Handicrafts by Kate Perry and other ramblings

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Creative Blog Hop.

It’s the start of a new week and my turn to join in with The Creative Blog Hop. TCBH is the idea of a blogger, whose identity has disappeared along the way, and it includes all kinds of artists using paint, mixed media and card, as well as writers, photographers, needle-workers etc.
The aim is for us Bloggers to get to know each other better. Similar to a game of tag, when we have told a bit about ourselves and answered four questions, we then tag three more Bloggers and so it continues.
I am here because I was tagged by Veerle, a very talented paper-crafter from Belgium, who I only met a few weeks ago when her delightful card was featured in Pixie’s Snippets playground. I visited her home site and was so interested in her work, and filled with admiration at how much she has learned in a very short time, that I became a follower, and now she has tagged me for this blog hop.

Now I like words, and I usually use ten where one would do, so sit back with your favourite brew and be prepared for a long read!
So what can I tell you about myself? Well, first and foremost I am a Christian. This is the main influence in my life, defining who I am and what I do. That said I am also wife to Chris, and we are still smiling after thirty-five years together.
And I am mother to five fantastic sons, Grandma to five more boys, and I'm happy to say, to two lovely young girls, and Great-grandma to one little boy, who will have a new brother by Christmas.

I was the youngest in a family of eight, but only my sister Jean and I were born after the war, so the others were already ‘grown-up’, leaving home and starting their own families when I was a child. Mum and dad were hardworking folk and there was little time to indulge in hobbies, though I was an avid reader, but mum crocheted all her baby clothes, and could also knit, and she in turn taught me to do the same. Although I always loved new coloured pens and pencils, I was no artist, and my interest in paper craft came much later. More or less out of idle curiosity I attended my first Hobbycraft show at Birmingham NEC and after that I was hooked. The techniques I saw there, which remain my favourites today, were rubber stamping and heat embossing.
I left college as a qualified secondary school mathematics teacher, but I was fortunate to be able to stay at home while my children were little, and did not return to full-time work until they were all fairly independent. I then re-trained in the work place and eventually became the manager of a very big nursery school. I loved doing craft projects with the children. Their enthusiasm was very inspiring. Again this didn’t leave me with much time to follow my own interests but I did managed to make all my greetings cards for family and friends. I was coming towards retirement, and we were beginning to talk about moving abroad, so in my last few years of work I concentrated on building up my supplies of craft materials, including buying my original cutting machine, (a craftRobo), and a photo editing programme, neither of which I had time to learn how to use properly!
In the Spring of 2008 we sold our house, packed up the few items of furniture we wanted to keep, and all my craft supplies, in a storage container, and spent three amazing months backpacking around Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos. We discovered we could do things that I at least thought I was incapable of doing, such as riding bare-back on an elephant, and sea-kayaking, and we had time to take stock and plan our future. 
In October of the same year, we filled every inch of our car with essentials and drove to the South of Spain, where we eventually bought a house, and it is now our permanent home, and we just love the place, the people, and the lifestyle. We share our home with three dogs and four cats who are all abandoned  animals from rescue shelters.
I am fortunate enough to have one of our bedrooms as my craft room, which I share only with my fur-ball Arwen. She is a feisty cat, who never leaves the house, and rarely leaves the room, but as long as I don’t get too pushy, and try to give her lots of cuddles, she just about tolerates me sharing her space, though it is somewhat begrudgingly! The up-side of that is that I have learned to be tidy, clearing away every night, and putting each project away as it is finished, so that she can’t tear it up or scatter my bits and pieces.

I like to work in an ordered environment, and have gradually built up a filing system for all my papers, stamps etc, and have shelves of labelled drawers that enable to find most things when I want them. But I do have to say that there appears to be a little black hole in here somewhere, which swallows the odd thing I just know I have but can’t find anywhere! I bet most of you have one of those too.

I no longer watch craft programs on TV, and I have very limited access to materials as I live in a very rural area with few specialist shops, so I purchase most things I need online. I grumble about the postage sometimes, but at least I can get most things at a price.
I spend many hours on my computer every day. It is how I stay in touch with the family, and I love talking to them in video calls using Skype. I also watch tutorials on all things craft related, and photography, and have followed many online tutorial classes for using photo editing programs, and my silhouette cutter. You are never too old to learn something new, and whenever I read about a new material or technique, I want to have a go at it. Sometimes this is successful and sometimes it isn’t, but I have usually enjoyed trying.

‘Jack of all trades and master of none’ probably best sums up my crafting. I have rediscovered my love of knitting and crochet, (At least during the cooler months), and have started a project called ‘Knit for Africa’, where I have organised a group of friends to make baby clothes, teddies and blankets which we send to a charity based in Market Drayton, Shropshire, for distribution as part of their on-going projects in Kenya. Here is one of our consignments but you can click on the photo in my sidebar for more information on this. 

During the summer I am more likely to work at a cross-stitch picture, or the latest skill which I have learned since moving here, making bobbin lace.

Sometimes my craft room moves to the kitchen as I used to love cooking when I had a family to feed. Chris and I have smaller appetites now, so cooking is a bit less fun, but I became well-known for making pastry and at Christmas I make around forty dozen mince-pies. I also make orange marmalade, jam and pickles throughout the year, all of which I sell to raise funds for my church, a charity that helps disabled children in and around our village, and help with shipping for my Africa project.
But  my first love is paper craft and I have made two big scrapbooks for my youngest two sons which they just love. I am moving more towards making hybrid books now, with a mixture of digital backgrounds and photos with added ‘real’ elements. I have thousands of photos from our E.Asia holiday to make into an album as well as from other holidays. A tax rebate a few years ago enabled me to buy a good camera and I am still learning how to get the best from it. I made two scrapbooks featuring lots of photos – Project 365 in 2012 which had one photo for every day of the year, and last year I did Project Life which entailed making a double-spread for every week.  This is just one of my layouts for this project.
I have also made a lot of ATCs which brought me into contact with crafters from around the world, but I make fewer of these now as the postage is very expensive and can be too slow from here, so I couldn’t always meet the swap deadlines. But I do still make all my cards, and with such a large family as well all my friends, this keeps me busy and I have not felt the need or desire to make extras for selling.
In 2008 I started my first blog primarily as a way of sending news and photos of our new life out here to all the family, though I now have many followers from outside the family as well which is great. I found I was posting more and more craft projects on there, so at the end of 2010 I took the logical step of starting a second blog, (this one), dedicated to craft. Through it I have met, and become friends with folk from all over the world, and they are all so helpful and generous with their ideas, that they have inspired me to try a wider and wider range of things.
I regularly take part in a couple of challenges – Pixie’s Snippets playground, and Rudolf day, and more recently Mrs A’s Butterfly challenge, but I only occasionally enter others as well, as I just don’t have the time to visit other contributors and leave them considered comments. And I feel it is only fair to do this. I love getting comments from all of you, so it is only fair to return your visits and enjoy and give credit to your beautiful creations too.

1. What am I working on now? Well I am very busy right now reorganising my room, and trying to fit in a new bookcase and computer table bought last Friday! But I am in the middle of making a big batch of twenty plus Christmas cards, all the same. They involve, stamping, printing, colouring, die-cutting, fussy cutting, and cutting on my silhouette, so I have given myself a big task, but I will get them done. I also need to finish off a card for a family member, continue on a cross-stitch picture I am sewing for one of the boys, actually get some of the scrapbook pages that are running around in my head down on paper,  and cut some vinyl decals to add interest to my craft room. And of course there are always a few knitting and crochet projects on needles and hooks.

2. How does my work differ from others in my genre? I don’t think I have a style – except a bit chaotic! I like colours, and am never satisfied with too much empty space on a card, so CAS is not for me. Probably variety is my main thing. Most people have a style or technique that re-occurs through their work, but I am such a butterfly flitting from one thing to another, and a project rarely ends up as I intended it to at the start. I have had some muscular problems that led to surgery on my shoulder and hands, so I now have little sensation in my finger tips, and somewhat shakey arms and hands. Also my eyesight is rapidly failing, but fortunately I am not a perfectionist and I accept that images will not always be coloured quite within the lines, or mats and layers may not be quite straight. Such idiosyncrasies are a part of my work, and the family know that. Recently I have started using my silhouette to cut vinyl as decorations for the home, and this is not something I have seen much of in blogs, though it is on the Silhouette Facebook page. I think it is mainly an American idea as they have access to a lot of items that aren't available even in UK, and certainly not in Spain. I did make some Christmas decorations with it last year.
Using vinyl widens my scope for card making and allows me to use rather different embellishments.

3. Why do I create what I do? I just enjoy it. I am a restless person and I can’t just sit and do nothing, so I need a variety of things to keep me busy. Craft offers me that variety and keeps me occupied. Plus, when I do make cards and other items for family and friends, I know they are appreciated and enjoyed so that is sufficient incentive to keep me making!

4. What is my creative process? My inspiration comes mainly from projects I have seen on blogs, Facebook and Pinterest. I don’t want to copy anyone else’s work, but it gives me ideas that I can develop in my own style. Generally I start with the person I am making for. As they are usually a family member I know what interests them, so I can build my card etc around that. If I have nothing suitable I trawl the digi stamp sites to find something and then I can resize it to fit a die cut frame if I want to. Sometimes I spot something on the internet that I know is perfect for someone and then I will download it and file it with the person’s name so it is ready when I need it. Nearly always it is image first, then colour scheme and then papers. But sometimes I find a suitable paper in my snippets boxes and colour the image to match that.

So what comes next? Well next I introduce you to three more lovely crafters who have kindly agreed to be tagged by me. First up is my own sister Jean Straw of My Crafty Corner, who many of you already know. We used to enjoy going to craft shows together, but now we just share our ideas via long skype chats. We are like the proverbial 'chalk and cheese',  and there are few similarities in our work, but that doesn't stop us being the best of friends. Jean is a neat and tidy crafter, with a talent for using pastel and muted shades that I have never managed to emulate. I hope you will visit her next week and see her lovely cards. Here is what she said:

Hi, my name is Jean Straw and I have been invited to join in The Creative Blog Hop by my sister Kate. This is a great idea aimed at enabling us all to get to know a bit more about our blog buddies.
I live on the south coast of England with my husband. We are both retired and live a fairly quiet life. 
I have always"made" things, starting at a very early age when my Mum taught me to knit. She must of had a lot of patience. I have also done crochet, dressmaking, toy making and spent many years hooked on cross stitch embroidery. I bought the stitching magazines and enjoyed stitching a lot of the small designs they carried as well some of the larger ones. I started to use the smallest ones to make cards with, and then I discovered rubber stamps and began to use them to decorate the aperture cards I used, like the very expensive printed ones I'd seen. This was nearly twenty years ago and as the stamps and other craft materials became more popular and more available I was hooked again. I now have a large  collection of both rubber and clear stamps and still can't resist buying new ones that take my fancy. Stamping and colouring are really still my favourite pastimes.
I hope you will be able to stop my blog next Monday to read more about what I do.

My second friend is Veronica Pell of Vroncards, whom I met when I joined the Graphicus Guild, (part of Elusive Images, now Chocolate Baroque), and although I am still a member I no longer participate in many activities through their forum. But Vronnie does, and we have stayed in touch through our blogs. She is a constant source of inspiration to me, so do pay her visit and get inspired too. Vronnie says:

Am an elderly crafter, with a patient husband who puts up with my stash overflowing everywhere, and 3 adult children  - the elder two are merely  tolerant of my obsession, and the third (wonderful girl) feeds it on birthdays, mother's day and Christmas.

I have always loved playing with pens/pencils and paper -and we always spent wet playtimes at school 'taking a pencil for a walk' and colouring in the resulting odd shapes. I never grew out of this, and had a happy 3 years at art school in Liverpool in the 1960s getting very inky and painty. Reality then intruded, and I worked in an office first in London  and then in Norfolk.
In the early 70s I started doing quillling as a change from knitting Aran sweaters, and bought my first rubber stamp of leaves as I was fed up of making fiddly leaves................gradually the quilling faded out and stamps took over, with a short trip into parchment craft along the way, and the sweaters are definitely a thing of the past.
I now have a large collection of stamps, mostly from Chocolate Baroque (or it's original incarnation as Elusive Images) and I still get very inky - especially as I have just discovered Brusho powder inks! - and have to admit to being a very messy crafter, who often ends up with a roughly A4 piece of clear desk to work on.

My third tagee is Ann Cutts of Just for Fun. She ran one of the first challenges I took part in, so we often exchanged comments on our blogs. She became interested in digital scrapbooking, and although she uses different graphics programs from me, she was always ready to answer my questions, and encouraged me to give it a go. Here is what she says:

Hello my name is Ann and I've been pulled into this by Kate who I've known for quite some time in blog land.  I have a dreadful memory, but I think we first met when I was running the Bah! Humbug! Christmas Challenge with my friend Max.  So sad that we had to close Humbug Hall as we had some lovely friends joining in each week.

Anyway enough rambling and a little about me.  You may want to take a little snooze at this point!  Like many crafters I've been trying different crafts all my life.  I remember sewing my own Cindy clothes when I was very young and learning to knit with my Grandma and of course doing all the usual crafty things we all do as we are growing up.  

At one stage I was a machine knitting addict and another time it was copper craft.  I guess I just love making things.  None of these crafts totally took over as much as paper crafting though.  I can't remember exactly when I first got the bug for paper, but it must have been about 15 years ago when my youngest daughter was really ill and the team at the hospital wanted her to take up a hobby.  We saw a few card making programmes on QVC and well the addiction began.  My daughter did a little crafting and I did a lot and of course I am still creating and buying stash years later.  
I started by mainly making cards - oh some of them - no - all of those first cards were pretty grim, but I loved making them and the sheer joy of giving someone a handmade card and seeing their face light up can't be beaten.  Nowadays I guess I'm more into scrapbooking.  I've got a gorgeous 3 year old grandson who provides me with lots of photos that really need treasuring.  I've also masses of family photos from years and years ago that need the scrapbook touch so they don't get lost in time.   It's a big job, but every page done is something that I know my two daughters will treasure long after I'm gone.
Oh gosh just realised I seem to be writing way too much here.   You can shake yourself now and wake up my spiel is coming to an end.  
I just want to say a big thank you to Kate for including me in this.  I'm so looking forward to reading everyone's pages and finding out a little more about my blogland buddies.  

A previous participator made this button for us so do take it and add to you side bar if you have been tagged in the blog hop.
Thank you so much if you are still with me at the end of this lengthy spiel. I promise not to do such a long post again - not for a very long time anyway! Please visit my friends and share some love with them too. I appreciate you all.


Maxine D said...

Great to get to know you a bit better Kate - I really enjoyed your post!!

Ann said...

Oh my you have led such an interesting life Kate - really good to read all about you. Only one problem I'm dreading doing my write up next week - what on earth can I put? Eeek!!
Ann xxx

veronica said...

Snap, Ann! Kate is a hard act to follow - and I still need a third victim.............

Di said...

Oh Kate, this was such a fascinating read! You certainly don't let the grass grow under your feet with so many fun things going on :-) And I adore the snow scene bauble!


Di xx

Shirley-Anne Barber said...

Hello Kate ..what a wonderful read .
I read every word and then reread it in case I missed anything .
Like you I appreciate all the comments I see on my posts and feel guilty when I just cant find the time to visit as many as I would like .
Thank you for being a great blog pal .
Now I must remember to visit your friends , Jean , Veronica and Ann.
hugs Shirley-Anne

Veerle said...

I am so glad I tagged you and that you agreed to it Kate. I loved reading your post and I envie your 3 months in Asia. Last year me and my hubby were backpacking 3 weeks in Thailand and I loved it. Have been riding on an elephant the same way you did too and went sea kajaking and lots of things more. I really loved reading about your interesting life. So nice thank you so much for sharing and I am very happy you are one of my blog friends. Big hug for you, Veerle xxxx

Lynne K said...

Absolutely fascinating read, Kate! So sorry I couldn't join in.

Lynne x

Liz said...

I've loved reading your interesting Creative Blog Hop post. What a busy lady you are! Veerle tagged me too, so my TCBH post also went live today. x

Shoshi said...

Lovely to read all about you, Kate - what an interesting post. I have also taken part in the Creative Blog Hop so thanks for the beautiful badge which I have now copied to put on my own blog. It's a fun blog hop!


Neet said...

What an interesting read Kate. Riding an elephant bare back must have been something special as must sea-kayaking. It was particularly interesting to read how you got to live in Spain - very brave of you two to up sticks like that.
Love the dogs you have adopted, what beautiful animals they are.
Thanks for the entertaining read.
Hugs, Neet xx

MaryH said...

Kate, what a delightful post. You've led such an interesting life, and I loved seeing the pic of you & Mr. You look like you totally belong together with your smiles and obvious joy for life & adventure. You always amaze me with your creativity, and the super things you do with the silhouette & vinyl. All your projects look just as lovely as do your beautiful cards, and how marvelous for you, if you get a bit bored with one genre, you can easily switch to another, until your MoJo reactivates. I'll be checking in on your taggees, and can't wait to read what Sister Jean tells us. TFS & big hugs. Happy wkend too.

Darnell J Knauss said...

That was very interesting, Kate! I'm glad to see you participating in TCBH, using the button I created, and passing it on to others! I look forward to reading your sister Jean's interview next week and those of Veronica and Ann, as well! I must say your adventures before you settled down were quite exciting!! Hugs, Darnell

Bożena Adamusińska said...

I read your story about you and your fate and I admire you and your husband as a way of of life. You write about the difficulties in getting new products to scrabooking, I know this, because in Poland, where I live is like that. But the creation gives me so much satisfaction that the difficulties are not important. The more enjoys new punch or die. Have a wonderful two blogs. The things that you create are so sunny that the just looking at Loading of positive energy. Thank you for the nice comment on my blog, if he does not, you probably I would never came to you. I am glad that we met in the network.
Hugs, BozenA