Wednesday, 23 July 2014

WOYWW 268

What’s on Your Workdesk today? Show and tell! To join in the fun, click on the WOYWW logo in my sidebar and go to our hostess Julia’s blog where everything is explained.

I can tell you in one word what’s on Shoshi’s workdesk this week – chaos! I do wish I was a tidier worker but the creative flow grabs me and I just dump stuff willy nilly so I can get on with the next bit. Fortunately in my new ARTHaven there’s plenty of space – and all-importantly, space to dry things.

I haven’t done anything in there for the past fortnight because it’s been such a busy time, and with Mum having her mini-stroke etc. I’ve been pretty exhausted and haven’t had the energy to be very creative. However, I realised today that I have a birthday card to make before Thursday so I thought I’d better get my skates on.

Here’s the main work area.

WOYWW 268a Main Work Area

From left to right at the back: a pot of puff binder which I recently got but haven’t tried yet, and which I may use on this project; gel mediums of all shapes and sizes, acrylic paints, distress stains, ink pads, brushes, gesso, bubble wrap printing block, some unmounted stamps and scraps of card. In the foreground, from right to left: the card base, which has been inked and spattered with acrylic paint. Centre; the main background for the card, with more spattering. On the left, an offcut of the purple card which I’ve used to clean my brushes, which has made a nice background for something or other. On the far left you can just see my small circles stencil.

Just behind the gel mediums on the left you can see a piece of kitchen paper maturing nicely with a bit of a build-up of blue paint. Although you can’t see it on the photo, it’s also quite shimmery (as are the card pieces on the desk) because I’ve been using quite a bit of iridescent gel medium today.

Across the corner, to the left of the main area, in front of my iMac you can see my Perfect Pearls palette, and some gems, sequins and stickles for the current project. My Cougar cutting machine, Sheba (sorely neglected species these days!) is peeping out from behind the iMac and some external hard drives and my drawing tablet. In front of the blind you can see how my current scratch paper is progressing, with the addition of a lot of blue today (which will be toned down by the next layer) and my purple box containing the pens I use for drawing.

WOYWW 268b Across Corner

The pull-out unit to the right of the main work area is a mess as usual. There are scanned photos on there for the recycled mini-album (resting on top) and the paper stacks for the album I’m making about Dad (on the back burner while I work on the recycled mini-album).

WOYWW 268c Pull-Out Unit

In front of the box of acrylic paints you can see some wrapping paper with butterflies on it, which will be used for the current project, and also the narrow strips of inked kitchen paper from a Dylusions playtime I had some time ago. It’s all resting on more used kitchen paper which is ready to be used as backgrounds in projects. Back on the main work surface, on top of the guillotine you can see my heat gun and palette, and the desk organiser has all my stencil brushes and sponge applicators in it.

Beyond, on the other side of the room, you can see my guitar, which is now seeing the light of day again after several years (don’t my fingers know it! They are quite sore!) and a pile of teabags on the sewing machine. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into the teabag art again but the mini-album has to take priority at the moment. Hopefully there’ll be another post shortly, about the card I’m working on.

Told you it was a tip, didn’t I.

Happy WOYWW, everybody!

Monday, 21 July 2014

On the Dig

This morning my hubby took me over to the local archaeological dig where he has been volunteering for the past couple of weeks. This is the first year since the dig began, that he has been able to go full time, because previously, work had a habit of getting in the way! (Actually these days I don’t see him for dust on a daily basis, so not much change from when he was working!!)

This is the site of a Roman, and earlier Bronze Age settlement. It was discovered several years ago by my hubby’s friend who introduced him to metal detecting – this gentleman discovered a large number of Roman coins which he took to the university, where interest was sparked, and an archaeological team was appointed to open an official dig. The team consists of qualified archaeologists and students, and a number of volunteers from the local area. This particular excavation has revealed the first evidence that the Romans settled west of Exeter, so it is an important find.

Here are a couple of general views of the site.

01 Gen View

02 Gen View

Running across the site is the Roman road which has been unearthed. If you look carefully on the left of the road, just to the right of the little row of stones, you can see a wheel rut in the road. The road is cambered, and there are several potholes that have been filled with different types of stone – obviously the Romans had the same problem with potholes that we do today!

03 Roman Road

Beyond the road, a series of stakes and tapes plot the further path of the road, as revealed by the geo-phys.

Technology in action:

04 Technology

Equipment.

05 Equipment

Removing dust with a large brush.

06 Brushing - Large Brush

Sieving. This is the job my hubby was on for a few days last week – yesterday he was glad to be back on the main site, clearing with a brush. I told him that in order for the professional archaeologists to do their job, they depend on minions like himself – the blue-collar workers who do the donkey work, boring as it may be!

07 Sieving

I noticed that the sievers were wisely standing up-wind of their sieves – there was a light breeze today and it was very hot and dry, and the sieving generated a lot of dust which was blowing about.

Clearing with a fine brush.

08 Brushing - Fine Brush

Today they uncovered part of a brooch, and a flattened section of a bracelet with some decoration on it, both probably made of bronze. I was shown a section of quern stone – the Romans used two discs of stone with a hole drilled through the middle through which a spindle would have passed, and through which grain would have been poured. On the upper stone, near the edge, another hole would have accommodated a stick which would be used as a handle to turn the upper stone on the lower, and the result of the grinding would work its way to the edges of the stones and be collected. This piece of stone that I was shown looked very unremarkable to my untrained eye – no doubt I’d have rejected it as simply a bit of old rock, but the archaeologist pointed out the smooth curved outer edge which was sufficient to identify it.

I find it amazing that they are able to recognise what is a genuine find, and distinguish it from the surrounding worthless rubble, but as my hubby pointed out, when the Bank of England trains its tellers in the recognition of counterfeit notes, they do not give them counterfeits to handle, but the real thing, and then, when they encounter a counterfeit, they are so familiar with the real thing that the forgery is instantly recognisable. In the same way, the archaeologists become so familiar with the feel of pottery, metallic objects, bone, and so on, that they can identify a genuine find almost immediately, even if it looks quite unremarkable.

I was impressed by the organisation and quiet industry at the site. Everybody knew what they were supposed to be doing, and they were all applying themselves with great concentration to their own particular job of the moment. Each time something was turned up, the exact location was marked and the find was bagged, and a special laser record was made so that the finds could all be plotted on the computer in 3-D. You can see the bags and tags fixed to the ground in the first two photos. The archaeologist explained to me that archaeology is a destructive process because the site is not left intact when they have finished. I had not thought about it like this before.

This is an extensive site, and ground radar has indicated that it extends across many fields. Hopefully the funding will continue, and the dig will be opened up each summer for the foreseeable future. My hubby is thrilled to have the opportunity to volunteer, and to be part of such an exciting venture so close to home, and now that he has retired, he can immerse himself fully in the experience.

It is exciting to think of the Romans living so close to us, living their ordinary daily lives and leaving things for us to find many hundreds of years later. I always feel a great sense of excitement when I handle something that has been dug up – my hubby brings home all sorts of interesting finds from his metal detecting jaunts – spindle whorls, shoe buckles, coins – and I think of the last person to handle the object before it was lost and buried, and what sort of lives they would have led; what their beliefs were, their style of dress, their food, etc. etc. Handling these objects centuries later gives one a real sense of connection with our ancient past, and the human beings who lived such different lives from our own, in our local area, but sharing the same emotions, joys, doubts and fears which are the common lot of humanity. They breathed the same air, saw the same moon and stars, were warmed by the same sun, and lived through the same seasons. It makes one feel grounded in one’s own environment, having a sense of our ancestors going back through the centuries, and provides a sense of belonging and continuity.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Are You an Artist?

Today I viewed the latest Youtube video by one of my favourite artists, Jennibellie. You may remember I featured another of her videos recently, on the subject of comparing oneself with others, and this latest one is another of what she describes as her “pep talks”!

Again, it made a huge impression on me, as she was speaking right into my situation, or my situation as it was last year.

She made this video while visiting York, and staying in what she described as a haunted house! It all looked very charming to me.

Anyway, back to the pep talk. For some time I had been feeling less comfortable with the description “crafter” for what I do – this is no slight on those who do consider themselves to be crafters and are happy with that, but I felt I was moving more into an area where I was creating a lot more from scratch, rather than assembling ready-made materials, and as I pushed the boundaries, needed to start calling myself an artist.

However, for some time I felt very uncomfortable using this word to people because I thought they might think it pretentious of me, and the worst stumbling block was that I don’t get paid for what I do – my feeling was that most people who describe themselves as artists are “serious” artists who make money from what they do! Jennibellie points out that if you do art, then you are an artist! Who do we have no problem with the doing of art, but the personal description “artist” causes us such problems?

I think I am over this hump now. I am finding it easier all the time to describe myself as an artist. It doesn’t matter anyway what other people think, and if they assume that I am a professional artist, that doesn’t matter either. To be exact, I suppose I could always describe myself as an “amateur artist” but that rather implies that I just mess about and am not serious about what I do, or that I am not very good.

I am not as good as I would like to be, but then I doubt if you’d meet many artists who think that they are as good as they should be!

The name I give to my studio is my ARTHaven, a name I borrowed from Penny Duncan. It is indeed a haven where I do art, and the capital letters imply how important this art is to me. I get quite uncomfortable and a bit annoyed when I hear my hubby describe it as my “craft room.” My beautiful room in our new house, all fitted out to my own specification and design, is definitely my studio, the place where I make ART.

This whole issue is another facet of the issue Jennibellie addressed before, that of lacking confidence in ourselves which manifests itself in the comparing of ourselves with others. I don’t know if it’s a particularly British characteristic to be self-effacing and modest, and not to trumpet ourselves lest we appear brash and boastful, but false modesty is nobody’s friend in the end! It’s time to step up to the mark and say it as it is!

Are you an artist? If you are creative with your materials and produce work that is unique to you, and which expresses something of the inner you, then you are. Don’t be afraid to say it!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

WOYWW 267

Welcome to the world’s best and most famous nosey-fest. To find out all about it and details of how to join in, please click on the WOYWW logo in my sidebar which will take you to our hostess Julia’s blog where all will be explained.

WOYWW 267

I’m afraid there’s nothing changed on my desk from last week! I simply haven’t had the opportunity to spend any time in my studio this week. Anyone who has visited my blog since last week will know that Mum had a TIA and we had to spend some considerable time at the hospital with her. I’m happy to report that after an overnight stay, she’s made an almost complete recovery, although her balance is slightly worse than before. I have been busy with two visits from the community team – I am amazed how quickly the system swung into action and therapists were sent to assess her at home. I have also been very tired after the experience and have been trying to rest, but with the fitting of the solar panels I’ve had a few early starts which isn’t terribly good news for me!

The electrician and his team were here yesterday connecting it all up, and the system started generating electricity immediately! We have a monitor attached to the consumer unit which broadcasts wirelessly to a small box connected to our broadband router, and I can go online and view a constantly-updating summary of the electricity we are consuming, what we are generating, and how much is being fed back to the grid. It even gives a weather summary for our postcode! Today was the first full day, and it was an interesting test, because I had the tumble drier on for 2 loads of towels, then I did over an hour’s ironing, and then my cleaning lady came and was running the vacuum cleaner, and I’ve done a bit of cooking. It was a fairly high-demand sort of day, and the sun was shining most of the day. We generated slightly over half the total consumption till the early evening, which is great, and uploaded 0.6 kWh to the grid! Amazingly, the panels were still generating electricity at 10 p.m., although at a lower level as dusk began to set in. I shall be interested to see what happens tomorrow, when we should be using a lot less power. Anyway, it has already proved that it is going to be saving us money long-term, as long as we are organised and use the high-demand stuff during the day as much as possible.

Diet news. I’ve moved my weigh-day from Monday to Sunday (so I can tell my friends at church how I’m getting on!). I refused to let myself get demoralised this time, but I was disappointed to see that I’d actually gained 4 lb last week! My only explanation is that we went out for a slap up meal the night before. Still, I have lost a total of 8 lb since I started, and I am sure this is only a temporary blip, and that the trend is generally downwards.

Talking of church, I was admitted to full membership on Sunday, with a lovely welcome from everybody, and some very nice things said about me up front – afterwards the minister said to me, “Embarrassing, isn’t it!!” I was given a lovely card, and was one of the people chosen at the end of the service to be given the flowers. They always have fresh flowers on the platform which are given away at the end – the last time I received them was on the first Sunday I attended. My hubby came with me which was lovely, and he mentioned that in the past I have sung in church. I was approached afterwards and asked if I could learn a new song for us to sing, and introduce it as a solo. It is a long time since I’ve played my guitar and was a bit tentative at first, but after my hubby found it in the loft, I managed to play a bit and was amazed that I remembered all the chords! With a bit of practice, and if I take a perching stool to rest against, I think I should be fine. I feel very much at home at this church, which is literally around the corner from where we live, and I can get there under my own steam in either the buggy or the wheelchair.

So many new and wonderful things since we moved here, including, or course, my fabulous new ARTHaven, and so much to look forward to now my hubby has retired. Life is good.

Have a great week, everybody, with lots of opportunity for creativity.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Solar Panels being Fitted

Today our solar panels were fitted. They should have been done yesterday but there was a delay on another job, so the men came at tea time yesterday just to mark up the roof, and they had everything loaded on the van ready to begin work early this morning.

Here is the scaffolding all up, before they began the work.

02 All the Scaffolding Up

The first thing they did was to do some measuring and final marking up.

03 Measuring and Marking Up 11-7-14

Here are the solar panels being offloaded from the van.

04 Offloading the Solar Panels

At the points where the brackets would be attached, several slates had to be removed from the roof.

05 Removing Slates

I really admired the teamwork between these three men as they manoeuvred the rails up the ladder and onto the roof.

06 Handing Up the Rails

Before the rails could be fitted, brackets had to be attached to the roof timbers.

07 Attaching the Brackets

Attaching the rails. You can also see that the soil vent pipe has been cut down in length. I was told that in the summer, it wouldn’t make much difference, but in the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky, it would have cast a shadow across the panels, cutting the light and reducing the electricity generated. Since the panels are all linked in series, if one cell was rendered less effective because of shadow, all the cells in that row, right across the system, would be affected too, so it was important to reduce any possibility of the casting of shadows across the solar panels.

08 Attaching the Rails

Unfortunately at this stage, the OT came to see Mum, and I had to be in there with them, helping Mum answer her questions. I could see the panels being lifted up the ladder from Mum’s sitting room window, and by the time the OT left, they had all been installed, so I didn’t manage to get a photo of the process.

Here are all the panels in place.

09 The Panels in Place

I am very pleased with the appearance, as I’d expected it to be a lot more intrusive. The installer said that some companies make panels with quite heavy and thick aluminium frames, and the panels are mounted further from the roof, and both these features add to the general unattractiveness of the system. Our panels, however, have much more discreet frames and fittings, and on our large roof, the full 16 panels of the 4 Kw system look very minimalist and quite smart. They have been beautifully centred on the expanse of the roof, and the black finish tones well with the slates on the roof.

At the end of the day, they carried all the electrical materials into the loft, and mounted the inverter (the piece of kit which converts the DC current generated by the panels to domestic AC), and began laying the cables. On Monday, the engineer will come and connect it all up, which shouldn’t take long, and then they system will be up and running. They are providing us with a monitoring device which connects to the Internet, and we will be able to see how much electricity we are using, and how much we are generating, at any given time – this information will be useful in determining which appliances we want to run at any one time, to take full advantage of the system.

I’ll post some more photos once the scaffolding has gone. We have been informed that it will remain for about a week so that they can come back and gain access to the roof if any problems arise.

Mini-Stroke

On Wednesday morning I woke very late, with a headache (a common occurrence with my M.E.) so I didn’t get in to see Mum until about noon, which is later than usual, and I found her lying on the bed resting (something she frequently does in the morning). However, this time she told me she wasn’t feeling well, and although she’d managed to get up and wash her hair and get her breakfast, she said she felt very dizzy and unsteady. Her speech was a bit slurred. I thought perhaps she’d developed an ear infection, and told her I’d phone the doctor and organise a home visit. Her speech became more slurred as time went on.

When I phoned, they said the doctor concerned was out on a visit, but he would phone on his return. Almost immediately after this, they phoned again to say that the slurred speech indicated something other than an ear infection, and it sounded to them as if she had had a mini-stroke, or TIA (transient ischaemic attack), and that we should call an ambulance right away and get her to A&E. she was very much against this, but it had to be done.

Things began to happen pretty fast then, and I had to dash upstairs and throw on some clothes (on bad days I don’t always get dressed until late in the day, if at all), and I ended up having no lunch! I couldn’t shift the headache but had to put my own concerns on the back burner while we got Mum sorted.

The paramedic with the ambulance did a basic examination of her and did the standard “FAST” test for stroke patients – Face, Arms, Speech, Time – time to get her to hospital quickly if any of the former were present – a falling face on one side, inability to hold the arms up, problems with speech. All these were normal except for the speech, and her blood pressure was pretty high.

I phoned my hubby who came straight home, and I went in the ambulance with Mum, and he followed in the car, bringing my wheelchair.

Then began the usual long and arduous wait in A&E, which she was not happy with! Eventually, after many hours, she was admitted to the ward (again, she was very unhappy about this and didn’t want to stay in hospital) where she stayed overnight. As the afternoon and evening progressed, her symptoms improved, but her balance was still not quite right and they were unwilling to send her home.

It was interesting watching her undergoing the standard neurological examination, and it brought back many memories for me as I experienced the same procedures in the early, pre-diagnosed, days of my M.E. She performed all of the tasks pretty well, with a few slight abnormalities in co-ordination showing up, and slight nystagmus.

We got home around 10 p.m. eventually! Having had nothing to eat all day since a late breakfast, except for a kitkat and a couple of small bags of crisps, I was way past eating a proper dinner!

In the morning my hubby took me back in and I spent the second half of the morning with her on the ward – we were anticipating the arrival of the solar panels fitting team and only after phoning them did we discover the message they’d left on our answering machine the day before, to inform us of the delay. After we left, she had a CT scan which revealed some degenerative changes in the blood vessels in the brain, but no evidence of a bleed at the back of her head where they’d identified the site of the problem to be, although they thought there probably had been a small bleed which wasn’t showing up on the scan.

She was discharged with a prescription for Simvastatin for cholesterol, and low dosage aspirin, which will be replaced by a stroke-prevention medication in a fortnight, when we are making her an appointment at the GP’s surgery.

At the hospital they also set up home visits by the OT and physio, and other community support workers. I am very pleased about this because it means that they will be keeping a proper eye on her until her personal goals have been met, and they are satisfied that she is stable, and able to function well. We have been warned of the possibility of further TIAs but with medication, the risk of this should be reduced. I am also pleased that she is now on their books for community support, because being in my own present state of health, there may come a time, quite suddenly, when the level of care I am able to give her will simply not be enough, and we may need to call in extra help quickly.

The whole experience was pretty stressful for us all! We are glad she is safely home, and seems fine. The OT arranged for immediate delivery of a trolley, and insisted that Mum used it for carrying things around her flat, because her risk of falling has now increased. Next week, her mobility outdoors will be assessed.

All we can do now is put ourselves in the hands of the professionals and hope for a good outcome, and the best health possible for her at her age (93) for as long as possible.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

WOYWW 266

For info on how to join in the world’s most famous (or infamous?) nosey fest, please click on the icon in the right-hand side bar, which will take you to our hostess Julia’s blog, where all will be revealed.

Here is my desk as at late on Tuesday evening.

WOYWW 266

As you can see, I am continuing to work on my Recycled Mini-Album. Today I completed another page with an emphasis on circles in the design. The page includes printing with bubble wrap, and creating circles using a pen lid dipped in paint. The background is made from the piece of kitchen paper I’d used for mopping up, which featured in last week’s WOYWW post.

For further details of this project, please scroll down to the previous post.

The book is sitting on top of one of my scratch papers – you can see more of this on the previous post, too. To the left is my blue desk-tidy which contains my foam applicators and stencil brushes amongst other things. I used these to create the circles in the border.

Working around clockwise behind the book, you can see the purple pencil box I use to keep my drawing pens in. Behind that, in the mini-bath, are some pieces of kitchen roll in the early stages of their creative journey before too much ink and paint have built up on them!

Further on again, and my gel mediums and acrylic paints seem to be taking up permanent residence on my work surface rather than being put away on the shelf that is their real home! Drawing pens in front, in black and white.

You can see the two bubble wrap printing blocks I made this afternoon. More details on my previous post.

Large rectangular tub of gesso almost out of shot, and some Distress Inks and my usual tin of paint brushes. Essential baby wipes on the drawers beyond!

Much of this week has been spent trying to catch up on my video editing. I have now uploaded a couple of videos about the Recycled Mini-Album, and also the Altered Pizza Box I made recently. All relevant blog posts will eventually be upgraded with these videos, but they are on Youtube already. Still got quite a few to go! I hate it that it takes longer to edit and upload a video than it does to do the actual project one was filming!

Other news – great excitement – our solar panels are being fitted this week! There’s a post about that below the one about my latest mini-album page.

Also, great news on the 5:2 diet front. Last week, you may remember, was my first week on this revolutonary new diet, and I was amazed to have lost 5 lb. I have now been doing it for 2 weeks, and at the end of the second week, I have lost a further 7 lb, making a total of 12 lb in two weeks!! I expect in time it will plateau out – I do not expect to continue to lose weight at this rate, but I am feeling extremely chuffed about it. Trouble is, nothing actually shows yet! Also, when I’ve lost weight in the past, I’ve tended to lose it from places I’m not really bothered about – like my face, and my wrists (watch strap gets loose!) – I am convinced that I could get really, really skinny except for my awful stomach which refuses to budge! Ah well, we can’t have it all our own way, I suppose.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Recycled Mini-Album Pages–Circles

I’ve completed another page in my recycled mini-album. For the background I used a piece of kitchen paper which I’d been using for mopping up and cleaning brushes, with a predominantly black and white colour scheme with a touch of blue. I love the randomness of these papers, and also the large scratch sheets I use to work on, cleaning my brushes and rubber stamps on them and generating layers that build up in to unique background sheets.

Here is the black and white kitchen paper. Kitchen paper is 2-ply, and the layers can be pulled apart so you get twice as much for your money!

Black and Blue Kitchen Paper

Here’s another one with a different colour scheme.

Red and Yellow Kitchen Paper

Sometimes the paint causes the layers to stick together, and they have to be gently teased apart. Sometimes this is not possible without tearing the paper, but I love the holes that result! It all adds to the texture.

I shall probably be using some of this one in the Recycled Mini-Album too.

Here are some newer pieces of kitchen paper at the beginning of their creative life:

Kitchen Paper Coming Along Nicely

Who knows what they will end up looking like? Top left in the picture are some used baby wipes. They are now dry, of course, but I can still use them for mopping up. They have the added advantage that they do interesting things when heated, shrinking up and eventually breaking into holes, so definitely useful for mixed media projects.

This is the scratch paper I’m creating at the moment – as it was just after I finished my current page. I have been concentrating on circles and swirls. You can generate interesting patterns by thinking about how to move the brush as you clean it, rather than just scrubbing randomly.

Circles Scratch Paper 1

There was quite a bit of black and white paint left on the palette at the end of the project, and I lifted this off with a large foam brush and added it to the scratch paper, resulting in this:

Circles Scratch Paper 2

I find this all very intriguing and adventurous, and it goes along with my current recycling ethos! Perhaps to be truly recycling, I should use newspaper as my scratch papers… or cardboard packaging? Certainly ideas worth considering.

I also found a couple of background sheets I made several years ago, which may come in for this album too. I can’t remember exactly what I did, but there is definitely some distress embossing powder on them. They were embossed using a Cuttlebug embossing folder (Iron Works). They are wonderfully rough and textured.

Distress Embossing

However, to return to my Recycled Mini-Album pages, here is the page with the kitchen paper stuck down with regular matt gel medium.

09 Circles Page 1

You can see the borders from the larger pages underneath. Laid on the page are some circles cut from silver tissue paper. My hubby brought home some wedding service sheets one day – people always leave them behind and he knows I can often make use of the materials. These sheets had been hand-made by the couple and weren’t anything to write home about, but they had these tissue paper circles glued on not very firmly, so it was easy to pull them off and keep them for future use. I thought they’d fit in well with this page, and they also dictated the theme of the page which is circles.

I lightly distressed the two photos using a combination of Weathered Wood (fast becoming one of my favourites!) and Black Soot Distress Inks. I am finding that the photos seem to be developing a green tinge when I use them in the album – I am not sure what is causing this, but it could be a combination of factors, or maybe some substances reacting against each other. I have to spray the scanned and printed photos with fixative because I have an inkjet printer, and it may be this that is reacting with the gel medium used to adhere the photos to the page, or it may be a reaction between the inkjet ink and any of the products I am using.

I have made a video of the process of creating the page but as usual I am behind with my video editing and the video is not yet ready to be included with this post, but watch this space and it will appear in due course. Here is the completed page. I wasn’t sure to start with whether I liked it, but it’s beginning to grow on me!

10 Circles Page Complete

In addition to the tissue paper circles, I have created smaller circles using the lid of a pen dipped in silver metallic acrylic paint, and also done some bubble wrap printing using the same paint. Here are the bubble wrap printing blocks I made this afternoon:

Bubble Wrap Stamping Blocks

The white is the Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive which is still wet. It will dry crystal clear. I stuck the bubble wrap onto some wooden blocks I’d saved from when I unmounted all my wooden block rubber stamps and remounted them on EZ Mount foam. I got this idea watching a Youtube video this afternoon, and it certainly makes the bubble wrap easier to handle. For this project, I just used the smaller one.

The border of the page was done with the same black and white acrylics that I’ve been using for all the page borders. This time I used a circular foam applicator for the larger circles, and stencil brushes for the smaller ones, wrapping an elastic band around the bristles to keep them in a tight circular formation. I tidied up the border with black and white pens afterwards.

As a result of the position of this particular page in the signature, this border will not be visible underneath other pages.

Solar Panels

When we first got our new house, it was our plan to have solar panels fitted as soon as possible, but with all the building work required, and then everything else that was happening, dealing with my elderly parents and the death of my father, it got put on the back burner for the time being. Also, I was not quite clear how to proceed and who to contact, as there are so many different companies fitting them and I had no idea which were good, and which were cowboys! However, when we went to the Devon County Show recently, there were plenty of companies with stands, and we were able to talk and pick up literature.

My original plan was to have panels fitted by a company who would retain ownership of them, with free fitting, and the company creaming off the excess electricity generated, with the benefit for us being lower electricity bills. This idea came about because I’d heard some time ago that it would take 20-25 years to reap the benefits of a system that had been bought outright, and since my hubby and I are now both in our sixties, I thought we’d probably be in a nursing home before we’d see any benefit! However, talking to the companies at the show, they all stated independently of each other that we could look at a much more realistic time-frame of six to seven years, and this is definitely worth while for us, so we’ve decided to go for the outright purchase option.

Bringing the literature home, I was still not much the wiser as to which was best. A couple of them phoned us to arrange to come and have a chat and look at the house etc. but I said I couldn’t consider doing anything until July because of all my hubby’s retirement celebrations and our week away on holiday.

When we got back, one firm phoned us and we arranged for their representative to call. As soon as she started giving me the information I knew this was the firm we should go with, without seeing the others. They are locally based and service the whole of the Westcountry, and the Devon Police and Fire Service are among their clients, as well as Trago Mills (a well-known local enterprise). The panels they use are of German manufacture, and the company producing them has been in the solar panels business for 37 years – probably the longest of any company. Also, this local firm does not sub-contract the work to outside roofers/installers but employs its own. The representative pointed out that all the other companies who had given us literature had 08-numbers for contacting them, and it was not clear where they were based.

So we decided to go with this local firm, Devon Eco Energy, and they certainly don’t mess about! They are extremely efficient and everything is going ahead quickly, and according to plan.

It was pointed out to us that the feed-in tariff is due to go down at the end of the month, so it would be to our advantage to get the system installed before then, because it is fixed from the date of installation. This is the amount that is paid to us for the excess electricity that we generate, over and above what we use. This tariff was much higher a few years ago, but then the installation and materials costs were much higher too, so it’s swings and roundabouts really.

As it stands, we should be making a tidy profit from our system. We are very advantageously placed, living in Torquay, which is known as the English Riviera! It is one of the few places in the UK where palm trees grow! We have a large roof which is almost exactly south-facing, with no overshadowing buildings or trees, and the roof was replaced when we bought the house, so it is in excellent condition and the tiles are perfectly suitable for the attachment of the panels.

The firm’s rep pointed out that transferring capital from the bank into solar panels is actually a better investment these days than an ISA. Interest rates are so low nowadays, and the income from the solar panels is tax free and gives a much better return. She also mentioned that if anybody bought a system from them on our recommendation, we would get a healthy finder’s fee, which is also not to be sneezed at.

This morning the scaffolders arrived to erect the scaffolding. It brought back fond memories of last summer, when all the builders were around, and all the fun we had!

This is how much scaffolding they’d put up before I took Mum out this morning:

01 Scaffolding Going Up 8-7-14

It now extends right over the lean-to and into our patio beyond. The scaffolders said that it might interfere with our Sky satellite signal, but it all seems to be working fine, so no problems there!

The only ones who were not impressed today were the kitties. Just like last autumn after we’d moved in and the builders were still here, they had to be banished to the bathroom for the duration, locked in with their litter tray! Fortunately it was only for the morning today. We cannot have them roaming around outside when the back gate is left open so equipment and supplies can be brought in, or they will get out onto the road.

The panels should be fitted either tomorrow or on Thursday, and the scaffolding will remain up for about a week, in case of any teething problems.

We will also be supplied with a special monitor which can be connected to the Internet. It will tell us how much power we are using, and how much we are generating, at any given moment, and the website will allow us (I think) to plot graphs etc. of our performance! With a bit of careful management (using the washing machine, and cooking, etc. during the daytime rather than in the evening) will reduce our electricity bills quite significantly, and with a roof the size of ours, with 16 panels, we should be generating plenty to spare.

It’s all very exciting. The rep from the firm said that in a few years’ time, it will be obligatory for every new build to have solar panels (as they apparently do in Germany), and by that time probably about 75 per cent of houses in this country will have them.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

WOYWW 265

For details of how to join in the world’s most famous nosey fest, click on the WOYWW icon in my sidebar, which will take you to our hostess Julia’s blog, where all will be revealed.

Now we are back from our holiday and over all my hubby’s retirement celebrations, I hope I can now return to WOYWW on a regular basis. Here’s what my desk looked like late on Tuesday evening:

WOYWW 265

As you can see, I am working on my recycled mini-album, and I’ve done a few pages now. It is resting on a nice scratch paper which is developing well into a usable background sheet, and to the right is a similar piece, a sheet of kitchen paper that I’ve used for mopping up with. It’s nice enough to use for a background now, and it will eventually be incorporated into the album.

You can see from the picture how the borders are working on the pages which decrease in size to the centre of each signature. If you look carefully, you can see on the right hand page, one of the gorgeous little bicycle die-cuts which Julia (our WOYWW hostess) sent me a while back – it began life as lime green card, but with the application of a bit of Tea Dye Distress Ink, some careless application of gel medium and finally some copper gilding wax, it’s ended up with a nice texture and colour and looks lovely and vintage!

There’s a little tag between the innermost pages of the signature, the sides of which I have glued together to form a pocket for the tag. A semi-circular punched hole allows for the whole of the tag puller to be visible.

Surrounding the album you can see the various gel mediums, acrylic paints, brushes and ink pads etc. that I’m using in the project. Just visible on the right is a pile of stamps which I may or may not be using in the project (mostly background stamps).

Please see my previous post for further details and pictures.

Also this week I’ve started editing quite a lot of raw video from recent projects so hopefully I shall be uploading some videos to my Youtube channel again soon, and updating my blog accordingly. The trouble is, making and editing a video of a project seems to take longer than the project itself!!

An update on my recent health update – the result of my blood test did reveal that I was anaemic (probably as a result of bleeding from one end or the other – there may be bleeding from the throat inflammation caused by the acid reflux, and I’m almost certainly bleeding from the other end as a result of the ulcerative colitis) so I am back on iron again. I have also been on the 5:2 diet for a week now, and in just one week, with two days’ partial fast, I have lost 5 lb!! At this rate I shall be skinny in six months! This diet is definitely do-able, because you only have to eat less on two days a week (reducing your intake to 500 cals max) and the rest of the time you eat normally.

Happy WOYWW everyone, and may the coming week be creative and productive for you all.