Wednesday 24 February 2010

The last two tiles and Happy Birthday Mum.

The tile design above was traced onto tissue paper and worked over several layers of painted nappy liner. I then zapped it with the heat gun to give more texture to the central area, used an automatic stitch to make the border and zigzagged it onto the page.
This design came from a photocopy transferred to the fabric background using the Bondaweb method. I painted Puff Paint onto the body of the eagle and heated it to raise the texture, then added the terracotta colour with a Sakura Glaze pen and sprayed it with Moonshadow Mist. Split silk carrier rods were added to form a border and stitched down with an automatic stitch then zigzagged to the page. He looks a bit like an oven ready chicken, but these are all experimental rather than 'proper' pieces and serve as a good reminder for future reference.

The cover is made from 'fabric paper' made following Beryl Dean's instructions. I lined it with dyed fabric and bound the edges with ribbon. The central panel is made from foil chocolate wrapper bonded to felt and a shrink plastic lion motif is stitched in the centre. The letters are from a sheet of decorative adhesive alphabet tiles.

I found a tiny padlock which I thought would be fun to fasten the book - it threads through two tiny clear plastic rings. I would rather have had brass ones but these are not too obtrusive.

I even remembered to make a note of all the techniques and materials I used and put them into a little book which slots into a pocket in the inner lining/end paper. You're probably sick and tired of hearing about medieval tile designs but you can relax now - that is the end of them.
Today is my mother's 102nd birthday though I'm not sure she knew what all the fuss was about. I went to see her with one of our daughters and while we were there our eldest daughter arrived with her daughter and her two children aged six months and two and a half. We filled one corner of one of the Care Home lounges with our five generations. There were no other residents in that lounge so we didn't disturb anyone. If I had known that we would all have been there together I would have taken the camera with me. The baby is being christened on Sunday and I am very relieved that it has turned a bit milder - my best bib and tucker is not as warm as all the layers I have been bundled into recently.

Monday 22 February 2010

The Poetry Bus is on the road again.

Totalfeckineejit suggests we turn out our pockets, empty our handbags, etc., and come up with a poem about ourselves. Here is my little offering:
I emptied my bag, my personna to find
amazed at the mess that emerged.
What does it say of the state of my mind?
What chaos have I unearthed?
Tickets, tissues, coupons, receipts,
plus numerous oddments en masse
beneath purse, comb, cosmetics, wallet and keys
along with a small looking glass.
I try to be tidy - I try to be neat
but it's oh! so easy to hide
all the clutter of daily life inside my bag
while it still looks smart on the outside!

Sunday 21 February 2010

Art in Action - with a difference!!

The masterpiece above is surely a worthy contender for the Turnip Prize?!

This one is not quite so stunning but nonetheless an interesting study in form and dimension.

Here is the artist at work. Her vigorous and enthusiastic handling of the materials she uses results in very innovative pieces.

Here she is making a careful final adjustment before sending off a commission to a discerning client.

I've been busy too, with more tile designs. This one has been stamped with Color Box pigment ink onto beige card and embossed twice with ultra thick embossing enamel powder. I then used an automatic machine stitch to fix it to it's texture paper background and to stitch it to the page. I'm not quite sure about the flower shaped copper coloured sequins at each corner, but it seemed to need something to finish it off.

This one is obviously a very early tile!! I like it's ancient, distressed look. I cut this shape from Lutrador with a soldering iron then painted it with texture paste and acrylics, and highlighted it with Distress Ink pads. It was then placed over a piece of painted Bondaweb on rust-dyed cotton and added to the page with machine stitching. To finish, I applied tiny dots of brown Stickles which give a beaded look.
I lightly brushed a rubber stamp with acrylic wax and then stamped it onto painted cotton. Rusting powder was then sprinkled over the waxed area and the excess shaken off. It was then spritzed with white vinegar and left to dry. Two rows of an automatic stitch were worked facing each other and then it was zigzag stitched to the page. There are only two more to do but I haven't decided how to do them yet. I'm having such fun making these 'tiles' - the book will be a record of all the products and techniques that went into them.
It was such a lovely day today I just had to go for a walk. As I had a small companion with me it made it all the more enjoyable. There was real warmth in the sun, the birds were singing and crocused and snowdrops were popping up everywhere. I saw celandines in the hedges too and couldn't resist taking these shots of textures.
This is a tree stump with lovely crunchy knobbly bits ......................

...............................and here is a weird ivy stem or root which has been cut to stop it damaging the wall.
It's such a pity about the plastic bag in this shot - it was too far back for me to reach it or I would have removed it - but the lichen growing on the tiny twigs looked like crisp vintage lace.
I find it quite bizarre to think that only three days ago we couldn't drive up the road on account of all the snow and ice. It has thawed fast today - this morning about a foot of grass was showing at the bottom of the lawn, this afternoon three quarters of the grass is visible. During my walk it was odd to look at a front garden on my right with a lovely green lawn starred with crocuses, while the front lawn on my left was still covered in snow. It has certainly been a very strange few days.

Friday 19 February 2010

Two more tiles and some furry friends.

Both these tiles were made in a similar way. The images are from rubber stamps stamped onto lightweight watercolour paper, then highlighted with Sakura Glaze pens, which give a rather nice encaustic effect. Both were stamped with Brilliance ink pads - the green one using Lightning Black and the reddish one using Coffee Bean. The greenish background is painted pelmet vilene.

The background for this one is made with painted Bondaweb ironed on to rust dyed cotton. The same automatic stitch has been used on each of these to put all components together.

I couldn't resist taking these pics. The one above is right outside our front window. I didn't dare try to get any nearer the glass or the squirrel would have been scared off.

His friend here is having a breather from pinching the birds' peanuts. The squirrels need food too so I don't begrudge them, and they provide so much entertainment with their antics.

The one that got away!! It would have been such a good shot too if he hadn't moved just as I was about to press the button.
I'm off for some more 'tiling' - there is one in the making and two more being worked out - see you soon.

Thursday 18 February 2010

Ground Hog Day?

We've been here before, haven't we? I DON'T WANT ANY MORE SNOW!! It's not listening to me and still snowing.
At about ten o'clock this morning we set off on our usual Thursday jaunt for the weekly shopping and lunch out somewhere. It was starting to snow but sounded like rain on the car roof as it was so wet. About a mile away from home everywhere was beginning to look rather white and a little further on the sky all round us was leaden with no sign of lighter patches, so we turned round and headed for our nearest supermarket, stocked up and then came home. My photo was taken at about 12.00. It's now 2.30 pm and our road is almost impossible to get out of - we have just watched a driver inching his way up the slope, wheels spinning. I am beginning to wish we still had our tennis rackets - I could tie them to my feet and go for a walk. As it is, I shall make some marmalade and then do a bit more to the pages for my tile book. The weather doesn't normally affect me very much but this year oh! how I long for it to be Spring.

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Lovely lichens and a couple more pages.

I went for a walk at the weekend and kept seeing lovely lichens growing on trees and walls. They were growing on some of the tiniest twigs on some trees but I couldn't get close enough for a good photo.
These were easy and right beside the road.

I like this weird ivy stem - it looks a bit scorpion-like to me.

Tiny little ferns were beginning to grow between the stones on some walls.

I couldn't believe how far advanced these hazel catkins are - most of the other trees have a long way to go yet.

Another page for my tile book. I used a rubber stamp for this image, stamping it four times and rotating it to form this quatrefoil, then I doodled over it with the sewing machine. I used the reverse side of a piece of painted fabric as I found the colour on the right side too strong. This brings to mind those very faded tiles with little glimpses of colour showing through.

A detail of the one above.
The fleur-de-lis is on gessoed painted calico, the design stencilled with adhesive and gilding flakes applied. The outline was then couched with a fine cord to define it. The background has free machining worked on it and it was then trimmed to size and mounted on gold foil (from Ferraro Roche chocs) bonded on to felt. This was then zigzagged onto the calico page. It's amazing what you see in a photo that you hadn't noticed before - the bottom edge needs a shave!
I am typing this post while taking a breather from clearing out our single bedroom. I need to work up a bit more energy before completing the job. The force has been with me today and the landing is covered with bags to go to charity, a bag of rubbish, stuff that I haven't decided what to do with and bits of work which have come back from various exhibitions.
I've found things I haven't seen for ages. Why is it, when clearing one room at least three others seem to get messed up? My workroom is recluttered, the bathroom has a small chair and various other bits temporarily parked there, and in the hall are several items for other family members to look at in case they can make use of them. It will be lovely when I'm shut of it all. Rest over - back to the grindstone.

Sunday 14 February 2010

A sort of poem for St. Valentine's Day.

Totalfeckineejit has started up the Poetry Bus again. I think it's due out on Mondays as before, but because it's Valentine's Day today and our poems should have 'love interest' I'm posting mine now.

Our faces are lined
but I don't mind -
we're growing old with grace
and I yet see
the boy I loved
in your still handsome face.
Our steps have slowed
but we have time
these days to stop and rest
along the path that Life lays out
with obstacles to test
our love and fortitude.
And if our luck continues
there'll be yet more to come.
The road winds on ahead of us -
our course is not yet run.

Friday 12 February 2010

Childhood Memories.

Love Stitching in Red has done a lovely post about books she enjoyed during her childhood. This one is my one survivor from my childhood though I read many more such as Wind in the Willows, many by Alison Uttley, Beatrix Potter, Enid Blyton and so on. Behind that rather austere and unassuming cover in the photo above, are pages of delight. The book was written and illustrated by M.Forster Knight.
It was published in 1945 and I think I must have received it that same year. This is the only coloured illustration there is but even though the others are all in black and white they are still quite delightful.

The book is showing it's age and the pages are foxed now. It has been read and reread many times and all that love and attention has taken it's toll.

I remember being given permission by my mother to colour some of the pages if I was very careful.

The book went missing for some time and has only just surfaced again - time to refresh my memory of the story. If I am right it tells of the adventures of a grasshopper -Aldous Greenwing- and the other creatures he met on his quest to find his treasure.
As I remember, it didn't bother me that a mouse wore a frock or squirrels wore coats and I loved all the wild flowers, grasses and butterflies, as well as the story itself.
I have made the first three of my pages for the medieval tile book. Here they are, hot off the press.
No.1 is the glue gun stamped impression coloured with brush markers and rubbed with a rub-on cream to bring up the design. I stitched strips of recycled painted gessoed pelmet vilene onto the calico page and fixed the tile on top with bronze coloured brads. These are rather like those brass paper fasteners.

No.2 is another glue gun impressed design this time held with stitches onto a piece of gessoed and sprayed calico. This was then trimmed down to size and stitched onto the page, then a raised chain band edging worked to form the border.

No.3 is a silk cast made by laying cocoon strippings onto a rubber stamp, spraying with colour and placing baking parchment on top before ironing to get the impression. This was placed onto a piece of commercial 'handmade' paper and then free machine embroidery was worked to hold it all in place.
Nothing ever looks straight or square when I photograph it! I measured and trimmed everything to ensure that it was as square as it could be - you'll have to take my word for it!

Sunday 7 February 2010

Sunshine Blog Award.

Penny from Fibrefrolics (she makes beautiful felted landscapes and vessels among other things - go and take a look), has given me a sunshine blog award. This goes to bloggers whose 'creativity and positivity inspire others'. I am now supposed to do all manner of impossibly clever things like putting the logo on my blog, passing the award to 12 other bloggers and then link them to my post. All this is way beyond my capabilities and in any case, there are far more than just 12 of you whose words and works cheer and inspire me on a regular basis.


Saturday 6 February 2010

Early Signs.

These are the first of our snowdrops to start opening. A most welcome sight - there is a house not far away from us whose front garden is full of open snowdrops, but ours will still be flowering when theirs have finished. We must have more than one variety as there are still some barely 2" tall and tightly shut. There are dozens of different varieties and apart from a few with obvious differences, they all look alike to me.
The soil is so soggy and compacted and there is a lot of debris - twigs, leaves, etc. - which needs taking up but I have a feeling I shouldn't do it just yet. This coloured primrose shines through the gloom from the bottom of the garden. I can see it from the kitchen window.

The wild primroses are coming out gradually. I think the birds peck at the petals. I know they like yellow crocuses - I never seem to have any as they eat them as soon as they appear. There is something in the yellow ones which they like. I have plenty of white and purple ones but no yellows.

Look at these lovely buds on the honeysuckle. It is always one of the first things to come into leaf along with some of the clematis.

Early signs here of a fabric book of medieval tile designs. This motif has come out much darker than it really is. I have to decide how to attach it to the page. You may recognise it as one of my hot glue gun casts with a rubber stamp. I coloured it with an Impress brush marker and then rubbed a darker metallic rub-on to bring up the design. It will not necessarily be backed with that tatty bit of painted calico!

This one was made in the same way - I think I shall use this on the cover when I have decided how to make the cover! I have tea-dyed some calico for the pages and think I will play safe and make each tile separately then apply it to the page. Tomorrow I hope to experiment with gilding flakes and make a few paper casts and maybe some with silk cocoon strippings.

Monday 1 February 2010


At last I have managed to take a photograph of the moon. It is quite spectacular at the moment and a few evenings ago we were returning home as it was rising and it looked enormous. Sadly, before I could get to the camera and take a picture, it disappeared behind a curtain of cloud. However, the one above was taken from just outside our back door a couple of nights ago. I wondered if the brightness of the moon would allow the tracery of the twigs and branches of the trees to be seen, but you can just see them here.
My 'block' seems to have cleared, and here are the first tentative steps towards a new piece of work. It might become a book based on medieval tile designs. Top left above is my first attempt at using my own homemade stencils. I can see this one being used with puff paint or moulding paste. Top right is printed with a rubber stamp and at the bottom of the page is an eagle design - not very good. Please note the use of a sketchbook here!!!!

The fleur-de-lis is a favourite motif of mine. The bottom left design is not too good but the other one could be useful. I have been collecting one or two different weights of Lutrador and hope to make use of them in this project. Lots of trials and experiments to be done.

I almost like the images here, obtained by using the cut away acetate as a mask, better than the stencilled designs. So far I have only dabbed on colour from an ink pad, but there are many other ways of adding colour to the stencils and masks waiting to be tried out. If it becomes a book, will the pages be fabric or paper? Decisions, decisions. Fabric would be nice as I would like to use stitching too.

More rubber stamped designs here - these are based on designs of actual medieval tiles ...........

............and all because I happened to walk into Waterstones and take advantage of their 3 for 2 offer. It seems I have been reinfected with Medievalitis all over again. I have started reading the Time Traveller's Guide already, but it will be some time before I am able to begin Ken Follett's two hefty tomes. At least he has got me out of that awful state of not knowing what to do next and just fiddling around at anything.