Friday, 29 April 2011

Get Me To The Church On Time

When one is required to make a cheesecake for a rather special royal wedding party it can only really be be red, white and blue...

Okay... I didn't actually make it for "the" wedding party but for a friend who is hosting a garden party today. Our phone box has been redecorated for this special day too...

What ever one might feel about the monarchy and the royal wedding, today is still all about two young people starting out on a life together and I for one wish them lots of love and happiness. Now if you excuse me I'm off to put the telly on... I don't want to miss seeing that dress!



Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Marie Antoinette and the Altered Book

Thank you for your encouragement after my last moany post... it didn't take much to forget those marks... and after a weekend of sunshine, gardening, good food and time spent with the family I'm enthusiastic and ready for the start of my next module on Monday. Not much else going on creatively here though which I think has a lot to do with the mess in my workroom. To be fair it is rarely tidy but has reached a ridiculous level of detritus where I can't find anything, including table space on which to work or floor on which to stand! I have declared it a health hazard so this week's task has been to have a thorough clear up... I have a "before" photograph... but still a long way to go before I can take an "after".

But there have been small chunks of creativity in connection with my Marie Antoinette bodice. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Angie Hughes was talking to our Guild (the day I made two cheesecakes!). She gave a very entertaining talk - one of the best anyone could remember - which was wonderful except I'm the next speaker booked for our Guild. It would have been an easier act to follow if she'd been rubbish! But I digress... the next day Angie led a workshop on altered books, something I'd never really done before. She brought along some fabulous examples and we were let loose among paints, glue, rubber stamps and embossing powders etc

I wanted to make a book about Marie Antoinette as back up to my bodice. I chose an old book of French plays which seemed appropriate to alter. (I know there is at least one person who will be aghast at this but it was old and the pages were very tatty and torn!)

I managed to finish a couple of double page spreads in class but when I got home I got out my glue and gesso and continued to add to the book a little each day.

Which is the beauty of altered books... with just 10 minutes here and there you can build a whole new book... with a new front cover...

And inside you can tell a whole new story....

With little windows to peep through...

And embroidered edges to pages... it is really quite addictive!

Thank you Angie for a super day (and all this the day before she moved house!) You can see what the rest of the class did here.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Happy Easter!

I started this holiday weekend feeling very grumpy... results were back from my last module and I was disappointed. Not really bad marks (76 %) but my lowest so far by quite a margin. I know I could have done better but I didn't really enjoy the module so I'm cross with myself! But after a little restorative Easter baking...

That involved opening a very large packet of mini-eggs...

Plus a day outside in the sunshine... things don't seem so bad.

I leave you with happy Easter greetings and a photo of the telephone box in our village. No longer in use for making phone calls it has become something of a feature. At halloween a witch found her way inside, at Christmas Santa managed to get stuck down it's chimney and now a very big bird seems to have nested...

Happy Easter

Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Would you really want me in your home?

I've been teaching today in someone's home - something I seem to do more and more of lately. A group of friends join together to hire me for a day's workshop. It's a lovely informal way of getting together to learn something new... and from my point of view no lesson plans or evaluation forms to deal with... and they make me lunch! Seven friends gathered in Jenny's home to learn how to make book jackets, using a shadow quilting technique. I made this one to cover my diary as a demo...

And these were all the others that were finished throughout the day. A beautiful jacket for a dinky little square book from Moira.

Denise did something slightly different and made a cover for her Kindle.

This was Jenny's cover - love the colours and the way she has taken the design off the edges.

Catriona made this for her son. It is his birthday today and she plans to give him this tonight so she really did have to finish it!

Jackie made this for a photo album... the simple shapes work really well.

Sheila covered her address book...

and this is Jenny's work in progress... not finished beacause she was running around making us cups of tea and looking after us all day... not to mention clearing up the debris after I took a book off a shelf and the whole lot collapsed... not a good advert for hiring me to come into your home I guess!!! In my defense, Jenny did say it had happened before... honest guv

And on a completely different note

It's been another postcard swap weekend. The one above was the one I received from Lesley, which I loved and you can read more about it here. And the one below is the one I sent to Chrissie - you need to check here to see the surprise element in this card.

Check out all the current postcard swaps on the Postman's Knock blog.

The standard of work is amazing!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Culinary Mishap

You might be under the illusion that when it comes to all things culinary that life in the "Fan My Flame" household is pretty fine and dandy... but you would be mistaken. Tonight is our Embroiderer's Guild "Spring Fling" - we've got Angie Hughes coming to talk to us and a delicious supper provided by committee members. I'm making the cheesecake...

Looks pretty good you might think... but again you would be mistaken because despite very carefully wrapping the tin with foil before inserting it in a bain marie there was leakage. When the cheesecake was removed from the oven the tin was sitting in water and as a result there was a very soggy bottom (the cheesecake's, not mine you understand). Which is a shame because the top looks pretty darn good.

So there was an early morning dash to the supermarket and cheesecake no. 2 was whipped up and this time surrounded with a triple layer of foil just to be safe.

And this one came out much better...

Not the least bit soggy in its nether regions and so I can go to the Guild with my head held high.

Of course the men in my house didn't mind this culinary disaster one little bit. After beating them off with wooden spoons last night with cries " Hands off... it's not for you lot it's for the lovely E.G. ladies..." they are now laughing because they have a cheesecake all of their own. Even if it does mean scraping the topping off the base! Although apparently the base tastes fine (if a little damp) and I didn't need to make a second one at all!

It's not only cooking that's proving tricky but I've a problem with photography too. You may notice the little soft focus areas in all the pictures... that would be the cheesecake I managed to smear on the lens!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Lovely Things

I was given a lovely welcome at the Chiltern's Textile and Embroidery group on Monday evening and as an added bonus I got to pick up this rather fabulous boa type scarf from a fellow degree student Viki, that I'd ordered after seeing her wear a similar one.

It is soft, cosy, warm and feels very glamorous... and I love it!

And then yesterday I received a parcel of the most gorgeous luxurious goodies from a shop called Blodwen, that I won in another Selvedge competition. I saw these at the Selvedge fair and I confess they were a little out of my price range so I was delighted to discover that I was picked as a winner... just for knowing that Mamgu is Welsh for Grandmother! They smell divine...

So even if they don't work magic on my skin at least I'll come up smelling of roses!

Monday, 11 April 2011


After spending four days (very enjoyable days) indoors during what has been the warmest, sunniest week this year it was a joy to get out in the garden all day yesterday.

There was much digging, weeding and tidying up to be done and I was assisted by my feathery friends.

Although they didn't always dig where I wanted them to...

in fact these very naughty girls kept digging up things I had just planted!

Barley kept a watchful eye, supervising us all...

But soon got bored!

After eight hours working, I knew I was getting tired and it was time to stop when I put both feet on the spade at the same time and managed to fall off, much to everyone's (well Stewart's) amusement... absolutely nothing to do with our afternoon refreshments of course!

This morning I woke up aching all over but I'm off now to speak to the Chiltern's Textile and Embroidery group... so at least no gardening for me today.

Saturday, 9 April 2011


I have spent an amazing (and unexpected) two days drawing with Bobby Britnell. We weren't even meant around this weekend, but I managed to mess up dates in my diary so we ended up staying home instead of being in Devon. After a super day teaching at Art Van Go on Wednesday I got a call to say there was a last minute cancellation on Bobby's course and would I like to do it? Would I... not half! I rearranged the appointment at the hairdresser and the Ocado delivery and quickly gathered together my stuff and it was back to Art Van Go first thing on Thursday morning.

Bobby started us off drawing with charcoal, exploring how to create the illusion of different planes - a challenge for the brain as much as for the hand!

We then worked in groups of four to create huge abstract pastel drawings - each one was 4 times A1. The one below was made by me, Dorothy, Angela and Lucille.

And these were made by the other two groups

These were then divided into four and we were each given a section to work into - this one was the piece I was given.

The next stage was to cut small sections from this large drawing from which we had to select three to enlarge.

And this is what I ended up with. I would like to work into these some more and possibly develop them into something else... so watch this space!

All the time we were doing this we had a piece of white paper behind our work which gradually became covered in smudges and marks. We then had the challenge of working into these messy rough sheets using whatever techniques we liked. I think this was my favourite exercise and this is what I ended up with...

I think the one below was Pam's...

This was Angela's...

And this was Janice's

We finished off by working into a sheet of A2 paper covered with charcoal.

I had a brilliant and totally absorbing two days, drawing in ways I hadn't tried before and I can't wait to get a chance to work with Bobby again. She was a most inspirational and generous tutor.