Wednesday 31 December 2014

A Red Reindeer and a Tale of Two Gas Men

Christmas wouldn't be complete without the boiler breaking down, or at least playing up, so we were not surprised when it did-play up then break down. It started with a leak, followed by frightening clunks and gurgles, and we didn't risk using it after that. Andy is very sensible and has taken out a service insurance thing with British Gas, so a man came on Saturday. A very taciturn man. He probably said about ten words the entire two hours he was here, speaking only when spoken to, and at the end of the appointment when he had to. He put in a new pump then gave us a quote for a part it needs, then made an appointment for Monday to fit the part. The appointment window is a big one-from twelve to six. I had six hours of uninterrupted crafting time because nobody came.  
On Saturday, after the gas man had gone, we visited my brother. We had a quick tour of the second hand shops where he lives and I found a great book in the second hand bookshop. It is called 'Modern Soft Toy Making' by Margaret Hutchings (1959) and is full of great looking toys. I loved the reindeer so decided to make that one first. It is actually quite complicated. It started with the antlers which were done in the evening. The rest of it was mainly done during the six hours. 

The construction of the antlers used up some of my fuse wire hoard. 

 I chose a soft pink felt for the white parts as I didn't have much white and I preferred that colour combination.
I have watched loads of films whilst making the deer-some Christmas favourites such as 'Goodnight Mr Tom' and 'Eight Below', interspersed with a little Bond and three scary films-'Godsend', 'Quarantine' and 'An American Haunting'. My brother gave Andy most of his DVD collection for Christmas. The idea is that we can watch them then sell them. (And he has got Netflix so doesn't need them anymore) There are some scary films in there, along with some less scary ones like 'My Fair Lady'.
 Face and feet markings. 
Body sewn together. 
 It is a messy business-lots of tiny bits of felt and fine felt dust all over the sofa. 
But I don't care about the mess because look at the reindeer! I am so pleased with him!
 It was a sunny morning so I took some photos of him standing on birch bark (thanks Malcolm!)
 He was happy on the bark and liked the hyacinth, even though a tree would be better. Perhaps I should take him on our next visit to the woods.
Happy New Year from the Red Reindeer! 
P.S. I forgot to tell you about the other gas man. I rang up yesterday as the boiler started to leak again. I told the nice man on the phone about this and about the fact that the other engineer didn't turn up. He said the booking was not completed on the computer. He booked me another engineer to look at the leak today. Twelve to Six again but this time he did turn up-after five but never mind. All he had to do was to tighten a valve. Then he stayed and chatted for about fifteen minutes whilst doing the paper work. Whereas the other man stood and looked around with a very suspicious look on his face while Andy was signing off the job, this man looked around, saw a tin of pencils on the table and said ''Artist?'' So I said yes but also a teacher (briefly explaining about supply etc). We then had a very quick but in depth conversation about his wife who is a teacher which managed to encompass the fact that her school had a new head and she had a similar situation to me, but had managed to get a job. He briefly described his many jobs. Then he spotted a power ranger and a C3PO head which led on to his interest in comic books and how he is an artist too. He has been to a couple of comic book conventions, at one of which he dressed up as Silent Bob. I had never heard of Silent Bob-so this led onto talking about 'Clerks' (incidentally one of the films in my brother's collection). Ben the gas man also has a working light sabre which he is currently having customised to make it even better! He was great! 

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Thursday 18 December 2014

This Week

I have made gift tags. I started cards ages ago but don't like most of them so have given up and bought some RSPCA ones. Tags are much easier and quicker. These involved my glue gun and glitter so all the better! 

We went for a walk in the park on Sunday. Paddington Bear was there. 
I sat on a tree to drink coffee. This is one of the Spanish Chestnut trees in Greenwich park. Isn't it impressive? It made a very comfy seat too. We watched a mad little Jack Russell running around every tree chasing squirrels. There were also lots of the green parakeets chatting away. 
 I decorated another tree. This one is by Malcolm, Anne's husband which he very generously gave us when we visited in the summer. Isn't it lovely? He has a big collection of very well organised driftwood, with which he makes the trees. The tiny tree is from Tesco and is already glittered. It is keeping well. In front of the tree is the ugly Nativity. They are from the Oxfam shop in Rochester some time this year and I couldn't resist. They are papier mache and very lightweight. Lily keeps lying up here so they are in more of a regimented line than I put them in as she lies against them and pushes them back.
 I made a hat for this felt face. I didn't make the face. He is from Etsy a long time ago. I wish I could make such good faces!
 I stole this gift tag idea from Pinterest. You use a coke can pull for the belt. Great idea! I made the little stockings, sewing them by hand as my sewing machine has stopped working. The curtain seems to have finished it off. After a very frustrating couple of hours on two evenings trying to sort it out I gave up. I might have to get a new one. I should look into fixing it I suppose but that may be expensive and it was a cheap machine. The stockings are for my friend in Holland's children. I put in silly little things from the Museum of Childhood gift shop.
 Yesterday I was lucky enough to go to the theatre! I was working in New Cross in the school I have been at for a few weeks, and the class I had was going to see Bear Hunt at The Albany in Deptford. It was nice of them to take me. The teacher was in, so technically they didn't have to. We had a very pleasant walk there and back, and the show was great. It was puppets and four actors/singers/musicians. The puppets were the kind where you can see the actor operating it, sometimes two of them as they needed extra hands to do the feet.  They were very expressive and with fairly simple props and stage sets it was very well done.
 I received the first of some magazines that I have briefly subscribed to. (Briefly because it is an offer to get five months of three magazines, one of which I always buy anyway, for only £1 each-I am going to cancel the subscriptions before it goes full price!) These thank you bear stamps came so I did some stamping and colouring in. (pencils and watercolours) Not something I usually do but I do enjoy colouring in!
On the way back to my car yesterday, I found Tin Tin in a bin. Well, a box next to a skip, which in my mind was a bin. The box was full of wet books and him, so I rescued him. I hope I didn't leave Snowy behind!
 Today I had Reception in the morning, always lovely, then year one in the afternoon-party time! I am really enjoying this week!
Opposite Subway, where I got my lunchtime coffee today, I saw some more nature street art. I took the photo quickly as there were lots of people around. I only read the words later. It is about an extinct dragon fly. It seems quite likely to be the same artist as the bees as the theme seems the same, but the style looks different to me. Bethnal Green is such a great place to wander around!

Sunday 14 December 2014

A Scottish Tree

I realised the other night that I have seven Scottish costume dolls, collected from eBay and charity shops. These dolls are just cheap souvenirs that a version of is still sold now, but they have a lot of variety and detail in them. Then it occurred to me that I could use them to decorate the tree. We only have room for a small tree so it saved me getting everything out. The tree is a pot one but pot bound would have been a better description. I had to use a saw to cut away the plastic pot and have tried to give it loads of water since as the roots were completely dry. I put it in a terracotta pot which looks better than the plastic.  

 Red, green and gold tinsel, a few gold baubles and some chandelier drops completed the decorations. I have never had such a themed tree!
 There are some Christmice running around the bottom. The tartan fabric is also from a charity shop. I have had it for a while and it is perfect for this!

 This doll has something wrong with her eyes, giving her a slightly scary look. 
This one looks cross eyed. 
I have been wrapping presents today. I made gift tags which I really like. I don't think I have ever wrapped presents this early. It must be because I don't have any work to do! At the moment on tv is some Christmas song programme with Michael Buble. I had to check to see who he was. Maria Carey is on it-she can sing but Buble has a bit of a weak voice in my opinion. They are doing jazzy versions of things such as Rudolph and White Christmas. It has been quite festive but now I have finished this I am going to make it stop! Now he is murdering Santa Clause is coming to town.

Sunday 7 December 2014

Bits and Pieces

Christmas lights are going up wherever I can find a socket.
 I have been playing with oil pastels. 

 Tiger and Cassie have become pretty friendly!
 Bethnal Green scenes...

 Greenwich in the sun yesterday. I went to the market on both days this weekend, in a search for presents. I was fairly successful.
 Bright flowers mixed with Christmas branches and trees. 
 One of the little Christmas fairy bears I made for my two friends from work. I met them for lunch yesterday and had to stay up till three on Friday night finishing the bears. I always leave things too late!
 Cassie in her shoe box. Who needs fancy cat baskets?
 Cassie again, with the catnip chicken. 
 I have been playing this game on my phone. It is strangely addictive. Here, the bubbles left formed a house shape.
 An alleyway to Greenwich market. 
 In the market I found a present for my friend in Holland-a chicken doorstop that the recipient fills themselves. It is made of retro fabric. The stall also had bright and cheerful catnip mice so I bought one for our cats and one for my Mum's cat. Cassie found the bag and broke into it, biting into the packaging of my friend's present. I gave up and gave it to her early!

I made this curtain today, to stop the draft from the front door. The fox fabric is from the market in Bethnal Green and I backed it with wool blanket fabric. The most difficult part about making it was laying out the fabric, getting it flat and cutting it accurately. I am pretty pleased with it though and it seems to be working.