Friday, 17 November 2017

Meet Melanie! One in a Million

Hi there!
Thanks for popping in.

Went to Brighton yesterday, to spend some time with Dave and mel, and go listen to Chris Wood, the folk singer, 
at the Komedia Club.

What a BRILLIANT time we had.

Mel is such a character. Great company. Very interesting woman.
One in a million.
We were sitting in the front row of the little studio, right in front of the stage.
When Chris Woods came on stage, he was having a banter about his guitar - a 1965 Epiphone.
Suddenly, Mel pointed at the big E and the logo on his guitar -
“My dad designed that logo,” she whispered to me.
That’s quite something in the music world, you know.
As I say, one in a million.



Hahaha. When you look at the full picture, and then at her face, 
it speaks volumes!


And quite by chance we walked straight into the Switching on the Christmas Lights festivities, which was very cool too.


I do love Brighton. And I do love Mel.
She illustrates so many of our images, our stamps and stencils and Groovi. You only have to look at the new calendar to see how much she influences our little art company!


I can see at a glance here from the thumbnails that Mel has her stamp all over it!

So I shall sign another 100 for this weekend. 
If you would like a signed calendar, then get yours soon - 
when they’re gone, they’re gone.


I’m going for a walk with Mel and the dogs this afternoon.
We are making arty plans for the New Year, and it’s time to gather up the bits and start construction!

On the subject of One in a Million, I would like you to listen to this song by Chris Wood. he is such a great story teller.
In the space of a song I smiled, I cried, I was horrified, I felt terrible and I felt joy.  Now that’s what I call powerful.



Love & Hugs,
Barb

xxx

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Like Clockwork....

Hi there.
Thanks for popping in.

Remember a couple of days ago I invited you to guess the recipe for this artwork?


Sorry, no winners today, I’m afraid.
So the £20 gift voucher goes back in the pot for next time,
and I shall just show you quickly, because ironically, the clock is ticking, and we’re off out to Brighton this afternoon!

Right. Ready, steady go!

Lay the pocket watch stencil down back to front on the clean plate.
Brayer some green acrylic paint across one side and let it dry.
Heads up! I’m just about to prep a Bloggy Blitz Paint Sale for next week, so just hang on if you are wanting paint. 


Brayer some teal acrylic paint up the other side and let it dry.
(hang on with buying a brayer too - I will add him to the Bloggy Sale!) 


Cover the whole printing plate and stencil with off-white acrylic paint, and - yep you guessed it - let it dry.


Once dry, remove the stencil.


Now brayer white paint over the whole plate again.
How much? Start with about a 2p size squirt. Keep rolling up and down, left and right, until you can see the clock peeping through. 
This time we have to move quickly, while the paint is still wet.



Flip the Gelpress plate over and place the wet white paint side down onto a sheet of our cut to fit white stencil card.
(White card? Wait for the sale!)


Flip back. Rub the back of the card well, and then slowly peel back your print. Voila! And the plate is clean too.


Let’s look up close. See all the different colours peeping through?


And the clock is the right way round.
Use a pencil to add a drop shadow underneath the clock hands and around the lower edges.


Trim the art back to the white edge, using a blade and a ruler with a strip of the Groovi grip attached underneath.
Seriously, this is a game changer.


Now attach the art to an 8" x 8" white folding card,
using a glue runner.


Pick a piece of designer parchment from one of the pads 
and trim it back an inch on 2 sides.
Run the glue runner along the outer edge of all four sides, 
as close to the edge as you dare.
Now I decided to use the back of the parchment, the more vibrant side where the colour is, as the front. So I have used the adhesive on the front of the parchment, the more muted side.


Attach it over the top of the clockpiece.


Easy when you know how, eh.


I used a leaf from the Shenandoah parchment pad.
(And thrice I say, WAIT FOR THE SALE!!)

GRAY FRIDAY IS COMING....

Love & Hugs
Barb
xxx





Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Modern Day Millie!

Hi there!
Thanks for popping in.

Do you ever think to yourself,
“I’m getting too old for this lark” ?

I do! But then I give myself a kick up the proverbial, 
a good talking to - and get on with it!
Keep on truckin’ !

One of the things about Clarity and all those who sail in her is that we actually DO move with the times at most levels.

Let’s consider the NEC.
I did that show in the 90’s, when I had just come back from California. There aren’t many of us left from way back then, I can tell you! But I do know we have evolved massively as a company.
Back in the day, we had a 4m x 2m stand, and we sold mounted Claritystamps and brayers mainly. 
This November,  we had a 15m x 2m stand + a free make & take area, to house our stamps, stencils, Groovi and Pergamano - 
and it was still tight!
In fact, next March we have booked another few metres, 
so that we can give Pergamano the space it deserves. 
After all, it is an entire company in its own right, isn’t it? 
Yes, we are certainly evolving.
Don’t get me wrong. We’re not empire-building, we’re not going for world domination! We are just slowly slowy catchee monkee expanding, peu a peu. 
The team is getting bigger, the dynamics are changing. I spend more time working on the business instead of in the business, which is necessary. But that’s okay too.

Where are we headed? Well, we always have a plan, don’t we, and of course I am hatching one! The day I stop doing that I will be pushing up daisies! But that’s a good thing.

I was looking at this blog this morning. The content is fine. The photos do the job. I am still happy with the direction, and by asking for feedback, the word is that you good people like how I put it all together, too.

But I am fed up with the wallpaper. I don’t want to completely renovate it, to the point where you think you’re in the wrong building, don’t know which button to press or where to look first. No no no...that’s just confusing. 
But I do want to give it a bit of a makeover. 

So if it looks a bit different in the coming days, worry not!
The dustsheets will be hidden - the paint will be dry!
I may even shuffle the furniture around a bit,
but it won’t cost a penny - just a little time.
Steve and Stuart at work are quite handy with a paintbrush, 
so I may even let them have a go!

I think that’s it, for me.
A good clear out and a splash of paint can work wonders, can’t it?
Fresh feel. Makes you feel younger too.

And on another note, I am LOVE LOVE LOVING listening to novels. I have just finished Phillip Pullman’s trilogy, 
The Dark Materials.

Yep, I fall asleep when I read a book, but I can listen for hours while I’m ironing ! It’s called using what’s available to us.

Love & Hugs
Barb
xxx




Tuesday, 14 November 2017

A Birds Eye View...

Hi there.
Thanks for popping in.

Here’s a Groovi step by step which Paul did on TV recently,
using one of the beautiful new Autumn Round plates, 
illustrated by our Mel.




Simply emboss a portion of the image on this yellow landscape from the Shenandoah Parchment - as much as you want - 
and leave the rest behind.



Here’s a flash of the paper pad:


Here’s a top tip which Paul demonstrated on the TV:
By embossing one of the birds from the back of the parchment, 
and then debossing the same bird from the front of the parchment, 
you can achieve perfect symmetry -
aka a reflection.


Tomorrow it’s Maria’s turn to wow you!
She will be gracing your screens on HOCHANDA again,
12 noon and 4pm.
  • SKY 663 (24/7)
  •  
  • FREEVIEW 85 (6AM-7PM)
  •  
  • FREESAT 817 (24/7)
I do hope you can tune it to watch her work her magic with some spectacular stencils, illustrated by guess who?
Yep, that’s right: our Mel again!

Off to do some ironing now....
a woman’s work is never done and all that!

Love & Hugs,
Barb
xxx




Monday, 13 November 2017

It’s Time for Competition Time!


Hi there.
Thanks for popping in.
Where did the time go today?
One minute is was 6am and up with the sun,
the next it was 6pm and time to go home.

So I’ve run out of time, and of steam today!
I did do a nice piece of artwork when I got home though, 
and I think it is competition worthy!

So here’s the deal....

Check out the time piece here.


Decide what I used, how I made it and send the instructions in an email to me, barbaragray123@hotmail.com

Remember:
ingredients and a step by step!

The instructions closest to the real thing will win, 
and the worthy winner will receive a £20 Clarity Gift voucher.

I will post the photo step by step on Thursday, and pick the well deserving winner then.
Come on! Get your thinking caps on!
You’ve got to be in it to win it!

And now, finally, I can go in and put the kettle on.

Love & Hugs,
Barb
xxx

Sunday, 12 November 2017

What's going on?

Hi there.
Thanks for stopping by.

Was listening to some really great music on the way over to meet Mum, Dad, Steve and his girlfriend Sheila for lunch today.
We were singing along in the car, Dave and I. 
Knew every word, and yet.
I hadn’t really ever properly digested the meaning of one song in particular.
Until today, that is.

So I came home and decided to share them with you, 
it being Remembrance Sunday.

All you need is an ABC an ink pad and some paper.


Mother, mother
There's too many of you crying.

Brother, brother, brother
There's far too many of you dying.

You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today.
 
Father, father
We don't need to escalate.

You see, war is not the answer,
For only love can conquer hate.

You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today.

And then there’s the chorus...


Good question.

So I got my little boy out, and pondered.
Stormy, troubled skies.



Let’s use the stamped words as a template to position the words on the same Rainbow River Parchment.


Move them a little if you wish. I did.
Really looks like a war-torn scene through the parchment, 
doesn’t it.
Stamp on the front of the parchment.


There are those black edges again...


Add highlights from behind with a small ball tool on a soft mat.


Mount the word box on white card and add back into the scene.


I remember years ago, when my lad Mark was a teenager, we were talking about war and the insanity of it. Out of nowhere, he said,
“We can’t change history Mum, but hopefully we can learn from it.” From the mouths of babes.
Are we though? Are we learning?


If you have five minutes, listen to this song.

You see, war is not the answer,
For only love can conquer hate.



Love & hugs,
Barb
xxx


Saturday, 11 November 2017

Remember.

Hi there.
Thanks for popping in.

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 1918.
Armistice Day.
I came up to my little room, to spend an hour remembering those poor souls who died defending the freedom of their countries. 
Two World Wars, yet still carnage and treachery abound.

What a mad world we live in, eh.


I remember as a kid, whenever a black-edged envelope dropped through the letterbox from Germany,
I knew a German friend of the family had died. 


So the black edge here is that memory.


An elderly gentleman in uniform was selling poppies at the entrance to Peterborough Services the other week. 
I went straight to him and put a goodly note in his pot.
“Thank you Miss”, he smiled.
“No. Thank YOU, Sir,” I replied.

So these poppies are for him.


and all his fellow comrades.


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.



Love & Hugs,
Barb
xxx

Friday, 10 November 2017

There's always one....

Hi there!
Thanks for popping in!

Had to come home early. Just not feeling myself, so to speak.
Spoke to Rosie. She’s the same.
As is Paul, who had the day off,
and Jayne, not in today,
or Lisa, not in today.
And Maria has been cream-crackered all week, like me!
In fact, the whole NEC team is still pretty second hand.
It sort of creeps up on you, the exhaustion. Very strange. 
I felt better on Monday!!!!

And you wonder why we have stepped back from the retail shows! The 4-day ones are the killers. Ah well.
For better or for worse, we have signed up for the March NEC, 
so put it in your diary! We should be back on track by then....

But I must tell you about the free make & takes we were running.
Well, Rosie did them all except a couple, which I did....
and oh boy ! Did I get the group to remember!
There’s always one.

Here they are, lovely lovely lovely...
complete with man.

Doesn’t he remind you of Peter Kay?


So imagine it WAS Peter Kay. It might as well have been.
In fact, maybe it was !!!
He certainly had his northern twang!
I kid you not. This Peter - and his name IS Peter -
had me in fits. You know the acronym ROFPMSL?
(Rolled On Floor, Pissed Myself Laughing)
Yep to both.

It all started when we got to the perforating part of the project. He was done faster than the ladies, and was sitting at the front too, 
so I stupidly thought I’d get him started on the perforating.

“Right, Pete. I find it helps if you wipe your tool with a tumble dryer sheet before you start.”

He looked at me with that kind of Peter Kay, raised eye-brow nod thing, and this is what I got back - 
“I could go for a girl like you.”

Well, that was it. Everything I said, he heard what I hadn’t said! 
Or had actually!

“Don’t press so hard”
“Hold the tool upright”
“Slow down”
“Rub it gently”
It went on. And on. And on.
And I lost it. 
Fortunately, the other ladies were good sports, 
and his girlfriend was howling like me.
See the lady in the pic here? 
That’s not her! Anita was sitting opposite.
At one point, when it got really near the knuckle, I said, 
“honestly, all we need on this table is the Vicar’s wife!”

Now I can’t remember exactly what the lineage was, but it went something like this:
“How about the Vicar’s son’s wife? Will I do?”
Of all the gin joints in Birmingham, 
we had Peter Kay and the Vicar’s son’s wife!

More hilarity with Clarity.


But I kid you not. He was such a smashing fella. 
One liners and cheeky glances just floored me.
Rosie will never know what she missed.
And I haven’t laughed like that in a long, long time.

So thanks, Pete.



OM MY GOD. I think it WAS him!!

LOOK !!!!!
If this doesn’t set you up for the weekend, 
nothing will.




I love this bloke.
Brilliant. 
And I met him. I blimming did!
He’s a groover!!!!!

Love & Hugs,
Barb
xxx

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Henna Friendship

Hi there.
Thanks for popping in
Thursday’s blog is always blue, right?

So here’s the one I did with lovely Tina the last time we worked together on the telly.


Using one of her wonderful Henna Stamps Set No. 2
on a piece of our new Designer parchment: the Rainbow River Collection.


The thing I LOVE about stamping on the designer parchment is you can apply all the parchy tricks we have mastered along the Groovi trail to your beautiful black lineart.
Stamp on the front of the parchment with black Archival, 
and then work your parchy magic on the back!


You really don’t have to be an expert. 
Get the Groovi Starter Kit, and you’re off and running!

You have the soft/hard mat and the tools to do your whitework.
If you can stretch to a couple of the basic grids as well, you can do that neat dot embossing too.

Anyway, here I have just stamped the Word Chain No.8 stamp Friendship into the middle of the Henna Frame.


I framed this piece with the scallop rectangle nested plate - a firm favourite among parchers. But the nested sqaure in the Starter Kit will do the job very nicely too.


So this is the sequence:
Stamp in the middle,
Build the Groovi frame,
Trim the parchment back leaving a largish border,
stamp some leafery into two opposing corners.


Once dry, do a little more whitework in the two opposing corners.
Done.


So simple.
But so easy.
Stampers, you need this parchment!
Parchers, you need these stamps!


Love & Hugs,
Barb