Wednesday 16 December 2015

Thursday 10 December 2015

Sizzix | Big Shot Plus Starter Kit giveaway

Do you fancy a Big Shot Plus Starter kit?
Well, Sizzix is running an Exclusive December blogger giveaway!

Closing date: Friday 18th December 2015 at 10am GMT.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Sizzix | Giveaway

Win a Big Shot Plus machine

Win a Big Shot Plus machine! It has the versatility of working with the entire Sizzix product library (with the exception of Bigz Pro dies) but including our smallest to our big 9” wide dies and embossing tools. 

Don’t miss out and enter today!

Closing date: Friday 27th November 2015 at 10am GMT.

Friday 13 November 2015

Sizzix Competition

The Christmas Season is upon us and Sizzix is giving you a chance to win this fabulous prize? You can WIN the Big Shot™ Machine and a selection of festive dies including my snowflakes and Christmas trees, as well as other Christmas sentiment and more!

With this prize you can create wonderful holiday cards, decorations, wrapping paper, tree decorations and much more for your friends, family or yourself this Christmas.

To enter you need to click here and sign up on the Sizzix website (here)!


660200 Big Shot™ Machine
659999 Textured Impressions™ Embossing Folders 2PK - Yuletide Boulevard Set by BasicGrey®
659913 Thinlits™ Die Set 4PK - Christmas Trims #2 by Debi Potter
659914 Thinlits™ Die - From Our Home by Debi Potter
658622 Framelits™ Die Set 8PK w/Stamps - Snowflakes #2 by Paula Pascual
659002 Thinlits™ Die Set 5PK - Christmas Tree by Jen Long
660058 Thinlits™ Die Set 17PK - Holiday Words: Script by Tim Holtz®
659976 Thinlits™ Die - Ornament Tree by Paula Pascual
659978 Thinlits™ Die Set 9PK - Winter Borders & Rosette by Paula Pascual
659916 Thinlits™ Die - Merry Christmas by Debi Potter

By entering this competition you will automatically be signed up to the newsletter so you can be the first to hear the latest news, views and more! Closing date: Friday 27th November 2015 at 10am GMT.

Thursday 12 November 2015

10 things I learnt at Pinterest

A couple of weeks ago I attended one of the Pinterest UK seminars which was full of information about good practices on Pinterest:

  1. If you run a blog or love Pinterest, getting the business account is the way to go. Its free and allows you to access a whole load of information regarding popular pins, traffic and so on.
  2. The number of followers is not a measure of success, engaging is (repins, favourites, traffic back to site) you can access all that info from your business settings.
  3. Rich pins are an important way to engage more. As are authentic long descriptions of the images will make your pins more easily found.
  4. Make sure that your website and blog are optimised for mobile as it does help a lot with Pinterest.
  5. Put the very obvious Pin It button on your blog or website.
  6. Content is evergreen - there is no best time to pin, and you should not be worried to pin a whole load of stuff at the same time. Well, as long as your personal and professional life allows it!
  7. Don't delete boards or pins. Almost no one goes to the bottom boards anyway, so even if your pride wants to make you delete unpopular pins, its not necessary! Maybe edit the description to make more authentic and/or accurate.
  8. You should only join Group Boards with people you would go (and probably have gone) to dinner with. Otherwise, you never know what your may get!
  9. Images should be very good quality and vertical. Obvious, I know! But Instagram quality isn't good enough.
  10. Business centre is where you should find all your information.  Its a brilliant resource.

Also, I strongly suggest to follow Jennifer Priest on Social media or on RainMaker Media Works.

Now, I need to do some work on my blog...

Monday 9 November 2015

Sizzix | Tutorial Envelope die

One die a few ways of using the envelope

Last time I was here, I showed how to make a card using the actual envelpe die. Today I am still using the same die to create cards, but slightly different this time.

For this project you will need:

Sizzix Big Shot Plus Machine Only - 660020 (for the envelope you need the larger 9" width of the Plus)

Card, Stamp, tag and adhesives

I took a prescored card that was 5 x 5 inches square when folded in half.
I placed the square die in place and secure it with low tack tape.

Because the die is almost exactly 5" you can use your standard Sizzix Big Shot to die cut this die, but for the envelope die you will need the Big Shot Plus.

Because of the amount of detail, before lifting the die I always turn it around to make sure that I have cut it through. Usually with 2 passes it is perfectly cut, but it will depend on the card.

Gently I removed all the excess bits. Because they are rather large, I didn't use the die brush.

I cut a square piece of hot pink card and attached it to the back.

Finally, I stamped the message in a white tag and added a brad trough.

I used my Big shot plus to die cut a matching square envelope.

And this is another version which I think would be nice for a wedding, two halves!

I hope you like it and try to use your dies to be creative!

Monday 2 November 2015

Saturday 31 October 2015

Big Shot Starter it 2013 Card Butterfly

Another from the archives. I made this card in 2012 using the Big Shot Starter kit. Its busy but still I like it!

I am so happy the Starter kit is back! Makes me super happy to know that the dies and embossing folder that I designed are still liked!

Thursday 29 October 2015

Craft Conversations with the Pros | Lara Watson

Today I have one very exciting conversation: Lara Watson, the editor of Mollie Makes.
When and how did you start in the magazine business?
I graduated with an English degree and a post-grad in magazine journalism and my first job was coordinating editorial on a trio of little local food magazines. I worked there for over 3 years before moving on to a new craft mag at Future Publishing called You Can Craft. I was production editor there – which in this case meant I was in charge of the words, scheduling, news sourcing and online work. 
It closed after a year and I worked on a family history title for a little while before hearing colleagues chat about a new launch in the works called Mollie Makes. I offered to write for them in a freelance capacity and was asked to join the team as Creative Editor, where I compiled news pages and looked after social media. My Deputy Editor and Editor moved on to other projects in quite quick succession so I climbed the ladder pretty quickly, which is unusual! 
You are currently the Mollie Makes editor, What responsibilities do you have as such? 
It’s my job to lead and manage the editorial team, plan content, watch trends and the industry. I liaise with other internal departments such as marketing and advertising, make sure everyone gets paid and has the right contract. I commission, advise, proof pages, sign things off and keep an eye on or organise all brand extension work such as our events, our book series and more. I do lots of networking!

Out of everything you do and have done, what is your favourite? 
There’s nothing I enjoy more than putting creative people in touch with each other and seeing how ideas can get better and better with collaboration and support. Our Mollie Makes Handmade Awards day is an annual highlight of this job for me. I’m also always striving for intelligent editorial and love the lifestyle element we have in Mollie Makes, where we can develop features and spotlight great writing, illustration and creative talent, not just step-by-step craft projects.

Your proudest moment and achievement? 
Being shortlisted for Editor of the Year at the PPA New Talent Awards and Rising Star at the British Media Awards in 2014.

Is it hard to work full/part time in the magazine industry? Can you name your major challenges you face working in the craft magazine world? 
The biggest challenge is resource and time. There’s so much we want to do on our small team but there simply isn’t room for everything when you’re filling at least 108 pages from scratch every 20 days, running a world-class social media brand and writing a blog. And the rest! Editors these days have to be multi-skilled and willing to turn their hands to everything: marketing, writing, styling, event organising, presenting, video-making and shop-curating... The list goes on with each new development in our changing media environment. What was traditionally a print-based job is very different now.

What do you think is more important to succeed in this craft industry: creative talent, hard work or luck? 
Truthfully it’s a bit of everything. I'd say talent is the most important – it’s how you first get noticed. Luck plays a part as so much of this industry can come down to whether you’re in the right place at the right time, connecting with the right people. And it’s never been easier to reach out to the people that make decisions now we have Twitter etc! Hard work keeps you relevant and fresh, and means you’re likely to be invited back. 

If you could go back in time, what would you do differently career wise? 
I don’t believe in regrets. Every job I’ve had has pushed me on in a positive way depending on what I needed at the time. Whenever I've ended up not enjoying a role, it’s taught me a good lesson about myself. It’s meant I’ve looked around for the next, better thing. Joining Mollie came at a time when I really wanted to focus on my career so I was able to throw myself in completely. At any other time it may have been overwhelming! I think you get to know what kind of work suits you over the years.
What do you look for in submissions for Mollie Makes? 
Really I’m looking for something a bit different with a level of neatness, professionalism and consideration. A slightly different or unusual angle will always make me sit up and take another look. I like to see that people who pitch to me have read our magazine and understand our aesthetic. Good photography and presentation is increasingly important. 
Any top tips when working with craft magazines?
It’s a collaboration rather than a transaction. Working together, reading a brief thoroughly and discussing and sharing ideas is key. Keep to your deadlines (or ask for an extension if you need one!) and be friendly.

What is your favourite type of project to feature in Mollie Makes? 
I’m a big crochet fan but my first creative love is papercraft so a fresh idea with pretty papers and washi tape is right up my street! I have a weak spot for stationery. Good photography and styling makes me very happy! Our art editor, Helena Tracey, is a star.    
What do you think it appeals more to the Mollie Makes crowd: quick and easy; useful or really pretty projects?
We have such a wide range of readers that I try to include something for everyone. We like to always include a more time-consuming project for people who like to have a work-in-progress on the go at all times. Quick and easy is always a winner – everyone loves that feeling of completing something in an afternoon! Again, a mixture of decorative and useful is important for any craft magazine. Let’s say Mollie readers aren’t adverse to something as frivolous and fun as a crochet apple cosy.
What is your favourite colour in general? And to feature projects for the magazine?
I love mustard yellow, bright cerise red, duck egg blue and neutrals paired with neon yellow. Eclectic! To wear, I prefer black, navy, beige, copper or metallics with a little hint of pattern at the moment.
As a crafter yourself, what is your style, technique, project wise?
My main projects are crochet granny square blankets, scrapbooks and greetings cards. I like having a crochet blanket on the go all the time to give as a gift. I travel so much that it’s handy to carry around with me on the tube etc.  

Where do you go for inspiration? 
Instagram and Pinterest of course! I follow a lot of great craft companies on Facebook too and am always screen grabbing interesting stories or images. Otherwise, it’s just watching people, having a look in interiors and fashion shops, flicking through magazines. I like noticing what people are pinning, wearing and photographing. I love a good film, art exhibition or museum.

And finally, What is next for you? Any art or craft dreams to be explored? 
We’re working on our latest special – a colouring-in book with a Mollie twist, which is very exciting. We’re also looking at e-commerce and the wider brand. I'd like to do more video, events and classes.

Thank you so much Lara! 

You can find Lara  here: 

Monday 26 October 2015

Sizzix | New tutorial make a card using the envelope die

Hi! Today I would like to share a card that I made using the new Square Envelope Die for the Big Shot Plus.

For this project you will need:

Card and adhesives

I die cut the envelope using hot pink card.

Using the scored lines as a guide, I trimmed two of the opposite triangles.

I folded the other two to make sure the scoring lines were properly marked. Then, I placed one of the detail Thinlit dies that come in the set. You get 5 different ones so there is plenty to choose from. I secured it with tape.

Because of the amount of detail, before lifting the die I always turn it around to make sure that I have cut it through. Usually with 2 passes it is perfectly cut, but it will depend on the card.

To remove all the small intricate die cuts, I used the Die release Brush and mat.

I then die cut the circle with the flower Thinlit in and the spiky one, all three dies included on the set. I die cut the spiky one out of light pink, but then preferred in white.

Finally I added a piece of lighter pink for contrast and then the seal.
This would make a lovely wedding invite, I would print the text in the light pink paper and make it double, like a card within a card.

And there it is finished. Very simple with gorgeous detail!
I hope you like it too!

Thursday 22 October 2015

Craft Conversations with the Pros | Katie Skilton

Today I have the Craft Conversation with a new friend of mine, Katie Skilton. You may have seen her on Hochanda recently as well as other Craft TVs.

When and how did you start in the industry?
I have been paper crafting for 15 years.  It started when my eldest daughter Annabelle was born and I wanted a way to document her life.  I came across scrapbooking, although back then it was very basic.   
What type of job at first? Did you started as a creative straight away?
In 2012 I gave up my full time job as a sales and marketing manager in the orthopaedic industry as it was just too much after I had my son Jude.  I originally planned to make a few cards to sell at fairs and through friends and family.  I started a blog and this is when I found out about design teams.  I joined a couple and from there it just took off.   
I was asked by a company to do some paid work which I jumped at.  From there I contacted my first magazine Cardmaking & Papercrafts who offered me some design work.  
 Was it full time? Part time? 
It started off as a part time job but I found that I loved this type of work and put a lot of time and effort into contacting editors and companies.  My aim was to become full time by the time both my youngest boys were at school.  This happened much sooner and I now work pretty much full time, although the hours can be spread out to suit me and my family. 
How do you describe your job nowadays?
Nowadays I do a real variety of work from magazine commissions to designing projects to go on the front of packaging.  If there is one thing I love about this job is the versatility.

Is it hard to work full/part time in the craft industry? Can you name your major challenges you face?
It is very hard to work full time in the industry, mainly because being a freelance designer the work can come and go.  Often I can have a quiet couple of weeks and then a really busy few weeks where I am working night and day to fit it all in.  This is my biggest fear, as a freelance designer it has taken a huge amount of work to build up my business and this is something that I have to really focus on as without the hard work and networking with companies and people I would lose a lot of work very quickly.  I think one of the biggest challenges I face is not having a design background.  I am self taught but if I could do it all again I would have concentrated on design when I left school.

Out of everything you do and have done, what is your favourite?
I really like working at the craft shows around the country and sometimes further afield.  It is lovely to get out and meet all the crafters that visit these shows.  I get a real sense of achievement when I teach someone new to crafting a new technique and show them the best way to get the most of a product.  The TV work is something I never thought I would be doing but I actually really enjoy being in front of the camera!
Your proudest moment and achievement?
I have been nominated twice in 2014 and 2015 for British Card Designer Of The Year.  This was a major achievement for me as only being in the industry for a short period of time I was amazed to be up there with some really talented designers.

What is your favourite project type (mini albums, cards, layouts, home decor...) and colour?
I love all paper crafting projects and it is hard to name a favourite but I do still have a real love for cardmaking.  It is like miniature pieces of art.  I also love home decor and the way you can make something from nothing.  Although I started with scrapbooking I find this the hardest projects these days.  I have to really think about the design and it doesn’t come as naturally to me as other paper crafts, although I would love to do more of it and as they say practise makes perfect! 
I love colours and matching the right colours are so important when designing.  I like bright, fresh colours but to me white is very important as I love white space on projects.  I feel this really brings out the colours in the project.

Where you go for inspiration?
I spend so much time on Pinterest! I get lost in all of the wonderful projects I see.  But inspiration comes from everywhere.  I live in a small fishing town and often get inspired by the seaside theme with boats and nautical themes.  I also like taking ideas from fabrics and clothing I see and add those ideas into papercraft projects.

What is next for you?
I like to think I am always moving forward.  Over the past couple of months I have taken a step back to focus on family but I have a few plans for the upcoming months.  I am hoping to make some changes to my existing website and add some new features.  I am hoping to continue working with some of the fabulous companies I have been working with over the past few years and also looking to expand to new companies with new ideas.  Eventually I would like to put my product ideas into practise but that will be a could of years off.

And finally, Do you remember when we first met? Any good/bad impressions?
I knew of Paula Pascual for a while before I met you and always found your work very inspiring so when we first met I was really excited.  We first met at Stitches in Birmingham in 2014 but it wasn’t until 2015 that we got to work together at Paperworld and in Glasgow.  I can honestly say I have learnt so much from you from product information to great ways to teach. It has been a real pleasure to get to know you better.

You can find Katie here:

Monday 19 October 2015

Craft Asylum | Making quick and easy cards

Today on the Craft Asylum blog I share this quick and easy cards, perfect when you have to make many in a short amount of time.

Click here or on the photo to read more about it.

Thursday 15 October 2015

Craft Conversations with the Pros | Sara Naumann

Today is the turn for one of the most gorgeous crafters I have ever met: Sara Naumann. A really talented, hardworking and not to mention super sweet designer!

When and how did you start in the craft industry?
I started in the craft industry right after graduating from university. I answered an ad for a receptionist at a publishing company in Oregon called Hot Off The Press (HOTP). My degree is in English literature; at the time, HOTP was a craft book publisher and I thought this would be a stepping stone into the world of book publishing.
 Was it full time? Part time?
I began full-time answering the phones and doing administrative work, then because the company was so small—just 25 people—I got pulled to help out in various departments. Through that, I realized I would not be happy with the tedious work of editing as I’d originally thought, but that I loved the excitement of marketing. I was lucky to discover this at the beginning of my career!

What type of job did you have at first? Did you start as a creative straight away?
Answering the phone (this was—ahem—when people used to phone companies to place an order or ask a question!), then admin work for salespeople, the marketing manager, even packing up orders. Super glamorous! After a few months, I was asked to attend an industry trade show in Chicago and help work in the booth. I couldn’t believe it…traveling to an exciting city like Chicago for work felt like big time!   
Shortly after I started, HOTP got in on the scrapbooking boom and changed from being a craft book publisher to being a scrapbook paper manufacturer. It grew at an amazing rate, basically doubling the year that scrapbooking really took off in the US. I was fortunate to be in on the ground floor of that and as the company grew, I took on more and different jobs and positions, including product design with sarabooks™, sarabinders™ and sarapapers™. When I left, 15 years later, it was as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

How do you describe your job nowadays?
I’m a freelance designer for the craft industry—as such, I’m a columnist in US and UK magazines, I design stamps for PaperArtsy, I host a weekly You Tube show, demonstrate on craft TV and write books for Search Press.

Out of everything you do and have done, what is your favourite?
I’m really lucky to say that I love it all—and love the variation. I suppose if I only did one thing, it might get repetitive after awhile. Teaching in person and demonstrating on television is amazing and really fills me up—but it can also take a lot of energy, so I’m lucky to have the chance to refuel with magazine articles and book projects that let me squirrel away in my studio and get into my zone. 
Your proudest moment and achievement in this industry?
Striking out on my own after working for HOTP for 15 years. My husband got a job in the Netherlands, so we moved from Oregon to Amsterdam and I continued to work remotely for HOTP for a couple of years until I realised we weren’t planning to got back to the US any time soon. The US economy hit the wall at about the same time, and I realized I needed a change from the pressure of sales and business travel. I decided to take a break, then began my own business as a freelance designer.
Shortly after, I became pregnant with my daughter and realized I was going to shift everything around in terms of work hours, projects and where I put my energy. Looking back, I can see that I was much braver than I felt at the time—that was an unsettling period and I’m proud that I stuck with it even when it felt so, so hard sometimes.


Is it hard to work full/part time in the craft industry? Can you name your major challenges you face working in this industry?
There are challenges like with any other industry. To be a freelance designer, you’ve got to hustle for every job—even after 20+ years in the industry, it’s rare that jobs simply fall in my lap. I send a lot of proposals, go to a lot of trade shows and networking events and have a lot of meetings in order to get work. Relationships take a long time to build up and often, an opportunity comes along years after an initial meeting!
And as a freelancer, you need to be on top of your business finances and goals. This is not the most fun part of the job but it’s so important to make sure that you’re earning what you’re worth, and spending your money and your time in the most effective way possible.

What do you think is more important to succeed in this industry: creative talent, hard work or luck?
Oh dear, I think I have to say it’s that magic combination of all three—plus a good reputation, strong ethics and a dash of humor! And you’ve got to have patience…it can take a long time to develop a career, and you must be persistent.
 One more thing: As a designer, teacher, writer…you need this unique combination of passion and pride in your work, along with a certain amount of distance and objectivity. Not everyone will love what you do, and if you work for a company, they may ask you to change some things or design to certain specifications.

If you could go back in time, what would you do differently career wise?
I’m sure there are a zillion things I could or should have done differently but I really believe that nothing is wasted. I did spend a lot of time on projects or proposals that never took off or never earned much money, but the skills I picked up or the lessons I learned from each experience added another layer to my career.  

Also, what would you like to do differently style, technique, project wise?
After many years of a vintage, shabby chic look, I’m moving more and more into clean lines and contemporary colours and lines. It’s actually quite fun to stand back and see how one’s personal style can evolve.

What is your favourite project type to make?
Anything with paper! Cards, little books, journals, you name it. And I’m a long-time jewelry-maker, too…right now, I’m writing a book on resin jewelry that includes paper, so this combination is making me really happy!

What is your favourite color in general? And to make projects with? 
My favorite color is one that PaperArtsy has produced so perfectly as a Fresco Finish paint: Mermaid. There’s something about it that instantly makes me happy. I like to use this color on my projects too—in fact, I sometimes have to force myself to try different colors that I find harder to work with, like purple. Other than that, I love incorporating yellow into the mix, since it tends to either add a punch of color, or gives a gentle glow, depending on the shade and application.

Where do you go for inspiration?
Sometimes it’s a matter of getting out of the studio and into real life. Clothing store displays, IKEA catalogs, going on a photo walk, traveling, music videos…they all give me a new perspective and get my brain going in a different way. I also journal every morning, and sometimes my writing will lead me to try new things as I think about projects I’m working on and wonder what might happen if I did X, Y or Z.
The worst thing for inspiration? Comparison will always get me down!

What is next for you? Any art or craft dreams to be explored?
My art and craft to-explore list is about a million miles long! The front-runner at the moment is video classes and tutorials. I’m doing more and more video work instead of traditional in-person teaching, and that’s been a lot of fun and very fulfilling!

And finally, Do you remember when we first met? Any good/bad impressions?
and how important it is to meet people and network and keep craft friendships.

The first time was when you worked on creating project samples for Dawn Bibby’s show on QVC. I think we met in the hustle of the craft prep room in London—that room was always so packed with craft supplies and projects in process and it seemed so fun and energetic. But there was also the time pressure of prepping for a live show, so we didn’t get a chance to talk much because you were working and I was nervous about going on live TV!
Then later we both went to Portugal for one of Dawn’s retreats. This was also a lot of work, but there was an evening party at the hotel—you sailed across the floor in the most amazing flamenco dance and everyone was in awe! 
I also remember wanting to break out my high school Spanish with you but then realized your English is perfect and that I was probably better off not embarrassing myself.  
Paula's version:
I remember seeing Sara at QVC and being so gobsmacked at how beautiful she is. Then I got to meet her over the years, and Sara is just as beautiful inside as she is on the outside!

You can find Sara here:

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