Thursday, 30 May 2013

A Wonderful Anniversary

 Husband and I have had the most precious day here in the Highlands, true - it's always an amazing place to be but yesterday was extra special. Our wedding anniversary dawned with sparkling skies and a beautiful warm breeze. We set out for the Gairloch coast  with a view to visiting the monument to the Arctic Convoys of the second world war. It sounds an odd choice of visit but it is an area of extraordinary beauty and tranquillity as well as a place of remembrance.
What we did not expect was to meet two kindred spirits on our journey in this remote part of the highlands. I    knew that someone I had been on an online course with lived out this way and we actually passed her home and studio. We called in on the off chance and I'm so glad we did, three hours later after a most convivial lunch and conversation with the most delightful and genuine couple of people, we left feeling that we were leaving old friends. It helped that by an amazing coincidence John had been to the same school as her husband and were able to reminisce about their school days. A new friend to share crafting with on my next visit in October.
We eventually carried on to the end of the peninsula and were pleased to find that several other people were visiting the monument (we are usually alone when we visit here) and to make the day even more special the wild orchids were in bloom. I never cease to be thrilled by the sight of them.
Just to outdo the orchids we also spotted the biggest bird we had ever seen - a Sea Eagle, which have recently been re-introduced to this area. They are huge and easily identified by their tail feathers and shape.

We came home to a wonderful meal of lobster and champagne, prepared by our lovely stepdaughter and husband and were so full with good food and happiness we walked down to the end of the loch with the black lab. and watched the sun set into the sea. A day to cherish and remember.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Camera Lies

It's interesting how this has photographed, the camera keeps picking up the white grids, which in reality are much more subtle on the finished piece of work. You will have to take my word for it, it's no where near as lurid as the pics. suggest. I shall finish the framing this evening and then that's it work wise for a couple of weeks. Grandson's birthday Sunday, brother and partner arriving tomorrow for the weekend, packing for Ullapool to do and I have ignored it all, to get this piece finished.
 I shall have to get my act together pronto!

This is the garden table just outside my workroom.

We have just had a huge hail storm, I hope that means that some warm air has just bumped into the cold air-stream we have been stuck under this week. A lovely warm weekend is what we all need right now.

Monday, 20 May 2013


This is a piece I have been working on since last Thursday - it came about from a stack of samples from my inspiration board. As I was clearing them away I was struck by the colour palette they had been worked in. Although they were widely varying in technique I wondered if I could create a cohesive 'whole' from them.

36" x 12"

I laid out the design very quickly, I knew I wouldn't have time to faff about with different ideas. I'm relying on over-printing, hand and machine stitch to bring it all together.I laid the design on a piece of wool so that I could use my felting machine to tack everything to the base fabric. Normally I would spend hours using tiny stitches to do this part but I want this piece finished before my trip to the Highlands so short cuts are the order of the day. The fact that these samples have been stitched to start with, means that the layers in this piece are building up very quickly. 
It hasn't told me it's title yet but I'm sure it will before I'm finished with it. 

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Darling Buds of May

By the time I got home from this afternoons Guild meeting the sun had finally broken through the grey clouds. So armed with my trusty white board and camera, a little stroll round the estate was called for. The late spring plants are all at the point of bud burst and are being held at this stage by the cool temperatures. One warm day and everything will open together. 
Last year I spent several days weeding alliums out of the main borders I was sure I got everyone of them,
apparently not! There are hundreds of them. I know they are lovely but they like our soil so much that they are choking lots of little treasures out of existence. Short of sterilising the soil  I think I will have to learn to live with them. 

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A Bit Surreal

This piece started out as - field/meadow/grasses/ ox-eye daisies, it's all gone a bit bizarre. It still has all the elements, well, perhaps not the daisies but it was fun to do and I'm not working to a brief so a bit of play was allowed.

I added some layers of sheers to the background and over stitched again so that there are several layers of complexity to feast my eyes on. I tried my daisy idea but it looked too sweet, so out came the foils and alcohol inks and a couple of hours later I was ready to place a mount on top to see what I had made. Now I have taken a photo I can see that in one or two  areas the sheers need burning back a bit more, but I shall declare it more or less done before I ruin it completely. Not a masterpiece, but given the weather outside, an enjoyable day in the workroom.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Almost Finished

Having my friend  round for our regular Monday workroom day, made me focus my efforts (thanks Paula). I have all but finished my 'Chinese' inspired book. The cover is complete and all the pages are sewn in. I won't bore you with the contents as I have already posted some of the pages. They are subtle enough to have some fragmented imagery from my son and daughter-in-laws photo albums transferred onto some of the pages, particularly the shots from The Forbidden City and the Great Wall. I am still experimenting with image transfer techniques as I want an ethereal look rather than a sharp image.

I knew those beads would be useful. They are a perfect match, probably down to the colour palette I'm using at the moment.
This cover, if you follow my blog, was made in Gina Ferrari's class at my local Guild meeting using Aquabond soluble fabric. I have been thinking about this product and have started another small piece of work to experiment with it.

I have inherited lot's of stranded threads, more than I could ever hope to use in a lifetime of stitching so I am constantly thinking of different ways to use them. This piece is inspired by a photo I took late last summer of a nearby field. I have laid many threads onto the Aquabond and then another layer of the product on top. I've laid down a grid with free motion stitching before dissolving the Aquabond away in warm water. The resulting piece I've stitched to pelmet vylene and am currently couching loose grassy shape to it to get some movement into it. I am also making some ox-eye daisies to drift through to give something for the eye to focus on. It's good to be gradually clearing the backlog of work to the finished pile, I must be careful not to create too many more experimental pieces before I go to Ullapool in a few days time, I'm sure to come back brimming with ideas.

Thursday, 9 May 2013


My bead making is getting out of hand, good job I have run out of the Evalon I make them with. It turned out that the beads that appealed to me most were free of embellishment (beads, threads etc.). The method for making them is not new or mine, I made a whole load in the nineties, but now we have Evalon and hot foils to play with, so I combined them and simply used the soldering iron as a mark making tool. By incising deeply the hot foil shows through and a rich baroque kind of bead is produced. I think that my choice of paints for the Evalon has enhanced the richness.

I think I will try some in pastel shades or even plain white, bushed over with some copper mica - the possibilities are endless

Once I had everything to hand they made up quite quickly, the ones on sticks I made this morning. My plan is to garden this afternoon however it has just started to rain...... mm,  I wonder if plastic carrier bags will make a bead. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

What a difference three weeks make.

These woods are less than five minutes away from where I live. Very close to the home of John Clare the country poet. His cottage is now a museum devoted to keeping his memory alive. People come from all over the world to witness his cottage and visit his grave in our little church. I have a piece of work to do for an exhibition that 'Calico' are having in the Dovecot in John Clare's cottage in October. No shortage of inspiration, in fact, too much, a lot of paring down needs to take place to produce something that matches his simple but beautiful poetry.

Gardening is very intense this year, a lot to do in a little space of time. I am a fair weather gardener, so a very late start has taken place.
Far too much money was spent at the garden centre this morning, a lot of 'holes' in the borders needed filling and as we have the garden open in July (fund raising for the gorgeous little barn that 'Calico' meet in) I want the garden to look at it's best, without going over the top.
I can't not do any crafting so little projects are order of the day. In between planting and weeding, little beads are being produced using evalon, lutrador and anything else I can melt with my soldering iron. An old technique but it satisfies the need to make something.

They make beautifully decorative pins.

These will be stashed for future use. It's always good to have 'just the right bead' to hand.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Garden Focus

I often wander around the garden at this time of year with a piece of white board in my hands, it can be so hard to capture the beauty of a single bloom when everything in the borders is so rampant. It's quite a feat to hold the board in one hand and the camera in the other but it makes for a pleasing shot to focus on one thing at a time.

The woodland border is at it's best over the next month, the Solomons Seal is almost ready to unfurl as are the North American  gems I have planted over the years. The delicate looking leaves in the bottom right corner belong to my quince tree, it has the most softest, downiest blush pink blooms which are about to burst into flower.......and then the frost will get them and I will be quince-less for yet another year. However this could be the year of the quince and that is what gardening is all about - hope over common sense (I live in a frost trap). 
I'm having a low key bank holiday weekend, husband and self full of cold and sneezes but we are enjoying pottering about in the sunshine and each others company.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Go East

I'm still immersed in completing all ufo's ( those that are worth completing) and discarding no hopers. It's a very freeing thing to do. I have two pieces that are never going to make the grade and consigning them to the samples box has been a great relief. 
Today I have finished the fastening on my China book, and completed several more pages, I particularly like the little drawing on the bottom right of an  Acer branch, that's bursting it's buds on the deck outside my workroom, very oriental looking. A lovely warm afternoon to sit and sketch. I think I'm ready to stitch the book together and that will be another project complete. I'm clearing the decks as I'm off to Ullapool at the back end of this month. When I come back it will be ' Drawing to Stitch' with Dionne and I'm planning on starting a couple of new pieces leading on from this course. 
I've also been playing with some mixed media cameo's,  I need to get the image transfer to my liking (it's not fragmented enough) I will do some more of these 7" x 5" canvas boards they are good fun to do and make excellent pressies.