Monday, 10 August 2015

Lots of fun....

They say that time flies when you're enjoying yourself, so I guess I have been. Ages since my last blog, mainly preparations for Cambridge Open Studios; as it takes time to transform my space I now open for all 4 weekends in July. It was a successful OS with lots of lovely, interesting people visiting from all over the place. I so enjoy meeting people who take time to travel out to the sticks to sleepy Steeple Morden and made new friends and useful contacts with other artists.
 I even managed to take a photo or two and as my sister came to help actually appeared in one!
I'd planned a day at Art in Action as I missed it last year, so Gina and I had a lovely day.
Of course I found the Printmaking tent fun and also loved the ceramics on display, purchase mades in both!
The willow weaving interested me as I was booked at Cottenham Summer school on a weeks course.
That was at the end of July and I really enjoyed getting to grips with a different medium. I've always wanted to try it and thought I must do it before my arthritus in my hands makes it impossible! Sue Kirk was an excellent, talented tutor who guided us expertly through the different weaving techniques and types of willow. I enjoyed the whole process but my hands didn't! They have flared up in new places and have been quite sore, but as I'm having a rest from even lino cutting for a while are gradually settling down.
The beginning of my round basket and it finished; roundish!!
It took me a day and a half, as did the following one which was very tricky!
The last 2 days were on garden structures and this sphere even came home one evening to work on!
It now sits in my garden along with 2 dragon flies which I haven't photographed yet.
A fun week and Barney and William have already found a use for one of the baskets, it was a helmet when they were playing racing cars!
Now I'm spending 2 days in Dorset before preparing for Folk East, a festival near Woodbridge. I'll be demonstrating screen printing on textiles for 3 days; should be fun!
During all this I have been preparing in different ways for my big adventure....more soon... but it involves walking.....
Sorry, this picture seems to have disappeared, here it is!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Walking in Cornwall

After arriving in heavy rain at Penzance and nearly getting blown away by force 6 winds, it didn't bode well for 9 days walking part of the south west coast path. We set off the next morning in full waterproof gear!
Luckily, the rain stopped by 11 and the day gradually brightened and layers came off as it warmed up.
Newlyn is still a busy fishing town.

Wild flowers everywhere, the sun shining, beautiful views and hardly anyone around., wonderful!
I loved this beach of huge boulders like giant stepping stones, fun to walk across.
A small scabious and masses of thrift.
I loved the spectacular views, the silence, the wind cooling me down, the towering cliffs, the many shades of blue in the sea, changing all the time. Just stunning, I felt so lucky to be strolling along in such a beautiful area.
My friend Sue and friendly dog we met along the way.
The ruined buildings in the tin mining area were interesting, no sign of a certain person galloping by.....
My favourite, so atmospheric. We sat and had our lunch here, then walked the path over the hill... more next time.
Cambridge Open Studios is here again and I'm opening my studio all 4 weekends in Juy. Very busy getting ready, new prints, new designs on tea towels, aprons and cushions and lampshades.
Birds and Flowers
New mugs and coasters
A new lampshade and lanterns
More cards to pack, framing, dusting, tidying, hanging... two days to go,
looking forward to meeting more lovely people.
I nearly forgot to mention this fabulous book
I have copies to sell at my studio, I haven't photographed my pages yet but one of my designs is in the introduction.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Walking and wonderful news

I've started walking most days early in the morning for the last couple of weeks. I feel as if I'm starting the rest of my life this year. My dear mother died when she was only 66, my age now. I have missed her all this time and feel so lucky to have good health.
I don't remember the holiday, only the blue and yellow woolly swimming suit!!(soogy and droopy when wet).
My dear Will is here for a while and we were delighted to hear wonderful news following his recent scan. The oncologist came into the room smiling, Will's brain shows no sign of tumour, just brain.
This was what we hoped for of course and I can't really put into words the feeling of relief after 4 years of worry. All being well the next scan will be in 9 months, so we can all get on with our lives with cancer being in the past. I feel exhausted but at the same time enormous gratitude and admiration for all the dedicated, skilled people who have looked after Will.
Hence the feeling of a new start and the need to mark this year in a big way, I have an idea but I'm not sure that I'm brave enough.....
Will teaching Barney to use his camera.
I decided not to take my camera on my walks and just to observe. So no photos but many magical moments held in my memory, all with the sound of birdsong and Spring emerging in all it's beauty.
I saw a pair of blackcaps for the first time (identified when I got home); pheasants, partridges and skylarks flying up just in front of me; skylarks singing high above me; the kestrel who was my only companion, on the wire above, just keeping ahead of me and then swooping down a yard or so from me so I could see his glorious colours; the buzzard resting in a tree and effortlessly taking off; a flock of goldfinches on seedheads in a ditch; the red kite; the mistle thrush singing his cheery song, a pair of yellow hammers and all the usual lovely birds. The best moment was a pair of long tailed tits on a branch both with a feather in their beak, busy nest building. This morning was bright and sunny and a welcome change from the blustery, cold wind of recent days. The tight, sticky buds of the horse chestnut were just opening to reveal the wonderful lime green new leaves unfolding and several brimstone butterflies were out and one red admiral. What a beautiful time of the year.
Tomorrow I will be teaching lino cutting at Art Van Go in Knebworth, my first time working there, looking forward to it!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Fun with fabric

I am often drawn to fabric projects and feel fortunate to have been sewing in various ways since I was little.
Sadly my first little needlecase, made when I was about 7, disappeared in the painful years of divorce and moving but recently I came across my old needlework file and realised what a sound foundation the needlework lessons gave me. I really enjoyed sewing and 3 friends and I made history when we insisted on taking both Needlework and Art at O level. We had to see the headmistress about it but stuck to what we wanted and the whole exam timetable had to be changed for us. Interestingly, one of those friends is Alison Wilding, now a world famous sculptor.

This file cover was the first thing we made at Senior school. Here's the first page in my needlework folder.
I remember being scared the first time I used an electric sewing machine but by O level was making my own dresses and enjoying it; heres my Olevel Practical paper - a trip down memory lane!
More useful things we learnt!
My grandson's quilt has been fun, about to start the machine quilting.
NOT my favourite job!
I've used up some more 1970's strips to make a table runner for my sister Liz, or it could be hung or put on a bed or chair.
Nearly finished.
Exciting news is that my hare prints will be in a lovely new book.  It was March 2014 when I first heard about this project and now it's nearly there! Very exciting. It is called The Artful Hare by Alan Marshall. Publication will be early May, books available from and selected bookshops and galleries, price £27.50 (hardback, 275mm x 245mm, 208 pages, work by 73 British printmakers, 370+ prints).
Here's the cover, I'm looking forward to holding a copy! More information on my fb page. Please share my post if you can to spread the word. Thank you!

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Endings and beginings

I had a quiet, restful end of year with time to reflect on 2014. This year I want to practice my mindfulness, be grateful for each day, help others, learn, relax, be brave, enjoy more creativity and walk a lot.
Hopefully 2015 will be full of good health, fun and new experiences; happy times spent with family and friends.
I was pleased to finish my shawl which was a challenge for me!!
It has proved useful on chilly evenings and is a lovely soft wool. I was missing the therapeutic qualities of knitting so started on this hat. 
Another new beginning is a patchwork quilt for my little William in limey greens and greys; I bought some at the Festival of quilts in 2013 and as William is still in a cot I knew I had plenty of time before it was needed. Over Christmas I needed a change and this has been ideal. 
I knew I wanted to base this quilt on the flying geese pattern and finally decided on this
design. I made up 2 blocks using fabrics I liked and then made up 2 small blocks the same. I remembered how difficult it was rearranging the blocks of Barney's quilt on the floor; this way by the time I'd made enough blocks I could play around with the little ones (just pieces of fabric stuck on paper) to see how I wanted to arrange them. I tried out lots of combinations. I like working this way, planning block as I go and making changes. 
Of course you don't get the scale of the fabrics but it helps to see the balance of light and dark and patterns and although fiddly to do beats crawling around on the floor moving blocks. There are so many possibilities. 
With each pair of blocks I tried to link the fabrics I chose, however loosely! Here we have 2 methods of transport, bicycles. I've finished the blocks and am putting it all together with plain grey strips inbetween each block, 'a bit tricky' as Barney would say.
Meanwhile to relax I'm enjoying the new books that appeared over Christmas. The other morning Louise said she, Barney and William were in bed until 10am reading books (14!) - I think a love of books runs in the family! Here are some I'm enjoying, the Quilt history one is fascinating, I'm very lucky to have some quilts from my family in Cumberland, more of that another time. 

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Odds and ends

A drop of festive drink to warm you up; I've passed this recipe on to several people after serving it at my Christmas Open Studio. With no alcohol it's a good choice for anyone driving and is delicious.
Mulled Fruit Punch
1litre red grape juice
500ml cranberry juice
500ml orange juice
6 heaped tbsp demerara sugar
2 sliced lemons
2 sliced oranges
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cloves
1 heaped tsp garum marsala
Make a bag from a clean cloth and put the spices inside, tie up so that you can hang the bag in the pan. Put the rest of the ingredients in the pan and heat to just under the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, taste and add more sugar if needed. Enjoy!
I've found knitting therapeutic and once I'd worked out how to start this pattern (5 attempts!) I enjoyed the challenge. I bought the wool from baa ram ewe who had a stand at Ally Pally Knit and Stitch show; I really didn't need anything else to do but found myself going back to their stand, I loved the colours and chose these to knit this shawl; the internet proved useful for stitches I didn't know.
I worked out my stripes and it's nearly finished, just a few more ends to weave in and then I need to block the shawl. 
My print group met for our last printing day this year with a few Christmas goodies to help our printing along. I thought how my life has changed since I retired and discovered printmaking; a new creative journey for me and lovely new friends, time to spend with family; especially my two little grandsons which is precious time indeed. 

Both have a great interest in books and of course William likes to copy his big brother. 
I wish you all a brilliant Christmas wherever you are, I will be with my daughter and her family having fun.
Recently I swopped a print for a press, this is a dear little etching press which I will have fun with in the new year. I can use it for drypoint, monoprints and lino prints as well, only small ones but good to have at home to experiment and play with. 
Happy Christmas and let's hope 2015 will be a happy, healthy and creative year.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Printing ready for Christmas Open Studios

I've been printing fabric to make cushions for my Christmas Open Studio weekends.

First the cutting fabric from the roll and marking up where I want my central images.

This time I was printing hares in black, grey and red. 
Here on tea towels and here are the cushion pieces. 
I've also been cutting a new lino block, a hare in the summer to complete my hare series. 
Now finished and ready to print along with a small lino block of Hare and Moon. 
I cut a stencil to screen print some backgrounds for the hare print. 
Screen printing in progress
and the results 
I can never decide which process I like best, so I often combine screen printing and lino cutting.
I hope to have time to print the block on top of the screen printed background soon.
Meanwhile I've been hand colouring my other hare print. The original edition is sold out. It's fun to be painting again and I enjoy mixing and playing with different colours. 
Now to make up the cushions!