Thursday, 31 December 2009

Last of the Year, Last of the Decade

and the 400th post!

Thanks to everyone who has been following along! Hope you are having a great holiday break.

What sorts of new things are you doing in the new year? Any thoughts to what you might do in the new decade? Leave a comment and let me know.

Here are some new things I am doing or hoping to do:

1 - from 1 Jan, I am taking on the admin of the Ideas of Inspiration blog. If you are interested in prompts to which you can post photos, doodles, art work, etc you are welcome to join us!

2 - start a wearable art garment to enter a show in 2010. Probably for the Festival of Quilts. I haven't done a wearable art garment since Midnight Dance by Moonlight in 2008. Not sure if I am ready to enter another particular prestigious show I am thinking about, but that can be a goal for the decade.

3 - enter work into one or more of the SAQA exhibitions. Last year, with the new teaching job and the teaching training course, I didn't get any major new work prepared for entering shows.

4 - begin to visit groups for talks. One group has booked me for October to talk about my wearable art garments. I am not sure if I am going to try to contact other groups or wait and see how it goes before I actually begin to do a "circuit" of groups.

5 - enter new work for the Stretching Art Exhibition. The theme this year is "Famous Pairs". The venue for the exhibition has changed from the QHC in Lancaster, PA to the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza in September.

6 - make new work with my local textile art group EquilARTeral - Jane Glennie, Merete Hawkins and me. We are looking at possibilities of doing an Open Studio or exhibiting with other local artists.

and things I will carry on doing?

1 - Tutor at New Directions, Reading, Berks, UK. Specifically teaching the C+G Creative Techniques: Fashion 7112 course as well as some workshops.

2 - Teaching Crafts @the Library workshop sessions at Birch Hill and Great Hollands libraries. We have set the dates for the last week in each month to make them easier for the patrons to attend.

3 - Co-ordinator for the Thames Valley Contemporary Quilt Group. We have meetings in Jan, May, Sept and Nov. So, I will be organising and working out agendas for those.

4 - monthly journal type quilts with the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge group and the Contemporary Quilt Group. Possibly combining them for most of the year like I did last year.

5 - carry on teaching my little friends at church! and all the other thousands of things I manage to fill my time with!

as well as babbling on to all and sundry who wish to read this blog!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Winter Wordless Wonders

Love the tracery of the lines!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Winter Wordless Wonders

Wonderful flash of wintery blue in the sky

Monday, 28 December 2009

Winter Wordless Wonders

I like the contrast with the white and green.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Winter Wordless Wonders

My friendly Robin

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Winter Wordless Wonders

Mistletoe in the Snow

Friday, 25 December 2009

Happy Christmas!

Hope your day was very special!

For the next few days I am giving you some photos for inspiration. Enjoy!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

inspiration - up VERY close

The Fast Friday Challenge this past month was based on Micro inspired art. Looking at small parts of things very close and changing the scale. We are also to use paint effects.

I am very behind, what with one thing and another, but here is a start on mine, based on microphotographs of agates and other crystals. I started this last night. At the moment, no paint effects or stitch, but there are layers of torn tissue paper which have been applied with acrylic wax. I am trying to get the translucent quality. I did some similar design work back in the day for C+G design principles. It was when the design principles were split up by themes...this was my "landscape" ..stretching it as always! I figured that rocks and stones go to make up the landscape and decided to look very close in stead of at a distance.

Today, as is probably true for most people, was taken up with baking. My husband even got in on it. He decided to make a Christmas pudding himself this year. We are trying an idea from the Internet of steaming in the slow cooker. Smells good round here, but I am tired.

Oh, and there was the matter of a broken tooth, for which I am grateful to have had happen today when the dentist and his crew had not yet gone home! So, he put a temporary bit on, which I hope lasts till the proper FEB!

Parting shot:

We started to put presents under the tree. Pepper remembers and loves the game of taking the paper off her present. We put hers under there and promptly she took up the guard post. It is the round wrapped tin with dog biscuits. Well, the edible Christmas card had to be put up on a branch! She was nearly under the tree!

She has been hanging out with me in the kitchen all day in case there was something to lick or a bit of apple peel or whatever.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Lava Dog Retriever

So, I found out the dragon creature is a Lava Dog Retriever pup. He loves to play alongside the small dragons when they are being trained. As he grows older, he will be an especially useful companion to the dragon trainers when the dragons are being trained to carry items in flight. He will happily join in the game to search for and retrieve the items which they have dropped in the lava fields.
This Lava Pup is a bit silly like most pups. He has just been running at speed through the cooking fires trying to catch the sparks, causing the cook endless trouble as he gets underfoot. Every so often the cook tosses one of the hot coals as far as he can throw it and the Lava Pup races off to find it. However, he doesn't always bring it all the way back, which can cause problems if he leaves the hot coal where it will get stood on or where it will catch something alight!

When the Daughter of the Dragon Lord comes back from school and has changed into her fireproof leathers, she will take him off to play fetch and have a bit of a rough and tumble. He thinks it is a bit of fun, but it is also part of his training...both the fetch part and the rough and tumble... for he will have to learn to deal with some of the dangers that can lurk in the lava fields.

Doesn't he look like he would be fun to play with when you get home from school?

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

New Dragon Play!

Well, he's a dragon type creature.
A bit of a character. I found him hiding in the fabric.

I thought he was scary til I got him out. Now I am finding he has quite a funny story!
I will tell you tomorrow when he gets his edging.

Monday, 21 December 2009


What I have been doing.
Seems to take as long as what goes inside. But as soon as I trek through even MORE snow to the PO tomorrow, I will tidy my room and start a little project for me!
Oh, I also cut a Certain Lad's hair.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Candlelight Carol Service

Yesterday at a ladies get together, we decorated candles to add to the ones we already had at church to help light our carol service this evening. We used the rest of the candles I had bought for the workshop at the library in November.
And the last few weeks, the children in my Sunday morning class have been learning songs and pieces to say in the service tonight. Here are a few photos of us! (with me hoping they didn't back up and get caught alight by the candles!)

They did very well. They decided what they should say for the words for the part between songs!

Friday, 18 December 2009

January Birds?

It started snowing last night and rarely enough, we still have it today. A bit had melted by this evening, but it is meant to get below freezing, so it will get a bit treacherous. I am glad I am done running round in cars! I have a few places to go this weekend, but those are within walking distance.
Here is one of my friendly blackbirds enjoying a top up under the feeder. (The starlings toss it out every which way).

I love blackbird song. They actually start singing very lovely songs towards the end of the old year and beginning of the new. When I visited here the first time in 1981, I didn't know who was singing, but loved the song. I called them "January Birds". This one comes to make a nest in my ivy each spring! Along with the Robin who was visiting today and the Great Tit who makes a nest in the box outside my studio window.

You can listen to some of their songs here. I also get Collared Doves and Wood Pigeons; usually they are the ones who clean up after the starlings. At times I get Chaffinches...but not winter. There are some mistletoe balls in the Maple behind the fence. One year a group of Mistle Thrushes came, picked the ball clean and then flew off to one of the other many trees round this area with mistletoe.

and later today, as I was watching, I saw a starling on a bush who seemed to be cocking his head back and forth to watch something. I caught a movement on the ground...a little mouse quickly ran out from under the shed to the left grabbed a seed and ran back! He had really cute sticking up ears. I hope he stays safe. The magpie has been hanging around looking for his own snack.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Danish Christmas Hearts

My friend Merete sent these lovely Christmas Hearts in with her Christmas card. I am hoping she will show me how to make them when I see her next!
I have seen simple versions of these, but I love the one that makes the secondary heart pattern in the centre!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Christmas Fleece Scarves

Scarves for Christmas presents -
A good thing to make on a snowy day!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

broken bits or pieces of the weekend

A bit of catching up from the weekend. A visit to another town to meet with old and dear friends for a time of encouragement. A Certain Lad needing TLC after eye surgery. End of term things. A 2 hour wait on the Motorway due to an accident and the road closed, and so on.

So, anyway. Here I am. Just a quick post today. A photo of something I liberated from a bin at the college. You never know when you will need a broken clock.
Hope to get back to sewing tomorrow. No more classes til the 4th of January!!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Sharing Joy!

Today we finally heard that our very dear friends Dennis and Aimee have at last become parents of a lovely little girl from Ethiopia. What a darling!

Amelie and Mum and Dad

We are SOOO pleased for you all!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Inspiration - Staffordshire Hoard - start

As I stated in this post, our EquilARTeral group has decided to do our next set of work based on the find in Staffordshire this year. A link to more about the story.

We are taking the step to try mounting the work on gallery wrapped canvas. In order to unify the pieces, we have the same size canvas and we all have painted them the same colour. From there, the work will be our own.

Since I finished Connect-Disconnect, I finally got to start on this work. So, today I painted the canvas with the paint Merete mixed up. It is textured with sand and pebbles, and then dry earth applied on top. For mine, I also embedded bits of a gridded gold mesh, because I am really interested in the idea of digging and what it must have looked like to have so many bits and pieces of gold showing up.

In the post referred to above, there is a link to quite a few photos. But here is another link to photos which actually have a bit of a description of what you are looking at.

I was also struck by the pieces from the hoard which have garnets set in gold. So, you can also see in this photo a start on some pieces reflecting that concept, which I will cut out and work with. I cut portions from the gold mesh and then stitched around them.

I am looking forward to working on this one. I think I may have scattered bits, rather than one piece mounted. I really enjoyed painting the canvas! I might try other aspects of this sort of thing in the future.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Connect-Disconnect A2 Finished!

At last I have finished the final piece in the Connect-Disconnect series for the EquilARTeral group. I am quite pleased with it.

There are 3 layers...the papery layer I dyed with coffee, a layer of cream muslin, and a layer of tan "mystery fabric". The top layer has been given a surface design treatment of crayon rubbings on rubbing plates and subsequently ironed against the thin mystery fabric to melt the colour of the wax in to both.

At the last posting about this, it was just joined with buttons and beads. Today I sliced it in various places and stitched the edges with a buttonhole stitch. Then I used different threads and stitches to stitch the pieces back together with a bit of a gap (like variation of faggotting stitches).

I have photographed it on black, rather than against the cupboard doors, and it does show it off a bit better.

front back

It was a nice quiet thing to do today...staying in, listening to an audio book and trying to get rid of this cold.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Christmas Ornaments - student work

I went along to the Crafts @the Library session for today, but the students didn't come. There were hardly any people visiting the library. Simon, the manager said that about this time before Christmas the libraries go very quiet, while the shops get busier. I guess I never thought of it that way. Everyone is getting ready for Christmas and don't have time to read.

Also, right now there is a lot of sickness about. So, some of the ladies might have been unwell. We need a cold snap to kill off the germs. But I am glad it waited til now. I am nearly done with having to go out and about, so if it gets cold now, I can stay in my house nice and warm!

Anyway, here are the photos of the student work from the Crafts @the Library yesterday. Each of them came up with a different design idea. It is fun when they don't slavishly follow my ideas!
Maz - contrast stitching
Norma - red Christmas pudding

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Fleece Scarves

I mentioned the fleece throws I got for making scarves for Crafts @the Library in January. Today I made up 2 ideas to see what would be easiest to do in the session. I am not sure just which one I will do. I have one more idea to try.

I am struggling with a bad cold, but I did manage to do the Crafts @the Library workshop today. I took photos, but I will show them tomorrow when I do photos of tomorrow's workshop.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Inspiration Monday

Two Heads

Out of the mouths of babes...

My husband was doing an object lesson for the children in the service at church yesterday. He was talking about the possibilities of flipping a coin and getting heads or tails...then with 2 coins and so on.

He used one of the little girl's names and said, "What are the possibilities of "A" getting heads?" Some parent finally answered. Then he said, "what if she got 2 heads?" Her little brother shot his hand up and said, "A monster?"

A moment of puzzlement and then I got it. "You are right! If she had 2 heads, she would be a monster!"

How would your work look if you took things literally like a child?

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Slow Cloth

Some time ago I told you about a slow cloth piece I started.
Now and then I work on it.

Last Monday, a few things happened at college that just meant Tuesday needed to be a day where not much brain was required. So I got out the slow cloth and stitched a bit.

I took it along to the Fundraiser on Saturday, as well, and stitched on it while I was waiting for someone to even consider buying one of my trees.

Here is a look at some of the recent progression.

It is long and thin, with lots of raw frayed edges. The top is to the left. Those bits were about all the rain and flooding! The others were done without much of a plan. Just what flowed out of the fingers. The triangular piece at bottom right in the photo even has threads drawn out to create a bit of see-through pattern. I might try more of that sometime. I am thinking about doing something interesting with the rusty patch.

I can see how it works as therapy! you can get something done even when you feel as though you don't have enough brain to get anything done.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Fund Raiser Event

Today was the fund raiser for the Thames Valley Hospice. I think Charlie, the girl who organised it, must have made quite a bit of money for the Hospice.

I was a bit disappointed at the results of trying to sell the trees I made. It seemed you had to have tacky kiddy stuff or very glittery stuff to be able to sell anything. However, in the end, I did sell enough to cover the cost of the table. I am going to put the rest of the money towards a collection we are doing at church for the children my friend Karin works with in Ethiopia. Oasis Foundation.

Liz, at the table next to mine had done some lovely beadwork jewellery. She is just getting started with a little business. She did quite well for the occasion. I bought one of her beaded ornaments to take home. They sold very well. In the photo you can see there aren't many left!
Liz's mum Jane took some photos of my table for me.
A lot of people expected the trees to be scented. I could have added Pine scent, but you can never tell if people will like a scent or if they might be allergic. So, in the end, I put a sign to say you could add scent if you wanted! Other remarks were about them being pin cushions. After several comments like that, Jane bought one for Liz for parking her beading needles!

So, I have nearly 60 left. (I made about 71). Guess what though, I won't have to think of something for a little gift for my various students!

But besides that, I made some nice friends. Both Liz and Jane work with the Rainbow Guides. I generally save my little bits and pieces of fabric scraps, so I said I'd save them for their group next. They are fun to use for collage and other sticking and gluing activities.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Fleece for scarves

A few weeks ago I got some fleece throws to make scarves with. Today I have been finishing up the Christmas trees, but I also got the fleece cut. I intend to make up some for Christmas presents and save some for the Crafts @the Library in January.

I have a few ideas of what I will do, but haven't decided for sure yet.

I am struggling with a bit of a thick cold right now. It is rather annoying, to say the least.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Fund Raiser - 6

Most of the Christmas Trees are all full of wadding. All I have to do is sew across the bottom of the opening and attach sparkly string to the tops for hanging them. I will probably do some sort of tag with info as well.

Obviously the above is just for temporary storage! Takes up less room than all nicely laid in several plastic boxes.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Christmas Ornaments

Here are a few samples for the Crafts @the Library workshops next week. I have made loads of the stockings and Christmas Puddings before, but the mitten is a new pattern. I made them from blue felt as it makes a change from the red and green you see everywhere at Christmas. Each of these are doubled, which makes a little pocket for a sweet or a candy stick to poke out the top.
The mittens remind me of some mittens made of coloured paper (and I think coloured with a decorative pattern) connected by a piece of yarn which I made in school when I was about 5! My mother put them up on tree year after year. I wouldn't be suprised if she still does!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Student Drafting Session

Last night, we had the first major session of drafting a pattern from your personal measurements.

At first it was a bit confusing, but I was very pleased with how well they all got on with following the instructions. After the first few explanations of getting the initial lines square, they progressed quite quickly and independently.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Inspiration Monday

Metal offcuts in the jewellery studio at South Hill Park. One of the random attractions on the tour we had the other week. Anything coppery always catches my eye!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Thanksgiving from afar

Being in a different country to where Thankgiving is celebrated means that it is difficult to do it justice on a Thursday. So, we generally do something about it on the Saturday following. And this year, our son decided to come back for the weekend, so it was worth cooking the enormous feast because there would actually be someone to eat it!

Our meal doesn't resemble the meal my family in Maine has. For a start, my British husband never could get his head round eating sweet stuff in the main Baked Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows that my grandmother used to make - we have sweet potatoes in their natural sweetness. Still good! and we miss out the Lime Party Salad my mother makes using Jello. Well, I do make that at Christmas to take to my sis in law's house, but as I can't get powdered Lime jelly, I do orange and it is served as a less stogy pudding alternative to Christmas Pudding or Christmas Cake or Mince pies after the meal! There are other various differences and a few similarities, but after over 22 years, it is our own AngloAmerican tradition now.

So, that all means, I was stood in the kitchen most of the day yesterday, and flopped in the evening. Sorry if you missed me! :-)

Anyway, besides 2 pumpkin pies (one for the freezer for Christmas) I made some Pumpkin cookies. The recipe I have is called Pumpkin Chip Cookies, and is attributed to a friend from my teen years. Probably came from her family. This year I haven't got choc chips, but I did have dried cranberries, so I thought I would try them. They are actually very good. I almost like them more than the Pumpkin Chip. Actually, the colours look better together. (ever the artistic eye!) So, what shall we call them? Pumpkin Cran Cookies?

Friday, 27 November 2009

Fund Raiser - 5

Another paperwork day,
But a bit of time for some Christmas trees tonight.The top ones have a light green pearl colour. the blue ones have bright white spots on the printed snowflakes.

I will have time next week to put the toy wadding inside.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

sample - drafting a skirt

This coming Monday in our C+G class we will start drafting the skirt block from personal measurements.

Although I can do this and do it somewhat frequently, I wanted to go through the steps again so I am freshly familiar with it, and also have something to show the students. So, that is what I have been up to today.I used the method described in the book Metric Pattern Drafting by Winifred Aldrich.

Actually, I was going to use the method I found in the handouts this college uses, but I don't feel confident enough to teach a method I am not familiar with. Especially, after talking about getting the right hip depth per person, and then discovering the other method calls for you to use a generic hip depth, I abandoned the attempt to try it. I would rather work with a method for which I am aware of what changes may be needed! If the hip depth is already not a personal measurement, what changes will that effect?

And further to that, I am to be observed that evening! Yikes. So, if I am bumbling my way through an unfamiliar set of instructions, it will hardly instill confidence in my abilities to teach!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Greyscale Student work

Way back here I tried to work out the best way to do a greyscale using dyes which would work in my C+G classroom session.

I opted for a 4th version of the experiments I did then, which was to put strips of white fabric (reserving one for pure white!) into the jar of black dye. Then we set the timer and at 15 min intervals, we pulled a strip out and put it in a plastic cup, so it could be taken home and rinsed out. When they are all sorted, we will divide them up between the students.

Today I rinsed out the strips. I realised the dye struck so quickly, that the first piece was already too grey to be the next step after white. So, I did a few to fill in that end...1 - dipped in quickly and rinsed out. 2 - left 5 min. 3 - left 10 min. (and so no.4 was our initial number 1, done for 15 min.)

Because we only had 2 1/2 hours for class, the last ones were not as black as should be, so I also put in a strip for 3 hours and another for 4+. This dye doesn't produce a black as dark as I would like, so that is why the 4+. (This strip is actually the 2 shorter ones in front.)

The difference between each one is very subtle. I think if I were to do it again, I would set the timer for something more like 20-30 min after the intitial 4 as mentioned above. And possibly then after doing no.8, I would then set the timer for an hour each time.

But, anyway, we have a greyscale, and it is not too bad. And if it were different, there wouldn't have been as much student activity with setting the timer, putting gloves on, taking a strip out, etc. I'm not worried that they didn't do the rinsing...which takes ages!... because they did the rinsing on the colour scheme pieces they did some weeks back.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Fund Raiser - 4

A bit more work on decorations for the fund raiser. Instead of beads, I am using dots of gold paint. Nice mindless work to do whilst listening to an audio book.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Inspiration Monday

Italian Gardens at South Hill Park.
I am thinking stencil, screen print, patchwork, etc.
Any other ideas?

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Doodle 9

Here is a doodle I have been working on in fits and starts for sometime. At first, I did a bit of a "what if" thing. I took a berry from a bush...I can't even remember why or what prompted it! But I think it was blue and I wanted to see what the colour was. Instead of squishing it any old where, I thought I may as well squish it on a page in my doodle book. I had already started the swirly bit, but didn't like it well enough to finish. The colour was a bit mulberry.

Then, I left it, not thinking what I could do with it at that point. But, when I had the book at a meeting I had to go to, I started just drawing round the anomalies in the colour. So, that was interesting.

But, I left it open on my table at home, and bit by bit I saw faces of creatures that look a bit like various sea creatures. So, I drew in the eyes, some patterning for the creatures, and so on. I was nearly done when I was just doing a bit more detail. I had just washed my hands, and hadn't realised there was water under my ring. When it leaked out, I thought "oh no!". But, eventually the area affected looked a bit like a dolphin, so he got added. I have no idea why there is a pinecone floating on the top of the pile!

I found it interesting that the addition of water turned the colour blue again. A bit like beets, red cabbage and some red berries.

Anyway, it was quite fun in the end and quite out of the ordinary. Very surreal and fantasy like.
I might actually think about doing some sort of art work using this as a jumping off idea.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Thames Valley Contemporary Quilt Group

Today TVCQ had our November meeting. In the morning, member and author Linda Seward, talked about her experiences as an editor and writer of craft and sewing books. It was fascinating! She also gave us some advice about how to propose articles or books for publication.

Look at all those books!
Then we went off to South Hill Park where Jane O'Sullivan gave us a tour round the mansion. They had just completed the set for this year's panto Peter Pan. We got to go in and see it...and even go on stage!! It was awesome. We took photos, but I won't steal their thunder. There was the most wonderful little mock stage set up as well, which had been built by the set designer to show how the full stage should look. I haven't been over there for a panto since my son was small, but I may go this year!

As we went round the building, I think Jane was amused when we were stopping to snap photos of things like the board in the Jewellery studio where all the tools were hanging! Well, inspiration, you know! Here is a photo of one of the ceilings and a beautiful old printing press in the print room.

We also walked round the grounds, and we lucky as the rain held off. It wasn't too chilly either till it started getting darker.

We went back for a cuppa and a bit of show and tell.

All in all it was a great day!

Friday, 20 November 2009

paper coat

Today was a bit of a paperwork day; agendas and maps for tomorrow's Thames Valley Contemporary Quilt Group meeting... lesson plans for Monday's session at college, etc. But here is something else I did.

I made up a pattern for a 3D coat to use for a story with the children on Sunday. I am quite chuffed with it. I may use it for an idea for a 3D piece of art at some stage!

off to bed...

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Connect-Disconnect A2

Way back in September, I started the preliminaries for the last piece in the Connect-Disconnect series I am doing with EquilARTeral.

Finally, this week I have been able to get on with doing more. Luckily, the techniques are simple ones, and quick to accomplish. So, I put on an audio book, and just started working.

Here is the front.

Here is the back.

If I can, I will begin the next step tomorrow. I will have to take a photo against a different background so you can see the detail better.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Decorator Candles - Student work

Yesterday and today I taught the Crafts @the Library sessions. Here are photos of the student's work.
Birch Hill - Dorothy, Annette, Norma and Lisa Great Hollands - Jean, Chantel, Owen and Simon

Don't they all look good?