'If you make happiness your goal, then you're not going to get to it… The goal should be an interesting life."

Dorothy Rowe

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Inkaid, monoprints, security blankets and Christmas cake.

are what I've done today. [Sorry to mention the C word.]

These are closeups of the latest Inkaid experiments - the ones where I sponged the Inkaid on fabric. I am a little disappointed by the black one - it is the same image as the one here but has come out duller, but without the anticipated improvement in handle - hand stitch would still be difficult.

The orange one is better - the orange fabric compensates for the loss of colour in places. Orange isn't my favourite colour but there is some in the image and this piece of hand dye was sitting in my stash waiting for an opportunity to emerge into the spotlight. [That's the trouble with dyeing colour wheels - you get orange as one of the steps!]

I have also continued to obliterate my monoprints. One of these you have already seen [still waiting for a Klimtian swirl], but the other two I finished today. The one with the squashed spider [a.k.a. a tassel] has foil on the appliqued vase shape and sloppy beading around the edge. I used a little bag of very mixed beads - what my grandfather would have called 'factory sweepings' - and just sewed them on as they came. 'Could do better.'

The third one I am quite pleased with. There are actually three monoprints - the original black paint on brown paper, some blobby gold paint on Bondaweb, and a final layer of black paint on scrim. A will know where the idea came from - an oldie but goodie.

I also started work on IgglePiggle's blanket - thanks to those who gave me advice on using fleece. I decided to make a single hem, to give some bulk for the blanket stitching - and machined it first for security. If there is anything worth listening to on TV tonight I will get started on the blanket stitch - I want get it finished for a VIBP [very important birthday party] next month. If you don't know, IgglePiggle is a character in a children's TV programme which Babybel enjoyed while she was with us - although I think her granddad enjoyed it more. Mmmm - I do have another piece of fleece and he has a birthday coming up too ...

And we made our Christmas cake today.I used to make it in half-term week while I was working and the tradition has continued now I'm not - although Wensleydale did most of it while I supervised. It is a Dan Lepard recipe called 'Black Christmas Cake', although it doesn't look much darker than normal. It has Guinness in it. Contrary to rumour, I do not put Guinness in all my cakes - just most of them. I don't make many cakes, and this is my default birthday cake recipe.

Sunday 26 October 2008

What to do with a horrible bit of black monoprinting on brown paper?

Add a bit of bling. Well - a lot of bling. Minimalist it isn't.

First you crumple the brown paper and Bondaweb it to felt. I rubbed it with gold wax but it was pretty subtle - well, more like invisible.

Then you FME it. I used a variegated thread but with hindsight wish I'd used black as it would have shown up more. Or gold.

Then I cut it into 3" by 4" pieces and played around with them. Two ended in the bin - Maggie Grey may be able to cut a brown paper and felt sandwich with a soldering iron but all I got was ragged edges, a nasty smell and a headache.

As they looked boring I decided to try foiling one. I discovered that one advantage of the stickiness of cheapo acrylic paint is that, when ironed, it takes foil well. As you see.

I was looking for beads for something else but these fake jet ones demanded to be a fringe. With gold thread. I added the French knots to try to bring out the swirls of machine stitching - but I'm not sure it works. Perhaps a few more? I also think it needs a focal point - probably some Klimtish spirals, unless anyone has any better ideas? Funny how black and gold always make me think of Klimt.

I like the back too -and the negative scan is quite ghostly.

I have also printed on the paper which I stamped and sponged with Inkaid. The sponged one is more suitable for my purpose - but I like the stamped one too. I hope this may produce fabric I can hand sew - some fabric is drying as I type.

And I have finished - at last - a monster piece of computer knitting. What is computer knitting? i like to have something mindless to work on while reading e-mails or doing anything else computer related that doesn't need hands. it has to be stocking or garter stitch - or rib, although that can go wrong more easily - nothing I have to think about / look at too often.

For many months I have been using up my oddballs of black, grey, turquoise and yellow in a blanket - I just cast on lots of stitches and knit garter stitch, changing colour every row and leaving long ends to make a fringe. It has turned out to be big enough to cover the legs of both of us when we sit together on the sofa - so with a sweater on the top half, we can turn the heating down and put two fingers up to British Gas!

Trouble is, I haven't got anything to knit now, apart from a baby cardigan which is definitely not computer knitting!

Saturday 25 October 2008

What to do after C&G?

Yesterday was the first session of the 'Contemporary Textile Workshop' at Eastleigh College which I signed up for, post C&G. It is taught by Sue Chapman, who is the P&Q teacher and also taught my 'Creative Sketchbooks' course, and Terrie Hitchcock who is the new embroidery teacher. I wanted to sign up for it because I know Sue is a good teacher and I had been told Terrie is - and because the work exhibited by last year's students was amazing.

So A. and I toddled along yesterday, not really, in my case, knowing what to expect - but having a good idea that we wouldn't be doing any sewing. Good job, as although I had everything apart from the kitchen sink, I had forgotten my specs.

We were told that the course will focus on design -great, just what I need - and that while last year they had looked at colour, this year it was mark-making. Less great- despite a recent outbreak of black and white I like colour. Preferably lots of it and very bright. I feel much less confident about mark making - so it is probably a good thing really.

We were given trays with pieces of paper towel in them, on which Quink had been drizzled, and strips of B&Q heavy duty lining paper.
Take note of the exact specification - I am a lining paper fanatic, ever since the guy who decorated our living room 2 years ago left me a roll of the stuff he used. Believe me, that didn't come from B&Q and when I discovered how much it cost I decided to use it very, very, carefully.

The B&Q stuff is pretty good [I understand the non-heavy duty isn't] and has different textures on each side, one cream and smooth, the other white and grainy. Of course, asked to do pattern - some of us came over all representational... I realised again that when asked to do this sort of thing I don't do it BIG enough, so what I do can look mean and uninspiring.

The rest of the day was spent monoprinting. I am ambivalent about monoprinting - other people produce some wonderful stuff, but I am always disappointed by my own efforts. Which is why you are seeing only a limited sample here. We were initially restricted to black and white but allowed a little colour in the afternoon, so I got out the Koh-i-noor. I think if I was clever enough I could make monoprints that looked like linoprints - but then why not make linoprints?

We have the month until the next session to develop some ideas for stitch. I was feeling pretty disheartened about it all this morning [not helped by another insomniac night] - but when I returned to my book of the month, 'From image to Stitch' I realised that monoprints could replace ink jet prints. and almost anything looks better if you cut it up.

I had an outbreak of the 'What if's' - so I have spent much of today following some of them up. No pictures as they are still drying - I don't want too much sticky acrylic paint on the scanner.

Unfortunately it was only right at the end of today that:
  • I realised it was best to put the paint in a paint tray and then transfer it to the print surface, rather than squeezing it straight on, and

  • I found a design idea I really liked,so

  • I began to produce prints that satisfied me.
Sue and Terrie encouraged us to print on tissue paper and Bondaweb it to fabric - but- what if I print directly on to Bondaweb? I thought it might not work, and the prints are pretty smeary, but that may just be my poor monoprinting technique.

I am thinking of making a vessel, [continuing with the Tamsin Van Essen theme] so what if I print directly onto craft Vilene? Again - a bit smeary - this was early on in the session, so I need to revisit it.

I tried several other fabrics - poly satin worked well but looks best from the reverse side so I have a good print on the matte side, or a darker, less subtle print on the shiny side. Scrim worked surprisingly well, and was good for squeezing out a second print. Curtain lace doesn't really show the pattern but looks good anyway. Some linen-look poly also worked well, as did the same black cotton I used for the Inkaid.

Speaking of which - I made two paper samples, one with Inkaid on a rubber stamp and one with a natural sponge. They are drying at present but I will try printing them tomorrow and see how they look. If the idea works I will try it on fabric. Another what if - what if i use Inkaid on some hand dyed fabric [not black]?

Thursday 23 October 2008

Inkaid - Part 2

I have been playing again - with the paper and fabric I painted with Inkaid, and with cereal box transfer painting. I'll come back to the Inkaid later.

I have far too many printouts of ideas from the Internet, and most of them just sit in a file and never get used, However a suitable box became available just after I found this one, so I had a go. It wasn't a cereal box - our cereal comes in bags - but a boil in the bag rice box, although I think any stiff card would do.

Whether it was because the surface of the box was very shiny, or because I was using cheapo gesso, but when I tried to paint the gesso it began to peel off. So as I didn't like the look of the print on the box showing though anyway, I worked on the inside. In future, if I want the print to show, I will try sanding the box lightly first.

I also used cheapo T-shirt transfer paper so the result is very shiny - but as I will be using them for book covers [now there's a surprise] I don't mind the shininess. I do like the way the gesso and paint background shows through the image, though - a photo I took at 'Another Place', manipulated in Paint Shop Pro.

I am still impressed with the Inkaid. I used black paper and black fabric, with two coats of Inkaid - but I think one would have been plenty. This time I tried to choose images that would cover as much of the white Inkaid as possible.

This is one of my 'stellar' designs - a 'Neocolour' drawing also manipulated in PSP. This version is on paper, printed in draft mode, then, as usual, scanned four times -normally, with inverted colours, in grey scale and black and white. I do like to get my money's worth out of a piece!

This is the same image, printed in normal mode on fabric. I didn't bother trying best mode, it didn't seem necessary. This one looks as good in the flesh as it does on my monitor. I think there is a touch of Mackintosh about the top right hand corner!

In this one the Inkaid is more evident, but I don't find it a problem, as I think it contributes to the swirliness.

The Inkaid definitely stiffens the fabric, although presumably that would be less evident with only one coat. I was going to hand stitch but it may end up machined becasue of the stiffness and resistance to a needle.

I would like to try sponging or stamping the Inkaid on, rather than putting it on with a brush. I hope this would break the image up, either randomly or in the shape of the stamp. Inkaid is runnier than the I would usually use for stamping, but I hope it would work, and might reduce the stiffness.

Not sure when I will get round to this as it is the first session of the 'Contemporary Textiles Workshop' tomorrow. As usual in first sessions of textile courses - the list of things to bring makes no mention of textiles...

I forgot to mention that we had a Wednesday wander yesterday - a quick trip to Whitchurch Silk Mill where the North Downs Lace Makers have a small exhibition. A very friendly lady offered to show me how to make lace - but I think I have enough fibre habits for now and doubt I have the patience for lace - see previous discussions of my low tolerance for repetition. Now if it had been spinning it would have been a different story.

If you live near enough to the Silk Mill and fancy visiting their exhibitions - if you pay the Gift Aid entrance fee they give you a year's free pass - which is one reason we go regularly!

And finally - Lynn has asked what needle I use for stitching on paper. Obviously a lady who likes asking hard questions! I tend to shove part-used machine needles into a pin cushion to use when sewing paper - by which time I have forgotten what they were. I know some people have machine needle cushions marked with sizes and types and if I ever need an excuse for making another needle cushion, I'll make one like that.
To be serious - it is probably Organ brand, and at least a size 90, because of the thickness of the sandwich I am sewing. Sorry I can't be more helpful, Lynn!

Tuesday 21 October 2008

I've been experimenting again,

trying techniques from Maggie Grey's 'From Image to Stitch'. I have decided that one of the reasons I have felt unsettled is that I want to play but also feel I need to work in my compost heap - er 'studio journal' - for the class on Friday. Solution? Experiment - but use themes from the journal. Obvious really, isn't it?

I bought some Inkaid at the Knitting and Stitching Show, so, at last, I got round to using it. [We won't mention the bottle of Bubble Jet Set I bought - er - several years ago and have only opened once. That is 'opened'. Not 'used'.]

Now you may have noticed that occasionally I use black in my work. [I wear it too, although I shouldn't, without a tastefully arranged pink or apricot scarf. Unfortunately I don't do tastefully arranged scarves. Chic I ain't.]

So I was keen to try out printing on black paper, as suggested by Ms Grey. The Inkaid bottle suggests two coats but my Yorkshire genes [I tend to keep quiet about those, but I do have some] suggested I try just one. So does Maggie, but as you will see I am very good at skim reading and then working on the basis of what I thought I read ...

I learned that:

  • Inkaid is white. It shows on black paper if not covered with print. Of course Maggie points this out but that only registered with me after I had printed.

  • The brush marks show.
A bit of judicious tearing removed the white bits from this one, which was one of these. I backed it with black felt and practiced FME on. Not the greatest piece of work in the world, but as Wensleydale pointed out, you can't get samples wrong.

It has just occurred to me to wonder whether it would have looked any different if I had printed on white paper. Maybe I'd better experiment some more!

I also tried printing on brown paper [no Inkaid]. I learned from this:
  • Print first, scrumple second. Trust me, the other way round is not a good idea. This piece is this size because that is how far it got before the printer threw its hands up in horror and refused to go any further.

  • Brown paper is dark. So if you print a dark picture on it it will get darker. Which is what happened to this guy. So I made it worse by ironing shreds of black FuseFX over him.

A scan in inverted colours looks quite spooky.

I have also returned to Dunnwewold at al's 'Finding your Own Visual Language' which I enthused about last year, worked partly through and then lost interest in. I think it was being asked - again - to draw lines expressing emotions. [I know I could skip that bit but I am a linear thinker and I have difficulty giving myself permission to do things like that.]

Looking at the book again prompted me to try some of the ideas with pots, starting with chopping them up. I do like the starkness of black and white.

Sunday 19 October 2008

I am finding it hard to settle to anything at present.

I think this is because on Friday it is the first session of the 'Contemporary Textile Workshop' I have started to replace C&G. I have been pottering around with my sketchbook for the class. I find this disruptive because I slosh paint on - go away while it dries - come back and stick in pictures - worry that there aren't many actual 'sketches' in the sketchbook - tell myself I ought to be doing some drawings - paint some more pages - forget the other things I was going to do like experiment with Inkaid - etc. etc. etc.

I have been working on my little pot book [going to pot, you could say]. Sorry for the quality of the images - I am still cameraless. Cheese Major thinks he may be able to get the 'deleted' images out of my camera, provided I don't use it in the meantime - so I have to wait until he can do it.

This is a stuffy pot, with a hand made stamp and doodles on the other page.

This is wonky wrinkly reverse applique. The opposite page is strips of hand made paper and layout paper sewn together, so you can just see the stamp on the next page through the layout paper.

There is one benefit to my restlessness - I am also finishing off UFOs - three so far. This is an illuminated letter from the 'Embroidery Now' class I took with Florence Daisy Collingwood [wonderful name!] last month. We could choose between B [for book - it is on a book mark] or N for needlebook. As the class was just after I had finished the infamous needlecushions - I opted for the book mark.

Having completed the bookmark, I had to find a suitable book to put it in. We don't have a family bible - it may say something about my forbears that we have a family dictionary. It belonged to my great great grandfather. I assume that he was trying to better himself through evening classes, as he was born before compulsory state education was introduced in England - indeed, he died the year it was introduced, leaving a widow and three children under seven.

Having finished the book mark - I have to decide which of three other pieces from the Embroidery Now classes to work on next, including this 'sweete bag' I started yesterday with Jenny Adin-Christie. Her designs are beautiful and although I don't buy kits - I bought a kit for shadow work - a rose lavender bag, if that makes sense!

i also want to make one of these - the blanket, not IgglePiggle. I have bought a piece of red fleece but I have never worked with fleece before. I know in theory I don't have to hem it, but I will, of course, have to put blue blanket stitch round the edge. And looking at the edge - I think it would be better hemmed or rolled. Any one out there with more experience of fleece who cares to comment?

Thursday 16 October 2008

It is very unusual

for us to go out in the evening - but last night, for once, we did.

We went to listen to a talk by Susie MacMurray at the Discovery Centre. I have to confess that all I knew about her before we went was that she had done a beautiful drawing in the 'Object as Muse' exhibition. I meant to do some more research before we went, but never got round to it, so was quite surprised to find out what sort of work she does. Although not described as a textile artist, there are clear textile links like this, this and this, which is probably what she is best known for. Maybe that was why her audience was almost completely women - I counted 4 men in total, compared with 50 - 100 women.

She is a very good speaker - unassuming, clear and interesting. No 'art speak'. It was fascinating to hear the ideas behind her work - and I wish I'd known about her when 'Shell' was still on display in Chichester. For those who don't know it is made of red silk velvet and mussel shells [or muscle shells, according to the Discovery Centre flier!].

I would also love to have seen 'Echo' in York - it would be wonderful to have a similar piece in Winchester Cathedral, where there is more coloured glass. It is made from hair nets and fibre from violin bows - Susie used to be a professional musician.

Susie is currently planning installations for Compton Verney, so we will have to revisit when they are there.

And finally - one of the photos from Christchurch that M Cheddar so kindly sent me. This is Babybel, her daddy and Ronaldo the wonder dog who wishes someone would please kick that ball! I think this really captures the atmosphere of a lovely family day out.

Wednesday 15 October 2008

I'm feeling a bit better today

partly because I've had a couple of good nights sleep, partly because Mr Cheddar very kindly sent me some photos from Saturday [before he read my blog - he must be psychic], partly because he thinks it may be possible to retrieve mine from my camera - and partly because I made another book to cheer myself up.

I have had to scan it [because I can't use the camera until one or other of the IT experts in the family have had a look at it]. It is the latest example from Sue Bleiweiss's workshop. It was going to be lavender, because the pages are envelopes and I had some nice hand-made paper envelopes needing to be used up. [They were left over from this - which used the paper that went with them.]

However when I was fossicking around looking for something to decorate the cover with - an unfinished machine embroidery I had started in a workshop with Brenda Weekes fell into my hands and yelled 'Use me! Use me!' Of course I had to finish it first. Making this little piece of machine embroidery, about 12 x 17 cms, took hours and gave me even more respect for Alice Kettle whose pieces are much much much bigger.

But the embroidery said it definitely didn't want to be on a lavender journal. It demanded white silk dupion, no less.
The journal demanded that, instead of the pages being sewn in in a restrained manner with internal knots, like Sue's, it had external knots. With long ends. And not just one thread per signature - three threads. And a few beads. [They are opalescent green, not the colour they appear in the scan.]

Those of you who read my discussion of minimalist embroidery the other day will be laughing your heads off. There is nothing minimalist about those beads.

Sue's lesson suggests making little pamphlets to put in the envelopes. I made a variety of folded, single sheet books, with hand made paper covers glued on.

The embroidery was inspired by a picture of a cottage - our dream cottage in Wales. The dream has been postponed until the housing market settles down a bit - so the book will be used to store ideas, plans etc. until we can make the dream a reality.

On a more mundane topic - thank you to the people who responded to my banking rant - you must have read it all the way to the end! There have been some strong recommendations for First Direct - so I think my account may be on the move soon.

Monday 13 October 2008

A brief, photoless account of a delightful afternoon - followed by a long rant on the inadequacies of a British bank [and the Post Office.]

We had a lovely day on Saturday.

We met up with Babybel, her mum and dad, Mr and Mrs Cheddar and the dogs, for a stroll along the beach in Christchurch. We had made this arrangement a while ago - and the weather forecast had been dire - but it turned out to be a beautiful, warm autumn day.

The dogs paddled - and so did Babybel, with a little assistance from Mrs Cheddar.

I beach combed, with a little assistance from Cheese Minor.

We sat on the rocks in the sun and gossiped.

We sat outside the cafe, drank tea and gossiped a bit more.

I took lots of photos.

Unfortunately it went downhill from there.

On Sunday I accidentally deleted every b****y photo.

I was so upset and cross with myself. I tried whingeing to Wensleydale and swearing at the cat. And then I tried it the other way round. But it didn't do any good - the photos were still gone and it was still my own stupid fault. So I just have to hope that the other photographers on the trip will send me copies of some of theirs [Hint, hint.]

Today has not been much better. I mentioned a while ago that someone had tried to use our credit card fraudulently. A week later the same thing happened with my debit card. Different bank, different account - same effect. Second time this year, on both cards.

Sp the Alliance and Leicester [bank] sent me a new card. These days, of course, you have to 'activate' the card by phoning the call centre. I have done this before so I collected a book and all the paperwork and phoned them. I sat and read Sandra Meech while listening to the anodyne music, punctuated by irritating messages apologising for the fact that I was still on hold.

Although I had phoned the activation number - when I eventually got through, my card could not be activated because they had no security questions to ask me. Probably because I am a dinosaur who has had the account since long before debit cards, phone banking and call centres - when it was still Post Office Giro and I opened the account because I could push the pram to the local post office and cash a cheque. [Don't get me started on the subject of the ruination of the British post office.]

So I was put through to 'Customer Services'. Of course you don't get through to a real person - you have to 'choose which service you require' and push a button. i was then asked to key in my 8 digit something number and my 5 digit phone pin number. Pardon? I have a 9 digit account number and a 4 digit pin. There is of course no instruction on what to do if you don't understand the instructions - but I discovered that if you do the wrong thing often enough you get put through to 'Security'. Who told me that they have 'changed the system'. [I had only just caught up with the old system.]

Had they written to me to tell me this? No. Had they sent me a 5 digit phone pin? Of course not - or if they had, our wonderful post office hadn't bothered to deliver the letters. [I told you not to get me started on the subject of the post office.]

So I was told my 8 digit whatsit number and I dutifully wrote it down on a piece of paper which I will promptly lose - and they are sending me a 5 digit pin which I will not be able to remember.

And then they put me through to someone who could actually activate my card.

So it took 3 people [ and a long time] to do it - because of course you never get straight through to anyone, you always end up on hold. And all on an expensive phone number. I think I have probably, single-handed, made a billion £ contribution to the rescuing of British banks.

One thing I will say for A&L - their call centre is in England and the staff do speak English - well, scouse*, anyway. [I apologise to my readers in the NW of England for that cheap joke.]

Can anyone recommend a bank where the phone is answered quickly by a real person in the UK and which doesn't take three people to deal with a simple operation like activating a card? Preferably one that isn't going bankrupt - although that limits the field, I realise!

* Liverpudlian English, for readers outside the UK.

Friday 10 October 2008

In case you've been wondering

I haven't given up embroidery. I have been tackling UFOs, starting with the one which, when you saw it last, looked like this. I swithered for a long time about it, trying to decide what else it needed, before adding some ginormous feather stitches and a few fake leaves. It seems very simple but I couldn't think what else to do with it.

I had been playing around with the leaves for at least an hour before I remembered that the picture I started with was of - autumn leaves.

The embroidery reminded me that at the Alice Kettle workshop, my friend A. and I had a discussion about minimalist embroidery. A. sees herself [I think, she'll correct me if I'm wrong] as 'not really an embroiderer' because she uses relatively little stitch. This is, of course, rubbish - she is an embroiderer and a very good one.

I think we both feel 'less is [usually] more' - it is possibly one of the reasons I am relatively productive! I was told to go and add more stitch to this extended sample because the tutor felt there wasn't enough. So I added the foliage at the bottom, telling myself that I would take it out later. I haven't done so yet - but I still think it might be better without. Comments welcome!

And of course there is relatively little stitch in the foreground of the leaves piece, although the woven background was machine embroidered before it was cut up, and it is held to the background with overcasting. And the purple background is embellished, although I'm not sure if that counts as stitch!

i am not anti-stitch - i think Julia Caprara's work is stunning - and Alice Kettle is not known for minimalist stitching! But I think it is hard to handle heavy stitch and when I try it it looks a mess, so I get discouraged [bored?] before I have put in enough stitch for it to work. I have a low boredom threshold for repetitive work - it's why i don't like cross -stitch and why I will never make a big traditional quilt again. Having said that i can still face a cushion coverful of tent stitch, provided there is not too much background!

One a completely different topic - if you have been reading this blog since I started you will have read my gushings on the subject of my cherry tree. I cannot resist this photograph, taken this evening, of the setting sun on the underside of the leaves - it is quite magical to see and looks as if the tree has glowing lights in it.

Although I suppose that isn't a completely different topic - it is autumn leaves again. Sounds like a good subject for an embroidery to me ...

Thursday 9 October 2008

Books, books and more books

This week has been officially designated a getting over last week week - so nothing too exciting apart from a trip to Hobbycraft for some essential supplies - followed by coffee and a Danish in the garden centre cafe next door.

So I have made a few books. But before we get on to mine - these are - er - different ... I found the link via this blog - which I recommend if you are interested in book arts.

Returning to my more amateur efforts - this is a straight lift from 'Book Arts - Beautiful Bindings for Handmade Books' by Mary Kaye Seckler, even down to the colours and use of a script stamp. I had never made a star book before and I am pleased with the way it turned out - apart from putting the pockets in the wrong way up. And the ink refused to dry on the red card, leading to a few smears and blotches.

The others are rather simpler - and at first glance may not look like books at all.

In Esther K Smith’s ‘How to Make Books’ she describes making a book from a cake mix packet. Cake mix is not something I buy very often - but I did buy some puddings at the weekend for our visitors, not being up to making something from scratch. So the boxes were recycled into books.

This is a book, not just a box - you can see the tails of the stitching at the top. It is 'experimental' - i.e. an example of how not to do it. I cut the box in the wrong place - so the binding is at the top. The pages are brown paper - which I knew before I started wasn't really strong enough. And although the holes in the spine are straight, the accordion which makes up the pages goes gently downhill, from the front to the back. Life would have been easier, too, if I had decided I want to use webbing spray on the pages before I stuck 5 pieces of paper together to make a 10 foot long accordion.

The red one has conventional signatures and went together a little more accurately. I like these books - the idea amuses me and as the cover is generously sized, compared to the pages, there is plenty of room to stick stuff in.

As the red book is an odd size there were a lot of left overs after I had cut the pages. So I had to make some more books to use up the left-overs - don't want them sitting around at the back of the fridge till they go off, do we?

The scraps were long and thin, which always suggests Japanese stab bindings to me. This one has a cover made from a car ad in the Weekend Guardian. That was the simple one - apart from resewing it using thicker thread and auditioning several beads for the tassel.

For this one, I found a long scrap of purple card of the right width - and that suggested a dos-a-dos, which I had also never made before. The book was simple but then the beads on the thread ends got a bit more elaborate. I love those cheapo letter beads. Then I had to find my punches.

Still into recycling, I decided to use an old manila file for the covers of the last one, but it looked a bit boring, so I painted it. I got a bit carried away, as you can see. The coloured blobs are nail varnish - which I buy when it's on sale. I find the more interesting colours end up in the sale bin. I usually use it as a resist with water soluble paper. You didn't think I put it on my nails, did you?

What do I do with all these books, you may ask. Well - not a lot! I am journalling / experimenting with altered book techniques in this one.

This one has embellisher samples.

And this one has become an album for some postcards of Japan sent to me by a penfriend when I was at school - which makes them vintage ephemera, I think, if not antiques.

But there are still several hanging around saying 'Give us a job' -so if anyone has any suggestions? I do need a photo album for photos of Babybel - but none of the existing books are the right size. Oh dear - that means I will have to make another one ...

Sunday 5 October 2008

We have just about recovered

from a few days looking after Babybel while her childminder was in hospital. It was very enjoyable [apart from the stomach bug which hit us part way through] – but exhausting. We kept wondering how we coped with Cheeses Major and Minor when they were little, plus jobs and all the routine things which we put on hold while she was here. Of course we were 30 years younger …

Here she is with her feely book. She really is a very happy baby and tolerated our lack of recent practice in nappy changing, feeding and bathing, and lack of knowledge of her routine. Unlike her father and uncle at her age, she loves to be cuddled and on occasion fell asleep in my arms. She even seems to like her granny’s singing!

Here she is concentrating on trying to work out how the buckle of her high chair strap works - which she kept up for nearly 15 minutes [under supervision of course]. Not bad for a 10 month old.

She also mastered climbing on to Gran's coffee table - and up the stairs. Time to get a stair gate!

All creativity was put on hold while she was here apart from a bit of baby knitting when she was asleep. I had signed up for another Sue Bleiweiss course which started last weekend so, having got rather left behind during the last one, I made sure I completed at least part of the first week’s assignments before the brunette bombshell arrived. This is an accordion journal which Wensleydale thinks looks medieval. The colour in the picture on the left is the most accurate.

Since Babybel left I have tackled this week's Coptic bound book, using some of the heap of painted papers I made during C&G, so it went together fairly quickly. It needs something on the cover but I am not sure what – perhaps when I decide what to put in it.