Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Sunny HIlls

The Pentland Hills were looking splendid when I returned home today. I knew however that a cold wind was blowing and it was feeling quite arctic so didn't mind the fact that we would not be going up there today. This was taken from a lay-by on the A702 and judging by the amount of cars in the various lay-bys many people did go up there enjoying the sunshine. We have been up at this particular spot close to Silverburn but there wasn't enough time left this afternoon to venture up before darkness falls.
Instead I had a very enjoyable Christmas party with the Thistle Quilters this lunchtime, with lots of lovely food and the opportunity to catch up with everyone. This afternoon will be spend on a spot of beading as I would really love to finish the quilt I'm working on before the year is out.

Friday, 19 December 2014

All the Pinks


On an impulse I grabbed all the pink bouquets on display in the supermarket in an effort to brighten up these short, dark days!


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Folding Book 2

It is now quite some time ago since I showed you Folding Book 1 and promised to also show Folding Book 2. Somehow no. 2 lingered on my desk while other things to blog got in the way but now is the time to clear that desk in time for a New Year to start and here it is. It's made following a pattern in book 3 Paper Folding Projects of Ruth Smith's Folded Secrets book series. She calls this book Dragon Book with 19 compartments. You can order the whole set of 4 books directly from her at She accepts both UK cheques and Paypal. Contact her direct for all the information.

I have a hatred of white paper so I cut all the sheets to size and then coloured both sides of all of them, using the gelli plate and acrylic paint. A word of advice: let the paint dry completely before starting to fold them as otherwise they can be very sticky and cling to themselves and each other. Above you can see the book in it's closed position.
 When you open it up this is what you see.
 And folding it open even further you get your first glimpse of the 8 twisted pockets.
This is a closer detail.
And this is a view of one of the twisted pockets opened up (as well as the unhoovered rug!)
It's very hard to show how the folding works in still photographs but above and below are details of some of the large folded boxes opened out.

I have just cut up papers to make another project from book 3 i.e.  Folded Secrets Pattern and Ideas Book and will start gelli plate printing them to make that book in due course. So far, I haven't done anything else with these folded books. For me the fun is in the making but maybe one day I will start filling all those pockets.

You may have noticed that my Blipfoto widget in the sidebar has disappeared. The code no longer worked with the new website that is now up and running. I have been assured that new code will be written and it should be back and when it is it will reappear in my sidebar too.

I'm not universally impressed with the new Blip website, it has to be said. No doubt we will all get used to it but one thing that I take real exception to is the stark white background where before we had soft grey. From an aesthetic point of view photographs look much better against grey than white.  I'm not the only blipper to have a problem with it so hopefully we will get that grey back before too long.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Visiting the donkeys

Meet Ant and Dec although I have no idea who is who. That's okay, I have the same problems with their human namesakes. I could pretend we went to Pentland Plants for a specific purpose but the truth is that I wanted to go and say hello to the donkeys. They are always there the week before Christmas and come from the Borders Donkey Sanctuary near Melrose where by chance I was a few weeks ago visiting a friend.
Ant and Dec were very happily munching away only occasionally glancing up to provide a photo opportunity.
On the way home I spotted another vapour trail (definitely developing an obsession) which seemed to go straight up. Of course that was an optical illusion but together with the very pale sun behind the clouds it provided an interesting picture.

It's a strange day without the Blipfoto site. It is down to be moved to new servers and hopefully by 8pm tonight it will be back bigger and better. Fingers crossed though! Such technical stuff has a huge potential to go wrong so we will have to wait and see. I will blip one of these three pictures although I haven't decided which one yet.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Tributo alla Serenissima Journal Quilt

All Good Things was the December challenge on the Sketchbook Challenge site. We all know how that saying goes: "must come to an end", and I don't want to imply in any way that Venice is about to go under. Lots of money and advanced technology means that such a catastrophe isn't about to happen. What will however finish is the Challenge itself. This will be the very last one and no more themes will be set in 2015 although the blog site will remain available and if you want to start from scratch you can go back to January 2011 and work on all the themes in your own time.

This also means that I will no longer make these monthly 10" square journal quilts after having followed all the prompts religiously for 4 years. And I did feel a sense of relief. Had they continued with themes then so would I. I'm made that way. Once I start a challenge I carry on even when my heart is no longer completely in it. These challenge JQs have produced some of my best work and although some of them were sold during the 52 Journals exhibition, looking at all of them together as I have just done shows the progression of my art over those 4 years as well as the much wider range of techniques I now use compared to a few years ago.
Because it was the last one I took the liberty of forgetting the ending of that All Good Things saying and took just the words as they stood. Nothing more good, or even best than Venice and when I made my mixed media page for the imagined holiday on The Documented Life Project last week I also made the background for this journal quilt which is another of my Venice inspired art. No idea how many Venice related pieces I have made over the years but a lot! And no doubt more will appear in future.

I made the background using calico (muslin in US), my gelli plate and a variety of stencils from StencilGirl. You saw that piece of fabric on an earlier post. Then I used the Carolyn Dube designed large Venice stencil (also from Stencilgirl) and added the outline of those iconic Venetian buildings. I hand stitched along the outline of them. and then added the inches which were leftovers from a previous project and embellished them.
I felt that necessitated something in the left corner area to balance those inchies and thought about a cloud floating by. A fragment of text came to mind and you can see above that I handstitched it on and covered it with Diamond Glaze to make it a bit more sturdy. Little blue star embellishments were added to the sky.
Larger blue embellishments were glued on as seen above. I never fully trust any sort of glue so stitching was also added to hold them in place. For some reason I couldn't make up my mind about the binding and the white one you see is the third one I tried (yes, I stitched the previous ones on and then undid them!). I'm still not fully happy with it but sometimes you have to accept that the perfect binding can't be found, at least not here in my stash.

I haven't decided yet whether or not to continue with  the other series of  journal quilts I have been making monthly for the Contemporary Quilt Group. It will depend on the size and the guidelines they set which won't be revealed till January so I'm keeping my options open. I will have been making journal quilts since 2004 so for 11 years non-stop. Perhaps it's time to draw a line but they have contributed greatly to the development of my art so maybe just one more year of making just one a month! Will keep you up to date as soon as that decision has been made.

It's very unlike me to make so many decisions for the coming new year. It feels like time to take stock this year and decide what I want to do most with my time considering that there is only so much that can be cramped into any one day. If you have been checking out the side bar you will know I have joined some new classes and projects about which more in future. More and more mixed media work seems to creep in so it seemed a good investment to learn more about the techniques used. I'm probably (in fact, definitely!) biting off more than I can manage to chew but I do love a challenge! Nothing learned is ever a waste, has been a life long motto.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Beautiful Skies

It was a bright although very cold day with a fluttering of snow added overnight. The skies over the last few days have been just fabulous and no excuses for trying to capture them every time I see such beauty. Most of the beauty is produced by nature but the human made vapour trails add to it.
 The Pentland Hills were looking their very best in the sunshine and look, more vapour trails.
 And here are a few more, heading straight into the sun.
When we got to the crossroads where we drive into our lane I requested a quick stop to capture this rural idyll. I don't mind the cold when the day looms so bright and full of light. All shopping has been done and cards mailed (I'm feeling super virtuous!) so now I can concentrate on stitching on some beads.


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