party & preparations

I’ll be getting married in three weeks and yesterday we had a little party to celebrate! It was good and we even had a super delicious personalised chocolate and orange cake:

We decided to get married about a month ago and it was a quick ring round to book the ceremony, reception, food, etc. and then on to the more important activity of crafting various things!

First up, party bags / wedding favours. About a third of the guests are children and the reception is on a boat so a pirate theme seemed a good way to go :)

I picked up a pile of plain totes, printed a simple skull and crossbones graphic to trace around and they turned out great! I can’t show you what’s gone in them all yet, in case someone happens to read this but I’ll get some photos on the day :)

The next thing I decided to make was a fur coat. I’ve always liked the *idea* of a fur coat and they look great on other people but they make me feel like I’m playing dress-up. Well if you can’t play dress-up on your wedding day then when can you! I used this free downloadable oversized fur coat pattern from See Kate Sew

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What I liked about this pattern was that it’s just one size, a basic shape and no fastenings. This was my first time sewing with fur, first time sewing sleeves and first time adding a lining! It went quite well. I was initially worried the fur would be weird around the seams but it’s fairly short haired and is absolutely fine.

The colour is toffee. I think this will work well for the wedding but I might dye it pink afterwards…

Next weekend I’m making the dress!

We also made our wedding rings but I’ll do a whole separate post about that soon

 

urban sketching gloves

urban sketching gloves

while my crochet fingerless gloves keep my hands warm, my fingers are left exposed and quickly freeze. I found these white fluffy gloves for 50p recently and hacked off the thumb and index fingertips of the left hand in attempt to keep in more of the heat.

As soon as I shake this cold I’ll be able to head out and give them a test run!

The Turbine Hall

After letting The Shard watercolour dry I headed back inside the Tate Modern and had time for one more quick sketch. I sat in the darkness of the Turbine Hall looking up towards the slope and out. This was a wonderful scene, full of shadows and contrasts and muted reflections. Because I was sitting in darkness though I couldn’t really see the page or what I was drawing so there was lots of repeated scribbling in what I took to be the generally correct area. Then I packed up and moved out from under the overhang to see what I’d created – atmospheric!

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All the urban sketchers then gathered, compared their work and posed for a few group photos. There were lots and lots of us there – possibly some people wanted to start or restart a creative hobby with it being the new year but also I think the great location will have attracted more people than usual. It’s always been a good turnout whenever I’ve been but this was maybe double the number of people since the last time I went. There are maybe 50 sketchbooks here and I know quite a few people didn’t put their’s down. Great stuff!

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ink flamingos!

And the potential for many more! I thought I would try designing and carving a picture rather than just the semi-abstract shapes and textures that I’ve made so far. I wanted to start with something small and something unique, an idea that I’d not already seen someone else do (I’m seeing some awesome plant stamps that I might have to try a variation of one day). This is the result. A stamp for my blog. I’m very pleased with how it turned out. Particularly the two colours and the negative space forming part of the beak. The stamp itself looks like some sort of crazy Loch Ness monster creature. After drawing the design on the rubber sheet I realised that I could just cut around the outside shape and I’d only need to carve the eye and lettering. I’m also very happy with how readable the lettering turned out. What looks like a scrap of rubber here is actually the beak/nostril/pupil stamp, which took a couple of attempts because I got confused the first time and it turned out mirrored.

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I think it will be used on the back of greetings cards I make, tags on crocheted gifts and maybe contact cards to leave at my next exhibition (in May! better get painting…)

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trying out linocut

My dad has been asking if there’s anything he can get me for Christmas – we’re similar in the respect that when we want something we tend to just get it rather than waiting until birthdays or Christmas so we’re difficult to buy for. Also I don’t expect anyone to be buying me things so I don’t keep a list of stuff I want – feels very entitled and presumptuous! Anyway, I saw a cool flamingo and pineapple rubber stamp set online last week and thought I would buy it but when I followed the link it was an Etsy listing and had already sold. All the alternatives offered were just not quite what I wanted so since then I got to thinking what if I could carve my own stamp. A few internet searches later and I was deep into the world of linocut. Another few searches brought up a starter kit with everything you need at a reasonable price so I ordered it and let my dad know what he’s got me for Christmas (he doesn’t do the internet so wouldn’t have been able to order it himself). It arrived quicker than expected and I couldn’t keep it sealed until Christmas so cracked it open last night (you’ve got to check all the bit are there, right ;)  ).

I’m pretty impressed – it came with a plastic tray, roller and tube of ink for the printing. 2 sheets of lino, 2 sheets of some other rubber stuff, 2 discs of a different type of rubber, a practice piece of lino, cutting tool with various blades, a disc stamper thing, a hand guard and an instruction leaflet. For the price paid I’m sure the tools are not the best quality but it’s really good to be able to just dive in and if I really like it then I can always upgrade a few of the important bits.

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I started off as instructed, trying out the different blades on the practice piece of lino. The only blade I can’t use is a curved one for slicing thin lines – it’s designed to be used right handed. I have a scalpel that could probably do that job instead. After a few cuts I felt like I wanted to actually make something and not just waste the practice piece so I went for a pineapple in two parts:

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I didn’t want to try using the roller and tube ink on such a tiny stamp so I dug out my ink pads – turns out it’s been so long since I used them (must have had the majority going on 10 years) that they’ve mostly all dried up. I found a couple that were still ok:

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Not bad but not particularly tropical colours. The leaves on their own made a passable sprig of holly though, which was nice. Would paint work? I dug out some acrylic and tried it out:

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Sort of. I applied it to the lino using a brush so it clogged up the grooves pretty fast. Not to waste either the tiny remnant of the lino practice piece or the bit of paint I had I experimented some more:

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I’m definitely a fan of the semi abstract tessellation using stamps / prints. Some investigation and inspiration led me to using a square and carving different motifs into the corners so when printed you’d get a tiled pattern:

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I liked the surprise of the different patterns you get when printed and lined up. It was harder work than I thought for both the carving and printing. It was also quite messy:

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I think I’m going to continue with this idea of tiles but next try something more planned out and / or in different coloured layers (need to get some more colours for that though…)

See the wonderful things people are doing with lino cutting that have been inspiring me so far here:

charity art auction

Progress theatre need to sort their car park out – it’s a bit of a gravelly pot-holed flood plain at the moment. The theatre is run completely voluntarily by the hard working members and to raise money to have the car park all done up they have been running various events over the past 6 months. The most recent is an art auction. For each production a different artist exhibits their work in the bar / foyer. All the artists that have exhibited over the last couple of years were asked if they could donate a piece to the art auction and this is the result. Over 20 watercolours, oils, drawings, prints and textile pieces on show for a month. It is a silent auction so bids can be placed by filling in a slip or contacting one of the organisers. The winners will be announced at the theatre Christmas party. With just over a week left to go, all pieces have bids and some paintings are up to £100. I donated three pieces and curated hung the exhibition so I’m particularly pleased that it looks like it’s going to be a huge success.

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Acrylic trees

My first attempt at an actual acrylic painting. It was both harder and easier than I expected and didn’t turn out how I imagined at all. Even with watercolours I think I always have a subdued, subtle colour palette in mind and it almost always turns into a bright extravaganza – maybe that’s just my style :)

First Crochet stitches – left & right handed

Here are some handy step by step diagrams of how to complete your first crochet stitches. Before you start you’ll need a slip knot and to have decided on how to hold your hook and yarn. There is a left and right handed version and they show in detail how to make a chain, complete a row of double crochet stitches (single crochet stitches in American terms) then make a turning chain and start working back along the first row.

click on the following to download in pdf format so you can easily print them out:

First crochet stitches – Right Handed

First crochet stitches – Left Handed


LEFT HANDED

first stitches left handed

first stitches left handed 2


RIGHT HANDED

first stitches right handed

first stitches right handed 2

Lacy Pink Bookmark

Today I made this beautiful bookmark. It was my first time crocheting with thread and using such a small hook. The smallest I have is 2mm but luckily this seemed to be the right size for the thread. I found it quite fiddly doing the bullions to start with but they got easier as I went along and it was definitely worth it in the end. After I finished I pressed it so it would lie perfectly flat between the pages.

The pattern is called Elegant Bullion Bookmark: click on the link if you want to give it a go. I did have to skip a few stitches on one of the rounds to make the pattern work out and then after I finished I found someone had posted a correction on Ravelry which is as follows:

  • Round 1: Chain 54, not 56.
  • Round 4: Either skip 1 ch when it says to skip 2, or work the chain 5s on round 3 as ch 7s.
The first part of the second correction sounds pretty much like what I did to make it work so do take note of those two points before you start.