Tuesday, 21 January 2020

The January Garden

 January always seems to be such a long month.  It is often grey and dreary, but then you get frosty nights and beautiful blue skies with sunshine which make up for it.  Over the years, I have been trying to include plants for this time of year so I had a look round the garden the other day to see how things were going.  Above is a hellebore, 'Hello Ruby' , which I bought from a shop called 'the range' (which does indeed have a wide range of things and is one of my favourites).  This plant is still in the pot it came in and I will pot it on shortly.  I was so pleased to see it in flower.
 One of my favourites is Winter flowering honeysuckle, a shrubby plant which looks a bit tousled and even a bit scruffy in its form.  However, in the winter, on a sunny day, the small white flowers release the most beautiful fragrance which smells like lily of the valley to me.
 They may be small, but they pack a punch!
 The ever reliable snowdrops are starting to make an appearance.
 So are these patio peonies - I have planted two in the borders, but this one is still in a pot.
 Camellia Yoimachi is looking lovely and is flowering away, giving a highlight to the bottom of the garden.
 Lovely white flowers edged with pink.
 A beautiful plant.
 I think these may be alliums with crocuses or daffodils or grape hyacinths but it will be easier to tell in a week or two.
To finish, here's 'Hello Ruby' again.  The hellebores in the borders are in bud but I don't think they are quite flowering yet.  I probably should go and check...

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

January Artist Trading Card (ATC)

 Here is the first in my ATC project over the next eleven months.  The first is for January and was ready for the first of the month, but I have kept adding little bits and pieces.  I made the card and then had a brainwave to use some of my gemstones and to also include the month's birthstone as well.  For this card, there is a haematite round, clear quartz, sky blue apatite, white moonstone, turquoise and rutilated quartz, with a garnet charm at the bottom.
 The card itself has acrylic paint watered down and dripped over a texture paste pattern, then silver embossed shapes and grey stamping.  The colours are silver, grey, white and turquoise.
 On the back, I added a verse from the seasons rhyme I knew from when I was little - 'January brings the snow...' and some silver glitter die cut snowflakes.
 Here's a close up of the verse.
The ATC goes really well with the Scandi inspired felt birds and balls on the seasonal tree, alongside some rather glamorous glass bead snowflake decorations which I bought in a sale last week.
February's ATC will involve grey, white and purple, raindrops, a heart and amethyst...
edited to add...
I am going to enter this ATC in the Craft Stamper Take It Make It challenge over at Craft Stamper.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Happy New Year 2020

Happy New Year!  Here's hoping 2020 will be a good one for us all.  All the photos in this post were taken off the TV during the London Fireworks at midnight.

Today, as has become a bit of a tradition, I review various aims from last year and think about this coming year.  

Make more felt
Well, felting has been put on the back burner for now and papercrafting/art journaling has moved into first place.  I will probably do more felting at some point in the future, but not at the moment and possibly, not this year. 
Read interesting books
I have continued to achieve this aim and have read 91 books this year, down on the previous year, but still a pretty good total.  I have revisited old favourites and been introduced to new writers and books (some more successfully than others, which is always the way). Some of my favourites have been the young adult series 'The Bartimaeus Trilogy' and 'Lockwood and Co' series, both by Jonathan Stroud,  the Miss Marple series by Agatha Christie, the Nursery Crime series and 'Early Riser' by Jasper Fforde (which I do need to re-read as there were some complex ideas in all of them), Jane Austen, some Dickens, 'The Easternmost House' by Juliet Blaxland and the Nell Sweeney series by P B Ryan. 
This is an aim which will definitely continue through 2020 especially as there is already a pile of books waiting to be read...
Be Creative (using what I have)
I have achieved this as well, with papercrafting, journaling, making my first patchwork quilt...I haven't made the other pinafores I wanted to, nor have I attempted making a tunic dress using stretch  material, so those are aims for this coming year too.  I have my ATC monthly project to work on.   I would also like to be able to draw faces and figures in my art journal and have bought two books to help me with that.  I would also like to aim to concentrate on using what I have, rather than always buying something else.
Get rid of or donate things I do not want or need
This is also on-going as I haven't made as much progress as I would have liked.  I have too much stuff and I do need to make a real effort to go through it.  It is very easy to just ignore it, but it won't go away.   If I buy something new, an equivalent something should go.  (It is easier said than done, particularly if you are a hoarder/collector, which I am.)   I think this needs to be a main focus this year.

There we are then - I wonder how well I will get on with these aims in 2020. 
Happy New Year to all my lovely readers.

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Pocket Doodle Book pages 23-25 and bonus pages

I have finished this pocket doodle book and above are pages 23 and 24.  I emphasised the background rather than the pattern on page 23 and just added large dots of white and black for page 24.
Page 25 started with triangles, but then morphed into other shapes, some on stalks and some not.
These were extra pages (because I didn't count the pages as well as I thought, but they were decorated anyway (yes, more circles!)
The final bonus page was decorated with small gold circles and large gold flower outlines, which you can just about see.
I enjoyed this project a lot and will be continuing my creative projects next year (the monthly Artists' Trading Card project for a start).

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Merry Christmas 2019

(Seasonal Tree decorations - some bought and some made)
Merry Christmas to all blog readers and commenters (who celebrate this festive season).

As has become my Christmas tradition, I quote from one of my favourite Christmas carols, "It came upon the midnight clear" written by Edmund Sears in 1849. 

"Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not 
The love song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing." 

 (Pom pom wreath made earlier this year and various angels on our kitchen door)

 To end on a positive, I again quote from Desiderata (a 1927 prose poem by Max Ehrmann):
"...And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."

I hope we all have a peaceful New Year.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Pocket Doodle Book 2019 pages 16 - 22 and new decorations

 I am nearing the end of this very enjoyable little challenge.  Page 16 was rounded rectangles.
Page 17 was lines in black and gold and page 18 was dots of white and gold.  I have tried to make the pages different from the previous ones so that has also been a challenge.
Page 19 was the most Christmassy image with floral and star decorations.  Page 20 was dictated by the eye patterns in the background print.
Page 21 was a mix of lines and circles (bit of a recurring theme, I think) and page 22 was more dots and lines following the spirals, in white and gold. 
In other creative news, I have been making some extra decorations for the Christmas tree, which are also a memorial to our previous and current much loved cats.
 I bought some mdf bauble shapes and painted them in suitably Christmassy colours, adding some gold stencils (oh look, circles again) and some glitter (well, it is nearly Christmas).  Their photos went on the front...
 ...and their names on the back.  Scruffy is our current cat and features on the blog now and again. They were all lovely cats and it will be a happy reminder every Christmas.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Pocket Doodle book 2019 pages 8 - 15 and a project for 2020

Here are the next set of pages in my pocket doodle book.  Page eight is decorated with colours and dots, whereas for page nine, I went a bit mad with big flowers.
Page 10 started as lines but ended up looking like skyscrapers, albeit at some odd angles.  Page 11 has delicate gold lines and dots which look a bit like constellations.
 I emphasised the swirly roses on page 12 and added some dots for background interest.  Page 13 is just lines which together with the background colour remind me of a 1950s or 1960s print.
 Page 14 had swirly roses in the background but I wanted to do something different so went for blocks and lines.
Page 15 started with blocks but then ended up with circles which are a Zentangle pattern and connecting circles.  It reminds me a bit of a beaded necklace. 
The book is a pleasure to work in and I am really enjoying filling in the pages.
I have got an idea for a project for next year which was inspired by watching a Youtube video by Nina Ribena who has been making Artists' Trading Cards for each month.  I am going to do the same and display them on my seasonal tree.  I have cut and gessoed some greyboard shapes (2.5 x 3.5 inches) and am going to get the first one ready for 1st January 2020.  I am really enjoying thinking about what I will put on each one.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Pocket doodle book pages 2-7

Here's the first set of pages from my Pocket Doodle Book.  Page two ended up being quite scribbly, using both white and black pens.  Page three was more decorative, using acrylic paint pens and Sharpie coloured markers to add some coloured dots to the oranges in the original print.
 Page four was using just black and white again, emphasising the swirls from the gel print.  For page five, I used just white gel pen and added more decoration to the leaves, eye shapes and diamonds that were already there.  I then filled in all the rest of the space with blocks, lines and circles.
On page six, I used the patterns already there and added some blocks.  I found page seven more of a challenge.  The original print was the dark red and lighter pink.  I outlined the blobby shapes in the pink and drew some lines through the red block, but then stopped.  I wasn't sure what to do next, but remembered my Zentangle book (which had been languishing on a shelf for some time), so added some patterns inside the blocks. 
I have quite a few plain unpatterned pages to come, so there will have more challenges.
However, I am really enjoying this activity and the challenge of just using pens and my own drawings - no stamps, stencils, collage or die cuts!

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Pocket Doodle Book December 2019

I have been watching lots of crafters on Youtube recently and getting lots of ideas and inspiration.  I was particularly interested in one I saw from creationsceecee, who is a talented watercolourist.  She is making an Advent Pocket Doodle Book and has made a book (4.5 x 5 inches) and painted a background on each page.  She is going to add doodles on each page every day until Christmas Day.
Ooh, I thought, there's a great idea for making use of some of the huge number of gel plate prints I have amassed.

So I set to and created this little book, with a card front and back, ready to fill with all my doodling each day.

Here's the first doodle.
I won't post every day, but will offer a round up now and again in December so that you can see how I'm getting on.
I thought it was a great, achievable way of doing a little something creative every day (and using some stash too - win/win!).

Thursday, 21 November 2019

First frost of the winter

It had to happen, didn't it?  We had the first frost of the winter this week.  I went out with my camera to capture these images before the sun melted it.  I was reminded that I haven't finished insulating my pots yet, so I do need to get on with that job.  Above is Hydrangea Annabelle, who often features throughout the year.
 Rose Gertrude Jekyll looking as though someone has sprinkled the leaves with icing sugar.
 The blueberries also looked lovely.
 Here's Annabelle again.
 This is Aster Little Carlow looking really quite graceful with frost on every dead flower.
 With the colder weather, I have been rewarded by this amazing colour display by Lysimachia Clethroides.  I bought it after watching Carol Klein extolling its virtues on the Chelsea coverage (I think, but it may have been Tatton Park or Hampton Court as I watched all of the Show coverage this year).  It has been in its pot since I bought it, putting on a bit of growth, with lovely green leaves and then this happened.
It is amazing and the colour zings out, particularly on a dull November day.
I am really impressed with it and am looking forward to seeing it grow next year and possibly flower.  It has long white flower heads which droop over, so it sounds interesting.  Apparently, it can be invasive but I am hoping it will be happy in a pot. (I have just been comparing this plant with photos on websites and the leaves of this one look a bit different from the ones on the websites although the descriptions of autumn colour sounds right.  We shall see...) 
I have also possibly done completely the wrong thing and pruned my hibiscus syriacus oiseau bleu pretty viciously.  It was getting too big and leaning madly over the border in a drunken fashion.  I love this plant so am hoping that I haven't killed it, but I will just have to wait and see on that as well.  My pruning book said they can be pruned during their dormant period and it is dormant, but I think I may have got a bit lopper-happy!  If the worst happens and I have killed it, I will be buying a replacement and will try to keep that one more under control.)  It's all part of the joys of gardening!