... until February all you calendar keepers. I was feeling rather pink and girlie (not like me) after my memento box project (see below) so my February pages have ended up a bit girlie too. I also wanted a bit of soft colour. These are very simple squares leaving me plenty of scope for doodling throughout the month.
It definitely looks a bit wishy-washy in this picture. I'll post January's completed pages next week.
Here is an empty chocolate box I've decorated for a friend's birthday...
Can you tell I photographed it upside down (not deliberately) and so I have rotated photo?
Unfortunately I did not get to eat the chocolates, but managed to rescue the box when I was in school last week. I work there one afternoon a week updating the school's web pages and occasionally doing a bit of display, or helping out in the office. I get to see all my colleagues and keep up with the goings on, although all the children I taught have left now. We always joked that if anything edible was left in the staffroom then it would be eaten by the end of the day, so by the time I got there - only this rather great box was left. It is the first time I have tried to apply my journal collage methods to a 3D object, but I am quite pleased with the results. I have popped a lavender bag inside to disguise the lingering smell of beautiful Thornton's chocolates which haunted me every time I took the lid off.
I was looking through some old photographs and wanted to share these with you. Although I was brought up in suburban Essex I always feel a country girl at heart and that is because for most of my childhood I spent many school holidays with my Norfolk grandparents.
This picture always shocks me - my grandfather is wearing his working clothes and what a life he led. He was a WW1 soldier and returned to Norfolk to work on the land and sea. He would be away for long stretches when my mother was young in Lowestoft working on the drifters fishing for herring, then he would work in the sugar beet factory. He used to work repairing the roads and at harvest whatever was required. Picking potatoes was another job and hoeing fields. I can remember him working on the the harvest and in his later years on the local estate feeding and caring for the young pheasants which were being reared by broody hens in coops in the wood. We used to take him his lunch which was often a lemonade bottle of cold sweet tea, a 'door step' of bread, and chunk of cheese and a raw Spanish onion. He used to pare bits off with his penknife to eat. My poor old Grandmother was crippled with arthritis but she loved to have us to stay.
Here she is with my baby sister and me in front of the 'shed' which was the coal store and and also had the boiler in it for doing the laundry, although I cannot remember it being used. 'Round the back' was the privy - quite a trek once it got dark! Outside the back door was the pump and water for the laundry would have to be pumped up and carried to the boiler. Luckily the Co-op mobile shop also did a laundry service so she did not have to slave over hand-washing bedclothes - what a life! Although my Grandmother died in her seventies my Grandfather lived on, on his own for many years.
Here is a photograph of my Mum giving him a hair cut in front of the same shed in 1980 when my grandfather was 90! He still had an excellent head of hair!
He still had the pump for his water and the privy was still 'round the back' although at this time he had a 'home help'. Every Sunday, his neighbour, a chicken farmer would send his two children round with a hot roast chicken dinner - and I can still hear my Granddad grumbling in his almost undecipherable Norfolk accent that a bit of beef would be nice for a change!! He finally had to succumb and moved into the local nursing home where he lived until he was 93. He had had more than one heart attack, and had bad stomach ulcers, but he was a strong man and as tough as his old boots -or 'high-lows' as he used to call them. I wish I had a gift for words to record the many wonderful memories I have of my grandparents' cottage which was a time capsule. I can see it so vividly, I am sure you have similar memories, I hope you've enjoyed mine.
Just to wish you all a great weekend free from creative frustration - I am going through it myself. I thought I would share this leather tag my little sister made me with a photo of us on the beach looking after a stranded guillemot (We now think) At the time we called it our penguin, but it did not surrvive as we found its body the next day. This was on one of those wonderful wild north Norfolk beaches where my father would fish from the shore and we would spend days and days on an almost empty beach with sand as far as the eye could see in both directions. I guess I must be about nine or ten. I have put the tag on a page from one of my journals in which I made a collage of some of the scrummy paper I got in a pack from a local store. I may write on it later, but the colours went well with the beach theme - although it was usually pretty nippy on that North Sea coast.
Horrid, dull morning, need all the lights on to see anything, finished yesterday's Sudoku and saw my needle felt sampler in the daylight, just - made it yesterday evening. A blast of steam will get rid of the needle holes and I may add a few beads - what shall I do with it then? Don't know, is it nice enough for a card? I need to get some different colour wools. The shop where I got this is in Knebworth, nearly a 40 mile round trip - I haven't found a supplier nearer yet so it may be the internet, but I do like to see my art supplies for real when I buy them the first time. I am meeting friends for lunch which will be good as I am in a trough this morning. I shall enjoy a 'grumpy old women' lunch. We are hoping the snow doesn't reach us - we are right on the edge of the forecasted area, so I am taking a gamble meeting my friends a few miles away. Hope you're all feeling a bit more positive - Sudoku is my last resort activity - haven't done one for ages, and have done two this week!!
I have bought myself a couple of bargain books on needle-felting, just to get me started, and decided I would have ago at some other projects before relaunching onto animals. So here are three ATC sized pieces I made yesterday, sewing the beads on this morning when there was a good light. They were very quick to do and a quick press with the steam iron seemed to help.
There are quick and not very sophisticated, but just what I need, bright and colourful.
The trouble was I found these cats on flickr, by gifted felt artist Helen Rogers. If you like these, then do browse her flickr site here for more views.
Thank you Helen for giving me permission to use your pictures
...not that I think he is a follower of my blog, but Dave is a friend of 30+ years and of my husband for even longer. He reaches a significant birthday today and so we thought he deserved a bit of effort. MrT compiled a couple of CDs with a selection tracks that were number ones on his birthday from the fifties to present and we managed to find enough photographs of him - some of them very fuzzy, taken over the years to make the CD covers. Dave is a serious collector - books art, music, anything stylish and iconographic so I though I would compile a six decade set of images and make a zig-zag collage. This took me rather a long time and almost became a chore instead of an act of love. I found the images on Google, down loaded them and then printed them, cut them out and then assembled the collage. I made card front and back covers and covered them with a psychedelic print I also found on good old Google images. I enjoyed the finishing off process and I am sure he will enjoy the the gift. We won't be seeing him for a while and have no idea what he is doing today, having a big celebration, or keeping his head down, but either way we hope it is a good one.
I sit at my computer, hot cup of tea, full belly, central heating on, deciding how to cook the chicken this evening, washing machine running, art 'stuff' all around. Cat, fat and sleeping, bird feeders topped up, TV with cricket from South Africa, a car in the drive, music on the hi fi and yet yesterday morning I was feeling fed-up and discontent. I have read the newspaper, heard the radio and watched the news - the plight of the Haitians is unimaginable, even for those not injured. Get things in perspective Jill I tell myself, none of my family are in peril, those who are frail have family and a health service to care for them, not perfect but more than adequate. Imagine having nothing, each one of those anonymous faces we see on the news has a story to tell of family, love, life and loss. Today at least, I will be thankful for my life and be content.
When I posted a before and after of Noddy and Big Ears here I promised I would share a few more shots of my 'top shelf'. Mr T has always been a collector of old packages and aided by his Mum we have quite a collection plus my china.
Unfortunately the shelf is rather high so I don't get up to dust the top very often!
so if you won't think any worse of me I'll share a few close-ups with cobwebs.
That's corns and constipation taken care of.
Most of these are concerned with cleaning or tea, plus the Oxo tin of course.
Hey, but what is that perched on the Black Magic tin?
It is a set of lino cutting tools - priced 1s. 4d. that is about 6p in today's money. I have just bought a set and had completely forgotten about these - I wonder if they will work.
First of all, thanks everyone for sharing in my 'cabin fever' as Grammy put it. Getting a few tasks finished has made me feel better, I shall be sharing my big(ger) project later after the recipient's birthday. But meanwhile here is something I have done with some of the pieces of fabric Jane sent me a few weeks ago. This is my first Art Journal, and I thought the cover needed personalizing. I made a card frame and covered it with the pretty green and yellow fabric and added a bit of decorative stitching. I used this to frame an old watercolour doodle with the title written on it placed beneath a piece of translucent green 'parchment'. I used gel medium to glue the butterfly to some paper which meant I could cut it out without fraying. I also added some glass beads before sticking it on. I may embellish it a bit more at a later date. Thanks Jane. I am also feeling better as after a high blood pressure reading by the practise nurse I had to see my GP for a check up, but all was normal - I am sure that just worrying that you have high blood pressure gives you high blood pressure!
I am feeling so totally creatively frustrated and knotted up I am not sure what to do - I probably need to slosh around some paint and glue and then toss the result in the bin. I have been trying some more needle felt animals, but after my initial pleasing first attempt I am frustrated as I cannot get the shapes I want - I also need to just throw the failures in the bottom of the cupboard and stop trying to put them right - the cost of the material is minimal, but I am finding a reluctance to let go of my failures and move on. I have been very busy on some other projects, but as these are gifts some how they have become a chore - I don't think I would be very good working on commission. Being cooped up by the weather isn't helping - I want to stretch - what do you do? It's not that I feel a creative 'block', just hemmed in.
By the way I had these two cuties on this journal page for ages, just waiting for the right word!
Lesley, on Printed Material has been talking about artist using and creating maps and this brought to mind Grayson Perry's etching, 'Map of Nowhere' (above). Here Perry has combined a medieval map of the world with a diagram of his body/life. It has many modern social and psychological references and it made me think of what many of us try to do in our journals albeit on a rather simpler level.(Clicking on the picture will reveal some details.) His Walthamstow Tapestry has a similar style, but is a woven textile. This maps the seven ages of man and although at first glance looks like a medieval piece, contains many references to modern life including many familiar brand names
Grayson Perry's first piece is reminiscent of the Hereford Mappa Mundi - a 13th century map of the world which combined the known world with mythical lands and beasts as well as spiritual guidance provided by Christian images.
and these in turn made me think about creating a Mappa Me-a but I haven't got very far in filling it in. Lesley's posts made me dig it out, so perhaps I will have some inspiration to finish it off. I was going through a rather introspective phase when I started it - I don't think it will be as revealing as the Perry piece!!
Here is my completed December calendar, I meant to post it earlier, but I definitely had some sort of bug over the weekend. I am feeling much better today, especially after a hair cut, nothing like it to lift the spirits. I know most people get this done before the holidays, but actually this was just what I needed today.
Everyone here seemed to be expecting heavy snow tonight so Mr T and I went to Sainsbury's as we had been unable to do our shop at the weekend due to me being bluuur and Mr T being a non-driver. The shelves were empty and everyone was chatting as if we were expecting a siege. It can snow now if it likes - the larder is full and I have enough projects to keep me going (for a month)- although fingers crossed with the old sky+ box which is playing up (again) Mr T is in the middle of watching the cricket (England v SA)
( 8pm - snowing hard now)
I had a wonderful New Year, and promised I would post some pictures today. I hope you all had an excellent time too. John and Trish had 16 guests for a true feast - sitting us all was their first triumph.
The meal started with Goran's Swedish fish soup - apparently he had a bit of a search to find saffron in Tesco's...
In between each course we sang a little Swedish snaps song...
most of us had no idea what we were singing which I think was probably a good thing! Skol!!
Next came a chicken curry provided by Viv and then Rustan's Swedish meatballs, brown sauce and cranberries (Linden berries left in fridge in Sweden) delicious...
most of us were too full up by now to try Trish's Caribbean sweet potatoes, so time to clear the tables
(That's Mr T in the specs)
But we had to find room for dessert...
After the meal and greeting the new year, it was necessary to stand up for a while!!
A big thanks to John and Trish and for any in the gang there are more photos on flickr, click on the link on the side bar.