Friday 30 August 2013

Garden Bounty

 Late summer can be a tricky time in the garden.  The summer plants have finished and the real autumn ones haven't started, but I have been very pleased by the highlights I have seen over the last few days.  Hibiscus 'Oiseau Bleu' has been beautiful this year - very floriferous and bridging that late summer gap extremely well.
 Here's a polymer clay pendant design just waiting to happen!
 The Clematis 'Crystal Fountain' was a disaster earlier in the year - no flowers, eaten by snails and looking awful.  However, it has perked itself up and it is rather a diva plant... "look at me!" I did look at it.
 I liked the combination of geranium Rozanne, which has been flowering for ages, and a new crocosmia 'Emberglow', which I bought from Barnsdale.
 The ever reliable rose Molineux, showing a delicate apricot tint on the petals.
 Japanese Anemone 'Bressingham Glow', I think.  I am sure I didn't plant it where it is, but it has brightened up this dull and slightly-shaded-by-jasmine corner.
 Another pleasing combination of crocosmia (probably the species) with buddleia 'Buzz' magenta, supposedly a dwarf variety, but not this year!
 Here is the piece de resistance!  I haven't grown raspberries before, so ordered three canes for a tub, back in Spring. The one I chose was Joan J, an autumn fruiting variety.
 Here are the first fruits of my labours.  In fact, the plants have been relatively undemanding, except with water - they get through a watering-canful most evenings.  I have fed them occasionally too.
I am very proud of this achievement and we are enjoying the fruits as they ripen.  Sun ripened and still warm, they are delicious.

Hello and welcome to my new followers - I hope you will enjoy reading my blog.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Art Everywhere - even here!

 I was excited to read about the Art Everywhere project, organised by The Art Fund, where posters and billboards all over the country would be displaying art, rather than advertising.  According to the website:
"Showcasing great British art across the UK, Art Everywhere is the largest exhibition of its kind in the world. From the 12–25 August 2013 some of the nation's greatest art is on display across 22,000 poster sites and billboards up and down the country. Artists, curators, media owners and entrepreneurs joined by a love of art have fuelled this massive charitable celebration, and the general public crowd-funded over £30,000 to help make it happen."
The link to the website is here.
As Lincoln is regarded as a bit of a backwater, I felt it extremely unlikely that this project would arrive here, but last Friday, on the way home from work, just outside Lincoln Central Station, what did I spy?
Ophelia by Millais. Not only a fabulous work of art, but a fabulous Pre-Raphaelite work of art!
A slightly closer view of the image

 Then, about two seconds away, there was another billboard, with yet another Ophelia. This duplication did make me wonder why two of the same image were put so close to each other, but at least it made a lovely change from an advert.
The project has finished now, but it will be interesting to see how long the billboards remain.  More art, please!
Have you spotted any of the Art Everywhere images where you live?

Saturday 24 August 2013

Latest polymer clay jewellery experiments

Not content with finishing my rabbits project, I have also been enjoying experimenting with polymer clay, having seen some new techniques and equipment which I wanted to try out.  Above is a Sutton slice (named after the creator) which is made using an unmounted stamp which you push the clay into and then cut it flush with the surface, then use another piece to pull it out of the stamp. (That probably makes no sense, but there are tutorials on the internet if you are interested).  It creates a highly textured, patterned surface.
 I have also been trying new cane techniques, such as spiral and wrapped.  Any offcuts were made into beads.
 This pattern was made by wrapping thin pieces of two colours of clay in a wave pattern.
 This is a kaleidoscope cane, made into a repeating pattern - well named, I think.
 These were some offcuts from the second pendant, but I liked the colours, so made another repeating pattern using blocks of the colours.
 You may remember this scabious which I saw at the Market Rasen Open Gardens.  It made me think of a Ginger Rogers dress and I said at the time that I would like to try to make a pendant, inspired by it.
 Here are two pendants, using a simple technique of blending colours into each other.  I didn't quite get the colours to be a perfect match for the scabious, but the end result was pleasing.
 Another new technique, the Stroppel cane (again named after the creator).  It is a good way to use up ends of canes.  The pendant on the right has a very 1980s feel to me - it makes me think of leg warmers and leggings for some reason!  That one was made by putting the Stroppel canes through my clay roller so that the pattern became wider.
 This was the simplest new technique, but I think it is my favourite.  It is stamped with an unmounted stamp and then a teal/blue/green mica powder was applied to the top surface which highlighted the pattern.  I have now got lots of different colours of mica powder so am going to see what they look like on different background colours.
Finally, some beads made from offcuts. 
I have also found another new technique using alcohol inks which can make lovely backgrounds and can then be stamped this space.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Second Rabbit - finished!

 I have been given a timely reminder, by a colleague who reads my blog, that there hasn't been much on the craft side of things for some time.  She was absolutely right, so I shall attempt to rectify this shameful state of affairs.  You may remember that I made a little rabbit, having been prompted to use some material from my stash which was left over from my favourite puffed sleeve dress when I was five.  So, I set to work and made a rabbit.  Then I thought she would need a friend, so decided to use some left over material from my wedding dress bodice to continue the memories theme.  Above is rabbit number two in her pantaloons.
 I used a slightly different pattern for the rabbit (from Helen Philipps, rather than the Tilda one I used first).  Here she is in the pink silk dress.  I changed the sleeves from the pattern too.
 Then I made an apron from some floral cotton I bought earlier in the year ("Oh, I'll use it for something, I'm sure", I said (as I do every time I am drawn into buying more material) and then I added it to my ever-growing stash).
 Here is the finished rabbit with a face and a felt hat which was a real nuisance to make as the size wasn't right.  I gave up after attempting it in different sizes and finding none was perfect!  The eagle eyed amongst you may notice that her ears are different from the original too.  This is due to the fact that originally, I wanted to link the rabbits by using the puffed sleeve dress material on both.  However, with all the pink, the blue flowers didn't quite work.  I tried to convince myself that it was fine, but Chris had mentioned a couple of times that he wasn't sure that the material was right for the pink rabbit (I stuck to my guns and said it would be fine, not wanting to admit that it wouldn't!) Once she was all made up though, I could see that the material looked wrong.  So, I made another set of ears, using a piece of material left over from a dress my sister made for me when I was about eighteen.   This material does look fine!
Here are the two (hopefully) contented rabbits, helping me to remember some special times that made me very happy.

Friday 16 August 2013

Barnsdale Visit (part 2)

Here are some more photos of my visit to Barnsdale Gardens.  I wouldn't want you to get the wrong idea - the gardens didn't all look perfect and there were areas which needed weeding, plants which needed cutting back and some places which looked unkempt.  However, these areas made me feel as though the gardens were real, not show gardens, but changing and growing gardens.  (Of course, I am a little protective about them, as I really enjoy visiting, but if you visited, I wouldn't want you to be disappointed!) The photo above is of the Japanese Garden which is not one I usually linger at (not enough flowers), but I can appreciated the meditative qualities it has.  I did think the art work really complemented the garden as it used the same colours and was painted in really thick paint, with whirls and swirls which reminded me of a Van Gogh sky.
 The woodland painting was placed in the perfect location at the end of a garden vista, in front of real woodland.
The painting in the box garden reminded me of an aerial view of a tropical river, such as the Amazon.  The colours really appealed to me too.
 This is a view across the allotment area, through the orchard.
 Another intriguing vista - where does this lead?
 The Ornamental Kitchen Garden was made for the series of the same name and shows how vegetables and flowers can work so well together.  Again, there was companion planting of marigolds.
 Serried ranks of vegetables, from onions up to beans, which created some lovely lines.
 Here were some of the individual plants which caught my eye, from the dainty alpines... the giant artichoke (I think).
 This delicate Californian Poppy is from the 'Thai Silk' range and has the most beautiful shading from cream to buttery yellow to blush pink.
 I really liked the combination of the tall stately agapanthus and the swishy, billowing grass which moved like a wave in the breeze.
Finally, to end on a real splash of colour, here is a dahlia, complete with hover fly; the brilliance of the fuchsia pink contrasting with the deep purply green of the foliage.

As you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and will not leave it another two and a half years before I go again!

Thursday 15 August 2013

A visit to Mum and to Barnsdale Gardens (part 1)

I have been a little quiet over the last few days (an unusual occurrence for me!) as I have been staying with my mum.  I had intended to go and stay in June, but she got a cold, so the visit was postponed until now.  It was lovely to be able to spend some time helping her in the garden, re-potting tubs, planting new plants and pottering.  There was just one thing I definitely had to do while I was there and that was to visit Barnsdale Gardens, which belonged to the late Geoff Hamilton and are run today by his son, Nick.  I used to be a frequent visitor to the gardens, but hadn't visited for two and a half years!  I took a mass of photos, but will split them up into a couple of posts, so I hope they will be enjoyable to look through.  The garden above and following was created by Dan Pearson (something I didn't know), who is now known for his prairie style of planting.  This one shows a productive garden with a mini-maze, and the most beautiful rose 'Crimson Showers', entreating the visitor to enter.
 Isn't the rose wonderful?  I do enjoy looking through an arch and wondering what is on the other side.
Barnsdale Gardens are made up of lots of small gardens or areas, showing many different styles of garden design.  Geoff Hamilton built several of them for television series, such as the Cottage Gardens and Paradise Gardens. I always take a few ideas away with me from all the different areas.
 This garden is a complete contrast to the rose filled one, with muted colours and lots of green.  It was a very calm space, with just the trickle of an unobtrusive water feature.
 There was also some artwork on show in the gardens (always interesting, sometimes controversial!) and this was the first piece I spotted, which looked at home in the wooded area. 
This was a new garden to me and did give the feeling of a coastal garden, with a shingle beach.
 Another lovely arch; really dark inside but with the light tempting me onward.
 A productive apple and pear arch, leading towards the allotment area.  It had a lot of fruit on it.
 I enjoyed the 'mad hair' of this ornamental grass, its exuberance contrasting with the formality of the urn.
 One of the vegetable gardens which was also very productive.  Most of the vegetable areas had been companion planted with marigolds in bright yellows and oranges.  Normally, I am not drawn to those colours, but the planting was so cheerful, how could I resist?
 Beautiful bright and cheerful colours.
 My favourite seat in the gardens.  I love to sit here for a while and listen to the birds and just relax...
This is the view from the seat, looking back towards the entrance, which was lovely and restful.
More from my visit in the next post.