Saturday, 27 November 2010

Make The Cut, and ARTHaven Ideas

A couple of days ago I was working in my ARTHaven and trying to cut some sentiments using SCAL 2 (Sure Cuts A Lot) – the software for cutting with Jiminy Cricut, my cutting machine. I was having no end of trouble, and noticed that SCAL was crashing with depressing regularity too. A while back, Penny Duncan, on our Creative Inspirations and Friendships group, was raving about a new cutting program she’d got, called Make The Cut – I thought, “Oh no! I simply CAN’T change to a new program now – I’ve hardly learnt how to use this one!”

However, experiencing so many problems, and bearing in mind what Penny had said about MTC being so much more user-friendly, and having many more features too, I decided to take the plunge, and purchased and downloaded it then and there!

As soon as I started using it, I realised how good it was. I hardly had to look at any instructions at all – it more or less does itself, and is so intuitive that you just “do” things without really having to think about it! I cut some flower shapes for the stationery box I’m making for my mum’s Christmas present and it was all so easy…

Now some plans for my ARTHaven:

Since moving stuff around in my ARTHaven, I have now made available a nice blank wall space above my work table, which was part of the plan for the revamp.

20 ARTHaven Revamped 2 22 Oct 10

I have been trying to decide how best to use this space. I want to have some shelves, but I also want to be able to keep things I use a lot within easy reach, and so I’ve decided to put up some pegboard panels. You can get lots of different hooks to fit into the holes, and as they are spaced an inch apart, it’s pretty well infinitely variable, and can be changed constantly to meet my needs, and to accommodate new tools etc. as I get them. This is going to be so much better than simply having fixed shelves. You can hang shelves on the board as long as you don’t put anything too heavy on them, and my small cardboard boxes will be great stored in this way.

I’ve spent quite a long time researching the different types of board, and found some quite fascinating blogs along the way – lovely enthusiastic chaps in their garages with their tool storage – and lots of videos they’ve done. I also went on a lot of shopfitting websites which was an education – I learnt for the first time what a slat wall was, and when we went shopping yesterday I saw one in Superdrug! It’s not quite as versatile as peg board with its regularly spaced holes, but has slats that you can hook things onto. It does look rather nice!

Slat Wall

I’ve more or less narrowed it down to a choice of two types now: a standard metal board with holes at 1 inch:

Metal Pegboard Panel

or a composite board made of plastic, with a mixture of ordinary holes and keyhole slots, which is much cheaper than the metal one, but I’m not sure yet whether the accessories I want will fit on it.

Composite Plastic Pegboard Panels

These days I’m dreaming about hooks! There are so many different ones, mostly for kitting out shops – you can get them with those little price tags hanging on the front! I’ve also found some rather good accessories, including these jars which are very clever – the lid remains attached to the board, and you unscrew the jar from beneath – really useful for keeping paper flowers etc. in.

Pegboard Jar

Then there are baskets

Pegboard Basket

bins:

Pegboard Bins

and this brilliant one, which you can either use to hold a roll of kitchen paper (I use this a LOT in my ARTHaven and it would be nice to have it easily accessible) or for rolls of tape, ribbons, etc. You could have several.

Paper Towel Holder

These are some of the hooks and tool holders that are available:

Pegboard Hooks

I’m going to cover an area as large as possible above the table, but want to leave some space clear to the right, where I can put up the Ikea rails I bought a while back – I have got some plastic tubs that hang on those, and also they are a marvellous way to store punches.

It will be really nice to have all my equipment in easy reach. Creating my ARTHaven has been a really fun project, and it’s a joy to work in – and any day now I am expecting the arrival of some PureLite bulbs (like Daylight bulbs but cheaper!) to improve the quality of the light so that I can see my colours more accurately. It’s all coming together!

As soon as I’ve got anything to show for it, I’ll post some photos.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Stylish Blog Award

Tammy, of OBX Cricut Crafting:

http://tammyjennings.blogspot.com/

and also a friend on the Creative Inspirations and Friendships group, has very kindly nominated me for the Stylish Blog Award!!! I am so thrilled that she has chosen my blog! Thank you so much Tammy. I am now following your blog, and look forward to exploring it further, and reading your future posts too.

According to the instructions on Tammy’s bog, what I have to do to qualify to receive the award is:

1). Thank and link back to the person who awarded me

2). Share 8 things about myself

3). Pay it forward to 8 bloggers that I have recently discovered

4). Contact those bloggers and tell them about their awards

(I copied and pasted the above rules from Tammy’s blog.)

1). Already done – see my first paragraph!

2). 8 things about myself:

1. I have been a Christian since 1984.

2. I have been married since 1986.

3. I have always been a creative person, and since discovering “serious” papercrafting this year, have learnt so much from my online friends and am enjoying it more than I can say.

4. I love ethnic things, and we have quite a collection of articles from other cultures and countries.

5. I enjoy digital photography and photo editing, and lots of other things on my computer, but especially contact with my online friends.

6. I am a cat lover.

7. I was trained as a secretary and have worked as a medical secretary, in legal offices, and have been self-employed. I am grateful for the keyboard skills I learnt during my training.

8. I have a disability as a result of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) and although this has a profound effect on my life, it is not what defines me as a person! (Hence my putting it last on the list!)

3). The 8 bloggers I would like to share this award with are:

1. Carolyn Saxby – an amazing mixed-media artist living in Cornwall, whose work expresses the subtle colours and moods of St. Ives, the Cornish coast, and her love of the natural forms that surround her. She uses many materials in the most imaginative ways and she never fails to inspire me!

2. Wheelchair Pride – I recently discovered this brilliant blog which celebrates wheelchairs! Wheelchair users are encouraged to “pimp their wheels” and celebrate their alternative method of getting around, and I was recently privileged to have my own piece published on this blog, with pictures of my own Rolls Royce complete with flowers! They also promote new technology to help people with disabilities, and especially the various exoskeleton systems now being developed, which will enable paraplegics to walk again. They also post about wheelchair users in the news, and all things quirky and unusual in the Wheelchair World! A great site for people with disabilities, and to educate the able-bodied about disability as well.

3. Gill of Gillyflower’s Expressions – I first came across Gill when I bought my Scor-Pal papercrafting scoring tool from her on Ebay – it’s been soooo useful!!! – and I subsequently started following her blog. She makes the most beautiful cards! Like me, she suffers from a chronic condition and knows how therapeutic it is to be creative.

4. Alicia of Mishaps Happen – Alicia is a friend on the Creative Inspirations and Friendships group, and is another one who makes absolutely beautiful cards! I love her honesty – she always tells us about her “mishaps” as well as her successes, but she always seems to turn the “mishaps” into “successes”!

5. Abbey of The Silver Lining in the Cloud of M.E. – Abbey is a truly remarkable young lady in her teens, who suffers from severe M.E. and who is only now just starting to go back to school part-time after years of being too ill to attend. She has a very strong Christian faith and turns all her suffering and problems into opportunities to praise God and increase her faith. She is an encouragement to us all!

6. Kerry’s Paper Crafts – Kerry is a prolific crafter who makes the most beautiful articles – not just cards, but little gifts which she sells at craft fairs. I love the stylishness and simplicity of her work, and she continually gives me inspiration!

7. Hels of Ink on My Fingers – Hels does beautiful work – very stylish and imaginative, and she is another one who continually inspires me with her creativity! I also love her sense of humour, and I always feel upbeat when I read her posts.

8. Linda of Friends in Art – Linda is my latest “friend in art” and I love her work – she is on Tim Holtz’s design team (just disbanded) and she does the most incredible work, using Tim’s materials – her work is stylish, imaginative and humorous and I look forward to being inspired by her a great deal as time goes on!

I do hope these eight bloggers will accept their Stylish Blogger Award – it’s my way of saying thank you for all the inspiration and fun you have all given me since I’ve encountered you. There are many more that I could have nominated – you are not forgotten, and I am grateful to you all. I have learnt so much since I started blogging, and I love the friendliness and generosity of all I have met in this wonderful community. Many thanks to you all!

I hope that anyone reading this post will take the trouble to pay a visit to these eight blogs if they have not already done so – go, and be inspired!

4). I’m now off to contact these eight bloggers to let them know of their award.

Thank you again, Tammy, for nominating me. I feel very honoured and privileged!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Artist: Yulia Brodskaya

Jan, of Scrap-Works:

http://scrapworkart.blogspot.com/

- one of the blogs I follow, has just posted about an amazing artist called Yulia Brodskaya, born in Russia but now living in the UK. I have just been exploring her website:

http://www.artyulia.com/

and I absolutely love what she’s doing. I agree with Jan that quilling isn’t something that has attracted me at all, but having seen what Yulia Brodskaya does with it, I think I’m about to change my mind about that! Here are some examples of her quilling which I particularly like:

5000 Dollars

Cadbury's Dairy Milk

Bye

Face in the Wind

Cut Away Plant Pot

Aren’t they absolutely stunning? I love her use of colour, and the use of white space too.

Her non-quilled graphic work is great too. She’s done quite a few pieces using a chequer-board pattern for texture which particularly appeals to me:

Vintage Car

Op Art Grid

I used to dabble in this sort of “op-art” when I was at school – must try some again!

Finally, here are some examples of her other illustration work:

Drawing

Fish Drawing

Feet

She is one talented artist with a real flare, and a very unusual approach. Definitely one to keep an eye out for! Hope you’ve enjoyed this little departure from the usual stuff on my blog – I may share some other artists with you as time goes on.

Thanks Jan for introducing me to her!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Feeling much better today!

Well, I think Lloyd's prayers are working - I felt much better today than I've felt for ages! Thank you Lloyd! After my usual very slow start getting going in the morning, I eventually made it into my ARTHaven and I've had quite a productive day! I am looking forward to taking some photos of my current project, which is a stationery box for my mum for Christmas.

I made good progress with it today. I made a little calendar to stick on the front part, using the calendar tool in my desk top publishing program - it took a while but I'm very pleased. I've made a little cover for it, and also a holder for postage stamps. For both I used Jiminy Cricut to draw the text with the Cri-Kits pens - you put a pen in a special holder and put that in instead of the cutting blade, and it draws instead of cutting - awesome! - and then put the blade back to cut the shapes.

After that I started decorating the cards I'd made to go in the box. The larger ones now have a pocket attached, into which a tag can be placed. I've cut the tags but they've yet to be decorated. Each one will have a different sentiment stamped on it, and my mum can choose which tag to insert into the pocket on the card. All the colours co-ordinate so she can mix and match. I've also got to decorate the small 3 x 3 inch cards, and put embellishments on the big ones, and then make envelopes for them all.

I also decorated a little pen to go in the box, and made a holder for it alongside the note pad. I bought a few mini-ballpoint pens off Ebay recently. They are very slim, and exactly the right length to go in this box. They are brushed steel in colour, so I have coloured one using alcohol inks in pink and green to tone with the box. It did rub off a bit, so I've painted the pen with gloss acrylic gel medium which I think should protect it a bit.

You remember on Monday that I said I'd found a new blog to explore, and that there would be more on this? It's the Wheelchair Pride blog, and I am highly delighted that a piece I wrote has been published on it - hop over and have a look at my pimped up wheelchair!

http://www.wheelchairpride.com/2010/11/shoshis-pimped-wheelchair.html

I also rather fancy this:

http://www.wheelchairpride.com/search?q=underglow

I love the idea of the disco light, but to have two!!! Looks cool, doesn't it!

While you're on there, do have a look at the exoskeletons. I think this is the most amazing piece of modern technology I've ever seen.

It's great that the link to my article on "Wheelchair Use and Attitudes" (see page 48 of the Invest in M.E. journal) is also on there, and a link back to my blog here - hopefully I'll get a nice lot of hits and some good comments!

I am so glad to be feeling a bit better today!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Wish I Felt Better!

This evening I've been looking at my blog, and I discovered that on some of the posts, the photos had disappeared! I'm not sure what happened... I may have moved some photos in Photobucket and the links were lost, but I thought when you did a blog, that the photos were actually embedded (there permanently) and not merely linked (i.e. will disappear if you move the source image). Anyway, I've replaced them.

I also re-did my very first post, which was my complete holiday journal of our holiday in Kent in the spring - I started my blog when we got back, and not knowing how to do anything different, I just put it on as one huge long post. I now know that you can put whatever date you want on the top of a post, so I've split it up into daily posts. Of course, this makes it look as if I started my blog in April, but actually I started it in mid-May. Sorting this out is something I've been wanting to do for a long time, so I'm pleased that I've got round to it at last.

Looking through my posts, I realise that I haven't been in my ARTHaven for far too long!!! I had that wretched flu and I'm still not over it - I'm still coughing, although not so much, thank goodness. I have also had all the extra stuff to deal with, with the new wheelchair assessment etc., and trying to catch up with all the things I would have done had I not gone down with flu - I'm very behind with quite a few things, quite apart from Art.
 
My energy levels are consistently pretty low at the moment, and I do realise I've got to rest up until I feel better. However, I've set myself quite a few projects to make for Christmas presents, and I can see myself coming nowhere near completing them all.
 
Throughout my illness it's been a gradual process of acceptance of how I am, and my limitations, but every now and then I feel as if I've stepped backwards in time and am at an earlier stage in this acceptance process - and have to deal with it all again, and relearn what I thought I'd already got under my belt. It's not serious, but looking at my blog this evening, I realise that I'm not where I should be, either physically or mentally in how I'm dealing with it. I am having to tell myself that getting frustrated, and feeling guilty for not doing things, and thinking I'm being lazy when I'm actually too ill to do things, is all totally counter-productive. I thought I'd learnt the lesson that striving actually does more harm than good!!
 
The main reason I'm feeling guilty and frustrated is that I still haven't done last month's accounts. There was a muddle over my credit card when I transferred from a monthly payment by cheque to direct debit, and it's all so complicated, transferring bits of money here, there and everywhere - work and personal stuff has to be separated, and I need to transfer money into my hubby's own personal account too - I can feel him champing at the bit wanting his money (of course he does!!!) but when I'm really poorly my brain just can't cope with it so it's being left day after day... I know I'll get to it eventually but it's in the back of my mind all the time which isn't helping. Once I get my head round it and get it sorted, I shall feel soooo much better!!! It's just one more extra pressure at the moment that I could do without.
 
I don't seem to have been in my ARTHaven for weeks and I'm missing it! That's what's really bugging me! I've got so many ideas and just want to put them into practice!
 
This isn't meant to be a moan. Nobody wants to listen to a moaning minnie! I'm fine really, so don't worry about me!! I'm just putting some thoughts down and recognising "where I'm at" just now. It will all sort itself out in the end, and meantime, I've just got to accept that I need a bit more rest than usual at the moment. I am so thankful for all the blessings in my life, and things could be a lot worse than they are!
 
Thanks for listening.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Butterfly Effect

I have just discovered this beautiful idea: (thank you Carolyn of http://carolynsaxby.blogspot.com/ whose blog I follow):

http://twodressesstudio.blogspot.com/2010/08/butterfly-effect-open-is-calling-you.html

It’s a project that has been launched by the Holocaust Museum in Houston, Texas, USA, to remember the 1.5 million children who were murdered in the Holocaust. The idea is to get people to make a butterfly and send it off, so that eventually they will have 1.5 million butterflies, one to commemorate each child who died. They have given us the whole of 2011 to do it, and apart from a few restrictions on size and materials, basically you can make a butterfly to any design you like, and you can make as many butterflies as you like, too.

I think this is such a lovely idea, and I’m keen to get involved. When I eventually find out how to do it, I’m going to put their blinkie on my blog, but in the meantime here’s their picture.

thebutterflyeffectjpgtwodressesstudio

If you are interested in being involved, click on the link above to get the full details. They’ve also got a gallery of all the lovely butterflies they’ve received so far – they are so beautiful!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Wheelchairs Again

Today my hubby drove me over to the Exeter Disability Centre (the wheelchair suppliers) again. I got my NHS wheelchair voucher paperwork in the post today, so I was now in a position to make a final decision on the chair and get it ordered.

Last time we went, I had more or less decided on the Kuschall one, but having had time to think about it, I decided I really did want the Quickie Helium, my original choice, and after lengthy discussion with these 2 gentlemen, and also with Mark at Wheelchair Services, this is what I am going for, and I think it is going to be a good choice. Both the EDC chaps and Mark have contacted the manufacturer (Sunrise Medical) and it appears that the frame strength issues have now been ironed out, and one or two other teething problems, and although it’s not as robust as many, with the sort of treatment it will receive from me as a part-time user, not pushing it to extreme limits, there’s no reason why it won’t be perfectly fine, despite the added weight of the power system. It's very cool and compact, and has the sort of optional extras that I wanted. Here’s the picture of it again:

Sunrise Quickie Helium

The two gentlemen completed the lengthy order form, after a lot of measuring and asking me what options I wanted etc. - you have the basic wheelchair frame of a specific measurement to suit you, and then you choose everything else from a range of options, e.g. there are several different wheel styles, front castors, sides, upholstery etc. etc. Some things don't cost extra but others cost considerably more – they were both quite embarrassed about it, acknowledging that most of it is a rip-off and they don't know how they justify charging what they do - but it is a small niche market and these chairs are not really mass-produced, although overall a lot are made - but they are not "off the peg." The voucher has just about covered the basic chair, but the extras I want, I have to pay for, and I also have to pay for the power add-on to be transferred from the old one. I think it's worth it, though, because the voucher is good for 5 years, and I am going to live with this, and I might as well get exactly what I want, and know that I am happy with it.

The hardest thing to decide on was the colour! In the end I reluctantly rejected purple (!) and have gone for black, because I will be adding my own decorations and it is a good “blank canvas to work on” – the white is really cool, but probably not terribly practical. As soon as I get it I will post some photos.

The only remaining thing now is for EDC to contact the power add-on people and confirm that what we are about to order is compatible (wheel camber angle etc.). When that's done (tomorrow) they will confirm with me that all is well, and then send off the order form. It will take several weeks, apparently, but they think I should have it by Christmas, although whether I'll have the power add-on done by then, I don't know.

So it’s all happening at last! I’m really looking forward to getting my new wheels!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Exoskeletons

OK, probably you think exoskeletons are just for insects and lobsters. Are you aware that they are also for people these days? I've been exploring a new blog (of which more details next week, so you'll have to endure the suspense until then!) which has highlighted these exoskeletons, and provided a link to the website:

http://www.exoskeleton-suit.com/

Basically, the exoskeleton is an incredibly sophisticated piece of technology consisting of parts that you strap to your body, with a power supply you carry with you, and computerised controls. This amazing breakthrough is allowing paraplegics to walk again for the very first time. This has to be one of the major medical advances of the modern age. For a person suffering a SCI (spinal cord injury), this event is the most devastating thing that can happen to them - in an instant their life is totally changed when they are told their injury is permanent and they will never, never walk again. Quite apart from the total readjustment of one's life as a wheelchair user, with all the problems of accessibility, getting around, maybe changing one's job, and enduring on a daily basis the negative attitudes of able bodied people to wheelchair users, there are numerous health problems associated with these injuries, such as pressure sores which are potentially life-threatening, brittle bones, muscle atrophy, etc. etc.

With an exoskeleton, the individual can stand upright unaided, and walk with a remarkably normal-looking gait. At present they have to use crutches with the device, but this opens up the world in a way that the wheelchair never can. Just to be able to stand and look people in the eye, at their level, is a bonus in itself.

It may sound like science fiction, but several companies are already producing prototypes, and it will not be long before these hit the market. They are, of course, incredibly expensive at this stage, and until they are in full production, they will be out of the reach of most people, but the price will come down eventually, and even if they still remain the most expensive option, they will be available.

Here is a video of just one of them:

 
 
Amazing, don't you think? Check out the website for full details and videos of the others featured there.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Wheelchair Assessment Continued, and Flu

Just a quick update - I had the Wheelchair Services man on the phone today to say that he's processing a voucher for me, and I can go ahead with the Kuschall wheelchair as long as I'm happy with the 90-degree front angle - he said it won't look as aesthetically pleasing with the foot rest turned round, but I said you won't see it with my feet on it anyway! - which he agreed with. When the voucher comes, we can book an appointment with the Exeter place and go and get measured up properly.

So the wheels are rolling! All very exciting.

However... I've now gone down with flu - or at least a very bad cold - I had an appalling night with nightmares and even more disrupted sleep than usual and I'm feeling simply terrible today. Nothing to do but ride the storm and hope I get over it quickly and it doesn't settle on my windpipe like it usually does. I seem to get this every autumn and I thought I was going to escape it this year... Not so, unfortunately. So I'm languishing on the recliner with a hot water bottle nursing a headache that nothing seems to touch, achey jaw, streaming nose, the works.