Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Little Painted Teapot

Well, my goal to write a blog post every week isn't turning out very well.

Things are quite slow here at the moment. I have lots of projects in the pipeline but little energy to do them. I do have something to show you today though. A few weeks ago a group of us ladies visited a pottery painting studio and had a go at decorating some ceramics. It was quite fun to sit and natter and do a bit of painting.


There were quite a few different ceramic pieces to choose from. Mugs and cups of different sizes, plates and bowls, decorations and ornaments. I wanted to make something practical that I could use. I didn't fancy making something to sit on a shelf and gather dust, so I chose to paint a teapot.

I love the shape of this teapot.


My plan, before seeing this, was to paint a mug in a grid with wildflowers filling each grid. That idea flew out the window when I found the teapot. 😊

As you can see, I stuck with the wildflowers. At least, I hope you can see I stuck with the wildflowers. It's a bit abstract. The purple thingies are lavender and the blue is cornflower. I don't know if you can see, but if you look carefully, there are little yellow dots too. They were going to be flowers but I decided to leave them floating. I made a mistake when painting the centre flowers. There were supposed to be 3 lavender heads, but I ran out of space. Too much nattering I think.


I've just realised while I'm typing this, that the lavender-cornflower-yellow flower combo mirrors a little patch in my mum's garden. It's a little spot I love to investigate in the summer. Each of the plants is visited by a different type of bee which are fascinating to watch. Bee-watching along with the heady scent of lavender makes for a very enjoyable and sleepy summers afternoon. Painting my mum's garden was totally Freudian though, I was thinking 'meadow' at the time.

My husband brought me some tea in bed one morning, bringing the tea in this funky teapot. (I married a sweetie) It was the first time we used it and I'm really glad I had the forethought to get up and take the tea into the living room because the pot dribbled the tea all over the tray, the coffee table (tea table?) and the floor! I'm so glad I didn't pour it in bed! So it turns out I have a lovely new teapot that is really unusable that will look pretty sitting on a shelf, gathering dust after all. Oh well. I love the colours so it will look nice on that shelf 😉

The pottery painting day was meant for the ladies and children but my husband decided he would stick around after seeing this:

This mug holds more tea than my teapot! He says he's going to put a cactus in it

Not a bad paint job, eh? He's a sweetie and a big kid!

                                                                  *B*

Friday, 10 February 2017

Rhino Winter Project WIP


Hello lovely peeps. Today is a good day. It is Friday, it's sunny, I have a vase full of flowers my husband surprised me with and I have made progress on my Rhino. Whoop!


Here he is.


Do you make softies or soft sculptures? I really enjoy the slow process of sewing something by hand. Just focusing on making each individual stitch, going slow and enjoying every moment.


The most magical part of sewing a softie is making the face. That's when they come alive. They change from a few pieces of fabric and thread into a little animal with a personality. This rhino 'came alive' when his ears were sewn on above his eyes. Then he really looked like a rhino.


He isn't quite finished yet, as you can see in this rather undignified photo. He still needs feet, which are just little circles of felt sewn to close up his legs.

I've stuffed and re-stuffed this rhino a few times. His legs are particularly troublesome. He's a rhino which, of course, are natures tanks. So I want him to look strong but not too bulky. The nice thing about the wool felt I'm using is that it stretches and forms ever so slightly with the stuffing, which means I can make him look like he's got strong muscles under his 'skin'. I don't think I'm quite there yet. I'll un-stuff and re-stuff a bit more until I get it the way I like.


To finish I'd like to embellish him to make him a bit whimsical. I'm thinking embroidery or adding some 3D elements out of polymer clay to make him all the more sculptural. Maybe something that makes him look like a mountain? Or just some nice swirly or floral patterns? I'll wait until he's all sewn up to decide.

I'm linking up with Jennifer's Winter Projects link party at Thistlebear. There are always lots of fun and inspiring projects that people share over there so I encourage you to go have a look at what people are up to.

Have a lovely weekend

                                                                     *B*

Friday, 3 February 2017

Simple Pleasures

There's something about the grey days of winter that makes colours seem so much more vivid. I suppose it's the same thing that makes chocolate taste so much better when you're really hungry (Have you noticed that?).


I decided to bring some colour and a bit of spring into the home with a potted hyacinth. I meant to do this at the start of winter but didn't get round to it until now. It sits, growing slowly on a colourful crochet doily. I can't wait to see the little flowers come out. Hyacinths smell so good when they bloom.

I love the burst of colour it's added to our living room already. The freshness of the green leaves and moss and the lavender coloured glass jar has cheered up it's shelf beautifully.


The sun was shining on the hyacinth this morning and, playing with the colours, made it look even prettier. I've tried to capture it in the photos but they don't do it justice.

My craving for colour today lead me to my sketchbooks. I used to paint and draw a lot but have got out of the habit. I cleared my desk to make space and got a few supplies out. Before I show you my colour play let me show you another simple pleasure.


This is my hedgehog. He is a clothes brush that I have owned since primary school. I love him. Of course a clothes brush doesn't need to have a face to be functional but does it make me smile? Yep. Every time.

I needed him today to brush my table down after sewing with some purple fluffy fabric. My table was covered in it! Here's what hedgey picked up. So much purple fluff.


When I paint I have a very free and expressive style. I love to see the interplay of colour. Here's what I did today. A quick sketch brought out with some brusho, which is a type of powdered paint/dye. My favourite way to use brusho is to wet the paper and sprinkle a tiny amount on and watch how the colours mingle with each other. The sketch is pretty bad but I love the colour.


Look at the effect it's made. It's little things like this that I love. 😊


My plan was to ink the sketch and then add a layer of colour over that, maybe in paint then pastel, but I love the colour and pattern in the brusho so much I don't want to take away from it. The problem with working in layers is having to be patient and wait for each layer to dry before adding the next one. I have another page waiting to dry so I can add the next layer. I love painting and really miss it. The drawing below, I did some time ago, has five layers but mostly dry layers so, no waiting around.

Another simple pleasure is looking through old sketchbooks.

This photo looks really cluttered because this sketchbook is made of lots of off cuts of paper
Another simple pleasure I indulged in today was a pot of delicious mango oolong tea. This one is made with roses and chrysanthemum. I love this little Japanese teapot and cup. It is impossible to feel any stress or anxiety at all when drinking a lovely tea freshly poured from this teapot.

I'm sorry the tea is out of focus, I was relying auto focus which is a bit rubbish
So they are the 5 simple pleasures I have indulged in today. I hope you have a nice weekend ahead filled with lots of simple pleasures too.  I have made some progress on a hand sewn rhino softie and I hope to have that to show you soon. Take care.

                                                                      *B*

Monday, 30 January 2017

Crochet-Block

I've suffered artist's block many times. You know, when everything you want to draw, paint or design is just a bit 'meh'. Normally I would work in a sketchbook and work through the block. I even bought a new sketchbook specifically for one particular artist's block that was so bad I didn't want to ruin my other sketchbooks by working in them.

What I currently have is crocheter's block. I didn't know there was such a thing until the end of last week. After the triumph of winning a game of yarn chicken with a scarf, as I blogged about in my last post, I've had a few stalled starts.

The crochet items in my shop have been getting a fair bit of interest which is really exciting as I only moved my shop online in September after selling in shops locally for a few years. So, full of enthusiasm and a head full of ideas I bought a bundle of woolly goodness for projects for my shop and some for me.

The rainbow yarn is going to be a pair of socks. Squee, rainbow socks!

You know how it is when you have a bag full of delicious new goodies. You want to start using all of it all at once. I had three potential shawls, two pairs of socks, a scarf and two neck warmers in there. Which to start first?

I know what the yarn will become already as I always buy yarn and fabric with specific projects in mind to make sure I don't over spend or end up having beautiful materials languishing in cupboards and boxes. I had to learn to have this willpower when I realised I was buying lovely but unusable things.

Found a fabric that would be perfect for a little tote bag? Then buy a lining fabric to match at the same time. Want that yarn in your favourite colour? Work out what you would like it to be and buy enough for that project and no more. It can be so frustrating to be itching to make something and realise you don't have quite enough of one thing or nothing to co-ordinate with another.

So far I've made a scarf and a neck warmer, and they turned out well... Then I started on a gentlemen's scarf. That's where my crocheter's block started. It's based on a scarf I made for my husband two years ago (wow, is it that long ago already?). I designed it specifically for him and the way he likes to wear his scarves and he loved it. Way more than I thought he would. He's been telling me to make more to sell ever since as he's sure other men would love it too. So, I finally listened and bought some wool in 'manly' colours. The problem is, two years is a long time ago and I didn't think I would make another one so I didn't write any notes on how I made the original.


Long story short, some experimentation was required. I used my husbands scarf as a guide and made a start. After a few rows I realised I must have used a bigger hook the first time around. The fabric was very dense and I'd like it to have more drape. I tried to frog but the wool in the yarn had fused together a little bit so it tore away instead of unravelling normally. Arrrrgh! I can't go back so have to go forward. Only now of course, it is using a lot more wool and I will need another ball to finish it. I haven't got another ball because of my 'only buy as much as you need' rule. Sigh.

See how dense it is? At least it will be scrummy warm

Lesson learned: write notes on new designs so I can repeat it and buy wool that can be easily frogged for prototypes.

My husband's solution is to just buy more wool and finish this scarf for him. He really loves the colour and pattern. I think that's what he secretly wanted all along. 😊 He'll have to wait though, I threw it back into the stash for now.

After that I decided to start a project I've been looking forward to for ages. My first pair of socks! I found a great pattern and some nice yarn that I really love. This is going to be a luxurious treat for me. It will cost way more than I would normally spend on a pair of socks. Of course the pattern recommended doing a tension square first, but as the pattern fits a range of sizes and I'm very impatient, I skipped that. Sigh, again. 


This is the toe piece with a few rows to go. It fits my big toe. 

Shamefully, that little piece of yellow plastic? That's my stitch marker. It broke. I'm good at breaking plastic stitch markers. Now I'm using the piece that broke off. 😔 Fortunately it's easy to see where your up to with this pattern.

Here it is squished out so you can see how little it is. 



Looks like I'll be doing a tension square after all. Not now though, I've thrown this back into stash too. I'm taking a break from crochet to do some embroidery and secret sewing until my crochet mojo comes back.

I absolutely love this yarn. It is Drops Fabel and is so soft and squidgy. I've never really liked yarn that has a speckled pattern before but I decided to give it a go as it is the yarn Elin, the designer used in her pair and I really like the look. 



I love the way the colour is coming out, it's so subtle and delicate. I'm still really excited about making my first pair of socks. Watch this space.


Before I sign off, I have to share this photo of the aftermath of cutting out some fabric pieces. This is top secret, so I can't show what it will be yet. Just look at the mess this fabric has made. It leaves a trail of purple fluff everywhere it goes. 


Do you ever suffer artist's/crocheter's block? What do you do about it when it strikes? Please share in the comments if you have any tips.

                                                                             *B*

Friday, 13 January 2017

Yarn Chicken

Do you play yarn chicken?

Yarn chicken is a game of nerves and determination. It is played when you are reaching the end of your yarn and the end of a project or row and you don't know which one will end first.

When I began the final row of this scarf my chances of finishing it looked bleak but I went ahead anyway. I was amazed to reach the half way point. I crocheted on.



                                                         The yarn ball looks so small.




                                                     The end of the row looks so distant.




                                                                              Eek...


                                 

                                                                          Wait...




                                                                   This looks good...




                                                                  Ha ha ha! Woo hoo!




                                                              Eat that, yarn chicken!
                                          (eat that yarn chicken? What does that taste like?)



Bekki 1 - Yarn 0

                                                           
                                                                       *B*


Friday, 9 December 2016

embroidered brooches



Embroidering a little ATC has left me feeling all inspired to keep embroidering on a tiny scale.

I really like working with small designs but the question of what to do with them once they're made has stopped me from making more. Until now that is.
I've started making little brooches. I've made one already and that turned out pretty well (I thought so anyway 😊), so now I'm making more.





I'm sticking with fairly simple designs for now. Summery flowers and bees to stave off winter blues and one with birds and snow which is both wintry and blue! 

Embroidery is very calming. I've really enjoyed making these tiny stitches. Just focusing on each stitch as it's made. It's quite therapeutic. 

The snow flakes are such tiny details it is really tricky to photograph them.

These little brooches also have the added benefit of being relatively quick to make, compared to a larger piece. Which means WIPs quickly become finished objects. Woohoo for the satisfaction of finishing! Finishing a project and looking at the result is my favourite part of making; apart from giving it to someone and knowing that they like it too, which is also very satisfying.

Here's how they will look when they are finished



One down, two to go...

My fingers are already itching to make more.

                                                             *B*

I'm linking up with Thistlebears winter projects

PS. Anyone else have trouble taking good photos in the winter? These photos took forever to get 😒😉

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Winter Sparkles ATC Swap Finish

There was a beautiful blue sky and a lovely bright autumn day outside my window today. Even with the chilly temperatures a bright day can warm the heart. It's so nice.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have joined in with a textile ATC swap. This is the forth time I've joined in the swap and I must say I really love it. Working on a tiny little artwork as a gift for a swap partner is extremely rewarding; and the excitement of waiting for the ATC you will receive is really fun.

I have a 'Ta-Da' prepared and a little showcase of the ATC's I've made so far and the ATC's I've received in the swaps.

I also have some fun news for you. I've written a guest post over at VeryBerryHandmade. Ali at veryberry very kindly let me take over her blog and write a post about design process. I have shared my top three tips on designing an ATC. In the post I talk specifically about designing ATC's, but the principles of the design process can be used when designing and planning any project. I'd love for you to read it and see if you find the tips useful.

An ATC is a little artwork meant to showcase an artists skill and style and is used like a business card. They are 2.5" x 3.5" so they really are tiny. The swap Ali runs is for textile ATC's so it's an opportunity to make a little piece of art with a needle. The size is a fun challenge and allows you to experiment and try a new technique without having to commit to a large project.

So let me show you my ATC

The first thing my husband said when he saw this was 'You should try making it straight next time'. *sigh*. Don't look closely, my ATC's are all wonky!

The theme this time round was 'winter sparkles'. I haven't got anything sparkly to stitch with so I had to think outside the box. My hope was to use teeny tiny pearls to represent snow falling between embroidered stars. What do you think? Can you see where I was going? 
I hope my swap partner likes it.
The hills and fields are made with wool felt, which is a new-to-me material I'm exploring. It gets quite thick in those layers so I cut it to the seam line underneath to reduce the bulk. Even so, it has a satisfying squishiness to it. I'm really falling in love with this wool felt. It feels sturdy and holds it's shape well but isn't as stiff as I thought it would be. It would be perfect for some soft sculptures.

These are the ATC's I've made for past swaps

Theme- 'My Favourite'. A meadow landscape
                                 
Theme- 'Winter Comforts'

Theme- 'Say Something'. This is from a poem



And these are the ATC's I've received

                                    


You can see the care and work that has been put into making these little pieces of art. I love them. The top one was made by Ann and the bottom one by Catherine.

Fran, my partner for one of the swaps struggled to make an ATC in time for the posting date so she sent me a mug rug instead. I absolutely love it. It lives on my desk, often with a little tea pot and cup sitting on it.



Now, I need some advice. While I was making my pearly, snowy landscape, I had another design in my head that wouldn't sit still until I made it. I had to leave my landscape half made and go and stitch the other design so I could get it out of my head. Does that ever happen to you?
Anyway, I started the other ATC idea. A spiderweb. I painted a background. I used some satin embroidery thread to stitch the pattern and used tiny beads to represent frozen dew. I love spiderwebs at this time of year. I need to clarify - I hate spiders and I don't like webs indoors at any time of year because of, well, spiders. But I love to see dew hanging like diamonds from the threads that are outdoors and webs are so beautiful when they are frozen.

Here it is with a card 'window' placed over it. I apologise for the shadows and the wonkiness

I'm pretty happy with the glass beads. They look like dew to me. It's missing something though. I thought of using some white thread to embroider along the web to look like frost. My mother-in-law suggested I embroider a spider, but as has been said, spiders are a big no-no for me. bleh. I even countered her suggestion with an idea of an unfortunate fly wrapped in web. She thought that was gross. So I don't know. It needs something more. Any suggestions?

                                                                              *B*


Linking up to  Link Your stuff