Sunday, 27 January 2013

More on Benedictus

You may remember that I bought some fabric based on the designs of Edouard Benedictus, which had been created from the V  & A collection.  I decided to try to find out a bit more about him and bought the book above to help.  I had also searched on the internet, but there wasn't a huge lot available. According to various websites,  he lived from 1878/9 - 1930 and was an artist, designer and chemist (who discovered and created laminated glass in 1903).  He also created designs for fabric, textiles, upholstery and wallpaper.
The Benedictus pattern from the book on the left, with the material (Floral Stripe - a new one which I discovered I hadn't ordered, so immediately remedied that!) on the right.
 He created wonderfully blowsy floral designs.
 He could also create geometric patterns inspired by the colours he saw.
Here are a few complicated geometric patterns he designed.  To me, they predict Bridget Riley's Op Art, but 30 years before she was designing.  These designs above date from 1924, 1926 and 1930.  According to the editor, Charles Rahn Fry, of the book:
 Edouard Benedictus was one of the outstanding artist-designers of the early twentieth century.  Productive from 1900 - 1930, Benedictus witnessed and was magnificently influenced by, the revolutionary developments in European art and design - Art Nouveau, Cubism and Constructivism among them.
Why has it taken me this long to discover him?

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Winter Blues bracelet

My latest bracelet was for a friend whose birthday was way back last September. I did give her a present at the time, but then said (as I find myself doing quite often) "I'll make you a bracelet with your birthstone in it!".  I tried to make a bracelet incorporating lots of blues and greens and using a silver toggle clasp but wasn't happy with it and having taken it to pieces twice, I decided to give up and make a macramé one instead.  It was so much easier and I was happy with it straightaway!  It has Lapis Lazuli (one of September's birthstones) and Sodalite (the blue and white stone) and two small quartzite or agate (I'm not sure which) on the knot ends.  I think my friend liked it, even though she had to wait several months to receive it!
I have been busy working on some blue polymer clay beads and some royal blue glitter beads which I am going to use in several macramé bracelets, alongside gemstones too.  I am also busy making all sorts of exciting things for one of the three blog swaps I have signed up for.  I will post photos eventually, when the recipients have received their parcels. 

Sunday, 20 January 2013

The more it snows, tiddly pom... and more treats

Well, like pretty much everyone else in the UK, we have been snowed upon!  As I write, we are anxiously awaiting the next lot, due to hit us at around 7.00 pm - that will make getting to work on a Monday morning just that little bit harder than usual! I ventured out into the garden yesterday morning, and liked seeing the little hats of snow on the ivy.
 The verbena bonariensis, self-seeded in a pot (so not sure whether it will be back this year), looking a bit like a candelabra.
 A close up of one of the verbena flower heads.
 Even the pots had little hats.  For some reason, this image reminded me of a Beatrix Potter illustration, but having gone through my books and a book on her art, I can't find it.  Perhaps it's one of those things that has created itself in my head.

 So, to my treat (there are more - I seem to have been rather indulgent, buying lots of treats for myself at the moment).  I can't remember where I saw the picture, but I saw a picture on a blog that I follow and was hooked.  I went via a link to a blog and from there, to an etsy shop where the most beautiful, colourful prints were for sale.  Yes, you guessed it, I treated myself to one. It is called 'Backyard with Stars' and is by Australian artist, Loretta Grayson.  It came beautifully and safely packaged, in a sturdy card envelope, then wrapped in a map, with tags, a postcard and an origami bird.  Her blog is called A Shoebox of Photographs and there are links to her shop and to a really interesting tutorial on how she creates her stunning images as well as who provides her inspiration.  So would you like to see the image?

It comes unframed, but I just love it! (it wasn't lying flat when I took the photo as the background paper I had laid it on decided to curl,very unhelpfully, so the print looks a little curled, but is flat in real life).  The stars have been hand painted in on the print, in silver and gold.  I love her use of colours and the background looks just like felt (but is, in fact, oil pastel).  The next plan is to get it framed - that will be one of my next treats!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Winter is here...and a lovely surprise

 Well, we knew it would have to happen, didn't we?  After the lovely mild weather and looking at the crocuses and snowdrops and buds last weekend, winter has arrived.  I took these photos this morning and it has been snowing most of the day - not much yet, (especially when compared to 'a couple of feet' in Canada), but enough to cause us a nuisance here in the UK.  Above is my Magnolia 'Susan', actually managing to remain looking quite glamorous.
 Jasmine nudiflorum also still flowering away, even with a cold white overcoat.
 Seed heads left from last year also rather beautiful with a coating of snow.
Now for the lovely surprise of the title.  Last weekend we received a card in the post.  Inside were two season tickets from the owners of The Garden House at Saxby (my favourite garden in this area) to say thank you for the mentions of my previous visits on this blog. There are links to my blog posts from some of my previous visits in August 2012 here and August 2011 here. To say I was thrilled and delighted by the gift was a slight understatement!  I am hoping to visit the garden when the snowdrops are in flower and also to see the wildflower meadow which I have managed to miss each year since we started visiting.  I can only pass on huge thanks to Chris and Jonathan for their generosity.  I shall, of course, write about the visits I make there this year too.  The Helenium photo above was taken at The Garden House in August 2012 and is a wonderful reminder of the summer (particularly with all the snow outside today).

Friday, 11 January 2013


I have been guilty of buying treats for myself over the last week or so.  Here is one of the latest - some material (V&A Benedictus) that I have been coveting since last Autumn when I first saw it.  It is based on designs made by Benedictus in the 1930s (I need to do a bit of research on him, I think).
 The patterns range from loud, floral and overblown, to geometric and totally Art Deco, but I love them!  I think there was another pattern when I originally saw the material, with a navy blue background and pale blue blossom shapes, but that didn't seem to be there when I ordered.
This is my favourite out of the ones I bought and just makes my heart sing (to use a cliche, but a very apt one).  We all need things like that, don't we?  So, what (you may be asking) am I planning to use this for?  Well, I want to see it, so am planning more bunting - but probably with a plain back - and perhaps I may attempt a panel cushion or even a patchwork one.  I haven't bought very much of each one, as I was attempting to be relatively economical, so no huge projects can be attempted.
Incidentally, just a mention for the company I bought the material from, called Eclectic Maker.  I ordered on Monday afternoon and received an email saying it had been shipped later that afternoon. It arrived on Tuesday - I was so impressed by the service.  They have a wonderful range of fabrics to look at and drool over too.  I shall be keeping my eyes open for the navy blue material as well, to add to the collection.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

New Year optimism

I was having a wander round the garden today, making the most of the winter sunshine and blue sky and I felt quite optimistic on seeing all the plant growth.  I know we are not through winter yet and I am sure that we shall be getting snow, but I enjoyed the moment.  Above are some crocuses, planted in a pot with alliums and narcissus.
There really was a blue sky today.
 The first signs of some snowdrops.
 The curled buds of sedum leaves, waiting for the warmer weather.
 Magnolia 'Susan' with the start of fluffy buds against the blue sky.
 Winter flowering jasmine, giving a cheerful and much appreciated splash of yellow.
 The yellow echoed in an early primrose.
Even Scruffy made the most of the mild day and observed me while I looked at my plants, also keeping an ear out for birds or marauding cats.  Days like this, after all the grey, dull, wet weather are such a tonic!
(My optimism nearly didn't last as today's post almost didn't happen due to Blogger not letting me upload any photos for some reason.  I then saw that Liz from Shortbread and Ginger had exactly the same problem, had posted about it and had been advised to change to Google Chrome as it seemed to be a problem with Internet Explorer.  I used Google Chrome for this post and the photos have uploaded as usual, so thank you to Liz!)

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

New Year Thoughts for 2013

Fireworks explode over the London Eye during the New Year celebrations.
 Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Welcome 2013 and a rather belated Happy New Year to you.  As I have done for the last couple of years, I'll review last year's thoughts (not resolutions, because I can't keep them at all).
To try and be a bit tidier - Hmm, yet again, total failure on that one.  I am very organised in some ways and a total disaster in others.  Something for me to continue with this year.
To sort out my website - failure on that one too.  (Oh dear, I'm not doing very well, so far).  Another target for the coming year.
To continue felt making - partial success because I have continued with my felt making, although jewellery making has moved into first place for hobbies at the moment.
To continue reading interesting books - SUCCESS!  I kept a record of the books I read last year and the total was 57.  I didn't include many re-reads on the list, so these were new to me (including Frankenstein, To Kill a Mockingbird, Dracula, the Call the Midwife series, several Anne Tyler novels and several Elizabeth von Arnim novels, so quite an eclectic mix there.) I am quite pleased with the total and am definitely going to continue keeping a record in the coming year.  
To exercise more - failure again, as I really don't enjoy exercising and would much rather read a book, watch a film, do some gardening, make some jewellery or 101 other things rather than do an hour of yoga/pilates/yogalates. Perhaps I should just try to walk more and include exercise more naturally into my week, rather than have designated times.  (Still not sure that will work either.)  I have lost a little weight through altering my diet and having 2 low calorie days per week, so that is encouraging.
To complete at least some of my on-going craft activities - (all crafters know what I mean here) and I have completed some things, such as felt pictures and decorations, jewellery projects and the Christmas Bunting.  I shall definitely keep going with that as well. 
Well, not bad - some successes, some failures, which is to be expected.  Here's to 2013 and I hope it will be happy and successful for us all!
(Photo above from London24)