Tuesday 28 September 2021

Shoe Doll and Frog Crown

Here is my shoe doll, standing against the distressed wall. The idea for her came from a doll made from a shoe in the Edinburgh Museum of Childhood that I saw years ago when we were visiting Andy's parents. It always stayed in my mind as it is such a poignant item. I had not considered making one until recently, when trying to think of what to do with the old shoe soles I have collected from the Thames foreshore. I want to do embroidery on some, but this one was the perfect size and shape for a doll. Her hair is embroidered using some second hand thread. Her face is drawn with Polychromos pencils. 
The top of her dress is made from a piece of fabric I found on Dungeness beach years ago. It is very well preserved, and when I started cutting it, I realised that is because it is some horrible nylon type stuff that would probably last forever. The bird fabric is a recent purchase and is so lovely that I wanted to use it. 
The copper wire supporting her legs was also from the river. I got a whole bundle of it from the foreshore in Woolwich-a great find! She is the third doll I have made from mudlarking finds. Here is the first. And the second.

This is to show the back of her dress where I had to gather it to make it fit her flat body and her arms. I think I originally was going to put a hat on the back of her head, or I would have made a neater job of it. 
This is how I fixed her legs in the end. I halved a cork, embedded the wire in the surface in a groove, then glued them on with silicon glue. It takes a long time to dry, but is pretty strong once it does. 
The thing I have been working on this week is the crown for the second frog. He is the Frog Prince, so needs a crown. My Dad could have made one much more easily than me, but I wanted to do it. Above is my paint experiment area, trying various gold options. I was going to paint it yellow, but my yellow paint has gone lumpy, and a new tin is expensive, so I am trying gold stuff I already had, well, apart from the tiny tin of enamel paint, but that was a few pounds. 
In this photo it is easier to see the effects. The one at the bottom of the rectangle piece of wood is my favourite I think. It is Pebeo Prismé paint. They produce an effect that looks like hammered metal. It is oil based so should be ok outside. My other option is a gold wax, which I would have to varnish, so the little triangle has that on. I will decide in the morning!

Thursday 23 September 2021

Holiday Home

When I saw this  case in one of my favourite charity shops a while ago I knew exactly what it was. A travelling doll bedroom for the Girlettes! It is perfect as it has a luxurious satin fabric inside, pockets and a shelf for extra accomodation. First  though, they all said that they had no pajamas. I can't make pajamas, so they had to put up with nightdresses instead. 
Trying it out for size.
Duvet and pillow in rainbow stripes. Minnie likes it!
But even better with a cup of tea and a good book.

Nightdresses made. Left to right Minnie, Madeline, Hope, Racer and Lorna. 
The mini lamp is meant to be a reading light for humans but is so much better as a bedroom lamp. The lightbulb is also a reading light. I have had both of these for ages and now they have a purpose. 
There is various bedding to choose from. I made a knitted blanket in moss stitch, a knitted blanket from furry yarn which is so soft, a rug, large seaside cushion, duvet and pillow and a quilt. So now if we ever go anywhere we will be ready!

Tuesday 21 September 2021

Recent Projects

 I have been quite busy making things over the summer. My Dad wanted two more frog signs for the fences either side of his gate. He cut the shapes out and I have painted one, and am nearly finished the second one. I embroidered a frog for Joan for her birthday. I have been doing a little embroidery, after lacking inspiration earlier in the year and finding an online class about visible mending of clothes and otherwise embellishing them. That inspired me to do a few things, only one of which involved clothes! I have also made a doll from an old shoe sole from the foreshore. This is a project I have been meaning to do for ages so I am glad to have finished her. I don't have a good finished photo yet though. Another long in the planning stage project which I have now done, is to make a paintbrush from cat whiskers. This took a long time to get ready, as many whiskers had to be collected. In addition to my cats,  many client cats also contributed! The tricky part with collection is remembering that you have one in your bag wrapped in a piece of tissue or other container. This week I have been experimenting with plaster bandage, but have not decided exactly what I am doing yet! 

Joan's frog, hanging on the frog princess dress, at least I think that would be who should wear it. It was scrunched up with a pile of clothes on a Deptford market stall, and I thought I might use the fabric as it is too small for me. When I looked at it properly though I didn't want to cut it up as I think it is beautiful. I have enjoyed looking at it hanging on the back of the bathroom door ever since! It makes a good background for the frog too. The wall on the right is halfway through being stripped and I suppose could be called 'distressed'. I quite like it!

I appliqued the frog but chose completely the wrong sort of fabric-really easily frayed cotton, so had to stitch it all the way round. I bought the fabric for the colours, not really planning what I would make. I was thinking of  Ce n'est pas une pipe with the this is not a frog wording.

It took ages doing this toadstool, then I found that I didn't like it that much.I think the dome part is too big.  Adding little people made it a bit better but still not as keen as I thought I would be.

This book is very inspiring, and as soon as I saw the idea for a cat whisker brush I was excited to try it. I have had some sticks lying around for a few years, picked up because of the pretty yellow lichen on them. Well, the lichen is no more, as the sticks turned out to be the perfect handles for the two brushes I made. I peeled off the bark, cleaned them up using sand paper and a slight amount of whittling, then carved the end to the right size to fit into the ferrule, made from a piece of a goose quill. (I had some of those in the drawer, also around for years!) The hardest thing to do was to cut the end of the quill to the right size. It has to be scored round and round, rather than cut straight through as it needs to stay in shape. It is a very hard, plastic like material. Actually, that was not the hardest part, it was laying the whiskers, which are nearly all slightly curved, in such a way that they lay in the same direction and form a point. I had got better at it by the second brush but it is fiddly. I used silicon glue inside the ferrule as I thought that would be a good waterproof option. I later wrapped the ferrule in plaster bandage to secure everything a bit more. You have to cut the bristles straight across at the ferule end once they are tied, with a knife/scalpel-most satisfying. I also changed what I did from his advice by making a large open knot before laying down the bristles, as I thought that would mean less movement when tying them! Another thing I did, to make it possible to poke the brush through the ferrule from the top, (once the dab of glue I used to secure the cut bristles was dry), was to use soap on the brush to form a point and let it dry. Otherwise it would be impossible to get through the hole. I was pleased with the result of this project. The brushes are very long and thin, as you would expect, and make a beautiful long thin line when pulled backwards along the paper. 
What to do with the doll's feet took me a while to work out. I wanted her to stand up, and originally planned to use clay with a slot in, and make two feet together. Then I thought I could use a wire armature, and poke the wire through the holes in the sole, and make her stand up. I realised after a bit of experimentation that it would not work. In the end, I kept the wire, with sewn and stuffed feet around it, and card soles in the bottom, and decided to use plaster bandage around them. The string is to shape the feet before the bandage layer.
Here are the finished feet. Then I had the problem of how to attach them. I solved it eventually and will show that another time. 

I used sliced cork for the sole, and was going to paint it but have left it as I like how it looks.

Her face is drawn with Faber Castell Polychromos pencils. 
Frog one!
A crystal ball wrapped in cling film. 
Then half covered in bandage. 

And finally, a project involving the girlettes has been completed. They will show and tell soon!

Monday 20 September 2021


My brother came up on Saturday evening for dinner and scrabble. He brought his latest carving to  show us.I am calling him Skully. He is a very happy looking skull, despite his open brain.
I didn't deliberately have the crown in the background, it is just Netflix's frozen screen, but it fits!
I thought Skully might like a flowery adornment!

Sunday 19 September 2021

Red and Black

This is Julie, my doll from when I was about four. I have a picture somewhere of me walking along holding her hand.She is looking quite scary in this picture but she isn't really. She used to talk, by the magic of little coloured records that went in her back. I can't remember what she said. She also 'walks', with a little manipulation. Her clothes when I brought her back from Mum's, where she lived for a long time, were a white lacy dress and a blue and red stripey poncho. This dress and jumper are from a charity shop. She is just about big enough for small children's clothes. The trunk behind her belonged to one of Andy's relatives, Captain Borland, and makes a good tv stand. 
This is also from a charity shop and was bought for the front cover, rather than the information inside, though it does have lots of photos of great old buses. Just behind is a wooden London bus from a great junk shop in Greenwich. 
The final red and black picture is from a recent trip to the foreshore. This is the oil cap (I think) of a recently deceased boat near the yacht club. At the beginning of the summer the rest of the boat was there, but now only the engine and a buoy remain, too heavy to have been broken and floated away. I would really have liked to take the oil cap, but I thought that if I did then the oil inside would get into the river so I left it. I did find a light with glass still intact, an enamel dish and some cutlery, all of which I took.
This is what it looked like. I wonder who it belonged to and why it ended up there. Just next to the pier is another wreck that has been there all the time I have been going there. So now it has a friend. 


Friday 17 September 2021

Flowers and Plants

 A selection of pictures from the last three months...

I find this romano cauliflower hard to believe. It is so like one of those horrible fractal pictures (where I could never see the hidden image) and looks like someone must have designed it on a computer. 
Nextdoor but one's apple tree. Oliver moved just as I took the photo! He looked so good against the red and green.
Free plants from the roof. Left behind along with rubbish, a disintegrating foam chair and general mess. I had to go up and clear it once the foam pieces from the chair started to blow off the roof into our garden. It took me about an hour and a half, and I got stuck up there for a while as Andy went indoors and didn't hear me calling him to hold the ladder! I took the picture because of the lovely shadows, cast by the self seeded buddleia on our decking level-minus the decking, and plus cracked concrete. It provides good shade on the sunnier days. The table is a street find.
Another roof, on flats in Greenwich where I was cat sitting in the summer. Buddleia there too!
And yet more. A messy area I was cleaning, an old pan with a lid on, and when I lifted the lid, a Buddleia sprout and lots of roots. 
Another geometrical plant. An Aeonium from Cornwall a long time ago. I should repot them as I am sure they would do much better. 
Stone dog with plant adornment and snail necklace. 
Pretty orange rose from a sweet girl in the nursery. She picked it from her garden.
Some of the plants in the communal garden near the nursery.


The leaves of the hollhock have lots of tiny holes in. I only noticed this when looking at the photo. I was looking more at the light shining through the flowers. 

Some meadow planting near there too. Camberwell does very well with communal gardens. There are little gardens all over the place and they are full of interesting plants. 

We have catnip outside the back door. These are the flowers. They are so pretty and delicate. They remind me of pasta.

This year I used the wire rack from the street to plant petunias. They looked good for about a week.

Then the rain came, and the snails came too. Snails think that Petunias are a very tasty snack, and in the end I gave up fighting them, and let them eat. The ones in the bigger pots I put on the steps lasted much longer but the others were soon gone. 
I also had one plant which I kept indoors. It was the kind with the white spots like stars on the purple petals. It flowered for ages and I loved it. I trimmed it about a week ago and carried on watering it and it is now flowering again. Below is my attempt to draw/paint it. 

Saturday 11 September 2021

Inconsequential Everydayness

Because consequential things are too much to contemplate in the world at the moment. The increase in mental health problems for people only seems like a sensible response to me. If you haven't got some level of anxiety then I think that would be strange! I miss blogging and keep thinking about writing a post, and take photos all the time and then it never happens. So I thought I would pop in. We are waiting for a currry to be delivered and are going to watch the fnal of the tennis with Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez. I am not normally a tennis follower but this will be a good one. My Mum would have loved it, and loved watching Wimbledon on tv every year. I will watch it for her! And it is on at a good time too. Anyway, here are my everyday things from the last while. 
Our flat is quite dark, as it only has windows at the front and back, so the bedroom is light and the hall, and the kitchen too, but the sitting room needs lamps. But at certain times of the day, the sun shines in the front, through the window above the door, and through the kitchen window at the back. The dolls were caught by the light from the front, and my mug by the light at the back. The dolls are from ebay, Linda Sue, and a shop in Headcorn, where Mum and I used to go for lunch at the witch cafe. It wasn't called that but it had witch dolls and was called that in my mind. The mug is from a charity shop, and is my favourite morning tea mug. The light shining through it made it look so beautiful. 

This is the self-seeded buddleia which provides shade in the yard part of the garden. I just trimmed it today to cut the brown flowers off and hope a few more appear. 
I bought a juicer, and was happily making smoothies with almond milk, until I realised that almond milk doesn't really agree with me, so I need to find some other recipes. It is a marvellous machine though. 
Oh dear. Couldn't resist. Vague ideas of an artwork. Still in their box. But, although they are not old, I like them. Mainly because they are a group, and all have different faces. I like the second from the left at the back best. She looks wise.
The lobster is from Andy's parents' house near loch Tummel, that we had many happy holidays in. They sold it in the end as they felt they couldn't look after it anymore. It was amazing, a log cabin with a grass roof that I think was imported from Norway or Sweden in kit form. They didn't build it, but that was its tale. It had a certain woody, woodsmoke smell, and was far too dark at night. I am not scared of the dark, but find total darkness suffocating. That was its only downside though. This lobster used to hang in the kitchen, where Jean made many delicious meals. 
Lastly coffee. Chocolate coffee from the magical coffee machine. This one had its picture taken because of the gradation of colour from bottom to top. 

Right, back to the tennis, which Bollie is now watching closely!