark but bright and interesting. 

There are 12 double-sided designs in each pad, 
4 of each.

The only danger here is that they are all so ideal for Groovi, 
instead of scouring my paper stash for one solution,
I shall now probably waste hours deciding which one !!

And the pads are 8”x8” so you can spend another age deciding which area of the paper works best!!
Oh boy oh boy!

Today, I decided to go with this particularly lovely celestial one...

You will notice that I haven’t added any colour to the parchment yet.
This is because I think it is better to pick a background 
and then tone the artwork in with the paper.

Now I know exactly which colours to use...

Weathered Wood Distress Pen.

Spun Sugar Distress Pen.

Add a few highlights with the Groovi grids

Trim the edges with a craft knife.

Now you can see how the background works!
And look at those white stars! 
You could lift them off the page.
(no dropshadow trickery here)

I used the Crafter Companion Glue Pen around the edge and behind the odd blue square in the centre too.
It’s brilliant - You cannot see it, because the background is busy enough to hide it too.

Trim the paper a little
(and let’s start a little bag of designer paper bits 
for a project down the road...)

Mount on a white 8”x 8” card.

Peace and Love for 2017.
That’s what it says ....

Can you buy these paper pads yet? 
Not quite. 
They’re all stacked high at Clarity Towers though, 
in readiness for the New Year.
I shall be showcasing them on Sunday 8th January on HOCHANDA 2pm - 4pm.

Was this the big reveal? The game changer?
The thing that I couldn’t wait to tell you about?
No no no.
The papers are a must have, I know that.
Dee and I have been squealing and chattering about them 
since they rolled off the press.

But no. They are not it. 
A lot of you are guessing....
Is it an outlet?
Is it a wedding?
Is it a magazine?
All good guesses, and all on the agenda - on the journey.
But not yet. 
One thing at a time....

Love & Peace,

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Phase 3 Whiter than white!

Hi there!
Thanks for popping in.
Funny old day today.
One minute the house is full of folks, 
it’s hot in the kitchen
and you savour every minute;

the next, Mum and Dad have gone home,
and you are dropping Grace and Nick off at the airport.

But hang on! There’s another visitor flying in from San Francisco!
Mark’s lovely girlfriend Alex arrived at just about the same time the other two headed back to the Big Apple.

Before I go and spend some time with these two,
let’s just take a little look at the angels I have been working on....

I really taught myself a huge lesson today.
Remember where we got to?
I had been doing the white work and had decided to leave it overnight, because I could feel the parchment was just about to crack.

This was what the white work looked like before I left it overnight:

This morning, I came up here while the others were still sleeping, 
and started on the white work again.
I used the No. 4, 3 and 2 from the Starter Kit, and the 2.5 Pergamano tool.

I could not believe how much better the white work worked!

When I listened to the traditional parchers saying gently gently, leave the parchment to rest overnight, I never said anything, because after all, they are the experts!
But to be honest I used to think it was a bit extreme.

Now I’m no expert, but I can tell you this:
leaving your white work to rest overnight 
before going back over it again is tranformational. 
Just look at the before and after above if you don’t believe me!

I also worked out that the best way to blend the crisp line art into the white work is to apply gentle pressure with the No. 2 or 3 ball tool to the outside edge of the shape. Literally go back over the line art with a larger ball tool. Back and forth very slowly, applying gentle pressure to the outside edge. 
This is my goal next year. To learn these skills and take my parchment art to the next level.
I don’t need to be an expert - there are plenty of them!
I just want to get it right and do it right. 
You with me?

So tomorrow is the final stage.
Colour and assembly.
It’s no good. I can’t keep it secret any longer...
I’ll have to show you what we have come up with tomorrow.

Love & hugs.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Phase 2.....

Happy Boxing Day!

Having eaten way way wayyyyy too much this Christmas weekend 
we went for a long walk through the Pantiles 
and up to the Rocks in Tunbridge Wells.

The sun was shining, there were lots of families out for a stroll;
it was lovely. 

Thought I’d carry on with my angel artwork - 
move on to the white work.
This bit take as long as it takes.
You really can’t rush it, can you. 

So I started with the biggest ball tool in my tool box
 - the No. 6 Pergamano ball tool.

See the really soft shading on the angels’ robes?
Not easy, because it’s quite a large area.
Have to go really gently. 
Took blimming ages!!

Then I decided to do their feet and their hair. 
Again, this is going to have to be done in 3 or 4 sittings.
Let the parchment rest in between.

Should have done the outline of those parts with the No. 2 tool, 
so that the line art isn’t so crisp.
It is much more difficult to blend the whitework fill and the lines art if you’ve used the No. 1 tool.

Shaded all the heads, hands and feet with the No. 4 tool 
from the Starter Kit.
Then went back over with the No. 3 tool.

Waited half an hour, then went over all the areas again 
with the No. 3 tool. Half an hour clearly not long enough.
I could feel the parchment getting ready to crack.

Got to leave it overnight and come back.

At this rate it will turn into a New Year’s card !!!
Ahah! What a good idea!!

Got to go.
Grace’s last evening. 
Headed back to the Big Apple tomorrow.
That came and went, didn’t it?

No time for sadness.
Just have to make the most of the time together.

Love & Hugs,