Tuesday 25 February 2014

Crochet Giftage

Work in Progress

I was just looking through my recent posts and there seems to be a heavy crochet bias at the moment. Not wanting to break the trend, here is another post featuring crochet. I like crochet because it is quick and so projects can be finished in a short amount of time, giving that lovely thrill of achievement that comes with completing something handmade.

Valentines card (detail)

Valentines day present

View from the back

The middle of February brings (rain, wind, snow) my Mum's birthday and Valentines day, both days that are for celebrating two of the most important people to me. So, I like to make my gifts for them if I can.

Heart detail

For Valentines day I made a mug cosy for partner of patience; he has no real interest in or desire for a mug cosy but he is very difficult to buy for (and in the preceding two months I've had to deal with the trauma of finding him Christmas and Birthday presents) so this seemed like a nice little project to let him know how much I care (buckets available on request.) I found this lovely mug to wrap it around and finished the gift off with chocolate, which in my opinion improves most things.

Notebook cover and mug cosy

Mug cosy

I used to find it very easy to buy presents for my Mum, less so now as she has most things she wants and I really hate buying things for the sake of it, I love getting presents for people but I want to get things that they will like or use. I saw a granny square notebook cover in one of my books and, being slightly obsessed with granny squares at the moment, decided it would be a good project to make for her as she could use it for covering a notebook, reading book or sketchbook. I then made a matching mug cosy because there are few things lovelier than curling up with a book and a nice hot cup of tea.

Front of the book cover

Back of the book cover

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Life Drawing 13.2.14

Pen, continuous line

A somewhat interesting session this one; in the main hall of the community centre where I hold the sessions was a line dancing group so our normally quiet and peaceful room was...less so. Some of the artists found this very difficult and disruptive which made for a frustrating session for them. Whilst it's not what I'd choose I find I can block most things out but I think it may be time to have a look at changing days or venue.

We had another new model this evening and as it was his first time modelling I had to think a bit more about the poses so I could give him directions for how to pose. This was good as it made me consider things a bit more; I know which poses I like to draw best and giving the model a bit more direction than usual helped me think more about composition and what it is I like about certain poses (mostly twisty and crouched with hands and feet in interesting positions.)

Hands, drawn without looking at the page

I drew exclusively with pens this evening, I was less settled than usual and didn't feel I had the concentration span to work with graphite. I'm really pleased with some of my drawings though, I am getting back into the rhythm of drawing and enjoying it more. Proportion is still a challenge for me, partly because I often work across multiple sheets of paper and cannot always see the rest of my drawing.

Permanent marker

3 ballpoint pens held together

3 Ballpoint pens held together

As well as my usual pens I used a permanent marker this evening which gave a different quality of line that I really like; I would like to work on really big sheets of paper with these pens next time. I also tried the three pens at once again but this time I did not tape them together, which worked much better and has created some interesting drawings. As with the permanent markers I would like to use this technique on really big paper.


Feet, drawn without looking at page

Hands, continuous line

Sunday 16 February 2014

Mechanical Circus Family Fun Day

Mummy and Daddy Robot Automata

I had a very busy day yesterday down at Tullie House running an automata drop-in as part of the Family Fun day to celebrate the opening of the Mechanical Circus exhibition. From the start of the day to the end we were inundated with people which was great, but slightly exhausting! I have to say a big thank you to the Tullie House staff who helped me out, I think we must have made around 100 automata and I couldn't have done it all on my own!

Working hard

Seal spinning a ball on his head

The drop-in was based on the workshops I did in schools last year, the results of which are currently on display in the foyer of Tullie House. I think the activity probably worked better as a workshop rather than a drop in because there are quite a few things to think about when making automata and in a drop in session, especially one as busy as yesterdays, it is sometimes difficult to give every single person the help they need whereas in a workshop everyone is doing more or less the same thing at the same time so participants can help each other out a bit more. However, you live and learn and I think people enjoyed it and hopefully learnt something too.

Spinning purple fish

Amazing spinning man with candy cane and umbrella

Because it was so busy I didn't really have much chance to take pictures but I managed to grab a few quick shots to give you an idea of some of the amazing creations people made. Before the workshop started I was lucky enough to get a quick look round the exhibition and it really is fantastic, I'm looking forward to going back and having a proper look soon. I also met two of the exhibition organisers who were kind enough to tell me about some of the automata and give me a bit of a guided tour. So, if you're in Carlisle I highly recommend you go and see the exhibition (and admire the automata made during my workshops of course!)

Friday 14 February 2014

Chicken Bunting and even more Exciting Interiors!

Mirror of Bling

If you loved the chicken wallpaper you are in for a real treat, this week the No Borders art group came up with more excellent ideas and continued to create beautiful things. Having completed her kitchen the lady who made the chicken wallpaper was ready for another challenge. The group are working towards an exhibition and I've always thought of exhibitions as rather celebratory events and what celebration is complete without bunting?

Chicken drawing

Cutting stencils

Cutting stencils
Following a similar process as for making the wallpaper we started by drawing chickens, we then used the drawings to make stencils to print with. One of the aims of working with the No Borders group is to help develop the support workers skills as well as the skills of the service users so I asked the support workers to make the stencils, it is quite a difficult task as it is often hard to visualise what the stencil will look like when printed up and it is difficult to work out which bits to cut out and which bits to leave. I considered this a successful session because both support workers made stencils that will work really well to print with and both hopefully feel more confident.


Yellow chickens

Red chicken

The mirror of great bling was also completed this week, it looks great in the 'room.' We also made a table covered with beautiful handmade paper and the group member chose designs for her sofa and chairs. It was a really good session because the person was able to start identifying exactly what it was she liked about the chairs and sofas she had cut out of magazines and this really helped her understand the design process.

The room so far

Table with handmade paper

Monday 10 February 2014

Crochet Pots and Baskets

Small sari silk and wool pot

I have mentioned (okay, gone on and on) about the health benefits of craft here many times. There have been several articles circulating recently on this topic and there is now an impressive body of research to support the proposition that craft can improve your health, in particular your mental health.

Sari silk and wool pot

The act of creating something with your hands from basic materials is inherently satisfying and the sense of achievement when a piece is finished can be a real boost. Crafting also often involves quiet, repetitive processes which can be very therapeutic and can help to calm and relax. Often, your chosen craft will require just enough brain power to keep other thoughts at bay whilst at the same time allowing you to relax and let your mind wander in a more positive, creative way. It can also provide social opportunities; craft groups offer a chance to meet people who you know you've got at least one thing in common with and as you have something to do it can be a much less intimidating way of meeting people.

Making the pot

Making the pot

In my own pursuit of creative well-being I have been crocheting a great deal recently and have been experimenting with making some baskets. I had some beautiful yarn made from strips of recycled saris and I have been playing around with this. I tried it on its own but it was a bit too floppy so for my next experiment I added a wool yarn and used a smaller hook which has given a much denser fabric and a much stronger pot.

Large sari silk basket


In progress

The little blue basket started out as a hat but I decided it was too basket like! Like the large sari silk basket it is not as structurally strong as I would like but once it has things in it it stands up pretty well.

Small blue basket

Blue basket



Friday 7 February 2014

In my lovely terrarium

When I was little I used to love making mini-gardens and creating miniature scenes and worlds. Actually, I still love doing this so I thought I'd post a couple of pictures of my jar gardens which live on my work table. They are filled with assorted succulents, rocks, pebbles and stuff.  The smaller one is an olive jar and the bigger one is a decanter I bought from Wilko's. The title of this post is a song lyric from a Pavement song, I've always found it amusing so decided to share it with you.