Monday, 31 October 2011

12 Tips for Stress Free Christmas Card Making

I love Christmas and all the traditions that go with it. Making my Christmas cards is an annual pleasure and one that I have found much easier and less stressful by following a few simple rules. A little bit of forward planning makes such a difference and makes sure that you don’t have a nightmare before Christmas.

  1.  Start with a list of Christmas cards, split the list into three sections
    a. National post
    b. International post
    c. Hand delivery
  2. Make sure that you have up to date address details for all your postal cards well in advance, so that you have time to find out any missing information.
  3. Check and make a note of last posting dates for national and international deliveries.
  4. Buy postage stamps early to avoid standing in long queues at the post office.
  5. Make a note of any special cards that you want to make such as husband, mother, best friend etc.
  6. Plan your card designs and make a list of the items required to make them.
  7. For the bulk of your cards stick to one or two designs, this will speed up production and also allow you to purchase materials in larger quantities. It often helps to choose a colour scheme of 2 or 3 colours and design your cards around that. Don’t be too ambitious with your designs, there are a lot of other things to do at Christmas and you may run out of time.
  8. Always make a few extra cards for anyone that you have overlooked or last minute additions to your list, if you don’t use them you can put them away for next year.
  9. Buy your materials in good time, many suppliers have limited stocks of specific Christmas items so don’t miss out on the things that you want. If you are ordering items from the Internet allow time for their delivery.
  10. Make sure you have plenty of glue and adhesive foam pads.
  11. If you are making batches of cards of the same design, break the design down into stages and complete the same stage on each card before moving on to the next stage. This will be more efficient than completing each card individually.
  12. Let the children help where possible, they love to stick stamps on envelopes, punch out shapes or attach foam pads to cut shapes. Leave the tricky jobs until they are at school or in bed!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Free Papers for Christmas Craft

Busy, busy, busy with Christmas definitely on the horizon it's difficult to know what to do first! Our lovely new Christmas card toppers from Hunkydory Crafts have already been a big hit and we won't be able to get any more for christmas this year so hurry if you don't want to miss out.
I am dying to try them out myself but decided to make a some new papers for Christmas first. I have had a few ideas in mind for a while and have finally managed to get them online.

The papers are an assortment of colours and styles that can be used in all kinds of papercraft projects. They are all free to download so just log in to the site, order the designs that you like and you will recieve an email giving you a link to each of the files. You can save the files on your computer and print them out as often as you like.
I have used some non traditional colours for two of the papers, cool blue and red for the Christmas trees and rich jewel colours for the snowflake design. I couldn't resist the traditional red, green and gold for the trees and stars design.

My favourite is the Rocking Robins they are so cute and I have included a sheet of larger sized versions of the robins which you can use as card toppers, they would look really good on the snowy sky background and would make really cute cards for children. You could also back them on card and attach a ribbon to make gift tags. Here's a link to the Christmas papers section of the website.
Hope you like them!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

The Sticky Issue of Craft Adhesives

A crucial factor in any craft project is choosing the correct adhesive. When you have worked hard on your design and layout the last thing you want is to have it spoilt by messy glue trails, wet looking or discoloured ribbon or worse still embellishments falling off your cards in the post.
A huge range of adhesives is available on the market today, and knowing which one to choose can be a tricky business. If you are using a mixture of materials in your project, be prepared to use several different types of adhesive to achieve the best results. Whatever type of adhesive you are using it is important to make sure that surfaces are clean and dry before it is applied.

For layering card and paper where you need to cover a relatively large area try a standard glue stick, this will give you quick coverage, sufficient adhesion and will not wet the paper or leak out of the edges. Make sure you replace the cap when not in use as they tend to dry out very quickly.
Foam pads are a great way to add depth to your cards and scrapbook pages, they provide very strong adhesion and by the thickness of the foam, raise items off the page creating a layered or 3D effect. They are available in a variety of sizes. Foam pads stick instantly and are difficult to remove from most surfaces so take care when positioning your items.

For lengths of ribbon or fabric, double sided tape can be cut to the appropriate length and attached to the back of the ribbon or fabric first, making it easier to position. Using a ‘dry’ adhesive like this prevents the ribbon from looking wet or wrinkled and does not stiffen the ribbon as it dries.

Glue dots are small rubbery dots that are sticky on both sides, they are available in a range of sizes, and are perfect for sticking embellishments and decorative items to your projects quickly and easily, with no mess or sticky fingers! Lift the backing paper to reveal a dot and press the item you are attaching to the dot, it will stick to your item and lift off the backing paper, then press it into position on your project. Glue dots are suitable for a wide range of materials such as card, paper, plastic, metal etc. Always make sure you choose a dot that is small enough to be completely hidden by the item it is sticking.

If you are working with transparent or translucent materials such as acetate, vellum, skeleton leaves or shrink plastic then Invisi dots provide the perfect solution. As the name suggests they are translucent glue dots which provide an invisible adhesive which doesn’t show through the transparent materials, spoiling the effect.

If you are using craft punches or a die cutting machine, double sided punch tape can be stuck to the card or paper and cut or punched out to the exact shape or size required, creating your own self adhesive die cut shapes. Watch the video to see how it works.

With all the other types of adhesive that are available, traditional liquid craft glue might seem redundant, however it is ideal for sticking glitter, confetti or similar materials. Spread the glue thinly over the required area, sprinkle liberally with glitter, leave to dry, shake the excess glitter off onto a piece of card and paper and then pour it back into the container.

For envelope making, liquid glue can be used to join the edges of the paper where they meet, always spread thinly to avoid surplus glue squeezing out between the layers of paper. A special moisture activated adhesive called Lick and Stick can be used for the envelope seal.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Christmas Card Toppers

I have made two trips to England since my last post to deliver my children to School and University, it's been a hectic emotional roller coaster for me but the upside is that I have been able to buy more stock from UK suppliers.
We have teamed up with a company called Hunkydory Crafts who supply an amazing range of card, card blanks and toppers etc. I saw their range at the Summer Craft show in Doncaster and have been dying to get my hands on some of their stuff ever since. Despite a few false starts caused by problems with their website I managed to place an order with them and collect it on my last trip.
I have just put the first of their products on to the website, three sheets of top quality, die cut, Christmas card toppers.

 Each A4 sheet is printed on 300gsm acid and lignin free silk art card stock and all the die cut toppers have foiled edges for a superb, luxury finish. No card maker no matter how inexperienced or short of time can fail to make impressive cards with these toppers. For full details go to Card Toppers on the main website.
I will be putting other Hunkydory products on to the website over the next few weeks, so watch out for some more gorgeous toppers.
I am looking forward to trying them out and will be posting the results, so watch this space.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Stamping with Clear Stamps

I am delighted with our new range of clear stamps, which although quite small, caters for many different occasions in the greeting card calendar. The Missy Mice and Polar Bears are too cute and I have some great ideas for the Holly Tree stamp which I will get round to trying out when I have finished delivering my daughter to University at the weekend.
I have already tried out one of the stamps from the Tulips set and here are the results:

I used a black ink for the stamp to create the outline and stamped it onto a circle of white card, then coloured it with watercolour pencils which are great as you can blend them easily. This was then matted on pink card and mounted in the main card background.

As tulips come in such a wide range of colours the variations for colouring this stamp are endless.
The stamp is part of a set which is shown on the left.
To see details of our full range of stamps click here.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Wire and Mesh Butterflies

Wire Framed Butterflies
Following our summer spending spree here are the first of the new items to be added to the site, they are so gorgeous I couldn't wait to put them on. Delicate silver wire framed butterflies, with mesh covered wings in four shades, white, pastel pink, lilac and hot pink. Each butterfly has a gemstone body and a spot of glitter on each wing for an extra bit of glitz. Use them in card making, scrapbooking etc. The white ones would be great on wedding invitations. Hope you like them as much as I do.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Shopping for new products

It's been a month since I last posted and for most of that time I have been travelling and relaxing. I have also used the time in the UK to visit a craft fair and look at some of the latest trends and products and more importantly buy lots of new stock items for the store.
I am really pleased to have finally found a new supplier for our wire butterflies and padded heart embellishments so they will be back in stock soon. We have a new range of grosgrain ribbon from Berisfords, six delicious colours in 10mm and 16mm widths. I have revamped the adhesives range and got rid of one or two items, restocked on others and added a couple of new ones.
The most exciting news for me is that we will be launching a range of clear stamps in the Autumn, something we have been looking forward to for a long time.
I will be starting to add all these items, along with some great new free papers and sample cards as soon as I get back at the end of August, details will be in our upcoming newsletters. To subscribe to our newsletter and hear about all our exciting changes and addtitions, email with the word "subscribe" in the subject line.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Good Luck

This is the time of year when people are moving on, changing jobs or leaving for another country, the downside of expat life. So as the school year comes to a close I decided to make some Good Luck cards ready to hand out to friends and colleagues.

Lucky Black Cat Card

I chose some our new products to make the cards.I love this cute cat peel off, part of a  sheet with cats and dogs.I chose the black colour as black cats are supposed to bring good luck! The rest of the card is very straightforward with a paper flower in the corner and 3 pink diamante flowers to the right of the peel off. I made the greeting on the computer. Full instructions and a list of materials can be found here.

The second card features more good luck symbols, greem shamrocks and a key. This card was really quick and easy to make, I printed the circles from the computer but if you have a punch or die cutting machine it would be even quicker. A simple peel off line creates a border around the card and lifts the plain card backing.

Lucky Shamrock and Key Card

Again you can find a bigger image and full making instructions on our website.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Father's Day

I suddenly realised about a week ago that Father's Day is rapidly approaching and whilst I have always been a bit slack about this celebration I know I am probably in a minority. So I wanted to do a website feature for Father's Day with some card ideas, some products and some new papers, which would lead me naturally to produce a newsletter  to promote all of the above.
One week later the newsletter has just gone out, not too bad really although when I sat down to make the cards my first two ideas materialised very quickly

 and then.......blank...... total lack of inspiration and really not much time to spare. It's amazing how sometimes you overflow with ideas and other times you just draw a blank.
I think I have been partially hampered by my stash of 'Vintage' stuff which I am dying to have a go with and the distraction of exams and university applications which are going on in our house at the moment. I hope I am correct and that I will be full of ideas for vintage creations when I finally get round to them. The box of 'stuff' still sits at the other end of the room just waiting for me to get started.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Narrow Chequered Cord

I'm still working on the Facebook Like button, which has resulted in me having to create a photo gallery of the cards that  I have made, so that I can put a like button on the page for each card. This is a long and tedious job! So I have had to spread it out and do a few other things in between to keep up morale.
This morning I went down to the area in Dubai called Naif where I buy some of the items that we sell. Apart from now being a very hot and sweaty business (no glossy shopping malls here) it is also like a trip back in time as men push handcarts around the streets to deliver goods from wholesaler to retailer and large stacks of goods are left on the pavements awaiting their destination, I assume nothing is stolen as this stuff never looks as though it is heavily guarded.
Anyway my mission this morning was to re-stock on our plain colour paper flowers and gold and silver padded hearts, and to keep an eye open for anything new and interesting.
We were disappointed to find that the padded hearts are no longer available so as our stocks run out they will have to be discontinued, shame as they are really nice.
We found all the paper flowers except the peachy coloured ones and once again we were told there would be no future supplies of these flowers so we bought all they had.
Then I spotted some narrow cord in a range of two tone colours looking very similar to the bakers twine which has been big in all the crafting magazines lately. They had already sold out of a couple of colours that I would have liked but I came away with six colours which I think are perfect for this time of year.

We will be selling them in 4 metre lengths for 60p per 4 metres so not a big investment! and we have put them straight onto the website so they are available to you now.Find out more!
Now we're looking forward to playing with it and seeing what card designs we can come up with.
Watch this space!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Work gets in the way!

So.... my good intentions of a daily posting on this blog have fallen at the first hurdle. Work has been mega busy this week and I'm still trying to organise that holiday!! - no time to post. Today is the start of the weekend so I want to finish the newsletter that I have started and get it sent out, and then get on with making some vintage birthday and wedding cards to try out our new stock, ready for it's launch next month. Thinking about lace - especially after the fab Royal Wedding last weekend, that has to be an inspiration to anyone planning wedding cards and stationery.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

No Time for Crafting

Full on day at work today, teaching touch typing and how to cope with switching to a MAC, along with a bit of staff training. Still wrestling with the summer holiday which is taking up most of my computer time, I really want to be designing some new background papers in preparation for the launch of our vintage range, but that will have to wait until the holiday is sorted. Perhaps tomorrow..........

Saturday, 30 April 2011

First Post

I have spent my spare time over the last few days attempting to book our family holiday for the summer. Trying to fit with various constraints, keep everyone happy and stay within budget is proving very difficult and frustrating so I 've decided to leave it for now and do something that I've been wanting to do for a long time, which is to start a blog.
I want to write about crafting, mainly card making, and also about maintaining and promoting a website which is something I spend a lot of time doing. Finally I live as a British expat in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, a pretty strange place, so I want to include a few comments on life here. A bit of a mixture hence the title, but I hope you enjoy it.