Thursday, 23 April 2015


Don't you just love April? This is my favourite time of the year. The sun is shining but it's not so hot that you feel like doing nothing all day. The hedges in the lanes are full of blossom and the fields full of new life. The days are longer again and it feels like anything you set your mind to is possible!

I had an email this week from someone I taught a long time ago. She tells me it's been 18 years which is quite horrifying. Pam did a lot of work with bleach all those years ago and last week's DMTV video inspired her to pick up her Quink Ink and have another go!

This pumpkin bleach drawing with its text is intriguing isn't it? Great work Pam! I've been enjoying using bleach in my 'Finish Me' art journal too.

This is mimicking the mono print on the facing page. I've also found time this morning for a few quick paintings in my sketchbook.

After so much acrylic painting lately it's lovely to get back to my favourite watercolours.

Not sure where these might lead at the moment but drawing and painting help me get to know swallows a little better.

I haven't featured swallows before as they are really Laura's territory. Have to make sure mine look completely different to hers!

Hope you're enjoying the spring weather and feeling creative too!
Love Linda x

Monday, 13 April 2015

Make do and make better

It's always lovely to hear from people who have been inspired by DMTV. This week Marilyn wrote to say how much fun she'd had making paper bowls after watching a recent video workshop. You may remember one of my bowls from the video.........

I confess I got a bit carried away with the spots!

But probably not as carried away as Marilyn who tells me she plans to make lots more than the eight she's shown me here - I love her enthusiasm!

So, the bowls were made from old envelopes and paper scraps while the decorative spots I added were the punched leftovers from the hanging devices of the talisman pockets.

Which in turn were made from old photos and scraps of original artwork. Just shows how I can never bear to throw anything away.

But my hoarding instincts are vindicated when old bits and pieces are just what're called for in a project! I get a lot of satisfaction from creating something out of next to nothing.

My latest recycling challenge comes in the form of these less than lovely pieces of wood. It's my own fault I suppose - I had mentioned to Laura how much I'd loved some paintings on driftwood I'd seen recently. It's dangerous to say anything like that to her because, quick as a flash, these wooden panels were thrust into my hand. The top one looks like an apprentice piece from someone learning to carve, the other two were salvaged from an Edwardian wardrobe door, all complete with dust and cobwebs as you can see. My task, should I wish to accept it, is to make something of beauty from each - we'll have to see what can be done!

Thanks for reading today - Love Linda x

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Secrets and dreams

To all the lovely people out there who were kind enough to send messages for us to include in the Talisman pockets I would like to say a huge thank you. The messages were heartfelt and obviously sincere. We've had very personal expressions of hope for specific individuals, quotes from favourite poems, uplifting phrases to help people through difficult times and more general wishes for a kinder and safer world. I hope that expressing your hopes and dreams has had a cathartic effect and that you are pleased to be an important part of this work.

If you're wondering what's happened to the messages right now, here is the first batch. They've been handwritten onto red paper and the papers folded and closed with stitch so they will remain forever secret. As each is transcribed to paper the emails have been deleted so the secrets now only exist in their allotted pockets. It's been quite an emotional experience to read your thoughts and hopes. Although no one else will ever have the opportunity to see everything you've sent, just knowing these secret wishes exist will make a powerful contribution to the overall meaning of the exhibit. For us, it's also important to see that a trace of the black ink is visible through the paper.  It shows there are messages contained within but from the outside the words are illegible and the sentiments remain hidden. Secret and powerful but invisible - gives me goosebumps just to think about it!

The preparation of the messages might progress more quickly if the studio assistant had a better understanding of the process. Apparently rectangles aren't as creative as confetti - good job we have a plentiful supply of red paper.

On a less cerebral note, it's the weekend and time for our usual visit to the local market. Who'd have suspected when we left home this morning that we'd come home with this........?

Strange the things that tempt when all you planned for was a bit of fruit and veg! It's called a Kalimba and basically it's half a gourd with a flat wooden top and a few fingers of metal. He who gardens often demonstrates a taste for the exotic when it comes to musical instruments!

It was only fair that I deserved a treat too don't you think?  Couldn't resist this Irish pot!

Something about the drippy glaze reminds me so much of my sketchbook pages. Another small pleasure in a troubled world. Looking at the glorious colours makes me very happy.

Hope your weekend is filled with sunshine, positive thoughts and the odd self indulgence.

Love Linda x
PS There's till time to send in your contributions for the talisman pockets if you want to be included!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Quilting for fun on the PowerQuilter and a blustery day out.

DMTV viewers will be familiar with my recent iris piece. I've really enjoyed adding the details that bring it all to life on the Pfaff PowerQuilter this week. I can't praise the big machine table enough - makes free motion quilting an absolute pleasure and so quick!

On the same subject I was happy to receive this lovely image yesterday........

One of our DMTV members, Mary, tells me she had great fun stencilling the iris design too. Thanks for allowing me to share your photo Mary and good luck with the quilting. Hopefully this week's video will give you some ideas to inspire!

We've been anticipating it for so long so it was very exciting to see wonderful work materialising in Laura's first two classes last week. The pavilion had seemed so pristine and almost clinical until the place started to gradually fill with the buzz of creative people and their colourful output. I was itching to join in too but had to content myself with providing snacks and lunch! There are lots more photos of both days over on Laura's blog. We've decide summer is upon us so it won't be wholesome vegetable soup and homemade bread next time - we're moving on to salads. Of course there will still be home baked cake and shortbread. You need to keep the engine stoked!

On the day of the second class we voted to leave Laura in peace with her students and entertain Amelie at a local hands-on farm. There were new lambs and goat kids only a day or two old as well as chickens which roam free and peck at your shoes as you sit eating your lunch! It was a wild and windy day with horizontal sleet from time to time but what made my day was meeting a lovely lady who cares for rescued owls. The Tawny owls above had all been involved in car accidents but were obviously recovering well under her tender care. She had a complete parliament of owls for us to admire and even stroke.

You probably know how much I love birds and I really feel I need to paint some of these gorgeous characters even if this little fellow looks more like a stuffed toy than a living and breathing creature!

Hope you're being creative and feeling optimistic for the coming months. There is so much trouble and horror in the world right now we all need to find solace in small pleasures. Be thankful that we have our passion for art and stitch!

Talk again soon,
Linda x

Monday, 23 March 2015

Moving on to the next thing

I feel like I could make talisman pockets in my sleep now! All 100 are now complete and just awaiting their hidden messages. Thanks to everyone who has contributed their secret wishes - we'll be writing them out by hand and stitching the papers closed before popping a wish in each pocket. At present the talismans are pinned higgledy piggledy on my design wall but soon they'll be taken to Bilston Craft Gallery for the Through Our Hands exhibition where no doubt they'll be displayed with a little more care.

This is what 100 look like crammed together!

And here are some collagraphs, intaglio and lino prints in more detail.

The installation is called, 'This is Everything That We Are'. It's an apt title because we've used images and artwork featuring significant objects together with photos of family past and present to make the pockets. Finally we've added hand painted detail, drawing and text. While work for exhibition goes on in the background, we are always busy with other things too.

In April, Laura is offering two workshops about her methods for altering books. She knows I've always got several books on the go so she's asked to borrow a few for students to browse through during their coffee break. This one is all about nests and eggs. I've used pigment pen over a layer of gesso to make a scribbly tree. Many of the pages are yet to be altered so I'm hoping Laura might work into it as part of her demos!

The frontispiece has oil pastel with a wash of watercolour and another pigment pen drawing of the tree and nest. Our garden is full of busy birds with beaks full of mud and twigs at the moment so my theme is certainly current!

The original illustrations are too nice to lose completely so I've just allowed the twigs to cross over a corner of this page. If you'd be interested to take the class please contact Laura to see if there are any places left.

It has suddenly occurred to me that Easter is fast approaching. My mom has had a lovely little summer room added to the back of her house and she doesn't know it yet but this will be her Easter present! (I'll tell her it's better for her than chocolate). One of my watercolour paintings that Jamie printed a while ago has made up into a striking cushion. The colours are particularly gorgeous on the velvet fabric! Fingerprint aren't adding these to their website as there are only a few prints available but you might be lucky if you email to enquire. They have two sizes on velvet and cotton fabrics but only a very few of each so you'll have to be quick!

Now that the work for Bilston is as good as finished it's time to move on to the next challenge. Through Our Hands will be exhibiting at Festival of Quilts in August and we have plans for a collaborative quilt that I can't talk about right now. We know exactly what we want to achieve but thinking about something and actually doing anything about it are two distinctly different things. We're actually quite nervous about getting started but if it turns out anything as good as it looks in our imaginations it will be wonderful! What a shame you don't all do telepathy! Lots of research, photography and drawing are needed now. We won't be going anywhere near fabric till we've got all that right!

Have a great week! Love Linda x

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Talisman progress, fascinating book and Poldark's growing on me!

What did you think about episode 2? I enjoyed it much more than the first one although I'm not sure about some of the casting. George isn't repulsive enough is he? If you're a fan of the book and of the first TV series you'll probably feel like I do that he should be bull necked and more solidly built!

On a completely different subject, can I take this opportunity to thank everyone who has sent messages to be included in our Talisman project?

As you can see the numbers are growing. That's just over half of what's planned for the installation but I've run out of pins to show more. I think they'll look quite effective when displayed properly en masse.

Saturday's regular mooch round the antique shops turned up trumps this week. I was searching for books to alter but having started to read this £2 purchase I think it's too good to change.

There are wonderful little hints about padding the dressmaking form out to fit - we're going to need a lot of cotton wool!

This edition was written in 1942 when wartime shortages meant recycling was a necessity rather than a lifestyle choice. I remember my younger brother wearing something similar to this as a baby but I'm not so sure a romper suit made from an old shirt would go down so well today when designer labels are the norm even for little ones.

We've been making good use of the newly renovated pavilion this last couple of weeks. The white walls are great for photographing quilts.

And there's plenty of room for recording videos for DMTV too. Here's a smiley Laura getting ready for the video that'll go live on Thursday. It's a luxury to be able to leave everything spread out for the next recording session but we'll be tidying up before the first students arrive next week!

Thanks for dropping by. Love Linda x

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Poldark, Talisman progress and impulse purchase

So ladies - what do we think? I watched the new series of Poldark on Sunday with mixed feelings. Cornwall looks amazing and I suspect it will be virtually impossible to find a hotel room there this summer. The new Ross has the looks the camera loves and he smoulders enough but I thought he was a bit lightweight compared to the original. Am I being harsh? Has distance lent enchantment? The first series was much slower paced but I preferred that. It gave the story and characters time to develop. The new version races along at a fierce pace, packing so much into each episode. I'm keeping an open mind though and will certainly be watching every week - maybe I'll be won over! Trouble is, when you have been a fan first time round you can't avoid making comparisons.

We're whizzing along with the Talisman installation for the Through our Hands exhibition in Bilston. I've had a fun session waxing images of family members as well as things that have personal significance to us both. These waxed papers will be folded and stitched or fastened with eyelets to make the pockets.

Here's my mom and dad in 1949 with my grandmother when she was just eighteen.

My grandmother was born in the late 1800s in Victorian London. It's hard to believe the changes she witnessed in her 96 years of life! We only have a few photographs of her but most show her wearing lace. I guess in those days you'd don your finest for a formal portrait. It's interesting because the other side of our family were actually lacemakers in Nottingham. They moved to Calais in France before finally emigrating to Australia in search of gold. Don't think they found any though as they ended up sheep farming!

Grandmother's sister, my great aunt, never married but spent many years in service as a ladies companion. Wasn't she a beauty? I have memories of her in later life when she retired and came to live with my grandmother. I think her privileged position in a grand household made her feel somewhat superior to the rest of the family. She was very prim and proper and always corseted into a most unnatural shape. Her posture was impressive but I suspect she couldn't actually bend with all that whalebone! As children we were in awe!

Although we are as busy as ever, it was sale time at the local auction house this week and we had our eyes on a few lots. Unfortunately the old dresser I fancied for my workroom fetched more than three times its estimate - I always pick the good stuff! Disappointed but not wishing to come home empty handed I couldn't resist this lovely C19th knife box. Perfect place to organise some of my pencils and so much nicer than plastic!

Bye for now - Linda x