Sunday 31 July 2011

A Rather Special Day!

My day started just after 7 am with a long drive down the M11 and round the M25 to Sevenoaks where I worked with a group of ladies from the Embroiderer's Guild making landscape inspired, machined textured panels. It was a full on busy day and they worked hard to produce these fabulous bits of work which are in various stages of completion.

Now much as I had a lovely time in Sevenoaks I had a pressing engagement to return to... someone very exciting to go and see. (okay so the Sevenoaks ladies were exciting too!!!)  So, at the end of the workshop I bid a hasty farewell and got back in the car to head home. And after a quick freshen up it was out again to Audley End.

By the time we arrived the place was already packed... the Welsh dragon on the flag is a clue as to who we we going to see. We found our friends who had been there most of the afternoon and joined them for a picnic supper... while we waited... it was a glorious evening.

And eventually... he came on stage... we were a long way back but it didn't matter. His voice is still magnificent, whether singing new songs or the old favourites. Can you see who it is?

 One of the old favourites...

Tom Jones... you could teach these youngsters a thing or two! Absolutely fantastic!

And there were even fireworks to finish off the day!
(And I'd just like to add... I kept my knickers on)

Friday 29 July 2011

The Best Laid Plans

I had today all figured out.
I would get everything ready for my class at Sevenoaks E.G. tomorrow.
Then I would met Gill for some knitting and a coffee.
But we were woken this morning by a dreadful hacking, gagging, coughing noise coming from the dog.
Plans of knitting were abandoned and a trip to the vet took place instead.

The poor old boy has kennel cough. Given his advancing years he was put on antibiotics, had an anti- inflamatory injection and I came home considerably poorer! So I thought I would use my time back at home by having a sort out and I came across two gifts that I have received in blog giveaways over the past few months that I've not mentioned. The first was this lovely patchwork bag from Angela. When I received it, it came filled with a large bar of chocolate (long since gone) and much as I like the idea of a bag for storing a stash of chocolate I think it will be used for my sketchbook materials when on holiday.

The second lovely parcel was from Heloise - two bundles of gorgeous fabric scraps. Beautiful silks, prints and some very old embroidered pieces.

I decided to turn some of the pieces into little Suffolk puffs. Given that I have never in my life made a Suffolk puff before it may have been a bit ambitious to make them this small but I persevered as I had a project in mind...

I wanted to make a little bracelet of Suffolk puffs like those made by Julie Arkell. I did a bit of research and worked out how I might assemble the bracelet. Julie puts little tufts of felt in hers and I couldn't quite decide how they worked so I used buttons on mine instead...

And I'm rather pleased with the way it turned out... I tell you... it doesn't take much to make me happy! 

In fact I like it so much, I'm going to make one with the blue fabrics too!

And Barley... well as you can see, he's doing fine. In fact, he's not coughed once since we went to the vet. Probably doesn't want the indignity of having a thermometer stuck up his bum again!

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Colour Sketchbook :: 3

Another way of making bold images in your sketchbook is by printing.
There are several different ways of making print blocks but something that is often overlooked yet can be very effective is the potato!

You need to slice the potato in half and leave it to dry slightly by turning it face down onto some kitchen paper. When it has dried a little, place the potato onto a sheet of paper and draw around it.

 Then within the drawn outline you need to draw your chosen shape or motif. I've continued with the poppy heads but any bold shape will work - we're not looking for subtle or intricate designs here.

You then need to cut this shape out, place it onto the cut surface of your potato and cut around the outline with a sharp craft knife.

When you have gone all around the outline you need to cut away the excess potato - the part you do not want to print.

You can add some additional detail at this stage but nothing too fancy as it gets difficult to cut.

You will then need some acrylic paint. One of the advantages of working with a limited colour palette is that you can buy just one or two colours to try out the different media.

I find that the best way of applying the paint to your potato print block is simply to paint it on or sponge it on - no need to get a roller dirty! It is good to combine colours - here I've used a rich burgundy together with scarlet.

You then press down firmly with your potato onto your page. It is worth doing a test run on a scrap of paper before working into your sketchbook to see if you have put enough paint on or possibly too much.

You then lift up the potato without dragging it and you should have a lovely bold print.

I used the second half of the potato to make another print block which I combined with my first one...

And printed this double page spread in my sketchbook. You will need to reapply the paint to the potato every time you take a print. Notice how I have filled up my page! You could if you like just leave it like this, but I like to add more colour...

When the prints are dry, using inks or other water colours apply a wash of colour over the page. The acrylic paint will offer a certain amount of resist to the watercolours.

The red on red looks a little bit boring so I've livened it up by adding a bit of green. Green is the complementry colour to red (as it is made from the other two primary colours - yellow and blue). When we put complementry colours together they can make a painting "sing" but the trick is to get them in the right proportions. Red and Green are a similar intensity so if we use them in the same amounts they fight each other, but by using a little bit of one with the other we can often lift a painting and make it look more interesting. Other complementry pairs are blue/orange and purple/yellow.

I'm not sure I've finished this yet, I could work into the page with pencil or pen, add text, maybe some more colour. The point is to keep working on your sketchbook pages until you are happy... and knowing when to stop! Also experiment with shades, tints and tones of your chosen colour, overlapping prints, working on to pre-painted pages instead of white... experiment and have fun!

You can see what other people are doing with their sketchbooks here:  Moogsmum, Ragged Old Blogger, and Zaz

And one last little thing... the winner of of my blog birthday sketchbook giveaway. I was overwhelmed by the number of comments and I had to abandon ideas of random number generators and resorted to bits of paper as some people had two or three entries (whose idea was that?). No photos of me folding up or picking out bits of  paper but the winner is...

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Postcard Update

I'm aware that I've not put pictures of the past three (possibly four?) postcard swaps on this blog.
Four weeks ago I received this mysterious card from Jill.

Inside a rather tasteful card of Michalangelo's David... with a tempting little tag! 

 Well, I had to, didn't I?
A perfect interpretation of my Revealment/Concealment theme!

Then two weeks ago another mysterious package, this time from Penny.

Wrapped up in a reproduction poster from the film "Gaslight" was a beautifully made card that served as a warning... not everyone might be whom they seem to be! Secret identities might be concealed.

And then this weekend came not one, but two cards from Jane that were based on childhood puzzles. The first was a clever structure of two sheets of acetate stuck together forming windows, with foliage on both sides. Between the two windows little beetles move about, hiding in the foliage.

The second card is a painted tiger in a cage... but when you pull the tag...

The tiger is concealed and the lion is revealed. So clever! As always some ingenious interpretations of my theme.

The postcards I have sent have been this one below to Jo, whose theme is "Yee ha! Ride 'em Cowboy"

A very textured piece of machine stitching on canvas for Jane whose theme is "Coast/Seaside"

And finally this weekend I sent the card below to Sue whose theme is "Rust." A few people have wondered how I acheived the surface on this card and I can claim no credit. The idea has come from Lynda Monk's article in the last edition of Workshop on the Web. It is a combination of pelmet vilene, dyes, foils, and tissue... but you'll have to see the article or attend one of Lynda's classes to find out how it's put together. The beetle is a Rust Red Flour Beetle.

There are only two more swaps left in our postcard swap and it has been great way of meeting some new bloggers... some even in person at my Open Studios recently when Jill, Jane and Chrissie came to visit.
You can see all the postcards that have been exchanged to date on the Postman's Knock blog

I'll be back tomorrow with a winner and possibly another sketchbook post!

Monday 25 July 2011

Two of my Favourite Things

No. 1 Gardening
I've been tidying up the vegetable beds which were starting to look very overgrown.
I wasn't even sure if there were vegetables in there!

But look what I found... and there's lots more to come.
So this has inevitably led to a second favourite activity.

No. 2 Cooking
What I love about this sort of cooking is that instead of deciding what's for dinner and then going shopping, I look at what ingredients I've got and then decide what to cook.
So there was a very garlicky two bean salad.

The recipe called only for broad beans but as I had climbing beans too, I used both.
It was VERY garlicky but at least I don't have to worry about vampires.

And a rather delicious beetroot and orange salad...
which I will definitely be making again.

Mmmmm... that would make a good page in my "red" Sketchbook...

And whilst clearing acres of overgrown mint I discovered a tiny lemon thyme shrub and remembered I seen a recipe for Lemon and Thyme Loaf... that I know one or two other bloggers have tried.
So I tried it too.
And it's good...  I promise you that thyme in a cake is not as weird as it sounds... really... it is very good!

I think I should have added a third favourite activity...
No 3 Eating!

Recipes from some of my favourite books.

p.s. Still time to enter my birthday present giveaway!