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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Day 4 and a little railway on The Grand Tour

Hi Everyone
Today (day 4) and I'm still struggling without internet access. We have tried several locations to access via phones and (in theory) internet free cafe ! No success. I'm writing this while trying to upload several days.
News on The Tour - we have been to Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway today. Lovely views of the coast - some sunshine and an interesting drive from one end to the other of the little narrow gauge railway. Fantastic scenery and very 'holiday like' with lots of folk riding on the railway.

Thanks for reading.

The grand Tour Day 3 horror, it's raining and ?

Hi Everyone
It's Tuesday and bad news ! ........ raining. Persistent rain. Not sure what The Grand Tour has on offer. We didn't quite plan for rain - mainly because the weather has been so good for quite a few weeks.
By lunchtime - the weather has dramatically improved and we scramble a walk to Congra Moss - very pretty and just what we needed.

This is the photo for today

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Day 2 - which Coast ?

Hi Everyone
It's Day 2. And the sun is shining again ! Great ! This is the photo for today.
We are in Whitehaven - looks amazing.

This is from the car but it's very 'Mediterranean' and it's very warm. I'm getting this out now - only a short time with internet.

Thanks for reading.
Bye for today.

The Grand Tour Day 1

Hi Everyone
Here we are with our first photo of The Grand Tour 2014

Sadly, it's raining (only a bit) and a bit dull. This the view from the window. This is somewhere called Lamplugh on the western edge of The Lake District.

It's lovely but a bit cold ! Here's hoping for a better day tomorrow.

Bye for today.

PS - no internet connection so I will post when I can (traditional Grand Tour communication)

Saturday, 26 July 2014

BAR 44

Hi Everyone
Yet another lovely day - here's my final photo post of The Garden Tour.

Today, it's the 'water feature' - a tiny little pond, overgrown with all kinds of things. It's, almost deliberately green and dirty to attract toads and other little things. There is a pump in the base which gives a soothing water trickle sound and keeps the water moving - lovely noise while sitting or working in the garden.
It's also doubles up as a great bathroom and a pub for the birds.

My next post will be from somewhere new. We will be officially 'on tour' !

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Bird Cafe

Hi Everyone
What a lovely morning - clear blue sky's and a very light, warm breeze. Today on the Garden Tour, my photo is all about our bird feeding 'cafe' as we call it !

The Bird Cafe is in a lovely gladed spot - nestled in a couple of Eucalyptus trees. One tree has died and has no leaves but a lovely bark and serves to locate a great step for the birds. The second tree disguises the dead one with a big bush of leaves at the top and looks like a pretty umberella. We have chosen this little area so we can view all visitors from our kitchen or deck tables. Gradually, we have added little feeders and between the six different stations we do attract quite a range of birds. I enjoy watching them every day and find the garden comes alive when there's plenty food about. However, we have a family of Wood Pidgeons that manage to clear the food amazingly quickly - as soon as it's served !

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Vegetable Garden

Hi Everyone
Fantastic weather again today. I thought I would share little views of our garden for my photo today - Vegetable Garden Grand Tour ! Just to get things in context, we have a very small garden and even smaller veg garden but Ive managed to pack quite a bit in and it's a lovely space to spend time.
This year, my little veg patch area has a rotation of herbs and salad stuff with strawberries. I also have a greenhouse with tomatoes and cucumber. For the first time, Ive gone for a bush tomato plant and it's gone berserk ! The whole greenhouse has been taken over with jungle style branches and leaves. It looks great and smells amazing. As always - the toms will be ready when we are away on hols but our caretaker neighbour will get them. We do have a great looking cucumber. Hopefully, there will be some toms left when we get back.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

BOTANICAL Inspiration

Hi Everyone
It's another day today, weather wise ! I think the weather people call it 'overcast'. It's not cold but the air is very moist and it feels like rain coming. However, this maybe a blessing - I could get some chores done ! Ive had my one day of being very lazy and I do feel it's time to get things done.

My photo today is a little surface design I did yesterday.

The story here is about creating something which can be used as a background to advertise an creative workshop in September as well as packaging for jewellery. The theme of the work is BOTANICAL and will be central to a larger fund raising campaign. I see the painting as my starting point and hope to use it for developing lots of multi media art workshops. I will share the ideas and activities as they emerge.
I was inspired to create this simple painting yesterday while looking out at my own garden. I wonder if you can see connections ?

I know ....... some artistic license used here ! But if you look closely you can see the shapes - the mountain in my painting is symbolic, of course !

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Grand Tour

Hi Everyone
I know I announced a blog holiday last Friday ! ........ but I'm working outside on my deck and found myself thinking about the holiday work schedule. Then the view distracted me and I thought I would share it.

Sorry about the table !

We will be off on our annual Grand Tour next week. However, this year the Tour will be rather limited to a small part of The Lake District, although we will try and honour the spirit of the Grand Tour.
Young English elites of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries often spent two to four years traveling around Europe in an effort to broaden their horizons and learn about language, architecture, geography, and culture in an experience known as the Grand Tour. The Grand Tour began in the sixteenth century and gained popularity during the seventeenth century.
The term Grand Tour was introduced by Richard Lassels in his 1670 book Voyage to Italy. Additional guidebooks, tour guides, and the tourist industry were developed and grew to meet the needs of the 20-something male and female travelers and their tutors across the European continent. The young tourists were wealthy and could afford the multiple years abroad. They carried letters of reference and introduction with them as they departed from southern England. We, of course, are neither young or wealthy and our party is reduced to three, so we do what we can to broaden our horizons. We will use guidebooks !
Anyway, it will be lovely. I'm going to use photos to share our Grand Tour and give a tiny flavour of our experience. I will be planning our trip over the next few days - I hate this bit. I'm trying to make it a more pleasurable experience by researching some ideas for exploring and packing gradually and by giving myself reward treats.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Life as a Mum (at the moment) !

Hi Everyone
It's Friday again, but more than that - it's the last Friday before the long Summer break. Wow ! Where did the year go ? My life revolves around the school calendar because of my kids but I'm firmly embedded in community fundraising activities which also seem to follow this timetable.
Life for the next few weeks is planned (sort of ) but there's going to be a relaxed approach to 'clock watching'. Clocks and deadlines stress me out at times. The weather looks as if it's going to be kind with the odd storm brewing - generally the immediate future is inviting.

Bad news. Yet again, for a second day, my work output has been poor. I've not been lazy (at all) but house and family things have taken over, which I think is good thing! I'm a little frustrated about some clay work I wanted to get started and of course, my printing ! I wanted to work on my second print but I'm hoping that today will provide a bit more time. However, (here are the obstacles creeping into my perfect day ) I have some plants which need to go into the garden but other than that and a bit of food shopping - I can apply myself to my ART ! I wonder how many mins. that will give me ? Ive also just remembered, I need to be a taxi to debate club and then cricket practice !!! Even now, I'm still feeling good - after today that sort of thing will stop ! Others things will take over but ...... I will deal with that another day !

News from yesterday - our birthday party was a great success. Lovely get together with friends, a delicious meal and the birthday cake turned out great.

My big boy had a brilliant day and we all reminisced about when he was a baby etc. and how much he'd grown, fortunately ! (along with his family friend of the same age - sat next to him throughout). The teenagers went along with it all and smiled - they are definitely maturing.

The only job I managed to do from my work list was to make the little houses for my next print. Here they are :

The texture plates made a reasonable job and when paint is applied they will highlight the surface pattern. I will use these later with the second print. I have high hopes for this one.

Have a great Summer break - I will dip in and out of the blog with photos and share some holiday experiences.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Colours, cakes and scones

Hi Everyone
As predicted no work outcomes from yesterday to share. I did have a long list and it's all transferred to today's jobs. I need to make a birthday cake too. I have an idea of how the cake will look - but no doubt, the job will grow !!!! I will share the outcome tomorrow.

Other news - I delivered my Thank You gifts and cards today and everyone seemed very happy to receive them. The gift was a pair of Button earrings. There are lots of references on the blog over the last few weeks (if you need more on this).Before I left the building, all the earrings were being worn - the little gift provoked lots of smiles. I love this effect - so rewarding. I'm going to run some workshops to make these earrings in September and all the gift recipients immediately signed up. Here is a reminder of how they look.

One of the other jobs that didn't get done is new beads from the Tube Collection. Ive finally decided on my colour selection. I'm working on bright shades of the colours and want to mix each one. The colours will be orange, navy, green, yellow, purple, ivory, bright blue and red. I want to try and get some bead samples by the end of the week. I need these beads to be as perfect as possible and will try and find a way of ensuring their quality. I will need lots of practice.

Another project which didn't happen was my new print. I have the composition organised and the little houses image identified. Here is look at the house image. I will use these shapes or something similar but I want to create some deep texture on the paper. I have some plastic texture plates which I'm going to try out. The texture on these paper houses is created simply from the paper surface.

If I can get the textured houses ready for printing before the end of the day, I will be pleased.

This evening we are celebrating our family birthday with some close friends and I'm not totally convinced all the jobs will get a chance ? I live in hope !
I probably need to prioritise several times. I'm aiming to, at least, do a little bit of everything on the list.

One last thing for today. My little boy cooked some scones at school today, absolutely lovely. We ate the scones with cream and jam - fantastic. Here they are.

One of the scones was eaten yesterday morning (immediately it came out of the oven) - so we had to share !! Lovely all the same !

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

I need another job description !

Hi Everyone
I had a very busy day finalising birthday cards and presents etc. yesterday. No time for me or work again, so I'm way behind my schedule for this week. I'm also busy most of today with volunteer work. Not sure when I will get my clay colours mixed - maybe this evening ?

In the meantime, I'm very excited about trying out another print. I mentioned using the little house image again. It's a constant thought running through my creative head and I used some little houses/huts in my birthday card idea. I will provide an image tomorrow (after the birthday). Until then, here is a new method (new for me) for constructing my envelopes. It's all about using washi tape. It's very quick and useful when there is a bulky item involved.

These tapes have been waiting for a project for some time. Just when I needed a quick idea - I saw these tapes. This is what I did :

I also used the tapes on the card itself - the envelopes is then connected and feels co ordinated immediately.

The new printing plates (unused and just purchased) look good and I have some ideas about extending the drying time of my paint (a problem last time) I'm going for a similar approach to the last one (read all about on 9/7/14 post) but I will try out some different texture plates - just experimenting. Will share my results when I have them.

I'm also working on some new ideas which link into the community project I spoke about yesterday. I need a couple of new designs using the button range of beads. Here are the beads as a reminder.

I'm talking about the beads themselves rather than the item which is a bracelet in this example. I need to come up with a broach and something else ? Not sure what the 'something else will be' at the moment. I'm thinking about working towards a pendant for a necklace,maybe ?
still unsure. I need to have a play.

I'm exhausted reading my list !!!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Focus on Tube Beads

Hi Everyone
I'm mixing polymer clay colours this morning - my meetings lasted all day yesterday and there was no time for creating. Hope to come up with something new today - colour wise. I'm committed to the Tube style beads but want to work on lots of colours. Here are a few examples of the Tube bead ideas turned into necklaces :

I also want to have another go with my printing experiments. I have some new printing plates now and hope to develop another scene using my little houses image. I don't quite know what will happen. I'm going with whatever turns out. Here is a reminder of my little house image :

I hope to develop the idea but keep the shape. Again, I'm not sure how things will turn out. That's the point of my experiment. Last week I used my print for the Make Art Monday project. Sad news about The Project - the structured approach has gone and it's about members going it alone ! I'm committed to the idea now - so will go with it. My plan was always to have a dedicated page on my blog to share my weekly experiments. I need to push on with the page. I'm going to make this my Summer job ! I love doing this little exercise each week. It's a good discipline for me and Ive managed to make the time in my routine.

Some very exciting news - my meetings today came up with some exciting plans to run polymer clay workshops. I'm excited about the structure of working with a wider community of people from my town. The movement behind this new venture is building momentum and lots of people seem keen to get involved. I'm hoping to widen the scope of 'making' from scratch to include lots of mixed media projects. Will keep bringing news about this as it happens.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Holiday Time Soon !

Hi Everyone
All the 'Thank You stuff' is done and ready to write - see last weeks blogs for more on this project. Only the actual message writing to add Wed. Here they are as a batch.

I need to set out my work schedule carefully this week, it's the last week of our Summer school term and the long six weeks holiday is looming ! Can't wait. We have a few weeks family holiday at the beginning and a week towards the end organised. We are spending some time in the Lake District and Scotland. Lovely.

I also have a few new orders for my Tubes Collection and want to get these completed before my holiday. There is a new display to be created too. I also have some planning meetings (future workshop events) with a few folk today, so a busy start to my week. If I get my beads created by the end of the week, I will be pleased. I aim to follow the development for my book so will include some of the progress here in the blog. Here is a quick reminder of the tube necklace :

I'm going for some different colours. I will mix them from blue, green, organge, yellow ? - maybe some others ?

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Simple PC artwork

Hi Everyone
It's Friday again ...... another week flown by so quickly.

I'm involved in volunteer work today so not much time for work. I will make up some time later BUT when it comes to about 5pm on a Friday - it's a signal to down tools and begin winding down ! So we will see what happens.

My progress with the Thank You gift set has moved on.

I added several little extra details to the batch. The next few photos show some of the process.
These are the little die cuts that will act as labels and fastenings.

Please note - the colour of this blue envelope is a little 'off tone' - it's a sample prototype rather than the finished item and will not feature in the gift set or the book. For some reason this bothers me every time I see the photo ! I need to get out more ! or change the blue paper.

Ive wrapped the gifts in tissue and then into the spotty bags.

The gift wrap and card together are simple but pretty and hopefully will be well received.

Have a great weekend.
Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Making Cards and Gift Tags.

Hi Everyone
My day has started in an unusually leisurely way today, only one child at school and although this is a minor reduction in morning responsibilities there is a quiet calm about the place. The senior teenager is still sleeping (teacher strike at his school). I find myself wondering how I can arrange this everyday ! I can dream.

Back to reality and another busy day planned. I managed to keep on track yesterday and concentrated on a batch of Thank You cards and gift packaging. Here is a few photos showing my approach. I started by organising my artwork on a PC and printing. I'm making collections of a card, envelope, gift tag and a small, decorated paper sac. In this batch, Ive made eight collections. I used different colours and sizes of the same surface pattern in each collection.

I cut each item and folded to form the cards. This is a design Ive made a number of times so it's a straightforward process which I know works.

Having created the basic card, I decorated them with little die cut flowers and a greetings strap line on the left flap. Each card has a slightly different range of decorations. I also added a small image (as the front) on the back of the card. I like this idea and think it gives an added luxury feel to cards. The inside of the card is left blank to write my messages.

These are the gifts tags (minus their string). The image is the same as the card. I added little hole reinforcers and the little flowers to add another little luxury feel to the tag.

This is an example of the envelopes. I like to make envelopes. Ive used the same surface design and folded to fit.

I like to make big flaps on envelopes. This size took a single A4 sheet (trimmed border). Ive decided to make some special round closures for the envelopes and will use the same idea for the paper sacs - Ive yet to print these.

Generally, the job went well. Ive a little more work to do. The project will feature in my new book and I used this project to help document the process - hence the time it took. This project started out as a very simple plan. I often have a very simple plan but when it's underway - I change my ideas and before long the job is a much bigger one. Such as life ! I believe it's part of the design process. I really enjoyed doing this project. I found myself getting lost in my thoughts while fiddling with the tiny details ie flowers and strap lines etc. The little gifts will look great and I will finish the job today. I will share my efforts tomorrow.

I'm hoping this card design will be an easy idea for most people to try themselves. It lends itself to lots of situations and sizes can be changed very easily. My book will have a number of decoration ideas using the basic design for a range of card and tags.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Does Navy count as 'blue' ?

Hi Everyone
It was a strange day yesterday, the weather was quite dramatic which made the atmosphere charged and dark. Quite unsettling but amazingly creative !
I had a difficult time completing my lists or rather 'trying' to complete.
The top of my list was experimenting with printing. This is my effort :

I gave myself an hour and stuck with it. I want to add a little more and will keep looking at it for a day or so. I'm using the exercise as my Make Art Monday piece for this week, so I have a few days left. The word this week is BEAUTY. My 'beauty' is that of the place and the feel of the place. I do like to add the weekly word to each piece and have printed some paper for my word - I will probably die cut the letters. I need to find a subtle way of incorporating words.

I wanted to try out my printing exercise with tools and materials that I had in my workroom and had to improvise a bit. My chosen paper was a very cheap and rather unstable blotting style stuff. The original pad of this paper came from a hotel room years ago. The pad was in the room for guests to write notes. It seems most unsuitable for most things but I like the flimsy quality and the uneven surface - I often overlook the paper for other projects and immediately knew this would be the one. I used acrylics and the combination with my paper proved quite a challenge.
However, I think it worked well and I had a great time. I really enjoyed trying to make the printing work. The acrylic paint tended to dry very quickly and next time I will try to incorporate something to give me a bit more time. Ive found some Golden Open Matt Medium in my stash and will give it a go. I need some printing plates too. I used a marble slab which I use for clay work. It was OK but because the paint dried very quickly the best painting was left on the marble. The only way I could get my technique to work with my paper was to add more paint than I wanted. I felt that I had no control at all. I like the idea of some surprise but I do feel I couldn't direct the work in any way. My result was a pleasant outcome. I used my little houses in this print and am going to keep going with the idea of the houses. I'm already planning the next experiment but will wait for some plates Ive ordered.

I didn't get the Thank You cards printed (second on the to do list) but all the art work is ready and waiting for the print - so almost achieved. This print job is my new priority job for today.

I will also prep some clay for the planned tube beads too. Navy will be the colour - I know Navy is blue again ..... in my defence this colour is essential for my wardrobe ! I will choose another colour one day !

Thanks for reading

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Where does 'my time' go ?

Hi Everyone
I had high hopes for yesterday - in the end very little work was completed. I spent lots of my precious day with 'volunteer time' !!! I also needed to buy some fresh food. We needed to eat. However, I did think about work and have a better plan for yesterday's jobs, today ! So, onwards etc ......

My big decision today - I'm pondering acquiring a Gelli plate.

I mentioned these things last week - I think ? Yes (2/7/14) - so much going on in my head !!! Anyway, the more I look at the practicalities, the more I'm attracted to these plates. I'm almost ordering the item - I can't quite decide which size will be best ? I need to sleep on it. I have loads of ideas for prints. It's one of those things that I can't help being excited about. It's like being a kid at Christmas. I can't wait to get going. I can feel myself being 'persuaded'.

In the meantime, I'm going to try out some of my ideas without the Gelli plate and using a simple print plate. I'm allowing myself an hour later today. I have a plan of a composition and the colours involved. This will be a 'Heath Robinson' affair but I need to do it !

There's more volunteer stuff (early evening) today, so my work will suffer again. My priority list is set and no matter what I must keep to it.

Other news - as usual I'm looking for new bead/jewellery ideas everywhere and anywhere and have come across these examples from Pinterest

This is one of my boards. I love all these examples especially the coloured seed styles (top 2nd left). I think I will try something similar next.
On that note .........

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Thank You Gift Idea

Hi Everyone
Ive had a very quiet weekend. Bits of gardening, a little socialising and it's back to work. I do actually feel relaxed ! However, this week, I'm full of volunteer appointments and Im wondering how I can get my lists under control ?

Other news, in preparation for end of term Ive made some little Thank You gifts and cards (teaching staff at my kids school). Here's a peak of my samples. I will get some in my shops too. Ive got a range of colours to compliment some great little spot wrapping bags. I need to make some tags and a fastening for the bags and will try out a few options. I hope to finish the job later today.

Im also hoping to develop some new tube beads. These blue tube beads are the ones I'm going for.

I want some others colours - perhaps navy, orange and greens ? I want to match up some outfits to get the right colour tones. I need to make decisions later. These blue versions are great for me but I need to up the quality. I like lots of uneven and/or scratches etc - I like to see every bead is different. However, I think many people like a unified look, so will aim for this.

My final job of the day is to develop the alternative design for the beads I made last week.

I made this one in the initial batch but it's not quite what I'd intended - ita a bit rough round the edges - even for me ! I will make another attempt - for the necklace design that came for the flat beads. Here it is for reference :

I hope to use other colours and move away from blue (only temporary move).Will share my results when I have something.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 4 July 2014

New Necklace Design

Hi Everyone
It's Friday again - as usual I can't believe another week has gone by. The creative opportunity from yesterday has moved on and these are the stages I went through to get to the finished item (so far !)
Picking up from yesterday's progress, I decided to make some holes at the top of each bead and marked where the holes needed to be. I wanted the beads to lie flat when worn, so I decided I needed to use the thread to keep the beads in place by keeping them in line. I marked the places where the holes needed to be. The holes are quite close to the edge and to each other therefore precision and a clean hole was important (just big enough to take the thread).

All the holes worked out well. I used two stages of drilling to get the right size.
I cleaned up the beads.

This close up was a trial threading, prior to polishing but it shows the threading pattern well.
I had intended to add a small bead between each of the larger ones to act like a spacer. When I tried this, the necklace moved around too much and I wanted it to lie flat. So, I took them away and stuck to a single bead either end of the main beads.

I added some beads at the necklace ends to form a simple slip fastening.

This is the final threading positions. I need to finish the knot tails but other than that I'm wearing it.

The clasp idea is to move the second bead (next to the larger round end) to secure the simple loop. It's OK but I will think again about this aspect of the design.

I may give the beads another polish. I wanted a shiney finish, it's a little glossy but not as much as I'd hoped. I'm now wearing the necklace for a few days to check out the clasp security.

Have a great weekend.
Thanks for reading.