Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Leather Cab reveal for Art Elements





Today is the reveal day for Art Elements January Component of the Month, which this month of January was from Lindsay Starr of Phantasm Creations and of course one of the very talented admins in the Art Elements team.

When Lindsay first showed the cabs I was really keen to get started, something about them appealed to me on so many levels and her photos (and mine) really didn't/don't do them justice, in the hand they are remarkable little pieces of art, something you can imagine tucking into your pocket and carrying with you to just touch whilst you are walking the dogs, like when you were a child and carried that really special something with you all the time.  



When the parcel arrived it was filled with lots of little components which we could use if we wanted, the ribbon I have used in mine was included with the cab and it was if Lindsay knew what I wanted to do as it was just enough and perfectly compliments the dream catcher I wanted to create as soon as I saw that first photo of the cabs - when they were still in the USA, I was like a cat on hot bricks waiting for mine to arrive so I could get started!

I made this dream catcher and it now hangs in my bedroom with my other one.. and I think I need a collection I just love them, but you need the right 'middle' and as I keep saying this cab was it!

I drilled four tiny holes in mine and using some ecru crochet thread I weaved the 'spiders web' pattern which wasn't as easy I first thought and I ended up re doing it several times until I was happy.  The web is over the ribbon which is over a layer of leather thong over a copper wire circle all of which I fabricated from what I had in the studio.

All dream catchers have feathers and I didn't have any!  A friend of mine sent me some yellow feathers which I thought would compliment the colours but I struggled to tie them into the hoop and ended up getting frustrated so abandoned the 'real' feather idea.

I dug in my stash of amazing ceramic beads because I remembered that Karen and Lesley and Jenny - from the team - had sent me some beautiful ceramic beads since I have joined, that I was saving for the 'right' project and I had a ceramic feather and the acorn and the leaf, the tiny little bird and the swirly disk bead and they were perfect!  The feather I would have liked to be less pinky more wine coloured but I am willing to over look that small detail as the beads were just perfect for my dream catcher.




This is the first dream catcher I have made but I hope it isn't the last and you can hang your treasures from it making is so special.


This is the list for the others that took part in this challenge with this wonderful piece

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Art Elements Dragon Blog Hop Design Challenge.


If I am really honest I signed up for this blog hop, hosted by Niky of Art Elements, because I LOVE dragons and I wanted to see what everyone else made for the theme. 



I have made lampwork glass dragon beads since I started lampworking and they are still evolving...


Just this winter (2016/7) I have stumbled on a  new way to design the muzzles of my dragons and I think I will be evolving that in my future dragons.


Most of my dragons have a theme and they all have personalities and stories.


Dragons are so open to interpretation that each artist will create their own and on that note I am off to visit the blogs below to see more wonderful dragons in lots of different styles.


Guests

AJE Team


Sunday, 30 October 2016

Art Elements Sugar Skull Challenge.



Actually I am seriously disappointed with my result from this fabulous challenge that Jen set for the Art Elements sugar skull component challenge  I had such fabulous ideas when my parcel arrived and I set the sugar skull bead aside in my studio, passing it every day as I went to the torch and musing over it each and every time.  I scoured Pinterest for amazing unique ideas and fantastized about creating this elaborate piece filled with colour.  Then the inevitable happened, the whole house was struck down with the 'man flu' that my son brought home from work and I too spent a few days on the sofa watching day time tv and being thoroughly bored but having no energy to do anything at all.


My daughter loves skulls and my original plan was to design something for her that she would wear, baring in mind that she doesn't do over the top jewellery - you should see her shoes they are seriously wacky.. but her jewellery is very minimal, so with the lack of energy and running out of time I found in my stash of beads a lovely rondelle sparkly collar bead, I wanted a crown but only found a silver plated cone bead but I did find the wire 'lacy' steampunky dangle which was once part of a pair of ear rings that I absolutely loved and kept when they went out of fashion back in the 90's...everything comes back into fashion eventually.. right?  I wired it all together with some red jewellery wire and will be giving it to my daughter on a black leather thong.  It isn't much but it is simple and effective I am just disappointed I didn't do more with Jen's bead :/  

Here is the list of the others that are taking part in the blog hop, bet theirs is better than mine!


Guest Designers
Staci Louise Smith
Karin Grosset Grange
Solange Collin
Art Elements Team
Caroline Dewison
Susan Kennedy
Laney Mead
Claire Fabian
Diana Ptaszynski
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Cathy Spivey Mendola
Lindsay Starr
Niky Sayers
Lesley Watt
Cooky Schock
Jen Cameron




Thursday, 29 September 2016

Tree Challenge

 Caroline from Art Jewelry Elements gave a challenge at the beginning of September - how time flies as now we are at the end of September! - for a Tree Themed Challenge and I said 'go on then I will play', then promptly did nothing for two weeks.

Panic set in last week and I realized that the month end was dawning and I had no ideas so I picked up my doodle book (most people call it a sketch book I just doodle in mine....) and was flicking through it and found this doodle...obviously it fit the theme.  

I LOVE eyes, I doodle them all the time and this one morphed into the finished doodle is now.




The other night I sat with doodle book on my lap watching the TV and this fellow arrived in the bark of a tree trunk....




...another evening doodle this time I was thinking about my dog walk and the ancient woods I walk through, a corridor of trees that can feel very spiritual and very ecclesiastical and I was reminded, during my doodle, of many Sundays spent in church listening to the organ and so doodled some music notes.  This doodle is actually quite flat and I really couldn't get  a good feel to it so was a bit disappointed but all doodles should be for pleasure and we shouldn't judge ourselves too harshly....


Before glass I used to do much more fine art, mainly pets and their portraits but sometimes I did trees too.  I was once told that to become more able to study a face, be it human or animal then practise 'seeing' trees as each one is different like a face they have unique lines.  Both of the drawings below are artist grade coloured pencil and ink.



This has to be one of my favourite paintings and it hangs in my bathroom.  It is approx 4ft wide and is painted with acrylic.  I am not a painter my use of the brush can be quite messy and I end up with more paint on me than the canvas, I prefer pencil, but I went through a stage of painting and produced many paintings, most of which featured a tree or animal.  This one was inspired by a wonderful trip with friends to Symonds Yat near to me on the River Wye on the border of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire within a few miles of Monmouthshire and the Welsh border.



Even in glass the trees, or more the spirit of the woodland, finds its way into my beads and small sculptures.  The first two beads are my take on the Green Man.





This one is supposed to represent the bark of the tree...



Oddly in glass my muse is whimsical, I suppose really my drawing is now too, being too serious doesn't suit me and I am known for my beads with bums.  This little chap was inspired by my love of everything whimsical, he is the Tree Spirit or Elemental and came about after my looking at the work of Brian Froud.


...and.. this is Trevor and Trevor was inspired by the Tree Theme Challenge....   It is time for all good squirrels to start collecting nuts as Autumn descends the leaves turn golden brown  and ruby red and Trevor here is told by his wife to buck his ideas up and start contributing to the family's stash of food for the Winter and to out into the driving rain and collect enough acorns to stock the larder. Poor Trevor is seriously hen pecked, in fact it has been known that Trevor is a frequent visitor to the hen house just to get some peace for an hour or so!


So after thinking I didn't have a single idea about using trees in art it turns out I have been immersed in a forest of ideas for a good few years!!

I am looking forward to reading all about those that took part in this challenge and seeing the ideas that others have come up with, if you want to blog hop with me here are the links....




Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Art Jewelry Elements Blog Hop Head Pin Challenge.

*blows dust off blog.....*

I have recently joined Art Jewellery Elements via Facebook having long admired and read their posts via their blog and am a very proud member of the 'staff', yes I am one who will write stuff, interesting, intellectually entertaining stuff every month...how do I get myself into these things.....  so I thought that why not jump feet first into a challenge which had less than 24 hours left for the sign ups and about 4 days to create a 'something' that was brilliant!

So sign up I did.  Then instantly worry and debate my sanity.

The challenge is head pins and I 'luckily' had some in my bead box that I made last year.  I don't make head pins as a rule so this really was a lucky find.  These head pins are lampworked glass berries, holly and mistletoe on copper wire.  I had (!) 7 - read on why I had! and a lone holly leaf glass bead.   After a long walk down at the river with the dogs musing on what on earth I was going to create, I had a brilliant  *light bulb moment*....

I would create a sculpture of wire and beads and it would be fabulous.

I obviously forgot the last time I used wire was circa 2000 - head pins not included in this realization.  I just don't make jewellery.

So I gathered my supplies, a vague idea of a sculpture in my head, grabbed a piece of paper and dashed off a doodle of a wreath/garland being held by a fabulously crafted wire robin - the latter will get completed but I ran out of time.. 

The supplies I collected together was some seed beads in greens and silver and gold, some copper wire in various gauges, I found in my stash a rather cute silver tone charm of a Christmas stocking, some silver balls, the head pins and the glass bead.



Next came the quick doodle of the design. I am rarely this organized but with the lack of time I figured it was a good idea.  I thought the scale was about right in the doodle for the garland, in hindsight when I get round to making the bird (should I get round to making the bird) the bird is going to have to be HUGE for the design to work. 


First up bending the thicker copper wire into a round-ish shape.  Not that easy when you are round-ish challenged.. thank goodness for salt pots, I wrapped the wire around the salt pot and it was the perfect size. 



And this is why there 'was' 7 head pins.  As I have already stated, I don't make jewellery and during my wire wrapping of the first head pin I was a little bit over zealous with the wrap and the glass berry bead came away from the wire, I could have glued the wire back in but if anyone has seen me with glue they will know that wouldn't have ended well so I just had to use 6 and be a bit more careful.



Three on and three to go.  I was just seeing how the design would work out with the 6 pins.  After the breaking disaster I did decide to use some seed beads on the wire to separate the glass berry and the wrap and make me less heavy handed in the wrapping.  


We are all wired on including the glass holly bead.. Now to make it look pretty.



I decided to go with the gold seed beads and the green ones, they are different sizes which helped with the over all effect.  


I was quite pleased with how it was going but it really did lack a 'something'.


So I dived back into my cupboard of beads and found some little green drops I liked and promptly spilt beads all over the dog, carpet, table.....  I really should have got out my bead board....


I wired the drop beads in groups of three and the balanced look I wanted started to come through and look right, despite me breaking the 7th head pin.  I added the cute silver stocking charm and declared my head pin challenge a success.



I am still wondering about making it into the sculptural piece with the wire bird - that has yet to be born - so will have to carry on with the wire and my doodle.....

To see more of those that joined in the challenge here are the links ..

Guests:


AJE Team Members:




Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Vital Statistics.

Tuesday morning, 9am the phone rang.  I was upstairs getting dressed - don't judge me I am up before 7am and do a few jobs, the second I get dressed Defi dog starts barking to go on his walk, its easier to let any early morning delivery drivers think I am lazy! - so I am in the bathroom with the door shut, the husband is in bed after doing a night shift and I am silently praying my daughter can roust herself off the sofa where she landed as soon as she arrived back from the boyfriends about half an hour before.  I pause, one leg in my jeans, one hand on the door handle ready to yank it open and whisper loudly and with menace 'can you grab the phone...pleaassse!', when I hear her say 'Hello, no it's her daughter can I take a message?'.

I resume breathing and continue dressing.

Walking downstairs I can see in the mirror at the bottom the reflection of Defi through the glass door at the end of hall that separates the kitchen from the rest of the house, his tail is wagging so fast its blurred and he is bashing Iz about the head with one of his teddies.  He knows its nearly time to start barking, drive me nuts and hurry me out of the door before the husband wakes up.  Not that the husband will wake up he can sleep through the apocalypse, which he demonstrates regularly when the 'grown up' kids have a disagreement and raise the roof with their shouts and mild threats whilst the husband snores soundly through it all.  This still doesn't stop me trying to get Defi out of the house before I go deaf with him yelling at me to go faster.

I stop at the living room where the daughter is once again welded to the sofa watching some awful programme on tv with families shouting at each other and disagreeing over a wedding dress whilst the staff of the shop make peace.

'Who was on the phone, love?' I ask
'Doctors.' comes the response 'you have to ring back to make an appointment.'
'Me? Sure they didn't say Mr?'

Its not that I don't believe my daughter but she can be every bit the blonde bimbo when the situation is not about her, her shoes, her car or her studies.  I am not calling her selfish, she can be the most thoughtful person but only when it suits her mood.

'Definately you.' she says.

So off I go to ring the doctors before I go out with the still silent but that tail is now resembling a helicopter blade in that moment between on the ground and in flight, Defi dog.

After giving my name and address the receptionist confirms it was indeed me they want to see.
'Just for a routine check' she says 'you can refuse if you want but its something we offer for women of your age.'
'My age?' Its still only 9am-ish my knees are still working fine, no real aches and pains usually associated with the end of the day, I am feeling pretty good in myself and quite active...at the moment.
'Yes' comes back the reply flat and emotionless 'we do this at 40, 45, 50, 55 etc, to check on your heart condition, diabetics that sort of thing.'

I am 45.  Was 45 last month.  Feel 25.  Am 45.  I fit the criteria.

'You can refuse.' she adds again.

I think for a moment, in the last 2 years both my parents have had heart attacks, even though I am mostly estranged from the family bad news has a way of reaching out and finding you, so I am quickly thinking its a good idea, at my age!

'Is that a polite way of telling me I am old?' I quip and finally get a response of a snigger from the otherwise bored sounding voice at the end of the line 'put me down for the old person tests.'

I can almost hear her smiling at her end,
'Ok, Friday at 2.20pm?'

I put the phone down and glance through the glass door at Defi who now is beside himself that bark is in his throat and its only the teddy in his mouth that is stopping the cacophony breaking free and raising the dead.

'Can you grab a pen and write down my appointment time with the doctors on Friday?' I ask my daughter 'I better get Defi out before he wakes your dad'
'Sure, what is it for?' the TV is on pause
'Vascular check apparently, now I am old' I tut in her direction waiting for her to compliment me on my youthful vigour.  I am still waiting.
'Will do.'

I take both Defi and Iz out for an hour or so down to the river revelling in my youthful gait as I stride confidently up gradients of at least 85 degrees; or the hill down at the river known locally amongst the dog walkers as 'Cardiac Hill'.  When I get home I notice that my daughter has indeed written down my doctors appointment time and has attached it to the fridge using a magnet.

In red ink it reads....

Mum, 2.20pm Friday 14th April, doctors, fanny check.



Saturday, 12 March 2016

Cat v Rat.

It transpires that we have a situation. 


This is where I live, its beautiful isn't it?  I took this snap shot the other day whilst walking the dogs across the fields and into the ancient woods, if you look really close there is a couple of houses in the middle, I live in one of them.


Defi above mooching in the recently ploughed field no doubt looking for a dip that has filled with dank smelly water for him to lie in!


The river Wye, so beautiful with early morning sunlight dappled on the surface.  This morning the ducks were out and bathing making me feel that Spring is indeed coming.


The problem.  Gordy is a cat, but not your average cat...


... and when you live in rural farm land surrounded by cows, sheep, pigs and a working farm with tractors, hay bales, silage and all the ponds, barns and equipment of a farm.....


...you get rats.  Now I don't mind rats, used to keep fancy rats years ago as pets and loved them.  I like the soft silky dry - I know that is a contradiction in words but to me they are soft, silky, scaly and lovely - tails, their twitching noses, tiny toes and tickly whiskers.  I love rats, well pet ones, the outside, independent, going my own way, going to eat your shed, live in your compost and under your studio, sort of rat.. not so keen.



That was our Megan in her later years.  She passed away about a year before Gordy came to live with us at the grand age of 23 and she was still going outside to hunt those pesky rats, mice, voles, moles, birds, foxes - she was a force to be reckoned with was our Meg she ruled the house and garden...and parish, even badger kept his distance and only once or twice was an adder snake brave enough to visit the garden and even then he was found hiding, fearing for his life, under the car and was only too happy to let me take him across the lane and put him in the field where he slithered off, away from Meg.  

I like snakes too, they remind me of rats tails.


We are so rural we get all sorts of wildlife, badger, fox, owl at night, pheasants...  to name a few and we even get the cute bunnies, this one was taken a few years ago when my husband had a car rusting quietly away on the drive and yes, rats moved in to it and were very happy in the engine bay for a while until the husband found out and finally had the car removed.  They did me a favour those rats I had been moaning for a good couple of years at him to get rid of that rusting heap of metal.


Our Claude.  Such a mighty mouser.. and ratter.  He is seen here in the final months of his life, he did go senile and took to sleeping in the shoe cupboard so we cleared cubby hole and put an old towel in there for him to lie on.  We lost Claude at 22 just a few weeks before Gordy came here, really losing Claude left the gaping hole that meant we were cat less for the first time in 20 years but it also meant that Gordy with all his quirks, could come and live with us, 


who was followed a year or so later by Teeko, the other problem.

You see neither Gordy nor Teeko are outside cats, Teeko used to be when he lived next door but he only ever went out to his garden, he is a natural house cat and he likes nothing better than sleeping on top of the fish tank or on my daughters bed.  Teeko is also a bit of a wuss and I think a face to face meeting with a rat would send him dashing in the opposite direction tail waving a hurried good bye.  Teeko is also coming up to his 14th birthday so as an old boy who has been relocated to our house we let him be the house cat he wants to be.

Gordy hasn't got the skills to be outside on his own nor to hunt, the only thing I have watched him hunt is flies, of which he doesn't catch, and once a wasp in the summer.  I was confident of the fact he couldn't catch the wasp so let him jump about around it like a possessed kangaroo taking hypnotic drugs and was most surprised, although not as much as he was, when he accidentally put his paw out and managed to stand on the wasp, who in turn stung him in the paw but even then Gordy just stood there, paw still on the wasp looking at me running across the grass to rescue him and remove the stinger whilst apologizing profusely to the poor stunned wasp for letting Gordy annoy him that bright and sunny afternoon.

So we have two cats and no ratters.  Poison isn't an option, I don't like the thought of the rats suffering long and painful deaths and besides we have dogs and that doesn't bare thinking about should they get either the poison or the infected rat.  The husband suggested some feral cats, just a couple that could live in the garden with access to the big shed, the little shed, the garage and we have enough space to build them a bespoke shelter should they prefer it.  I like the idea of giving homes to feral cats but allowing them to still be themselves, older cats needs protection from the weather and someone to keep an eye on them but like to be left to do what cats do.  Hunt.  Hopefully!

I think we are going to do it but now the problem is me, you see the family want them to remain feral and help with the vermin so that it doesn't become a problem, but we haven't got them yet and I want to donate the original cat tree to the shed for them and Catie and Carl are good names for feral cats... right?