Sunday, 27 November 2016

Gainsborough Old Hall

 There was a Christmas Craft Fair being held at Gainsborough Old Hall this weekend, so we decided to have a look. It is only the second time I have visited this wonderful building, so I was looking forward to seeing it again. My previous posts about my visit can be found here, here and here.
The craft fair admission was much less than the normal house admission, but of course, you didn't get an audio tour and some of the building was closed.  We are going back during the open season next year to have a proper look.  It was very busy, which was good for the stall holders, but it was quite cold in some of the rooms.  After we had looked round, we went for a walk around the building.
 We saw some beautifully worked stone, edging the grass.  I wonder where these pieces came from?
 It is a very photogenic place.
The mini avenue of trees gave a lovely vista.
Through the years, the owners added bits to the original building and I liked the higgledy-piggledy mix here.
 Stone, wood, brick - a variety of different building materials had been used over the years.
 Another lovely view through the trees.
 I seem to remember being surprised that the Hall is in the middle of the town, surrounded by Victorian terraces.  I imagined that a Hall like this would be in its own extensive grounds, which perhaps it once was.
 A row of five chimneys which advertised how wealthy the owners were.  I expect the stall holders would have liked all the fires to be lit today!
I didn't take photos inside, except these two because I was drawn to the bright jewel colours in these windows.
They may become the inspiration for some felt...or polymer clay work...

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Austentacious - a great night of comedy

We had a wonderful evening last night when we went to see Austentacious at a local theatre.  The cast ask the audience to write down a suitably Jane Austen-like title and then they pick one at random and improvise the story. Each performance is different, although based in Regency time.  
We took along a few options: 'Bags and Baggages', 'Baubles, Bonnets and Bennets' and, my favourite, 'Fans and Fantasies'.  'Fans and Fantasies' was the first one picked from the basket and the speaker described it as Jane Austen's autobiographical account of a 'superfan', who became a stalker - not quite what we had in mind when we thought of it!  The second one was 'The White Faced Lady' which was described as Jane Austen's masterpiece about Elizabeth I.  The third was the one they would perform.  It was 'Mansfield Town Women's Football Club'.  I was slightly worried as it was a football based story (I am not a sport lover), but the cast did a wonderful job and at times I was crying with laughter!
The story revolved around a football club and the attempt by a woman (gasp), Miss Mary Pele, to join the said club.  There was also Eloise, Mary's sister, who was the perfect woman and adored by her father, who found a suitable husband in one of the footballers, Mr Charles Groves.  Mr Groves, it turned out, was carrying emotional baggage (which explained a lot) when he eventually revealed that his parents were killed in a freak accident concerning a huge gust of wind and a bag.  The football club was run by Miss Maria Wemmick and Dr Tamworth - Miss Wemmick becoming another player on the Women's football team.  There was also a villain, in the shape of Lord Abramovich, a wealthy Russian, although he was also possibly Scandinavian and then morphed into German, who wanted to support the male team and would stop at nothing to get what he wanted.  There was a happy ending - Lord Abramovich met the same end as Mr Groves' parents , Eloise found true love with Benedict, (Mr Groves' friend and also a footballer), Mary found love with Mr Groves and Dr Tamworth adopted Miss Wemmick as his daughter.
The cast did a fantastic job and judging from the gales of laughter from the audience, we all thoroughly enjoyed the performance.  The UK tour has almost finished now - just Bromsgrove, Lancaster and Kendal to go.  I would recommend this talented group's performance - funny, clever and witty.  If they tour next year, I will definitely go again.  Here's a link to their showreel which gives a taster of what they do.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

If at first you don't succeed...

You may remember that I was rather excited about a new to me technique to make faux ceramic using polymer clay and liquid translucent polymer clay.  The photo above is from the faux ceramic pendant tutorial and is what inspired me.  The technique looked reasonably simple and I had the polymer clay, liquid translucent polymer clay and alcohol inks, so off I went.
Hmm, not quite what I wanted, so it was a little disappointing, but I analysed why it had not worked as well as I wanted it to.  Here are my conclusions:
  1. The liquid polymer clay (Sculpey) was too thick to pool properly
  2. I had applied the coloured translucent clay on all the raised areas of the images, not into the recesses, which is what I should have done (if I had looked at the tutorial more carefully in the first place, I would have realised that!)
  3. I had applied the liquid clay using my finger so the application was not very precise
  4. There was a matt finish, rather than a glossy one, although this could have been remedied by applying a glossy glaze
So, I decided to buy some Kato translucent liquid clay as I had seen this used on a different tutorial where it could be heated by a heat gun and gave a look of resin, so I reasoned that it would give more shine.  I also bought some Sculpey clay thinner (just in case I wanted to try again with the Sculpey liquid).  I tried again, using the Kato liquid clay.
Here is the Kato liquid clay with one drop of alcohol ink just sitting on it - the colours looked lovely already, so I felt more positive.
I stamped the patterns into the clay and then cured it. Once slightly cool, I took my time and applied the ink/clay mix into the recesses of the patterns, using a cocktail stick so that I had more control. Once I was happy with them, I cured them again and was pleased with the result - the liquid clay was glossy and did look a bit like a ceramic glaze.  This is a technique I shall return to as I would like to work on an idea using polymer clay and gemstones.
I have also been stamping on polymer clay using my Blockwallah stamps and the results have been great.  I used the StazOn ink, which smells of marzipan when you use it, and which can be used on pretty much any surface.  It worked well on polymer and gave a nice clear impression.  More stamping to come, I think, and I have been looking at some colouring pens which work well on polymer clay, so I think there will be more experimenting to come...

Sunday, 6 November 2016

This week, I har bin mostly...( with apologies to Jesse's Diets* from The Fast Show)

...listening to an eclectic mix of music - a bit of Dinah Washington What a difference a day makes, Michael Buble Cry me a river  and Feeling Good  Coldplay Viva La Vida, The Communards You are my world and Harry Belafonte Jump in the Line...

...starting the unexciting but vital job of insulating pots in the garden, particularly important this year as they don't have the added insulation from the wall...

...playing with my die cutting machine and designing simple cards...

...making a bracelet for a birthday present...

...enjoying the autumn colours on the blueberry leaves and some of the hydrangeas...
the cast of The Moonstone - photo from
...watching a new dramatisation of The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (perfect for Autumn and available on iplayer for those in the UK).  I enjoyed this dramatisation even though some details were changed (and I'm not quite sure why).  The book is so much better than any dramatisation I have seen and is often cited as the first detective novel.  Of course, I had to read the book again!

...listening to a radio play of the short story 'How the Marquis got his coat back' by Neil Gaiman on Radio 4 (also available on iplayer).  This follows a 'normal' day in the life of the Marquis de Carabas who appeared in Neil Gaiman's book, Neverwhere about life in London below.

*Just in case you are curious, here's an example of Jesse's diets...
It's been a good week!