Friday, 31 May 2013

Holiday Week

Well this is where I spent most of Bank Holiday Monday : a small Norfolk village which I had never heard of let alone visited. It was the day of the Village Fete, and it was a glorious day. I'd been asked by a new musical friend Lesley whether I'd like to join them as the  comedy act  musical entertainment in the Tea Rooms.  It was a really lovely couple of hours, just sitting there, playing folk tunes and being fed tea and cake and being appreciated.

       OK, not the best of photographs, but thank you to the member of the public who took it for us.

After all the sunshine - when have we ever had TWO bank Holidays full of sunshine? - the week was chilly and dull here, rain at times. Sigh. But today the sun is back and it is gorgeous. Quick nip into the garden to get some herbs for dinner.

                   Look, my beautiful sage flowers are just about to burst forth, aren't they lovely?

And the sage, lovage and mint story continues. Soon be enough mint for a mahoosive bowl of tabbouleh - that's when I KNOW summer is on its way. Lovage and chives into the bacon and leek casserole for tonight. And some for a large quiche I'm making for a special event tomorrow.

Quick update on the lino carving - I've been trying to sketch hares - well, cheating by copying them.

OK, so the haunches on this hare would launch a heavy horse over a five barred gate, but I think the general gist is there, isn't it? I quite like the carving to be honest.

And now, for the REALLY exciting event of the week: Yes! My new melodeon has arrived! Everyone has had a good drool over it, and it has been responsible for at least TWO very expensive purchases by Other People who Should Know Better!

Isn't that beautiful?? A Beltuna 'Alex' 3 voice, two and a half row, 12 bass  D/G melodeon, in cherrywood, hand crafted in Italy. Custom lay-out. (We designed it by juggling the Andy Cutting/ Julian Sutton/ Nick Wiseman-Ellis layouts and coming up with exactly what I wanted/needed. )

I have played it, it's quite different to my Saltarelle, also bigger and heavier. But so many extras I shall need a lesson just to have them explained to me! I took it to the session last night to be ooohed and ahhhed over, but I played my Saltarelle, no way am I going to be up to session speed on the Beltuna for quite some time to come!

So all in all it has been a brilliant week, and more to come tomorrow. But I'll tell you about that next time. Now I must take some time to read all your blogs, I just haven't got round to it for days. Have good weekends, everyone.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Garden, Late May.

Garden - and herbs especially - going like the clappers with all the rain we've been having. It is so tempting every morning to whip out the camera and record the progress, but there are only so many pictures of green things growing you can blog about!

        The Clematis doing quite nicely, waiting to be joined by the rose on the other side.

The lovely Aquilegia / Columbine /Granny's Bonnet nod at me as I walk past - these are the seeds of some very old plants brought from my sister Diana's 3-houses ago house, still going strong. You can just make out the tiny white flowers of the eyebright I planted years ago, and soon the geranium / cranesbill will be filling the garden.

Sorrel, rocket and Welsh Onion, which I planted doing really well- the sorrel will come up year after year, and makes a lovely sharp, lemony addition to a salad.

Looks a bit of a hotch - potch over this side, but it all makes sense when the flowers are out. I really do NOT like the grasses which Jim added, just wispy untidy bits of nothing to my mind, but there you go, not as intrusive as the Dratted Beech sapling!

I'd love to say we've been enjoying sitting out in all this lush greenness, but despite the sunshine, the wind is quite cool, and it's no pleasure sitting about, or eating, when you aren't warm enough! Hopefully (PLEEEEEEESE) we will have some real Spring/Summer weather soon. I know some of you have had better temperatures than others - I got caught in FOUR hailstorms the other day, and the temperature varied between 4 and 8 degrees all morning. Weird.

Just a quick little post today, but I couldn't let these photos go to waste! Hope you can all enjoy your gardens this Bank Holiday.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Open Studios Private View

This is my friend Yvonne Autie, also a member of Stitch& Bitch. Silversmith, rag-rug maker and superb machine-embroiderer, Yvonne gave a Private View evening last night to commence Norfolk Open Studios. I went along to pour drinks, offer nibbles (not of me!!) and chat to the folks who came to visit, despite the funny weather. The above photo is taken from a magazine article about her work.

                        Some of Yvonne's brilliant silver jewellery, love these rings!

                                           Bookmarks, fabric brooches and fabric postcards.

                                                         Bags made from rag-rugging

                                  Yvonne's wonderful and intricate articulated silver brooches

                                    Close up of a couple of rings. I have one each of these.

                              Close up of a quilted wall panel depicting wonderful geckos.

                                                          Close up of two large rag-rug panels.

There were so many more photographs I should have taken, but the visitors started to arrive, I out my camera down, and didn't get chance to pick it up again! We had a steady stream and I met some very interesting and entertaining people, it was actually great fun. Then to cap it all, we went for a meal at the local pub. A super evening and great to see that good crafts are still attracting viewers and buyers.

Yvonne is now open for Open Studios. If you are in and around Norfolk for the next two weeks, do get yourself a brochure and plan yourself a few visits to the various artists studios; it's great fun and you never know - you may find JUST the piece you were looking for!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Carve, Stitch, Read

         This header photo is a shot of packs of notecards by Amanda Colville, of Mangle Prints.

Well to make up for my tardiness with the last post, I am leaping ahead to pop another one on-line for you.

These two little books arrived via Amazon the other week. The first I had read DECADES ago, when we began to get interested in self sufficiency, whole foods, and growing things. I desperately wished to be Elizabeth West in her Welsh hillside cottage, striking out from the tame mediocrity of suburbia (though I don't think I fancied her husband, he doesn't come across as a very encouraging or supportive type of chap!) I lost sight of the book until Pam  over at her blog "A good life in Tydd", mentioned it in a post and I was instantly transported. Onto Amazon and I find a source to buy from, and also found the other book with all the recipes in. Bonus. And they cost me about thruppence-h'appenny! Deep joy!

Some other books which have been claiming my attention at the moment! I'm really having a go at sketching, though I am beginning with copying to be more accurate; I have great difficulty drawing from life, so I am hoping that just getting that drawn line on the paper will exercise that 'drawing muscle' and it will over time get a bit easier. But I have been carving blocks -oh, I do love carving!

The top plate is the carving I did at Amanda's workshop last week; I have been tidying it up, carving away the extraneous lines, much happier with it now. The plate below I carved over the weekend. I stamped on the lino block with my trout stamp, and carved out the text - in reverse - and added the border. I've done a test print, using stamping ink, in order to see where it might need tidying up. Looking forward to printing this properly and making some cards.

This is a speedball rubber block which I'm currently carving. The design is one I made for a small stitched textile - you can see the appliqued flower and a few buttons . This was harder to get my head round which bits were to be carved away - it's quite plain to see now that I've done most of it, but before I started I had to work out which was background fabric and which was appliqued fabric, and the top and bottom borders threw me a curved ball! Such enjoyment to be had, just slicing away, bit by bit, SO addictive! If you haven't already read it the previous post shows lots of photos of the prints we made at the workshop. You can also see more on Facebook : Mangle Prints, hop across and check  out Amanda's work.

I haven't been neglecting my stitching. Here are the samples I am making for the sampler workshop at Bradfield's in Heacham, and the cushion cover, where the text is driving me to distraction!

I couldn't let the arrival of my new little chair go un-blogged! Here it is, just a little chair, nothing flash, but very comfortable, and already my back is aching less with NOT sitting with my legs underneath me.

It's greener and pinker than it appears in the photo, and I'm looking forward to being able to ring the changes with perhaps recovering the seat and back cushions at a later date. On the subject of furniture, here a a few shots of our cd rack, which Jim made for me years ago, and I decoupaged.

It is actually full of cds we neither of us listen to very much - all my favourites are in my sewing room (or my car!) and Jim has his near his fly-tieing desk. But I do like to look at the rack, which harks back to  a time when our cottage was decorated with LOTS of colour. I decoupaged an old sideboard in similar fashion, but this now lives with Katy in her new home in France so I can't show it to you. However, if you stroll down the garden with me to the garage I can show you another piece I did.

It's an old cut down kitchen table we found in a junk shop, which we cleaned up and used for a coffee table for years. However, with the arrival of Jim's recliner, it was took up too much space so here it languishes, getting cold and dusty. I do have plans for it though, now that the living room is better arranged  - I may be able to sneak it back in; it will need to be sanded down and repainted . Come on summer - I need some sunshine and warmth to work outside!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Wild Garlic and Mangle Prints

Hi everyone, here I am, late again. However, I've been reading lately quite a few angst-ridden posts where the bloggers are struggling either with keeping up with the posting, or with content, or with the perceived originality of their work portrayed within. I've come to the conclusion that if you blog when you feel like blogging, about what ever you wish to write about, and you conduct yourself with integrity on the 'originality' front, then you can't go far wrong, and in the process give yourself a lot less anxiety over what is supposed to be a pleasurable activity! There, homily over!

Well, lots of photos for you, all about last week's activity. So let's get going.

On Sunday I went up to Onion Corner again to pick my last haul of Wild Garlic leaves. This time they were in flower, and joy of joys, so were the bluebells! Here you see them growing together, such a lovely sight. (I might add that my header photo contains wild garlic and dwarf hyacinth, NOT bluebells!)

I wanted them for Tuesday's supper, as my friend Sue K. was coming to stay and had positively DEMANDED wild garlic dolmas. I made so much steamed bulghur wheat (instead of rice, as in the original recipe) that I made a 'shape' as well in a pudding bowl.

And very nice they were too, full marks from Sue. I made smoked haddock fish cakes too - which, thinking about it, made a a meal a bit heavy on the carbs. But it was good, and I made some some homemade roast tomato sauce to go with it. Yummy! And to your relief, this is probably the last Wild Garlic post of the year!

The really exciting event of last week, and the reason for Sue's visit, was the lino print workshop at Grey Friars' Art Space, on Tuesday. Lovely Amanda Colville of Mangle Prints was giving the first workshop of the year and we were thrilled to get places as Amanda wanted to keep the classes small. It was a lovely day, Amanda's calm competence made for a relaxed atmosphere, despite the fact that we were working quite intensively and learning new skills as we went. We had all taken some design ideas, and after Amanda demonstrated the process we got down to transferring our designs to the lino blocks.

A lovely example of Amanda's prints. If you're not familiar with her work, check out her website and Facebook. I have blogged about Mangle Prints  earlier - last Autumn if I remember, you can read about it if you check my archive.

Here are some shots of our carved lino blocks. I learned some valuable lessons that day - not to be too ambitious and make a too-detailed block for my first attempt being the most important one! I had carved a rubber stamp fish image some years ago, and thought I might utilise it for my print. It was a good idea, but I made it too fussy with seaweed back-ground, and too many lino 'streaks' to indicate water movement. But it was a good learning curve.

Sue's design taken from a pattern book, of fruits in cross -section. I loved this design so I pinched the idea for my practice piece, below.

I didn't finish the carving on the day, but used it to experiment with some tissue paper later, as I felt my fishy design was too fussy, with too much detail.

I'd made this fish carving a few years ago when I was carving rubber stamps. I printed it onto the lino block and traced the middle one to reverse it. Too much sea-weed and 'waves' took me a long time to carve so  missed out on some experimenting time. But it taught me a valuable lesson about content.

This is Lizzy's design; I'm sorry Lizzy I didn't get a photo of your other plate for some reason.

Kathy's sunflower and tea-pot, a beautiful plate which took on an almost oriental feel when she printed onto red tissue.

                         And this is the lovely floral plate which another Sue produced.

Here are some of the finished prints - you can marry them up with the lino blocks above.

          This little fellow is SueK's practice piece - I love him!

And here you can see some of the finished prints. I don't seem to have one of yours, Lizzy I'm so sorry.

What an incredible day. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and learned a heck of a lot. And tired ourselves out! If you ever get the chance to take on of Amanda's workshops - jump to it! Sue and I were positively buzzing as we drove home, and spent all evening perusing on-line print supply sites! Amanda you have started something here! After breakfast next morning we went through my textile and design books, making plans for future printing sessions. Sue was so excited about my books I had to frisk her on her way out to go home ............

Come on, Amanda, when is YOUR book coming out???? Well I spent most of Sunday carving; first I tidied up my fishes block, and am much happier with it now with the extraneous carving marks removed. Then I stamped and free-hand drew a plate with one fish, a border, and some words. This is going to be a card for Jim, but I'll show you more when I have printed the plate. Such fun! TOTALLY addictive. And I developed arthritis in my right forefinger overnight, with guiding the gouge through the lino. I'm sure I will learn to relax more as I go along.

So a HUGE thank you to Amanda for a super workshop, and for introducing me to this wonderful craft. Now I just have to learn to draw so I can make original designs. A quiet retirement? I think not!

PS I'm afraid Blogger's imp of mischief crept in here and cut off my post half way through, so I have had to try and remember what I originaly wrote and do it all over again. Such a pain. But I hope I have remembered enough to convey the delight and enthusiasm this day produced in me.