Thursday, 12 February 2015

Applique & Machine Embroidered Draft Excluders... and Cake

This is a job I've been meaning to do for some time.  We needed a draft excluder to replace the rolled up old mat which was trying to do the job but not doing it very well.  I wanted a design which was easy to do but had a personal touch.  What I ended up doing was choosing two well known local buildings (the church and almshouses) and getting himself to make a very simplified line drawing of each of them.  I used bondaweb and drew all the pieces I wanted to cut out on the non sticky side and ironed them onto the fabrics I'd chosen.
Luckily I am a fabric hoarder and had plenty of scrap pieces to choose from.  Our house is somewhere between shabby and chic so I opted for a neutral linen background with some bright reds and creams with a dash of green to whoop it up a bit.
 Here's the basic sausage.  To fit our front door it's 40 inches long and about 11 inches round.
This is the fun part, the fiddling about with where to put things.  
 Final positions decided and ready to be ironed into place and then whizzed under the sewing machine. 
Ta dah!  This is a close up of the finished cover all fitted  and with machine embroidered detail added. 
 Detail of the almshouses with it's little clock represented by a circle.
 And here's the cake.  A Victoria sponge filled with butter cream icing and strawberry jam hand spooned from a jar.  Always a winner!
This morning's weather was fabulous for early February so we took full advantage of it and sat outside for the first time this year in glorious warm sunshine to enjoy my coffee and his tea, with cake of course.

In between times, whenever I have a spare 10 mins or so, I get stabbing with my felting needle.  I have a plan for these bright buttons of colour and will keep you updated.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Polymer Clay Characters, Clocks and Mirrors

It's been many years since I first started playing with polymer clay.  I found these photos of past characters while I was rootling around my digital albums and thought I'd share them with you but the pics are not brilliant.  I don't quite know where I got the idea of pigs dressing up but once I'd had the idea, I ran with it in a similar fashion to yoga cows.  I'm thinking I may re-visit these characters in needle felt.  They all stand just over an inch but if I were re-making them I'd go slightly taller so I could get more detail in.






The characters below were mostly commissions or gifts.

The yoga cows have been with me a looooong time!  And you can see where I had to remove udders.  Apparently they have 4 not 6.
I found a way to make a perplexed face and stuck it on a business man body but that didn't explain his perplexed face...until I added the yoga moves. 
This little chap was one of my first 3D polymer clay creations and I still have him.  It's a Chilly Penguin and the back story is that because penguins live in such cold places, their mums worry about them and won't let them go outside without a hat, scarf and mittens. I think he's my favourite - but don't tell the others. 
Polymer clay is such a versatile medium.  I used to make clocks too, using inexpensive mechanisms bought online.


You can roll out polymer clay and cut tiny mosaic tiles for mirror surrounds.  The tiles below are 5mm square and I added some cupcake cane slices I'd made.  The design was grouted onto a normal kitchen clay tile round a 2" square mirror and backed with felt so it could be hung up without the rough tile back scratching the wall.
 This is a leafy mirror using thin slices of a leaf cane and a lemon cane glued into place.  
Finally this is my favourite mirror which I still have.  The sand coloured tiny mosaic tiles had tea leaves added because I wanted a stony texture and the White Horse at Uffington cane took for ever to make and shrink down!  I've still got loads of it.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

My Village

I've been living here with Himself for just over a year now.  I rented out my lovely large apartment in very lovely Stroud and moved south.  Although I am slowly getting to know my new village, it's taking me longer to appreciate it.  So every now and again, I go out with my camera, take some pics and view my new home through a lens to see if this presents me with some previously unnoticed aspect I can fall in love with. 
Life appears quiet in our small corner of the Cotswolds.  Little has changed in the past 100, 200 or perhaps even 300 years.  
The many listed buildings grow mellow as the ages tick by.  Some date back to medieval times and the road layout hasn't altered...at all.
At the east end of the village is the Memorial, which has been knocked over a few times although it happens less now thanks to the by-pass which takes the heavy traffic away from our narrow roads.
The High Street is about half a mile long and broader at one end than the other.  The broad section is where the market was traditionally held each week and is where the few shops still cluster together.  We have a Butcher's shop which also acts as a Post Office and fruit and veg shop, a general shop open 12 hours a day, a newsagent and gift shop and a paint shop (decorating, not artistic).  There is a tea shop which opens at 8.30 each morning and must be kept going by the many walkers and cyclists who pass our way. The village is bordered by gentle undulating fields with narrow lanes only wide enough for one tractor on one side and steep wooded valleys populated by owls and deer on the other.
These are also our running lanes.  When it's bright and dry we trip round the soft field tracks but the cold and wet weather limits us to the hard tarmac.  The tarmac lanes are cold because there's little to protect you from the winds blasting across the countryside. I need to wear an ear band (it might be a hair band that's slipped) to hoof it round here, especially in winter when the winds come from the north - with still enough arctic air in them to splinter your lungs.
Don't be fooled as I was by the sleepy appearance.  There is life here and quite a lot of it!  The village is blessed with many organisers, so we have a Village Day, a Potato and Seed Sale Day, an Annual Fete and on special occasions a Lunch!  The High Street is closed off and everyone brings out a fold up table and chairs and piles of home made goodies - cakes, scones, quiches, salads, buns, Pimms and all good things.  Hand made bunting is stretched across the street from neighbours windows and after the food there is dancing till the sun sets.
Everything gets decorated.
 In addition to the Church Choir, the Ladies Choir and the Brass Band, there is a male voice choir to entertain the locals.
And the band play in front of the garage as the children dance
I love this glorious "WAH!" of colour against the muted stonework.
I also like our local.  There are two very good pubs but this is the one we mostly visit and in winter it's bliss to curl up in one of the deep sofas round the log fire.
The weather has a big impact on how the village looks and how you feel when you twitch the morning curtains and gaze blearily out of the window.  This is the view from our kitchen  in winter....
 and in late summer.... 

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Needle Felting and a Very Special Little Person

Each January, quite spontaneously, I learn a New Thing.  It's not deliberate, I don't go looking for a New Thing, I've got plenty of old crafts to be cracking on with - sewing, quilt making, card making, scrap-booking, lip balm and soap making, baking, bread making, photography, blogging, polymer clay modelling, zentangling....but nearly all those things came to me at the start of a new year and now I can add "needle felting" to that list, having fallen for it after spending far too long wandering around Pinterest.  Needle felting is done with some woolly stuff called roving which is what wool is before it is spun into wool and special needles which have evil little barbs on the end.  When you push the barbed needle into the roving, it meshes the fibres together so you can form it into shapes.  For the past few weeks, my winter evenings have been spent learning how to make basic shapes.  I started stuffing cookie cutters with wool roving and stabbing it.  This is stupidly simple to do but has the effect of making you feel like a Crafting Goddess.
 I found you can make several little hearts in that lost space between doing the dinner dishes and falling asleep on the sofa.  You need to know that in our family we've been waiting for the arrival of a Very Special Little Person who was being carefully baked by my brother's fiancee.  I'd already made a mobile inspired by this post on Pinterest but the hearts were growing and I needed a home for them.  The few hearts therefore grew into a garland.  In my head I called it "Heartfelt" because every pin prod was for the Very Special Little Person whose arrival was imminent.  The finished hearts were threaded them onto embroidery thread and made a garland about 3 feet long.  
Having perfected easy peasy hearts, I wanted to make shapes.  Below is a cube with a triangle on top.  The wire is supposed to be holding a fluffy cloud but this is experimentation and I'll find a better way to make a cloud!

Then I had a go at making round shapes and pointy shapes...ummm, you'll also notice a left over felt heart found after the garland had been completed. 
Then I wanted to make something long and slim.  I was trying to get beyond obvious shapes and develop a sense of flow and movement.  It didn't work but I'm getting the hang of it and making the tiny pebbles for the path up to the tower was fun.
Then came some experiments which didn't work so I'm skipping over those and heading straight for The Mouse, which DID work as I wanted.  It's about 6 cm high and although I forgot what I was doing halfway through and veered slightly into bunny ears, what I really wanted was the shape and a head looking up.  I have a picture in my head of a mouse looking up at a star on a stick.  Coming soon I hope!  Might add feet too.
Next I wanted to make something based on some polymer clay characters I did years ago and which form the banner on my blog.  Yoga cows.  Hmmm.  Arms too short, nose not right and udders on the wonk and the cow looks worried.  Needs work.
And that Very Special Little Person?  He arrived on January 27th 2015 and was named Albie.
His mobile - with a sleeping bear and an awake bear...

 And the wee chap himself.  Awwwww!