Sunday, July 12, 2015

Exploding Box Video

I love making these "exploding boxes" they are so cute and fun and also look fab as a decoration or shelf ornament afterwards... tutorial to follow as they are a bit fiddly- well it's measurements that need to be worked out properly... and as they say measure twice, cut once! This one was for a teacher which is perfect as there is so much space for the kids to write messages on! Enjoy the video!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Book Review- Shemlan by Alexander McNabb

When I'm not working or crafting... I love to read books and had been reading the latest installment from local author, Alexander McNabb... so here's my review of Shemlan! Being able to write a whole book demonstrates such creativity and imagination- it's definitely a craft!

Shemlan, being the third installment in, what I like to call, the “Lynch in Lebanon” series, promised to be a “deadly tragedy” according to the book’s cover and did not disappoint! I have weirdly only read the second book in the series “Beirut” and not the first book “Olives”, and I was too impatient to go backwards after the cliffhangers of the second in the series! I will be going back to the start now and waiting in hope for the 4th novel to appear.

I usually steer away from what I assume to be “blokey” books (i.e. anything political or spy-y… oh apart a bit of a flirtation with Clive Cussler’s “Dirk Pitt” novels) but after reading 10 pages of “Beirut” I was hooked by McNabb’s pace of writing, the inherent intrigue and fast moving, twisting, turning plot… so I guess I’ve discovered myself a new genre of books to read as well as a fabulous author I want to read more of.

Set in Lebanon, Syria, the UK and Estonia, McNabb takes us on a journey of nostalgia, double dealing, drug smuggling and political jiggery-pokery with direct links to the past- proving dirty laundry always rises to the top- no matter what steps you take to cover it up. I have actually been to Lebanon many times and McNabb’s attention to detail and accuracy is to be commended. I can actually imagine and remember the places he is writing about and I’ve been googling Estonia since reading the book, especially to find out about the amazing Ice Road.

There’s a long distance, blast from the past, love letters through the post love story to somewhat lighten the mix, which evokes “what if..?” moments in the reader too and leaves you wondering should you ever go backwards and what would the consequences actually be if you did?

Here’s the official blurb for you- I don’t want to give the plot away too much for the fans out there.

“After a lifetime of service around the Middle East, retired diplomat Jason Hartmoor is dying of cancer. He embarks on a last journey back to Lebanon where he studied Arabic as a young man at the Middle East Centre for Arab Studies, the infamous ‘British spy school’ in the village of Shemlan far up in the hills overlooking Beirut.

Jason wants to rediscover the love he lost when the civil war forced him to flee Lebanon. Instead his past catches up with him with such speed and violence, it threatens to kill him before the disease does. The only man who can keep him alive long enough to face that past is Gerald Lynch.”

It’s a sure-fire keep you up at night, just one more page, not watching the telly tonight book that you are going to devour.

I want to know what Lynch is up to right now… and not to hassle an author George R. R. Martin style- but Dear Mr. Alexander McNabb- when is the next book going to be out?

You can buy your copy of Shemlan online from Amazon here>>

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How To Make A Personalised Mini Album

I've been busy making a mini album for the sister in law of one of my colleagues and thought I'd share some tips on how to make the album feel really special and personal... this one brought tears out so I must have done something right!

If I'm doing a personalised album for someone I don't know, I will try and find out as much about their history and likes as possible and incorporate them into the design and embellishments I use. So if you're thinking of doing one here's some things to get the answers too...

1. Favourite colours
2. Style- do they like modern, vintage, goth etc?
3. Where were they born
4. Where do they live now
5. What's their favourite song
6. Do they have pets
7. What are their hobbies
8. Do they have a nick name and why?
9. Anything funny, cute about them?

Am sure you can add some more too- all of the answers above will give you more of an idea of the person and you can start planning your layout.

The one pictured below is the largest one I have made- it was 9 inches square with 10 inner pages and I had 36 photos to go in there- it took me 2 nights after work and a whole day of the weekend- so a big project!!

I started off with the base colour- the birthday girl's favourite colours were green and orange- so I pulled together all my vintage-y green papers that went really well together and decided to use orange as an accent colour. I then made the inner pages of the album to get ready for the next stage- the photos.

When you get the pics- if they are needed in order of time- make sure the person let's you know what order they should go in... this one started from childhood up to the present day so I didn't want to put a pic in the wrong time line. If it's a wedding or something it's a bit more easier to map out the flow of the day. Some albums can just be random too.

I started by resizing the photos- cropping them if need be as well to get the nicest end result and enhancing them if need be as well. Sometimes I will convert a lot of them to sepia and black and white- but this was going to be a colourful album so I stuck with colour.

I put the images onto a power point presentation- it's easier as I can then print 4-6 images on one sheet of A4 photo paper- and I can play around with the size etc on power point.

I then print the images out in grey scale and on normal paper- cut them out- and start to decide what is going where, see if anything needs to be made smaller or bigger.... this saves your precious ink and photo paper.

Once I've decided the plan I then print the pics on photo paper, cut them out and start to design and build each page.

I also make sure I've found things to make the album personal- whether it's from embellishments I already have or things I find on the internet- e.g. photo of their first school, map of their home town- or I will type up key phrases like words from a song and make trimmings from these too. I use stamps with letters to get their name incorporated throughout as well.

It's these little touches that make people feel really special!

Here's some pics of the 30 birthday album I just made and hope you have fun making yours- this one was hard work but I really enjoyed the end result- and most importantly so did the birthday girl!

The front- with touches of personality included

Wedding picture with lyrics of their wedding song- nice touch!
Photo mats and trimmings
The back cover with a birthday message and other memories
Hope you enjoyed this post and it's given you some ideas for your next mini album too!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Online Craft Stores

So..... there's something crafty you need and you just can't find it in Dubai- what are you going to do? Get online shopping of course! The slight issue is- not all online craft stores deliver to the UAE... don't worry I have a solution and some alternatives.

First off... there is a fabulous website based in the UK that does deliver to here... it's called Cuddly Buddly and they've been my saviour over the last year. They have a wide range of products and the prices are tons cheaper than here... which is great news! They cover everything including digital, papercrafting, hobby crafting and needlecrafts... so something for everyone. They also have a great blog with tips and tutorials which is great for some crafting inspiration.

The shipping on my orders usually works out at about 20 GBP... on an order of 60- 80 GBP... it all depends on the weight. This still works out cheaper than buying here and I get a wider range of products to choose from. They deliver through Royal Mail so you would be having your parcel sent to a PO Box address and NOT your physical location. The deliveries take about 2 weeks to get here and arrive in pizza size boxes... they are packing experts hahahaha!

I've had to contact them direct a couple of times about wanting to ship something a bit heavy and they have always been really helpful and quick. They sell all the main crafting brands like Ranger, Sizzix, Fimo, Tilda, Tim Holtz, Marianne Design and so much more. They have great sales a couple of times a year and are always getting new products in stock.

My score: 11/10 (sorry I just love them!)

Cuddly Buddly website>>
Cuddly Buddly Facebook>>

I've actually really struggled to find any others that will deliver direct to here- Crafter's Companion used to but then they stopped.

It really annoys me that we are living in a global marketplace and companies won't deliver to here. Surely they need to make money and with so many crafting supply companies going bust- you'd think they would want the business! We are prepared to pay for delivery as it still works out cheaper than shopping here. Sometimes I will contact a company directly to ask them to ship here but the answer is usually no... booooo!

So what's the solution? The answer is to get a PO Box delivery service like DHL's Borderlinx or Aramex's Shop & Ship. I personally use Bordelinx and have a PO Box address for the UK and for the US... so keeping my crafting options open!

It's still sometimes an issue shopping on some sites using a UAE credit or debit card but I seem to manage to muddle through.

What's great is you are effectively using a courier service so no trips to the post office- they will deliver to your physical location- be that office or home. I've found that shipping from the US is super quick- almost a next day service! UK takes 2 to 3 days. You can also compile orders before you ship- so if you have ordered from 3 places you can wait for them all to arrive at the depot and ship it all at the same time.

So, yes, this can be seen as a slightly expensive shipping option but still, the savings you are making in your purchasing abroad and the breadth of choice make up for that- plus you can do all your ordering from the comfort of your sofa :)

Find out more about Shop & Ship here >>

Here's more about Borderlinx>>

So far I have used Borderlinx to shop online with Hobbycraft in the UK... I love that shop sooooo much! They sell everything crafty and I always make my dad drive us to our nearest store in Preston when I'm home! They quite often have special offers and sales and get a lot of new products in as well.

The products arrived well packaged and in pristine condition- so I was very happy! It took about 3 days to get to Borderlinx then another 2 to 3 days to get delivered to me here- not bad considering :)

Check out their website

So that's all the info I have for now- let me know if you know of any more online craft stores that will deliver direct to the UAE and I'll add them to the list.

Happy Crafting :)

Craft Shops In Dubai

I quite often get asked where I get my materials from as they can be hard to find in Dubai so I thought I'd share the love and let you know where to shop here and also where to order online that delivers here in another post.

Some people say shhhhh don't share, people will copy- but really- we all have our own creative eye and will not end up making the same thing. I have taken inspiration from things I see on the internet but they never end up an exact copy.

I want to help fellow crafters be able to find what they need in Dubai to get their creative juices flowing. So here goes...
Creative Hands Dubai

This is my all time favourite shop dedicated to scrapbooking, card making and all things paper. I go here at least once a month otherwise I get withdrawal symptoms. The staff are great- so helpful and knowledgeable and passionate about what they are selling. They will quite often call me to tell me when they have got new stock in that they know I will like.

They stock my faves- 7 Gypsies, Tattered Angels, Graphic 45, Tim Holtz, Martha Stewart, We R Memory Keepers, Smash Book, Project Life and more.

They also do lessons in their craft space on different techniques for adults and kids. They have great prices and if I go crazy I quite often get a small discount- which I really appreciate. I know they value my custom. It's like the mothership for paper crafters!

My score: 10/10 they can do no wrong!

Here's a link to their website
You can also find them on Facebook>>

Location: Their shop is in The Green Community and there's a map on their website- note they are not open on Fridays.

Paperlane Dubai

Paperlane, again, is a really amazing shop for paper crafters- as the name would suggest. It's also a really beautiful store- very bright and well laid out and they also have their own craft space for lessons. I do find them a little bit more expensive- but I guess that's because they have to pay Jumeirah rent prices.

They used to do a loyalty card but have now stopped- so unfortunately I'm only going there now if I can't get what I want online or in Creative Hands. That little bit of discount did make a big difference to me and I've bonded more with the staff in Creative Hands too-here I find them that little bit less knowledgeable of the products and the industry.

But, hey, that's just my opinion- it is a really great shop with tons of product to choose from- with great ranges of stamps, inks and tons of paper packs or single sheets to choose from. especially great if you live in the neighbourhood too.

My score: 8/10 lovely shop but bring back the loyalty care

Here's a link to their website
You can find them on Facebook too>>

Location: They are based in Town Centre Mall, Jumeirah... the one next to Mercato

Creative Minds Dubai

Creative Minds is a very mixed bag of a shop- it sells craft supplies as well as fancy dress costumes, educational supplies, teacher supplies, toys and party supplies... sounds exciting huh! From the craft side they cover a very wide range of crafts from modelling to painting to silk screen printing and everything in between. As a scrap booker their specific scrapping collection is smaller than the two shops above but that is because they are more specialised.

So for general craft supplies Creative Minds is very strong. I usually go here to my non- scrapping specialist supplies like glue, paint, cardboard, plain paper, canvases, note books etc.

Creative Minds really comes into its own for Hallowe'en too- they have a great selection of costumes and decorations at great prices. I generally find all their prices OK except for the specific scrapbooking stuff- seems to be a little bit higher than the other places I go to.

The staff are fairly knowledgeable but not as strong in product knowledge as others and have a tendency to say no... when they do have what you are looking for... bit of a language barrier sometimes.

My score: 4/10 for specific scrap booking supplies but 8/10 for general craft supplies

Here's a link to their website
Here's their Facebook page too>>

Location: They have 2 stores- one on Umm Sequiem Road- just further down than Mall of the Emirates and one in Jumeirah in the Beach Centre. Their largest store is the Umm Sequiem Road one just fyi.

Creative Middle East

Well this is a new shop and is dedicated to all things decoupage- which I love! I haven't had chance to pop down there yet but wanted to list them as they are super specialised and not many people know about them yet.

They sell the materials you need for decoupage- blanks, glue, varnishes, paints, a wide variety of really lovely papers etc. as well as finished items.

Will update when I've been for a visit!

Here's a link to their website
They are really active on Facebook too>>

Location: You can find them in Times Square on Sheikh Zayed Road

Daiso UAE

Daiso is an odd one for here but it is such a random store that you never know what you are going to find in it. It's the Dubai/ Japanese equivalent of a pound shop. I've found it really good for unusual and low cost embellishments like tiny pegs, small gems, paper umbrellas etc. They get new things in all the time- so if you see it buy it!

It's also a great place to buy things to display your wares on at a craft market and for low cost packaging and gift wrapping. So worth a visit if you're passing- you never know what you might find!

My score: 10/10 for sheer randomness of products! 1/10 for specialisation- just don't go with anything in mind and see what you find!

Here's a link to their website

Location: you can find them in Lamcy Plaza, Arabian Centre Mirdiff, Oasis Centre, Reef Mall, Al Fahidi Street, Mirdiff City Centre, Al Barsha Mall and Ibn Battuta Mall

Notable Crafty Shopping Mentions 

If you are into fabric crafts like sewing, quilting, knitting and crochet you need to get yourself to Craftland they are in the same mall as Paperlane actually- handy! Daiso sometimes has cheap knitting supplies if you're just messing around.

Small independent book stores- there's tons of book and stationary stores all around Dubai- pop in- you never know what you mind find and they do tend to be cheaper.

Spinneys stationary department in their supermarkets also tend to have some surprises... I can get the artists notepads I use 3 times cheaper in there! I always tend to have a quick nose when I'm there.

Paperchase also has some cute things that can be incorporated into your paper crafting too. You can find them in Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall and more locations through out Dubai. Here's a link to all their locations>>

Dragonmart can be a wonderland of bizarre things most of the time! they are really good for jewellery supplies... which I use as embellishments on my scrapbooks. Definitely worth a visit every now and again just to see what you can see- you may have to use your imagination but that's half the fun! Here's a link to their website

Well I do hope you found that useful and helpful... it's taken me ages to find some of the secret places so I'm happy to save you time and to share! If you know of anymore please add them to the comments below :)

Happy Crafting!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Crafty Update

 So... what have I been doing? I hear you cry... I've been mega busy so sorry for the blogsilence! I'm back now!

I've been busy making so many albums this year- I've now got a physical location to sell my products as well as the markets I attend and my online store... so it's been hectic making sure I have enough stock for all 3! I managed it though.

My wares are in a beautiful gift shop called Artistique Boutique- it's an amazing shop in The Green Community... packed full of local and internationally made gifts... every time I go and drop my stock off I end up spending loads of money. They've got great home decorations at really affordable prices and they're also a bit quirky- you won't see them anywhere else in Dubai. They also do craft and jewellery lessons... perfect!

I'm using the summer here in Dubai to build up my collection for the winter months- it's too hot to do any markets at the moment- so I'm planning ahead. You can read the article I wrote for on how to survive a craft market here>> It's full of tips and ideas making sure you're well prepared for what to expect.

I've been busy stocking up my Little Majlis store as well as doing an interview with them as their featured crafter for August- oooh the fame!

I've also been trying out some new crafts- I went on an amazing book binding course learning the technique of this ancient art, it's really helped my scrapbooking techniques too, I also have been learning how to make painted wooden signs with sayings on. I know they are getting a bit cliched now but I still really like them and was happy to make my first one yesterday... let's see if they sell!

Other than that I've been crafting away- have had a lot of special orders as well which has been great fun!

So bye for now and will be back soon :)

Interview on Little Majlis

I was wowed when the gals at Little Majlis wanted to interview me as the featured crafter on their blog for August! What little old me? Anyway the interview was great and here's a sneak preview of it!

August 01, 2014
Meet Gail...

Meet Gail...
Do you feel that there is a crafty creative person inside of you just itching to get out and get busy? Gail, the talent behind Little Majlis boutique 'Scrappy Doo Fripperies' is that person that did something about it, and now she is bringing us gorgeous handmade paper crafts that will inspire you... either to get making or to get buying, but either way it has to be good for you!

So we would like to introduce you to Gail - who was a trooper in our virtual chat, and her enthusiasm has worn off on us, so beware (from experience!) you'll be down at your local craft shop, or frantically writing notes in your ideas book, before you have time to hit the 'Love' button at the bottom of this post...

What sort of products do you market?
I’m a paper lady! I love papercrafting! I make scrap book memory and photo albums, paper bag albums, exploding box albums, altered Moleskine notebooks, as well as decoupaged birdhouses and anything else paper-y!