Saturday, April 26, 2008

Fellowship of the Felt

Did I mention that during Spring Break I had a Lord of the Rings Movie Marathon? The trilogy is one of my favourite - both the books and the films. The nice thing about the films is that they are a visual spectacular - a feast for the eyes. I love to drink in the scenery, the costumes and everything else - it's so inspiring. Since then, little ideas keep popping into my head. I woke up one day with a burning desire to recreate an Elven brooch, like the ones the Fellowship are given at the start of their journey. Luckily I had a leaf shaped cutter that was just the right size, so I filled it with green fibre and got out my felting needle.

Stab, stab, stab, till a nice felted texture has been achieved, making sure to turn it over and repeat on both sides and the edges. Then I felted a vein in another shade of green, and embroidered it with silver thread and beads to emulate the silver on the brooch. There may be another version of this at some point - it didn't come out exactly the way I wanted.

I also made these using the same technique. Very Hobbit like! I can just imagine Merry and Pippin fighting over these lovely mushrooms.

So there are my geek projects for this week. I'm sure there will be many more to come :-)

The weather has been more clement this week, so the Hound of the Baskervilles has been able to enjoy the odd small treat in the garden. He's a big dog, so he prefers big bones, and he's completely perfected the technique of holding them between his paws for optimum chomping! Isn't he looking at me suspiciously?! I think he might be scared that I want his bone :-) One day when the archeologists dig up my garden, they're going to think it was a dinosaurs burial ground! *lol* Not that there's much left after Joe's been at them.

Today was such a nice day that after running the vacuum around the house and giving it a quick dust, I was keen to get in the garden and do a bit of work out there too. I was actually able to go out there in short sleeves and I believe that I may have caught the sun too, just a little! It's mostly just chopping and weeding and turning the ground over at this stage, but once that was done and the lawn was mown, it looked a lot better. I couldn't manage to get a picture without the dogs bum in it, so you'll have to ignore it *lol*

I'm off to a party tonight so I'm going to jump in the shower now, wash off the days hard toil and get glammed up!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What's in a name?

If you are lucky (or unlucky) enough to have an unusual name, you know the frustration of never being able to find personalised stuff. I remember being envious of friends at school with pens, key rings or other wonderful accessories emblazoned with their names. I could never find things with my name on, so when I claimed not one, but two people in the OWS swap that had unusual names, I knew I had to craft them something with their names on.

I painted this mug for Karan (note the particular spelling for Karan) and apparently I got bonus points for getting her two other unusual names on there too. When I first sat down with this mug, I considered putting the names in large letters on it, but no matter how I played around with the design, it just didn't look right. So I created this swirling design that goes around the mug, and made the names 'ride the wave' all the way round it. Then I added some stars and dots, outlined and painted it all, and fired it. I'm quite pleased with the result and I think she is too.

I liked the use of the star in place of the A - an inspired moment *lol*

I also made them a personalised notebook each. Well, it's a notebook cover, made from felt with elastic to slip the notebook into and embroidered with blanket stitch around the edge. I sewed some vintage lace on, glued some sparkly glitter and embellished with a personalised name plate that I made for them in last weeks Fimo session.

I used the texture plates sent to me by PattyCat to create that wonderful starry background, and silver metallic powder brushed on to give that metallic look.

I also made some decorative cabochons to glue on there too, made from a mould I took from a button. I think it all tied together well.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Feeling horny?

Today's post is initally brought to you by Pippin, sweetly slumbering upon her favourite bed - Tigger. Tigger was given to me for my Birthday many years ago by a very dear friend who has now emigrated to pastures a good deal warmer than these green and pleasant lands. I have only a couple of soft toys; all with sentimental value, and the one of reasons I keep them on the bed is because they act as pillow protectors. Who from? Well, I've never met a cat yet who didn't prefer to sleep on our pillows than anywhere else. As M has asthma, it's a good idea to keep the pillows cat fur free if possible :-) When Pippin came to leave with us, she decided that she was going to make Tigger her bed and now we quite often find her fast asleep on his belly.

If anyone can think of a good Lolcat saying to go with this picture, I'd love to hear it!

And now we have the obligatory cute cat photo out of the way, it's back to our regular programming. I've managed to get a little bit of crafting done over the last couple of days, in between things like chick flicks, lunch dates and staff meetings. (Which has all been good fun by the way, but has done nothing for my waistline! Definately got to get back to the diet.) The trip to the fibre exhibition was unfortunately cancelled as we found out that it was only open 2 half days a week.

I managed to get another glasses case finished for Liebschien; this one in a beautiful bright turquoise colour, with a piece of vintage ribbon for a decorative detail, some chain stitch embroidery and blanket stitch round the edge. It closes with a popper, but has a decorative button detail - I can't help it, I like the look of a button closure, even though I'm not brilliant at creating button holes!

As before, it's lined with felt to give the glasses extra cushioning. I tried to make it look as if the ribbon went all the way round in a continuous strip. There's a slight wobble, but I don't think it looks too bad. It would have been alot quicker to sew these on the machine, but I like the look of hand sewing for some things, especially when decorative stitches are used.

I've been playing with polymer clay as well for the last couple of days. One of the things I was experimenting with was covering this large domino shape with a simple cane design. I have to admit, that wasn't in my mind when I sat down at my studio desk the other night, but sometimes you discover great things without planning. I had some clay in my hand and was about to blend it for something completely different, when my hand almost moved of it's own accord and rolled the clay into a cane like tube. As I did that, my eyes suddenly strayed to a random domino that was also lying on my *ahem* slightly cluttered desk. Would it melt I thought? Hmmmm. I quickly sliced the cane up and covered the domino. It's not an amazing cane, I know that, but the aim of the exercise was to see if it would work! And yes, it appears to work. The plastic (I assumed) domino, didn't melt, and the fimo adhered to the plastic remarkably well. No air bubbles, no scorching, no peeling. Well. Stage two then. I'll be taking my faux Dremel to this baby shortly to see how easy it is to make a hole for a bail without cracking, defacing or otherwise spoiling it. Then I may be adding to the decorative elements; I know, I know, it looks a little plain as it is. It's still in the experimental stage!

The main reason I got the clay out in the first place was for Witchybelle. I had claimed her in the OWS for a Goddess object and I still have these pendants in my head. This one turned out a little differently from the last couple I made, but I love her flowing organicness (is that even a word?). I dusted her with a little metallic powder and gave her a sodalite crystal for her higher self.

Witchybelle also had some clay horns on her Wists, so how I could I resist! The trick to getting these horns looking really, well, horny, is to give the fimo a little twist. And now I'm looking at them, I really want to try making a unicorn horn! I have some white sparkly clay, and some translucent, some glow in the dark and some white! Perfect! I'm envisaging a magickal tool here, a unicorn horn, a crystal quartz.....hmmm....

Like I've always said, the best ideas come to you when you're least expecting it!

On the life front, next door were burgled yesterday. 'She' left the window open. I feel for them that they've been burgled, but the thieves jumped over their back fence, jumped over into our garden, broke into our shed, nicked our ladder to do the job with and then took off. M is now completely paranoid because we've had thieves in our back garden and that's where he keeps his Harley. He's now trying to persuade a friend to keep it in his garage. Not that that's a bad thing. I'll be encouraging that in fact, because it would be nice to get my patio back *lol* So we've had the police around, taking statements, stuff like that. That was our lie-in out of the window this morning. Talking to the old Bill when you've got a hangover is not recommended.

I've been making smellies too. We've had enough almost springtime like weather the last couple of days to make me think that it's maybe time to start defuzzing the legs. I hate stubble and I'm naturally dark haired, so I dilapidate. Ouch! I have to build up to this. A little bit at a time. Over lots of days. So this also involves exfoliating. (See, it's all about the long words today! ) I normally make a pretty good sugar scrub from granulated sugar, olive oil and various essential oils, but this time I thought I'd experiment with brown sugar. I also tried using less olive oil and more almond oil to help the drains from clogging up too much, but the resulting scrub wasn't as moisturizing as with olive oil, so I'll be slipping a bit more of that in. It still made my skin feel super smooth though. My favourite scrub fragrance is a mixture of lavender, geranium and vanilla oil, but I seem to have run out of vanilla, so I switched rosemary for the vanilla, which gives it a nice zingy feeling.

I also managed to make a batch of soap yesterday. I bought some beeswax from the farmers market last week with the intention of trying out a beeswax soap. Because I don't really use any hard oils or animal oils in my soap, sometimes they're a little soft. I've seen a couple of recipes using beeswax and I was curious to see if they hardened the resulting soap up at all. I also wanted to try a honey and oatmeal soap, so this batch was experimental. You know I like my experiments :-)

These were the ingredients: almond oil, beeswax, rapeseed oil, coconut oil, olive oil, soya oil, honey and oats. I also added a little orange and cinnamon essential oils in there, but I didn't add too much and I think the scent will eventually fade although it smells strong at the moment. The batch is still a little soft at the moment, but vegan soap often is at this stage. I'll let you know how it turns out. It did seem to come to trace very quickly. We'll see anyway. In about a month. *Sigh*. That's the worst bit about CP soap making, you have to wait so long for the soap to cure.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lovely lampworking!

I thought the last week of my holiday would be quite chilled, filled with endless days of crafting, but it's not going to work out that way! I'm not complaining though, it's going to be fun.
Yesterday I spent the day playing with molten glass over at my friend, C's, where she has a glass studio! More about that later.

Today I'm off to lunch with the girls from college, then to a chick flick (not usually my thing, but it should an afternoon of irreverant merriment), then to belly dancing tonight. I think the place where we're lunching is one of those 'all you can eat' places of international quisine, so I have a feeling my belly will be able to dance on it's own by tonight!

Tomorrow, N and I are venturing into deepest darkest Bedfordshire to find a fibre and textile exhibition. That should be a good laugh. I really like N, we have the same tastes and the same sense of humour and can quite easily lose hours without realising! I need to locate an address that I can load into my SatNav though before we go. I have an appalling sense of direction and find it impossible to read a map and drive at the same time. That calming voice telling me to 'take the third exit at the roundabout in 50 yards' is what I need to keep my sanity. And yes, I have sworn at my SatNav before. More than once in fact. But I would be lost (literally) without her!

Friday I have staff meetings at school. Not the best way to finish my week but they do lay on a nice (buffet) spread for lunch :-) There's usually only myself and my HOD from our art department (the guys don't normally show - naughty naughty) but S and I joined at the same time and get on really well, so after the main meetings are over, we have a giggle at our departmental meeting of two!

So, that's the week planned out so far. The housework seems to have taken a back burner and it seems that my car is never going to get cleaned out *lol*
Anyway, back to the crafting!

I rejoined the OWS swap and claimed Kookie, but I shan't be showing what I've made for her yet till she receives it. I also claimed Liebschein for a glasses case as she admired one that I'd made ages ago and had it on her list. I hope she likes this one I made for her.
It's felt with felt applique and beads and sequins sewn on. There is a double layer of felt to provide extra protection for her glasses. It does up with a popper, but I sewed a button on the outside for a decorative feature. I was terrified when I finished it because it seemed so narrow, despite making it to her quoted measurements. Then I slid my own glasses in that I wear on the computer and there was plenty of room!
I'm also going to see if I have time to make her another one. I had planned to do it last night, and cut the felt out ready, but got distracted ( yep, my crafting ADD strikes again!) by my jumbled ribbon box while selecting the trimming for it and ended up doing a little organisational job instead. Who knew I had so much ribbon? I this isn't the half of it! It's usually all stuffed together in a Firefly box that I received in a swap.
I bought crockery yesterday!
M is ultra clumsy and breaks things regularly, so I don't usually buy expensive or nice stuff because it's not worth getting upset when you're down to the last plate. Yes, that's where we were. One of us was having to eat from a pasta bowl *lol* I bought this small dinner service reduced from £30 to £10. What a bargain! It's hard to tell in the photo, but it has a lovely reductive glaze. I quite like simple dinnerware. I like the centre of the plate to be fairly plain. I think a heavily patterned plate centre detracts from the food. I do like a nice glaze though. This service appeals to the potter in me!

And here are my beads! Ta da!!
The second ever lots of beads that I've ever made! I'm a little disappointed that the colours aren't as dynamic as the glass rods were before I started, but that's the luck of the draw I guess. I chose lilacs, pinks, violets and blacks believe it or not. I still love them though. I learnt some new techniques, like making a tubular bead, making bobbly effects on a bead, swirling and feathering colours in the glass and making a little air bubble in the dotty beads.

They're not perfect, some of them were experimental, but they're all my own work. I aspire to produce beads like Sarah from the Glass Slipper. If you've never seen her work, check it out! She produces the most amazing beads! I don't think I'll ever be as good as her, but I drool over her work!

One day.....

Monday, April 14, 2008

It's all gone a bit Pete Tong

Okay, so I admit, I spent most of Saturday with a hangover; with M out, I spent most of the night getting merrily drunk, dancing round to Pete Tong on Radio One and surfing on the net. (I remember M coming home after the piccies briefly to pick up his Didge; the boys were so inspired by the Rolling Stones film that they all went back to D's to make 'sweet music' together.) Not much crafting was done that night, but I did spend Saturday happily tucked away in my little crafty nest with the Lord of the Rings Trilogy marathon session on DVD.

I made this sweet little button brooch from my button jar stash, using my trusty hot glue gun and glitter!

I made this cute little toadstool bottle cap pincushion for a future swap...
Just felt, with little french knot spots.

I also painting lots of glass, including this little shroom pot...also for a future swap...

And this little heptangle starred tealight burner. This is my Arwen inspired glass. The heptangle, seven pointed star, is also known as the evening star, or fairy star, and Arwens symbol is a seven pointed star. I also painted lots of other glass, which shall be going into my eBay shop shortly.

I've been spinning off and on for the last few days. This is as far as I've got. Not as good as dragonflyducky's, but maybe one day! I may have a go at plying this with some gold thread and beads! *lol* I haven't even finished spinning it yet and I'm already planning the fancy finishing!

I found these old earphones the other day. The foam was perished and I nearly threw them away, and then I began to wonder; could I crochet some new new ear pads for them?

Well, it appears that I could! I just crocheted a circle the right size to over them, then I did a row with no increases, and then a ring decreasing which keep the cover in place.

Snug as a bug and much prettier than black foam! :-)

Here is the progress I've made so far on my Pink Sorbet. I can see this is going to be a slow project; I have to count. 'Nuff said!

Yesterday was the Ravellers in the Park meeting again. I took a couple of phone photos, but to be honest, they're pretty crappy, so if you want to see the fun and games, check out Micheles photos and also Velvets. I did take knitting, honestly, even though most of the photos show me drinking tea. Here's what I was doing. I pretty much got to the toe decreases yesterday afternoon, and then finished them (okay, one) last night whilst watching the Colour of Magic :-)

Gotta figure out this toe grafting business though!

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Rolling Stone gathers no...Fungi?

Well, the last couple of days have gone by so fast I struggle to think where the time has gone! Why doesn't work go this fast? This week is practically over and then we're into next week, and then I'm back at work! *Pah!*

So yesterday I woke up to this sight. Is this not the epitome of frustration? This is Pippin entranced by the wood pigeon sitting on the tree outside the window. If this was a video shot you could listen to her doing that 'nananana' sound to herself whilst her jaws practice the killing bite that would snap that wood pigeons cheeky throat! Imagine, sitting right there, taunting her! Bold as brass! How dare it!

She kept me company whilst I created my new ID lanyard. I have to wear ID at College and they give us this very naff blue nylon neck thingy to wear it on. Not my style at all. So I decided to make myself one suitable for my style. The first thing I needed was a strong magnetic clasp - sorted with a trip to Hobbycraft. A magnetic clasp was needed for health and safety purposes; I've worked in various psychiatric establishments over the years and I'm too aware of the dangers of garroting weapons. The next thing was a swivel clip. I butchered this cord which we got with our VIP passes for the trip to Thruxton last year.

And created this, using hematite beads salvaged from various necklaces my Mum has passed onto me for recycling, plus whatever beads I had in my stash. I love the little star beads!

Much more me! At least when I go back to work in a week, I'll go back in style! Created whilst watching 'Skins'. I love that programme! It reminds me so much of being a teenager and young adult. I'm so glad I don't have to live that life again. But I'm glad I did. The whole out of control thing; music, art, alcohol, drugs, dance and sex, was wild, beautiful, scary, and totally fantastic. It made me the person I am today. I have stories that would make your toes curl; would certainly make my Mums toes curl, but maybe we all have those.

I also cast on this last night! Pink Sorbet. Yes, I got the needles I required. Can you believe, I made a tour of the local charity shops and couldn't find a 7.5mm needle anywhere. I had to actually buy a pair! Yes, a new pair!!!

It's a lace pattern, so I won't be taking this to the Ravelry group meeting on Sunday *lol* I think my sock project will get another outing! I find it hard enough to concentrate on the pattern whilst listening to an audio book without anybody talking to me :-)

And the obligatory springtime shots? Right here mate! Look, my tree stump in the garden has been colonised by fungi over the winter! This is the girls sunning stump. The stump they jump onto to catch the late evening sun, or to jump over the fence. It looks so pretty. I wonder how long the fungi will last? It used to be a Cherry Laural tree and it gets the sun all day.

Our Bleeding Heart is flowering. It's one of the first signs of spring!

Today I went to the farmers market in a neighbouring Roman town. I bought a little beeswax for vegetarian soap making purposes. I resisted buying these very cute and colourful fairy cakes. Sorry, the colours aren't as bright as IRL. They were very pretty. I didn't manage to find the wool shop I wanted to though. Knew I should have taken the address! *lol*

I received an amazing swap package from Tanza containing two DS lite cases and a bag of old jewellery to reconstruct! She knows me too well! I asked for dragons and boy did she fulfil my wish!

And this evening M went on a 'Boys Night Out' to see the new Rolling Stones film. When I heard them discussing the best way to sneak beer into the cinema and laughing like school boys, I knew that I probably wasn't invited! I got the feeling that this was gonna be a binge night! As he left, I said, 'have a good night and try not to get too slaughtered!' His reply was 'and if I do, make sure I don't come home...'

I guess we understand each other *lol*

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Belt up...

I finished my ruffle corset belt yesterday and gave it a trial run at dance class last night. It's a good fun piece, fairly lightweight compared to my coinbelt , so it gets the thumbs up.
It was finished while indulging in yesterdays guilty pleasure...The War of the Worlds Stage show! *lol* My friend lent me a copy on DVD and you'll be pleased to know it had nothing to do with Tom Cruise but was in fact the musical by Jeff Waynes. I remember loving it as a child and this was just as I remember it, Richard Burton narrating (posthumously obviously), lots of lighting and special effects, sadly without David Essex, but still good. I sang along lustily to many of the songs, just as I did as a kid; my Mum and Dad bought it on vinyl when it came out! Talking of vinyl, I felt so old last week when one of my students was talking about 'those black cd things they used to have in the olden days'. *Pah*

Today my new memory card arrived for my phone. I wanted to upgrade the size so that I could take better photos and have more music on the mp3 player, so I ordered a 1gb card. I tested on todays walk with the Hound of the Baskervilles. This is the camera on its old settings, about half of what it's capable of.

And this is the camera on its new setting. Much better quality.

I still need to play around with it a little, but I could take photos and listen to music without having to cart loads of stuff round with me. The photos aren't as good as with my proper camera of course, but good enough for those spur of the moment shots.
Oo yes, my swap parcel arrived from KathleenAlice. Check it out here to see what she made for me :-)

And lastly, today is the 10th Anniversary of the Flooding of Northampton, an event which claimed 2 lives and meant that M and I lost everything we had. As a childless couple we were not offered alternative housing and none was available anywhere in the county. M and I spent 2 years living in one room upstairs in our house. The ground floor had no flooring and we had to walk across a plank to get to the stairs. We had no heating, no kitchen and we, a dog and a cat lived in the most primitive conditions in a damp house because all the builders were deployed in the houses where families would need to return to, since obviously they were more important than us. Most people were moved to alternative housing, so there wasn't many people left in the area. All the local shops had been flooded so we had nowhere to get food from. Our car had been flooded and was useless, so it meant an hours walk to the nearest food shop. The waters in our house came up to my armpits and when we eventually got rescued (by boat) I had to wade through the icy water carrying my cat in a bag over my head. M had to carry our dog. The front door had swollen with the water and we couldn't open it, so the firemen had to kick it open in their boat from the outside. Memories. Now we live at the top of a hill :-)



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