Wednesday 29 September 2010

Hot off the Press!

As you can see, the Thyme page has had a revamp and I gave up on trying to get the right shade of pink/purple and settled for a soft deep green for the capital letter. The piece of dried plant material is from my garden, pressed between a pieces of card and acetate, and edged with plaited cord. I fixed it to the page with tiny paper fasteners. The light is pretty dim this morning so I hope these turn out alright - they are a little dark.

I drew the letters onto tinted card then used Sakura gel pens to add the colour. This was mounted on hand-dyed felt and edged with a gold braid before being applied directly to the page using a narrow automatic stitch. The gold machine thread didn't break too many times!!

I quite like the addition of the capital letters to these pages and will probably go back and add some to the others.

This letter has been cut from soft leather and hand stitched to fine tapestry canvas which I had painted with gold paint. I then couched a double line of gold all round the edges, placed the whole thing over a piece of very bright gold synthetic fabric then applied it directly to the page. I finished off with a strip of gold 'bead' edging. The gaudy gold under-fabric is knocked back but adds a subtle glint through the holes of the canvas.

The fennel image is from a rubber stamp - would that I could draw like that! I coloured it with the Sakura pens again and machine stitched with ordinary straight stitch directly to the page.

I quite thought I would be completing each page as I did them but am finding I have to keep going back to see if they look finished. Even now I may add tiny trims and embellishments to one or two though I don't want to overload the designs.
I am working out how to assemble the book as I go along and think that each page will have to be treated as a signature and attached to a strip of strong fabric individually before being attached to the spine. All this is quite far ahead and there is plenty more to do before I get to that point. The pages will have to be assembled in the right order and then joined to eachother back to back. I have a strong random-dyed thread in muted natural tones just right for the job but all that stitching is going to take ages. Never mind, while I am doing it I shall have plenty of opportunity to work out how to make the cover.

Saturday 25 September 2010

Beginning to fill the pages.

At last I have a couple more completed pages to show you, though the above layout is still under construction. The colour I used for the capital T looked perfect until I had finished it! I shall do another letter in a better shade and also have to decide how, or even whether to use the stamped tissue on the right of the page and what else to include. I have a piece of thyme from the garden being pressed in a nice heavy book but it wont be ready for some time.

I think this page is complete though I might add a decorative capital C just above the little embroidered square on the right hand page. I did this by working free machine embroidery on water soluble fabric, then applied it to calico and frayed the edges. The plant material on the far right is pressed chamomile from the garden under a piece of acetate and the strip design on the far left is a photocopy mounted on a strip of handmade paper and coloured with glaze pens. The three daisies are paper flowers which I found in a craft shop.

I drew and coloured the crab apples in each corner then tore them out, aged the edges with Distress Ink and machine stitched them in place. The leaves were coloured in the same way as the apples using water soluble pencils and stuck in place. The picture of blossom is from a magazine, mounted on handmade paper and aged as before and machined in place using an automatic stitch. I think there is enough on this page - even a capital letter might be too much.

I have just realised that I have passed my second bloggy birthday - it was on 17th September - how time flies. I must find out how many posts I have made.
The sun is shining and as I am a fairweather gardener I should be out there doing something useful. Goodness knows there is plenty to be done.

Thursday 23 September 2010

A not very helpful notice!

Couldn't resist letting you see this notice on our local bottle bank. We couldn't find any glass bottles big enough to take the ones we were trying to recycle!!

The garden is taking on a real autumnal look now and so many things have finished doing their bit but this little plant just keeps going. I think it is regarded as a weed by some gardeners but I love it. It starts flowering soon after the spring bulbs have finished and seems to keep on till the frost kills it, then up it comes next year. I don't know what it's called and must look it up.

These poor cosmos have been blown about a bit but are flowering their socks off. They are my babies as I grew them from seed and had no idea they could get so tall - these plants must be nearly 6ft. The ones I grew last year were eaten by slugs and snails, so I'm very pleased that these survived.

They look so delicate - I should have done a bit of deadheading before I took this photo!

This is one of the campanula family and I thought it had done it's bit for this year so cut it down about a month ago and it's already flowering again though much shorter than before.
It grows to about 2 or 3 feet.

This is another seemingly delicate plant - Clematis 'Bill MacKenzie' - whose stems are very brittle. We have to chop lumps off as it grows over an archway to the side of the house and in wet weather we get a cold shower each time we walk under it. It has spread over the pergola in one direction and over the boundary wall and up one of the council's trees in the other. I love the shape of the buds and the texture of the petals when they are open - almost like citrus peel - and those lovely silky seedheads. I managed to get them all in this shot.

I forgot to plant any dahlias this year. I am quite choosy and prefer the single ones. They are so good for providing a splash of colour at this time of year. I lost all mine during the very cold weather last winter.
I have been busy with the pages for my herb book but there are none completed yet to show you. I intended to complete each page as I went along, but that has gone by the board and I am adding bits here and there as inspiration strikes and materials and embellishments present themselves. I should soon have a couple to show you. Hope you have a lovely weekend whatever you are doing.

Sunday 19 September 2010

Don't forget the confetti for the Poetry Bus this week.

This week Argent has set us the task of writing something suitable to be read at a wedding. I thought beautiful thoughts and tried to conjure up some wisdom and sound advice, but they wouldn't produce a poem, then my sense of humour invaded the task and I think my contribution would be better suited to being read at the reception than during the ceremony itself - or maybe not at all!

It's full of sweeping generalisation and is a bit 'tongue in cheek'.

The Seven Stages of Marriage.

Fire and passion.

Flowers and candles.

Nappies and teething.

Debts and bills.

Trials and tribulations.

Fanning the embers.

Cocoa and cuddles.

Friday 17 September 2010

Resting on Someone Else's Laurels!

I said I would try to make my blog more interesting! The picture above is a detail from a long panel our youngest daughter made in felt, then added stitching, beads, etc. The lettering includes all the names of the shipping areas around the British Isles. She has had a long fascination for the shipping forecast and meteorology. I apologise for not getting a better shot, and as it hangs in a corner of a small room stuffed with furniture and boxes, I was unable to get it in full. It needs to be seen close up to appreciate all the detail.

Said daughter has recently moved a lot of her stuff into our smallest bedroom and I have designated it her 'studio'. She has so little space in her own home and needed somewhere she could work on things then go away and leave them, rather than have to pack everything away again.

She is also very interested in Russian art and made the above bag from various scraps of fabric and ribbons. St.Basil's Cathedral is painted directly onto the fabric with metallic paints.

Another passion of hers is crows - corvids in general but especially crows. I just love this bag - she made the felt then dry felted the crow - I envy her talent. When I think of my four years of City and Guilds Embroidery and various courses since and the fact that she did 'O'level Textiles at school then a one day feltmaking course a few years ago, I wonder if I should give up altogether.

Another felted and stitched piece which has been manipulated and beaded .......................

............................ and one last manipulated felted piece with added fabrics and stitching.

Perhaps these photos of her work brought me luck as I had no problem today in getting them onto the laptop and then posting them on here. I think all computers and laptops should come with a warning! No-one tells you how contrary they can be.

An update on the fly situation: thankfully they are noticeable by their absence today, so I hope we have seen the last of them - I vacuumed up the last few this morning. They are quite clever and have managed to avoid the fly papers. One has one fly on it, another has three and the third, none at all. How's that for bloody-mindedness? All I have to do now is clean the windows!

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Murder and Mayhem!

We have been plagued by house flies for the past two days. There was a similar problem two or three weeks back and I thought it had been resolved. I am exhausted from swatting the little blighters and have resorted to that most attractive addition to interior decor, the fly paper! I have lost count of the number we have dispatched - it certainly runs into dozens and may even be hundreds now. Where do they keep coming from?

I have tried three times to get photos onto this post and the font size seems to be altering itself without my permission. This does nothing for my confidence in laptops or computers in general. I've posted photos dozens of times now with no trouble at all, so I don't think it is down to me.

I had a very productive morning after vacuuming up the corpses, removing the splats and cleaning down all surfaces and made a batch of granola to perk up my rather plain oat cereal, followed by bread rolls, biscuits and cheese scones. At least I can still cook. Yours, Fed Up of Bristol!

Sunday 12 September 2010

A dash for the Poetry Bus.

Marion has set this week's task for us and suggests we write about colour. I like plenty of choice but sometimes such a wide range makes things harder. I tossed various ideas around in my head and quite suddenly this came to me:-

The morning is grey
the world is drab
but after a while
the sun breaks through
and everything
takes on colour.

Birds' plumage,
leaves, flowers, buildings,
the very clouds themselves
and even rusty old sheds
become suffused
with colour.

No pictures today - sorry. I have had a well spent day in the garden evicting weeds and dead bits but have definitely used up today's energy and probably tomorrow's too! I'll try to be more interesting in my next post.

Tuesday 7 September 2010


Congratulations Tom! I made this card, in great haste, this morning to congratulate one of our grandsons who took part in and completed the Bristol Half Marathon at the weekend. He ran for the charity Help for Heroes, hence the motif on the card. I hope he raises lots of money for them. I'm sure someone will notice that I have placed the colours in the wrong sequence, having promoted the army and demoted the navy - sorry chaps.

I then went on to fasten my latest batch of machine embroidered trees to my Quarry piece. Do you think I've done enough? I've looked at it so much I can't see it any more but I think it is finished.

Then I allowed myself to play with the first page of my next project - the Sacred Herbs book. This first herb is mugwort. I don't think I had even heard of it until I started looking into the nine sacred herbs. It's astounding that between them these nine simple plants had the power to treat just about every illness known to man. Note that I said 'treat' and not 'cure', however, they must have done some good or they'd never have been so revered. I had already written the description of each herb and collected a few bits and pieces for decorating the pages. The colour here looks dismal but in fact is a light, warm beige with hints of soft green and dusty peach. I may add a small medallion at each corner if I can come up with something suitable. I have used my favourite automatic stitch with raised chain band worked over it as the edging, and will do the same for each page. The medieval text is a torn strip from a colour photocopy and the woodcut illustration is a black and white photocopy which I have aged with a Distress Ink pad whose colour is named Old Paper. I am not worried about copyright as I am making it for myself and it will never be sold. I think the next herb on the list is plantain - those lovely 'quilted' leaves.

Monday 6 September 2010

I've told him not to play on the shed roof!!

Our shed must be stronger than I thought! Our son came round at the weekend to repair the roof felt for us as we had seen signs of wear and tear. He's 6ft 4ins and broad with it, but much more nimble than my husband who doesn't trust himself on ladders any more.
I couldn't resist taking a couple of pics. I decided to knock up a batch of blackberry and apple muffins for elevenses to reward him for his work.

In spite of the cold spring the blackberries seem to have ripened early this year and we were surprised by how many have already gone past their best. We have picked 6lbs so far, and if the current wet weather doesn't do too much harm, hope to get some more before the Devil does his worst to them! There are still plenty to ripen. I've had to promise to keep some back for blackberry and apple crumbles.
I don't like the idea of summer coming to an end so in an attempt to embrace autumn I have made several pounds of jam. Our daughter-in-law gave us some gooseberries a few weeks ago which yielded about 5lbs of jam, and the blackberries with apple gave me about 7lbs. I think homemade jam on homemade bread is as good as a dessert. My next task will be to make some 'proper' bread. Recently I have been using the bread mixes which are very good but bread made the traditional way is even better.

Today I got down to work and made more machine embroidered trees to go round my quarry design. I haven't fixed them in place yet and may need a few more. I'll have another fiddle with them in the morning when the light is better, hopefully, and when it is totally finished I might even take a photo of it and post it on here.
Is it my imagination or has the print on my blog got smaller? Maybe I need new glasses.

Sunday 5 September 2010

Nearly missed the Poetry Bus.

I've had a busy day and am too tired to load photos tonight so will just add my contribution for the Poetry Bus.
Pure Fiction is driving this week and asks us to write about any kind of transformation which gives a pretty wide choice.
At first I couldn't think of anything which would fit the bill, then suddenly a memory from over 40 years ago came to mind. At that time we were living in Cheshire. My parents had come to stay for a few days so we took them out, all piling into our car - four adults and four small children. There were no child seats or seat belts in those days so we just squeezed in and set off for the Peak District in Derbyshire.

Once long ago
we went on a jaunt
even though the weather was grim.
It rained all day
but undeterred
we decided to go for a spin.
We drove to the Peaks
in our elderly car
to enjoy the wonderful sights.
On the crest of a hill
we came to a halt
and paused, almost in fright
as the biblical clouds -
so enormous in size -
parted, and rays of sun
streamed down onto Edale,
transforming it.
We were awestruck, every one.

It was an amazing sight and a moment I will never forget.

Friday 3 September 2010

Just like a lot of sheep!

After doing the weekly shopping and collecting the mower after it had been serviced, we dropped in at Nature in Art and this is what we found before we'd even got to the door! By the way, Nature in Art is a museum and has some items in it's display which date back two or three hundred years while others are bang up to date. Every exhibit has a natural theme whether it is a painting, sculpture, ceramic, textile, wood or made from any other material. There are works of some of the most famous artists among the collection and the exhibits are changed regularly so that there is always something different to see alongside one's favourites. The museum is situated about 2 miles out of Gloucester on the Tewkesbury road in the village of Twigworth. There is usually an artist in residence working in the studio - a different one each week - and at the start of each year The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is staged there.
This amazing flock of sheep have been painted by students and secondary school children, though a couple were done by adults. Most of them have a humorous slant and there were too many to photograph each one, but I've done my best!

This one is called Dotty and was painted by students from Taurus Crafts in Lydney, Glos., taking inspiration from the technique used by Aboriginal artists who create those wonderful designs and patterns simply by painting dots.

Here is Betty painted by Aninna Heirano-Baker, a Finnish artist who was a little girl who loved pink and wanted to be a ballerina. Note the leg-warmers and tutu!

Next we have Bling King Sheep. This one is a family effort by Mum and Dad Bames and Jordan 10, and Nina 14. Their inspiration was the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece. If you look carefully you can see lots of golden curls and jewelled 'bracelets' on each leg.

This is Carpet Bag by Sarah Cheese, who took her inspiration from the fact that wool is used to make carpets so she used a very well known carpet design to decorate her sheep.

This is Splatter - another entry from the Taurus Craft students - and they are fans of Jackson Pollock.
I seem to have lost Monet Sheep who sported a wonderful hazy London sunset design.

While I was photographing sheep, my husband sat on this bench and it was only as I was turning to walk away that I noticed the carved decorations on it.

I love this little harvest mouse looking at the ear of corn.

On our way home we stopped at Frampton-on-Severn to see if we could find some blackberries. Years ago we had a wonderful picking from a field just the other side of the canal there and I remember that the air was full of dragonflies - I have never seen so many all at one time, before or since. We couldn't gain access to the same field today but we picked a couple of pounds along the canal towpath and saw this wonderful old barn as we drove through the village.

Sadly, the sun decided to go behind a cloud while we were there but when the light shines on these lovely old bricks the colours are amazing. They look rather dull here and I'm disappointed that you can't see them at their best.
I must stop looking at other people's work and get on with my own. Watch this space and I'll be back as soon as I can.