Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Nose to the Grindstone.

Last weekend I had a wonderful time on one of Frances Pickering's workshops.  This year's theme was Town or Country.  As you will see I chose Country.  It was held at Hawkwood College, near Stroud.  On Friday night I fell asleep listening to the owls hooting. 
On Saturday morning we awoke to quite a thick mist blotting out quite a bit of the beautiful views from the house.
These were the views from my bedroom window.

We started work straight away on the Friday afternoon and evening.  I made up a little book ready to be filled with drawings.  I was determined to draw on this weekend and to make the most of every minute.  Above is the cover.

And here is the centre spread.  I think it needs a bit more work to make it more obvious that it is an overhanging bank with a fallen tree in the foreground.

I made a hole in one page and then added others to create the view seen through the hole.



I have kept this tawny owl feather since finding it ages ago on our back lawn.  I plucked up the courage to draw what I hope looks like a tawny owl - again this page needs more work.

On my return home I spotted this little coronet of cherry blossom on one of the branches recently cut back on our tree.  Other little bits of blossom are appearing in several other places.  Poor old tree - it is supposed to be dying but still manages to surprise us.   Another lovely surprise on returning home - neighbours whose garden backs on to ours have got rid of a very ugly leylandii hedge and replaced it with a beautiful new tall fence!   It makes such a difference to the garden.

I have plenty of other pages to work on in the book and want to try out quite a few adventurous (for me) ideas for them.  I mustn't get carried away by my enthusiasm!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Slow Progress.

I have finished all the pages of my book at last.





You have seen the other page so I haven't included it here.   I carefully decided in which order I wanted them and wrote tiny numbers in the top corner of each page.   The only trouble is that now I have completed the hand sewing round each border, I have covered up the numbers!  All I have to do now is make the cover - when I have made up my mind what sort of cover to make.  I must try to press my pages again before I bind them into the cover.   All that hand stitching has creased and puckered them.


Something else I have tried recently is eco-dyeing.   I followed instructions given in the current issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.   The artist who wrote the article dyed papers, but I wanted to try fabric.   Mine were all cotton fabrics of one sort or another.   The artist recommended putting torn up foliage in the bottom of the dye pan - I used comfrey leaves and I think they have dulled everything.  If I try it again I might leave out the layer of foliage.   Plant material was layered between each piece of fabric, then folded to encase everything, clips being used top and bottom of each parcel to hold it all in place, and string tied around the middle part.   White vinegar is added to the boiling water and the bundles are held down with a heavy stone while they simmer for 90 minutes.  I left them for 2 days after taking them out of the water and before unwrapping them.
When I first unwrapped everything it all looked so dark and rather like Army camouflage material.
Though I did get some interesting marks.
The colours haven't come out at all well in my photos,  I got some lovely blue/purple shades, and a few soft yellows.   I used fuchsia flowers, marigolds, elderberries, blueberries and various leaves.  Everything is greener than it appears here and some of the pieces might be useful on my workshop with Frances Pickering next month.
By the time I had rinsed, dried and ironed my fabrics they were beginning to look a bit more attractive.   I wonder if the time of year affects the colours achieved?   It would be interesting to try in springtime and see if I got lighter shades.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Chaos reigns!

As you can see, chaos reigns on my worktable which was beautifully tidy a few weeks ago.

I haven't got very far with my fabric book of memories of my grandmother, but here are the four pages so far completed.  I am not sure I like the handwritten text and may have to come up with an alternative.   It is so hard to keep the fabric smooth and write at the same time.


I have been very busy working on the garden which is slowly returning to a respectable state.  By the end of the day I am too tired to concentrate so have sometimes amused myself by experimenting with little collages.

They are all made on khadi paper about 5 inches square.

I have so many bits and pieces and am amazed at what I have kept, but much of it has been useful in putting these together.

They are really tottering baby steps in collage - I have probably broken all the rules, and I don't even know if there are any to break.

I have found them quite relaxing to assemble.

Some have worked better than others.   I am not sure about the one above, but do like the last one.

I must get back to Granny's book before I have another book to work on.  At the beginning of September I am treating myself to one of Frances Pickering's weekend workshops.  This year's theme is Town or Country -  I have chosen Country.  Already I have too many ideas buzzing round in my head.  I think I might work on paper this time as I want to make myself do more drawing - scary!  But who knows - by the time I have listened to Frances' opening talk I might change my mind completely.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

I've almost forgotten how to do a blog post!

It's been so hot and humid today that I haven't had the energy to do any gardening, but it has been my main pastime for several weeks now.   While I was out there taking these photos a bumblebee obligingly posed for me on the chive flowers.

These cornflowers are almost royal blue but the hazy light and my camera have bleached them somewhat.

Last year our son laid this narrow path for us.  The 'T junction' turns right to the shed and left to a shady bench.
Last week he laid another section for me which goes along the back of the rockery and pond, turns sharp right and curves further right to get to the aforementioned shady bench.
It has made such a difference to the garden and I evicted loads of magnificent buttercups which had made themselves very much at home.   I let the bees get the best of them before they went in the green bin.

I just have these aquilegia seedlings to plant out now, and to find spaces for the two dahlias below.

The black elder is in full flower and together with the honeysuckle is scenting the whole garden.  That is the one good thing about humid weather - all the perfumes are intensified.

We have bumblebees in our nesting box.  There is a constant humming buzz coming from it and much going in and out.  They are small bumblebees and if a larger one arrives and show interest they seem to try to ward it off.  They have taken over this corner and don't seem to like us sitting there, which is a shame as that is where the garden table and chairs are!


At last I have foxgloves in the garden.  These have returned from last year and some have even brought their children.
Of course there is always one that plonks it's lovely self where you don't want it - right at the very edge of the lawn.

I thought I would include a picture of this hosta before it gets too many holes in it.  I just love those 'quilted' leaves.

The honeysuckle above the kitchen window and below our bedroom window is covered in flowers.

My broad beans are getting larger every day.  I cheated and bought a small tray of plants.  There were more than I realised and I have rather crammed them into a very large tub but they seem to be doing alright and will give us several good pickings.

I still have one or two areas to sort out but considering the garden had been totally neglected from December to May it hasn't looked too bad.   When the weather turned a little warmer everything seemed to burst forth and I had to get cracking.  One of our daughters has kindly done three or four stints of weeding with me which has been a great help and incentive not to feel overwhelmed by the whole thing.   I had intended to tidy everywhere before Christmas but with such a wet winter it was not possible to work on the garden and at the end of February my husband was taken ill, spent three weeks in hospital and I have been his carer since he came home.  He is showing real signs of recovery at last and I have time to turn my attention to other things.  Once I have the garden under control I hope to get back to some indoor creativity.

I could do with a few showers to save me the job of watering but I don't want as much as London and Paris have had!

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Light at the end of the tunnel.

There has been little of interest to post here for some time, but we are settling into our new routine and life is getting easier.
A few weeks ago I treated myself to this book by Roxanne Evans Stout.   I have been fascinated by collage for some time and have dabbled with it in a very minimal way but since reading this book, suddenly I have an idea for a small book of collages to celebrate my special relationship with my maternal grandmother.  I always need a reason for making something before I can start.

Like many techniques everything appears to be simple, after all I will only be cutting or tearing papers and fabrics and sticking or stitching them down to a background.  But, choosing the right elements in the right proportions and arranging them in the most effective order is the tricky bit.

I have started gathering together fabrics in blue, as blue and white was a favourite colour combination for my grandmother.

She made rag rugs so that has to be included.  This one appears in one of Kaffe Fasset's books but as I will not be parting with my book when it is finished I am not worried about copyright.  She also made crocheted lace.

I have collected various images from magazines - granny kept bees at one time and her favourite soap smelled of Devon violets.

I may include some stamping - the meadow reminds me of long summer holidays spent crawling through the long grasses of Granny's paddock looking for ladybirds and grasshoppers.

This is just a mock-up at creating the first page.  The photo is of me aged about 18months old with Granny on a lovely summer day.   I think progress will be slow and I must not let my enthusiasm run away with me as I have done so often.   There is so much to think about and each memory seems to trigger off another one.

It is lovely to have time to think about doing some art work again.   At last my husband seems to be making real progress and I have a bit of spare time to play.