Craft fair at Birmingham NEC

Shopping time!

For the last few years I have looked forward to November with both excitement and trepidation. Excitement because it is Crafts for Christmas and the Hobbycraft fair at Birmingham NEC, and trepidation as I know that I will inevitably spend too much money. Again.

I first went to the fair in November 2005. My son was barely 4 months old and I was pretty much a crafting novice. Although it was a real experience taking a baby to a very busy show, in the end I was very grateful I had him with me because his buggy became a very handy shopping cart to carry all my purchases!

If you have never had the joy of a Hobbycraft show, let me explain. The November event comprises 3 shows – Crafts for Christmas, Hobbycraft, and Art Materials – Live. It seems to be held over approximately 84 football pitches worth of ground, and attracts about 6 million visitors. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but that’s what it seems when you walk in!

The gist of it is – if you can craft with it, you’ll find it there. In abundance. The real trick is knowing when to stop buying stuff (usually at the point just before you collapse in an exhausted heap on the floor). For the last few years I have been lucky enough to be treated to the ticket and the travel down there by my mother-in-law. Only fair really, as she was the one to get me into crafting in the first place ūüėČ

This year 5 of us went together. A rather eclectic bunch – myself and my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law and her friend, and my 8 year old neice. We took lunches and and one of those wheeled shopping bags to store our goodies in at half time (a wise move, especially if you’re buying card blanks for example – they get very heavy very quickly).

My usual ploy is to try and decide two things before I go – what I want to buy, and how much I am planning on spending. Taking cash and leaving credit / debit cards at home is a good plan as it ensures you stick to your budget (if you do this though, make sure you pay for the car park at the start of the day so you don’t forget!).

This year, I really had no idea what I wanted. I certainly don’t *need* anything else – I can barely fit what I already own into my broom-cupboard of a craft room. So I went with only the plan of sniffing out a bargain. It has been discovered in previous years that I am very good at that. Last year I spent half what the others in my party spent, but ended up with 3 or 4 times the number of bags! (ok, I know it should be quality, not quantity, but never mind).

This year turned out to be no different. I spent in total just under ¬£40, and ¬£10 of that was on one item. Here’s a photo of the ‘haul’:

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I’m not sure I’m ever going to use all this stuff up! In summary, this is what you may expect to see on any card you receive from me in the next 3 years…

3 packs of paper flowers

4 packets of buttons

8 packets of brads (2 epoxy, 1 fabric, squares, stars, hearts, and two normal circles)

1 pack of multicoloured Card Candi (I have discovered it is Card Candi *not* Card Candy as I had previously thought)

6 rolls of double sided tape (2 different widths)

3 packets of sticky foams pads

5 gorgeous 12×12 scrapbooking papers, which at 30p each were a steal

1 (only 1!) pot of glitter glue

1 stamp pad

2 packets of stamps (24 stamps in total)

1 pack of 12 patterned card blanks

1 pack of baby boy card toppers

2 sheets of decoupage

An A5 sketch book (this was free for signing up for a competition!)

A craft magazine, with a free quilling kit on the front

And the big spend was on a fabulous paper punch and embosser which makes utterly gorgeous shaped and embossed paper flowers (like I need more paper flowers!). I have hardly stopped playing with it since I got it.

I made a card using the punch and embosser. I was just playing with it and punching flowers out of a craft catalogue I’d got with one of my purchases. I realised that actually, the flowers were really pretty, and I soon got carried away and had made loads (my son helped with this bit too!). I put a dot of my new glitter glue in the centre of each flower, and then went to town sticking them on a card blank. I’m really pleased with the result, and I think I will be using that punch and embosser a lot!

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Flower cards

Following on from my post a couple of days ago, here are some more cards I made using free papers from a magazine. They took hardly any time to make, and for a change I have abandoned my peel-off sentiment addiction and left them blank.

Both are made with Prima paper flowers Рone with adhesive gem centres, and one with a brad centre. My favourite is the top one. Almost everything I make is symmetrical, and I love it when I manage to create something pretty but off centre!

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Cupcake cards

I have lots of free backing papers I’ve received in magazines. Sometimes they can be pretty poor quality – pretty, but still just thin shiny magazine paper. But occasionally you get some that are just as good any anything you can buy in the shops. Here are a couple of cards I’ve made with some of those excellent quality papers.

Both of these cards use the same backing paper, but I’ve used different toppers to create to quite different cards. Although I have just noticed that i’ve used the term ‘Just¬†For You’ on both of them, quite by accident!

Birthday cake

I think the birthday cake topper was a die-cut I received in a bag of randomness either in a swap, or an eBay package when I first started out crafting. Either way, when I got it, it was pretty uninspirational as it was cut from plain cream cardstock. However, by choosing marker pens to match the backing paper colours I have managed to make it look much more fun. Some plain white organza ribbon wrapped around the card adds interest, and a vellum sticker sentiment finishes it off.

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Cupcake

I had cupcake backing paper left over after making the above card, but no more birthday cake toppers.¬†So I decided to make my own topper. I used white textured paper¬†for the cake case, pink handmade paper for the cake, and I coloured a white adhesive gem red using¬†a marker pen to make the cherry on top.¬†I stuck my cupcake to some pale blue cardstock, and accented it with a silver peel-off border. I love the font of the ‘Just For You’ peel off, it looks so fun!

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Important occasion cards

Two of my friends recently celebrated some very important days. At the beginning of September my friend Michelle and her husband celebrated 10 years of marriage. And just a few days later, another good friend Stacey got married. I have to admit, I did feel somewhat under pressure to produce two cards in quick succession for such important events!

Michelle

When it comes to important wedding anniversaries, I love to personalise the card as much as I can. And what better way than to incorporate a wedding day picture?! I went through my pile of photos from that day (and it tells you a lot about me that the photos are still in a pile after 10 years, and haven’t made it into an album yet!) and found a nice photo of the two of them, that fitted perfectly inside the¬†paper heart frame that I was¬†wanting to use. The pink heart backing card (called Dufex) was a small scrap that I hadn’t thrown away, but was just the right size to use. Originally plain silver, I¬†found a¬†marker pen that matched (almost) the colours of the bridesmaid dresses on the day, and coloured it in. I did the same with the tiny square I¬†put the number stickers on too. A torn layer of textured white¬†paper on top of a layer of matt-finish silver cardstock ¬†all added to the matting & layering effect I wanted to acheive with this card.

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Stacey

This was such a hard card to make! I was so proud of the acceptance card that I’d given her that I really didn’t know how to¬†top it!¬†I knew that I wanted to stick with her wedding theme colour of green, so that was my starting point. I discovered in the depths of my craft drawer a piece of vellum, with ‘wedding’ written over it in gold writing, so I chose to mount that on some green cardstock using matching green brads in each corner. So with the colours of green and gold chosen, I set out to see what else I had that would match. I’d recently bought some gorgeous gold organza ribbon from my local craft shop, Tutbury Crafts. I’d planned to use it on Christmas cards, but it just seemed to fit perfectly with this wedding card. I made it into a ribbon flower¬†and mounted it on some more green cardstock using a green flocked brad, and put a gold peel-off border around the edge of the card. Finally I personalised it with the happy couple’s name, and the date they tied the knot (which I must’ve checked about 6 times before I finally wrote it!).

I’m¬†probably not as pleased with this card as I was the acceptance one, but that may be because I don’t usually ‘do’ gold and I’m more used to silvery cards. Regardless, I hope it’s one that they’ll keep for many many years.

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Ribbon flower cards

In my last post I showed you how to make a ribbon flower. Here are a couple of cards I made using the technique.

The first one is my parents anniversary card. The flower is actually one I received in a swap, I didn’t make this one. However, I did change the centre – the button that was originally on it was a bit big and bulky so I swapped it for a flower shaped brad.

The rather groovy backing paper, which is textured, is actually a wallpaper sample swiped from B&Q. I used an extra rectangle of it to put the peel-off sentiment on so everything matched nicely.

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The next card I’m really pleased with. My lovely friend Stacey is getting married in just a few weeks, and I made a wedding acceptance card to match her bridal colour of dark green. he colour in the photo hasn’t come out brilliantly, but honestly, the backing, the letters¬†and the flower are all green!

First of all I covered a long card blank with dark green paper to match her invites. Then I used some extra strong double sided tape to stick the wide glittery ribbon on. The ribbon is actually from my Christmas drawer! I used my Sizzix Sidekick to die-cut each letter (more about that in my earlier post here) and stuck them on with glue. Finally, I made a ribbon flower using green ribbon, and a white heart brad to attach it to the card.

I’m so pleased with it, that my main worry now is how on earth am I going to top it with her wedding card?!

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Isaac’s birthday

Ok, so I’m a bit late posting this. Isaac’s birthday was 2 1/2 weeks ago!

Isaac’s birthday card

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I made this the night before his birthday. Originally it was going to be a very quick and straightforward card, but as is so often the case it morphed itself into something more complicated. I knew I wanted to use my Scoooby-Doo 3-D decoupage, but wasn’t too sure what else to do. Once I’d cut out and constructed the decoupage I spent ages working out how to mount it onto the card. In the end, I used my new Martha Stewart Punch All Over the Page punch¬†to cut out a couple of circles in the card front so I could mount the Scooby Doo backing paper behind. Then I cut out a number 6 (from the punched part of the circle, so I knew it would fit), and attached it to the back of the card with a concertina of paper, so it springs out. I then used decorative scissors to trim the other punched circle, wrote ‘Isaac’ on it, and did the same.

Isaac’s reaction to the card was great, and made all the work on it worthwhile – thankfully! I would have been gutted had he just glanced at it and moved on to the next one!

Update

I need to start making the most of my blog as a tool for sharing my creations. I have been reading my friends blog a lot lately, and like the way she updates little and often, rather than all at once every couple of weeks like me! So I will endeavour to get blogging more regularly, but not deluge you with 100 ATCs at a time!

In my last craft update post I mentioned the Father’s Day cards I made. As they have been opened and enjoyed now I can share them with you! I made two cards the same, one for my dad, and one for my husband’s dad. I think I’ve been focussing on ATCs a bit too much though, because I really struggled for inspiration for this card until I made an ATC with ‘dad’ on. Then it all came together nicely.

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Adding a bit of ribbon and three glitter glue spots finished it off.

Since my last update I have been making ATCs with abandon. I will share a few today, then maybe some more later.

My absolute favourite recent ATC has to be this one:

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He’s just so darn cute! He’s made with papers received from a swap-bot swap, rub-on letters, a border peel-off, a brad and errr, glitter glue spots again. I think I’m developing a makers mark!
Where’s the rub-on letters I hear you ask? Well, you open the door…

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…and RAWR!!

 

 

 

 

And finally (for now)

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This is a very simple ATC made using some of the bits and pieces from the original ATC kit that got me started. I distressed the frame using a nail file over the surface, stuck a leaf shaped epoxy sticker over the centre, wrapped a bit of ribbon around the frame, and adhered it all to a matching background. Some rub-on words and the ubiquitous glitter glue spots finish it off.

I’ve got about another dozen ATCs ready and waiting in the wings to go on the blog, so I’ll update again soon!