Friday, 30 August 2013

A short break in Kent

A fine figure of a man - one of the wonderful sculptures at Hole Park.

I've just returned from a few days in Kent with my Dad. We had a fabulous time wandering around gardens and vineyards - I feel as though I have been away for a week. It was great to drive about, not having to be somewhere by a set time.

We visited three gardens, Sissinghurst Castle, Marle Place and Hole Park. I haven't been to Sissinghurst for a few years and it is just as beautiful as ever - but very busy and very - National Trust.

Wonderful shadows created by the nut walk at Sissinghurst.

Beautiful borders on a large scale.

Stunning structure created by the well tended hedges and trees.

And glorious colours . . .

Marle Place Gardens is a different kind of garden altogether. A private garden open to the public every day apart from Thursday. It is an exquisite place to wander for the best part of a day. They don't serve lunch - just teas and coffees and delicious home made cakes. I can't recommend this garden highly enough. It is small enough not to be overwhelming but intriguing and exciting enough to entertain for several hours.

The flower beds are still looking luscious even this late in the summer.

The yew hedges are sharp and there are various topiary shapes around the garden.

What most fascinated me were the many odd sculptures lurking around in all manner of places around the garden. Very quirky and kooky . . .

 A lovely water feature . . . .


Fabulous mosaic . . .

 . . .  and you can't resist a swing . . . . at any age . . . 

And a great place to drink tea and eat gorgeous cake.

Do check it out

Today it was onto Hole Park Gardens before we drove home - another private garden, this time only open on Wednesdays and Thursdays. A very beautiful garden indeed - more formal than Marle Place Gardens.

Again this garden is worth checking out - there aren't coach loads of tourists to get in the way of every photo you want to take and there is plenty to see for every type of gardener.


I am teaching my ExTex group in Redditch this weekend, then it's off to teach at Art Van Go and then Denman college. It will be a busy nine days or so . . . . 

Have a great weekend.

x x x

Monday, 26 August 2013

A New Starting Point 20 - 22 August Foredown Tower - part the second

 One of the many beautiful views from Foredown Tower

 So . . .  onto part 2. 

 A New Starting Point includes making faux chenille with newspaper. The group layered eight sheets of A4 newspaper with polyester organza. Using contrasting colours of paper and organza can create some very colourful samples. The layers of newspaper need to have some support otherwise your work will fall apart. Adding a sew-in interfacing such as classic pelmet Vilene (S80/239) or the 'pelmet Vilene light' to the back of your work - Vilene interfacings will re enforce your work. Once you have stacked your layers up you then machine stitch 'tramlines' across the whole sample, your 'channels' need to be at least 1/2 inch apart. If the 'channels' are too close together you wont be able get your scissors down the 'channels' to cut them.

Another tip when stitching newspaper faux chenille is to use a long stitch, the longest your machine will do - usually no 4. Once you have stitched your sample you then cut down the channels with a pair of scissors (not your best ones) or a special rotary cutter that has an extension specifically for cutting faux chenille. You can then 'scuff' up the resulting cut sample. you can use a scrubbing brush, a suede brush, your fingers . . .  but whatever you do, do it gently - your work will be perforated with lots of little holes


 Jean wading through her piles of newspaper and painted Bondaweb.

After the faux cehenille it was onto making the samples to cut the jewellery blanks from. The layered and decorated newspaper from the previous post was ironed onto S133, the heaviest iron-on interfacing. This process makes colourful, light weight jewellery. The S133 can be cut with scissors or a scalpel but you get a better finish if you can lay your hands on a die cutting machine.
 Diane using my Big Shot Pro die cutting machine to cut here jewellery blanks. It is big enough to use the 12" dies, but if you are only using the smaller 6" dies for the smaller shapes, you can use a basic Big Shot die cutting machine.
 I didn't want to go into a full jewellery making class by making up the earrings and brooches - that would be another course, at least another day. However, I think you can see the potential in all the shapes above.

 Jean ironed her black and white newspaper sample onto the new Decovil 1 light - a soft, leather like iron-on interfacing. She cut this box shape with a pair of scissors and will use the flower shape as part of the clasp.

 Many of you will know that I love older sewing machines, my Bernina 707 is usually the oldest in the room - but not this time - Jean bought in her Bernina 530 - 2, it's older than me and just purrs as it stitches - just wonderful.

 A beautiful old Bernina 530-2.

So that's if for now - I'm off to muck out my cutting room . .
enjoy the rest of the day. 

Hello Jill, Diana (no squinting now) and Robbie!!

 x x x

Saturday, 24 August 2013

A New Starting Point 20 - 22 August Foredown Tower - part the first

Layers of torn newspaper and painted Bondaweb.

Regular readers of this blog will know how much I love teaching at Foredown Tower - high up on the Sussex Downs you can see for miles. It is also home to a wonderful camera obscura. The tower is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays with camera shows at 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm. On a clear day you really can see forever . . .  . Foredown Tower

A New Starting Point is my newspaper based workshop. It is easily my most popular workshop I have ever written. Once the group get the hang of the 'background' and 'pretty' rotation, they are off and away, having great fun throwing glitter and gilding flake around with great abandon. I think that because the workshop is process driven and the samples aren't supposed to 'look like' something, the students can just relax and enjoy making their samples.

Colour washed newspaper printed in a similar colour with a wooden printing block.

Once the samples have been layered to the students satisfaction, they can then decide which iron-on interfacing to use to iron their newspaper sample onto. Decovil 1 and Decovil 1 light are new iron-on interfacings that feel very leather like. The are for interfacing bags but I think they are fabulous for craft projects too.From book covers - decorative shoes. 
For projects that need a more sturdy support such as boxes and jewellery then the S133 comes up trumps. The jewellery blanks that we made on the course will feature in the second part of the post.

The following images show the first part of the workshop -


The group on with their 'backgrounds' and 'pretties'.


A sea of mess - it is very difficult to keep the tables tidy - though I do my best to nag!!!!


We used wooden printing blocks to enhance the samples using a colour that was in the work to print with - it is important for the prints to blend into the work - not jump out! Transfer foil was also used to add colour and bit of flash.

The little shiny squares on a lot of the samples are Blingy Bitz, the larger gold flakes are gilding flake - both of the these are available from - Blingy Bitz ( these are so new the images are not on the website yet but here is a pic that might help) -

The gilding flake can be found here - so many colours to choose from - 

I loved these samples by Lynda - very well considered colour combinations with sensitive use of embellishments.



That's all for now - I have my best friend arriving to stay for the weekend and the house is  - a right mess!!!! Whilst I love teaching - it is wonderful to have a whole weekend off - Yeehaa!!!!

Have a great weekend.


Hello Jill and Jill!!

Diana - not long now - you'd better batten down the hatches . . . x