Sunday, 28 February 2010

Deep Breath and Take The Plunge

Well I decided to do it. Convert some designs from floristry wire into sterling silver. I didn't make it easy on myself, I started with the thickest wire I had (1.5mm) and made 3 rings. The wire was not easy to manipulate, nor to beat in the round. But the finished product looks quite effective - I just need to polish them up:

I tried, half-heartedly, but I couldn't tear myself away and turned my attention to pendants. First, simple spirals (sorry about the blurry photo - I was obviously too excited)

Then some pieces incorporating sea glass from the cornish coastline:

This one has raised ridges on the glass - really unusual.

They are all quite small (2-3 cm max), but I'm not sure that really big stuff would work.
This last one is my favourite, it has kept some of its transluscence, so you can see the silver through the glass. I actually made it with this as the reverse, but prefer this view, so it's now the front!

For any of you that were wondering whether I'd lost my Sadim touch, no I haven't. I was crocheting a scarf out of random dyed wool. I started in rows, going up and down, but the 'random' pattern wasn't looking random enough for me, so I started crocheting around the edge to break up the pattern, but look at how even it's turning out:
There's nothing for it, it's got to be unpicked!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

On a Roll

...or should I say a spiral? I'm drawn to curves. Maybe it's because I have so many of them about my person, but I find it very hard to incorporate sharp angles into my artwork. Perhaps it's because most of my inspiration comes from nature and there aren't many right angles there. Anyway, I make no apology for loving fluid shapes, especially spirals.

This is the elusive linocut that I mentioned in my last post, which I still haven't found. Although I feel quite virtuous, because my drawers and shelves are slowly getting tidied in my quest to find it.
And I'm still trying out  a practice run with floristry wire in my new addiction to jewellery designing.

This is an idea for a pendant:

..and I decided to embellish one of the ring designs with a piece of sea glass from the cornish coast:

I really like this, so I also tried adapting the design to make a pendant:

.. and I really like this too. I'm just wary of trying out proper work with silver as none of my projects have been free of Sod's Law just lately - send positive vibes my way everyone and I might take the plunge!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Practice Run

As I've been struggling artistically for a few weeks, I decided to revert to some tried and tested creative activities. I decided to spend a morning printing up some of the cotton bags mentioned in an earlier post. Well, that was my intention. I couldn't find my most crucial linocut. So two hours later after clearing out the lean-to and my particular shelf in in the kitchen where it was most likely to be, I decided to have a go at printing a woodcut image instead to herald Spring's approach.
It's OK, but not really me. Just as I'd finished doing a couple and deciding I didn't want too many of them, the heavens opened and emptied bucket loads of snow on us. Do you ever feel that someone much more important than you is laughing at you? Not to be daunted, I finished off the socks I had been cheering myself up with in spring-like colours:

They're an experiment in 100% cotton dk from Lidl at 50p a ball. I've not knitted socks in anything other than wool before, so hope they're OK - not quite as much give but they are lovely and soft.
I haven't been able to shake ideas for jewellery out of my head and I'm itching to use my bits of silver that I bought last week ( I wish I'd bought more now, but need to earn some money first!). A book from the library sensibly suggested experimenting with cheaper metals first, so I started to play with some floristry wire and my friends round- nose pliers:

Yes, I love spirals.
Next, a headpin and turquoise bead:

Then a headpin that I hammered flat:

I really like the hammered effect. I then tried out the floristry wire with some ring designs I drew whilst in bed last night:

Let me know which you prefer & I might tempt the powers that be by trying out my silver.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Birthday Boy

Happy Birthday wishes go to Benny Boy who turned 11 today. I think this photo goes well with the song "It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To":

His weeping eyes have surfaced in the last couple of years. The vet thinks it's some kind of allergy (probably all the dust in my house), but anti-histamine eye drops have proved useless, as has bathing his eyes with tea / salt water. The only thing that improves the condition is diving for stones in the sea! Bizarre, I know. If anyone out there has experienced something similar with an ageing dog, please let me know of anything that works as his eyes are the only thing spoiling his good looks. Ben came to us aged 4 from an older couple who could no longer give him the boisterous lifestyle he needed. In actual fact, he is quite calm and well behaved apart from cocking his leg up everything perpendicular, including jumpers for goalposts in the park and small crouching children on the beach (I know, extremely embarassing!), and it has been a privilege to adopt him as a family member.
I think all the partying is getting to him though:

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Silver Spirals

Those of you that have read my blog recently will know that Sod's Law has been applying itself firmly to my attempts at creative expression. This has left me feeling very despondent and anxious about starting anything else. However, I've been really warmed and encouraged by all the positive vibes that have been sent my way from Blogland, and I had already placed an order for some silver with Cooksongold on the recommendation of another blogger who makes jewellery with dichroic glass. I've been wanting to make myself some jewellery that I just don't seem to be able to find locally, namely earrings. But to break myself in gently with the new chinese year and new moon, I decided to reinstate a pendant that I had bought in Crete over 15 years ago. The chain broke several years ago, and I decided that what I really wanted to do was turn it into a navel - length medieval type pendant. It is impossible to get such a length of silver chain around here; the longest I could get would be 24" at £9.99 -I wanted 36". So I ordered some loose chain at £3.48 for 90cm and decided to make my own clasp out of silver wire ( about 7p for the length I used). Now this doesn't have to be undone, as the length of chain means I just put it over my head. So I made something that simply joins the two lengths of chain, and in my favourite spiral shape too:

I'm really quite pleased with it, it's secure,a feature, but unobtrusive and fits very well with the pendant which I think is based on an ancient cretan coin (but also has a spiral within it- even better!)

I'm still holding my breath for the next project though...

Saturday, 13 February 2010

The Sadim Touch

This is what I am naming the condition that I have this week. It is the Midas touch in reverse as everything I touch this week (creatively speaking), has gone wrong. I posted the 'rose red' dyeing episode that turned out streaky salmon pink earlier in the week. I was reminded yesterday that I promised to post the results of my 'batik' work - good or bad. Well, here they are:

Can you see the batik celtic designs that I painstakingly worked out ?
No, because you just about need X-ray vision to see it. They looked fine whilst they were dyeing, whilst they were rinsing, in fact up until they were dry when the images disappeared into the ether. Fortunately I had tie dyed the other side of the moon bag, but it was only meant to be the reverse side pattern; I guess I'll have to get the bleach out again
The other victim of my Sadim touch was a WIP (Work In Progress) to reduce my stash. I decided to knit/crochet some leg warmers to wear with my walking boots. Years ago I bought 3 cones of pure wool yarn which is extremely coarse and scratchy with bits of straw and stuff in it. Why on earth did I buy it? I hear you asking - because it was there, there's lots of it on each cone and it was only £1. It would have been criminal negligence to leave it there. The trouble is it's too coarse to knit anything that's next to skin so legwarmer/gaiter things sounded perfect. Fully revved up, I fabricated a pattern in my head and promptly made legwarmer number one. This week, urged on  by the return of snow, I was determined to finish the second one which I have been crocheting at night by firelight.
Having completed the first, I was a bit unsure, but determined to soldier on. When I got up this morning and looked at the two side by side - do you see what I see?
It's got about 10 more stitches in it than the first one and much bigger! There's nothing for it but to undo them both and think of another suggestion to use up this yarn.

The darkest one is the thinnest and coarsest with the palest one resembling uneven handspun wool, a bit thicker than arran weight. Each cone has 500- 700 grams on it. Any good ideas / patterns preferably not involving dyeing (ha ha!) please let me know.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Bags of Bags

Last Friday after visiting my good friend Felted House, I arrived home to find a package waiting for me - don't you just love it? Even when you know what's going to be inside, it still feels like Christmas Day, especially when it's something to create with. Well my package was full of cotton bags, just begging to be decorated ready to sell at a craft market.

Here are some small drawstring bags that I sell as small gift bags or tooth fairy bags; some medium sized gift bags and some shopping bags. These are all in unbleached cotton, from a reputable company with good ethics and environmentally friendly products.
I also bought a couple of Thai Monk Moon bags to see how they go. I was quite impressed with these- they are double thickness cotton with an internal zipped pocket and secured with a wooden bead:

I have printed small bags before with a linocut image that have been quite popular:

But this time I thought I would dye some as well. As I was perusing the dyes, I found a 'rose red' that was reduced. Now I'm not a warm colour person, but do force myself to choose them periodically, because not everyone's taste is the same as mine. So today was a day to dye for. After much scrunching and tieing, I popped them in the machine and duly waited. Disappointment! It doesn't look anything like a rose:
...and as you can see, some lost their ties in the wash to boot. Those that were heavily tied look OK -
 not stunning as I'd hoped...

.. so I was forced to get some bleach out and play:

My dip-dyed  violet ones are much more pleasing to my eye:

I had to stop for the school run, but I've tried my batik stuff on a few bags - leave it to dry and then dye another day tomorrow. Will post the results good and bad.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Hacked Off!

I apologise to anyone who tried to access my blog last week and got redirected to a rather unsavoury site - it wasn't me, honest!  It seems that someone hacked into my blog, did very techno things that are way beyond my capablities with the result that if anyone (me included) clicked on my blog, they were redirected to a yucky site via various 'red herring' sites. I felt quite violated and very angry. It's always been beyond my comprehension why people would use their obviously considerable I.T. skills to make someone else's life so much harder, costly  or unpleasant (or indeed all three). Thank heavens for Google- after some surfing, I realised that I had been hacked, but still couldn't find out how it was happening. In desperation, I removed all my html gadgets and that solved the problem, but apparently they can insert stuff into your header and all sorts - it doesn't bear thinking about. If any other bloggers have encountered something similar & know how to prevent it happening, please please let me know.
On a lighter note, youngest pixie face is heavily into baking at the moment, which would be great if her baked goods weren't turning out so damned good and if I wasn't heavily into eating them all! Last week she made coconut ice & I thought, that's good, she's into coconut, I'm not, I won't be tempted. Of course when it was ready, she insisted I try some, which I did - it was gorgeous!
Next we decided to use up some frozen blackcurrants we'd picked in the garden last year as they've been hogging space for more than half a year now.
We used: 4oz Margarine,
               4oz caster sugar
               2 eggs
               2-3 oz ground almonds
               1 tsp baking powder
               6-8 oz blackcurrants
               4oz self-raising flour
Make it in the usual cake way, adding flour last; use a spring-form or loose bottomed cake tin as the cooked blackcurrants will caramelise on the edges and stick like billy-o. Cook at gas mark 4 for 30-45mins until well risen and firm to touch - I used the blackcurrants frozen and it took an hour to cook. I figured it was quite healthy having almonds and blackcurrants in - almost diet food in fact, so I might have another piece!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Recycling or Not?

Some years ago I was given a paper log maker as a gift. It was quite innovative at the time from Friends of the Earth, but I'm sure you're all familiar with them now as they're much more widely available. I tried making a few logs, but it didn't really seem worth it and I also had qualms about how green it was versus recycling paper to make new paper products. Then last year I heard articles on the news where it had been discovered that an awful lot of paper that had been collected in this country for recycling, had been found abroad, dumped, supposedly 'waiting' to be recycled. Now, however green it is to recycle paper, it is much less so if it has to be transported abroad to do so. This coincided with my eldest wanting to earn some money to put credit on her beloved mobile, so we set about collecting newspapers and magazines. We soon had an old dustbin full of them, so in the summer my eldest daughter set about separating and scrunching the newspapers, putting them back in the dustbin and adding water to soak (nb- don't do what we did & fill the bin completely- the paper expands and will push off the lid and spread all over the place; fill it half to two thirds full). Two days later, she set about turning them into 'logs' using the machine - you can see an example of these here. We had too much paper, so had to do it in two sessions, but it really didn't take very long. We left them in a ventilated area of the garden covered with polythene until they had started to dry when we brought them inside our lean-to to finish off. They do take weeks to dry out thoroughly - would've been better if we'd had a decent summer, but when completely dry are rock hard:

We made about 50 of these and each one burns for up to 2 hours. I use them in conjunction with wood when the fire's already well established and they're really helping to make our log supplies go further. Here it is in action:

Next year, we need to make at least twice as many though, we're down to our last couple now and it's so COLD.

To cheer everyone up, here's a dozen funnies out of the mouth of babes:

1. A nursery school pupil told his teacher he'd found a cat, but it was dead.

'How do you know that the cat was dead?' she asked her pupil.
'Because I pissed in its ear and it didn't move,' answered the child innocently.
'You did WHAT?' the teacher exclaimed in surprise.
'You know,' explained the boy, 'I leaned over and went 'Pssst' and it didn't move'

2. A small boy is sent to bed by his father.
Five minutes later.....'Da-ad....'
'I'm thirsty. Can you bring a drink of water?'
'No, You had your chance. Lights out.'
Five minutes later: 'Da-aaaad......'
'I'm THIRSTY. Can I have a drink of water??'
' I told you NO! If you ask again, I'll have to smack you!!'
Five minutes later......'Daaaa-aaaad..'
'When you come in to smack me, can you bring a drink of water?'

3. An exasperated mother, whose son was always getting into mischief, finally asked him 'How do you expect to get into Heaven?'
The boy thought it over and said, 'Well, I'll run in and out and in and out and keep slamming the door until St. Peter says, 'For Heaven's sake, Dylan, come in or stay out!''

4. One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her son into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, 'Mummy, will you sleep with me tonight?'
The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. 'I can't dear,' she said. 'I have to sleep in Daddy's room.'
A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice: 'The big sissy.'

5. It was that time, during the Sunday morning service, for the children's sermon.
All the children were invited to come forward.
One little girl was wearing a particularly pretty dress and, as she sat down, the minister leaned over and said, 'That is a very pretty dress.
Is it your Easter Dress?'
The little girl replied, directly into the minister's clip-on microphone, 'Yes, and my Mum says it's a bitch to iron.'

6. When I was six months pregnant with my third child, my three year old came into the room when I was just getting ready to get into the shower. She said, 'Mummy, you are getting fat!' I replied, 'Yes, honey, remember Mummy has a baby growing in her tummy.'
'I know,' she replied, but what's growing in your bum?'

7. A little boy was doing his math homework. He said to himself, 'Two plus five, that son of a bitch is seven.
Three plus six, that son of a bitch is nine....'
His mother heard what he was saying and gasped, 'What are you doing?'
The little boy answered, 'I'm doing my math homework, Mum.'
'And this is how your teacher taught you to do it?' the mother asked
'Yes,' he answered.
Infuriated, the mother asked the teacher the next day, 'What are you teaching my son in math?'
The teacher replied, 'Right now, we are learning addition.'
The mother asked, 'And are you teaching them to say two plus two, that son of a bitch is four?'
After the teacher stopped laughing, she answered, 'What I taught them was, two plus two, THE SUM OF WHICH, is four.'

8. One day the first grade teacher was reading the story of Chicken Little to her class. She came to the part of the story where Chicken Little tried to warn the farmer. She read, '.... and so Chicken Little went up to the farmer and said, 'The sky is falling, the sky is falling!'
The teacher paused then asked the class, 'And what do you think that farmer said?'
One little girl raised her hand and said, 'I think he said: 'Holy S#@%! A talking chicken!''
The teacher was unable to teach for the next 10 minutes.

9. A certain little girl, when asked her name, would reply, I'm Mr. Sugarbrown's daughter.'
Her mother told her this was wrong, she must say, 'I'm Jane Sugarbrown.'
The Vicar spoke to her in Sunday School, and said, 'Aren't you Mr. Sugarbrown's daughter?'
She replied, 'I thought I was, but mother says I'm not.'

10. A little girl asked her mother, 'Can I go outside and play with the boys?'
Her mother replied, 'No, you can't play with the boys, they're too rough.'
The little girl thought about it for a few moments and asked, 'If I can find a smooth one, can I play with him?'

11. A little girl goes to the barber shop with her father. She stands next to the barber chair, while her dad gets his hair cut,
eating a snack cake. The barber says to her, 'Sweetheart, you're gonna get hair on your muffin.'
She says, 'Yes, I know, and I'm gonna get boobs too.'

12. Thea and Barnaby sitting at the table, Mum puts the last two cakes in front of them, one much bigger than the other. They both want the biggest one and start arguing over it. Grandpa hears this and says to them both  "What would Jesus do?"
Barnaby says unhappily, "He'd take the smallest one" Thea thinks for a moment and says to Barnaby "You be Jesus!" and helps herself to the largest cake.

Monday, 1 February 2010

The Beauty of Ageing

I haven't blogged and I haven't managed to make art because I've been stripping wallpaper - yippee! (NOT). I wasn't even over my poorly spell when I was reminded that it was time to do the lounge - I feel like that should really be in capital letters. Anyway, it's that time of year to do everything that we've been putting off since November, saying "it's not worth starting that now, I'll do it after Christmas". Well, it's now well and truly after Christmas and time to bite the bullet...
We are the proud owners of an old Edwardian house that needs loads of work doing -AKA the Money Pit. I'm a stickler for original features and it's taking an age to reveal/reinstate them in our house. We've been here almost 5 years now and so I no longer have the excuse of "oh we've just moved in, yes we're going to .." you know how it goes. So having finished my eldest daughter's bedroom it's now the lounge's turn. I've stripped the walls of paper, and inevitably a large amount of plaster in the process:

And I've done the ceiling, which was a pig of a job to do. The ceiling is 9 1/2 ft high and I'm just over 5 ft, so me perched atop a stepladder for a whole week led to aching muscles and a stiff neck. I managed to get the paper off there without bringing down the ceiling, so I was very pleased. Now it's stripped, I'm a bit loathe to decorate, as I quite like the effect:
it looks kind of grand and tells a story. This, coupled with a post by Katherine Brown Interiors and Arts Consultancy convinced me to post on some work I did last year on the beauty of the ageing process. It sprang out of some work I was doing on weathering when I became obsessed with peeling paint and seeing what was underneath the layers and wondering how long it had been there:
these were a pair of oil paintings I did, reminiscent of old buildings exposed to the elements.
And this was a collagraph print on canvas, mounted on reclaimed, distressed timber:
In conjunction with doing up our house and my values around repairing, reusing and recycling rather than disposing of items, I realised more and more how our society is obsessed with youth, flawlessness, new and replacement materials, totally disregarding the old. Sadly, this also applies to people. With programmes like "10 Years Younger" and its' kind, we are being conditioned to be repulsed by natural signs of ageing which are indications of how we have lived our lives. I am now 45 and perhaps getting a bit sensitive about the whole ageing thing, but I decided to make a feature of it, rather than denying it. So I painted a self portrait of what I might look like in 40 year's time - exaggerating my existing lines and sags. From normal viewing distance it looks like this:

But where the lines are, I've scraped into the paint, my life experiences in writing - some of them sad and/or stressful, but mostly just ordinary, everyday experiences:

And the 'hair' is a poem that was found in an elderly lady's locker after she died in hospital. The staff thought her state of dementia meant she was oblivious to what was going on around her. A copy of it can be found here.
My rant is over, I say let's wear our wrinkles with pride!