Saturday, 23 December 2017

Caturday: Magic

Meet Magic, who belongs to my downline Donna. She’s a lovely cat who made us very welcome (well, as welcome as a cat ever does) at a recently crafty get-together.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Bird Banter - sneak peek

Oh how I love this new stamp set, Bird Banter. These cards were inspired by Kylie Page, and I enjoyed making a big batch of them to thank my latest set of customers.

We don’t do a Basic Black Stampin’ Blend yet, and I don’t have the Night of Navy pens yet, so I coloured the toucan's body with a black Sharpie... and can confirm that it's nowhere near as easy as using the Stampin' Blends! The images are stamped onto watercolour paper as I planned to watercolour the background but in the end I chickened out as I was concerned about the black ink bleeding; I'd stamped the birds in Memento Black. So instead of watercolour, I sponged some Soft Sky ink at the top and Wild Wasabi at the bottom of each square.

This set will be available for you to purchase from 3rd January... or you can order it now in your Starter Kit if you join my team! Please ask for more details...

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Color Me Happy with Layered Leaves embossing folder

Mini wreaths aren’t just for Christmas you know. These little beauties, from page 197 of the Annual Catalogue, actually open out to form a long “branch”... just perfect for this little birdie to sit on. He’s coloured with the new Stampin’ Blends (Pool Party), as is the rhinestone, although that doesn’t show up too well in the photo.

The greeting? That’s a Sneak Peek... from Picture Perfect Birthday, a brand new stamp set from the Spring/Summer Catalogue.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Handmade Christmas tree decorations

No Mix It Up Monday this week as I've been too busy to craft this weekend. Friday was spent decking the halls so that the house would be nice and festive in time for my first Hygge Night of the season, where we made the log slice ornaments shown in this post.

So today I’m sharing some of the pictures of my woodland-themed Christmas tree, which I decorated with some existing ornaments, some new ones and lots of hand-made decorations, many using Stampin’ Up!® products, old and new.

These are little leaves cut from air-drying clay, embossed with copper embossing powder and strung onto some baker's twine.

Non-SU bark reindeer with a little bell from last year’s Autumn/Winter catalogue and some more baker's twine.

Non-SU bark trees embellished with sequins, and a small log slice stamped with the Hearts Come Home stamp set. I painted the snow with acrylic paint - I could have used Craft Whisper White ink but I wanted it to dry this side of Christmas!

All topped off with the bird rosette I showed you the other day. 

As much as I love my woodland tree, I don’t really buy into the co-ordinated Christmas tree look and this is a little bit too “tasteful” for my liking, so rest assured I have another tree in the living room, with decorations of all colours, ages and designs - the more the merrier.

As for Hygge Night, you can see highlights from the evening in this video, which I posted to Facebook over the weekend. These Hygge Night decorations went on the tree after the above photos were taken, as I needed them as samples for the evening. 

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Caturday: Liquorice

Beautiful Liquorice with those gorgeous green eyes... belongs to my downline Donna, and enjoyed all the fuss she was given at a crafty get-together last weekend. 

You don’t have to be a cat-lover to be in my team, although it does help! Please ask if you’d like more information... it’s a fantastic time to join!

Friday, 15 December 2017

Year of Cheer Designer Series Paper gift bags with SAB sneak peek

Can you spot a sneak peek here? These are some little gifts I made for some of my stamping friends at a get-together last weekend. I used half a sheet of Year of Cheer DSP for each box, and the Gift Bag Punch Board.

These were literally thrown together before I set off in the morning, so they decoration is very simple; just a couple of strips of cardstock (Whisper White and Silver Foil), a piece of ribbon and the finishing touch... yes it’s that sneak peek!

This die comes from a brand new set; a Sale-a-Bration freebie which you can earn from 3rd January. How do I have it early? Demonstrator perk, of course! SAB begins in December for demonstrators, so we can earn freebies for FOUR months instead of three. Whoohoo!

If you’d like perks like this, please get in touch to talk to me about joining. There are literally NO drawbacks, I promise.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Merry Music rosette Christmas tree ornament

I spent Saturday really getting into the Christmas spirit, crafting with some of my stamping friends... all but one of whom I met through Stampin’ Up!®. Our brief was to bring a simple project for everyone to make so, to speed things up, I did a lot of prep for this Christmas tree ornament before I went. 

For instance, at home I used some rubbing alcohol with several drops of Crumb Cake reinker in it to spray the Merry Music Designer Series Paper and give it a softer, “aged look. I did the same to the silver glimmer paper, to tone it down a little. 

I also die-cut all the pieces, including the birds... well, I confess I opened my Best Birds stamp set and discovered a pile of stamped and die-cut birds in there. I knew they’d come in handy eventually!  

If you didn’t want to hang this on your Christmas tree, you could use it as a gift tag on a special present.

Please note the instructions are in centimetres but they do not convert to inches.
If you need instructions in inches, I suggest you search “Stampin’ Up! rosette tutorial” and work from there. 

Monday, 11 December 2017

Mix It Up Monday: Year of Cheer DSP gets the Fresh Fig treatment

How are your Christmas preparations coming along? At the time of writing I have written SIX cards... and they aren’t even the ones heading across the Pond, so I really must get my act together. 

I’m still making Christmas projects though, and this one uses a surprising colour combination from my In Color charts for today’s Mix It Up Monday post. 

I began by sponging Fresh Fig ink onto some Year of Cheer Designer Series Paper. I have fallen in love with this paper all over again since discovering the possibilities by adding some colour. The gold and silver snowflakes really pop out of the rich background. 

I die-cut a huge pile of Very Vanilla trees but then the card went off in a different direction so they will have to wait for another day, as only these two made the final cut. I didn’t really want to add the so Saffron but rules are rules and the colour combination demanded it, so I added a greeting flag and topped it with a silver rhinestone, coloured “gold” with a Daffodil Delight Stampin’ Blends marker. 

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Caturday: Cromford cat

Walking along Cromford Canal the other day, we spied this ginger beauty in the woodland. It wasn't coming any closer though, so didn't get a stroke unfortunately.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Sponged Year of Cheer Designer Series Paper

I can't stop sponging the Year of Cheer Designer Series Paper - it looks so deep and rich in the darker shades, like the Night of Navy I've used here.

I'm rationing my Foil Snowflakes now as we need them for a class next week, so I've only used half of one here - remember: if you can't see it, it's not there!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Stampin' Up! gift vouchers available

Gift vouchers are always available, but particularly popular at Christmas - get your loved ones to send you vouchers now, so you can use them during Sale-a-Bration. It's a total win win!

Any denomination available and you get a free card (min £5). For vouchers £10 and over, I'll post it to you for free, too!

Here’s one I made earlier...

Monday, 4 December 2017

Mix It Up Monday: embossed snowflake on vellum

Happy Monday – and Happy December! I feel like I’ve been making Christmas cards for months… probably because I have! But there are still more to make and more designs to show you, including this one for Mix It Up Monday and a rather groovy colour combination from my In Color charts. “Groovy” isn’t quite the right word but I was going to say “funky” until I stopped myself - doesn’t that mean something bad in American? Anyway, you get the idea - and you know I love a retro colour combination. 

I also love what happens to vellum when you run it through the Big Shot in an embossing folder - the raised areas turn white, which is just perfect for this big snowflake. 

I’ve let the snowflake do the talking, and just embellished it slightly with some strips of sponged Year of Cheer Designer Series Paper and a Year of Cheer silver embellishment tied with some strands of Lemon Lime Twist ribbon. Fiddly, but worth it, I thought.

How did I attached the vellum? I thought you might ask that. It's attached with a small amount of SNAIL underneath the greeting, and a tiny dot of Tombow underneath the rhinestone at the top right. 

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Caturday: Cobweb

This would be a lovely picture of Cobweb if it wasn't so blurred, but it was taken late at night as she glared at me, willing me to leave the settee and fluffy blanket so she could bed down for the night.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Today kicks off the Christmas Cheer Challenge, where UK demonstrators gather the troops (our loyal customers) to create as many Christmas cards as we can for the Ronald McDonald House Charities. The target is a whopping 10,000 cards in ONE weekend! Sounds impossible? Well, let’s see - the target was originally 10,000 cards over TWO events but, at our birthday challenge earlier this year, we managed well over 9,000 cards, so the target has been raised. Can we do it?

This morning we will be making these cards at my Crafty Friday event, and we'll be making more at a workshop this evening. Unfortunately it's a busy birthday weekend here chez Read, so that will be my only contribution to the challenge, but we're doing what we can!

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Merry Music rosette star

I saw this project on the Stampin’ Up!® Facebook page and thought it would be a great way to use up my surplus of Merry Music Designer Series Paper (you get 24 sheets in a pack!).

I made one of these for each of the ladies attending my Merry Star class, to decorate their kit bags.

The star is simple to make and the instructions are here. They're in German on the printable sheet but in English in the post. Here are my additional tips:

1. Stick to centimetres - if you try to convert it to imperial, you will run out of paper with these instructions.

2. Make one so you know how it works; I found drawing cut lines on the back of the DSP helpful.

3. Attach the two pieces of DSP together before you start concertina folding.

4. Hot glue really is the best for holding the rosette to a disc of cardstock, although strong tape could work too. When using hot glue, don't be tempted to blob a little in the centre of your disc as this won't do the job - you need a circle of glue with a hole in the middle. You'll see why!

5. When you've succesfully make one star, cut and score the pieces for a second star but don't assemble it - you can use this for further stars with no more drawing of diagonal lines; just fold and follow.

Have fun!

Monday, 27 November 2017

Mix It Up Monday: Sponged Year of Cheer DSP

Happy Monday everyone! Tranquil Tide is the star of the show again this Mix It Up Monday – I must be a fan because I’ve nearly used all the Tranquil Tides colour combinations from my In Color charts.

This weekend, inspired by Natalie Lapakko, I was playing with the Year of Cheer Designer Series Paper and experimenting with adding colour. It looks GORGEOUS with a dark colour sponged onto the background; the ink is resisted in the metallic embossed areas. The trick is to ink up your sponge then remove the excess on some scrap paper; this avoids creating blotches. 

Here I’ve created a two-tone background using Tranquil Tide and Lemon Lime Twist. I prefer the darker colours but you have to try new things. Some scrunched up Crinked Seam Binding and a Night of Navy border sets it off nicely, and it’s finished off with a Year of Cheer gold embellishment… and that is finished off with a Pearl, which I coloured ‘gold’ with the Bronze Stampin’ Blends marker. 

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Caturday: Kitty

Happy Caturday everyone! While Kitty might wish you'd all go away (she's not the most sociable of cats), I'm happy you're here as it gives me chance to draw your attention to the FREE SHIPPING which will be in effect on Monday only.  A great offer, and a great opportunity to order those last-minute supplies for your Christmas projects.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Stained glass technique with Stampin' Blends

This card shows the stained glass technique, which is really easy to do with some vellum and the new Stampin’ Blends alcohol markers.

For this technique I found that Memento Black ink took quite a long time to dry so, because the images so look fine in reverse, I used my Archival Black to stamp on the back of the vellum.

Normally Archival Black and Stampin' Blends don't work well together because they are both alcohol-based so the ink will run.  This is the usual rule of thumb...

But, because I stamped the outline image on the BACK of the vellum, I could colour the other side with no bleeding, and create a lovely stained glass effect.

The White Perfect Accent is also coloured with Stampin’ Blends, for perfect co-ordination.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

CAS cards with Stampin' Blends

When I saw this card from Dani Dziama, I knew it would be perfect for a Make & Take using the Stampin’ Blends. So this is exactly what we did at a party last week... the fun thing was, everybody used a different colour. 

Monday, 20 November 2017

Mix it Up Monday: Pretty Pines with Tree Rings

It’s Mix It Up Monday again and time for a Tranquil Tide combination that’s subtle, to say the least. It comes from my In Color charts and I thought it was perfect to use with Tree Rings and the Pretty Pines dies.  I coloured the pine cones with some Wink of Stella to give it a bit of festive glitz. 

Don’t forget the Online Extravaganza runs all week. Please visit for details and, if you order through me, please use the hostess code: CNVMKKYM

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Online Extravaganza

A BIG sale starts at Stampin’ Up!® today! There are THREE strands:

1. FLASH SALE, 20% off selected stamp sets for 24 hours only from 11pm today (Sunday 19th Nov)

3. FLASH SALE on 27th November (details to come)

2. Online Extravaganza, which runs until 10.59pm on 26th November

Shop online at and please use the host code: CNVMKKYM

Thank you!

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Caturday: Ginger friend

This fluffy ginger fellow lives not far from me and we occasionally meet when I’m on the way to the post office. On this occasion he was in somebody’s drive but I could see he was determined to get out to greet me officially, so I waited patiently while he laboriously clambered a wall and came for some attention.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Color Me Happy with Stampin’ Blends

Just playing around with my new Stampin’ Blends and the gorgeous Color Me Happy stamp set. The above is CASEd from an idea by Stesha Bloodhart and the one below is an All Things Stampy original (shocking, I know).

These alcohol markers are such fun to use – take a look at my Collect & Earn Programme to see how you can build up your collection!


Thursday, 16 November 2017

Reserve your Stamparatus from today

This brand new tool from Stampin’ Up!® will change the way you stamp forever. No more imperfect images or fiddly stamp positioners, just precision stamping, as many times as you like.

You may have seen similar tools to this on the market, but the Stamparatus is different; it has TWO flaps, which can easily be removed and repositioned, giving you FOUR stamping surfaces.

Remove a flap and move it down the hinge and you have a simple way to create repeat images.

The purchase price is £44

Due to what is likely to be huge demand, and in the aim of eliminating backorders, the Stamparatus will initially be sold in a different way to normal.

The Stamparatus will be in the next Annual Catalogue in June 2018 when you can order it in the usual way but you can get one EARLY by reserving it later today (Thursday) for February delivery. Here’s how:

1. Create an online account

You MUST have an online customer account to reserve a Stamparatus. If you don’t have one, you can create one at my online store here.

2. Reserve your Stamparatus

Visit the Stampin’ Up!® website (or the SU site for your country) from 9pm UK time today – the Stamparatus link will be on the front page – and click RESERVE. The Stamparatus will be added to your basket - DO NOT REMOVE it unless you wish to cancel, as you will not be able to add it again during this reservation period.

There are THREE reservation periods:

3. Receive an email

You will be sent a confirmation email but please note you will not be charged until the Stamparatus is shipped in early February.

4. Modify your order

You will receive an email in late January/early February, when the Stamparatus is ready to ship. You will then have the opportunity to add to your basket, to take advantage of Sale-a-Bration, which gives you a free item when you spend £45. Shipping and handling at £4.95 will also be added.

This short video explains some of the fabulous features of the Stamparatus...

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Log slice ornaments with Carols of Christmas

I didn’t make swaps for OnStage this year, but made these gifts for my team members who attended. I kind of guessed they’d be popular so planned a class around them so you too can join in the fun!

Come along and find out how to make the Mini Pizza Boxes turn green and much more...

Monday, 13 November 2017

OnStage 2017 - a global gathering of Stampin’ Up!® demonstrators

My haul of goodies from OnStage2017 - there were SU pens, too!
It should be Mix It Up Monday today but you know what? I’ve decided not to let that rule my life any more, and not worry too much if I don’t manage to create a project with all 50 colours from my In Color charts

I thought today you’d be far more interested in my OnStage2017 experience. This is where demonstrators around the world gather to share ideas, business tips and, most exciting of all, see new products from the upcoming Spring/Summer catalogue and Sale-a-Bration brochure! Yes, of course we received both publications and a good haul of products from them, too! Plus, we get to order from them early, as a special On Stage treat!

My name label for the day featured my achievements from the past year. The numbered badge was for Prize Patrol!

More than 450 demonstrators attended the UK event, at the National Conference Centre in Solihull, and thousands more attended events worldwide, including the main OnStage Live event in Salt Lake City in the home of Stampin’ Up!® in Utah, USA.

It was a chance to recognise the top achievers and I was honoured to be invited to walk the stage for my promotion to Gold earlier this year. This was more daunting than I expected as I didn’t realise there would only be TWO of us walking the stage for this achievement! The video MIGHT be on Facebook.

Not quite one Big Shot each, but three stations like this around the room
It’s also a great opportunity to catch up with demonstrator friends from around the country – people we didn’t know until Stampin’ Up!® came into our lives – making the event like a hug reunion.  

In addition, there were demonstrations, product spotlights, display boards, gifts and, of course, Make & Takes. Here are the Big Shots, lined up and ready for action. Oh, what a shame you can’t see the fabulous dies we used... 

10th anniversary cupcakes - one for everyone!
And because Stampin’ Up!® will soon be celebrating 10 years in Europe, there were extra treats, too... and more celebrations to come in the year ahead.

It's our 10th anniversary year in Europe
Demonstrators are given titles based on sales and recruiting and everyone awarded Silver Elite and above is invited to a special evening celebration the night before On Stage. This is called Centre Stage and was attended by around 50 demonstrators, including me and my downline Tracey. We were treated to a three-course meal, plus special gifts and we had the chance to share business ideas with other leaders. Plus - and this cannot be under-estimated as a perk - we received our catalogues early! And another valuable perk is that we get to register early so can skip the HUGE queues for check-in on Saturday morning!

A three-course meal and special gifts at Centre Stage
I can’t share any spoilers yet but trust me, there is LOADS to love in the two new catalogues. Whether you like floral, fun, funky or innovative, you’ll find something you’ll need. Yes, I said “need”.

My team at the end of a tiring day! They'll kill me. But then they don't read my blog so serves them right...

The small print

This is my personal blog and my sole responsibility as an Independent Stampin' Up!® demonstrator. All images are © Stampin' Up!® All content including photographs, projects and text are © Helen Read, unless otherwise stated. Please feel free to copy my ideas for your personal use and inspiration - if you are a SU demonstrator you may use these ideas for your events but please give credit where it is due. Please do not use my ideas for monetary gain, competitions or publication. The images on this blog - including blog buttons - should not be copied and used elsewhere on the internet or on CDs.