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’:

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!



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.



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!


New home card

I can never throw anything away, no matter how small it is, and as a result I have a big box full of odds and ends of pretty papers, material, ribbon scraps and allsorts. It’s surprising what can be created from such scraps, as this new home card will demonstrate.

I like to make things from scratch, using collage techniques, and I’ve used lots of different bits on this card. The main part of the house is made from a scrap of wallpaper sample – it’s a textured brown sample, with wonderful golden flecks running through it. Once I’d decided on that, it was easy to rummage through my scraps box to find other bits that matched the theme. Some sparkly gold card for the roof, a tiny rectangle of brown handmade paper for the chimney, and some orange corrugated card for the door all serve to create the house. I cut out the windows from both the wallpaper and the card blank, and covered the holes with acetate, with some tiny left over bit of peel-off border for the window frames. Some green patterned paper was used to make the grass (using decorative edged scissors) and the trees (with a small round punch), and I drew the tree trunks on with a brown pen. The finishing touches were a black gem for the door handle, and my friends house number on the front of the door (another tiny peel-off). Finally I added a peel-off sentiment underneath.


I’m really pleased with the look of this card, and I love that it was created with mostly bits and pieces that could easily have been thrown away. It also goes to show that you really don’t need a host of expensive gadgets or items to create easy and really pretty cards.

American adventure (in a craft store)!

Ok, so I may have got just a *little* carried away in the craft store (oh alright, stores) we went to in Florida. Here is what I brought back with me:


I purchased 3 new scrapbooks (one 12×12, and two 8x8s), a pad of 8×8 papers, some 12×12 patterned papers, some 12×12 plain cardstock, 20110604-163549.jpgsome random sized and patterned card, a couple of packs of notecards, a notepad, some stamps, paper flowers, adhesive gems and pearls (really looking forward to using those!), glitter glues ($1 each, I couldn’t resist!), flower buttons, star buttons, flower brads, sparkly letter stickers, a Martha Stewart punch-anywhere-on-the-page circle punch, and a huge pack of 36 gorgeous coloured permanent marker pens. Oh, and a few ribbons. 116 yards of it to be exact. I *may* have gone slightly overboard with the ribbon. But just look at them! They’re sooooo lovely!! Since I’ve got back I’ve joined another Swap-bot ribbon swap, so I’ve already cracked some of them open to send off to my swap partner.

20110604-163556.jpgOne of¬†my favourite purchases is this —> which is a 12×12 lacy¬†scrapbook paper. I had to put some white paper behind just half of it to give you the true of idea of how gorgeous it is. I’ve seen a beautiful layout using one of these in the past, and I’m really going to have to put some work into whatever I make with it to do it justice.

I’ve not had any time for crafting since I’ve got back, although I have loads of ideas running through my head. Hopefully over the next few days I can get some time in the craft room and get some stuff made. I have a few birthday cards I need to make, plus Father’s day is coming up rapidly, so I need to get going!

The beginning

Well, I have a blog. Although I have told my friends I don’t have time for one, they seem to think I do. So here I am.
With this blog, I’m hoping to share some of my craft projects, tips and techniques, and show you my finished products too.
My main love is paper-craft. I make handmade cards, I scrapbook, and I have recently started making ATCs (Artist Trading Cards). I enjoy cross-stitch too, so you may get to see some of that!
I will try to keep this blog to all things crafty, but if you want to get to know the non-craft side of me, please follow me on Twitter: @catrad. I’m sure there’s a way of creating a proper link there, but I have no technical ability whatsoever, so that can wait for another day.
Please leave me a comment, I’d love to hear from you!