Saturday, 28 May 2011

Marvellous Mail

One of the best bits about taking part in the Postman's Knock postcard swap is the anticipation and then excitement of receiving something through the post other than junk mail or bills!

So when this envelope arrived for me from Jo this morning it caused great excitement.... and even more when I found a wrapped parcel inside.

I wasn't disappointed... as this was the wonderful postcard wrapped up inside...

Which opened up to reveal a beautiful butterfly. What a super interpretation of my theme of revealment and concealment. Thank you Jo... I love it!

I had to send a postcard to Jill this week, whose theme is windows... so I chose to stitch a "Room with a View". You can see more of the postcards swapped this week on the Postman's Knock blog... despite problems signing in and out of blogger... leaving comments....

and not to mention the blimmin' spacing which I still can't sort out no matter how much I play around with the html!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

That Was The Week That Was

As well as a birthday this week - the first in a run of five family birthdays in the next six weeks - you didn't really believe me when I said there would be less cake, did you?... I digress... as well as a birthday there has been lots happening this past week. It started with my talk to the W.I. which I think went well (measured by the fact that everyone stayed awake!). Then it was up to Art and Stitch on Saturday for a workshop using sheer fabrics.

It was only a small (but very select) group and they achieved some lovely results making a little shimmery bag plus some sheer flowers. Delyth's above and Paula's below. Paula used table confetti instead of sequins with excellent results.

Sally's work in the photo above and Linda's below...

And last but not least... this pretty pink and purple creation was made by Val... yes, I had Dotty Cookie in my class... how lovely was that!

Whilst discussing various uses for the technique, Angela suggested it might make a good ring cushion. As it happens, Pam, who works in the shop has a daughter who is getting married this summer and before I quite knew what had happened I had offered to make a ring cushion. In the blink of an eye I was presented with fabric, sequins and thread....

A chance to use some very teeny weeny sequins... and hey presto... a ring cushion...

I'm not very familiar with ring cushions but I assumed a ribbon would be useful for holding the ring in place.

Hope you like it Pam!

Sunday was setting up the Prism exhibition in London and then on Monday I was back with the ladies of 4S to finish off their dolls. There was much gnashing of teeth and bad language as they tried to turn the fingers but everyone ended up with a pair of hands and several limbs but no-one (including me) actually finished putting their dolls together, although you can see what they did on the 4S blog. I've been working on mine this week, using some of the sheer flowers as decoration. I can't show you the whole doll she is legless...

Tuesday I was back in London to steward all day at PRISM. It is a fabulous show with some really amazing work and worth a visit... the Mall Galleries every day until Saturday... when I will be back stewarding again. Maybe see you there?

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

A Happy Day

Twenty six years ago today, at the Newton Wellesley hospital in Boston, Massachusetts I had just given birth to the second of my beautiful boys.

Although today he has been out working on the river all day. When he comes home there will be cake...

Because you are never too old for chocolate buttons and magic stars!

Happy Birthday Sam!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Okay... What Next?

Yesterday things were looking up until Sam came home late from a day working in Cambridge (he's a punt chauffeur for the summer) to announce his bicycle had been stolen. He'd had to walk the three miles home from the station because some idiot had taken bolt cutters to his lock and made off with his bike.

Not a fancy expensive bike but necessary for Sam to get around. So until he gets it sorted out he's dependant on us for lifts. The irony is not lost on him that had his move to Cambridge gone ahead this would not have happened. It's really not been his week.

Then this morning I got up early to meet my friend as usual for our daily dog walk. As she walked across the field to meet me I knew all was not well... she was on her own.

Her lovely, bouncy, totally barmy, border collie cross has had a couple of operations recently for a tumour behind his eye. We knew he probably didn't have much longer but didn't expect it to be quite so soon. He'd only gone to the vet yesterday to have his stitches removed... but he didn't come home.

We've been walking together since the dogs were puppies, so at least nine years... probably longer. We meet early every morning come rain or shine and put the world to right. We walked today with just one dog... crying and laughing... what a sight we must have been! She came out to walk today because she didn't know what else to do... because that is what we do in the mornings.

So, I am trying to stay positive I really am, but its not a good week all round. Today I can't settle to much again although I have finished this doll as an example to take back to the 4S class on Monday. In case you were wondering I was inspired by this lady...

But I've got to knuckle down as it's a busy few days again. I'm talking to a local W.I. this evening. Teaching at Art and Stitch on Saturday (still places available). On Sunday I've to deliver work to the Mall galleries and help set up the exhibition before going to catch the Julia Caprara school degree show in the afternoon. On Monday I'm teaching 4S how to put bodies on their dolls and then on Tuesday I'm back in London all day for the opening of the PRISM show.

So forgive me if I'm not around here for a while. And when I come back I'm going to be a smiley, happy person who doesn't moan about all the bad things that are happening... because I hate moany blogs! See you next week!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Moving Swiftly On...

Thanks for all your lovely messages yesterday. I've felt horrible for a few days now and unable to focus on much creatively. In fact I've come pretty close to giving up the degree course on more than a couple of occasions. Yesterday I didn't believe I had a single creative cell in my entire body. But I'm not one to stay down for too long and today I've been working with gusto on all sorts of ideas for my latest module... which I can't actually share with you yet!

But while I've been out and about I've been drawing people using their mobile phones ... and then translating them into simple stitched portraits... black free machining on muslin.

It might be leading somewhere... but you'll have to keep popping back to find out where!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


I know, I said there wouldn't be so much cake... but things haven't quite turned out as planned. Sam was meant to move into his new house on Sunday but he's still here.

The girl from whom he was sub-letting the room, Alex, failed to tell her female house mates that Sam was in fact Samuel not Samantha. Alex also failed to tell Sam that one of her housemates was prohibited from living in a mixed gender house due to religious reasons. As far as we can tell she planned for Sam to move in on Sunday and hoped that somehow everything would be alright. It was probably fortunate that the landlord found out what was happening and emailed Sam on Friday... just two days before the planned move... to tell him he would not be able to take the room.

Understandably Sam was very disappointed and angry.

And then today we had another disappointment. In October I bought Jacob tickets to see Eric Clapton. Stewart and I were planning to go with him. Not a cheap night out but as it was for his eighteenth birthday it seemed worth it... and worth the seven month wait. The concert is on Friday but the tickets hadn't arrived as of yesterday morning. I checked the confirmation email - the one that says "Please print for your records" which said please email if your tickets have not arrived five days prior to the event. I did that... but it bounced back... further investigation seems to suggest that I purchased the tickets from a bogus site. A site that looked identical to the official Eric Clapton site.

I know in the grand scheme of things none of this is that bad. After all, Sam is not homeless and Jacob will get over the disappointment - in fact he took the news really well and was more concerned that I'd lost the money (I think I can claim it back on my credit card for goods not delivered). I'll even get over the fact that I feel a bit of a muppet being so gullible and taken in so easily. But what really gets to me is the realisation that there such unscrupulous and duplicitous people in the world. I may be a bit of a mug but I like to see the best in everyone... I like people... I trust them. Of course I know there are bad people out there but when it comes so close to home it shakes my world. Sorry to moan but I feel pretty crappy today!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Don't be Alarmed...

but I would like to introduce you to a group of fifteen bald headed ladies... not a wisp of hair between them. But before I do that, I'd like to introduce you to someone else... my friend Anna. I have known Anna for a long time... almost as long as I've lived here... her daughter used to babysit my boys and it's a long time since any of them have needed babysitters! Anna is very talented and creative in all sorts of areas but since her retirement from teaching she has been learning to make prints and rather lovely they are too. We met last week to discuss various marketing strategies for our forthcoming Open Studios and eventually got around to chatting about blogs... and now Anna has a blog! You will all know how lonely it can seem out there when you first start blogging so please pay her a visit, say hello and tell her I sent you. You will find her here at "inky fingers"

Now for those other ladies I was going to introduce to you... today I have been in Chevington teaching the 4S group for the first day of a two day doll making workshop. No you silly people it's not the ladies of 4S who are follicly challenged but the dolls... Fifteen members of the group managed to sculpt a dolls head (three seem to have gone missing) ready for the next stage - the addition of a body and hair! It's been a few years since I last taught doll making but the day went well and there were a lot of laughs. Thank you ladies for being so much fun and for my lovely lunch... and cake!

As always they started with the same pattern and the same instructions yet each one is different. I'm looking forward to seeing what they all turn out like next week. I'll show you the results next Monday.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Crazy Days

The past few days have felt like a bit of a whirlwind. It started yesterday when I met a friend at the V & A to see this exhibition...

12 March - 10 July 2011

It was fabulous. Not a huge exhibition by V & A standards but very well lit and we could walk all around and right up to all the exhibits which was a real treat to be able to see the beautiful cut, drape and detail of all the garments. After lunch we headed on to meet more friends at Blythe House for a private tour around some of the V & A's archives... another treat!

I just about caught my train home with minutes to spare, got home, got changed and it was out the door for the "Night at the Museum" event. I wasn't sure of what to expect but we were busy all night, lots of people came to say hello and I had visitors sat at my table trying needle felting all evening.

This morning we were up early for a drive to Norwich to see the exhibition "Basketry: making human nature" at the Sainsbury Centre. It was brilliant and well worth the long drive. It's only open for another week but really is well worth seeing if you can manage it. Lots of traditional examples of basket making, some dating back thousands of years along side some stunning examples of contemporary basket work. I was also amazed by the permanent collection at the Centre - a wonderful eclectic mix of paintings and artifacts.

This weekend also sees another postcard swap. The one above arrived for me from Jane for my theme "Revealing and Concealing". Layers of fabrics peeping through a sheer top layer. My postcard was for Penny whose theme is angels.

I made a peg doll angel and stuck her to a postcard, based on this poem by Byron.

Here she is singing out of tune! You can see all the postcards here.

I'd like to say I'm going to sit down and put my feet up tonight but I'd better dash and get changed... we're off to see a couple of local bands playing at out village hall in half an hour. At least I'm not doing anything tomorrow!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Come and Say Hello

The next few weeks are going to be busy as I attend various events, starting tomorrow evening in Letchworth Garden City when I will be one of the ERTF "experts" (stop laughing now!) demonstrating a combination of felting and embroidery at the Letchworth museum.

Then, at the end of this month I have work in the PRISM exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London from 24th - 28th May. I will be there stewarding all day on Tuesday 24th and Saturday 28th.

And finally on 11th June I will be at the Missenden Abbey Open Day with a stall to showcase my work. I know some of you have already had an email from Colouricious telling you all about this.

So if you can manage to get along to any of these events please do come and say hello and tell me you read my blog... because it really does totally freak me out everytime someone I don't know comes and tells me that (I just innocently believe I'm talking to myself half the time!)

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

What... No Cake?

There has been no cake in the house for the past three days. My family think I am executing some sort of deprivation torture. So this afternoon I whipped them up a chocolate sponge with vanilla buttercream. But what they don't know is this could be the last cake for a while...

For at the weekend, Sam is moving out to pastures new and going to live in a flat in Cambridge. This means that until Joe comes home (not imminent as he is still in New Zealand without a passport) there will only be three of us at home.

Despite baking it, I don't really eat that much cake. Jacob, being diabetic really shouldn't eat that much cake and Stewart... well he doesn't need to eat that much cake... (although he might not agree)

Do you think they will notice the reduction in cake output? I know you will...

Monday, 9 May 2011

Collagraph Prints

A few weeks ago I attended a two day workshop at Art Van Go to learn how to make collagraph prints with Kim Major George. It was something I had tried very briefly when doing my teacher training many years ago but we had not really done it properly... I have vague memories of poster paints and tissue paper... not materials to encourage a love of printing! So this was something entirely new to me. The first day we made our printing plates and then on day two Kim brought in her press and we were able to make prints. I chose a trusty design from my sketchbook for my first attempt...

Two attempts with some subtle differences in the ink application.

The following design was based on a Hunderwasser painting and I particularly liked the way the lace printed,

Again a second attempt with the addition of some different colour

And finally a couple of little birds just to try out some different surfaces and ideas.

Kim often adds foils and sparkly bits to her designs and I thought I might like to do that with my two bigger prints - the poppies and the Hunderwasser tree. So I tried it with the tail feathers on these birds first to see what it would look like but decided I didn't like (It didn't show up on the photos so I haven't bothered to upload them) it so I'm not going to mess about with the others.

They are far from perfect, with areas of ink that are a bit splodgy or too heavy but I learned a lot and would love the chance to try some more now that I know how the plates print. But the best bits of all... the actual printing plates themselves...

The Hunderwasser tree is my favourite!