Wednesday, 19 March 2008

A day out at Kew Gardens

Not having planned on blogging for a while, I had such a great day on Saturday, visiting the largest ever exhibition of Henry Moore sculptures at Kew Gardens that I thought I would share some photos.

The different textures are fascinating. Some are so smooth from being stroked over the years. Each time they are exhibited they are cleaned and given a new coat of beeswax.

As you walk round the sculptures and look through the holes or gaps in them, the sculpture becomes a frame and your view of the surroundings change. I can't remember what these are made out but the colour is gorgeous.

The pieces are so huge that they had to be lifted over the gates of Kew by crane.

Mother and child was one of his favourite themes.

These lines are so simple with the spine protruding, and just calling out to be stroked.

Whilst the exhibition is only on for about another ten days, you can also see his sculptures at his home at Perry Green in Hertfordshire.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

No stitching!

Its a month since I last posted anything on this blog, and felt I ought to give some sort of exlanation. Its also a month since I did any stitching. The time spent stitching is now time I spend on my course, which I am thoroughly loving. My creativity hasn't disappeared completely, however, as I am keeping a personal blog of my reflections as a new/mature learner and including lots of my own sketches and images on that. Its very personal though and definitely not for sharing!

Hubs and I have booked ourselves onto a weekend printmaking course in Suffolk in April, which includes collagraphs, so will post some pics of that in due course. This should be quite a relaxing weekend too as we don't have to take anything with us as everything is provided.

Additionally, I have booked a week's summer school at Missenden with Heather Power on bookmaking. I love her work and still use the notes I made on a day class I did with her at Art Van Go many years ago. It was definitely Heather Power that got me into bookmaking. She has a lot to answer for!

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Little pink book

At our last ZigZag meeting Gina showed us how to do cutwork using free machine embroidery. I loved the technique and couldn't wait to develop this further. So using one of my gravestones as inspiration, I took a small section from this photo

and created this little pink book which stands up on its spine. Its quite tiny, 4 inches tall by 3 inches wide.

To open, the front flaps down, and it can then be used as a normal book.

I wonder how small a book I can make? That might be my next challenge.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Bags and terracotta soldiers

I bought myself this bag last week from Paperchase

but in order to stop my daughter pinching it, I had to make her this! Actually, I thoroughly enjoyed making it as it was a great diversion from an exhausting day starting my new course.

Last week Hubs and I had tickets to see the Terracotta Army exhibition at the British Museum .

About 30 years ago a farmer digging in NW china found a terracotta head, which led to not only the discovery of the terracotta army guarding the tomb of China's first emperor, but also entertainers, civil officials, chairots, birds, horses - in fact a whole underground kingdom guarded by the terracotta army.

Every soldier is individual. The detail is fantastic. Each one is approximately 6 ft tall.
The soldiers would have originally been fully painted. One has been found with his face painted green.This armour is made from stone. Not for normal battle but to protect the emperor in the after life.

These horses were excavated from the first pit in 1977.

If you can still get tickets I would thoroughly recommend a visit.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Sugar and vinegar mixture

In the C&G Yahoo group we have been discussing ideas how to create textures, and I happened to mention something we did on our C&G course which was to mix sugar with vinegar to make a really thick paste. I then made marks in it with a fork - bit like the mashed potato on the top of shepherds pie - and left it to dry until it hardened.

Here is a picture of my completed texture board from two years ago and the sugar/vinegar paste is the last of the smaller images on the right handside, above the bark rubbing. It has a wonderful translucent look to it.

I have just come across my old notes two which says two parts of sugar and one of vinegar but I recall that was a bit runny.

Other textures on the board were created from:
Acrylic paint
Bark rubbing
Tissue paper scrunched up
Egg shells
Angel hair wrapping paper

I can't believe this was two years ago now. This time next year I will have completed my training course as a Study Skills Tutor and be remembering how nervous I am feeling this week, and wondering why on earth I have signed up to do it! We have our first contact day on Saturday, and having seen the course assignments now I am panic stricken! Perhaps I will get more stitching done as a diversionary tactic from writing essays.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Books, gravestones, and morning tea

Following on with my gravestone shapes, here is my first little book.

I have been having a go with transferring images using Bondaweb following the directions Maggie Gray has given on her blog. It's so easy. I was really impressed. Using Photoshop, I took a picture of a head that I drew ages ago, and put it against a photo of rust. I changed the colours of the rust to make it look more like lichen as seen on gravestones. I ironed it onto cotton and then washed the print away. I like its ethereal quality.

What I particularly like about this method is that it is using materials most of us have anyway. There is no buying any specialised paper or liquid.

A little while ago Gina nominated my blog for a You Make my Day Award. (Despite several attempts blogger won't let me add the picture of the award).

The rules are that I have to

Give the award to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland. Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. Beware you may get the award several times."

I started trying to come up with 10 blogs but decided to stick with my absolute favourites and the ones that I check really regularly for up-dates. They are:

Zoe at
Joyce at
Sheila at
Margaret (Digital Gran)
and of course Gina’s Fan my Flame

The person, however, who for me deserves the You Make my Day Award above everyone else and nothing to do with blogs is…. Drum roll … My Husband! For bringing me a cup of tea in bed every morning. I am fairly lousy at waking or getting up and this cup of tea works miracles!

Who would others nominate for this award, outside of blogland?

Monday, 14 January 2008

Photo album

Here is the photo album I made using transfer dyes onto pelmet vilene, lots of acrylic wax, hand stitching and then assembled using traditional book binding methods. The photo doesn't really show the texture or the wonderful burgundy colour of the Japanese silk bookbinding cloth. It measures 10 x 10 inches.

I also made a box to fit and had just as much fun doing this. Its made from scored mountboard, then covered with scrunched up tissue paper, with lots of layers of acrylic paint, Markal sticks and then varnished.

I hadn't tried making a box in this way before, and was really pleased with the outcome.

Thought I would just add some details of a few things I lost or forgot last week:

House keys - again.

Back door key.

Scanner connection - Not my fault. Dog had rolled over underneath the table and pulled the cable out.

Keyboard connection - dog again!

My way - not my fault. Went up to London for a meeting, and the street name was wrong on the map they had given me. When I told them about it, I didn't even get an apology. They just said they were aware of the error!

Forgot whether I had unplugged the iron on our way to a birthday party on Saturday. Made hubs turn round and go back home so I could check, and yes I had already pulled the plug out.

Pound coins I had specifically saved for the car park. Found ... in my purse!

Treasure Gold - gave up trying to find that and used Markal sticks. Naturally, found it later when I didn't need it any more.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Gravestones to books

Thoroughly inspired by the ideas for taking my gravestone research further, I took the drawings I had done previously of outlines of gravestones,

and doodled. I liked the simple outline most of all. Put on top of one another they reminded me of Lowry's figures.

I played with stitching simple lines in straight stitch and zigzag.

I had the idea of creating a book within the gravestone shape. The gravestone generally marks the date of birth and death, and the book inside represents to me the life story of that particular person. I wanted the book to stand upright too, just like the gravestone. So I was up early this morning and before breakfast had created this mock-up. I think it has lots of potential now for making a stitched cover in various techniques and also trying out various book binding methods.

Having created a present for a friend's 50th birthday using Frances Pickering's transfer dyes onto pelmet vilene method, I think it is time to use this method to make something for me! Next week I can post a pic of the birthday present I made as by then J. will have opened it! Hope she likes it.

Friday, 11 January 2008


Thanks for everone that left comments on my blog about things they regularly lose. Glad I am not alone!I did find my house keys in the end ... under a piece of paper right where I had looked umpteen times!

It was back to work with avengence this week after the Christmas break. I say with avengence because it was one of those weeks when work would really get in the way of doing all those other things I had planned, or so I thought.

Wednesday I had planned on meeting friends at The Mall Galleries to see
The Society of Designer Craftsmen - an exhibition I have never been to and always wanted to. I was very well organised, prepared dinner early and put it in the oven on timer as daughter had a friend coming round to eat. Had worked more or less solidly all day Tuesday and from the crack of dawn Wednesday so I could have the day off. Left home to drive to the station and hit two major traffic jams and ended up queueing for ages. By the time I got to the station car park there were no parking places left and it was only 9.45! There is absolutely no where else to park around and I had no alternative but to abandon my trip. I was a very sad bunny. Thanks P. for telling me what a great exhibition I missed!

As a bit of a consolation on Thursday, after a meeting in London, I popped into the British Library and had a look round one of their current exhibitions
60 years of the Folio Society.

I love books and going round I suddenly had inspiration how I could take my gravestone theme into its next phase with stitching. Will have to do some drawings etc and will post some pics in due course.

I haven't checked any blogs for a while so was delighted to read Gina's blog and discover that she had awarded me You Make My Day Award. (I can't add the image at the mo - blogger won't let me copy it). I was quite chuffed, I can't think I have been ever given an award for anything before. Thank you Gina. The rules mean that now I have to :

"Give the award to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland. Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. Beware you may get the award several times."

Now I have a great excuse to spend more time in blogland and decide which 10 people to nominate.