Monday 28 February 2011

Progress with Persephone

I finished off the second brooch that I started in the class with Jill Flower on Saturday. I think I prefer this one with the little glimpses of text.

It did take forever to stitch all those beads and sequins though.

So today I've been working on a different version. This time made from recycled plastic bags rather than paper.

And all the sequins stitched on by machine. It took a fraction of the time and I'm really pleased with the result.

Especially as it will part of the Bodice for Persephone, which is still ongoing - although progress is being made...

Slowly but surely!

Sunday 27 February 2011

Beautiful Babes

Okay... be prepared for an overload of photos of beautiful babes... (I've just realised this could attract unwanted readers!)

Textiles in Focus is always a super show... enough great traders to top up that stash, some fabulous exhibitions and a choice of two hour workshops throughout the day. It's friendly, it's not too big, yet it has all you could want from a textile show.

At Textiles in Focus today, I ran two workshops making 'Button Babes' and these are the results... a little worried about the pin in her neck in the photo above... they weren't meant to be voodoo dolls!

Some wonderful colour combinations and although not everyone finished in this morning's class(hence the pins), they all look pretty amazing.

The afternoon class was a slightly smaller group and everyone finished their little brooch. Some with very wacky hairstyles....

Others in glorious clashing colours...

or multi colours.

Pink hair...
Purple hair...

and even two tone hair!

Every single one absolutely gorgeous! Well done ladies at Cottenham!

I finished a couple myself during the day and they may even make their way to Etsy in the next few days.... if I get my act together. Don't hold your breath though... there are deadlines to meet this week... not to mention parcels to send to NZ!

Saturday 26 February 2011

Flower Power

I've had a brilliant day out today - just what was needed after the week we've had. I've spent the day at our Guild doing a workshop with artist Jill Flower, who makes the most amazing ruffs from recycled magazines and paper, just like the one below. You can see lots more of her work on her website

We were working on something a little less ambitious than ruffs, but still using the same techniques of combining paper, beads, sequins and stitch to make a "Flower Brooch". The one below was my effort...

And the following are details of some of the brooches made by others in the class...

All unique and completely different but all made in the same way. I've got another one to finish off and I'm certain this is a technique I will return to... although for now there are too many ideas and too little time. If you get a chance, I can certainly recommend a workshop with Jill, who was lovely, friendly and a great teacher. It was a pleasure to be in the role of student rather than tutor for a change.

Tomorrow, it will be brooches of a different kind as I will be at Textiles in Focus in Cottenham, teaching two workshops making these little button babes.

Hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday 23 February 2011


Thank you for all your messages yesterday. They were very much appreciated. Joe called this morning and he is okay. He was with his friend doing the cleaning in his hostel when the earthquake struck. The building had started to collapse so they got out quickly into the square past the cathedral as it too was collapsing. We spotted them both on the BBC news last night which seemed slighty surreal. They were ushered to the main evacuation area where a local couple offered them somewhere to stay so they had a bed for the night and breakfast this morning. They have lost all their belongings. He only has the clothes he was wearing - no passport, no wallet, nothing. But we know he was one of the lucky ones - he's alive and unhurt - everything else can be sorted. I can't imagine how awful it must be for others.

He has no plans to come home - he figures there will be work to be done in Christchurch in the coming months. I'm just happy that he's safe. The relief feels exhausting.

Tuesday 22 February 2011


Joe has been travelling throughout Asia for the past eight months and at times it has been worrying to say the least - stories of trains coming off bridges, bugs and allergic reactions etc. So it was with some relief when he moved on to Christchurch, New Zealand last week. I thought he might be more settled.

Then we woke this morning to the news of the devestating earthquake that hit the city earlier today and have spent a sickening few hours trying find news of his whereabouts. I've just heard he is fine and staying with a local family so I'm relieved once more and grateful for the generosity and kindness of strangers.

Our thoughts go to those whose news has not been so good.

Monday 21 February 2011

A Cut Above

I received an unexpected package in the post last week. Inside was a paper wallet containing a set of the most exquisite little Chinese paper cuts of the most unimaginable delicacy. Each one tucked into a folded tissue paper page.

They were bought in London's China Town and Cathy has had them in her collection for quite some time... but last week she thought of me and sent them as a gift .

And once again I'm overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of a fellow blogger. They are beautiful and I will treasure them.

And they have inspired me to do a bit more paper cutting of my own... not quite so intricate as the Chinese paper cuts but I'm practising...

Thank you Cathy!

Sunday 20 February 2011

A Perfect Combination!

Peaches and cream... tomato and basil.... Some food combinations are just meant to go together. Lime and blueberries are such a combination, so when I saw them combined in a cake, I just knew it had to work. I'm a great fan of lemon drizzle cake...

But I think this lime and blueberry drizzle dream cake has replaced it in the favourite stakes. The recipe is by Lorraine Pascale and features in the March edition of Sainsbury's Magazine, although you can find the recipe here.

Stewart said he like the chopped chive garnish on the top... which is why we don't let him cook!

I can feel those pounds piling back on!

Friday 18 February 2011

Give Me Cake!

I've been good since early January:
No biscuits and no cake
(Weightwatcher's country slice is NOT a cake...
it is thin air masquarading as cake)

There has been no chocolate, no cheese and no butter...
(I do like a little bit of butter to my bread!*)

But it has paid off and I have lost the 10lb
that mysteriously attached to my middle during 2010.
And you will be relieved to know I can do up my trousers again

So I thought I would celebrate...
with cake!

That way I can repeat the process all over again next January!

Beautiful Cake Stand from Gill

* The King's Breakfast A. A. Milne

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Button Babes

I usually make these little "button babe" brooches totally by machine.

Constructed fabrics, machine wrapped cords... the only hand stitching is sewing on the button and the brooch back.

But on Sunday 27th February I'm teaching two workshops at Textiles in Focus in Cottenham and we don't have access to machines, so I've had to adapt the method for hand stitching.

And I've discovered not only did I enjoy making these little babes by hand...

I prefer the finished result!

Still one or two places left on the workshops if you hurry... just visit the website for a booking form.

Textiles in Focus
25th - 27th February

Monday 14 February 2011

To My Valentine

One of the objects we were shown on our love themed tour of the V & A on Thursday was this delightful carved lapis lazuli pair of Mandarin Ducks, which are symbolic of love in China.

Taking them as my inspiration, I cut my own pair of Mandarin Ducks to make a Valentine card

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday 11 February 2011

Hearts and Paper

After my ventures into the world of paper cutting last year (which you can see here, here and here should you be so inclined) I was determined to do more, so when an opportunity to do a class with an expert arose it was too good an opportunity to miss. I spent yesterday at the V & A with paper artist Jessica Palmer... this is just one example of her gorgeous work.

Our day started with a tour of love themed objects in the V & A collection, designed to inspire us. Back in the art studio, Jessica had prepared some drawings of iris flowers for us to try cutting. It was amazing - fifteen participants and we ended up with fifteen different designs.

I wasn't keen on my attempt - I think it looks too much like a stencil, but lessons were learned and we progressed to making cards. A Japanese inspired bird...

And in particular, some loved themed cards... I did one more but you'll have to wait until Monday to see that one!

It was a brilliant day which I can wholeheartedly recommend if you get the chance to either work with Jessica or take a class at the V & A. I cannot recommend my journey home however... I arrived at Kings Cross at 4.45 pm and didn't manage to get on a train until 8.05 pm (signal failure?) and even then it was going to Peterborough not Cambridge so Stewart had to come and find me in the depths of North Hertfordshire. However, I did manage to while away some of the time at the Champagne Bar in St Pancras station... I was desperate you understand... where I spent an hour with three lovely ladies on their way home to Yorkshire. If you're reading... hello Margot, Eileen and Betty!