Saturday 29 August 2020


I love making toys, and have used various methods, including knitting, crocheting, sewing, clay modelling and needle felting. I sometimes follow patterns, sometimes just make it up as I go along or follow my own plan or drawings, and sometimes copy a toy I have seen or own. The main reason I copy toys I have seen, or make toys or models from drawings, is that I can have one myself. If they are very expensive or old and unobtainable then problem solved! I even made a Picasso once. In my search for it, because I don't know if I still have the actual thing, I found this great post on Mondo blogo, on toys, based on an exhibition I wish I had seen. The one I made is right at the end and is called 'Figure'.
Here it is.
 This is the boy that Linda Sue sent me. He is a Norah Wellings doll. He is made of very soft velvet. I wanted to have a go at making a similar doll, as I love the way his legs are joined. They give him such a feeling of movement as they are not stuffed at the top so swing around, and then allow him to sit easily and have exaggerated perspective when he sits down. I found a beautiful blue velvet piece in my Mum's loft and thought that would be perfect. I decided to make a prototype first though so I don't waste the velvet. It is a good job I did as there were a number of problems to making this deceptively simple doll. The main two were how to sew the already stuffed legs right sides together to the body. I know how to do it, but the fact they were stuffed meant that I couldn't get them through the inside out body. I solved this on the prototype by using a piece of sock as it is stretchy so I could stuff them in. I am not sure what I will do on the velvet version yet. My Dad said that if you have a problem making something then you need to go and have a cup of tea, and 'put a coat of thinking about it on'. This is what my Grandad used to tell him apparently. So I will.
The other tricky bit was the face/neck attachment. As you can see, she is quite a lot longer than the model, due to the neck. She also has been having far too much cake to eat.
 I am most pleased with her feet. 
 Next comes this little cat. She is made of painted fabric, trying to look like oilskin, and based on this one.  The most fun part of this doll was roughing up the fabric to make it look old. The other most fun part of all toy making is doing the face, which often comes last. It makes them come alive. (Sorry if you are spooked by dolls, probably the thought of them coming alive is quite scary!)

This needle felted cat was inspired by a painting by the artist Rladimir Rumyantsev The painting is called 'God It's Me' and is of a cat at the top of a tree looking to the sky. I saw it on Pinterest, as I did the oilskin cat.
This doll was one I saw on eBay but didn't buy. I found another listing with link below, though it may not work I suppose when it has sold. She is called a Pollyanna doll, and is one of those ready made sew together patterns that were popular in the seventies. I have also seen her in an article about a woman with very similar taste to me in a magazine called 'Reclaim'. Spookily similar actually! She is also painted fabric. I use gesso then acrylics.

I am really a terrible hoarder, or else do not have a big enough home to accomodate all the things I have. I am always getting rid of things but more seem to accrue. But the dolls and toys will not leave. They like it here and so will stay. More come to join them on a fairly regular basis. Some are from charity shops, the latest of those being the rabbit I painted. At the moment a fair few have come from Mum's. Sindy below was in the loft for probably 35 years and has finally been released. And some come from kind friends who know what I like! Below are the newly(ish) arrived girlettes from Fresca. They took a while to arrive and here they are having much needed tea with Sindy. The girlette in the middle is the one I found on eBay who is just going to keep her name Madeline. On the left is Minnie Sutherland and on the right is Racer. They have settled in well now, and have even been out on one trip, which I will share later on.

All dolls inspire me, whether I make them anything, make one of them or just play. I have a lot of medium sized doll furniture which I have collected over the years. Beds, a sofa, a chaise longue, (up above with the boy and girl dolls on) a wardrobe, an old trunk, chairs, benches, a lovely old cooker, chests of drawers, and the most recent, the table and chairs below. I have always meant to make a huge room scene, populated by the dolls, and take photographs, but have not got around to it. Perhaps I will soon. It will only be temporary anyway, while I take the pictures, then I can put all the things back where they came from.
The cup of tea was big enough for them all to share. I was a bit worried about putting real tea on the sofa where they were but they were very sensible. The cup is part of a set I played with when I was little, also found in the loft. The teapot is missing. Not sure where it got to. Maybe it was broken.

Sindy only has one shoe, and became a bit obsessed with that during tea. She got on the table to show us. Maybe 35 years in a loft makes one forget one's manners!
The girlettes like the big shoes I found the other day  in the charity shop. I know I shouldn't, but when I am donating I can't resist having a look. I feel it is a win if I come home with less than I take.
Robinson Crusoe bear also wanted to try them!

Wednesday 19 August 2020

Things That Come in the Post

This is Brobee. He arrived one day, not long after my Mum had died. I thought I had put him on here but I looked for him today and he wasn't there. I think there was too much going on and I didn't get around to it. He is a very cheerful presence, and the bears think so too, as they all share a chair. He was sent by Steve of Shadows and Light, and this is his portrait, as he immediately made me want to paint him. He also made me smile, which was the most important thing, and his purpose! So thank you Steve!
 The second thing that came in the post is this. It was also a while ago now, but I took pictures meaning to share them. Inside this package is a doll, who was a bargain on eBay. When she arrived wrapped like this, I thought that her head would be broken. The description had said ceramic head, so it seemed inevitable.
 The wrapping reminds me of something you might see on a depressing detective show, found in the landfill.
  Then it reminded me of images of Guantanamo Bay. 
 But look! She was fine. Her head is actually made of metal, so survived the worst packaging I have ever seen.
 Back to Brobee, with his bear friends, Deptford, Naked Rupert, (that is what it said on his price tag! He is not naked though as he has boots. I gave him the scarf), Mum's bear and my bear.
 And here is the metal head girl sitting in a chair. She got lonely there so joined a load of friends on the bed. Bit of a squash but OK.

Monday 17 August 2020

New Journal

The last two or three weeks have been really busy. I have had a lot of cat jobs which have all been lovely but take up most of the day. In between cat jobs I have been continuing to clear Mum's house with my brother. It is a cycle of sorting, filling the car, unloading then sorting some more, reminiscing, taking things to the charity shop, or finding homes for them here if I am keeping them. Today I went, and decided to look in the loft. There are all sorts of old things in there from different eras, and I got quite distracted. We went up a couple of weeks ago, but this time I was on my own, so had a bit more time to look at things. It is sad to do, and I just want it to be over now. In between times I have been drawing in my journal, just pictures of toys mainly, and faces. It is relaxing and easy to pick up or leave. I have pretty much stopped knitting for a few weeks now, as I have a very sore left wrist. My left hand does the holding of the work while my right does the moving, but I think I must grip it too tightly. I have tried to relax my grip but every time I knit the pain is worse afterwards. Weirdly it doesn't hurt while knitting but I am worried I will permanently damage it if I don't have a break. I will be very fed up if I can't go back to it, but for the moment I don't have time anyway. So here are most of the pages so far in my new journal, with brief explanations. 
 Blank front cover, waiting for an idea.
 Date page.
These two pages are sketches for an idea I have to use an old pram wheel I found on the foreshore. I have all the component parts but was waiting for a suitable circle of something as the back. I recently found a metal disc near to where I found the wheel, which I think will do, but I have not yet cleaned it up. The pram wheel is going to spin (I hope!) as a wheel of jeopardy. The baby will be in the pram attached to the wheel. Behind the sections will be various risky baby pursuits. My ideas are not quite fully formed for the pursuits, apart from the one that inspired the idea along with the pram wheel. That was the sight of a family sitting on the foreshore sand with their baby sitting there too, having a picnic. Not the most hygienic environment for that, what with the raw sewage that still gets pumped into the water at various points!
 A quote taken from Fresca's blog which I liked and sums everything up pretty well. 
 And again. The last word is 'of'.
 Made up faces. 
 A page from one of my old maths books. Thinking about it, writing the question out would help the teacher more than me as maybe it is easier for them to know if I have the right answer.
 Maths torn up and re-used!
 Inspired by illustrations from one of the old books I found in the loft. 
 Doodle from a splodge of paint. 
 Made up medieval looking face and weird bunny. 
 A new doll, explanation of whom another day, and an old bear not from home but from the glass table of precious things. I thought he wanted to come out so he has.
 Another face of the doll where the black paint of the eyes didn't run into the rest of the face!
 Doodles. I drew them, then got a little obsessed with outlining them in a thicker line, which seems to make them look better.

 More doodles.
 Part of the fireplace display. They match in real life as both have green flowers on. The dog is lovely. Not sure if he is a small vase or a large egg cup.
A Dalek and robot from Andy's shelves. I got the Dalek and the robot was a present. He is wooden and is actually a nutcracker.
 Blue Monkey Girl has come to live here from Linda Sue's house. Thank you Linda Sue!
 So has this little sailor baby. He is velvet and very sleepy. He lives with the bears on the settee at the moment.

Sunday 2 August 2020


Three tomato plants that Andy's aunty gave us are turning into giants. I am glad now that I put them into such an enormous pot. I didn't realise they would grow so big. The biggest tomatoes are large marble sized and the smallest aresare than a pea. I used a piece of buddleia pruning from earlier in the year as a support stick. I am happy with my tomatoes!

Saturday 1 August 2020

Our garden is a mess but I am finally beginning to sort it out. I always leave it too long, then have loads to do, but would rather be able to do a little each week to maintain it. I have loads of things to clear still since before the lockdown, and I am only allowed one visit to the recycling centre per month. I take garden cuttings there as well as other things, so at the moment I have lots of bags, and some furniture ready to go. One of the pieces is a large footstool that I got on the street, mainly for the brass casters. It made a good seat for a while outside but needs to go. I could not unscrew the casters at the time, so I sawed them off the other day. There is the outside of some drawers I don't like, though I have kept the drawers as they make good temporary bookshelves. There are various metal things I found, but didn't do anything with, and some old enamel teapots I kept for years, in the hope of making a teapot tree like one I saw in France once. It's never going to happen! And at least the are recycle-able. So today was mainly putting the tip stuff in one place, sweeping, tidying, and putting all the flower pots up the top to have a wash. I did a little weeding and chopping, and picked up cat poo and fox rubbish. They bring in all sorts of unsavoury things, like old nappies, then put them under plants where they are hard to reach. I wore gloves for that job!
The year before last I bought a passion flower, and it died after not too long. So last year I got another one, and planted it in the ground rather than a pot. I forgot about it, until it started flowering recently. I didn't realise it was a white one, as the others I have had before were purple, but I love it nonetheless. I remember I saw my first one when I was living in Leicester, and couldn't believe how intricate and layered the flowers are. It is called  Passion Flower as the different parts are supposed to represent the passion of Christ.
Below is taken from Wikipedia,

I was moving the legless stool when I noticed this chrysalis underneath it. I cut it and have hung it in the buddleia. I was amazed that there are shiny gold areas on it. Really golden and metallic looking. I have not tried to find out about this yet, but I will. (Just looked. I think it is a red admiral. The gold parts are for oxygen to enter. When I looked on google images, there are some beautiful ones, some all gold. Just amazing!
 As I was collecting pots from around the garden, I found this snail hotel. It is broken so needs to go. I took all the snails off and put them under the buddleia at the end of the garden. I have not got the sort of garden where snails can do much harm. The plants there are don't seem affected. I had dahlias for a while and they were a different story. Decimated overnight! There were also some pots I had to leave as I couldn't bear to make the spiders living in them homeless. One I turned over was full of webs, and three egg balls-white web things where I know the babies are. I watched the spider going round checking the web and all the egg things, then turned the pot back over. I can do without it!