Crazy glaze

Having done no creative stuff at all since rosie’s visit a week and a half ago I was excited about today when my friend hannah had invited me to her 21st birthday party. She had a pottery painting party run by crazy glaze, who were the same people who ran my ‘chicken party’  (my hen party that got renamed by one of the little girls who came to it!). Darren and Juliette from crazy glaze are lovely, and Darren is also a photographer and he took our wedding photos for us too. Today he brought his daughter Lucy with him.

Today i planned to do a detailed design on a pizza plate, and a quick design on a bowl. I took ideas from various different places and got to work. It was good to draw out the basics of my design on my plate in pencil, knowing that the marks would burn off when the plate was fired.

I enjoyed using the different colours and there is something exciting about not knowing exactly how it will look after firing because the colours are so muted when they go on. Crazy glaze provide small tabs of each colour as they will look after firing, but obviously you can’t really see how they look together on your work until after the process.

I spent quite  a large chunk of the party time on the plate, and eventually decided not to outline the bird or tree in black, and just see how it turns out.

Then I worked fast on the bowl. I love the combination of lime green and orange, so filled the middle of the bowl with lime green, and edged the rim in orange.

Round the outside i just used up the paints that were left in my palette from doing  the plate, with no pattern, just making sure I didn’t put the same colour next to itself anywhere. I think it will be a very cheerful bowl for eating my cereal in the mornings!
During the party it was fun as Darren kept looking up photos of our wedding. I love looking back at that day as it was so much fun!

It was nice to be creative with other people.


Craft swap

This evening I went to our local library where they have knit and natter on a Wednesday evening. Tonight they also had a craft swap. I came away with lots of bits of material that will hopefully feed my new found patchwork interest for a while! 

I also spent time there and then back in my garden with a lovely Korev lager, crocheting an octopus to send to a hospital for a premature baby. After about an hour and a half i have an octopus with one and a half legs! I love how their legs curl up as you do 2 or 3 double crochets (UK terms) in each of the chain. 

It took me a while to get used to crocheting with cotton, but it’s  ok now and I’m getting quicker with it. It was fun hanging out with lots of crafty people, and bizarre because when one lady asked what I was making and I told her she said “what, one of these?” and pulled a finished octopus out of her bag! She’d already made two, so it was handy to chat to her about it. 

Beautiful slippers! 

They’re finished! 

I decided to crochet the second slipper properly, making sure the scales were offset this time.  I was worried that once I finished it I might decide to frog the top of slipper one to make it the same so a few days ago I sewed the ends in, added the buttons, and sewed the nonslip  backing  to the soles of both slippers to prevent me from doing that. 

Yesterday and today I have been off sick – getting dizzy and feeling off balance and like I’m gonna throw up every time I’m upright. Yesterday I couldn’t even crochet and spent the day lying flat. Today I’ve managed to prop myself up a little bit with my head resting on cushions so it can’t move, and i managed to crochet the last couple of rows to finish my second slipper. 

I’m pleased I followed  the pattern properly for the second one… I much prefer the scales offset. It makes me confident too that I can make another pair that match for my friend who asked if I could make some for her. That will be an interesting process as I don’t think I’ve ever crocheted the same thing twice before. I’ll make them from a different wool though, which will look a bit more wood nymph than crazy fairy! 

Here are some more pictures of my completed fairy/pixie boots, now keeping my feet cosy as I cwtch up with a blanket and rest on my sofa with a good book. 

Non slip backing – the kind you put under rugs. Hopefully this will stop me from wearing through the wool on the heel

Mis-matching scales but I don’t think they’re too obvious after all

Cute buttons

Half way mark

Yippee! Slipper number one is finished! 

Well, apart from needing  to add buttons to do up the cuffs, and anti slip stuff to the bottom. 

I got into the swing of doing the scales, and love  the overall effect of the different colours. I particularly liked the scales which changed colour in the middle,

 and even more the ones where there was a small amount of an in between colour too. 

Next step… Slipper number two and the attempt to recreate my hit and miss pattern! 

Making lip balm

Ooh this was fun! I bought a little soap company kit for making lip balm yesterday, and this evening I used it. It just involves heating the beeswax and shea  butter (which took a surprisingly long time) adding avocado oil and then the lavender and citrus essential oil. 

It’s  a bit frustrating that the mixture cooled quite quickly so two of the pots have lumpy bits on  top. If I’d thought about it I’d  have warmed those bits up again to make them liquid before adding them, but it’s cool… It won’t notice once people have started using them! 

Apparently the hardest part of the process was spelling lavender when I wrote it on the pot lids!! Oops! 

A mix of things

Hey there. This morning I had no crochet projects on the go and this afternoon  I’ve completed one and started a new one! I went into town to buy wool for a new project that was inspired by craft and other crazy plans. Ok, so not exactly inspired by… I’m shamelessly copying her… Including the colour of wool. Well, I was inspired by her post saying that she had tried the pattern at one stage and it was too hard and then she came back to it and could do it. It linked with my experiences of persevering with my last prayer shawl, and i thought the slippers were beautiful. So I bought the pattern from Ravelry and went to buy wool and ask for help from Diane at miju wools. She wasn’t there when I got there but sue s with a group of ladies at a knit and natter group. I joined them and started work on a corner to corner crochet pattern  that was shown to me by my friend Lynn who taught me to crochet. 
I used a funky wool to work on this with the idea of making a dishcloth. It’s ended up a bit wobbly, which is fine for a dishcloth! It took a bit of working out but was really easy once I got the hang of it. 

In the meantime Diane came back and showed me how to crochet round the post. This seems easy enough (though i may regret saying  that when I get to the bit of the pattern that requires it!) so I bought wool to start the project. I found some variegated wool in pretty much the same colours as craft and other crazy plans had used, which made me very excited. And I got started after crossing out all the American terms on the pattern and replacing them with the British equivalents! 

And I found a gorgeous chunky wooden button that I’m going to send to my friend along with the prayer shawl I finished the other day so she can use it to attach the scarf /shawl round her neck more easily. 

It doesn’t need a button hole,it just slots through one of the holes in the pattern. 

And then my final bit of craft for the day (or really just an update on a previous one) was framing the picture I made yesterday with a frame I found in WH Smith. I’m so pleased with it, it’s completed the picture in a way I didn’t expect. 

Painting the seasons

Wow! What a day! Beware… Reflections and emotional revelations are likely to abound in this post! 
Today i went on a day called painting the seasons-spring, at Hawkwood  college, Stroud. The day followed an anthroposophical approach, which includes (i think!) aspects of therapy and spiritual development. The day was run by liri  filippo and there were five of us on the course. We started by introducing ourselves, sharing something of our story and ideas about our relationship with spring. This was a really important part of the day as it helped us to get to know each other a bit before starting, and got me reflecting. For me, spring is a time of hope and the promise of new things. The ‘deadness’ of winter is replaced with abundant new life, and this gives me a hope that things  don’t stay the same in life. The ‘deadness’ of my depression can be replaced with an aliveness, though as the seasons are cyclical so also are my moods and my ability to cope well with everyday life. 

Other people reflected that for them spring makes them uncomfortable as it is such a powerful, almost violent and overpowering time when things  change dramatically and almost with no warning. I could understand this view and was really surprised I hadn’t felt it like that before. 

Our next task was to go for a walk in the beautiful grounds and think about our impression of spring, and later we would paint it. We got caught in an April shower, dashed in for a quick cup of coffee and a yummy spiced biscuit still warm from the oven before heading back to the studio to put paint on paper. 

Our resources were oil paints and linseed oil, and cotton wool balls and cotton buds, and our fingers! 

I was relieved that it wouldn’t matter that I don’t paint much or have great paintbrush skills! 

The impression I’d had of spring on my walk was that there is a lot of green (and brown from trees yet to bud) and then little hidden things (flowers) appear, often in little clumps. I tried to reflect this in my first picture as I got used to dipping in oil then paint and mixing on a paper plate. Here it is :

Next Liri suggested we try blending colours to reflect the idea that green comes from mixing blue that represents the earth and yellow that represents the light interacting with the earth and creating lots of green. My first piece I mixed the colours on  the plate and then blended them on the paper, and i was pleased with the variation in tones. 

Liri suggested I do another one and try mixing the colours straight on the paper. As I did this I wanted the yellow to come into the blue bringing life to it but then, as I  mixed, the green went back up into the yellow. Initially I was frustrated with this but when I looked at my picture from a distance I could see that the greens going up looked like they were growing and reaching  up to the light. I added some streaks of yellow going down into the blues and greens and was again initially frustrated that they seemed to move upwards, but then I  liked the impression they gave of  life bursting out of the earth! 

I quite liked the colourful mess I made as well! 

Finally before lunch liri suggested we play around with making pinks, as  we were going to study a magnolia tree to paint after lunch. I used the opportunity to try mixing in different ways and to play around with texture. 

We had a really lovely lunch and then spent time  looking at the magnolia tree. I found it overwhelming looking at it and knowing I was going to try to paint it shortly. If I looked close up I loved  the detail but didn’t think I could paint it accurately enough, but from far away I just didn’t know how I could do it. After a relaxing and fun morning where I had a lot of freedom to play without any real worries about how the end product might look (though with a momentary battle of dealing with jealousy and self doubt as i compared my pictures with those of the other participants) suddenly now I was feeling tearful, overwhelmed, pretty useless and disappointed (at the change in my mood). 

On returning to the studio we were encouraged to choose a coloured ‘essence’, rub it into our hands and smell it and then move our hands over our aura. I don’t hold to the aura thing and felt weird about the idea of trying that but I took some of a pink essence and rubbed  it into my hands and smelled it. Initially I didn’t like the smell but it grew on me with time. It turned out that this essence was supposed to help with self love and bring kind to yourself (others were for  energy, or joy and confidence). I found it more than coincidental that the one I chose was the one that made me feel uncomfortable. I struggle so much with being kind to myself and with loving myself. I tend to set my standards for myself way higher than I do for anyone else and then berate myself when I don’t meet them. I was about to cry but I stopped myself. With hindsight maybe I should have just gone with it… Liri  had already provided tissues as she was expecting emotions of some sort. 

In the end I tackled the whole tree, but i started with filling  in the background… At least there was now paint on my paper! 

I added more and more detail to the background before I eventually plucked up the courage to paint on the trunk and branches. By this point it was time for a tea break. When liri suggested we put all our paintings alongside each other against the wall so we could look at them from a distance I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t see how my picture was going to be any good and just didn’t want people looking at it. I shut myself off from everyone and didn’t pass comment on their paintings. 

I left to get a drink and another look at the tree. Suddenly I saw the tree differently. I’d  wanted to get a ‘feel for it’ this time, so i could add life  to it. I saw detail I hadn’t noticed before and really enjoyed looking at it. Suddenly I was inspired and went straight back to start adding the blossoms. This was a fun part and the picture really started to take shape. I felt bad that I’d previously shut myself off from the others but now there was no time to talk as we focused on what we were doing. Now I was willing to accept help and guidance from liri which she happily gave me. Like from this first photo she suggested I think about where the land ended and sky began behind the tree and add green to the gaps where land would be. She also suggested I add more blossoms to the bottom right to soften the hard looking edge of the tree, and add darker blue to the top of the painting to balance out the shadow under the tree (which I added a bit later). Also to add more of the darker pink to the bottom of the tree to heighten the shadow effect. 

I’m so pleased with the differences those bits of advice made 

And now I could love  myself, but only because I was actually pleased with my painting, proud that I’d given it a go and encouraged that I’d learnt something about myself. I wonder when (or if) i’ll be able to love  myself just because I am, not because of anything I do or achieve? 

Then, before we  went home we looked at each other’s creations. It was fascinating to see how we had similarities but also huge differences given that we were all given the same brief. We could all find things to admire  in each other’s paintings, and i think we had all bonded  well as a group. I was glad I had the opportunity to be more open and friendly after having been so freaked out and shut off, but in a way I regret not sharing something of the difficulties I went through. I avoided that because I didn’t want to cry, but i wonder  if expressing what was going on and letting out the emotion at the same time might have been more healthy and helpful than keeping it bottled up in myself? 

All in all I’ve had a very enjoyable, enlightening and fun, if rather exhausting day. 

Daisy chain

So I know it’s not the greatest creative act in the world but yesterday I made a daisy chain! Well, it wasn’t just me but me and several reception and year one children over lunch time. The weather was nice enough for us to go on the field at school at lunchtime, and as  always the children started picking daisies. I asked if they knew how to make a daisy chain, which they didn’t. After I explained that we needed daisies with long stems I started to make the holes with my thumb nail and the children took turns posting their daisies through the hole. Together we made one big daisy chain which they decided I should have! Then we made another one which was later presented to the teacher in my class! 

There was something lovely about the fact that several of us were focused on and contributing to the same creation. There was always a small group of children watching and waiting for their turn. I really like the idea of collaborative creations, and am excited by the prospect of joining other people who could each  make a square of patchwork that could all be joined into a larger quilt and given to a children’s charity. I’m not sure what it is about it that I respond to so much other than several people working together to achieve the same thing. 

With the daisy chain some children kept going all lunchtime and others just added a couple of daisies, but all of them contributed to the whole (maybe that’s part of the point of Jesus’s story where all the workers get paid the same amount no matter how long they worked for… All are working to expand the kingdom of God,where each person’s role is valued equally no matter how big or small?). 

It was lovely to connect with the children in this way. But also I was constantly busy because every time one daisy was threaded another one was there! My role was the repetitive one of carefully making holes in the stems and holding them steady to be threaded through. This repetitive act was calming and therapeutic, and had a certain rhythm to it. I was reminded of something the recursive girl said about how repetitive (recursive) acts like sewing etc help to calm her. I recognised what she meant while doing this. 

Yesterday gave an unexpected  creative moment. Today’s is more planned. I’m off to a day of painting my response to spring on a course. I’ll update you on how that goes later on! 

Shopping spree

Today after work I treated  myself to a leisurely browse around a craft shop. 45 minutes later I came home with a bag  full of goodies! 

It’s all for a mix of crafts. So i bought a book that was in the magazine section which gives ideas of different crafts and instructions on how to do  them, which I thought  would be good for expanding my creative repertoire! 

I’m not sure about the tea blending, but we’ll see! 

I also bought some funky materials (something I never thought I’d do) and a patchwork ruler, with the aim of making a patchwork pillowcase… Maybe for me, or maybe as a present, I’m not sure yet. I’d  started off picking up a fat quarter of fabrics with birds on but when I saw these I couldn’t resist their brightness, so i put the bird ones back. I couldn’t find the perfect bluey green cotton for sewing them so I got this really cool variegated cotton which I hope will look cool even if my stitches show. 

I bought some fine line drawing pens to go with a small sketchbook I have, as I want to try drawing some birds  over the Easter holidays. 

Also a book of different patterned papers for another idea I’ve had for making pretty pictures,and some new sharp scissors. 

And finally some black cards with some oil pastels for an idea I’ve had for making cards (the fixative is to stop the pastels coming off when they’re touched, and the pens are for writing in the cards… I hope they work-I’ve yet to find a reliable metallic gel pen that writes smoothly). 

I thought that was my final comment but look! 

I just went to put my materials away and discovered that one of them has  little elephants on… It’s even more gorgeous than I already thought. 

So, my current focus is my crochet scarf, but after that it could be any of a number of projects! Have I got you excited about what might be coming up on my blog in the near future?! 😊

Mothering Sunday card

With Mothering Sunday coming up on Sunday i decided to make my Mum a card. She really likes birds, and as I couldn’t find her a bird related present (i got her something else instead!) I decided to make her a bird related card!

I decided to go with a mothering kind of image and represent a bird feeding two chicks (me and my sister!) but I wasn’t  sure if I would go stylistic or realistic. Having just watched the final of ‘the big painting challenge’ and seen how much the painters were encouraged to ‘let go’ and not plan in meticulous detail I decided to start drawing in pen straight on the card and see what happened!  I had a mix of different thickness fineliners and two thicknesses of felt pen.

I started with the adult song thrush, filled in some detail (handily going over and disguising a couple of mistakes) and then drew the chicks.

I’m not sure it’s really recognisable as a song thrush, but In  some  ways I’m not worried. The idea I wanted to convey of an adult bird nourishing its babies is obvious in the picture, even if the exact species of bird is not!

Hopefully my mum will like it (both on here and in reality!)

I love You Mum and am very grateful for everything you did in bringing me up, as well as for your ongoing support. Thank you xxxxx