Sunday, 29 December 2013


I don't know about you, but however hard I try NOT to make New Year Resolutions, somehow the urge to make a fresh start and set myself some goals is too appealing to ignore. I suppose that the New Year is as good a time as any for me to look back at how far along my creative journey I have come in the last 12 months. This time last year I was in the thick of my C&G certificate and there was little time for thinking about anything else. It took me much longer than I anticipated to finish and then afterwards I went into a creative doldrums for a while.  However a resolve to make a few things for my Etsy shop got me back into making mode, and many of those have sold either on Etsy or in the Pop-Up shop in Dunstable. I also finished quilting my poppy prints both of which I have written about here. But I have been working away at various other projects which I will share with you now.
Way back in October I drew some Iris foetidissima seed pods from my garden. I have been playing with these pictures in various sketchbooks ever since.

Lots of potential in these shapes. Think I may start a garden/plant dedicated sketchbook. (Res. no.1)

Meanwhile on the sewing front I have added another spray of leaves to this small quilt

There is more to come. (Res. no. 2 )

For Christmas I bought myself a book on Gustav Klimt, I'm not sure why I didn't already have one. Whenever I wanted to look at his work I always had to go on the internet or look at an old calendar I had saved. I remember going to an exhibition of Egon Schiele's work when I was at college and learning something of Klimt at that time. The work of both men has always haunted me; Klimt's wonderful decoration and Schiele's bruised, raw, emaciated figures. I was trying out some of his bleeding colours in the last iris pod sketch above.  However it is Klimt's decorative work which captures   so many of our imaginations. I hadn't realised ( or remembered) that his father was a gold engraver, so no wonder he is so fascinated with using it in his work. I often search through prints of his work for examples of his motifs, so I have decided to keep a record of them in one of my hand made books, that way I have my own reference book.  I have made a start with squares. I have taken patterns from one or two paintings and elaborated on them.

It is a great opportunity to play with my gold paint and pens. Triangles next. (Res. no. 3)
It seems to take a couple of hours to put together a blog post these days (with interruptions) so now I must go for a short walk (Res no. 4)  and iron and perhaps do another page in my book.

Enjoy the last couple of days of 2013 and see you next year.


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas Greetings

Merry Christmas to all my 'bloggy' friends,
have a great holiday and see you all soon.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Can't decide on a title...

I'm SO fed up. After blowing my nose since last weekend I am now coughing and feeling thoroughly sorry for myself AGAIN! I keep having lovely ideas for things to make but just cannot get my thick head round anything.  It is the first time in many years that I have not made Christmas cards, but that is not entirely down to the head cold, but just not having any inspiration. I am so glad we'd bought cards Until the dreaded drip took hold I did manage to get on with the a few things.
The Pop-Up shop proved a success and I made a good amount of sales. So much so that my Etsy shop is rather bare.  Not a bad thing, as you can only sell things once.  I will have a rethink what may be in it in the new year. I always said I wouldn't just make things to sell, so it will depend on where the fancy takes me.
I did finish quilting my three poppies. Here they are pinned up to the back of the door.

I've found a suitable fabric for making the cushion backs, but I just haven't had the time or brain power to think about making them up.  The last thing I want to to is to mess them up. A clear head will be needed.
I have been practising my knitting on circular needles and made these three cowls.  I find all the jumpers I like have large scoop, or boat necks and I feel the cold. I often wear a scarf to fill the gap, but fancied something different.  These took a 100gr ball of chunky or super chunky yarn and even I could knit one up in a couple of evenings.  I used a random pattern of rows of stocking and garter stitch which makes the whole thing reversible and no counting!

I rather enjoyed knitting and I am tempted to try something more demanding.   Trying to think of something that comes between a simple tube and a garment with shaping!

The one other creative thing I did before the headcold struck was add some leaves to this little painted quilted piece I started ages ago. It just goes to show that if you hang on to something long enough, you will find the solution. I wanted to add foliage to it and may be some flowers but couldn't decide what technique would work.

I suscribe to Maggie Grey's Workshop on the Web and this quarter there is a piece by Arlee Barr. I have been following her on Facebook and have found work utterly fascinating. She lives in Calgary, Canada and her work is complex and thoughtful. However the technique she uses to create padded appliqué was just what I need to add to this piece. I felt it was a real privilege to have access to her method of working.

It is not simple, and as this is a small scale, rather fiddly to do, however it was perfect for this project.  The leaves have embroidered detail and stand out from the body of the quilt. I can't wait to feel my brain is working so I can plan more leaves to add. 

I am looking forward to my first Christmas Tea with the Embroiders Guild this Saturday and a talk by Linda Monk, hopefully the cough will have calmed down by then or i won't be very popular!

I do hope you are fit and well and prepared for the season.  We have a VERY quiet Christmas, however we do like to fit in plenty of socialising in over the break. 
Hope to be back soon.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

No time November

Hello again … just managing to squeeze another post in for November.  Most of my last three weeks have been taken up with quilting, interrupted with a bit of work at the Pop-Up Shop, and just staring absent mindedly out of the window.
The Pop-Up shop has proved very popular with lots and lots of positive feedback and a steady stream of sales. I think I shall have made a small profit, having recovered my initial investment, but won't know 'til the books are balanced. Joanne Bowes has been the main instigator as she put forward the initial proposal for the shop to Dunstable council she has worked very hard at making the shop a success so I do hope it has been worthwhile for her. Lots of people have said how good it would be to see a more permanent outlet for art work in Dunstable, but of course it is not that easy and the people involved are all artists and not gallery/shop managers which is a very different business.
Joanne and Vicky worked very hard to make the shop look professional and Joanne's and Jan's husbands managed to install a hanging system for the paintings.

 Joanne opening up 

One of our lovely, stylish visitors who gave us a big thumbs up.

I'm not used to having to do a full day's work any more so after being at the shop felt totally worn out, even though I mostly spent the time chatting!! Mr T and I had not had a good couple of weeks with some sort of bug, so I was very grateful for the support I got in arriving a bit late for my shifts. 

In between times I have been quilting my three printed poppies.

 The first one finished 
I intend making cushion covers, here it is on my sofa with the original painting, unfortunately it clashes with my colour scheme.

This is the second one pinned up and ready to quilt.

Below is the third one, just to give you an idea of the number of different colours I chose, although I didn't quite use all of them.
In this one the print of the petals came out with less detail, so I stitched the tones back in.

I have found a beautiful toning green mottled cotton for the backs, so not a lot left to do on the tops.  Haven't decided what do do with the backs yet. but watch this space… I have loved doing this so will be looking how I can develop the idea.
I've been trying to catch up with blogs and have been reading them, even if I haven't commented. 
Hope you're keeping warm and busy,

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Poppin' up all over

Just a quick visit today to say that I'm taking part in the Artist Network Bedfordshire Pop-up shop adventure in Dunstable. I shall be taking along a lot of the things I had got ready for my Etsy shop, but decided not to put them up there until the pop-up finished. If you live in the area do come and visit. Not only will you be supporting local artists, but also Dunstable's effort to regenerate its town centre.

I shall be in the shop on Friday15th, Tuesday 19th and Thursday 21st November.

Here are a few of my bits that will be there.


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Autumn days

I've been busy again, so I thought I would share. First of all I've been doing some sketchbook work.

 The rooks were inspired by photographs in this quarter's BTO magazine "Bird Table" which is a great source of pictures. There is definitely a touch of Linda Kemshall there too.  The background is a collage of printed papers from my stash.

Next I gathered a few samples from the garden. I am interested in moving from an accurate drawing to a more graphic representation. Above are aquilegia seed heads.

These Iris foetidissima berries were crying out for the paintbrush.  I used Golden Acrylics to paint the left hand page.  

This is a branch of Japanese honeysuckle which is rampant in my garden. I drew a simplified representation on the left and used printed papers for the collage.

On Saturday I went to my Embroiders' Guild workshop run by Gina on making books.
Here's a montage of the groups results.

 This is my one

The paper I chose was very thick.

On Sunday I thought I'd have a go at making another one, so that hopefully the method would stick.
 This time I used some of those printed papers again mixed in with plain papers.

The binding is a little loose, but generally pretty successful.

Today I thought I would commit myself to starting to quilt the poppy print fabric I had made of my paintings.  I selected suitable threads from my stash but realised that there are a few gaps in the paler range and the blue/greens.
I had the enough suitable threads to make a start. So far so good, the quilting is adding a luxurious 3D effect.

Thank you to all of you who wished Marvin well.  A visit to the vet yesterday for his flu jab confirmed he is fine, even if he is on borrowed time. We concluded that the arrival of extra cats in the neighbourhood would account for him converting to being an indoor cat, although he does still like a brief walk round the 'estate', especially if Mr T or I are out there with him ... aaah!

Another exciting bit of news is that I have been asked to take part in a pop-up shop in Dunstable in November. More news about that later. I must say it is all happening at the moment.
Hope things are going well your way too.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Who knows where the time goes?

Since my last post Autumn has arrived.  I suppose we can count ourselves lucky that it has taken so long to arrive, although it just seems too soon. I am hoping that I can fit some time in for creativity as since my last post I have been busy doing mostly other things. Firstly theres been more trouble wit' cat. Those of you who have followed my tales of Marvin will know that in August he had his remaining teeth out, and all seemed to be going well until I decided his bed needed a change and I realise that it was rather than damp! It was stuck to the floor! When we shut him in the kitchen at night he usually pops out, or sits on guard by the cat flap so we hadn't noticed him not sleeping on it. I thought perhaps we had had a spillage as it's by the bottle recycling box, so I threw the whole thing  and put down the spare. It didn't smell or I would have noticed, I promise. However I checked it the next morning and it was wet again! I'm not sure how long he had been using his bed as a 'convenience'.   He doesn't normally have a litter tray, we put one down after his op, but he stopped using it and went outside as usual. I took him along to the vet for a check up and she said he could have an infection, but it could be stress. We realised that our neighbourhood cat count has risen dramatically over the summer and our garden is now frequently visited by at least three different cats. (One neighbour has six) Although none of them has shown any signs of aggression, poor old Marvin is probably feeling totally defenceless as well as toothless and has opted for the indoor loo option. Of course we are now providing him with the proper facilities, but what a faff it is! I wish they could derive a cat litter that wouldn't stick to their feet!
"You talking about me?"
As all this was happening I was booked for a visit to the Isle of Wight to visit Dad.  As Mr T is not the best at improvisational clearing up, before I went I had to buy new rubber gloves, wet wipes, puppy training pads etc etc, as we weren't sure if Marv's problems would be solved with the provision of a litter tray at the time. It was good to see Dad, and when I asked him if there was anything I  could do while I was there he said he wanted help choosing a new laptop!

So off we went to PC World to see what they could offer.  After chatting up a pleasant young man and explaining that at 91 Dad need something easy to use, we chose a model and he explained that it Windows 8 could be set up to look like the version he had so he would be able to find everything. However the setting up service would take a couple of days and Dad would have to come in to pick it up. We were a bit disappointed as Dad wanted me to help him, but I knew I wasn't confident enough to set it up myself in the time available.  As we hummed and hah'd about how Dad would get back to pick it up, the assistant disappeared. He had a word with the techies who said they could set it up that evening and another assistant who lived near Dad said he would drop it off for him - unofficially, on his way home the next day.  I was leaving the next morning, but Dad said it arrived safely and he was having a play. How refreshing to find people who were really helpful.

So now it was October and I did manage to prepare my October calendar pages.

I tried to adapt the procedures I'd used at Angie Hughes' workshop, but it didn't quite work and ended up very moody and dark.  I hope thats not a premonition for the month's weather.
This month I am determined to re-stock my Etsy shop. Just before I set up a photo session of some new things I've made I though I'd re-list the little needle felt moth brooches I had on there. I no sooner than I had put up the first three than they sold to a lady in Berlin! Which was wonderful, but now my shop was empty again. Luckily I had one left, so that is there now. I have managed a long photo session so I am all ready to restock, hopefully over the weekend... here's a taster ....

If you're interested in anything you see here, please contact me and I'll let you know prices etc.

I had another lovely Saturday afternoon with the N.H. & Bs Embroiders' Guild and yesterday Maxine  and I went to the Stitching and Knitting show at the Ally Pally, my first visit to that venue.  Maxine is a colourful character and very talented textile artist and great company. I haven't been down to London for ages and ages and being with her boosted my confidence and we had a great time. The show is almost overwhelming. However I did see Bobby Britnell and Ruth Issett on their stand and both said hello. It was lovely to be remembered from all the students they have at their workshops. More beautiful work from both of them.
However I was most struck by Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn's work. I have seen pictures of their pieces, but not seen it in 'real life' before.  It was stunning.

 Below is a sketchbook page from a wonderful display of dozens of pages - it was under glass so the white dots are reflections from the lighting.

I also saw Gina on the Missenden Abbey stand, and later we bumped into each other while wandering round.  I was pleased to be able to thank her personally for an invitation to join the textile group, called Spectrum whose work I saw at Art Van Go last year.  I cannot express how delighted I am to be able to join this group as it was just what I was looking for.  So after trekking round Ally Pally yesterday I took the opportunity to put my feet up, not sure when I'll get another chance.

I cannot tell you how happy I am to be visiting London and joining groups with new friends as well as spending time with 'old' ones too of course. At the moment I'm counting my blessings, even with an inconvenient cat!

I do hope you've had a great week too.