Tuesday, 20 August 2019

The ebb and flow of hobbies

I am a person who has a lot of hobbies.  Reading, Crafting, Gardening, Jewellery making, Baking...the list goes on.  In 'Crafting', there is a whole load more - Sewing, Lino Printing, Silk painting, Gelli plate printing, Card making, Felt making, Paper crafting, Art Journaling...
As with everything, there is an ebb and flow and I have decided to put some of my hobbies on the back burner for the moment. Felt making is one - for a few reasons:
  • Felt making is an autumn/winter occupation for me as it is a very physical activity with all the rolling that is necessary to felt the wool
  • I need to devote a whole morning to making a few pieces
  • I need to clear the whole of the table to work on
  • I made so much for the craft fair a few years ago, I am a bit 'felted out' still and I am just not feeling all that inspired to make felt pieces at the moment
Lino printing and silk painting are other hobbies which I am not doing at the moment either, even though I do enjoy them.  Jewellery making was also something I was doing a lot of (and spending a lot on, of course!), but now it is more if I need something for a birthday or something for me (I do need to make some blue earrings for myself).

My other crafts are easier to set up and tidy away and I can do some of them for just a few minutes should I need to.  Of course, this doesn't mean I won't come back to felting (particularly in the autumn and winter) but that other things have more of an interest to me at present.
 I am loving the gelli plate printing and have been following a tutorial and making 'galaxies' as well as learning more about layers.   
Here are some of my galaxy prints.  I also created some interesting ghost prints on the way to making these.
 I am continuing to work in my art journals - the rainbow textured page above...
...and the printed page below are two of my most recent (the washi tape says 'let's enjoy this day' but doesn't show up well in the photo).  I really enjoy the way I can pick up a page, do a bit and then put it down again as the mood strikes me.  Card making is always useful and I shall continue that too - little projects that have a finished product as well as an enjoyable process.
So, I shall continue with the hobbies that I am interested in and no doubt, there will be more activities which come and go with time.  One great thing about hobbies though, they will wait patiently until you pick them up again.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Things to enjoy in the garden

 Despite the odd weather - it is really windy today which is unusual for August - there is still lots that I am enjoying in my little garden.  Butterflies have been visiting the buddleia - a tortoiseshell above.
 The combination of agapanthus and roses is making me smile.
A peacock butterfly on the buddleia.
 My cosmos were severely curtailed by slugs and snails, but the ones that have survived are flowering well.  The white stripe on 'Dazzler' intrigued me.
 A new rose this year, Olivia Rose Austin, looking perfect.  This rose so far has proved to be healthy and considering this is the first year with me, has been very floriferous.  There is a slight fragrance but it is delicate.
 Hibiscus Syriacus Oiseau Bleu still flowering away and adding a touch of the exotic.
 I forget about this phlox and each year it comes back, delighting me with the sugar pink flowers.  It is in poor soil, behind a rose bush, but despite that, it seems to be happy.
 Clematis Wyevale which has a soap-like fragrance and these small blue flowers held on thick stems.
 Rose Winchester Cathedral, with a second flush of flowers.
 Rose Olivia Rose Austin again - I love the flower shape of this rose. 
 Rose The Pilgrim - my only yellow rose.
When I see the japanese anemone 'Bowles' Pink' flowering, it is heralding the end of summer but in a joyous and colourful way. 
Japanese Anemone Bressingham Glow which continues to brighten the garden.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Following the creative muse

 I decided that I was going to work on my second art journal today, so in readiness, last night I prepared two pages with brown paper.  I was going to paint them and then stick paper circles on them, although I decided to add another layer by sticking some torn text on top.  I was telling Chris about University Challenge on Monday night where one of the questions was to identify which books were used for some blacked out poetry.  (The only one I knew was the Pride and Prejudice one).  I thought it was a really interesting idea.
I was looking at a page and these words just jumped out at me.  So my original idea was postponed and I ran with this one.  The words made me think of darker colours and images, so off I went with the gel plate to make the background using black, copper and gold.  I then added some stamps (trying to find some suitably grungy or gothic or just 'dark' images.  (I realised I didn't have all that many, so made do with what I found).  I then printed the words using a stamp set and placed them so that the original inspiration words could still be seen. 
It wasn't what I had planned to make at all, but somehow, it came together quite easily and I am pleased with the end result.  It's quite a change from my usual colours and style, but I do like it.  Chris really liked it too. 
Sometimes, you just have to follow where things lead you...

Sunday, 28 July 2019

In the garden in late July

 Having just had a very hot week (well, hot for the UK) and then torrential rain yesterday, some plants are flowering a little earlier than they would normally.  Above is Agapanthus Navy Blue.
 Here is Agapanthus Silver Baby which has the faintest tinge of baby blue to the edge of the flowers.  I would normally expect them to flower in August.  Incidentally, they didn't flower all that well last year and this year, I potted them on.  Listening to an Agapanthus grower on TV at one of the RHS shows, it seems that they need to be potted on annually, split when they get too big and given space (rather than being crammed in, which was the general wisdom) and fed.  It has made a difference to mine this year, so I need to add that into the Spring maintenance schedule.
My lovely Hibiscus Oiseau Bleu is flowering earlier than in the past.  It looks like it has leaned over a bit this year or maybe it is just bigger so it seems to be taking up more space.
 My blue hydrangea is looking lovely and still blue, which is encouraging.
 Clematis Blue Angel is flowering away (even if some of the petals have been eaten by marauding snails).
 Hydrangea Arborescens Annabelle is flowering beautifully too.  I cut her back really hard in Spring, but she has responded well.
 Hydrangea Dark Angel is also putting on a good show.
 Hydrangea Little Lime is a new to me plant with lime green flowers which age to pink.  So far, it is doing well.
 Hydrangea Merveille Sanguine is also looking good...
 with the creamy green flowers which age to a fuchsia pink.
Finally, on this Hydrangea-fest, here is 'Fireworks', flowering well.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

More gel plate printing

 I have had a project in mind for a while and having been inspired, I finally started working on it, using my gel plate, which has been somewhat forgotten recently.  It was time to get it out again!  The first thing was to create some layered backgrounds on tags.  I used a mixture of opaque acrylics and iridescent ones to add some interest.  I was trying to make a rust-type background for three of these and the fourth was darker blues and purples.
These were some of the ghost prints I created during the layering process.  (Ghost prints can be used to clear the ink off the gel plate in between colours.)
 Sometimes, you get some really interesting looking prints...
 or interesting patterns...
 This print has gel prints and areas where I was cleaning the brayer (roller) in between colours.
 I do like the texture that the gel plate can provide too.
 I was also cleaning my stamps on this page too.
 I also watched a Youtube video on tape transfers using the gel plate and knew I needed to try that.  Colours are layered onto the plate and each layer is left to dry, then stamps, stencils, acrylic paint pens etc. are used to add patterns.
 When the paint is completely dry, you place sticky tape over the plate, make sure it is well pressed down and lift it off.  It brings all the lovely patterns you created off in a strip which can be stuck down to paper.
I stuck mine onto music pages and book pages and was so pleased with how they turned out.  I did find that iridescent paint was not the best for the layers as it took a while to dry and then came off the plate before I wanted it to.  Also, I stamped one set in dye ink, which didn't work as well as stamping with acrylic paint.

I really like these and will use them in my journal.  I am going to make some more and also I will finish the tags in the first photo too.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Poppies and Peonies

Although the poppies and peonies in the garden are now just a memory, I did remember to take a few photos.  I don't think they particularly enjoyed the rain we had in June, but I did manage to get some images before they were too battered.  Above is a pink poppy which I can't remember the name of - I will check to see if I wrote it down.
I don't remember seeing the red blotches at the base of the petals on this white poppy (Checkers) before - I thought they were black.
 I need to pot this peony on as it is in a small pot.  It was beautiful.
 This white peony took a while to get going but gave me a lot of pleasure once it did.  The blush pink and white petals give it a delicate look, even though it is a very blowsy flower.  This one is in the border next to an allium and miscanthus and seems to be liking it.
Poppies and peonies are the divas of the garden as they don't stay around for long, but there's nothing to compare with them when they are centre stage.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Playing with inks, stamps, stencils and dies

 I have recently started to get hold of some Distress Oxide inks.  These are a mix of pigment ink and dye ink and have a chalky look, but not a chalky feel.  They have been around for a couple of years and I kept seeing them being used to create the most wonderful backgrounds on blogs and youtube, so I thought I should give them a go (better late than never!).  They work really well.  Above is a simple birthday card for my niece with a Distress Oxide background.  The stamp worked beautifully too.
I then made more backgrounds and used stamps I hadn't tried before.
 I was really pleased with the results.
I have started using frames around these smaller images and I think they look really effective.
 I then tried the oxides through a stencil...
...in a couple of different colourways.  I found that the Oxides are a lot easier to blend than the regular Distress Inks. 
The Oxides react to water so you can create some interesting effects such as 'faux bleaching'.
I used a spiral stamp to create the backgrounds above and you can see the effect adding water had.  I used watercolour card for that.
I also ordered some rather fabulous dies which arrived last week.  Oh my goodness, I love them!  I used the Oxides to create the backgrounds although it took me a few goes to get the colours right - (lighter colours around the moon, Ellie!)
 They are so versatile and can be used throughout the year, not just Christmas, although that's my cards sorted for this year!  A fox peers warily through the trees...
 A stag, doe and fawn pause in a glade...
 A barn owl is on the prowl and a rabbit listens...
 You can also build up the layers by making a little pocket for the tags to sit in.
I know I am going to really enjoy using the inks and dies, although more Distress Oxides will need to be purchased, I think.