Wednesday, 28 May 2014


This post is part of Helena's neme 'ZOOM IN ZOOM OUT'.  As the name suggests you take 2 photos of the same shot, and I enjoy taking part.  I also like the way that most ZIZO posts are brief, the focus being on the photos.  And because I had more to share about my day, I have written a separate post that you'll find here.  

Back in March I went to a local quayside and I was excited to see barges being made ready for another season.  We are lucky, hereabout there is a thriving community of traditional boat building and sail making, and waters busy with working and leisure boats.  It is a place I love to be, and seeing the barges bought back happy memories.

When I home educated I used to regularly hire one of the Thames Sailing Barges and it's crew of 3.  I'd fill it with excited children and a friend or two to help me.  And we would spend 5 days sailing the rivers and coast, planning pirate parties, exploring uninhabited islands, and visiting seals on sand banks at low tide. 
They were happy days.....

And days like this make me happy too.  
Thanks for visiting, and if you have time, why not pop over to Helena's and see what others have posted for ZIZO.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014


Back in March a friend came to my book launch.  As fellow creators we are busy with our own pursuits and in the past we have been on a number of retreats and run workshops together.  We are inspired by each others difference and similarity, and we decided it had been too long since we last got together. 
And so a week later we met at a local quayside. 

One of the Thames sailing barges had opened as a tea room over winter and I had been planning to go.... 


And I discovered I was only just in time.... another week and the tea room was closing it's doors.  The teapots and bunting would be packed away and hammocks hung, ready for another seasons adventure on the sea. But today we could enjoy the experience of sitting below deck, lunch that did not disappoint, and  catching up. It was a reminder to grab opportunities while you can because they don't always come again.

And outside the sun shone while the crew painted sails and started to prepare the deck. Much of the work would have been done over winter, rigging checked, ropes replaced, painting and varnishing done. And for me, the excitement of soon seeing barges under full sail, trying to recognise familiar names as I watch from the shore, and hoping that I will get a chance one day, to sail on one again.  

Meanwhile it was too good a day to part and go our separate ways. And so we finished our day at the pub watching the tide creep in, and  we decided to meet again soon.  And we have, and will.

Monday, 12 May 2014


If you have time why not grab a cup of tea and join me for a moment or two...  because my lovely friend Louise Gale has asked me to participate in a blog hop with a difference. I love Louise's work and the life that she has created for herself, so thank you Louise for asking me to take part, I felt honoured.

 As part of this hop I was asked to invite three other friends and they will follow next weekAnd so at the bottom of this page you will find links to three lovely ladies who happen to be blogging
friends of mine, and by coincidence their names all start with J! So do pop along on Monday May 19th to read their own responses to the questions.   

Meanwhile this was a lovely opportunity to take some time out to ponder the questions asked of me and Louise has responded to the same questions here.  So.... make yourself comfy while I tell you what I am focusing on right now:

1. What am I focusing on? 

Each year I choose one-word and this year it is CREATE.

Back in January I decided this is going to be a year of more action. Things I had started would be continued or completed and there were other things I wanted to fulfil. But it wasn't just about doingThis would be me putting my heart into it! I would be taking more risks and challenges and time to create the life that I want. 
And I have! 

My main love is making mini books and I have been busy experimenting with new designs.  I love constructing with paper and I have made several new books that I am really pleased with. You can see one on this YouTube video here.   

The book shown here has hidden pages and lots of space for journaling or photos. I love photography and take my camera everywhere, so putting my photos into books is one of my favourite things to do. Each book tells it's own story. Some people like to scrapbook but I love the size of mini books and the interaction with pages. I confess - I can get excited by construction and all the different kinds of books you can make. 

As well as making books, I also love going on retreats with creative friends, taking part in online courses and swaps, and attending classes.  Recent ones include stained glass and felt making and I have a soldering weekend booked as well as one with Francis Pickering. I was also excited to be invited by PaperArtsy to take part in their recent 3UP. You don't need 3 guesses to know what I made!

Recently I was invited to have a stand at a local ArtBookArt fair.
I have started to say 'YES' to opportunities and to share more of what I am doing.  Interestingly the more I do this, the more opportunities present.

As well as attending classes I also love running them. This week I had a wonderful day showing a group of ladies how to make one of my latest books.  I hope to run more classes and also I am planning some of these online as some people who express interest can not attend due to distance. My first is work in action and I will be announcing details soon, so if you are interested in local or online courses please let me know by email or in a comment. 

I mentioned earlier that I love photography. Something else I enjoy
is my monthly neme '5 in 5'. I started this last year and love that other bloggers join in and share their own photos and story. What I didn't anticipate when I started was that my friend Melanie in Australia would join in. There was just one problem - Melanie does not have a blog! I tried to be creative in my thinking and so every month I post a page written by Melanie. Nor did I anticipate that good friendships would be formed. Joy is one of my tags who you will be introduced to shortly. She discovered my blog through this neme and I am so glad that she did. We now share happy mail and have a meeting planned in August. I can't wait!  

I completed Project 365 for a number of years and sadly this has been neglected of late. I've not given up on it though and hope to get back on track. I recently signed up for an online Photography Course and I also hope this will help to motivate me with Project 365. 

I have also signed up for an online writing course and would love to write a book one day. I am always writing. As part of The Artist Way I write morning pages, I also write lists, notes, letters and a journal. Meanwhile my blog provides a way for me to be creative and to share other things that I love.

2. How does my work differ from others of its kind? 

My approach is eclectic. I love to upcycle, recycle, use new materials and create my own. I like originality, so each of my books is personal and this is also what I teach. I encourage people to take my idea and to make it their own. For example, at last weeks book-making class my example was a sewing themed book but I encouraged everyone to make a book that was meaningful to them. These ranged from wedding, craft inspiration, a gift for a husband and project books.  Ideas were bounced around, materials sourced, and everyone created a book that was unique and personal. I shared more about the day here and this is the book I used for inspiration:

3. Why do I write/create what I do? 

Because it feels part of who I am and I can't imagine not creating! My mind and hands are never still and I am always busy making or doing. Apt name for my blog then - itchifingers - chosen by my

I have tried many crafts (too many to mention) but first and foremost I love papercrafts. This is because it is easy to carry and do where ever I am. I have a campervan and even though space is at a premium I always make room for a project that I am working on. At work I have sat in the camper during my breaks, paper and glue strewn across the table. And when we go for a weekend or more, a big bag is always packed. Luckily I have an understanding family....  

I started making books as keepsakes for family and friends. Small books with photos and memories.  Then I realised I gave them away and had none of my own.  That's when I started making them for myself, and I now have several baskets that I love to look through. So much nicer than looking at photos saved on the computer. Here's a few more of the books I have made over time. I have created some photo albums onto DVD and mean to do more of these - there's only so many photos you can put into a mini book and it is another way I can be creative!

My creative influence is also around the home.  I have upcycled furniture and transformed an antique bookcase into something I love.
Then there was the piano stool....  and the dining room chairs. More projects are in progress as I write , including some beautiful fabric that I want to use for recovering an armchair and making light shades.  So many ideas... so little time.... 

Having a personal influence is important to me. My husband has hand built furniture over the years and these pieces are more precious than things bought from the shop. Our table has a story, it has been adapted over the years to suit our family lifestyle and it is destined for another change. I want to paint the legs. The top was  indented at Christmas by my youngest granddaughter. I may leave it. A memory of the time she came to decorate a gingerbread house and decided that scribbling on the table was more fun than paper. Or perhaps she was just lost in her own thoughts and did not realise what she was doing?  A doodle perhaps... at just 3 years she hasn't yet mastered that, but give her time. Sharing creativity with my granddaughters is something else I love. Luckily, they love it too.
As well as family, social networks and friends are also important to me. Last October I set up an online community and together we are working our way through Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way. This group is very special to me, it allows opportunity to do something else I love - write - and to continue on my journey of self discovery and fulfilment.

Another online group I set up was 'Fit for Fun'. Being part of a supportive group allows opportunity to make yourself accountable and since Jan 2013 this special group of ladies have supported and cheered each other on in their efforts to improve their health and fitness. Like The Artists Way, this group is now closed to new members as it was important to establish trust and confidentiality.


4. How does your writing/creating process work?

I work very much from intuition.  Like all my creativity, I start with an idea but then allow it to free flow. I love to trust the process and never know what will develop until the end. Part of the pleasure and satisfaction is discovering that it has a life of its own and allowing it to reveal itself, rather than trying to contrive something that it is not meant to be. 

When working with paper I do not measure or use instructions. Again it is a connection with the material and experimentation, and a learning process. I need to be more detailed for online classes though. Not everyone thinks in the same way and my instructions and information need to be clear! I love challenges and new ways of thinking, so I see this as fun and yet another opportunity to learn.

I work in the same way with fabric and other materials. I sometimes use a pattern but more often I will see inspiration and create my own design.  I am self taught in many things that I do.  Some things come naturally, others are more of a challenge.  I have yet to fully master crocheting but need to remind myself that practice makes perfect!  For me, creativity extends in all areas of my life. I love cooking and baking and recently went on a breadmaking course and learnt how to make sausages by watching a YouTube video. In all these things I adapt recipes and experiment and sometimes I wish I had written notes as I went a long so that I can do it again. But mainly I like to work intuitively and it works for me, most of the time...   

So!  Thanks so much for visiting and I hope this has given you an insight into what I do and love.  Have a wonderful week, what ever you are doing, and next week  the blog hop will move over to these three lovely ladies, so please be sure to pop back and visit them on Monday 19th May.


Joy Shallcross

Joy recently turned 66 and has been crafting all her life. She's very much a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none type creative, loves knitting, crochet, gardening, photography, homemaking and writing. She's also done painting, dressmaking, quilting, fabric art and various other crafts, and always more than happy to try something new. Joy is retired from paid employment and runs her own business as a Phoenix Trader She enjoys spending time with family and friends and her beautiful grandchildren.

You find visit Joy's blog here

Julie Kirk

Julie Kirk is a blogger, freelance magazine contributor and the one-woman kit creator, product-photographer, branding-designer and marketing manager behind an Etsy shop selling vintage paper packs and creative supplies. Throughout all those things she is motivated to either inspire and encourage others or to make them laugh. Preferably both [as long as they're not holding craft scissors while they're laughing. That could be disastrous.]

She shares a house and a life in the North East of England with a small mound of ephemera, an overflowing wardrobe, a newly stripy workroom and a man who doesn’t mind any of it.

You find visit Julie's blog here

Jemma @Just-Jimjams

Jemma is married with three children (one still at home). She is a former computer programmer; trained as a primary school teacher; and is now working in a theatre.
Jemma has been scrapbooking since 2006, and is currently on DT for Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog and S J Papercrafts, as well as being involved in UKScrappers.
Jemma has been Blogging since 2011. Her former hobbies include Fencing and Tae Kwon Do; while her current hobbies include Geocaching and reading.  She is part of a reading group who meet in a tearoom where they serve wonderful cakes!
Jemma lived abroad as a child in Indonesia, Holland, Spain, and Nigeria.  And as an adult she has lived in Sweden, Holland, and Belgium before finally settling back in Cheshire.
You could say  that Jemma is well travelled!

You find visit Jemma's blog here

Saturday, 10 May 2014


 Linking in to Helena at Zoom In Zoom Out 
(and in this case, Zooming Out even more!)

Yesterday saw me teaching a book/journal-making class at Crazy Crafting.  And I had a whale of a time! 

Paper play was a new experience for nearly all the ladies attending and it was lovely to demonstrate techniques and give occasional 1-1 instruction...  this is what I love when I am not playing with paper myself.  

One lady discovered a natural talent and love for this.  Her book progressed really fast and she even worked through lunch as she was so bitten by the bug!  If you paper-play you'll probably understand
that it's hard to stop when you get going...

Her book included file tabs and organised sections. She added  different kinds of pockets: some for tags and others deeper for storing all those pieces of paper that she wants to collect.  She already started to fill one, copying templates that she'd used in the making of her book. There was another pocket for a note pad.

The lady who made this book has just discovered a love for creating. She is going to use this as an inspiration book. She ran with my ideas and added a whole list of her own.  Don't you just love when this happens! She also added a page for writing down equipment and materials that she wants to buy.  Gosh, this list was quite long by the end of the class!
I supplied equipment for everyone attending and Pauline and Lesley, who run Crazy Crafting, kindly added some of their own too. This meant there  was a range of different score boards, guillotines and other equipment for everyone to try.  Those attending the class said they found this very helpful and they liked the opportunity to try different equipment and to get opinions from those who use these regularly.
There was a buzz of energy and periods of silence where everyone was absorbed in what they were doing.  What a lovely way to spend a day!  Thank you for inviting me Pauline and Lesley. I can't wait to run another class!
My one-word for 2014 is CREATE.  I decided back in January that this year I will take more action and DO the things that I have planned or thought about.  Running classes has been on my list for a long time. Another tick off my list! 

Thursday, 8 May 2014

5 in 5 - MELANIE - May 2014

Those who follow my posts might know that Melanie is my friend who lives in Australia. She loves photography and every month she has taken part in this monthly neme.
Melanie does not have a blog and so each month I post her photos. I love that we have found a way for her to take part!
When I began this photo challenge last July I did not anticipate that this partnership would develop. It was not planned but I am SO glad that it happened because it has added something unexpected. I am so excited each month when I open Melanie's email with her monthly photos so once again Melanie, a big thank you, and over to you:

Hi 5 in 5 friends.  Here is my effort for May it was another walk with nature.  I have for some while been meaning to visit a new wetlands close to us.  That is where I took my camera today for the 5 in 5 photos.  Unfortunately the wetlands itself was a bit of a disappointment but only because it is so new.  Some of the paths were very muddy underfoot and it was clear that there was still much work to be done there.  Not too much of the wildlife have got to hear about it as yet either as there was only really ducks enjoying the water.  So to the photos :-


Top Left there were some beautiful blossoms on the gum trees as I hope this photo shows.

Top right I was trying to capture raindrops on these leaves.  Most of the morning it had been raining and the plants and trees were sparkling with raindrops.

Bottom left  I couldn’t resist a photo of a dead tree on the blue sky.  This sort of scene is a favourite of mine.

Middle bottom the shadows of the trees on the board walk were delightful but couldn’t all be captured in one photo.

Then finally on the bottom right I have included a shot of one of the ducks just to prove it really is a wetland and does have some birdlife living there.

I hope you like my 5 in 5 for this month and I look forward to seeing others that have been taken.

I love the light in these photos, and this monthly glimpse of life 'down under'.  I hope the wildlife get news of this new wetland and establish themselves soon! 

If this has inspired you to take photos to add to this challenge you have until 25th before the link closes. It's great fun and this post should answer any questions or give any other information that you need.
Thank you to Melanie and everyone else who has taken part. Links for this months posts are here and I'll be back next month with more photos from Melanie and myself. I hope you will join me

Monday, 5 May 2014

5 in 5 - April 2014 - V DUBS

Welcome to '5 in 5' where on the 5th of
 each month I post 5 photos that

I have taken in 5 minutes.

 Yesterday we visited a local VW show. It was a 4 day event and we would liked to have stayed throughout but sadly I had too many other commitments this time. But it was good to catch up with other  enthusiasts and to admire their V Dubs.  Now, while I am not interested in the engines, performance etc. (I leave that to my son and husband) I do love seeing how everyone personalises their vehicles and how different they are:
These are not rusty and neglected.... they are called the
'Rat Look', the aged look is what it is all about. 
See how low these are to the ground?  Well I have seen lower! 
 Don't ask how they negotiate speed bumps, though I have seen some
with hydraulic suspension so the vehicle can be raised to drive.  

Then there is the homely look. I imagine they tuck those teapots away safely when they drive!

The paintwork of this one has a hippy-feel.
 Inside though it was very up to date with curved U shaped seating and leather upholstery.  Can you see the TV in the middle of the seat back?   Part of the upholstery is removed when the TV is in use, a clever design and use of space.

Back to the 'Rat Look'. 

Personally, I prefer the shiny!! 

As well as meeting interesting people and enjoying a festival atmosphere these shows give me  great opportunities for taking photos.  I am always inspired and I love the diversity and amount
of creativity I see. Can't wait for the next one and we have plans to stay next time!
Thank you for popping by and to everyone who has taken part in this monthly challenge.  I really look forward to seeing your photos and I hope you are inspired to get out your camera and join in. Here is the plan:

1.  Choose a location.

2.  Have your camera ready.

3.  Set a timer for 5 minutes.

4.  Take as many photos you can until the time is up.

5.  Choose 5 photos to download and share by using the link tool.
   You have until the 25th of the month to add your photos.  
And if you want to know more there are details here.

One more thing - when you use the link tool, please click on your post title.  This will show the web address. Please right click, copy and paste this as your link.  This will take readers directly to your '5 in 5' blog page and be easier for them to find.

And don't forget, you have until 25th to post your link!


Saturday, 3 May 2014


Recently Leandra over at PaperArtsy invited posts for 3UP and I was so excited to be chosen!
I received a set of the new Hot Picks stamp range to make my project and I was itching to share this news with friends. But I was sworn to secrecy.  And so, I kept quiet. 
Not a whisper or clue has been given.
Until now.... 

Because today, over at PaperArtsy, my project is shown a long with 2 others! This is the first time I have taken part and I was asked to keep my post for the 3UP brief, and so I am including more information here about my project and how I made it. 

Over the past week there have been daily posts on PaperArtsy showing more 3UP's and I have loved seeing the way everyone has used their stamps. I have admired and been inspired by all the projects created and it is well worth checking these out if you have time.   

But first, back to my project. What to make with my stamps? 


It felt quite timely too....
The urge to make books and share what I do gets stronger, and this seemed the perfect title for a notebook to jot down ideas as they come. 
So this is how I made the notebook using the stamp set supplied:
I hand tore thick paper to the size I wanted and folded this to
make 12 double pages.
(You can use ready cut paper but I like the effect of torn edges).

8 sheets were put aside to be used as inside pages.

I painted the other 4 sheets using PaperArtsy Pumpkin Soup, Guacamole, and Mermaid Fresco Finish chalk acrylic paints. 

This is the technique I used:

Put a small drop of your chosen paints onto a waterproof surface.

Wet the paper liberally with water or soak in a shallow tray while you work on each sheet. Then with a wet brush apply the paints across both sides of each sheet until you have the density of colour you would like. It should still be quite wet and don't think about design - just add colour at this stage! 

As you complete each sheet randomly lay each on top of each other onto a waterproof surface. Leave to dry but separate the sheets while still damp, to stop them sticking to each other. Lay them out to dry completely. You should discover patterns and marks that result from the layering and each page will be completely unique. 

Choose one sheet for the cover of your book. The rest can be used for other projects or as additional pages. Because the painted surface of my pages was a little rough I used an abrasive sponge to smooth it – this might not be necessary on other types of paper.   

To finish I masked off the nautical design and stamped text across the back and front cover using PaperArtsy Honey Dew Fresco Finish chalk acrylic paint.

On the front I stamped a design from PaperArtsy Tops & Tails 1, highlighting the eyes and flower in white pen.

Then I stamped the quote ‘BEGIN AND THE REST WILL FOLLOW’ on to white card, cut each line into a strip and backed it onto black card.  I attached them with foam pads to add definition. Top tip: to give a bit more white space around the text I masked around each line before inking and stamping.  

I added more stamping on the back page and completed the project by inserting the pages and sewing together with ribbon.  The notebook fits perfectly into my pocket and I loved finding ways to use these new stamps. 


 Thank you so much to Leandra and everyone on the PaperArtsy team for inviting me to take part and for organising this weeks event. It's been huge fun and I loved the stamps I received and making this project. Since making this notebook I have been invited to run a bookmaking class in Brentwood (home of PaperArtsy)!   

Perhaps a good title for this post would have been
but I'll stick with 'excited to be part of PaperArtsy 3UP' !!

If you didn't see my recent post you may be interested in how I mounted PaperArtsy Tops & Tails 1 rubber stamps and braved cutting the design instead of using a mask.  

Your comments or feedback are always appreciated.
Thank you for popping by.... I'm off now to see how the other 3UPs have used their stamps!

Thursday, 1 May 2014



There is much excitement around here and a business of making and putting materials together!  You see, I am teaching a book making class at 'Crafting Crazy Days' in Brentwood, Essex on Friday 9th May, and I have decisions to make...  

a concertina book, or a recent favourite that I made with file folders? 

There are so many choices and things to think about...

AND I have decided that a journal style book would be good! 

It will be similar to this one that I made: 

There are pockets, inserts, tabs, and pages for writing and sketching. I will be providing a choice of materials so it can be adapted for various themes, and I am super excited!!

If you live near enough and want to join us please contact Pauline and her friend Leslie on the link shown. They offer a warm welcome, lots of homemade cup cakes and tea, and lunch is also provided. 

If on the other hand you live too far to come to the class, I will be offering this book as an online class at sometime in the future.  More about that to come. 

Meanwhile I'd love to know what your favourite type of book would be to make?  One for journaling, storing photos and memories? 
Thanks for popping by!


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