Home of The Small Art Company and a bit of British all sorts about my family, kids, home, art, mixed media, craft, photography, illustration, travel, cooking, organisation, teaching... Good to see you:)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas at Home...

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas. Thought I'd just share some photos with you. These are some of our handmade decorations and foodie things from this year and past years...

Sorry they're all in a long column, I haven't worked out how to 'tableise' things yet!

I wish you all a very happy and peaceful New Year. See you soon with some new projects!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Travel Tuesday - Nuremberg Christmas Market

Not a particularly unusual place, but as it's Christmas, I just had to include a Christmas market! Mr W and I visited Nuremberg's Christmas market back in 1999, a year when we had 3 holidays abroad and 1 in this country! I doubt that will ever happen again now the little ones are here. Not that I would change that for anything of course:)

Nuremberg is perhaps Germany's most famous Christmas Market and it's easy to see why. It's very traditional and rather picturesque. You won't find any tacky decorations here. Instead, there are beautiful wooden items, both decorations and toys. Amongst all these, there are plenty of stalls selling delicious food like gingerbread men, sweets and mulled wine. I don't really like mulled wine, but you get to keep the lovely little mugs they serve it in, so it's worth buying for that! We also had huge hot dogs. And I mean, huge!

There's also a Children's Market, next to the main market, with carousels, wooden toys, a steam train and other stalls where you can have a go at dipping candles, which we did, as well as other crafts. Plus, lots more yummy food and drink.

We were lucky that is snowed while we were there, as it really does add to the festive atmosphere. Although, my mum and dad have just got back from a long weekend, and they only had sleety showers.

Talking of snow, we had loads here on Friday. It felt very right for Little W's last day at nursery. I was very excited as we were off to see Father Christmas (complete with real reindeer!), so I thought it would be perfect. Alas, when we arrived back in Enfield where the man himself was, there was not a spot of snow to be seen! Oh well. We had quite a bit more on Sunday, although it didn't settle this time. Hopefully we'll see more snow at some point over Christmas.

Anyway, back to Nuremberg - I'd highly recommend visiting next year if you can. Although we have Christmas markets here, they're not quite the same as the German ones.

I'm going to wish you all a very Merry Christmas now and a prosperous New Year. See you in 2012.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Christmas Gift Guide

I've joined another of Folksy's daily listing clubs and have only missed two days so far. Not as good as I did in March, but better than July! This month's club is called November Nexus.

I thought it was about time I did a blog post about some of the lovely items you could buy as a Christmas pressie. So these are some wonderful offerings from some of the shops in the club. Each stands for a letter of 'Christmas' in some way (plus two extra!):

C - card and Christmas pudding from Aunty Joan Crafts. Such a cute festive card!

H - hat from UniquleyYours. Get into the Christmas spirit and keep warm at the same time with this fun Santa hat!

R - retro robin from Audrey's Cat. Decorate your home a little differently this year with this adorable retro robin.

I - iPad sleeve from Whimsy Woo Designs. Perfect protection for your iPad in such beautiful fabric too.

S - snowflake from Ritzy Swish. Beautiful embroidered snowflake Christmas card. Who wouldn't want to receive this card??

T - tartan bow and beret from Imogen's Imagination. Black and red tartan bow on a lovely wine red beret to keep you warm and stylish this winter.

M - William Morris-style quilt from SewFlair. Snuggle up next to the fire with this gorgeous quilt.

A - Apple Kindle case from BaggieAggie. Keep your Kindle warm too with this festively-coloured Apple Kindle case!

S - silver watch from CloverJewels. This stunning beaded watch would make a wonderful gift for someone special.

And thanks to Natalie of NOfkantsCurios for organising the listing clubs, here are some beautiful Mother of Pearl earrings:I'm also going to include a wintery ACEO from Brenda at Teabreaks/Gweddus Art. Brenda's always been very supportive of my ACEO attempts!

Have fun shopping!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Altered Photography and Coptic Bound Books

I logged on to the PC today to find I'd had 7 sales! Think that must be an online record for me!

This week I've relaunched my Folksy shop. I said a few weeks ago that I was going to concentrate on handbound books and while they will be a lot of what I sell, I realised that I didn't want to be restricted, so I'm branding myself as mixed media art and gifts. I hope this combines the type of things I like to make. I want to make sure I can include altered imagery, polymer clay, glass paints, fabric and watercolour (they're the main materials I like to use!).

So, here are some of the books I've made:

I love the Coptic stitching! On the fronts are some of my altered photos. At the moment I've just used a distressing technique on two of them and two others are my glass painted photos. The fifth book has no photo - just pretty paper!

And here's an ACEO I listed today:

Again, I've used one of my photos and altered it (digitally this time) to create a unique image. The pink swirls are actually a photo of a colourful glass exhibit I saw at Kew Gardens a few years ago.

I've got many more images that I'm having lots of fun altering. I'm thinking of selling these images as sheets of paper for people's crafty needs.

Here's another ACEO I made with one of the butterfly images I took last week:

The only thing I'm not sure about now is the banner. I wanted something that covers everything, but also wanted to include Frederick Frog as he's my avatar and I didn't want to change him... But the white background, whilst it looks OK on Folksy, it doesn't look right here! I wonder how people manage to get their branding right so it fits everywhere?! I guess I could change the blog background, but I like it as it is... Then there's the shop name... I want to change it, but then I can't change my blog or Facebook... and on Folksy people will still see me as Careford Creations as that's my username. Aaaarrghh!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Butterflies and Enchanted Gardens

It's been a funny old month weather-wise. Paddling pool, BBQ and picinic at the beginning of October and a beautiful warm sunny day yesterday. We decided to make the most of the good weather and half-term and went to Butterfly World near St. Alban's.

I went once before when I was little, but didn't remember much of it. It's an ideal place for a day out. There's enough to see, but not so much that you're rushing to get round everything. Little W loved the playground and craft activities. And I loved the gardens. Just thought I'd show you some pics I took of my favourite one - the Enchanted Garden. Each section was made to look like a room in a house which had merged with the garden...

The other interesting garden was this one, which is a back view, but it had lots of giant garden bits and pieces. I love anything with an other world feel (hence my Folk of the Forest shop!).

And then we saw these stuck in the wall..!

Of course, the butterflies themselves are beautiful! They fly all around you and some are huge! I was able to get a few good photographs, which will be ideal for my new projects. I was hoping my shop relaunch would be the end of this month, but I might not make it... I keep changing my mind about the shop's tag line. I may go with something about mixed media, instead of just altered photography. Hmm, we'll see...

(Available to buy as always:) Just e-mail for details: victoria@carefordcreations.co.uk)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Firework Cake!

It was little W's 4th birthday last week. I always make his cake, but this year I'd hardly had time to think about it. I'd had to buy a Lightning McQueen cake for his party the day before as well. So when I saw a rainbow cake on Sew Recycled's blog, I thought it was perfect! It was so simple yet so effective. I called it a firework cake instead though as my son loves fireworks. Every drawing he does seems to have a firework in it!

I made 4 layers, although you can do as many as you like. I made each layer as a half mixture (so, four cakes of 4, 4, 4, 2). It's just a simple sponge with food colouring. When cooled I covered it in buttercream icing so you couldn't see the colours.

Little W loved it! It's a great surprise when you cut into it! If I'd had time I would have made more layers and also found some sort of firework candle. Anyway, it was extremely yummy! Let me know if you make one for November 5th!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Travel Tuesday - Greenland

Not the most popular destination, but Travel Tuesday is after all, about places that are a little unusual...

I blogged about a place called Vik in Iceland last time. While we were staying in Reykjavik we made the most of being quite a way north and decided to take a trip to Greenland. It was just a day trip but was enough to get a tiny taste of another fascinating country.

We arrived in Kulusuk after a two-hour flight. Then we walked to a little village called Kap Dan, which is home to the Ammassalik Inuit. I think there are around 350 people living there at the moment. I loved the brightly coloured houses. I guess you need some colour in a landscape that is so cold and bleak for much of the year.

Here we watched a drum dance and kayaking demonstration. We also visited a tiny wooden gift shop and I bought an intricate beaded necklace that a lady had made. There was also a church and an old and a new cemetery. Both are very picturesque and perhaps unlike cemeteries elsewhere. This is the Old Cemetery. The crosses don't actually have names on as the Inuits believe that when the body dies, the name and soul live on. The name is then given to a new-born in the village.

We took a boat back to the airport and saw some pretty big icebergs! It would have been utterly amazing to see a polar bear floating along on one, but alas, that wasn’t to be! Here’s an iceberg on land...

We visited Greenland at the very end of the ‘summer’, so these icebergs are rather small compared to what they must be like in the winter.

Here’s the stamp from my passport!

Hmm... where shall we go next week??

(Apologies for the different fonts, I can't seem to edit it!)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Travel Tuesday - Iceland

OK, it’s Tuesday and that means a quick post about somewhere I’ve been that’s perhaps a little unusual. Thought I’d start with Iceland. Not ones for lying on a beach somewhere, Mr W and I visited this northern European country 9 years ago.

Iceland has a most bizarre landscape. You may have heard people liken it to being on the moon (not that many of us would know what that’s like!). I guess it’s true though. Being volcanically active, the land is full of lava fields and has hardly any trees, or at least, not big ones like we have in the UK. It’s pretty odd seeing so few trees!

We took a trip one day down to a place called Vik and decided to go for a walk to the beach. We were so glad we had, for this is what we saw (this is a colour pic!):

I’d never seen a beach quite like this one. The black ‘sand’ against the green grass and misty white/grey sky was amazing. It was truly like being in another world. Everywhere we looked was just black and white! I can't seem to find my pic of the grass and the sand, but here's another, taken with a filter:

And this is a geyser (available to buy if you wish! Just e-mail me for details). We could have stood watching these erupt all day. They're absolutely fascinating!

Anyone else been to Iceland??

Monday, October 10, 2011

A-Z About Me

These type of questions did the rounds by e-mail a few years ago. Seeing as I don't work in an office anymore, I haven't filled one out for a while, so here we go:

A - Age – 34. How did I get that old??

B - Bed size – Double, but would love a King Size if we had the room!

C - Chores you hate – Ironing, without a doubt.

D - Dogs – Had a dog called Charlie when I was about 14/15, but only for a week or two. Then we got a beautiful Yellow Labrador called Tiggy. She died a few years ago, but I still think of her all the time. I wish she’d been around to meet my children. I’d have loved to see what she made of them!

E - Essential start to your day – This will sound odd, but I have to moisturise and put lip balm on quickly once I’ve washed then I feel I can start my day! No coffees or anything for me!

F - Favourite colour – I’ve always liked yellow. Not sure if this was because I genuinely liked it or because no other child ever said it was their favourite colour, so I thought I’d be different!

G - Gold or silver – My engagement and wedding rings are gold with some white gold, although I like silver too. Don’t wear any other jewellery, apart from the odd polymer clay pendant I’ve made.

H - Height – About 5’6.5” I think.

I - Instruments you play – Used to play the piano. I had lessons for about 9 years and wish I could say I play well! Had one violin lesson once too...

J - Job title – Main job is primary school teacher. Proof reader and also business owner I guess. Sounds posh!

K - Kids – One boy, one girl.

L - Live – Hertfordshire for nearly 6 years. 18 months in Essex before that and the first 26 years of my life in north London.

M - Mother's name – Colleen.

N - Nickname – Little Vic. I was always one of the smallest at school!

O - Overnight hospital stays – Only when I had my children.

P - Pet Peeves – Rudeness and inconsiderate people.

Q - Quote from a film – I am absolutely rubbish at remembering quotes.

R - Right or left handed - Right

S - Siblings – Two younger brothers.

T - Time you wake up – 6am if I’m working, 7am if not and 7.30 at the weekend.

U - Underwear – Usually M&S.

V - Vegetable you hate – Only Brussels sprouts really. I like veggies, especially home-grown ones or from my mum and dad’s allotment.

W - What makes you run late – Only severe transport delays. I hate being late. I’d rather be an hour early than a minute late.

X - X-rays you've had – Only for my teeth I think.

Y - Yummy food you make – I’m told I make pretty good roast potatoes, if that counts?! I love cooking and try to make a lot of dishes from scratch. My son likes my homemade pizzas.

Z - Zoo animal – I love pandas, but the monkeys and chimps can keep me entertained for hours.

Feel free to copy and paste your answers on your blog!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Handbound Books... and New Business Direction

I love, love, love books! I love really old books with their dusty covers and falling apart pages, threads hanging from the spines... And I love brand new books with their crisp clean pages and that lovely new book smell! I love reading books, I love writing in cute notebooks, I love listing in them, creating in them. And I love to make books too.

I've had a long think about the direction my creative business is going. I've never been able to stick to one thing as I have several crafty passions and can't just not make! The problem I have is that my shops have always seemed a bit of a mish-mash. I thought that it could be a good thing - a bit like a handmade department store, never knowing what you might find. However, I'm not sure this really works when selling online.

So, I think I've found how to combine all my crafty things while keeping a cohesive look to my shops. I'm going to concentrate on handbound books. The books I made before were either just tied with ribbon (polymer clay books) or used Japanese stab-stitch. I've decided to have a go with Coptic stitching. Each book will have a polymer clay button and most will have an altered photograph or an original illustration.

I've mentioned altered photographs as that's how I'm going to be selling my images from now on. After some research (and a few years trying!), I've realised that standard photographs generally don't sell that well. People are looking for something different and unique. I've been learning lots of techniques on altering images and that's how I'm going to be selling them from now on - on books, as greeting cards and ACEOs.

Phew - sorry for the long rambling, but I think I needed to get it all down on 'paper' to make things clear in my head!

So - pics are my first Coptic-stitched listing on Folksy, planning for the next few books and some of my altered images I'm working on.

Anyone else out there love books?? I'm sure there are a few of you... Or is your business heading in a new direction?