Sunday, August 20, 2017

Twelve Hearts Patchwork and Appliqué Wall Hanging

Here is my latest wall hanging: made from a mix of machine sewn patchwork, hand appliqué and hand quilting. I was aiming for a colourful mixture of fabrics with a 'scrappy', improvised look. 

Making
The individual rectangles are pieced, then each has a heart sewn to it. The rectangles are joined (after much deliberation about the layout!), then the top is sandwiched with a wadding and backing layer before quilting begins, using embroidery threads for added touches of colour. I added some Czechoslovakian matte glass beads in three places, to add a further layer of interest. A binding is added, along with a hanging sleeve on the reverse, and finally, my maker's label.






This piece is available for sale in my etsy shop

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Kielder Water Walk

We had a pleasant walk by the shore of Kielder Water today, starting from the Hawkhope car park.

 Spiny puff balls.



We saw several nesting sites of Collete bees, which were interesting to watch. (They are smaller than honey bees). They make burrows in sandy soil and this species feeds on heather. They were buzzing all over the sandy soil at the entrance to their burrows in large numbers. We thought it was a swarm to begin with, but they were just going about their usual business.

Lunch was at Falstone Old School Café. Rob had the vegetarian cooked breakfast and a slice of coffee cake. I had a jacket potato with cheese and salad. With two Americano coffees the bill came to a very reasonable £16. The food was good and the café is a nice, light and airy place to sit with its high ceiling, and it has craft cabinets to browse. And it is dog-friendly. Recommended!


Friday, August 11, 2017

Gracefield Arts Centre

Rob and I had a trip to Dumfries today, walking Brock around the river walk before heading to the Gracefield Arts Centre for lunch and to see the exhibition Past and Present - A Celebration of the Dumfries and Galloway Fine Arts Society, which is on until 19 August 2017.

Here are some of my favourite artworks (apologies in advance for the reflections in the glass!):-



Jessie M King, If All The Carts Were Painted

I love the way she draws simplified flowers and buildings in a light and airy colour palette - very pretty. Her writing font is really lovely (seen at the bottom of the main image - click for a larger version).

Samuel John Peploe, Still Life With Fruit

I like the dark backgrounds/outlining, and his work reminds me of Cézanne's.

Alexander Robb, Still Life

A lovely colour palette, of greens, browns, and ochre. The highlights and range of tones, as well as the subject and composition, I feel, make this so successful.

John Crolla, Two Magpies

Mixed media artwork by this Lockerbie-based artist, who also taught art to many in the region, and was a past president of The Society.

Hazel Campbell, Grey Glenkens Landscape

This gouache and ink artwork could have been painted on a day like today! Very subdued colours and a stark winter landscape. I particularly like the mark making in this piece: spiky, inked lines for the twigs and broad, watery brush strokes for the fields.

The craft shop has a very good range of cards and gifts, and the cafe does a nice cup of coffee and sandwich - always an interesting place to visit.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Sunsets

Over the years, I must have taken hundreds of sunset photographs.

Here are a few of my favourites:-









Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Wildflowers at Talkin Tarn

Our dog walk today was at Talkin Tarn in Cumbria. The wildflowers were at their peak.



This shows a bird-watching hide.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Gooseberry Chutney 2017

I decided to use most of this year's crop of gooseberries from our single bush, to make chutney. I adapted a recipe from the Waitrose magazine. I made a double quantity and used raisins instead of dates, and distilled white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar.


I really recommend this recipe: it has just the right amount of spice, and the colour (when made with red gooseberries) is beautiful. You are supposed to leave it to mature for a month, but I find it perfectly edible immediately!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Potfest in the Park 2017

We are just back from a visit to Potfest at Hutton-in-the-Forest, Cumbria.

The ground was a bit muddy underfoot, thanks to all of the rain we have had recently and it seemed a bit quieter than usual because of the weather.

We started with a walk around the grounds, including the walled garden.










Then it was time for coffee and cake in one of the marquees, before looking at the competition pieces. The theme this year was "Ancestral Voices". Here are a few pieces that I liked.

 No maker's label or title found on this piece.

 "Neo-Renaissance Ceramics" by Sally MacDonell

 "Deskford Carnyx" by Fiona Duckett

"They Spoke To Me" by Paul Smith

By Valerie Price-West

By Harm van der Zeeuw (we spoke to this ceramicist as we were looking round and he said that people often praise his use of metal and clay, and he has to point out that it is all ceramic (apart from a metal chassis hidden inside the car sculptures for strength)).

As usual we were absolutely spoilt for choice, but made our first purchase at the very first stand we visited: Chiu-i Wu's. We had looked at her endearing creature sculptures, with "big eyes" for many years, and finally purchased the piece shown at left below, "Little Creature" (pinched and coil built ceramic sculpture) by Chiu-i Wu. She was telling us about the show in Perth, which had been even wetter, if possible! Originally from Taiwan and now living in York, her website lists the shows she will be attending throughout the summer. I would buy everything she makes, if I could 😄.


These two Raku rice bowls from Rob Sollis were our next find:-

I love the shape, and matte, irregular glaze on these bowls.

And finally, from the ceramicists, Charlotte and Sigi Böhmer, a salt and pepper set. We have bought something from this talented couple for the last five or six years, so have quite a collection of their dinner and side plates, soup bowls and tiny bowls, and a little bird pot. They always use the grey, mustard and white colour palette, so everything mixes and matches, although the patterns are all different.



Time to have lunch with our neighbours, Helena and Sandy, who were also looking around Potfest, and to share our favourites and purchases. The rain had come on quite strongly by now, so we sheltered under a leaky canopy while we ate our rolls, before heading home to unwrap our lovely new ceramics.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Visit to Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Rob and I went to Newcastle-upon-Tyne yesterday. We parked by the Quayside, and had morning coffee in the Dala Swedish Café: the coffee was a bit bland, and they didn't have any gluten free cakes, so we would probably not return there.






We walked for about 15 - 20 minutes, to The Biscuit Factory, the lovely old building has been converted into an art and craft gallery over two large floors, and there are two restaurants on site.



We ate lunch in the restaurant on the first floor. The food was excellent: the best either of us has had for a long time, while eating out. The setting is light and airy with views over the surrounding buildings. There was construction work going on, and it looks like a new outdoor extension is being added.

 Quiche (one bite missing!) with beetroot, and chickpea and rice salads

 Baked potato with hummus and sundried tomatoes, served with coleslaw

Stephen Heward has an exhibition of his striking landscape paintings on display at present, but there are all sorts of other styles of art and craft, jewellery, books, cards and homewares available.

We were so pleased to have found this place and will certainly return.

It is another 15 minute walk to the centre of the city, where you can find the unique shops in Grainger Market (a covered marked with many interesting, small units, selling everything:- Mexican deli items; speciality teas and coffees; vintage clothing; books; fruit and veg; joss sticks; health foods, etc.

This collage shows some of the interesting architecture that we spotted, including derelict buildings; Newcastle University; and the Central Arcade (rebuilt in 1906, after a fire), with its seemingly unused mezzanine level and ornately ceramic tiled interior.


There are, of course, large department stores and the usual chain shops. I bought a copy of Jane Foster's book "Fun With Fabric", from Waterstones, which includes an overview of designing fabric for digital printing. Her own work is inspired by vintage printed textiles and has a colourful, simple, pattern-led aesthetic that I admire.

It is a downhill walk back to the Quayside area and we stopped off in the Hexham Waitrose to buy a treat for dinner.

All-in-all a very nice day during our week's 'staycation'! We finally picked up Brock, who had been having one of his twice yearly fur cuts, and having fun with groomer, Jenny's, dogs for the day. [Brock's before and after photos from an earlier visit.]

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