Tuesday, 29 November 2011

What do you think these are then?

 Small brains?
I fancy stitching them onto collages..........any idea what they are ?
I know - but do you?

I took a picture of all three of those foam cubes, mentioned in the last post....
One has already been tested with a child, small items were placed inside and one at a time taken out, handled by the VI child and then described to the adult. Stimulating both conversation and tactile recognition skills.

Today I was finishing off this activity.......with carrots to post in a rabbits mouth.
In the education catalogues they sell for £25 each.
I was asked to make a rabbit with carrots to post into his mouth, a dog with bones and a cat with mice.

I used a shoe box to make him.
The lid for the head, the base cut down, for the tray that sits flat behind the head, to catch the carrots.
I made it so that the tray can be lifted up, as it is here and fitted into the back for carriage.
That sounds skew whiff, only took one photo of this but will take more of the dog and cat, so you can see how it was done.
Here is a dog with the tray lifted up at the back.


The dog outline is cut out from the lid of a wide shoe box.
I cut almost the same shape out of mountcard and stuck it behind this red side, for added strength.
I will cover the front with fur fabric next.

What you see here is the foreshortened base of the shoe box, shortened (left to right here) in its length, so it will seat into the lid front 'head' for the activity of posting the bones through dogs mouth.
Velcro  attachments will help keep the base stable and I will take pics of that too, in case you want to see how it is made.
After playing with it, the base can be lifted ( right side upwards) so it fits together like a box for easy carriage, as in the first picture above. Obviously the head will be higher at the front but it means the bones can be carried in the box container.
I'll be finishing it at work tomorrow, so will take more pics of ther process then.

One of our deaf members of staff had bought a huge Rudolf head off Ebay, to use at the deaf childrens xmas party on saturday.
But she had wanted a more vibrant red nose and also hearing aides fitted....lol
So after abit of altering.............

They are not good photos of the hearing aides he now has in sadly.
But I cut  foam shapes for the hearing aides behind the ears, ( stitched into place) and used plastic tubing from them which led into each ear.
I pushed the tubing into the backs of bright pink and purple covered buttons to represent the ear insert themselves.
These too were stitched into place, so Rudolf will be able to bop about at the party and they wont fall out!
And to think they call this work......!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Whose bag? Work stuff and the Phillip Larkin statue in Hull


Hilly caught in the act of settling down for a snooze!


 and mid yawn......... lol

My daughter had to jazz up some alphabet letters for her store
( she's Manager for a clothing store )
so asked if she could bring them over and use my paints etc.
See! CL-arty mums are useful for some things...lol
The stores had to each jazz up old letters, then put them up on display walls, to highlight attention to the new items in the
Paul's Boutique range.
Lime green 50cm-ish high letters - what fun we had altering them!
We copper painted front and sides on some, stuck fabric on one ( because one of the new range of bags has zebra markings on it...just as well I hadnt gotten round to patchworking with that half metre!)

We used braid from former items in the range which bore the logo and (naff!) badges that had broken off bags.
(....they were much improved by cutting back this and that)


Old cork 4" alphabet letters I'd picked up once in scrapstore, were painted blue and given a new lease of life. Some fake flower petals were stuck liberally on the P, nicely hiding the fact that it had formerly been a B ... so had needed to be cut up abit.
The S got abit of foil, a few butterflyish shapes and was coated in a fine clear, silver flecked varnish layer.
I'm told they look the business up on the alcove wall in store.
And the ideas were Tylah's, I simply helped and
provided the materials.
It was good fun and we even managed a trip out to do shopping whilst some letters were drying.




One of our Peri teachers found a £47.50 'Whats in the box' activity in a catalogue to use with early years, visually impaired children.
Its a 20cm foam cube with a central 'opening' that a child can put a hand in and take out..whatever you had put in it.
It was covered in bright primary colours...........and she wanted 3 of them for teachers aides to use ...so almost £150 for 3 resources!

So I made 3 for less than £10...........and £6 of that was for 2 x foam upholstery seat pads from Scrapstore! The textured fabrics I had at work already and were more interesting, than simply bright coloured fabric that was the same 'feel' all round.
I cadged an old electric meat carver and set to on the upholstery foam pads, carving a central square 'lift shaft' like space that would become the hidden pouch.
(I'm heaps better with a big foam block than I ever was
carving meat with an electric knife!)





Note the shaggy fabric I used for the inside pouch......it feels great to thrust your hand in that. I teased a couple of tufts out on the top you'll notice too. Some blind children are what we call tactile defensive, they dont like odd feeling texctures. So they have to be coaxed into experiencing new and unusual textures and this might be a fun way of them doing that.
I forgot to take pictures of the other two but each cube had completely different textured fabrics, so TA's will be able to swap them with each other if necessary. 

Oh and I hadnt realised we had smashing statue now in the central rail station here in Hull of Phillip Larkin!
I do now!


I sincerely hope no towrag goes and steals this statue for scrap metal.
We have had locally an increase in theft of statues, war memorial plaques, manhole covers and grave plaques, .............I ask you!!!

A 5' 9", 300kg, stunning bronze statue standing on a 5' plinth beside the River Humber was hauled away recently and believed to have been sold for £3000 as scrap metal. It had cost £40,000....
The bronze statue was one of a pair, with the other located in the Icelandic fishing town of Vik and had been presented to Hull by the visiting Icelandic Prime Minister.
Called 'Voyage' it was made by Icelandic sculptor Steinunn Thorarinsdottir and unveiled in 2006 to mark 1000 years of trading and seafaring history between the city and its Scandinavian neighbours.
The other statue stands in the Icelandic town of Vik.
Voyage statue1                      ​Voyage plinth           

(An archive picture of Hull's Voyage statue and not my photographic handiwork! Taken from the This is Hull website.)


Saturday, 26 November 2011

Burton Agnes at Christmas with friends

I have my pal Mary staying with me, she's over from Perth, Australia and she's squeezed a trip to east yorkshire into her schedule.
So today we went allecking about abit....
to Burton Agnes Hall which was all dressed up for Christmas.
http://www.burtonagnes.com/Home.html

The really nice thing about this elizabethan gem is that unlike National Trust houses (which are wonderful... yes), this is lived in and 'alive'. Windows do not have blinds half drawn to prevent light entering and maybe fading fabrics or walls.
It breathes lives being lived, rather than is historically mausaleum like.
There's an amazing collection of modern art work there, as well as the usual array of family portraits, by masters of oils from days long gone.
There are pointilist, impressionist and all manner of other art works, collected by the current and previous occupant.

Today I noticed new, modern atmospheric watercolours of soldiers in combat, hung above a collection box for the SSAFA organisation.
Touching to see that.

The fifteen generations of the same family who have owned this stately home have much to be proud of because its snowdrop festooned woodland in spring and its walled garden throughout the year, are a joy to walk through. The house is captivating since its a piece of living history, that is still 'alive' now.
Simon and Olivia Cunliffe-Lister have dressed the house with hand made decorations of used branches and boughs from the woodland, pine cones gathered from the grounds, hydrangea heads from the huge bushes surrounding the house and all manner of traditional, simple but effective decorations which hark back to how it might well have been dressed in years long gone.
There were christmas tree shapes made from old books and small lanterns made from book pages too, hung on branches in huge pots.
There were handmade origami rabbits in the chinese room to signify the year of the rabbit and all these decs were made by the master and his wife themselves it says in the literature.
The village school had a display in one room, of angels, all made by themselves with paper plates and tissue paper.
I forgot to take my camera so these are Mary's handiwork!
Take a look...

Above is looking from the main house to the gatehouse......
First picture at top is from the gatehouse to the house.
To one side of the main house is a C13th Norman Hall which has been renovated and is quite a sight to see.
You go into a low ceilinged, heavily vaulted ground floor where cattle would have been housed no doubt and maybe food cooked there too.
In one corner are truly narrow, twirly steps to the upper floor which has a cavernously high ceiling of ancient old beams.
Its incredible to stand in there and realise just how old the stonework and beams are!

Inside the house itself is a small main hall by stately home standards but its really homely and has amazing stone panelling at one end.
There were dried hydrangea heads, which had been spray painted with a pill box red paint and then had a light sparkly spray on them...........they were ever so effective and I wouldnt have thought to do that to the flower heads at all!



Now how about that for a wreath and
there were several this size!



Slim, no doubt coppiced branches, bound together in teepee shapes, sprayed white..........effectively grouped.
I loved the 'bubble' effect of the clear glass baubles on the branch above.


And these reindeer made out of red dogwood branches.....so simple but they looked so cute! And wouldnt they be good to make with kids?



I also took Mary to see the Halifax 158 Sqn memorial statues at Lissett nearby.
I've mentioned these before, evocative rusty metal figures of a returning aircrew, set beside the country road which was once the outskirts of the old wartime RAF Lissett.
A site that now has several elegant wind turbines on it, so "propellers" are once again turning on the old airfield.
Mary and I were both Air Load Masters in the RAF on 10 Sqn so as Aircrew, it seemed an appropriate place for us to go see.
http://www.helenforwordsandpictures.com/news/blog/
We topped the day off with red wine and watched my bargain of the week - the dvd 'How to make an American Quilt' which cost me only £1.50 in a 'reduced' basket, at Homebase!
I hadnt seen it for years....Winona Rider, Maya Angelou, Ann Bancroft etc...........shmaltsy but touching never the less!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Pricing too low, mushroom dye bath, xmas cards and a workshop

I had two fairs this last weekend and I realised that Im pricing my stuff way too low.
And since Im not selling  exclusively to live and pay bills ( yet...) Im not sure I should hike prices up and risk them not selling.
If they didnt sell I might be found in months to come, drowned in amongst my xmas robins, owls and Jude fantastical beasts collages lol

My makes are my therapy after all lol
Now my stuff isnt months of hard work to produce one master piece of course............no, mine are makes that spring to mind ad hoc and if they sell, great...
If they dont sell, they get donated to raffles, charity shops or cat rescue fund raising colleagues.

But having said that, I almost sold out of the knitted head huggers I made and several ladies bought 2 or more of them.
In fact at one time I looked round and saw 4 ladies and young lasses heads bobbing about, wearing the head huggers theyd bought off me a short while before!
I wished Id taken the camera and taken photos because I have to admit they looked smashing on real heads and not just on a wooden hat makers dummy block like at home!
So whilst I might have charged way more and really covered the costs and my time involved in making them...........I still wouldnt have felt any the more chuffed. 
But logically I ought to raise prices, so in time I can prop my pension up abit when I do leave work.
And I do need to find another outlet or two to sell my makes in......since our lovely Art Box shop in Hull has closed....so thats a new year resolution.......to seek out new shops to sell in.
So Im back to knitting hats and head huggers for a couple of smaller craft fair stalls in december now.............and making more robins and owls since they too flew off the stall.

Robin above, obviously is confused about his colourings but I couldnt be bothered to leave the chair to find more brown wool fabric........so used what was to hand.
If Id gone off searching I would have missed the subtitles from the new 'The Killing 2' show on tv. And its another great, dark thriller from scandinavia so had to stay glued to the box!
Anyway confused robin above...........note his beak?
I dried some corn husks to tweek into beaks - and it seems to have worked, may do more like that but maybe abit smaller and tighter folded. 
And I have finally found a use for all the blummin narrow ribbons inside tshirts, blouses and jumpers. They always end up poking out above my v or scoop necked tops so I cut them out and now have a pile of lengths to use up...........so am using them to hang xmas decs with.
waheyyyy recycling!

I made up some christmas cards for myself to use but instead of the blinds samples, here Ive used xmas fabrics.
Heres the first batch..

So okay....I LIKE trees!



 And here are some of the dubious mushrooms that have sprouted in my raised beds.
Dye pots rather than soups.
One is a summer leftover dye bath with mushrooms added, one is fresh rainwater and the other was tap water.
Ive strained them out and have yet to immerse fabric in the dye baths. I may reheat them not sure yet.

And.............Ive signed up for Karen Ruane's
''buttons and more 2011'' 3 week online workshop.
It starts this week so Im seeking out my whiter than white, old linens and lace, to try and recreate my own 'Ruane' treatment buttons.
Karens stitching is simply delicious.......
but I may not reach that standard!

AND Ive also signed up for Sharons take a stitch a week, free year long workshop which kicks off in january.
It may make me actually tackle some of the amazing embroidery stitches I saw folks do over this last year of her tutilage.
I may even make my own stitch sampler.
Did I say it was free?
So how could I resist!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Christmas makes - better late than never

 A short post in between high temps, shivering and throwing up.......oh the joys of viruses..
Hadnt posted these yet so heres a taster of what I was doing before the virus struck...and before I go back to bed to sweat it out.






I like less on a wreath, that they look more natural, no probably more naieve maybe. Anyway I think this one is done, dont think Id put anything else on this one. I should have bought more of the small trees, they were around last year in packs of 5 or 6 for not alot, in one of the cheapy stores.
Thought at the time I could use them this year for wreaths, despite them being different glitzy colours and glitz and new, not being my normal style.
I sat and made ALOT of wreaths in the summer so have
plenty yet to faff with lol
I used bits of felted woollies for the stars on this one.

I get regular digests from Craftside which highlights blogs worth looking at, tutorials etc. One recent blog post was interesting and Im sorry to say I hadnt taken down the blog name to be able to link to her...dam it.

But the lass had used fabric sample books, especially using the paper backed pieces of the sample pages you know?
Its virtually impossible to tease the fabric off the paper backing so you tend to throw them out and concentrate on onlyusing the central area of fabric to work with.

Anyway the lass had made up cards layering the paper backed fabric pieces, which made me think....
So I've used here the strips of blinds samples you get from time to time
and made up some cards to sell off in packs hopefully, or to use as stocking fillers if not!

Funny how one idea brain storms into another!
The fabric samples Id read about, were stuck down with a glue gun and lastly ironed flat to reactivate the glue and ensure a good 'stick'....I thought that was clever to iron and reactivate the glue!

Being lazy .... and having my double sided tape and pva to hand, along side the armchair.... I used tape on the thinner blind sample pieces, reinforced with pva on areas for the heavier and textured pieces.
And blimey.... you get alot of blind strips in just one sample book!
Am going to make up some christmas cards  with them next,
for myself to use.









Sunday, 13 November 2011

Gems I couldnt resist....

Stitched in silks and still beautifully colourful..an old Penelope kit by the look of it.

The colour of this is a subtle jade like green though it looks duck egg blue in the picture! Stitched in wool, all intact if abit skew whiff now after surviving a machine wash lol

What will I do with them?
No idea... but both for £1.50.............so they came home with me....

Martin Waters Poppy Drift at Hull Trinity Church

Just look............... http://poppydrift.blogspot.com
Martin was artist in residence a while back at Spurn Head here in East Yorkshire and has made all manner of amazing art works, using the detrious that washes up on our shores.
(An appalling comment about our culture and the waste of materials we leave behind us.... but Martins clever art from rubbish, highlights the issues wonderfully.)

A Poppy Drift, using the symbols of rememberance we use today, maybe also discarded after the 11th November but hopefully not discarded in quite the same  manner we throw so much else aside.



... lovely to see the poppies made by school children laid amongst the commercially made varieties.

Martins poetry formed from rubbings taken from graves in a hull cemetary.

I laid my own poppy Id been wearing this past week, down amongst the many others and walked out into the town...........feeling that I should have had another to wear, to replace the one Id left on the floor.
I felt conspicuous that Id no longer got one pinned to my chest.



We'd need zillions more poppies wouldnt we, to justly represent all the lost lives so wasted in wars.
It was a touching sight to see, this one mans take,
 on Rememberance Day.
Hull Trinity Church some 700 years of age and an Old Town street with its wonderful buildings.....Hull has some lovely old buildings.


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