Wednesday, 30 June 2010

A new month

Where did June go?
 It is hard to ignore the passage of time when you are filling these in, but I started last July and I must say I enjoy looking back at what I wrote.
Here is July 2010.
I hope you like my new Blog layout. This way I can post larger photographs, it was quite easy with the new design tab.
Here is something I have been thinking about for some time. I did a page in my journal last year devoted to swifts, but I wasn't quite happy with it so I thought I would have another go. Some of the dyed paper I made earlier in the week was just the background I was looking for. It is not a great piece of art, more a poster, but it expresses how I feel about swifts, they speak for themselves.
I learned some new facts about Swifts from this BTO page.

  • In spells of bad weather Swifts can foray for food hundreds of miles away from their nesting sites so those on the south coast could be feeding in northern central France.

  • Their eggs can survive long periods of chilling while the parent birds are away.

  • Young birds can also survive chilling to the point of torpor, reviving quickly when the parents return with food.

  • The young can survive up to three weeks without food whereas adults swifts become weak after starving for two or three days and usually die after four days without food.

  • Swifts are related to humming birds.

Swift lino print

I already knew;

  • Swifts sleep and mate on the wing.

  • When they leave the nest they have one chance to fly as they cannot take off from the ground and will then be airborne for three or four years until they raise their own family.
I find the life of these birds which grace us with their presence every year truly wonderful, and if I were to have to choose an animal existence it would have to be a Swift for me

Sunday, 27 June 2010

For moth lovers...

You know who you are...
Yesterday afternoon as we were getting ready to go out I took a walk round the garden and  to see what bumblebees I could see when I spotted what a I thought was a dead leaf caught up in the valerian and knautia. A quick scramble for the camera and the moth book quickly identified a pair of eyed hawk moths. They were huge and perfectly still. They will flash their pink 'eye' on the lower wing if disturbed but this pair were unmoved. I didn't want to hustle them too much. Here are a couple more pictures.

They're dedicated to Lesley of PRINTED MATERIAL, a lover of moths and all things beautiful.
The wings are amazing and although I have seen these moths before, I haven't had such a  good view. I love the way they look like a dried and twisted leaf or flaking bark, it is hard to believe your eyes and that their wings are smooth and flat. I definitely feel a bit of art coming on. 

As you can tell my mood has lifted, thanks for your kind words. I spent the afternoon mixing up lots of Brusho powder colours and then layering paper in different colours. I then laid it out on the lawn to dry. It was even too hot to sit in the shade out-side. (Well, for me it was)
 Could there be some moth wings in there?

I shall be busy for a couple of days so time to mull over a few ideas and the end of the month is drawing closer, so another journal page is also calling. I will leave you with this photograph, which my dearly beloved was not amused by, but I was...

(watching England beat the Aussies at cricket)

Thursday, 24 June 2010

What do you think?

Last Saturday I posted this picture which was a manipulated picture I took of the sea.  I felt it would be a good stimulous for a piece of embroidery, so I had a go and came up with this.

It is worked on a piece of A5 sized pelmet vilene which I coloured first with some transfer dye. I then loosely appliqued on some fabric and yarns and then went mad with the free  sewing-machine embroidery which was great fun. I then added some hand stitching with metalic thread and beads to add some sparkle. I was pretty pleased with the effect.

click image for a close-up
What next?
Despite having some success recently I am feeling in a strange mood.  I feel I am not quite enjoying my creativity at the moment. I have quite a few projects on the go and I am managing to do something most days, but I feel like a headless chicken. I have lost my sense of humour and have been very grumpy with Mr T. He is due in hospital next month for surgery. Nothing very serious, but we are both feeling a bit anxious as he has a very fat file at the hospital!   Perhaps I should allow myself a few days of not doing any arty stuff.
I know you lovely people will say 'there, Jill it is all right' and that is what I need right now. I value my 'bloggy' friends highly, so bear with me through the grumps,

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


This morning a lovely 'Jiffy Bag' arrived with my name on it - don't you love it when a package arrives in the post? Yesterday the braiding foot I ordered for my sewing machine arrived and today a larger, more exciting envelope. I knew what it was as Amelia from 101 Bird Tales had e mailed me to tell me my name had been drawn in her give-away. Amelia is one of those inspiring women who lives a full life as a practising artist, caring for her children, and teaching and enabling others to explore their artistic talents. Although my name was drawn randomly, you cannot help but feel a bit special when it is your name that come up, so this is what is in the pack.
It was another glorious morning, so I took it outside to photograph.
Tucked it there is a card from Roger la Borde. I thought I recognized the style from Amelia's post and was delighted to find that it was Rob Ryan  whose blog I follow. I love his paper cut-outs. I missed photographing that separately.

There was some lovely paper scraps and a card or two of Amelia's and an old wooden letterpress - G for Guerilla. I love this as my father was a printer and when I saw him last week we were talking about his time as a printer's apprentice, before WW2, and how much of the terminology has crept into modern use. ( I don't think they were still using wooden letterpresses then, Dad!!) 

Then there was  one of Amelia's calico bags embroidered with the work 'artist', and a hand-made Guerilla Stitch Kit,

Now I have the challenge of stitching a few words onto the pieces of calico and to liberate them around the town. Although I shall be sorry to take the bits from this book, that is what Amelia designed it for, so I shall try my best to fulfil its destiny.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

On the beach

Here are some photographs I took on the beach. I have enhanced them in Photoshop Elements.
This is the original picture I took of the sea. I was struck by the layers of colour caused by the shallow water over areas of sand and seaweed.

By adjusting the levels of light and contrast I have brought out the different colours. The range of hues is wonderful. Click on the picture for a close-up.

Here I added a 'motion blur' layer, but adjusted its opacity so some of the sparkle shows through.

The next couple are of seaweed.

All sorts of creative ideas are going through my head when I look at these.

Peacock update - (see previous post)
Seen in local Post Office window a notice reading;

So we guess he has gone home, but we are not sorry that he is not living next door!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

A fix of sea air

I am back from an all too short trip to the Isle of Wight - just 48 hours, but enough to give me a fix of sea and sun as well as a good 'show and tell' session with my sister and quality time with my father. But Tuesday morning before I went I was woken at 5.30 by a horrendous noise which sounded like someone blowing a vuvusela answered by a kazoo. As I lay in bed waiting for the next blast I was transported to Whipsnade  Zoo - peacocks - that's what it sounded like. So at six o'clock I was out in the garden in jimjams plus camera peering over garden fences, and at last  I caught sight of the culprit.
I wonder if he is still about. Mr T reckons he heard him Wednesday morning. Goodness knows where he has come from. I'll keep you informed.

But here are a few sea views.

The hour long crossing from Southampton to Cowes does at least give you a sense of going on a real journey, with a bit of a sea voyage. The weather was perfect if a little blustery.

I give dad a call from the ferry when I can get a good view of his home - that is his retirement home in the centre of the picture, he has a view of the sea from his flat, we give each other a metaphorical wave.

Yesterday morning we drove to Bembridge for a short walk along the shore before I took Dad to The Crab and Lobster for an early father's day lunch. It is well known for it's fresh sea food - it was a crab baguette for me and  lemon sole for dad. Best eaten outside with a warm sea breeze for seasoning
That's him under the sunshade. It is a wonder spot with a view over the sea - and look at that blue sky!
I dropped dad back home for his afternoon snooze and drove up the road to Gurnard to meet my sister.

Beach huts at Gurnard
Although it is a bit of a slog to get there - and not cheap with ferry crossing prices, what a brilliant place to have to go and visit - and at least the accommodation is free!
Lots more photos to follow.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Bin doin' a bit of stitchin'

When I was in town I popped into Waterstones and came across this book by Jenny Rolfe and as it had quite a few machine embroidery techniques I just had to buy it. Using some of her ideas and some of my fabric scraps I made these two purses. I wanted a small purse I could just fit in my pocket with a few coins in when I pop down to the local shop, so necessity drove my creativity.
They are 'crazy patchwork' scraps bonded onto felt and then machine stitched. I discovered varigated quilting thread so I had to play with that too.

I lined them and they have a pocket for a credit card - or bus pass!

They fasten with a button and cord. I had such fun making them I think I shall make another pair. (I can get two out of one piece of felt. Even Mr T was impressed (Practical, you see) but he felt they were not for him.
Marvin was being photographers assistant, but I did manage to persuade him to pose - reluctantly!
Hope you are enjoying your weekend,

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Something different - again!!

Marvin mini-quilt

I thought I'd try something different - a bit inspired by Cathy's embroidery on Menopausal Musings, I thought I'd satin stitch a Marvin. He has taken a good couple of weeks doing a bit most evenings. I then sewed him with a thin layer of wadding onto a postcard size piece of heavy-weight vilene practising my free stitching on the sewing machine. Outlining him was easier than I thought and made him stand out. I embelllished him with a bit of lace and some mini heart buttons and voila Marvin in his favourite spot - on the duvet. I have failed to embroider the muddy footprints. I popped him in the scanner so it is not a very good rendering.
Mr T looks at me as if I am mad - he can relate to my more practical projects.  I'm into a bit of machine stitching at the moment - so watch this space!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

A tribute to my chiropractor

I had lunch with some old friends today, something I always look forward to, but today one of my friends had some devastating news, Graham Heale who has been my chiropractor for well over 20 years died in a road accident last Thursday whilst out on his motorbike.  Graham has seen me through much pain and kept me going over the years and he also regularly treated my husband. He is well known locally and I know many people who have called on him for treatment. As well as being well know locally he was a top practitioner and a specialist in his field.  His more well known patients included the late Princess Diana and it was always a bit of a kick to think his healing hands had run down her back as well as mine. Over the years that I have been going to his clinic he always had a smile and joke and was often humming a pop song as you entered the treatment room. I trusted him totally and as he cracked the joints in my neck and back on numerous occasions, he always joked that he was a bit 'rough'. Chiropractic has not cured my back problems, but treatment has alleviated the symptoms. I cannot imagine how his colleagues must be feeling as it was a close knit group of people working at the clinic, many being there for years. My heart also goes out to his family. Graham enjoyed biking, he owned and restored  vintage bikes. He had photographs on his wall, which I must say I took little notice of.  He was also the captain of Bedford Fencing club. 
I really cannot believe he won't be there next time I go for treatment, so long Graham, rest in peace
Graham Heale
Dr Graham Heale 

Monday, 7 June 2010

Bumblebee spotting and photography

Just a few photographs to share with you my progress in recognising different bumblebees. There are lots about at the moment.
This is a buff-tailed bumblebee queen I photographed in March. She has golden yellow stripes and a buff tail.

This is a tree bumblebee worker with full pollen baskets on a raspberry flower. This is a relatively new species to this country. It colonized the south of England in 2001 and is working its way north.

click on the photographs for a larger view
Tree bumblebees have a gingery brown thorax and a black abdomen with a white tail. There are lots of these in my garden.

Here is a mystery bee. The only all black bumblebees are rather rare so I think this is probably a tree bumblebee. I have e-mailed this picture to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust as they will identify them for you.

It was very dull when I took the last two, so I used the in-camera flash. The shutter speed was too slow to catch really sharp shots and the little bees won't keep still!!

As you can probably tell my love of art is only matched by my love of the natural world,  photography is a great way to bring both together.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Fly away with me

When you were  a child did you lay in the grass and imagine you were as small as an ant walking through a jungle? Well I guess we all did, which is why it is such a popular idea for stories and films, but when you were young, you felt as if you were the first to have that feeling. I really wanted to believe in fairies too. I just knew where they lived in the nooks in old tree roots and ivy clad walls. It was the sort of thing you kept to yourself if you didn't want to be laughed at, but my friend and I knew where to leave them gifts of flower petals and little bits of bread and cheese.  I would love to think of children today having such innocent and imaginary play, and I am sure some do. I re-lived some of those moments today. It was so beautifully warm and sunny so I popped the macro lens on the camera and got down on the grass. I guess my neighbours have seen it all before, the far from slim lady with the camera, laying on her belly on the grass, and then having trouble getting up again.

 But how small do you have to be for the daisies to tower over your head?

Or look a speedwell in the eye?

There are aliens too...

or you could catch a ride 

and fly off into the blue...

...and thank you to you all who commented so kindly on my previous post, allowing me to let my imagination fly away with me today, with no fear that anyone was going to laugh, unless it was with pleasure.