Thursday, 27 January 2011

First Love

I have always made "stuff and things"

As a child I'd follow Lesley Judd on Blue Peter, Tony Hart on Take Hart and those two spiders that were on the other side (ITV) with Susan Stranks (a quick google search identifies it as Paperplay) and try and recreate what they made or be inventive and do my own thing.  I remember making clocks out of paper plates, dolls houses out of shoe boxes and knocking nails in to bits of old wood to make chairs and tables for my doll and teddies (notice doll not dollies - never a girly girl).

And my mum encouraged me, she showed me how to sew and knit at an early age and by the time I hit my teens I was using her old grey solid metal Singer sewing machine to make my own clothes, the same machine she'd used as a teenager to make her own clothes in the 60's.

It was such a thrill to go into Northampton on a Saturday to go to Debenhams and their fabric department, to flick through the pattern books looking for patterns and then going on to the market to find some cheap cotton to buy with my pocket money.

By the time my parents got home in the evening there would be tissue paper patterns, fabric, thread and pins everywhere - I loved it, especially that "crunch" as the shears cut through the paper and fabric laid out on the dining room table.

So fabric and sewing was always a shared hobby with my mum and me, and together we found patchwork and quilting, I can't quite remember when, but it could have been 1984 or 1985. We went to a meeting in Daventry on a cold dark night to find out about patchwork and quilting.  We were a varied group of women (and girls) some of who had always sewn, some doing City and Guilds in textiles, some who had been to evening classes and made endless hexagons and some who were just frankly intrigued.  Together we formed the Danetre Quilters.

We used to meet on Tuesday evenings in Daventry and then at some point moved to some church rooms in Weedon just over the way from where Bramble Patch is today.  I never really made much but my mum did and her first quilt was for me to take to uni.  It was a blue log cabin heavily quilted and it was perhaps one of the greatest gift my mum has ever given to me.  It has lain on so many beds over the years, it was warm and comforting and reminded me of home and my family.

Now nearly 25 years on it lays over my banisters and reminds me of all those years gone by, of me growing up, of my mother's love for me and that my first true love was and probably still is fabric.

This first love has been calling me recently, so I have plans to give it some love and affection and remind myself why I love sewing.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Dots or spots?

Well I'm finally beginning to feel normal (I know it's subjective but I base it on the fact that I feel healthier, not completely healthy in a I'm ready to run a marathon but healthy enough to feel able to do something apart from sit on the sofa like a consumptive Austen heroine).

So back to work, back to the battles over my malfunctioning car (I'm at the garage so often I have my own parking space) and back to the creativity.

I do like reading the challenge bogs and on occasion take part if I can meet the deadline or am inspired enough by the theme.  I was going to enter this one, but guess what - missed the deadline as I spent too long faffing.

Colour scheme was based around sand, pomegranate and lilac paints.

Again an IKEA frame covered in tissue tape and painted in sand, pomegranate was lightly sponged over some sequin waste along with a  bit of inka gloop in old silver to give some dots.

Inside the frame I embossed some cream card in a polka dot folder and rubbed over with some Old Paper DI. Some purple metal was cut with a PaperArtsy die and embossed in a Tim Holtz folder to give a different spot effect. Then lightly sanded, black paint swiped on and then off to age a bit.  I then cut in half, well three quarters to be exact and glued on top of the polka dot card.

Fun bit - embellishments. 

A Wendy Vecchi heart heat embossed in purple on some Grungepaper painted in sand. Spare bit of purple metal to create a smaller heart, some Tim Swirls die cut in Grunge paper and a hole host of Wendy Vecchi flowers on some old stash paper painted in lilac, stamped in coffee archival and sprayed with rum and raisin and denim blue glimmer mists.

I then spent hours (it flt like hours it may not have been but I'd gone through the Archers omnibus and was onto Desert Island Discs) moving all the elements around trying to decide on arrangement. 

You know the drill,place it one way, stand up, move away a bit, look at it, put head on one side, tut, go back move it around a bit more and do the whole stare and tut routine until you get so fed up you attack it with the heat gun and stick it all down (including yourself).

Usually I make hanging frames, but because I put the flowers sort of hanging off the edge I needed to come up with a solution if I was going to let it sit on the shelf rather than hang on the wall. My little ingenious light bulb moment was sticking two clear map pins in the bottom of the frame for it to stand on so the flowers on the bottom don't get squashed.

I really enjoyed making this and looking at this one and last week's I think my work is getting cleaner and more refined which shows progress and hopefully a more defined honed eye for detail and construction.

Happy crafting!


Sunday, 16 January 2011

So I had an idea ...

Birdcages, that was the idea I had at some unearthly hour of the morning yesterday, could I make a birdcage using wire and paper?

I sort of knew what I wanted a top and bottom piece with wire struts linking them and then a PaperArtsy bird die cut on a perch hanging inside.

So breakfasted, drugged up (yep still taking it all) and dressed I headed into the craft room - my oasis of calmness and tranquility, aided and abetted by Radio 4 and Maisie Moo (the cat).

I've had some grungeboard knocking around for ages, I've been scared to use in case I used it all up and didn't have any left, insane I know. If I use it all up I just go and buy some more - how numpty am I! So in the "use up the stash mode" I covered it in some old patterned paper I've had for AGES and then gessoed it up, let it dry and sanded it back a bit to get a smooth finish (thanks to ArtsyCrafty weekend for teaching me this technique - I love it)

Colour -what should I use?  Seeing as I'd been good and put everything away from the last make there were no paints on my desk winking at me to use.  I had a inkling for blue / green so dragged (good job I have well defined arm muscles) out the paint tray to inspect and select from the vast quantities of blue and green acrylics I possess. 

Choices made (leaf green and tropical blue), I grabbed some cut and dry and started to paint in thin layers to get the shabby distressed look I wanted. I quite like how when you add water the white gesso starts to pop through the colour.

I then added some PaperArtsy swirls in black archival and peeled paint DI. Finally punched holes around the edge on both pieces for the wires.

Each of the pieces need some sort of edging so I used the spare bits of paper from the 12x12 sheet I used to cover the grungeboard, gessoed and painted in the same way, stamped with peeled paint, cut them into strips and then used the Tim Holtz scallop die to create an edging.  this was glued around the edge using glossy accents.

I used some peacock metal to cut the bird in my Big Shot - metal up for one side and metal down for the other side so the bird was metal on both sides (that makes sense- right?).  Embossed in a Tim folder, scooched around the edges to define sanded and then some citrus alcohol ink lightly dabbed on to tie in with the colour scheme.  Used glossy accent to glue the two sides together but not the feet so I could glue to perch.

Now for the wire, um this is where it got fiddly and I wished I used a heavier gauge wire to be honest.  Cut lengths of wire, fed them through the base holes leaving a bit at the bottom to make the scroll feet and used the mini hot glue gun (only burnt myself twice) to dab some glue over the hole to keep them in place.

I put a hole in the middle of the top piece to push the perch wires through and then threaded the rest of the wires through the corresponding holes on the top.  Wound the perch wires round the other wires to keep in place and bent into scrolls.

Ta da! One wonky, slightly fragile birdcage! Do I like it? Yes I think so, it was sort of what I imagined. As I said I wish I'd used heavier gauge wire, painted the reverse of the edging and possible made the grungeboard round - but hey that's another project!

Have a good day whatever you will be doing (or did), me - another day of resting and I think I'm going to take apart some log cabin patchwork I made ages ago, stuffed in the cupboard as it wasn't quite working and rework into a stripy type quilt top - got a bit of a textile vibe going on after reading my new fave blog Flossie Teacakes


Friday, 14 January 2011


I've got bronchitis.

I've probably had it for weeks if truth be known but I hate giving in and accepting I'm ill. Protestant work ethic, guilt, stubbornness or just plain stupid - who knows. 

I dragged myself through the last weeks of December knowing that but I had a long break over Christmas in order to rest and get some energy back.  Rest I did but the energy didn't really return and one trip to the docs gives me a diagnosis and more drugs to take.

The problem is because I hate being ill (see the above possible rationale), I find it difficult to rest and thanks to technology I can check my work email way too easily on any number of portable devices.

But I have tried to rest - honest.  I've watched the first series of Lewis, series 1 and 2 of Jam and Jerusalem and today I started Charles II.  The crochet blanket is growing and the wool stash is depleting.  Oh and I made this.

The theme for the Sunday Stampers challenge this week was Diamonds.  Diamonds I thought, um: a girls best friend, jewels, dogs, bling ... and then it came to me - Lucy!  Lucy in the sky with diamonds to be exact.

So here she is not in a Beatles drug induced psychedelic way,  but in a muted shabby blue,cream and brown way.

Yet again an IKEA frame (I buy them in bulk) covered with ripped up tissue tape randomly stuck on. Painted over with a soft tapioca acrylic and them some Tumbled Glass and Broken China DI's. then it was misted over with Tattered Angels Diamond glimmer mist to give a pearl effect and then a diamond patterned stamp (one of my very first stamps purchased online from America) added in strategic places using hazelnut ink.  The edges were sanded rather roughly to give that ripped distressed look we all so love.

A couple of Wendy Vecchi flowers were added for  bit of extra texture, design, delight! I painted some grungepaper with the tapioca and them stamped in coffee archival. Carefully cut out, glued and rolled a bit to give some dimension.  A couple of buttons from my stash and some gold glimmer mist spritzed on

Inside the frame I embossed some white card with a Tim Holtz folder and used Tumbled Glass, Broken China and Pumice DI's to colour.  The metal diamonds ( antique gold I think) were embossed with another Tim folder and then sanded with a block to distress a bit.

Lucy is in fact a Christmas angel (ssh don't tell her she thinks she was "created" by Paul after a conversation with Julian). She's stamped in hazelnut and clear embossed on water colour paper and coloured in with some Pumice and Burlap DI's.  Herr wings (how else does she fly?) have some rock candy stickles to allow her to shine.

Finally a little label 'cos she is a bit abstract and voila - completed!

Hope you enjoy reading and looking and leave a comment if you like.  Me -  I'm off to take more drugs and watch some rugby on the telly - that's how ill I am I haven't gone to watch the rugby as cold air + shouting = not good for lungs.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Old Woman

Well I've finally had to give in and listen to my body and stop and rest. I do indeed feel like an old woman  - a really old one who can hardly breathe, coughing and wheezing, who is all hunched up in pain and all they want to do is sleep under a cosy blanket on the sofa with a cat or two.

So that' s the plan for today, I have the sofa, I have the cats, I have numerous box sets of DVDs to watch and here is the blanket I'm crocheting that I hope will cover me up eventually.

Yes not only can I use paint and ink but I can also use a crochet hook to create granny squares!  One of my many guilty pleasures is wool buying and I've had a few balls of tweed effect DK knocking around for quite a while now.  One of my sub conscious new year resolutions (if I don't say it out loud it won't matter if I break it) was to use up a lot of my stashed craft stuff rather than buying new stuff.  So out with this wool and use it to create something useable and nice (I do love William Morris).

Hoping you are feeling better than I do - sniff, cough, cough sniff!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Flat battery

I don't even want to think about how long it's been since I blogged but I think the title of this entry sums it up really, I feel as though I've got a flat battery which means no energy, on a go slow, whacked out.

As the whole of the UK succumbs to flu my office is no exception, I had 3 of my team out before Christmas and1 out on return in the new year. I think I've got something (hence the lethargy) although having the flu jab in the autumn means it just lingers rather than coming out in full force (not sure which is worse).

This is what I've been thinking about / working on for about a week, I was determined to get it finished today so I could blog.

I like wreaths whether they be rustic twigs, shabby flowers,raggedy fabric or scraps of paper (all in the pipeline for production). This one is a bit of a prototype for valentines craft day I'm thinking of doing with my girlfriends.

A standard IKEA frame with some Tim tissue tape and Terra paste stamped with a PaperArtsy hotpicks text stamp. I then painted over with a variety of paints trying to find the colour combo I was trying to achieve (soft, muted, vintage) - off white, stippled over with a coffee, raspberry and then baby pink, finally added some pearl to bring it back down. Various cream buttons hot glued on for a bit of variety (and yes I got completely glued up myself with the hot glue gun).

Inside I embossed some water colour paper with the Tim postcards folder and brushed over Linen and Spun Sugar DIs to pick out the embossing.
The centre square is a 3" square of patterned scrap paper. I inked all over with with Victorian Velvet to tone down the print and the edges distressed with an old scalpel. I glued it onto a scrap of mount board to give some weight and then hot glued to the background to give some height.

The circle is a pipe cleaner wound into a circle and then red and pink raffia wrapped round not too tightly to give a rough shabby look. This was then hot glued on to the patterned square and a heart stamp added to the middle in fired Brick and then burlap DIs.

On the top I tapped in 2 pins and then wound some copper wire round and made into a heart. I'd put the wire in a plastic bag with some raspberry alcohol ink to see if it would colour it, not sure if if it did but it looks OK. You can't really see it in these pictures,but trust me it's there.

I quite like it, what do you think?