Saturday, 6 February 2016

Lots of Photos and Rambling About My Favourite Beach

Everywhere was very windy today, and Dungeness was too. It was fine walking away from the wind but walking back the other way was an eye streaming and ear aching experience! There were lots of gruesome finds on the beach today-gruesome and smelly. I found a bird skull-which still had some fleshy parts on, and I did pick that one up. I have just been boiling it with washing liquid and now the flat smells very bad and I am quite unpopular with Andy, though the cats don't seem bothered! I have put it outside to cool off and then I will see what to do with it tomorrow. Most of the smelly things stayed where they were though. 
 I don't suppose these two met when they were alive, but have ended up sharing a square foot of beach together now that they are not. I don't like to imagine what that fish is with its tooth filled beak.
 This is just pretty rather than gruesome. 
Back to the horror. There were lots of parts of birds like this. There is always a recurring theme at Dungeness, and today it was these, mermaid's purses and beautiful clam shells.
I picked this up but didn't take it, as I was not sure what the mysterious pieces of machinery were inside it, and whether it was made of lead or not.
This was amazing-quite large-about two and a half feet long. Its mouth is fascinating. Those things are kind of rubbery, not hard like teeth. I think it is either a Small Eyed Ray or a Thornback Ray. I wish I had turned it over to have a look at its top side. I think they are also called Skate, and are the fish that produce all those egg sacs and mermaid's purses.
 This Cuttlefish has strange sharp, purple marks in it. Not sure what they are. 
 This little skeleton must be a crayfish or lobster or prawn-not at all sure. It was extremely stinky!
 There were lots of dead Dogfish again. Having looked back at all our other visits to Dungeness it seems that this is pretty common.
 Andy in the distance past a blurry piece of wood. I liked the rust mark and meant it to be in focus!
 A single crab leg. 
A snorkel mouthpiece. I did actually pick up some rubbish to bring home, rather than leave it on the beach. Maybe on our next visit I will take a bin bag. I would certainly do that if I lived there, as there is so much rubbish.
 This piece for example, which caught my eye because of the OFFSHOR and SEA wording. 
 Not sure what this is. Maybe a root. 
 The underside of whatever this is has a very pretty spotty pattern on, like delicate lace curtains or that spotty glass you get in bathrooms. 
 After seeing all those dead fish, we thought we would go and eat some. I wonder about myself sometimes. It was delicious though and the pub was cosy and warm. Then we drove along past the shacks and wooden houses, found the cafe was closed, so went somewhere else in search of tea.
 We found New Romney, home of this lovely Norman church, a good charity shop, and a lovely tearoom. Last time we were there we visited the Sainsbury's, but I preferred today's visit. I got some exciting things for school in the charity shop-a monkey toy for next week's Chinese New Year activities, (he is battery operated, and, against all hope he actually works-it is the cutest toy ever) a toy Henry Hoover, and three of those magnetic drawing boards that you then swipe a switch down to clear.
 We parked in a back street, and walked past this lovely old building on the way to the main road. It said 'The Priory' on it, and I had a strange little conversation with a lady who saw me taking pictures. She said she thought that lepers were kept there-but she couldn't remember the name of the disease, and thanked me for helping her to.
 It had some very ugly but endearing gargoyles. 
I liked the bike parked in front of the wall. It reminded me of France. 

New Romney is one of the Cinque Ports, and I think this coat of arms is related to that. I am not sure though, as some of them have boats instead of the back end of the lions. I have just spent an interesting half hour looking at lots of information about them but it is too much to share here!
 Lemon cake and proper Earl Grey tea in bone china cups. Delicious! Andy had Assam and chocolate cake. 

Thursday, 4 February 2016


I found all of these dolls at the weekend in the charity shop. They are all destined for my Etsy shop, apart from one that has a problem with her face-it seems to have come undone at the side! I am also keeping the tiny one. The little Welsh one below has already been sold-I was looking out for Welsh dolls for a previous customer, so was happy to find her. I love these souvenir costume dolls. They have such  detail. I particularly like the ones with the painted faces. I also like dolls with the open and shut eyes. They are quite scary but cute. I have a whole collection of Scottish dolls like this which stand on the bookshelf and stare across the room. 
 The one on the right below has Napoli on her apron-in very faded writing. They are both quite small-about five inches tall.
 This one has the face problem.
 This one is about two and a half inches high. 
 I love this one as she looks so happy. Her arms do go down, but she was cheering like this when I found her, so she still is.
 This doll and her baby are from Multnomah Falls in Oregon, which is the picture on the screen behind her. It looks lovely, but scary-a really high waterfall with a tiny bridge crossing it about halfway up.
Although she is a bit newer than the others, she still has the attention to detail in the little bead string, and the soft, real suede dress. Love dolls!

Sunday, 31 January 2016


Well, the week of sign painting is over and I am exhausted! I was not sure how much I was learning at times, but I do seem to have picked up quite a lot in the end. 
Practising drawing letters, getting your thick and thin strokes right, and then beginning to draw words.
On day two we started by painting circles and lines, then whole words. It was difficult and quite frustrating.
I stayed for the week in a private house that becomes a B and B for the courses. It was a lovely place, with a very welcoming couple, and my fellow guests Joe and Mick were great company all week. We visited The Bear in Maidenhead three times! It is a Wetherspoons, and so is extremely cheap!
On Wednesday Joby Carter, the man who runs the course, showed us how to measure and draw block shadows on a letter. For me, this was a revelation. I have tried to do them before, but with no idea how. Unlike the spacing of your letters, ('if it looks right, it is right'-Joby's little saying with regards to this) there is an actual rule, which, when applied, works every time. I am so pleased I finally understand this!
Choose your shadow thickness, mark on the horizontal and vertical, get the angle on the corner, then use this measurement to work out your shadows on the curves. This was based on a 45% angle and this can be varied.

Painting the block shadows rather than the letters. 
More practise...
Painty, splattery shelves. There is a lot of white spirit used in repeatedly cleaning off your practise board. On Wednesday it became quite unbearable at times. It made me cough a lot!
Joby demonstrating on a sign he was working on. He demonstrated quite a lot of techniques. It was a week that made me realise I have a lot to do if I ever want to become any good at this. Joby Carter runs a Steam Fair-literally a fair run by steam, as in Victorian times. In the winter the work is all about repairing and maintaining the rides. He paints and works on signs during the course, demonstrating different things as he does so.
Below are examples of pattern making using a lining brush, a long skinny brush. I had a go. Tricky! In the photo above he is using the brush to add lines along the edges of the sign.
This is one of my practise words-chosen because it had lots of o''s and s's-both very difficult to get right.
On Wednesday evening, I decided that my final word would be PEARL. This word has no special significance, but it contains letters I felt reasonably confident at attempting!
I had a difficult morning on Thursday. I couldn't do the measuring, and, in the end, got Mick to draw my three main guidelines! There was a bit of an issue with blaming tools, but the rulers were not very good, the chinagraph pencils were blunt (and impossible to sharpen with the blunt knife available) and so there was a 2mm gap between where the ruler was and the pencil made a mark. Anyway, after three attempts, I finally managed to mark my word out. I even managed to paint the letters in blue before I went home. When Joby does a sign, he roughly marks it out and then starts painting. He is so good at the painting that he does not need the many guidelines and exactly drawn letters that I do. So, for me, the majority of the work goes into the preparation, and the actual painting part is a massive relief to do!

Lots of signs to look at for inspiration. 
I wanted to see gilding, and Joby demonstrated this on Friday. How he did it is more or less the same as I have done it in the past, except he used 'whitening', a fine powder that you brush over the area before painting on the size, to prevent the gold from sticking onto other painted areas.
My sign finished! It may not look much but it was very difficult, so I am quite proud. I went out yesterday to get some plywood, which I am painting with gloss paint in the shed, and will then use to have another go. In the meanwhile I am practising drawing letters, looking at books on calligraphy and typography, and looking around the house for things I can paint. (there are lots!)
Joby showed us how he paints swirls. The top one is his and the bottom is mine-as you can tell. 
The week has given me a taste of sign writing, and now it is up to me to practise lots more. Put it this way, I know a lot more about what I can't do! I need to work on my measuring and accuracy first, as that is really quite appalling. Getting a straight and level line was one of my major difficulties. Then, even when I did all my letters were slanting to the right. I will share any practise signs I make and would welcome constructive criticism!