Wednesday, 23 July 2014

An afternoon tea at the V&A with Kirstie Allsopp, Poppy Chancellor and Pinterest

If you are into crafts and/or Kirstie Allsopp maybe  you will have heard that there is a big craft fair coming up in September in London called Handmade Fair, one of the main sponsors being Craft Asylum, one of the companies I work with.

Please excuse the terrible photos, I only had my mobile and its passed its best!

Through Pinterest, I got invited to one of the launch events at the V&A, the world's greatest museum of art and design.

Hosted by Kirstie herself, it was a lovely afternoon with fellow crafters, bloggers and pinners

One of the highlights was the express workshop that Poppy Chancellor taught us. Poppy is a paper crafting extraordinaire and a lovely girl too.

She provided templates designed by her for us to hand cut. Well, you know me I prefer die cutting to a scalpel. But it was lovely to do something that I don't do in my day to day with lovely people. I sat on Pinterest table which was quite special. Meeting my fellow pinners was another highlight of the event.

We also had some tea and cupcakes courtesy of Hummingbird Bakery. As a recently finished dieting person that I am, I really enjoyed mine. Mind you, I took off the frosting as I have never enjoyed it!

Finally, we all were invited to attend the Wedding dress exhibition at the V&A, beautiful historical wedding dresses which, as a wedding nutcase as I am, I thoroughly enjoyed. 

(PS: if you are onto celebrities, you will enjoy it too as it has Kate Moss, Camilla, Gwen Stefani, Dita Von Teese and other's wedding dress. As a side note, I first identified that it was Kate Moss by her husband groom's suit which is just beside it, which made me realise how un-iconic her dress is!) 

Both Poppy and Kirstie are really lovely and very inspiring. Kirstie talked about her aim with Handmade Fair: 
Handmade Fair will be an event where people can relax and connect, being bound by doing things together with their hands. 
This is why it is very different from other craft fairs where you either buy the craft ware ready made or you buy the materials to make them. Handmade Fair will be unique in that will have both and, more importantly, places where crafting will happen there and then, a chance to try different things that you may or may not had a chance to do before.

That is what crafting is all about. I always have thought that crafting is very positive for society, from a community point of view as well as an individual, and we (those who work on the crafting industry) need to help explain and support the positive aspects of it. 

I am really looking forward to Handmade Fair, 19th - 21st September Hampton Court!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

My first Scrap Workshop tour of Spain - part 3 of 3

I left Zaragoza mid morning and drove through the small roads to Barcelona, which meant that i arrived after about 3 1/2 hours to Barcelona. 

I was teaching a full day of workshops at 100x100 Manulidades, a great shop in Barcelona. Diana and Lurdes are such a great hosts, everything was thought of. And even they have my clear stamps for Personal Impressions on sale!

For dinner, I went out with these two fabulous designers: Elena Roche and Quim Diaz. I have met them before and we have so much fun together. And it looks like someone photobombed the selfie!

We had dinner at Ciutat Comtal. Tapas! I never ever get tired of them.

Next morning, workshop! I taught a mini album using Teresa collins papers a few die cutting techniques. Lovely group!

Lunch break, as usual food was glorious. 

And my last workshop of the day and trip, an afternoon mini album. What a fantastic group. I can honestly say that I have been so fortunate to have such great 5 groups (2 Salamanca, 1 Zaragoza, 2 Barcelona). They were all fabulous and they created such a great atmosphere that made teaching so easy and rewarding. Thank you!

After that I made my way to the airport to take a plane back home at 10pm, with a big smile in my heart and on my face!

Friday, 11 July 2014

My first Scrap Workshop tour of Spain - part 2 of 3

The first thing I did the next day after arriving to Zaragoza was to accompany my uncle and godfather to buy groceries. I love the food markets that are in every single town around Spain. The Boqueria market in Barcelona is arguably the most famous one, but by no means the best or prettiest. It has plenty of competition, though this one above is not one of the pretty ones. The quality of the food though was great and the prices very reasonable.

Another place I went to is the former Expo area, which is now being repurposed as the court houses and other institutions. It is by the river Ebro and the views are rather nice.

As are some of the more modern buildings, like the covered bridge on the right.

No visit to Zaragoza is complete without a visit to El Pilar. I went with my cousin Angela.

And on the way I indulge myself with one Palmera de Chocolate (My favourite pastry in the world) from la Bombonera de Oro, a traditional patisserie that my mum loves. After months of dieting, this tasted heavenly. I loved this English academy. The decor was lovely and very Bristishlite.

On wednesday the 18th I taught a mini album workshop at La Factoria Limonera Zaragoza. My cousin Angela came as a student. It was the first time that she did any papercrafting at all, and not only did she complete her project she was the first one to finish it. I guess it runs in the family!

It was a bit emotional for me. It was the first workshop I had ever taught in the city where I was born. It was fab group and had a fab time, I can not wait to go back.
Next stop, Barcelona.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

My first Scrap Workshop tour of Spain - part 1 of 3

A couple of weeks ago I spent over a week teaching and traveling in Spain. I enjoyed it so much! it was a bit of an adventure!

I arrived on the 13th to Salamanca, ahead of my first workshop at Scrap by Diana the next day. We went for dinner in the centre. Although there was a great atmosphere it was dampened by the disastrous Spanish football team performance.

But the next day, we were ready for a full day of scrap. In the morning we made a mini album.

There we all are. I think everyone finished their project.

For lunch we had some tapas. Palomas on the left and croquetas on the right. Amazing and cheap. Food in Spain is really great.

On the afternoon we did more messy stuff but always with a twist of cleanliness as its my style. On the right the layout that one of the ladies made using different colours.

And here we are!

The next day I left Salamanca at eleven to make my way to Zaragoza via Burgos through small roads that would offer me the possibility to visit pretty villages (albeit without stepping out of the car) like Simancas (the one above) and Tordesillas.

Soon enough I arrived to Burgos. A provincial Castillian city that is gorgeous. Its rich with history and architecture, its food is famous and the landscape surrounding it is truly beautiful. Besides, Atapuerca is nearby which is where the oldest remains of hominids have been found in Western Europe.

Burgos is famed as being one of the coldest places in Spain. But it was a lovely warm (but not too hot) sunny day when I arrived. I had lunch looking at the beautiful cathedral.

After lunch, I made my way to the inside. The late gothic cathedral is well known in Spain. It is ver unique in my opinion due to this amazing windows:

There are windows on top on the ceiling. There are three, two smaller in two chapels and the one above, over the transept. A beautiful bridge between heaven and Earth. It literally took my breath away.

Just under it there is a simple tombstone. It is where EL Cid and his wife Jimena are buried. I had no idea that he was buried there so it was an great surpise. You see, El Cid is one of the most heroic figures in both Spanish history and literature. The photo on the right is of one of the most famous chapels, a very impressive work. Those were proper craft mans and not what I am!

The visit to cathedral ends with the two cloisters, one on top of each other, both beautiful both with interesting sculptures.

Burgos is not just the cathedral. It has gorgeous buildings and other interesting churches that make it a good touristic place. And as usual in Spain, highly underrated which means that not that many international tourists are there so prices are low.

I had never been to La Rioja before. Of course, everyone knows the name La Rioja because of the wine but I didn't realised that it is so beautiful! I am always amazed how every area in Spain is so beautiful and so different from the next.

After La Rioja, I drove a bit through Navarra, another Comunidad Autonoma

And just after I crossed into Aragon I saw a sign post that I couldnt ignore. Mallen. That is the small village that my father was born in. My grandparents were there not for long and did not have any family there, so there was never any reason to go there. And that is the church where my father was baptised, but I didn't know at the time. 
Next stop Zaragoza, the city where I was born!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Thursday, 3 July 2014

A simple card using embossing folders and Sizzix dies

Last week it was my lovely Zumba's instructor's birthday, so I made her a card inspired by another I made two years or so ago. You see its nice to revisit staff we have done.

I used Sizzix dies from a few years ago, I never get rid of them! They are always useful.

The message is part of my Small Everyday Messages stamp setas is the circle with the dots.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Animo Manoli!

I am not going to lie. the last six months have been some of the busiest time in a while. Not full on working mode, a lot of traveling both for professional and personal reasons. In six months, I have been to 8 different countries and flown to 12 different destinations. While I have enjoyed them very much, now I am contemplating the next couple of months without taking airplanes, and the prospect is looking good.

But today I want to share something else, something that it is not about me. Something that it is about our craft community, albeit the spanish craft community.

I met Manoli Picatua early this year in one of my trips to Portugal. I went there to demonstrate and teach Sizzix at Tubo d'Ensaio, the Portuguese distributor of Sizzix, Teresa Collins, Basic Grey and Stix2 among other fantastic brands. Manoli is a "tallerista de scrap", a fulltime workshop teacher of all things related to paper and scrap. I loved her. She is so sweet and talented that you can not not love her.

I met her again on my second trip to Portugal this year, where I took this pictures of her between workshops, and again I felt she is one really sweet girl. Manoli talked a bit about her youngest daughter's illness, one of those rare conditions that is so rare that there is no funding or clear treatment for it.

Spanish free health care is the best I have first hand knowledge of, and with a family and close friends that are or have been spread across Canada, USA, UK, France, Switzerland, Germany... that is saying something. But as much as it is free, rare conditions are that, rare, and, not only funding is nearly impossible, specialists are non existent. That means that when there is an acute situation the stays in hospital are long just because doctors do not know what to do or how to do it. Trial and error is needed, which is not only devastating for the patient and for the family, but it also means an extra lengthy stay in hospital, which is exhausting in more ways than one.

Manoli is her family's sole provider and as much she is one very hardworking person, being full time freelance, as she is, means that she can either make a living to provide for her family or be by the side of her very ill daughter. While she is making the best she can, it is extremely hard on her own. 

Patricia Villa Boas (Tubo de Ensaio's owner and all round Superwoman) and I were chatting about what could be done to help. Patricia had already in mind doing an event fundraiser for Manoli but soon developed the idea of setting an online fundraiser was mentioned, as another friend of mine in need did recently,  as well as a Workshops for Manoli, which means that all the money people pay to attend and materials goes to Manoli.

You can read more about it herehere and here.

In less than 24hrs many shops and "talleristas" have organised their own "Talleres para Manoli" and donations have started. Considering how much Spanish people are struggling with money, this has warmed my heart. I am grateful to be part of this wonderful close knit community that is scrapbooking in Spain. I am proud.

This is not an abstract donation to find a cure for some rare disease. This is to help, here and now, someone who needs it here and now.

Ánimo Manoli!

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