Monday 25 June 2012

The Fish that got Away

As well as vintage bunting I still have half a dozen more of the little matchbox books to make in the next few weeks to complete the limited edition of 50... not to mention a couple of additional orders. If you are still waiting... I promise it will not be for much longer! So far I have made 44 unique books and matchboxes, each one a different style and with different decoration. In addition I made 20 unique Jubilee books, 12  13 of which have sold. In total 56 books gone to new owners... with 55 very satisfied customers. I have had some lovely feedback.

But I guess you cannot please all of the people all of the time. The recipient of book No. 44 "Fishy Tales" was not a satisfied customer and on receipt of her book emailed me to say "I feel most disappointed as it seems to lack the detail and thought that have gone into the others...of course my book was one of the last of the 50 to be made and I know I would find it difficult to be as inspired at that stage"

I  will be the first to admit that this one is not as intricate as some but it is equally as detailed as some of the others. I think the recipient had her heart set on one of the embroidered books but in fact I have only made very few that are embroidered and I made it quite clear it always was going to be luck of the draw. The price reflected the books with the least amount of detail... it was a bonus to get one more detailed.

I also respect the recipient's disappointment and the need to let me know, however what did upset me was the suggestion that less thought had gone into this book and that my inspiration might be waning. Every single book I've made has been thought about and made with equal care and attention. I expressed my apologies and offered that she could return the book and I wouldn't cash the cheque. I admit I was surprised to be taken up on the offer... but I was... and so here it is... book number 44 "Fishy Tales"

It is an accordian book with hard covers, covered in handmade turquoise paper. It is tied with a silk ribbon and the front is decorated with a sparkly fish bead. The matchbox is covered with a collage of fish printed paper and is decorated with tiny shells and a porcelein dolphin button. And it is available in my Etsy shop * now should anyone feel that this is actually quite nice!

* Sold... thank you!

And I promise that if you are still waiting for a book it is because I haven't wanted to rush any of them and yours will be made with as much care as the very first book... and every other one since.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Home Again

After two days of driving we are home at last. We spent last night en route in Sees (there's an accent there somewhere but I don't know how to insert it in Blogger!) where there was an impressive Cathedral but not much else... which may be an unfair judgement on our part but we were not in the frame of mind for sight seeing with the focus already on getting home.

We've had a lovely week away and a chance to relax which was what we both needed but much as it is great to get away and have a holiday... coming home is good too!

Not least of which is that first decent cup of tea! And there is something about coming back from holiday feeling refreshed that makes me feel that anything is possible... which is probably just as well as I've 12.5 metres of vintage bunting to make in the next week not to metion Open Studios in less than three weeks time!

But before I got cracking on sewing bunting this evening we had a rummage through all our wedding photos to see if we could find a picture of the band... and found this one with Charlie, one of our lovely hosts in France.. he's the one hidden behind the tree! And it brought back lots of lovely memories just in time for our anniversary on Tuesday.... but now... back to that bunting!

p.s. Thanks for all your lovely comments on the last two posts. I wasn't able to reply when I was in France and now I'm home with deadlines looming I've not really got time to answer them all but they've all been read and appreciated... Ta!

Thursday 21 June 2012

Tour de France

Well, not quite... but a mini tour of where we've been over the past few days. We spent a lovely sunny day in Brantome.

We wandered along the river, browsed the shops and ate a leisurely lunch outdoors by the river bank.

On a not quite so sunny day (torrential rain actually) we still ventured out and ended up in Auberterre in the most amazing cathedral carved right into the rock.

By Wednesday the sun was shining again and we ventured out to Bourdeilles, another picturesque town on the river Dronne.

Full of typically French buildings with painted shutters and window boxes brimming with geraniums and petunias.

The streets were also adorned with fabric streamers...

and yarnbombed trees complete with tissue paper flowers in preparation for a festival this weekend.

Onto the lovely old centre of Perigueux where we stopped for another al fresco lunch. I wasn't very hungry so ordered a vegetable salad... and this is what they brought... a mountain of vegetables! Later we joined our hosts Jules and Charlie again for a fun evening at a local restaurant in Verteillac where Charlie was playing Guitar.

Today we drove further afield to visit Saint Emillion, another quaint town full of winding lanes and interesting shops...

including several wine shops! (He's not really that serious... but he just realised I still had his wallet!)

I was more tempted by the wonderful display of macaroons in this window.

Tomorrow we are going back to Brantome for the market and possibly canoeing on the Dronne (as recommended by Kim) before starting our journey home on Saturday. We've packed plenty in yet still found time to read and relax and generally sit around... just what we both needed. And I can definitely recommend Le Petit Fournil if you are looking for a cosy, friendly base from which tour this part of France.

Sunday 17 June 2012


We've escaped for the week to beautiful rural France to a perfect little cottage in the Dordogne.

Simply but tastfully furnished in French country style (I love that dresser!)

Le Petit Fournil is a cosy and comfortable retreat.

We've only been here twenty four hours but already we are both so relaxed yet have done so much. We had a fabulous supper with our lovely hosts Jules and Charlie on our arrival last night... and discovered that Charlie actually played in the band at our wedding eight years ago. We knew there were local connections to back home which is how we ended up here but we never knew that before last night!

This morning we've had a wander around the local town of Mareuil and visited an Art Fete where local painters and sculptors were all working outside to produce work that will be entered into a competition this evening. After that we had a wander around a flea market/boot fair.

Yet we've still had time to sit and soak up the sun with a glass of wine over lunch (he's allowed... it's his birthday!)

And I've even done some of the sewing I've got to do this week on the vintage bunting I'm making for the Cambridge Folk Museum.

It's amazing when the pressure is off how much can be done in just 24 hours. Anything seems possible... even doing a blog post whilst on holiday!

Thursday 14 June 2012

Twenty three years old today.
Still on the other side of the world.
Still miss you every day.
Happy Birthday Joe!

Thanks for all your kind comments and emails. Some things aren't going to be resolved quickly but other things have improved. I'm up to my eyes with work and we're about to have a few days away (taking work with me!) but I'll definitely be back in a week or so... because I miss you and blogging too!

Thursday 7 June 2012

Books and a Break

Well, my exhibition might be over and my phone box has been and gone. The Jubilee weekend celebrations are also done and dusted...

but I'm still raising the remainder of the hire fee and it is still Jubilee year and so after a marathon effort of photo editing this afternoon, the left over Jubilee matchboxes have gone into my Etsy shop.

Each book and matchbox combination is unique, each one comes with a numbered and signed certificate and each one would make a perfect little commemorative gift of this special year.

This is last opportunity to own a miniature Jubilee book and matchbox. I won't be making any more. 

I am however finishing off the remainder of original orders and have a bit of a problem. I have an order for a "Fish" themed book from Lynne Day but seem to have no email record or any other sort of record of the order so have no way of contacting Lynne to tell her the book is ready. Lynne... if you are reading this please get in touch!

I never like it much when bloggers announce on their blogs that there are difficult things going on in their lives but they can't talk about them... perhaps because I'm naturally nosey and I want to know what's going on... so I always think why mention them at all. But I'm going to do just that. Things aren't great at the moment... just family stuff, nothing life threatening but I don't feel much like blogging right now. So I only mention it by way of explaination for my possible absence over the next few days... or maybe weeks. Of course having made that announcement I'll probably be back tomorrow. See you soon.

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Long Live the Queen.

I made cupcakes...

with red, white and blue icing, of course!

I made a red, white and blue trifle... although blueberries are not really that blue!

And I made us some matching crowns so that we could feel like royalty for a day!

It was a fantastic village picnic despite the blustery cold weather. There was live music, games, a parade of crowns, food and drink and best of all lots of laughter with friends... not forgetting a toast to our wonderful Queen. A day to be proud to be British.

Saturday 2 June 2012

Now You See it, Now You Don't

In many ways this has felt like a very long week, but it has also gone in a flash. Just as soon as this was installed it seems like we were taking it down but I think it was a success. The exhibition was certainly very successful and PRISM seems to  go from strength to strength with more exciting and more stimulating work each year.

My phone box installation could not be missed that's for sure but I do wonder whether I quite gauged it right. When it was in a real phone box in the street, people noticed the installation, but in the gallery it was the actual phone box that seemed to attract the attention rather than the work inside. And most of the discussion seemed to centre on whether it was a real phone box and the practicalities of how I managed to get it into the gallery.

Once I thought I would always be known as the "bag lady"... that person who made a dress from Sainsbury's plastic carrier bags... but I think now I might be better known as the phone box lady!

Ah well... I guess all publicity is good publicity! I didn't sell many of the jubilee books in the shop unfortunately (only one if you must ask) so I expect I'll be listing them in the etsy shop over the next week... and making desperate pleas for you to buy them again!

Meanwhile, my other claim to fame this week is that I've had a video tutorial on making tassels posted on which you can view here. It's free but you do have to register on the site. I'm looking forward to all the jubilee celebrations over the rest of the weekend... hope you have a good weekend too.

Friday 1 June 2012

Weekend at the Abbey

With all the excitement of the exhibition and various other family stuff going on in the background this week, I almost forgot that I was going to share some of the beautiful work made by my students at Missenden Abbey last weekend.

The idea was that they would start by learning various techniques for creating textured backgrounds whilst at the same time mastering some new stitches. Then they would do some stitching onto sheer fabrics and create motifs such as flowers that could be applied to their backgrounds. My sample was intended to be a field of daisies but ended up looking like a muddy pond of waterlilies. Ah well... things don't always go to plan!

The following are just a selection of the students' work and as ever I was thrilled by the variety and standard produced over the weekend. They all worked hard with some stunning results.

Thank you Pasqua, Linda, Shirley, Fiona, Mandy, Rosemary, Jenny and Penn. I certainly had a great weekend and I hope you did too. Special thanks to Linda for sending me photos (I forgot my camera). And if you would like to have a weekend doing machine embroidery with me I'm teaching more courses later this year. You can keep up to date with what I'm teaching by signing up to my newsletter (link on the side bar). Hoping to catch up with some stuff at home today before another day in London tomorrow. Last couple of days to catch the exhibition