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Travel Buddies

JesS and I have been doing quite a few things, though she tends to limit herself to flashes of inspiration for earrings. I’m the one who pulls out the sewing machine, and this is what I was up to last month…

I call them travel buddies to take along with you during your short breaks and vacations and use as shoe bags, document pouches etc. although they could very well be used for all sorts of other functions of course. As a small child, my daughter always had 2 or 3 bags like this to host her special travel companions – a favourite doll, pjs and so on.

The inspiration for these coordinated sets (4 bags per set) came from some gorgeous Liberty prints I found designed for the Victoria & Albert Museum in London for an exhibition of old British quilts. Many of the prints I have used are replicas of those old quilting fabrics which I have coordinated with a block colour to create these drawstring bags and matching accessories. Once I got the “bug” I went ahead and made several sets in several different colourways – some using the Liberty prints and others using pretty Tyrolean cotton in various traditional prints. We are lucky enough to find these quite easily here and I pick up most of mine in a local market.

In most cases I have used a chunky twisted cord for the drawstring, and have added either wooden or hand crafted polymer beads to block the cord ends. Each set has a little complimentary lavender pod sachet to keep your suitcase smelling sweet!

Alle Richtungen???

Can’t find this ‘Alle Richtungen’ on the map for the life of me!!! Just discovered our road trip photos sitting waiting for some attention .

We had a motorbike some 30 years ago – just a little thing which we kept whilst we were in the UK for about 3 months and then sold when we returned to Italy. All sorts of reasons for not getting another one, not least having a family and needing to cart baby things around.

Then a couple of years ago we set in motion a major life change and put our house on the market with the intention of using the funds to buy a house boat and move full time afloat. But we were not able to foresee the terrible international economic crisis which hit the house market – nor had we given enough consideration to the wieldy bureaucratic machinery which blocked our request for a mooring here in Venice.

So – rather than feel that we had been let down in our adventure, we invented a new one and sold our car to buy a motorbike. The first bike was a Honda Shadow, but it was SOOOOOOOOOOOO uncomfortable on long rides, and earlier this year we moved onto what you see here in the photo, a Moto Guzzi California. You see, hubby is about 6’2″ so needs a bike with plenty of leg room. On the other hand, I am only 5’2″ but I need a bike with plenty of tummy room – and this bike fitted the bill perfectly!

And after experimenting a few short rides (to the local supermarket and back), in August we set off from Venice to the UK. Wow – what a haul – and how many nightmares I had to deal with! Without going into too many details, the trip did me a lot of good – I had to face up to a whole bunch of private fears, but at the end of the day, I think I came out stronger and with a renewed sense of respect for my hubby who did a brilliant job. Driving for almost 5000 kilometres in some really lousy conditions, and having to deal with some major problems (including me and my back seat driving) he came out with top marks!

Keeping the chocolate hot

Keep the hot chocolate hot

is what I said. There are all sorts of occasions for wanting to take a cup of hot tea or cocoa to someone outside – maybe it’s for the lads working under the car bonnet – or for the gang around the bonfire letting off fireworks – or even for the snowball fights when there’s too much fun going on to drop everything and go inside. Helps you to keep those dirty feet outside the door for a bit longer too!
So this is my solution – a thick felt holder for hot mugs so that you can take the hot drinks outside and be sure that they won’t go cold straight away. What do you think?

Felt ornaments for the tree

Tough going

for the felt hearts I am sewing right now. Not quite a drill job, but I do have a pair of pliers to hand to pull the needle through at almost every stitch! The problem is probably down to the fact that I am having to use a hefty cotton and a needle with a larger eye to stitch these things up. I never expected it to be a quick and easy sew, but this is ridiculous! Taken me all morning to sew just 4 hearts! Anyway, hope to get some pictures up soon so that you can see what it’s all about. A lovely set of Christmas tree ornaments, all sewn by hand … they are meant for the shop, but I am very tempted to just keep them for myself!

So here they are

a few mangled fingers later! My lovely set of softly padded felt hearts for the tree – and best of all, there are 12 of them! Don’t know about you, but I often find it very frustrating when I am looking for some unusual tree decorations to discover that they are being sold in sets of 6 – now what can you do with a set of 6 only I ask?? So I struggled on to come up with 12 of these for this set, and even if you don’t use them on the tree, there are enough to add to a lovely garland for the front door – or maybe over the top of the mantelpiece. I also think they would make extra special gift tags – any other ideas?

Time for an overhaul

Here is a quick peek at what I have been up to over the last few days.
tree-hearts1-300x271
Just realised that Christmas is around the corner, and that we have a craft market at the weekend – although the weather forecast is not in the least bit encouraging so I have my fingers and toes crossed that it will hold up until Monday! At the last market all our earrings seemed to go really well, so I should have been making some of those – but have just not found inspiration right now! Fell off the motorbike and I have a streaming cold and my brain (and body) are too addled to think creatively.

So felt hearts it is.

Collecting a rainbow

A couple more of the gorgeous colour pigments to add to my collection. I just wish I had taken a pic of the shop window to show you what a fantastic display these powders make. I was wondering around town with my photographer friend Mark, and whilst I was chatting to the shop owner and making my purchase, he was outside taking a pic of the shop window. Can’t have it all …so Mark gets the pic and I get the pigments!

Anyway, on the subject of Mark, we had a great few days wandering around town doing a couple of exhibitions and getting in a couple of nice meals…catching up with our news and meeting up with some of my old friends too. A couple of them own a lovely restaurant called “Il Covo” where Mark and I ate a delicious meal yesterday…I can hardly believe that some 40 years have gone by since I first met Cesare the owner! Anyway, if any of you are ever around these parts looking for something local to do in Venice, Cesare does cookery lessons for small groups…he has a passion for food and can make even an omelette sound like heaven!

Mark has just called me from the airport… as a travel photographer, he is off on…well…some more travels. I think the next few weeks see him in London, France, Turkey and then the States again. It’s a hard life!!

Jazz Note Books

So I have moved one step further with my note book production and have done some larger ones (21.50 x 15.00 cms), still using the gorgeous designer papers. These are all one-of-a-kind, with both back and front covers in super paper, with a block of 40 coloured sheets (80 sides) inside, bound with spirals. I have experimented with one of the covers as a photo mount too – a fun way to recycle the covers when the paper inside is all used up. Anyway, take a look for yourselves…

Note Block Holders

Been doing these little note block holders. I have a feeling that with the current economic crisis people are going to be looking more for useful gifts rather than ornamental ones, so this is my answer to that need: a little covered cardboard note block holder with closeable flap and linen covered ‘hinges’. When the notes run out they can easily be replaced with a standard sticky note block (76 x 76 mm) which are available in most stationers. I have found some beautiful designer papers which I’m using for these holders, choosing the smaller prints which show up to best effect on small areas – and I am using some of my pretty glass and ceramic beads for the closure, along with the pretty scrapbooking rivets on some of them. On others I have been trying out the clever little velcro dot closures which are very effective.

Santa’s Laundry Fridge Magnet

Greetings with a difference

and they don’t come much more different than this one! Your seasonal wishes will certainly stand out with this cute (ouch!) washing line full of Santa’s smalls – and larges too! These will be custom made as and when they are requested, but that shouldn’t affect the delivery times so within a couple of days they should be slipped into the mail and whizzing off to you.

After a terrible mix up

with car hire and times and commitments, we managed to get over to Ikea yesterday morning before the rush started – a miracle in itself considering it was Friday! I think hubby sold our car to keep me out of the place – we own a motorbike now and his biggest thrill is telling me that things won’t fit into the panniers, though I think he would be quite amazed at what I could ram into those bags given half a chance! But right now daughter is trying to sort out some furnishings and odds and ends, so he made an exception to his ban on the store, and resigned himself to losing a day’s sanity by following us meekly around whilst we closely inspected saucepans, laundry baskets and bed linen! Needless to say, both women came away with a satisfying pile of inane, and generally useless, paraphernalia, and our heads absolutely buzzing with crafting ideas!

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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