Allsorts (not the licorice ones!) 

Today rosie and I carried on with creative things. We headed off to Slimbridge and spent a while sketching flamingoes. Rosie understandably struggled with the fact that they kept moving, and she wasn’t happy with the way she drew their heads, but i love the way she uses the pencil so she doesn’t get solid lines round the edges, and i love the variety of birds she’s captured with their heads under their wings and their necks twisted up in different ways, and the fact that her sketches have movement in them. It’s really interesting how we view our own work as i really like one of rosie’s pictures that she thought was no good and actually crossed out! 

I had fun trying out my metallic pencils and then getting more adventurous with pens. It was interesting to use slightly different colours because those were the ones I had. I’m a bit annoyed with both my pictures… The first because of the solid line round the edge and the second because I think i ruined it with the baby one flapping and jumping up and down… Mark thought it was a scarecrow!! That said, I’m really pleased with the shape of the flamingo with his head back, and i really like the colours together. 

When we got back we got the henna out. Rosie had never used it on anyone before so she tried a simple design on my foot and then did a more tricky bird design on my other ankle, combining bits of two different pictures in one. 

Rosie then found a floral design she wanted on her arm (so it will be covered by her blazer sleeve when she goes back to school), and i did that for her,adding birds flying across her wrist. 

After that we watched ‘you’ve got mail’ which she’d never seen before (I feel that it’s an important part of my role to educate her in great films)! And i finished off my octopus while we were doing that. His  eyes look weird but as rosie and mark both say ‘a premature baby isn’t going to mind about that’! That said… Next time I make one I think i will leave it without a face at all! 

Rosie worked hard and finished her paper cut too. I’m so proud of her as she’s put tons of time and effort into it and she’s done  a fab job, especially seeing as it’s the first time she’s ever done it. 

it’s been so much fun doing all this with rosie and I’ve loved being able to give her the opportunity to try new things while she’s been here. 


Joy in the storm

Today I went back to paper cutting. I’ve had a design set aside (from the paper panda book) for ages as the next one I wanted to do but haven’t got round to it. Today I had a day with no plans and I’m still feeling dizzy when moving around so I say in my lounge, keeping my head fairly still, and got cutting!

I find it relaxing, apart from the tension in my shoulders that I seem to need to cut with control. That said, I probably don’t have the best set  up, sitting on floor cushions by a low table!

I chose this design because I liked the evenness of the raindrops with the lines between them, and because I thought it did be a good design to try filling  some of the spaces with different coloured paper. It didn’t take long to realise that the raindrops and lines would not be half so even once I’d cut them, but then I discovered I quite liked that about it too! I also discovered it was much easier to cut the drops fluidly if I turned the design upside down and worked from bottom to top.

While cutting i reflected on finding joy even in the middle of storms, and how much difference it makes when you have other people around you when you’re facing troubles. I rediscovered the joy of listening to music today. It’s been so long since i put on a cd or listened to a playlist, and i end up forgetting how uplifting music can be. Today I listened to mumford and sons with baaba maal, the very best and beaten berg, which is a fab though short cd with different cultural influences on it. Then an album by Alabama shakes. We saw them all live last summer at an outdoor gig in Hyde Park and I found myself remembering the fun we had there and at other outdoor gigs and festivals, and then looking forward to the ones we’re going to this summer. I found myself feeling happy and like life has promise and possibilities. It’s the first time in a while… Recently I’ve just been mainly getting through each day.

I’m enjoying exploring the idea of craft as therapy, and have seen a couple of blog posts about crochet as therapy. It wasn’t my intention to use craft as a therapy but I think it (and blogging about it) is helping  me in lots of different  ways, which is exciting.

By lunch I’d done a fair bit. I numbered the back of the umbrella sections to use them as templates later.

After lunch I finished cutting away the other parts, and then I filled the umbrella sections with rainbow colours as they’re bright and cheerful.

Then I debated on the colour for the background. Pale blue felt like spring showers, black was too oppressive and I settled on the dark blue as a way of representing slightly more of a threatening storm. The characters stand out nicely on the background, and I’m pleased with the overall effect. The only thing is that their eyes don’t stand out in the photos.

And here’s the final picture in its frame.



Completed foxes

Here they are! After a helpful prompt from my mum I got on with finishing this project! I liked the idea of backing  them with green, like a field, but i also took inspiration from our displays in school and decided to double back it. I chose the blue as i think it goes nicely, and also to follow  the symbolism and represent the sky. 

My spray adhesive had arrived so i opened the windows and sprayed away! It seemed a lot easier and safer than trying to apply pritt stick to each little part with the end of a cocktail stick! I knew I’d rip bits  if  i tried to do that. 

I love the finished effect, and now just need to figure out what to do with it! I think next time i might need to get a frame in advance, and then back it to the right size. This one will have to remain unframed i think. 

Paper cut foxes part 2

So today i actually got distracted from things i should have been doing and decided to paper cut instead. I was motivated by the fact that someone new started following my blog and commented on my posts… Thanks lillibella. So please do keep liking/comnenting/following as it will help me to keep going with this. 

Putting off French homework and booking various things i decided to carry on with the foxes paper cut from my paper panda book. 45 minutes later this is how far I’d  got. 

I got really excited about getting to cut the foxes, especially after doing the tricky, fiddly leaves. Several times i accidentally nearly cut through a thin branch, but so far i have avoided that or cutting off something that’s meant to be there. I know they can be fixed after, but i will be so annoyed at having to put extra time in to fix something i could have avoided. 

I think part of the way of avoiding mistakes like that might be to do the more fiddly bits when i start cutting, as i start losing focus a bit and getting tired after half an hour and find my cutting gets less accurate. 

Today was the first time I’d done paper cutting in daylight, which involved lots of moving around to find the best place to sit so i didn’t block light. 

I loved cutting the foxes, and i really enjoy cutting long swooping lines that are a bit like a narrow elongated s as i find i can cut these smoothly. The worst thing to cut is a line that curls back on itself like a spiral… I can’t get them smooth at the moment. But the lovely thing is that when cutting I’m  focused in on tiny details. When I look at the whole it always looks better than i think it will… Especially when I’ve turned it over to the proper side. 

There will be a paper foxes part 3 at some point to finish cutting the whole design and then i might try mounting it on card! 

Paper cut foxes

Here’s a quick blog before i go to work as a teaching assistant in a reception class in a local primary school. Last night i got home from work and decided to do half an hour of craft before reading a book. I started on the fox template which you can see above. The pattern is printed ready, and with this you cut away all the black parts and then flip the page over to see the design. 

This is how much i got done in 30 minutes

I’ve discovered i most like cutting out the elongated triangle shapes, and i need to practice corners and getting these sharp on other shapes. 

It will be interesting to see how long it takes to cut the whole design. Cutting round the outside will be the last stage as this helps to keep the whole thing stable while cutting the other parts. 

Paper cutting – a bird

Today was the first day i tried paper cutting. One of my lovely sisters in law, Susie, and her family, gave  me a book on paper cutting called ‘paper panda’s guide to paper cutting‘  by paper panda and friends, as well as a paper cutting board and knife. Having read the start of the book on Christmas day i realised i would need a different knife for cutting as they recommend changing the blade every 10 to 15 minutes to keep the cuts sharp. I ordered a new knife and replacement blades and when they arrived today i couldn’t wait to get started! 

I tried their practise activities and felt rather smug  when my circle looked like a circle and not like a 50p as they suggested it probably would on my first attempt, so i felt confident in starting a proper one from one of their templates. I chose a small one as i figured out would be quicker to do, and i’d  feel less upset if i messed it up, but I’m really pleased with the outcome. 

I didn’t change the blade, but can see a difference in the cut quality at the bottom of the picture. I’m not entirely sure though if that’s because of the blade or because i was getting impatient to finish it and was maybe being less careful and getting a bit quicker! 
I really enjoyed doing this, especially as a relaxing activity after getting home from my work as a reception class teaching assistant and before cooking dinner. I’m looking forward to trying a bigger design next.