Wednesday, 27 July 2016

WOYWW 373

At last I have got my mojo back and a bit more time and energy for making art again!

I am very happy to hear that our hostess for What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday, Julia, is now back in the driving seat after her major surgery, and I join with the others in wishing her well for her continued recovery, and to say a huge thank you to Jan for hosting us unruly deskers during her absence!

Here is my desk for today.

WOYWW 373 27-7-16

If it looks a bit staged, that’s because it is!! I had just cleared up after Tuesday evening’s marathon with my Cougar cutting machine, and there wasn’t really anything on the desk, so I thought I’d put some of it back. You can see the plastic ready-meals bowls holding the various parts of the project I am working on. I can’t say a lot about it yet, because it’s for someone who sometimes visits my blog.

The left-hand bowl contains some papier mache boxes which I am altering. I will be doing a blog post about this in due course. Not much work done on them yet apart from covering them with some random tissue paper collage.

The next bowl along contains the flowers I made recently with my new Infusions paints, which you can see are still out on the right-hand side of the photo. I am in the process of using some of these flowers – some will go on one of the boxes, and some more are on the small mixed media piece that I am working on, seen front left on the desk. This has some tissue paper collage on it and it’s being worked on in conjunction with the altered boxes. Again, I shall be blogging about this in due course, as well.

The two bowls on the right contain the fruits of my labours yesterday – cut pieces from white card, and gold mirror card.

On the right of the desk you can see some empty face cream pots. I have decided to use these to decant a small quantity of different gel mediums into. I have found that constantly opening the original pots, the stuff tends to dry out – it’s so expensive and I hate wasting it! Decanting it in small quantities which get used up more quickly should prevent this problem.

Health Update

Just over a week ago I developed a frozen shoulder, and spent most of that weekend in agony. I have written about this on my blog, so I won’t go into details here, but suffice it to say that with the benefit of the cortisone injection into the joint, and the stronger prescription meds I have been on all week, things are now very much improved and I’ve got a lot of movement back, and the pain is considerably reduced. I have a physio appointment booked for this coming Friday but the way things are going, I’m not sure I’m going to need it! However, the meds may just be masking the problem so perhaps it will be good to go, if for no other reason than to learn some exercises to keep it moving and to prevent a recurrence. I have been very fortunate because I’ve heard horror stories of people suffering for two or three years, for whom treatment has been of little benefit.

While being fairly incapacitated after the initial acutely painful period was over, but wanting to do something creative, I have been working on my “Gothic Series” – a collection of designs in Inkscape for cut-outs and stencils. I shall be blogging about this once I’ve got something to show for my efforts.

Garden

My hubby’s efforts in our lovely garden have really paid off, and it’s looking so pretty now. Here are some photos.

09 Looking Back Along the Bank

11 Budleia

12 Lavender Above the Bank

10 Sweet Peas - Second Flowering

The sweet peas are a bit of a surprise – I had neglected my dead-heading duties and they were covered with little pods, which I finally got round to pulling off, but I thought I had left it too long and they would have finished flowering. In spite of being plagued with some leaf-tunnelling bug which has turned a lot of the leaves yellow, they have burst into a second flowering! We are delighted. They’ve been a huge success.

Finally, a picture of Phoebe in her latest favourite sleeping place: the compost heap!

Phoebe in the Compost Heap 2 26-7-16

It gets lovely and warm up there, but the trouble is, she comes in smelling of compost and grass mowings! She always has been a bit of a grubby little tyke.

Have a great week, everybody, and happy WOYWW.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Frozen Shoulder Update

It is now nearly a week since the onset of my frozen shoulder, and I am definitely feeling the benefit of the cortisone injection into the joint, and the stronger prescription pain killers/anti-inflammatories. The pain is considerably reduced, and I am gradually being able to increase the range of movement of my arm – still pretty limited, but definitely an improvement on how it was. As long as I don’t move my arm too much, or jerk it, I am not aware of the pain.

I left off the sling yesterday, and also my hubby’s ministrations! He had to help me wash and dress, and took over in the kitchen again, like last year when I was so ill dealing with my cancer and couldn’t cook. This felt like such a retrograde step and I was certainly not prepared to let that state of affairs last any longer than absolutely necessary!

He has been out and about over the past few days, being reassured by me that I was managing pretty well. I did the ironing yesterday afternoon, which I was very pleased about – I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it at all this week! In his absence, I have been forced to explore new ways of doing things that really needed to be done – there’s usually a way, however bizarre it may seem!!

In this hot weather it is essential that I get my hair up, off my neck, or it is unbearably hot. I always sleep with it tied up too, to prevent it getting in my face. With my arm so immobile I have been quite incapable of doing this for myself, and my hubby did his best to do it for me, with deplorably awful results lol! He never got it tight enough, and it looked as if I’d been dragged through the proverbial hedge backwards – more or less OK for overnight but certainly not good enough for during the day!! Yesterday I thought about it, and decided that the problem was that I could not reach up high enough to do it from above, as usual, and the only alternative was to do it from below. This meant turning myself upside down! By sitting on a chair and putting my head between my knees, and then brushing my hair towards the floor (using the good hand), I am now able to tie it in a pony tail with both arms in the “down” position! I feel a bit dizzy when I come up but that’s OK – my balance is always pretty rubbish with the ME anyway… So, nice neat hair again, and a cool neck!

Using my right hand, I can lift my left arm onto the table to do things, and to type etc. etc. Having my adjustable bed means that I can sleep in a semi-reclined, semi-lying down position and this is a lot more comfortable than lying down properly. If I am flat, I cannot sleep on my back, but this way, it is really comfortable.

Yesterday I started cooking again, and I am washing up, and really doing pretty much everything I was doing before, but with limited movement, and sometimes approaching tasks in a different way.

I am still waiting to hear from the physiotherapy department with an appointment, and in the meantime, have found some gentle exercises online for frozen shoulder once the acute, extremely painful phase is over, and I am trying to keep the arm moving. I haven’t tried the wheelchair yet, but hopefully I shall soon be able to use it again, and be able to get out and about again.

The new painkillers, Naproxen, don’t seem to affect me nearly so badly as the codeine. It may be that I have been sleeping better too, but I am feeling much less spaced out, and Kermit’s output has returned to normal, which is a relief. I changed his bag yesterday with no problem at all, and he behaved extremely well, and didn’t wake up and erupt everywhere, which really helped!

So, things are looking up.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen Shoulder

On Thursday I noticed that my left shoulder was feeling a bit painful, and on Friday it got progressively worse. I started applying topical ibuprofen gel on the joint at lunch time, and taking oral paracetamol, but by the evening it was clear that this was not working, and my hubby took me to A&E to get it checked out. Rather than going to Torbay Hospital, where we might have been kept waiting for over 4 hours, particularly on a Friday evening, we went to Newton Abbot Hospital A&E – not 24 hours, and for minor injuries only. We had taken Mum there on several occasions when she’d bashed her legs, and you don’t usually need to wait.

We were seen immediately by an efficient young doctor who took a pretty thorough medical history before examining me, and observing that there was severely limited mobility in the shoulder, and considerable pain, he said he didn’t think the problem was arthritis, but more likely to be muscular, and asked if I had injured myself, which I did not think that I had – I can’t remember doing anything untoward. He put my arm in a sling and told me to rest it as much as possible, and to continue with the pain relief I was already taking, but warned that I may need something a little stronger, such as an over-the-counter (OTC) codeine.

I had an extremely bad night. My hubby had to help me undress. I am very glad of my adjustable bed which meant that I could sleep in a semi-reclined position.

On Saturday things continued to be simply awful and my hubby bought me a pack of Solpadeine Max (a combination of codeine and paracetamol) and I was able to speak to the pharmacist on the phone while he was in the shop – I said I was worried about not being able to take more than 4 doses in a 24-hour period, with a maximum of 8 tablets during that time. She suggested alternating the Solpadeine with the topical ibuprofen gel, and by taking each, alternately, every three hours, I was able to cover the 24-hour period adequately, and while there have been periods over the weekend of extreme pain, mostly it has been managed by this regimen, as long as I have not tried to move my arm.

I have been unable to dress and undress myself, or to cook, and could not do this week’s ironing – my hubby has taken over the cooking again – something I thought was well in the past after getting over my cancer adventure last year. Going out, I cannot propel myself in my wheelchair (unless I want to go round in circles!) and have to be pushed, which is horrendous. So much for my new-found freedom with my bus pass!

The doctor told me to monitor how things went over the weekend, and if things were no better on Monday (today), I was to phone my GP and also make an appointment to see a physiotherapist.

Since things had not improved by this morning, I took his advice, and we phoned the GP’s surgery this morning; the doctor phoned me back and asked me to come in. We saw him mid-morning and he confirmed what we had already suggested, that I am suffering from adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder. This condition is more common in women than in men, and is commonest in my age group (early 60s) and more common in the non-dominant arm (as in my case, the left arm). It is a long-term condition and I can expect it to go on for at least 2 years… However, the acute phase with the severe pain is likely to be self-limiting, and the main problem may be limited mobility, but physiotherapy can help with this.

http://www.orthogate.org/patient-education/shoulder/adhesive-capsulitis

He gave me a steroid injection into the joint, which I hardly felt – I was expecting this to be extremely painful and was pleasantly surprised that it was not – he said that the shoulder is usually relatively pain-free as far as this procedure is concerned, unlike the elbow or knee. He has given me a prescription for Naproxen, a NSAID, to take twice a day, and after about 10 days to contact him again and let him know how I am getting on. The injection should start to take effect during the next 24-48 hours. He gave me a leaflet regarding setting up a physiotherapy appointment, which I have now done, and await news on that – it should be sometime this week.

I am extremely fed up to be so restricted again in what I can do. I was just getting used to having my life back, and being able to enjoy doing all my domestic tasks, and baking, and art, and guitar-playing… I asked the doctor if I would be able to play the guitar, and he said he thought I would – he said he had not got a frozen shoulder and couldn’t play the guitar lol!!

He said I should monitor any possible side effects of the Naproxen; the commonest is constipation. I have already noticed that with the codeine, the output from Kermit, my stoma, has got extremely thick. It’s not a problem, but it makes it slightly more difficult to manage, especially with a painful arm! I just have to watch out for pancaking and blow-outs…

Until this afternoon I could not type with my left hand, which was making things extremely slow and frustrating, typing with one finger! However, I have now discovered that if my arm is supported, and I rest the heel of my hand on the laptop, I can type without moving my arm above the wrist. I think this is how I must proceed from now on – I refuse to allow this to restrict what I do, and I am just going to have to find different ways of doing things. Once the severe pain stage is past, things should be easier, and the physio may have some advice about different ways of doing things.

In the meantime I’ve done a bit of online research and found some exercises recommended for the condition, starting off very gently and gradually progressing as things improve. I am determined to face this head on and do all I can to get back full mobility in my arm if possible.

It is very interesting about auto-immune conditions. They say that auto-immune diseases hunt in packs – if you have one, you are likely to have others. I have M.E., and until my cancer dealt with it, ulcerative colitis. I was concerned that the M.E. might start to feel lonely and that my body might produce another auto-immune disease to take its place, and what do I discover in my researches, but that adhesive capulitis may well be an auto-immune condition! Oh well, I suppose it could be worse!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Shoshi’s Bin Shopping…

Ohh the excitement of my life these days! How can I cope with it all?

Two or three weeks ago the inner part of our kitchen bin broke, so my hubby bought me a smart new bin. The only trouble was, it was much taller than the old one, and although it went underneath the reduced-height worktop of our semi-adapted kitchen, the lid wouldn’t open more than a couple of inches and I had a job to use it without pulling it out all the time. I struggled on with it until I realised it really wouldn’t do, so last night I spent several hours online, trying to find a suitable replacement that I liked, that worked properly, and wouldn’t break the bank. It turned out to be very difficult, and I ended up going to bed (very late!) having achieved nothing! Anyway, I preferred to see them “in the flesh” to make sure the one I chose would work well for me.

Yesterday something went wrong with my Tesco grocery delivery, and several things that I thought I’d ordered didn’t come, and they weren’t on Tesco’s list either, even though they were crossed off my written list as I’d entered them on the online order. I can only think that the brief dropping out of my Internet connection may have had something to do with it. I always used to double-check the order against my list before going to the checkout and I will obviously have to start doing this again. Anyway, they were things I couldn’t do without, so I suggested to my hubby that we took a trip out this morning, to visit Sainsbury’s and also to try and find a new bin.

He’d asked me last night what I wanted to do today as he was free, and I think he had in mind a nice outing to the seaside or a picnic or something, and we ended up going supermarket shopping, and on a bin hunt!! I had tremendous fun and enjoyed my morning immensely. Clearly I should get out more…

We found a bin the same as the one that had got broken, but this time in cream instead of steel, and decided to buy a new bin for the compost too – also in cream.

New Kitchen Bins 7-7-16

Very smart. Wouldn’t you agree?

During the course of my online researches last night, I came across a review on Amazon of one particular bin which really made me laugh – the woman liked the bin and wrote a favourable review – it was entitled “Bin there,” and her username made me chuckle as well – “Helena Handbasket” – and she said, “The bin is a bin. I am reluctant to give it 5 stars, because anybody who loves their bin that much clearly needs to get out more.” Lol!

I obviously need to get out more. I mean, really. Dedicating a whole blog post to a kitchen bin.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

WOYWW 370

I haven’t had much studio time lately, being very busy with other things, but I have managed to open up my new Infusions paints and start playing with them, using a masking technique that I’ve used with Dylusions spray inks in the past, which produces some lovely backgrounds as well as some useful flower pieces. You can see more details here.

Here’s my desk today.

WOYWW 370 6-7-16

On the left you can see the flower background I created, and underneath it is the leaf background. I am currently working on embossing the leaf shapes, and you can see the flowers that I’ve already done, in the black plastic pot at the back. Beside that are the sheets of card from which I die-cut the flower and leaf shapes, and I am planning to use these pieces as stencils or in other projects in some way. To the right of these you can see the new transparent 3-D gel mediums I bought last week, which I haven’t yet opened – these will have all sorts of uses, and I am looking forward to experimenting with them in combination with the Infusions paints, which you can see in their little bottles on the right of the desk. In front of those is the Heartfelt Creations stamp and die set which I used to make the flowers and leaves for this current project, together with my heat gun. This is a brand new heat gun – my other one recently gave up the ghost, and as it appeared to be completely impossible to open up, I was unable to see what was wrong, so it couldn’t be fixed. Oh well, I’ve had it a good few years.

Moving On After Cancer

Yesterday we had the penultimate session of this excellent course, this time dealing with two topics: “Thinking, Feeling and Doing,” and “Body Image and Self-Esteem.” You can read full details by clicking on the page tag for Session 4 at the top of my blog. It was a fascinating insight into exactly what “thoughts” are, and how powerful they are in influencing our emotions, and in consequence, our actions. Most of the time we don’t even think about thinking – we just do it – and understanding exactly what’s going on in this three-sided interaction, we can begin to take control of our lives in a way I’d never really thought about.

Again, I took in some nice home baked goodies for us to snack on in our tea break, and as usual they went down very well – particularly the new coconut macaroons I made, filled with chocolate ganache – this was a sort of hybrid recipe I devised from 3 existing ones, one of which was from my new “Bake Off Crème de la Crème” book. Though I say it myself, these were truly delicious and I’m not surprised they elicited expressions (both facial and verbal) of supreme enjoyment on everybody’s faces!!! I also made lemon drizzle cake, that I’d never made before, and it was a roaring success too. It’s a good thing I prepared for all this by having a very late breakfast and no lunch, or my diet would be truly up the spout. I also took in some of the almond slices I made last week, and a new batch of chocolate chip cookies (a recipe I’ve made many times and could practically do it in my sleep now).

Almond slices:

Almond Slices 27-6-16

Lemon drizzle cake:

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Coconut macaroons filled with chocolate ganache, and chocolate chip cookies:

Coconut Macaroons and Choc Chip Cookies

A selection:

Baking Selection

Is your mouth watering yet?

The adjustable baking frame that I bought recently on Ebay is proving very useful and is very easy to use, and enables me to make perfectly shaped squares and rectangles with nice straight sides. It has a removable divider.

Adjustable Baking Frame June 16

The only problem with it is that it is very difficult to clean because it keeps opening up into a huge square and it’s all pretty flexible, and it’s a bit like wrestling with an octopus. (Not that I’ve ever attempted such a thing, of course.)

One of the ladies on the course is a neighbour of mine, and we are starting to get on very well together. She’s a great expert on the bus service in Torquay, and we travelled back together via B&Q where we made a quick visit. For some reason the route to the Lodge at the hospital (where our course is taking place) is relatively simple, with one bus change, but the return journey is different, and it either necessitates two changes, or a long round-trip incorporating the centre of town! No doubt I shall get the hang of it eventually! Not having got out and about much at all on my own since we moved here, finding where all the shops are in town is a new adventure for me, and it’s interesting seeing how the different bits of town all connect with each other. When you’re being driven, you don’t really think about it, and I’m ashamed to say that I really don’t yet know my way around, even after living here for 2 1/2 years!

Have a great week, everybody, with lots of creative time. Happy WOYWW!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The Fourth Session of Our Cancer Course, and my Latest Batch of Baking

Today I attended the penultimate session of our course at the cancer information and support centre at the hospital, and as usual it was excellent. You can read full details here.

Yesterday I did some more baking so I could take some goodies in for us all to share during our tea break. I still had some almond slices left, and I made a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies, and in addition I also made a lemon drizzle cake and some coconut macaroons filled with chocolate ganache. I got the idea for these from my new “Bake Off – Creme de la Creme” book which I bought after the TV series of the same name came to an end.

The lemon drizzle cake. I made a rectangular one using my new adjustable baking frame, and then cut it up into squares.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

The coconut macaroons and chocolate chip cookies.

Coconut Macaroons and Choc Chip Cookies

A selection on one of the cake plates from my beautiful new tea service.

Baking Selection

I was particularly pleased that the lemon drizzle cake worked so well, and it has a wonderful combination of sweet and tart in a single mouthful, and a delicious crunchy texture on the top.

Everybody was bowled over by the macaroons, and this afternoon was the first time I had sampled one – I was very disciplined with myself last night after I’d finished them – partly because it as a diet day and partly because if I once started tasting them, there would probably be none left for our meeting today!

I had never made these before, and neither had I ever made ganache. It is basically a mixture of cream and dark chocolate and it’s the most delicious icing I’ve ever tasted, I think!

This morning I did some research into the origins of ganache, and rumour has it that in the 19th century, an apprentice to a chef accidentally spilt some cream into the chocolate that the chef was carefully melting, and ganache was born. According to the website, the word “ganache” in French means “a fool” – the chef accused his apprentice of being a fool, and then realised just how good the ganache was, and the name stuck.

You live and learn.

On the way back, I accompanied another member of our group as she wanted to do a bit of shopping, and she showed me where the various bus stops were. Last time I came home from the Lodge by bus, I ended up changing twice. This way, I only need the single change, even if the journey does take twice as long, meandering in and out around the town! We discovered we have loads in common and had a lovely talk, which continued after we got out, until we thought we should go home and rescue our hubbies who must be worrying about us. Mine certainly had been, and had taken himself off to look for me, thinking I’d either had an accident, or another heart attack, etc. Later he apologised to me for being silly but I said he certainly hadn’t been silly – I was touched that he was so worried about me, and feeling a bit guilty that I’d put him through that, when I had been out having a good time!

While we waited to cross the road to go shopping, I heard my voice being called from the other side of the street, and there was one of the members of the Allerton Three! She was walking her dog. She crossed over and I was able to introduce her to my new friend, and we had a lovely chat.

So I managed to make new friends, and meet up with an old friend, too.

I love going on the bus – there are always nice people to chat with. I have to sit at the front with my back against the fold-away seat, in a space reserved for a wheelchair, so I’m facing everybody. It does make it a bit difficult to see my stop, so I always ask the driver to stop there as I get on the bus. Today I met a delightful old gentleman, who had a rollator walker, and tied on along the front were lots of little teddies! He said he’d been collecting them for some time. I said I wished my hubby could see them as he’s very keen on teddies, too!

A really great day, made all the more special for the joy I was able to bring to the group with my home baking.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Heartfelt Creations Stamps and Dies, and Infusions–Part 1

Yesterday afternoon I thought it was high time I spent some time playing in my ARTHaven studio. Over the past few months I have bought quite a bit of new stash and have not yet had time to use it.

On the recommendation of Diana Taylor of Velvet Moth Studios (one of my favourite artists), I bought the Heartfelt Creations stamps and dies in the sets Botanical Rose and Botanical Wings.

01 Stamps and Dies

I stamped the flowers four times on white American Cardstock, using sepia archival ink.

02 Stamping the Flowers

I stamped the leaves with fern green archival ink.

03 Stamping the Leaves

I then proceeded to die-cut the flowers and leaves with my Cuttlebug. To locate the die over the stamped images, I used small pieces of masking tape.

04 Die Cutting the Flowers

05 Die Cutting the Leaves

After cutting all the pieces, I arranged the flowers on another sheet of white American Cardstock.

06 Laying the Flowers on the Background

Time to try out my new Infusions paints for the first time. I chose three colours in the brown/orange/yellow range.

07 Infusions

The first colour I used was Orange County. I sprinkled it on using a dry soft paintbrush, and then spritzed the sheet with water to activate the crystals.

08 Orange County Infusions

I then lifted each flower with tweezers and laid it down in a different place on the background sheet. I have used this technique before, using Dylusions spray inks. It’s a great way to colour your flower pieces, and at the same time create an interesting background, so nothing is wasted! I think on balance that the masking effect of the flower works better with the Dylusions sprays than it does with the Infusions but I’m still happy with the results.

I then sprinkled the wet sheet with the second Infusions paint, Sunset Beach.

09 Sunset Beach

I moved the flowers again, and repeated the process with the final paint, Golden Sands.

10 Golden Sands

It was very wet by this time, so I blotted it off with a roll of kitchen paper, and dried it slightly with my heat gun, not too much, to prevent the paper from buckling, and left it to dry.

11 Flowers Removed, Blotted and Dried

When it was dry, the paper wasn’t too buckled at all.

Moving on to the leaves, I laid them out on a fresh piece of white American Cardstock as before, and the first colour I added was Lemoncello.

12 Lemoncello on Leaves

This was followed by The Sage, after I had moved the leaves around a bit.

13 The Sage on Leaves

The next colour was Emerald Green, and I also added some more Lemoncello which gives a nice brown tinge. This was before I blotted any paint of or dried it with my heat gun.

14 Lemoncello and Emerald Green Before Drying

After drying, and before moving the leaves. A more subtle background.

15 Lemoncello and Emerald Green After Drying

A little more Lemoncello added, and then the leaves were removed.

16 More Lemoncello and Leaves Removed

This is the kitchen paper I used to blot it off. I always save this because it can be used for other projects. In some of the previous photos, at top left, you can see the kitchen roll which I had rolled over the surface of the card to mop up any excess paint and pools of liquid.

17 Kitchen Roll Used for Mopping Up

The first sheet, and the flowers, were now well and truly dry, so I embossed the flowers using a piece of fun foam and a hand-embossing tool.

18 Embossing the Flowers

You can see that working on embossing, the fun foam tends to stretch in the middle with the pressure of the tool, and become quite distorted. A little while ago I discovered that you don’t need to throw it out when it gets too bad – just heat it gently with a heat gun and the distortion goes back in and the fun foam becomes flat again.

All the flowers, embossed. I love all the different shades and textures. The photo doesn’t really do them justice because they are actually richer in colour.

19 The Embossed Flowers

I left the leaf sheet to dry as it was pretty damp even after drying with the heat gun, and also, it had buckled more than the flower sheet. Once it is fully dry, I shall emboss the leaves as I did the flowers.

My introduction to Infusions has been great fun. I have enjoyed stamping the flowers and leaves, and then die-cutting them as well. Initially, when the flowers were still wet, I thought all the sepia stamping had been covered up, but it is still there, even if it is a bit subtle.

I’m not sure what I am going to do with them yet.

Today my new transparent gel mediums arrived from Art from the Heart and I am very keen to try them with the Infusions, as I saw on Ruth’s blog, A Love to Create, a while back.

A word about the American Cardstock – this cuts absolutely beautifully with Sheba, my Cougar cutting machine. It comes in a great range of colours too, including black and white, and you can buy packs of mixed colours, in both pastels and brights. What I’ve been  discovering with this project is that it doesn’t seem to matter how much water you throw at it, it doesn’t disintegrate. This is a huge bonus for mixed media work. Hitherto I have been using watercolour paper, but this is quite difficult to cut with the cutting machine and it needs damping with a water sprayer before cutting, to soften the fibres. This American Cardstock seems to work well or everything I want. My only complaint is that it is a bit too thin for certain things such as card bases, but one can always use something else for that. I am interested to see how it performs when constructing 3-D flowers, but I think it should be fine. It has a slightly textured surface on one side, but if you don’t want this, you can always use the reverse side which is flat.

Watch this space for the continuation of this project, as I work on the leaves, and decide what I am going to do next.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

WOYWW 369

At last I’ve got something to show you on my workdesk this Wednesday. Over the past few weeks I’ve been trying to get my Cougar cutting machine up and running again (she’s called Sheba) – she’s been in deep hibernation for several years as I’ve been dealing with other more pressing matters in my life during that time!

After much correspondence to and fro on the wonderful Thyme Machines forum, those wonderful people on there have helped me on the way and Sheba is in action again, just in time for me to make a card for a new baby – baby steps, you could say. You can see the finished card and its matching tag on the table. I have yet to make a card insert for it, which I am going to design on the computer and print out.

WOYWW 369 29-6-16

To the right you can see my Final Cut Pro folder with notes and instructions for using this video editing software on the Mac – not that I’ve done a lot recently, and that’s another thing that needs to be brought up to speed again soon. On top of the folder are my instructions on designing and cutting stencils using Sheba. The same cut file I used for the baby footprints has also been made into a stencil.

Since I last joined in with WOYWW I have been very busy, and have been attending a 5-week course at the cancer support and info centre at our local hospital entitled “Moving On After Cancer” which is proving to be extremely interesting and very helpful. Yesterday afternoon was session 3 of the course. You will notice that there are some new page tabs at the top of my blog, covering the sessions, if anyone is interested in reading them. I have had some good feedback from the cancer forum I am on – this sort of support is sadly lacking in other parts of the world, notably the USA and Australia, and I am happy to pass on the excellent information we are receiving.

Have a good week, everybody.

New Goodies from a Village Fete

Last Saturday my hubby and I returned to the village where we used to live, for their annual village fete, which is always great fun. The weather managed to hold off pretty much, with only a slight spitting of rain, so all was well. As usual, the bri-a-brac stall was very much in evidence and I made  bee-line for it, to discover that this year, it was even better than usual – they had brilliant stuff on it and I came away with some great bargains!

This has got to be the ugliest lamp you have ever set eyes on.

01 The Ugliest Lamp in the World

My hubby got some very strange looks as he carried it back to the car for me. Why did I buy it, you ask? Well, it is honest, not trying to be anything it isn’t, and so unashamedly horrible that probably nobody else would have bought it, and I felt sorry for it. That shade, on upside down… it even has a rip in it. The cable is horrible, with the wrong sort of plug on it. The poor old thing… No, but I almost had you there!! I bought it to go behind my magnificent Burmese screen:

18 Burmese Screen 9-5-26

with a red bulb in it. In our old house, I had a table lamp with a red bulb and it glowed beautifully through all the lovely pierced carving, but since we moved here I haven’t got a spare table lamp. When I saw that magnificently ugly lamp, I knew I’d found Just the Thing. I haven’t got a red bulb yet, and I’ve got to replace the cable, but soon, I hope, it will move to its new home and give good service.

What else did I buy?

02 Flower Press and Sparkles

I found this flower press. I bought one off Ebay a few years ago and it was such rubbish (the threads on the bolts stripped away as soon as you tightened the nuts and the whole thing was very flimsy) so it had to go back. This one looks a lot more substantial, and will be useful for a number of things in the studio, apart from pressing flowers. Beside it is a small plastic box of sparkly bits which will come in handy to embellish various projects.

03 Jewellery

As usual, there was lots of jewellery. I usually stock up on old necklaces and beads to take apart for art projects, but there wasn’t so much in that line that I was interested in this time. Instead, there was a lot of really nice stuff, most of which looked absolutely new – the earrings were all on their original cards, and the necklace and earring set was in its original box. All the earrings were only 50p a pair.

I also got one or two bits and pieces for the kitchen. I was a bit cross because in the box of kitchen utensils was a silicone pastry brush for about 25p, and I’ve just bought myself one!! Ah well, can’t win ’em all… I got this nice silicone spatula and a dual purpose knife and scissors sharpener which will be useful.

05 Spatula and Knife Sharpener

I also bought this mandolin-style slicer, still in its original box, complete with instructions. I think it had been used, probably only once or twice, but it’s in pristine condition. I’ve tried it, and it works a treat.

04 Mandolin Slicer

In addition to these bits and pieces, I discovered a huge quantity of textile artwork. A lady in the village had apparently been on a textile course and these were her sample pieces. She had had a tragedy in her life and was moving, and downsizing, and had put all this stuff in the fete. I was thrilled to find it and thought that probably if I didn’t buy it, it might end up being thrown away – something I couldn’t bear to think about, so I thought I’d give it a good home, and possibly even use some of it, but looking at it later, I didn’t think I could bring myself to do that, but would keep it and use it for inspiration.

I didn’t buy it all as there was a huge amount, but in a plastic sleeve were these samples:

14 Small Samples

There was also a large portfolio-style book of fabric pieces, “Experiments” – she had obviously made the book herself, and it’s amazing. There are some gorgeous rich textures and interesting use and combination of materials.

01 Experiments - Front Cover

Inside the front cover:

02a Experiments -  Inside Front Cover - Blurred

The pages are all made of fabric which looks like old sheeting.

“Random.”

03 Experiment - Random

“Fabric, lace, gesso, acrylic, ink, threads.”

04 Fabric, Lace etc

“Random.”

05 Experiments - Random

“Random.”

06 Experiments - Random

“Cities.”

07 Experiments - Cities

“Waterfront.”

08 Experiments - Waterfront

“Factory chimneys.”

09 Experiments - Factory Chimneys

“Fence.”

10 Experiments - Fence

“Fence.”

11 Experiment - Fence

“Pylons,” “Fence,” and “Random.”

12 Experiments - Pylons, Fence and Random

Inside the back cover:

13 Experiments - Inside Back Cover

Far too good to be thrown away, wouldn’t you agree? I think she would be pleased that someone has appreciated all her hard work and given it a good home. I wish her well in her new life.