Thursday, 22 December 2016

The Last of the Year

I picked up this little chest of drawers for £5 the other week.  It was in a bit of a state but you know how we all like little drawers!!! 

John cut the top off and replaced it with some oak and we added a plinth to the bottom. Because of some of the marks on it and the removal of the metalwork leaving unvarnished places I decided to ebonise it with some Black Polish.

I've lined the drawers with some soft bump and all my special, semi precious cabochons have finally found a nice new home. I'm rather pleased with it 

One thing I made for a friend for Christmas she has opened.  Only a little thing and it's a bit of an experimental piece.

Strangely while it was stitching out near the end it was still stitching but the needle stayed in the up position.  I'm not too sure if it's something wrong with my machine or the pattern as it seemed to happen in the same place each time.  In the new year when there is more time I will investigate further.  

And the sketchbook each day fell after day 9!!!!  No surprise there really.  Perhaps it's just the wrong time of year or I really am as useless as I know at using sketchbooks!!  I have this book...

...and I decided to randomly open it each day and take inspiration from the page.  Anyway, the efforts so far.  

I slash the pages down between the spirals so I can take the pages out to work on them and then slot them back in.  They are using all sorts of inks, pearl gels and pens I have around the studio that don't usually have much of an airing so that's a nice something to come out of it anyway.  Maybe I will pick it up again when I don't seem to be out of time!! 

It's that time of year to wish you all a Happy Christmas and creative New Year.  I seem to have a few interesting adventures ahead of me and I hope they turn out as well as they possibly could!! Keep creating!! 

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Finished and a Trip

I finished the long piece. 100 x 30cm

It still hasn't a name but I'm working on it.  

Pleased with it over all and it will definitely be going in the exhibition in March.  

I finished the Drawing for Textiles course with Dionne Swift.  Wasn't too happy with this one.  I didn't find it inspiring and other things took priority.  Her Developing Sketchbooks one I did quite enjoy and found I came away with some things to take further.  Perhaps it was that the drawing was done very much in her scribbly style, one which I'm not a fan of, rather than pushing our own.  Still, you live and learn and if anything I can put it in the 'don't want to do that or that way again' box.  

Last weekend I took the train to Harrogate.  I managed a bit of a mooch around on the Saturday afternoon and met up with Hilary Beattie who had one of the galleries.  She soon raided some of my purchases. 

Unfortunately the fur was moulting everwhere and her black top was covered in it.  She was seeing what she would look like going grey like me.  

I finally saw the Hardhome Embroidery.  A great piece of colaborative work.

And the FoQ winner was there too done by Laura Kemshall.  Yes it's huge but other than that it's lots of programmed machine stitch on a printed photograph.  Not sure how I feel about it tbh. 

Anne Kelly was there with lots of her own work and several pieces done by others.  I really liked this piece by Leisa Rich called Mass Hysteria.

Also all the little insect pieces she had sent in including my glowworms which actually do glow in the dark. 

There really was lots and lots to see, I'm sure you've all seen or read about them after Ally Pally and Dublin too.  In between shopping on the Sunday I did stand sit with Hillary a fair bit too. 

We took it in turns and I think she quite enjoyed herself visiting others but she did manage to sneak a bit of playtime in, which she wasn't supposed to do in a gallery! If you know Hilary you know her joyous abandon when playing with her materials!! 

I've just read the latest Cloth, Paper, Scissors and seen the article by Robyn McClendon where she talks about her 360 days of collaging.  As you know I am pretty useless at these sketchbooks and there is no way I would be able to do 360 days worth!  However it is 1st December and if you remember last year I did the month of blogging challenge.  Well I thought I could just try to put something in my sketchbook for the 31 days of December.  It helped watching Hilary and seeing her books.  Yes I can do that!  Can't I?  I will let you know now and then!! 

Winter is finally here so keep warm and stay safe if you have it too! 

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Again in Limbo, But It's Good!

Feeling much better this past week thank you for your comments.  Speaking of comments, I do reply to all of you when you leave them.  If you haven't heard from me it maybe that you are a no reply blogger and it's not coming through to you.  You have to adjust your settings for that.  If you have changed from Blogger to Google + at any point the default settings will have turned back to not letting people see your email address.  Easiest way to check is to go to an old post of yours on your own blog, post a comment and when you have the email come through hit reply and see what is in the email address box. If that doesn't work or you don't have a blog you will have to look up changing it on Google. I also have a couple of you who I am not receiving an email from when you post. Not sure who that is down to but I do try and catch up with you eventually!!! 

When I finished my City and Guilds in 2012 I remember the feeling that the rug had been pulled, or more like the crutch had been swiped away.  Suddenly Laura Kemshall wasn't at the end of the line or email giving out her wonderful words of wisdom, support and encouragement.  Now having finished these Embroiderers Guild courses I've had a similar feeling but instead of a plummet I've had a soaring feeling!  Freedom! That doesn't mean I've been making too much but I have had a bit of a clear out in some areas, there have even been some listings on eBay.  I have also taken back control of my time and diary which is most precious of all.  I've also cleared some other deadwood activities which I was feeling were unprofitable for me.  I am now in charge again rather than running madly behind trying to catch up.  A good place to be.

I'm still working on the long panel piece, not too much to do now.  It's going on a panel 100 x 30 cm so a good size. 

Lots of layering of stitches and they all have to have a cohesive feeling to bring it together.  repetition hopefully will help with that. 

I've now pinned it to a roller embroidery frame so I can see where I'm going and what I've done.  There are also a few bits of copper wire so I didn't want them crumpled and they also won't fit in a standard hoop or frame hence the pinning instead.  The red here is a drawing pin! 

A couple of weeks ago we went to Lewtrenchard Manor for a couple of nights. It's a very interesting place, full of character and history and I spent a lot of time just looking and taking photos on my phone.  Every ceiling was different.

Even the paneling in our room had lots to see.  Next time we go we're taking one of the dogs with us!  Lots of places to walk there and right on the edge on Dartmoor.  

I'm now actually trying to put some of these down into my sketchbook!  Yes, you may gasp, me using a sketchbook! But only as a source of keeping the information together, this worm hasn't turned just yet.  

We even popped up to Ilfracombe and saw Damien Hirst's Verity.  She may be tall but not as big as I thought she was going to be.  It was a bit of a grey day and the picture won't lighten but you can look her up if you want to see better.  

Next week if off to the Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate! Quite excited and my list it growing.  

Back to trying to finish the panel today.  My wrists and thumb joints are complaining mightily, it's gloves on for most of the day, but not too much more to do now.  

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Well I'm Glad That's Over With!

October was an absolute write off!  The Thursday after coming back from London I woke up with no voice and that lasted three days.  That then went everywhere and I was knocked sideways by the most horrendous cold thing and was in bed for 12 days.  Never been so ill with just a cold!  Of course there's no use going to the doctor as there's nothing they can or will do so home remedies it was!  John makes a pretty mean hot toddy I must say. Just recovering from all that and my Hiatus Hernia rolled rather nastily which caused a bit of worry for a few days, but it's ok and no mad dash to hospital this time! And my cold has come back, but it feels normal this time thank goodness.  

Whilst all this was going on I missed going to the Knitting and Stitching show at Ally Pally and I was gutted!! I had a long list of to do's, plenty of galleries I wanted to visit and a few people to meet up with.  All passed and not even a sniff of those lovely halls!! I have now taken a huge leap and booked my hotel and a train ticket to Harrogate at the end of this month!! Scarey going all that way without my rock beside me but I know he will be following my on my Find my Friend thingy so with me in spirit.  It was wonderful when I went to Paris on my own knowing he was there in ther ether like my guardian angel. 

One of my Facebook groups raises lots of money for Pointer charities and it held a raffle some time ago which I won a prize of a painting of one of the dogs.  The lady who initially said she would do it backed out but I was thrilled to be told that Michelle Diprose, an amazing artist and also a mad Pointer owner, would be doing it instead. Look what she did of my boy Ruger!! Isn't it fantastic??!! 

I can't tell you how perfect it is and I am so, so pleased to have some of her amazing work especially of one of my own dogs.  

Being so ill does not add up to much in the way of creativity, lots of sleep but not getting on with things.  I did start a long piece for the exhibition next year.  It needs a lot more added to it but I had to do some for a photo for the Art Centre brochure coming out for the new year! 

I also used some of the boiled eco papers I made back in September to make a book. 

You probably saw the start of this if you follow me on Instagram. Link to me, incase you don't and want to. I'm not a prolific poster but things do make it there now and then.

It's 6 x 7 inches and will be for the exhibition too. 

Now days are drawing in as the clocks have pointlessly gone back I feel I'm fighting for time more and more.  I'm sure it will be all ok in the end but March is running towards me too fast!!! 

Oh and I finished my Embroiderers Guild Course, thank goodness.  I now have the Level 2 in Machine Embroidery.  I wanted to do the EG one rather than the City & Guilds one as it goes to Level 4 but the incompetence of my first tutor totally put paid to that idea!! Thank you Ms Howes for nothing!! 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Now, where Was I?

Still managing to plod on with the coursework, life and a few other bits! 

I cooked another batch of Khadi papers. 

This time I soaked half in iron water.  Well I crushed up a load of my iron tablets and let them steep for a while before putting the papers in, but it worked! 

The other half I soaked in vinegar water.  Much paler which is lovely as they could still be written on.  

I have been pre cutting the pages to size using my decal ruler as I like the deeper staining on the edges.  If I make up whole sheets there is often a white line if I cut them post dyeing.  Can't be avoided sometimes though!! They will be make up into more books soon.

I have also been experimenting with some doggy portraits.  

Normally I run a mile from backgrounds and I spend an absolute age making sure every single hair is represented. I've taken a turn to trying much softer approach with backgrounds my old pastel tutor would cringe at!  All rubbed in and smeared, but I'm loving them!! 

It started with the Shona portrait I did back in March but don't seem to have shown you on here!!  This beautiful old lady was a much loved member of a group of Pointer owners we are in and she sadly went over the Rainbow Bridge.  I just had the urge to capture her for her mum.  I really liked the faded look I'd given her. 

This is of Willow looking out of my bedroom window.  

And this is a friends dog Hobbes.

They are on 9 x 12 inch paper but I've, again, done them very softly and loosely. I also want to almost make them generic. The thought is to see how they reduce into card size and, so far, they seem to do so very well.  Apart from really liking the effect the time taken is also a lot less!  As long as I have perfection in the eyes the rest can hang from them and I'm happy with that. 

On Monday I had a fabulous trip to London with my friend Karren to the Tate Modern to see the Georgia O'Keefe exhibition.  It was wonderful!! I really enjoyed it.  And there were plenty of her paintings covering all her styles over the years.  I had gone wanting to see her grading of colour and tone up close and it was everything I had hoped it would be.  Devine! I'm glad I bought the book to continue perusing at my leisure.  

This week also saw my interview on the new Workshop on the Web Tumblr site HERE.  Excuse the huge photo of me at the beginning, I think Fiona was a little carried away!! It coincides with the article I wrote for them on making the Forest Floor pieces in my last post. 

I've taken to writing a Todo list and carrying it with me.  It started quite long but I've managed to strike off a few things.  Unfortunately I keep adding so I think I will now go and peruse the list to see what I can get rid of! 

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Pleasing Outcome

Last Sunday I actually had a go at some Eco-Printing paper.  I was so pleased with the results!  I didn't want them overly coloured as I thought they would still be nice to write on or add things to the prints.  

As you can see I printed them as precut page sizes so then went ahead and stitched them.

They made the pages for the brown book.  The other has heavy cartridge paper inside. 

The centre panels were the results of the video I made and then showed for Workshop on the Web

I've had the handmade felt for ages and it was so nice to have a resaon to use it at last! 

The insides and backs are matching silk and I used a wonderful vintage heavy twist silk for the stitching from the spool in the photos. 

I've had a few enquiries about them already but I'm not ready to sell them just yet.  I'm in two minds about including them for the exhibition in March.  They are my art too after all! 

I had a quote for frames for the Rockpool pieces and a) it was astronomical for such small pieces and would add too much to the price once the gallery commision was added and b) the size of the frames were totally disproportionate. John and I went to our local timber merchant and picked up some finished battens and made some ourselves.  I think they do actually finish the little canvases quite nicely. 

The thin slither of wood is much kinder to the size of the canvases too. 

I personally don't even think the wood needs painting or liming either.  I may give them a clear wax for protection though. Apologies for the colour of the photos, it's tipping it down outside and the lights just do horrid things to the shadows. 

Willow is again 100% and up to her usual mischief! 

And I had a lovely visit from my beautiful Birthday Boy this week whilst his mum raided the garden for bits! 

Back in the studio today to carry on with the coursework.  Nearly there!! 

Have a great weekend. 

Thursday, 1 September 2016


Several years ago I did a class with Lisa Walton on some beading techniques.  I had several samples made up and I found one a few weeks ago and decided to take it a bit further and make these pieces. 

They're not that big at 20 x 20 cm and 10 x 15 cm but quite dense. 

Though they are all similar each has a few differences. 

I've even managed to use some of those beads that I bought and didn't know quite what to do with! 

All I'm working on now for them is to frame or not to frame.  I have a couple of thoughts and will work on that soon.  I hope they look like the rich diversity you find in rockpools and I think I will be putting them aside to show in Shaftesbury next year.

I also still had a bit of bead embroidery left in me after the bag and made a brooch up.  The centre cabochon is Peridot and bronze.  

I have collected lots and lots of beautiful stones over the years and I think I will be making up some more brooches. Nice to make and very wearable.  

Today is the launch day of this quarter's Workshop on the Web magazine.  If you don't know it, it's a quarterly online publication headed up by Maggie Grey.  This month I have an article in. I have also made a two part video to accompany the article which I found great fun to do.  Unfortunately you have to be a member to read and view but I must say it is a very good read and very much worth the £22.50 yearly subscription. 

Willow had a little incident last week seeing if she liked barbed wire earrings. Unfortunately they didn't agree with her! Here she is looking very sorry for herself as well as quite daft. 

She has now recovered and the plastic skin on the cut is holding together quite nicely thank goodness.  Ears bleed profusely and add to that a few head shakes and it soon looks like a massacre! 

We are now back to romps over the fields which are so much more fun now the crops are off. 

I am now finally attacking the last three sections of my Machine Embroidery course.  I won't be sad to see the back of it I can tell you!! If you remember it was a huge struggle to get any sense from my first tutor and I was in a constant battle with her.  I really feel the whole thing was tainted from that point on.  Remind me not to do any more long term courses again wont you, especially if a certain tutor from Norfolk is involved!!!