Monday, 29 September 2014

Helloooooo & welcome to my turn on the Creative blog Hop!

Hello everyone and welcome to The Creative Blog Hop!
So… it’s Monday again.  The day where all kinds of artists from many different genres, join in The Creative Blog Hop after being tagged by someone the previous Monday. It's a lovely way for people to investigate new blogs and discover other talented individuals.  My wonderful friend Heather asked me to take part (after I wasn't able to take part a couple of weeks ago due to work commitments following a request by Janna who nominated Heather - you see things always come round full circle - and I was sorry I couldn't help Janna out). I'm very lucky in my crafting life - both as.a professional crafter and through my personal crafting - to have met lovely and incredibly talented ladies and gentlemen like Janna and Heather and so many more of you (you will know who you are if you a reading this) and feel very blessed for that. Heather herself has a wonderful "vintage-eclectic" style. She always surprises me with her makes - just because there are so many tiny little details to discover in all her projects and every design has a fresh new feel to it. As a clutter-crafter (my own technical term for someone who packs rather a lot into a project) myself I LOVE her style and she is a thoroughly lovely person who is far to generous in her praise of me to boot (you'd better be blushing yourself now missy!).  You can find her own blog to discover more of her gorgeous projects here:
The Creative Blog Hop is the brain child of a blogger, whose identity has been lost along the way. The intention is for us all, as bloggers, to get to know each other better and share ideas and inspiration. It is most commonly explained as similar to the playground game ‘Tag’ (you’re it) but over a huge expanse of space (conceivably the whole world – or at least the parts of the world that have access to the internet). Each Blogger introduces their ‘tagger’ and themselves, answers four questions about themselves and then they ‘tag’ other bloggers and it goes on and on (or at least that is the aim of the game).
So without further adue please let me introduce myself in case you haven't popped over to my blog before - let me say a massive "HELLO" and "welcome" (waves vigorously)... It is SO lovely to meet you!!!  I'm a 40-something (and happy to be - it's brought me a lot more happiness and confidence being this age) crafter and designer.  I don't think I'm that age in my head though - when I'm working and designing I think I'm much younger, it's just that I have a little more life experience.... Maybe that is because it makes me so happy and it evokes so many fabulous memories of my nan (my dad's mom) and my mom - spending time embroidering, doing cross stitch, painting.... Do you remember the little models you used to make with moulds and plaster of paris and then paint.... Oh how I used to love those, despite my somewhat imperfect brush skills.... Anyway here is one of my early creative pursuits.... I think I made this with my mom when I was about 7 (I always had a needle and thread in my hand then) and I recently found it when clearing out some boxes - it's now hanging in my craft studio to remind me of my crafting roots:

After being told I was never going to do anything artistic in life in art classes at 11 I disappeared off into the world of numbers and became an accountant, rising through the ranks. I really loved what I did but not long after I got married I fell down the stairs, ended up with nerve damage and for a number of years I couldn't do anything that involved sitting down.... So what happened, I returned to my love of creating (this time I became rather addicted to papercrafts) and the rest as they say is history... I currently work as creative designer for UK crafting company Docrafts but in a few weeks time, for personal reasons, things are all changing a bit and I'm taking a step down the road to another big adventure.... I'm nervous and extremely excited about the future.... Let's just say things have come along in my life and I've now learnt that life is short and sometimes you have to do things before it becomes too late...  Crafting is my life, my passion, my therapy, my medicine... It is the thing that makes my brain tick and it has turned my life around when I thought it had come to an end... And if any of you out there reading this ever think you aren't artistic because you've been told you can't paint and draw - in my experience this always seems to happen to extremely talented people at a very young age, turning them away from creative pursuits for many many years -  having a creative talent has nothing to do with whether you can work with a pencil or a brush.... These days there are so many artistic passions there will be something that you can do... We all have a creative spark in us - you just need to find what yours is and then start your journey along that wonderful path and I promise you, you will have more fun than you could ever imagine....
My family and friends are so important to me and without them I wouldn't be lucky enough to do what I have done over the years... Let me introduce you to just a few of them...  Here is Mr J - we've been married 10 years (someone please tell me where all those years has gone) and here he is eating some rather yummy onion bhaji's after up we met up again a short while ago after the Handmade Fair at Hampton Court (we do rather love our food!)... And that by the side of him was my rather heavy shopping ;0)

Next up are my wonderful mom and dad.... My mom is very very poorly with rheumatoid arthritis, which is a disease I am determined to raise more awareness of... But she is my inspiration to take life by the horns and keep battling on, if she can get through it, by golly so can I!!!! My dad is 71 years old and still running his own music business... I love them to bits, they have always been there for me and I am also incredibly proud of them because they have been through so much and always come through the other side... This is them on their 50th wedding anniversary in March this year where we celebrated with close family and friends with a gorgeous afternoon tea at David Austin Tearooms.

And then there are my lovely friends and godchildren from Wolverhampton.... Love them all to bits too, we have all grown up together and shared so much history... I can't imagine life without them. Lucy, my god daughter is a wonderfully talented artist herself!

They have all been so important in my life for such a long time and I'm so grateful for them all and all my other wonderful friends... Thank you so much to you all for being in my life, you mean the world to me...

Finally, I have to share this picture of me with Kirstie Allsop taken at the Handmade Fair - I was thrilled to meet her (I don't do star struck normally but have to admit to it in this case) because she has done so much to use her public profile to turn crafting and all things handmade into such a funky and cool thing to do - and also a viable and desirable career choice... For that I am most certainly grateful!!! (I'll be blogging a trio of posts about that amazing event over the coming week or so!) 

So I've rambled on about me and mine for too long, let's answer a few questions that I've been asked :0) 

What are you working on now?
I have to be honest, I'm not making as much at the moment as I would like but there are other things that need sorting out as more of a priority (You know that thing when life get's in the way???? That ;0) )... Then I could share with you my most recent make which is a project for the Cardmaking and Papercrafting Magazine Online Design Team but it has yet to be published so that one will have to wait so where do I start???

Well let's look at some recent makes... As part of my role as Creative Designer at Docrafts I have my fingers in many creative pies and can be found developing techniques for workshop and tutorials, designing projects for articles for Creativity (our in house magazine) and for Docrafts TV, our weekly tv show. I also regularly demonstrate for them in our stockists.  It's been so difficult to choose the ones to share with you but I think these are some of my recent favourites... I really adore adding layers and texture, incorporating dimensional embellishments, textiles and little found items wherever I can:

I don't know where to stop - I could keep going forever... So let's instead move to some of my more personal crafting projects... I've had engagements and other occasions to create for. I absolutely love creating gifts, home decor and altered art items aswell as cards (which is where I started in papercrafting) so I hope that this small selection may inspire you to jagve a go at some of them too...

How does my work differ from others in my genre?
That's a difficult one to answer - after all I'm just a girl who loves to stick things down.... I know that I tend to really pack things into my projects and it isn't everyone's bag but I just love to see embellishments and images, papers, inks and textures all working together in harmony, every element bringing out the best of the others... I find that when I get it right it feels like they all flow together and complement each other. It's as if they all just snuggle up together to keep each other company in a way that just (atleast for me) works.


I grew up in a typical English country-style cottage, full of beautiful vintage china and delicate ornaments. Looking back I think that has inspired my style... These days we call it shabby-chic but I do find that when a project comes together it is very evocative of those times.  I'm all about the details, the tiny things, the finishing off... These are the things to me that make so much difference when I look at my own designs.

One thing that I really do love to do is play around with colours and have a bit of fun - bright, bold and clashing is such a hoot - never ever be afraid to clash! - and I love to try out new things as in the project below that I created for Docrafts TV:

In my job one thing I do have to be able to do is to be flexible in my approach and that means sometimes venturing into areas that I'm not comfortable with... I am always a little bit green-eyed when I see the CAS projects some designers are so skilled at (in a very nice way, you understand because I really am in awe of it) - whenever I try it though myself my natural style influences the finished piece just a little bit... A touch of the frilly, a hint of vintage inking.... They just creep in no matter how hard I try :0)

Why do I create what I do and how does my creative process work?
I've already chatted earlier on about why I create - these days it really is part of my whole being (I know that sounds completely soppy and corny but it really is true).... But these days it allows me to work when other things are no longer possible and that really is important to me and my well being... I'm actually a pretty driven person - achievement and seeing results from what I do (whatever that be from when I was a high-flying accountant to now being a creative designer) are so much a part of who I am. But also it is a passion, I have so many ideas constantly flying around in my little grey cells that if I am not actually putting them into practice I end up a wee bit stressed, and the ideas just keep coming... I never know where from or why and they can come to mind at any time (I constantly have this little note book with me- a special little gift from Mr J for precisely that purpose):

As to how does the creative process works???? WHO KNOWS lol.... It just happens... I often start off with an idea in mind, maybe quickly jotted down in sketchbook, and I can almost always guarantee the result ends up nothing like it.... I immerse myself in what I'm doing so that the world goes by (I love a DVD or box set on in the background keeping me company - I don't know why but I prefer words and pictures to music myself but I was always like that when I was studying at Uni or working at home... Maybe it's just the visual bod in me or maybe it is that I like the feeling of other people being with me as you are often working on your own) I add something to a design - maybe a flower or focal point, a bit of ink blended around some paper and then all of a sudden I remember something else in my stash and I'm off to hunt that down from my over full cupboards.... Then that leads me into something else... And something else and so on and so on before you know it there's a finished project nothing like the idea I started with...

I do often get asked how do I create my style though..., at the end of the day I do nothing that anyone out there can't do - I cut, I stick, I love paper, scissors and ink... I adore pretty embellishments... And I do throw in a bit of bling for good measure (yes occasionally that includes men's projects (hey have you never heard of distress stickles in antique linen or distress glitter in pumice stone???) I am a huge believer that ANYONE can do this (YES that means you too!!!) but for me, I guess what denotes my signature style is that I try to make things flow... Things move from one to the next, they overlap or underlap (is that a word? If not there is another Becky James technical word invented right there in front of your very eyes!) and I'm not afraid of putting it all on there. Place it down (don't stick!), walk away, come back to it, move it around a little, walk away, come back to it and repeat... Take a piccie on your mobile phone so you know how to put it all together, take it apart and stick and have fun!!!! I love that part where it all goes down on the base item and I see it all come together.... It really is so EXCITING!!!! :0) Have a go, try it, there is no right or wrong and if you can think it try it - you never know what you might learn!!! I hope this last project pick will show you what I mean by making your project flow...

So I'm going to finish as I've rambled on for long enough (I can do that for England when it comes to crafting as the poor people who keep coming back to my demos will testify!)
I only have one duty left to perform and that is to introduce another seriously seriously super duper talented lady (as if there haven't been enough in this thread of this blog that my post happens to be a tiny part of - it really must be like a huge spider's web now)... I'm lucky enough to call her one of my closest friends and when it comes to talent and career.... Well just who wouldn't want it (Heather, this lady is someone I call a crafting superstar Hun, I'm just a wee cog in a big wheel)...  I am in awe of her talent, design style and colour sense... I wish I could do what she does with the ease she does it.... Her name is Katie Skilton and please please please make a note in your diary to hop over and see what she gets up to next Monday. Here she is in her own words: 

"Hello, My name is Katie Skilton and I am a little bit addicted to paper! I have been crafting for 14 years but two years ago I gave up my full time sales and marketing job to become a freelance designer in the paper craft industry.  Since then I have never looked back.  i design for several of the UK’s craft magazines as well as working for some of the biggest craft companies.  I live anything from cards to up-cycling.  I have a modern and clean style but am always up for learning anew technique!  You will find me at many of the shows around the country demonstrating the latest products. I live in Brixham Devon with my long
suffering husband and my four beautiful children.  My life is busy and chaotic but I wouldn’t have it any other way!!"

And you can find her at

I promise you, you will NOT be disappointed....

So let me bid you farewell, thank you so much for taking some of your precious time to read my rather long post, get to know me, discover my projects and if I have done nothing more than inspired you to try something new or to take up a new craft or technique you have no idea how happy that makes me :0)

Tatty bye for now (as we say in our special little family - I think it may be a saying from the West Midlands)...
Happy crafting and please do stay in touch... I love to hear from fellow crafters and creative peeps whatever it is you happen to do.
Lots of Love