Wednesday, 31 August 2011

I cannot believe it is ...

... over a week since my last post - and what a gloomy week we have had here in Bedfordshire. Luckily we have had a very sociable seven days which has kept me happy despite the lack of sunshine. Many of you commented on my calendar pages last month when I suggested that I might not bother to post them any more, so I have decided to carry on. I thought you might be getting bored with my life!
Here are my offerings.

Good riddance to August I say, it started so hopefully.
I do hope we have a little more sunshine next month.  The trees are full of fruit but round here we could do with a little warmth to sweeten things up.
My colours were inspired by the fruit and berries, leaves which seem to be turning already and the grass which is still really green and is going to need cutting AGAIN soon.

 I have started my Creative Sketchbook course with Linda and Laura Kemshall 's Design Matters. 
The package is really well presented with lots of helpful videos.
This week I have been doing a lot of drawing.  I often draw natural objects, but these studies require a bit more discipline.

My accuracy has definitely improved.

My computer is really giving me a hard time and it takes ages to scan or up load photographs.  I think this is why I have been a bit more reluctant lately to keep up with regular blogging.  I have a horrible feeling the whole thing is going to jam up on me.  I am pretty sure I am gong to treat myself to an Apple Mac so I now need to get everything backed up and ready to transfer to a new machine as well as rebuilding my computer desk so it will accommodate the larger screen.  Although this is something I should do joyfully, I am a great procrastinator when it comes to change!

Have a good week - what is left of it, and here's to a sunnier September.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Up-side of a Gloomy Tuesday

It may be damp and gloomy today, but it means that I spend time in my 'studio' without feeling I should be out and about making the most of the glorious weather!  So here is a quick glimpse at what's what.

Here is a mosaic I created from my 11 (+1) postcards on my theme of windows.  What a wonderful collection and range of takes on my topic.  It has been great fun and I think it has taxed our creativity. 

This is the final card I received from Joanna which I love. It is hand stitched - and I now I'm thinking of going blond!! The quote is from James Joyce.

This is the final card that I created for Penny on her theme of Angels which I found very difficult. However I kept coming back to this angel I photographed in Great Bedwyn, Wilts. She was on the wall of a stonemason's yard. The business has since closed, so hopefully she has found a good home. Not sure what to do with her, I ended up making a background of Angel quotations.  I wanted to go out on a glorious note, but however 'hard' I squeezed my creativity nothing glorious would come!

Meanwhile here are a few sketchbook pages.

Sorting out some fabrics and threads I was struck with how many greens I had, which made me get out my pencils, paints etc and really have a big think about green!

Using paints and pencils I then sat in the garden and tried to reproduce the greens I was seeing without worrying too much about form.

My Creative Sketchbook course starts soon. Not sure how much I will be able to share with you yet, but no doubt there will be some.
Hope your week is going well,

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

August this and that

Just a quick share of some things I have been up to.  I have finished my last Postman's Knock card and feel a corner of my desk has been liberated.  It has been great fun but I'm ready to stop now - we have been at it since April! I am still making a few bits and pieces for my stall at the Photo exhib in Sept ( more details later) but want to get back to my 'Teach myself Textiles' programme I am trying to devise. I am looking forward to the creative sketch book course, as although I  feel I have drawing skills I still lack direction.  I have also signed up for a day's workshop with 'our' Gina in November.  Unfortunately I was unable to make the other two she is running, but I'm really looking forward to working with her - although I am not wishing the time away! I am also trying out some of her sketchbook ideas she is posting on her blog!

Meanwhile here are a few bits.
This is a page in my Art Journal based on an oyster shell I picked up on Gurnard beach, Isle of Wight, where my sister lives.  However she is planning a move the the mainland very soon.  I shall miss our beach walks but it will be great to have her nearer.

Gurnard Beach from the cafe at the end of her road.

Here are a couple of little 'party purses' I made from some satin I transfer dyed.  The background is the paper I painted with dye.  I layered the satin with different coloured organza and machine embroidered it and then added a few beads.

 Finally here is a page of my 'Honesty Book' decorated with a little lino cut and a quotation.  I'm trying to work on filling it.
Thanks for dropping in.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Catch up time

This is going to be quite a long post, so please feel free to leave now if you haven't much time. 

I have been busy, mainly going round in circles - which brings me perfectly to my latest Postman's Knock card from Jo Urbani whose ability to create a collage would be hard to match. For my theme of 'Windows' she has created a porthole view of the sea.  This brings back memories of a School Cruise I went on in the mid-sixties on a re-fitted troup carrier. We had portholes in our dormitory and until we docked at the first port I was sure it was on the port side, only to be really shocked on going on deck that it was the starboard.  We had to go down so many zig-zag stairways that I lost all sense of direction and I suppose I hadn't bothered to study the directon the water was passing by too closely.  But I digress, perhaps you can see why I have been getting nowhere fast this week.
This is the card I made for Jane on the theme Overhead.  I couldn't decide on one idea so I thought I would draw them all as 'inchies' . The little images brought back lots of memories of drawing illustrations on workcards when I was a teacher. This was before computers and clip art. I used to spend hours in the evenings drawing and writing on cards with felt tip pens and then covering them with clear sticky back plastic. So in a way this card was an easy option.

During Open Studio week Sally and I were invited to have a stall at local photograph group's annual exhibition as they want to broaden their appeal to the public (Shillington and Distric Camera Club, Sat 17th Sept, Village Hall, Hexton Road, Barton-le-Clay) so I have been replenishing my stock.
I have enjoyed making these little Needle Cases from scraps of felt.

and I have made some more Book Covers.

Below is an experimental bag I have been working on for weeks and weeks.
The base is woven strips of red, white, pale and navy blue. I was doubly inspired by the royal wedding bunting and a yatching/sea-side theme and after stitching the woven felt down, spent some time emboidering it.
The emboidery is a mix of formal circles and drifting lines of running stitch and beads.  Finally I couched on cord in wavy curves to represent rope, or the encrusted casts left by some sea worms. amd stitched french knots and little pearl beads in the curves.

I managed to get some sea-splash quilter's cotton for a lining, which I forgot to photograph and it is fastened with a magetic clasp.  The shape of the bag is a bit odd and it is not very practical as you could lose your pennies in the point. But I enjoyed making it and finished if off with a hand made tassel and a couple of charms.

What do you think?

This is the bag I have made from the piece of slashed work I made ages and ages ago. I have lined it with blue gingham.  As it is heavily quilted it would be good to keep your packed lunch cool.  I can just fit a A4 sketch book into it. 

I shall be taking these to Barton and then putting them in my Etsy shop, which could do with a bit of refreshing. 

Whilst in the garden trying to find somewhere to photograph my bag in the few minutes the sun came out I thought I would snap the veg.
At this time of year our plates runneth over.  We ate runner beans nearly everyday last week. They are my favourite, and a huge plateful has very few calories.

We only have one 'wigwam' of plants, but it is more than enough for the two of us.
By the middle of the week we will be feasting on these purple beans, which turn green when you cook them, leaving the water  purple (Ooh, now there's an idea). They are good cold in a salad.

We have had lots of mange tout peas already.

I highly recommend yellow courgettes - the skins are so less leathery than the green variety especially if you like them raw in a salad.

And this is a knobbly ridge cucumber. They have a vey thick skin, but the flavour is excellent.

And finally, thank you for sticking it out! This is another appeal.

I desperately want to buy some more of these beads.  They are glass 6mm rocaille, pony or crow beads - take your pick on the name. I bought a bag from E-bay a few months ago, but I can no longer find them anywhere even after trolling through HUNDREDS of pages on E-bay and Amazon and Google. I have visited every local outlet too and they do not seem to be sold in the UK anymore.  I can get strands of single colours from the U.S. but that works out very expensive. I put them on the cords on the book covers (see the above picture) and my purses. The plastic ones do not have the weight or aesthetic appeal of the glass variety. (The bronze ones here are 4mm)
I have found some on Etsy, although the colours aren't as pretty, these are pearly but I will probably get those, BUT if you know of a stockist near you could you let me have their e mail or telephone number?  I am sure somewhere there must be some old stock! Also I know lots of you enjoy car boots and craft fairs, if you see any I would happily pay up plus postage and package. They do not have to be pearlized, but they must be GLASS and about 6mm diameter with a large hole of about 2mm.  The plastic ones are usually 9mm.

If you have stuck with me to the end - thank you, and I wish you all a very good week.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Phew! Wot a Scorcha!

August has hit like hot, wet blanket and I am feeling all limp and energy less. There are big dark clouds brewing in the distance and there isn't a breath of wind, so I wouldn't be surprised to hear thunder a bit later. I went into the town today to visit the hairdressers' and the centre was hardly recognizable with picnic tables set out in St George's Square in front of a stage with a children's entertainer and everyone sitting outside eating their lunches. The town had a real holiday feel. The air conditioning at the hairdressers was just right and coming outside into the heat brought back lots of holiday memories. It is not often here that it is hotter outside than in. Back home the earlier breeze has dropped  and I have drooped.  Marvin is lurking in the shrubbery and Mr T is googling on the lap-top. I have made myself create my August calendar page, not least because it is too hot to think about anything else.  I'm not sure how many more of these I will share, although I shall probably keep creating them as I like keeping a diary, but I feel the novelty of posting them is wearing off. 

As you can see my August pages are very simple, just a colour wash with cut out squares and a bit of stamping.
Thank you to everyone who contributed about the Mac and those of you who commented on my last post. You are very kind. The page shown is in my Art Journal, as are the calendar pages above.  My sketchbooks are really more like doodle pads. I am hoping the Creative Sketchbook course will help me bring the two together.
I have been invited to have a stall at a local Photography group's autumn exhibition so I have been stitching a few bits and pieces which I will share with you later.  Meanwhile enjoy the sunshine while it lasts.  It has completely clouded over here now and a breeze has sprung up! It is no wonder we obsess about the weather went it changes from one end of a page to the other!