Saturday, 31 March 2012

I made a sparkly thing...

I actually made something!  I even finished it in a day! 

The Girl was home from school, overcome following a a family first the previous day: my very own child was selected to represent the school in a sports team!  She played netball for three hours in the blazing sun, and by the time she came home she had more than a touch of sunstroke.   So with the Girl needing an adult presence but nevertheless remaining in bed for most of the day, there was no dog walking for me but lots of time to stitch. 

So I made a bookcover with my sparkly experimental fabric.

Here is the back:

And here is the inside flap:

I was going to bind the edges, but it was only when I was "nearly there" that I realised I shouldn't have folded the ends in if I wanted to bind all the way round.  It's also a bit "quilty" and soft, so I have a nagging feeling that it looks a bit like an old lady's toiletries bag...

But still, I made something in a day!

Friday, 30 March 2012

Sparkly 'speriments

I've finished sorting my shiny "acquisitions"...

Well, kinda, they have sort of taken over the house...maybe they're breeding

and so I thought it was about time I had a serious 'speriment with the stuff:

I grabbed a random bit of fabric, pre-dyed goodness knows how many years ago, dug about and found various glues and gels and bonding substances, and had a play.

It was all a bit of a mess, to be honest, so at 10.30 last night I mixed up some pale blue acrylic and stamped a wooden block all over the place:

I quite like the way the print takes the edge off the foil.  A bit less "in your face".

I then had a quick doodle on scrap fabric with the flexible textile glue of no particular brand...ahem...and left it to dry overnight before foiling this morning:

Not so good - a bit "blobby" for my liking - in small doses it's probably acceptable, it's all about using it judiciously...

And this morning I found some more unexplored "media" in tubs and tubes and had another go with the stamping blocks.  A bit more subtle.

When I'm satisfied that this stuff works well, is the real deal (blimmin' well hope so!) and have further explored the bestest ways to use it, I'll have some sample packs in the shop.

Back to the experimenting!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

She'll huff and she'll puff...

and try not to set her hair alight with her birthday candles.

The Girl is a magnificent ELEVEN tomorrow, and celebrated early by taking over the local swimming pool with half the class and some cousins.  Child soup.  Floats.  Flume.  Water squirters.  Relaxed parents looking on, not having to DO anything.  Fantastic stuff!

Friday, 23 March 2012

The future's bright, the future's shiny...

And in future I shall be sporting this little handbag

instead of my tired-old-boring-black M&S one.
I made it from the offcuts of my snazzy new bag and I am chuffed.

Here is the front:

Here is the back:

And most exciting of all, here is the inside:

A snazzy lining, and a zipped pocket also with snazzy lining! 

The excitement of a new bag being one thing, this next thing is in a completely different league:

I can't really say much right now as I need to locate and put on my Thinking Cap, so I can only repeat the sentiment of my title words:

The future's most DEFINITELY shiny...!!!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Just for fun

In an attempt to redress the balance and get things back on a positive note, here is one of my favourite things of all time:

I present, the Viking song

And if you like that, the Girl loves Charles II, but her favourite is probably Cleopatra, and then there's Mr G's favourite, Richard III.  And Historical Masterchef is so much better than the real thing...

Yes, we are ever-so slightly obsessed and proud of it, and finally got to see Horrible Histories live at the weekend, twice!  First the Tudors, then the Victorians.  Not as funny as the TV programme, but probably worth the price of the tickets just to see the charge of the light brigade performed with pantomime horses.  I laughed so much I ached all over - definitely what I needed to restore my humour after last week!

Now it's time to stitch something.  Laters.

NB.  And let's not forget this...

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Cutting it fine


Getting to grips with drawing every day.  Anything.



Thursday 9am

Thursday 11am

Mr Gonecycling finally decides what he can give his Mother for her 70th birthday.

No problem.

Thursday 1pm

Thursday 6pm

Thursday 8pm

Happy Birthday Granny!  She loved it, job done.

But I'm now completely done-in.  That's all my creativity spent for this week, and both myself and Mr G are feeling rather depressed and don't really know what to do with ourselves. 

All our energies this week have gone into fighting this, which is all the more depressing because it comes hard on the heels of the threat of 1000 new houses being built on the land immediately adjoining our ancient woodland and playing fields.  And if that wasn't enough, there is an exhibition in town of proposals to tackle our "traffic problem" (surely about to be exacerbated by the building of 1000 new houses?) ludicrous suggestion is to build a flyover over the infamous River Uck

The whole thing makes us feel sick.  They're going to build on green fields, block our view to the Downs, build a flyover at the end of our little road, in a Sussex market town, and then force us into our cars to walk our dogs. 

Just to turn the screw a little more, I've also had a very depressing meeting with colleagues: our pittance of a wage for being seasonal exam invigilators is being cut by 22% as we have been put onto the same salary scale as bean-ladlers and spud-bashers and toilet-unblockers.  This is despite the majority of us being qualified teachers or very experienced school support staff.  And now there is a pay'n'contracts meeting for Adult Ed tutors next Friday.  The omens are not good. 

I'm very sorry to be gloomy, but it's been very hard to stay chipper when the blows are coming at us from all sides.  I don't think I've ever looked forward to Mothers' Day and a bottle of bubbly more than I do today! 

Have a good weekend everyone

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Closet activist

I've been distracted from sticking leaves into my leaf sketchbook by some worrying news this morning.

A neighbour, and fellow dog-walker, told us that our town council are considering creating a new bye-law for all dogs to be on leads at all times on ALL the town council's land.  This would include our big playing fields, and possibly also the adjoining patch of ancient woodland where the Whippet loves to terrorise squirrels*.  It would also, presumably, include the two big nature reserves and flood meadows.  Basically, everywhere within walking distance.

no Schnauzers or Fox Terriers?  Oh no!

It's all because there are a few people who never clean up after their dogs, but because they never do, we ALL get blamed.

So instead of tootling on foot up to the top of the hill to the playing fields and woods, we would have to get in the car and drive for at least three miles.  Every day.  We live in a very busy part of the country, and while there is still a network of footpaths, in the last three years we've investigated all the ones near to town and so many footpaths either have fenced stiles (ever tried to carry a whippet over a stile?), cross main roads or golf courses, or cross land with livestock.

We are very lucky to have the South Downs (like the logo? A work colleague of Mr G's designed it!) and Winnie the Pooh country close by, but they are not near enough to be considered "everyday" walking.  And as we only have the one car (and trying our hardest to avoid buying another one, and use the one we have as little as possible) there will be some days when the Boy will just have to make do with a walk on his lead, and we will have one crazy whippet eating the carpets.

We are all so upset about this proposed change, which won't actually do anything to stop the fouling - the people who don't pick up now will still look the other way whether their dog is on a string or not.  It is so unfair, so blunt and will have a massive impact on our daily life, so we are going to start a petition.  Lots of petitions.  We are going to get in touch with all the town vets, the professional dog walkers, the animal charities, anyone and everyone.  The public consultation will open some time next week, so we need to be ready!

If anyone out there has any experience of anything similar happening near them, we would be very interested in finding out more, so please get in touch - even if just to lend some moral support, and some long-distance fire-power to our campaign!

*I've had a look at the "Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996 and I think woodlands are exempt. 

PS On a completely different note, is anyone going to Stitch & Craft next week?  I'm undecided.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The need for ten sketchbooks...

Much to the relief of my family, who no longer have to listen to my rants, self-justifications, ponderings and despairing, I think I've cracked this whole stuckness thing.  Well, at least for now... 

I need ten sketchbooks!

To explain, I need to go back a bit.

One of the reasons I was stuck was a (self-imposed?) need to create some sort of impressive, artistic, professional-sounding "body of work".  I met a couple of textile artists (or "artistes") at the weekend and tried to talk sketchbooks and art and inspiration, but the Girl and I (she had to come too, with the promise of Hobbycraft later if she was good and polite) came away, escaped into the street, looked at each other and said "what?" 
We both concluded that there is an awful lot of  something rude out there about sketchbooks, and art and inspiration and Bodies of Work, and it is very easy for the Terrified to be Even More Terrified at just the language used.  Maybe that's the intention, to stop other people trying to be artists too, but that's what it's been achieving around here.

Until now!

I did a bit of brainstorming, trying to decide on a Theme to explore and drew about five huge mindmaps, and they all merged into each other as I don't want to leave anything out.  So then I looked at recurring themes, and wrote a list.  And then I tried to distill the list, but it still stayed quite big.  So then I decided

I need 10 sketchbooks.  One for each thing.  I don't have to choose.

(1) Colour
(2) Seashore
(3) Trees and branches
(4) Leaves and seeds
(5) Landscape and place
(6) Circles
(7) Pattern and symbols
(8) Birds
(9) Hounds
(10) Home

And already it's as if a great weight has been lifted. 

If I want to draw leaves all the time, that's just fine - they can go in the leaf sketchbook

If I want to start playing with maps and pictures of hillsides, that's great - landscape and place is the place for them.  If I have a burning desire to play with circles, hooray for the circles book!

And if I want to play with patterns and spirals into the pattern book you go

(except no you don't Mr Pink Squiggles, because you are a teaching sample for whip stitch and feather stitch...)

What a relief.  I can just do what I want to, without worrying about not settling on a Theme - everything I am interested in has a place to be, and hopefully over time the 10 sketchbooks will altogether add up to a HUGE Body of Work.

Miraculously, doing the mindmaps answered one other massive question, one I've wrestled with for years - what is my message, what am I trying to say? 

I want to say:


In art-speak, you could say my work is "a response to the ugliness, cynicism, superficiality and transience of the modern world, celebrating the power and permanence of nature".  But I prefer the short version.

Thank you for all the very kind and encouraging comments from my last post - and sorry if I was unable to reply to you - I can't work out Blogger sometimes...

Thursday, 1 March 2012


I've been reading up about procrastination lately
(and crying with laughter reading through that website - which in itself was procrastination - go figure, as they say).
I used to think I was perpetually "blocked" and when I wasn't blocked, I was too busy - things to do - people to feed, dogs to walk, house to clean, garden to erm, weed? anything anything, I will find a busy thing to do - just not stitching.  Mr Gonecycling finds it all a bit bemusing, and says that ever since he's known me I've always complained "I want to make something but I don't know what or where to even start".
(my general-purpose carry-all bag, that I've miraculously finished de-and re-constructing...)
But it's slowly been dawning on me (these things take a while) that I'm not perpetually blocked, I'm perpetually procrastinating, and have done my entire life.  Apparently it's something that is quite common to those with overbearing and controlling parents - ha!  Thanks Dad...
The reason why I have a shed-load of samples and pieces to show my students, is because I spent 10 years doing City & Guilds, and I had the deadlines to meet, but now?  Procrastinating heaven.
Partly it's a perfectionist thing (again, Father....) but mostly it's a crushing and paralysing FEAR.  Of what, I'm not sure, or I do know but haven't admitted to it....
(close up of bag front, for some light-relief from the introspection...)
But this week, since starting this no-added-sugar thing, has been a real eye-opener to just how ingrained my bad habits are.  On Monday I had a free morning, I'd finished my book experiments and my bag, and obviously didn't know what to stitch next.  Or where to start.  At all.  Previously I may have footled with some mild chore-ing until 11am, then had a piece of the weekend's cake..pootled some more, then oh look it's lunchtime, dogwalk etc....
But of course I can't do that now.  Oh dear.  (I hadn't realised I was that easily distracted or inclined to eat randomly - interesting, interesting...)
So instead of wandering into the kitchen, I had to just start SOMETHING.
I started with my sketchbook, and felt OH SO SILLY I just didn't know what to draw.  So I got that out of my system for starters:
and then started to doodle - anything, just to be doing SOMETHING

and then I got a bit bold, and added some colour

Thus inspired, I grabbed this little bit of collage I made last year, had a think and stitched a leaf (my default leaf, if you like): 
Then I stitched another two leaves on another bit of collage. 
Then I cut out bits.  And added some trailing leaves.  And next I'm going to add some handstitching and beads and whatnot.  I don't know what they're destined to be, but what's important is that I DID something new.
I loved the colours, and as they were just sitting on my desk still, I grabbed a bit of time later on to try another book-related experiment

I own several books on how to make handmade books, including one on embroidered books, but can't find any instructions anywhere for exactly HOW to attach a stitched cover - without using glue on everything.

I had a go at stitching the above to a piece of fabric-covered card, and added tapes, to pretend it was for a book with a taped/stitched spine, but I've no idea how anyone else goes about doing this!

Anyway the point is, I know it's not much, compared to what I could have achieved in the time, but it was the first time - I think ever, really - that I've been aware of how I was FEELING while I was creating. 

And doing those leaves, I felt physically sick - my stomach was churning (and not from hunger or thinking about cake!), I was was horrendous.  But I carried on despite it, and I think I've made a bit of a breakthrough.

I had no idea things had got that bad, and I was that scared.