Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Nos Galan Gaeaf

Having said that, no, I wasn't going to decorate the blog for Halloween, I find myself in trouble with a couple of people so.......

Happy Halloween to all those that celebrate it  :-)


Monday, 15 October 2012

Little Box

Had a very nice weekend away with a good friend and the chance to play with some of her goodies - she is far more talented at this craft stuff than I will ever be.

My instructions were to bring a cigar box and some bits to put on it. Sounds easy enough so I acquired this:

 First task was to paint it white with gesso and when dry sand off all the edges and stain then with a brown distress ink pad to make it look old and worn.

 So far so good. Hardest part was waiting for the gesso to dry. Strangely the lid developed quite a pronounced curve when wet. Much to my relief it went flat again when it had dried.

Next it was time to decorate the sides. Firstly I tore some old book pages to size, about half an inch smaller then the sides.

Using the Sissix machine I embossed some brown glassine  paper with a clock pattern and then rubbed it over with some walnut distress ink and a few touches of Treasure Gold. These were cut and torn to be a little smaller than the printed paper

These were then stuck on top of the book pages and both pieces of paper stuck to the box sides. It was already starting to look very different.

Next came the feet to raise the box up a little  - it is amazing the difference feet will make! These were made from beads. Panel pins were knocked through from the inside and the beads threaded on and glued firmly into place.
Time now to decorate the top. Firstly the flowers. These were made by cutting 4 large flower shapes and 2 small ones out of more glassine paper. The paper was then crumpled up and rubbed over with more of the walnut distress ink and some gold highlighting spray. They were then assembled into 2 flowers and the petals held in place with a brad. A bit more crumbling and shaping and some nice blown roses appeared.

The top was covered by a triple sandwich  held together by  machine stitching. The base which was just a little smaller than the surface area of the top was thick white paper. On top of that but slightly smaller was another sheet of embossed glassine paper and finally, smaller again, some more of the book paper.

Almost done. The paper sandwich was glued to the top along with the flowers. An old metal washer acted a keyring to 3 old metal keys and these were held together with some string, again dyed with walnut ink. A few stained wooden leaves and some flakes of mica completed the top.

A blob of glue to hold everything in place and .....

...all done!

I do need to line the inside but I now have a pretty little box to keep "things" in

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Playing with Potions

Yesterday I had the great good fortune to go on a day workshop in "compounding and concocting" run by St Martha's Botanica in Glastonbury.

From the left:

  • Double Fast Luck
  • Money Drawing Oil
  • Commanding & Compelling
  • Dixie Love Oil
  • Fiery Wall of Protection

In the bottles:
  • Glory Water
  • Peace Water
  • Four Thieves Vinegar

In the packets:
  • Commanding and Compelling
  • "Go Away" Powder
  • Money Drawing Powder

This was such fun  ( unfortunately the recipes are not mine to share)   and I've picked up a few useful tips and tricks to try with my own recipes so all in all an extremely good day. The oils will take a week or two to infuse properly before I can try them out.

Firstly though  to find out if the "Go Away" powder works on mice ( and  large spiders!)....   

Monday, 24 September 2012

Water water everywhere

Well after my observation last night that it was raining - it went on to pour. All night I think - at least everytime I woke up I heard the rain lashing down.

It was obviously going to be a fun trip to work so I took a camera with me.

The Cheddar Gorge didn't disappoint. Last time it was this bad, part of the road itself washed away.

Today it was just unpleasant. The main problem is the torrent washes the stones from the edge into the middle of the road , where covered with water you can't always see them.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Drying Times

Yes autumn must be here. The wind is lashing the rain against the windows and there is a steady sizzle from the fireplace as the water comes down the chimney.
Last change then to pick and dry things. The apple crop has been a complete and utter failure. A cold wet snap at the wrong time kept the bees away and instead of a good supply of apples for the winter we have barely any. Most of the plum trees had no fruit at all and we got a small bowlful from the one tree that did manage to set fruit.

I have however managed to get hold of a hop bine this year which is drying nicely in the kitchen. I'd like to say I grew it myself but this was from an internet site. Not a lot of hops are grown around here.

Putting it up was "fun" but the flowers we lost in the process are now drying nicely for use in a hop pillow.  Also in the picture are a few rowan berries ( the strung ones are almost but not quite completely dry and a burdock root.

I'm not sure what I'm going to use that for at the moment but the plant has been the bane of my life all summer so it has given me great pleasure to dig it up. The roots go pretty deep and and thick and strong. I may need to take a hacksaw to the main rootstock.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Autumn Berries

Autumn is definitely on its way now..

The Rowan trees are loaded with ripe berries and I picked a few with the intention of making some garlands.

Stringing them on to the red silk thread was a stickier job than I'd anticipated! I was helped by an earwig that had hitched a lift with the berries ( not keen on them - he was relocated to the garden very quickly)

Hung up to dry.  In a couple of weeks I should have some nice little  Rowan berry beads to string.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Super Nova

It seems ages since I picked up a needle to do any cross stitch but the combination of a gorgeous new piece of  fabric and  a sunny afternoon seems to have reignited the stitching mojo.

The fabric is a custom dye from Sparklies . Kate does some fabulous custom dyes and she surpassed herself this time.

 This is a square yard of Belfast (32ct Linen from Zweigart. The idea was to capture an exploding star and I think it does exactly that. The colours are much brighter in reality, the picture really doesn't do it justice.

Whether Kate will like what I've done to her fabric remains to be seen!  This is progress after about 4 hours stitching.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Death of a book?

I have just spent a very nice weekend with a friend and we had great fun.
The intention was to create a piece of art from an old book...

As a confirmed bibliophile I couldn't possibly have sacrficed one of my own books so I hardened my heart and bought an old one from a chaity shop for about 65p. It wasn't great literature and had definitely seen better days so I tried not to feel too bad about it...

The intention was to create a display niche with the remains of the book as a frame.

The first stage was to paint the cover white and allow it to dry. We used gesso but any white paint would do.

  Next came the cutting. I'd already decided what I wanted to put in the aperature so it was a case of cutting out the right sized hole. Cutting through the cover was hard work and a stanley knife worked better than the craft knives.

Using the hole in the cover as a guide, the inside pages were cut to the same size.  to make a little niche. After a few cut layers I started to cut and tear to get a less uniform effect ( hard this for an OCD personality!). Once the niche was deep enough it was given a quick wash with the gesso to soften and blur the text a little.

Next came the decoration. This is white textured tissue paper, sprayed with green distress ink and stuck on with gel medium. it was intended to be a brown walnut colour but they look very similar in the bottle. Whoops.

The book is not intended to open so it was then necessary to secure it closed. I made some decorative hinges out of grunge paper and coloured the with a brown distress ink and gold embossing powder. They were then nailed to the book front and back to hold it closed.

All that remained then was to add the decoration.  The keys were stuck in with strong glue.

Whilst that was drying I made some roses out of more of the grunge paper and stuck them to the book cover. It isn't quite finished in that I want to add a little more to the cover once I decide what! 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

More dyeing ..... this time with woad

I've been dyeing ( sorry...) to get my hands on some woad to experiment with and finally cracked and bought a kit from this site.

I ordered it on Sunday and it was here on Tuesday so a lightening quick service.

I have some lovely organic merino wool, some spectalite ( going to have to google that one myself!), some soda ash and litmus papers.

This seems somewhat complicated but there are full instructions enclosed. If all goes to plan then I'll have a go on Saturday following the instructions.

I also ordered some extra woad with the kit as I want to have a go at painting with it and perhaps dyeing in a more "primitive" fashion as modern mordants wouldn't have been around when woad was originally used.

Seems a long time til Saturday!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Fabricating Books!

 A crafty friend came to visit me this weekend and as the weather looked poor we planned a day of playing with glue and fabric.

She was been making fabric books now for ages so it was time to give me a lesson.


I already have a fair collection of fabrics and "bits" so it was time to use up all these things I have collected that might be useful one day....


 The plan was to make a fabric photo album.

The chosen photos were printed on to printable cotton

This is funny stuff. It is cotton fabric with a backing and it just peels off to give a thin cotton fabric with the picture which can be glued or stitched on to other things. I found it helpful to have some paper pictures too which allows for some experiments in cropping and shaping the images. The special "paper" is expensive and you need to get it right first time.

 The base pages were cut out of a reasonably heavy calico and then the pages assembled. Scrapbookers have an advantage here. This was my first attempt at it and I was using up what I had. The yellow background fabric was left over from some cushion making many years ago and the patterned square was from a job lot of batik patterned cloth I picked up from a quilting shop a few years ago just because I liked it. I knew I'd find a use for it someday!

The next stage was to stitch the fabric and the picture into place. This was a chance to use some of the fancy stitches on my sewing maching but a straight stitch works as well. This page was just stitched around the small yellow square and the picture.

Once this was done it was time to add some embellishments.  The orange flowers were from a scrap of old lace and just cut out. The tag was cut from a piece of  card and hand lettered and attached with a small piece of ribbon. The sunflower came from a paper craft kit.

I wanted to finish the project in one day so it is fairly plain. It would look nice to have stamped the yellow base fabric first before stitching down the  patterned fabric and the picture but there is always next time.

Once a couple of pages were done they were simply placed back to back, seamed together and neatened with pinking shears.

I made six pages in total and a slightly larger cover ( again base calico covered in fabric)   to complete the album.

The pages and cover were pierced with eyelets and the whole thing held together with ribbon.  The cover isn't quite done and I'll be adding more to  it once I decide what!

This is definitely something I'll be doing again. Perhaps taking some images from the Orkney trip and using some of the shells and other things we brought back.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

More lichen dyeing

Having collected a good handful of another type of lichen ( upper moorland) I thought I'd have another go and see what happened this time.

This was also very plentiful and detached from the main host so I didn't feel bad about taking a little.

I haven't yet identified it positively but it seems to be a "thread" type. It was soft when I picked it up from the wet ground but rapidly dried hard and brittle.

Being much the same colour as the last one I wasn't that surprised to get another "green tea" liquor although this one is rather darker. Smelt equally horrid when boiling though.

Again it was boiled for an hour, allowed to steep overnight and the vegetable matter strained out.

The initial colour is very similar to last time but actually a little paler even after steeping in the dye bath for 48 hours rather than just overnight ( my fault - forgot about it!).

I also put some DMC cotton thread in with the wool. It has taken the dye much less strongly and is a pale ivory colour. I plan to leave them in the light to see if they darken  like the last lot.

Now just need to find a  lichen that gives a different colour.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Still here - Roll on 6th April

I've just realised I haven't updated this blog for ages - this is not a good time of year for me and crafting of all types  has taken a back seat.

The dollshouse has a very realistic layer of dust over it - unfortunately not to scale. I have left it out and I WILL get back to it. A few tiles have been laid downstairs and I have to finish this before I can go any further.

As far as non dollshouse projects go - well I have a new supply of a different sort of lichen which I picked up over the weekend.  Once I have some free time ( hah) I will be attempting another dye extraction. I also need to make a new batch of room scenters.  

Once the 6th April has been and gone I may have some life again -  until then free moments are few and far between.

Work/ life balance? What's that???

Saturday, 7 January 2012

The kitchen

I've been waiting impatiently all week to have a chance to do some more work on the house and finally the parcel I've been awaiting has arrived.

The bricks and flagstones have arrived! Fireplace and flooring can now start.

I've been looking for a suitable fireplace but they are all too modern or grand for my shabby little house so it is a DIY job

Some cardboard, bricks and plenty of the polyfilla/PVC render  later and there is a fireplace!

Range temporarily in place. I've started to attach the fireplace but I need the polyfilla to set hard before I can fill in the gap between the chimney breast and the ceiling. I also need to add the wood trim but the floor needs to go down first.

Still looking a bit messy at the moment but the overall look I want is there. I was wondering whether to put a second fireplace in the other downstairs room but I don't think my witchy owner could afford to have a second fire, let alone ones upstairs so for now that is it.

Finally my finger sort of slipped when I saw this! And very nice it will look too!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Stairwell is in....

Some, but not much, progress today. The stairs and new stair well wall are now fixed in place and the downstairs ceilings painted and ready to have the beams attached. If I'm not too tired from work tomorrow I'll try and get that done but otherwise I am now waiting on a supply of brick slips to create a couple of fireplaces.

Until they are done and in position  I can't really finish off the remaining downstairs internal walls. I'm hoping they will be here by the end of the week. Once they are in I'll be using a fumigato technique to create the discolouration on the ceiling and having open coal fires will give me plenty of soot to stain the brickwork.

Some pictures - not very good though. I forgot to charge the camera battery and I used what was left of it up this morning on the visit to Imber and Stonehenge. I've had to use the camera phone for this but the lighting is poor in my dining room and I don't have a flash.

Well it would have been dark inside anyway for the period I think I'm going to be modelling!

Close up - still dark and gloomy even with using the torch for additional light!  I've got the effect I was after so I'm feeling pretty pleased with progress so far.
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