Saturday, 28 March 2015

Tea for Two!

I wouldn't be surprised if these two tried to build a nest in this bird feeder.   In past years collared doves have reared two chicks on the bracket of our Sky dish.

There are plenty of signs of spring in the garden this week.  Everything is doing it's stuff and if you don't look too closely it's all looking lovely.

I love polyanthus and have planted quite a few all round the garden.
The birds often peck at the yellow ones - I think there must be something nutritional to them in the yellow petals, but these seem to have escaped their attention.

Year after year I have watched our big daffodils blown down into the mud so have switched my allegiance to the dwarf varieties which stand up to bad weather so much better.

More lovely hellebores - they are spreading really well now and having babies all over the place.

These Jerusalem Cowslips are a wonderful blue, slightly washed out by my camera.  The bees love them.

These little violas have been flowering their socks off since last October and cope with anything the weather throws at them.

Last week the first frogspawn appeared in the pond.  It was about the size of a clenched fist - now there is a huge mass, so there should be lots of little froglets this year.

We won't need any early calls if these two build a nest in this tree.  It is right beside our house and there will be a great deal of 'karking' going on.

We have had several beautiful days which would have been perfect for gardening, but my wretched leg is still painful and I don't want to make it worse.  I only look at the tidy bits and try to ignore the areas that are crying out for my attention.  I had a new hoe for my birthday and haven't been able to christen it yet.  All in good time.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Long time no see!!

As I have no inspiration at present I have taken to doodling.   I actually started on this book well before I did the bird book but it has come in very handy while I am suffering withdrawal symptoms.
The first five pages are made with pieces torn from paper napkins and glued to the page.  I then drew into and around them adding shading in places or maybe extra leaves and flowers here and there as in the one below.

There wasn't much I could do with these lovely ammonites apart from deepening the shadows and sharpening the contours.

The left hand page above started me off on several black and white doodles which became quite addictive, but I'll show you those another time.

Another nice idea was to tear this photograph of a driftwood tree trunk in half, stick it down to the pages and draw between and around the two halves.  

Then I thought I should not forget to use my own drawings so wrote these lines from Chaucer and drew between them.  'There sprang the violet al newe and fresh pervinke rich of hewe, and flowers yelowe, whyte and rede: Swich plentee grew ther never in mede, Ful gay was al the ground and queynt and poudred, as men had it peynt.'   I just love the ancient spelling.

The garden is beginning to look lovely with all the primroses, polyanthus, miniature iris and daffodils in flower.  I must do some work out there before the weeds all start going mad.

 I am walking like a drunken sailor at present having had chiropractic treatment for a trapped nerve in my left leg.  It is more comfortable than it was but needs time to recover.

I'll try not to leave it so long before my next post.

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!