Thursday, 25 May 2017

New Seedhead Stencil

Hi there.
Thanks for popping in.
Sitting in the garden and writing to you after a little siesta,
and feeling better for it, I must say.

The birds are twittering and the sun is pouring through the trees.
Struggling to lift my spirits, but I know I am not alone.
But this too shall pass.
In the meantime, I immersed myself in paint and a brand new stencil today. A very special one, designed by Mel.

It is beautiful to look at, and wonderful to use.
Bottom left here:
(You can buy them individually, or 5 for the price of 4)
 Shall I talk you through the steps, so you know how I got there?

Use a large Gel Press Plate. An 8" x 10" 
and mount it on our large 9" x 11" Megamount 
That way you capture the whole image and get an outer edge too.
Spread a thin layer of orange acrylic paint over it with a brayer.

Dab most of it off again with a flat kitchen paper towel.
It will sometimes give you a very cool pattern.

Squirt some more acrylic paint onto the dry orange blotted paint now. I went with Man City and Man Utd: RED and BLUE.
They blend together to get a fantastic mix.

Viva Decor paints

In year 1 of Salford University, 
I lived quite close to Man Utd’s ground, Old trafford.
In year 2, I went over to the other side of Manchester, right near Man City. I lived at No. 6 Banff Road. It’s right by Curry Mile now.
Always did have lots of great Indian restaurants in that area.

I LOVED living in Manchester.
I LOVED the Mancunians.
You could sit at a bus stop and have great talks with total strangers.
You’d get on the ORANGE bus, and a whole new conversation would start with somebody else. 
I spent a lot of time waiting for buses from Rusholme to Salford...

So here we have a cool mix of red and blue, you see?
And of course, an interesting blend of purple in the middle.

While the paint is still wet, place the new stencil on it.

Blot it with punchinella, dab it lightly with scrunched up paper towel, and then let the paint dry.
Underneath the stencil, the paint will stay wet, because it hasn’t been exposed to the air. 

As soon as the paint you can see is dry, whip the stencil off and pop a sheet of copy paper down onto the Gel Press Plate.
All being well, you will pull a lovely lineart print.
You could do this on card too, but I have a plan for another day, 
and I need it on a thin piece of paper to work.

The actual print we are working towards is still on the Gel Press plate. See? If I place a sheet of white paper underneath the plate, you can see it.

Magic really, isn’t it.

But how to get the beautiful pattern print from the Gel Press Plate to card...

I came up with this technique years ago, 
when I was trying to clean up the Gelli plate after a messy session!

Just spread a layer of acrylic paint over the dry print on the plate.
In this case, I have used a mix of light blue and cream.

Too much here.
I have to roll some off, until I can see the print through the paint.
Keep rolling it off onto copy paper until you can see the image lightly.

Flip the wet, painty Gel Press Plate over on its mega Mount,
and lower down quickly onto a sheet of our large Stencil Card.
It is just ideal for pulling prints.

Flip back and rub the back of the card, to help transfer the paint.
Carefully peel back the card, and you should reveal a beautiful and original print. A one-off. 

There are a few white patches, where the print didn’t transfer.
Let’s use it to add more interest..
Smear Lime Kiss yellow Artistry ink over the whole surface.
Wow! Bit radical, I know!
I wondered what possessed me as soon as the lime yellow hit the card! But too late. Continues undeterred....

The great thing about acrylic paint is that it’s like a plastic table cloth. You can wipe it clean.
So I spritzed the whole thing with water and dabbed it dry, taking the colour right back to our lovely Man U. Man City blend, except where there was a little white card and the yellow ink had soaked in.

See here?

Mounted the print on a piece of water colour paper to finish.

Happy with that.
It’s cool because it’s NOT perfect, because it is a little rough in places. But there is a depth to it which draws you in.
Just like Manchester.

I loved life there so much, I encouraged Grace to go to University there too. Which she did, so she and I both know the Secret of that city.

I lived there during the winter of ‘79 too.
Those of you who recall, those were pretty harsh times.
Those poor firemen stood in that picket line opposite the University on the Crescent for months and months and months. 
Strikes, strikes, strikes.
But the Mancunians dealt with that, and they’ll deal with this. 
They are a tough bunch. I love ‘em.

Love & Hugs,

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Manchester 22.5.2017

Hi there.
Thanks for dropping in.
Retreated to the back of the cave today.
Stayed home. 
Cleaned all morning. Did laundry.

Can’t listen to the radio. 
Can’t read the papers. 
Can’t watch the TV.
So I’ve pottered away in silence all day.

I suppose it’s my way of digesting what happened in Manchester.
Not that it is digestible - ever.
It sticks in my throat and makes me feel sick as soon as I think of it. But I am certain I speak for most of us.

It is heartening to hear about the goodness all around, the humanity and the help which was almost instant and has been flowing since the explosion.

But I still feel sick and heart-broken for the innocent victims, 
children! KIDS!!! and their families, and their friends. 

It makes me wild actually. Really livid too.
So today has been a day for reflection, 
trying to reconcile my anger with the reality of it all.

Art helps calm the mind.
I know this to be true, so this afternoon I got right inside my head, and used colour and Grunge paste and stencils to crush my demons. 

There is no niceness about this piece.
It is not intended to impress or educate.
It was purely a vehicle to drag my dark thoughts out into the open, so I can deal with them. 

If you can see the symbolism in it that I sought to connect with,
great. If not, great.

There’s something liberating about throwing the perfectionist rule book away and just not worrying about the outcome. 

And then the mayhem ensues, and the colours run everywhere.

Birds fly to the light.

And the 22nd of May 2017 is forever fixed in our minds 
as a very, very dark day.

This piece joins the other tributes on my little window ledge.
With all my heart and soul, I wish it wasn’t so.
Tonight I shall light a candle, burn some sage,
and say a prayer.

Love & Peace,

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

We Stand With Manchester

If you don’t mind, I would rather not craft today.
My head is elsewhere.
In fact, 
if you don’t mind, I would rather not speak today.
It is way too shocking for words.

Love & Peace

Monday, 22 May 2017

Stencil play Day 1.

Hi there.
Thanks for popping in.
Beautiful day here!
Sun streaming in, birds singing,
the Groovi Sale has gone berserk,
and orders are still coming in.
Finishes at midnight tonight, 
but we’re on top of it and the orders are already flying out!

Me? I was feeling a little second hand today to be honest. I just don’t ping back like I used to after a busy weekend
The old elastic is not what it was....

So it’s time to play a little and wind down after the weekend.

I thought I would steer away from parchment for a week, and get your creative juices going with some stencils.

But hang on! Not just any old stencils!
No, no, these are fantastic, original, designed-by-lovely-Melanie top spec and new Stencils!

Remember the Flower Heads set?

Well, Mel has designed another fabulous collection of Seedheads and flowers, and over the next few days here,
 I thought it would be cool to do some R& D with these and the old ones, and maybe even some others. I’ve got so many ideas milling round in my head, but I’m just not finding the time to play.

And then today, it occurred to me - MAKE THE TIME !!

I won’t load them onto the website until tomorrow though. Let’s wind the Groovi Sale down at midnight first!

This new Allium is wonderful. I can already see it as a Gel print,

but this evening I wanted to try an abstract inky thing...

Tape the outer part of the stencil to a piece of our 
(yep, this stencil is a 2-parter).

Brush some Artistry Midnight Blue around the perimeter,
using one of our brushes.

Using a second brush, add a pink centre.

Slot the Allium stencil into its frame,

and spritz with water.

Blot with a Kitchen paper towel, remove the stencil, 

When it dries, it dries lighter.

I really like the shattered effect here.

In fact, I shall let this dry properly,
and maybe take a second look at it tomorrow.

But now it’s time for a walk along the railway track with my honey.
err... the DISUSED track of course !!

Love & Hugs,

Sunday, 21 May 2017


Bristol before

Bristol BLIMEY!!!!


Buyers buying

Boys busy.







Saturday, 20 May 2017

Bristol! Look out! We're here!

Hi there,
Can't stop. Must dash. Out for supper in Bristol with the team. 
And what a team again! We had just over 3 hours to unload and set up - and with the help of a few good women, we did it!

Bit of a scramble, but we got there.

Already lots of interest around our Groovi designs from the traditional parchers. Here’s hoping the Pergamano tutors sign up for the new club we have created for them! 

All set for a great day.
Looking forward to meeting loads of Groovi parchers !
So much has happened in a year, since we were last here.
Unbelievable really.

Got to go.
Supper's on us!

Love and hugs 

Friday, 19 May 2017

Smile! You’re on Camera!

Hi there.
Thanks for popping in.
Still here at the office. 
But it has been a really constructive day.
I can’t say it often enough: I love the Clarity Team.
Huge Groovi sale kicks in. 
Nobody flaps. They all smile and just knuckle down to the job.

What a smashing bunch of people I get to work with every day.

Cor blimey.
I just had a memory recall of a job I did during one summer when I was a student. Shall I share?
Oh ok....

 It was in a very seedy sweat shop along Luton Arches in Chatham. 
Very very seedy indeedy, I can tell you!
It was an optic making factory. Nothing to do with eyes. No no no!
The optics you get behind the bar, which dispense booze!
So there were 8 of us. 
7 Indian ladies who didn’t speak a word of English, and me.
We sat in 2 rows facing each other, and had to assemble the optics.
So in front of you, there were loads of little pots of springs and bits.
You have NO IDEA how many washers and parts one of those blimming optics comprises! And if you didn’t get all the rubber washers and rings in exactly the right order, when it came to testing them with water to make sure they didn’t leak, 
it p’d straight through.
I tried to keep up with the Indian ladies, who worked like the clappers, but mine just leaked like sieves,
(which was bad enough with water,
but imagine if it were whiskey or brandy or vodka!)
So I had to keep undoing them and starting again.
At the end of Day one, I remember it well:
they were on about 35 each.
And I was on precisely 3.
And since it was piece work, where you get paid for the units,
 I hadn’t even made enough for my bus fare home. 

Anyway, where was I ?
Ah yes, grateful to be here at Clarity with my teamies,
and NOT at Luton Arches, unscrewing bottle optics!

Did I mention the Big 25% Groovi Sale over on the website this weekend?! If you’re into Groovi, then hop over and take your wishlist with you.
We’re also extending the sale to visitors at the Bristol Show, so bring your wishlist there too !

We had a really good meeting this afternoon.
Not about the usual stuff.
Today we talked about something much more interesting !
Making a Groovi DVD or five !
Should we ? Shouldn’t we ? Where ? When ? What ?
Lots of planning required, but the filming date is sorted,
the location is sorted, and even the duplication guys are in the know. So that means it’s a YES !

Thing is, I’ve made a few now, so I’m no DVD virgin!
This will be No. 7.
It’s a lot of work, but I KNOW a lot of people enjoy them and get a lot out of them.

A Groovi parchment DVD is definitely called for, don’t you think?
If we start on it at the end of July, it will be in the shops by October.

The last one was a few years ago now. 
We filmed it at the house and had great fun. 
I always intended to make Part 2, but then Groovi hit us, 
and the rest is history!
In the spirit of the weekend Sale, and because I can, 
let’s knock 50% off the latest one!

I even did it in German too!

My oh my.
Where does the time go?

Must get home and get packed for Bristol tomorrow!
What to wear...

Love & Hugs,

PS Have I told you about the Sale ?
It’s pretty much a Groovi 25% off Blanket Sale...
We won’t run out - we’ll just keep making.