Monday 30 January 2012

Crunch Time!

There has been a lack of baking around here since Christmas (ahem!... if you don't count the two Guinness chocolate cakes) because more than one of us needs to shed a few pounds that have been gained over the festive season. It hasn't worked... the pounds have stayed were they are around our middles. So I decided that this weekend I would bake anyway.

Chocolate chip cookies... except I didn't have chocolate chips so in a moment of inspiration I bought some Crunchie Bars, bashed them into pieces and added those instead. It was one of my better inspired moments. Three dozen Crunchie cookies... not many left.

I then got carried away and made rolls and an apple cake...

so those pounds are still around our middles and today I'm trying to ignore the leftover baking.
I'm telling you... it's not easy!

Friday 27 January 2012

More Flowers

Remember this post a couple of weeks ago when I'd been working a sample for my classes? Well, my ladies at The Letchworth Settlement have finished their first project this term using this technique outlined in Alisa Burke's book and these are the fabulous results... Denise, Barbara and Brenda all made circular garlands like my sample, with amazing results.

Anne and Di made beautiful heart shaped garlands.

And other members of the class used the technique for their own projects. Margaret mounted her flowers like a posy within a circular frame. Not sure if you can see it in the photo but she made the leaves by stitching skeleton leaves onto a felt backing. Gorgeous colours!

Catriona used hers to make a cover for her book of samples.

Jean and Ann also made book jackets. The flowers look stunning on the plain felt backgrounds.

Jenny used her beautifully stitched and beaded flowers to make cards.

Debbie made this fabulous curtain/hanging

And last but not least Jan covered an old box giving it a lovely new lease of life.

I love the way she has put a chain of flowers around the bottom as well as covering the lid.

And me...  I just made another garland, but a heart shape this time.

A satisfyingly simple yet very effective project... and as ever I love seeing everyone's unique take on the same technique.

Well done ladies... fantastic!!!

Thursday 26 January 2012

Follow Your Dreams

After yesterday's post and the comments about incorporating black and white photographs into a drawing I suddenly remembered a similar exercise we had to do at school. Our art teacher had cut small pieces from black and white photographs in magazines and we had to select one, glue it down on the page and work it into a finished drawing, without seeing the original source. After a quick rummage under my bed I found a folder of old drawings and unearthed this.

I was pretty certain this was the example I drew at school but I can see that I've dated it and by 1978 I had left sixth form so it must have been something I did at home a couple of years later... but still using the same technique.

When I was in sixth form it was my dream to go to art college and get a job either as an illustrator or working in fashion. I don't think my parents were that keen and my school definitely weren't. I think they just saw it as a pathway to degeneration and unemployment. I didn't have the courage to persue that dream and mostly I remember it was because I never believed I was talented enough. I don't recall ever being encouraged and told I was good at art at school (they tried to convince me not to take art A level) and so I never had the confidence to believe I could succeed.

Which is somewhat ironic really... because now I can see anything is possible if you believe in yourself.

This is a message to all four of my sons and to my two step children but in particular to Sam who is a very talented writer and Jacob who is a very talented musician and both who dream of working with their particular artistic talents... follow those dreams guys!

Wednesday 25 January 2012

More Drawing

The nagging worked... thank you!
I have been drawing in my sketchbook.
Okay... I admit it hasn't been half an hour every day but then I'm much more of a "let's jam all the half hours into one long session" type of girl.

I've done a lot more rubbings because I really liked doing them... especially creating piles of wobbly cups! And cutting into pages... that was fun.

I've made some strange looking cutlery

Fun and quick to do.

And then I had a play using watercolour pencils combined with dry pencil and I really liked that too.

There were things I didn't like such as using photographs on my pages but I've tried each of the techniques and finally finished Module 1 and have sent off all my images. Whoohoo!!!

I've finished other things this week such as the dreaded tax return. (Even bigger Whoohoo!!!)
And there are also a couple of new ventures on the go too but I'm keeping those under wraps for now (Sorry... I know...  really annoying when people say things like that on blogs but I didn't want you to think I'm sitting around twiddling my thumbs)

Saturday 21 January 2012

Oh What a Night!

Well, what a day really.
I met Gill at lunchtime for a visit to the British Museum because I wanted to see the Grayson Perry exhibition again, and Gill hadn't seen it yet. I enjoyed it just as much the second time around.

We then had a wander down Regent Street, tried on a few dresses in Desigual (but were very restrained and did not buy) wandered around Anthropologie where there was a lot of "we could do that" so again we didn't spend!

Then after a lovely day together, Gill and I went our separate ways and I met Stewart for an early supper... at the only place I ever seem to eat in London (I mention it on here so often I think must they owe me a free lunch!) And then it was off to the theatre to see this...

Absolutely amazing!!! Loved it... Nothing else to say.

Monday 16 January 2012

My Cup of Tea?

I started the Creative Sketchbook course with the Kemshalls in September and apart from a little flurry of activity  I have not really got to grips with it.

My fault entirely, as it is a well written and well constructed course... but somehow the motivation has been lacking and I always seem to be able to find something else more pressing that I need to do

And of course, the longer I leave it between sessions the more difficult it becomes to return to the sketchbook and it almost feels like starting all over again.

Which is puzzling because I thought by actually taking a course it would give me the motivation I need to keep working in a sketchbook on a regular basis.

I think part of the problem for me has been that I tend to use sketchbooks for research into subjects that interest me, things that might provide the background for future work, whereas this has been drawing for the sake of drawing (Which of course, was exactly what I wanted to do!)

But today I've spent a couple of hours just playing, working into different pages and I've had a really enjoyable afternoon. So I've decided I've really got to stick at it and with just half an hour a day, I may even finish Module 1 by the end of this month. Keep nagging me!

Saturday 14 January 2012

Hello Dolly

At our Young Embroiderers meeting today we thought it would be fun to make dolls taking inspiration from the dolls and creatures made by Julie Arkell. Julie uses papier mache to create her doll forms and we didn't have time to do that so instead we made armatures from wrapped pipe cleaners and then the girls dressed and decorated them with all sorts of found scraps and bits and pieces. As ever, the results were amazing.
The doll below was made by Jemima and is still a work in progress, but you can see from its fabulous head and fancy pants it is going to be brilliant.

These two were made by Shaan (in the green dress) and Hannah (in the stripy number) and have been named "Bow" and "Buttons"

This beautiful but slightly sad looking lady below was made by Tabby

"Rose" was made by Keziah... our newest and youngest member at only eight years old. Isn't she great!

This trio were made by Francesca, Abigail and Bluebell. Francesca's doll, in the furry boots has been called "Bobby" and Bluebell's colourful lady in her red crown is called "Wacky". The less said about Abigail's rather buxom young lady the better... although as you can imagine it caused great hilarity!

Scarlett's doll started out being based on Lady Gaga but ended up as a Spanish Senorita.

This one below was made by Hannah (we have two Hannahs) and looks very disco in her sequined top.

These three were made by Finola, Skye and Imogen

And last but not least is this fabulous little dog like creature made by Grace. I just love his furry tail and cute little face.

Usually at Young Embroiderers the adult helpers sit and join in making their own version of whatever we might be doing, whilst helping with needle threading etc, but today without exception no-one finished or was happy with what they did. This was not because the girls needed more help than usual - in fact the opposite was true and they just breezed ahead with no preconceptions about getting wrong and as a result created all these wonderful free looking creatures/dolls. But us grown ups - we more more concerned with being neat and getting it right with quite awful results. So if you want a laugh... I'll show you mine...

Who looks remarkably like the Queen... if she were some sort of peasant potato farmer.

I'm glad all the girls did better than this!

Friday 13 January 2012


I shall probably mention this a few times in the coming month, but as we picked up the posters and invitations from Art Van Go yesterday I thought I'd give it a plug now. SPECTRUM are a small group formed from six of my ex City & Guilds students plus three other like minded souls, who meet once a month to stitch and chat under my tuition. (I'm very good at tutoring the chat!)  This will be their first exhibition together as a group and so we are just a little excited!

We'd be even more excited to see you there... and if you fancy coming along to our very special private view "Tea Party" (lots of homemade cakes) on February 11th, let me know and I'll send you an invitation.

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Flower Power

Over the past week I've been spending my time planning new classes and getting samples up to date, so I've been on the look out for any new ideas that will give students in some of my classes a chance to practise their free machine embroidery. One of my Christmas presents was this book from Alisa Burke which is full of fun projects.

I like her idea of using stitching as a form of doodling...

so I've been doodling flowers...

and leaves... on fabric and paper...

Cutting them out and putting them all together...

To make a flowery garland like the one in Alisa's book.

I decided it needed a butterfly too.

The finishing touch!

So now, not only have I got lots of new ideas for projects for my students...

I've also got a colourful garland which I think I might just hang on my door!