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Author Archive | Fabrizio Martelluci

Event Review: Stitch & Craft, UK

Reported by Fabrizio Martellucci

We don’t get many craft shows in London; most of them are either in Birmingham or other cities in the United Kingdom. But despite my agoraphobia I always make sure every year I visit Stitch & Craft at Olympia so I can see what the new trends are, and also to meet up with Dawn Bibby and her niece Amy Shaw who both presents at QVC UK.

British paper crafters have a tendency to be more cardmakers than scrapbookers, although the trend is changing and more are doing both. There are a few ‘Made in the UK’ companies who have crossed over to the USA; one of them is Crafter’s Companion (USAUK) who have on license the lovely designs ‘Cute Companions’ made by the even lovelier Jayne Nestorenko. They were present on the day, and had a good size booth at Stitch & Craft.

I have to admit I was a total groupie and asked her to take a picture with me.

For those of you who don’t know Crafter’s Companion they produce a full range of tools to score and create cards as well as envelopes, CD (unfortunately not available for the American market due to paper size issues) and rubber stamps. They are well known for the Enveloper Pro (USAUK) and the Ultimate Crafter’s Companion (USAUK) as well as the Top Score Multiboard (USAUK).

Another really cool company I came across was MJM – The Art Tart run by the bubbly Michelle and her husband.

She had these templates you could use to create these stunning projects such as the Bird House and Pirate Ship. I was well impressed by her craft skills and took a few pictures around the booth. You can only admire her stunning layouts she created for the craft fair.

I spent the afternoon going round the various booths, as you can see it’s on two floors. The lower floor has everything for stitching and embroidery. I’ve started to crochet so I could use dimensional flowers on my card making, so I was in awe with all the choice of wools and various tools for that kind of crafting.

We spend the afternoon following a demonstration after we greeted Dawn and Amy as well as Julian Ballantyne (another QVC presenter). He always jokes when he’s on air that he’s better crafter than Dawn and claim to have a Craftology ‘degree’ so we created one for him and gave him it on the day. He was over the moon with it! LOL! The demo went well and we followed various techniques being demonstrated, our goodie bag contained Kanban products (another British company) so we could make one quick card on the fly.

We stopped at another booth and saw The Frame Workshop & Molten Designs who are the main distributor in the UK for Friendly Plastic. I couldn’t help talking pictures of the stunning creations made using that product. I have to thank my dear friend Maria Given Nerius who has sent me Friendly Plastic goodies when I won a competition on her Pyjama Party Radio Show. I haven’t used them yet but after seeing those projects from Molten Designs I definitely will give it a go in the near future.

I finished my day talking to cancer survivor Valérie Mantz from Décopatch (a French company). I’m sure she must have thought bizarre that I was trying my best to speak in French to her (I was a bit rusty to be honest) but she was really welcoming and lovely. We chatted for at least 20 minutes as she explained to me her goals for Decopatch and where the company was going. They do have a USA presence and I really like their matte-finish glue.

Despite my refusal she wanted me to have a small sample of their newest papers; I didn’t want to cross a French lady and relented at the end! LOL! I already owned the brushes and two pots of glue which I use to create a slightly painted effect on background papers and to make some creations sturdier.

It’s a PVA glue with a slight varnish effect when dry used with their own papers who have a vellum like quality – the colours really stand out when dry. The paper being so flimsy can contour and adapt itself to any shapes. I was thinking chipboards but you can adapt the technique to anything you own.

I will review Decopatch in the near future so please watch this space.

I hope you enjoyed my day out and I hope I gave you an insight into what’s going on at Stitch & Craft in London!

Disclosure Statement for Crafter’s Companion (tools were bought by me)

Disclosure Statement for MJM – Art Tart

Disclosure statement for Friendly Plastic (material was won in a competition)

Disclosure statement for Decopatch

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

We R Memory Keepers’ Crop-A-Dile Corner Chomper Craft Tool

by Fabrizio Martellucci

Have you gone through your normal corner punches with a lever or the ones you push on the edge and found them unsatisfactory? Well, if you want ease-of-use, and an suffer from dexterity problem or are ‘weak wristed’ like myself, look no further than We R Memory Keepers Crop-A-Dile Chomper Corner cutter tool. It’s not your average punch you need to use on a table as it is to be hand-held (if you have a crop-a-dile you’ll know exactly what I mean).

Crop-A-Dile Corner Chomper from We R Memory

Rounding corners of cards or your mats you put on your scrapbook layouts is very much the trend at the moment. And despite purchasing two different punches, I always found them flimsy and not very strong in doing the job, especially with card stock or thicker paper. I even had one break on me (actually it was Vince but need to save the reputation of the ‘innocent’ LOL).

Notice the broken one on the left – The other one is sturdy but you can’t see if the paper is aligned properly so another drawback of this kind of punch

The problem with lever punches is that you can’t see properly when you try to align the corner (as you can see from the picture you don’t know if both side are touching. The other one is fairly good as you can exactly see where the paper aligns but here’s the caveat, it only accepts paper; try anything thicker and you’ll end up with the plastic sleeve breaking (see picture above).

I can see clearly that I’ve aligned the paper properly and will get a good clean cut

With the Crop-A-Dile Corner Chomper, I can exactly see where I’m putting the corner to be cut and since I can use it mid-air I can bring it forward to clearly see what’s I’m doing (a boon as my sight is not what it used to be). Also, the material We R Memory Keepers uses on the handle is lovely and soft, though you can feel the sturdiness of the tool underneath.

I was able to cut through thick cardstock, achieving lovely round edges on a few cards going through two layers with ease. And that’s what I like about this tool, despite it’s small size like its cousin, the Crop-A-Dile, it makes mincemeat of any surface.

To use it, make sure you open the little wings; this is a feature so that you can store the Crop-A-Dile Chomper easily — don’t forget to shut the wings back when you’re done.

Wings are shut for easy handing and storage
Wings are open so you can align the paper easily
You have two sizes of corners on the chomper — just flip it for 1/2″ or 1/4″ — you can see on the picture below which is which as its engraved on the metal:

You can clearly see what size you can choose — it’s just a matter of flicking the Chomper to pick the one you want
I’ve just used these bright papers to illustrate the corner sizes — the 1/4″ is obviously smaller and daintier for delicate cards, go for 1/2″ for a chunkier feel

So to recap: it’s sturdy; can tackle thicker cardstock you wouldn’t dream putting through a normal punch, and because it uses a leverage system you don’t need to compress much; the tool does the hard bit for you. It can be tricky to use if you have severe dexterity problem such as arthritis; you need to have a fair grip on it to use it. You have two corner sizes to pick (1/2″ and 1/4″) and don’t forget to empty the little compartment on a regular basis.

Flick that tab open to empty the compartment where the corner bits you’ve cut accumulate, it’s a bit small so you really need to empty it often to avoid it being full.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Two sized corners ( 1/2″; 1/4″ )
  • Lightweight yet robust

Cons:

  • Some reports of misaligned cutters (mine was ok so that’s probably a rarity)
  • The offcuts compartment is small so it needs to be emptied on a regular basis
  • Although good for people with dexterity problems, you still need a fair grip, so not the ideal tool for people with chronic arthritis
I don’t own the new ones that have been released (different styles of Chompers), so I can’t comment on those, but I’m sure they will do the job as efficiently as the plain corner one.
I’ll have to probably order a couple from an online retailer to play with them; I saw them available also on a well-known shopping channel in the UK.
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Artist Trading Cards Book by Leonie Pujol (Twenty To Make Series – Search Press)

Reported by Fabrizio Martellucci

If you haven’t heard of ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) yet, where have you been ? They’re a fun medium and are increasingly becoming more popular among cardmakers and other paper crafters alike.

‘An ATC is a small piece of card 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/2…’

An ATC is a small piece of card 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 and it’s decorated on one side and the other side contains information about the author of the artwork, date it was made and some various details you wish the include.
Apparently, they were born out of necessity by a Swiss artist who thought that the usual business cards being exchanged were boring so started to create one offs or series of ATC to exchange with fellow artists. The paper crafters took it on and now they are being exchanged at craft fairs between crafters.

‘…ATCs are never sold but swapped/exchanged…’

Please, note that ATCs are never sold but swapped/exchanged for another ATC. They can soon become collectable too. The fact they are similar in size with baseball cards means there are several storage solutions to keep them safe and dust-free. Just a word of warning as they are addictive so if you have a collector streak in you, you’ll definitely enjoy making them and exchanging them online and offline.

‘Artist Trading cards by Leonie Pujol

There are several publications out there, but for the intermediate and advanced ATC creators this book from Leonie Pujol will really inspire you.


The book is entitled ‘Artist Trading Cards‘ and belongs to a series ( 20/Twenty to Make ) of small books published by Search Press (a very proactive British publishing house).


image used with kind permission of Search Press
‘Leonie crammed her book with 20 sections of different techniques’

The premise of that series is to have small reference books on specific subjects to inspire you. And the authors, in this case Leonie Pujol, are challenged to make 20 creations on particular subject.

Leonie took ATC making to heart and crammed the book with 20 sections of different techniques:
  • Easily Inspired
  • Decoupage Creations
  • Creative Background I and II
  • Stamping I and II
  • Stickers I and II
  • Stencils I and II
  • Decorative Papers I and II
  • A Touch of metal I and II
  • Embellishments I and II
  • Memorabilia I and II
  • Taking it further I and II

Image used by kind permission of Search Press
‘…you get to see 60 ATCs, and the book is fully illustrated throughout.’
Each of them with one ATC and instructions and two other variations on the same theme so in effect you get to see 60 ATCS and the book is fully illustrated throughout.
There are no step by step illustrations to accompany the instructions though. That’s why I recommend this book for veterans ATC makers at an intermediate to advanced level. Although beginners could get inspired, they might get disheartened if they try to attempt some techniques they haven’t tried before… you’ve been warned!

Leonie’s samples are stunning, and she really gives you so much scope for trying new techniques and stretching your crafter’s ‘legs’. I challenge you not to feel a ‘get up and craft’ after reading her book.


My favourites ATCs in the book are the Panda ones and the ones in the Memorabilia section. There are a few oriental-inspired ATC that I simply adore and they got me crafting that’s for sure.


Here are some ATCs I made taking inspiration from Leonie’s Artist Trading Cards book:







Pros:

  • Small book can be easily referred to quickly as the section are well laid out and concise
  • Very good examples and fully illustrated throughout
  • Instructions given to all 20 main ATC linked to the section


Cons:

  • I would have liked just the one step by step for at least one project which would have kept the total beginner happy
  • Only for Intermediate and Advanced paper crafters
  • The two other variations shown don’t have instructions with them

‘I wanted Leonie to sign her book I bought but forgot it at home…’


I thoroughly enjoyed the book; I bought it over a year ago and I’m glad I re-read it for this review. I also need to tell you an anecdote, I was extremely fortunate to meet the author Leonie at a workshop she did for a cancer charity fundraiser recently.




Leonie and I at a recent fundraiser workshop


I wanted Leonie to sign her book I bought but forgot it at home, lucky me, she was selling her book at the do and I bought it again from her ! So I told her ‘that’s total dedication for you’ we both laughed about it! So I have a spare one to ‘abuse’ and the other signed one to cherish. She’s an amazing lady and I’m glad she’s got a presenting job in a well known shopping channel in the UK. I feel really fortunate to have met her as she’s an outstanding crafter.

I just want to give Vanessa Ware from Search Press a heartfelt thanks for supplying the extra pictures and allowing me to scan two pages from Leonie’s book Artist Trading Cards.

Resources:

Search Press – http://www.searchpress.co.uk
Leonie’s personal blog –
http://leoniepujol.blogspot.com

If you have purchased this book and it has inspired you, please let us know, we’d love to hear your comments and see your creations !

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!