Friday, 29 March 2013

A Message From Elsa

"Thank you all for your support and sponsorship whilst we were doing the 
Jurassic Coast Challenge.
It was hard going, hilly, muddy and windy but I thoroughly enjoyed it and 
raising so much money for Help for Heroes definitely made it worthwhile.  
Losing Mike's companionship early on was difficult but his continued support 
at the checkpoints and throughout the race was invaluable.  
He is hoping to complete the event next year, I'm sure Mum will blog about it!
Thank you again, 
Elsa and Mike xx"

Elsa has just about recovered now though hips and calves are still twinging and the feet will take some time to regrow nails and new skin.  

Mike however has had a different story!  His ever blackening toes were seen by his doctor who sent him to the fracture clinic at Salisbury hospital.  Ten x-rays later they found he has actually two broken bones, one is the base of his tibia and one of the foot bones, and a un-attached tendon.  At the moment he has a pump up splint on and they will be seeing about a possible operation next month.  Fingers crossed for a healthy mend instead! 

The sun is finally shining here and it really does put a smile on your face to see it.  I hope you all have a great Easter weekend.


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Playing With metal Clay

My friend Jan and I have been going to a silver clay workshop on a Wednesday evening over the past couple of weeks.  It's an interesting material!! You start with a clay and end up with a metal that is more pure than Sterling!  

We spent a little time learning the basics with Plasticene, you have to work quite quickly with the clay and it's not too cheap to be making mistakes with.  

After moulding, drying, refining, firing and polishing, this is my first piece and I'm really rather pleased with it.

This week I had some bronze clay sent though.  Apart from it is considerably less expensive than the silver to practise with I do actually really like bronze.  I have plenty of bronze hares around the house! It is also a different process to the silver as it has to be kiln fired and you can actually work more with it once it is in a metal state.

Here are my first attempts in the bronze clay. I was trying for a variety of techniques and textures.

This is how they were after coming out of the kiln yesterday with a little wash and brush.

And after the tumbler.

They just need a bit of refining polishing.  They came out really well, very pleased.

Today the thermometer is on the freezing line and there are flurries of snow.  I am sitting here with hay-fever however as all the hazel catkins are out.  I hope the snow is not affecting you too badly wherever you are.

Monday, 25 March 2013

And Finally, She Did It!

Here she is crossing the line at 19.02 last night at the end of day three!

Her check in time was 9 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds so under 10 hours and she is still smiling!! The course had diversions too because of landslides and I heard someone say the total length of day three was nearer 29 miles.  

Support had arrived whilst it was still daylight.  It was -2 in that very sheltered car park.  Chris and I took the dogs around to the beach where the runners were coming in and it was so, so bitter.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if there are a few very sore faces today as well as everything else!

With her medal and Mike.  Just before she crossed one lady's husband had come in and was number 120 to check in, not many from the number that started on Friday.  I know quite a few had dropped out at check point 3.  Elsa carried on with Grahame, her hips strapped up and no toenails left.

Finally she sits down in the warm with a glass of champagne.

If any of you would still like to donate her page at will be open a little while yet.

Today, after all that excitement, I will be playing with some bronze clay so back to some crafty blogs very soon!!!


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Marathon Info for Benta!

As she asked so nicely...

Can you do a quick summary post - 

Just HOW far?   
In total it is 78.6 miles!  Mostly cross country with a little road work. 
Day 1 = 26.40 miles
Day 2 = 26.78 miles
Day 3 = 27.78 miles (this ended up nearer 29)

Just HOW long? 
Elsa is not a speed runner but sets herself a good pace to complete the task in hand bearing in mind that she has to keep this up for three days.

Day 1 = 7 hours 20 minutes
Day 2 = 7 hours 40 minutes
Day 3 = Is being run now (9 hours 59 mins 59 secs see next post!)

Just HOW many are doing it?

I haven't all the info as yet, they are not published until after the race.  Roughly 3,300 started the courses on Day 1.  There are lots and lots taking part who only do one of the days.  It will be interesting to see how many registered to do all three and how many finished all three days.

There are several groups like the serious full on runners, the runners with walking (Elsa and Mike), the walkers with running and the walkers etc.

Whatever the numbers Elsa has given it her all and she is certainly the Number One around here. 

I must just say that Mike has carried on being a full member of the team, even though it is from the sidelines, and supported Elsa 110%.  His leg and foot are black and blue and still very painful but he has been on the course where ever he could to cheer her on.  (It's his left foot and he drives an automatic and he is forgoing any dangerous painkillers at the moment so he is safe.)

I should also say a thank you to Grahame, one of Mike's work colleagues  who has run with Elsa all the way pushing her on and she him.  

The end is in site and she should be nearing the finish line at Shell Bay at some time after 4pm.
Then it's medals and home for a long bath and glass of wine!!! 



Saturday, 23 March 2013

Marathon Day 2!!!!!!!!!!

And she is still at it!!!! 

This is coming into  Osmington Mills this afternoon for checkpoint 3 of the day with Grahame, her now running partner. (They do, apparently, tell each other to get on with it!  Quitting is not an option sort of thing.). 

A brief lovely smile from my little girl. 

 And a cuddle with Mike and crutches. (He may be gutted he is not at her side but, as always, he is a superb support and husband).

She has done fantastically well with today's time at 7 hours and 46 minutes.  Now I know these are not London marathon times, but this is so far removed from the London marathon it's not funny!  This terrain is serious stuff, not nice flat concrete streets.  The photo below is of Elsa and Grahame going up one of the smaller inclines!  I would think twice aout walking it on a good day!!

Again, please wish them on for their last day tomorrow, I am so proud of my little girl!!


Friday, 22 March 2013

Conquering Milestones and Disasters

We will start with the disaster.

Need I say more.

Well perhaps I had, a little anyway.  This isn't Elsa's leg, it's Mike's, you may have sussed really.  The bad news is he can not go any further in something he has trained so hard for and is now in a fair bit of pain.  But it isn't a break, it's torn ligament damage. I do think the ligament damage is quite bad and will probably take longer to recover from than a break!  Let's just hope some extreme TLC will have the swelling down and treatable within no time.  The daft thing is he was being the lovely guy he is and helping someone else when he went through a puddle and turned his ankle.  Isn't that always the way?  He wasn't the first casualty and certainly wasn't the last, he was in good company!

The weather has been atrocious for the past 24 hours at least.  Last night was torrential rain and everything out there, already really sodden, is now very slippery, sticky and really rather unpleasant.  You will always hear people bemoaning being on wet clay, well wet chalk can and is just as bad.  Small particles make horrid gloop and it soon sticks to shoes and makes heavy going.

And that is what Elsa had to keep doing.  She carried on without Mike at her side, through the gloop and the oncoming wind, and the torrential downpours, and she completed her first marathon...

26.4 miles in 7hours and 20 minutes!! 

And I am SOOOOO proud of her.  She has gone a third the way through this gruelling thing and is on a positive for tomorrow, despite the aches and pains and weather forecasts.  

Please, please. PLEASE keep sending her your good thoughts for tomorrow, she really needs them now and at sometime around 13.00 she should, hopefully, pass the halfway point!!


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Nearly There!!!

Oh yes!! Very nearly there!! And I'm sure the collywobbles are just setting in.

We are so fortunate to live near the most beautiful coast line.  So beautiful in fact it has World Hertitage status as the Jurassic Coast. And this is what it looks like, the tiny little ribbon of Coastal Path including steps.

Just a very beautiful part of the world.  And really rather uppy downy in quite short distances.  I'm not a runner, or even a walker, so I don't know whether it's better to have short ups that you know there is a down coming soon or long ups that you know once they are conquered it's downhill all the way. Whichever I know this looks pretty scary to me. (And due to the way our knees are configured or abused in the past, me gardening for 30 years and John water skiing, I dont like ups and he doesn't like downs!).

And here is Mike on a training session with a view of Portland Bill behind him which I am sure they are both very much looking forward to seeing receding into the distance on Day Two!!!

Thank you for your support and wishes for them.  I am very humbled by the amount of money that has been donated to them both for our wonderful and very deserving service personal needing help through Help For Heroes.

I will, of course, hopefully be boring the pants off you all over the next few days as I share my pride in these two who both have their own little obstacles to overcome to do this for others.  (Love you both!! xx)

Elsa's Donation Page
Mike's Donation Page

The Jurassic Coast Challenge page

Thank you.


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Collagraph Results

I've been having a little play this morning.  Please bare in mind that when I did this with Sarah she is a professional and so her press is huge and heavy, her inks oil based, all the equipment you would ever want to use for this was there and also, most importantly, her expert advice was just an elbow nudge away.  I have a little table top roller press about A2 size, I was using water based inks and I was on my own!!

The photos are the wrong way around because that was the way I hung them to dry.  The first one was far too pale.  I think there were two reasons behind this; I was very cautious about the amount of ink I put on (and you do have to rub an awful lot of it off again too) and I had the rollers too far apart to make a good impression.  After cleaning the plate and inking again I applied another twist to the rollers and the print was a little better but, if anything, the paper a little too wet.
Left 2nd print  Right 1st print
The third print, again after cleaning, re inking and another little tweak on the rollers came out really rather well and I was quite pleased with parts of this one so I went for a fourth.  Now this one I re inked again and thought I would try on fabric.  It didn't work at all well  I'm not too sure if the fabric should of perhaps been damp like the paper or I should have inked more to compensate.  Anyway I wasn't going to waste the ink that was there, and it is quite hard going on the wrists and fingers all that rubbing, so I put through my last sheet of pre soaked paper. It wasn't a great print as I think the fabric had taken the oomph out of the ink.  
Left 4th Print Right 3rd Print
Lots to think about at the very least.  John did moan a little because the collagraphy plate now looks nothing like it did yesterday and he quite liked how it was all button polished, but there you go!  This shell is my favorite part of all of them.

I now have some background papers to play with but the whole process is quite intense!

And if you would like to see how good you can become, with years and years of practise and all the right gear, Sarah's web page is and now she has moved to a most fabulous house on Lochgoilhead there will no doubt be some great new work coming along.


Monday, 18 March 2013

Seemingly Eternal Beading

I think I'm winning with the Mac. I don't have a retentive memory when it comes to technology.  I'm a plodder that will keep going until something happens and usually manage to win in the end. (Unlike someone else in this house who just starts banging the mouse and yelling grumpily until I come to the rescue).  Thank you to those who have been helpful and patient!

The latest piece on the chatelaine has been done.  I spent the best part of two and a half days on this.  I become so cross when I stitch for hours and only a little seems to appear!

I'm nearing completion on this so will either go for the final stretch, or more than likely put it to one side for another little while and play with something else. I think that's the major part of the bead embroidery done now though. (Yes! Another pair of scissors!  but these came with the challenge).

A couple of weeks ago I managed to put together a collagraph plate, my first one away from Sarah Ross-Thompson; she has now moved to Scotland and is missed!

My button polish used to seal the plate came in a plastic bottle that I couldn't undo the safety top on.  I took it into the garage to use some water pump pliers on it and just as it it came free the flimsie  
bottle squeezed and there was button polish all over me. Actually it was all over my favourite cardie. 
I could have cried, but it wasn't over any of the cars, thank goodness!! Cardie has now been washed a few time and finally the polish is just about gone. I did say it was a fave one, John bought it for me. 

And this Friday, Saturday and Sunday it's the triple marathon, Juassic Coast Challenge Elsa and Mike are taking part in, the link to the sponsor page is on the top right.  Please, please keep your fingers crossed for them and everything else crossed for some decent running weather.  


Friday, 8 March 2013

My Name is Amanda and I Have a Problem

Apparently. I did call it a slight problem on FB someone else called it a fetish, though he does have long hair and was probably a little worried.  Maybe a little more than a slight problem.

Oh well. It doesn't do anyone any harm.  Well it might if there was a need!

This is the photo I put on FB.

These are just the scissors from around where I sit in my studio.  This does NOT include any that are in sewing/project baskets (approx 5), my workshop trolley (another 3), my art trolley (2), my travelling drawing things (1), the fancy edge type (numerous), around the long arm (3), any that are here in the study (2), or anywhere else in the house like the bedroom, kitchen and utility room, greenhouse etc (probably at least another 5 or 6) or the rather lovely new KKB pair in the last post.

I also seem to buy quite a few as gifts, just ask Elsa.  And as for going to shows....

I hope you have a great weekend.  I may just go and drool over the Maison Sajou scissor section where Madame Sajou has the most delightful selection......


Thursday, 7 March 2013

Steep Learning Curve

Thank you for all your comments and emails about my struggles with the Mac and especially the photos issue.  I have tried all versions suggested and a couple of other ways.  I know half the problem is finding my way around to start with, but I'm working on it.

I can become a little paranoid over picture sizes for two reasons.
1) We have a very, very slow internet speed.  (Max acceptable distance from the exchange is 6km, we are 6.6km so shouldn't have any at all to be honest.)  If I click on a web page that is extremely photo heavy it can take so long everything freezes.  It's very frustrating but that is what I have to deal with.  If a blog has fat photos I quite often skip the post totally after a minute or two.
2) There is only so much space out there and fairly recently I have seen several Bloggers panic now they have filled their allotted space.  I don't want to reach that position if I can help it even though Blogger has upped the storage amount.

I think not dealing with your photos before just slapping them on the internet is a little selfish so I really need to find a way I can sort this.  iPhoto doesn't even come close to the ease of using Office Picture Manager, and I have tried, but when they converted Office to a Mac version they happened to forget to change PM too. I am currently having a play with JPEGmini Lite and the following were done with it.  Very easy but it is only a compression package, 20 a day for free, and it will change the originals too but they look the same and I don't need to blow them up for printing to cover a building!! Perfectly fine for the blog.

My only other gripe at the moment is the size of the teeny weeny pictures in the Finder.  How do I know which photos I want to preview if I can't even see them?  (Windows has several sizes on offer and they just stay that size when you open the folders so you can see the things!) If anyone knows if there is a way and how to have thumbnails I can actually see I would be grateful.


Yesterday's afternoon book listening had me fiddling around with some Flimsie...  

 threads and snipping scraps...

a hand needle felting tool.

 A little bit of stitch

 And a couple of Portugese Escudo's for a little weight and I made a scissor Fob.

These are my lovely new Karen Kay-Buckley scissors which I don't want to go the same way as a couple of my other favourite pairs, dropped as always on the points.  Fobs are supposed to keep them handles down when falling!! And if you are with me on Facebook I do hope you have stopped laughing at me and my 'fetish' as one lovely friend called it!!!  I only have a few pairs. Honest. Ish.

Paint sploshing is on the agenda now.


Sunday, 3 March 2013

Once You've Had a Mac...

...You'll never go back.  Apparently.  According to dear Daughter Elsa.  I'm still struggling to stay still or inch forward let alone go back.  

The PC has been complaining lately and thrown a couple of hissy fits.  Last week it totally refused to go past the initial screen on switch on and after several hours I managed to convince it to fully start up.  Having totally lost everything on computers a couple of times before we decided to go for a replacement while the old one was still alive and kicking.  The migration over, a nice easy process all done without any hassle, took a mere 26 hours.  !  They then don't tell you where to find all your old, migrated stuff.   And then when you restart there it all is, in it's own little hidey hole totally unconnected with anything you've already managed to flounder your way around.  A search online eventually tells you how to 'share' stuff, but do make sure you're in the right user to start with, then you can open and delete stuff.  No thanks, I'll work with two of me for a little while until I'm sure I know who/where/what I am.

Now it's just the screaming and hair pulling part of finding that the Mac is totally the wrong way around and nothing is ever simple.  

I have some photos to show you but it has taken me nearly two hours to open them, view them, edit them and compress them on this computer, a two minute job on the PC.  Yes the air is a little blue and I can feel fresh ulcers growing as I try and gather this new information by using menus that pop up and down and disappear at will and all the wrong wording.  (Send to Trash instead of just Delete?? Really???)

So, without further ado, here is a little hanging I made trying out the trapunto technique shown by Michèle-Renée HERE.
18 x 27 inches

I've wanted to do a white piece for some time.  However I think it could be my last!  It was a nightmare keeping it clean!

The colour triangles are from my full collection of Oakshot fabrics.  Yes I opened the box and used some!! It was also the first time I had used my soluble thread that has been sitting in the drawer for years!!

I thought it was sort of reminiscent of an unfurling fern frond.  John calls it the spine.

I have also chopped, bonded and layered a few of these.

But perhaps more about them another time.

For now I have spent far, far too long on this computer trying to work things out and before I really do something to it I will regret, I'm going to play elsewhere!

Have a great Sunday.