Monday, 28 January 2013

Hand Cut Paper Cutting -My first try!

Ok, I apologise now for my lack of posts recently. I've been sooooo busy, and my littlest hasn't been well (measles, poor chap, he's only 7 months old, not to mention he's just got his first 2 teeth and has had an ear infection to make it worse!) so I haven't managed much 'real' crafting. I have however been working on some digital designs for my new Silhouette. I'm hoping to post some soon, but some are still works in progress. I got a book on papercutting for my birthday, because I was looking for inspiration for doing some designs, and also some hints and tips on how to make a paper cut work, but unfortunately the book didn't really do that, so I've just been studying lots of talented paper cutters like Rob Ryan,
 and the wonderful blog of Elsa Mora.

I have also found some AMAZINGLY talented people on facebook, making a living from this fascinating art form. Like Gemma Esprey

 and Charlie Trimm
Magpies A3 Giclee Print

Wow, these ladies are talented.

 Anyway, even though I have a new fangled cutting machine on my shelf it was always my intention to have a go at some hand cut paper cuts myself, and reading the facebook updates from these ladies has been my inspiration. I decided yesterday that as I couldn't go to church as I had to stay out of public with EJ (he's possibly still contagious), I would have a try at designing and cutting a piece. Now here comes my biggest problem. I'm no artist. Crafter, yes. Artist, not really. Joey thinks I'm fantastic because I can draw pretty much anything he asks me too, but he's 3, and doesn't have high standards! I managed to get an A in my art GCSE, but I think that was my patterns and attention to detail really. I've come to realise that being a great papercutter isn't just about the cutting, or the concept, but about actual artistic design. Gemma and Charlie can really draw. So I stuck to basic shapes and letters, and hoped for the best! I wanted to do something for myself, as this was always going to be my first ever papercut, and I wouldn't want to give it away, so I did something I love. Rainbows! And what better thing to write, than the verse in Genesis where God promises the rainbow will be his covenant with all people never to flood the entire world again.
So I did the sketch, fiddled around with it a bit and when I was happy scanned it into my computer and printed off a spare copy (just incase the first one was a cutting disaster!). I waited until the boys were in bed last night and started to cut. I knew it was going to be tricky, but hey, its tough! I was using 160gsm paper (which I gather is too thick, but as a card maker I normally aim for 250gsm for cards, so didn't have much white card which was thinner) and trying to do circles and hair pin curves is so hard. I was turning the paper like I'd seen suggested, but it was still really hard. Straight lines are my friend. My next design is definitely going to have lots of straight lines!!!lol!!!
Anyway, here is the original sketch (all back to front of course!)

 Here is how far I got after one hour...

and two hours...

Thats all so far. I'll possibly have to wait for Tuesday night to get this finished, but will post the finished article then!
Let me know what you think, and definitely pay a visit to these supertalented papercutters!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Pierre Dog Card

Here is a card I made for the daughter of a lovely friend of mine. They have a gorgeous sausage dog called Eddie, and I knew I had to make this with the free digital stamp over on Kirstys blog.
I used my Digital Scrapbook Artist software to transform the stamp into a repeated background for the card. I also printed him off to colour with my promarkers. I love the yellow and brown colour combo with the hint of red. I hadn't intended cutting him out, but my promarkers bled around the lines so I didn't have a choice!
I layered it onto some burgundy card and then some mustard yellow card to match his stripey jumper. I stamped the sentiment in versamark and embossed with black embossing powder. Some ribbon and bling finished it off.

Make sure to grab Kirstys freebie images before they disappear, they're only there for a limited time!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Putting the Silhouette to the Test

So I've been trying out a few things on my new Silhouette Portrait. I'm not 100% sure about the size of the cutting area. I'm a bit confused about how wide it can actually cut as the cutting mat can take an A4 sheet, but the rollers go down part of it and so far when I've used an A4 piece of card the rollers have caused it to stick to the mat and rip partially when I've removed it. They also kind of mark the paper as they squash it! Anyway, to overcome the sticking issue I've taped down the sides of the carrier sheet so the rollers aren't pressing down onto an adhesive bit, but if I don't use an A4 sheet then the rollers would be going on the adhesive, and I'm sure thats not meant to happen.


My friends had a baby before Christmas, and I knew that I wanted to make a personalised gift for them.
I used my DSA software to create a design which I could cut on the Silhouette. Now designing for papercutting is quite simple in principle, if you want it to be a single piece after cutting then everything has to touch. If you were hand paper cutting (which is something I got a book on for my birthday and am keen to have a go at!) the margins for cutting can be quiet small (as small as you're confident to cut), but on a electronic cutter you have to consider what the blade is capable of and what you can peel from the carrier without ripping.

Bearing these things in mind I designed the image around her name, date of birth and weight, incorporated some stereotypical baby items (all of which I had to do by hand on the software) and then imported to the Silhouette software. I'm really pleased with how it turned out, and hope my friend is too.

My next cutting project is going to be valentines related!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Angelic, zero fat, Cupcakes

So I'm on a diet. I started before Christmas, managed to lose 1/2 a stone, but then Christmas kind of got in the way. I'm now back on the diet and have my first post Christmas weigh in tomorrow!arrgghh!

Anyway, in an attempt to be good I've been watching various programmes on Food Network with a healthy theme. My favourite is Hungry Girl, although it would seem that in the USA they have a low fat/No fat version of almost every ingredient you can think of. (You start to wonder what on earth these things are actually made from!)

I saw a programme before Christmas all about Chiffon cakes, and one type is Angel Food cake, which is pretty much the opposite of Devils food cake. It has NO butter or oil and only the whites of eggs, meaning its actually fat free! (It still has a fair amount of sugar though!)
Anyway, I figured I could adapt it for some cupcakes and here is how it turned out.

8 medium Egg whites (6 large)
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
45g icing sugar
90g flour
150g granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest

1. Mix egg whites until they are softly foaming and then add salt and cream of tartar and whisk to medium peaks.
2. Add sifted icing sugar to the egg whites and then whisk to stiff peaks.
3. Double sift the flour and sugar and then fold into the egg whites along with the vanilla and lemon zest.
4. Using a piping bag, fill muffin tins 2/3 full. (DO NOT GREASE OR USE CAKE CASES)
5. Bake in 180 degree C oven for 18 minutes, or until golden and spring back to touch.
6. Allow to cool UPSIDE DOWN (I used some ramekin dishes to balance my trays on).This stops collapse!
7. Use palette knife to remove the cakes gently from the tin.
This recipe made 16 cupcakes for me.
At this stage you can do whatever you want with them. They work out at 85 calories and zero fat!

Most people serve Angel cake with fresh whipped cream and fruit, but I decided to make some Swiss Meringue Frosting. Its basically meringue, but the egg whites are whisked with sugar and syrup over a bain marie so it doesn't have to be cooked in the oven.

30ml water (2 tbsp)
1 tbsp golden syrup (corn syrup)
3/4 cup sugar (180g)
4 medium egg whites (3 large)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Add water, sugar, syrup and egg whites to heat proof mixing bowl. Whisk gently over a simmering bain marie . When the sugar has dissolved into the mixture its ready for beating (approx 2 minutes, rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers to check for grains of sugar).
2. Remove from heat and whisk on high to stiff peaks. It will take about 6-9 minutes to finish, and the bowl will be cool.
3. Pipe onto the cupcakes
4. Any extra you can pop onto a lined baking tray, pop into the oven, 140 degrees C, for 35 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave them in till the oven cools and you have some lovely meringues!

Now I'm terrible at hoarding stuff, and I can't throw anything away, so what, you may be asking, did I do with 12 egg yolks. I couldn't possibly throw them away, so I made lemon curd with 8 of them, and added the last 4 to some mashed potato which went on top of a chicken pie tonight (my mash was minus the yolks, don't panic!). I'll post the lemon curd recipe another time, but its really easy, and an excellent way to use the extra yolks, and makes gorgeous mini lemon tarts!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

First Silhoutte Card!

Having a birthday just before Christmas (20th December) can be pretty annoying. You wait all year and don't buy anything, then all your gifts come at once. Not to mention that you can rarely plan a meal out or a get together because everyone is so busy around Christmas. The only benefit I can see is that you can club together birthday and Christmas funds from close family and get one big gift!
This year I decided to bite the bullet and get an electronic cutting system. I've been considering it for a while, and have watched many hours of demos on Create and Craft for various Cricut machines, but the cost of the cartridges has always put me off. My friend even had a Craft Robo for sale, but I was lured in by reviews for the Silhoutte SD...but then by the time I went to order it they'd stopped selling them. Doh. By this point I was pretty sure that was the type of machine I wanted, one which I had complete reign on design and print features, so I decided to go for the newer Silhoutte Portrait.
I was so excited to get it on my birthday, but the days before Christmas were crazy and I never got a chance to test drive it, but come boxing day I had chance to get it out and give it a go.
I had a card to make for my brother (he's the 27th Dec!) and wanted to try and do a CAS cut card.
I used my DSA software to design a simple cut which included his age and the sentiment and then imported it into the Silhouette software. The first cut didn't work properly as I don't think I had the right blade depth, and the second and third time didn't work either as my computer crashed half way through the cut (this laptop wants binning!) but fourth time I set it to double cut and it worked really well!! Yippee!!!
I'm really pleased with the result, and now I have the basic template I can adapt it quite easily.
This is why I wanted a Silhouette and not a Cricut, because deep down I don't want to just cut words and labels, I want to design and I'm excited about what I can create with this :)

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Lego Star Wars Card

 It was my cousins little boys 5th birthday, and he is a huge Lego Star Wars fan, so I thought I had to do him a card with Lego Star Wars on it.
I went and googled Lego Star Wars colouring pages and managed to get a black and white image that I liked, printed it off and used my promarkers to colour it. I used my Banana Frog Retro Space set for the stars, and my Stampendous Ribbon builder set for the sentiment. I used versamark ink and superfine white embossing powder onto black card. I layered up onto some red card and then onto a white 5inch square card base.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Sewing Stitched Card

Here is a card I made for my cousin who is very crafty, and has her own Folksy shop selling her wonderful felt creations, so for her birthday a sewing card seemed very appropriate. I have been meaning to get my sewing machine out for ages, and finally did!

I started by stamping the background in Antique Linen and Tea Dye distress ink and the stamps are from a set I've had for ages called Vintage Elements from See D's

I layered up these images on some card I'd sponged with forest Moss.

The main image is a digital stamp from Cherie Mask, called Dress it up.