Thursday, 31 July 2008

Just craftin'...

So, as promised, here is a little craftiness just to prove that this really is a craft blog.

I'm sure most of you recognise the work of the great Julie Arkell. Her "creatures" are so fantastic.

Julie uses 'found' bits of dolls, papier mache, knitting and dressmaking skills to create her mixed media masterpieces.

At last year's Knitting and Stitching Show at the NEC I finally got to see her work 'in the flesh' and it's even better than in photographs. I could quite cheerfully have cleared off all her shelves and taken every single one home with me.
Their cute little faces and knitted ear warmers are fab. And I love the random bits of text she embroiders onto the clothes. Apparently these are phrases and sentences that she finds on the back of old postcards. My favourite (although I don't have a picture of it) is "In case of nutmeg". What is that about? What does it mean? I don't know but it just appealed to me because it's so random.
Anyhoo... I decided that I should have a little play myself and see if I could create a Julie creature. I know that Katie (whatkatiedid) attended a workshop with Julie a year or so back, so I sent her a little email for some pointers and the lovely lady replied so that was it. I was all set.

Believe it or not I've never actually done papier mache before, or not in recent memory anyway. I googled recipes for the best paper and paste to use, and in the end I cooked up my own batch of flour and water paste. It was very thick and gloopy and a bit lumpy but it seemed OK. I also fancied having a go at making some paper pulp, so I soaked a load of torn up newspaper in warm water, mushed it up with my hands, rinsed it in clean water and squeezed it out. Then I wrapped it in clingfilm and shoved it in the fridge for a day 'cause I ran out of time. lol

Next day I put the pulp in a bowl with some of the paste and mushed it all up together. Then I started to model with it (see the grey, blobby shapes). It seemed to work reall well and felt lovely and gooey. Having said this, it's not the way that Julie creates her papier mache parts, so I went back to Katie's email.

I rolled up a tube of newspaper and folded it in half to create a body and two legs. A second tube formed the arms, then I pasted layers of paper strips onto the tubes to make the shape more solid. I wond stripes round and round the head part to fill it out. It's really very therapeutic actually, tearing up little pieces of paper, spreading on paste and positioning the bits of paper. This is the little chap drying out. And sadly he is the only remaining creature left from my experiment :o(
I don't know what went wrong exactly but my flour and water paste started to ferment. Well that's the only thing I can think has happened. It smells like when my nan used to make wine - all yeasty but not very nice. I tried putting the pieces in a very cool oven to speed up the drying process but that just made the whole kitchen stink, so I've had to admit defeat and consign the whole lot to the bin.
Strippy boy has survived and I made a quick second strippy bloke to be his friend. They are dryting out nicely and don't smell at all so fingers crossed...
This week's free papers have all arrived today so I have more raw materials to work with. I think I may crack open the PVA and make some more people but using the 'safer' method.
Stay tuned for the next instalment when I hope to be adding a layer of paper from an old book and painting the face of the small blokes.


Are you sitting down?

I finally did it!!!

I finally listed something on etsy. And on Folksy too!!!

I now need a lie down in a darkened room. :o)

I will put more in both shops but I have to feed the family first.

Please pop over and take a look and see what you think. Any suggestions about wording, pricing, postage, etc would be gratefully received as I'm a total etsy/Folksy virgin. I feel sure there's some glaringly obvious error I've made.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The Weekend.

Well that was horrible! What a totally awful weekend! Terrible weather!! And in an abysmal place. Yuck....


This was Brixham Marina at around 7.00pm on Friday - the starting point for our adventure. Barely a cloud in the sky. The girlies started to arrive from Friday lunchtime onwards. Once the yacht was available we waved a fond farewell to our nearest and dearest, dumped our luggage on board, extracted some of the alcoholic beverages and made our way back to Breakwater beach for a kid- and OH-free BBQ.

Here is my 'little' sister Nicky enjoying some of the aforementioned beverages. Look what an awful evening it was turning out to be. The dull cloudy weather was a real blight on proceedings.

And here are some of my other shipmates - Jill, Steph 1, Sharon and Nicky W. The BBQ is smoking quietly in the background.

And here is 'yours truly' talking to Nicky P with a glass of fizzy pop (honest!!).

And here is the star duo of the whole weekend - the good ship Iridescence (God bless her and all who sail in her);

and the poor man who had to cope with 8 deranged women whilst trying to sail his yacht - Fred. God love him - the man is a saint. How he puts up with us I don't know. Amongst the crew are several Healthcare Professionals who (if you are acquainted with any you'll know) tend to have a rather "anatomical" sense of humour. We made him blush several times during the course of the weekend - poor bloke - but it's not the same without him. So, after our first night on board, Fred arrived at 9.30 next morning. We plied him with coffee then set off towards Babbacombe bound for Anstey's Cove. Once again the clouds had built up, a gale was blowing and there were 'white horses' leaping over the sea. Terrible conditions.

Here are Sharon, Nicky W, Jill, Fred, Steph 2, Tina and Steph 1 in the cockpit as we made our way across Torbay. And here is Anstey's Cove where we dropped anchor for lunch. But first...

... a spot of exercise to help work up an appetite. Although I'm not in this picture, I finally realised one of my ambitions this weekend and leapt off the back of a boat into the sea. Whenever I has been on a sailing holiday before something has always scuppered my chances. 'Til now. It was a mite fresh but hey - I did it!!! Nicky (sis), Jill and I did actually swim out to the beach and back but so far I haven't discovered who has those particular photos.

Here are Nicky W and Jill encouraging Nicky P to jump in.

So after all that swimming it was time for lunch. We pay a tenner each into a kitty and then buy cheeses, pate, crusty bread, salads and loads of other scrummy stuff for lunchtime picnics. Another tradition that originated 2 years ago is the Twix Challenge. Afternoon tea and a Twix have to be consumed in a rather uncouth way. Here is my sister demonstrating her prowess at this particular skill.

Well from the cove we sailed to our berth in Dart Haven Marina. After showers and clean clothes it was "Pimms o'clock". Time for a little aperitif before catching the ferry across the Dart to Dartmouth itself for dinner. Here are Nicky, Steph, Tina and Sharon all scrubbed up and ready for some grub!!We managed to find a table for the 8 of us in the Castle Hotel, (after forcing a pregnant woman and her hubbie to vacate their table - not really, they had finished eating honestly). Food and drink were ordered, and then for some reason we had a camera attack. One table of people actually thought there was someone famous with our group. One chap picked his own camera up and was about to come over. He thought all the flashing meant that the papparazzi had caught a celeb. Sorry fellow diners if we spoiled your evening. It was only a couple of minutes at the end of the evening - tee hee.

I think we probably drew more of a crowd on the return ferry journey. The fare is £1 per foot passenger or £3 for a car, regardless of how many passengers. While we were waiting for the ferry to come across we were musing about the British 'stiff upper lip'. If we had each got into the back of one of the cars waiting for the ferry would the drivers have said anything? Once on board we decided that we should be our own car so, in the empty bit of deck, we sat in formation as if we were in a 'people carrier' with a driver and passenger in the front seats, then sundry 'kids' in the two back rows. Some other ladies on the ferry asked if they could have a lift. At some point in the crossing our 'car' became a roller coaster with all 8 of us throwing our arms in the air and leaning to the left and then the right. Sadly no photos were taken of this part of the evening but we did keep the ferry crew and passengers entertained.

Next morning it was hot and sunny. Again. Has summer really arrived at last? This was the view from our deck across to Dartmouth. At 8.00am it was already really warm and there were a few boats pootling around on the river. Fred arrived at 10ish to take us back to Brixham. Here is the last glimpse of Dartmouth and the river before we headed back out into the sea. Just look at the colour of that water... It looks like the Med. There was barely a breath of wind but we did put both sails up to try and go back in a more peaceful way. At St Mary's Bay we dropped anchor for lunch. St Mary's is the closest beach to my sister's house and it's great. It's quite a trek to get to it and there are no facilities when you get there so it never gets really busy. This is where the daddies and kiddies had been the previous day so we didn't anchor too close to land just in case...
And then, all too soon we were back in Brixham. Down to earth, or rather back on dry land, with a bump. We off-loaded all the luggage, bedding and so on, emptied the fridge, cleaned the 'heads' (nice!) and swabbed the decks. Then gradually we waved everybody goodbye and hit the beach. The three daddies and five kiddies were there watching a lifeboat rescue demonstration. Our return had a mixed response but we were (secretly) glad to see them again. It was only 2 nights but you do start to get a bit twitchy by the end with no small bodies to cuddle.

We eventually packed everything into cars and lugged it back to sis's to sort out. Sharon and her family loaded up and hit the road and then there was only us and Nicky's gang left. And we decided not to go home after all.... It's a good job they're family and don't mind. :o)

Well it was soooo nice and sunny, and it was getting late to start driving back so we just decided to stay and drive back in the morning. Only it was 9.00pm on Monday when we finally left.

And now we've been back for 2 days and all three of us wish we weren't. :o( If anyone in Torbay wants to give OH a job that would be great. Thanks.

Right. Wafflitis has hit me so, now I've brought you up to date on the weekends antics, I shall go and hit le supermarche. Crafty updates will be following shortly.

ttfn xx

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Thanks and Apologies

OK. I'm back now. Had a bit of catching up to do post-craft fair. The one thing that I had not had chance to do was to finish my Russian Doll swap contribution and, as Emma was sooooo generous I felt really mean not even managing to get her's finished in time for the deadline. So everything has been dropped this week so I could get it finished.
Well I'm pleased to announce I finally took the parcel to the Post Office this afternoon, so it's now winging it's way down south to JB*JB with a big hug and an even bigger SORRY. :o)

I've had nice post this week. First off Jennyflower (who won my giveaway not so long ago) has made me a 'thank you' prezzie with some of the threads she won.

How gorgeous is this? And it's rose-scented too. What with all the lavender kicking round at the moment, my workroom smells scrummy.
Thanks Jenny. You really shouln't have but it's lovely.

My second parcel of fabness was from Katy. I won her giveaway last week. Yipsters!!

Inside was this mystery parcel, a reel of pink polka-dot grosgrain ribbon (as I've said before you can never have too much grosgrain ribbon) and a bag of diet sabotage, sorry chocolate fudge. Well willpower flew out of the window and I had a chunk before breakfast. I love fudge with a passion and choccie fudge is my all-time fave. How did she know??
The pink paper-wrapped parcel contained my fab little quilty picture - the actual main prize. How cute is she? I don't know if it's the angle I've taken the photo at but she has a real defiant little look on her face I reckon. She's fab! Thanks soooo much Katy. You're a pal.

Well, because of the Russian doll thing I haven't got etsy sorted yet. Surprise surprise! I did get as far as setting up the shop security stuff and doing a temporary banner. Ta dah!!
The actual stocking of the shop will have to wait until after the weekend now as, hopefully by lunchtime tomorrow we'll be on our way down to sunny Devon. Girlie weekend here I come....

Sorry this is quite a short post but I will be back to normal next week. Really. No really. I will.

ttfn xx

Sunday, 20 July 2008

I remember yoooo-ooou....

Hello. It's me. I'm back.
Sorry for the distinct lack of posts this last week. Yesterday was... da da daaaaa!... the Truly Handmade Craft Fair. My First Ever Craft Fair. In the run up to this hallowed event I have been frantically busy trying to get stuff ready. Here is my humble display.

The table cloths were a cerise pink muslin curtain and a single bed valance that I just happened to have kicking around and were pretty much the perfect size. Next time (?) I just want to applique "ethel and edna" to the valance - if and when there is a next time.

The all-important question - How did I do? Weeeeeell... I didn't make a fortune put it that way, but I did better than the stalls on either side of me, although I think having several friends visit and spend with me made a big difference. The girl selling kiln-formed glass to my left has been going to fairs for 8 years and I think she covered her table cost. The couple on my other side were 'proper' jewellers/silversmiths and I don't know if they sold anything.

There seemed to be quite a few customers coming through but I have nothing to compare with as this was my first fair. I don't think the local papers had given the fair any coverage in the run-up which didn't help matters. I hope for her Christmas fair Caroline manages to get more editorial in the local press.

Here are a few close-ups.
There are the Silly Girls all bundled together in their basket. Two of their number went to new homes. Yippee!! And there are some of my rosey brooches, as featured on incy wincy's website (click the button up on the left for more details :o).

And here are some last minute additions to the proceedings. As I am/we are "ethel and edna's tearoom" I thought that tea and cake should be available. May I present the Rosie Lee teabag softies. They have little faces embroidered on them and the tags say different things such as 'tea', 'cuppa' 'Rosie Lee' and so on. Confess they were meant to be rose-scented too but I couldn't manage to get hold of any rose oil in time :o(. The other items are cup cake pincushions/softies. All made from recycled clothing, felt, pin 'hundreds and thousands' and a pompom cherry on top.
There are the ceramic kiddie shoes that I made last year and my tea towel totes, as well as some cards that I made ages ago and forgot all about until Friday night.
Now I really have no excuse not to get listing on etsy. I have all this stuff made so as soon as I can get my sticky mitts on hubbie's credit card to set up the security details I'll get to it.

But the highlight of the day was... I finally got to meet incywincy Sam in the flesh. Sorry Hun, I know it's not the most flattering photo in the world but I'm sure you'll get your own back when you post your piccie ;o). And I have to say that Em is even more beautiful than in her photos. She is such a little cutie. It was great to meet you and all the family. Hope you did OK on the sales front. I'm sure you did.

So... what now? Well the school hols have started as of Friday so I have a kiddie to amuse and entertain for 6 weeks. I have the challenge of getting some stuff listed on etsy. I have to finish my Russian Doll Swap (huge apologies to Emma once again). And I am eagerly anticipating next weekend - THE Girlie Weekend. Yay!!! Destination: Brixham. Eight girls, one yacht and one (lucky, lucky) skipper. All hubbies and kids left onshore and we sail off into the sunset... Well we stay on board all weekend from Friday night 'til Sunday evening with good food and plenty drink. Let's just pray for hot, sunny weather then we can have a nice little sail around to Dartmouth. Picnic on board. Jump in for a swim. Just chillin'. Bliss... Sorry have I made you all jealous enough now? hehehe I'm counting off the days let me tell you.

OK. I'm waffling now. Will post again much more quickly than of late.

ttfn xxx

Monday, 14 July 2008

This is...

Holywell bay
Originally uploaded by kitty.eden
...what gives me goosebumps.
Holywell Bay.
Those two rocks.
That blue sea.
The crashing surf.
I can almost taste the spray.
Seeing somewhere that I know and love so well in amongst someone else's Flickr pix is really weird. I know that Sara (whose picture it is that I've pinched) is a Cornwall addict so I shouldn't really be surprised, but Holywell Bay is one of those places that I never expect anyone else to know about. When we were kids nobody had ever heard of it. I suppose pre-M5 Cornwall was a lot more inaccessible so not as many people went.
I've been going there since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. We had a few years break - trying other parts of Cornwall and foreign holidays, but when kiddie arrived we went back and have done pretty frequently since. Not going to Cornwall feels like I've not been on holiday - even if we've actually been somewhere hot and exotic.
And now I shall return.
Last year was a "no-Cornwall" year so I'm itching for August to arrive. Seeing Sara's (kitty.eden) photo truly did give me goosepimples so I just had to 'borrow' her photo for my contribution to this week's 'This is...'.
Thanks Sara xx.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

My cup runneth over...

Flippin' Heck!!! Is it Karma? I did a giveaway and spread a bit of happinness and it's coming back my way 10 fold. Jennyflower was having a pants day when I emailed and told her she'd won, and I'm sure she won't mind me telling you that it really cheered her up.
I have just had so much good stuff happen in the last couple of days I don't know where to begin.

Blog Award
Thanks so much to Blissful Artist and TipTop who have both given me this fab award. It's a "link-to-the-person-who-awards-it-and-then-nominate-seven-other-blogs-to-pass-the-award-on-to" kind of award. I'm going to cop out of the nominations process as I really should be upstairs slaving over a hot sewing machine and NOT sitting at the computer. I'll ponder who to pass it to once I get back to stitching.

I popped into Lichfield yesterday afternoon and found these two little gems in The Works (which was supposedly closing down). The button jewellery book has got some really good ideas in it and I do have an ever-increasing button stash so I may make some of the things out of it for the craft fair. Sponge brushes are always useful and there are so many different sizes in this packet. All for £1.99.

I also visited the St Giles Hospice shop on my way back home and found a load of fab books. Kiddie got 2 on the Ancient Greeks which she's 'doing' at school at the moment. Next week she has to go in Greek clothes so these books will come in handy when I'm trying to make a toga :o) She also got 4 Tiara Club books (her faves) and a Collins Guide to the Seashore. Great for when we go on hols and to Auntie Nick Nack's. I got a paperback and 2 Ladybird books for me. And also a Sarah Midda book - Growing Up and Other Vices. I have it already but couldn't leave it on the shelf. Her illustrations are so sweet and funny. They look like kids' books but are for grown-ups really.

I think I need to get some of these enlarged and framed. You mean you are supposed to grow out of being untidy? Noone told me. :o)

At about 5ish yesterday there was a knock at the front door (well a ring of the bell actually). It was BDB plus her kiddie with a prezzie for me. Whoop whoop! Since BDB has gone back to working full time (mad fool!) I have been picking her kiddie up from scholl one or two nights a week. This prezzie was to say thanks for doing that.

There's just a little hint on the box...
Ooh more pretty packaging...
Yay!!! I love Pilgrim jewellery and this turquoise ring was chosen to go with much of my belly dancing stuff. Isn't it scrummy? Thanks guys. It's lovely.
Belly Dancing
So as you know it was our next exam on Saturday. At Tuesday's lesson Maria decided she would tell us what mark we'd got if we wanted to know.
Woohoo!! I'm so chuffed. Out of 44 candidates(I think Maria said) there were only 4 distinctions given. BDB was one of the other 3. Clever girl. We will get our certificates and medals in class next week.
Slimming World
Yay!!! I went for my weekly weigh-in last night, thinking I may have lost 1lb. I'd actually lost 3, making 7 in total since I joined! Not only that but the week before last I was Slimmer of the Week. I just wish you could preserve that 'high' and bring it out when you are having a bad week. It would make dieting so much easier.
Maybe it was due in part to having certain parts of myself removed...
OK. OK. So many of you have asked. Here are the pics of...
The Haircut

Yup! That's the back. And the front...
Ta dah!! This is actually not the cut from college last Thursday. It just wasn't short enough. There was no getting away from it. So yesterday I made an appointment and went for another chop. Not quite Amelie but it's sooooo much better. :o)
And finally...
This is what I have been making all week. Well it is supposed to be a craft blog, after all.
I though I would be able to knock these out in a day. Pah!
(To be imagined in a ropey Geordie accent) "It's Day Four in the 'ethel and edna house' and the eleven tote bags are nearing completion. Housemate Lindsey will begin The Embellishing Challenge in ten minutes."
Buttons and beads are about to unleashed then they will finally be finished. Phew! Then I just have the task of pricing them. I HATE pricing things. Anyone got any suggestions for what to charge for a lined tote bag? Answers on a postcard, moocard, email or manky envelope pleeeease.
AAAAARRRRGGGHHH!! Did I really just do that?! Did I really make reference to BB? NOOOOOOOOO! I must retreat to my room to beat myself with a copy of the Slimming World magazine. :o)

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Giveaway Results and This is...

Sorry I'm rather late with this but I'm frantically trying to get stuff ready for the Truly Handmade Craft Fair on the 19th. I'm starting to panic so every spare minute is spent in my now (relatively) tidy workroom, making stuff. OH didn't get to play golf or dive at the weekend so instead I got him on the DIY. Sad for him :o( He fitted a couple of shelves into my cupboard which are fab, and put up kiddie's new curtain track.
I digress - the lucky winner of my parcel of goodies is Jennyflower. Well done chuck. If you can email me your addy I'll get it off to you. Thanks to everyone else who left comments. Some of the ideas for 80s characters were... interesting. Jennyflower said she would come as Mr T from the A-Team? Hmm... you wouldn't have thought it to look at her ;o)
OK so I'm another one of those people who has signed up for 'This is...' on Three Buttons blog. So far I've been rubbish and not posted a single picture so I felt I had to this time. The choice was really hard as I have so much stuff hoarded away. I narrowed it down to 3 things. The first is 'orange dog'. Bless him, he's never had a name. He is just to show where the creative genes come from. My mum made him Heaven knows when, but his face looks just how she draws faces if you know what I mean. He's made from lining material (I think) and has lacey curtains for ears. His eyes and tongue were felt, I say were - his tongue is long gone. He is filthy to be honest but I daren't try to wash him 'cause he might fall to pieces. Nice darning on the nose (not!).
The second exhibit is 'Tina'. Spot the orange theme. I don't know where this has come from as I don't particularly like the colour. Anyhoo - Tina is my first teddy that I had either when I was born or for my frst Christmas. He (yes that's right - it's a boy called Tina) was the teddy that went to bed with me every night. Being so big it was like having a person with me at night when I had bad dreams and stuff. Aaahh!
Originally his arms and legs were stuffed rigid but they are all floppy now, as is his nose. He has survived a few spins in the washing machine but still has that ingrained 39 years worth of cuddling look to him.
My final treasure is my baby book. (See mum - you used to hoard stuff too!!!) This has all the usual gems in it that mum collected over the years, then she passed it to me a few years ago and I have tried to add odds and ends to it as well. Many of my school reports are in there - primary and secondary school, leaver's service sheets, certificates for a baby show, swimming, gymnastics and disco dancing, even my school bus pass. It's really funny reading back through things.
This was the weirdest little thing of all, as I've just had my hair cut - my first lock of hair. It's so soft and makes me feel really strange. I have a lock of kiddie's too in her baby book. I wonder if she'll keep her book as long as I have.
I know my hoarding habit can be a pain sometimes. It drives OH mad, but when you find things like this book and take the time to read through it all, it makes me glad I do keep hold of my treasures.
I think really though, my most precious childhood possession is something that I can't post a picture of and that is my memory. Photos are great reminders of all the good times but actually remembering random little snippets can evoke the strongest feelings of all. (Sorry - I'm in danger of getting a bit heavy). I actually started a little notebook where I jotted down any sudden flashbacks so that I could keep them for when my memory isn't so good. This actually became the basis for my 2nd year HND work (although it got a bit lost along the way). The apple-throwing incident, playing stepping stones with books, the pressed butterfly in the shed, ooh the shed...
Ah - enough. This is NOT getting my bags finished. I will try to post again as I'm sure there's lots that I need to tell.
ttfn xx