Friday, 29 February 2008

Jasper & His Mini-Me

I seem to have been a bit rubbish at blogging lately - very busy but not much to show for it here. I have, however, made this little grey chenille teddy who is very cute with a bit of an aged look to him. He is for sale - same price as previous bears (can't remember off the top of my head!!!)

Then I knitted a little dog using up a small ball of brown stretchy mohair, and when I started to sew him together, I saw a startling resemblance... my little mutt Jasper! Especially when I brushed out the fluffy wool and pulled it into the same beardy shape as Jasper's head. I am still in the process of making his accessories.

I'm afraid Jasper is not co-operating here as there have been gun shots behind our house all afternoon and he is in the middle of a nervous crisis. (No, it's not Hampshire gang-wars, more likely clay pigeon shooting or bird-scaring on the farm) The older he gets, the worse loud noises seem to affect him - fireworks just about finish him off for a week and he gets colitis (a nervous complaint). We just have to let him hide behind the sofa for as long as he wants, making sure he eats and goes out for a toilet break inbetween the fusilades! Poor little chap was a stray in London during the first week in November (Guy Fawkes Night celebrations here in the UK, big firework displays) and even though that was about 12 years ago, he has never got over it.

I have just acquired a mountain of mohair yarn - don't ask me how, but it is honestly come by - and already have requests for scarves from work-mates. There is also a blue elephant half knitted and another bird painting sketched if only I could master the art of doing it all at the same time.......

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Another Sparrow

Completed this today - again using Chinese watercolour paints and tea-stained paper. I can't get over how easy these paints are to use and very effective for not so much effort. I'm now planning all sorts of little bird pictures - if I have the time, as I believe there is another commission looming. It's all good!

Saturday, 23 February 2008

The Week's Work...

Finally finished the bathroom, complete with whole wall stencil. This has taken several days longer than I thought - never paint a room in a dark colour and expect it to be easy to paint over when you want a change! Four coats of paint and two whole days later, it was ready for the stencil. Typically, it was nothing simple and quick - I found this image of the koi and had it blown up to A3, then spent a whole evening cutting the stencil. My forefinger was locked into straight position for a while after pressing with the scalpel for four hours - scary! Then yesterday it took an afternoon to apply the koi, as their scales had to be done separately and then I added markings and shading by hand. Today I drew, cut out and applied the bamboo, water lily and dragonfly stencils - another afternoon's work! Sorry for the pale photo, but that's the best I could do as the colours of the stencil are fairly light on a very light wall.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Sparrows in Bamboo

Here is what I have been working on for a few days. Having bought the Chinese paints and brushes to demonstrate with at the school where I work, I wanted to have a go at a 'proper' painting with them. We have a little flock of sparrows living in the bamboo at the bottom of our garden and I love to watch their daily squabbles and busy social lives. This seemed the perfect medium with which to represent them. I plan on painting a small series of these, just for the fun of it!

By the way, the paper is stained with a strong brew of tea - it still smells great even after a week!

Loadsa Cats!

Not many posts lately, but it is half-term week and I have been catching up on various jobs round the house that have been outstanding since the last school holiday. The last two days have been spent re-decorating the bathroom, which is now pristine icy blue and awaiting a stencil, when I can make up my mind exactly what I want......koi carp are the current favourite.

I have, however, been churning out the little felt cats of an evening together with their beds and accessories. They each come with a bed, bowl, tin of food, bag of food (yes, there is felt food inside the velcro sealed bag) and a little mouse toy. If you are interested, e-mail me, same price as previous.

The sparrow picture needs just a little more work - hoping to have that done by this evening.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Posh Paws!

Started on the felt cats again - having just signed up to two craft fairs, one fairly huge at Goodwood Organic Farm on 1st June, I thought I had better begin to build up stock. Last fair I attended I sold every last one of the felt dogs and cats, so they are obviously popular!

This little chap is a tiny bit posher than previous cats - he has a red satin bow with a silver bell, and very tiny buttons on his jointed legs - they must only be half a centimetre wide (the buttons, not his legs!) He has a blue felt padded bed, this time lined in light blue cotton printed with hearts and white leggy birds. Later on today he will have his bowl, toy and food as with all previous sets.

If you decide you would like to adopt him before he goes on public sale, the set is £10 + P&P, just send me an e-mail.

I'm working on a large painting of sparrows & bamboo at the moment. I'm attempting to put my own twist on Chinese brush painting - so far so good, but I've only done the bamboo! Watch this space...

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

What a Nice Surprise!


I've just been given my first virtual award, the 'You Make my Day', from the lovely Penny and the talented Toby at Natural Attrill - thank you very much!

I'd like to pass this on to some bloggers that keep me amused and informed:
1. Cat at Raggy Rat - she makes some wonderful soft toys and her spelling cracks me up! (Sorry Cat!)
2. Laura at Beads by Laura - I'm so jealous of her ability to make glass into such beautiful beads
3. Julie at Little Cotton Rabbits - a talented maker of knitted toys, a closet artist, and a very special mum
4. Fhi at Fhi-Fhi Creates - love her little characters, I'd like them on all my stationery, fabric, lunchboxes etc!
5. Sybille at Magpie Magic, because her jewellery makes me drool it's so yummy

To pass it on, here are the details:
1. Write a post with links to 5 blogs that make me think and/or make my day.

2. Acknowledge the post of the award giver.

3. Display the “You Make my Day Award” logo

4. Tell the award winners that they have won by commenting on their blogs with the news.

I hope I can manage to do the links - I've just about burnt out my technical knowledge this week!

I did a spot of jewellery making yesterday - crocheted silver wire with faceted black flower beads and silver butterfly sequins. Needs a little clasp then will be good to go. I haven't done so much jewellery lately - the small animals have taken precedence as in a couple of months I will be having a stall at a 'dog day' so need appropriate wares!

Just posted my entries into the 'Going to the Dogs' Exhibition in Boston USA - very excited and also a bit scared! Wish me luck!

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Website News

I've just spent half the day trying to set up my website - it's not quite finished yet, but you can get the general idea by clicking here.
Hope you like it!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Fuzzy-Wuzzy was a bear...

Just using up some bits of stretchy mohair....bear £5, dog & basket £7.50

Monday, 4 February 2008


Not too sure what happened this afternoon - just got into the 'zone' and whizzed through finishing this. I think after being so constrained over the past week it was sheer joy to be back painting with no distractions, no interruptions, nothing outstanding waiting to be done instead and not feeling tired! I don't know if any of you who paint ever get so engrossed in what you are doing that the time just flies and then suddenly you are brought back to reality by something as mundane as feeling hungry (or in this case, having my dogs start pestering for food as it was nearly an hour overdue!) but that was my afternoon - brilliant!

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Attempts at Chinese Brush Painting...

Yesterday I got my hands on some authentic Chinese paints, thanks to my son who went to Gerrard Street in London yesterday. It's so nice to ask someone to buy something for you and know they will get it right first time!

These were my first attempts - discovered a sketchbook was no good as the ink took hours to dry. The Kahdi Mill paper was a lot better and gave a nice texture to it.
Today I tried to paint a sparrow by following the instructions in my source book - don't much like their way of doing it, too stylised for my liking. I want to paint sparrows but to make them more life-like - will have to experiment using my own knowledge, not someone else's!

Then I had a go in my Moleskine sketchbook - the perfect surface! It absorbed the ink without going soggy or running, and the smoothness of the paper allowed the brush to make the desired shapes. I like the insect designs from the source book very much - they are easy and effective and you can adapt them to suit your needs without too much difficulty.

I'm not planning on changing my style radically - it's just really refreshing to try something new and different. I've been painting with acrylics for the past couple of months and need a bit of a shake-up. I have been working on Elena's portrait this weekend, but nothing to merit being shown here yet. Hopefully this coming week I will have a bit more free time and will finish it.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

What a Week!

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you have been incredibly busy but it has all been for other people? I just have and it sucks!
I've cleared up the garden (yay, that's been long overdue), hacking down a forest of bamboo and discovered I'm rather allergic to it - spent two days feeling like I was wearing stinging nettle gloves and covered in an angry red rash.
I've spent a whole afternoon trying to sort out my 'new' printer (given by a good friend when my other one passed away) only to fail and have my son then fix it in the space of ten minutes - damn the computer-literate youth of today, making me feel thick!
I've taught Chinese Brush painting to 6 and 7 year olds - they were full of enthusiasm but only a couple of them produced anything worth keeping, although one little chap was a resounding success. He's autistic and not shown much interest in anything at school but has taken to this in a big way.
I've learned more about speech therapy by observing a formal session and I've learned more about autism by attending a course.
I've taken afore-mentioned son to lunch for his birthday (Italian, yum..!) and I've taken an hour to finish my book in peace ( now THAT doesn't often happen!)
But I haven't had the time to paint, which is SO frustrating!

I did get the above fabric in the post from FabricShack in the U.S. - they far exceeded my expectations, especially the toucan print. I wanted them for lining bags etc, but the toucans should not be hidden!

I did manage a rather raggedy little dog, complete with his knitted coat, basket and fringed blanket. The last scruffy little dog like this was adopted by a small boy with big eyes who told me it was going to be his BEST toy - obviously a sucker for a lame duck, just like me! Let's hope this one finds just as good a home. Same price as before, and he will have bowl and toys to make the set.

And now I have some spare time, the house has been cleaned, the fridge defrosted, the shopping done, the dogs walked, dinner cooking - I'm off to paint, hooray!