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

Dorothy Rowe

Saturday 31 December 2011

I’m easily distracted.



Today was going to be spent working on the RSN too-small-to-see  canvas work, and possibly making a piano hinge book with the remains of Cellophane.


But …



while I was dismantling this year’s desk calendar [yes, I know I’m a day early, but I know what day it is today, for once] I found this bit of packaging.

It’s a book cover. Obviously.




So, a few simple steps and an afternoon later I have a two sided notebook.   image

Then, this evening, I was wandering through the blogs I follow when I came across this post from Cas Holmes.

Coincidentally, when we went to the Air Museum for Wensleydale’s birthday, I’d spotted a similar piece of lace behind a Spitfire. These two events led to me spending more time than I will admit to Googling about, finding out a bit more about them.  They are amazing pieces of work, made on Jacquard machines, and measuring around 15 ft by 5 ft. I found the locations of about 6 of the 38 made – anyone know of one near them?

So now it’s 7pm, and neither cellophane book nor minute canvas work have been tackled – still there’s always tomorrowimage.

And I did finish the embroidered corrugated card last night.  [It’s not really this bright.]

Wensleydale keeps going on about it looking like some outdated bit of electronic equipment…

And I got the marks for PCs and PMS.

Let’s just say I’m quite pleased and surprised.

Well, very pleased and very surprised.

Well, ecstatic and gobsmacked.

Say no more.

Happy New Year – don’t drink too much champagne. We’re saving ours for breakfast.

Friday 30 December 2011

It might as well be spring.



I spotted these while photographing tubes today – and there are more snowdrops out. Very cheering – but it can’t last…






CG1 and Cellophane have continued to fall apart – I have brought the bits of Cellophane into the house to decide what to do with them. I had thought of making a piano hinge book with them, but they may be a bit too soft and squashy. Alternative ideas are to make a box – or to lay them out like a skeleton in an archaeology programme…


Like a lot of us, POT got bigger over Christmas.

imageI keep forgetting to measure him, but he is at least a couple of metres long, after 3 months. I am not sure how I am going to photograph him if I keep going till The summer.

I also managed a bit of scrappy embroidery  for the gold book -

image well, weaving, to be more accurate. The idea for the squares of card came from Jane Patrick’s book, ‘Time to Weave’ – which includes an easier way to do Japanese binding I wish I’d known about 6 months ago. I’m now alternating between adding embroidery and beads to a piece of gold painted corrugated card – as you do - and trying to finish a piece of too small to see canvas work I started on an RSN course 3 years ago. Difficult to decide which is more like hard work!

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Hope springs eternal.

I have mentioned before that I do not like winter, so I am always glad to reach the ‘shortest day’.P1030050

Even better, on Christmas morning I spotted sme of these in the garden – although they seemed to have borrowed their leaves from a cyclamen! I can’t remember ever spotting snowdrops in December before, although it may just be a failure of observation on my part.

Snowdrops are probably my third favourite flowers - after daffodils, and cherry blossom. [You may detect a theme here…]

That was the most exciting thing which happened on Christmas Day – and that is not a complaint. We had a quiet day at home, eating and drinking what we like, not what tradition demands.

Boxing Day was a little more adventurous – a family gathering chez Babybel/VHC, when a good time was had by all – although as the VHC got his timing wrong and spent most of Christmas Day night awake, waiting for Father Christmas, his parents were feeling slightly worn. Not that that stopped them doing a Boxing Day race in the morning.

Little in the way of college work has been done – not even POT, in the absence of postal deliveries. I have been in a paper cutting mood – just messing about in one of my ‘make pages out of a lot of old bits of painted paper’ sketchbooks.

image image








I have also resumed my intermittent interest in family history. I got a bit discouraged because I was hitting a lot of brick walls, but over the last few days I’ve managed to knock a couple down – or I think I have.

Turns out the reason I couldn’t find Wensleydale’s GGparents wedding was because it took place about 4 years after his Gfather was born… [It amuses him but would have mortified his mother.]

Of course it is highly likely that I can’t track down some marriages in my own family for the same reason – or because they didn’t bother getting married at all.

Friday 23 December 2011

It’s happened again.

Computers – or, in this case, their associates - have conspired to stop me doing what I’d planned on doing – i.e. playing around with paper and paint. [Handing in my sketchbook(s) just meant I had to make another one – or three.]

We have had three printers – 2 his-&-hers cheap-as-chips HP all-in-ones of different ages, and, because the HPs throw up their hands and judder to a halt if fed anything thicker than paper, a cheap-as-more-expensive chips, Durabrite ink using, A3 eating Epson, which has so far digested everything I’ve given it apart from black paper – which the HPs eat ate happily. [Not completely black, of course, that would be silly – black painted with Inkaid.]

However, the older HP started whining and chuntering and refusing to eat anything – or rather it would swallow part of it and then gag. [I think this metaphor may be straying into dangerous waters.]

So, when it refused to print Wensleydale's bank statement, we decided that it should be taken to the dump after Christmas, he could use the younger HP, and I’d surrender my claim to it and  cleave only unto the Epson. [The younger HP has decided it doesn’t want to be turned off, but we can work round that.]

Which would give us more room on the desks, after a little reorganisation. I'll spare you the details, but it involved cleaning the desks [shudder] and took half the afternoon. And I discovered as I lugged it about that the Epson is a lot heavier than the HPs.

There was a good result to all this labour. Wensleydale’s laptop needed to meet the CD that came with the newer HP – which I managed to find, by a minor miracle. In the process of searching through the CD cache, apart from the usual collection of CDs and manuals for technology we no longer own, I came across a long forgotten present from Cheese Major. Some years ago – possibly last century - he went to China quite a lot, and on one occasion he came back with some CDs of Chinese art - sort of high class clip art. [They probably cost him about 5p, but it’s the thought that counts…]

Unfortunately the desktop I had then refused to have anything to do with them, so they got stuck in a drawer and forgotten about for years.

This afternoon, in my usual spirit of experimentation, I fed one to my laptop – it gobbled it up and after some time and a bit of chuntering downloaded a few images – well, around 80.

Did I mention there were 8 of these CDs?image

I now have 100s [literally] of high res images of Chinese art, and the lap top is creaking a bit under the strain – bit like me after a Chinese meal.

The images are a mixed bunch, and not all  are to my taste – but still plenty to play with. I think I may be sending home printed Chinese birthday cards from now on…





They are mostly landscapes













but this cheerful little fellow reminds me of the VHC – not that the VHC has plaits, you understand.image

Isn’t this cute?image This one could almost be a Van Goghimage -









and this one could be Indian.



So far [I haven’t yet looked at them all] this is my favourite – and would be Babybel’s too, I suspect.imageSo once I’d sorted the technology and the cleaning [shudder], I got my reward.

I can’t tell you anything about the CDs as the only things I can read on the packaging are the numbers 1 – 8, the Windows symbol and ‘PC’ and ‘Mac’. I believe the Chinese are quite relaxed about copyright, so feel happy to post a small sample here – hope you like them.

it was a good present even if it was several years before I got round to opening it!

Thursday 22 December 2011

It doesn’t seem like Christmas.


Despite the frenzy of card posting and present delivering [for two birthdays and an anniversary as well as Christmas] and shopping and cooking and decorating. Not much of the latter, just a tree and a wreath on our smart new door – and no, I didn’t make it, £7.95 from the Winchester flower stall.

[As I am an official Scrooge, the lack of Christmas spirit is not a bad thing – apart from the essential Christmas spirit in the form of Penderyn and Glen Livet, which we do have.]

While delivering presents I did manage to fit in half an hour of VHC cuddling and conversation - big sister was at Nursery so he had my undivided attention.

Today was photography day [just remembered I forgot to snap POT, have to do it tomorrow – he’s been a bit neglected of late].

Country Gardener 1 and Cellophane continue to deteriorate nicely.




And I’ve done a little gold embroidery to put in that gold book. [Those tubes get in everywhere these days.]

We are now going to hibernate until Boxing Day, which is when we have the big family get together – starting with a fun run for the young and fit and a bit of childminding for the old and unfit [much more fun, and may well involve ducks].

Happy Christmas!

Sunday 18 December 2011

I found something to do…

preparing and then enjoying Wensleydale’s birthday celebrations.

First a little baking – the usual Guinness Chocolate Cake as requested, [this is the nearest I can find to my recipe, but mine has no nuts, and a chocolate Guinness butter cream]] , and some of Dan Lepard’s totally wonderful tamarind spice biscuits [I used mixed spice rather than garam masala, which I shall try next, and almonds rather than stem ginger, which I didn;t have].

Then a quiet day with W. for his actual birthday – and today a three generation visit to Solent Sky, where we were, for most of the time, the only visitors. Great fun was had by all, and the staff were brilliant. I wonder why it is that Southampton wants to build a Titanic Museum, but seems to undervalue and ignore its much stronger connection with the Spitfire?

The most entertaining moment, however, was when we were waiting for Babybel, VHC and entourage to arrive, and I was trying to explain to the entourage where we were. Babybel’s uncle took the phone from me and gave directions – ‘turn right at that drinking establishment, turn left at this drinking establishment…’ -  ‘pubnav’? It worked, though.

Then everyone came to our house to make short work of the baking.

Perhaps not a conventional birthday bash, but we enjoyed it.

Thursday 15 December 2011

So what do I do now?

The PMS’s and PCs were handed in yesterday, and then we had an interesting talk from Pauline Thomas – altered books, work about the passage of time – what’s not to like? She even inspired me to think about videoing some of my pieces – yes, me, the technophobe, who has never videoed anything in her life except by accident when she pressed the wrong button on her camera. Need to get a tripod though…

Then we had our usual college Christmas do and came home.

Since when Wensleydale has got fed up of me whining ‘I’ve got nothing to do. I'm bored.’ Not completely true, I had presents to wrap and cards to write [Christmas, 2 birthdays and a wedding anniversary – it’s an expensive time of year.]

Then I remembered that college may be over but POT goes on, so he had to be added to and photographed.


He’s getting to be quite a big boy, just over 2 metres/image 6 foot 6.

That reminded me to go out into the cold and photograph the others.

Remember ‘Plastic’?  Last week he looked like this.






Today he looked like this.  I’m not sure when he came down, but we’ve had some pretty stormy weather recently, and his strings had broken.



Good job I didn’t spot him earlier or I'd have been panicking about changing the photos I was handing in. [I suppose I could e-mail a copy? – no, that way madness lies.image]

Mmm – what to do? Leave him there or restore him? Time for what I have learned from Pauline Thomas is called an intervention.






This pathetic object, on the other hand, is staying just as it is.


though when it has completely disintegrated I may collect the tubes and see if I can do anything with them – I have vague thoughts of a piano hinge book of these photographs…

[Why are some of my pieces gendered [always male] aimagend some not?]

The other pieces are coming on well, too - ‘Country Gardener 1’ is disintegrating nicely -






image and interesting things are happening to ‘Storm Cones’.

And then I decided it was time for something completely different

imageand completely purposeless – a gold book.  [The cover – recycled wrapping paper - is a uniform colour, that’s my shadow!]

It was late by then, I was tired, I rushed it and it shows – but it was good to make something which has no connection with college at all! Perhaps some small bits of gold embroidery now to go in it?

Tuesday 13 December 2011

I should keep my mouth shut…

After my last post everything went pear shaped.

  1. I woke up the next morning with a painful right arm – pulled muscle? RSI/arthritis? Who knows? By moving the laptop onto my lap, mousing left handed and rationing my computer time, I’ve managed to get everything done, and the arm is less painful than it was – but doctor’s again if it doesn’t get better soon.
  2. Both computers developed problems, and as W. knows even less about them than I do, guess who ended up clicking and cursing? I got everything sorted without having to phone India, one of several drawbacks to getting your broadband from BT, but I do wish people wouldn't update things – updated versions are rarely an improvement. And I have no idea why the new mouse will work on W’s laptop and not mine…
  3. Yesterday afternoon, timetabled for a gentle sorting out of my on-line course diary, turned into sitting in ENT waiting to have a silent hearing aid sorted out. The annoying thing was that when I realised what the problem was [a blockage in the tube after I ‘cleaned’ it] I could have sorted out myself in 5 minutes. Still – I learned that the best time to go to the drop-in clinic is 3 pm – and it wasn’t last Friday, when things at our hospital got a bit dramatic. [According to this, it could have been interesting there yesterday too.]

Despite all these little interruptions, Modules 10 & 12 are now finished, boxed up, and ready to be handed in tomorrow – and Wensleydale  has been informed that the Penderyn he bought for Christmas will be opened a little early.

Thursday 8 December 2011

I am always surprised…

by how much I can achieve on a day when I have a good night, get up at a reasonable time, and don’t have to go out. As I’ve been sorting out college stuff,  I don’t have much to show to show for it – one box with Module 12 stuff - the Personal Cloths and associated paperwork - which is more or less complete – and one box for Module 10, the sketchbooks, which isn’t – but I feel much more confident I can get everything assembled in time.

I still have to write the evaluation - I intend to do thatimage tonight - a final round up of the scraps of paper with notes on which are scattered round the house, and the diary, which I'll do when I’ve finished everything else

I even ventured out into the wind to take some photographs – nowhere as bad here as it is in Scotland, but still pretty windy. ‘Country Gardener 1’ is beginning to decay quite nicely, but photographing the deterioration was impossible.




I did manage clearer images of ‘Cellophane’ than this one – but this is the one I like best!




Not surprising that it has shed some components.


image I also managed a bit of cooking.

Well, back to the grindstone.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

So now it’s Tuesday…

and I meant to post sooner – although I’ve nothing very exciting to show.

Saturday was the first free day we’d had for ages – so I had a good chance to get cracking on all the paperwork for college. It was sunny [part of the time] and windy [all of the time] which meant I could get a bit of movement - so I took a few more photos – and then spent the rest of the day playing around with them.

imageGuess who’s worked out how to use the ‘burst’ setting on her camera?

I’ve resurrected the Tumblr account I started months ago, and will try to upload the images there, so as not to bore you if you are not interested – but don’t rush over there if you are interested, I’ve only got one two up so far…image

On Sunday we VHC sat while his mum, dad and big sister went to the panto. The normal pattern with the VC is that he consumes all that his mum has left for him, plays for a bit, sleeps for a bit, wakes up and demands more, before his mum gets home, when we are unable to provide it.

As it was sunny we decided to take one boy and his dog for a walk – during which he fell asleep – here’s the proof.

And he slept, and slept, and slept – and when we left his mum and dad were dissuading big sis from waking him up. ‘Let sleeping babies lie.’

He missed some stunning skies – after it stopped being sunny.


Yesterday we went to Mottisfont, which has two art exhibitions on at the moment.  It was wet and getting dark so we skipped the angels in the garden and went to look at ‘Cutting Edge – Contemporary Paper Art’. Bet you’re surprised…

You are probably familiar with the work of Rob Ryan – I've bought several of his cards, but it’s well worth going to see his bigger pieces, and marvel at the man’s patience. I had come across John Dilnot’s work on line - but the others were new to  me. I was especially struck by Eileen White’s piece in the downstairs corridor – an installation+paper+shadows = magic. and now I’ve Googled her I remember admiring that piece in the Cathedral last year.

Today I have actually done some work – I’ve wrestled with Office/Picasa to print out some images for contextualisation. I keep coming across new artists whose work is relevant – like Barbara De Pirro, [whose name I have misspelled in my documentation – knickers].

If you look at the second group here you’ll know why I had to include her.

After that I wrestled with PagePlus 5/Photoshop/the Epson wide printer to print out some of my photographic experiments for the sketchbook. I can’t get PagePlus to ‘see’ Photoshop documents, and I can’t get the printer and PagePlus to co-operate on where the printable area is on a sheet of A3 – which meant converting all the Photoshopped images to JPEGs, a bit of trial and error, a few notes and lots of frustration.

Right now I should be using that hard won knowledge on some more images, but I’m procrastinating by writing this – and waiting to see what emerges from the small printer, which Quality Control has just set going by walking over it.

It’s a test sheet. How boring.

Friday 2 December 2011

Where did that week go?

In order of preference, family activities, paperwork and dentist’s visits, that’s where – in addition to the usual routine, of P1020258course.

I did finish two things – Wrap and L&F – well, sort of. I’m glad to see the back of L&F, it is completely uninspired and uninspiring.

Wrap is a bit more interesting, and all I need to do now is to work out where and how to hang it. I’ve decided I don’t want to put it outside, as originally planned – so when I’ve worked out how to support it, I’ll have to find a space big enough, at least for long enough for it to be photographed.


I decided that I will present most of my cloths as photographs – which means having decent photographs to present. And although I've been snapping the things weekly for up to two months – the weather has been so drab that most of the photos are a bit dull – and POT has grown so long it is difficult to photograph it full length any more.

Cue a bit of lateral thinking – and the way this collage ended up is down to Picasa, not design…imageI’ve spent some time pondering on the legitimacy of manipulating the photos, before deciding that, as I could argue that the photos are the cloths as well as the cloths, if you see what I mean, [bit of land art thinking there] it was acceptable to do so. [Bet you’re surprised!]


Hence the desaturated background on this photo of ‘Cellophane’ – which took a good part of the afternoon to do.

I am resisting the temptation to play around with the photos of all 11 cloths. ‘No, Cheshire, you haven’t got time!’

Of course I now have the problem of how to present the photographs. [Did I mention that presentation is one of the marking criteria?] I am trying to resist the feeling that I need to make a book.

Then there is the contextualisation, making sure the diary, planning sheets, and workbook are up to date, putting something vaguely relevant in the sketchbooks, and writing an evaluation – you can see why I decided to start a fortnight before it’s all due in.

In between all this, I fitted in  some gallery visits – the exhausting college trip to the Courtauld Gallery [my new favourite gallery – Manet! Monet! Van Gogh! Gauguin!Cezanne! Matisse!– the Degas’s were presumably on loan to the RA]. Less tiring was a visit to the Hepworth inspired exhibition at the Discovery Centre – mostly less famous names, but some lovely work none the less.

I’m looking forward to a rest at Christmas.