Elephants Never …

Good morning everyone!  Have you ever had to do something in secret?  Have you ever had to go ‘undercover’?

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Yesterday was Mother’s Day in the UK and sadly I didn’t get to see my own mother.  But it got me thinking this morning about the time i helped a neighbour secretly arrange a surprise birthday party for her.  In the week leading up to my mum’s birthday, I made my excuses and popped around to my neighbour, Sheila’s (who incidentally told me she’d always wanted a little girl, but couldn’t), to bake.  In previous posts, I’ve revealed that I dislike cooking, mainly because my mum was a qualified chef and a perfectionist.  Anything I did had to be perfect, so I didn’t like baking cakes with her …

in the space of a week, Sheila and I prepared trifles, traybakes (flapjack), a birthday cake and savouries so colourful that there was no need for a table cloth!  I faced the complaints by my mum as I kept asking to go over to Sheila’s.  We fell out over it, but I couldn’t tell her what we were really up to.  That’s a hard thing to do when you’re ten years old!

On the day itself, my mum had to eat her words (she’d said some spiteful things in that week) and I watched as her mouth fell open in amazement when she saw the spread of food.  It was a good celebration, but I still hate baking!

Hurtful words linger and dig deep; they create invisible scars.

One person posted a quote and image on Facebook (the social networking site is usually littered with them).  I’m not sure where it originated, but on a search, it informs me that it was written by ‘Anonymous’

“One day someone is going to hug you so tight that all your broken pieces will stick back together.”

I wish I could have hugged my mum yesterday, especially after the weekend I’ve just had.  I hope she’s enjoying her holiday.

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Lovely Blog Award

What a lovely gesture! I’ve been nominated for the lovely blog award by fellow crafter and blogger Irene from http://www.sewstitchknit.com

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I am thrilled to accept this award and so will reveal 7 things about myself (that was the deal!) and nominate up to five people that I consider also worthy of the award.
So here goes …
1 – I started blogging just over a year ago to demonstrate, try out, create, make up and revisit as many different crafts as I could. Along the way, I’ve connected with lovely people, fellow crafters and delighted in sharing craft swaps.

2 – When I was seven I took part in a national art competition and won a packet of plasticine (a bit like play doh); a watercolour set and met the Queen for my picture of her on horseback in front of the gates of Buckingham Palace.

3 – I’ve only ever driven on the motorway once and will avoid it at all costs. My kids tease me about ‘big roads’! It was a case of: tried it once and didn’t like it

4 – I love exploring new places and have a strong desire to travel – my dad lived and worked in several different countries and I grew up surrounded by lodgers from around the world – yet my DH gets severely travel sick so it took me nineteen years to get him on an aeroplane

5 – I’m allergic to bee and wasp stings and discovered this when sipping white wine and got stung on the forehead

6 – I’d always wanted to own a cuckoo clock as my dad kept one in a cupboard. I later found out that he kept it unwound because it was so noisy. I dislike ticking clocks and can’t sleep if there is anything other than a digital clock in the room or one that I can silence.

7 – I once thought that a cream tea was tea with cream in it.

and now, a couple of nominations for the lovely blog award are
http://craftingwithfelt.com

Plus

https://prettylittlethingsinabox.wordpress.com

There are many more I could also mention, if I had more time to comment

Thanks again Irene for the nomination 🙂

Handcarved rubber stamps

Hi everyone :-).

Hear is my latest stamp. I’m preparing my collection ready for a printmaking worksop next month.

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Years ago, I owned a Mini Clubman. I loved it until one day someone broke into it and stole the stereo, then took it for a joyride. It’s now probably in Mini heaven. My friend bought a Mini recently and has even given it a name: Poppy :-). I hope she likes this card I made for her using the Mini stamp 🙂

Hope you’re all well and not snowed in. We had our first bit of snow in the UK yesterday. I woke to find the roads wet and grey as usual, despite the severe weather warnings the previous day. I got in my car and drove four miles and suddenly the scenery was different: cars driving 2 miles per hour; rooftops blanketed with snow thick enough to disguise the roof tiles and big flakes falling. I wondered how on earth four miles would make that much difference and also whether I’d be late for work!
The town up on the hill was indeed unique to the snowfall. As soon as I’d driven out the other side and down a steep hill into the valley, the snow had completely vanished.
To some, snow is a satisfying and joyous experience. To others it signals disaster and triggers fear … Fear of injury and perhaps fear if being stranded on the way to or from work. Great if you don’t have to get anywhere.
I now have quite a collection of stamps for the group workshop and hopefully they will be inspired to carve their own 🙂

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Happenstance

This past week has been difficult and a mix of both excitement and sadness.
I’ll start with the sad part and end on the happy part.

On Wednesday evening my youngest child and I snuggled down to watch an episode of ‘six Puppies and Us’. We don’t own a dog, but my eldest has taken up drawing them … lots of dogs. She recently ran a competition called the twelve dogs of Christmas where people posted photos of their dogs and then others voted which should be the top thirteen (twelve dogs – one for each month + one for the cover of a calender). The dogs were voted for and the close of the competition was 6th January.
The programme, as the title suggests is about owners and their puppies. We hadn’t watched the first two programmes and just happened to come across one … The adolescent episode. What transpired was a lot of giggling from my daughter as each dog reached adolescence. However, there was one comment made by one owner that riled me. She said that she decided to buy a dog so that her children could understand death through a dog before having to cope with a person dying. I felt that that was a rather strange reason to take on the responsibility of bringing up a puppy. Anyway, it made my daughter and I have an interesting conversation about the validity of the woman’s comment and whether or not she was doing the right thing for her children.
Later, I went on to watch a film and death seemed to feature in this too. This time, a lad’s pet turtle passed away and was found by his step mother. Urgently, she ran out of the house to find a replacement – one that looked as identical as possible so the child wouldn’t discover the turtle’s sad demise.
It was nearing 11pm and I switched the movie off before it finished. Jobs beckoned me: the dishwasher needed to be filled and I had to go to work the next morning.
With the washing up sorted, I went to say goodnight, as I usually do, to our house rabbit Pom Pom. At that time of night I’m normally greeted with an excited bouncing rabbit eager to say hello and have her head smoothed and her ears rubbed. Not this time. I knew something was up. She was still. She was, well you know. I cried of course. Maybe the film and the programme were preparing me. Happenstance, coincidence. Whatever. Grief struck and I didn’t know how to tell my kid. We all were extremely fond of her. I will say though that despite how difficult this week has been, I have been moved by the outpouring of kind comments and thoughts from friends and family but also people I have met in creative groups and not actually met face-to-face. It’s certainly been appreciated and I know I am among some wonderful, thoughtful people who care very much and hurt too when they know you’re hurting or sad.
The rabbit’s life flashed before me: we went to see her as a tiny bundle of fluff and brought her back as a surprise on Christmas Eve seven years ago. My husband and I were like excited school kids as we hid the hutch in the boot of the car and then presented three squealing children with the bunny who looked like a pom pom ball. She was the most placid and delightful pet and now she’s gone … But Pom Pom won’t be forgotten.

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Now to some fun news … My first printed book arrived on Wednesday: I’d spent ages planning out the pages and checked out various outlets for the best offers. I wanted something that would showcase my printmaking – the best prints from lino cuts and using the Gelli. Of course, when choosing the style and shape, I had to go for a square book. My portfolio of prints, now contained in a printed book, fit perfectly in my handbag and has arrived in time for workshops I’m starting to run in February. People taking part in my tutorials will now be able to flick through the glossy pages and find something that will hopefully inspire them in their own journey of creating 🙂
Best wishes everyone … And apologies for being away.

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A Drawing a Day …

Today my son returned to university. It’s a day mixed with pride and also has a strong emotional tug. I remember well the day I left home – I’d prepared what was known as ‘a bottom drawer’ up in the attic: a collection of pots, plates, cups, cutlery and an assortment of other household items saved for the very moment of moving out. It was different to the moment my son first set off back in September. I got married instead. University came much later and after the arrival of three children. It’s never easy saying goodbye but it is easier keeping in touch now with the use of Skype, instant messagings, texting and emails. We’re wired like birds sitting on the line connecting two telegraph poles. Despite the miles separating us, there is always a virtual hug close at hand, a smiley emoticon or a ringtone alert on the phone. Hopefully, four months won’t seem so long as it does right now… the house is very quiet.

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The ties arrived in time :-)

How about a handprinted tie for Christmas? My dad always had to wear a suit and tie to work and I can remember as a kid going into a tailors many years ago while he was measured up for a tailor-made jacket. He also used to traipse across town in search of leather-soled shoes so they lasted. To him, that was money well spent. My mum would also painstakingly iron his shirts and fold them as if they’d just been bought so that they could neatly sit inside the wardrobe piled up on the shelves rather than be hung up on a hanger. Likewise, I seldom saw my grandfather out of a proper shirt; he always dressed for dinner.
So, I thought long and hard what I could buy my dad for Christmas this year. He, of course, dresses up in shirt and tie for restaurant meals, but when I saw him yesterday he was wearing a thread-bare sweater and jogging bottoms – his garage clothing. Hmm, should I fork out for something he’s unlikely to wear? Should I invest the next two weeks into trying to knit a new sweater for him (impossible) or handprint him a unique tie that he could wear on special occasions, such as my daughter’s forthcoming birhday?
I chose the latter and ordered five plain white silk ties (well, some might not turn out quite right). Then I added some fabric paints to the list began considering designs for it.
This is what I came up with – a handprinted silk tie – this is one I sold today at an orchid and craft fair :-). The other is off public view as it needs to remain a surprise!

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First ever crocheted necklace

Over the year I’ve achieved several firsts at crafts:
Pewter casting
Patchwork chicken pin cushions
Toothbrush bracelet (yes, really)
Printing on a gelli plate
Completing a 39 square embroidery project
Painting a mural on a wall
Creating a magazine-rolled pen pot
Book sculpting
Holding my first art exhibition (outside of college)
Creating my first knitting pattern and publishing it
Taking part in the National Novel Writing Month, achieving the winner’s 50,000 word badge and working full time!
Stitched my first teddy bear out of a cushion cover …

…just to name a few! There have also been many crafts I’ve revisited and enjoyed very much such as drawing and sketching, book making, lino cutting and printing, pyrography and writing haiku. Time and again, I reminded myself that it would be a huge challenge to produce a craft a day as this blog suggests in its name. I mostly achieved that – and sometimes posted more than one post in a day – until I began to work full time and seeing my son go off to uni. It was only when we got to November I reasoned with myself that I could produce better work if I spent more time on it than pushing myself to get that blog post out before midnight!
There have only been a few days when I’ve not added a blog entry … that’s only recently. This is because I’ve realised there are some things that need to stay hidden for a bit so that ideas can grow and creativity can happen :-). Also, some opportunities happen when you least expect them … and aren’t even consciously looking for them (such as when I found the route to buying my first printing press) and having one of illustrations published (outside of the blogesphere) this week!!! That really was exciting!
Now, I have editing to do on my newly written novel – a creative journey in itself, so if this blog goes quiet you’ll know that I am still busy creating. But … I’ll be back and hope that you will drop by and say hello in the comments now and again.

Meanwhile, here is another first: I’ve never made a crocheted necklace or piece of jewelery before. I was inspired by a colleague wearing a knitted bauble necklace at work today. She had a lovely deep red jumper on and a long necklace. As I’m not keen on knitting, I decided to attempt to make one using a size 3 crochet hook and a ball of cotton string :-). I chose string mainly because I’m not keen on the wool colours I have in my cupboard; each of them were bought with specific projects in mind or I’ve been given random odd balls of yarn by my mum who knits trauma teddies for children who’ve been displaced through natural disasters. I’m also thinking that I might dye the string now that I’ve made the necklaces. What do you think?

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Doodling on a print

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Yesterday I picked up a crocheted doily because I liked the texture and wanted to see what it came out like as a print.
I needed to apply a considerable amount of paint to start with, but was pleased with how these came out.

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This inspired me to start doodling in the gaps starting from the middle – quite relaxing on a Sunday afternoon 🙂

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Christmas mini bobble hats

Today I took a trip to The Hive … A newly opened craft and wool shop which also has a fabulous cafe for knitters, stitchers and crafters to sit and chat among the gorgeous blends of woollen skeins, buttons and reels of cotton and reams of fabrics.
I went specifically to find some festive yarn to make a bobble hat garland – reason: we’ve decided not to put up a tree because the cat is so full of energy that she’s almost certain to pull it over – she’s already pulled the curtain pole out of the wall (we went through three trees with our previous cat one Christmas until she outgrew her kitten phase!). We’ve bought a six inch real tree for now, which might grow with Nikon

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There was one ball of Christmas wool left when I reached the shop, which I thought was perfect for the garland. Traditional colours of red, white and green with the added touch of glitter… what do you think? I have a few more to make before I hang them up in a line across the living room ceiling and next year they may adorn the Christmas tree!

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Nikon liked playing with the left overs from making fork pom poms too 🙂

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Arctic Fox Fabric Christmas

This evening I took my daughter to see the movie Paddington and tried to share some of my childhood with her (my own memories of watching TV and the antics of a bear from Peru). I won’t give too much away, in case there are people reading this who have yet to see the film. However it did snow in London during some scenes so that had me thinking about what I could do next as a fabric Christmas card. How about the arctic fox in the snow?

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I made a mask of the fox shape first and then printed the background, then pulled the mask away to reveal a space for me to draw the fox over the top. Next thing is to add a few stitches to finish it off for that festive look! Hope you like it 🙂