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!