Sunday, 14 July 2019

I forgot a very important part of my previous post!

I forgot to say that after lifting the keys from the fabric after it has been steamed, it needs to be rinsed in salt water to neutralise the vinegar.  It would be wise to wear rubber gloves during this bit as the keys are black and need washing too.  When dry they will still be rusty and can be used again, as can any rusty metal bits you may have.

I think that is everything this time!

Rust Dyeing.

I have been a collector of old keys for some time and have some rather nice ones.  Recently someone offered to add to my collection but when they arrived they were so rusty I couldn't think what to do with them and just put them in a drawer.

 I then came across a video on Pinterest showing how to do rust dyeing and suddenly remembered my rusty keys!

I had to adapt the method slightly as my kitchen is minute and I have no designated craft pots or pans.  As only white vinegar, salt and water were the main ingredients I was not too worried.  I dampened my strips of old sheeting and spread them out onto an old plastic cloth.  The rusty keys went on next, just in rows with space in between and the second and third strips with keys on top.   Then the strips are rolled tightly into a single bundle and fastened with string or elastic bands.

The bundle was then placed into a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water - enough to cover it - and left overnight.  Next morning nothing seemed to have happened except that the water had taken on a slight rusty tinge.

I found that my unused and unloved (until now) plastic microwave steamer sat perfectly on top of one of my larger saucepans.  The bundle fitted nicely inside it, and I made a lid from two layers of kitchen foil pressed tightly round the rim of the pan.   All that was needed now was to let it steam and simmer for an hour.  It worked a treat and here are the results.   Each strip is about a yard long and six inches wide.

Even the reverse of the fabric gives a good result though a bit gentler.

This one seems to have snuck in twice.

I keep seeing different images among the key shapes, predominantly tree trunks and old sepia drawings.  I have no idea what to do with my strips but will enjoy thinking about that.

I know I am weird but am really pleased with such a good result at my first attempt.  I shall scavenge my way through life now, looking for rusty bits everywhere.  I hope I don't get arrested.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Comfort Plus.

Yesterday I took delivery of my new bed and reclining chair from a wonderful family run company called Comfort Plus, based in Letchworth, Herts., but they seem to travel all over the country.  Just over  five weeks ago, a member of the firm came my block of retirement flats to demonstrate various available products, the chair being one of them, and when no-one else volunteered to sit in the demo chair I offered my services.  If I hadn't done so and found just how comfortable and versatile this chair is, I might never have bought one.  Each one really is tailor made for the customer and every one of their items comes with a lifetime guarantee.

I have lymphoedema (I hope that's the right spelling) and this chair seems to be the only one on the market which raises my feet higher than my hips when in reclining position.  I sit with my feet raised but the rest of me is upright, unless I fancy a snooze.  There are other tiny adjustments that I can make to provide better support for my back, shoulders or neck if needed. 

Likewise with the bed, I can sleep with my feet raised each night and if I ever need it, I can raise the top of the bed too.  The bed came with two memory foam pillows and two underbed storage boxes. I can set the bed to the position I want and do not have to do anything more.

I can thoroughly recommend this company for their polite, friendly and professional treatment of customers.  I have no affiliation to them - I am just a very happy customer.

The chair is less cumbersome than my previous one, which alone is a bonus in a small living room. I think it is a very good thing that I have just enrolled in a keep fit class, or I could see myself lolling about in bed or chair and getting no exercise at all!

Friday, 5 July 2019

A good haul.

This morning I found all this fabric for £3.99 in our Oxfam shop.

It was all stapled together with goodness knows how many staples - I lost count - and most of them were rusted into the fabric.  Some of them were huge, but no blood was spilled during their removal!

It is always worth taking a look to see what has come in, and I have found several treasures in there.

Sadly the colours are rather washed out in my photos but there is a good range of soft blues, greens and neutrals which will make lovely strong covers for books.  Some pieces are quite generously sized and would make bags.

 I vacuumed before I went out and then spent a couple of hours this afternoon wresting with the staples and sticky strips round the edges of each piece, sprinkling myself and the carpet with little white flecks.  Oh well, I can vacuum again tomorrow.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Only a drop in the ocean, but ...........

I have just done my first anti-single-use plastic shopping today, and found it far less daunting than I feared.  As it becomes a regular habit I will get more efficient.
I found the staff at my local Tesco supermarket very helpful and understanding, allowing me to use my own containers for some items or wrapping items in greaseproof paper, and accepting my returned unwanted non-recycled plastic when I handed it in to customer services.
I found the re-usable zip fastened freezer bags more useful than some containers so will take more of them next time.
A little more thought is required to make sure I get better results, but as I live alone I have no excuse not to put the effort in.
I understand that working mums would find it far more difficult.  To quote the Tesco slogan 'Every Little Helps'.

Monday, 24 June 2019


I have had a lovely time this morning playing with air dry clay.  I've never used it before but wondered if I could make my own trims and embellishments with it.  I need some tiny flower shapes for something I am working on - you can just see them at the top of this photo, and found some little metal cutters (meant for cake icing I think) among my bits and pieces.  I also found wooden printing blocks quite good too.

The ivy leaves here are made with another cake icing tool which came in a set of three different sizes.

This is one of my favourite molding mats.  I apoligise for not having everything on a better background to give a clearer view, but the clay takes 24 hours to dry and everything was still very soft so I didn't dare to move it.   I did remember to poke tiny holes in each piece so that I could attach them with a couple of stitches to whatever I want to add them.

These are just a few 'tools of the trade'.   I liked the results from a thinner layer of clay but I suppose those will be more brittle.  It wouldn't really matter too much if some of the items were broken as I love trying to make pieces look aged and the odd bit snapped off would add to the effect. 

I am keen to make more pieces but must rein myself in and wait to see whether these are successful.  I shall now prowl round the flat to see what else I can press into clay, for my next session!

Sunday, 16 June 2019

My 'One of your five a day' book - a work in progress.

I haven't been able to draw the inside view as it isn't ready for eating yet!

I have drawn the inside view of this persimmon but for some reason I just can't persuade the image to upload.  I had never eaten persimmon before and found it to be quite pleasant.  I imagine the flavour would be much stronger if it hadn't had to travel so many miles to get here.

There are still a few pages left to be filled so it is a very healthy project as I need the subject in front of me in order to draw it.  Then, having been cut in half, it must be eaten before it goes to waste.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Work in Progress.

First of all, I thought you might like to meet my four-legged granddaughter Boudi.  She is named after Boudicca because when my daughter and son-in-law first took her on she was very feisty.  After receiving nothing but love, patience and gentle training for just over a year, she has become utterly adorable and very affectionate, and at last is able to enjoy life.

I am part way through working on this book which contains snippets of poetry relating to Autumn and drawings in similar vein.  I will post a few pages next time when I am satisfied with them.

This little book has just been bound with ribbon and a piece of stick found on walk.  It too will probably have drawings in it, though of what I have not yet decided.  Not the best day for photos, it is rather dull though still warm.

This one is a fabric book whose cover I have not made yet, and again, I haven't decided on the theme.
I learned years ago that it makes sense to have two or three different projects on the go, but until now have never tried it.  It will certainly be good for me and might stop me from rushing in with more enthusiasm than skill.  When I get stuck with one I can go to work on another.

This is my collage book, made from Khadi paper which is very strong, and bound with the screws I took from a fabric sample display book found in a charity shop.  The front cover is a collagraph which I made ages ago, quite liked but didn't know what to do with.  Collographs fascinate me and I can see all sorts of things in them, though of course there is no detail there at all.

I am new to collage and though I have dabbled with it occasionally I have never set out to compile a little book of different ones.

One day I look at them and think they are complete, and the next I want to alter something or start again.
It is very tricky getting the balance just right.

That dark bit on the left looks too heavy now.

I am enjoying playing with all my bits and pieces, but find that although the method is a simple one, in actual fact it is much harder to select just the right sized and shaped pieces for inclusion.

This is the back cover of the book, another section of a collograph.

I am very pleased to have sorted out the camera (goodness knows what setting it was on last time) and hope my laptop will keep going a bit longer.  I have a feeling that it might die on me soon and will have to replaced.   Oh dear! the possibility of new technology to be conquered is daunting.

Monday, 20 May 2019

A little scroll book.

Firstly, apologies for this awful photograph.  I don't know how I managed that.  This is a large wooden thread reel 3ins tall - the depth of the scroll is about two and a half inches, and it is 36 ins long.
I cut a disc of paper to fit the top of the reel and stamped this lovely bumble bee on to it, adding a touch of colour and then glued it in place.

The first section has a quote from Charles Dickens which I think you will be able to read.  I must be honest and say that I stamped the butterflies and bees but drew and wrote everything else directly onto the calico strip.  I coloured everything with Inktense crayons adding a tiny bit of water to release the colour.

Next comes a favourite of mine which I have thought so often: "I've watched you now a full half hour, self poised upon that yellow flower; and little butterfly indeed, I know not if you sleep or feed." William Wordsworth.

Now we come to another favourite:  "Oh, velvet bee you're a dusty fellow.  You've powdered your legs with gold."  Jean Ingelow.

My camera has washed out so much of the colour but you can just about get the idea and read the quotation from John Clare.

"Stay near me - do not take thy flight. A little longer stay in sight."
I can't remember the name of the poet.

Or of this one - I am slipping.

This one is by Robert Graves - "Strawberries that in gardens grow are plump and juicy fine, but sweeter far, as wise men know spring from the woodland vine."

I was running out of space here, right at the end of the strip.  I would have liked to have added one or two harebells but was afraid of spoiling things.   It reads "The tiny harebells in the turf, the velvet sound of bees".

Note to self:  Get to know your camera better!

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

You never know what you might find ..........

........ when you decide to have a good clear out!  These came to light yesterday and were experiments using the top layer of  patterned paper table napkins bonded onto felt and then machine stitching added.

The mesh on the one above was made by machining diagonal line all over a double layer of napkin tissue (the bottom two layers which are plain) then making it wet and rubbing the tissue away.

This had the tulips outlined with stitching and then the background torn away.

This apple design was an attempt to achieve a pointilist effect using just French Knots to create the blend of colour.   It was an exercise for a course I did some years ago.

 This still life was handstitched directly onto it's calico background.

And here I had to draw the same arrangement directly onto the background, using just feltpens.  Two  more exercises for the same course.

Hoping to have some new experiments before long, now that I have reorganised my work room and got rid of things I no longer want to work with, and can now find the ones I do like more easily.

I am ashamed at the number of note books and sketchbooks I discovered - most of which had about four or five pages used then abandonned.  I am set up for life, even if I live as long as my mother did.  She reached 102!