Sunday, 31 October 2010

Autumn Sunrise

I was up early enough on Friday to catch the beautiful colours across the sky as the sun rose. My initial thought was to capture it for a future felt interpretation, but I love the mixture of colours anyway. Living in a city, I often feel that I don't get the opportunity to take photos of sunrise and sunset and I envy people who can look out of their windows and see the amazing colour changes. I had to take this out of the loft window, and even then, I needed to do a bit of cropping to remove house roofs. It was worth it though.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

My PeaceFelt gift to America

Above is the sunset felt I made as my PeaceFelt gift to send to America. I sent it at the end of September but have only just heard that it arrived safely (the email got lost in the ether!). The recipient said she loved it and was going to get it framed. I sent it without fixings so that she had the flexibility to use it or display it as she wished. I incorporated lots of gorgeous rich colours of merino wool and then highlighted some of the areas using silk threads. I am so pleased that she likes it. PeaceFelt was a great thing to be involved with and now I have two contacts in America who share my interest in and love of felt making.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Another Commission

I was chatting to a colleague at work last week about felt making and showed her a couple of examples of the work I do. She particularly liked the piece above, and has commissioned me to make her one. We both agreed that felt is a wonderful medium to work in as you can do so much with it, and even though I am going to copy the piece, it will be different and therefore, original. It is always nice to find someone who shares an interest.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Latest Felt piece - Apple Blossom

Here is my latest felt piece, inspired by a photo I took at Barnsdale Gardens last Spring. It is a view through the apple blossom and did remind me of an Impressionist painting or a Van Gogh, which I think I said at the time. However, I finally got round to creating a piece of felt using it as inspiration. It took quite a while to do the main blending for the background, as I wanted to get the right shade of blue. I then took my time in creating the blossom and leaves, including a small amount of silk fibre on some of the blossom. This photo shows it before felting, in all its fluffy glory.
Here is the 'after felting' photo and I am absolutely delighted with the finished product. It reminds me of a Japanese painting and it has turned out exactly as I hoped it would. This is not always the case with felt making, as the felting process often changes the image slightly. This was an experiment (as first attempts often are) and I shall keep it as the one to work from (if anyone wants to commission one in the future, that is), but also because I am so pleased with it!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Butterfly on the ivy

Once the sun had come out this morning, following a misty autumnal start to the day, I notices lots of insects visiting the ivy flowers on the wall. I was really pleased to catch this butterfly ( I think it is a Red Admiral) enjoying the nectar and the sunshine. The sky really was this blue too.

It really was one of those moments that makes you glad to be alive!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Felt workshop

Yesterday, I taught my first felt workshop at the school where I used to work, to two classes of four and five year old children. I was part of their 'Traditional Craft Day' and while I was felting with one class, a local baker was making bread with the other.

As this was my first ever workshop experience, I wasn't sure whether I had got it right. I intended that each child should make two squares of felt, one to be applied to a larger piece and one as an individual piece.
The children enjoyed creating their squares and decorating them, and they all had a turn at rolling the felt during the fulling process. I was really thrilled with the end results. Felt making is a very forgiving processes and even a beginner can produce some fantastic results.

I am suffering a little today through - partly with aching shoulders and upper arms from all the rolling and partly with an aching back from bending over the very low tables. Still, I think the end results justify a bit of aching today! I like the individuality of each design and the vibrant colours are very eye catching.
(However, I'm not sure I shall be doing any more workshops as it took quite a while to get organised for this one, and I now have to replenish my wool supplies! It was a good experience though.)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Gardening again

I was buying compost at the weekend and couldn't resist these rather fabulous tulips. I have planted them in two tubs, with some violas on top and am looking forward to seeing them in the Spring.

While in the garden, I took some photos of the lovely Miscanthus Sinensis Kleine Fontane which has now got white fluffy seedheads. They looked particularly silvery when the sun caught them, but by the time I had my camera, the sun had disappeared.
Aster Ericoides has been flowering for a while now and is smothered in flowers. I put a photo of it on my Blog a week or two ago and said I was relieved it was flowering before the cold weather started. Since then , it has been looking beautiful and is a joy to look at.

What a good value plant!

Monday, 11 October 2010


Over the weekend, I re-discovered my collection of Rossini tapes. I know that audio tapes are now a bit archaic, what with MP3 players and phone downloads etc. but I dug out my trusty Walkman and have really enjoyed becoming re-acquainted with Rossini. He writes beautiful melodies and amazing arias that require tremendous technical ability as well as flair and musicality from the singer.
I have a few tapes and CDs of Cecilia Bartoli who is well known for her Rossini interpretations and I love listening to her beautiful voice. (In the past, I have found watching her perform a little off-putting as during the aria, she pulled some rather interesting faces that distracted me from the music, but there is no doubting her talent.) So, just listening to her is much better for me.
My favourite Rossini opera is definitely 'La Cenerentola' (Cinderella). I saw it when I was eighteen and it made a huge impact on me. It helped that it had a familiar story and characters, although there is a Fairy Godfather, the ugly sisters have a bad father rather than mother, and the glass slipper is replaced by a pair of bracelets (apparently because the opera-goers and officials of the time would have been distressed by the sight of an unshod female foot!) It also has some gorgeous arias and a wonderful, complicated piece for seven singers which calls for precision as it has tongue-twisting words throughout. Cenerentola's final aria 'Non piu mesta' is a real showstopper, which starts simply and then repeats with more variations, becoming a total coloratura tour de force. I love it! This is a link to a film version of Cenerentola with Frederica von Stade in the main role. I love this film too!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

My PeaceFelt Gift 2010

Here are photos of the PeaceFelt gift I received from America - the maker describes it as a 'Peace Vessel'. She explained that it was made using a wool jumper which was felted in the washing machine and then moulded into the bowl shape. She has added all kinds of textures to the felt, such as thread, yarn, gold thread and gold material.

She has then embellished the surface even more by sewing on buttons, beads and pieces of semi-precious stones. I love the colours she has used and all the different textures really appeal to me.
A close up of the surface texture reveals the gold material and some of the beads and yarns she has added.
I shall put a photo of my gift onto my blog once I know it has safely arrived. I think PeaceFelt is a great idea and I shall be getting involved again next year. Who knows where in the world I shall be sending a piece of felt to?

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Display stands

The photo above shows the display stand I bought from eBay, which I think works well for the little hearts. We did try the big hearts on it too, but they rather dwarfed it, so we decided against adding them. At that point, I was wondering what I could use for them.
I was wandering about in town last week and happened to visit several charity shops ( as I like doing when I have the time). The candle stands caught my eye and I thought they were big enough to display the large hearts. They even echoed the scroll work on the little stand and as they were an absolute bargain (£1.50 for the pair), I snapped them up. I'm really pleased with the result and can use the candle stand part to put a price tag, or some other information. When I was teaching, one of my colleagues used to say that people who worked with children were excellent at finding alternative uses for things - I'm glad to say that I haven't lost that skill!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Terracotta pot (part 2)

Last Saturday, I finally managed to plant my bulbs and plant some bare root oriental poppies (ordered back in July and which arrived yesterday) in the garden. I decided to plant only the muscari latifolium bulbs in this lovely terracotta pot, as the depth of soil wouldn't have been enough for the narcissus. Still, it should look lovely in the Spring with a mass of blue flowers spilling out of it. I did put three viola plants in the top which look very pretty, but which had been attacked by slugs and snails who are enjoying all the wet weather we've been having lately. There is a real change in the garden now - autumn is definitely here.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

1685 (sixteen85)

From the exciting and energetic evening with The Magnets to the calm and serenity of Renaissance and Baroque music with 1685 at St Katherine's. The music included Monteverdi, Byrd, Bach, Handel, Telemann and Purcell to name but a few, and quite a few other composers I hadn't heard of. The musical instruments were modern reproductions of original instruments and gave a very different sound from the metal and plastic ones we are more familiar with today. Recorders, flutes, an electronic piano which doubled as a harpsichord and church organ and a viol (a bit like a modern cello but smaller and lighter apparently) were all used with flair and skill. I particularly enjoyed a piece by Marco Uccellini (1610 - 1680) called 'Aria sopra la Bergamasca', which was light, bright and beautiful, and a piece by Purcell (1659-1695) called 'Evening Hymn - now that the sun hath veil'd' which was tranquil and serene but with touches of melancholy. Another thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The Magnets

I had a fantastic night last night at The Drill Hall in Lincoln, seeing the a cappella group, 'The Magnets' .I had seen them years ago on a TV programme, but saw them again recently when they were featured during the coverage of the Edinburgh Fringe on TV in August. As a coincidence, I then saw an advert for their tour on the way to work and decided to book up. It was a terrific evening's entertainment! There was a wide variety of music from Lady GaGa to The Jacksons and all created using just the human voice. The beat-boxer was amazing and at one point was creating two rhythms and a vocal line at the same time, during a solo spot! The harmonies were complex, interesting and the whole show was slick and impressive. There were also opportunities for audience participation with singing and dance moves and the whole night was great fun. Link to youtube - - the showreel gives a good idea of what they do.