Wednesday, 15 November 2017


Maybe I should rename this blog Tumbleweed?

What usually happens, is I start something and mean to blog about it, but then I start something else....and something else....and by the time I go to write a post, eleventy things have happened and the moment has passed. So I'm going to try a snapshot approach. No deep thought here just now (although there is a lot of that behind the scenes).

My desk right now:

*A woolly jumper segment too good to leave in a charity shop, rescued years ago. Not entirely sure what to do with it, might make it in to a sort of neckwarmer.

*Seascape mini bits - started in July just before holidays, not picked up again. Must get on and finish them - these will be greetings card/mini art size.

*Buttons. I've had huge fun putting together "Creativity Packs" for my Etsy shop, and I want to do more more more! So I'm keeping my eyes peeled (no difference there really) for interesting bits and bobs.

*Celtic Knots pack leftover from the summer. I just need to find a few little linen canvas blocks and write the instructions, then I can offer these on the shop too. I'm excited about that - never done kits before!

*Black velvet. You may have guessed that there's been a bit of a much-needed studio tidy-up going on, which is why I'm coming across all these random things. One thing I found was a large expanse of black velvet. I asked the good folk on my personal Facebook thing what to do with it - charity shop it or teach foil/velvet workshop, and the workshop idea won! So I will be now be teaching a workshop (locally, Fairwarp, East Sussex) on 4 February (not advertised yet - message if you want to come!). I've made one little box, and I'm working on a second. It's a few weeks before Valentines so I expect there will be a hearts theme...

And finally, behold the glory of the drawers.

I've only done the "boring" fabrics so far, but I've arranged them à la Marie Kondo - vertically. Takes SO much less room, and you can see everything you have. So yes, I think I'm good for calico and canvas for the next ten years.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Paradigm shifts and selfies

Hello. Are you still here? I know I'm not very often, for which I apologise.

I've been doing many things, as usual, although since getting back from this place not as many as I would normally be doing at this time of year.

Rather than bore you all with all the details, especially if you've heard it all before, I'll just say "dog, dislocated shoulder, six weeks house arrest, large Barclaycard bill, child no longer child but sixth-former and workload to match, group exhibition in Brighton, illustrated talk about my work to these lovely people on Monday, still too much damn clutter in the house and DIY projects still undone".

And I'm having an existential artistic crisis. I'm not sure if that's really what it is, but that seems to cover it. Basically, I'm having a rethink. So probably not a crisis. Yet. I knew I had the autumn free to have a think, so now I'm here I might be having a wobble. I suppose I don't know what the outcome will be.

I'm being vague. Sorry. I'll try and clarify.

For example, here is a necklace I made ages ago. It's not for sale, never has been, and I wear it. It is machine embroidered, but also stitched and beaded by hand, and has a silk pouch on the back - also stitched by hand, with invisible stitching. It is quite tiny but intricate.

If I should make such a thing to sell (and I have done in my etsy shop) how much should I charge for something like this? All in all, from raw materials to absolutely finished, it would probably take a day to do this. At the rate I charge for teaching workshops that should be £150 and that doesn't include materials or overheads, that's just my time. Obvs, that's not what I have been charging. But then, they've not sold like hot cakes despite the low price.

Hence my crisis. Or do I just need a paradigm shift. Worth. Value. Or am I mad, verging on the deluded. Who knows. The selfies I took to try and get a "in use" shot of the necklace may answer that.


getting frustrated 

quite angry now

resigned to the bad selfie

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Many Things

I have many different things going on - a lot of them in my head but a lot of them are on a Master To Do List.

Something that's been on the list and in the diary since June last year is a course at the Weald and Downland Museum on making books, birthday present from the bro. Fantastic stuff. I've made little books before, including with Gina, but it was good to try something different yet again: I've never had the patience (or the clever little table-top stool thing, cradle thing) to make a book with ribbons, so this weekend I did. Hurrah.

So that's something ticked off the list, off the diary. Unfortunately, Make More Books Because I'm Now Obsessed has now added itself to my Master To Do List of Projects Started and Things I Want To Do.

These are things that I absolutely MUST do, and apart from the DIY one that's sneaked onto the list, I actually WANT to do all of them - they are good things to do. The list is currently running at:

1. Delve into the baskets beneath my desk and pull out the clothes/old shirts that I was going to alter and actually do it, and make dresses with fabric/patterns bought previously...ahem...several years ago

2. Finish online course started on Play Therapy

3. Finish online course started on Coaching

4. Continue language revision/learning - French, German - using various means including apps such as Memrise and Lingvist. I've also just discovered Gabriel Wyner of Fluent Forever who has also written a book and blah blah etc - basically, there are so many things to investigate! All so interesting! But I never get round to doing any of it!!! I want to add Danish to the list of things to learn - too much? Don't answer.

5. Read various ebooks on language learning

6. Read various ebooks acquired over the last few years on all manner of things, including Food/Recipes and Creativity. And Procrastination. Yup, probably a few unread books about procrastination lurking on my Kindle app. Irony.

7. Empty the compost bin and bung a load on the raspberries and rhubarb, then restart the Bokashi system (halted temporarily because the compost bin is FULL).

8. Decorate the stairwell - paint the walls, but also - sigh - strip, sand and repaint the banisters.

9. Finish the Do What You Love for Life course started in January. I came to a grinding halt when it asked me to consider all things to do with "money". I'm not good at confronting that one.

10. Start and finish online course on WordPress

11. After WordPress course, completely overhaul my website

12. Meanwhile, at least update the gallery section of my website; hopelessly out of date

13. Start and finish online course in NLP

14. Start to firm up ideas for ebooks, PDF tutorials and online courses that I have had for ages

15. Be More Consistent - with blogging, Facebook page, Etsy shop and so on.

16. Make More Books

17. Obsessively search charity shops for interesting second-hand books and papers to Make More Books.

18. Find another 30 hours in the day.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Hello, Stranger

Said my blog to me...

I've started a "proper" grown-up blog on my website.

But I was perusing this one today, looking for photos of bits and pieces that I need for a talk on Friday...and I thought "Hello, old friend" and my blog said "Hello, Stranger". I can't really believe I started writing this blog so long ago - 2010! And the Girl was oh so wee! She isn't now; she's nearly as tall as me. Nearly. And 16 years old in a few weeks. 16!! Not 9 anymore!!

I digress (it may be a while since I've written anything here, but you can tell my writing style hasn't moved on). I have so many different things to say, on many different subjects. Most of what I'm doing day-to-day is on my Facebook page. But that's not the same as having a waffle on here about procrastination and cake and whippets. And I don't think the new shiny grown-up blog is the place for that either.

So while I gather my thoughts, here are some pictures of things. These are bits and pieces that were started many moons ago, most as samples for class or just play. They have then been stored in various folders and pockets over the years (as you do). I have now cut them up, rearranged them, added bits, and made 50 cards - which I have delivered to Ramster Hall for the biennial embroidery exhibition. The exhibition is on from this Friday 10 March until Sunday 26 March; full details on the website.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Nightingales in the rain

Gosh, that sounds poetic...

I've been up to many things, since last here. Not least a little jaunt to France for a top-up of chill before the madness that is the summer term. (I don't know why, but everything seems to happen in June and July and if we don't get away before it all kicks off, we fear total collapse before we reach our ultimate goal of the summer holiday in Brittany - it's a tough life :)

So here is a little video I put together with some of my 290 holiday photos. It took me most of the day to work out how to connect the camera to the laptop, so to then produce a video - well, I'm astounded and feel I might just have achieved something!

Yes, the village we stayed in is beautiful, but for me it's all in the detail - the moss growing on the stone walls, the rain drops on the leaves, roses growing everywhere, the view through the vine leaves and across rooftops to a patchwork of fields and woods, a little snail (no, didn't eat any this time although I have before - I do it for the garlic butter), the rusty ironwork holding together the cracks in the cottage walls....anyway, enough from me - enjoy!

(If you can't get the video to play here, you can also watch it on my Facebook page)

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Taming my Magpie Mind

That's the title of a talk that I'm supposed to be writing - I have until tomorrow teatime to finish, as I'm teaching on Thursday and invigilating exams on Friday. So what better time to write a blog post!!

Apologies, etc etc, as usual for being rubbish at keeping the blog up to date.

Here are some photos of a few things that I'm talking about. This little collection is where the rot set in...where I learnt to use materials and techniques I would never have dreamed of...where the flood of ideas started...why my mind now needs taming!!

My first ever piece of machine embroidery, before I started C&G. I did this with Wendy Dolan.

One of my early C&G pieces. Detest the colour combination, but oh look! Are those holes burnt through with a soldering iron....??

A box (lying on it's side here). Can you see my name? And can you also see those beads, stitched onto the edge?? I think this is where the "difficult bead thing" started....

Little textured piece - with embroidered wire spirals, obviously (RHS, look carefully).

Grated crayon and cling film. Uh-oh....

OK. Should start to get worried now.

Grating silk on a cheesegrater and poking stuff through the rips?

Or just burn some more holes in things...

Ah! These look faintly normal - beaded tassels, stitched completely on the sewing machine...those difficult beads again...

So why not incorporate "difficult beads" into a cobweb felt scarf covered in the little blighters. Yes, every bead was stitched by machine, including the fringe.

This is where the laminating started....(Yes, we need a laminator. No, not for the office).

With added handstitched "netty" bits, copper shim, wire connections, and galvanised wire hoops (they've definitely featured in my work since I made this!)

What happens if you are playing with stitched laminated bits and pieces and also volunteering in a charity shop? You take the tag gun home and use it to connect your laminated embroidery, that's what you do...

If he wasn't worried before, Mr G was definitely worried now...

Ah! Paper! How wonderful, something else to collect...

including those brown paper grocery bags, oh, and sticks. Obviously. Must have sticks.

And wire! Yes! Do more with wire...

So I did...looks a bit like my recent beaded wire fish and leaf, made earlier this month:

That's all for now! 

If you'd like to come to the talk, it's with the East Kent Embroiderers' Guild branch, near Canterbury this Saturday. Details here.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

All done

I can't really believe it was November. November since I last blogged?! To make up for lost time, here is a very picture-heavy post!

This is what my room looked like before the builders started on it. Goodness knows where everything went, including 5 bicycles!!

They started on 10 November with the drills. Oh, the drills. Drilling out brickwork for the window, and drilling into concrete driveway for the footings.

Then they stopped, for two weeks.  Then there was the hoo-ha about the gas meter people, and whether they could climb through a window or needed to come back in January. That was fun. Then there was another lull. Then they came and knocked holes in the wall

and made a lot of dust, and then the plasterers came who didn't make dust, just drips of pink plaster.

The living room wall was replastered too, which was nice: we have (had) two large recurring  cracks in the living room walls: one called George, and one called Penny, on opposite sides of the room and named after the previous owners. They were hidden by furniture when we viewed the house. I think it's George who's finally been obliterated now :)

Then there was a lull, followed by a mad dash to the finish for the carpenters before we went to France at Christmas. There was a bit of bother about the skip.

And although we were initially quite fond of our skip, the romance soon cooled and we were more than a little relieved when it was collected - albeit it after we had left for our holiday, and we even asked a neighbour to text us to confirm it had gone.

Then there was Christmas, where all the photos looked like our summer photos.

Apart from the wellies.

Then there was the longest lull ever, waiting for the invisible plumber, who has still not even now returned my calls/texts. In the end we asked his brother - also a plumber – to come and attach the radiator, and kindly replace our leaky hot water tank for double the money. And finally, on Friday, the very efficient but equally hard-to-track-down electricians came and finished off my gallery lighting and my cubby-hole lighting strip, and added a couple of mains smoke alarms and a new living room socket while they were about it.

We even called on the neighbours to help - one to help with putting up some of the new shelves

and one neighbour with woodworking capabilities and tools, to cut shapes out of a bit of shelving board so I can use it as a splashback - something I only realised I needed after a little "incident" with the blue Brusho! You can see the board in position here

next to the clever shelves that hang on the electricity meter cupboard and the clip-on baskets hold all those things like soldering irons and heat guns. (The cupboard door is just primed at the moment, but I have plans for it).

But it was exhausting just having "things done" and having to be up-and-about promptly of a morning, just in case an elusive tradesperson should arrive early. And I did have to paint the walls, and go to the land of blue and yellow no fewer than three times. And I've got an RSI in my right hand now - triggered by painting the walls, and exacerbated by lifting heavy boxes of flat-pack with my small hands - I've not enough hand/finger to grip securely and so I've strained the gripping muscles in the back of my hand. And there were a lot of boxes…

And I did have to carry on teaching and preparing work, including doing two exhibitions, all the time my materials and equipment were scattered in plastic boxes all around the house and up in the loft.

But am I pleased with my space? Yes, yes and yes. A thousand yeses. I have a door (albeit a primed not painted door; I haven't got round to that yet) - and yes, the door went in straight, not with the wiggly red line...

but I finally have somewhere I can retreat to other than the bathroom. And I can think. And while I'm still not the most efficient little worker bee, my head is clearer than it has been in years. And I am slowly but surely working my way through the "to do" list. For example, yesterday I was supposed to do all sorts of things with short deadlines, but I chose to do something from my "to do" list that has been on there from I don't remember when: I finally uploaded some pictures and opened my Society6 shop.

Anyway, without further ado, welcome to my studio:

So pleased the little cubbyhole drawers fit in the alcove!

Now the electricians know why I wanted sockets at seemingly random heights

How exciting! The calico is right under the ironing pad

And all those little bits and pieces are in a drawer, released from their plastic boxes

And the fabric stash is within reach of the sewing machine

Needed the spice racks. Don't know why, just did

My reading corner, and massive pin board, and whiteboard for mission control. There was supposed to be a tall bookcase here, but after the plasterers had done their bit I realised we were 10mm under for my planned 4000mm length of wall. But it all worked out for the best, as the whiteboard fits, and when I got the shorter bookcase I realised that two more of them would fit further into the depths of my secret cupboard.

Reading material

Dingle dangles, including the lacy organza bags for the course I'm teaching very very soon at Missenden Abbey.

But where's all the other stuff Isobel? The stuff that has been removed from the office, dining room, living room and loft? Resulting in a chest of drawers, a dresser, two merchant's chests, a blanket box, a massive quilters cupboard, and about a gazillion plastic crates being surplus to requirements?

It's stuffed under here of course! I have two art trolleys, three big storage trolleys, two more bookcases and a tiny bit of floorspace for bags of random stuff.

Can't quite believe we haven't always had this room. You wouldn't know it was new from the outside.

A job very well done indeed! Next up - new front door and living room window and woodburner and decorating the living room, stairs, landing, our room, the office....I think we'll leave it a while until we tackle that lot!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...