Thursday, 25 September 2014

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt 2014: the full collection

Hi there.

Now that summer's gone, and the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt is over, I thought I'd join Rinda - the hunt's creator and hostess - with a final all-encompassing round-up of all the 21 discoveries I made as summer 2014 unfolded.

And, in a little warm up for Tuesday's Month in Numbers statistical summary ... I did a quick survey of my photos and worked out that ...

Of the final set of 21 images:
  • 3 were taken pretty close to home on average days ....
  • 8 were taken while I was on my official 'summer holiday' ...
  • and the remaining 10 were captured while on occasional days out, to cities, country and seaside.
And here they are:
Seeing them all together like this is both fun to see and a little strange! Some of those moments already feel like years ago now, so I'm glad I've got an accurate reminder of them here and in my summer junk journal. But also ... I was surprised at while they're mostly taken in completely different locations, viewed together, they form their own coherent colour-palette. A palette which pretty much sums up an English summer:
  • a few bright blues skies ... but with plenty of paler ones thrown in too;
  • plenty of natural abundant greenery ... with an equivalent amount of carefully curated municipal flower displays;
  • and a liberal amount of British eccentricity and tradition on show.
It was worth re-visiting my photos to really reflect on all of that!

Now here - mainly for my own future reference - are the links to the posts where I shared more about each of my 21 summertime discoveries:

1. A sign welcoming people to my home town
2. A garden gnome - a goal-keeping gnome, taken during the World Cup ... how long ago does that seem now?!!!)
3. Birds on a wire - finding the iconic 'birds on overhead wires' shot was a lot harder than I would have guessed!
4. A group of tourists
5. A rack of post cards - this one also includes a photo-bomb too.
6. An urban street scene
7. A rural landscape
8. A tattoo on a person
9. A bakery
10. A photo bomb - I managed to find another photo-bomber ... underneath Frankenstein's Monster ...
11. A horn
12. A mascot - a flying bear
13. A sunrise - the trickiest of the lot to capture... and yet it happens every day! And I thought 'Juggler' was going to be hard to find!
14. A parade
15. A juggler - apparently easier to find than a sunrise ...
16. A sign in a language other than English
17. A lamp post
18. A water fall
19. A public garden
20. A bus (not a car, truck, lorry, camper or RV) with a picture painted on its sides.
21. A photograph of you with something representing the season
And, as I found all 21 ... I didn't need to resort to alternative A: A kite, hot air balloon or blimp
or alternative B: A bird house

In the depths of the coming winter, when I won't be able to take a decent photo without first taking off my thermal gloves and pushing my woolly hat out of my eyes ...  I'll be thinking fondly of the day Rinda will release the categories for the 2015 hunt!

Julie :-)

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Bang! Card making: with a car from a Christmas-cracker [and there's today's tongue-twister right there].

Hello hello.

There are a couple of reasons I feel it's OK to share this particular card today; and they're both to do with the season.

A typewriter comes in really handy for creating a quick sentiment for cards.
For a start - it's now officially Autumn - so the card's colour scheme of greens turning into yellow, orange and brown is appropriate in itself:
[The background paper is just a page from an old book which I had handy while I was experimenting with paint. I just removed excess paint from my brayer on to it.]

So, yes, the autumnal colour-scheme is one good reason to share this card right now:
But then there's this ...
... the car embellishment focal point is actually a little gift I saved from a Christmas-cracker last year!

And, in the past, whenever I've shared the cards I've made with silly throwaway [or not!] Christmas-cracker gifts someone usually says they wished they'd seen the idea before Christmas, so they could save some of their own.

So here it is, your 3 months in advance warning:
  • Remember to collect up all those odd bits and bobs you find inside the traditional [who said tacky?] crackers!!
  • Prepare yourself to gently manoeuvre little children out of the way at the Christmas dinner table to scoop up the bits before they get their sticky little hands on them. [What? They'll only play with them for 2 minutes then throw them on the floor. Or choke on them. So really, you're doing them a favour.]
  • Then make sure to remind yourself to reuse them on fun cards throughout the year ahead!
If this has whetted your appetite for Christmas-cracker-gift card making ideas ... then here are several of my previous examples:
But ... if it's whetted your appetite for Christmas Lunch ... I'm sorry about that ... I can't help you there! Will it take your mind off it if I just sing the 12 Days of Christmas to you? Five go-oh-ld riiiings, four calling birds ...

Julie ;-)

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Summertime Photgraphy Scavenger Hunt: The sunrise; my final find

Hi there.

It's definitely turning Autumnal out there, and as much as it pains me to do so ... that means the time's come for carefully wrapping summer in bubble-wrap and packing it away for another year.

And the same goes for the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt [admirably organised and hosted by Rinda at Gallo Organico each year.]  So, here's what became of my search for the 21st and final item on the hunt. The hunt for ...

No.13: A Sunrise

No.13 eh? Unlucky for some? Well ... yes, kind of.

You would think, wouldn't you, what with it happening every day and all ... that a sunrise might have been one of the easiest categories on the list of 21 items to find. But 'twas not so ...

During the height of summer the sun was rising around 4am and ... well ... I never quite got around to dedicating myself to the Scavenger Hunt cause quite that much! Plus, I kept telling myself that there would be plenty of opportunities to catch one later. [Because let's face it, if the sun didn't rise on another day, we'd all have a lot more to worry about than me finishing the scavenger hunt ...].

Then, as summer wore on, and the mornings became gradually darker, I decided to go for one last push and make the effort to rise early and catch that sun on its way up.

At 6.30am two Saturday's ago I got up, armed myself with a dressing gown and a camera and wandered to the window from which I thought I'd have a good view. The thing is 432,450 miles wide after all ...

... but there was no sun. Not even a glimmer. So I decided perhaps it was a little early ... and waited. And waited.

Now, I'm not suggesting that it was pitch black as I sat there; it was light. But there was no clear 'sunrise' visible; no rays, no hint of pink, orange or even washy lemon. Instead there was a bank of mist, heading in from the coast, diffusing the light and obscuring whatever sun there was.

And ever since that weekend, that seems to have been the pattern round here on these almost-autumnal-mornings; mist, fret and fog obscuring the hills every morning and only burning off - if we're lucky - in the afternoons. In fact over the last few weeks this ever-so-slightly-blushing sky below is the nearest I've got to capturing anything vaguely sunrise-y in the sky:
But you know me ... if I can't find the obvious photo that fits the category ... I'll just keep my eyes open for an alternative [like I did with No.3 Birds on a wire] and on another grey Saturday morning, which ended up turning into a bright and clear day at the seaside, this particular wrought iron design fixed to the sea wall caught my eye:
Here's the full scene:
And whether or not it's meant to be a sunrise, or a sun hiding from the crocodile from Punch & Judy ... I don't know. But I'm claiming it as my No.13 anyway!

But before the sun sets on my sunrise-seeking let me share with you a nice spot of serendipitous reading ...

... while I spent the season planning, and failing, to capture an actual sunrise, as time started running out I just happened to buy Mindy Kaling's[creator of The Mindy Project one of my favourite programmes at the moment!] memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me?  ...

... and what do you think I found right there in its introduction?
 And, these appropriate words of wisdom came from a book I read during the summer ... I'm going to argue that it means .... I DID FIND A SUNRISE after all!!
It just happened to be in words!  
And best of all ... I didn't have to get up at 4am to document it!
Thank you Rinda for another inspiring list that has got me out and about snapping random things and sharing ideas with family and friends about what fits which category and where I might find one! It's been great, here's to summer 2015!
p.s; I've extended the big stock sell-off I'm hosting on my Facebook page until 6pm on Sunday September 21st [I've been getting excited about all the shelf space your orders have helped clear so far ... and want to see if I can create more room by offering up all the bargain gift ideas/craft packs for a few more days. I've even reduced a few sale prices even further!]. Do have a browse if you get chance. :-)

Monday, 15 September 2014

Card making: Relaxing with scraps and leftovers

Hi hi.

I've just launched my first ever pop-up market stall on my 'With Julie Kirk' Facebook page this morning. So if there's anyone on your list - and that includes yourself - who you think would like a new crafty kit, vintage apron, brooch, or maybe some vintage haberdashery - then do head over there to kick-start your Christmas shopping!  As for me ... well ...

... while I await the outcome of the sale and prepare myself to pack all the parcels like the good Christmas Elf I am  ... [although I bet Santa's helpers don't have to send out Paypal invoices and plot orders on a spread-sheet!] ... I thought I'd do something calming, like sharing a nice and relaxed card I made from scraps and leftovers: 
Because when it comes to please-don't-make-me-use-my-brain-I'd-rather-not-have-to-choose-any-supplies-or-think-too-hard-about-what-I'm-making style crafting then you simply can't working with the contents of your scrap bag! Which is what I did here.

The base is simply a few strips of patterned paper, including the inside of a security envelope [the red + white herringbone]from which I'd punched out a few circles at some point .. and then eventually used up the surround!

The simple colour scheme was inspired by the floral chipboard shape I used as a focal point, mounted on to a scalloped circle, and my embellishments, a few buttons and bows helped pull it all together
It's one of those easy breezy for-no-particular-reason cards that I simply keep in a box on my shelf ... just in case. And those are often my favourites. 'Bits' are best!
Maybe I'll see you over at the market stall today [or tomorrow, or Wednesday even!], but if not, I'll see you back here soon.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt 2014: A garden, a photobomb and an obliging relative

Hello, hello.

I can feel the seasons shifting; Summer's clinging on in there ... but Autumn's gradually prising her away one finger at a time. 

I've worn boots several times already, next week I have a meeting about the new term on campus and I'm hosting a pre-Christmas sale on my Facebook page and there's a mist outside as I speak ... we just need some 'mellow fruitfulness' ... and we've arrived.

All of which has spurred me on to complete the 2014 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt [hosted by Rinda] and I'm almost there ...

Here are 3 of the remaining 4 I need to cross off my list:

No.19: A Public Garden
I had intended to visit a grand stately home garden, maybe Newby Hall again, but it never quite happened. And so, while James and I were in Redcar last weekend - doing all the things you might expect tourists to do, rather than people who've been visiting that seaside town all their lives - after having a lunch of fish+chips and ice-cream by the sea, we strolled along the prom, prom, prom to the garden by the boating lake:
The mosaic in the foreground is a memorial to the late Mo Mowlam who was our local MP for many years.

Also in Redcar I unknowingly captured ...

No.10: A Photo Bomb
Earlier in the summer I had a 2-for-1 photo, where I captured the 'rack of postcards' along with a shop assistant who was looking right down my lens, which I counted as my photobomb.  But as I was looking at this photo I taken of a Frankenstein's Monster dangling from the side of the cinema-on-the-pier  [Naturally. What else would you expect to find at the seaside...?] ...
... I noticed that ^^^ there, in the bottom corner, a man on a mobility scooter had gracefully glided into my shot. So I'm considering this my 'official' photo bomb now.

And finally for today ... when I first saw the list I knew that, if all else failed me, I'd be able to grab this one at some point ...

No.8: A tattoo on a person:
This lovely example belongs to my brother-in-law who, in turn, belongs to my sister who negotiated this shot for me! On this particular day she had made sure he was wearing a short sleeved top so that I would have easy access to the photo I needed.  Because it's one thing to ask someone to share a part of their body with you ... and your blog readers ...

... but it's quite another to ask them to strip off in your parents' living room after Sunday lunch in order to reveal that said body part!


So that's my scavenger hunting almost over ... there's just one elusive item remaining: a sunrise. And I've got a few contingency plans in place in the likely event that I don't manage to capture a glorious, early, start to the day between now and the 23rd.

Next week might be a bit quiet here as I'll be working on my pop-up market stall on my Facebook page ... so do come and see me there if you fancy it.

Julie :-)

Thursday, 11 September 2014

My Facebook 'pop-up' Market Stall: the easy way to start your Christmas shopping!

Hello hello.

I'm trying something a little different next week on my 'With Julie Kirk' Facebook page and I hope you'll be able to set aside a little pocket of time [with a cuppa ... or maybe even an egg-nog ...] to join me:
So far I have collected together over 100 items for the sale ... with more to come!  Included in that is:
  •  a mix of all different packs I've sold in my Etsy shop over the years - eg. Blank Looks, Plundered Pages. Interesting Bits and many will be on offer at half-price or less!
There'll also be:
  • some lovely vintage aprons,
  • vintage-inspired collages and magnets
  • plus notebooks, ribbons and postage stamps.
Prices will start at £1 making them perfect for stocking fillers!

Here's how it'll work:
The sale begins on Monday morning [15th September 2014]... just as soon as I can upload all the photos of the items for sale and add all the details [which may take some time!].

[*My Etsy shop will remain open for sales of more recent / non-sale products].

You can browse at any point during the 3 day sale and while you're there you will be:
  • snapping up some vintage / vintage-inspired creative bargains
  • supporting a [very] small independent UK creative business ...
  • and really making a dent in that Christmas list! [Or stocking up on some new creative supplies for yourself .. whichever ... I won't judge!].
If you can make it; great, I'll see you there!

If you can't ... send a friend or loved one [instructing them on what you'd like!] or ...

... even just spread the word for me. [The images above are on my Facebook page too - 'With Julie Kirk' - so you could share them from there]. Thanks in advance!

So ... I'll best go back to my preparations and you can begin making a list .. and checking it twice ...

See you at the market!

Julie :-)

Friday, 5 September 2014

Mixed Media Collage: 'As in gleam'

Hello there.

Around this time last year someone, whose work has regularly appeared on my 'Top 5' type lists, contacted me, out of the blue, to commission a little something from me.
One year on I still can't quite find the words to explain how I felt when that email landed.

[Nope, nothing coherent is springing to mind even now. Try mingling excited with slightly dizzy then add a good dose of 'OK so who's tricking me?' paranoia; and you still won't be close.]

Rather embarrassingly, as I couldn't quite reconcile their request with ... well, with the kind of things that you expect to happen in 'real' life ... I did ask for assurance that I wasn't being tricked and that this was a genuine request. And I'm still cringing from that.

But hey, you know me, happy to have you laugh at me if it makes for a good story ...

So anyway ... once I'd decided that it wasn't a trick ... I got to work on the commission which was to create a collage based around a particular quote, from the novel Ingenious Pain by Andrew Miller:
It was a quote that I'd used on a journal page I blogged a while ago, which is where they'd seen it, and they wanted something similar. But rather than simply replicate that earlier page I really wanted to create something lighter, brighter, something more delicate ... something to  reflect the wording of the quote:

Which all led me to using lots of white on white layers, with hints of pearlised paint, combined with stars and tiny touches of neon and glitter:
Meanwhile the wording itself was created - in true Snipped Tales style - by my scouring the pages of my books-to-be-chopped-up collection and quite literally finding the right words to say [something which this entire situation has rendered me unable to do!]
Mixed media collage with a literary quote
Appropriately I can't even decide how to conclude this post ... I want to say lots of things; things like ...
  • how the collage now hangs on the person's office wall;
  • how rather than taking payment we did a swap of works [which is worth more than anything I would have charged!]
  • how I still occasionally say to James 'Remember when I made X a collage?' and then I laugh with sheer incredulity! 
  • how it's a lesson in putting yourself 'out there'; if I didn't have a blog ... this couldn't have happened.
And, finally, it taught me that while there are some events in life you can definitely plan for, things you can actively pursue to bring success and satisfaction into your life, things you can decide to work on to help achieve your goals ... the thing is ...

... some of the most glittering moments that will come your way will be those that you simply don't have the imagination to have ever even contemplated!  

And you realise that Life's a far more creative story-teller than you are ... and, my goodness, has it got plot twists down to a fine art! 

Julie :-)

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

It's a Sign: Maybe s/he's just big-boned

Hi again.

If you saw my August 2014 Month in Numbers post you'll have seen some photos of the livestock I encountered at the Egton country show. But, while the animals, local colour and scenery were all worth photographing ... me being me ... I was on the look out, as always, for something to make me laugh.

And I found it in the shape of this sign attached to one of the tents:
Everyone's a critic eh?  I don't know about you but I wouldn't want my body-type mentioned on my office door sign.

['Little squidgy-bellied blogger' would just feel harsh ...].

And, it's like my sister said: maybe they secretary is just big-boned?