Tuesday, 31 May 2011


This month I am sharing an open Studio Event with Sally Tyrie.
We will be opening on June 11th with refreshments and demonstrations.  The studio be open from 11am untill 3pm on Saturday 11th, Weds 18th, Sat 18th, Weds 22 and Sat 25th.  If you think you can come along please e mail me (via my profile link) for more details.
You can also visit the Artists Network Bedfordshire web site for more information. 

Sunday, 29 May 2011

The tip of the iceberg

When Lesley of Printed Material suggested posting photographs of any collections we may have, my immediate thought was "I suppose I could get a few bits together" without really thinking that my house is actually full of collections! My husband came with a few when I married him, so I had to start one or two of my own to fight for a corner of the house before I was overwhelmed. He came with lots of old tins, beer mats, some old bottles and lots of odd packages, an enormous library and an extensive record collection.  Over the years our collections have grown and I thought to introduce you I would go on a 'shopping trip' round the house and make a visit to the chemist.

 I'll unpack for you

First of all you ladies may like to get ready for a day out.

I had some eye lash curlers in the 60's, can't remember how much they cost, but these were 5s..11d. that's nearly 30p to you.

If you intend travelling you may need Mylol insect repellent or Glacier skiers' suncream.

Always good to have fresh breath and emergency toothache tincture.

Your first aid kit should have some plasters...

and if you over do it, you may need one of these

I think these are smelling salts, but it says on the bottle to take 20 drops in water (But not in the case of haemorrhage.)
Most of these have been found by my mother-in-law from her own bathroom cabinet or WI jumble sales.
Now what shall I photograph next?

My card for postman's Knock this week was for Lesley on the theme of Taking Flight.  At the beginning of the challenge Yuri Gagarin was in the news as it was the 50th anniversary of his flight which I remember . In the 60's and 70's space flight seem to offer endless possibilities and those first pioneers were so brave.  I can remember standing in the garden on the night of the moon landing in 1969 looking at the moon and just being 'blown away' by the thought that men were standing on it.

The card with the little boy dressed as an astronaut was one from our archives - a promotion for a 1995 Loudon Wainwright iii album. Great to find one that matched one of our themes.

This is the lovely card I got from Gina. Immaculate machine embroidery and a great image of chickens.  I can just here them clucking and muttering to themselves.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Weekly post

I am in a good place and a bad place at the moment. Good because I can look at all I have achieved and I am getting ready for the Open Studio ( I hope you won't be sick of me mentioning it), but in a bad place as I feel lost in a creative fog which has been going on for some weeks.  To add to that, this week I have not felt too good and low in energy. However I do try to make myself 'do' something practical most days.  I'm not sure if it my age, but I feel every day is precious and I must make the most of it. I hate to feel I have wasted a day. I have tell myself that sometimes it is all right just to sit around, mooching, reading and drinking tea even when there are so many things that 'need' doing. Is it our natures that make some of us feel like this or the way we have been brought up? I am certainly not a 'good' housewife and my standards would not match up to my mother's although she was never critical, she just liked to pass on helpful hints. Such as, "If you wipe out the oven every time you roast Jill, it won't get so dirty" (Oh yeah! Mum). Perhaps there are others of you who feel caught in the middle - brought up to the adage that the wife's first duties were to her husband, home and family but educated (eventually) to believe that as a woman your own interests are just as important.  I cannot put any blame on Mr T who would never suggest I put anything domestic first, but perhaps he has been encouraged by me to expect that I will do. So it's my own fault. I also feel that may be all of this is also a wonderful excuse as to why I haven't pushed myself further. Well I have got that off my chest!
So this is what I have been doing. (Not all this week!)

 I am still working on my self directed textile line of study and I have a new book, "Drawn to Stitch" by Gwen Hedley, which fits in well with the others I have been using.  My starting point for this exercise was the peeling paint on the old door from the walled garden in the top photograph. I noticed that the knot in the wood was heart shaped, but it was the wood grain and peeling paint that appealed to me. 
After drawing the wood grain and looking carefully at the colours I experimented stitching grain lines in a piece of calico on felt.
I decided that the felt side up was more interesting

I then tried using two colours.  I could not match the beautiful silvery pinky grey of the old wood so I just concentrated on the textures. I used yellow ochre for the grain and black for the cracks.

Finally I repeated the last excercise but added three layers of blue/green organza which I then cut away with scissors and a hot soldering iron to reveal the ochre stitches.

I was very pleased with the effect.
Next will be trying to achieve that beautiful colour of old weathered wood.

On Wednesday, despite not feeling 'on top of the world' I spent a day with Sally at the studio she works in at Digswell near Welwyn Garden City. She was running a second day workshop on monoprinting using the huge old press they have there. No photos I'm afraid. This time I wanted to experiment with printing on fabric,  I was a busy day with five of us using the press whose wheel must be over five feet in diameter and takes some turning, however it is a lovely process. Printmaking cannot be rushed so I was very happy to come away with four pieces printed with found objects and shapes cut from corregated card.
This piece on natural calico has some lovely textures especially in the leaves which does not show up well in this photograph.

This was on  piece of  white cotton after using more ink and scratching into the ink on the plate.

This was achieved by rolling black ink onto the pieces of card and placing them back on the plate. The impressions left by the objects when printing the previous piece can be seen in the red ink. I printed onto some cheap polyester satin I bought on the market. It was a bit of an experiment, but it took the ink well and had a beautiful silvery lustre.

 This was the final piece on polyester satin again.

Not sure what I am going to do with them now, but they are very pleasing to look at.

It has been a day of bright sunshine and dark showers today - bit like my mood! But if you have made it to the end of this post, thanks for sticking it through.
I do hope you have a bright week,.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Quick bunting how to

Some of you have asked about the bunting - here's how.

Collect together lots of plastic bags and wrappers, the more colourful the better.

Place a sheet of baking parchment on your ironing surface and start to cover it with strips cut from the plastic.

Build up a couple of layers leaving no gaps.
Put another piece of baking parkment over the top and heat up your iron.
Irons vary, mine is a cheap one I use for craft and it needs to be in the cotton range.
Iron over the baking parchment quickly. You will see the plastic start to curl and shrink.  Take a peek to see if it has stuck together, if not give it another quick pass with the hot iron.  If you leave the iron in one place the plastic will disappear!


The strips of plastic have melted together.
I turn it over and check the back to make sure it is all stuck down.
Cut out a pile of triangles...

and zig-zag stitch them to some tape.

This one was made with an old plastic document pocket filled with sequins or you could use snips of plastic.
Have fun and take care.
(Some books recommend using a respirator mask when melting plastic.)

Sunday, 15 May 2011

A quick up date

I have half an hour or so before I concentrate on cooking a roast (we always eat in the evening otherwise I fall asleep for the afternoon) so I will write a quick post.  It has been another busy week with visits to in-laws, a few hours working with Sally on our Open Studio invitations, and a long session at the hairdressers. Not to mention getting the latest Postman's Knock postcard finished off.
Sue's theme was "Rust" and my immediate reaction when I got the list was that I wanted to refer to Neil Young's album "Rust Never Sleeps". I had the idea of staining those word in rust onto a piece of calico. I twisted some florists wire into the words - I knew this does go rusty - eventually - as I have used it in my Chrismas wreath, however six weeks in the damp had no effect. To encourage a rusty effect I popped a couple of pieces of rusty iron in the bag which had the desired effect of staining the cloth, but the wire remained stubbornly rust free. Never mind, this gave me the excuse to do a bit of hand embellishment which I always enjoy. Not what I envisaged, but I think it worked in the end.

The card I received from Cathy is a real peach.  My theme is 'Windows' and of course Cathy was able to find an original angle.  Not only the idea that the eyes are the windows of the soul, but also that we might like to feast our eyes by looking out of a window...

Do check here to see what she had in mind.

Otherwise I have mounted my needlefelt pictures to make cards...

...started to print out photographs and mount them onto cards...

... made a pile of triangles from melted plastic bags and wraps to make bunting ...

... and prepared a pile of invites ready for mailing.

This is really so much more fun than working for a living.  However we shall have to make lots of sales just to recoup our expenses, let alone make a profit.  I count myself very lucky that I can afford to do this.

If you live in my area and I already have your address, you may well have an envelope in this pile, otherwise if you think you might be in Luton on June 11th, 15th,18th, 22nd or 25th, and would like to call in, please contact me via my Profile link and I will e mail you details.
You can view Sally's work here .

I seem to have missed lots of your post lately, I try to find some time to read what you have been doing and comment as there are so many inspiring ideas out there. Do have a good week.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Busy, busy, busy...

Another busy week - although sometimes I think one half of the time I create a mess, and the other half I clear it up.  I have spent time finishing off and sorting things for the Open Studio event.  I haven't made much of a photographic record of my progress to share with you.  I had to repackage some items that had been in my Etsy shop as I have changed my e mail address since I started it, a rather tedious chore.
When I go to 'Nutty Knitters' I don't knit, but I do do a bit of needle felting.  I now have a good collection of little pictures ready to be made into greetings cards. I have been adding some beads to them this week.

I have also got some felt flowers that need finishing and making into brooches.
I realise that I have rather a lot of items - so I hope that my friend doesn't feel overwhelmed in her own studio!  I also hope that those of you who live in the area will be able to visit.  It would be lovely to meet you.  More details nearer the time. 
I have also been working on a couple of postcards for 'Postman's Knock' I like to be prepared, but inevitably there will be a last minute rush to finish them off  before posting. (No previews of those allowed).

In between times I have done a bit of gardening and was thrilled to hear the swifts screaming.  I have been out every morning scouring the sky as last year I first spotted them on the 1st of May, this year it was the 6th. So that's pretty close timing.
Mr T was clearing an overgrown area in the veggie patch and realized he had disturbed a colony of bumble bees.  We left them to settle down and then marked off the area to make sure we didn't disturb them again.  I am pretty sure they are Early Bumble Bees (Bombus pratorum). The workers vary in size a lot and some of them are really small.  I sat and hung over the nest with my camera - no prize winning shots I'm afraid, but at least it helped me identify them.

If you want to click on the picture you will get a better view. This little worker was fanning her wings to circulate air in the next.  Her thorax is quite bald and shiny and if I zoom in I can see my outline refected in it!!

This worker is returning with loaded pollen sacks.

The nest is just flat on the ground at the bottom of a rockery wall.  It is made of tiny bits of dead grass and even tiny snail shells.  I presume the bees must have collected all the bits together.

I was a bit worried about them after the heavy shower we had early this morning, but they were busy as usual.
Well I suppose I had better go and clear up the mess I made earlier and then find the brooch pins.
Do have a good week,

Sunday, 1 May 2011


I had such a pretty postcard from Chrissie yesterday as part of our Postman's Knock fun. My theme is windows and Chrissie has created a perfect little Boulangerie window, complete with awning, lace curtain and a selection of breads. The card came in this lovely wrap and I must admit that my first thought at the red, white and blue tie was with Friday's goings on rather than the Tricolore.

 The lace curtain is even on a rod.

It has been a busy week where I seemed to achieved little.  Last Bank holiday Monday I did an hour or two at the local country fair promoting the Artists Network Bedfordshire's open studio event in June.
This is Jo, a very active member behind our stall which drew lots of interest. The info is not all there on the website but I will let you know details later if you are in the area.
On Wednesday, Sally  and I got together to do some planning and I have made a list of 'things to do'

On Thursday I did something completely different.  I visited a group of alpacas which are kept as 'pets' by the couple here - I realise now that I don't know their names.  I went with my U3A Natural History group - although not quite 'natural' to our local surroundings I did learn a bit about these animals which are domesticated in Peru.

The alpapcas were very friendly as demonstrated here!
They are shorn once a year and the owners usually donate the fleeces to local spinning groups.  In fact a couple of the ladies at 'Nutty Knitters' were spinning some last month.  The fleece is incredibly soft and thick and has no lanolin so does not need to be washed before spinning.

a couple of examples of  knitted yarn from the alpacas.

When down loading these photos which I took with my 'point and shoot' I found this one of Marvin taking a bit of time out on the bed, something which is not encouraged, but tolerated in dry weather. Here he is trying to prove to me that he has been keeping up with the dry cleaning. 
At the moment like most pets, he is moulting like mad and could be a rival to those alpacas!

It is also that time of the month AGAIN, and as I only seem to be managing one post a week, my calendar pages appear rather too quickly.  I hope you are not getting bored with them.

April seems to have been sunshine all the way. The lack of rain has meant a lot less snails this spring so although the young veg hasn't been eaten, it does needed a lot of watering.  However even the lawn (moss patch) is beginning to turn brown, so a bit of evening rain would be useful.  I also find it difficult to be creative this weather.  I want to be sitting stitching etc, but the outdoors is calling.  I try to ration my gardening time due to dodgy joints, but even after a spot of weeding I haven't been able to settle at my desk or sewing machine. However I did enjoy creating my calendar pages.

May is rather flamboyant.  I bought some metallic and pearlised acrylics so had to give them an outing. The squares are cut from pearly paper.
I hope you are able to enjoy this holiday weekend and I will try to put in some extra 'comment' time.
Have a good week.