Saturday 28 January 2012

Never say "never"!

Regular followers of Quilliance will know that I've 'never' been much of a 'craft kit' person. Instead of utilising stamps, stickers and peel-offs for my cards, I've generally preferred creating original design elements of my own.

However ... I guess one should never say "never" about these things!!

Last week, I was honoured to discover that my blog had been featured in Let's Make Cards magazine. Naturally, I went straight out to buy the publication, and found that it came with a bumper pack of card blanks and embellishments (backing papers, die-cut images, ribbons, glitzy stick-ons, pre-printed greetings etc) plus some 5mm quilling strips and a curling tool. (This particular issue - number 48 - has a major feature on quilling.)

As you would expect, the designs featured in the magazine make use of the elements contained in the kit - and so - on a whim as much as anything - I decided to have a go!

Well, I've got to tell you, dear readers - I had FUN!! I spread all the backing papers, die-cuts etc out on the table and waited for inspiration to strike. It didn't take long. I selected a few items, and started playing around with them to see how they might look good together, and how I might incorporate some quilling. Being me, of course, I had to bend the rules a little by cutting up some of the images, and punching a few shapes of my own out of the patterned papers - but I really got absorbed in it.

Some of the die-cut pattern strips were printed on really thick card which I realised would make perfect retaining borders for a section of beehive quilling. The matching backing papers had great potential as backgrounds for quilling - and the pre-printed greetings? Well, I usually print my own, so why not mix and match some of these ready-made ones to complement the quilled motifs that I made using strips from the kit?

Here's the first card I produced:

Having enjoyed the process of making that one so much, I decided to move ahead and create a second - for this one, I decided to echo the printed motif on the side of the die-cut jug in quilling:

(Yes, I've even added a border of lace ribbon along the edge of the card, and raised up the jug image on a sticky pad!!)

So there you are ... I'll never say "never" again! Maybe there is a place for craft kits in my creative life after all ...

Wednesday 25 January 2012

A simple quilled Valentine design

As we all know, paper filigree work is perfect for creating delicate, feminine designs. But quilling for men? Well, it's always a challenge, particularly when it comes to making Valentine cards.

I sell my quilled cards at a local village market where the majority of customers are women. Every year, they come looking for Valentine cards suitable for giving to their boyfriends/husbands ... and every year I struggle to concoct a design that's appropriate for the men in their lives.

So ... here's a photo of this year's offering, showing a choice of two different colour combinations:

The main heart is an embossed die-cut shape which I produced using the versatile new 'He Loves Me' folder for the Cuttlebug machine. Having mounted this on to a printed panel background, I've simply added a tiny quilled heart and a small two-strip open coil flourish. The result is a design which is not too flouncy or frilly, but hopefully still has a subtle air of romance about it. These cards will be coming with me to the market on Friday, and then it will be for my customers to decide!

Tuesday 24 January 2012

It's great to be loved!!

I had a pleasant surprise today, after I had been 'tipped off' via Twitter that my blog had been featured in the latest edition of Let's Make Cards magazine (issue 48) which has a special feature on quilling.

I managed to buy a copy of the magazine (the last one in the shop!) and, sure enough, there was a panel about Quilliance on page 17, under the heading 'Blogs we love'!

Well, I consider this to be a very great honour, since I'd had no prior contact with the editors of the magazine, and the piece appears alongside articles by Elizabeth Moad and Diane Boden Crane whose work I greatly admire.

Well, "expect the unexpected", as they say! You never know what's just around the corner. This also coincides with publication of the Winter edition of Quill America (the magazine of the North American Quilling Guild) which contains several feature articles that I wrote for the NAQG last year - so I'm enjoying my brief moment in the spotlight!!

Saturday 21 January 2012

Thinking inside the box - part two!

Pritesh very kindly shared the neat little template for this hexagonal-shaped box on her blog, and I have been itching to have a go at making one all week!

After my experience of making and photographing the square box (also courtesy of Pritesh) last weekend, I decided to take a picture of this new one before adding the acetate window in the lid, in order to avoid reflections - although, of course, the acetate subsequently plays an important role in protecting the quilling inside the box from dust.

I have decorated the outside faces of this box with some die-cut shapes, as the area of the template was too wide to feed the whole thing through my Cuttlebug embossing machine.  Inside the box are some fringed flowers whose petals were made using iris-folding strips. To create the fringing, I folded each strip in half and secured it in a large bulldog clip before snipping the folded edge at an angle. The resulting cut strip is quite easy to roll, and it's possible to 'fluff out' the petals by pressing gently against the fold.

My plan now is to spray the whole box and its contents with lacquer before inserting the acetate window. I think it will then make a pretty and unusual gift.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

A right royal struggle!

One of the Quilling Guild's competition categories for last year's Display Of Work was a quilled card to celebrate our Queen's Diamond Jubilee (60 years on the British throne) in 2012. I thought really hard about entering this competition, but just couldn't get my head around it. What would I quill? A diamond? A coat of arms? A crown? Inspiration simply would not come ... so I backed off, and did not enter anything.

But ... what goes around, comes around. Now that we're actually in the Jubilee year, the challenge has raised its head again! This time it's the Hampshire Federation of Women's Institutes holding a 'make a card for the Diamond Jubilee' competition - and my fellow WI members have INSISTED that I enter.

Oh dear - back to studying the Royal Crown again! The real thing is so ornate and intricate that I could easily spend the rest of my life quilling it. So I decided to create a simplified, stylised version representing just the central section which will - hopefully - look OK sitting flat on a card.

I have found this project to be a REAL challenge! I started with the base of the crown, using teardrops and tight coils to represent the ermine (white fur with black spots) that encircles it. Next, I created a section to represent three of the precious jewel clusters, surrounded by an infill of gold 'beehive' curls. Then comes some two-tone purple 'beehive' on a background of purple card, to represent the velvet centre of the crown. Then there are two crosses, each created using a set of four vortex coils squished into triangles. Oh yes, and an golden orb, plus a strip of gold paper up the middle which is mounted on card so that there's a slight ledge to hold the purple beehive in place ... do you know, I'm feeling tired just telling you about it!

I really don't know whether I'm pleased with this crown or not - but I've done it now, and I'm desperate to move on to something else!! So this is the design which is going to be mounted on to my card, which is unlikely ever to get sent to the Queen - but I'll let you know how I get on!

Saturday 14 January 2012

Thinking inside the box

As you might expect, I could not resist making one of the lovely little display boxes for quilling that Pritesh has recently featured on her blog!

Pritesh very kindly sent me the template for her brilliant box, which has a clever little 'window' aperture in the lid that allows you to view the quilling displayed inside. I found it quite easy to cut out and assemble  the box, having first printed the template outline on to an A4 size sheet of card. Before adding the transparent acetate film for the 'window', I decided to emboss the outside of the card using my Cuttlebug. (For my next box, I may even experiment with colouring some of the raised sections for extra effect.)

Having made the box, I actually lay awake last night thinking about what I might put inside!! In the end, I decided to create a little heart shape which is filled up with a miscellany of coils and shapes that have been left over from other projects (I'm sure that most quillers have an extensive collection of these!) using a technique which I learned from the inspirational Jane Jenkins at last year's Quilling Guild Shared Skills Day.

I've added a cut-out border around the inner heart to add emphasis to the decorated shape, which is mounted on to the square of card left over after I had cut the box-lid aperture. I attached it to the base of the display box using little adhesive pads so that it is raised at a slight angle.

Unfortunately, I found it hard to photograph the contents of the box sharply due to reflections in the acetate - the sun is actually shining here in the UK this afternoon!! However, I think you can get the general impression of how my box has turned out.

Thanks again, Pritesh, for this excellent idea. I think that it has fantastic potential.

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Same background ... different design!

I had so many favourable comments about my 'beehive' quilling photo background, that I decided to use it in another way for a different card:

This time, I used the image at 100% resolution, and it looks almost as 'real' as the actual quilling in the centre.

What next? A new 'beehive' background using a different combination of colours perhaps ... watch this space!!

Monday 9 January 2012

Multicoloured multitasking!

I'm still exploring the potential of the versatile beehive technique, which lends itself so beautifully to working with an array of different colours.

Yesterday, I filled in a large open ring coil with pairs of twisted strips, working with that 'magical' colour combination of purple, red, pink and green (... plus a tiny bit of white, silver and black thrown in!)  The result is almost a marbled effect, full of interest and movement.

I used it to make this card:

And then it struck me what a wonderful background pattern a photo of the quilling would make. So I've used it for this one too, with just a little flourish of real quilling on the top:

Saturday 7 January 2012

Swirls and twirls

Having sorted out a couple of new card designs for men in my last post, I've now returned to my 'feminine side' once again!

This design begins with a simple grey background square (bordered with green), on to which I have glued two red cut-outs which I created using one of my newly-acquired Cuttlebug dies. (I love the way these swirly patterns seem to complement quilled shapes and coils so well.)

The centre piece is a thick diamond-shaped ring coil which I have filled up with a random two-tone 'beehive' pattern. Still thinking diamonds, I then decided to add a pair of tiny purple vortex coils to the edges of the cut-out shape above, before putting in a couple of extra pieces of quilled filigree just to balance the design.

This card features my all-time favourite colour combination: purple, red and bright lime green. I don't know why these colours work so well together, but they do!

Thursday 5 January 2012

A sideways glance ... and one for the road!

Well, here it is - my first post for 2012.  It feels SO good to be getting back to normal once again after the Christmas break. I've actually been doing quite a bit of quilling over the past couple of weeks, but I'm keeping the details 'under wraps' for the moment because the work I've been doing is for a really big project that I'm not ready to reveal just yet!

However, time is ticking by, and our local weekly market opens again on Friday of next week. So it's time for me to review my stock of cards, which is looking a bit thin in the men's department - always a challenge in terms of designs, as every quiller knows!!

For Christmas, I was fortunate to receive some new die cutters for my Cuttlebug machine, including one which cuts out a 'swirl' shape that makes a perfect complement to quilling. Having cut out a bold swirl in dark blue paper, I decided to team it with some rolled quilled pegs lying on their sides, plus a conventional open coil to add some symmetry. I've used this little combination to brighten up my first 'male' card which is designed for a computer user (when asked what their husbands are interested in, several of my customers have bemoaned the fact that "he's on the computer all day"!!):

Computer image sourced from Wikimedia Commons

My second idea for a man's card focuses on driving. Most men seem to love their cars and planning routes for a journey, so I created this design featuring a colourful old map of England and Wales which I sourced from The Graphics Fairy. I've simply added a small section of 'road' with a quilled steering wheel and a couple of road signs, and I'm quite pleased with the result. Well, hopefully that's another 'male interest' covered!


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