Saturday, 24 January 2009

Have you ever made something you'd like to keep?

Here she is my little art doll. I've spent a lovely day making her for Britta Ankenbauer who lives in Germany. I've got quite fond of her and it will be hard to part with her. However its not my doll but Britta's so off it will go to her on Monday. I hope she likes her. This is the back. She just sort of grew, another one of those project where I just let my muse have her way. Don't know whether others are like me when I plan a project it rarely takes off as planned somewhere along the line they develope a life of their own. When I have tried to dictate the way it should go it never turns out right. Nowadays I just give in and let my Muse have her own way.
Doesn't show too well because I scanned her rather than took a photo and my scanner is creating rather dark images. She looks blue where in fact she's more a seagreen. I created the fabric on my embellisher then spent the rest of the day beading her. The art doll swap is with the Stitchedtextile group.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Quilting practise

I thought I'd practise a bit of quilting on some scrap fabric I had. My quilting leaves a lot to be desired but I'm not going to knock myself up over it. I enjoyed the exercise and turned the small piece into a couple of largish coasters. I couldn't resist though using some new glazes I had bought from Crafty Notions at the M&S show. They aren't really for fabrics but I left the first couple of layers dry then used it again and the glaze is beginning to work. Not sure what I'll use them for but they are fun to use. TextileChallenge are running a 'House' swap this year and my theme for Jan/Feb was "House of Ill Repute"(not to saucy please). It caused me a lot of sleepless nights as the only thing I could think of was "House of the Rising Sun" but that's one of the themes for later in the year. Drat, I kept putting it off then thought if I don't tackle this now I'll not do it. So today I made myself sit down and consider what I was going to do. My Muse took over and this is what it conspired with me to make. My lighthearted rendition of 'the red light district'. The lace curtains at the windows I made into the background. I drew the figures then using conte pencils coloured them in.
The group is also running a monthly 'House' challenge based on the themes set by the participants of the year long challenge. January's theme was "Hen House" so here is my version.
Now for some of the goodies the postman has brought me this week. Jennifer's response to Brigittes "What if - I was an artist" is this design based on a painting by Aubrey Breasley. I love Aubrey Breasley's work and this card could end up on the front of a notebook.
Jan Lewis's December arch also arrived this week. Jan's arch is very textural having used plastic paper and paint. Jan also very generously sent me an atc and several pieces of fabric together with a beautiful hand dyed thread.

Wednesday saw the first Craft class for the U3A and I'm pleased to say it went down extremely well. There were 11 turned up plus 5 assorted men who went off to play with a plastic assembly kit in the form of shelving. They also tested the loud speaker system and turned off our heating in the process - we soon gave them short shrift as it was a very cold day!! They won't do that again in a hurry. Everyone got on famously and there was a lot of hilarity and interest in the different things people were doing. There were knitters, quilters, quillers, embroiderers and even one glueing wallpaper to a shoe box to make a file holder. I enjoyed taking the class and even managed to put two stitches into the piece I took along but I was pleased when it was finished and I could go home and relax.
Mum's having problems again, this time one of her ears where the nurse this morning found a large 'lump'. Hopefully its nothing serious but with her track record you do wonder. She seems cheerful enough though so I'll keep my fingers crossed.

One other thing occurred on Wednesday, the start of my on-line art journalling class. At the moment I find it very simple and not too sure about the course but its early days yet. The on-line video class, whilst good because its useful to actually see being done the work you have to do (does that make sense?). However its quite a small screen and apparently it can't be enlarged without degrading the picture. You also do not have your own record of the class to go back to as you would with a non-video class. I'll make my mind up at the end of the class whether I'd do another video only class.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Back at last

I've already broken one of my resolutions, to blog more. If anything I've blogged less so far this year. This in part has been due to Mum's declining mobility and the need for extra help and partly due to the dratted virus that has laid the whole family low, one after another. But we're all back to normal now 'touch wood'. The light tent we made wasn't big enough to photograph the wallhanging I made from 100 stitch blocks I'd been embroidering last year. A bit of a broom handle, a large piece of (unironed) calico and the new tv as a stand and I managed to get a reasonable (not good) photo of it. I promised I'd show the finished hanging once I'd got the blocks sewn together. There were 11 blocks in all and I chose nine to make the hanging. It was a lot harder to sew together than I had expected. This was due to the fact that some of the blocks were no longer truly square. Putting them in a ring hadn't helped, nor had the fact that I hadn't stablised the blocks before I embroidered them. Still its done now and is reasonably square. I started hand quilting it but soon got fed up of that and took it out and machined a sort of circle/swirl pattern along the sashing. I'm not the world's best quilter.

This is a close up of the blocks I perhaps could have done a better job of taking the photo, roll on the lighter days.
Now that the 100 Stitches challenge is finished I wanted something else to do after the 9.0pm curfew and have joined Bea Galler's "Once upon a Time" block of the month challenge on her Capricorn Quilts blog. Another BOM I'm considering doing is the Verandah View one from Willowberry Designs.
After I'd finished the Contemporary Quilter's 2008 Journal Page challenge I was in two minds about starting the 2009 one. Mainly because Mum is taking up a lot more of my time now and we have to face the fact that at nearly 93 she's no spring chicken. After a quick talk to Hilary Gooding though we agreed that I should do what I can and she promises not to hassle if I can't get them all in on time.
Having said all that I have been invited to join Shelagh Folgate's creativechallenge and Wil Opio Oguta's Quilt Challenge. I've joined both and these are probably got enough to keep me out of trouble for the rest of the year. If not my 'craft class' for the U3A which starts tomorrow should help, I'll let you all know how it goes.
Line Dancing has started again following the sad death of Audrey. She's been sadly missed and in respect of her memory we deliberately didn't restart the group until the new year. Yvonne the tutor has a very different teaching method but the groups still fun and is a worthy successor. I'm looking forward to going again tomorrow.
Klimt's Poppy Field is from Christine who isn't too well at the moment and will be undergoing surgery shortly. This month's theme for the private swap is "What if - I were an artist". The theme is Brigitte's choice and she made me a lovely card of Van Gogh's sunflowers. Klimt is Christine's creation she said she's been keeping this piece of fabric for ages for just such and occasion. Mine was Matisse's "Pink Nude" but I forgot to scan it before I sent them out.
Better go and prepare for tomorrow, I think one gentleman is bringing his chair to cane. Keith is going to James Cook to see the surgeon for a follow up on his spinal op and he hopes to be discharged. I've got him making bag clips and fridge magnets from plastic canvas. He's got strict instructions to get to the craft class asap and bring them with him, we'll see what happens.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Red faces and blue quilts

Was my face was red yesterday, I was asked to stand up and say something about the new U3A craft class I'll be taking this year. The chairwoman asked me to include the men as well as the women. I rambled on for a few minutes then realised most of the crafts would be of interest to women rather than men. Suddenly I recalled a gentleman telling me he recaned chairs as a hobby and would be happy to demonstrate. Without thought I opened mouth and said I hoped both men and women would come along and I understand we have at least one gentleman who was interested in caning!! The hall errupted and later the man in question asked if he should bring his handcuffs along. Trust me to lower the tone!!

At last I've managed to get down to some sewing and the first of this year's challenges has now been completed. BQL are running a 'Perpetual Calendar Quilt' challenge whereby each month a small quilt is made and you hang the appropriate months calendar on the bottom.

This months was wonky circles, the piece is approximately 12" square. I don't really want a calendar that big so I'm going to print out a photo and put that on the calendar instead.

BQL - January perpetual calendar mini quilt.
Like many others I swapped a fabric postcard with Susan Lenz for her CyberFyber online exhibition. This exhibition is now open and can be found here. I couldn't find my card at first and must have run through the list at least twiceand was really disappointed. However it was there - its No. 2 - have a look see what you think. I'd like to say a big thank you to all those who have commented on it, they make up for the disappointment of thinking it hadn't made the list.

I've also received my first postcard swap on the year from Brigitte. It was Brigitte's turn to pick themes for the next 4 months. For January she chose "What if you were an artist" and her theme is Van Gogh's sunflowers and feature hand dyed silks. It's a beautiful card but then I expect nothing less from Brigitte these days she's a very skilled lady.
There's been quite a bit about light tents recently and as the lighting at the moment is horrendous Keith and I thought we'd have a go a making one. We found a light tent tutorial on this site using an old cardboard box. We used a fax box but it was a bit big and we used lining paper to line the box which was not a pure white. It worked okay as you can see by the photos of some of my Christmas presents below but if we made it again I think we'd use a smaller box and use either foam board or paint the inside with white emulsion.
A gripper handle for my quilting rulers, I've put it on the ruler I use the most which is my Creative Grids 24"x6.52 ruler.

I've been considering a Zutter "Bind it All" for a while and when I mentioned it to my family they decided they'd buy me it for Christmas. They also bought me the corner punch and a full set tools and binding rings - who was a lucky girl then.

Tool set

The Zutter itself - you can see the lining paper inside the box I spoke about before.

I've been reading quite a bit about on-line classes recently, what people like and don't like and there seems to be some controversy over video classes. Personally I like them and the pens, book etc in the above photo are for a video class I'm taking later this month with cre8it called "Love this Journal". I really want to do more journaling but I tend to make a start then stop as I run out of ideas. I'm hoping this course will get me into good habits and clear the creative block.

Keith's suffering from 'man-flu' and poor love is rather stuffed up lets hope he's okay tomorrow.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Sand, Sea and Diggers

Happy New Year to everyone its a while since I last blogged but I hope to blog more often in 2009.

We set off from Newcastle Airport to a beautiful sunrise on the 29th December and

arrived in Spain to rain. They had had the worst weather for over 50 years. On Boxing Day they had a horrendous storm that caused a massive landslide at Monserrat. Over 1000 people had to be removed from the mountain top monastery by cable car as the slide had taken away part of the main road up to it. Several tour buses were still on Monserrat when we left over a week later. The storm also lashed the Costa Bravo so much so that the sand had been pushed into the towns along the coastal strip. In some towns boats were pushed up and floated in the High Street.

A massive clean up was underway removing wreckage from the beach and pushing the sand from the towns back to the beach and spreading it to the tideline. The place was full of 'big boy toys' Keith loved watching them but you couldn't walk on the beach the 'digger' tracks were too deep.

Some of the damage caused, this was at Tossa del Mar, there were actually two large boats smashed up on this beach but you can only really see one in the photo.

It wasn't all doom and gloom though, you'll be pleased to hear they are still working on the Familia Sagrada. High rise cranes were very much in evidence and the work is beautiful. This is just a small section of the many sculptures around the outside of the church.

I love Barcelona it seems that every corner has some hidden piece of art or decorative art covering a building. This 'Guidi' type piece was lurking underneath a window in one of the many squares.

A door panel on a gateway in the old quarter of Barcelona.

I was fascinated with the way they use stones and the tops and bottoms of wine bottles to create patterns in the pavement.

And naturally you can't go to Barcelona without going down La Rambla to see the pavement artists.

We spent a couple of hourse in Girona where the roof tops reminded me of Italy but its not surprising considering the history of Spain.

Finally (and I apologise for the photo I look bald the paper hat had flattened it!!) Keith and I enjoying our New Years Eve dinner.
I don't really believe in making resolutions because I never keep them but I have signed on for a couple (or three) of year long challenges. It's going to be my resolutions - to finish them.
I've signed up for the BQL monthly 'Calendar Quilt' challenge, the 'House Swap' on Textilechallenge group and Sharron Boggon's 'Stitch Explorer' challenge on Stitchinfingers.
I may join this years Contemporary Quilting 2009 challenge when I find out what it is.
I also want to do experiment a bit more, explore journalart, screen printing and continue swapping fabric postcards. In addition I've made a commitment to teach a craft class for the U3A. I think these should keep me out of trouble for a bit.
Davey if you read this Keith want's to know if you've managed to work out how he made your Christmas Card.