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Jay’s iridescent jewels

jay-jewels-300x162Jay has been working on some ideas for her bits and pieces of polymer clay jewellery, and has come up with these rather interesting iridescent finish pendants and earrings that you can see here. They still have to be finished – some with felt backing, and then of course she will have to decide how she wants to hang the pendants and which earring hooks to use, but with any luck everything will come as she wants them soon — each of them a unique, one-of-a-kind piece.

Sew Pretty

Experimented with one of these sewing pouches yesterday, and I know I shouldn’t be the one to say it, but I will anyway – I love it! Shades of grey and red are high on my list of favourite colours anyway, so this combination of grey felt and red ribbon and buttons is a winner!The photograph doesn’t really do the colours justice as there is a bit of a colour cast. All the felt is made in Germany, so the piece is very much home-grown on a European level. I like the size of the little purse too which is big enough for some scissors, a couple of cotton reels and other small odds and ends for sewing. I have included a thick felt heart to stick a few pins and needles on, so all you have to do is ‘load’ the purse and take your sewing kit anywhere. Good for those crafters who do ‘craft-ins’ with like-minded crafters, or just for those who are not into sewing but like to know where to find the necessary for sewing on the occasional button or darning the odd sock. I might do a few more of these, maybe using other colours for the embellishments. I’ll check out what I have in the felt and button stash.

Early resolutions

Though it may be a bit early for any kind of new year resolutions, I have decided to award myself a credits’ system to organize my day a bit better.

My credits will be divided by work, pleasure, duty, relax. So the idea is that each day I try to do at least a small portion of each of these four areas. If one day I miss out on the pleasure, I can just put a point for that forward to the next day (or whenever suits me best) and take it off the area which got a double (or more) helping of credits. Which means that if one day I spend more time working, I can just award myself more pleasure the next day. Not sure if that is clear – and maybe my calculations are a bit askew, but you probably know what I mean!

Check out the dustbins

Might seem a little bold and osé, but give careful consideration to a thorough rummage through the dustbins of your local clothing (and not only) chain stores.

It is common practice for them to change the store display quite frequently, and most of the old display will end up in the dustbins. It goes without saying that an awful lot of what they chuck out will be of very little ‘aesthetic’ interest, but just a small percentage bears giving a second thought – and in many cases, a second chance.

My hubby works very close to a well-known clothing store which has just changed its display and thrown out a couple of dozen large, cardboard based, photographic images. Each of them is about 70 x 50 cms. My daughter has already taken away a couple that she likes for the bare walls in her new apartment, and I am waiting to see what others hubby brings home from the collection to make a final decision about what goes up in the studio.

What’s left over I will offer to neighbours and some students across the way. I reckon quite a few people will be pleased that we went garbage picking!

NB. You would probably be wise to ask for permission to ‘rummage’ so as not to infringe any laws on privacy etc. Better still ask the manager to give you the stuff before they throw it in the bins!

My biscuit man

ginger0031Been wanting to make some of these little guys for ages, but I was finding it hard to get hold of the felt colour I wanted. At long last my suppliers came up with the goods and I was able to ‘bake’ half a dozen. I also decided to set up a little kit for home ‘baking’ just in case anyone would like to have a go – mainly because I think it is the kind of small project that a younger child could attempt with just the minimum of supervision from an adult.

They actually make lovely little ‘fist’ sized cuddlies, so it would be easy enough just to leave off the hanging loop and use as a small mascot. I know kids like to hang these things on their school bags and use them as mega-sized keyrings too.

Don’t forget though that these are definitely not suitable for very small children because of the small parts.

Going ‘French’

Well it’s been taking up a whole bunch of room gathering dust on one of the kitchen shelves for a couple of years now, so I knew I would be called to justify its existence at some point. I had thrown out our 5 roller hockey sticks and skates without batting an eyelid, so how could I possibly claim sitting rights for a huge bread machine that we never use.

The time had come to put it through its paces again. The awful part of all this is that in the past, apart from the tantalising aroma of home baked bread, the actual bread itself had always been a major disappointment to the palate. So I studied at length the manual because I had always been told to RTFM, and decided that perhaps I should try a different recipe – the ‘French’ bread. Just the very name had always put me off in the past – here I am in Italy using a recipe for French bread! I daren’t tell my mother-in-law since her state of health is already a bit iffy.

Almost 4 hours later – the kitchen floor smothered in sprinklings of flour, sugar, salt and oats – after an irritating sequence of whistles and beeps and churning blades, the ‘French’ bread is ready.

I think my daughter must have followed the aroma from her house further along the island, because just on cue, she arrived with the spud heart in the picture and begged a chunk of newly baked bread to take home for tea. Hubby complained sorely about the amount of crumbs each time you cut a slice, but as you can see, the loaf is almost finished, so it couldn’t have been that bad, even if it was ‘French’ !!!

Well it’s a start!

Had to begin somewhere didn’t I? So here is my first, dry felted ‘bead’ – next step, the coat of many colours maybe?

Anyway, upwards and onwards – I must now set myself a new target with the felt making as I can already see the limitations of tiny felt balls which will most definitely not keep me satisfied for very long!

Framed at last

I may have mentioned that for a number of reasons we have been downscaling our home. One reason was the need (albeit theoretical) to pack our 30 years of marriage into a barge. A more immediate reason has been my daughter’s 99% move away from home. By my calculation, the remaining 1% can be put down to her dirty washing which still finds its way into my washing machine all too often.

So sorting through her mountains of ‘must-keeps’ I came across this old scrap of cardboard dating back to her ‘Gothic period’, a very trying time for both of us. For her because she was going through that terrible adolescent stage of ‘I-hate-the-world-and-nobody-understands-me-least-of-all-that-idiot-of-a-mother’, whilst I, for my part, was suffering a similar sense of distress for my apparent incapacity to keep things on track.

But anyway, finding this declaration immortalised by her own hand, I somehow felt a duty to keep it within ‘eye-shot’ so to speak, just to remind me of what we had come through together.

She could hardly believe that I had actually paid to have her graffiti framed – and was gobsmacked that I had dared to hang it amongst all our other ‘art’ on our lounge walls!

Lest we forget …

Mixed media lino prints

art-washI do mixed media work using upcycled newspapers with my lino cuts and here you can see the base sheets hanging outside my window to dry. When there is  a breeze up I keep my fingers tightly crossed that they don’t all end up in the canal directly beneath the window!!

When these sheets dry, they then get a partial cover of gesso before eventually having the prints added on top. The prints will be my usual lino prints but will have the added attraction of the newspaper cuttings’ base – a style which is a bit more contemporary and tends to appeal to a different audience.

lino-saluteHere on the right is a sample of the mixed media lino cut prints…each is then framed by the textured cardstock matte frame which finishes them off really nicely. Every one comes out with a totally unique combination of colours highlighted with copper paint (or silver or gold – whichever is most appropriate for the base colour scheme). I just choose the basic colourways – usually 3 different colours and then wait for the surprise…never quite sure how the finished mix will look!


felting-fashion-100x128This most divine book dropped onto my doorstep yesterday and has me drooling. I have mentioned that recently I fell in love with felt, but if I thought that was love, I just hadn’t been prepared for this new surge of passion that this book has brought through the door. If anyone is interested, I picked it up at Amazon, and it’s called ‘Felting Fashion, Creative and inspirational techniques for feltmakers’ by Lizzie Houghton. For the time being I have limited myself to just devouring the images of Lizzie’s incredible garments, and the brief passages I have read already make me aware that I probably just don’t have the kind of work area to be able to make any of the bigger pieces. But maybe I will be able to attempt a brooch or pair of earrings – who knows. Anyway, if you get a chance, take a look — you won’t be disappointed.

Made by Hand

When you buy something from an artist, you are buying more than an object. You are buying hundreds of hours of failures and experiments. You are buying days, weeks and months of frustration and moments of pure joy. You are not only buying a thing, but a piece of heart, a part of the soul, a moment in the life of someone.

by Giacomo Cinque
'La Sartoria Antica'

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