Friday, 22 February 2008

Blog break

My poor DH has got the most awful cough (been to the doctor's, small infection in one lung so on antibiotics) but hopefully we are still going to see our friends in Yorkshire this weekend so there will not be any activity here for a while.
I have been packing today and first of all a little friend wanted to help

which was fine, but then

a few of his friends thought it would be a good idea to go on holiday too.
After a bit of gentle persuasion most of them were pursuaded to leave but it looks like the pink guys will be coming too

I don't think Bertie's 100% impressed as he's been mopping brows and tishoo-isshoing all week and I promised him a special break for working so hard. We shall see who ends up in the car tomorrow! Talking of cars............I cleaned mine yesterday!! Gasp!!!!!! Unheard of!!! Mind you, I nearly collapsed by the time I'd finished. Instead of being dried off it just got clean water scooped over it out of a bucket to rinse the soap off. What's a few streaks between friends? Oooh! That reminds me. I need to check the washer bottle! See, I'm very technical, got all the jargon! ;))
At the risk of boring you I will just show you the other landscapes I've been working on this week. Don't get excited, there's not much difference from the one I made for the January TIF.

This one is the third one in the swap I am doing at MachineEmbroidery_MachineFelting_FME It needs some handstitching on it and I shall do that next week.

This one is postcard size and will have some handstitching on it and will then be crossing the Atlantic to Susan Lenz for her Cyberfyber Exhibition which I am really excited about.
If you are too late to join in the direct swaps with Susan you can still join in the Free Trade which is happening next January 10 as part of the Cyberfyber event. To join you need to make up to three ATCs keeping the surface fairly flat and mail them to Susan. The details are here. You need to enclose a self addressed stamped envelope with sufficient stamps to cover return postage in your own country's postage stamps. The way I read it if you do send 3 ATCs you need to send 3 return envelopes so that you get 3 back. (I'll check this out actually just to be sure).
Shhh! Don't look now but DH has gone for a lie down and finally stopped coughing. I'll just creep out quietly. If you wouldn't mind doing the same and I'll see you soon. Byee! Shhhhh!

Sky Watch Friday

A lovely blue sky last summer at Burghley House near Stamford.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Bespoke Stationery

I don't have a lot to blog about at the moment as I've been working on the embellisher to make another 2 of the St Ives scenes that I did for the January Take it Further Challenge. One is to keep and the other is for Glenda, my second swap partner at Machine Embroidery_MachineFelting_FME group . I am also making another postcard size to swap with Susan Lenz in her Cyberfyber Exhibition. The postcard I have chosen from Susan's rapidly diminishing selection is this one

Susan says about it "This postcard was made from experiments in embellishing. A length of chunky yarn was embellished into an oval. This oval and triangle of lavender felt were embellished onto a piece of taupe silk backed with crimson felt. The felt was then embellished from the back around the pieces. The reverse is a piece of fabric paper created using fragments of late 18th and early 19th century text, handmade paper, polymer emulsion and metallic paints on unbleached muslin. It is signed and dated in free motion machine embroidery." I am just as interested in the reverse so I will post it here when it arrives.
My friend's young daughter has recently had a baby (called Finley, no, not Sharon's grandson!) and she has decided that she would prefer to work from home designing her own wedding stationery, so if you're in need of some individually designed stationery you might like to have a look at her new website here .
My cold is slowly clearing up and I am feeling more like doing things. Unfortunately DH has now caught it and is feeling very sorry for himself today
:( Man Flu! Poor thing, he is manfully struggling on at work because they are short-staffed. He only has to get through tomorrow and Friday and then he has a week off as we are going to see some friends in Yorkshire. I love Yorkshire and am looking forward to visiting some favourite places - Whitby, Goathland, Scarborough (does anyone know where the fabric shops are in Scraborough?), Hutton le Hole, Pickering. I'm taking plenty of handsewing with me as there's no computer link available. DH will go stir-crazy!

Monday, 18 February 2008

Beautiful sunset

The current clear frosty weather is giving us some unusual skies at the moment especially at sunset.

The sky had an interesting tinge to it tonight and was almost a greeny colour away from this area of the setting sun. Unfortunately my camera isn't good enough to catch the subtleties.

My hairbrush turned up my sock drawer! Obvious, wasn't it?! Should have looked there first lol! Ain't blogging rivetting?! ;))

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Take it Further

My grotty cold has made me feel a bit lack lustre this weekend but I have managed to do a bit more to my piece for the February TIF challenge.

This is my layout so far. Nothing is stitched down yet but I am fairly happy with it so I don't think I will be altering the arrangement. First of all I have to acknowledge Beate's influence here. I really admire Beate's work and I hope she will not be annoyed with me for following her ideas for this journal page.

The images are of my Nanna and the group photograph is of my Nanna with her own children and her mother standing behind her on her left. The little girl on the right hand side of the photograph is my mum. I have included a shell and a piece of beach glass because my Nanna lived near the sea when I was a child and the buttons are there because they are old. The blue button probably dates from the 60's or even maybe the 50's and came from an outfit that my Mum made for herself. I did find the cigarette cards but now I find they do not fit in. I will use them in a separate piece as I do have several other images of my nan and would like to make some more pieces.

Just as I started to cook the dinner tonight I noticed that the houses across the road were lit up with an orangey glow. I went rushing out to the back garden with my cmaera and caught this gorgeous sky

It doesn't look quite so dramatic on here but it was lovely. I nearly missed it because I couldn't find my camera so that was a bit of rushing about and cursing going on! Now, if I could just find my hairbrush.....!

Friday, 15 February 2008

Take it Further

Did we stay off the computer last night? You betcha! Well, at least, till I went to bed early and then DH leapt for his fix!!! Checking out his blogs, of course!

I've made a start on my piece for the Take it Further Challenge today. I have to admit I have been influenced by looking at other blogs but I have decided not to do a book format but to make a journal page based on memories of my Nan. I haven't actually done a journal page other than the landscape I've just completed so it is stretching me. Today I have been working on the embellisher with fairly neutral colours and have made a background which I will be adding images to.

You can't see the textures too clearly in this photograph but I have embellished scrim, organza, polyesters, mulberry bark and wool onto wool batting. The page is about 8" x 7". I didn't plan it to be that size, it just happened. Hmmmm! Maybe I should have planned it out! I have printed some photos of my Nan onto T-shirt transfer paper and ironed it on to calico and I intend to apply 1 or maybe 2 images to the page along with some lace and other embellishments. I printed out quite a few different images of my Nan so I think I will probably make several of these in time to show various times of my Nan's life. I have never done any transfer printing before so I am very pleased with the outcome.

I can't really explain my choice of a neutral background, although I have been wanting to work with whites recently. I suppose it's because I do not have any strong colour memories about my Nan. I could have used the colours I remember from the pickling and jamming that Nan used to do but I feel that neutral will give a feeling of times gone past. I shall be handsewing the images on with some additional gold organza for some golden memories. All I need to do now is find the cigarette cards I had sorted out and have put somewhere safe! Doh!

Sky Watch Friday

A cloudy day in Lincolnshire today but a little glimpse of the sun at 4 o'clock this afternoon.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Look out! It gets a bit slushy here! Look away if you are of a weak disposition!


This is a quick blog today as we are having a computer free evening tonight. The wine is open and breathing and the lamb shanks are waiting patiently in the fridge to be zapped in the microwave (Delia Smith I am not!). Oh no! I've just realised I didn't get a pudding!! OMG Domestic Goddess I definitely am not......again!


Have a Happy Valentine's whatever you are doing. My DH and I are going to curl up with a Harry Potter movie, wine, tissues and cough sweets - yep, I've got a b***y cold!


Oh sorry, I forgot, I said it was going to get slushy! The photo is of my darling husband and I on our wedding day. Noone could take better care of me than my DH and I don't need Valentine's Day to tell him how much I love him. DH you are one very special man, thank you for every day you share with me and all the love you show me. Mwah!!!!!!! Can I have a cuppa tea now please?

Ok, slush over, you can come out now!!!!! lol :))

Wednesday, 13 February 2008


After our busy day yesterday I have been taking things easier today with a little hand sewing and a visit to an old friend. When I got back from seeing my friend, look what was waiting for me........

I received this beautiful needle felted landscape (6"x6") from Annette as part of a three person swap at Machine Embroidery_Machine Felting_FME/UK . Isn't it beautiful? I am really excited because I got one with the sheep on! It is based on the countryside close to where Annette lives in the North of England.

This is a detail of the delightful trees which have been machine embroidered and the sheep and heather on the hillside which are hand stitching.

Annette has made a lovely job of finishing off the landscape with a fabric backing and detailed label.
This lovely little landscape is too good to hide away so I will find a way of displaying it. I have to make myself a landscape similar to the one I have sent Annette so I may display all the landscapes from this swap together, maybe as a wall hanging. You have already seen the landscape I have sent Annette here. I have almost finished the one I will be sending to the third person in this swap, so then there's just mine to do.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Workshop Fun Day

Today my friend Ann and I finally managed to get to a workshop we had been planning since before Christmas. We had to cancel it because Ann's ME flared up and laid her low and I had that yucky virus. Anyway, on another beautiful sunny morning we headed off to Patchings Art Centre for a workshop on Textile Design and Fabric Painting with the very lovely Jo LLoyd whose day job is making Hand Crafted Wool Rugs.
Jo showed us some of her work and also discussed how she starts to look for inspiration from things around her or from photographs of surfaces that have textures that appeal to her. I began to see that Jo is attracted to the same kinds of shapes and patterns that I like.
We started by doodling from a selection of objects that Jo had put out on the table. Simple things like open seed pods, poppy seed heads, a wooden cat ornament, a circular dress brooch, a silk lily flower, cocktail umbrella. My doodles were a little tentative but I did feel I was gradually loosening up.

The stars above were the pattern on the top of a poppy seed head. The circle of circles came from a brooch and the octagons were from the stones in the brooch.

The shapes in the very poor photo above came from a silk lily flower including the markings on the petals.
The next step was to take elements from our doodles and take them a step further. I'm not sure whether I can explain this adequately without a visual example but I didn't have time to stop to take photos at the time. Ok, I'll try. We took a sheet of carbon paper and laid it face down on a sheet of paper. Then, we folded the sheet of paper with the carbon paper in half and half again so that the carbon paper was on the inside.

On one face of the folded paper, with a pen, we drew our design (doodle). I decided to use the octagons and you can see the result (a bit scrappy). It's the same principle as cutting out dancing dolls so that whatever you draw comes out in quadruple
Jo suggested that we try different ways of folding the paper and also that I try one of the curvier forms I had been exploring.

As you can see I folded this piece vertically and used parts of the lily flower. I liked this design and I also liked the empty space which balances the design.

In this example I folded the page in fours and then folded it diagonally and used the lily design again. As you can see I needed to press harder with the pen for the design to come through fully.

I then decided to go back to the circles doodle. I folded the page and carbon paper in four and then folded that again vertically. The colour was put on after the next drawing was done as I didn't like this drawing as much as the next one so I thought I would use it as a practice piece. (Are you keeping up?! Hehehe!)

This was my final design which I tried to keep simple and uncluttered, and it got me away from my love of straight lines.
Now I've got this far I can show you a photo of us working, well, not me working, I was taking the photo!

You can see examples of Jo's beautiful rugs on the wall.
As you can see we painted our final designs on silk - well, voile to be precise. I have never done any silk painting so I was on a steep learning curve. We attached the silk to the frame, one pin in each corner, pulling the silk taut, and then one pin in the middle of each side and one pin in the middle of each quarter again, all the while pulling the silk taut. We placed the design underneath the frame and drew the design onto the silk in gold thick Pilot pen. All that was left then was to paint it! A little silk paint goes a long way. We brushed the paint onto the silk and let it spread a bit, then washed the paintbrush and coaxed the paint to the edge of the space. Where I wanted to blend two colours I placed the first colour on and then painted up to it with the second colour.

You can see the arrangement of the pins in the photo above.

This is the final piece and I'm quite proud of it! I've already got some silk paints at home so I will definitley be doing some more of this. I feel as though I have got a lot out of this workshop. It has opened my mind up to a way of designing which I am sure can be applied to other types of work in the textile field and it has also made me realise that a lot can come out of doodling from everyday objects or the many photographs of surfaces that I have. Bring on the 48 hour day!! :)) Of course you are not obliged to do the carbon paper thing but it was a useful way of expanding our design and saving time too.
Thank you, Jo for a great fun learning day.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Snowdrops and Crocuses

Mondays and visits to the dentist! What could be worse? A filling!!!! Yuck! That means I've got to go back next week and it's going to cost a fortune! There was a compensation though, another beautiful sunny day and a walk round the lovely churchyard of
St Mary's Bingham.

When I walked through the lych gate I was greeted with a beautiful sight

Isn't it absolutely beautiful? The crocuses and snowdrops are naturalised throughout this part of the graveyard.

This beautiful clump of snowdrops was just inside the lychgate and I love the strong shadows they cast on the ground.
I had a little look round the interior of the church and was struck by the light through the stained glass window falling across a stone effigy, which I was quite surprised to see in a small town/village church.
The figure marks the tomb of Sir Richard de Bingham and you can see the detail of his chainmail on the arm.
This is one of the engraved windows on the north side of the church.
I do like to wander round churchyards, especially a really old churchyard like this one. I find gravestones endlessly interesting with their often beautiful carvings and the history of families over the centuries.


About a week ago I mentioned to Sharon that I had done a little work in pastel and I intended to post one or two examples. I finally remembered to photograph them today.

This sketch was done at a club workshop with Tim Fisher, who is an excellent teacher. We had done some drawing exercises before we worked on this piece. Usually I am not happy working with pastel but I did enjoy working on this. I just wish I'd taken photographs of the various stages!

The two examples above were done at the art class I used to go to regularly. Most of our work was done in pencil, pen and watercolour but on this occasion we tried out pastels.

This final piece was my interpretation of a Monet style painting. I seem to remember that I sketched out the first layer in chalk pastel and then worked over it in oil pastel. It's a bit blue and I think I could have put a little more emphasis on the verticals but there are parts of it that I like. Maybe I should try pastels again! Oh, and Sharon, time for you to do some more watercolour! ;)

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Glorious Sunday!

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Did you have a glorious days' weather today? In the Midlands in the UK we woke up to a sharp frost which soon cleared away to a wonderful Springlike day with the birds practising their Spring songs. It has been a "good to be alive" day
After a visit to the local crematorium to commemorate my DH's Mum's birthday which would have been this Tuesday (she passed away 2 years ago), we decided to do a quick supermarket shop and then pop out to the Vale of Belvoir for Sunday lunch. We went to the Rutland Arms, known locally as "The Dirty Duck" adjacent to the (currently unused) Grantham Canal. The service here is so quick you barely have time to settle at your table before the meal is in front of you! Roast beef twice (one normal, one child's portion for me!) went down very well! There must have been at least 9 vegetables including the potatoes and it was all piping hot! Lovely!
We didn't linger too long and thought we really should make full use of the sunshine so we decided to walk along the canal in the opposite direction to the one we normally take. As you can see from the collage there was plenty to see. The reeds and rushes looked beautiful in the afternoon sunshine.

Aren't these reed seeds so delicate?

You can see from my hubby just how tall the reeds are along this stretch of the canal (he's about 5'8" tall). There are plans to open up and clear all the canal from Nottingham to Grantham so that it is navigable.

Looking across the fields you can see Belvoir Castle on the hilltop. (Excuse the pylon, DH wouldn't move it for me lol).

These gouges under the bridge arch were caused by the ropes which were harnessed to the horses which used to pull the barges along the canal. Iwould imagine you can see these on many canal bridges up and down the country.

I don't how long this sign has been painted on the bridge over the canal but it has a lovely feeling of age about it.

My DH took this photo of our drive home after the walk - yes, there are hills in Lincolnshire!

These ladies were also enjoying the sunshine. I am fascinated with the marks on the old building in the background of this photograph which seems not to be in use.

The patterns on the hardboard must have potential in mixed media or even in fabric and I like the pattern over the door.

And how about this tree trunk for texture? Click on it for a proper looksee. Wouldn't this be fun in Photoshop?!

Saturday, 9 February 2008


I finally managed to get to our monthly mixed media workshop/playday today having missed the January session when my DH was ill. I didn't achieve anything concrete but I did have a play with some Evolon which I bought recently from Rainbow Silks. This is a new product, said to be similar to Lutradur in that it is paintable, printable, sewable and probably a few other -ables too! It does feel softer and denser than Lutradur, more like a fabric.

I decided that I would use acrylic inks to colour the Evolon with and sprayed water onto the fibre to dampen the surface.

This is the surface when wet and with inks squirted on neat from the dropper. As you can see the ink was very reluctant to move even when sprayed with water. I did try and spread it with a brush and water to close some of the gaps but I think it would have been more successful if I had diluted the ink in the first place.

I don't think there is much difference to be seen between this dry sample and the wet version.

This is the reverse of the Evolon when dry. There are some attractive textures here I think.
I did cut some samples from the sheet of Evolon that I had painted and subjected it to the heat gun but with very limited results. In fact, the fabric barely altered at all. I would like to have a play with it with a soldering iron as we did find it was possible to cut out shapes with it but unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the tiny bit we did. Oops!

The above photo shows some oilbar (Shiva paintstix) rubbings on Evolon over rubbing mats. the black shape in the middle was done with a Neocolor crayon which of course is not water resistant.

This time I diluted the inks and then brushed them over the oilbar rubbings. Even though the ink was diluted you can see that it was still reluctant to blend. The ink/paint seems to stay where you put it and not migrate through the fibres.

The photo above gives a closer look at the surface of the Evolon.
Obviously I have barely scratched the surface of possibilities with this fibre and when I get chance I will experiment further.

Footnote: I have just Googled Evolon in images and have been linked to Carol Clasper who has blogged about her own experiments with Evolon last year in a much more extensive way than mine. If you click the highlight of her name you can read all about it.