Practical class: Felting 101

It took forever to drive to Waterperry House and Art in Action on the first day, (three stalled vehicles on the highway and crawling traffic.) The result was that the class I intended to take was booked up and so I opted for a felting class instead.

I’ve never felted anything before and I though, why not? Why not go and have some “crafting” fun. And here is the how to of this fun art form:

The tools which are needed are:
- wool felt
- a felting needle (careful, it has four sharp and barbed needles, and they will hurt you!)
- a foam support
- a needle and thread, scissors and, maybe some buttons or beads or other embellishments, (or not).

(What do you think of this cute felted fairy cake pin cushion? Don’t you love it?)

037 copy

The craft being made was a felted flower broach and here is the teacher demonstrating the beginning. She took a bunch of wool, formed it into a sort-of circle…

040 copy

…and began stabbing it with the felting needle. Her needle didn’t have a protective, retractable plastic cover, the student’s needles did.

044 copy

So I chose some colours and here is the beginning of my first flower. It’s really easy and fun actually and I think I had a smile on my face thru the whole procedure. In no time the wool began and to knit together and became a cohesive disk.

046 copy copy

And, in no time, I had three disks and two leaf shapes ready for my broach. I picked out some buttons and some red thread and began stitching it all together.

048 copy copy

And, here is my finished broach! (I stitched a broach pin to the back of it.)

049 copy copy

Look how well it looks on my little purse! I chose these autumnal colours because I’m looking forward to pinning it on my scarves later on in the year.

054 copy

This was a simple little thing to learn and I must say that everyone who saw it commented on how lovely it was. I think so too.

053 copy

But before you…or I…dismiss it as a “craft” take a look at this award winning Best of the Best Textile piece from artist Eve Kelly! Isn’t it amazing? It’s all felted, just like my flowers, and sold for 390GBP, (that’s over $700!). Here’s a link to another lovely website where you can see life-sized felted birds by Eve O’Neill.

061 copy copy

Happy felting folks. Let me know if you have done this and what you’ve made. :D

Practical class: Silk Painting 101

Here we go with the first practical class from art in action. :D

Have you ever wondered how to paint on silk? Have you ever seen those beautiful silk flags fluttering in the breeze or one of those exquisite silk paintings with the puffy backing and wondered about making one for yourself? Well, read on, because now you’ll be able to.

Painting on silk requires a few special products and a little practice and that’s all there is.

You’ll need special paints. The ones we used were already decanted into the little palette and so I couldn’t photograph the actual paint pot, but I know what they are. They are heat set paints and are called Silkcraft Iron Fixed Silk Paint. They blend like a dream, they rinse and thin with water and act a little like watercolours.

The special solution you need to stop the paints from bleeding together is called Gutta. It comes in a tube with a very thin nozzle for precise application.

The other things you need are:
- a piece of silk…obviously…lol
- a wooden support to pin the silk to, (I suggest going to your local thrift store, buying a tacky .99 cent painting on a wooden support, and tearing the canvas away.)
- and some pins to pin the silk to the wooden support (there are special pins with three sharp prongs that we were using, but I think any thin, sharp pushpin will work.)
- something to act like a palette. This paint is very watery so it has to be in little cup forms.
- a paintbrush or two, a jar of water, a piece of paper and a couple pieces of masking tape.

056 copy

So, the first thing to do is to pin the silk on the wooden support.
Then take your piece of paper and fold it in such a way that it fits inside the wooden support underneath the silk, then take the paper out. Now you have the paper the precise size of drawing surface.

Now draw something. :) (I had my robin drawing on my cell phone and so decided to replicate something like that. This class was only 1.5 hours, but you can take as long as you like.)

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE!!!
You will follow your drawing with the Gutta and, when you finally get to paint the colours on your silk, everywhere that lines do not meet, that is, everywhere where there is a little gap in the Gutta, the paint will bleed and mix together. So draw your design with that firmly in your mind.

When you have drawn your design, pour out some of the paints into your palette. A little will do, it goes a long way.

Now flip the wooden support with the silk pinned to it upside down and put your drawing underneath your silk. You will be able to see the design thru the silk. Hold the paper there with a couple pieces of masking tape.

Now flip the silk right side up and take your Gutta and trace the lines on your silk with the Gutta. You may like to have a little practice on a darker sheet of paper first, (newspaper, paper bag, your kid’s construction paper), to get the hang of how the Gutta flows.

You can see in my robin design, I intentionally left a space on the right side of the robin’s red breast area. I wanted to denote the red part, but wanted the colour to blend and bleed thru.

063 copy copy

Now you’re ready to paint your design.

I found that the paint colours were a little sharp for my liking. I mean, fuchsia, turquoise, minty green. lemon yellow…etc…, so I mixed them together to make softer colours and browns and oranges. I had a little practice on my sheet of paper.

066 copy

Now be brave!!!

What you need is loads of wet paint and dabs with the brush. For the robin’s red breast I used some red and yellow, and, while they were wet, they blended beautifully.

For his wings and tail, I mixed up a load of brown and, while it was wet, I added some blue.

For the background I mixed up a load of blue, (that wasn’t turquoise or midnight blue) and sloshed it on with the biggest brush there was. You can see how the brush wasn’t big enough for the blue sky and how it dried patchy.

But wait! Here’s a trick: SALT

I wasn’t sure how to describe the feathers on his breast. I wanted a dappled effect of soft brown and white. Our instructor, Julie, suggested I sprinkle salt on the area I want to disturb the paint. I used pickling salt, you know, larger crystals, but you can also use table salt. I presume it would give a bit of a different mottling effect. The best way to add the salt is to dump a generous amount on your work surface and then pick it up in your fingers and place it where you want it. The salt absorbs some of the paint causing a lovely mottled effect.

071 copy

I did the same thing with a second layer of blue on the sky background.

You have to wait till the paint dries and then shake the salt off.

072 copy

And, TAH DA! Here is my finished little silk painting. I love it and can’t wait to frame it. :D (Also, can’t wait to buy some supplies and paint some more.) This is the company I’m likely to order from here in the UK, but I’m sure that very similar products can be found all over the world.

003 copy copy

Here are a couple of designs Julie had as inspiration:

I’ve added the green arrows to show you how the paints will bleed into each other if the Gutta isn’t completely sealing the spaces.

058 copy

However, you can always do a crazy, zany design like this lovely one, and then it doesn’t matter so much at all. :D

057 copy

Happy silk painting.

A beautiful kitchen garden plus royal kitchen

Well, I would say this would be just about PERFECT for me! And yes, I’d move in in a heartbeat and live in the little gardener’s shed if someone would let me. (I don’t take up too much room) :D

Of course, 200 yrs ago, the real kitchen gardens, which served Kew Palace and Mad King George were enormous, but thank goodness the land has been given over to the gardeners. Also, thank goodness this little representation remains.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

095 copy copy

It’s a walled garden! Isn’t this the absolutely most sensible way to garden in the world?

I’m thinking, “where can I get my hands on a few thousand beautiful old bricks to wall in my own garden?”

155 copy copykitchen garden 3

The south wall and the north wall.

kitchen garden 2

How hard can it be to to make a bunch of these charming cloches? I’m going to try to figure them out. A bit of glass, a bit of leaded strips, a bit of solder…

157 copy copy

Here’s the charming gardener’s cottage. The perfect place to have tea.

kitchen garden 1168 copy copy

And now, I suppose all the beautiful produce had to be prepared somewhere. Let’s have a look at the royal kitchens.

The kitchens are somewhat below ground to keep them cool, but still have light and a view to the garden.

101 copy copy

I really would call this shabby chic to the MAX!

Lovely old wood burners, lime washed walls, stone floors, old patina on pipes, rustic wood.

098 copy copy

These were the food preparation areas…

108 copy copy

kitchen

…and this was the cooking kitchen.

This space is two stories tall to get all the heat to rise and vent out.

115 copy copy

And what’s on the second floor?

Accounting offices, chef’s offices, and offices where the Kew Palace staff organised meals.

Robbie read that the kitchen processed over 300 chickens per month in that ledger.

121 copy copy127 copy copy

I suppose this is also the place for a glass of something in the evening.

123 copy copy

Or a cup of tea.

130 copy copy

And, further into the kitchens, are larders full of processed seasonal foods stored for the future.

137 copy copy

142 copy copy

Did you enjoy your visit? I did.

Do we all want to run out and build a walled kitchen garden and shabby chic the heck out of our kitchens?

Yup, I know the feeling. :D Kew Palace next time :D

154 copy copy

Etsy shop

OMG, my heart’s a flutter.

I finally took the plunge and published that Etsy shop I keep going on about after sitting on my writing desk and staring out of the skylight at the city for about an hour.

004 copy copy

Finally I said to myself, “As soon as a seaplane takes off the water I’ll get to work on the shop.” Then one took off straight away. So I reasoned that that was way too soon and now it has to be a different sea plane to count. Then a second one took off followed by a third one. Boy, I can procrastinate for Canada!

So I made myself get off the desk and open my drawers full of paintings and chose three and photographed them with shaking hands, rushed off to a Dr.’s appointment, came home, sorted out the photos and published the shop!

065 copy copy jpg copy

So with butterflies and trepidation, I’m going to proudly say, “Lots more paintings on ephemera to come. :D
Gulp
Thanks for hanging in there with me. XXXXXXXX……..O

006 copy copy

Coca Cola, Rachel’s wonderful drawing challenge

Well, this was an interesting twist for me.

I don’t drink coke. I can’t imagine filling my body with ten teaspoons of sugar and huge amounts of caffeine and DNA destroying potassium benzoate. :( (but I hear it’s great for getting rust off of metal)

I actually don’t drink any pop at all, so it was a bit of a stretch to come up with something coke related.

The first thing I thought about was pop art, Andy Warhol, as in: “You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”

So, ubiquitous as it is, I didn’t really want to disseminate the whole coke image.

I thought about buying a can, dumping the pop out and using the aluminum for some art… recycling the rest…making more cans of coke available…but then again I ran into the problem of personally not agreeing with contributing to the cola market.

What to do…what to do…

Then I got an idea!

IMG_7701 copy copy

I searched out the biggest pieces of sea glass in my collection and tried a few photo transfer, and it worked!

IMG_7693 copy copy

The funny thing about photo transfers, is you have to draw the image, then scan it then cut it up and transfer it then remove the paper backing then clear coat it…

IMG_7694 copy copy

That’s like seventeen steps when you could simply have drawn the darn thing on the object in the first place…lol.

IMG_7699 copy copy

But it’s much more fun this way, isn’t it?

IMG_7696 copy copy

So who knows if this glass came from coca cola bottles, but then who knows if it didn’t? I’m taking artistic liberty here ;)

I can see there being a few more photo transfer pieces of sea glass in my life.

When you have a chance, drop by Rachel’s and check out some other fantastic coke related art.

So, I play with dolls!

You know how things happen? You visit a friend and she’s made a wonderful jointed paper doll.

Then, just by coincidence, you visit a second friend and guess what? Yup! Another beautiful doll.

Then you visit a third friend and, holy smokes…she’s got an exquisite mermaid going on!

Well, it doesn’t take much more and you decide you’ve got to have a mermaid/flapper/jointed doll in your life too!

The internet…gotta love it…has a multitude of jointed doll pattern out there. I chose this one.

Made myself a mermaid. Naked of course. Hey, if I was a mermaid I’d so not want to be dragged down by seashell bras and be made a slave to dry people conventions.

IMG_7492 copy copy

Sat her up against my most favourite Nick Bantock’s “Man Descending” on my office desk.

Next I decided to make a flapper. Same pattern. Dressed her in jet beads and fringe. Stood her up against Man Descending.

IMG_7497 copy copy

Man Descending looks pretty happy to me. :D

IMG_7495 copy copy

Finally carved some stamps

I say finally because I’ve had a couple “speedball speedy cut” medium squares for several months!

Actually, the reason I carved the stamps is now that I’ve organised somewhat straightened up the studio, I actually found where I stashed them.

Carving into this medium was an absolute dream. (Ok, but, I have to admit I have a hand full of proper lino cutting tools now…although the exacto-knife was super easy to use too)

I chose a simple seaweed design and set to it. I found out that it’s really simple to draw your design on paper and then transfer the pencil carbon onto the block by rubbing the back of the paper with something solid, like the handle of my art knife, then I traced over the pencil lines with a ball point pen. (Artist ink pens don’t seem to mark the material.)

stamp carve1

stamp carve2

When I thought I finished I inked it up with a regular stamp pad to see how I did.

IMG_7460

Success!!! :D Also, it was easy to see where I wanted to trim a little more.

IMG_7463

I carved a second stamp with the left-over corner, and then a third one.

IMG_7467

Then I took a small piece of watercolour paper, watercolours and my printing inks, and drew and stamped myself a little underwater scene.

IMG_7469

Complete with a shy little clown fish. :D

IMG_7472

Oh I foresee a sizable stockpile of hand carved stamps in my future…lol.

Here we go!

Woke up this morning all excited. It’s the day of the garden show.

Some of the paintings are all lined up on my dining room table, while the big oils are stacked against the glass door.

001 copy copy

Here are some early morning shots of the garden.
016 copy copytea cart022 copy copy021 copy copy019 copy copy015 copy copygarden014 copy copy004 copy copy009 copy copysaved rosegarden2 copy033 copy copy
I’m off to set everything up.

So excited, wish me luck. :D

023 copy copy

Playing games, (when I should be working)

The other day, when C and I were at the beach, we collected some beach wood and pebbles.

I had it in mind to make a tic tac toe game for the garden with one of the driftwood and the pebbles.

This beautiful piece had three ginormous nails stuck thru it, but I liked the nail heads and so decided to be brave and use my angle grinder to cut the sharp ends off and leave the rest of the metal in the wood.

Boy, you should have seen how brave I was. There were sparks all over the place and burning wood and melting, red hot metal!!! Angle grinders are not for the weak hearted!

IMG_7148

Then I got some inks and water, the pebbles and a brush.

IMG_7149

I picked out the pebbles I wanted and tried them on for size.

IMG_7150

Then I freehand painted circles on half and xs on the others, and I eyeballed some lines for the game board.
(using rulers and pencils would have been just too professional for me and I want people to pick the game up and not worry.)

IMG_7151

And there you go! Hope people will feel free to play. :D

IMG_7152

what comes from stress and evening walks

I went for a walk around the hood this evening, after spending hours in the garden, and walked past a most highly manicured garden in the world which must belong to someone who owns a garden service called Momentous Impressions Gardening. (because the vans with that name were parked out front) And it makes perfect sense because this garden has the greenest, most even grass blades in the world, the most manicured clumps of vegetation and the sharpest edged borders from where peaks of the darkest, richest soil can be seen.

IMG_7109 copy copy

Oy Vey!

Then I round the corner and come up to my garden. The one with the wonky photinia hedge and giant, overgrown cherry tree.

IMG_7110 copy copy

And volunteer fir trees and lawns with more weeds and moss that actual grass.

IMG_7111 copy copy

And a hodgepodge of saved plants from neighbourhood construction sites and rustic, old fences.

And I think, “what the heck am I doing having a garden show?”
mess

So I hope people can look past the imperfections and see the glorious bits.

Like this wild and gorgeous clematis which looks like clematis with a bad hair day.

clematis

And the small vignettes I’ve set up in places.

014 copy copy013 copy copy

And the saved apple tree, which went from a hand full of leaves and one rotten apple to a glorious green top and a full harvest last year, and places for wildlife with this small pond, a bird bath, three fountains and some water plants.

garden1

But the tea cart is all washed and ready to be put into service and to be loaded up with tea cups and cookies, and Morgan is keeping a watchful eye on the goings on and always eager to test things out.

cart_morgan

The broken irises have been gathered into vases,

002 copy copy

The roses and clematis are starting to open, and a wholly inappropriate chandelier has been hung in the garage just because it looks lovely there.

IMG_7121 copy copy

So nevermind the mess. I think it’s going to be OK. :D

006 copy copy