Friday, 13 February 2015

A lovely surprise.

In this morning's post I received this beautiful initial H painted by my bloggy friend Gina Ferrari who has just taken a course in egg tempera painting.  My photo doesn't do it justice - the light picks up the gold paint in the central area beautifully and it comes alive.  Thankyou so much Gina - I hardly like to follow it with these paltry printing efforts.

I have at last tried out my Gelli plate and although I enjoyed  myself, I can't say I'm very pleased with the results.   I found it hard to control the texture of the paint and will have another go using acrylics from tubes.  I think the paint I used for these was a little too wet.
I experimented with various rubber stamps and moulding mats which are quite good once you have found those that give the clearest images.
Above, I tried using the 6"square plate to fill a sheet of A4 paper.  I sprayed it with a coppery craft ink but am not sure it has improved it, especially as the ink tended to come out in blobs rather than a fine mist.
 I cut out flower shapes with a couple of paper punches and kept the strips which I used here as stencils.   I like the bottom right sample best where the edges of the strip are broken up.  I think next time I will use found objects to create the patterns and maybe try a little doodling to make my designs more personal.

 I had been hoping to find some way of using this technique to make a lining for my bird book but in the end I decided that I wanted something fairly simple so drew a faint diagonal grid on a piece of fabric ironed onto freezer paper to stabilise it, and then drew the stylised leaves making a repeat pattern.

I stuck it down to the inside of the cover which you have already seen, and finished the edges off with buttonhole stitch.
As I had no soft fabric in which to hide the ends when I came to the end of a length of thread, I left 2 or 3 inches and tied a new length in, which gave me enough thread to hang beads in 3 or 4 places round the border of the cover.

There are two more beaded bits which loaded and then disappeared and I can't get them to load again.  However, you get the idea.   I have even managed to used some of my best beads.   I seem to have been saving them for something and thought it was about time they came out of hiding.

Friday, 6 February 2015

The cover.

Believe it or not, I was aiming to have a green cover for my bird book.
I took a folded piece of strong card and spread it quite liberally with gesso before embedding scraps of fine scrim, lace and any other bits I fancied into the gesso.  I then sprayed it with Quink ink which faded to a greyish blue.   I used three different craft sprays in shades of green and each time the colour dried to a rather nasty dirty pinky beige.   It was not destined to be green.
Finally I tried a brown spray and settled for this result, though it is very drab.

A gentle rub here and there with Treasure Gold has perked it up a bit.
I think I'll leave it at that.

I have been putting off using my Gelli plate for weeks now. How can a grown woman be scared of a Gelli plate?!!    I need some interesting paper to line the cover and see an opportunity to create something with the plate, so a lovely messy weekend is on the cards.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015


A quick update on our visitor.   I checked the photos we took with those in our bird book and it is definitely a rook.   It has the distinctive white 'face' and pale beak whereas those of ravens and crows are black and much heavier looking.   I phoned Secret World in Somerset this afternoon after checking that he was still in the garden!   They are going to send one of their volunteers out to collect him as he shows no inclination to fly.  He enjoyed some raw minced beef earlier and has plenty of other food and water at his disposal.  I shall miss him when he goes but at the same time be relieved that he will be cared for properly.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

This and That.

I took these frosty pictures last Friday.   So often I read that we should leave dead seedheads on our plants as they look beautiful in winter and so often mine just look drab and untidy.   Well last Friday they looked quite pretty, but only last Friday!  Since then we have returned to drab and untidy.

Some time during the morning this chap arrived and has spent the day in our back garden.  This photo has appeared where it should not be.   It was a late comer to this post as my daughter took it portrait fashion and I couldn't remember how to rotate it when I was loading the others.   A quick telephone tutorial sorted that out, but unfortunately it turned up in the wrong place.  It's a great photo nonetheless.

Back to the frosty pics.

There was ice on the pond too.

Everywhere was gently sparkling in the sunlight.

I love the shape of these heuchera leaves.   

Back to our visiting rook.  I have never seen one at such close quarters and if he'd turned up last week he might have made it into my book!   Sadly he missed the deadline.   He looked a bit stunned at first but has gradually begun to move about more easily, had something to eat and drink and generally made himself at home.   I say 'him' but I can't decide whether it is wearing trousers or coullottes.
 I put out some chopped up cheese which he liked and there is always some bread and apple out there for the other birds - he's been tucking in to all of it.

He doesn't appear to be injured and I am hoping he'll be strong enough to fly tomorrow, and that he wont be got at by a neighbourhood cat during the night.  He has walked all round the garden almost as if trying to decide if it is a safe place to spend the night.  So far his favourite resting place has been under the bench at the far end under the conifer hedge.

These little beauties are biding their time and not opening fully yet.   I wonder if they know there is a lot more cold weather to come.  Keep warm and safe wherever you are.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Now for the tricky bit.

Here are the final pages for my book, in a rather raw state although the decorative bit is finished.
I feel I want to put them under the carpet and walk on them for a few weeks to get rid of all the wrinkles and creases.   I have pressed them carefully with an iron and it seems to make little difference.
I am considering cutting them from their current background fabric and mounting them on fresh material.
Some pages are worse than others - it would be nice for them to look alike.
I usually have trouble in ending up with pages of similar measurements - no matter how carefully I measure and cut - so the next stage will be very traumatic as they need to be exactly the same in order to be placed back to back.   I hope the next time you see them they will be looking far neater and bound into a cover.  I may be gone for some time!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Taking advantage of the grotty weather.

The edges of our lawns look like this, so trying to get out to do any work in the garden is a waste of time.
The borders are waterlogged and so I have been enjoying some guilt free creativity until things improve.

I think these two pages are complete.   For the thrush page I have used a piece of dyed silk carrier rod down the left hand side with a strip of photocopied medieval text and two very narrow strips cut from a wallpaper border and coloured to match, framing it.  The squares are cut from cotton fabrics backed with iron on Vilene and their edges dipped into melted embossing powder.  They were then stitched in place and a running stitch worked round the edge.    The blackbird has a background of pieces torn from music patterned wrapping paper with part of a dictionary page in between them. These were machined onto the calico background using an automatic stitch.  I used little squares of cotton fabric again here applied by hand and circled the word Blackbird with a black pen.   I wrote the name of each bird onto small pieces of pelmet vilene and stitched them to the background.   (I don't know how I managed to move this photo to one side and can't get it back again!)

I think these two wagtail pages are finished but need to look at them a bit longer to be sure.
Slightly different elements were applied in a similar way to the previous pages.

The woodpeckers are 'work in progress' but are not far off completion.

My sparrowhawk is waiting for his nextdoor neighbour.   I must look for some different embellishments for the rest of the pages as I am in danger of them becoming samey.  I am finding the whole process very therapeutic and as long as I choose the components for each page before the daylight goes, I can then have a relaxing evening putting each page together.

I start off with a nicely ironed piece of fabric but as you can see, by the time I have stitched everything in place it looks pretty dreadful!    I could do with one of those tiny quilter's irons.

I hope you are all safe and have suffered no damage from the gales we are experiencing.  We lost part of our fence in last winter's gales but so far this winter have only had the green wheelie bin blown over.  The snowdrops are taking their time to come into flower - very wise - I think they know a thing or two.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Are you sick of birds yet?!

I have finished the drawings I want for my book,

so the book can go back to the library, 

and I can now work out who goes where and begin the lengthy task of sourcing the various bits and pieces I shall need to complete the collages.   I tend to get carried away with enthusiasm and then each page begins to look like the next - I want to avoid that.

There are probably a few other birds which could have been added to this list, but I think 24 is a good number and I am happy to leave it at that.  I am trying hard to ignore the fact that I have seen a blackcap, redwing, fieldfare and probably some others!

What a wild night it has been - last night the wind was so strong it sounded like thunder at times.  I hope you are all safe and sound, and have incurred no damage.  Everywhere looked quite normal here this morning apart from loads of leaves and twigs everywhere.  I have just realized how quiet it is now the wind has dropped - and the sun is out!  It will be nice to have the window open again tonight - I always sleep better with some fresh air coming into the bedroom.

I have just realized how well/badly situated my laptop is.  As I type this, I have my back to the rest of my workroom which is in dire need of being tidied.   I can't see it, but one day I will want to use the worktop under the window which has all but disappeared under piles of stuff.  The job of tidying it is on the pending list but will soon have to become a priority.