Sunday, 23 March 2014

Comfort zone

My husband said the other day "I'd like a comfort zone. Everyone talks about being outside your comfort zone, but I'd like to have one; I don't think I have". He ended up writing a poem about it.

But it got me thinking. I've been looking ahead to next term's teaching, trying to decide between ideas and projects, trying to come up with something that will stretch those who need stretching, but not intimidate those who are just starting out: I want to challenge people to move a little out of their comfort zones, but not so much that they get scared and don't come back in September! I've also wanted to introduce a random element to the class, where they don't know what's coming next or have to make quick decisions, just to mix it up a bit and get us all out of our ruts.

Then I stumbled across the work of Lauren Shanley on Facebook, and thought "aha!".  (BTW, Gina Ferrari has also recently stumbled across the work of Lauren Shanley, also said "aha" and she's beaten me to it with doing something similar in her own class!).

Here is my tentative start. Hating the colours:

I used some free fabric that I was given the other week. When offered it, I said YES! and got all excited, but discovered on receipt that it is all less-than-inspiring colours, and all just a bit bleurgh. So I was well and truly out of my comfort zone using those colours, and those fabrics - quite heavy duty furnishing stuff. And there weren't even any useful patterns for a bit of the ol' broderie perse.

Here it is after some stitching down:

And here it is with an idea pinned into place:

Then today I had a lovely stitchy day with a group of friends, and managed to finish it:

I'm kinda happy with it, but I still don't like the colours!

I've started a couple more, in different colours and sizes, as I found it difficult working on such a large scale as the one above.

My favourite is, of course, the last one. The smallest and the most colourful. Which in itself has been an interesting revelation (to me, probably blatantly obvious to other people) - my comfort zone is SMALL and BRIGHTLY COLOURED! 

More evidence can be found in the small and colourful things in my recently revived shop. Why can't one ever see what is right under ones nose?!

As the first side note to this, I've also been forcing myself out of my other comfort zone (pootling, checking facebook and emails, browsing charity shops, doing a bit of cooking, having a google and a pinterest) and I've been GETTING STUFF DONE! All thanks to this blog post about using a kitchen timer. By jove, it works! Highly recommended - go get one!

And the second side note, and only pictured here by popular request, I happened to be wearing this little object for much of this creative spree:

It is my new Getting Arty Things Done Potato Sack. There, you've seen it now. That'll do!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

New things old things

A week for new things and rediscovering old things. 

It started last weekend, with a trip to see a very new thing, my new niece, only 5 days old, a little bundle. Girl is relieved to have a female cousin on that side of the family and so are we to be honest, we don't really understand boys.

Then new things like giving notice, and discovering that the sky doesn't fall in, and getting used to the idea that paperwork overload will come to an end, but just not yet. But come September, I will be completely independent and running my own classes (if you are in Sussex, details are to be found here).

More new things, getting my head around the delights of eBay. The Kenyan Paralympic team are still for sale, nobody wants them:

but I have managed to sell a few bits of fabric.

And with the sales, more new things, confronting the fear of an eBay purchaser not being satisfied with the fabric when it arrives. What to do? What do you mean you liked it in the photo but not when it arrived? The photo showed it exactly! What do you mean it doesn't have any silver in it but is actually gold-coloured? Did I not describe it as "pale beige with shimmery highlights"? Do you know how hard it is to describe fabric? 

Then two Thursdays in a row, coming home from teaching to discover Etsy sales! A lovely lady has bought some braids. Then liked them so much she bought some more. Sales! A delightful New Thing.

Which has spurred me into action, taking photos of some old things and listing them in the shop, like the amulets from my last post, and these little velvet books:

The amulets still haven't made it into the shop, but the books have. 
(None of this is really old stuff, but just seems like it to me as I see it so often. I just haven't got round to selling it...)

And with listing things in the shop, I've learnt another new thing - how to use gimp instead of photoshop, to whiten the background of my photos. I think I've worked it out now, but it is time consuming, and I had to go and buy another new thing - a computer mouse for the laptop. Which will need its own new thing, a mouse house. I think a little felt one. I'll make one this week....

And finally today, I found this old thing (again, not that old, but made last summer), a collage that I have cut into two

added lining and pockets

and made into two notebook covers

I am currently making pages to slip inside, ripping up sheets of paper.

Lastly, kinda inspired by Sewing Bee but not really, as I got the patterns before I knew it would be on telly, I have been attempting to make some clothes.

I've finally finished this blouse

from a pattern I traced from a library book. But I forgot to add any pattern markings, and I think I may have misjudged the seam allowances. The length was a tad on the short side, the width a bit flappy, and the arms were clearly designed for a baboon or for someone whose knuckles touch their knees. I've added a bit of elastic to the hem to sort out the flappiness, and just rolled the sleeves up. I'm astonished that I've finished something, and that it is comfortable.

I've also made a dress from one of those japanese pattern books, a dress designed for a waif. I was worried it would come up small so made a generous size. I also made it in calico, with the notion of dyeing it when finished, and not spending a lot of money on fabric. But I seem to have made a potato sack. A potato sack with bias neck and armhole facings, all new to me, but still a potato sack. I haven't taken a photo of that one. 

Can I stop with the new things and have a quiet week now?!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Trees and leaves

Here are the leaves (and petals) stuck to painted Bondaweb, on velvet.

This is for class later today. We're starting to look at texture, so I've done a "Thittichai!"

And here are the trees:

I've been photographing things for the Etsy shop, and trying to come up with ways to capture the 'spirit' of these amulets. They're so long, I can't photograph them on the dining room table and the light in the living room is not good, hence the trip to the woods - but they kept blowing about in the breeze outside! And you'd think it would be a easy to find suitable tree with interesting bark and an appropriate branch to hang things on, in a wood - full of trees? Think again!

I still need to fiddle with the photos, so they're not in the shop yet, but a few other things are. I think this is why I have so many things at home that should be in the shop but aren't - I'm no photographer!

And now I'm off to play with more trees, namely our EG branch entry for this summer's Regional Challenge...can't say more until July!

Saturday, 8 March 2014


This week in class, we had time to catch up with all the City & Guilds homework.

It seems Judith has a bit of a chenille is her final sample for chenille, based on the colours and textures of a lavender field:

There are quite a few other bits of chenille in her folder....and she says she doesn't like the technique, but keeps doing it in the hope that it will grow on her!

And Carole has a robin fixation:

and a thing about houses

I, meanwhile, seem to be stuck on stitching beads and wire by machine: 

and finally finished another little fishy (he started as a teaching sample, and has been taken to and fro the Fairwarp class for the past three or four weeks, in various states of unfinishedness). Here he is:

A couple of the students tried their hands at a fish. Jan has now discovered the delights of the pick'n'mix at the local DIY shop, so here is her fish, complete with metal washers: 

and Kathy's work-in-progress fish (he is finished now but I must have forgotten to take a photo)

However, despite this beady wire obsession, I'm still on a bit of a mission with the CDs. I put out a call for old CDs and I've had a few responses...

so this morning I sat in the sunshine and removed all the cardboard cases and I've now got quite a stash. This isn't even all of them, there's a load more in the cupboard.

That's a lot of CDs to be wet-felted, yes, but most of them are for an Art Trail project later this summer.

Well, that's what I'm telling myself.

Somebody stop me...