Saturday, 31 December 2011

Venture 2 Challenge

Had a lot of trouble scanning this because of the two colour sheer fabric I had put on top of the cotton fabric.  It sheens red and blue.

I have hand quilted the celtic pattern with a red embroidery thread.  Must now find Envelope No 3 to get the next stage of the instructions, however, I am considering doing some vermicelli quilting with the sewing machine around the edge first.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Staffordshire Hoard

The Region are running a competition based on the Staffordshire Hoard so I decided I might like to have a go at creating something.  I have been looking at the booklet I have got for some inspiration and found this garnet set sword pyramid.  As you can see I have been extracting the basic pattern design and playing with it in my sketchbook.  I actually cut holes in the page and placed a piece of coloured paper underneath it to see what it looks like.  Of course it should really be red, but I could not find any red paper at the time.

It all looks a bit Aztec to me so I am not sure I am very happy with it.  Back to the drawing board ....

Venture 2 Challenge

I managed to get a bit further with the challenge we were set in November.  I have stencilled a design onto the space dyed fabric using my home made stencil and a gold Markal Oil Stick.  Now I have to add some wadding to the back and a backing fabric prior to quilting it.  Do not think it will be hand quilted somehow.

Celtic Inspiration

I have been messing about again ....

I got some plastic moulds from Art Van Go when I was at Knit & Stitch Harrogate and have been meaning to play with them ever since.  I planned to make some paper casts from them, but ended up doing a rubbing on typing paper with an oil pastel which I then washed with Koh-i-Noor dyes.

I was quite pleased with the result once I worked out which way up the moulds went.  Might wax it next with a church candle and my flat bottomed iron.

Another bit of messing around ....  I made a stencil of a celtic pattern.

I printed the design onto a piece of typing paper and then pasted it onto some stencil card using remountable spray.  I carefully cut out the design with a scalpel and hopefully it will now last for a while.

I used two shades of Markal Oil Sticks applied with an old toothbrush.  I left it to cure for 24 hours and then gave it a wash of Koh-i-Noor dye.  The blotchy background is just an old teabag - from the pile I am saving to make another teabag book with roses.

Mushroom Madness

Lots more fungi in the garden.  The yellow ones on the top left have a little mouse hole at the bottom right of the picture.  It is fairly new so am assuming it is a new mouse on the block!  The purple toadstool below it on the left was minute but a wonderful colour.  The strange fungi top centre were also very small and looked like little antlers with black stalks.  Top right are also fairly small and there were lots of them around an old tree stump, but only one or two remain.  Most of the fungi in the garden get eaten by something - slugs or mice I guess.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Lynda Monk Samples updated

This is the third sample now it has dried.  The dark blob in the left hand corner is where the liquid accumulated.  Again the scanner has made the piece much more purple than it actually is.

I may do something else with it now and have got some Quink Ink out and some oil pastels.

Still cannot find the dark blue Treasure Gold!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Lynda Monk Samples updated

Had another go at this sample.  Just sprayed it again, but more liberally this time.  Quite pleased with it, but it is a bit light coloured.  The cauliflower splodge is where there was a big blob which took a long time to dry out.

Like this sample much better.  It is still quite light coloured but a nice effect I think.

I am still waiting for the purple sample to dry.  It takes ages.

Lynda Monk Samples

This is the third sample I did and it is actually not this lurid purple.  It must be something to do with the scanner picking up the reflection from the metallic paint.  The base is Lumiere Purple Violet the the spray is Crafty Notions Creative Colour Spray -Shake 'n' Spray 'Lustre Aubergine'.  I have got to say I did not find it as easy to use as the Cosmic Spray and it came out rather blobby and very wet.  Now it is dry it looks much better.

Christmas Card

Got another nice handmade textile card yesterday from one of my City & Guilds chums.  Love the use of paper and stitch, particularly the bit where the word 'recycled' is clearly visible.  It puts me to shame as I should have got round to making cards this year and have failed miserably.

Lynda Monk Samples

This is a piece of pelmet vilene.  bondaweb was added and then pieces of scrumpled tissue paper were ironed on using baking parchment to protect the surfaces of the ironing board and iron base.

It was then painted with Lumiere 'Super Copper'.  Once this dried I rubbed the surface with Renaissance Treasure Gold.

Next step was to get a cotton wool ball (I had no cotton wool pads) soaked in White Spirit and lightly wet the surface and move the wax around.  Whilst this was still damp I sprayed it with a Cosmic Shimmer Mica Shimmer Mist - colour was 'Ocean Sunlight' and left it to dry.

I am now going to give it another coat of spray.

The sample on the right was Lumiere Metallic Gold and then everything else was the same as the sample above.

On my next sample I want to try using a dark blue Treasure Gold I have instead of the gold one, but at the moment I cannot find it.  Not surprising if you saw the amount of packing boxes that are still lying around the house!

I have also done a purple sample but it went really blobby and has not dried yet so I cannot scan it.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Just for Annie

Had a frantic phone call from Annie to ask if I had tried the White Spirit Technique from Lynda Monk's new book as she could not get it to work.  The above picture is a sample Lynda gave me at Knit & Stitch in Harrogate using this technique so hopefully this will help.  I will try it out myself when I get chance and then will post the result for all to see!

Christmas Card

I am such a lucky person.  One of my lovely friends sent me this delightful Janet Browne Christmas Card recently.  I am a fan of Janet's work so this was just perfect.  At least it has no calories!!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Holly Berries

We had a fantastic holly bush in the front garden which was full of berries.  According to Mr C next door, who planted the bush, it has never looked so good.  Not any more I am afraid .... on Friday we had Redwings on it and they have eaten the lot.  What a fantastic sight.  I had to have the binoculars out and watched them from the kitchen window.

On another front ...  the mystery of the disappearing fat ball feeder which had three fat balls in it.  It has to be either the squirrels or the crows I guess.  It disappeared sometime between Friday and Sunday and there is no sign of it anywhere.  We have had a new squirrel on the block so perhaps he has carried it off.  Secret Squirrel?

Sunday, 18 December 2011


I have been messing about on photoshop this morning just for a bit of relaxation.  I scanned a brown paper bag with mistletoe on it and a drawing I had done this past week of a piece of mistletoe from the garden.  The other image was a photograph I had taken a few weeks ago which I have cleaned up and changed into a black and white image.  Sorry about the odd background.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Winter Wonderland

What a fantastic sight this morning ...  unbeknown to me it had snowed on the Malvern Hills overnight.  I wish I could get out with my camera to capture a photograph.  It is magical .... they look like they have been dusted with icing sugar and the sun has come out too.  It is hard to describe how the Hills change .... they are so atmospheric and I am sure a great inspiration to local artists.

Electrician is here again today so I won't be going far.  He is in the loft playing with the wires for the lighting.  He is no doubt freezing as it is just 2 degrees outside.

I shall  have to get on with some of the jobs I have had outstanding for what seems weeks.

H A P P Y     C H R I S T M A S

I shall have to get on with some of my 'jobs', a lot of which have been waiting weeks to be completed.


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Tea Bag Book

This is a bit more of the paper that I used for the card.  I have started to assemble my Tea Bag book.  The rose is under construction and the tea bags for the pages are being slowly saved, emptied, washed and ironed.  DH does not drink much tea so it is taking a while.

I have decided to make my book with a different inside - not a concertina book - so when I actually finish it I will post another picture.

Christmas Card

Anyone who knows me well will know that I hate making greetings cards of any description.  They are just not my thing.  Postcards are a different matter and I will happily produce those for my friends when the fancy takes me.

This fairy on the left was the little workshop we were given to do on our table at the December meeting of the Worcester branch of the EG.  We have an article by Linda Westerman which appeared in STITCH several years ago to thank for this design!

She has got a tassel body and then french knots and bullion knots stitched onto her head for hair.  The head is a circular piece of felt which has been gathered and stuffed.  I bet the other people have made a much better job of theirs than me.
I was going to make a nice Christmas card this year and have it printed to send to all my friends but somehow I never got round to it.

Today I fished out a piece of paper I had printed some time ago and chopped it up.  I have pasted it to a nice piece of handmade paper and I am going to machine stitch on it.  It looks more like a house than a Christmas tree at the moment - let's hope it improves with the addition of stitch.

I can always save it for next year.

Venture 2 (Add-Venture I think)

I managed to have an afternoon of messing around today.  These objects are something we were given to try arising from the first meeting of Venture 2.  We had to scrumple up a piece of brightly coloured paper out of a magazine and then wet it in some water which had had washing up liquid added.  You then take it out of the water and squeeze out some of the excess paper, pat it down on a flat surface and leave it to dry.

Since then I have painted it with some Stewart Gill paints and the pieces now look a bit metallic.  Next step is to get some iron on vilene on the back so that I can stitch into it.

More Toadstools

This one has to be a shaggy inkcap.  It appeared in the back lawn a week or so ago and I have been waiting for it to get large enough to photograph.  There is another one popping up alongside it too.  There are some fantastic bright orange fungi in the Dell which I must get round to photographing before they all get eaten.  They have nibbles all over them.

Friday, 9 December 2011


Ten weeks have flown by and this is the final book I have made this term.  It is an old piece of silk paper which had been machine stitched.  I added two cords to this one which I had created using a cording foot on my sewing machine and a zigzag pattern with metallic threads over several strands of varying types of thread.

The other threads with bits on them were made using Carole Coleman's method of stitching spiral lines of machine stitch on dissolvable fabric.  I am going to cut them up and hand stitch them to the ends of the two cords which are embedded in the book cover perhaps with the addition of some small beads.


Thought I would have a go at the Rose Tea Bag Book so have been collecting old tea bags of assorted types.  Emptied them and washed them before cutting them up only to find I have done it wrong.  Trust me ... shall have to do my own version now.  It should be interesting.

Thursday, 1 December 2011


Another toadstool has appeared in the garden, this time on the front lawn.  It is quite large and I have no idea what it is but as I am not going to be eating it I suppose it does not matter.

The mild wet weather had brought a small hedgehog out into the garden on Wednesday evening, it looked like the one out of the hedgehog box.  I assume it had come out to get some more food as it does not look large enough to hibernate through the winter.  The leftover food from Sox's dish gave it an added treat.

Bookbinding with Fabric

I really surprised myself with the book covered in orange fabric above.  This was a scrappy piece of fabric I had used a wax resist on and then coloured with Koh-i-Noor dye.  A few rows of stitching brightened it up before applying it to the book I had made.  It turned out much better than I expected and for once I managed not to get any PVA soaking through onto the end papers.
I am now preparing to cover my final book this term and am using a piece of silk paper which was a trial sample I created for some of my 4th year City & Guilds embroidery.  The inside of the book has been created from Lokta paper which has caused some problems when trying to round the spine.  This time I will be using grey board for the covers and I hope to add some beaded ties to the edgeto fasten the book with.

Monday, 21 November 2011

More Mistletoe

The mistletoe, which is abundant in most of the Hawthorn trees in the garden, continues to fascinate me.  The berries have gone from green to a transparent white now.  It is also interesting to see how the branches grow out in pairs and form really interesting patterns.  I really must get round to doing some sketching.

Wildlife in The Dell

Found this little chap near the stream when I was clearing up some of the branches and twigs that DH had lopped off and left.

He seemed unphased by my presence and I had time to go back into the house and get my camera and take some photographs.

He had better watch out or the owls, herons and other predators will make a tasty meal of him!!
These toadstools were a huge surprise one morning when Sox and I were having a little walk in the Dell.  There are quite a lot of them under the Hornbeam tree at the end of the Dell.  I am not going to attempt to eat any of them - they could be poisonous I suppose.  Even the mice have not nibbled them yet.

We do have some mice ... Sox brought his second one into the house recently.  It was tiny and was blind in one eye, which might account for how he managed to catch it.

Squirrels are still plaguing us to death.  Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall reckon you can eat them!!!!

Bookbinding with Fabric

Fabric and Bank Paper pasted to a piece of hardboard
One of the ladies at the bookbinding class I am going to very kindly offered to show me how to use fabric as a cover instead of paper or leather.

You have to use either paste made from flour and water or proper bookbinders paste NOT PVA.

You need a piece of paper larger than your fabric and it should be something like 50 gsm Bank Paper.  I managed to obtain a pad of Layout Paper that was just 45 gsm but it seems to have worked.

You lay the paper on a piece of hardboard which is larger than the paper.  You then paste the paper, going right over the edges onto the board to give it a frame.  Remove the paper and put it somewhere safe.

Now place your fabric face down on the hardboard inside the paste frame.  Paste the fabric well all over the back and again ensure some paste goes onto the board to form a border.  Once the fabric is well covered place the piece of pasted paper, paste side down, over the back of the fabric.  Smooth it out and leave it to dry for at least 24 hours.  The overlap helps to tighten the paper and smooth it out as it dries.  Once the paper and cloth have had time to dry properly, slip a kitchen knife under the edge and lift it off.  You now have a piece of paper backed cloth ready to bind a bookcover.

Bookbinding Class

This is my latest effort.  It is approximately A5 size and is covered with bookcloth in a lovely bright orange.  The end papers are maroon.  I stitched all the signatures together myself to make the inside of the book.  I am still not neat enough but getting there.  As usual with me there was something wrong with the finished book.  I had put too much PVA glue on the end papers and it has seeped through to the surface and marked them.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Bookbinding Class

These photos do not look very exciting, however, they are of the spine of my book.  The book is wedged in the bookbinding press and has got a wooden shaped board on either side of it.  I had been hammering it along the spine to get a rounded mushroom shape.  Its end papers had been glued in place prior to the hammering. Once hammered enough ... a piece of mull was stuck over the spine with about an inch overlap either side, followed by a strip of kraft paper (brown paper to you and me!) glued on top of that.

Next week I get to put the bookboard cover on and the bookcloth, which is a rather bright orange.

Autumn Leaves

Had to pop into Malvern on Friday for some more rings for the roman blinds I am making and the leaves in the park were wonderful.  This view is taken from close the swimming pool side of the lake, looking towards the band stand with the Malvern Hills behind.  The Malvern Theatre is hidden behind the trees to the right.

I woke this morning to find that the young hedgehog (who is currently living in our hedgehog box) had managed to get itself shut in the squirrel trap.  Now released, fed and back in his cosy home for his winter snooze ... Z Z Z z z z z

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Worcester Branch Meeting

Had a fantastic talk on Tuesday by Alison Holt.  She specialises in machine embroidery and her work is beautiful.  She is a very talented person. If you want to see some of her work follow this link

The announcement of a forthcoming competition by the Region has also got me really excited.  It is based on the 'Staffordshire Hoard', something I have a book about somewhere and have also seen in The British Museum.  Can't wait to find out what is required and how long we have got to produce it.

Saturday was the date of the Worcester branch 'Celebrity Lecture' given this year by Maggie Grey. It was really well attended and excellent.  I got such a surprise as I won one of Maggie's publications in the raffle.  Must find time to try out some of the techniques now.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Dell

No wild garlic now I am afraid.  This is The Dell looking in the other direction from where DH was standing.  The wriggly root is near the main road and there is actually Council owned public space on the left hand side.  We keeping having trouble with children and dog walkers who think our garden is somewhere they are allowed to use for their own pleasure!  The plan is to put a barrier of some kind across the stream to deter them, but which will allow the water to go underneath when it floods.  The 'PRIVATE' sign which is quite visible to trespassers is a waste of time.

What a Boar

My Half Term treat this week was to be invited to join some friends in the Forest of Dean for the day.  We went to the Taurus Craft Centre near Lydney to paint christmas baubles.  They appear to have a trail of these very amusing painted hardboard cutout wild boars.  They were great and all very different.

The only evidence I saw of the real ones was the rutted verges in the Forest where the wild boar had been digging.  It was a wonderful sunny day and the leaves are just starting to take on their autumn colours.  Must say I do have some nice friends.

Lopping in The Dell

Got DH to do some work on Sunday!  I had started to lop some of the old and leggy hawthorn trees behind the garage and could not saw through the thick trunks.  Here he is after almost ending up with the tree trunk on top of the garage roof (which is asbestos), having by then managed to persuade the trunk it would fall into The Dell.  As you can see we have very little water in the stream at the moment.  The brick wall to the left is the back of a retaining wall behind the garage.

Friday, 21 October 2011


This week I spent the whole lesson stitching my signatures together.  I had used up some old 80 gsm printer paper which was really a bit on the thin side so had to be careful not to tear it.

It is Half Term next week so I have got a second one to stitch at home.  Hope I can remember what to do.

Can't wait until we go back to get the cover put onto the book.

Signs of Winter

Hope the masses of holly berries in the garden are not signs of a hard winter to come.  We have also had masses of acorns which the squirrels have been eating and burying.  The biggest surprise has been the mistletoe.  The berries have quickly changed from green to glowing white.

On the squirrel front - I am afraid I accidentally caught a squirrel in the trap which I had left out to get them accustomed to it.  I had not put any food in the trap so it must have just gone in being playful.  The general plan is that someone is coming to shoot them so that I do not have the problem of having to kill them myself.  Each day there seems to be more and more of them.  We have at least 4 resident in the garden and there are plenty more around.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Barnacles and Sea Shells

When we went to Rhossilli Bay I came back with the usual pocket full of shells and amongst them were these ones with barnacles attached.  It reminded me of the wonderful workshop several of us participated in at Texere Yarns in Bradford with Kay Greenlees.  A fantastic tutor who gets you thinking out of the box.  My intention is to sit down and do some pen and ink drawings of these tiny creatures when I can find somewhere clean and quiet to sit that is!!

Christmas is Coming

Wondered if the City & Guilds class remembered these dolls we exchanged one Christmas.  I still have mine hanging up in my work room.  I am sure Annie will have come up with a fascinating subject for the current C&G students.  It is well worth the effort of making something as on the final session before Christmas you go home with a lovely reminder of your friends on the course.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Bookbinding Class

There are three beginners in the class and at the end of Week 2 we have all managed to complete a pamphlet book each.  Mine is the green one.  The red one was the best as it was completed without getting glue marks on it anywhere, unlike the other two of us!!  We both put it down to the fact that we had to rush at the end and forgot to turn the waste paper that we were using over to a clean side.
On week 3 two of us began constructing a book from scratch so we cut out our pages and made signatures.  This photograph shows my signatures trapped between two boards in the 'Book Lying Press' with a 'Backing Saw' which is used to saw across the spine to add holes evenly ready to stitch through.

The third person is deconstructing an existing book to repair it.  Both methods involve our learning to stitch the signatures together.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Childhood Memories

Bet you have already guessed who this is?  I was looking through some packing boxes for something else and came across some of the old photos I had copied some years ago for my brother and I.

A bit older here with my brother.  Cats featured in my life even then.  These were two of the three we had at the time.  Not sure why I am holding the black and white one as mine was the black one - who just loved my attempts at dressing him up in doll's clothes and pushing him about in a pram.

The black and white one was a Manx cross and had a little bob tail.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Nutty Problem

We are bedevilled with these horrid fat, fluffy little creatures at the moment.  This is one of three that were in the garden this morning.  Mr C next door has loaned me his trap but neither DH nor I can bring ourselves to kill them by the approved method - shoot them or hit them on the head with a hammer!!  Once trapped it is illegal to release them as they are classed as vermin.  They have done a lot of damage to the house over the years as well as the trees in the Dell.  Their antics are actually quite entertaining and Sox finds them intriguing but has no idea what to do with them - like catch them and kill them PLEASE!!

One of the advantages of living here is that we have lots of wild birds visiting the garden, but the squirrels steal the food I put out for them as well as eating the eggs and baby birds in the spring.

A solution may have been found - one of the builders who worked on the wall ties has an air rifle and has offered to come and shoot them without our having to trap them.  Hooray  .....  can't believe it will ever happen but watch this space.

Transfer Dyes

Having purchased some transfer dyes in powder form at the NEC in August I have been waiting for an opportunity to try them out (time is also an issue at the moment!!).  Worcester branch of the Embroiderers' Guild meeting in September saw everyone going home with three pieces of pelmet vilene with the instruction to make a box out of the pieces.  Full of enthusiasm I mixed up three shades of the transfer dyes and put them in old film containers.  Painted my pieces of photocopy paper and collected some leaves from the garden.  The above photograph is the result of a morning messing around.  As usual no more has been done to these pieces so it was with embarrassment that I went to the October meeting of the EG and saw lots of finished boxes.

However, I did also mess about with a piece of pelmet vilene I had intended using as a book cover which had been roller painted with dark blue acrylic paint using a patterned roller.  It reminds me of the franking on envelopes.  I have even got as far as stitching a little bit of texture onto it.  Just need some free time to get on with all of the above before the November meeting.

Monday, 3 October 2011

House Ties

Red painted area is the crack with the wall tie inserted horizontally
These delightful pictures are of our cracked walls.  For two days last week we had two builders here.  They chipped off the plaster, drilled out the mortar, inserted stainless steel wall ties and then filled them in with a special resin.  We have more yet to do.  After that the plasterer will have to replaster all the walls.  Up to now we have had the Dining Room, Hall, Landing and Bedroom 2 done but there are plenty more areas to be investigated before we start on the outside walls.

Dan the plumber has popped in this morning to remove two of the new radiators so that we can get behind them to fill the cracks so no doubt the builders will be back next week to make more mess.  There was an awful lot of dust and debris!!

Black lines are the resin

Picton Gardens

Picton Gardens holds the National Collection of Michaelmas Daisies and is just over the Hill in Colwall.  We managed to pop in there last week and it was very pleasant.