Monday, 31 March 2008

The crossing out thingy

I said I would post the details of how to do the crossing out thingy so here goes! I have to thank Moogsmum and Monkee Maker for originally posting the method for this. Say you write "I hate housework" when you meant "love" you do this:
I (del)hate(/del) love housework. However instead of using ( ) brackets you use < > for the brackets. If I did that here you would only see the crossed out word! You actually see the crossed out word when you post your blog.
I hate love housework! Ta dah!!! (It's not true! I hate housework!! lol)

Take it Further

The Take it Further Challenge for March was to consider the little things. You would have thought that this would have led to an avalanche of ideas but I have to admit ideas were a bit slow in coming this time. I think the main reason is probably that I seem to have had a busy month and haven't made time to sit and really ponder. I did think of "little things mean a lot", "good things come in small packages", the ripples in a pond when you throw in a small pebble and the rings get larger and larger, the tiny pebble that I love to collect from the beach and which has been eroded down from a huge rock, the tiny details in a close up photograph or a microscopic image, the infinite smallness of this planet we live on in the scheme of the universe.
As far as it goes, I have settled on "good things come in small packages" and to this end have been working on a surface that I will eventually use to make a box. (This also fits in with a challenge on the Fibre & Stitch group).

It is very difficult to photograph painted paper and I may have got some of these in the wrong order but the first step was to paint a sheet of brown paper with three colours. When it was dry I crumpled the paper up and then smoothed it out again.
For the next step I used a pad of distress ink and stroked it across the surface so that the raised areas took the ink.
I then discovered that the distress ink was not permanent as I put a wash of copper acrylic paint loosely over the sheet and this disturbed the ink. (Doh!) After this was dry I used a turquoise oilbar over the surface and rubbed some of it away.
Next I painted over with a very wet mixture of deep reds and prussian blue. At this point the surface reminded me of rock structures.
The final step was to take a brush and some gold acrylic paint and brush it very lightly over the raised areas of the paper. Where I felt it was a bit heavy I knocked it back with a baby wipe. I am really please with the look of the paper now. The surface glows and has some very interesting textures on it. The temptation is to carry on adding paint to the surface but I am going to stop here.
The next step will be to fuse the paper to fabric and construct the box. Watch this space!!

Friday, 28 March 2008

I am not worthy!

I have been very remiss in not mentioning several awards which I have been nominated for recently (and not so recently!). I very much appreciate and feel humbled by being selected by fellow artists for these awards.

Some time ago my dear friend Lynda otherwise known to you as Purplemissus nominated me for the "You Make my Day Award". Lynda is such a gifted artist and creator that I was amazed that she had selected my blog. Thank you Lynda both for the award, for visiting my blog and for all the efforts you put out there into bringing your expertise and ideas to fellow artists. (I gave you a wave when I was in Essex at the weekend ;) ).

When we got back from visiting my Mum I found a message from Margaret of Little Works of Art that she had nominated me as a blog that brought her inspiration and made her appreciate the blogosphere! Ooooh! Now, I don't think I had actually "met" Margaret before so I am truly overwhelmed that this very talented lady had selected my blog for this award. Thank you very much Margaret, and thank you for taking the time to look in at my inane ramblings blog. I will try and get some serious creativity on here again soon!

In true blogging tradition I should now select 10 of my favourite blogs to pass these awards on to. The difficulty is that I have so many favourite blogs as you can see from my blogroll. I will say, Lynda and Margaret, consider yourselves nominated as blogs that inspire me in return. For the remaining nominations I can only point to all of you whose blogs I read everyday (when I really should be working in my studio or sewing or embellishing or chasing dust bunnies or.......) and who fill me with awe, admiration and laughter (you must know who you are!!!)

(Did you notice I've managed to get that crossing out thingy to work? Thank you Moogsmum, I finally got round to trying it). :) Oh yes, you're definitely one of my favourite blogs that inspire me and make me appreciate the blogosphere! and have me rolling on the floor laughing too!

A touch of Spring from my friend's garden last week (cos there is way too much reading in this post!).

Jan Osbond and post

Today has been our weekly Art Group meeting and we have been treated to a demonstration of mixed media painting using tissue and texture mediums by the wonderfully enthusiastic Jan Osbond. Jan works in both watercolour and oils (separately) over texture mediums and more often than not uses her fingers to paint with instead of traditional brushes.

At the moment Jan is doing a lot of work in black and white so she worked in monochrome for the purposes of the demonstration this morning. I have done quite a lot of work myself with texture mediums and tissue along with many other materials to provide texture but it was interesting and inspiring to see Jan's work. Most of all she opened my mind up to the thought of working with watercolour pigment straight from the tube, straight onto the paper, applied with the finger. She then manipulated the paint with water, stroked on with her fingers to pull out the paint and create edges or soft areas. The paintings you can see above (sorry they're a bit blurry) were done in this way. The texture mediums were mostly used in the lower part of the painting and included tissue, (which was stuck down as one piece on pva and then manipulated to suggest rocks, black flint medium, sand texture medium and glass beads texture medium. Ideally you need to think about what effect you are hoping to create (eg foreground vegetation, seaweed, rocks etc) when you initially put on the textures.

The other technique which intrigued me involved applying inks to wetted paper, quite randomly apart from colour combinations, and then putting clingfilm (saran wrap) over the surface. Jan then pushed the clingfilm around on top of the paint until she was happy with it and left it to dry under a weight. Ideally you would leave this to dry overnight. The next step would be to peel off the clingfilm, re-wet the paper, reapply inks, cover again with clingfilm and dry again under weight (heavy book would do). You can repeat these steps several times until you get the result you're pleased with. Jan uses this method to achieve leaf shapes and suggest foliage. You also get a shiny surface with this method. I will certainly be having a go at this technique and will blog my results as soon as I've done it. Watch this space!!! lol

The post today brought me not only the latest issue of Stitch magazine but also 4 ATCs from Lauren as part of a 4 Elements swap at the MixedMediaATCs_UK Yahoo group.

Clockwise from top left the cards interpret Water, Earth, Wind and Fire. I think Lauren has worked in pastel pencil to make these lovely delicate ATCs. Thanks Lauren :)
The afternoon has seen me fight my way through a pile of ironing so my to do list is not getting any shorter! My house and studio are both/all in total chaos so the weekend is hopefully going to see me restoring a little order as I can't function anymore with all this "stuff" (not forgetting the dust bunnies!).

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Easter trip - Part II

Canvey Island sits in the mouth of the River Thames and its history dates back many centuries. The island was finally reclaimed from the surrounding marshes by Dutch engineers in the 17th Century and for years before that was infamous for the poor quality of the air. The men who farmed the island marshes used to go across to the mainland across the creek to find healthy wives. Once on Canvey these healthy women were known to sicken from mosquito bites due to the dampness of the marshes.
Charles Dickens in his novel "Great Expectations" used the pub shown above, the
Lobster Smack, as the eerie location for Pip to meet his benefactor-to-be, Magwitch. This is the location of the boats we were photographing. The island looks across to the coast of Kent and when the tide is full large container ships come up the river to Tilbury docks.

As you can see himself was busy catching the shots too! :)

Needless to say, I can't let this post get away without some shots of lovely rust!
At the risk of having Blogger throw a complete wobbler I'll attempt to upload some pics of the treasure trove I brought back.

You can see how long Mum's been storing some of this stuff! I thought the wallpaper might be useful for a background sometime.

All of this lovely lace turned up in the sorting. I really love these larger pieces above.

Lots of buttons too!
What do you reckon? These monkeys get everywhere! lol This chilled out chappy was relaxing at my uncle's house! He had a bad case of indegestion tho. I picked him up and there was a lot of sloshing around going on! Oh, all right then...........he's a hot water bottle!!!
My efforts on the art front have been zilch just lately and I have several projects that are looming large. Maybe if I list them here I might manage to keep tabs on them (and even get them done!):
# Make bookmarks for trade at Fiber Art Traders Failed completely :(
# Washer and button ATC for Anna Yep posted it!
# Brown Paper Bag challenge for Fibre & Stitch
# Take it Further Challenge which I have been thinking about but can't seem to get to grips with this month.
# ATC for Susan Found the one I originally thought I would send her so now don't need to make one :)
# Graffiti Postcard for MixedMediaATCs_UK Yahoo group
# Several other swaps that I'd like to do but daren't at the moment.
Maybe I should blog less and work more!!!! lol

Easter trip - Part I

Hi Everyone! I feel as though I've been away for weeks not just a few days. I hope everyone had a good Easter break. I've had a quick whip round the blogs I keep up with and it looks as though you mostly did.
We had a fairly successful visit to my Mum's. We managed to get rid of quite a bit of stuff for her without anyone falling out! Phew! We made 2 trips to the Charity (Op,Thrift) shops with car trunkfulls of recylable goods and left her with a considerable pile of rubbish for doorstep collection (or failing that a trip to the local tip by a friend). Surprisingly Mum didn't take too much convincing to part with her stuff this time. Mind you, Stewart did suggest we part her from some of her army of skirts, coats and shoes but she dug her heels straight in! No way, Jose!
I've come home with some of my Nanna's old papers and notebooks that she kept over the years. I didn't know that my Nan rented rooms to paying guests and holidaymakers in the 50's and it has been fascinating to read the messages of Thanks in her Visitors Book. They start out with messages from military personnel at the end of the Second World War and then move on to holidaymakers after that. An ongoing theme in all the messages was thanks for the marvellous food my Nan provided!

In looking through this book I can't help but wonder where these people are today, especially the children who left their messages too.
While the weather was pretty wintry throughout our stay we did venture outside to the seafront in the hope of catching a few crashing waves! Unfortunately the wind was pushing the waves off the shore so no dramatic photos. However, there were some lovely textures in the fishermen's rowboats secured up against the seawall.

Every time I see these boats lined up like this I think of the paintings of Terry Frost who lived in St Ives. He abstracted the rhythm of the shapes of boats and painted in joyous bright colours.
Blogger has now gone off me and won't upload anymore pics so I'll continue this in another post!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Exhibits, awards and blog break

Although it was our Wedding Anniversary yesterday I didn't spend the day with my DH as he was at work :(. Instead I popped down to Peterborough with my friend Anne to take in a textile exhibition at Peterborough Museum. The exhibiton was called Textile ART-efacts and was staged by a group of 15 textile artists going by the name Meniscus Textile Artists. The exhibits were all based on items found in the museum itself or among its own exhibits.

This piece, titled "Time After Time", is by Karen Rowe and is based on two grandfather clocks in the museum. The weights are made of silk paper on muslin, stitched and beaded.

This canvas is by Brenda Hickinbottom and is silk fibres embellished with stitch. It was inspired by an encaustic tile in the Museum's Collection.

I'm sorry but I failed to make a note of the artist who created this beautiful dainty child's dress. It appears to be made of silk paper embellished with silk paper flowers and machine-stitching. (edited 26 March: the artist is Alex Messenger. Thank you to Amanda for supplying this information).

This is my absolute favourite piece in the whole exhibition! I love the surface and the fossil theme.

I could not work out what had been used to make the body of this wonderful fish but the fins are stitched. The fish is inspired by the fossil of a caturus fish which was similar to a modern salmon and which was found at Whittlesey. (Sorry, the photo is a bit blurred).

Look at the wonderful surface of the top of this box! You can see that Mulberry bark has been teased out and laid into the surface, to suggest seaweeds maybe. Unfortunately I was so excited that I forgot to write down this artist's name too! Doh! (edited 3 April Alex Messenger has been in touch and told me that Joy Hall made this wonderful piece and the box was made by her husband).
**As usual, please respect the artists' copyright in respect of these images. **
After we left the museum Ann and I spent a pleasant time browsing the market and stores of Peterborough. I was fascinated with these jars in a cafe window near the museum.

Aren't they amazing? I love the reflections the camera has caught too!


Look! Look! Look! Can you believe what John Lewis are doing to poor innocent ducks and lambs?!!!!!!!




I'm going to report them to the RSPCDL!!!!!! (Royal Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Ducks and Lambs. What else? lol)
I have been remiss in not acknowledging two awards that I have been given recently. I hope the people responsible will forgive me for my tardiness in expressing my thanks. I will post about them properly when I get back as time is short this evening.
Back from where? I hear you say! I will not be blogging for the next few days as we are off to my Mum's for Easter. It will not be a rest for us though. Mum is in the throes of having her whole house re-wired so we are going down to chaos and will be helping her sort everything out and hopefully get rid of some rubbish that has been lurking in the loft for 20 odd years! I can see fur flying as Mum is a hoarder #1 and I am a hoarder #2! I can be more ruthless than her but I will be wanting to claim anything that could be pulled into my stash. My DH will just want to throw everything away so you can imagine the scenes.......and the arguments!!! :))) Keep smiling!!!

Have a Happy Easter everyone! Hope the Easter bunny is good to you! See you soon! :) (I keep typing Happy Eater! Must be thinking of chocolate!! lol)

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Two years ago today

Look what we were doing two years ago today! We've been out for a meal tonight at the same hotel we had our wedding meal at. According to my DH the second anniversary is Cotton so he tied a piece of cotton in his card to me and then wrapped said cotton around a little British currency so I can treat myself!!! Isn't he a darling?! The old romantic!

Monday, 17 March 2008

Match it for Pratchett

I didn't have anything to blog about today, or so I thought. While browsing down my bloglinks I was taken from Pat's Altering Thoughts blog to the Match it For Pratchett blog. As you may have seen in the news recently Terry Pratchett, the Discworld author, has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers and has recently pledged a donation of $1000000/£500000 to Alzheimers research. I have never (yet) read any Terry Pratchett but I have personal experience of Alzheimers through my late Mother in Law and it is a horrendous disease. Match it for Pratchett has been set up as a focus in blogland to encourage people to follow Terry Pratchett's lead and support Alzheimers research.
On a lighter note, and somewhat belatedly, Happy St Patrick's Day!

Sunday, 16 March 2008


Before the shopping another of those little blog quizzes. I like this one!

Your Inner Child Is Surprised
You see many things through the eyes of a child.
Meaning, you're rarely cynical or jaded.
You cherish all of the details in life.
Easily fascinated, you enjoy experiencing new things.">How Is Your Inner Child?

OK, as promised, confession is good for the soul! VBG!

The card in the selection above came from the Visions exhibition and I bought it to remind me of the techniques used in one of the exhibits. I like the idea of combining different materials (fabrics and paper) with stitch and embellishments to create a new descriptive surface. I was very impressed (no pun intended!) with the quality of the stamps from The English Stamp Company. I bought a little bird stamp which I think should give me lots of use both on paper and fabric surfaces but I may well order more from them in time. I walked round the whole of the Hobbycraft Exhibition looking for the alcohol inks and found them on the last stall I came to, just inside the door! Grrrrrr! I would rather have spent the hour it took seeing more in the sewing hall.

This was a bargain! Yay! The edging was £1 a metre and the buttons, ribbon and chain cost £1 for the lot! Yippee! I love a bargain! :) BTW I'm not sure what to do with the chain. Should I rust the whole thing so I can then use it to rust-dye fabric or should I separate part of it off to use as an embellishment? I am very tempted to rust the whole thing......

As you can see the edging is sequined and sparkly.

I did get tempted on the Stef Francis stand, well it's hard not to be! tThe colours a bit off. The blues are more turquoise and the red is more pink/purply. Computers!!

This is a study pack of African fabrics and a piece of batik cloth which I thought would be useful in backgrounds. The fabric includes wax print, three cats fabric, kola nut & indigo dyed, hand dyed batik, adire - indigo resist fabric and mudcloth. The fabrics vary in texture, some being quite firm and others soft and yielding. Many of the patterns and symbols have meaning.

Last but not least, is this lovely yarn from Arthur Ridley. Again the colours have not reproduced well and are much more vivid in life. Arthur Ridley works with the embellisher as well as embroidery and his work is stunning. The little envelope contains embellisher needles which Arthur assured me will fit any machine! I hope he's right!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Sewing for Pleasure Show

Despite finding it a bit of a scrum last time, I decided to go to the Sewing for Pleasure Show at the NEC today. I went with my usual local coach company (A & P Travel) and Alan, the driver/owner did a good job of navigating the traffic to get us into the NEC by 11 am. I thought that this time I would go to the exhibition stands first and even take in a lecture and worry about shopping later.

I started my visit with a cuppa (what else?) and a peruse of the Show Guide and then had a wander round the exhibitors.
These costumes are an example of the work of the company designing for "Strictly Come Dancing"" and Dancing on Ice" television shows. These costumes look stunning on the TV under the studio lights and they certainly sparkled on the display.

Close by was this wonderful knitted Gingerbread House which is raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. Around 500 women from the UK, USA, Canada and Spain have taken part in knitting this.

This stunning piece was part of the "Stitch in Time" exhibit staged by the Quilters Guild of the British Isles which was inspired by Staircase House. You can read about it below.

I think it is the concept of the design of this piece that most knocks me out.

The two photos above show work by a group of 6 textile artists known as "Visions". Each artist took the title "Shades of...." and interpreted it in her own way. I absolutely love the buildings described in wonderful textures above. Hopefully blogger will enlarge it so you can see all its details. The cream pieces above are embroidered felt and depict shades of the garden. This group originates in Leicestershire but is starting up a group in Nottingham later this year so I will be ending an e-mail to register my interest as it will be good to get together with other textile artists. (Hark at me, textile artist! I can hardly swing a needle!)

You've seen this book before as I bought it some time ago but I took the opportunity today to go to a short lecture by Kim (who pronounces her name Ti-ti-cheye). The talk didn't follow the line I expected but was nonetheless interesting and Kim is very entertaining. Kim works with commercially produced products like lutradur, tyvek and bondaweb and also with recycled sweet wrappers, florists cellophane, cellophane greeting card sleeves, plastic bags, decorated paper bags...... All of these commodities she manipulates with heat. I have her book but, as usual, I have not yet found the time to explore it fully.
Needless to say, I indulged in a little retail therapy (well, what else is a day out for?) but the light was too poor by the time I got home so I'll confess all tomorrow!
PS While I was Googling Visions I came across this amazing site which looks well worth a proper look.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

A little more FME

This machine embroidery is a bit addictive! I had another little practice yesterday and again today and I think I'm beginning to get a little more control. When I started I seemed to put my foot down and run the machine hell-for-leather but today I have been sewing at a much more relaxed pace and I've been able to control the stitch to some extent.

First of all I had a general practice (which I odn't appear to have photographed) and then I thought I would have a go at machining fabric snips onto a water soluble membrane. The photo above is the fabrics machined with a zig-zag stitch onto the membrane. The stitching doesn't show up too well as it is a metallic thread. I have also used a transparent thread in the bobbin.

Above you can see the result after dissolving the support. The idea is to cross all the stitches over each other so that after the support is dissolved the fabric pieces are all held together. I have ended up with a few holes where the stitches didn't quite mesh but I am pleased with my first attempt at this technique.


Today I have been trying to embroider with a little more control and I am pleased with what I've done so far:

Again it is a metallic thread so not as clear as it might be. I found the triangle difficult to stitch as I couldn't keep the line straight and kept forgetting which way to turn. Practice, practice, practice!

I had intended to practice some more but I ran out of steam at lunchtime so I'll save it for another day. So far I've worked with a ring to hold the fabric taut but I think I will try without and see how I get on.

I also did some fabric dyeing/painting this morning but I'll wait until it's dry before I put it up here.

Finally, a little shopping! My friend whisked me off to Newark yesterday afternoon and we went to the Scrapstore. If you've ever wondered what happens to fabric sample books I can tell you

They end up at the Scrapstore! I came away with just 2 but there were a lot more. These are all luxury fabrics and there is a wonderful assorment of patterns and colours. The fabrics include silks, linens and cottons, some plain and some with machined patterns. Each piece is 6"x10" so they will be ideal for ATCs and Postcards. I just have to find somewhere to store them now! Oh! How much did all this cost? 99p! (50cents) Can't be bad! I bet I don't manage to spend as little as 99p when I go to the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC on Saturday! lol