Saturday, 26 July 2014

Die Cutting, Flowers and Freedom!

I love die cutting! I have about ten different dies, which I have chosen carefully for potential. I have birds, butterflies, shapes, a cat and dog and a typewriter. I spent quite some time yesterday cutting out birds in lots of different papers. You can use the left over shape as a stencil too so two for one! The butterfly below is from a coke can and looked so pretty on the moth book it deserved a photo. 
 Some of the birds. 

 Shadows of butterflies and a dragonfly. 
 Tuesday was the last day at work. I was lucky with flowers and had too many for a normal vase. The trug did nicely though.

 The last ever photo I took of school. It looks, appropriately, like a prison.
Cassie loves holidays, as I am around more to give her more treats and play. Here she is trying to wind up Tiger but is failing. Tiger just looked at her contemptuously. Every so often she will put her in her place though, so Cassie knows that she is still the boss!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Fast, Beautiful, Emotional, Head Twisting Life

It is hard to sum up life in neat little blog posts, especially when I don't really like displaying my emotions, and prefer to appear happy and creative etc. I am too tired to sum up everything that has been happening recently, and it is such a mixture of emotions and events that I don't think I am able to anyway. So back to the pictures! So much has been going on, and, as this is my online memory bank I have missed a lot of important things in my little life. So here are a few. There may be more soon, or not!
 A number of weeks ago, after a number of weeks had passed since sending off my application to Arty Party, they contacted me and invited me for an interview. They are based in Balham, so  I had a lovely drive over there one sunny morning. I arrived a bit early so I rang to see if I could come in early. They asked for ten minutes to 'clear the table' then I was welcome. They are based in the house of the couple that started the business and it was lovely! There was a dog, a Grandad, and various other friendly people. I sat at a big kitchen table drinking delicious coffee(black as they had run out of milk!) and chatting with the two ladies who were interviewing me. It all ended after a while, mainly spent giving my details and saying when I was available for work. Though it all went well, I was not sure if I had actually got the job or not when I left. It was all so relaxed I kind of forgot to ask! I waited for nearly two weeks and then got a text offering me a week's work in August at a workshop in Blackheath. I am so pleased! It sounds like a busy day but the lack of responsibility for planning and organising sounds like a great relief. I just have to be there, work hard and help children do art-I can do that!. The pictures are from my journey back, when the satnav took me on a mystery tour(well I knew where I was really but not enough to challenge it!) I saw some great shop fronts and these two I managed to photograph. The one below is only in New Cross so I may visit it!
A cultural interlude. Andy and I visited an exhibition of Russian design in a small gallery somewhere off Oxford St. It was very interesting, and I was excited to see online before we went that they were exhibiting something I own one of. I have a doll like the one second from the right. I got mine on ebay and it said that it is Japanese. I know better now!
 It has been so hot recently. Cassie loves this large flower pot in the jungle garden and was being particularly cute in it the other day!
 I bought a die cutting machine. I have been hankering after one for ages and was going to buy a Grand Calibur. Then, on Create and Craft tv which I have become quite addicted to, they started to use an ebosser a lot. So that is what I bought. It was quite expensive, and so I have to justify it by using it a lot. I made cards for people at work this week, but other than that I have just been playing. I bought these wood sheets ages ago and it cuts them beautifully. They are stuck on an inked book cover.
 It was my Mum's 80th birthday on the 8th. She has two friends called Pat-serious Pat and cheerful Pat. Cheerful Pat's daughter Sarah makes brilliant character cakes and this is the one she made for my Mum. The feature she picked to emphasise was her boobs! (My Mum told me this-I am not being insulting!) and she also put a cat, bike, easel and flowers to sum up her hobbies. She is not going to eat it she says!
 We went for a meal in a lovely country pub to celebrate. My sister and her boyfriend came down and my brother was there too. Afterwards we went for a wander in Lenham and saw that there was a fabric sale on at the barn. The car that is normally parked outside on the grass had been covered in crochet and brought inside. 

Andy's cousin got married. It was a lovely evening in a local big old house that is now a community centre. There was a half time football game after eating and before Scottish country dancing, in the big garden out the back of the place. It was a lot of kids and adults too and was fun to watch. 
I am in the middle of a number of books at the moment but have been seduced by Stephen King again. I am really enjoying this one which I am reading on my kindle. It is easy and gripping, a perfect combination for my tired mind!

 At the weekend me and Caroline, my colleague, met up with Cheryl, the lovely teacher from last year. We had a delicious Mexican lunch, and then went to the Olympic park for a relaxed afternoon of chatting. I liked it there-it was quite strange in that it was pretty empty of things, but had lots of places to sit and chat, lovely wild flowers and little canals, and a water feature play thing that was great for my hot feet.

 My churros and hot chocolate dessert! Mmmm!
Enough rambling for now. May be back for more rambling soon. Hope anyone out there in blog world reading this is fine. I miss visiting you and hope to be back soon.

Friday, 11 July 2014


Andy's Mum Jean died on the fifteenth of June. I just wanted to share a couple of happy photos from a few years ago when we met her at Alnwick Castle to visit the gardens, especially the poison garden which was fascinating. There are no adequate words to sum up these times, so I thought that happy photos of a fun time would be a good thing. She was an amazing woman who had the most amazing life, in fact someone who it seems impossible should go. She is the person missing at the family gatherings. I think about her voice a lot. She had the most beautiful voice, with a soft Scottish accent and a comforting tone. Once, a long time ago now, when our nieces and nephews were little, we were at Stillaig, their house in Perthshire, at Christmas, and she had all the children together to read a story. I sat and listened too, in fact she called me over to do so, and I enjoyed it just as much as the children did. In fact stories are what I think of too, as Jean had so many of them, and told them so well. I am happy to have known her. 

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Happy Journal Pages

I am currently using an old book about pottery as my journal. I have gessoed the pages but left the more interesting parts visible. It is quite thin and shiny paper but seems to stand up to things quite well. Below are some of my recent playing around pages. 
 Happy (and possibly slightly smug) girl in toadstool dress. The vacuous but appealing Hello Kitty. Until I drew her I don't think I'd noticed that she doesn't have a mouth.
 The cat from Shrek, one of my favourite cartoon characters! 
 Using stamps and smudgy ink pads. 
 This was going to be a background but I like it as it is. 
 Same here!
 Not sure what story this rat is from but I couldn't resist him. 

 This 1930s looking building reminds me of some of the factory buildings in Leicester where I lived for ten years. There is also a very similar one near here by the Thames barrier. Love this style of building.
 This one is the result of some school preparation of a postcard that went wrong. It is a postcard of Jephson Gardens in Leamington Spa photocopied on blue paper, scrunched up, inked and printed on.

Then more rejected photocopies, a print of the stormy sky, and some silver transfer stuff-some sort of poor man's silver leaf that you rub over the back of, onto a glued surface.

Monday, 9 June 2014


If you can't afford a BMW, then you can make one. This is the nearly finished, but finished enough, model we made last week. It has a spare wheel in the middle, for which the need became obvious once children started to sit in it and it sagged dramatically. The steering wheel was a rushed job but was largely made by Aidan who gave us the idea for making the car. Today I repaired it for the fifth time! We have had to limit it to one person only, as, despite a bit of cardboard wedging, it threatens to roll straight off its wheels. But despite all of its design issues, it has had a lot of use. I made a quick display to go on the cupboard behind it and stuck it up tonight, as who knows how long it will last.
 Do you like the cow print seat cover? I think it adds a certain something to the interior. 
 If you can't afford a big caravan and something to tow it, then you can buy a small one and imagine.
 A real BMW. I took this photo at the weekend to add to the display. Aidan didn't need it as he knew just where to stick the logos on his car. We are back to the topic this week-the fun part of making a big ship model based on two of the children's boat drawings from last week. We are pretty good at making large models now!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Ghostbusters Sky

Storms and terrible weather were forecast yesterday. But all we got was this Ghostbusters sky and heavy rain for about an hour. Then it was a lovely day. The first of each photo is the unchanged one, but I couldn't resist making it more dramatic with the help of photoshop! To my eyes it looked more like the dramatic versions. 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

This Week and Last

Last week was half term, and apart from debating what to do with my life, I also had to go into work twice-once for planning, and once for making this display-with the other teacher in Nursery. This is our topic table. We are looking at 'Bathers at Asnieres' and started by asking the children to talk about the painting. Obviously talk about seaside visits came up, some mentioned sharks and fish, and so we took that as licence to include lots of sea type things, I made the cardboard boat shelf from large card, papier mache and then painted it in a way supposed to be reminiscent of a battered old rowing boat. Also the oars. The two ships were a lucky find at the boot fair and the postcards from Rochester for 10p each. 
The topic was imposed on us, so is not child initiated as we like to try to do. So in addition to all the boat and sea related things, today was spent starting to make a BMW cardboard car-one that they can sit in. This came from a boy in my class who has been talking about cars a lot recently, especially BMWs. He never looks that impressed when I tell him I have a renault! It started with him, but lots of children helped. We found cable reels for wheels, looked at a real car outside the fence to see features of a car. measured and cut a large box, cut one door, tested my seat idea, (another box!) then painted the bodywork, (and each other, the sinks and. in one case a leg) black. We all cleaned up the mess pretty well though. Tomorrow we will paint the interior green, cut the other door and then on Friday hopefully fix the wheels and the other things like lights, number plate, dashboard and steering wheel.  A picture will follow!
Other bits and pieces from this week and last... Cassie being cuddly on the day after her trip to the vet (for boosters) She hadn't quite recovered from the horror of it.
 Another big ship in Greenwich last Friday. I love the way the water looks. 
 Another day after the vets shot. One exhausted little cat!
 My petunias are blooming beautifully. This is an old teapot I have had for years which I love. It does stay out in the garden so I thought it would appreciate a plant.
 I don't know what plant it is from, but this cottony seed carrying fluff was everywhere at the start of the week and the end of last week. As well as looking like snow as it moves through the air, it does a good impression of it on the ground.
Another part of our boat related work. A big boat picture for my carpet sessions this week. It started as a line drawing but it needed colour as you could not tell what was what. A perfect excuse for some relaxing colouring in.
I have been feeling creative again-I was too stressed to even want to make anything-ever since ofsted, but after deciding to leave I feel like doing things again. I saw Kachina figures on tumblr last week-they are Hopi spiritual dolls and are amazing. I love the simple shapes and bright colours. I particularly liked this one so had a go at making a cardboard papier mached one. Having finished it I can see that the head is too big, but I still like him. He is a  morning singer-so should help me wake up in the morning!
The Financial Times is my newspaper of choice for papier mache. It does not seem as pink as it used to though.
I had a lot of trouble getting the turquiose colour. It seems I have no turquoise paint at all. I bought a paint sample from B and Q as I didn't want to drive all the way to Hobbycraft. I used a mixture of paint sample pots, acylics, gesso, gouache, watercolour tube, and cassein paint. I am not at all sure if all those go together but it seems not to be peeling!
The base is an old (splintery so obviously had to be removed) wooden block from school. I hot glued two golf tees onto it, with a stick stuck to each, then pushed the hollow legs of the doll onto these. It worked well and suited my impatience to see it finished.