Sunday, February 12, 2012

Productive Sunday

I finally finished the buttons and buttonholes for Lexies dress this morning, then popped around this afternoon to give it to her.  I'm pleased it fitted her and she loved twirling around in it, but it only stayed on for 10 minutes then she wanted her shorts and t-shirt on again ... she's a bit of tom-boy so I hope she wears it.
Another thing I did this afternoon was have a go at baking.  I love cooking but am not much of a baker, but it was a friends 83rd birthday and I wanted to do something special, so I made a chocolate cake with cream and marmalade filling, and even had a go at making chocolate leaves for the top.
It's not something I'd attempt to do again in the summer, no matter how much I chilled the leaves, as soon as I touched them they melted.  We had the aircon on full blast in the car to stop it melting, and had to chomp into it as soon as we arrived at our friends, but it was worth the effort.  Yummy!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Creative play

The housework can wait ... the past two days the kitchen looked like a bomb had hit it.  I decided to pull out all stops and have a creative play day,or two - taking over every conceivable surface in my kitchen and experimenting with paints, inks, stencils and whatever that I'd collected over the years and never put to much use.  I have to admit to not having a clue what I'm doing, but I guess thats why its called "experimental" work.  The first thing I did was stencil some gesso over a piece of pelmet vilene, then spray it with washes and sprinkle some powder over it.  It took ages to dry and didn't end up as raised as I'd liked, but thats probably due to using gesso instead of molding paste.  I just can't find the Golden molding paste here in Oz.
You can see here that I had a few things on the go.  Working from the far right I painted some vliesofix; stamped a predyed piece of fabric; made labels for my C&G notebooks; and tried an experimental piece.
The experimental piece has a bit of everything thrown at it ... I mainly wanted to use my paper casts, so I attached them to the vilene with gesso, slapped a bit more gesso around, then thought "why not some more gesso" so put some through a stencil of square blocks.  Stood back and thought, hmmmm, too much gesso, so pressed some scrim into it, then sprayed dye-na-flow over it.  It all went too turquoise, so I had to knock back a few places and bring back the white of the gesso.  Then waited, waited, and waited some more for it to dry - blasted it with the hairdryer, waited some more, then went to bed and woke this morning to find it had finally dried!!  Now just have to decide where to go with it from here ... I know there's more to do to it, but I have to have a think about it, over a cuppa tea maybe.
It'd actually all started with me making the paper casts, and wanting to do something to finish them off.  This was a cast I made using cheap loo paper.  It worked wonderfully when I was making the pulp with just the paper and water, but when it dried it didn't hold together very well (found out later after some research, that I should've used watered down PVA glue at the time of pulping and molding) - so - I lathered it with textile medium to bind it together, which seemed to work, and then painted it with acrylic paint and rubbed metallic wax over it.  It's very subtle and doesn't exactly hit you in the face - but this might work in its own way.
I stencilled another piece of pelmet vilene with acrylic paints in periwinkle blue and silver.  I like this, but again, need to have a think of where to go from here.
Even the paper towels I used to mop up and wipe down came in handy as pieces of mini art.  I liked the colours down the middle of this piece of towel, so I used up the left over dye-na-flow to cover it then found I probably like this best of all - Murphy's Law huh!?  When you're not even trying, is when you get the best results.
So after two days of play, it's back to housework for a few hours ...  then some afternoon down time to get the creative juices flowing again and decide what to do with them from here. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Paper casts and tiny Ted

I've spent the past two evenings making paper casts for some textile work, and must say its quite therapeutic in front of the tele dabbing bits of paper with a paint brush and water.  These are the first lot I made, and being impatient for them to dry, I took them off their moulds and then they dried all buckled .... lesson learnt in what NOT to do!!
These ones are last nights batch drying slowly.  You can see I raided the kitchen cupboards for anything that could be used for a mould - bottoms of plates, glasses, bowls, along with all the proper moulds you can buy nowadays.
I also used toilet paper as well as water soluble paper - cheaper, dries faster, and smells nice too.  Not sure how well it'll withstand the painting and waxing afterwards, though.
The base of this dessert plate made a great cast using the toilet paper, so I might have a go tonight using the w/s paper and then compare them.  The snowflakes was another attempt with the toilet paper.
So after I'd made those I was itching for something else to do, and found a half made Ted in my UFO bag, so got stuck in, literally, to finishing him.  He's made using the dry needle felting technique, just rolling up balls of wool and stab, stab, stabbing, building up areas, until you get a shape you want.
Okay, he's not the most handsome bear I've ever seen.  No matter how many attempts at making his face smiley and sweet, he ended up looking mean and scary, but he still looks like a bear, albeit one with a bad case of mumps and arm and leg joints that don't line up LOL!!  But he does have a hump and a tail.
I'm sure I can only get better with practice.  I've seen other techniques for doing this too, so might try them later on if I can withstand the stabbed fingers (watching tele whilst doing this could be reason why I stabbed myself so many times).  As happy as I am to finish him another attempt can wait a few months - I think it'll make a good winter craft, but when you're sitting in 40C heat the wool just sticks to your fingers and gets a bit frustrating, then to calm you down you go and get some chocolate and then that melts and gets on your bear and ...... you get the drift.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

No idle hands here

My first post for 2012. Even though I've been laying low and recovering from our horrid chain of events over Christmas I've not had idle hands, and have been busy creating.
When I was researching pulled thread work for my last module I remembered a pulled thread work butterfly I'd stitched years ago in my weekly embroidery group and wanted to stick it in my notebook as reference, then during the rummaging I came across a table runner I'd started yonks ago but hadn't finished.
Sometimes at night I just like to sit and stitch something that I can pick up and put down at any time without too much brain-drain and this was perfect, so I decided to finish it - then went on and made two smaller doillies to compliment it.
Each was edged with 3 rows of four-sided stitch then two rows of reverse scotch stitches with a little zig-zag on the corners to break it up a bit.  It was a bit hard on the eyes, but I enjoyed it and was a bit lost when it was finished.  I enjoyed the rythm of the stitching and it took my mind off  everything else at the time.
Another thing I've had a go at is making clothes again, something I've not done for over 20 years, but I've started slowly with a few dresses for Lexie.  This is the first one which wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be.  Just hope Lexie likes it - she goes through phases of not wanting to wear dresses, so I'm hoping she's over that!   I'm half way through another one now - I know its not City and Guild stuff, but its getting me back into the swing of things if nothing else.
During the Christmas/NY holidays I dragged hubby to the WA Museum, as they had an exhibition on of artefacts from the British Museum, and one in particular I was really keen to see - the Snettisham Great Torc.  I'd studied Anglo Saxon jewellery for one of my earlier modules and just fell in love with their skills and artwork, and couldn't believe my luck at the chance to see this torc. It was stunning!  Unfortunately I was only allowed to take my wee camera in and it didn't take the most brilliant of pics.
Another great item was the Lewis Chess Set, well, only one piece of it really - but I loved it.  It fascinates me about the people who made and used these things. 
I really fancy stitching this wee man one day - another project to add to my list of things I hope to live long enough to do!!