Sunday, 24 April 2011

No eggs here

Firstly, happy Easter!
 Quite a lot of you are very 'quiet' at the moment, I hope it is because you are enjoying the holiday and sharing the glorious, if somewhat disquietening, weather we have been having, I haved to keep reminding myself it is still April, even though the garden seems to think it is the middle of May.  Today has been much fresher, but still warm enough to sit outside in short sleeves.

I have been busy this week, but don't have any photographs to show for it. However last week I did experiment more with different materials and the heat tool, (with plenty of fresh air) so I shall share these with you.

Each piece is postcard size and I was influenced by the layers of leaf debris found on woodland floors.

 This first piece is layers of felt, bond-a-web, mixed fibres (including grasses) and painted Lutrador blasted with the heat tool which melted it together, and then machine and hand stitched.

Wasn't sure about the hand stitches, so I stopped.

This second one is similar, but I included some sweet wrappers and angelina fibres. I also painted strips of bond-a-web. There is more colour showing through the layers.

I machine stitched round all the holes created when I heat blasted it and then added some hand stitched herringbone.

I like this one better.

This final one was built up on a piece of cotton velvet. I cut pieces of painted bond-a-web, felt, organza and painted Lutrador. I then added transfer foil when the bond-a-web was warm and tacky

I machined stiched the layers before heat blasting them so the effect was less dramatic.

This one looked very landscape-like and so I added some hand stitched grass.

Hopefully I shall have some more to share with you later in the week.
I am beginning to get ready for the open studio event in June -  more about that at a later date!
Have a good week.

Sunday, 17 April 2011


Yesterday was Postman's Knock arrival day and the postman did knock, at about 9.30 while I was writing a few blog comments.  He had this package for me.

I patiently photographed it before opening and carefully cut the paper not ripping it off, which I usually do. Inside was my second window postcard, this time from Jane
It was 3D and depicted a beautifully draped window - very realistic, with clear cellophane panes looking out at a beautiful garden.  There is no way I can photograph the view without dismantling it, so I am the only one privileged to fully appreciate the work that has gone into this lovely card.

 Clicking on the pictures should give you a close-up view.
It is lovely.

My contribution this time was to the theme "Yee Ha! Ride'em Cowboy" which got me rummaging in the back of the cupboard for the bag of memorabilia I had kept after my epic USA trip in 1977, in which I travelled round the US on the Greyhound buses.  My old bus pass, timetable and a map centred on Colorado formed the main body of the postcard and an old book about cowboys belonging to Mr T provided the buckaroos. As the US is such a large place I wanted to convey this, so made a folding card to get as much map as possible.

I then distressed it as I wanted it to look as if it had been stuffed into a traveller's pocket for a few thousand miles!

The fact that I had kept my bag of memories intrigued a few comment writers on Postman's Knock so here are a few more details.  In 1976 after being in a long relationship and encouraged by an adventurous flatmate I advertised in Time Out magazine for a companion to spend 4 weeks the following summer touring the USA. It was something I really wanted to do with my new freedom, but none of my friends wanted to join me, I certainly didn't want to go it alone, so advertising was the only alternative.  After meeting several prospective travelling companions - male and female (But that's another story) I finally linked up with Cathy, another teacher from London.  I had relatives on Long Island, friends in Santa Cruz, Cal, and my flat mate had met a couple of lads from LA whilst she was camping in France.  We put them up while they toured the UK and I was invited to stay with them.  Cathy and I flew to NY and after a free night (due to a special deal with Thomas Cook) at the Statler Hilton (Telephone Number: PEnnsylvania 6-5000), now renamed Pennsylvania Hilton, we visited Dad's cousin on Long Island. From there we started our 8,000 mile round trip of the states.  I kept a diary as we spent many hours on the buses and the long straight roads made it possible to write while on the move - not usually possible on buses here. (Why didn't I keep a sketch book too? I ask myslef now)

Using the bus timetables it was easy to log our mileage as we went from NY to New Orleans - via Washington DC and Chattanooga (bit of a Genn Miller theme emerged here). Then to Houston - popping over the border to Mexico at Al Paso; then the Grand Canyon; a memorable night in Las Vegas;  Los Angeles and a stay with the lads we'd met; Santa Cruz; San Fransisco; Salt Lake City; Denver and a day trip into the Rockies; Chicago; Niagara and a quick pop into Canada for an hour or so; Boston and then back to NY - are you exhausted?  Think how we felt, as we spent every other night or so sleeping on the bus.  So perhaps you can see why I have kept all this stuff with my diary - and no I don't think it would make a very exciting book, although we did have a few adventures.
I met Cathy once after the trip when we exchanged some photographs, but not since. We got on well at the time, but had little in common apart from the trip. I quite like it that way. Somehow it means I own all of the memories. Shortly after I came back I met the future Mr T, who is not greatly fond of travel, so that was my GREAT ADVENTURE and I am getting plenty of mileage out of it still.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Sunny days

What an amazing week we have had - I can't remember an April like it! Like a lot of you, no doubt, I have spent a lot of time out doors rather than in my 'studio'.  I will share a few things I have been up to, but it is not a lot. Firstly I have finished my Butterfly books and they are now in my Etsy shop.

I have also filled in my Textile journal.

Otherwise I have not done a lot on the creative front - just haven't been in the mood this week.
But I did spend a lot of time watching the waxwings which stayed until Friday by which time they had completely stripped the last of the berries off the cotoneaster.  This was the best shot I got, heavily cropped.

At one time we counted 22 of them on the TV aerial.

Otherwise I have been trying to get rid of some of these
Although very bright and cheerful, they are overtaking my garden.

MrT has been looking after his onions

I don't drink this yogurt drink ALL the time, but here are about a year's worth of bottles marking the onion rows. Note little 'fence' which seems to have kept the local cats off.
Most of the time I have just been enjoying these flowers which have burgeoned this week.



 plum blossom
spotted laurel (aucuba)

and finally a close-up of those polyanthus.
Oh, but I have been getting my next postcard ready for Postman's Knock.  You'll have to wait to see that.

Have a lovely week.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Teach yourself textiles - slashing and burning

Textiles I
I had a quiet weekend and have an appointment free week ahead so I am determined to fit in a few more exercises in my quest for textile knowledge.  Firstly, after watching a video from Fay Maxwell  about fabric slashing, I though I must have a go. (Thanks Lesley) Firstly I built up layers of fabric scraps on a piece of calico topped with a relatively plain piece of fine cotton.  I then straight stitched the layers together like this.
then taking a sharp pair of scissors started slashing the layers between the rows of stitches.

I only snipped through the back in a couple of places!

Slashing is only the beginning - the next thing is to wash the whole thing as violently as you can.  I was unprepared to devote  a whole wash cycle to this and unsure of colour fastness I hand washed it, but gave it a good scrubbing with my wooden lemon squeezer!!!  (Note to self - look for a old fashioned washboard) I then indulged in a fast spin, as it was very thick and then popped it on a rad to dry.

The green top fabric frayed so much I had to trim the threads, but the result is very tactile.  I am now deciding whether to add any stitching.

Natural Break
I did have to interrupt my stitching to cook a meal yesterday and when I popped into the garden for some rosemary a flurry of birds flew up from the cotoneaster which still has a lot of berries.  I had disturbed about twenty waxwings.  Luckily they didn't fly far and sat in a neighbouring tree while I rushed in for the camera.  The sky was dark and it was starting to rain.  There was even a loud clap of thunder, so no time to set up the large zoom and tripod which would have been better in this light.

A bit of cropping on this picture just renders enough detail for those of you familiar with this winter visitor to identify its characteristic profile with its tuft of feathers on its head.  I haven't seen waxwings and I am delighted to be able to add them to my weekly bird count which I submit to BTO Garden Birdwatch.

Textiles II
I have done the slashing, so here is the burning, although melting would be a better description. 

A selection of beads I made by melting anything meltable with my new heat gun.

Not sure what I am going to do with them - rather scratchy for  a necklace - but they are strung up at a window at the moment. 
Mr T was notable unimpressed by my experiments, but I know you'll be interested (I hope)

Saturday, 2 April 2011

No fools here

That's another month done - goodess me, time does fly especially when you are enjoying yourself.
I seem to have had a busy month and last week I seemed to be rushing about from place to place.  But I did manage to get April's pages done, although at the moment they are looking a bit plain. The background is decorated with a spiral lino cut I whizzed off this week.  I'm into spirals at the moment, but more about that another time.  I also spent a day with my friend Sally at her studio at Digswell where she ran a workshop on monoprinting techniques using the heavy etching press - great fun, but really, we only had time to familiarize ourselves with the basic techniques as printmaking is quite a laborious procedure, but with so much potential.  Not sure that it is my method at the moment, more to share from that another time too.

However the excitement of the week has been the first posting day for the Postman's Knock group.
Twelve of us who have blogging connections have entered a 'deal' to send a postcard every fortnight to one of the members of the group on their chosen them.  The first posting date was yesterday, so quite a lot of us received our first postcards this morning.  You can view them here.
My chosed  theme is Windows and here is my card from Penny

Perfectly conveying her Spanish theme.  I haven't heard whether mine has arrived at its destination yet.  fingers crossed that it arrives safely.

Do have a look at the other postcards, I feel I am in such talented company.