Category Archives: Card making


I have been trying in vain to put this information on my workshop page,but unfortunately after 4 hours of trying , it still will not go where I want it to .
So for the time being it will be staying as a post.

If anyone can explain how I can move this table from my blog post onto a permanent page and still look like it does here, I would be very happy.





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One to one workshops are available- 60 € per day

Organising my clear acrylic stamps

One thing I did last week was organise my acrylic stamps. I am not the tidiest of people when I am working, and tend to have far too many things piled up around me. I noticed when I was making cards recently that I wasted so much time rifling through my stamps to find the one I wanted, that I needed some sort of system.

I don’t even have that many stamps (at the moment) so they have been sitting in a plastic container, which is a bad way to keep them.
So here’s what I did .

I did a few internet searches and watched some videos on ways that people use to store their stamps.
Many came from American and mentioned plastic wallets that I could not get here in Portugal . Others used CD / DVD cases, or the packets the stamps came in ( which I had thrown away ) stuck onto cards.
In the end I liked the idea of using polythene pockets, and dividing them up to keep a group of stamps together .

There are several videos showing this idea on You Tube, to give you the idea of what I mean.

I did not have any of the thick plastic pockets they used, so I cut out some pages from an old display book I had hanging around, which worked just as well


1. I cut out some pockets/pages from a display book.

2. I laid out my stamps and grouped them into categories where possible, such as Xmas/ winter , birthdays , flowers/ hearts, words / letters .

3. I put them onto a plastic pocket and drew straight lines to divide the pocket into smaller pockets.

4. With a craft knife I cut along the top edge of each small pocket shape I had drawn ( I put cardboard inside to prevent cutting through the back of the pocket)

5. I sewed the plastic pocket along the lines, dividing the big pocket into smaller pockets.

6. I popped the stamps in their new little pockets, and had a well deserved cuppa !

I’m not sure whether I will put the pockets into a ring binder or I will stand them in a box, but already they are a lot more organised than they were !

Valentines Day cards – Using distress inks

Here are a few of the cards I have been making for Valentines day, using the distress inks I recently bought back from England

 distressed background

distressed background

This card has a distressed background . I used denim blue distress ink on top of red card.Then I used a variety of heart stamps (bought and home-made) to stamp on top . I mounted it on a silver background and then onto Burgundy cardstock

pink grey black

I am not a grey and black person as a rule, but this card is one of my faves.

I used a dirty pink distress dye ( sorry I’m hopeless at remembering colour names) around the edge of an embossed pink heart, .I put strips of grey embossed hearts at the top and bottom of some black cardstock which I stamped with the words LOVE in silver and added the distressed heart and a little silver heart to tie the colours together .

mustard and blue heart

I feel this one has more of a Victorian feel to it
I used a piece of packing card to dye cut a heart, which I embossed with a damask pattern . It really came to life when I distressed it with denim blue & used vintage photo distress ink ( brown) around the edge.
I mounted it on pale blue dot embossed paper, then mustard/ ochre card stock, and used a copperplate type font to add a Portuguese greeting.

burgundy pink heart

This one is another one where I distressed the background and stamped onto it. However it has a totally different look to the first one .
I used denim blue ink to distress a frilly pale blue doily card, onto which I stamped two hearts.
I coloured the hearts in with watercolour pencils in pink shades and used pearly pink liner around the edges. I mounted the doily onto a bigger pink doily and then burgundy cardstock
I added a pink card strip at the bottom embossed with the words With love .

Feel free to copy these ideas …. just don’t forget to mention where you got them from !


Playing with distress inks

I have been trying out my new Tim Holtz distress inks this week, whilst making Valentines cards.

I wanted to give an “oldy worldy” , tattered feel to the cards, and so had a play around to get browned edges and discoloured paper .

I started off by Googling distress ink to find out more about how to apply them ,and saw lots of people use a special blending tool. It is a wooden tool with a foam pad on the end which rubs the ink onto the paper.

Well I don’t have such a tool, and so I tried using my index finger, cotton wool , a paper towel and a sponge.
They all worked to some extent, but I would advise against using the index finger, for two reasons.
1. I ended up getting grubby finger prints on bits of paper and card where I didn’t want them
and …
2. Although the ink is water-soluble I ended up with a stain that looked like old nicotine.

The paper towel and cotton wool worked, but they soaked up most of the ink and it was hard to get a soft feel when applying it, as I needed to use quite a lot of pressure to transfer the ink.

The best result SO FAR was using bits of sponge. I tried it held with my fingers, and also made a nice round ball of it and stuck it in the end of a piece of plastic pipe

I used enough sponge to make a tight fit, and found it stayed in place without needing glue.

it worked quite well, and I think it would have worked better if the end had been larger.

I am not sure how long the sponge will last though, as it started to crumble pretty quickly once I used it on textured card.

Luckily one sponge made 6 blending sticks.

I am now thinking something like neoprene might work and would last longer.
So once I find some I will have a go at making some more using wider pipe or try attaching it to small squares of wood

Here are the effects I achieved, and in my next post I will show you what I did with them.

Good to be home and creating again .

After having a lovely ( but long) 6 weeks away, it is good to be back home. I have missed pottering around in my workshop, and although on my first week back I have found it hard to get back into a routine, I have managed to do a few bits and pieces.

Whilst in England I stocked up on a few art/craft supplies, and since coming back I have been trying them out.

 a few crafting  supplies

a few crafting supplies

The things I bought were mostly for card making/printing/ calligraphy.

I bought some clear acrylic stamps to try, a variety of stamp pads, a machine called a Cuttlebug, and an assortment of embossing folders and metal dyes to use with it.
No wonder my suitcase weighed 23 kgs !

I couldn’t wait to unpack them and start playing.

This is what my Cuttlebug looks like.

  My cute little cuttlebug

My cute little cuttlebug

This is what it does.





Here are a couple of cards I made using it.

I was trying for a bit of a Victorian vintage type feel.


I have to say I am quite addicted to it, and have made a pile of cards already !

 the cards I have made so far !

My thoughts on a few Calligraphy books – Part 2

The final two books I looked at are
Creative Lettering. Experimental ideas for contemporary lettering – Margaret Morgan

1. Starting off A look at basic tools and ruling lines
2. Monoline Roman capitals proportions, family groups, letters as patterns
3. Compressed capitals
4. Extended capitals
5. Lower case

6. Next steps making pens , colour , specialist materials
7. Putting it together combines the previous alphabets
8 Design, creativity and composition understanding about good composition


This book is very different to all the others, and is not a calligraphy book as such. It looks at just one alphabet, Roman capitals and lower case, and then alters the size, space and thickness of the letters and different layouts to use letters creatively
It briefly looks at dip pens and inks, ( and in making a pen from a piece of string and one form a coke can) but most of the lettering is done using pencils felt tips, markers and rollerball pens.

On first appearances I thought looking at just one alphabet would be a bit boring. I also thought it would not be that useful, as I want to learn to write Italic, Copperplate and other alphabets in the future.

After trying out some of the exercises and reading through it, I now think it is a brilliant book.
By taking just one set of letters and really experimenting with ways of using them it does what the other books haven’t. After learning the proportions of the letters it looks at breaking rules and experimenting with letters. It encourages you to think outside of the usual ways of writing.
The book is packed with exercises and ideas to try, and by trying them out it helps with understanding what works and why.
What I also liked is that most of the exercises can be done with felt tips, pencils and computer paper, so they can be done without too much cost.
It won’t help you learn different calligraphic alphabets but it will help with understanding about letters, and this book alongside a traditional calligraphy book would be a good combination.
I am going to be doing much more experimenting with letters after reading this book.

Calligraphy for Greetings cards and Scrapbooking – Peter E. Taylor

PART 1 BASICS Looks at tools , making a light box, Roman letters, understanding paper, advantages and disadvantages of different pens,making a balsa wood pen, inks and coloured paint, left handed calligraphers, drawing guidelines.

PART 2 ABOUT LETTERING Neuland alphabet, Celtic alphabet, Gothic alphabet, Italic alphabet,Copperplate alphabet. Layout and design , spacing letters , balance , margins, using a computer to aid layout ,

PART 3 SIMPLE WAYS TO MAKE LETTERS SPECIAL Creative letters, embossed letters, cut letters, creative backgrounds , masking , stencilling, sponging , blending colours

PART 4 EXTRA IDEAS FOR ADVANCING CALLIGRAPHERS Gold and silver ink, drawn and painted capitals, printing, rubbing and carving.

PART 5 MASS PRODUCED CARDS adding words and inserts, envelope designs for cards,


I really liked this book . It does not profess to be an encyclopedia of calligraphy, yet it has more information o/n calligraphy pens, nibs and how to load them with ink, and other useful information for beginners than any of the other books I looked at. The instruction on forming the letters was equal to the first two books I looked at, with some nice little tips and lots of illustrations, but it was not as detailed as the 24 1hour lesson book.
It only covers 5 styles of alphabet, unlike the other calligraphy books, but they are very different styles and are more than enough for beginners . It showed modern variations on the alphabets and had some nice examples of them being used on cards and envelopes.
The book is easy to understand , and has lots of photos and ideas to try .
As well as covering the basics of calligraphy it has some good information about making cards, creating a balanced layout, making pop up cards, envelopes, and making written inserts for mass-produced cards.
The book covers a lot of ground.
It is not a book for someone who wants to know about the history of alphabets and wants to stick to traditional methods. it seems happy to use old and new methods together.
I would say it is a perfect book for someone wanting to give calligraphy a go, and of all the books I think this is most suitable for younger people interested in calligraphy.

If I had to choose a book as a complete beginner it would be the Calligraphy for Greetings Cards.
It answered the most questions, and gave me the best general information.
When you begin it is easy to become frustrated, especially if you can’t make the letters look like they should ! This book has great tips on improving mistakes and producing something to be proud of. The emphasis is more on realistic achievement than precision. Calligraphy looks fun.

Once I was more confident with forming letters, and if I wanted to go into more depth ,the 24 1 hr lesson book would be a good one to move onto .

After a busy week of crafting, it’s holiday time !

I have had a very busy week sorting out pieces of jewellery and cards, for a Xmas exhibition. It is amazing when the clock is ticking what you can get done, and ideas that have been floating in my head for a long time turned into actions this week

The exhibition starts tomorrow in the Gois Tourist office. Unfortunately I am not around for the opening , as I will be heading to Lisbon to catch a flight to England for a holiday.

I can’t imagine a month without making and creating in some way, so I have packed my calligraphy pens and hope to get some practise in. I am also looking forward to visiting a few galleries, craft markets and maybe buying a few arty crafty bits and pieces whilst there.

In the meantime here are some photos of what has kept me busy this week.

Not bad for a weeks work !

Now I must go and finish packing my suitcase .

Learning about calligraphy

calligraphy 011

This week I have been a bit of a creative butterfly. I have been painting , sewing, making jewellery and practising some calligraphy.
The calligraphy is a new thing.
Although I bought some pens and ink back in April, when I was in England, I have only recently started using them.
calligraphy 010

The reason being I am finding the light in my work room quite poor for painting first thing, so I thought I would try out some calligraphy for 30 minutes every morning, and see how I get on. ( it’s tempting to stay in bed a bit longer some days, but I have to say I am enjoying the results I am getting after a weeks practice, so that’s been enough to get me out of bed !)

I love beautiful handwriting, and have always longed to be able to manage a few beautifully written words on the cards I make. My hand writing is pretty messy, so I thought I would see if I could improve it.
I know it is possible to get fonts for the computer and print out what I need, but to my mind it’s not the same

I have started with the UNCIAL(unshall) alphabet.
calligraphy 011


1. I like how it looks
2. There is only one alphabet ( no capitals and small letters )
3. I could find a lot of information about it and several free work sheets online.
4. I can use the pens and nibs I have


1.Calligraphy is much more enjoyable than I thought it was going to be
2. It is quite a challenge.
3. You get through a lot of paper
4. After just one week of 30 minutes practise I know the basics of how to write in Uncial
5. Although I know how to form all the letters, it is hard to get them looking good
6.When I am concentrating on forming letters, my mind sometimes forgets how to spell.
7. It is hard to get the words spaced correctly on the page, and needs planning.
8. Anyone who wants to improve their handwriting and learn some calligraphy can do so. All you need is a pen, ink, and paper. It does not cost much to get started, and all you need is a small table to work at.
9. There are variations of certain letters, depending on what you read. I tried out the different variations and picked the one I thought looked best .

10. It is a fun way to start the day.

I will continue with the uncial alphabet for a bit longer, and then I want to start learning to write using one of the versions of italic, which will be more of a challenge.

If you fancy trying it, you can print out basic information on forming the letters a practise sheet, and guide lines at

Go on, grab a pen and give it a go !!

polymer clay upcycled

fimo recycle 040

I have a big jar where I put my polymer clay pieces that have been cooked. In the jar are pieces I like that are waiting to be made into jewellery, experimental bits that I keep for reference and others are bits that went wrong or did not come out as I hoped .

The jar is now overflowing, and although I was tempted to just start another jar this week , I decided to sort through and get rid of soe of the ” rubbish” instead.

WELL, I tried !

I started by making a pile of bits to throw, a pile of bits to be made into jewellery, and the rest went back in the jar to decide later.

I am a bit of a hoarder when it comes to anything I think I could use again, so it was not a quick process, and it didn’t go as planned.

Before throwing the bits away, I started cutting them up with my craft knife.

Instead of them going in the bin

I upcycled them into cards .

It’s that time of the year again !

snow flakes 002

This week I have not managed to paint so much, as I have been busy making my Xmas cards.
I have made my Xmas cards for the last 30 years or more, and it is something I try to get done before Winter arrives.
I used to always be on the last-minute with them, but somewhere along the line I made a decision to have them made by October, which takes the pressure off as Xmas approaches. ( although I always end up rushing to get them done at the end for September)

Over the years they have been printed, collaged, batiked, made with leather, painted, and so many other ways, that I can’t remember !
This year I am making them with Fimo.

After playing around with different Xmasy themes I’ve chosen Snowflakes for my design.

I made a couple of lino cuts of simple snowflake to start with, and mixed some white, pearl and pale silver-grey Fimo, adding metal leaf to give it a bit of glitz.

I pressed the clay onto the lino to make embossed snowflakes in the clay, and then cut them out .

I like all my cards to be individual,( otherwise what’s the point of making them by hand ?)so I didn’t make any set pattern, and I cut them using different shaped cutters, so each one was a bit different.

After firing, I brushed some shimmery eyeshadow powders over them in whites and blues and coated them in varnish.

Next, it was a case of what colour of card to use, and how I wanted to mount them

I tend to go with 2 or 3 harmonious or contrasting colours and vary the size and shape of the mounts, again to keep each one individual

Now they are all mounted, I have put them to one side for a few days.
I will come back to them in the next few days to decide what greeting ( if any) I will use, where I will put it, and if they need any finishing touches.

Again that is something I have learned to do over the years. I used to add finishing touches straight away, and have ruined many a card with too much glitter !

I’m not going to post a photo of my finished cards now ,( I will put one up at Xmas time) as I don’t want my family and friends to see their cards already !

But, I think you can get a general idea from the photos.

Do you send Xmas cards, send e- cards, or do a bit of both ?
Do you buy them or make them ?

Why don’t you try making your cards this year ( or at least one .. for that special person)

If you use my idea, then please let people know where the idea came from !