Sunday, 26 June 2011

Sailing Life's Oceans

This month, the Being Creative Group theme was 'Ocean'.  True to form and what is quickly becoming 'the norm' for me, I had lots of ideas throughout the month but only sat down to do anything about it this weekend.  And so, yet again, I have only one piece to show.  

I decided I would settle for the sailing boat in the ocean idea.  I had, what I thought was the positively genius idea of using an old atlas page showing an ocean.  Leafing through my old atlas I found that the page I liked best was showing three oceans: the Atlantic, the Indian and the Southern Oceans.  Although my atlas is very old and was a hand-me-down from many years ago,  as it was the only  atlas I possess, I decided I would photocopy the page rather than actually tear it from the book.  I stuck the copy to a piece of cardboard for rigidity.

So far so good.  I felt it needed jazzing up a bit as it looked exactly what it was: a page from an atlas!  So I decided I would try out my new stash of distress inks.  I chose Broken China (blue) and Dusty Concord (mauve) and used a square of Cut 'n' Dry Foam to rub the ink over the paper ... 

gradually building up the colour until I liked what I saw.

I confess I got carried away doing this: it was so hypnotic making circular movements over the page.  It then struck me that a single sailing boat would be more effective than the fleet I had at first imagined, and the title 'Sailing Life's Oceans' just popped into my head and resonated deeply; I just knew that was the way forward.  And so, I drew a little sailing boat on thin card, cut it out, and placed it on the canvas.  Deep satisfaction; this was the way forward.  I wanted the boat to be really bright, a brilliant white, something a ceramic tile.  Hmm, how on earth could I do that?  My mind wandered to the recently bought pot of Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel.  Would this work?  Worth a try, so I found the pot, the embossing ink pad, my heat gun and a pair of tweezers (I didn't want to scorch my fingers) and settled down to the task in hand.  And what a task it was!  If I tell you that the boat is less than an inch in size overall, and I had three sections to emboss, one at a time, you can perhaps imagine just how fiddly this was.  But I did it!  Patience and perseverance won the day.

And so I give you the end result... 

Sailing Life's Oceans

and the boat in close-up... 

I so thoroughly enjoyed making this and LOVE my little 'ceramic' boat.

This all came together so quickly and well.  Mr C loves it (and if you know Mr C and his shortcomings when it comes to art appreciation, you will know that that is praise indeed!) and has asked where I intend hanging it.  What better compliment can there be?

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Being Creative - May

Hello.  I was so looking forward to this month's challenge: HOME, but in reality, life got in the way and I've had little time to craft.  I did manage to quickly put a piece together and I am fairly pleased with the results, but feel it could have been much, much better had I allocated more time.  I spent just a couple of hours on this.

As there is no way I could draw a realistic teapot or cup and saucer, I found a couple of images on the web and printed them off.  I drew round them in black ink so I could see the images clearly and I tried a couple of different layouts.

Then I decided what papers I would use ...

and what background paper ...

I didn't have any thick paper or craft cardboard to hand so recycled a breakfast cereal box.  I thought the paper looked a little boring, so scored lines closely together to give it a bit of a lift before sticking it down.  You can just see this in the photo above.  I thought the scoring made it look more like wallpaper, which is the look I was aiming for.  Then all I needed to do was to cut out the teapot, cups and saucers and stick them in place. 

It didn't look quite finished so I cut a frame from some pink flowery paper and ran a pink felt tipped pen along the edges to soften it and to get rid of the white edge as I hate seeing the white cut edge of paper.

I then drew round all the images in pink glitter pen to make them stand out more.

I am quite tempted to put this up in the kitchen, but it will need a frame with glass,  which I do not have to hand.

Do you like it?  I'd love to know your thoughts.

The Last Month

Hello.  Just realised it has been a month since I last posted.  Want to know what I've been up to?  Oh how I wish I could say I had been on some glamorous holiday - a cruise around the world perhaps or had been away climbing Mount Everest, but no, I've been busy ...

washing ...

ironing ...

hoovering ...

and gardening.  Whew!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Promise of Things to Come

Hello and thanks for stopping by today. I've had a wonderful Easter break, four whole days of pottering and spending time with friends and family, I feel renewed and ready to face what life throws my way.  The weather was absolutely beautiful, a little windy at times, but sun and more sun!  Its a shame this week isn't turning out to be as nice. Its much, much colder (by at least ten degrees!) and looks like it will rain at any moment, not that it has yet.
I was very excited to note over the weekend that several of my food seeds had germinated: french beans (above and below) and tomatoes (smaller seeds below)

and my cut and come again lettuce (or lettuce-pray as its know in this house) is positively romping

Its such a thrill!  I've sown carrots and sweetcorn too but no sign of those just yet.

The sun always makes one feel positive about things doesn't it? It also makes me realise just how dirty the windows are and the house in general so I've been on a bit of a spring cleaning mission lately and have done the downstairs areas, including the kitchen, but only a quick clean of the surfaces - the turfing out of the cupboards will be done after I've finished the rest of the house.  Upstairs is always tricky as the master bedroom hides a hoard of 'too-good-to-throw-away-might-be-useful' stuff under the bed which takes ages to move out and the other bedroom, which is called The Study as its a work room, well that has become a bit of a dumping ground.  Lets just say upstairs is going to be a challenge.

Well I guess I've done enough wittering for today.  I'm really looking forward to the Royal Wedding on Friday; I'll be glued to the telly all day, so I must make haste today and tomorrow and Get Things Done! TTFN xx

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Sunny Saturday

With sky this colour, one just HAS to get outside and potter!  After a morning of essential shopping and banking, Mr C and I decided the garden was calling.  He continued with the mammoth task of removing a very large Leylandii, having previously cut all of the foliage off during the winter, he now has only the trunk to deal with. I put my hand to potting up the sweet peas I had sown in the autumn in to their final large pot.

They look rather bedraggled but once the sun has been on them for a day or two, I'm sure they will soon get going up the strings.  My only problem with doing this is that they will now have to live outside rather than on the bench in the greenhouse.  Having only a small greenhouse and one that is also used to store the recycling bins and various other bits and bobs, there isn't any room for a pot this size to stand. I do have a bit of fleece I can wrap around in the evenings and hope this will  provide enough protection until they 'harden off'.  Our garden is fairly sheltered and they have two chances - it will be a shame if they don't make it.  However, they could no longer stay in the greenhouse in their little tubes, as they were starting to look a little unhappy, probably because they were not getting enough food as they had so little compost around them.  Fingers crossed!

I also sowed tomatoes and sweetcorn this afternoon, which are now on the bench in place of the  sweet peas.

They look so lovely all lined up, side by side.  This picture was taken just before I pushed the sweetcorn seeds in half an inch and covered them over.  The polystyrene boxes are packing bits from the toners used in the photocopier at work.  I love that they look like little cauldrons. They work very well at keeping the pots warm.  The now very dirty polystyrene behind them is all saved packaging from various purchases by home or work.  Our neighbour has recently had a new kitchen and we chose several bits of packaging to add to our collection.  Our greenhouse is a cold house, we do not use any heat during the winter and so this polystyrene helps to keep things warm.

Its been such a lovely afternoon, doing my favourite thing - pottering. 

Til next time, TTFN xx

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Spring is Slowly Creeping In

Its a beautiful sunny day here today; too good for staying indoors and sitting at the computer.  However, I wish I could say I'm off out into the garden, but alas, the ironing pile grows ever larger and that's my goal for this morning. So its TTFN and enjoy your day whatever you're up to. xx

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Easter Already?

EASTER?  Have I gone mad?  Not really.  Its just that I saw bits and pieces in Hobbycraft for Easter and couldn't resist this wooden hanging sign, waiting to be painted.

I spent a happy couple of hours painting it; well actually I mainly used metallic pens to give it a bit of a sheen.

I'm rather pleased with how its turned out. Just needs  a bit of green gingham ribbon to hang it with (I didn't like the pale pink bit that came with it) and it can then be hung in the window when the time comes.

I also decided that I would start an inspirations journal for the Being Creative monthly challenge and so I set about decorating the front cover of one of the many (sshh, don't tell Mr C how many) note books I have waiting to be used.  It seems I cannot pass by a stationery shop or the stationery isle in the supermarket, without stopping to buy a note book; A5 and A6 being my favoured sizes.

I printed off the Being Creative logo that Julia produced three times in varying sizes and matted them onto mirror-board.  A couple of thin strips of the pink mirror-board, a magnifying pebble (not very clearly seen on this pic but its on the bottom logo at the beginning of the words and two buterflies and we're done.  Turned out okay, me thinks.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Being Creative :: March

I've completed the March task set by Julia.
I started with much trepidation, but found that soon I was enjoying the whole experience and wondering why I had been so nervous.  I thought you might like to see how I progressed through to the finished piece.

A stark white sheet of watercolour paper - quick get some paint on before I lose courage

That's better ... I had it in my head to have a background of same-colour squares, but out of necessity (due to me being careless) I had to smudge over it with a mix of green and yellow.  The outcome wasn't too bad so I carried on ...

I stamped on white daisies (I so LOVE daisies) and put the paint on thickly to add interest.  I decided that I would have bright orange middles to the daisies and painted a blob on each one.
I then thought it would be good if I accented the first daisy in some way so it would draw your eye into the picture and decided on chain stitching around the petals.  As the paper is 190gsm to withstand a fair amount of water, I thought it best to prick holes around the petals first and sew through them

This worked extremely well, but I hadn't appreciated that the thick paint would crack and flake away, but I kind of liked the effect so decided to keep going. 

What should I do next?  It needed something else and after much deliberation I decided I would french knot the centre of one of the other flowers

And I'm so glad I did as I'm really happy with the finished look.

The worst thing has been trying to photograph it!  These photos do not do it justice whatsoever, but they're about as good as I'm going to get them.

For information, I used 190gsm Bockingford watercolour paper, 10 x 7 inches (I seem to prefer working small) and acrylic paints.  The daisy stamp was a freeby with a craft magazine some years back.  I separated the stranded embroidery thread and used two ply for the daisy chain edging and three ply for the french knots.

All in all, I'm over the moon with this, but still feel I could have done better!  I really MUST train my brain to think positively about my own work.  I'm hoping that as the months roll on, my confidence will rise. I'm really looking forward to seeing other members work and I can't wait to get started on April's theme.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Being Creative

Hello and welcome.
I've gone and done it!  With much trepidation I've enrolled on Julia Crossland's Being Creative online monthly project. I have absolutely no idea what I am doing and feel very scared that I will fail.  Similar to Julia's experience , at age sixteen I failed to get a placement on a foundation course for creative studies.  As my next opportunity was to wait until I was eighteen and try to get into the mainstream Art college, it was decided that I must get a job for the two years and so I found myself as an office junior for a firm of Solicitors.  I can't tell you how heartbroken I felt and how bloody useless I felt - I couldn't even get into a FOUNDATION COURSE, I was that bad.  How did I ever manage to gain O'Level Art B+?  And so, somehow in those two intervening years I forgot about my dreams of being creative and forgot about my pencils and sketch books.
Mnay years later and I have slowly started to be crafty again,  but still lack any confidence that I am any good.  I enjoy a monthly 'play day' with my friend, where we create and craft (although lately its been more chat less work!) and we have set up a business to sell items now and then.  Even though I have sold one or two things I have made, I still feel that it was a fluke and that the purchaser bought on a whim without even thinking about the item, only to get it home and not like it.
So, I must be strong and just go for it!  Otherwise I will be stuck here forever, in this uncomfortable place being pulled towards creativity by my heart but being told to stop dreaming by my brain.
Wish me luck!

Monday, 28 February 2011

Reaching the Half Century

Hello and thanks for stopping by.  Saturday saw me reaching my half century.  Fifty, can you believe it?!  I have always thought of getting older as becoming more wise and so was really not that bothered by reaching this landmark Birthday ... until Thursday.  At two days before the event, my life suddenly turned upside down and flipped over.  I was to be FIFTY. OMG!  Rising panic started to surge through my body.  What was I to do?
Friday I was fine about it all; it seems I was just having one of those 'moments'.

I awoke on Saturday to this::

Banners and balloons decorating the front of the house.  My friend Anita had crept round and decorated whilst I was tucked up in bed, blissfully unaware of what she was up to.  As I drew the curtains back, she was standing on the drive with her daughter K, both in their dressing gowns, waving and wishing me a Happy Birthday.  It was a magic moment.
The whole day was filled with laughter, telephone calls and visitors bearing gifts. 
 I had many cards, one of which was this beauty::

I have never received a flower card and I have to say they are well worth sending as to receive one is fantastic!  I believe they are a little pricey though, but the surprise and wow factor on the receiving end is second to none.
I was taken out by Mr C for a meal in the evening joined by friends and family and was secretly glad I had a couple of hours of sitting down, as I was totally knackered from all that talking and laughing and socialising (not my usual, quiet, Saturday at all!). The meal was great and as we were all deciding what pudding to have, the waiter came towards me carrying a platter full of cup cakes and candles, singing Happy Birthday.  No pictures I'm afraid but you can imagine the scene.

Present giving isn't something that's done automatically in my family, so I didn't get loads of presents, and more importantly, presents that I really didn't want or like.  I did get this superb bracelet::

isn't it gorgeous? 

 And this handsome chap::

who's right at home in the border.  I will also be getting a digital camera from Mr C but I'm currently doing research to find the best one for me, so I guess that will arrive in a few weeks time.  As much as it is lovely to receive bought gifts, I am just as happy, if not more so, to receive something home made or a simple bunch of flowers or something from the charity shop that's been seen and  bought on the 'I saw this and thought of you' basis.  These days, I find its the simple pleasures, the small things, that mean more to me than the big gestures.

All in all, my Birthday has been filled with laughter and surprises and I have been surrounded by friends and family and that means much more to me than words can describe.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Two Little Birdies

I've spent a few hours this weekend crocheting little birds.  I've been wanting to make one of these for a long time, but just haven't got around to it.  This was my first one:

Not bad for a first attempt, me thinks.  I apologise for the poor quality photo; too dark to take it indoors and still not really light enough outside, so the flash has washed the colour out.  It should be a sage green with pale pink button eyes and bright pink wings.  My second attempt turned out completely different, even though I used the same stich and type of wool:

So much better!  I crocheted the wings this time rather than using felt, and the button eyes were a creamy white with a brass pin and shank.  These were both made from whatever wool I had to hand and old buttons from the button tin, which holds buttons inherited from my Grandmother as well as my mother.  Here they are together:

You can really see the difference.  I much prefer Pink Lady.  The eyes are better, the beak is much, much better and she seems to have more character.  Green man looks a little sniffy turning his beak up like that!  What do you think?

I've really enjoyed making these and want to crochet lots more.  I can see them hanging on the tree at Easter, or even in the garden during the Summer.  My mind is buzzing with places to put them and I have one of two other ideas along the bird line that I want to try, but more about that another time.

Hope you've all had a crafty weekend.  Til next time XXX

Friday, 28 January 2011

Tea Break

Hello, and thanks for dropping by.  Fancy a cuppa?  I'll put the kettle on. I've just discovered a rather fabulous new tea from Twinings:

Its a limited edition black tea called Rose Garden. Find it here. It smells divine and if you sip it with your eyes closed you can almost believe you are sitting amongst the roses in the height of Summer!  I've been doing this a lot this week as its so miserable and cold outside; rain then snow, then rain; I've had enough of it and whilst enjoying my escape to Summer I've been thinking about the significance of tea in many peoples lives.  A lot of problems are shared and solved over a cup of tea.  The first thing one does when under any sort of stress is reach for the tea pot.  Tea soothes and tea heals.  Everything seems a little bit better after a cup of tea.  And I LOVE it!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes and Other Things

As you may know, I walk my Goddaughter to school on Friday mornings. She greeted me at the door last Friday with a big cuddle and said "I can smell your house". "Can you?" I replied, "Yes. You smell like your house.  I like the smell of your house".  I spent the rest of Friday walking around, bosom swollen with pride and feeling pretty good about everything.  Especially as I've been lacking in the housework department of late.  I just can't seem to get back to any sort of routine.  I'm telling myself its because I've been busy sewing a Birthday gift for my friend Betty, but I don't really believe that.  However, it has been GOOD FUN to pick up the needle again.  Betty collects Owls and I saw a soft toy kit back in November in Hobbycraft, fell in love with it and decided to make it for Betty, who's Birthday is at the end of January.

As you can see its produced by Anchor.  I decided I didn't want it to look exactly as the kit and so set about 'doing my own thing'.  I thought the wings would look better if they were laying on the front rather than stretching out to either side and I replaced some of the material with some from my stash.  Here she is with all the layers tacked on:

I used a mid-green perle thread and stitched either chain stitch or blanket stich around each shape for definition.  I felt I wanted it to be completely hand stitched rather than machining these shapes in place.  Oh and how I LOVED stitching.  I had completely forgotten how much I enjoy using needle and thread!  Thinking back it was at least ten years ago when I last did any embroidery or even machine sewing - oh, no, I lie, I did make a pair of curtains.  Anyhoo, it was a long time ago.  I decided eventually that I had to machine the back and front together, mainly because the seam allowance was such that it was so small I was afraid it would all tear apart as I was turning it right side out and thought machine stitches would hold it all together much better.


Looking at it now, I think perhaps I should have kept the wings outstretched as they probably needed to be placed just a little higher than they have ended up.  I didn't put the feet on either because they stuck out and looked odd as nothing else was sticking out, except the beak.  All in all, it was an enjoyable project, but if I do it again I will definitely cut the material much bigger to allow for a 'proper' seam allowance (the material provided was only just big enough for the provided pattern pieces) and I would place the wings and feet as per the original instructions.  I think she is absolutely gorgeous and I'm very pleased with the end result.  I hope the recipient will be too.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

A Little Bit of Sunshine

Look what was waiting for me when I arrived home from work

They came in a tall box and so beautifully wrapped in pink cellophane

They were a gift from my sister, just because it has been a long dark, damp Winter and she thought I might like a little bit of sunshine.

How lucky am I?

Friday, 14 January 2011

New Year Delight

Last weekend (and yes, I know its almost this weekend!) Mr C and I had Sunday lunch and spent the entire afternoon and most of the evening with our good friends, Ron and Betty.  It is something of a tradition as we do this every January.  Its in lieu of a Christmas Dinner as Mr C and I are usually at another set of friends on the day itself. We also exchange Christmas gifts, whether we have seen each other over the festive period or not.  This started at the same time as Betty and I decided (some years ago) we would endeavour to make each others gifts and spend no more than five pounds on materials.  As the first Christmas deadline loomed it was evident that the gifts would not be ready in time, and so we came to the decision to exchange them in January, thus giving us both a little extra time.  It works very well as we get to extend the festivities and there's not that feeling of emptiness that is usual after the decorations are taken down.  Betty's Birthday is in late January and mine is late February, so it works rather well and keeps us with something to look forward to until Spring arrives, when all is well with the world again (can you tell I'm not that keen on Winter?).

I always get interesting gifts from Betty and this year was no exception; in fact I think she has excelled herself with these as they are quite simply beautiful


She bought a cheap pair of plymsols and decorated them with fabric paints.  She had previously decorated a pair for herself last summer to take on holiday and I had said how lovely they were then and that I must decorate a pair myself.  Well of course, I never got around to it last year and now I don't need to! Its almost a shame to wear them, but wear them I shall and enjoy every minute of walking in them.  I don't know if I will be able to wash them but the dust and dry dirt (ever hopeful!) of Summer should brush of.  If I only get one Summer out of them, it will be a Summer of blissful memories about where those shoes carried me.

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