Friday 28 January 2011

Wishful thinking?

I took this photo a couple of days ago and nothing much has changed - it has been so bitterly cold. I thought we could all enjoy the thought of these actually coming out fully, whilst being aware that by tomorrow or the next day they could be under a couple of inches of the dreaded white stuff. I know some parts of the country have already had more snow but do hope it doesn't bother with us again.
I don't know where the time has gone this week, and I certainly don't have anything interesting to show for it. Creativity seems to be hibernating and my workroom is in a dreadful state again. I need someone with a pointed stick to prod me into action - any takers?

Friday 21 January 2011

Books, brook, catkins and yarns.

Here they are - finished at last. Sorry about the messy background but getting a good light was not easy this morning and I forgot about what else might appear in the photo. I must say, the books look better than I thought they would, thank goodness. They are now being pressed under a heavy weight in the hope that they will eventually lie flat.
I couldn't resist a shot of this lovely reflection in the tiny brook which runs alongside the footpath by our house. I went for a stroll the day before yesterday and noticed that the council workmen have cleared all the dead plant material from the banks so the brook is clearly visible. It is a wonderful playground for young children as I doubt if it would reach the tops of their wellies anywhere and in summer is very shallow, so quite safe. When all the leaves are on the trees and bushes they love to play hide-and-seek and make dens down there.

The flow from the drainage pipe looks quite attractive after snow and heavy rain and feeds the little brook. It slows right down to a trickle in hot dry weather.

The hazel catkins aren't ready yet but are forming and show promise of things to come, so I am making do with these alder catkins. They looked beautiful agains the bright blue sky. We went out yesterday and as it was rather misty I didn't bother to take my camera. What a mistake that was. On the way to Ledbury the mist was quite dense in places and clearing in others. It formed long strands through parts of the countryside, hugging the ground in some places while appearing higher in others. It produced some very strange and unusual effects and would have made stunning photos. By the time we were a few miles short of Ledbury it had cleared completely, the sky was so blue and everything was in sharp focus.

I have been naughty and bought more yarns - I just couldn't say no to these - the colours are so lovely. The sari ribbon at the top has such vibrant glowing colours in it. I think I shall iron it out flat and bond it to a background, then machine onto it. I 'stole' that idea from Dale Rollerson whose blog is Downunderdale. She and her husband run The Thread Studio in Perth. Sari ribbon is made from thin strips of sari material stitched or knotted together to make a continuous length. Sari yarn comes next in my picture and this is made from the threads from sari material - I believe they are spun to make the yarn. As you might imagine, the colours are very rich and glowing. I shall probably use it for couching among other things. Next comes a Colinette silk yarn - so soft and gorgeous. Finally a pack of assorted blue fibres for felting - I intend to add wisps of these to my embellished knitted pieces and hopefully build them into little landscapes. I might try embellishing with all these yarns and see what happens. No broken needles I hope - they are so expensive!

Monday 17 January 2011

Signs of improvement.

The addition of a bit more colour and adding the tulip and narcissus motifs has helped a lot. As before I have opened out the covers so you are seeing both front and back here. Each book will be approximately 5"x4" when folded shut, though the third one is slightly larger at about 5"x6".
Today I have added the linings/end papers and worked zigzag stitch round all edges to hold them in place. I used a deep pink for the tulip books and soft green for the narcissus. The end papers are 'fabric paper' made to Beryl Taylor's instructions in her book 'Mixed Media Explorations'. The piece I had made was rather dull so I sprayed it with Moonshadow Mist Golden Dubloons to perk it up a bit.

The colours are actually prettier than they appear in these pics and the stitched edging gives a nice finish.

The next job is to apply a coat - maybe two - of acrylic wax to strengthen the surface and protect the tissue flowers from wear and tear, then I must add the pages and stitch them in place. I'll show you the finished product when it is all completed.

Another sign of spring. I caught sight of these lovely fat clematis buds just outside the kitchen window. I think I'll leave the untidy looking dead leaves a little longer in case they are needed for protection if we get another cold spell. It's still early in the year, even if I have been going round the house turning radiators down today - no doubt I shall be wanting to turn them up again before long.

Sunday 16 January 2011

A quick dash for the Poetry Bus.

Totalfeckineejit is our driver this week and he suggests we sit quietly and observe the way we feel, our surroundings, etc. I made my observations early this morning:
I sit, comfortable and relaxed in my armchair.
The reading lamp casts it's gentle light
as I listen to the early morning sounds -
birds singing, a dog barking,
the heating boiler humming.
Eyes closed, I take a sip of my first cuppa of the day.
It is just the way I like it - not too hot, not too strong.
It warms, revives and refreshes me
when I am still heavy with sleep
and gratefully cocooned in warmth and comfort.
It invigorates and stirs my sluggish brain into action
so that I can begin to plan my day.
I take more sips, watching the daylight
strengthen behind the closed curtains.
By the time my cup is empty I am fully awake.

Friday 14 January 2011

Making a mess and early signs of Spring.

You'll need to use quite a lot of imagination as you look at these first few pics - they are going to be notebook covers I hope, but are in the very early stages of their development. The front edges are on the right in each case, with space for a motif to be added and the left half with the lace motif will be the back of the cover. They are still wet so look pretty awful at the moment. I brushed gesso onto pelmet vilene and applied fine scrim scraps and lace motifs before spraying with Quink ink and coloured sprays. I shall probably have to adjust the colours before adding any stitching and others motifs.

I have bonded the top layer of some patterned paper serviettes to felt which I am thinking of stitching to outline certain parts of the design, cutting these out and applying to the fronts of the notebooks. I hope the scale of the designs is right for the sizes of the little books. I will make the pages from cartridge paper and the finish product will be added to our sales table at the next exhibition. By the time I show them to you again I hope they will be looking far more attractive!

We are having some very gloomy days this week - mild but very grey and wet. I nipped out into the garden with the camera to see if there was anything worth snapping and found these snowdrops just breaking through.
A few feet away I saw these lovely, if soggy, primroses. I am always astounded by their toughness even though they look so delicate.
In the back garden this solitary viola is doing it's best to cheer things up in among the wallflowers. I watched them become frozen and almost flat to the ground when the temperatures were so low, and yet in a day or two when conditions improved they were all standing up again.
These hellebore buds are always a treat to see. Some gardeners cut the leaves right down to allow the flowers to be seen more easily, but I am nervous of doing that too early in case the weather turns very cold again and the flowers are damaged.
Nearby is another patch of snowdrops, further advanced than the ones at the front of the house. Lovely things to look forward too, plus a lot of tidying up and weeding to be done. The exercise will do me good - I have become too much of a couch potato this winter.

Tuesday 11 January 2011

A delicious lunch and more shells as promised.

We had our first group meeting of the year today and made it special by each contributing to a delicious spread of quiches, salads, ham, pate and a marvellous pavlova and rocky road bites to follow. A lovely change from a hastily made packed lunch which is our usual fare. We used to do this at our December meeting but decided to move it to January. Here, we are just enjoying our soup, hence the mugs - well, who has 14 soup plates?! Our hostess is the member with the largest dining room but even she had to add a small table at one end to accommodate us all. It was laid so well and looked beautiful before we all sat down and cluttered it.
I couldn't resist a shot of this lovely piece of driftwood which will be used in our shell display. I love the texture and lines worn into it. The following pics are of all the other shells which have been made - there will be two more but those members were absent today.

I was trying not to get in everyone's way while I took these pics so I hope I haven't blurred any in my haste. I didn't get an overall shot as they were placed randomly on the table along with various bits of wood and other shells just to give us an idea of what worked. Final choices will be made next month. I haven't put the names of the makers to each shell as I can't remember who did what and I have discovered that there is one missing. If I can find it I will add it on.
I met my counsellor yesterday and think we will get on well - he is a very pleasant man and very experienced in his field so he should be well qualified to untangle me!

Sunday 9 January 2011

Caught in the act!

'I don't stand on your plants. I'm always careful where I put my feet', he says. But we know otherwise, don't we?! The camera cannot lie!!
I feel as if I have been wading through treacle since Christmas. Everything has become an enormous effort but at least I haven't got flu or even a cold, and I'm thankful for that. Two days after Boxing Day I experienced very unpleasant sensations accompanied by acute anxiety. They last all day and eventually I rang NHS Direct though couldn't speak to anyone as they were swamped with calls. Another number got me through to a local hospital where the doctor I spoke to was very reassuring but suggested an ECG at my own doctor's surgery might put my mind at rest. I had even packed a bag as I felt so weird and was convinced I was going in to hospital. I only mention all this in case anyone out there is experiencing similar problems. My ECG was fine, blood pressure fine, blood tests all OK. I seems that anxiety and stress have been building up since my mother died last Easter. At the time I felt numb and unable to grieve and have been advised to try bereavement counselling - my first appointment is tomorrow afternoon. I am pinning all my hopes on it and can't wait to feel like me again. I have found that essential oils are comforting. I have a couple of books by Valerie Ann Worwood which have been very helpful. The Fragrant Pharmacy deals with physical conditions and I have often turned to it over the years, and the Fragrant Mind is the one where I found my recipe for relieving anxiety - 5 drops of Lavender oil, 10 of Geranium and 15 of Bergamot in 2 tablespoons of Sweet Almond oil (or good old vegetable cooking oil). A small amount of this mixture can be used in an oil burner, put into the bath, used for massage or inhaled from a tissue. It really does work, along with deep breathing.
It is a lovely bright day today, so I decided a breath of fresh air and a bit of gentle exercise would be good. The sun hadn't warmed up these mahonia flowers sufficiently to release their perfume but they are a welcome sight.

Who would think that dead leaves could look so lovely. It's a pity I couldn't capture the slight sparkle as well.

Our mini-waterfall up the footpath was looking rather nice. It is very cooling in summer to hear the water on a day when it is almost too hot to be outside. We can hardly see the water in summer when the trees and bushes are in full leaf.

The light was a bit strong and has lost some detail of the mosses and fungi on this tree stump.

I couldn't resist a picture of Mrs. Blackbird right beside the path and only about 2ft from where I was standing. She looks a bit wary but was in no hurry to fly off, unlike the dozens of others who must have shares in the company which makes the batteries I use for my camera. I just get them nicely focused and off they go before I can press the button. I must use more power switching it on and off, than I ever do taking pictures!

Sunday 2 January 2011

The cat, the panetone and the Poetry Bus.

We were having a slice of panetone with our afternoon cuppa the other day. I put my husband's plate beside him on the sidetable and the cat screwed round to sniff at it - we couldn't think why it might interest him. My husband picked the bread up to take a bite and the cat made a grab at it, almost savaging it! There were bits flying everywhere. It is all quite sedate in the photo here as the best action had already taken place before I could grab the camera, but you can just see Hamlet's tongue as he takes another bite. Strange animal.
This week the poetry bus is being driven by Jeanne Iris whose blog is Revolutionary Revelry. She gives us three options and I chose the third which is to write our own version of 'Auld Lang Syne'. I can't do the clever stuff involved in recording and posting it. Mine is short and sweet but it fits the tune quite nicely:
Lose weight, get fit,
improve my mind,
is my resolve this year.
It's rash of me
to tell you this
as my will is weak - I fear.
E'en so I'll give it
my best shot
and try to use my time
in useful ways -
not wasting it
by searching for a rhyme!