Sunday, January 31, 2010

Finishing stuff off

Over the years I have started, but failed to find the time to finish things. Small personal projects, ideas that seemed to work but were too time consuming to complete with all the other more demanding calls on my time. I have decided that in between the larger, time driven projects that I have to complete to get a qualification that I will complete these small pieces.

This is the first one of them.

It was for the Embroiderers Guild branch that I go to, for last year! We have a rainbow banner that lots of different branches have had a different colour to do, and ours was pink! I would never normally, voluntarily work in pink. Far too girly. Basically we all had a small 3 1/2 inch square panel to do which was then sewn together in strips and hung together with the other branches strips and displayed at the regional and annual general meetings. They looked wonderful together. I just missed the deadline because of the complete lack of spare time I suffer from. Oh I know it all sounds like excuses.

Friday, January 29, 2010

What am I like 11/Hundredth post

I have been putting off posting for a few days, partly owing to extreme busy-ness, but also because the 100th post was looming and I got a bit, well, daunted.

I wasn't sure if I should be posting something earth shatteringly important witty and wise or whether it should just be another normal run of the mill slightly dull except when I'm describing one of my disasters kind of post.

So here we go dull as ditch water post here we come.

I've had a really busy week what with working 14 hour days and trying to finish my latest project on time, I am now so exhausted that I think my hands belong to someone else. Honestly, my fingers feel too big and I keep hitting the wrong keys on the keyboard. Next time I have a deadline I'm having the week off work. Properly, not, I'll not book any shifts in advance but do every single one that gets offered to me no matter how tired I end up getting.

So, the project went in on time, not without a couple of problems. I had to wash out the water soluble pen I had used to draw the illustration onto the fabric with. Then I had to re-stiffen the fabric afterwards because all the cellulose glue washed out of it with the pen. Then I had to hope that it would dry quickly enough for me to get it on the frame that I made at 11 pm last night (sorry about the sawing, banging and loud swearing noises neighbours, I promise that won't be happening again until May), I then had to stretch and staple the backing fabric into place. The piece hadn't dried last night, so at 7.30 this morning I was stapling it on top the backed frame. In a complete panic and rush, because i had to be at work for 9 to be naked in front of strangers for the morning.

So frame made, quick, disturbed panic stricken sleep, up at sparrow and lark fart, bath, staple to frame, wrap in bin bag to protect it in the car , off to work, stand still for 3 hours, then rush to college to hand it in with accompanying sketchbook and reference materials. Phew.

But now, of course, I have finished my project. My thumbs are twiddling already, because as those who know and still love me (I can see you, peeking out from behind the blast screens) I am incapable of not doing something with my time. A new deadline looms, from quite a distance really. It seems that looming from May might be a bit of a stretch of the imagination, but still it has the potential to loom at me. Plus I have an essay and presentation to write and a presentation workshop to do. And not forgetting all the things that my lovely friends want me to make for them because I am sooooo gifted at making stuff, and the pages for the travelling sketchbooks and making some more stock for sale. See. Can't stay still. Oh the pressure. Problem is with nothing to actually do I get very stressed and depressed and feel sorry for myself and get into a bit of a pickle. Living life in a jar of Branston is not my idea of fun, so on with the business of busy-ness.

Here's the finished project by the way. Hope you like it now you've seen it in progress. I have my fingers crossed for a good mark, but as usual will be delighted with a pass and wonder why I deserved a distinction! Contrary me I know.

So for the first big number post, not too shabby, strangely quirky in places and not too dull. Moderate success I announce.

Now to await the return of the boy with my junk food and a nice cuppa tea to drink while i am waiting.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What am I like 10

I'm on the home straight now.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What am I like 9

I am really cracking on with this now, and I need to, I have a deadline for next Friday and 2 pages to do for the travelling sketchbook I am part of.

Here are the latest progress pics of the What Am I Like project. Once that is done there will no doubt be yet another project to fill my time!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What am I like 8

A little progress today. Must work harder tonight. Not nearly enough done.

What am I like 7

Finally started on the final piece for this project, got a week to get it done, which I should be able to do. I will post pics of the progress.
And here are the first ones.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Life drawing 2

Yesterday, being sunday was life drawing class.

Here is one of the better pictures I made.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What am I like 6

Been playing with my woodcut and printed loads of them off, some better and more interesting than others. So here are loads of pictures for you delectation.

That's all.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A recipe today

As Previously mentioned, I think, I like to cook. For those foodies out there who also like to cook, I thought I'd do an occasional post with a recipe in it for everyone to pass on, enjoy, etc.

Tuna Fish Cakes

Serves 3-4

3-4 medium potatoes peeled, boiled and mashed
2 tins of drained tuna - preferably in oil but brine/spring water will do
1 medium onion
1 red or yellow pepper
black pepper
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp turmeric
1 egg

Finely chop and saute you onion with black pepper, turmeric and basil. As the onion clarifies, add chopped red/yellow peppers. Allow to soften but not to caramelise. Allow to cook slightly, then add to the already cooled mashed potatoes. Add more black pepper if you like a sharp flavour. Add the drained tuna and mix thoroughly. Add an egg to bind and shape into burger style rounds. Place in the middle of a preheated oven at around gas mark 5, 450F/225c for about 35 mins until the top is golden brown.

Serve with a green or mixed salad.

If the tuna is in oil drain this into the frying pan and use instead of fresh oil to saute the vegetables. This will give the fish cakes a deeper and stronger flavour, and will retain some of the vitamins that have leeched from the tuna.

Let me know what you think. Have fun!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness

I've had an interesting couple of days.

Been offered a really interesting job, which I have accepted. Gives me regular income and flexibility. Plus I get to work with some interesting people, staff and clients. All to the good.

Saved a little black Labrador who was wandering around on a busy but badly lit road on my way home from work. I stopped my car, put my hazards on and waved down the traffic to stop it while i got the dog into my car. I thought it would take a bit of persuading, but no. Up into the back of the car like she totally belonged there. Thankfully she was wearing a tag, which said her name was Betty (totally suited her, absent minded old lady but pleasant with it, the type of old lady they call pleasantly confused). I rang both numbers on the tag, half hoping that no-one would answer as she was a REALLY sweet natured old girl, and I would then have an excuse to take her home with me. But no the second number was answered, I told the man on the line where I was, sitting in the car with the hazards still on and the interior light on so I could talk to the dog and five minutes later a chap turns up in a 4x4 to collect her. Shame really. She was a total sweetie.

Had a serious near miss in my car this morning, as I slid down the road in my car with the brakes applied, skating on the black ice that coated my street from top to bottom on it's 15% incline. I confess I nearly cried and worried a lot about the Citroen ax at the bottom of the street that was worth about the same as the boots I was wearing fast approaching as my car continued to slide. Thankfully I hit tarmac and stopped. I have never been so afraid in my car before.

I've started to do a wood cut, but I think I'm doing it on too small a scale and it's not very good, but I will persevere. If it works, yay! and if it doesn't I can write a bit about why it didn't and then I have personal and professional development sorted for a while.

Taught Josh how to make tuna fish cakes today. They were wonderful, all cooked by mylovely boy. He insists he won't be able to do them again as he's won't remember the recipe. I'll have to start writing them down for him won't I? Only 20 months before I bugger off up to Glasgow(if I get in) and leave him to fend for himself. He refuses to come with me. So he can learn how to look after himself.

I have a totally free day tomorrow, so hopefully I will be able to get on with some college work. Need to really crack on over the next few days or I'll not get the project finished. Looking forward to the next one, which is a self directed project and I want to concentrate on painting. I think I'll be looking at the human form. Loads of scope for playing with technique, media and subject matter. Exciting!Here's the not very good woodcut. It isn't quite finished, but we'll see what it prints like. Pics of the prints will follow when I next post.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Shameless Plugging 2

Just a quickie to plug yet more merchandise. I'm trying to get my head around sorting out a Paypal button if possible on my page to sell direct. I will aim to getting it on by the end of the month when I have more stock and can find a five minute gap in my extraordinarily busy schedule.

So here they are, new hard backed note books, A6 size this time. Hope you like, feed back appreciated.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Shameless Plugging

So it's the new year, and I'm trying to get motivated to do my homework and finish off some books for sale. Can't seem to sit for too long and it doesn't help that the dog bed is next to my work desk and one of them has eaten recycled cat food, the smell is vile and is putting me off concentrating. I think a cuppa tea may be in order.

I have managed to finish 8 books for sale and I having a big push to get another 4 finished today. Tomorrow is reserved for homework, no making of things for sale! I do have a bag to make for a friend, but that won't actually take that long, it's just a bit fiddly in the putting it together.

So as this is a post about shameless plugging I will include pics of the stuff I have, so far, made for sale. All prices reasonable, all items can be made to order and p&p is also reasonable.

I will be expanding my range to include cushion covers, handbags, shopping bags and more books of different sizes. Please leave a comment if you are interested.Shameless plugging now over. Off to make a cuppa tea.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Anyone who has been alive and awake over the past couple of days will be aware of the UK's complete inability to cope with snow, and the chaos that ensues when a couple of flakes of snow drop on the roads.

Everything is closed, abandoned and blocked. No college, gym, buses or places to go. And I am stuck in the house with my generally wonderful son, who is now showing distinct signs of boredom and will shortly be getting annoying.

I was thinking about going out and taking some photos of the snow, but that all get a bit samey after about 3,000,000 of them have been published over the past week in every single newspaper and on every online forum, social network and blog. Wouldn't want to do the same as everyone else.

I'm trying to get on with getting my stock levels up ready for the new season of craft fairs etc, but, well to be honest, I'm not really that motivated.

OK I gave in and took a couple of photos.

Ain't that pretty? This is the view from my studio. I think I will go out later and get some pics up in the park. More opportunity for better pictures. I've not taken photos for ages, so this will be a good opportunity to get something seasonal. In the meantime, don't get in your car unless you are going to provide essential services, that boring crappy pern pushing office job really doesn't matter that much, keep the kids off school, build snow people and have snowball fights with the neighbour kids and drink gallons of hot chocolate. That's what winter is for. Oh and don't forget to make snow angels. I love them.