Sunday, 26 February 2012

Spot the Birdie.

She back, or perhaps it's her daughter from last year's brood. Sorry the photo isn't clearer but the sun was coming from the wrong angle outside and I had to take it through the kitchen window. You may remember that collared doves built their nest behind our satellite dish last year. My husband blocked it off so they have built on the pergola. I say built, but in actual fact the nest, if you can call it that, is just a couple of wisps of dead grass on top of the stems and twigs of honeysuckle which grows over the pergola. I hope the eggs dont fall through the gaps and things are already fraught with a visit from a neighbour's beautiful and very agile huge marmalade cat who paid a visit the other day. I think a magpie may have taken the first egg as I found a broken one on the ground yesterday. She is very determined and will no doubt lay at least one more, and doesn't seem to have been put off by her unwelcome visitors.

I didn't know I had this beautiful dark hellebore - there are similar ones in the garden but none quite so deep in colour as this one. I had to almost stand on my head to take the photo - sorry about the hand and lens cap which are in the way.

It's a shame they hang their heads and we can't see them in all their glory. I wasn't going to post about them this year, but they are so lovely.

A last glimpse of the snowdrops which I have been enjoying so much. If these mild days keep turning up they'll be gone by the end of next week. I look forward to Spring and warmer days but will be sorry to see them go.

Having finished my book I now want to start using the embellishing machine again and hopefully produce at least two pieces of work that I can enter into our next exhibition in September. It seems a long way off but I need plenty of thinking time especially if I've got to learn a new technique first. I dabble at it now and then, but don't seem to get very much further with it.

I hope you have all had glorious weather this weekend, I even had my lunch outside yesterday and I enjoyed myself - and wore myself out - with my first bit of serious gardening of the year. I used to be able to weed and tidy the front garden in one go, but now it takes two sessions. Well, half of it looks better and as I did the worst bit first the rest will be easier.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Problem Solved.

I found that the hook from a humble hook and eye worked a treat at closing my book.

I fixed it in place with two tiny brads - they are like a smaller version of the brass paper fastener. Unfortunately I didn't have two of the right colour and although I painted them and the hook to match the book cover I can see now that they need another coat. It is a bit fiddly to open and close but does the job, and I promise not to talk about it any more!

I had hoped to plant my broad beans out today but each time I thought I'd go out, it started raining and is still raining, so that's it for today.

I'm keeping this post short as I have a marathon one to do on my other blog. It's a nightmare getting all the pictures in the right order when there are so many. Wish me luck.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Finished at last!

This is the front cover of my fabric book and has turned out to be a much easier job than I anticipated. Below is a view of the spine ..................

.................. and this is the Grungebord hinge which I am determined to use as a closure though I haven't worked out exactly what to poke through that little hole to hold the book shut.

A view of the back cover.

I lined the cover with this fabric paper made from Beryl Taylor's instructions in her lovely book 'Mixed Media Explorations'. I was hooked on making fabric paper at one time and had so much I thought I'd never use it all, but suddenly it has nearly all gone.

I thought about binding the edges to neaten them and protect the fabric paper, but decided on the simple option and just zigzagged round everything. I wasn't sure if the sewing machine would cope with all the lumps and bumps of scrim plus heavy vilene and fabric paper, but I took it gently and all went well, and it looks much neater and less obvious and fussy than a binding.

I came across this very robust and rustic looking paper and decided to stitch my pages to it to hold them together. It worked very well and I just had to use the zipper foot to machine through all the layers down the edges of the spine - cover, lining and this rustic paper - to attach it all together.

All that remains now is to work out a way of holding the book closed. All attempts so far have proved unsuccessful but I have one more idea to try. I'll let you know if it works.

I've nearly completed another module of coursework, then I can play with my goodies on the embellisher. I shall be scared of wasting such lovely fibres but, as the old saying goes, you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Book cover and Goodies.

I have made a start on the cover for my book by roughly stitching bits of lace and scrim to pelmet vilene to hold them in place before painting them with gesso. The lace motifs are on the spine of the book. This is as far as I have got, and now have to trim off the edges, paint the surface and work out how to attach the pages.

Yesterday I received a parcel of lovely goodies from The Thread Studio in Australia run by Dale Rollerson. I have always wanted to go to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace as I know that Dale has a stand there each year. However, I also know that my feet and legs would never last the day so solved my problem by shopping on line. Above, you can see a Pot Luck packet of silk fibres which I plan to use with my embellisher.

These are Slushies - a blend of merino wool and silk, also great for use with the embellisher among other things. I think I should have taken them out of their perspex sleeve as the colours are so much more vibrant than they appear here.

Again the colours are washed out - those greens are lovely in reality and will be just the thing for creating embellished landscapes. These fibres are unbelievably soft and lustrous and come in one long continuous length - the colour gently graduated throughout. I can't wait to play with them.

I also stocked up on Kunin felt. I have bought several lots of this felt from other suppliers and two or three times found that it doesn't do what it is supposed to, but this is the good stuff so I can have fun with the heat gun too.

The arrival of this parcel is very timely as I shall feel bereft once my book and next course module are finished. I haven't used the embellisher for ages and hope I can remember all the things I discovered with it. If I'd been organised I'd have kept a notebook of samples, wouldn't I? No such luck!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Is it Spring yet?

The sky was blue, the sun was shining and the birds were singing this morning. They thought it was spring. It looked like spring, and smelt like spring. Inspite of a chilly breeze there was warmth in the sun. The blackbirds and pigeons were chasing each other and I saw a magpie refurbishing it's nest. The crocuses are fully open and so are the snowdrops at last and when I went for a walk I saw daffodils in bud. Ours are well up but not in bud yet.

They've certainly had a long wait this year but it's lovely to see them at last.

I have finished the last of my pages. It's at this point I probably discover that I've left something important off one of them!

Now I have to work out how to tackle the cover and how to assemble the pages. That'll keep me quiet for a while.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Hot off the Press!

I have just finished four more pages for my book. I thought the light was good enough when I took these photos but they appear much darker than they should be. I want them to look as if they belong to the Dark Ages, but not quite as dark as this!

They have to take a back seat every so often, as I get down to work on the next coursework module, but in between I can have another splurge and get a bit more done. I am hoping that when I have finished this project I shall be brave enought to sketch onto an entire clean page and not have to tear bits out and darken the edges first before plucking up the courage to draw!

I have to check and treble check that they are in the right order and have only had to unpick and restitch one page so far. What throws me into confusion is that the Ogham signs are in groups of 5 and my pages are in groups of 4. Add to that the fact that the pages are joined together back-to-back and I need them to follow on in the correct sequence. There has been a lot of muttering while I work out if all is as it should be.

Eight more to do and then I will have to start thinking about the cover. I had in mind to make quite an elegant one, but the pages took me over and have become quite rustic in character so the cover needs to be in keeping with that. Just as well perhaps as I'm not too good at elegant.

It is a glorious winter day here - clear sky and bright sunshine, but bitterly cold and we have mini icebergs on the pond. It's almost a crime to be indoors but I thought that staying in a steady temperature was the sensible thing to do and it has paid off as I haven't coughed so much today. On the advice of one of my daughters I tried making 'tea' with one Echinacea capsule - tipping out the contents into a cup of hot water. It's very effective but pretty foul so I added a teaspoon of honey which makes it much more palatable. It's nearly time for another one.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Another nice way of keeping warm.

I made marmalade this morning - here it is, all hot from the pan and before I had destickyfied the kitchen. I have enjoyed listening to the lids popping as the vacuum is created in the jars. As I am trying not to eat cakes and sweet things generally there will be nothing for it but to resort to housework to keep me warm from now on! Before you start being impressed, I must confess that I did it the lazy way and opened a tin of orange pulp and added sugar and water. I know it's cheating but the flavour is very good and maybe next time I'll make it properly - real honest to goodness homemade marmalade is unbeatable.

I'm still coughing and croaking but gradually getting better. I really begrudge the amount of energy lost in coughing - I don't have it to spare. I think this must be the 5 week virus as I've been like this for a good three weeks already. At least I'm more than halfway through.

A nice thought: In little more than six weeks we shall be putting the clocks forward and the days will really start to lengthen.

With all the dire warnings of icy roads over the weekend, take care and keep safe as well as warm.