Wednesday, 30 April 2014


I thought this would be a nice little filler project between paid work.  It is very complicated....hopefully will be worth the effort!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

When's The Best Time To Go To The Zoo?

The weather forecast for this weekend was abysmal - rain and more rain.  Despite this, we decided last night that we would chance a day at the zoo today. It was clear skies at home, but as we drove to Marwell Zoo, the heavens opened and everywhere was flooded.  However, as we pulled into the carpark, the rain eased off to a light drizzle and we picked our way through the mud and puddles and had the best day at the zoo I think I have ever had.
Some of the animals preferred to stay snuggled up indoors, but the majority were outside and the best part was, we just about had the place to ourselves!  There were some places where we were the only people, no-one else in sight.
My camera perfomed well today - I got some great reference shots.  As well as some unexpected bonuses:
A crow photobombing!
Do you ever wonder where pigeons nest?  This one has found a lovely spot.
The zebras were curious and friendly today without hordes of people passing by.
Unfortunately, it was so quiet that my favourite animal and the reason I wanted to go to Marwell, the snow leopard, could not be bothered to wake up. Oh well, you can't have everything!

I managed to get some sketching done in the giraffe house too - usually it's impossible with lots of people jostling for a view.

So a good time had by all, and well worth taking the chance.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Part of the Scenery....

I'm always knitting away for the animated film, but sometimes what I am making is a bit boring and sometimes I'm just not allowed to show you as it will spoil the jokes in the completed film.  However, the past few days it's been about a door....quite a bit of knitting involved to make it large enough for the puppets to use.  Then it needed some 'aging and distressing' with acrylic paint - they've yet to make a yarn in the shade of 'old wood'!
I've also had to make another pampas grass - these are quite labour intensive as the leaves consist of casting on then casting off, followed by being draped over a wine bottle while soaked in fabric stiffener.  The seed heads are made with some fabulous Gypsy eyelash yarn - now very much out of production and I don't know what I am going to do when my meagre stash runs out!

I'm also knitting various pot plants - coming up is quite an exciting subject, a bird which needs to be animated flying - gulp!

Talking of birds, I finally have my dream....a large flamingo ornament for the garden.  I don't know what it is about me that hankers after  kitsch Americana, but along with the Mason jar drinking mug, a flamingo lawn ornament was pretty high on my list of wants.  Our local garden centre brought in some metal ones - not quite the genuine article but very pretty all the same and I love it!  Now the plants are putting a spurt on, the garden is beginning to come together at last.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Rhapsody in Blue...

You know how it feels when a book you have been enjoying so much reaches the last page?  That's how I felt when putting the final touches to this watercolour - it had been such fun to do I didn't want it to end!

This is based on a reference photo we took at Fleet Pond - there are always a couple of cob swans posturing and beating up the other swans, and they always power through the water, wings akimbo, creating quite a wake.

I've used  very limited palette for this, just a couple of blues, a green and a brown, with a touch of orange for the beak.  Sometimes less is more.

Happy Easter by the way - my Simnel cake this year is a bit gooey as I thought it was a good idea to soak the fruit in tea first. No it wasn't.  However, it tastes delicious!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

I Can See Clearly Now...

The first time I needed glasses I was finding that I didn't want to paint or read but couldn't understand why.  Now, about ten years on, I can recognise the signs so was more than ready when the time came for an eye test this month.  I got my new glasses two days ago (zebra frames! Zebra!!) and the improvement has been remarkable - well, I have been using the glasses I got 4 years ago for all close work so it's not surprising really.
So, painting is once more something that I want to do - plus it's been quiet this week, no stress.  I'm still attracted by swans and am enjoying this little watercolour immensely.
I made this brooch which was a freebie in this month's Mollie Makes.  Took about five minutes but I love the clever way it works.
So much so that I had a go at making a fabric flower from scraps I had lying around.  Also made a little coin purse with a small scrap of Japanese fabric - you've got to love a deer in a crown....

Currently on the needles...pampas grass.  Not as difficult as it sounds, in fact it's a little boring!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


Monday afternoon the demolition team de-camped from  next to our house to the other site further up the road.  So yesterday although they were audible, the house was still and the garden was a welcome place to be.  I spent a couple of hours tidying up the last of the debris left after the fence build, planting some sweetpeas and moving my vegetable bags back to their spot, then spent the afternoon sitting in the sun with my watercolours painting a bunch of wildflowers.

It felt good to be wielding a paintbrush again and challenging trying to get it all down on paper as the cowparsley visibly drooped!  I think working at such a speed is good for me though, it forces me to use a looser style and not get fixated on the detail.  Looking at this again this morning, I am very pleased with  what was a very hurried piece of work.  It also re-awakened the joy I feel when painting - I've missed that over the past few weeks.  It is a nightmare when circumstances prevent me from painting, I feel bereft and definitely suffer withdrawal symptoms. 

It is quiet again today - not even rumblings from down the road, so I plan another such afternoon.

I had to make this last night.  Don't ask me why - if you can't guess, then I'm not telling!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Liberty Print Bear

We had a quiet weekend - I mean quiet!  No builders, no neighbours, just us, the sunshine and the birds singing.  So while nerves were not a-jangle, it was time to get on with some crafting.  I finished off this little felt bear and then set about hand stitching her outfit.
I chose this floral Liberty print as it seemed to go well against the dark brown of the bear.  As usual with me, there was no pattern, I just cut and fitted it to the bear as I went along - it seemed to work OK! I stitched a scrap of vintage lace to the front of the dress plus some ridiculously small buttons - this bear is only 6 inches tall, which should give you some idea of scale.
I crocheted her hat, then trimmed it with some matching felt and three little artificial roses.  Her dress is stitched on, I felt it was so delicate that taking it off and putting it on repeatedly would be damaging in the long run.
Her legs and arms are jointed, so she can sit or stand.

This is for sale in my Etsy shop now.  I am sure there will be more along soon, but if you would like to have one custom made, do get in touch.

I also managed to get some knitting done, and pottered in the garden tidying up some of the chaos.  Back to JCB madness today, I'm just waiting for it all to kick off....

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Resin Respite...

During an hour or so yesterday when the house wasn't being shaken off it's foundations, I managed to block out the noise with my MP3 player and get on with a couple of projects.  These pendants have been hanging around for months with no decoration - I wasn't sure what I wanted to put inside them.  I had bought some Gel Du Soleil way back in the winter without realising it needed strong sunlight to set it - something that has been in quite short supply in the UK the past few months!

So, by way of experiment, I painted the little meadow flower picture with acrylic paint and then dropped the resin on top and ran upstairs to put it on the sunniest windowsill.  It looked pretty cool when wet and I only had to wait fifteen minutes before it set.  That inspired me to paint another one - one of my stock jellyfish.  Resin dripped, run upstairs, put on windowsill and go and do something else for a bit.  (I varnished the tiny teaset which I have now decorated - that will come tomorrow as it needs a second coat.)
The resin has brought out the colours of the paint really well.  The only thing that went a bit wrong was that I had left a tiny gap between the Fimo backing and the brass and some of the resin had slipped through, thus making the top layer concave rather than convex - next time I will make sure the edges are completely
I really enjoyed making these and want to do more but as the painting is so tiny, I need to wait until I pick up my new glasses next week as seeing the detail was a tad difficult!

We still had plenty of noise yesterday, with a few earth-shaking bangs, but we also got this:
No gate yet, but at least our garden is more or less enclosed once again.  There is a rather large gap and drop at the base of the fence as the pit the other side is a good two feet deep, so I will have to cover exposed roots with some earth today and make sure the plants don't dry out until the level is brought back up again.  And it's the weekend - two whole days free of JCB action, and the promise that it will continue for only half a day on Monday.  Maybe I can push my sanity a little further back from the brink...

Friday, 11 April 2014

Another Day In Paradise.....

I promise this is not turning into a blog about the construction going on next to our house, but it is having an incredible impact on my arting and crafting, so I am afraid I may have to bore you occasionally with it!  Yesterday morning the dog was throwing up and refusing his breakfast, a sure sign he is stressed.  So after geting the jobs done, I packed a picnic, loaded my daughter and dog in the car and off we went to spend a few hours away from the noise.
We went to Wellington Country Park, walked half way round the lake far from the hordes of screaming kids enjoying the facilities and found a quiet spot to sit overlooking the lake.  My dog calmed right down and enjoyed the new sniffs, sights and sounds, even had some rolls in the warm grass.  His 'I Need Space' jacket did the trick and he was left to tootle along with no-one bothering him. I did hear a few remarks about him being an assist dog in training - I'm not sure what Clovis would ever assist anyone with - pest control?
Stacie and I did some sketching of the lake and birds - nothing spectacular, just the act of sketching was soothing.  After an icecream, we headed home to discover this...
...and this...
...and this...
Just as well we had gone out as apparently a jackhammer was on the go for the whle three hours and my son was unable to work on his illustration commission as the house was vibrating so badly.  We have another day of it to look forward to today although hopefully we get a decent fence put up so we won't have to look at it at least. 

So, this should go some way to explain why there might not be any new paintings for a while, unless I decide to go all Jackson Pollock and just throw paint around.....

Thursday, 10 April 2014

I Live In Hell, How About You?

Let's get the nice things done first shall we?  I've been very taken with this month's edition of Making magazine - lots in there that I wanted to try my hand at.  The first thing was these crochet Easter Eggs - very simple, the pattern was almost identical to most Amigurumi body patterns.  What makes them special is the addition of a few strands of blue embroidery thread - I'm very fond of blue and white together, reminds me of happier days when I used to live in Greece.
Then there was the tiny teaset made from Fimo - I had Fimo to hand so decided to give it a go yesterday while there was Armageddon going on outside.  I discovered that modelling is probably not my forte, especially as I currently have a trapped nerve in my shoulder which is making my right thumb numb - a bit like doing everything with a bandage on it.  I still have to put the little blue designs on the white pieces, then varnish them.  The magazine makes a charm bracelet out of them but I am not sure my cups would stand up to the wear and tear of being on a wrist.
I've bought a lot of scraps and fat quarters of gorgeous fabric lately but have no idea what to use them for.  I fancy making a little dress from some of the florals with lace trims, but first I have to make something to wear the dress.  So here's a half-finished bear!

I also have knitting to be getting on with and would love to do some painting, but let me explain the title of this post and you'll see why creativity is at an all time low this week.
Remember how my garden looked this time last week? Starting to grow and look pretty. Well, not for long it wasn't.
See the digger looming over the wall? And the fact that half our ivy has been cut away? Well, this is what happened yesterday...
First hole, plus the complete annihilation of my varigated shrub - 'Well, the way it was stuck to the wall, there was nothing we could do about it'.  Cheers mate, I specifically asked for that one to be saved.
All garages demolished and as a result, our garden open to the world.  The driver of this digger thought it appropriate to slam the head of the digger into the concrete flooring over and over again yesterday afternoon, causing our house to shake like an earthquake, glasses rattling on the shelves, the whole place vibrating from the ground up.
This is how we were left last night - at least they saw fit to give us a wire fence to keep the dog in and the local feral kids out.
Nice view, huh?  We have been promised a new fence today - let's hope it happens.  They turned up at 8a.m. this morning and have been banging and crashing nicely ever since, but as yet none of the foundation-rattling bangs.    So, yes, I am living in hell this week - the dog is off his food, my nerves are shot to pieces and my poor garden is a mess.  It's not always lovely in blogger land, sometimes reality bleeds through and crafting just isn't enough to block it out!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

And The Sheepishness Carries On...

 Ever since I bought more of the vintage blanket fabric, I have wanted to design my own lamb toy rather than adapt someone else's pattern.  Admittedly, designing a toy for me is more like drawing the animal from a side view then cutting out the shape and adding a couple of gussets!
I'm quite happy with how this little chap has turned out though - everything seemed to fit together nicely and once he was stuffed, the shapes were what I was after.
He has a smart green bow with a rusty looking bell too!  If you are interested, he's for sale in my Etsy shop now.

Also for sale in my shop now is the painted egg.  Needless to say, it did not win anything in the competition at work as children were judges and as always, they went for the egg that made them laugh!  So rather than waste the amount of work that went into this, I thought it only right to see if anyone else would like it.

Suffering from a strained shoulder at the moment which makes everything to do with my right arm very painful - I do hope it doesn't affect my knitting.  Silly thing is, I have no idea how I did it so don't know how to alleviate it!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Ducking & Diving...

Over the past few days I have been knitting some very small ducks...these are no more than 3 inches from beak to tail.
I had to design them from start to finish - it was a bit of a head scratcher as there are some conditions that need to be met in order for them to be suitable for animating.  Firstly, the heads need to be made separately and attached with a wool joint so that they can be moved - this joint then needs to be hidden by a little neck ruff sewn into place.  Also, their bottoms have to be flat in order for it to look like they are swimming.  Lastly, their wings also need to be jointed and wired for movement.  All very fiddly when done at this size!
I was very lucky in that quite by chance, the first body I made turned out to be the perfect shape when I sewed it together - lovely when that happens!  The head and neck are actually based around the pattern for a dog's leg - hey, whatever works!