Wednesday 8 April 2020

A little visitor.

Spot the shield bug!  It is a green one and appeared on my window as I was enjoying my after lunch cuppa today.  We have beautiful sunshine again and no wind.  Perhaps I will get to see the full moon tonight.  (Having problems here!!)

I know I have been absent from blogging for several months but I have not been idle.  I have been busy making more scrapbook/journals from junk mail and discarded books.  This one has a medieval theme.  I use pieces cut from greetings cards, damaged books, magazines and anywhere else that has a picture I like the look of.

This one, as the name suggests, has a bee and lavender theme. and it's cover was made from two thicknesses of cereal packet card plus a layer of printed paper.

My latest one has a Spring theme.  Double thickness paper for the cover and junk mail pages including envelopes,  brown paper, book pages, etc.  The spine is decorated with dyed silk cocoons threaded individually and fastened at the top of the spine.  I have only shown the covers here and not the pages themselves as that could become a very long post and might get boring.

I have lots more ideas and rescued junk papers, which is just as well because this pastime seems to have become an addiction.  Goodness knows what I will do with them all.  At least there is plenty of time to be filled just now!  We have a wonderful charity book shop here which is a rich source of material.  So pleased I went a bit crazy in there before the shops closed!

I hope you are all keeping safe and finding enjoyable ways to fill your time.  At least we have some lovely weather to cheer us up while we cope with these very strange times.

Tuesday 24 December 2019



Friday 20 December 2019

Having fun with a bit of recycling.

This is the cover of my second scrapbook.  I have called it 'For the love of Trees'.   It is made from the cover of a damaged hardback book and I decorated it with a photo of a church door with two yew trees almost grown into the stone of the building, plus a few other embellishments.

As usual my scrapbooks get very fat and wont close now.  The pages are any sheets of paper, of various sizes and colour, that are now surplus to requirement.   I have simply stuck in any pictures of trees which I like, and in places have added lines from related poetry.

No.3 in the series is 'For the love of Flowers'.  I made the cover for this one from a cereal packet and covered it in floral fabric.  The front is decorated with picture cut from a magazine, mounted onto two layers of paper and trimmed with lace with a butterfly at each corner.   There are still plenty of pages waiting to be filled.    To complete this series I would like to make a scrapbook of birds, and am collecting suitable pictures.

As I was getting a bit bored with just sticking pictures in, I though I would try making smaller books and started with this wrap-around covered one.  Again the pages are any junk mail, letters, leaflets, etc.  The cover is cut from cardboard packing covered inside and out with coloured paper, and the pages are cut to size, grouped into three signatures and stitched to the spine.  I intend to write notes on the paler pages and as some have strong printing and or colour, I will find something decorative to cover those areas.

Going even smaller and again using cardboard for the cover and junk mail for the pages, I covered this one with the top layer of a 3ply table napkin and lined it with the same.

To fill this book I am collecting sayings, quotations and proverbs, etc.

This final book is again made from packaging cardboard and table napkin in a wraparound style.  The pages are oblong in landscape format.  I haven't decided how to use this one but may even get back to drawing again to fill the pages.

To prepared the pages I coated each side of each sheet of paper with gesso and when dry I sponged each side with a strong coffee solution.  Next I used rubber stamps to print small patches of text or shapes all over in order to knock back the original printing.  I have found that a grey stamping ink is better than black, which is a bit too dark.

The only drawback with this pastime is that it can become addictive, and as the junk mail keeps coming I can see that at some point I am going to be overrun by my junk books.

I apologise for the poor quality of my photos but the light today is very bad.  I am looking forward to getting back to those lovely crisp wintry days we had a week ago.   It is strange to think that in one week's time Christmas will have been and gone.  It just doesn't feel Christmassy at all, though I have put up decorations and am quite ready for the day itself.

Here's wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Wednesday 6 November 2019

A weekend treat.

A couple of weeks ago I treated myself to a weekend textile course tutored by Hilary Beattie at a very nice hotel a few miles from where I live.   The theme of the course was 'The Language of Flowers' and we spent the first day doing various drawing exercises followed by more considered drawings of our chosen flower.   We were not allowed pencils for any of this and had to use a fine black pen.  Above is my drawing of clematis.

My piece was smaller than everyone else's as I didn't want to mount mine on a canvas.  However, the work looked very impressive when mounted and each of us went home with a finished piece of work.  I intend to press mine carefully, apply a couple of coats of acrylic wax for protection and used it for the front cover of a sketchbook.
Our drawings were photocopied then traced onto deli paper from which we transferred the design onto our background of collaged fabrics with machine stitching - rather hair-raising as I haven't done any free machining for a long time.  There was a small panel of net behind the drawn image in order to stabilise it for stitching.

These two photos show close ups of the fabric collage behind the drawing.

It was a delightful if exhausting weekend (all that concentrating).  Great tutor, lovely companions, very good food and comfy bed.  One slight drawback for me was the fact that the first night, the couple in the room above mine decided to have a blazing row at about 11pm and went on till 1.30am!  Well, you can't have everything, can you?

Monday 21 October 2019

A bit more playtime.

I am still looking for more ideas to fill the pages of my needlework fabric book, and in the meantime have started a different project.   Above is the cover decoration for a journal-cum-scrapbook based on Nature.   The little plaque at the bottom reads: For the love of Nature.  I found the photo in a copy of the magazine Landscape.  There was overlapping text in the top right corner which I cut out and filled with a tiny photo of a woodpecker.  I am not going to sell the book so copyright will not be a problem.   I placed a small frayed piece of green silk under the left of the photo and added narrow strips of textured paper along the other two sides.   The main background is a slightly larger piece of Khadi paper over a coarse frayed golden fabric.  I added a large leaf button top left and a small tassel made from the pulled threads pulled out from fraying the coarse fabric.  I wrote the words in fine brown pen, cut them out and fixed them behind the little metal plaque with metal brads.  It is rather dull today so I hope my photo will be clear enough.

This made me think of my Mother who would always ask 'What's it for?' when she saw the samples I made during my time at college.  So Mum, this book will be for the love of Nature!

I haven't worked out quite how to tackle the cover but it will be made from tea dyed cotton sheeting over a base of firm cardboard.  The decoration will be glued in place when the cover is made and all the pages have been stitched in.   The pages are just A4 sheets of tea dyed copy paper stitched together in pairs and folded in half to give A5 size.  I would like it to have a rustic look and ideas are all stewing around in my head. 

This is a new departure for me and will be quite a time in the making, but I look forward to finding lots of beautiful and interesting photos to fill it and maybe there will be snippets of poetry added too.

Friday 18 October 2019


I saw a similar little wrap-around note book on Facebook and wanted to try to make one myself.
Above is the front of the book.

This is the back.  The base is a piece of cardboard packaging, decorated with patterned paper napkins and other bits and pieces.

The inside of both notebooks are the same.  The pages are stitched in place down the lefthand crease to allow for the wrap over.

This is the outside of the second notebook which is waiting for it's pages to be stitched in place.  I have learned such a lot during the making of these two and hope I shall remember it all as I would like to make something larger and more artistic, with a Nature theme.

Tuesday 1 October 2019

Work in Progress.

I thought I should return to my first love of stitching to ensure I hadn't forgotten all I learned so many years ago.   I came across the front and back covers of a fabric book, made a while back, and filling it seemed just the thing to get me started.  The cover is made up from scraps and strips of all sorts of fabric - sari ribbon, lace, silk and cotton - with embellishments such as buttons, lace scraps, paper shapes, beads, etc.

I have always like log cabin patchwork so a square had to be included.  I stitched a tiny sewing machine charm in the centre.

I made a lace trimmed pocket on this page, to house a 
C1950s needlecase which once belonged to my mother.

Here I just stitched on various paper and card haberdashery labels
More, in similar vein.

And again, with the addition of three decorative wooden flower buttons.

I bonded a heart shaped vintage fabric scrap and trimmed it with narrow flowery lace.  In each corner I added a dorset button.

Another pocket and a possibly Edwardian needlecase which once belonged to my grandmother.  It is made from tartan silk and is literally threadbare in places.

This page has a thimble top left, scrap of lace, scissors bottom right, a dorset button and in the centre a tiny wooden cotton reel.   The borders of each double spread are worked in raised chain band over an automatic machine stitch which gives a ladder pattern.

It has been useful to have some hand sewing to do while I sort out my thoughts for more books in the pipeline.  I am often surprised by the way that my books can take over part the way through the making of them.  They seldom turn out exactly how I had imagined them originally.

I am hoping that my next book will be a mix of drawing and stitch, and probably based on the theme of trees.   However, there are still quite a few more pages to make for the needlework one.