Sunday, 6 September 2015

Expect The Unexpected

Hi everyone.

I hope you had a good Bank Holiday weekend and didn't get too wet!

It might not have escaped your notice if you've been reading my last few posts that there hasn't been an awful lot of crafting going on recently. In fact I've just looked back at the post list and it is over three months since I last posted a craft project. As this is supposed to be My Kind Of Crafting Blog, I could be in trouble with the Trade Descriptions Act.

To cut a long story short, as my late father was fond of saying, I have been feeling less and less enthusiastic about crafting and more and more passionate about designing, so much so that I have now decided to make a major career change and become an independent creative designer.

To say that this is unexpected is an understatement. As someone who can't draw for toffee (or even chocolate) and who had absolutely no idea know what a graphics programme was, let alone how to use one, until about three years ago, I certainly didn't see this coming. But I feel sure I have made the right decision and although I'm having the occasional wobble, I'm absolutely convinced I have to give it a go.

So...the bad news is that I won't be blogging here regularly any more, only when/if I have a craft project to share. The good news is that I have set up a brand new blog for designing and I'll be posting there on a regular basis and sharing my design work, as well as tips and techniques, which I hope will inspire and interest you. It would be great if you could join me over there.

My Kind Of Designing Blog is at:

Meanwhile, thank you so much for taking the time to read my craft blog posts and for any comments you may have made. It was really, really appreciated.

Au revoir!

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

DaisyTrail CraftScape Country Garden

Hi everyone.

I promise I won't mention the weather! British summers are something of an enigma, aren't they?

I'm still on my run of things going wrong in the house. A couple of days ago I was woken at 5am by a loud and regular beeping noise which was impossible to sleep through. At first I thought it was the battery in the smoke alarm but it turned out to be the carbon monoxide detector telling me it had reached the end of its life. (At least it wasn't telling me I'd reached the end of mine.)

I tried everything to make it stop or to loosen it from the wall but to no avail. In the end I had to go down to the garage in my nightwear, fetch a large hammer and give it a few good thumps. I've not heard a peep out of it since but of course, now I need to get a new one.

Thank goodness for the sanity of crafting although once again that has been on the back burner and it's been another week of designing. I couldn't resist buying another of the wonderful CraftScape digikits in the DaisyTrail summer sale the other week and this time it was the lovely Country Garden digikit. Like all the CraftScape kits, the artwork is fantastic and makes you feel like a watercolour artist even when you are anything but.

I have three projects to share with you, all of which demonstrate the versatility of the kit and how you can do both simple and complicated designs. The first is a square card using one of my favourite embellishments, the gorgeous poppy. I didn't put a background on this card but left it white to add to the watercolour painting effect.

The second project was considerably more complicated. I used a Public Domain photo of some beautiful cherry blossom trees in a park and resized it to fit an A5 landscape page. I then copied the photo and put one on top of the other. Next I placed three blossom tree embellishments from the digikit on top of the photos and added a different blend mode from my Craft Artist Professional software to each tree.

The kit contains a number of flower bed embellishments and I used those for my foreground, rotating and then blending them in to look like grass. More blend modes were added and a digital frame put round the whole picture. I found an appropriate quote by googling "quotes about blossom".

Here is the original photo and underneath it is my project which I think would make an attractive piece of home decor.

Finally, another much more simple project. In fact this card front only took about ten minutes to design as I used one of the ready-made toppers from the kit as well as some of the word art which meant I only had to add the background, a piece of digital material, the stitching and the extra embellishments and it was done. Sometimes the simplest things can be the most effective.

I really enjoy working with the Craftscape kits and cannot recommend them highly enough whether you are new to digital crafting or a seasoned pro.

Have a great couple of  weeks and I'll see you soon.

Monday, 10 August 2015

DaisyTrail Regency Love Scrapbook Page

Hi everyone.

Have you ever been on a run where all your equipment seems to go wrong at once? Well I seem to be on one of those runs now. First of all it was the computer which threw a wobbly to the tune of a hundred pounds. Then the shower packed up, fortunately not while I was standing under it with shampoo all over my hair. Next, when I switched on the lights in the sitting room... a big, fat nothing. I was sure that must be my three things but no. The colour on the television has now gone faulty and is making everything look yellow so I'm having to watch Create and Craft in black and white.

I'm not sure if all this is what has given me a bad case of "crafter's block" this week but for the first time for as long as I can remember, I haven't done any actual crafting. My craft room remains a desert of inactivity as last week's projects sit silently on my desk waiting to be attended to.

Fortunately, I haven't had designer's or scrapbooker's block (I never have designer's block, it's the only thing that keeps me sane) so I do have something to show you, at least.

One of my few remaining relations (a second cousin on my mother's side) sent me a lovely photo recently, depicting her grandfather and grandmother on their wedding day which probably took place sometime during the mid 1920s. Her grandfather was my grandmother's brother so he was my Great Uncle. We were able to exchange what little information we had about him, including that he was temporarily blinded by a gas attack during World War One but survived the atrocities and later became a very highly respected teacher.

The photo also means quite a lot to me because on closer inspection, I realised that the gentleman standing just to the back of the bride is my grandfather and the little bridesmaid is almost certainly my mother.

To try and do justice to the photo, I used a beautiful digikit called Regency Love from DaisyTrail which is part of a collection of three digikits, all on the theme of love. I really like the delicate, hand-painted style of this kit which seems to lend itself really well to scrapping a vintage wedding photograph.

Overlaying a black and white or sepia photo with coloured sections is very "on trend" at the moment and although the way I did it was quite fiddly to achieve, I think the result is surprisingly effective. Take a closer look at the bride's pearl necklace as well because that is taken from the embellishment in the top right-hand corner of the design using the eraser tool from CraftArtist2 and overlaying onto the original necklace in the photo.

The final finishing touch was to add an overlay mask (coloured to match the photo) to the background paper to give it a bit of texture and make the background a little less bland.

I intend to email the finished design to my second cousin when I get a moment and hopefully she will be pleased with what I've done with her and my family history photograph.

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

Monday, 27 July 2015

CraftScapes Summer Seaside Digikit

Hi everyone.

Well, July is really whizzing by, isn't it? If we're not careful it will soon be You Know What.

What with computer problems, financial problems, health problems and the Tour de France (watching it, not riding it) once again it's not been my most productive couple of weeks ever. I can't blame the hot weather either. I actually have the central heating on at the moment. But don't worry sun lovers. Apparently it is going to warm up again in August.

Of course, this is the time of year when despite the inclement weather, many of us head for the seaside. If like me you can't get there in person at the moment, designing or crafting on a seaside theme might be the next best thing.

As I've mentioned before, I love the CraftScapes digikits from DaisyTrail. These are kits which contain all the elements to create beautiful digital watercolour style scenes when you add them to the amazing CraftArtist software. They are really quick and easy to put together and the results can be stunning.

I recently treated myself to the lovely Summer Seaside digikit which has everything you need to create "the charm of the English seaside" including beach huts, cliff tops, boats, sandcastles, lighthouses, seabirds and lovely backgrounds. You can almost smell the fish and chips!

I had great fun creating these three projects to share with you. Hopefully you can see from my work how versatile the kits can be and feel inspired to have a go at putting together some "seaside specials" of your own.

The first project is a piece of 10 x 8 home decor. To be honest, it was a bit of a competition with myself to see how many embellishments from the digikit I could use in one design and still make it into something worthwhile. Hopefully I've succeeded.

My second project is the complete opposite, proving that you don't need to create a busy scene every time. Just a few elements from the kit can create a simple but striking design such as in this A5 card front. You can even personalise it with someone's name on the boat if you wish.

Finally, a scrapbook page which took me considerably longer to create than I intended, mainly because I couldn't resist adding the faded figures from the original photo in the background. This isn't particularly difficult thanks to the magic of the Cut Out Studio in the software but it did take me a while to get it just right. I liked the idea of the "ghosts" from the past (sadly everyone in the photo has passed away) contrasting with the modern seaside imagery as I felt it told more of a story.

All designs 
Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

And that's all for now. Enjoy the summer, whether you get to the seaside or not.

Monday, 13 July 2015

DigiFiddle Designs A Fragrant Memory Digikit

Hi everyone.

Phew! That was a scorcher, wasn't it? Of course, if you are reading this in Iceland (the country not the shop) you are probably wondering what I'm talking about. I didn't know my thermostat went up to 30 degrees but clearly it does. Anyway, I'm pleased to say it is a lot cooler at the moment which I realise must be very galling for those of you who love the hot weather.

A combination of the heat and a certain televised tennis tournament have made crafting a distant memory this last couple of weeks but possibly because it doesn't require quite so much physical effort, I have managed to do a reasonable amount of designing.

Up to now, I've always purchased my digikits from DaisyTrail but in a moment of reckless abandon I downloaded a couple from a site I discovered recently called DigiFiddle Designs.The store owner is Anne Nelson and the beautiful digikits are mainly based on her own photos which she hand-paints digitally. The kits are incredibly well-priced and there are lovely free kits, too. You will need Craft Artist Professional to be able to access the digikit content but if you are already into digital crafting, you probably have it anyway.

This week's project is a piece of digital art (or home decor) which I created using A Fragrant Memory, one of the free digikits. There are some gorgeous hand-painted style floral embellishments here as well as one or two more quirky additions such as a steamer trunk and some old fashioned wine bottles. I combined some of the elements from the kit with a couple of photographs of my roses, using one on the background and one on the journalling paper. I sourced the quote from the internet and was so pleased to find it as I think it finishes off the design really well.

I hope you get the weather you want this week!

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

Monday, 29 June 2015

DaisyTrail CS English Town Digikit

Hi everyone.

Back again after a fortnight and as the UK gears itself up for the promised heatwave this week, I'm getting in a supply of blackout curtains and checking that all my fans are in good, working order. Not being a fan (no pun intended) of the sun or the heat, I shall be anxiously scanning the skies for signs of thunderstorms to break it up. Sorry! Oh well, at least there is Wimbledon to watch while the UK burns.

One of the problems I have trying to work during the summer is that the upstairs of my house which contains my craft room and office gets extremely hot. It is certainly several degrees warmer upstairs than down, possibly because it is quite an old house with no cavity wall insulation. As you go up the stairs in the summer, you can feel this wave of heat coming towards you but then after you've been downstairs for a while, you need a jumper.

I love my house though and this week, I incorporated a photo of it into a piece of home decor using the fantastic CraftScapes English Town digikit from DaisyTrail. I love this amazing kit and although I've now bought some more of the CraftScape kits, I've got a feeling I shall keep returning to it again and again. I don't very often design in landscape or portrait mode, preferring a square work area but the CraftScapes lend themselves so well to doing "scenes" that it's easy to design something that will fit into an A4 frame.

The other thing about these kits is how incredibly quick and easy it is to put a design together. I placed the photo of my house on a blank page in CraftArtist Professional2 and then just built up the digital elements around it, resizing etc to get the perspective as accurate as possible. It was great fun to do and seems to have really enhanced my house and garden. Also, the beauty of digital software is that if you feel your garden needs a bit of a boost, you can do things like adding extra roses to the rose bush! You don't have to be too "realistic" either but just let your imagination take over.

No doubt I shall be back with more CraftScape designs before too long. In the meantime, enjoy the summer, while it lasts.

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

Monday, 15 June 2015

Hot Off The Press Red Velvet Kit

Hi everyone.

Here I am again after a couple of weeks away from my craft blog. I can't believe it's the middle of June already, in fact we're getting close to the longest day now after which the nights start drawing in. Hoorah. (Sorry!)

I've been very busy trying to find an agent for my current book so although I've still done quite a lot of designing, crafting has been a bit thin on the ground. I did however manage to do a "real-life" 8 x 8 scrapbook page (as opposed to a digital one) which I'm very pleased about as I tend to shy away from these for some reason. However I did find this one a lot easier than most so maybe that will spur me on to do some more.

One of the reasons I think I found this page fairly straightforward was because I used one of the fabulous Hot Off The Press Artful Card Kits. I love these kits and have several in my "stash" although they are not always that easy to get hold of in the UK. The kits are not only beautifully designed with great colourisation and lovely die-cut embellishments and papers, but absolutely everything co-ordinates perfectly. You also get a helpful sheet of project layouts and ideas so you can't really go wrong.

I chose the Red Velvet kit because I wanted to use this monochrome photo of my late parents' wedding day and the red and very dark brown colours of the kit work really well with a black and white photo. I "fussy-cut" some of the flowers from a matching sheet of backing paper to decoupage the flowers on my chosen background paper which gave the page some added dimension. The embellishments were all taken from the kit and so were the "gems" as the kit comes with "dazzles" which are lovely raised glittery stickers in several different sizes. I think you'll agree that when you put them on the page, they do look like actual gems.

If you'd like to try a Hot Off The Press Artful Card Kit for yourself, you should be able to find a selection on the Paper Wishes website. I've just checked and the Red Velvet kit is still there.

Have fun and I'll see you in a couple of weeks by which time I hope to have found an agent!

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Memories Digital Art

Hi everyone.

It's a bit windy out there! The weather forecasters have described it as "unseasonal" although I'm not sure we really have seasons any more. After all, it is the beginning of June.

I was sorting out yet more old photographs this morning and came across a lovely photo of a woman called Rene Lowe who was a friend of my mother's way, way back in the day. I don't know anything about her except that later on in life she lived in a windmill. We used to drive past it sometimes when I was a child and I remember being very disappointed that it didn't have any sails.

I wanted to use the photo for a design project using Craft Artist Professional 2 but it didn't really feel right to do a scrapbook page so I settled for a piece of digital art instead. This week, I have been looking at all the beautiful artwork on the My Craft Studio "Quintessential Country Garden" CD-Rom which is rapidly turning into one of my all time favourite MCS CDs (and I have lots!) and it felt like a good fit for the photo.

I used an enlarged insert from the stationery section of the CD for the main background and overlaid it with a section of a script style embellishment. I then took the photo into the Cut Out Studio and used a blend mode and a glow edge to blend it into the background. The CD has some beautiful "photo real" flowers on it which matched the insert so I imported them into CAP2 and layered them up on their corresponding flower on the background. All I needed to do then was add the butterflies, a few gems and the title. I hope Rene would have liked it!

This will be my last craft blog post for a couple of weeks as much as I enjoy making projects for the blog and writing about them, I'm finding it a bit much having to make a blog project every week. Also, I'm at a stage where I really need to be posting on my writing blog much more regularly than I have been doing so I plan to alternate between crafting and writing each week.

So I'll see you in a fortnight. Happy crafting!

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

Monday, 25 May 2015

Kate Knight Craft Papers Card

Hi everyone.

How has your Bank Holiday weekend been? I spent mine how I like to spend Bank Holiday weekends...indoors crafting and writing while listening to sport. Fortunately, there was plenty of crafting and writing to do and plenty of sport to listen to so I was a happy bunny.

Actually, this week has felt like a bit of a holiday anyway as I finally finished the proposal and sample copy for my non-fiction book with the strong link to Downton Abbey. I sent it to the first (and only) literary agent on my list as soon as I'd finished it. (Not to be recommended but do as I say, not as I do!) Once I'd done that, I decided I needed to take a break from the endless typing, research and proofreading and devote some time to other writing projects as well as free up lots more time than usual for crafting.

As a result, I've spent more hours in my craft room than I have for a while which was great. One of the projects I made was another "Stash Buster Challenge". This is a little challenge I set myself a while back to try and use things that have been in my crafty "stash" much longer than I care to remember.

This week I re-visited some lovely papers by the exceptionally talented designer Kate Knight who is well known in the art and design industry for her bold floral patterns which I really like. It's quite a while ago now but I just had to buy the four beautiful sets of background papers and sentiment toppers that Kate designed for a craft magazine collection. Although I've made one or two cards with them, I haven't used them as much as I'd like, probably because they are too pretty to cut up!

This week I decided to make another card with them and here is the result. As usual, when I really want to show off the materials, I go for a 3D card and more often than not an easel card. I only had to cut up two sheets of paper and one sentiment topper to make the card so it wasn't too painful. I even had enough paper left over to make up some paper flowers using some Marianne Creatables Dies. Kate's designs are so striking that I didn't feel I needed to do much else to the card apart from adding some black ribbon, a few pearls and some silver liquid pearls to the centre of the flowers.

If you want to try the magazine papers for yourself, I have just checked on the internet and it looks as if they are still available from Immediate Media Origin. Enjoy!

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Serif Parchment Digikits Projects

Hi everyone.

Where has the summer gone? I don't know what it's like where you are but we've had everything today. Rain, hail, strong winds, sunshine and the central heating on all day. Mind you, I shall be the first one complaining when it's too hot.

This week I've been experimenting with the Serif Parchment Digikits. If like me, you love the look of parchment craft but would never have the time or the inclination to do it, these digikits are a brilliant substitute. There are eight kits altogether and they provide a huge collection of digitally parched elements including butterflies, flowers, toppers, lace, frames and flourishes. Some of the elements are already coloured (although of course with the Craft Artist Professional Software you can make them any colour you wish) and some are left plain for you to colour in yourself either digitally or by hand. I started off with just three kits but quickly added more as once I'd got the hang of the techniques, I couldn't stop making things!

Although I struggled a little bit at first to get the look I wanted, I suddenly "got it", mainly when I realised that you needed to do a few specific things. So here are my Top Tips for working with these digikits.

1. Use a digital punch to punch out a plain section from a topper or frame. This gives you a piece of digital "parchment" and the parched images look much more realistic if placed over this.

2. Put a coloured "matt" using a quick shape or a piece of material under the toppers as they will show up much better.

3. Don't "shadow" your parchment images as it makes them look rather dull and grey.

And here are my projects.

On this 8 x 8 card I decoupaged the butterflies and although it may not show up that well in the photograph, they do look incredibly like someone (not me!) has spent ages parching them. The silver mirror board really seems to "pop" the design which is finished with some small pearls from my crafty stash.

The next project is a piece of home decor, something that the kits really lend themselves to. I "borrowed" a digistamp from another kit (sorry, can't remember which one) and turned it into a white silhouette. I decorated the dress and bonnet with elements from the floral parchment kit and then put the lady in one of the frame embellishments which I decorated with the same flowers. More pearls were added. Again, from a distance it looks pretty realistic.

The third project is another 8 x 8 card but with this one I used one of my own photos in the centre. I think the scalloped topper looks very much like a piece of parchment and the little organza bows from my stash really compliment the design. I used the gold mirror board leftover bits from a die-cut instead of gems. Waste not, want not!

All images copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

If you would like to try digital parchment crafting yourself, the kits are all available on Daisytrail. There is also a very useful video tutorial showing how to use them on YouTube.

Have fun!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Victoria Nelson Delights Scrapbook Page

Hi everyone.

You'll have to bear with me if this week's post is a bit shorter than usual. I've written somewhere in the region of 10,000 words this last two or three days. Normally that would take me about two or three months. As a result, I've already been up for over 22 hours and my eyes are on stalks.

The reason for such a burst of creativity (and yes, I am awake enough to remember that this is my crafting blog, not my writing blog) is that I've almost come to the end of writing the proposal for the book I'm working on which has a very strong link to Downton Abbey. As usual, it's taken far longer to complete than I'd bargained for, hence the need to put a on a bit of a spurt this week.

In case you don't already know, the proposed book is based on a collection of letters I inherited from my maternal grandmother. They were written to her by a close friend called Ethel North who, during the 1920s and early 1930s, was lady's maid to Lady Winifred Burghclere, the elder sister of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. Those of you who watch Downton are probably aware that the inspiration for the fictional Crawley family came from the Carnarvon family and much of the series was filmed at Highclere Castle, the ancestral seat of the Carnarvons.

While working on the book I've been thinking quite a lot about my grandmother, Elsie Merrall. She died when I was six so I don't remember her very well but I recently came across a lovely photo of her that was taken in 1912 when she would have been about twenty. I've been wanting to do a scrapbook page of the photo for ages but was waiting for the right digikit to come along. This week it finally did in the form of the delightful Delights kit by the talented artist Victoria Nelson. You can find this digikit and others in her collections on the Daisytrail website.

The kit is really easy to work with and the project more or less created itself. I tried hard not to overload the page as I often tend to do and I'm particularly pleased with the digitally painted "gesso" behind the photo which blends in nicely with the background paper. Thanks to the always inspirational Michelle Jackson Mogford for that tip! 

Anyway, I hope you like the page. I'm off now to get some much needed sleep!

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Match-It Flowers & Butterflies Card

Hi everyone.

I hope you had a good Bank Holiday weekend, despite the weather being something of a mixed bag. The good thing about May is that if one Bank Holiday doesn't work out, there will always be another one along in a minute.

I'm still not exactly firing on all cylinders healthwise and still watching lots of snooker, so nothing changeth here. Actually the snooker is officially over now but as I've only just finished watching the second semi-final, I'm about two days behind everyone else. Now I have to go into "lock down" with TV, radio and social media so that I don't hear the result!

As it was the last week of the month, I thought I'd better do another Stash Buster Challenge and try to use up some more of my ever increasing pile of crafty stash. I decided to use one of the very first craft products I ever ordered from Create & Craft which was a set of two booklets called Match-It. They were produced by a Dutch company and consisted of pages of beautifully coloured artwork (I chose the  flowers, birds and butterflies book as well as the Oriental one) on high quality glossy paper.

With each booklet I also received a large collection of outline gold and silver peel-off stickers which matched exactly with every design in the book. The idea is that you put the outline sticker over it's corresponding image (as in "Match-It") and then cut round the peel-off, thereby creating stunning embellishments to use for craft projects, such as the ones suggested in the booklets.

I'd forgotten how therapeutic it is cutting out peel-offs as the raised edge of the sticker makes it a lot less fiddling and much more relaxing. Within a very short space of time I had assembled enough flowers, borders and butterflies to make this 8 x 8 card. The designs were so vibrant that I didn't really need to add much else apart from some blue backing paper, gold mirror board, black card, a black doilly, four die-cut corners and a few coloured gems.

I've not been able to find the books I bought anywhere online but you can still buy outline stickers with matching printed papers in booklet form, as well as separately, from a company called Doodey.

Why not give Match-It stickers a go and let me know how you get on?

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

Monday, 27 April 2015

Craftwork Cards Candi Frame

Hi everyone.

Here I am again, slightly under the weather with a touch of the "dreaded lurgy" although if I'm honest, the main reason for this week having been somewhat less than highly productive isn't just because I've been ill. It's probably had more to do with those little coloured balls that have been flashing up and down my TV screen as the World Snooker Championship, one of the highlights of my armchair sporting year, has been in full swing or should that be full cue action?

However, all is not lost and I do have a new project for you. It's another example of "upcycling" as I've taken a plain old picture frame I bought from the charity shop for the princely sum of one pound and with a little help from Craftwork Cards, turned it into something rather more pleasing on the eye.

I decided to leave the frame untouched with regards to painting, sanding down etc as I felt it already had an attractive pale blue "distressed" finish which I could build on. I chose one of the 5 x 5 designs from the Craftwork Cards Create With Candi Floral Designs pad which, along with a packet of card candi, was a members' free gift from Create & Craft recently.

If you haven't tried card candi yet, I can highly recommend it as a great alternative to brads, gems or pearls. It is also very versatile as you can fold and bend it to make flowers and leaves to decorate cards and scrapbook pages. Candi comes in lots of different colours and designs to match your projects and you get loads of pieces in a pack. You can find a good selection here on the Craftwork Cards website.

I used co-ordinating candi to decorate the branches of the tree in the picture I chose for the inside of the frame and also added glitter, although you can't really see it in the photo. I then decorated the outside of the frame with diagonal rows of candi and used it for the centre of the flowers which I die-cut from another sheet of the same design from the pad. All I needed then was to die-cut a couple of fancy ferns using one of Joanna Sheen's Signature Dies and the project was finished.

I hope you stay well over the coming week and I'll keep taking the tablets and counting to 147.

Copyright Melissa Lawrence Designs 2015

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Peerless Designs Tangletastic 3 Card

Hi everyone.

How is your week going? OK, I hope. Is it just me or does April seem to be speeding by at a rate of knots? If we're not careful, they'll soon be another Bank Holiday on the horizon.

I'm still working my way through the enormous pile of "new" crafting CD-Roms that are sitting on my bookcase waiting to be looked at. The problem is, I keep buying new ones so I have to stop and look at those instead. It's a tough job but somebody has to do it.

One of my recent acquisitions was Tangletastic 3 by Peerless Designs. If you like the look of zentangle but don't have the time or patience to draw your own designs, you could try "tangling" instead. This is the extremely talented Sarah Hallam's freestyle version of zentangling. Basically it's just doodling (but in an artistic way) with none of the restrictions or rules of zentangling.

All the Peerless Designs Tangletastic CDs have the most amazing original artwork on them, all designed and drawn by Sarah. It's just a case of choosing which images you like best. There are designs already done for you, plus a great range of additional items like stunning background papers, bookmarks and monograms but there are also "empty" images for you to add your own designs. Oh, and I can highly recommend the new-look Peerless Designs Shop which has some great products, not to mention a 99p section!

For this week's project I decided to make an 8 x 8 card using the beautiful dragonfly image from the CD. Another thing I like about Peerless Designs CDs is that it is really easy to take the images into a graphics programme such as Craft Artist and play around with them there.

I recoloured the image digitally to pick up some of the colours from the background paper and also designed my own background for the topper using an embossed dragonfly from one of my many digikits. Although there is no decoupage on the CD, it was easy to print off some extra sections of the main image and layer them up. Then I used gold mirror card, four die-cut gold corners and a few pearls to "bling" the card up.

I'm now looking forward to getting down to some "tangling" of my own. Have a great week.

Copyright Melissa Lawrence     

Monday, 13 April 2015

Debbi Moore Designs Vintage Rose Bookazine

Hi everyone.

Hopefully you've been able to enjoy some of the nice spring weather that's been coming our way recently. Could it be the end of winter, at last?

I won't say I've exactly been spring cleaning (the dust on the dust will testify to that) but I have been doing a bit of sorting out and that means taking items to my local charity shop. It also means bringing even more stuff back as I can't resist a bargain. Last week I picked up a wooden mirror, a lovely large compartment purse, two photo albums, some costume jewellery and a pretty cylindrical box all for £3.00. How amazing is that?

I set to work on "upcycling" the box a couple of days ago and you can see the results below. Upcycling is one of those new, trendy words that basically means something we've all been doing for years (namely converting old and discarded items into more beautiful and worthwhile ones) but without the posh name.

I decided to use the fantastic Debbi Moore Designs Vintage Rose Bookazine to decorate the box. As I've said before, I love Debbi Moore products and the Bookazines are my particular favourite. You get an amazing array of beautiful quality papers, toppers and embellishments at a really incredible price. (So many bargains, so little time.) It was even more of a bargain as I found it on e-bay but a little bird tells me it is currently available on the Debbi Moore website, even cheaper!

The box was already quite a pretty shade of pink so I went with a co-ordinating rose print paper to cover the box and the lid, doing that thing where you cut notches in the circle of paper so you get a nice, even coverage on the lid. I chose one of the large decoupage roses and some leaves for the front of the box, then a smaller one for the centre of the lid. The box already had ribbon on it so I decided I might as well use that, just adding a white doily underneath. The butterfly gems were in my stash and I folded one of the gift tags in half to make a mini gift card. Finally, I added some diamond glitter as you can't use Debbi Moore products without glitter!

Now all I have to do is "upcycle" the mirror, the jewellery and the photo albums. Oh, and try not to open the purse when Create & Craft is on the telly.

   Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015 

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Happy Easter Digital Art

Hi everyone.

How has your Easter been? Have you reached saturation point with chocolate yet or do you think you could squeeze in another mini egg or two?

I always think of Easter as sort of poor man's (or woman's) Christmas. You probably get time off work (unless you're self-employed of course), nice food, cards and presents but with none of the stress and madness that Christmas brings. Oh and the weather is usually better, too.

I've been extremely busy over the Easter weekend. On Friday I did an 11 hour shift of work, then on Saturday I hosted the descendants of the subject of the non-fiction book I'm currently writing, the one that has a very strong link to Downton Abbey. It was an amazing experience. Very surreal but very enjoyable and inspiring, too. Then on Sunday afternoon my neighbours came round to consume the leftovers! Roll on Bank Holiday Monday and wall-to-wall TV.

There hasn't been a great deal of time to do much crafting this week but I did manage to design a piece of digital art using one of my own photos and a Daisytrail digikit called Happy Easter 2012. I also used the photo to create my own bespoke background by blending it with a backing paper from the kit using the blend mode facility. I then used the photo to create a colour palette so that everything in the design co-ordinated perfectly. Sometimes the simplest pieces are the most effective.

Enjoy what's left of the Easter break.

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015


Monday, 30 March 2015

Complete Cardmaking Magazine Projects

Hi everyone.

So it's officially spring at last, although judging by the howling gale I can hear outside, March is going out like a lion, not a lamb.

Did you remember to put your clocks forward? I never change mine at the time you're supposed to as a matter of principle! I finally succumbed on Monday afternoon though as there always comes a point when I get so confused, (especially as I work at night) that it becomes a necessity.

Now that we're on the cusp of April, January seems a distant memory. I was reminded of it this week though as I've been working on projects made with the free (yes, free!) CD-Rom that came with the copy of Complete Cardmaking magazine I received as a gift for my January birthday.

I'm a huge fan of craft magazines but when I discovered this one I was in seventh heaven as it is totally devoted to digital crafting which is probably my most favourite thing in the world, next to chocolate and George Clooney, of course.

When I discovered digital crafting about three years ago, it opened up this amazing new world to me. I've always been artistic but I can't draw for toffee (or even chocolate and George Clooney) but digital crafting allowed me access to this incredible array of artwork, at the touch of a button. Not only that but once I'd learnt how to use a graphics programme, I was able to manipulate the artwork to create my own bespoke designs.

It was a real pleasure then to make some projects using three of the fantastic digital collections from the free (did I mention they were free?) CD-Roms that came with issues 54 and 55 of Complete Cardmaking. All of the images could be taken into Craft Artist Professional 2 (my favourite software) so I was able to design my own projects and then craft with them in the "real" world.

For the first project, a 6 x 6 card, I used the Handmade Harbour collection which has lovely hand-drawn digi-stamps and backing papers on the theme of love. I kept the monochrome style on this card but added a single colour to small sections, digitally. The addition of some silver mirriboard, black card and silver pearls really made the designs "pop".

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

This 5 x 7 landscape card was made using elements from the very pretty Pink Petticoat collection which has a really feminine feel to it and definitely lends itself to the addition of paper flowers and die-cut flourishes. I re-coloured the script backing paper digitally to a co-ordinating shade of lilac and deliberately kept the digi-stamps un-coloured to stand out from the muted pastel tones of the kit.

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

My final project, an 8 x 8 scrapbook page is probably the one I'm most pleased with and for this I used the very "on-trend" (in terms of colours) Uniko Studio. I really enjoyed working with these elements. The flowers and butterfly digital stamps re-coloured a treat in CAP2 and the backing papers were perfect for punching and cutting digitally. I have to admit it was a "happy accident" that the large re-coloured pale blue flowers look like felt! The word art was also really useful for scrapbooking, too. 

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

So all in all, a pretty good week's work and by the way, did I say that the CD-Roms were free?!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Create & Craft Lovely In Lace Card (Stash Buster Challenge #1)

Hi everyone.

The eyes of the world are certainly on my home town of Leicester at the moment as the remains of King Richard III are laid to rest in Leicester Cathedral. At the risk of upsetting any Ricardians amongst you, I can't say the whole event has exactly filled me with enthusiasm. But then I suppose it's not every day that the body of the last English king to die in battle goes past the bottom of your road for the second time in 500 years.

I was going to do a somewhat tenuous link between old remains and the old items in my crafty stash but thought better of it. However, I should like to take this opportunity to introduce the Stash Buster Challenge. I realise the middle of March is a bit late for New Year Resolutions but here's one that slipped under the wire. I resolve to set myself a regular challenge of using one or more items from my crafty "stash" that have been lingering in my craft room far longer than they should.

Like most crafters, I buy way more supplies (especially papers and paper kits) than I need and what seemed like a "must have" purchase at the time can often remain unused or barely used for years. So...let the challenge begin and feel free to join in with your own Stash Buster Challenges, too.

This is a card I made using one of the very first paper kits I ever bought, Lovely in Lace from Create & Craft. When I finally got it out again, I was reminded of the pretty pastel tones, the beautiful vintage florals and cameos, not to mention some fabulous backing papers.

Since I last used this kit, die-cutting has come onto my radar so this was the first time I'd ever used dies with these particular designs. I chose to use the impressive Mariposa Petals die from Tonic which is a more recent purchase. It was also great to do some embossing again with one of my embossing boards, the Dreamkeepers frame plates. (Is it just me or does anyone else really miss the Glitter Girls?)

Apart from the silver mirror card, the beige/cream card which was actually from another ancient C&C kit and the embellishments, everything else has come from the paper kit. I've really enjoyed re-visiting it and and can't wait for my next Stash Buster Challenge!

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015  

Monday, 16 March 2015

Docrafts Simply Floral Mother's Day Makes

Hi everyone.

Just a quick post today as I should have been in bed about eight hours ago!!

If you're a mother reading this, I hope you enjoyed Mother's Day yesterday (or Mothering Sunday to give it its correct title!) or if like me you are motherless now, I hope you found the day manageable.

I've been working with the lovely Docrafts Papermania Simply Floral paper kit this week as it lends itself really well to Mother's Day makes, although it's suitable for lots of different occasions, too. Like its compatriot the Bellissima kit which I used in a previous post, it's packed full of everything you need to make beautiful cards and gifts - from stunning backgrounds to a wide range of toppers, tags and boxes.

I chose to make three items altogether and I only used two sheets of backing paper and about half of two sheets of die-cut decoupage which still leaves another 44 sheets to work with!

The cotton wool storage box is a recycled tissue box with a piece of acetate covering the aperture. I pleated a doily for the top of the box and tied pink ribbon round the base. It only needed a few elements from a co-ordinating decoupage sheet, with a touch of silver glitter, to make a very pretty gift.

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

The pencil holder is a recycled aluminium can covered inside and out with the same design of backing paper and more ribbon. There is also a sneaky silver flexi-peel-off, always useful for covering a multitude of sins! Again I only needed a couple of elements from the same decoupage sheet plus three of the die-cut flowers for the pencils to complete the item.

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

Finally, the card is a 5 x 7 white card blank decorated on the front with the same backing paper from the kit to give a nice border. I embossed a piece of white Centura Pearl card and then decoupaged the large flower from the kit on top. The sentiment is also from the kit and the gems and mini bow from my stash.

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

Have a good week and I hope you get lots of crafting done.  

STOP PRESS: I was really pleased that these projects were picked up from the Docrafts Facebook page where I'd posted them and featured in the May 2015 issue of the Docrafts Creativity Magazine. Fame at last!

Monday, 9 March 2015

My Craft Studio Silhouettes With Style CD

Hi everyone.

I'm just trying to get my mind back onto crafting after England's disastrous performance in the Cricket One Day World Cup. Oh well. Not long to go until the test matches start, thank goodness!

I'm still feeling in a "spring-like" mood, so this week's project continues that theme, even though originally it was going to be about dogs to acknowledge Crufts. I recently acquired the fabulous new Pollyanna Pickering Best of Breeds crafting DVD from Creative Crafting World and was planning to do something from that but time got the better of me. Don't worry though, every dog-lover will still have their day in a future post.

Talking of crafting CDs, I finally counted how many "new" ones I have piled up in my craft room waiting to be looked at. The answer was 27 which was a bit of a shock, although not as bad as the total of new digikits which was over 70! This week was the week I finally decided to start going through them all and a lovely CD from My Craft Studio called Silhouettes With Style came to the top of the pile. I've always been a huge fan of MCS CDs, in fact they were among the very first I ever bought and this one doesn't disappoint as it has some beautiful images including silhouettes and fabulous backing papers.

One of the things I love most about CD crafting is the flexibility. For instance, I found a design sheet on the CD which I loved and which included all the bits and pieces I needed to make a card but which wasn't available in an 8 x 8 size. Also, I wanted to change the colour of one of the elements. I was able to take the whole sheet into Craft Artist Professional 2 (this particular MCS CD doesn't have the MCS Graphics Programme on it, otherwise I would probably have used that) and with a combination of digital punches, the scissors tool and the Cut-out Studio, was able to separate all the elements on the sheet, resize and recolour them as required and then build my card.

All I had to do then was add a few digital gems and a ribbon from one of my digikits and I had a lovely card design which, of course, I can now print out and "hybrid" craft if I so wish.

I hope you like the design and here's to a better summer than winter for the England cricket team!

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015


Monday, 2 March 2015

Fairy Tales Spring Digikit

Hi everyone.

I hope you've had a good start to March and that it's not blowing too many gales where you are.

It may not officially be spring until March 20th but who's counting? The orange crocuses are out, the green shoots of the daffodils are starting to pop up expectantly and was that a lawnmower I heard this morning? Surely not!

I don't know anyone who doesn't look forward to spring. It has that New Year feel of freshness and a blank canvas, I always think. The worst of the winter weather is (hopefully) over and we can look forward to lighter nights, little woolly lambs and that new version of Poldark on the telly.

In the spirit of spring, I decided to design a piece of digital art using the very pretty Fairy Tales Spring Digikit from Daisytrail. This kit is full of lovely wild flowers, fairies, butterflies, birds and bunnies. It has a definite "spring-feel" and is great for Easter projects, too.

My original idea was to have a fairy as the central image and use one of the digital papers from the kit as the background. However at the eleventh hour, I decided to put one of my own spring flower photos (taken in my garden last year) over a background and add a blend. This created a much more ethereal sort of background which seemed to lend itself to a softer image such as the photo of the lady and the little girl.

When I googled "quotes about spring", the Pablo Neruda one was the first that came up but although I looked at several others, I knew that was the perfect one for this piece. The other elements all came from the kit and were softened with glow edges and the transparency tool to create the overall whimsical effect.

Enjoy what's left of the winter!

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Docrafts Papermania Bellissima Card

Hi everyone.

January seems a long while ago now but I've only just found time to make a card with the lovely Docrafts Papermania Bellissima Ultimate Die-Cut & Paper Pack which I treated myself to for my birthday.

I've always been a fan of Docrafts particularly their Papermania range and these "Ultimate" kits are among some of my favourites. You get so much for your money as they are absolutely packed with elements including die-cut toppers, tags, gift boxes, borders, decoupage and fabulous co-ordinating backing papers. In fact, don't tell anyone, but yesterday I treated myself to one of their latest kits, the gorgeous Simply Floral and it wasn't even my birthday!

As well as paper kits, Docrafts manufacture lots of useful craft tools such as dies and embossing folders. I recently bought their Xcut Rose Frame 6x6 Embossing Folder and decided to use it with some white Centura Pearl Card to make a card front. This was the starting point for this card and I worked out from there, choosing one of my newly discovered 7x7 scalloped cards for the base card and selecting a pretty sentiment topper and co-ordinating backing paper from the kit.

The black doillies from my "stash" were a surprise addition but they seemed to work with the other colours. I also "fussy-cut" (as they like to call it!) some flowers and leaves from the backing paper to make the raised embellishment, then die-cut a butterfly from silver mirror board and layered it onto another butterfly which was die-cut from the backing paper.

There is still enough left in the kit for about another hundred cards!

If you'd like to see some more designs made with this kit (and others), I'd highly recommend taking a look at the incredibly talented Katie Skilton's Docrafts Gallery for more inspiration. You can find it at

Until next time, Happy Crafting!

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2105

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Valentine's Day Scrapbook Page

Hi everyone.

Well, how many Valentine's cards did you get? Or maybe you worked on the principle that with Valentine's cards it's better to give than to receive? That's my excuse, anyway.

So, last week I promised you a Valentine's Day project and here it is. A few days ago, I came across a Valentine's card I received many (with the emphasis on many) years ago when I was doing some sorting out. Inside was a poem which clearly wasn't written by the sender! However, it was such a lovely verse I decided to use it in a Valentine's project.

As you may know from a previous post, my crafty resolution for 2015 is to do more scrapbooking and I felt the poem really lent itself to a scrapbook page, if I could find the right photo. The one I eventually chose has 1916 written on the back and is of my paternal grandparents who were childhood sweethearts and got married as soon as my grandfather returned from fighting in France during World War One. Their family bible contains a very faded pressed leaf with the note "France 1917" underneath so I wanted to include an image of that on the page, too.

I designed the page digitally using Craft Artist Professional 2, starting with the photo and the poem and then a background from a digikit called My Keepsake. I put the photo in an "intelligent" digital frame that blurred the edges and scanned the pressed leaf from the bible into the heart frame. Then it was just a case of adding the flowers, the text and choosing a title for the page.

Hopefully, my grandparents would think it a fitting tribute.

Until next time, stay loved up!

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Serif CS English Town Digikit Card

Hi everyone.

Apologies for being absent from blog-land the last couple of weeks but I finally went down with the dreaded lurgy and had to take some time off. My first proper break since last April!

Now that we are well into February, Valentine's Day is just around the corner and I hope to bring you a Valentine project in my next post. In the meantime, I'm sneaking in a card I made using the fabulous Serif CS English Town Digikit from Daisytrail. I've already done two pieces of digital art with this kit which you can see (along with all my other digital art) on my latest Pinterest board at

As well as all the individual elements for building a scene, the kit contains ready-made card "toppers" which can go straight onto the front of the card. They are lovely but I wanted to see if I could create my own topper design. I was pleased with how easy it turned out to be. It was basically like building a full scene but on a much smaller space and on an uneven shape. The background actually took longer to design than the topper as I wanted to make a floral overlay in two shades and it took me quite a while to work out that it could actually be made from one of the digital "border" punches that come with the Craft Artist 2 software.

Because the design is pretty full-on and also to keep that lovely "water-colour" effect going, I didn't matt and layer the card front but just attached it straight onto a white base card with foam tape. A few gems, some seed pearls and a tiny bow were all that was needed to embellish the card.

Stay well and I'll keep taking the tablets!

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015


Monday, 19 January 2015

Serif CraftScapes English Town Digikit

Hi everyone.

It's definitely going to be a thermals night tonight. Minus 3 degrees? What are they thinking of? Mind you, I shall be the first one complaining when it comes to the summer heat and after all, it is the middle of January.

Talking of January, I may have mentioned before that it is my favourite month which I know most people find rather odd. I think part of the attraction is that I was born in January (yes, I'm a mountain goat) and have just celebrated my ??? birthday.

One of my birthday treats was to download one of the fabulous Craftscapes digikits from Daisytrail as I've been looking forward to experimenting with them ever since they came out. The kits contain stunning water-colour style images which you build up in layers on a blank page to create a scene. I was a bit unsure if I could get things like perspective etc right but the kits are so easy to use, even a non-artist like me could do it.

I chose the kit called English Town and this is my first design. I started by making a row of houses in the background, then moved to the foreground to create the wall, bicycle and trees section. After that I added the fountain and the surrounding flowers in the middle distance. I then had great fun adding in all the tiny details to the background such as hanging baskets, bunting and a pillar box. Once I'd filled in the stone paths, then added the church and the castle, the design really began to take shape. Finally the background went in with the addition of some very clever translucent clouds.

I was pleasantly surprised how well it turned out and I can't wait to do another one. All I need now is to find an 8 x 8 frame and I think I've got a nice piece of wall art or home decor.

If you'd like to see some more designs using this and other Craftscapes digikits, take a look at Heather Alger's projects on the Algera Designs blog. I think you'll be impressed.

Keep warm!

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

Monday, 12 January 2015

French Country Digikit Cards On Folksy

Hi everyone.

Hopefully 2015 has got off to a good start for you and you are managing to stick to at least one of your New Year Resolutions.

Those of you who had some new contact lenses for Christmas may have observed that Melissa Lawrence Designs is now on Folksy. There is a link to our Folksy shop on the right hand side of this page if you scroll down a little way. You can see some of our featured products there as well.

At the moment, our Folksy products are grouped in collections relating to the digikit or crafting CD-Rom that was used to make them. One of our favourite collections is "French Country" which has handcrafted items featuring some of the lovely pastel vintage-style artwork from the French Country digikit by Daisytrail.

Below are three cards from the French Country collection that are currently exclusively available in our Folksy shop. All of them were designed by us in Craft Artist Professional2, laser-printed onto photo paper, matted onto co-ordinating backing card and then hand-finished with faux gems, ribbons etc from our crafty stash. Each card also has a blank folded paper insert so that you can write your own message.

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015 

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015

All these cards are available to buy now, along with a number of our other handcrafted cards and stationery products. You can find them at

Hope you find something you like!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Daisytrail DigiTangle New Year Card

Hi everyone.

Happy New Year! OK, so it's actually five days into 2015 already but I think it's acceptable to wish people a Happy New Year for a while yet, although the middle of February might be pushing it a bit.

I hope that 2015 has got off to a good start for you. I'm a much bigger fan of New Year than I am of Christmas. I really love that "clean slate" feeling you get at the start of every new year and although I don't make resolutions as such, I do like to set Year Goals for the different areas of my life.

Having said that, here are three crafting/designing resolutions I've definitely made for 2015:

1. To do more scrapbooking.
2. To do more scrapbooking.
3. To do more scrapbooking.

After all, I can hardly call myself a scrapbooker if I hardly ever do any scrapbooking! So watch this space for (hopefully) more scrapbook pages in 2015.

Instead of Christmas cards, I've sent New Year cards this year and I designed them myself using the fabulous Daisytrail DigiTangle digikit. You may have already come across 'zentangle' (a way of creating beautiful images from drawing structured patterns) and this is a digital version. The decorated numbers were already in the kit and I made my own border by creating a digital punch from a frame shape. I then added some text and the floral embellishments. I've deliberately used very little colour in the design, partly to stay in keeping with the zentangle theme but also to save ink!

I kept the actual crafting to a minimum as you really need to do when you are "batch" cardmaking. Adding silver peel-offs was a quick way of creating the impression of a matt and a single-leaf insert with a small co-ordinating design gave the card a more professional finish. All I had to do then was add a few tiny clear gems from my stash to the front of the card.

I must admit by the time I got to the last few cards, I never wanted to see this particular design again but hopefully the recipients won't feel the same!

Have a great 2015.

Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2015