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Craft Day 1/365
Hubby’s just made me a prop for school where I will be teaching Beowulf along with other myths and legends. He drew out the shape on some ply after a bit of research on the shape, then cut it out. He left the decorating for me to do!
I have painted the Viking broadsword using metallic paint for the font to add a bit of shine to it in the light and outlined some of the lettering with ink. I particularly like celtic patterns or those which interlock. One day I hope to have a go at silver jewellery making. The first piece of jewellery I designed was when my first baby was born and I wanted her to have a keepsake for when she grew up. Although I designed it, I commissioned a jewellery maker from famous Glastonbury in the UK to make it.
Regarding my class, all about the age of 12/13, they were thrilled that we were going to create a wall display of our work on myths and legends. After the focus on Beowulf, we moved onto The Pied Piper and the children’s task was to then write their own epic poem. My youngest daughter is always inspired by the ideas I plan for my lessons and wanted to take part even though she’s younger and attends a different school. She drew me a picture for a slide on The Pied Piper, having already studied it at school!
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Gelliplate lettering and text

Today I plunged in at the deep end and had a go at some text on the gelliplate. To do this so that it printed the correct way around, I wrote out the words on the back of an envelope with a fine point permanent marker then turned the envelope over. The pen was dark enough for me to read it from the other side and go over the outline of each letter.
I placed the reverse text beneath the gelli (you could also do this with glass or perspex or even an acetate sheet).

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I’ve used a piece of lined paper to demonstrate how easy it is to read and go over the outline of lettering if you use a black felt pen.
Once the text is beneath the gelli in reverse, you can apply paint with a paintbrush, cotton bud or something which does not have a sharp point – you don’t want to damage the gelli – I applied my paint with the end of a paintbrush then tried it again with the brush end. Be aware that if you daub paint on thick, once you apply pressure by rubbing or rollering over the final printing paper, the paint will spread and you could lose some of the defining text.

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This was one of the prints I took from the text ‘Birds on the Line’
Once I was sure it would work, I took texture from a sycamore leaf and two masks I cut in the shape of cute birds and then added the text last.

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As I’m compiling a set of prints on birds this will be added to the collection. Finally this evening, I decided to have a go at a squirrel mask to celebrate autumn and the squirrels I’ve seen recently scurrying across the grass.

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Swan gelliprint

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The swan sketch I did yesterday enabled me to cut a mask for the next bird print for a book I’m putting together of gelliprints. In this print I’ve used dry grasses from my garden instead of leaves and part of a log which was sliced down the centre into a strip of wood so that the grain shows through. I also gently rollered over the newsprint so that my print would pick up some of the rippled in the newsprint paper once it became wet. The texture gives the impression of feathers and folds in the swan’s open wing.
The print shown is half the size of the other ones I’ve blogged, but I’m happy with that :-)

Mixed Media bird prints

I wasn’t feeling in a particularly creative mood when I got home from work today. Why? A five litre tin of ‘contemporary’ cream paint exploded in the back of my car in the footwell of the passenger seats. It took three of us almost three hours to mop up the paint spillage and now my charcoal grey carpet is a little on the lighter shade of grey! I may laugh about this experience in a few years time, but I could have cried. The paint was for my son’s room, which we planned to decorate while he’s at university.
I disappeared into my printing shed to let off some steam. Maybe pummelling out some paints on a gelliplate would help and a play around with leaves from my garden.
I made a mask from scrap paper for the birds so that I’d have a blank space in the shape of birds; I’m pleased with the results, which took my mind momentarily off the earlier painting experience.

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Lunchtime sketch

With only 30 mins for lunch, I only had time to do a bit of creativity today and am really tired this evening. It must be down to all that baking I did yesterday for MacMillan! Still, my UFO cakes were a great success as were the spicy sausage rolls made by a colleague. We had Welsh cakes, marshmallow cakes and a huge coffee and walnut sponge.
So, here’s my ten minute sketch

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UFO cakes for MacMillan and Homemade honeycombe

Further fun in the kitchen this evening….

My daughter and I made honeycombe – our very own Crunchie without the chocolate topping! It was fascinating watching the mixture swell and bubble when we added the bicarbonate of soda :-)

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Then, I did an egg freshness test as I wanted to bake a cake to take to work tomorrow and realised I only had two eggs and needed three (grumble grumble). So I headed out to the late opening store and bought some medium eggs and turned out these chocolate UFO cakes and some mini muffins.

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I hope they like them and we can sell some tomorrow for MacMillan’s Largest Coffee Morning fundraiser that’s happening all over the UK on Friday :-)

Shrink plastic napkin rings and calligraphy tag

Throughout the summer I collected various books and tools to try my hand at calligraphy. My mum had a couple of books on her bookcase, still unused and I managed to pick one up in a second-hand book store. I’ve grown very conscious of my handwriting since injuring my writing hand and often switch to using my other hand to do certain jobs (I even noticed yesterday while using the brayer, I resorted to my left hand and collected the assortment of paints for the lino print with my right). Everyday my work results in me scribbling something down on an envelope or two rather than typing address labels.
I admire the work of the ancient scholars who produced illuminated manuscripts and all the beautiful artwork which accompanied the lettering. I knew that by finding the right resource book, I’d feel more inclined to practise the letters one by one. It was only recently, while browsing messages on a social networking forum that someone recommended the book ‘Written Letters’ by Jacqueline Svaren. The book boasts ’22 alphabets for calligraphers’. There’s bound to be one alphabet style I like, I thought.
True enough, I found one. It wasn’t until I read the inscription message at the top that I realised the letters were drawn using the pen nib had the same name as my son’s! I followed the technique instructions – to draw the insides of the letters first and was quite pleased with the results.

The birds I sketched out are echoed on the shrink plastic. I cut strips of the plastic and heated them in the oven, watching them curl and twirl under the heat until they’d shrunk. While the strips were still hot and pliable, I moulded them around a bottle to gain a large enough curve to create a ring shape that could then be used as a napkin holder.

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Of course, I have plenty more practise to do before it become natural and I don’t have to keep checking back for reference!