Taking Great Photos

I have been playing with my new camera, trying out different techniques and combinations, I bought these buttons for the button bouquet I was making for my daughter’s wedding and I bought this pretty little cup at the local tablet top sale. It was taken in my only ‘darkroom’ space – my bathroom which has no natural light. I used simple table top lamps for illumination and played with the direction of the light to see the different effects. 
I think there are some people who are naturally gifted at staging – they can make the simplest object look stunning! Just look at this collection here, taken from a French sewing book. The whole thing seems to have a restful harmony.   
             
The problem is that I am in the middle of a project and don’t want to stop and ‘stage’ what I am doing! Sometimes I have ideas of what I would like to do and take lots of pictures only to forget to upload them! 
It is my intention to develop this skill so that I will be able to see how my photography has developed over time, which is the great thing about a blog. While I might look back and cringe at some of the photography – or even the projects (gasp!) it is a great way to see how my skills have improved (well hopefully!) 
I bought this book on line – sometimes I regret it, there is nothing nicer than browsing in a bookstore with a nice latte beside me, but this book has lived up to its title. Taking great photos talks a language that I can understand, the photography examples are beautiful and inspirational – and she pretty much covers all my needs without bamboozling me with technicalities (ok by that I mean numbers!) I hope it will up my game! but let me not be the judge of that! I would recommend it – in this new cyber world where online selling has become a normal part of our lives, it is definitely worth a read. 
A friend of mine is a great photographer; he taught me a lot about how to see – most importantly we never left home without a camera! I think it helps you to sit back from the ‘busyness’ of life, and become an observer. It is surprising just how much you notice. It can make something as beautiful and transitory – like a flower – have its beauty set forever. 

Southsea gardens Spring 2011

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Spring Wreath

I really love Bustle and Sew I love the feel of her designs and this bunny was from one of her patterns, however as I was putting the fluffy tail on with my needle felt, I realised that it might give a more natural look if I was to continue. While I might love her patterns I struggle to follow instructions and once the bunny became fluffy, I decided to do the yo yo flowers too! 

The heart wreath is such a pretty design which added to the springtime theme and I really enjoyed making the daffodils! I did try tulips but they did not work out! 

I finished the top with a bigger yoyo and hung it with some starry ribbon

I have some black beads somewhere, so until I find them his eye will have to remain just a little spot

I really enjoyed making these tiny yoyo’s some of them as small as a 5pence piece, I also used brads and small ribbon flowers from my collection. The wreath is now hanging up heralding in the spring, under my little egg tree. 

I went to the Eternal maker on Saturday to top up my felt stash, there are so many gorgeous things you can make with felt that I have a hankering to make. 

I also tidied up my little scrap basket, after the yo yo class a lulamae’s I needed to re-organise, other items will go up in the loft storage, as I don’t like having too much out – I find it too overwhelming! 
We headed to a lovely tea shop this afternoon for tea and cake, at the Riverside tea rooms in Amberley, it was a little too cold for a walk but definitely one that we will go back to with the dog. Lovely selection of cakes. We can’t wait for the museum to open it looks a great place to visit. 

If wishes were fishes…

January is supposed to be the most depressing month of the year, but is usually a month where I ponder on all the opportunities that lay ahead- the large blank diary that sits on my desk is a physical manifestation of all those days on every page waiting to be filled. 
After the bustle of Christmas and the high exuberance of seeing in the New Year, I feel now is the best time to make plans,  when everything is closed, it is too cold to go out and the spring flowers and bulbs are buried deep beneath the hard frosted earth.  
I find it heart warming to make plans about places I want to go and things I would like to do. Winter is a time for resting offering an opportunity to simply dream and plan.  So many people are down on winter, but I think contentment comes from acceptance of what you can’t change and turning it to your advantage. It is about focussing on what makes you happy, so for me winter means cosy nights – snuggling on the sofa in my warm home while the rain drums on the windows and the wind sings round the roof. 

So I come to my wish jar – it was just an ordinary jam jar, but now it is a very elaborate one. It has no top for a reason,  a magical element to it – it is about attracting what I want in my life, so no barriers or lids, I want to draw it all in.

The idea is to fill the jar with things I want to do – this can be about life ambitions, or simply about gallery visits, or places of interest or even fun activities. So I have the John Soanes museum in there already: I have been meaning to go to the museum for ages but have never got round it it. 

Other things are shopping lists of plans I have for my home – I want a mirror wardrobe in the bedroom. 
The idea is that at least once a month or maybe once a week, you take out a wish and make plans and allocate time to do that – not necessarily there and then but book a date – then do it! If you can’t do it alone, get a friend to do it with you.  
Is it magical really? well I am not sure about that, some people would suggest that it is about ambition, focus – other people would say it is all about the law of attraction – I just know it works and I believe in it wholeheartedly.  
A couple of years ago I wrote that I wanted to be a published writer, and within a few months I just happened to go on an outing with a friend of mine – he was into photography and wanted to see an exhibition with some friends of his. Well they were nice guys, but very into the technical aspects of photography which left me a little bit out of the conversation – but I was enjoying listening to them. One of the guys suddenly sat down next to me and asked me if I enjoyed sewing – it was such a bolt out of the blue – completely unrelated to what we talking about. It turned out that his wife was an editor of a sewing magazine and she was looking for contributors. Within days I had met with her and talked about thirty ideas I had – three of which she commissioned – within a few months I saw my name and article in print and got paid for it. 
I don’t really mind how you see it, wether you think it is magical or not, for me I like to believe in a little magic, that somehow it is possible to draw things into your life that you want. I know that it all sounds very simple, but there is a flip side to this. It is called gratitude – it creates a connection and a joy of seeing the wonderful gifts that are given to us every day – sometimes all it takes is the ability to focus – have eyes to see them. The second is to be thankful – to send a message back of appreciation. 
So I have a thank you jar – there are two lovely elements about this jar – who doesn’t like to be valued? A thank you is always something that shows appreciation and it also means that it is more likely to happen again – back to the laws of attraction. So it is also an invitation to the universe to send more! 

The second element to the Thank You jar is that when something lovely happens it is jotted down and put in the jar – so at the end of the year it gives a great record of all the lovely things that have happened. They can be simply getting great service, or the kindness of a stranger or the sheer joy of walking in the pristine white snow. What this exercise does is create positive memories of the year. 

There is a school of thought that time flies when as you get older, the theory is that it is unique experiences that embed in our memories – it is why we have so many childhood memories and so few after that time. Each new experience marks time so that by the end of the year we have packed a lot in – as we get older, our brains switch off from repetition so that there are no markers to look back on – hence time flying – a year can pass and we wonder what we did. 

Well this jar is a beautiful way to see how many blessings there are in your life – I expect mine is going to be full to the brim by the end of the year. 
It was such fun, I haven’t done painting for ages! The jars are brightened up with a mixture of glitter and PVA glue – it usually needs a few coats with drying periods in between to build up the glitter. The objects are then just glued on using a hot glue gun! I have trouble stopping at this stage as there are so many opportunities for glitz! I used butterflies on each jar because for me they represent transformation. 
You can make one any time of the year, birthdays, holidays or simply wet wednesdays. 

shhh…

I have been playing all day with my glue gun, it has been a delightful pleasure. I bought these little wooden cotton reels back in the summer from ebay. However when they arrived they were too small for ribbon storage and they have remained stored away in a box until I saw the cover of hand made magazine this month. 
I love the nordic blue for a Christmas colour scheme, it works with both white and a deep red. I also have collected some pretty ribbons and vintage buttons. 
I simply cannot resist buttons in charity shops, they have a story all of their own. When I was a child I played with my Nanna’s button box and I used to love the pretty glass ones, it has created a bit of a collection which I keep by colour in little glass jars. (spice jars seem to be just the right size and these little pots of colour look so pretty on the shelf. 
I love my glue gun it makes such quick work, as it gives instant results. Cut strips the width of the reel, pinking sheers make such a nice edge. If you glue a small amount each time and press the fabric with your finger. 
You can decorate the edge with a button, and thread the braid through the holes and tie it in a knot. Add some glue down the hole and push the knot in, add a tiny bit more glue and hold the button down hard on the top of the reel. This will keep the tread in place firmly so you can hang the reel. 
You can use ribbon too I bought this vintage set from the dotcomgiftshop. I am very pleased with the results and they have a lovely hand made feel. Keep quiet though, it’s not quite Christmas yet! 

Laptop case

I made this pretty little lap top case for my mac, it was fun making the swirly cord closures I really do enjoy getting out the glue gun. I designed the geisha using scraps of old fabrics and I used felt tips to draw the face.  I could not resist the bobbled edge I love the combination of black and fushia pink but the lining is such a gorgeous contrast of cyan blue satin. 

Here you can see the detail of the geisha, I appliquéd it onto black felt and then attached it as one piece onto the silk brocade, it is such a delicate fabric I did not want to risk over stitching and tearing the silk. 

 The pin was made using a large round button, an old earring and some black cord.

 I glued the earring in place and then wound the cord round tightly, glueing as I went. It is something that you need a bit of patience with and asbestos fingers as you have to work quickly before the glue dries.

 It is important to finish off the back well, a piece of masking tape keeps the end of the cord secure until you can glue the ends in.

 The rings are made in a similar way, I wanted them to swirl in the same direction, but you could make them spiral opposite ways for a similar effect. I used a pearl bead from an old necklace in the centre.

Sew little bit of love

This is my new best friend, I have been struggling all week with an infection and finally got my antibiotics today. I am grateful to live in a country where they are not only available but also at a reasonable cost thankfully I shall soon be feeling better and back to my usual bouncy self. 
The reason this little cushion is my best friend is that it is filled with bulgar wheat, you can heat it up and this lovely warm square sits on my lap and gives such a gentle comforting heat that eases the tummy pain. 
I love how things evolve, I made the ribbon weave last year and created the front with the little buttons and hand embroidery but then I did not quite know what to do with it. I had plans to make it a wallhanging, or a cushion but it was only the other day that I realised it was the perfect size for a wheat bag, (about 20cm square). When you are feeling poorly there is nothing like a bit of love and warmth to ease the pain and this little heart has finally found its place in the world. 
You can make all different shapes long sausage shapes to go round an aching neck, I have even made a eye mask for a lady who had fallen and bruised her eyes. You can also put these in the freezer to keep you cool for bruising or headaches. 
I backed it with the remaining teal velvet I was given at a WI meeting two or three years ago. I had made a Christmassy cushion with it as well and had shown it to the sewing world editor earlier in the year, she wanted it for a project and so I thought I would give it a wash, that wasn’t the best idea because the fabric was not colour fast! It was a disaster and I had to start all over again! Have you tried shopping for christmas fabrics in early August? giggles the shop assistants do doubt my sanity at times, but they know me well not to raise their eyebrows until I have left the shop!