Cushion progress

Here we are, a whole month since I started on my cushion covers, and I’m still on the first one!  I was working on the first two borders together, and FINALLY joined them up to the beginning a couple of days ago.  Since then I’ve made a start on the motif in the middle, and I’m eyeing up the remaining white space.

Cushion cover so far. One day this will hopefully be full of stitching....

Reason to tidy up (occasionally)

Some new windows are being fitted tomorrow, so I’ve spent some of today sorting out the spare room/study/library/general dumping ground so the fitters can actually make it as far of the window.  As a lot of what’s in there is books I’ve mostly been straightening up the bookcases that line the room, and along the way I came across this.

It’s a book of hungarian sewing, embroidery, crochet and cross stitch patterns that was my Grandmother’s.  There’s an inscription and date inside the front cover that shows this was a gift to her just before she and my Mum left for the UK to join my Grandfather.  It’s a real treasure trove of patterns, instructions and techniques, and you can see from indentations in some of the pages (and the occasional traced pattern tucked in the book) that my Grandmother was tracing some of the designs to use in her own work.  This was a really lovely thing to find – makes all the rest of the dusty work worthwhile!

Page spread from inside book with cross stitch patterns

Page spread from inside book

The book has a number of fold out pages for larger patterns

Daisy beadweaving

The group exhibition at Patchings finished last weekend, so I got my large beadweaving back yesterday. It’s lovely to get it back – I’d forgotten how much I like it!  The design is based on an Art Nouveau motif and woven with delicas on my Mirrix loom.  I got a couple of beautiful inspiration books for Christmas (a HUGE Taschen book on illuminated bibles and this beautiful illustrated book of “The Thousand Nights and One Night” from Jan Pienkowski), so I’m hoping to design more large weavings like this.

Daisy

Beading tealight holders

I’d forgotten how much I like beading these and that I had quite so many up in the loft waiting for me to cover them!  So I’ve run up a couple of netted tealight holders.

Image of a beaded tealight holder

Image of a beaded tea light holder

I’ve listed the second one in my Etsy shop, and will be listing the other one later.

I wrote the instructions on how to do these a while back, I’ll see if I can dig them out and put them in the shop too.

Hooray! An interview!

It’s a slightly worrying place, applying for new jobs.  I’m lucky, in that I have family to support me, but it’s still a bit dispiriting sending job applications into the ether and keeping your fingers crossed.  But today I got an invitation to interview in just over a weeks time – lovely to know that someone read my CV and didn’t burst out laughing at the idea they might want to employ me!  It’s also a job that sounds interesting, so wish me luck…

The updating of my website continues, today I added a banner and did some tweaking on the formating.  Not a big change, but it looks smarter.   I’ve also confirmed the new date for the Three Netted Necklaces beading workshop I’m teaching at Patchings – on the original date the Midlands received lots of snow, looking beautiful but preventing people from coming.

Long time, no blogging

*Sweeps dust and cobwebs away, lots of coughing*

So it’s been a really long time without posting, but it seems time to start again.  Since last posting I got a new job and moved to Wales, and then got made redundant a few weeks ago.  So it’s back to job-hunting for me.  In the meantime I’ve torn down my old website and started to rewrite it, started teaching workshops at Patchings, and opened an Etsy shop.  The Etsy shop is very new, and only has two items in it but I have big plans – including starting to sell patterns and maybe kits…

In the meantime I’ve started some sewing as well.  I’ve loved these cushions that Mum made ever since they were finished a year or two ago, and I’ve been wanting to make some of my own.

Picture of three cushions embroidered in red and black

I bought some beautiful space-dyed thread from Oliver Twists earlier this year, so I’ve finally started on my cushions.  The first one is going to be in red/orange/brown and purple thread, and I’ve started off with elements taken from a new book on textiles and patterns I bought at the Ethnography Museum in Budapest.

Picture showing stitched birds and trees

This is only the first band of pattern, and I’m less than quarter of the way round, but I’m pleased with how it looks so far – though I’m desperate to start the next band!

I have business cards!

I’ve been meaning to get some for a while, but haven’t been sure what I wanted or how to choose.  But I came across this company last week, and loved the fact that in a box of 100 cards, you can have up to 100 different images!  Perfect for me, as I wanted to show some of the different things I’ve done.  I’ve had them done with images ranging from coloured chain maille, the icon from my last post, the Rainforest Jasper pin from my last post, some freeform beading, and this netted spiral.  I’m really pleased with how they look.

Spiral bracelet

Patchings Christmas Exhibition

It’s that time of year again, and Patchings hold an exhibition of work by all of the studio artists and tutors.  I’ve just finished the last of my pieces, ready to be dropped off tomorrow.

I’ve done a couple of pictures, one a re-worked version of the central panel from my Icon, the other a re-worked version of the Garden Path pattern I did for ‘The Beader’s Floral’.

Icon

 

Garden Path picture

Having recently got ‘Beading with Cabochons’, I’ve also made a selection of pins using Fossil Coral, Rainforest Jaspar and Dinosaur Bone cabs, all bought from Designer Cabochons.

Fossil Coral pin Rainforest Jasper pin Fossilised Dinosaur Bone pin

I’ve also made a necklace using Swarovski crystal pearls and crystals, but I can’t seem to track down the photo (although I’m sure we did photograph it!).  The exhibition starts 1st December and runs until 3rd February, so if you’re in the area come along!

Look! Lots of Crouchleys!

It’s Grandad’s 80th birthday tomorrow, so today we had a family get together.  We don’t often get this many of us together in one place, so took the chance to have a big family photo – here we are, almost all of the Crouchleys plus hangers on 🙂

Grandad's 80th

Bead Journal Project

Still plugging away at my August page.

Progress on the August page

I think I’ve finished the beading on this, so I’m filling in the background with french knots in variegated thread.

Nancy

Back in March I went to North Carolina for a conference and gave a talk, and following that I got invited to talk at a conference in Nancy.  They offered to pay my expenses while I was there and provide money towards the travel (and it looks good on my CV!) so I’ve just got back.  Overall, the conference was ok, but Nancy was lovely! 

I hit the first hitch after arriving at Metz/Nancy airport.  The journey had been fine until then, but about halfway to Nancy on the airport shuttle bus we got a call to let us know that I’d left my folder with my travel documents and hotel booking behind!  So as soon as I got to Nancy it was back on the shuttle bus to return to the airport, and then off to Nancy again.  I then got a taxi to the hotel no problem, but discovered I didn’t have a room there.  This was Tuesday, and they only had me down for Wednesday through to Friday (and my flight back was on Saturday).  The Friday night was no problem, they extended my booking for the extra night, but they were fully booked for Tuesday night.  I don’t know if it was a mistake made by the hotel or the conference organisers (who handled the bookings), but I’m guessing the hotel as there were a couple of other people in the same boat as me who were nothing to do with the conference.  The receptionist was phoning round frantically as it turned out most of Nancy was booked out, and finally managed to find us rooms at what turned out to be the best hotel in Nancy!  The room was quite nice, and the location was lovely – in the city centre on Place Stanislas.  It was about 10pm when I checked in, and the last time I’d eaten was that morning before my flight left from Birmingham (I’d had a stopover in Lyon, but hadn’t been hungry then), but I discovered that the restaurant shut at 9.30pm, and there was no room service :-(  So after checking out my room I popped out to see if I could get a bite to eat and take photos of the square at night (in this one the hotel is the building on the left). 

 Place Stanislas at night

The next morning I checked out, and asked the hotel to call a taxi (as the hotel and conference I was supposed to be at was out was out in Vandoeuvre, a suburb of Nancy), only to discover there was a taxi strike!  The reception at the hotel gave me directions to the tram line, with instructions to go to the terminal and ask for directions, but on the way I passed the tourist office who were fantastically helpful and gave me full directions (including tram number, which stop to get off at, and how to find the hotel from there) so I was finally able to show up at the conference only a bit late! 

The meeting itself was a bit mixed.  There were some good talks, and I met up with several familiar faces from other meetings as well as meeting new people, but it was clearly a small conference that was just beginning to get bigger.  The biggest hurdle for me was the language barrier – I did take French at school, but as a second language after German, I haven’t had need to use it for over 10 years, and this was quite technical French!  There were speakers from all over the world, and for many of us the only common language we had was English – those not from English or French speaking countries knew little or no French but had learned English as it is the most common language for international conferences and publications.  This was fine for the actual talks as there was no problem in giving the talk in English, and question sessions were translated when necessary, but following each session of talks there was an hour long round table discussion which was held in French – meaning that for many of those who had given the talks it was pretty much impossible to take part.  On the other hand our hosts were extremely kind, sorting out any problems (like my hotel booking) quickly, and taking all the invited speakers out for meal on Wednesday followed by an evening meal at the organiser’s home on Thursday.

Nancy itself is a beautiful city.  There was some time free in the conference schedule, and as the conference finished at Friday lunchtime I had the rest of that day to explore.  The first thing I did was visit the helpful people at the tourist information office again, and they recommended I take a bus tour to see the city, which I followed up by walking to the places that I wanted a second look at.

Place Stanislas Place Stanislas Place Stanislas Gatehouse pict0184-small.jpg pict0204-small.jpg

Nancy was a major centre for the Art Nouveau movements, and a lot of the building have little flourishes on them…

Balcony Carvings

…and some trompe-l’oeil both inside and out.

pict0079-small.jpg Trompe-L'Oeil

Finally, on my way back to the hotel I cut through a park, and came across this small zoo with birds, farm animals, and deer in open enclosures.

Stag Fawn Peacock

My favourites were these small, stubby-legged goats – they looked so sweet, and reminded me of Donkey in Shrek!

Goat

I also shopped, buying macaroons, brandy made from Mirabelle plums and bergamotes (bergamot flavoured sweets) – all specialities of the area. 

Just to round the trip off I hit one last problem before I made it out of the city.  I’d booked a taxi for early Saturday morning as my shuttle bus to the airport left the station at 4.30am.  The taxi showed up on time, but the taxi driver kept trying to tell me (between his bad English, my bad French, and the helpful but not much better night receptionist) that I didn’t want to go to the station as there were no trains at this time in the morning!  I finally managed to explain that it wasn’t the trains I was interested in, but the shuttle bus (I showed him the timetable, but he couldn’t read it as he didn’t have his glasses), and we set off through the quiet streets with the driver kindly assuring me he’d bring me back to the hotel if/when the bus wasn’t there.  Happily, it was waiting at the stop when we got there, and my journey home went off without a hitch.  Phew!

Bracelet

I decided to have some fun today, and make something just for myself and the fun of it.  So I flicked through my magazines for a project and choose a bracelet from this issue of Beadwork.

Beaded bangle

I’m pleased with how it came out, but I’m not sure if I’ll make another one – the tension was so tight!

Christmas decorations

I woke up this morning from a dream where I was beading little stars out of beads and sequins.  While I was brushing my teeth I thought ‘that could work!’.  Then while I was getting dressed I realised it wouldn’t as it wouldn’t be stiff enough.  But by the time I’d got to Patchings and my beads it had occured to me that if I used bugles it would work.  So I started by making this silver star.

Silver star

I was quite pleased with this, so I carried on playing and made these Christmas trees.

Beaded Christmas Trees

And moved onto these versions using 3mm bugles and smaller sequins for earrings.

Star and tree earrings

I know it’s a bit early yet, but it’s only a month to the Christmas Market.  I’m quite pleased with these (the earrings in particular are much nicer than they look in the photo – seasonal but not over the top), especially as they were designed in a dream!

Meal with Mandy

Mandy dropped by Patchings today to meet up with all of us, and we had a meal together.  She’s looking pretty well, although she tires easily at the moment, but it was lovely to see her.  We all brought something (I made fairy cakes), and it worked out to a great meal and a nice gossip.

Most of the artists together

Starting from the left we have Jo, Mandy, Gillian (with her back to us), Mum, Tas and Michael.

British Museum and Sound of Music

As part of the birthday/anniversary celebrations, Mum and Dad got tickets to go and see the Sound of Music on the West End.  They bought tickets for me and Rob as well and for our grandparents (Dad’s side), and we arranged that we’d all meet in London at the Dorchester for Afternoon Tea today.  My grandparents live in Harpenden (near London) so Rob came down to Nottingham on Saturday, and we both drove to Harpenden yesterday to visit them and catch up with the family news (Rob in Sheffield would be the most northern member of the family – I think), as they’ve kindly offered to put us up. 

So myself and Rob caught the train into London around lunchtime, as we thought we’d like to visit the British Museum before meeting with everyone else.  We didn’t stand a chance of getting to see the Terracotta Warriors, as we’d made the decision to visit the museum too late to get tickets for today, but there was still plenty to see.  We picked up the audio tour of the highlights of the museum, and only got through about 8 of the 40 or so items before our time there was up!  We did manage to see the Rosetta Stone, the marbles from the Parthenon, and the items from the Sutton Hoo ship-burial, as well as a range of Egyptian sculpture and some Assyrian sculpture and friezes which I loved and made Rob spend a long time looking at while I took stacks of reference photos.

Nereid Monument Head of Amenhotep Assyrian frieze Belt buckle from the Sutton Hoo ship-burial

We then hurried to the Dorchester to meet the rest of the family (we’ve got to go back to the museum though – still so much to see!), where we felt very posh as we enjoyed Afternoon Tea in the Promenade, before heading to the London Palladium for The Sound of Music – which was FANTASTIC.

Still sewing

Put in more work on my Bead Journal Project page – at this rate I might even catch up!  I think I’m going to have to gild the face as well, but I’ll wait until the page is finished before I do that.

August page

It’s Mum’s birthday today (happy birthday Mum!), and she and Dad have gone down to London for the weekend (it’s his birthday tomorrow and their pearl wedding anniversary on Monday so they wanted to celebrate).

Working on it

Put in some more today on the August BJP page (after ripping out the sequins from yesterday so I could put them in the right way round)

August page

August BJP

Here it is, September, and I’ve only completed the page for June.  As I’m still working on the background to print for July, I thought I’d better make a start on August!  My theme for August is the sun (as it’s in August we finally got some sun around here), and I’m using a face I bought on Ebay a bit ago.

August page

It’s not much yet, but it’s a start.  (And I’ve also just realised that the line of sequins is layered in the wrong direction – going to the sun instead of coming out of it – so they’ll be ripped out tomorrow).

The Beader’s Floral

I had a fantastic surprise today – a parcel came through the post with a complimentary signed copy of The Beader’s Floral!  It’s written by Liz Thornton and Jill Devon (who owns The Bead Merchant – fantastic kits), and a while ago they asked me to design two large-ish beaded panels for the book.  I never expected to be sent a copy of the book, so I was so pleased when I opened the parcel.  And the book itself is amazing, and I’m really proud to have two designs in it.  The whole book is flower themed, and divided into several sections.  The first deals with different stitches (herringbone, brick stitch, square stitch, peyote stitch) covering how to make basic flowers, an example specific flower and a project for each stitch, and finishing with a section on making double and tubular flowers.  The second section gives instructions on how to make beautiful tiny versions of specific flowers based on the techniques in the first chapter, including pinks, cornflowers and snowdrops.  Part three covers extras you might want to add to your flowers, such as berries, buds and leaves.  Part four offers a range of flowery braids to bead, and part five is a range of projects to make based on what you’ve learnt so far.  The whole thing finishes with a gallery of finished pieces for inspiration.

It really is a lovely book, and one I’d definitely have bought even if I wasn’t in it!  It’s perhaps a bit much for a complete beginner (although the instructions are very good), but I’m really pleased to see a book that stretches skills a bit.  I’ll put links to the authors and book as soon as I get them, but in the meantime it’s due to be released in October and you can pre-order a copy from Amazon.

July BJP

I’ve not forgotten about the Bead Journal Project, I’ve just been caught up in the move and teaching at Children’s Activities (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).  I’ve known for a while that I wanted to do a Green Man for my July page.  This was to fit in with my theme of faces, and to represent my move back to Nottingham.  The Green Man is often linked with Robin Hood in local folklore, and he’s often seen as a manifestation of the forest spirit, so it seemed the ideal image for July and my move back here (visit the Sherwood Forest website for more about the links between images of the Green Man and Robin Hood – click on the link for ‘Spirit of Robin’ and ‘Spirit of Sherwood’)

I’ve started with a photo of my Dad – he looks suitably overgrown!

Dad

This was then run through some filters.

Dad glowing edges

Dad 'find edges'

I quite liked the way this looked so the next stage was to crop the face and remove his glasses.

Dad 'cropped, no glasses'

I’m liking the way this looks, so now to photograph some leaves and start adding to the picture