Sunday, 30 December 2007

Been and Gone!

Well Santa has been and gone, and in his passing has left me some really inviting books, some I am savouring before reading and some I have already dived into and maybe that is why I have taken so long in getting back to the blogging world. I must say he is a pretty intuitive fellow, that Santa, all the books he left were on my wish list.
Not to bore you too much, these are the books that I found in my stocking. Not all craft or creative related as you can see.

These two will get me working!

These two will get me thinking, I hope

This one I need to get to grips with as I have committed myself to a workshop on the internet. Not too sure about it at the moment.

And this one I will take to bed with me, chill out time I hope.

Like most people it has been a busy time with 12 of my favourite people for the big day, including me of course. They were all brilliant with the youngest being two years old and the oldest being eighty-six. We had to bring in an extra table and more chairs to have us all seated at the same time and of course we ate a lot, drank a lot and laughed a lot. Brilliant, we must do it again sometime, maybe next Christmas.

I did promise more tags and here they are, these are the tags I have been working on over the last few weeks and when they were all treated with paints they were all painted with either gesso or white acrylic paint.

I used the acrylic paint, as I had no gesso in my cupboard. I am determined not to buy anymore ‘stuff’ if I can help it. I am not mean; I am just running out of room to put it all.
The next stage is to collage all of the tags and then wait for instructions on how to do certain things on each one. The first of which is add a pocket to some of the tags.

I did have a wonderful surprise on Christmas Eve, I received another postcard from my postcard exchange group, and this one was from Katherine in Tucson, Arizona.

Katherine sent me ‘PEACE’ and we had a very peaceful Christmas time, so thank you Katherine.

Another postcard arrived just after Christmas from Fannie who is an extremely nice lady and who also is in my postcard exchange group. If you go to Fannie’s blog you will see many delights including this postcard.

Fannie has finished all her postcards for the group and posted the cards on her blog as she finished them. No one knew which one they would receive but when I saw this snowman I wished for it as I thought it was really the most wonderful piece of work. I am just so lucky.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

More Fog?

Well the bad news is that eldest son will not get anything stitched for Christmas this year. I did say in an earlier blog that it was going to happen but not to worry, as he knew nothing about it he will not be disappointed. It will happen sometime, I don't know when, I will let you know.
The good news is I have more photos. I have been off enjoying myself again, this time with another trip up to London town. And to prove it we have an excellent photo of ‘foggy day in London town’

It actually wasn’t that foggy but this was such a great photo I had to include it.

We had travelled in by train of course

This is Finsbury Park Station where we changed to the Tube line and met son number two at Charing Cross Station. We then walked down to the river Thames and walked across the bridge to the South Bank.

It gave us an excellent view of the river and the ‘London Eye’ .
Son number two takes credit for taking this wonderful panoramic view.

Jingle Bells was being played jazz style under the bridge

and the sight of the lost balloon caught under the bridge made me smile.

I was interested in the graffiti on the South Bank as some of my present art work is concerning text. I find this vibrant art fascinating.

You even get to see new work being formed on the spot, great timing.

We then walked back over the Thames on the bridge at Blackfriars and on to our destination…

St Paul's Cathedral

The reason for this trip to London is that youngest son, yes him again, was singing with his choir Cantate in the Carol service at St Paul’s Cathedral. It was a very splendid affair as they had incorporated the Christingle service with the carols and the lighting of the hundreds of candles in the cathedral was a very special sight. I don't know how many people were there but the cathedral was full. The singing from the choir and also when everyone joined in was just wonderful, the sound is so good in St Paul's.

This is looking up at the central dome from where we were sitting, we were very close to the front so had a good view of the choir in full voice. We were also lucky enough to have two more of the family join us for the service, they had travelled from Lincolnshire to watch youngest son.

So here is one more snap of the Cathedral and next time I post I really will get back to 'tags' and maybe postcards as well.

Good things happen

Good things happen, I know this for a fact, and this week we had some really good news, youngest son, known here sometimes as third son has passed his grade 8 piano exam. Well done, congratulations I hear you say. So do I, I am one proud Mum. So here’s a tale, not about quilting either.
When this son of mine was about 5 years old, he asked if he could learn to play the piano. There were certain things that prevented us from letting him do this, a piano teacher we consulted about the proposition suggested we waited until he learnt a little bit of music while learning the recorder and the financial aspect of not being able to afford a piano with the fact of not having the space to put it. The recorder was successful up to a point but no more. When he was about nine years old his school offered instrument lessons and his best friend was going to take trumpet lessons. Youngest son asked once more, ‘could he have piano lessons’, we again inquired about the possibility and the answer was no, not in school. Youngest son quickly said, ‘OK, so can I have clarinet lessons then’. This quick reply led us to believe that it was a childish whim of wanting to learn any instrument, gave in and the clarinet lessons began. Now although here I should say he was a star and the best thing that had blown a clarinet, I won’t because although he was good, he wasn’t that good. We will move on a few years now to when for want of a better idea for a Christmas present when he was twelve, I suggested an electronic keyboard. This is what Santa brought along in his sleigh that year for our youngest son.
Having this instrument to play was very exciting so when youngest son asked if he could have lessons we agreed and in a very short time we had fixed these up through the school. Everyone was happy, youngest son was playing a keyboard, we didn’t have to buy a piano and he was very happy with the latest Christmas present.
That is until we went to the school for the music parents evening and had our bubble burst. We sat in somewhat stunned silence whilst we were told that the keyboard was certainly the instrument of choice for our son and while he was not a genius he certainly was gifted and the sooner we moved him on to a piano the better as he was wasted on the keyboard. So here we are four short years later with one very large piano in our front room and a son that plays so beautifully it makes you want to cry and the pride that this week he passed his grade 8 piano examination with a Merit Pass.
The add on to this is he has also passed his grade 7 on the clarinet, plays the bass clarinet, the alto saxophone, the baritone saxophone, takes singing lessons and has just made arrangements to start lessons on the church organ in the New Year.
Guess after all he is musical.
I was going to talk tags and quilting here, maybe tomorrow, after all Christmas is a family time.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Foggy day in London Town

Wednesday certainly was a foggy day in London town, and at first I thought I had chosen the wrong day to make my trip. Not to worry though, the fog cleared and the sun shone although the temperature did not rise. First stop was to look at the newly opened St Pancras station; I had been told it was not worth the stop! but I enjoyed looking around and most of the shops are open now. It was buzzing with travellers with trains in and out of the station frequently.

Second stop was the Victoria and Albert Museum and to see the Ikat Exhibition in the Fashion Department. The tube was crowded with shoppers but the long walk to the Museum was cheered by buskers playing Christmas Carols. I didn’t think there would be many visitors, wrong, many people had time to spend at this wonderful and inspiring place. On entering the Museum I was distracted by ‘Out of the Ordinary’ an Exhibition of Spectacular Craft that is on until 17th February 2008. Looking around, I am always astounded by the difference in the arts. Items that took my fancy: -

‘Capacity’ by Annie Cattrell a sculptor from London that works mainly in glass

This piece of metal work, I didn’t get the name of the piece, by Sculptor Olu Amoda from Nigeria and who works with salvage from the streets of Lagos

'Topologies' by Anne Wilson who comes from Chicago. Anne uses traditional textile techniques such as lace making, crochet and knitting within her art. These wonderful fans are only part of the finished piece.

Enough of distractions, onto the Ikat exhibition.

But on the way I saw this

And this

Oh and this,

Guess I love the blues and turquoise.

Finally I found the Ikats and what a display, these are just some of the items in the exhibition.
It was a wonderful exhibition with loads of displays to see and well worth the trip. A very tiring day that ended with having a delightful lunch with son number two at John Lewis's 'Place to Eat' at the Oxford Street store's 5th Floor. Delicious.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Tags again

Last week I told you about the tags I was playing about with, using paints and other mixed media. Well finally today I had time to get on with the next stage. Marbling three more of the tags.
Some time ago I promised myself that I would never again do marbling, that is marbling of paper or marbling of fabric, in fact I said I would never do marbling of any kind. At The Festival of Quilts 2006 I did a half-day workshop with Ursula Schmidt-Troschke, an extremely adept lady who is extremely good at teaching the art of marbling and comes over from Germany to the show each year. She did some wonderful marbled effects on fabric and showed us how. Mine was sort of OK, not too bad but nothing wonderful so when I got home I had another go. It took me all day to produce about a dozen small pieces of fabric what with the setting up and then the clearing up afterwards. I had another day marbling a couple of months afterwards and then decided that it was not worth the mess for the amount of good fabric I ended up with and the time it took to do it, in future I would go out and buy it and save my energy for stitching. This was when I made my decision never to do marbling again.
I lied.
I started using paints on the tags I showed you in an earlier post and the next stage was marbling three of the tags. I thought hard and then decided as it was a one off and done with a different method I would have a go. First you squirt shaving foam into a tray, spread it out evenly and spray with paints. This I accomplished easily and although I had only two spray bottles, one for purple and one for blue it was looking good. With a wooden stick I made the marks in the paint to get a marbled effect. This is a photo of what the shaving foam and paints looked like before I did anything else. Isn’t it wonderful!

It was all down hill from there, I tried on paper first, and that came out a sludgy mess, knowing that I must get on with things I dumped my tags onto the paints and if you look carefully you can see a marbled effect by the time they were scraped and dried. OK not too much but there is a little bit there.

I then tried a piece of fabric and that too was quite good.

I tried a few more papers but nothing came out as good as what I have shown you here, so I really think it is good I share these with you now, as this time it really is the last time I do marbling!

That isn’t the only thing I am not going to do again, as the next stage with the tags was using inks, I will say little about this stage except they are done and now I can move on to the next stage. They are not a pretty sight.

Christmas is coming!

It seems that Christmas is getting nearer despite my wish it would wait just a while longer so I have time to accomplish everything I set out to do in Plan A. I am now going to Plan B and it seems I am going to more than my fair share of carol concerts this year. That is not a complaint as they are so enjoyable. On Sunday evening we went to Thaxted Church to listen to Cantate Choir sing carols, my youngest son is a member of the choir. Last night we went to the church in our town to listen to the school choirs ‘Nine Readings and Carols’. Youngest son was singing there as well. But what I am really looking forward to is on Saturday when we go to London to St Paul’s Cathedral to listen to some of the Cantate Choir again including……….yes; you were right, youngest son is amongst them. This is a family carol service where all are welcome and it is wonderful to see the cathedral full of people of all ages singing along with the choir. It is such a beautiful cathedral.Not a lot of work done here on the P & Q front but eventually I have got a little bit festive and made my door wreath. I did buy the base but added the colour and sparkle myself……….pause for applause.

I also found time to change my quilt on the wall and put up the Christmas tree. The lights are glowing a little too much but this is the best photo I can do at the moment.

In-between meetings and shopping I did find time yesterday to mail some of my postcards to my postcard exchange group and as soon as I hear they have received them I will put the photos up for you all to see. I really hope that they will get there before Christmas. I am now away to put all my shopping in the cupboards and then I will see if I can do catch up on my tags!

Saturday, 15 December 2007

All a bit hectic

It has been a bit of a hectic week, classes have finished and at one point I actually cleared my desk in the hope that I would get organised and get some work done. Not a lot I’m afraid. I did finish a lap quilt for DIL, I think it is the simplest quilt I have ever done but I hope she will like it. I don’t like working with browns, and the cat thing in quilts is not my scene either but you have to work with what other people like sometimes. It is really good for you and I was able to have a bit of fun as I added a bit of rust fabric and wrote lots of ‘cat type’ words around the outer border with free machine quilting, it will be good for an extra Christmas pressy and I am so lucky to have such a brilliant DIL.

I found I had to ‘make’ for this dear lady as I am hoping to finish a gift for eldest son before Christmas Eve. Time I made something for the female of the species. This is of course if I get time to sew at all. Wednesday I spent driving to Cambridge and back a couple of times as youngest son had his college interviews, one early morning and one late afternoon. It did give me a chance to do a bit of shopping although it was a tad rushed. Christmas lunch with very good friends at New Horizons Textile Group on Friday was really the highlight of my week only to be capped by finding another postcard from my postcard exchange group on the doormat when I returned home.
This one is called ‘Simply Dorothy’ and from Alicia in New Mexico, I think it is really delightful, thanks Alicia.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Dolls and tags

Well here I am again, safe and sound and now a 2nd time blogger, I have been thinking about what I will show you and tell you about in a sharing sense and there is so much I almost went into overload. I am starting with someone else’s work; one of my students and I went on a doll-making workshop with the wonderful Gina Ferrari, you can find her at I guess the dotee dolls will distract you and also the sock people, it is quite busy at Gina’s blog as you will see. She is a delightful lady that teaches embroidery mainly but like many of us she wanders into other areas. One of these sidelines is doll making, (if you check out her website at you will see what I mean). I must make a confession here, the doll I started is not yet finished, I had a leg problem, well not me personally, my doll had a leg problem and until it is fixed she will not be ready to meet the world. That is something you have to look forward to. Meanwhile Brenda has finished her doll and it is making her debut here and on Gina’s blog. May I introduce you all to Fifi, a lady of the world.

I really hope that you are impressed, I certainly was when I first met Fifi, and I found out quickly that she is a very friendly lady. Brenda has done a really wonderful job on dressing her up ready to meet you all. Another photo I am going to show you is one of the first postcards that I have received from my postcard exchange group, this one is from Amy and came all the way from America. Most of the people in the group live in America, there is just me over here in England and a few more spread around the globe

I have made six postcards so far but I am not publishing on my blog until they are sent and hopefully delivered to their new owners.
I was introduced to a new internet group, by a member of my postcard exchange group. The group is busy using mixed media to decorate paper and extend their knowledge in the use of the many materials on the market today. Many of those we have at home in our cupboards, such as water colour paints, acrylic paints, inks and so on - well I know I have. Members are encouraged to join in with a new method each week. We are working on luggage tags and although some people have made their own I just happened to have some in a drawer !! The first week the tags were stained with coffee, here are mine.

The second week three of the tags were coloured with watercolour paints.

The third week another three of the tags were coloured with acrylic paints.

The fourth week three of the tags were marbled, no photo here as unfortunately I had to wait until I had been out and bought some shaving foam and I haven’t got around to doing it yet, or the inking, or even the dry brushing, so I am a little behind on that project but I will catch up and share the photos at a later date. Something else I hope you will be able to look forward to.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Virgin Blog

I have finally got around to persuading myself that I have to make my first blog entry. I have been toying with the idea of having a blog for sometime now and did try and set one up a couple of weeks ago, but failed. But last week my son came down (or up) from London, I’m not quite sure of the term, and sorted everything out very quickly. It was a bit too quickly for me as I then didn’t know what to say, but I have now jumped in with both feet deciding that as no one knows I have a blog yet I can say what I like and it doesn’t matter. I am not quite sure when I will tell anyone but that will work itself out as well. I have been very busy of late (who hasn’t I hear you say) with classes, my own stitching and of course the seasonal Christmas cards. I have been wondering what photos will accompany this first blog so maybe here I will add a handmade card or two. They are very simple cards as you will see, but I make so many that simple is the way to go for me.
The first one is stitched:-
And the second one is using organza on felt and burning with a soldering iron.

I have also been making postcards, the fabric kind, although I should really call them mailable Art! I am really enjoying this and have joined an international postcard exchange group. Everyone seems so nice, some are new to postcards and some have made many of them and been involved with other postcard swaps. I received my first postcard from one of the members this week, it was brilliant and I will get around to taking a photo and putting it on one day soon.
I am becoming a bit of a techno Granny as I have also joined some of the Yahoo groups. It is a different world out there that I have only recently discovered, one of the members of my postcard exchange group has told me of a couple and that has led me to looking at more.I will tell you all about them at a later date, you need to be wanting more!

I am now going to publish this little epic and see how it all looks, I may have to emigrate after publication but such is life. Lets just hope it all works.