Saturday, 27 February 2010

Calendar girls (& boys?)are you ready?

March is nearly here - it has come in such a rush. I have found time between other jobs to prepare my page and cut out my squares, I'll stick it all together tomorrow. I've gone for a spring theme here - I'm ever the optomist!

So if you want to have a go and haven't managed to do January and February, it doesn't matter - start now, make it a spring project. I have a pretty BIG birthday coming up soon, so March is a bit special for me - mad as a hare.
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Friday, 26 February 2010

Doodle stitching

Thought I'd share what I have been up to. First this is my piece of doodle stitching, as I call it. It is a lovely piece of real wool felt donated by my sister with a couple of fabric patches machine sewn on and then hand stitched with a bit of needle felt too. This is really just me experimenting and trying to remember stitches until my embroidery stitch book arrives - 1p from Amazon plus p&p. Second-hand, but stitches don't change do they?
This on the other hand is a little more ambitious, only acrylic felt I'm afraid, but you may recognise the shape from my photographs of the fan light in the walled garden. I cut out the black outline with a craft knife through tracing paper. Of course the felt stretched as I cut it as I knew it would, but the basic shape is there and I can pull it back into shape as I stitch on it. Not sure what I am going to do yet, but trolling through my scraps for suitable inserts into the panes - I'm not going to do many.
This is a longer term project, but I'm into stitching at the moment, and it is nice to have something to do on my lap. I'll report my progress, but don't hold your breath! Wishing you all a great weekend.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Inside the Fern House

On my latest visit to the walled garden I got to go inside the Fern House, the large conservatory built in the 1900s by Sir Julius Wernher.
It is a 'hard hat' area.
The inside is propped up and is in a very fragile condition. It is a wooden structure and in its present state would not be able to be re-glazed as the frame could not take the weight of the glass.
What a magnificent sight it must have been, filled with exotic fruits, flowers and ferns  with its central roof tall enough for small trees. From the central atrium lead two long arms each with further glass houses branching off. One of the volunteers told me that when he started clearing this three years ago it was a tunnel of brambles and they had to hack their way into it foot by foot.
At the end of the passage is this glazed alcove which would be enough to grace the back of most peoples' homes on its  own.
The central lantern window in the roof here is mostly intact.
I shall be sharing some more photos soon.
More information:

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

How to make felt

Just in case you thought wet felting was hard work ---

Monday, 22 February 2010

Busy Weekend

Hi there, I have just spent a long weekend with my sister playing. I took a car boot full of wool, sketchbooks and journals and my camera. The idea was for me to photograph what we were up to, but in the end we spent most of the time madly talking, I haven't seen her for five months. I did manage to take these shots of her new button collection when I first arrived but the camera got put away and forgotten after that. I am shattered from late nights and more driving than I am used and I am finding writing is taking twice as long as usual so I shall just enjoy catching up on all your news.
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Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Thank you

Thank you so much for your lovely comments on my 'Door' piece. Here is my second page based on the ironwork used in the flooring of the glasshouses at Luton Hoo.
Click on the picture for a real close--up view
This is a many layered montage based on my photographs and a few images downloaded from the internet related to the history of the estate. I started by transferring images of the ironwork from these photographs using the method I describe here. These are the photographs I used, once again just printed onto standard copy paper.


When I had finished covering the background I distressed it with acrylic ink and paint. I wanted to convey the idea of layers of history and had lots of images I downloaded from the web, but finally just selected a jewel from the Wernher collection and a portrait of Lady Alice plus some photographs of a racing car, WW1 home guard on parade in the park and some Land Girls. As these images may be copyright I have altered them and hopefully made them 'mine'. I was going to just lay them on top of the grid, but some how it wasn't what I wanted, so printed out a sheet of the lefthand photgraph and cut out all the holes with a craft knife leaving the leaf - I did the same with the circle pattern on the right hand picture and a couple of leaves. Placing the cut out grid on top gave me the look I wanted and I had to stick the 'photos' down carefully so some of the faces peeped through.

I then worked with more paint and ink and bits of cut-out grid to build up the composition. I finally added a border of bramble as it is growing everywhere.

I am pleased with this piece as it more of an 'art piece' rather than just an adapted photograph. It also has the 3D layered feel I was aiming for. I feel as if I am really finding my creative voice after many years of searching, and thank you for sharing this journey with me.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Enter here

Here is my first page in my Walled Garden Journal, it is based on a photograph (below) of one of the glasshouse doors. The distressed paint is a interior designers dream and the knotted rag used to pull the door closed has been there so long it looks part of the door. As this is a A3 book I had to print the photograph on two pieces of ordinary inkjet paper and glued it onto a page prepared with quite thick gesso and tinted ochre.  Before I printed the door I managed to straighten it in photoshop as I had to tilt the camera when taking the picture. 
I am pleased with the photograph, but there was very low light levels and I had not got my tripod with me on this occasion, I also had to stand in an awkward spot. 
In my journal I wanted to use the door as a metaphor for entering the garden - a rather obvious one, but I am not very strong on the poetic statement. I surrounded the door as if were closed and added some graffiti using words I associate with the garden. Here are a couple of details...

By the way that is a fruiting fig on the wall.

I would appreciate your comments. I want to use the photographs to make a strong statement about the place, I have another page ready to post  and just hope I can keep my enthusiasm up.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Happy Valentines Day

I know the way to a man's heart
 (and his arteries, so as low fat as poss!!).
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Friday, 12 February 2010

The Walled Garden Again

I love this place so much I want to show you all my photos, but I will just post a few at a time. I have two projects going in my walled garden journal which I will share later. But here a a few starters.
This gable end over a door in one of the glasshouses shows wonderful attention to detail which runs throughout the garden. I have blacked out the roof here to emphasise the shape which I am rather fond of photographing and which is beginning to reoccur in my pictures. Here are a couple of details.

I love the way the bramble has wound itself around the frame and between the glass and the polythene covering.
Looking up to where the glasshouse joins onto the outer wall of the garden the glass is broken and the polythene ripped giving a glimpse of blue sky and the ubiquitous brambles that grow everywhere, even on top of the wall.

Here is the top of the wall from the outside - you need to see this large to appreciate the silhouettes of the stems - well I love it. The wall is very high - 15 foot plus -I will check this. Here are a couple of pictures so you can get orientated with the site.
Here you can see the extent of the glasshouses, outside...
and inside.

More another time.
More info. here

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

stitched felt

I have been 'off-the-air' for a couple of days, but I have been busy, in the evenings I have managed to do a spot of needle-felting...
After I made the little ATC sized felt I wanted to work on a larger piece. Jane of janeville has been doing some wonderful free sewing which she calls 'slow cloth' and I have decided to stitch on this piece to my heart's content. I am trying to remember embroidery stitches from my school days. When I have had enough I think I can make a free-form purse with it. It will need lining as it is easy to poke a hole in the felt. 
I also managed to visit the Luton Hoo Walled Garden today with my camera - it was very cold so I spent a bit of time in the glasshouse, lots of inspiration. I shall post some photos on my flickr pages and share some with you soon. But here is one to be going on with.

Volunteers were working inside the conservatory clearing it, a lot of work has been done in the garden since I was there in October. It is good that the restoration is going well, but I love the stately decay.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

A 'Mary Lennox' moment

Mary Lennox is the heroine of this book. This is the copy my grandmother bought me in the early 60's because she had loved the story so.
Although it is so grey and dull in the garden this weekend, something has definitely changed. The air smells different and the birds are singing, tuning up. Our robin sings hidden in a holly and I can hear another singing back from a few gardens away. The dunnocks are chasing each other round and round the hedge so I can't decide if there are two or three or four of them. And of course poking up through the dead leaves and tangled stems are the crocuses and daffodils and narcissus. The Mary Lennox of the story is a spoilt little girl from an colonial family in India who has been orphaned and taken to live in chilly Yorkshire. Left to  her own devises she learns to skip in the gardens of the large house where she lives and discovers a locked walled garden which she secretly works in. Of course Mary's personality blooms with the garden and the book has a very happy ending. (Curiously I went on to marry a 'Colin', the name of the boy in the story - although my Colin calls himself Tod - but that is another story).The descriptions of the garden's return to life has never left me, and I know it is a favourite read of many of you.  As  I went into the garden to take the netting off the bowls of bulbs I planted up last autumn. (The netting stops the squirrels digging them up) Mary Lennox sprang into my mind. I thought I'd also get out the watercolours, and like the robin I have done a couple of tuning-up sketches.
These are called February Gold - I wonder if they will live up to their name.
I have little success growing snowdrops in my garden. I don't know why. It may be that I disturb the bulbs in the summer, and although I have tried planting them in out of the way places they seem to disappear after a couple of years.  I was given a potful a couple of years ago and took some successful photographs of one when I set up some lighting as part of my photography course. I have one little rather weedy flower this year where I planted this out. So fingers crossed it will be there next year!

I hope your weekend hasn't been too dull - just go and look for those bulbs!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Transferring images

First experiments in my 'Little Journal'
Some of you asked how I transferred the images onto my journal page, so I'll explain. I cannot remember where I read about it originally. On someones blog I expect. I have had success with ink-jet images printed  on ordinary copy paper, glossy magazines and newsprint pictures, but not with glossy photo quality paper.  I have tried directly onto heavyish cartridge paper (150 grams) and onto a surface prepared with gesso. They have both worked, but as the process leaves a smudged edge the gesso enabled me to wipe this off to a certain extent.  The results I got were a bit 'grungy' and paler than the originals. I'll explain ...
firstly you coat the face of the image you want to transfer with a fairly thick layer of medium/PVA. I have used Golden Gel soft matte and Marvin Medium which is good quality PVA, both have similar results, but the Marvin is a lot cheaper than Golden Gel. Whilst the glue is still wet you stick it face down in the position you want the image and smooth it out, making sure there are no air bubbles.  With a large piece of newsprint it may be better to glue the receiving surface instead, as newsprint goes very floppy when wet.     Now you must wait for the glue to dry - if you are impatient like me you only wait until it feels dry, although I did leave one image overnight it didn't seem to make much difference, as long as it is dry. Now comes the fun and messy bit. You wet the back of the image and start rubbing the paper off. It rolls up in little pills. It is quite tough on the fingers and I sure I have removed my fingerprints! My desk, lap and floor all end up covered with little grey paper globs.  Rubbing off the back takes a bit of practice - rub too hard and you get a hole in your picture, and not rubbing enough leaves a white film over the picture. In fact my images end up with this misty look.  If your image is dark it is very difficult to avoid smudging ink onto the backing paper, which is why the gesso is quite good, as it will wipe off to a certain extent

Here is my walled garden trial
Just realized I have spelled transferring with one r  throughout, I shall correct it, but not bother to re-scan. (I am a bit diplexic - as Mum where I taught called dyslexia)
The advantage to doing this process is that your images is much flatter than just sticking it in, and it gives it a worn, grungy look. However with a bit of fine glass-paper and gesso I think collaged images can achieve a similar effect, but is fun. I'll be interested to hear if you have had a go.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

New Project

Well not quite - it is something I started last year. You may remember the photographs I took at the Walled Garden in Luton Hoo. I have them blu-tacked to my study door and I keep thinking I must do something with them. Then one night whilst listening to the shipping forecast, trying to get to sleep - I had the idea of making a special Walled Garden Journal. So at the next opportunity I visited my nearest vendor of the wonderful Pink Pig books and bought an A3 size - still a bargain (can't remember the exact price). The A4 aren't large enough for a large print. Anyway I have experimented with transferring some images using PVA Marvin Medium and Golden matte Gel plus some or my usual paint and collage work and here is the result.
Fanlight, bricks and monogram are from my photos but I found the portraits of Lady Alice and Sir Julius Wernher on the web. It is their initials in the monogram and they restored the garden in the Edwardian period and had the amazing conservatory built. I now hope this inspires me to get back to the garden to take some more photographs and maybe do some sketching. You can see my photographs here.
 I can now see from the photograph that the monograph is not quite central or straight! How annoying. This was a transfer and stuck face down with a lot of glue - that's my excuse, but annoying all the same.
Latest pages here and here

Monday, 1 February 2010

Good bye January

Well here is the month of January all done and dusted. Looking back over the whole month like this is quite good as somehow it puts time in perspective - it seems to go so fast, but on the otherhand my parcel arriving from my sister seems like ages ago and yet I can see it was only a couple of weeks.
I have a few projects on the go but haven't had much time for posting and this afternoon I am weary and feel like a nap- not like me at all so this will be brief. I shall look at everyone's postings later.
Have a good week.