Monday 30 June 2008

A Twinning of Traditions

Today has been another day working with the Vital Communities project as part of the summer programme of events. We were in a school in Peterborough where I was running workshops with years 1, 3 and 6. As it was the start of their "International Week" I was given Australia as my theme so decided to base the workshops on traditional Aboriginal dot paintings. The children used traditional earth colours and made pictures and patterns made entirely from painted dots...

...But as it was also a Summer celebration we painted on flags and made more bunting which of course is a very British tradition!

These year 1 children had great fun painting with cotton buds on their flags.

As the paint dried we attached the flags together onto lengths of string which were hung in the hall ready for a final celebration of music, dance and painting at the end of the day.

Australian art on British bunting!

I loved this snake.

Talking about Australia, Joe is still in Sydney until the end of this week before moving on to Thailand. But today we received a DVD of a something he did when he was in New Zealand... a bungee jump! Fortunately I didn't find out about this until after he did it! I'm not sure he looks convinced about this.

Oh heck... that's a long way down
(134 m jump!)

The white dot is Joe!

Oh to be young and foolish!

Sunday 29 June 2008

A celebration.

Yesterday our friend Alastair celebrated his 60th birthday.
His socks were finished in the nick of time!

The morning was spent preparing lunch.

The afternoon (and evening) was spent eating and drinking and generally enjoying the company of good friends. Needless to say this afternoon has involved some sleeping!

Happy Birthday Ally!

Friday 27 June 2008

Mad mad week

I've had a crazy week full of workshops. It started on Monday in a school in Ely where I was running a series of bunting workshops with classes of year 3 children. The theme was "Summer" and there were some fabulous flags. In the short breaks between the individual classes I was frantically sewing the flags together to make the bunting which was hung in the hall for a final celebration of dance and poetry. This is part of a project in Cambridgeshire called Vital Communities. If you follow the link you can read more about this exciting project.

I love the dragonfly above

And this beautiful beach.
There were lots more but my camera battery ran out!

On Wednesday I was back with my ZigZag group. The following is a collage of some of the work done since last time, some ideas for a logo for our forthcoming website (watch this space!) and some cards and boxes made for sale for an Open Gardens Day that we are supporting.

I thought you might like to see a close up of this wonderful wall hanging by Bernice, beautiful spirals stitched on layers of sheer fabrics and cut out with a soldering iron.

The final workshop was yesterday afternoon where I spent a manic four hours in a Cambridge school back with Vital Communities running family workshops. Again it was a summer theme and we were making tissue and fabric flowers.

The idea was to wind them all around this trellis to make an indoor wall of flowers to stay in school.

But most of the children had other ideas and only about eight ended up on the trellis - the other forty odd that were made were taken home. And one even ended up as a hair decoration!

I finally got home about 8pm to find Ben had made dinner and Stewart had a bottle of fizz chilling to celebrate our anniversary. Thank you all for your wonderful kind wishes.
Now... I really must come off this computer and attempt to tidy up my house!!!

Thursday 26 June 2008

Four Years

Forgive me a little self indulgence today... but it's our fourth wedding anniversary. We were fortunate enough to be married in our village church which meant we got to walk down the road from home to the church. We made a procession, stopping the traffic (we don't get that much in the village) with my Dad and me, followed by four bridesmaids and my four boys. People came out and cheered us on the way which made us feel like Royalty! I was telling my Dad to get his hands out of his pockets here...

Leading the procession was this fabulous piper

I made my dress and the bridesmaids' dresses and my Mum did all the flowers.
(That's the "craft" bit in this post)

And this is us with our combined six children!

After the service, a few close family and friends joined us for lunch in a local restaurant. Because we didn't want to go off in a separate wedding car we hired a London bus so we could travel together... it was brilliant!

After lunch we came back home to a marquee in the garden where we were joined by lots more family and friends for a fabulous party. We danced all night, starting off to Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight".

And when I could dance no more,
the gold shoes were finally abandoned!

I haven't made a cake today but I did make our wedding cake and as I promised six weeks of cakes... here it is. Four tiers of pure chocolate which was cut up and shared with strawberies at the party.

It was a wonderful day filled with so much fun and laughter (and men in kilts!)... and it's been a pretty wonderful four years too.

Tuesday 24 June 2008


Stewart has just read the last post and said it's a good job that blog posts aren't "Scratch n Sniff"!


First of all, THANK YOU for all the wonderful comments you left after my last post - they made me feel a whole lot better about the whole fashion show and dress thing and I really did appreciate every single one.

Since then everything has gone slightly crazy - three workshops to teach this week (all different - all different preparation), more next week and only two and a half weeks until my first Open Studio weekend. The house is an absolute tip, my washing machine has packed up (that's no joke in this house) and so I decided to prioritize and do a blog post... about shoes!

Inspired by Katy's post about her rather fabulous shoes I got to thinking about all those I have lurking in my wardrobe that hardly ever see the light of day. Now for most of the year I wander around the house and garden barefoot only donning socks when it gets really cold (a strange habit inherited from my grandmother who was always barefoot.) If I absolutely have to put on footwear then it is either trainers, flip flops or these....

But even though I don't wear them I love shoes and if they have pointy toes and high heels so much the better! When Stewart and I got married four years ago I thought I might be really extravagant and buy some Manolos or Jimmy Choos... or even a pair of Gina Shoes. Common sense prevailed when I found this gorgeous gold pair in a High Street shop for the bargain price of £29.99. I wore them all day long and danced in them all night... but haven't worn them since!

Sadly these below have only been worn once too - very pointy, very high and with a slightly naughty ankle strap! I love them but one of the boys said they looked tarty so they've only ever seen the light of day under trousers. They can't be that tarty... they came from M & S!

This next pair I do actually wear and they are relatively comfortable. They make me feel very grown up (which I don't feel most of the time) and glamorous.

And my latest aquisition are these below which I really love... worn twice and comfortable if I don't have to walk anywhere!

There are more... but given all the other things I should be doing I think I ought to stop now, put on my sensible green wellies and walk the dog!

Friday 20 June 2008

Fashion Show.

Lots and lots of pictures today because this is where I was yesterday...

The Cambridge University Fashion Show!

We had rehearsals all day on Tuesday and then yesterday we were at the Cambridge Corn Exchange all day from 9 am until the end of the show. Because all the models in the recycled bag competition were under sixteen, I'd volunteered to be backstage as a chaperone and dresser so it was a long and tiring day. For the most part there were twenty girls shut into a windowless dressing room up on the top floor - as you can see, very crowded (and hot) but the girls were all brilliant. There was lots of camaraderie... and cake...

... and plastic Sainsbury's bags!
Mostly orange but one or two painted purple and pink!

Lots of laughs and new friendships formed

And here they are waiting for their entrance at the dress rehearsal.

My dress didn't pick up any prizes but I was in a bit of a no win situation really. I know it was picked by the judges but circumstances made it impossible to win. Although the competition was open to all ages, the majority of the competitors (apart from me and possibly a couple others) were under sixteen so it wasn't fair to all be judged together and therefore the winners were picked from the children's entries. I can't pretend that I didn't feel disappointed and a little deflated by the end of the evening... but that's life! And as you can see, Sophie did me proud and the dress looked pretty good when she modelled it down the catwalk!

Whichever way you looked at her!

The prize winners were all fantastic. The one below came third but I think this would have been my first choice. It was very cleverly fitted and ruched up the length of the dress with a wonderful floaty train. Very elegant and beautifully modelled.

You can see the detail of the ruching better below. It was also tied all down the back using the bag handles.

This one came second - very wild and wacky!

And in first place was this - also wild and wacky and great fun!

All very deserving winners but not the only amazing dresses.
These are just a few of the others...

Who would think you could do so many amazing things with plastic bags! Overall it was a terrific show, brilliant entertainment and great fun to watch (I got to see the evening performance) with lots of other amazing creations as well as the plastic bag outfits and the whole thing was for charity so all in a good cause.
To compensate for any disappointment, this morning I got my results for my last OPUS module. I passed (it is only pass or fail at this stage, not grades) but also received this comment "Your successful orange dress form demonstates ambition at this stage of the course and we would recommend that you keep developing this vision in your work. This is a very exciting start... well done!" I might not abandon my designing career just yet then....