Be the change you wish to see in the world

01-IMG_2489

Given the shocking events of last Friday, it is so difficult to find the right words – but I remembered this collage canvass I made some years ago and it sums up my feelings about this whole situation.

It was created at a time when I had lots of my girlfriends coming for tea and cake to my studio but they were terrified of doing anything arty, so we began to paint with glitter; it was such an easier fun way to be creative.

03-IMG_2491

While the top quotation says

You must be the change you wish to see in the world

I wanted to express the transformation that love can bring – so I used words that would also link together to create love.

04-IMG_2492

Butterflies symbolise transformation I wanted them to look as if they had just rested a moment on the canvass.

05-IMG_2493

While the swirls of blue and white create movement

06-IMG_2494

Some might call it childish, I found great pleasure in using the blue tones mixed in with a little purple.

07-IMG_2495

The butterflies were cut from a lovely birthday card I had received earlier in that year.

08-IMG_2499

Around the canvass you can also see tiny seed purls – another suggestion of transformation – an oyster changes an irritating grain of sand into a thing of beauty.

09-IMG_2500

I won’t focus on how much this world is full of hatred and misery

10-IMG_2501

but instead,  in my own small way, spread love with a smile, a word of thanks or a listening ear. Not world changing but within my power.

02-IMG_2490

 

Easter Gift Giving Decoupage

I am not sure where I get it from but I cannot bear to throw things away especially bottles and jars. I have agreed to run a decoupage evening for the Felpham Belles and wanted to do a more useful alternative to the usual egg decorating. Hence this little project was born.
  • Simply make sure you wash the jars out well – clean the outside with alcohol or white spirit
  • Decide how far up your jar you want your pattern to be and then put a thin layer of white acrylic paint  up to that point. Allow to dry. 
  • Take your napkin and carefully remove the top patterned layer from the white, this will give you a very delicate patterned paper. (you can use the decoupage papers if you prefer)
  • Use Deco Art Patio Paint and a soft brush to gently apply a thin layer to a small area that you wish to cover. 
  • Then lay the thin layer of napkin gently across the small patch of wet paint using the soft brush to slowly glue it to the surface. 
  • Work round your item – small patches as you go, until the item is covered.
  • Leave to dry. 
  • Apply a layer of clear varnish to give a really good seal. 
  • Add buttons or ribbon as desired with a hot glue gun

I think they make great gifts that can be filled with a variety of things from little chocolate eggs to ready made cookie mixes, spice mixes or haberdashery items. 

Of course it all starts with the right type of napkins, and this variety gave me a lot of patterns in one napkin. I added the pen marks to indicate stitching for this little patchwork jar, adding a little button on the top. 

I enjoyed using jars of different styles too, they seem to lend themselves to different designs. 
The wish jars are made by painting the jars with PVA glue in which you have mixed glitter. The finer glitter gives a better finish. 

As you can see I have used darker clouds at the bottom of the jars, gradually using lighter glitter until the top of the jar has silver. 

Once the jars were nice and dry I applied the butterfly decoupage around it. I think it looks as if the butterflies have just landed on the jar. 

I used a nice coloured napkin for the top of the jar and placed another butterfly on the top. 
Outliners come in a variety of colours, but I felt the white worked best for the word Wishes. 
I hope the class goes well. 

When the red red robin goes bob bob bobbin along!

It was while out on one of my dog walks recently that I noticed just how charming ivy is: the leaf shapes are so elegant, the deep rich green with its darker veins are so pretty creating a lovely patch of  green while all around me the trees are becoming bare. I love the way it flows and softens the lines of the fence where I was walking – the way the leaves grow smaller along the vine. I also spotted some gorgeous variegated ivy in my own garden! 
Nature always has beauty, no matter what the season – frosted ivy was a wonder to behold. It has been there all year, but my focus has always gone to the scented lavender or the bright geraniums, but at this time of the year I begin to see the structure and beauty of those plants who remain the supporting cast in the garden. 

I was inspired by my walk to create a winter wreath, and decided to give ivy the star treatment! 
I really enjoy using needle felting as it allows me to create more realistic natural patterns, I combined them with the multitudes of tapestry wool -I purchase in vintage shops – often a whole abandoned kit can be bought for as little as a few pounds – I keep it in a small suitcase that resembles a box full of colour! 
Christmas Roses or hellebores, are so lovely too – but overshadowed most of the time by the more colourful varieties. However, they flower when winter has its grip and june roses are a distant memory or promises of summer to come while the branches of the roses look stark like winter skeletons of summer plants. 

The robin adds a splash of colour to the wreath, alongside some small red berries. He is created with a combination of felt, wool and merino floss.

It is easy to use the wool to create the wings on the robin, laying them across the body, using the felting needle to fix it. The beaded eye gives a brightness to the robin and gives him a little sparkle.

The felting gives a fluffiness that gives the robin his plumage, and softens his shape a little.

As you can see some of the ivy leaves are simply cut – with the variegation created with simple use of a felt tip pen!

I also laid several different colours of wool to make up the vines of the ivy, fixing all the elements with a hot glue gun. The leaves lay across the wreath, using a pen to push the centre of the ivy leaf to give it a natural shape.

If you want to have a go yourself you can purchase the wreath here, they are from Gisella Graham who I really love. Heidi feathers does a great beginner felting pack here which includes everything you need to start creating your own wreath. If you would like pattens for the ivy leaves and robin just drop me a line or you can sign up for the course I am running at Clothkits on Saturday 30th November.  

Cable tied!

Do not adjust your set, the picture is yellow! I print out my patterns in yellow to help me to read them, I am beginning to wonder though, if I might be a little number dyslexic! Pretty aren’t they? A friend of mine made each one in a lovely Aran wool and they inspired me so much I thought I might take up knitting needles again. 
When I was a child I was a fierce knitter, my barbie had the most elaborate fair isle jumpers imaginable – ok she was lucky that she did not have to move her arms, as they seemed to come up as fair isle straight jackets but I loved knitting. I would make complex patterns in my head, and stitch them out in my small scale of twenty or thirty stitches. 
One stumbling block to all knitting however, (no I won’t mention the toddler’s jumper I tried to knit after I was married, I think there was something wrong with my scale – I could produce a whole range in straight jacket knitwear, but there isn’t much call for that). I digress – my stumbling block was cabling, it looked too complex, confusing, I had seen people using short needles and could not make it out. However, inspired by the beautiful cabling in my friend’s cushion I vowed to give it a go. 
Several you tube videos later  (this one is very good) and a brief lesson from a 96 year old, I finally mastered the technique. 
This is an experimental piece, I wanted to play with the technique – changing the width of the cables from four stitches to two and creating a purl dip that you can see in the middle of the third section. I love cabling – it creates a whole different texture, one that I can hopefully explore successfully. 
I have experimented with increases and decreases, as well as twisting from the front, (knit row) to the back (purl) row. Now I have mustered the technique I hopefully picked up the needles for another great challenge – following a pattern. Hence the dyslexia, I try – I really do to follow someone’s instructions but I hit a blank – or it somehow doesn’t work. After a few rows of *following, going wrong, un picking, picking up – knitting* repeat * several times over, I picked up my crochet hook. 
I will show you how it grows until you see the finished article in the meantime see if you can guess what it is! 

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. 

Table revamp

I love the curves of this table, painting furniture white always brings out the form of a piece of furniture and I find it extremely satisfying. I drew the design using a sharpie pen, just doodling the flowers and the birds. Afterwards I sealed the pen design with clear varnish. It is such an easy thing to do, and it really can transform an ordinary object into a work of art. 

Sew Little

On Saturday there was a little vintage fair and I found this little beautiful pin; it is hand stitched to perfection using soft vintage fabrics. I fell in love with most of the things on her stall, she sews everything by hand with her daughter. You can find her website here she has a lovely eye for mixing vintage finds that delight the eye, but she was also great to chat to. She liked the strawberries on my shopping basket, I offered to send her the pattern. 
That is what I like about vintage fairs, it is the opportunity to talk to like minded souls, exchange ideas and even skills. I have been considering painting my dressers for a long time, and it is one of the skills that Connie Bee is wiling to share in return for me teaching her to crochet. 
I also bought this lovely notebook the fabric is so pretty and the stitching is so neat it made me really inspired to make something of my own. 
It only saddens me that there aren’t more people clamouring to buy these home made beauties. They are an opportunity for us to give our cash which gives encouragement to someone’s dream rather than the ‘global’ trade to some meaningless organisation. 
Etsy and its UK version Misi are a wonderful on line version of the vintage fair, but you simply cannot beat a good chat over a stall with a likeminded soul or even over a cup of tea and home made cake. 

A case for vintage re-incarnation

I simply struggle to resist the little napkins and tablecloths that are on the shelves of charity shops for pennies. They are the refugees of an era where families all sat round the dinner table and ate with napkins and linen table cloths. I am so pleased that the crisp white linen table cloths had long gone as my children could never keep their spaghetti on a plate! How they managed to keep the linen in such white pristine condition with no washing machines shows they had skills way beyond my abilities even with my eco bubble samsung! 
I love to find new lives for these poor refugees, and this one is a little needle case. You can gauge how small it is by the size of the stitches. I cut round the appliqué leaving a seam allowance and then used a modern vintage styled fabric that was in keeping, fabricland has lots of different varieties at the moment, all thanks to Kath Kidston. I backed it with the extra stiff iron on interfacing you use to make curtain pelmets it gives the needle book a good solid shape. The button was from my stash, and like everything I remember buying it at one of those craft outlets in Dorset, a small sideline for a potter and so lovely.