Sunday, 31 January 2010

Breaking the Silence

Happy Sunday Everyone!

I haven't written any posts for a week! I just didn't feel I had much to say, that I hadn't said already...

However, I've been following people's blogs as usual and have left a few comments. 

I've also been sent this, by both Jo and Rachel - I thought I really ought to get organised and say "Thank You" nicely!

I'm supposed to tell 10 things about what makes me happy...

1. People putting comments on my blog!
2. My husband and son
3. Family and friends
4. Home
5. Crafting, making books, scrapping
6. Sunshine
7. Springtime and walks in the Spring
8. Unexpected presents
9. When my husband or son say "I love you"
10. A peaceful day at home

I could probably list lots more, but I think those would do!

Now I'm supposed to pass on the award to 5 other people, which is more difficult, as I have to make a choice (I'm not good at that!). Also, some people who I'd list have already been sent the award from others. I think I'll add them at the bottom, so they can claim it from me too, without having to re-do their list etc!

1. Karen of "Dolly's Dreamings", because she puts so much work into her interesting, fun and crafty posts. Also because she's doing the wonderful "52 in 10" course for us this year, with all the effort this involves.

2. Abi of "Creating Paper Dreams".  Abi is always so optimistic, busy, crafty, fun, interesting, happy, smiley... she's only 17, but she's an inspiration to the world!

3. Amy "Over at Our Place". I love to read about Amy's busy life on the other side of the world, where the sun seems to shine all day and scrapbooking comes in digitalised rectangular order!

4. Fay at "Beautiful Lily", who hasn't been scrapping long, but produces such pretty pages, along with other interesting crafty projects and fun posts.

5. Jake, Megan and Eliza at "The Nerd Nest", where crafty, loft-style student living is fun, exciting and full of surprises!

I'd also like to give special mentions to a zillion people -Keri-Anne, Tummy Mountain, Robin, Shimelle, Lori, Rachael, Lolly-Chops, Kirsty, Jane and oh, so many, who have inspired me to craft, cook, blog; made me smile, laugh or even cry... I wish I could give an award to so many great people out there in the blogosphere!

I feel so lucky to have all these friends in the big wide world of blogging (and some of them in my more immediate surroundings too).

Have a lovely day!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Weekend Adventure

Well, I'm back in the "real world", after my three days away at Knuston Hall.  I had a great weekend break and learned so much. It was definitely worth it and I am so glad I stayed over on Friday and Saturday nights, as I got to join in with the evening sessions and keep focussed on the projects I was doing, without being distracted by the minutiae of day-to-day home life.  Mind you, I missed D. and  J.  I'm not used to being away from home for any stretch of time. I've only gone away on my own a handful of times in the last 12 or 13 years - to a wedding in Germany, a visit to my auntie... not sure if there were any others! I think I'm a stay-at-home type really, though I love going on trips with my boys.

So, what did I do all weekend? 


Well, on Friday there was a one-day bookbinding course.  The original course description was that we'd make a "book with a difference", using traditional binding methods, to create a book with envelopes and interesting pages, with leather cover.  However, when we all arrived, it was obvious we wouldn't achieve this.  The College had over-booked the course - 13 people instead of the usual maximum of 8.  The tutor handled it well, but there just wasn't time for her to help everyone do such a complicated book, so we ended up making a "normal" hand-bound book, with a traditional Case binding, with paper-covered boards and a book-cloth spine.  It was very good and I did learn quite a few new things, but I was disappointed, as I'd hoped to cover several things that I'd never done before and there just wasn't time.  Still, I have an almost-finished book, that I brought home to complete.  I decided not to rush it on Friday afternoon, as I might mess it up. 

Here it is just now - it needs a little trimming of the end papers, the case needs to be lined with plain paper (to make it smooth before I attach the book block), then I need to glue the book block into the case and let it dry thoroughly .

This is the finished Book Block - ie. the pages have been cut/torn, folded and stitched together. The end-papers (green paper) have been applied and the spine has been strengthened with Mull (a stiffened muslin fabric) and kraft paper.  If you look at either end of the spine, you will see the headbands of coloured thread. These came ready-stitched on tapes, which can be cut to the correct length. I would like to learn to sew my own, but on a one-day course, time would not allow for such a luxury! Besides, these ones are very nice.

This is the Case for the book.  It's actually upside down, but that doesn't matter really.  If you look at the blue cloth spine, you will see that it curves.  This is because there is no stiffening board inside it. The spine will be fairly soft (though it is quite strong and the book block was strengthened).  I need to line the inside of this, with paper that will make it smooth.  Then, when the endpapers are glued in, to attach the book block, there will be no ugly lumps and bumps.

Here is an idea of how the book will look when finished. You'll see that it's not straight and the end papers need to be trimmed, as they stick out just now. The pages are hand-torn, so the edges should be uneven (it's called a "deckle").  I hope to finish this tomorrow afternoon.

So, that was Friday, up to 4:30pm.  It may not look like much, but there are a lot of steps in making a book of this kind. I learned the correct way to do this - an improvement on my previous method, which was not so sturdy or lasting and had meant I did not manage to put so many pages in my books.  I had also had a lot of problems with making some of the cases fit. I hope I will be able to solve those problems now!  I did actually take a "disaster" with me, to ask the tutor for advice (her name was Janine Pope). She was very kind and explained where I had gone wrong and what to do about it.  I definitely feel that it was time well spent and I had great fun.

Saturday and Sunday

From Friday evening, at around 8:15, we had the Printmaking course.  We began by making a Collograph Plate.  This is a technique that uses a piece of board as a support, onto which items are fixed with archival quality glue (we actually used normal wood glue, which is a strong pva).  The idea is to create texture and interest. Everyone had a different approach and their own ideas.  Janine had made some fabulous plates, with square/rectangular areas that each contained a series of shapes, holes etc, built up into an arrangement that pleased her.  The plate could be inked all over, or just in part(s). Once printed, the print could be cut into sections, to use for other pieces of work, or to display in those sections. 

This is my plate.  It started as something totally different, but turned itself into a sort of seascape.  That seems to be how things go for me - a germ of an idea develops all on its own, into something I didn't plan! (it's not always like that  - I can spend ages making sketches or diagrams, but it does happen if I start work with only mental images and nothing on paper - an adventure really!)

A detail of the bottom area, showing the various fibres, card and paper I used to build up the plate. There are areas of cut card, which are "Drypoint Board" - it has a shiny coating that allows the ink to be wiped off (or mostly wiped off), giving lighter areas.  I also cut and chiselled areas out of the mount board support, to give added texture.

There is tissue paper here, also a bit of net bag, which a sponge or something was packed in.  The dark grey, shiny stuff is carborundum.  This is a gritty material, which will hold ink and give a dense area on the print.

The whole plate was coated in a thin layer of pva, then left to dry thoroughly (which can take a while, as the pva used to stick the textured parts on can take a long time to dry).  Once it was all dry, the plate was coated again, this time with shellac (a yellow varnish).  This would prevent the ink from sinking into the plate and allow ink to be applied, worked with and wiped off etc.

Here are two of the prints I made with the collograph plate.  The colour palette for the top print was much darker than the one below. I had paynes grey and dark blue, also more umber and sienna.  It produced  a much darker print first. The print shown here was taken by making a second printing from the plate, without applying any more ink. I like it (though I have stupidly got a splodge of dark ink on the "sun" and have spoilt it!).  The bottom print is also a second printing, but this time using a much brighter palette.  This is my favourite of the prints made with the collograph plate.

Here is the plate, after it has been inked and printed. I think it makes a good piece of art in itself! 

In fact, there was a lady on the course, named Mary, who was a regular student there. She makes lovely, dainty little plates, which are truly beautiful.  Janine always encourages her to pull a few prints from her plates, but very often, it is the plates themselves that she wants to keep - she prefers them to the print! She even had one of her plates in an exhibition. It was a metal plate, which looked very like a fish jumping out of the river. She had called it "The Evening Rise" because of its resemblance to a jumping fish. It was lovely - she didn't have any prints of this to show, just the plate itself.  If you hadn't known it was a printing plate, you would have perhaps thought it was a collage painting.

While the collograph was drying, I tried a bit of experimenting with metal plates, of the kind Mary and some other people were using.  Janine gets thin metal lithographic printing plates from a local printer, who would otherwise throw them away after use.  The metal is thin enough to bend, score and cut, but stiff enough to make into certain sorts of printing plates.  Mary, Stella and Marlene, who were all returning students, were working on these plates, applying carborundum and other items, for texture and depth and making various marks in the plates as well.  Marlene produced some wonderful pieces in this way, especially one of a standing figure and a series of fabulous images she had made, using a photo of a Venician building.  Stella had brought some photographs of organic objects, stones etc, that she had taken at the beach in Ireland. She made some plates using these as inspiration.  Her plates were more layered, with card or board built up for texture and some carborundum in pva applied with a brush, or sprinkled over areas of the plate.  The prints she made were more abstract than Marlene's but just as interesting and lovely.

Stella didn't mind me taking a photo of her inking-up table.  The plate she was inking up is to the left of the inks, next to the roller.  You can see that she has a very natural, organic selection of colours on her palette.
Marlene was using browns, greys and rust, then tried yellows and greens too.  She also produced some prints using hot oranges and reds, which were very effective.  Mary, on the other hand, preferred a cool palette of turquoises, soft blues, mauve etc.  Her prints and plates were glowing with jewel-like colour.  It is so interesting how everyone produced such different work, using the same materials.

Here are my two experimental metal plates.  The bottom one has areas of carborundum, which have collected dense patches of ink.  There are dots and lines pressed into other parts of the plate, to make designs.  The images in the red and green carborundum were made by pressing pieces of lace into pva and carborundum circles, then removing the lace when nearly dry.  The yellow circle has marks made by drawing in the pva/carborundum mixture.  
The top plate is an image made by pressing a point into the plate, a bit like drypoint printing.  The lithographic plates are not really designed for this technique and my prints were not very good. The best bits were from the textured areas on the top of the second plate (ie. the carborundum etc).

These are two pieces of lace that I found.  I loved these birds and decided to use them for the next technique.  We were given pieces of plastic sheet, a bit like perspex, which you can buy in a diy shop.  We used them to make designs like drypoint printing on metal.  Except this is easier and cheaper (though I'm sure you could get much better results with metal plates, once you were good at it!).

This is a bad photo of my plate.  It has been printed, so the inks are visible in the scratched design.  I got some nice prints from this plate and really enjoyed this technique.  Mary had used this plastic, to make a plate with three feathers on it.  It was amazingly fine and delicate, producing absolutely gorgeous prints.  Mine was not so dainty, but it was still nice enough for a first effort!

A close up of the red bird, so you can see the scratched design.  Some scratches are deeper than others, which gives some variation of tone, while the marks made and the "fill patterns" give more variation.

These are my final two prints.  I'm quite pleased with them, especially the very last.  In fact, Janine told me to sign it, mount it and put it on the wall. I felt that I'd finally produced something worth keeping!

Overall, I had a fabulous weekend.  The place is lovely, the house is beautiful, the room we worked in was a great size, with efficient heating, decent equipment and plenty of space to work.  We had three delicious meals a day, plus morning coffee/tea, with home made biscuits and afternoon coffee/tea with home made cakes! In fact, I probably need to go on a diet for a few days, to make up for all the yummy grub I scoffed!!

If anyone lives in UK and fancies a reasonably priced course, have a look at the Knuston Hall website. They do a lot more than bookbinding and printmaking.  You can stay overnight for a very reasonable rate. They really take care of you and everyone is very friendly.  It's really worth making the effort to go there, even if you live a bit of a distance away (and I gather their prices are much more reasonable than some other places!).  They have put dates of their spring and summer courses on the website. Many of the summer courses last up to a week - a good chance for a holiday doing something that interests you.

That's it then! The story of my Weekend Adventure. Hope you liked reading it.  I took lots more photos - so I don't promise not to bore you with some more of them in the next few days.  Wish I had taken more of the actual workroom and creative processes though.. I got so tied up in what I was doing that I forgot to get my camera out.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

I'm Back!

Well, I'm back. I had a good time and will post the news and a few pics some time tomorrow.

Have just been catching up with a few blogs - forgive me if I haven't yet got to yours, I will, I promise!

It's time for bed... tomorrow is Monday and I will have all my usual jobs to do.

Good night all!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

All Packed and Ready to Go!

So, I'm very excited (and a bit nervous... which has surprised me)! Tomorrow I'm off to a local Residential College, to do two courses over the weekend.

The first is tomorrow and is Bookbinding. We will be producing a journal, with envelopes inside and leather on the cover. Not sure of the details, though she invited us to bring any papers that we might want to use. So I have packed up some possibilities for the cover and/or endpapers.  Also packed my cutting knives and scissors, metal rulers, pens, pencils, marking crayon, pricking tool (though I may not need it), bone folders and, of course, my new Bookbinding Journal that I made last weekend.

On Saturday and Sunday, I'll be doing a course called "Printmaking with a Difference". We've been asked to bring some materials with texture, so I've collected a little boxful of stuff - corrugated card, bits of braid with different designs, some shredded wood packaging, a bit of sponge, little bits & bobs - all sorts of things.  I've also got a new apron/tabard thing, as I expect to get a bit inky! My mum bought me a pack of 2 tabards, like ladies wear for cleaning, serving school dinners etc! But they will be useful. I did need some aprons, so these will do very nicely.

So I'm off tomorrow morning, in my nicely repaired car, just after breakfast, ready for a  9am start!  Hope I don't get lost on the way (though I'm sure I won't).  I will be staying there for 2 nights and don't know if there will be Internet access for my laptop (or time to use it!!), so it may be a bit quiet round here - do talk amongst yourselves, I will be back on Monday.  You could amuse yourselves by looking back and seeing if you have a favourite post... if you can be bothered!

Not much else happening here. I slept Very badly last night, so went back to bed after J. had left for school (so glad I had a day with nothing on the calender!). I slept all morning and woke at 12pm, feeling a fair bit more human.  I spent the rest of the day getting the jobs done and packing my things for the weekend.

D. is on his way home, but doesn't expect to be back til after midnight. I'm off to bed now, folks! Have a good weekend if I don't "see" you.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

A Prize! and other stuff...

Dear Folks, I'm back from a couple of "silent" days... not much doing here recently.  The car was still poorly at the garage, it didn't rain but it was dull, nothing on tv, couldn't get motivated or organised to get on with projects - have 2 started but no real progress.... just that sort of week so far.

But today has been a good day.  First of all, check out this

Isn't this so sweet?

Melanie, the lovely artist whose bird prints I showed in my Art Treasures post the other day,  had a giveaway on her blog, of one of her little felted "Lovebird Tweet" birds, made for Valentine's Day.  Anyway, I won the giveaway (just in case you hadn't already worked it out...). I chose this little red bird, which will be flying its way to me soon.  See it in her Shop here! along with lots of other adorable little felted birds.  I was pretty excited when I signed into Etsy this afternoon, to find a message asking me to choose my prize and send her my address..

So that's my main bit of exciting news.  The rest is just ordinary stuff.  A nice gas man serviced the heating today. He bled all the radiators and lots of air came out - no wonder the system has been so noisy! Now it's much quieter and the house is warmer too. 

No sooner had the gas man gone away, than the phone rang. The car was ready for collection. In honour of the occasion (and because I didn't want to spend another hour and a half on buses!), I treated myself to a taxi - and paid an amazing amount of money for the privilege - just add a fiver to the price of an all-day bus ticket!  Still, the car was repaired under warranty, so that was the only money I had to cough up.  The car is all nice again, running much more smoothly and will actually accelerate if I press the gas pedal! It was a fault with the fuel system and they replaced some parts. The garage manager assures me it's not a recurring fault and should not happen again... I certainly hope he's right - it wasn't funny!  Anyway, you don't expect an almost-new car to develop a drastic problem that requires hospitalisation, do you? I've only had it a year, it was in the garage for 6 months before I bought it, doing nothing except looking pretty. It had 11 miles on the clock when I took it for a test drive! It now has just over 5000 on the clock - not exactly mega-mileage for 13 months' use.

So, now I have the car, I need to get organised for my trip to Knuston Hall, for my two courses this weekend. I'm excited!! I have to go through the lists of suggested materials and find what I would like to use. They do supply materials, but suggest you might like to bring special paper for the book binding and/or extra bits for the print-making - I think we're making collographs, so it'll be stuff with texture and interest.  Tomorrow I will be busy getting ready. I was good today and did an hour of housework, plus some laundry, so I should be able to sneak off for a weekend... I'm sure D. can put his own trousers in the dryer on Friday morning, he knows where the food is, he's promised to do some jobs while I'm away (hmmm..) and the boys have a Warhammer battle planned for Saturday. I don't think they'll miss me at all!

I'm going now, to print some pics of books I have made, to create a little portfolio.

I ordered some from a well-known and popular online photo site. They arrived today and they are awful! They've cropped away all the edges, chopping off people's heads, or parts of my books etc. The photos all have a horrible grey cast on them - even ones taken in sunshine, or by my niece that I have snaffled from Facebook. The "thin" white borders have turned out to be 1/2 cm all round - taking off almost half an inch from a 6x4 photo - hardly a thin border. All in all, they are a big disappointment and the book photos are totallly unusable. I have sent them a complaint e-mail, asking for a return label and a refund! 

Anyway, I will print some of the book photos at home and make a portfolio.  I'm also working on an 8"x8" photo album, to give to my niece, C. when her baby arrives in a few weeks time.  And there's the "Project" mini album to get on with... I've started the pages for Days 7 & 8 now. Will put them up on my blog when they're ready!

I'm off then... early night for me too. Sleep well Peeps!

Monday, 18 January 2010

More Treasure, More Monkeys!

So, last night, while I was browsing through various blogs of my acquaintance, I popped over here to see how Kirsty was getting on.  Found that lovely Fabric Flowers Tutorial, but I also bought myself one of these:

I am going to put it on the wall of my workroom. It will be Fab!
To buy one of your very own (or Keep Calm and Carry On, in red), go to Kirsty's Blog Shop.

Meanwhile, today I did a little browsing of new listings on Etsy (having just relisted a couple of things myself, including this by the boy...

J. did the drawing and I made the notebook cover for him.

But I also found this!

He's actually a Scarf. He's made for adults and you wear him a bit like one of those old-fashioned "fox fur" stoles. Isn't he ace?

So, anyway, I just thought you might like to see these little treasures.  I haven't much to tell otherwise, except that the car conked out on Friday night, with a big flashing "Exhaust System" fault light.  I had to drive it to the garage this morning, for repair. It went veeery sloooowly and I was really getting worried that we wouldn't make it! It started to really struggle in the last mile or so - good thing it wasn't any further, or I'd have been calling them for a tow!

I had to take two buses to get home; one into town, from the garage, then one out to our village, from town.  I waited 15 minutes for the first bus (just missed one), after a 10 minute walk to the stop.  I then had to walk just across the bus station, to the bay where my local bus goes from.  I was lucky, as I had hardly sat down, when the bus came in.  The driver let us on straight away and we left within 5 minutes.  Even with the lucky timing, it still took me 1 1/2 hours to travel a distance that would take 15 minutes by car! 

Car is still sick. It needs a new part, which they have ordered. I hope to have it back before tomorrow night... my neighbour offered to take me to pick it up today, but I think she'll be at work tomorrow.. More buses, or a taxi?

So, you can see that I needed retail therapy (not that I bought anything - trying to be good!).

Hope you liked my treasures.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Got Bricks! The Project Book, Day Two

Two posts in one day...

I just wanted to post some pics of my new pages for the Project Book.

The light wasn't good - artificial light again. Still, I hope you think they will do. I'm quite pleased with myself!

Ooh, just a quick addition. Have you seen the new Prima flowers and others that are coming out just now? Lovely fabric flowers in various styles, very pretty and rather expensive?  Kirsty Wiseman, that amazing crafty blogger, has made a great Video Tutorial, showing how to make very quick fabric flowers. They are fab - go and have a look!

The Plan continues...

Today I got up early and told D. to get up soon. We had jobs to do! We ate breakfast and he kept telling me that we needed to get started on the jobs. So he went upstairs for his shower, while I finished my coffee.  When I went up a short while later, there he was, playing computer games! "I'm washed and dressed" he said, in a defensive voice... and proceeded to spend 1 1/2 hours on the computer! 

Meanwhile, I emptied the very large box of stuff we'd left in the hallway when we moved bedrooms. The "stuff" consisted of bags, shoes and boots (those  I hadn't been able to find and pull out of the box at the start of the cold weather!), dance shoes (which I don't use now but can't bear to part with), scarves, bits and pieces. All these things had been stuffed into our wardrobe in our old room (or rather, they had been stuffed into D's wardrobe, which he and I had shared for 3 years!).  I now have some wonderful wardrobe space of my own, so my things (most of the box contents) are now put away in there. D's belongings are in his own wardrobe and he's happy. 

We cleared away 3 boxes from the hallway, which contained various things.  Then we moved the bookcase from the corner of our new room, back into the cleared hall-space and replaced the books that were taking up 2 more boxes. Result!

D. looks quite pleased with himself!

You can see the doorway to the new bedroom, behind D.  We still need to replace the wallpaper, where the old window was removed and partly bricked up, then paint the walls in that little entrance area. Then we've finished the Project! Those are Springtime jobs though, but the moving and tidying is still ongoing.  Now that we've cleared this space, I can think about a small storage unit for our bedroom, to put books, videos and a couple of baskets of things onto. The space for this is now free, as the bookcase is back in the hallway! I will take some of those books off it and redistribute them around the house - it's looking far too well fed!

Next job is to get those shelves for my Workroom and transfer the rest of my crafting stuff upstairs.  Then we will have a clear Utility room and we can re-arrange the clutter from the kitchen/top of fridge etc.  Also, once we've organised the workroom, we can move the sofa-bed up from the dining room, then re-organise that room too! How lovely it will be, to have a tidy house at last!

The Plan continues apace!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

On the Subject of Art Journals...

Well, Rinda, has been showing us lots of lovely pages from her Art Journal, at her blog here.  I have been meaning to re-start my Art Journal, which I used to keep a loooong time ago, but don't do right now.
I need to have some way of recording ideas and experimenting, before I start a project etc.  I also need somewhere to write notes, ideas and make drawings/sketches/diagrams for my bookbinding projects. 

So... as I am going on a Bookbinding Course next Friday (yay!), I thought I really should have a Bookbinding Journal/Notebook.  I looked at some books today, while I was in WHSmiths, finding a photo-display book (which they didn't have in 6x4 or 7x5, only A4, so I had to buy a slip-in photo album instead, but it's very nice ... more about this later).  Anyway, I looked at various notebooks and stuff, then thought that really I should be making my own. After all, am I, or am I not, a Book Binder?

So I did a quick re-purposing job on a set of plain book signatures that I salvaged from an old sketch book some time ago.  They were already stitched together and had glue all along the spine, which did limit the way I could bind them, but I have produced something I am pleased with:-

A 12" x 8.5" Bookbinding Journal/Notebook

This has hard covers, made of stiff boards, with some great marbled paper that I have had a long time (there's a little mini-book, with a Japanese binding, in my Etsy shop, that has covers made from this paper).

I really like this paper and it just seemed the best thing to use.  The little label on the cover was just made from a trimmed-off piece of the marbled cover paper, stencilled on the back, with the edges inked in gold.

The back is lovely... I was going to use it as the front (the benefits of plain paper inside!!), but I couldn't bear to stick the label over it, so I turned it round. Now I still have that lovely area of marbling, unspoilt and wonderful!

I have left the spine un-stiffened, so it curves round the book and allows just a little room for expansion, if I put any other bits of paper etc inside.  Because the four book signatures were already stitched and glued, there wasn't much option for leaving space to expand. I could've tried removing the glue, but I think it would have proved difficult as it was from a commercially produced book originally and the glue is mega-strong.  Still, it's nice enough and I dont think I will stick lots of bulky things into this particular journal. 

I'm pleased with this - not bad for an afternoon's work?

To return to the photo album.  I wanted to produce a Portfolio, showing all (or most of) the books I have made over the last year or so.  I tried setting up a mini-book on Snapfish, but they only do fancy stuff, with big wide borders round.  Also, when I did set it up, the edges of all my pictures were cropped off, leaving only about 2/3 of the picture showing. This wasn't much good, as I had already cropped and prepared my pictures and no-one can tell what a book looks like, from picture of just the middle bit! 

I did order prints of all my pictures, but I don't have a laminator, so I need to protect the prints in some way, also to present them.  So I have bought a plain, slip-in style photo album.  I feel this is rather admitting defeat, as I should produce my own book. On the other hand, I couldn't find suitable slip-in pages, to enable me to make my own photo book quickly.  There were some designed for postcard collections, but each page held two postcards, there were only 5 pages to a pack, which cost £4.99. To display 50 photos (oh yes, I do have 50!), it would cost me £25! Not a viable option. 

Some time soon, I may well make myself one of the "old fashioned photo album" books, such as I have, to order, in my shop.  However, I am short of time just now, so a ready-made album it is.  It's nice. It's plain red, leather-look stuff, with the word "Photos" in silver on the cover. The pictures are displayed portrait style, so many of mine will be sideways, but that doesn't matter really. Anyway, I like it and it will do nicely!

So that's my news...

D. was away last week, working in Stockholm.  They had SNOW there and the average daytime temperature was around -10 to -15 degrees Celsius (yes that's right, not an error!).  It was even colder at night. 

He took these photos:

These were all taken during the day.  the second one was at around 9am, when the sun was up. The other two were taken on his way home from work, after 5pm, but not very late.  He said that all the trees had a coating of white ice, like sugar. It's very pretty, but amazingly cold!

Of course, the Swedes are fairly used to snow in winter time, so they all get on with it, go to work, drive their cars etc.  No school closures because it snowed and froze! No factories closed because of a gas shortage!  I think the UK needs to get a bit more used to this - we may have more winters of snow and it's costing us millions every day, because we just can't cope. Maybe we should invite the Mayor of Stockholm to come and tell Parliament just how they cope in Sweden!

Anyway, he is home now and wanted to know what we had done with all the snow that was here when he went away!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

The Project 2009 - The Book!

Today I finished the first pair of pages for my book about our Extension Building Project, last Spring.  I had already printed off the photos I wanted and collected together papers, bits & bobs etc; I spent an afternoon last week, planning the structure of the album and making page templates and drawings; I even stopped by the local scrapping shop to stock up on Bazzill Kraft cardstock, for the page bases;  but I hadn't been able to get started on the project itself. 

Until yesterday. I decided I had to get started, or I would never do this.  So I cut the two pages and found two sheets of patterned paper that I liked - then got stuck in! I finished the right-hand page of the pair last night, then came back to it today. 

After a fair bit of messing about, the pages are done.  Here is the result:

I'm quite proud of it - it looks good. There was a bit of messing around with stamps, to get the effects I wanted, lots of fussing with paper and ruler, a fair bit of growling and muttering, but I think it's worked out well in the end. 

The plan is to bind each page at the edge - see the gutter I have left on the outside edges?  The pages will meet in the middle and be fastened seperately, at their outside edges. They will open away from each other, in a double-bound book.  I haven't decided what binding to use yet, which is why it's just marked as a gutter and left plain.
You see that the pages are different sizes?  I plan to make the cover look like our house, in some way (not quite decided yet).  The extension is on the right hand side. It was to this that we added the new bedroom, over the single-storey kitchen that was already there (the photos above are of the back of the house). So, the right side is shorter and narrower, because the finished extension roof is lower than the main house and it's not as wide.
I hope to use these two pages as layout-templates for the rest. I won't use the same papers throughout - though the bases will all be Kraft cardstock - nor the same stamps or even the same arrangement of elements, but this will be the starting point for all the others, so that they flow and go together, to make a whole.
I do think I will have the "Day nn" box and the date/day of week box on each page, with the same letters and numbers.  I may also stamp that little house, but I'm not sure. I'm sure I'll use these stamps again throughout the book but maybe not on every page.
I also plan that the majority of the photos will be on the right (the "extension side" of the house) and the left side will be for journalling and extra photos, mementos etc. The jury is still out about whether to label each photo with a short caption.
I do intend that there will be a pair of pages right at the start, to give an introduction to the whole thing. Haven't decided exactly how just yet -that will probably be easier once I've nearly finished the Project pages.

So, as you see, it's still at the beginning stages and still a "work in progress", but at least I have started and I am pleased with these pages so far!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Treasure For My Studio - What Price Art?

Warning! This post contains lots of pictures (and lots of writing!). Cup of tea and a biscuit is recommended!

This morning I'm stuck at home, because of more snow (well, there's a surprise!).  The up-side of this is that I can have some time in my studio/workroom, sorting things out.  I decided that, as the light was the best we've had in a few days, I would update the photos for some of my Etsy Shop items. 

While I had the light-tent out, I took some snaps of my Art Collection, that I have bought and been given, for my new studio.  Doesn't it sound ostentatious "Art Collection" - but that is what it is, even if it's on a simple scale, as I'm not wealthy enough to buy big or expensive art.

It made me think though, about the value we place on art.  I am delighted with my modest purchases and presents. I think that, once they are mounted and framed up, they will look fabulous on the back wall, above the soon-to-be-brought-upstairs-sofa-bed!  For me, these pieces represent many things, not least because I chose all of them myself and paid for many with money I have earned by selling my own work. 

A number of these artists produce original art on a larger scale, which they exhibit in other locations. Several of them sell items for far more than I paid for my pieces.  Yet, they are happy to offer simpler, inexpensive items - and I am delighted to buy them!

What price Art?

So, here are my pieces of art-work, which I am storing carefully, waiting for the chance to get them all framed and put on that wall: -

Firstly, three lovely items from our wonderful Blog-Friend, Rinda

During December, Rinda was following the Tim Holz prompts to make "Twelve Tags of Christmas".  She was experimenting with various ideas and made some additional tags, two of which she offered as a Giveaway on her blog.  I was lucky enough to win these and they arrived at the weekend.  I am so pleased with them (and wish my photos could be better to do them justice).  The item in the centre is a lovely hand-made card that Rinda sent to accompany the tags, with a friendly greeting inside:-
I think this is a piece of art in itself. The work that went into it is obvious and it's just lovely.

Look at the detail, where it's been stamped and embossed with crackle ink or powders. And the inked edge, to give it definition, and the sweet little stamped girl. Add that to the misted or dabbed background, with its lovely textural look, all placed on a very soft eau-de-nil card... it's just a great little item!

Here are the tags, a bit more in-close-up.  Again, there's all that work on the background, the edges, the stamping, splashed-on snow, embellishments, layered papers.  They may be simple little tags, but they are definitely pieces of art, that I will treasure, especially as they were a little gift from a relative stranger, who took the time and trouble to be friendly!

You know, since I started joining groups, forums, Twitter, Etsy, my blog etc on the internet, I have "met" so many lovely people.  The Crafting Community is, in general, comprised of so many generous, friendly people, who don't mind sharing their knowledge, experience, time and even their work, with others who share their interests.  There's such a support network out there for an aspiring artist or crafter! We are so lucky. Why can't the rest of the world get on as well as we crafty lot do? 

I think we need a new slogan - "Make Art, Not War!"

So, that's Rinda!

* * *

Second, is this wonderful lady, Keri-Anne Pink, alias GingerLillyTea :-

This is a photo of a photographic print, so it's not very good - see it at her Etsy shop for a better idea!

This set is extra-special, because I was at the fairground when the pictures were taken! We were at the local kite festival, to celebrate my birthday and we had a lovely day!
Again, my photo does not do these justice - see them here!

Keri-Anne has been learning photography for about six or seven years.  She has progressed to the point where she has had work published in a number of online magazines, she has made sales in her Etsy shop, published a book of her work and has recently done a couple of shoots for clients. Our family are all very proud of her achievements and she continues to get better and better!

The reason I like her work though, is not because Keri-Anne is my niece.  Her work is popular because of the story-like, fairytale treatment she gives her subjects and the dreamy, soft, muted colours and old-fashioned quality of the images she produces.  Take a look at her shop and follow the links there to her Flikr site. You'll see what I mean!

* * *

Next is this great little item, which is already hanging up above my desk, helping me to count the days...

This calendar is by the fabulous Australian watercolour artist, known as Tummy Mountain. I follow his blog and it's my favourite - I love to read of the goings-on at the other side of the world, where the Little Ones have such great adventures!
I've been looking at his Etsy shop for ages, wondering if I could/should buy a piece of his work.  Another big problem was choosing which one! Now I have twelve (in fact thirteen, as there was a bonus piece of art on the page before January - see the pics in his shop!).  I can have a different piece of art in front of my desk every month this year. Then I can put my very favourites on the wall. And I may even have enough saved up to buy my own special, original piece of Tummy Mountain for myself!

* * *
And now for Melanie Ann Green, known by various types of alias, but in this incarnation, she is InkMeUp Designs!

Melanie does lovely bird illustrations, which she prints in beautiful ways.  Her shop offers prints of a bird, placed on a page from an old, vintage book about birds.  She prints her birds onto pieces from an old map. Or you can buy a notebook with a bird or mouse printed on its cover, or the same mouse print on a piece of sheet-music, a blue-tit on handmade paper... her ideas are great and the presentation is lovely.  Go and see her shop, for some real inspiration.
My four little pictures are printed with her gocco, onto stiff paper, cut to postcard size.  There are a few different sets of these available in Melanie's shop and they are not at all expensive!
As well as her lovely bird and animal illustrations, Melanie produces fabulous birds and monsters, from felted wool, in bright colours.  They are lovely and would make wonderful presents too!

* * *
Next is Lori Dean Dyment, a Canadian artist, who shares a studio in British Columbia with her husband, painter Jean-Francois Dyment.

Lori produces a range of prints, using different printing methods, including linocut, collograph (a printing plate is made by sticking a variety of items to a base, producing a raised, textured surface), monotype (where ink is laid down on a metal plate, then an image is produced by marking the ink base with a variety of tools, fingers etc. Paper is placed over the plate, which is then put through a press, producing a one-off image - hence "monotype"), hand-tinted monotype and other prints, also original paintings and reproduction prints of her original pieces.  She also offers a range of fun pendants, using her images reproduced on art-glass mini-tiles. 
This set of three prints were produced as a limited edition linocut.  I have been admiring them for some time and finally decided to treat myself, after a few good sales prior to Christmas!

* * *
Also,  I have this print, by the artist Nina Moscrip, an artist based in Hampshire, England.

This is a print of a drawing, called "Dandelions".  It was given to me by Keri-Anne, as a present.
Again, this is not a good photo! See Nina's Etsy shop for a better image, also a better idea of her range and versatility!
Nina's work includes delicate pen and wash drawing, but also more robust pieces of ink and watercolour, including many wonderful studies of buildings and street scenes and her interpretive illustrations of stories, such as Little Red Riding Hood. She offers prints and original pieces, which means her work is very affordable. She even offers a custom service, producing an illustration of someone's home, using their photographs.

* * *
Finally, I wanted to show you this:

This is obviously not going to be hung on the wall of my studio! It's a pendant by my friend, painter and sculptor, Sue.  She lives in the Rocky Mountains, Northwest USA and has a shop on 1000Markets.  She is a wonderful artist and a truly interesting person, who I have got to know over the last year or so.  I just love her work, which is full of colour, texture and detail. 
This pendant was part of a range of  "wearable art sculpture" that she made from polymer clay.  I really wanted to buy it but, as 1000Markets doesn't accept payment from UK cards, or paypal, I thought I couldn't.  Sue was happy to come to an arrangement over payment, took the pendant out of her shop and sent it to me, along with another pendant, just because... It is one of my favourite pieces of jewellery and I wear it often. 
Do go and see the variety of Sue's work in her shop, or here at her blog.

* * *
Well, that is my little gallery of artwork! I am excited to have all of it and can't wait to put it all up in my room!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Oooh! Treasure!

Having a busy Monday, as always.  But when I came home for lunch, there was a parcel by the back door. 

I bought these from DotComGiftShop, just for me! The stickers will be for some scrapping I have planned.  The Passport cover was just because I like it and so I don't keep muddling my passport up with J's ... the cake cases are for some time soon, when I plan to make something yummy (probably once I've recovered from too much Christmas food!).

I bought these three for my baby niece.  Keri-Anne & her husband have been decorating her bedroom at the new house.  It looks lovely, with a stained pine floor, white furniture and walls, a lovely old (original) Victorian fireplace and some pink accessories, animal stickers etc.  I know they have plans to buy some of those vinyl wall art stickers, with woodland animals, so when I saw these, I thought they'd go so well with those stickers.  Couldn't resist the mobile. It's just lovely!  The wall stickers are a tall, thin height chart, with seperate animal and plant stickers, to put anywhere.  I bought two of the fabric bags, so they can be hung up and used for storage.

I'm excited about these! I love spoiling that baby... and there's another baby on the way soon too, as my other niece, Caroline, is expecting in seven weeks' time. Then I'll be a Great Auntie twice over!


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