Category: Crafting

Busy Days Creative Planner – Review and Comparisons

For the past fifteen years I have used a daily planner or diary to organize my life and thoughts.  I have had a few different systems over the years and have been using an A4 Filofax for the past 3 years.  I decided to try something new – a Busy Days Planner from Box Clever Press.  I rather fancied combining planning with a bit of creativity, after admiring some of the amazing planners on blogs and Pinterest.

I purchased my planner from Amazon.  There was a choice of just the planner or with stickers and washi tape, or with a hole punch too.  I decided I only needed the basic planner.  I chose the above design from the 3 or 4 on offer. 

The planner has heavyweight (140gsm) pages – ideal if you want to use pens in your journal.  They are bound together with plastic rings, and can be easily removed or replaced.  This system is compatible with the popular Happy Planners by My & My Big Ideas as well as other similar planners.   It is also the same size as other popular planners being a very chunky 7.75” x 9.75”. 

Each month features a sturdy divider with a colourful protruding tag.  There are pages for each month where you can note down your plans for the month, your goals and, at the end, what you achieved during the month.  I rather like this feature and hope it will help me stay on track with my projects.

At the back of the planner there is a double sided pocket for storing bits and pieces.  Inside this are two sheets of colourful stickers that you can use to decorate your planner.  These are very nice indeed.

The planner also includes pretty calendars for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. 

The planner has 16 months worth of pages in it.  It starts with September 2017 (very convenient!) and runs through to the end of December 2018.  You can easily remove any months you don’t require.

There are both month-to-a-view and week-to-a-view spreads for each month.  The weekly spreads have each day divided into three horizontal boxes.  Ideal if you like to do morning, afternoon or evening, or want to split up work, home and school, for example.

I will be doing some posts on planner use, creating planner accessories and getting more from your planner in the future.

The following are links to the Busy Days Planner on Amazon.co.uk.  If you purchase from these links, I will get a small payment from Amazon for sending customers their way.

Link to Box Clever Busy Days Planner Website.

 

 

 

Sparkling Crochet by Mitsuki Hoshi – Craft Book Review

Title – Sparkling Crochet
Author – Mitsuki Hoshi
Publisher – Harper Designs
ISBN – 978-0-06-234859-3

I couldn’t resist this book when I saw it.  Such cute amigurumi!  It is about 9 inches tall and 7 inches wide and has 72 pages.

The book includes patterns for 16 cute little crocheted animals and 3 little accessories.

Beautiful Pictures

The first half of the book is full page, colour photos of each of the animals.   The examples have been knitted with sparkly yarn, but of course could be knitted with more usual yarns too. Specific yarn choices are not given.

Colour Instructions

There then follows a photo tutorial on how to make one of the animals, Earnest the Shiba Dog.  This shows you what you need and step by step photo instructions of how to crochet the dog.  The photos are close up and nice and clear.  The other animals are based on similar principles so this section serves as a good tutorial for all the other designs too.

Crochet Charts

Next are the crochet charts themselves.  There is not a written crochet pattern, instead the book uses the Japanese style diagrams for each part.  Some crocheters may not be familiar with these, but with a little practice would hopefully find them easy to use.  Start with a small component to get the idea of how the charts work.

 

Crochet Chart Symbols

Finally there is a short section that shows the symbol for each type of crochet stitch with a step-by-step series of diagrams to show how to make this stitch.  Whilst a total beginner may not find this enough to learn to crochet, it is a clear, helpful guide for those with a little experience already.

Summary

Whilst this is a small book, the patterns are very adorable and lend themselves to experimenting and creating your own additional variations.  The instructions are clear and would suit a new crocheter.  One could easily create the animals on different scales by using thicker/thinner yarn and different hooks – a bit of experimentation would of course be needed.

A cute and fun book with really attractive designs that are difficult to resist.

This link leads to the item on Amazon.co.uk. If you purchase it from this link then I would get a small commission from Amazon for sending custom their way.

Craft Llama – a New Crafting Community Website

Launching today (1st Septemeber 2017) is the new crafting community website, CraftLlama.com.

I was looking for a safe, friendly, fun crafting community to join and my son suggested “why not make your own?”

Seven months, many sleepless nights and grey hairs later – I have!

Craft Llama is totally free for everyone. If you join before 1st November you will get Charter Member status with a special badge on your profile page.

Craft Llama is for everyone who likes to craft. All crafts, all ages, all nationalities, everyone!

 

 

Tim Holtz Stamping Platform by Tonic – Craft Product Review

 What is the Tim Holtz Stamping Platform

The platform is made of very sturdy plastic and metal.  The base is very flat with rulers along two sides – these are in both inches and centimetres. The other two sides are flat so you can easily put large pieces of paper inside. The lid has a gridon it – this is molded on and will not be rubbed off.  It comes with two very strong flat magnets.  The overall feeling is that this is a very strong product that will last through many years of use.

  Using The Tim Holtz Stamping Platform

Using the platform is very easy.  You just remove the lid and turn it so that the right side is upright – one for clear stamps, one for rubber ones.  The options are very clearly marked and turning the lid around is quick and easy.  Magnetic hinges make sure it goes back in quickly and accurately.

You then place your paper or card on the base and lay your stamps on top, wherever you want them to be.  Close the lid and the stamps transfer to the lid.

Then ink up and close the lid again – simple as that.

And you have your stamped images.  If any didn’t stamp quite perfectly you can reink that area and close the lid again – very easy to get perfect stamped images every time.

Uses For the Tim Holtz Stamping Platform

The Tim Holtz stamping platform can help with multiple everyday stamping situations/issues.

1 – When stamping very large stamps it is easy to have part of the image not stamp properly.  Even with a clear stamp it is very difficult to stamp over the top to correct the error.  The THSP allows you to restamp in exactly the same location, again and again, until the image is perfect.  You can also do this to get a darker impression.

2 – The THSP is ideal for use with the new layered stamps from companies such as Alte New.  These require each layer to be lined up neatly with the layer below – something that can be quite tricky when stamping with traditional acrylic blocks.  With the THSP you can line the layer stamp up precisely on the layer below ready to print.

3 – The THSP really comes into its own when stamping multiple projects.  If, for example, you wanted to make a set of thank you cards, all the same, you can easily position each stamp and then stamp it on all the cards in succession, knowing they will all be in exactly the same location.  Very convenient.

4 – The very large surface of the THSP means you can lay out a large group of stamps and stamp them together.  This is handy for designing backgrounds and scenes as you can position the stamps and move them around without having to stamp anything first.

5 – If you shake or have poor hand control then the THSP makes it much easier to get the perfect stamp every time.  You can take your time positioning your stamps just where then want them then pick them up and stamp them without fear of misalignment or double-stamping.  This is also a handy feature for stamping onto acetate and other slippery surfaces.

6 – You can create corners and borders with the THSP.  Cut a square (or rectangle) of card and place it in the corner of the THSP.  Stamp and rotate the card to add all corners or border edges.  You could create all sorts of kaleidoscopic effects this way too.

7 – Many people are using the THSP as a general purpose work surface too.  The base is very flat and the included magnets are handy for holding work in place when colouring and other crafting.

Summary

I am very pleased I invested in this product.  I had seen a LOT of videos and reviews of the various stamping platforms currently available and felt that this particular one offered the best value for money.  Now I own it, I feel I was right.  It is very sturdy, easy to use and does its job very well.  It was also a very reasonable price compared to some of the other devices out there.

Create and Craft Membership – Halfprice (technically free) until 26th April 2017

CreateandCraftHalfPriceThe Create and Craft tv shopping channel are having their 14th birthday celebrations.

As well as free postage and packaging, they are offering the chance to join their popular craft club for just £10 – half the usual £20.  Technically this means it is free to join as you will be given £10 credit on your Create and Craft after joining – £10 to spend on any of their many products.

Membership also brings:

  • significant discounts on the usual prices
  • a regular, full colour, glossy magazine
  • the chance to buy special items at low members’ prices
  • free gifts (you just pay postage)
  • a VIP club badge
  • perks at the big shows they host, such as VIP guest lounges
  • downloadable monthly newsletter
  • exclusive competitions

Here is a link to their website and details of the offer:  Create and Craft Half-Price Membership

12″ Tonic Super Trimmer Review – Tonic Paper Cutter Board

For a while I have been wanting a decent paper trimmer for use in my craft room.  I have a portable one, but I wanted something more “solid”.  When my mum got a Tonic Super Trimmer last summer, I was rather envious of some of its features.  But I am envious no longer as mum bought me my very own one for my birthday! 8

The trimmer has a large base plate and is suitable for paper and card that has one dimension less than 12″.  It comes in a simple “blister pack” with instructions for how to replace the blades and how to use the trimmer.  There are two blades includes -a  cutting one and a scoring one.

Tonic-Cutter-4

The paper or card is held beneath the clear, central ruler.  This has measurements in both cms and inches and the ends are “turned up” which makes it very easy to flip open and closed.

Tonic-Cutter-1

The board is marked in both centimetres and inches throughout.  The rulers are repeated around the board to ensure it is always easy to be accurate.  This is one of the strongest features of this cutting board.   There are also lines marked out at 4 1/4″ and 5 1/2″.  These are the standard dimensions of greetings cards in America, though not in most other countries.  However, many non-USA crafters do use American products and standards, or you can just ignore the marks!  It is just as easy to use the board for International standards too (A5 and A6 sized cards).

Tonic-Cutter-6

The rulers have extensions that swing out from behind the board and click into place to make the board effectively wider.  There are two of these swing arms, and this enables the board to be used either way up.

Tonic-Cutter-2

A scoring bladed head is included.  The “blade” is smooth to the tough and ideal for creasing lines in projects.

Tonic-Cutter-5

The included cutting blade is permanently mounted in a plastic holder.  This is very easy to slip into and out of the central ruler.  A great feature of the blade holder is the two little pointy “wings” that stick out of the sides.  These allow you to line up the blade with the ruler and cut very precise lines in the middle of your card – ie not cutting to the edge.  This makes cutting mounts and frames a doddle and is one of the things that really swung me to this particular model of paper trimmer.

Tonic-Cutter-3

The paper trimmer is very well made.  It feels sturdy (though it is lightweight) and all the markings are deeply engraved so unlikely to wear off easily.  I have been using it a lot and am very impressed with how easy it is to get quick, very accurate cuts.  I have used it on paper from very thin copier tissue paper right up to 340gsm board.

7

I am very happy with the Tonic Super Trimmer and would recommend it to anyone looking for a sturdy, easy to use paper and card trimmer.  I love the features that help ensure accuracy (even for someone who is like me!).  A very well thought out and well made piece of crafting equipment.

This link leads to the item on Amazon.co.uk. If you purchase something from this link then I would get a small commission from Amazon for sending custom their way.

Dozens of Fantastic Free Course Books From Open University now on Amazon

Just a quickie to tell you about the amazing totally free course books that the Open University have added to Amazon.

They are issued in conjunction with the free courses available on the OU’s website (or at Future Learn).

The books cover many different subjects and provide a short but detailed overview of the subject.  They vary in length from 20 or so pages up to about 128.

Of particular interest to craft sellers might be:

We Are Memory Keepers Mini Alphabet Punch Board Review

ABC-Board-1

I first saw the We Are Memory Makers Alphabet Punch Board on “Create and Craft” TV and was fascinated.  It seemed such a clever device – and although I didn’t really think I had a use for it, I wanted one, badly.

Fast forward to Christmas and my mother had been hinting (hard) that she had got me something that I “will really love”.  It was the mini version of the Alphabet board!  Whilst I had not really felt I had use for the big one… the little one was perfect for my sorts of projects.  Well done, mum.

ABC-Board-12

The board is a very clever bit of kit.  It is small and compact and seems very sturdily made.  It has everything built in to punch, cut and trim a full alphabet of capital letters, plus numbers, in two (agreeably quite similar) styles.

ABC-Board-5

So how does it work?

First you need a piece of card that is 2.5″ by 1.5″. (the larger version of the board uses 5″ x 3″ pieces for comparison).  Handily, the board can actually cut these pieces for you!  There are simple instructions in the included booklet and having done one you will be easily making as many as you need.  You could, of course, also cut your pieces with a paper trimmer.

The series of techniques needed to make each letter are very clearly given in the instruction book.  They are simple illustrations and after making a few letters the overall principles are learnt and it is easy to make new letters without needing the manual.ABC-Board-4  There is also a (free) Android and iPhone app that you can download with the instructions – handy if you loose the book.ABC-Board-3

I was cutting out letters within minutes of opening this Christmas present – and it is great fun.

ABC-Board-2
The back of the instruction book shows the alphabet with optional extra punches for decoration.
ABC-Board-11
Everything you need is built into the board for convenience.
ABC-Board-6
I soon had a pile of letters.
ABC-Board-10
The little knife is easy to use in the grooves for accurate cutting every time.
ABC-Board-9
The corner-rounder does its thing on the top of the letter R.
ABC-Board-8
Then the other side of the corner-rounder makes the little “indentation” in the front of the R.
ABC-Board-7
And here is the finished letter in all its glory – ready to use on a crafting project.

I have been using the letters for ATCs, card making (the numbers are especially handy for this), scrapbooking and similar projects.  I have also made a couple of little banners with them and they fit beautifully on the First Edition Bunting Dies (link below).

ABC-Board-13

The larger board is perfect for making bunting and We Are Memory Keepers have also bought out a punch that will make perfect little card links to join the letters together.

These links lead to the Mini Alphabet Board and the larger version on Amazon.co.uk. If you purchase something from this link then I would get a small commission from Amazon for sending custom their way.

A Mermaid Engagement Card with Lawn Fawn Stamps – Tutorial

Today I am making an engagement card for a very special couple.  I am sure they will get lots of classy, sophisticated cards – so I am going for cutey and whimsical!

I got the new Lawn Fawn “Mermaid for You” stamps just before Christmas and they came with the perfect sentiment, plus who doesn’t love mermaids?

I took two sizes of circle dies from the  from Circles Nesting Die set by Presscut.  I placed the smaller one on a piece of Neenah Solar White cardstock and drew around it with a pencil, then cut it out with about half an inch extra all around.

Lawn-Fawn-Stamps

I used a mixture of the “Mermaid For You” and the “Fintastic Friends” stamps from Lawn Fawn to make a little underwater scene within the circle.  I stamped the sea weed with two shades of green Memento ink (Cottage Ivy and Bamboo Leaves) and stamped the rest in Tuxedo black Memento ink.

I then used the Tuxedo black ink to stamp two of the sweet little mermaids, the big rock and the seahorse onto more Neenah Solar White card.  I added the tiny starfish to the girl mermaid’s hair.

I coloured everything in with a mixture of Spectrum Noir, Copic and Promarker alcohol markers.  I used the clear blender pen to create a “scaly” look on the mermaid tails and the biggest fish.  I cut out the mermaids leaving a very thin white border because I rather like this “sticker cut” look.Coloured-Lawn-Fawn

Next I used both of the circle dies to cut a frame from Hunkeydory Gold Miri card.  To make this look a bit more like a porthole I added Bright Gold Dovecraft 3D Pearl Effects around the edge: they are supposed to be the rivets.MiriCardPorthole

I used the smaller die as a template to cut a circle from acetate (recycled from Christmas packaging) I drew around the outside of the die with a black Sharpy pen, then cut it out with scissors.  Some sorts of acetate will cut fine with dies, others just seem to bend and stretch rather than cut through.  Had this acetate been ok to cut, I would have done so using the larger circle die.

I used both of the circle dies to cut two frame shapes (exactly like the porthole one) from fun foam then glued them together with Anita’s Tacky Glue.  I then glued them on to the coloured scene circle.

For the “shakers” I used some Scatter Blue from My Village.  This is a product designed to go with Christmas village ornaments, to create fake water.  It is very tiny pieces of coloured transparent plastic and great for shaker cards. I added a few clear sequins too.  Then I glued the acetate to the back of the gold frame with the Tacky Glue, then glued this to the fun foam on the scene to finish the shaker part.

Handy hint – rub the inside side of the acetate with an anti-static bag or tumble-dryer sheet before gluing it in place, this will help prevent the sequins sticking to it.”

MermaidShakerCardThe base card is a white 5″ by 7″ side folding card from “The Works” – I bought some before Christmas as they are great quality and useful to have on hand.

I took the sentiment “We mermaid for each other” from the Lawn Fawn Mermaids stamp set and carefully cut off the word “we”.  I often cut stamps up like this, it won’t really harm them as it is easy enough to push them back together to stamp the whole thing again.

I stamped the “mermaid for each other” part of the sentiment on to the base of the folded card (I laid the shaker part on first to be sure I had it in the right place), then added the word “you” from the “sea you soon ” sentiment that is included in the same stamp set.  I used Tuxedo black ink for this too.

YouMermaidSentiment

Then I added the shaker unit to the card.  The reason I added this after stamping my sentiment was because there is always a chance that the stamping will go wrong, well there is when I am stamping, anyway!  So I prefer to stamp before adding the extra items to save having to cut things off etc if it goes wrong.  Once I am sure I have a perfectly stamped card, then I can add the rest.

I then added the rock, mermaid, merman and tiny seahorse to the frame of the shaker card.MermaidEngagementCard

These links lead items on Amazon.co.uk. If you purchase something from these links then I would get a small commission from Amazon for sending custom their way.

Boldmere Art Markers from “The Works” – a Review

I spotted these smart looking alcohol markers in “The Works” and decided to try them out.  They cost just £4 for each pack of 6 markers (about 66p per pen).

There were two sets in the store: I don’t know if there are any more available but only the same two packs are on their website.  The numbering on the pens seems to imply they are part of a much larger range – plus usually alcohol makers come in multiple intensities/hues to allow shaded colouring.

Boldmere-Art-Markers

One pack is called “Brights” and contains the following colours:

Y37 Pastel Yellow
P82 Light Violet
R14 Vermilion (actually bright orange)
R10 Deep Red
G46 Vivid Green
B86 Baby Blue

The other pack is called “Vintage pastels” and contains:

BR95 Burnt Sienna
YR26 Pastel Peach
BG5 Blue Grey (the cap looks like a soft blue but it is actually a dark grey colour)
RP17 Pastel Pink
Y42 Bronze Green
WG5 Warm Grey

After a bit of detective work and I discovered that the numbers exactly match those of the Shin-Han Touch Twin markers.  I do not have any Touch Twins to compare them with though.Boldmere-Art-Markers-Colour

The pens initially look quite similar to Spectrum Noir pens with square, black barrels.  Unlike the Speccys (and other brands) there is no clear way to tell which end is which with the caps on.  You have to look at the barrel to read and I suspect this will wear off quickly.  I will mark mine with little strips of washi tape as this gets annoying very fast!

They have thick square colour indicators on the ends.  They are a little bit longer than a Spectrum Noir marker (and therefore quite a bit longer than Copics, Promarkers and most other brands).  The barrels do fit in my Art Bin Marker box, but they are a bit too tall for the lid to close properly on them.  It would be fine with just a few in the box, among other brands.

ArtMarkersizes

One end has a bullet type nib.  This is similar to that found on the Spectrum Noirs and Promarkers – it is not a brush type like the Copics have.  This nib felt nice and soft on many of the pens but was hard and scratchy on a couple of them.

ArtMarkerBullets

The other end has a wedge shaped nib, similar to other brands.  This nib felt the same as the other brands, firm but pliable.

ArtMarkerBroadTips

The overall build of the pens does feel rather cheap.  There was no mention of their being refillable, but as most cheap markers aren’t, this is not surprising.

As I only have these 12 colours it would be very hard to colour a detailed, shaded image without using other pens too.  The Warm Grey included could be used for some shading though.

To test the pens I coloured stamped images of adorable Japanese dolls from Hero Arts.  I stamped the dolls using Memento Tuxedo Black ink onto Neenah Solar White card.

ColouredJapaneseDolls

Overall the pens sadly did feel cheap.  I used the Pastel Peach for their skin and it was a very hard, scratchy pen.  The end result was streaky (as well as rather orangey).  Usually I would use multiple skin tones to get shading, so this colour may work better with others than alone.

The other pens felt softer, the Deep Red was lovely to use (the dress of the doll on the left) and I know I will use this again as I have a bit of a thing for red pens.

The middle doll’s top is coloured with the Blue Grey pen.  I expected this to match the top of the pen and be far more blue than it is.  The right hand doll’s top looks pinky red in this scan but is actually quite orange in real life – for some reason oranges and pink alcohol markers never scan quite properly.

Please note that the coloured dolls look much better in real life than they do here.  The pen strokes tend to show up far more in scans.

These would be a great buy if you want alcohol markers for colouring pearls and buttons.  If there really is only 12 colours available then they are very limited for colouring purposes – it would be cheaper to buy water based markers if you are not going to shade.

They blend perfectly with other brands of alcohol markers, as is standard.  Therefore they do make a very cheap addition to an existing collection of pens.  There are a couple of very nice colours included.  They are not Copics, or even Spectrum Noirs, but they are alcohol markers, they do blend (if you have additional colours) and they are VERY cheap.

To read more about my Art Bin marker box and how I store my pens – click here

These links lead items on Amazon.co.uk. If you purchase something from this link then I would get a small commission from Amazon for sending custom their way.

Boldmere Art Markes A Review