Thursday, 31 January 2008


While browsing Cramzy's blog I followed a link to a new initiative which the amazingly talented Susan Lenz has embarked upon. She has had the idea to set up an exhibition to celebrate the wonderful community that has grown out of fiber blogging. You can read all about her forthcoming exhibition at Cyberfyber and if you follow the links in the righthand side bar at that site you will be able to join in with an ATC and postcard swap that Susan has set up in advance of the exhibition. I have already made a bid for one of Susan's ATC and hope she will be happy for the swap. You will recognise quite a few of the people Susan has already got on board for this great project including Beate Knapp, Dale Rollerson, Arlee Barr, Jacqueline de Jong and many others. I am amazed by the amount of work Susan has already put into this project and will be following it with great interest.

Teddy Bear's Picnic

This gorgeous and plucky little bear, who you can read about here is preparing to go on a great adventure which will end in the most northernmost Teddy Bear's Picnic later this year. He is going, with some other bears, to have a picnic 700 miles away in North Cape Norway. This plucky little bear is helping to raise funds for specialist children's bereavement srevices at St Theresa's hospice in Darlington. Edmund is being sponsored by my friend Mrs Nesbitt who you may remember I met up with in York before Christmas. Good luck Edmund! Keep warm! (It's all right Bertie! You can come out now! You don't have to go!!)

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Terracotta Army 2

What can I tell you about our day out yesterday? Well, the China Warriors exhibition was very impressive. We got to the British Museum for 12.30 and came in through the rear entrance through an exhibition of Living and Dying in different civilisations. Here there were examples of the costumes, totems, sculptures, symbols and artifacts that people have surrounded themselves with in their everday and festival lives.

If you click on the photo above you should be able to read about the painted board below.

These are (I think) aboriginal grave markers or coffin markers.

I was amazed to see an Easter Island figure among the exhibits.

Before our allotted time slot for the Terracotta Army we had time to wander round the amazing Great Court. I can't tell you anything about the amazing metal sculpture shown above as it was effectively screened off but we were able to take some photos of the fantastic reflections over its surface.

The glass dome of the Great Court and the circular form of the central building which used to house the British Museum Library creates an amazing atmosphere and some fantastic shapes and juxtapositions of the old and the new. The light constantly changes too, even on a dull day as it was yesterday. Later in the afternoon huge lights were switched on at the top of the building.

Needless to say, I was fascinated by the stone the floors, walls and plinths were made of:

This is the surface of the floor tiles

and this is the surface of the wall tiles. I am sure some of these shapes must be fossils.

While I can't show you any images of the Terracotta Army I can show you figures which children made last October during visits to the exhibition

(Thank you to my DH for these photos) I really like the little chap in the front with his leg out to the side!
And what of the exhibition itself? When you walk into the exhibition space the lights are low and you walk up a slightly sloping walkway. As you walk you cannot see the exhibition but looking up you can see the sides of the dome and the galleries of bookshelves of the Reading Room in which the exhibition is staged. You can also smell a light air of old books! You arrive at a small flight of stairs and several display cases. I have to say, at this stage, my first impression was probably not as impressive as it might have been as there were quite a lot of people standing around the cases and I could not see exactly where we should go. As it was a security guard pointed out that a looped film was about to show on the outside wall and we gave our attention to that. Unfortunately we then managed to miss what would have been our first glimpse of a warrior housed in a glass case! Duh!
We processed past wall displays and artefacts which told the story of the life of Qin Shihuangdi and the absolute power he had over his subjects. He was, also, the founder of what was to become the nation of China and introduced many standards to unify the country.
You get glimpses of the terracotta figures as you get closer to them and their reality is quite stunning. They are not housed behind glass so you can see all the textures and surfaces without reflections getting in the way. Although the figures were mass produced their facial features, beards, moustaches, hair were all added individually so they appear to all be different. Some are bulky and some are slim. Hairstyles or headgear denote rank. A figure of a strongman is so solid and believable you can feel the strength in his arms and legs, even though the actual figure is headless. In a cabinet are beautiful bronze birds which were found by an artificial underground river.
I am pleased that we went to this exhibition. It was a memorable experience. I did find parts of it frustrating because of the numbers of people but hey! what did I expect? My DH found that he was taken by surprise in that he actually enjoyed himself even though he wasn't able to take photographs of the Terracotta Army.
Unfortunately, today my dear old weakest link has played up and I've had a happy time in the bathroom (not!). I'm assuming it's fatigue and I'll get over it. It's just frustrating when a good day out has to be paid for. Bleugh!!!! At least I managed to get to the hairdresser's before it started messing me about so now I can see out! :))

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Terracotta Army

We have had a trip to the Big Smoke (otherwise known as London) today with our favourite local coach company to visit the British Museum to view the exhibition of China's Terracotta Army. The exhibition was amazing but, unfortunately photography was not allowed so I can only give you a link to the wikipedia entry. I will be posting some pics of the rest of the museum (as much as we had time for ) but I will come back to that tomorrow as it's getting quite late and I am tired. See you tomorrow! (I've just spotted my DH staring up at the roof in the pic above)

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Stars and TIF

As promised, I must show you the star postcards I received at the end of the week from my friends at MixedMediaATC_UK.

This first one is from Becky and is made from embellished (needle felted) fibres. There are some lovely textures in this card.

This second card is in mixed media and I am very intrigued by some of the effects.

Finally, this fabric card is from Liz and is lovely. The photograph does not show the material very well and the base fabric has an irridescent sheen. Liz has used a heat tool to burn thro the top layer and in some places right thro all the layers. The stars are made of foil trapped under net.

I spent yesterday working on the Take it Further Challenge. When I first sat down at the embellisher my mind went completely blank and I couldn't even think how to start! I know I'm new to embellishing but even so! Anyway, I decided to start with a base of fabrics like scrim, organza and chiffon which I could then embellish thro from the back if necessary and then to top this off with various wool fibres.

As you can see I have cut the base fabric larger than the 6x6" format of the finished piece to allow for shrinkage and I've also roughly marked the spacings for the various parts of the seascape. The pic above shows the first stage with wool fibres on top of base fabrics.

Similarly the distant shore was put in with base fabrics topped by wool fibres.

At this stage I had put in the distant shoreline and embellished both from the front and the back.

As you can see I forgot to take any photos during the remainder of the embellishing, but I followed the same procedure of layering fabrics and wool fibres. The foreground layer also includes some angelina. I think that the distant land and the shoreline need some adjustment as the land is too deep and I think the shoreline also needs to be thinner. I would like to get more light into the cloudscape and into the area of foreshore in the bottom third of the image and maybe a little more depth to the sea. The area of shore/vegetation in the foreground is still slightly diagonal altho I had intended to make this more horizontal, but I think it is in fact working. Now I have to decide whether to include some stitchwork and maybe bead and other embellishment to the foreground. Help! The next challenge starts in 3 days! (make that 5 days! I thought there were 29 days in this month! Oops!)

Friday, 25 January 2008

Happy Australia Day!

Good morning Australia! (Yes I know it's still Friday in England!) I'd like to wish all the lovely people I have met thro blogging a very, very Happy Australia Day. Enjoy your day!! I don't have any Australia photographs so my Dotee and Ruby dolls from Australia are here to send you lots of love :-))
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Burns Night

I thought I should mark today, which is an important date in the Scottish Calendar. On or about 25 January Scots get together to celebrate the birth of the great Ayrshire poet Robert Burns. Traditionally haggis, neeps and tatties are eaten and the haggis may be piped (bagpipes) into the room. Burns wrote a poem "Ode tae the Haggis" to celebrate this humble food which had developed out of necessity to provide something sustaining where people had very little. Neeps refers to turnips which I think are traditionally mashed and tatties are potatoes. Despite my Scottish roots I have never tasted haggis. I am partial to the other tradition which accompanies haggis, a wee dram! The only trouble is, my preferred wee dram is of Irish origin! (Irish Whiskey, Tullamore Dew).

I See Her in the Dewy Flowers
I see her in the dewy flowers,

I see her sweet and fair;

I hear her in the tunefu' birds, I hear her charm the air:

There's not the bonnie flower that springs

By fountain, shaw, or green,

There's not a bonnie bird that sings,

But minds me o' my Jean

Robert Burns

You've seen this painting before but I hate posts without a pic and this is the only Scottish image I've got on the computer!

Sky Watch Friday

Teatime today!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Take it Further

I wasn't able to post the work I did yesterday on the Take It Further Challenge as it wasn't dry but I did get to photograph it today

I understand from reading other blogs that it is a good design tool to make a paper version, from magazine clippings, of the project. I believe this helps you to become more familiar with what you are trying to portray and also gives time to solve some of the problems of composition and form. Creating this little collage, which is the size of the projected finished piece (6"x6"), has helped me think thro some of the questions about tone and composition. The main thing that keeps jumping out at me is that I am not comfortable with the diagonal line I have made with the foreground. I think that when it comes to making the journal page I will change the foreground to a horizontal format so that the composition is one of layers.

This is a little oil painting that I did some time ago of a scene a few hundred yards from the one I'm working on and I think the horizontal layers work here.

I have tried one or two (small) samples to try and decide which backing cloth I am going to use as I am uncertain whether to use a white or a blue backing for what is going to be an embellished piece.

This is the blue sample

And this is the white.

My feeling is that, although the white cloth will be covered up, it will still give an overall light to the piece. I think the blue background may make the landscape darker and heavier and as I am portraying Cornwall on a sunny day I don't want it to feel heavy. I am looking forward to actually working on this piece now. I suppose I should do more test pieces to help me decide what to use. I am tempted to use pieces of scrim, silks and chiffons as well as wool fibres, but I will probably wing it instead of doing the sensible thing of trying it out first! Live dangerously, that's me!
I haven't lost sight of the fact that this piece is inspired by the art of Kurt Jackson and I intend to keep his work in mind when I am working, particularly on the foreground. Kurt's work is energetic, with mixed media used throughout and I hope I can bring some of this to my journal page.

I had a really lovely surprise in the post today! I had admired some fabric I had seen on Kate North's blog and, guess what? She sent me some! How kind is that?!

Isn't it pretty? I love dragonflies, they are such beautiful, delicate creatures and they have amazing eyes! I've told Kate that I'm going to make a Dotee doll for myself with this beautiful fabric. That will leave me plenty so I'll have to get my thinking cap on - or just enjoy looking at the fabric! Thank you Kate, that was very kind of you! :-)

Also in the post was this

Guess what I'll be doing tomorrow?
BTW, I've been fiddling with my header. What do you think?

Tuesday, 22 January 2008


I'm feeling quite good today! I've actually managed to finish my gifts for Dot in Australia. I am itching to show you but I think I will wait until Dot has received her parcel. I will however give you a little glimpse of the things I am sending.

Thank you, too, for all the comments yesterday helping me with my scrappy challenge dilemma. I have started to handstitch across the surface with several colours of thread and, yes, the needle is getting very sticky from the adhesive, so I'm quite pleased I didn't use the sewing machine. I'll post it again when it's finished, hopefully in the next few days.

I decided that it might be a good idea if I made some positive effort towards getting some exercise in the hope that it might increase my stamina and might also have a positive effect on my mood. I don't think I'm the only one in finding the winter a low time of the year. All these dull days get very depressing. As it was dry and bright today I went for a walk round my local area (via the hairdresser's to make an appointment for next week). It's only a housing estate so not that interesting but I did get stopped in my tracks by the bark on a tree

I've had a little play with it in Photoshop

This is the same tree a little lower down

Again this has been manipulated in Photoshop. I'm not sure whether I'm going anywhere with this but I've had fun playing with the images.
I did feel better for the walk and I've had quite a successful day so I must keep it up!

Monday, 21 January 2008

Delightful Post

YaHay!!! Am I not a lucky girl?! Look what the lovely postlady brought me this morning (before I was up! 10.30 and still in bed! tsk tsk.)

I knew this envelope was coming as I had agreed to do a swap with the very lovely Dot all the way over in Victoria, Australia. This envelope had only taken a week toget here from the other side of the world and was well noted up with customs and security declarations!

The first to come bursting out of the bubble wrap after being confined for a week was this gorgeous Dotee doll in such lovely colours. She has a lovely bird and dragonflies in her hair and a tinkling bell so I know where she is. She also has some beautiful beads decorating her.

Following closely behind is this beautiful girl who also has a little white bird in her hair and a millefiori button at her neck. She is absolutely gorgeous and is made from some beautiful cotton prints.

Here they are together, Dot, looking very happy to be out of that envelope! Thank you so much for my lovely girls! Dot has been a little quicker than me at making her dolls but I have just got to finish off my swap to Dot and then it will be in the post.

Oops! I almost forget, the reverse of the card above was this bonus ATC

Scrappy Challenge

Sue Bleiweiss on the Fibre&Stitch Yahoo group sets a challenge every month and this month the challenge was to spend 15 minutes filling a plastic bag with scraps from your fabric/fibre stash. At the end of 15 minutes we were permitted to add one more piece. It was permissable to use fusibles, lutrador, evolon, vilene etc and embellishments but not to buy anything extra.

I already have a couple of boxes or smallish scraps sorted into two colour groups of blues and reds and decided to fill my bag from the red box. The bag above was the result.

Yesterday I finally got round to having a play after I finished the ironing as I thought the ironing board would make a useful surface. I had recently bought some pelmet vilene which is adhesive on both sides and thought I would use that as my support so that I can make the resulting fabric into a box or a book cover.

The idea with the pelmet vilene is to peel back the protective paper and layer on your material. As I have done in the past, I decided to work in rectangles and tried to create a balance (one of my words for this year) of colour and of texture:

I did find that some materials adhered more readily to this sticky surface than others. Cotton was the least troublesome and silk sari ribbon did not want to stick at all.

This what I consider to be the "front" of the bookcover and includes cotton, pellon painted with angelhair bonded to it, mulberry bark painted, painted and stamped nappy liner, yarn fibres trapped under an organza ribbon, shot silk, distressed, silk, fabric made with the embellisher, a beaded bit of nonsense that I cut up, painted canvas, ribbon and one or two unidentifiable pieces!

Continuing across the other side I used all of the above and some painted muslin and silk paper that I had made previously.
My next task is to turn the piece over and stick a lining on and then make the book cover. I think I'll probably get some ATCs out of this as well.
Can anyone help me with something? I am bothered about whether the finished surface will be robust enough to function as a book cover, or indeed, as a box. Have I read somewhere that you can coat textiles with a medium and if so what is this medium and how much does it affect the finish of the fibre? Thank you very much if you can clue me in. :)

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Cuddly and Pink

While I am feeling better than I was earlier in the week cooking dinner for my DH before he went to work this afternoon and then a trip to the Supermarket have left me wiped out again so this will be a quick pop in and pop out.
I thought that certain among you would like to be assured that my cuddly and pink friends have been doing their bit to look after me.
Bertie is only a baby bear so he has been cuddling up to me for little kisses which have helped me feel so much better! (No, Bob T Bear, he hasn't found the pant drawer yet but there may be blue ones there!)

Mungo thought he'd help out by keeping an eye on the blog

but it was all a little bit confusing so he had to call up the reserves (Maud) to help him out

"What have you done there, Mungo", said Maud. "Erm.......well you just press here and Bob's your uncle, or the bear!"
Sorry! Normal service will be resumed......sometime!
If any of you out there is suffering with this dreadful virus you have my heartfelt sympathies. Rest up, keep warm and drink plenty of fluids. (Lesley, I hope you're ok).