Sunday, 17 June 2018

Creative things...and learning important lessons

As I have amassed rather a huge papercrafting stash, including papers, stamps, dies, die cutting machines and various other tools to accompany the aforesaid things, I decided that the time had come to experiment and actually use some of the stash.  I had noted down a few ideas and so had a go in my sketchbooks.  Above are watercolour backgrounds with stamped images.  They worked pretty well, though I did need to stamp twice as the paper was textured. 
I then had a go at stamping and colouring with watercolour pencils, which was surprisingly effective and reasonably quick to do too.
 Here is my favourite stamp set from Altenew - Folksy Florals.  I like the Scandinavian retro feel to these simple flowers and enjoyed building up the colours and patterns.  I have now got the corresponding die set too so will be able to cut out the flowers and leaves accurately.  They are just so cheerful.
At the top of the page is an Altenew Stencil which gives a lovely  watercolour effect using inks.  At the bottom of the page is an embossed leaf stamp which I coloured with watercolour paints.
It was my sister's birthday, so I made her a card using hydrangea stamps and the large image in the centre is embossed and watercoloured too.  One of the great things about stamps is that you can decorate the envelope too. 
I have plans to create some cards with positive sentiments to have on my wall at work, so they will be the next project.
In other news, you may remember that I was going to make the tunic dresses featured above.  I made a toile first as I knew that the shoulders would probably need altering.  I had also read on other blogs that the pattern on the left was not designed for curvy figures and the ties were too high up and hit a fuller bust in the wrong place.  Armed with this knowledge, I brought them down to waist level.  I also thought the pockets were a bit too big, so used a pocket from another pattern.  So, I worked away, making the necessary alternations as I went and happily sewing.  Here's the finished product. 
(It does need an iron, which I really should have done before taking a photo.)
Here's the back.  So, I was very pleased with myself and tried the finished garment on.  There was just one problem...I didn't like it, not at all, not one bit.  I looked like I was wearing a sack - not flattering at all. 
So, what could I do?  Well, I could donate it, or alter it again.  I measured it against the tunic dress pattern I have made before and it would work, so I unpicked it all and have started re-making it. I will post a photo once I have finished.  So, lesson learned - some styles just don't suit me, so I should stick to the things which do.  I am going to make the other pattern up next though and I have made a toile and tried it on.  It's a simple shape with a tie belt and I think it will work nicely - let's hope it does...

Monday, 11 June 2018

RHS Chatsworth 2018

I had a lovely day at RHS Chatsworth last Saturday.  This was the second show and the organisers had learnt a lot from last year.  The traffic was well stewarded and things went very smoothly.  We were incredibly lucky with the weather - it started off warm but dull; however, once we arrived, the sun came out and it was hot.  I needed the suncream, hat and sunglasses I had taken.  Last year, there were not enough seats, which had been improved a lot this year and when we wanted to sit down, we found plenty of seating available.  We sat under a convenient tree for tea and cake and the shade was much appreciated by us all.  Above is the river of cosmos in front of the house - around 12,000 plants, I understand.
It was very pretty and the insects were enjoying it.
The view across the river with the 'glasshouse' ...
...and the view from one of the bridges.
(collages created using picmonkey)
There were installations such as these trees and this foxglove.  There was a moving sculpture which fascinated me but which reminded me of an alien - in a photo, it is much less impressive.
There 'long borders' were alive with insects too and contained some lovely planting combinations.  The theme was 'movement'.
There were some show gardens which all featured naturalistic plantings.  I did like the little Yorkshire cottage (top right).
Inside the floral marquees were some beautiful displays although the cut flowers found the heat a bit much.
Inside the 'glass house' was this amazing display of orchids, with ferns and lilies.  I spent a lot of the time in there saying 'wow'.  It was stunning.
I do like the dandelions and buttercups - do buy one (if you have a spare £750.00).
Of course, I bought some plants (and incidentally, kept my crown for spending the most money!).  Above are some lewisias, which I have recently started collecting.  Raspberry ice on the right and Snowberry on the left.
Ginkgo biloba Mariken - a dwarf conifer which I didn't even know I wanted until I saw it.  I love the big ginkgos, but didn't think I would ever be able to have one as they get too big.  This one will only grow to two feet high and it will take it ten years to get to that size.
I was after a blue hydrangea as I don't have one and I thought 'Fireworks Blue' would be a good one.
The flowers are a very delicate baby blue.
I also bought a cow parsley sculpture, made from nails - much more in my price range than the dandelion!
Finally, a little sisyrinchium biscutella whose beigey-purple flowers close when they are out of the sun.
It was a lovely day and I am already looking forward to next year.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

A night sky hare

As you know, I do like hares and have gradually built up a small collection of figurines and pictures.  Recently at a small craft fair, there was a stall with hare ornaments, painted by the stall holder.  I was drawn to the hare above with the night sky colours of navy blue, purple, white and silver (only £2.00) and thought I could definitely add a little something to it.
I had seen similar ornaments in ceramic (which I had coveted) in a local craft shop and also on Moonlight and Hares (Karen Davies makes the most beautiful hares which sell out in seconds, but I do have a hare card and print from her which I love) so decided to zhuzh (or zhoosh or zhush, depending where you look) my hare up.  As she (I think she is a she) had the night sky decoration, this dictated the gemstones I used.  Chris very kindly drilled three small holes along her tummy and I set to work creating the dangles.
I chose to use silver plated wire as it echoed the silver moonlight.  I had a lot of fun deciding which of my rather large stash of gemstones to use, but chose those which said 'night', 'moon' , 'ethereal' or 'magical' to me (and are also some of my favourites).  I used amethyst, rainbow moonstone, coated haematite and blue goldstone on the first dangle (to the left).  The middle one has a pearl, a haematite star and the original moon charm.  The third one (on the right) has a blue pearl, crystal quartz and a labradorite on it.  I created a wire spiral to hang her from and dropped a little silver pearl from the centre.  I am really pleased with the end result and she looks just how I imagined she would (which is often not the case, in my experience).
Here she is hanging up and making me smile every time I see her.
Edited to add: thanks to Briony for the idea - here are some photos with a ruler to give you an idea of her size -
She's about 16.5 cm in length... 
...or about 6.5 inches
...and about 6.5 cm or 2.5 inches from the top of her ear to her tummy.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

My garden in Chelsea week - all about the A plants - allium, aquilegia and astrantia

I have been enjoying seeing my own garden grow and change during Chelsea week.  It's always about the alliums and I have two varieties, Purple Sensation and Christophii.  Above is Purple Sensation.
This aquilegia has self seeded, but it looks good here.
Allium Christophii starting to flower.
A lovely red astrantia given to me by a colleague at work.
More alliums...
...and more.  I don't remember planting these here, but they look happy.
This is my favourite combination in the garden at the moment - allium, a blue (quite tall) aquilegia and a single rosebud.  Nature does put things together so well, doesn't she?
Another pretty combination of allium christophii, the pink aquilegia and another red astrantia from my colleague at work.  It will soon be rose season and I always love that.  May/June is my favourite time of year.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Chelsea week 2018 (a biased view of my favourite things based on the TV coverage)

 One year, I would like to visit Chelsea Flower Show in person, just to say I have been.  However, I do watch all the TV coverage that I can and in fact, I probably see more through the coverage than I would if I actually went.
I can't take any credit for the photos as I have found them courtesy of the RHS Chelsea website and I have chosen the ones of the gardens or planting or features that I really like.  It is a totally biased view!
The first is The Claims Guys 'A Very British Garden' designed by Janine Crimmins.  It is indeed what a formal British garden conjures up - dry stone walls, roses, box bushes.
This would have made a beautiful fountain.
I also like the cool greens of this garden, The Warner Edwards Garden by Kate Savill and Tamara Bridge. More lovely dry stone walls here too.
I liked the pietra dura mosaic of the British Council Garden, India: a billion dreams by Sarah Eberle and thought the embroidery on the cushion echoing the beautiful stone work was really clever.
 This is such beautiful workmanship.
 The David Harber and Savills garden by Nic Howard featured some dramatic sculpture and striking colours.
 This view of the same garden shows a more gentle side.
 The 'Welcome to Yorkshire' garden by Mark Gregory again showcases beautiful dry stone walls and a great attention to detail, with wool stuck on the fences and a cow pat in the field.
 It has a vegetable plot and I like the water feature.
 I think this is my favourite garden.  I would love to sit by the wisteria and enjoy a cup of tea and piece of cake.  Edited to add: this garden won The People's Choice award this year, voted by viewers and visitors.  It seems we all appreciated the atmosphere of this garden.
 The Wedgewood tea garden by Jo Thompson showcases purple and orange planting with a dramatic sculpture.
You couldn't fail to notice the bright colours in the Supershoes Laced with Hope garden by Laura Anstiss.  It shows the progression for a child diagnosed with cancer, going through the treatment with hope and coming through.
 I do like the sculptures in this garden.
 The planting in the Viking Cruises Wellness Garden by Paul Hervey Brookes looks  really inviting.
 The Silent Pool Gin garden also appealed to me (probably to do with the word 'gin' in the title!) but also a quiet, enclosed place with more stone walls.
So, there are my favourites from the TV coverage I have seen.  I wonder if I will ever visit in person?  Seeing all the hoards of people on the TV coverage does put me off a bit as I think it would be a bit claustrophobic.  However, I am going to RHS Chatsworth in a couple of weeks time, so will let you know how I get on there.