Saturday, 4 July 2015

Third Chemo Treatment

Yesterday I had my third chemo treatment, and on the previous day (Thursday), I had my vampire and oncology appointments. Full details on my Cancer Diary page.

Unfortunately they experienced some problems getting blood from the port this time, but on the third attempt, with me lying flat, they were successful.

Then I had my oncology appointment and saw the registrar, and I told her what a bad time I had had following my second treatment three weeks previously. She said in view of this, they would reduce the dose by 10 percent. She also doubled the dose of anti-nausea medication.

I discovered that the total number of treatments would be only eight, as opposed to the nine or ten I’d been anticipating. I have worked out that the last one should be on 16th October, and not going on into November as I had feared. This means that after the next treatment, I will be half way through the course! This makes me feel a lot better about everything.

The treatment proceeded as before, and again, despite the lower dose, I started to feel the effects during the last hour of infusion, and by the time they had finished with the final flush, I was feeling quite poorly. It wasn’t as bad as last time in that I didn’t have to take to my bed on our return home, and I managed to eat a small supper.

The effects are quite severe but not as bad as last time. This morning I rested half the morning in bed, and when I got up I felt so much better that I was able to spend an hour or two in my studio and finish the card I’d been making from part of the masterboard I made a few days ago. Photos will follow once the recipient has her card.

Towards lunch time I suddenly caved in with exhaustion and feeling shaky and nauseous, so I came down and took an anti-sickness pill. After a very light lunch I felt a lot better. I have been resting on the recliner all afternoon watching TV and DVDs.

Generally speaking, I have already started feeling a lot better than immediately after the second treatment, so hopefully I shall have a much more productive three weeks this time, which makes me feel more upbeat!

I hardly made any progress on my angel project during the last period, and I am now hoping to be able to crack on with that. I ordered a DVD on cloth art doll making and that arrived today, and I am very excited – the dolls, and especially their faces, look extremely complicated to do, but the instructions on the video are so clear and taken step by step, that I see no difficulty in managing to do it! Here’s a link to her DVD introductory video on Youtube, and I am very grateful to my blogging buddy Judy in Australia for sending me various doll-making links, including introducing me to this wonderful lady who is such an artist and such an excellent teacher too.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Stamp Mounting and a Health Update

This afternoon I mounted some unmounted rubber stamps I’ve had for a while. I got these from Chocolate Baroque – 2 A4 sheets named “Harlequin Fragments” and “Lace Fragments.”

02 Chocolate Baroque Stamps

Chocolate Baroque stamps are gorgeous – I have a few different ones. It’s always worth checking for “broken biscuits” on their site. I’ve never come across this idea anywhere else but it’s brilliant. Sometimes when they manufacture a sheet of stamps, it comes out faulty, but maybe all but one, or most of the stamps on the sheet, are perfectly fine, so it would be silly to ditch the whole sheet. They cut out the OK ones and when they’ve got all the stamps that would be on a perfect sheet, they sell them as “broken biscuits” – perfect stamps making up a complete set, but just not all in one piece! They are going to be cut up anyway, so who cares if some of them are already separate? There’s a significant price reduction and well worth getting. Of course it’s unpredictable which sets will be available as a “broken biscuits” set but if you’re prepared to wait, the set you want may come up eventually. A great idea, for both the manufacturer (no waste) and the customer (good value)!

Today the EZ Mount Foam I ordered arrived. This is a foam rubber sheet with an extremely sticky surface on one side, and a cling-mount surface on the other. You peel back the backing sheet and arrange your unmounted stamps onto the sticky side and then cut them out. There’s another backing sheet protecting the cling-mount surface, and once you peel this off you’ve got your stamps mounted and ready for use with an acrylic block.

This is a job I loathe doing. Even with my Tim Holtz scissors that have non-stick blades, the scissors and your fingers get extremely sticky and it’s pretty hard work! I recently discovered a Youtube video on cutting them with a hot knife, so I gave this a try today. I didn’t do quite such a good job as on the video but it did make pretty short work of a horrible job, and it also made the most horrendous smell! Here’s the equipment I used.

01 Equipment

I used a glass heat proof kitchen cutting mat. You can see the sheet of EZ Mount Foam, some adhesive remover wipes, Tim Holtz scissors and talcum powder, and my hot knife – this has interchangeable blades.

When I’d finished, I dipped the scissors in talcum powder and trimmed off the excess around the stamps, and cleaned up with an adhesive remover wipe. Great results all round.

Here are the two sets of stamps, cut out and mounted, and ready to use.

03 Chocolate Baroque Stamps Mounted

I was interested to read yesterday that it isn’t a good idea to store EZ Mount Foam mounted stamps on an acrylic sheet because there’s a chemical reaction that happens between these two surfaces and your stamps can end up permanently fused to the acrylic! Time to sort my stamp storage, I think! They ae perfectly fine loose in the bags like these ones. I keep the original packaging and/or leaflet so I know the name and manufacturer of my stamps, and they are hung on my little rail above my work desk. I got the split rings and the conference badge clips from Ebay, and used a piece of wooden dowel slotted through the ornamental shelf brackets to hang them from. It works brilliantly and my stamps take up very little room.

08 Shelf with Hanging Rail

 

Health Update

This morning we went to the hospital for my pre-chemo bloods to be taken, and for my oncology appointment. I have to go to the hospital for this, rather than the surgery because extracting blood from a port requires special training that the surgery nurses have not had. This morning it was pretty horrendous because although they were able to insert the needle and flush the port-a-cath, the blood simply would not flow! On the third attempt she got a reasonable sample.

We then went down to Oncology and I saw Dr. Dyke, Dr. Lo’s registrar. I reported to her how poorly I have felt throughout the three weeks since my last treatment, with all the side effects being more severe and longer lasting than after my first treatment, and after consulting with Dr. Lo, she said they would reduce tomorrow’s dose by 10 percent. The amount is calculated on body weight but every individual is different and not everybody responds in the same way, and sometimes adjustments need to be made. I also asked if she knew exactly how many treatments I would require, because all I’d been told was that it would go on for six months, and I’d worked it out at 9 or 10, depending on when they stopped, and she said it would only be 8! I am very pleased indeed to hear this, because three weeks from tomorrow, I shall be half way through!! Yaaayyy! Full details on my Cancer Diary page.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

WOYWW 317

Here is my workdesk for today. Yesterday was the first time I’d been near it to do anything creative for a while, because the aftermath of my 2nd chemo treatment have been horrendous and I’ve been feeling pooped for nearly 3 weeks! Just starting to feel a bit better in time for the next one, which I hope isn’t going to pole-axe me quite as badly. I go in on Thursday for bloods to be taken, and for my appointment with the oncologist, when I shall tell her how awful it’s been this time. She may want to adjust the dose a bit.

Anyway, to my desk!

WOYWW 317

Centre stage is the masterboard I made yesterday. Dumped on top of it, to the right, are the template pieces I made for the little boxes to contain my lavender sachets a few weeks back, and the template I made for an angel’s body. Centre back on the desk: my new Dylusions paints which you can read about on the masterboard post. Also on that post, the angel wings which are in the red-topped container to the left of the picture.

As usual, my desk is a bit of a mess. What you can see doesn’t look too bad, but left and right, out of shot, it’s horrendous! I need to have a good tidy up.

Happy WOYWW everybody, and I hope you have a good week, full of creativity.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

New Stash, and Gold Seahorse Masterboard

Today I did some art in my studio for the first time for ages! I have several occasions coming up which require cards, and I need to make some fairly quick ones without too much work involved, because energy is in short supply, and I shall be having my third chemo treatment on Friday and who knows how I’m going to feel after that!!

So I thought I would make a masterboard and cut it up and make several cards from it.

I got some very exciting new stash today! First of all, I’d ordered some thin metal angels’ wings from Etsy, along with some vintage mini-bouquets, and they arrived this morning.

Metal Angels' Wings and Mini-Bouquets from Etsy June 15

Metal Angels' Wings from Etsy Detail June 15

I am intending to make moulds from some of these wings, so that I can replicate them in different materials (polymer clay, Friendly Plastic, etc.) depending on how well the moulds go – the metal is very thin and it might be hard to press it down evenly into the moulding putty. Notice the attached haloes on the larger wings! You can bend the halo forwards so that it hovers above the angel’s head! The mini-bouquets are very pretty and I thought I could split these apart and use them for angel embellishments.

Later in the day, the most exciting parcel arrived. I decided not long ago to get the complete set of Dylusions paints. I am so fed up with ruining decent pens by writing with them over acrylic paint – there’s something that reacts and causes the ink in the pen to stop working, and once that happens there’s nothing to be done – the pen is ruined and just has to be thrown away. I read a review of these new paints and was pleased to learn that they are designed specifically for art journaling and of course writing is an essential part of that discipline, and the paints do not cause the pens to clog. I have watched a number of Youtube videos over the past few days and can see how versatile these paints are, and how you can blend them, and create great backgrounds with them. The colours are identical to the Dylusions sprays but their usage is different, and you an get quite a bit more control with them.

Dylusions Paints June 15

I began my masterboard by creating a background from several of these paints. These are some of the materials I used for this masterboard.

01 Materials

I applied the paints using a baby wipe, picking up the smallest amount of paint each time, from inside the lid of the jar. The card I have used for the masterboard isn’t very good quality – it’s A3 office grade card, so I would probably have got better results with the blending if I’d used better quality card. Layer 1 was done with London Blue.

02 Layer 1 - London Blue

Layer 2 was created with Vibrant Turquoise. With the blending not going quite as well as I’d hoped, I decided to go for a swirling pattern.

03 Layer 2 - Vibrant Turquoise

Layer 3: Cut Grass.

04 Layer 3 - Cut Grass

Layer 4: Squeezed Orange – just a little, between the swirls where there wasn’t so much colour.

05 Layer 4 - Squeezed Orange

Layer 5: Lemon Zest – a very small amount, just to highlight the Squeezed Orange.

06 Layer 5 - Lemon Zest

For layer 6, I mixed together some Vibrant Turquoise and some White Linen to produce a paler shade.

07 Mixing Vibrant Turquoise and White Linen

Creating Layer 6:

08 Layer 6 - Vibrant Turquoise and White Linen Mix

Time for some stamping. I used the water droplets stamp from Designs by Ryn, with Ranger Cobalt Archival Ink.

09 Equipment for Water Droplets Stamping

10 Water Droplets Stamping Completed

At this point I felt that the whole thing was much too bright and the water droplets were too dark, so I decided to apply a wash with some White Linen paint mixed with some water.

11 Mixing White Linen Wash

I applied this with a foam brush over the entire surface of the masterboard, but it left quite a lot of streaks, so I took a fan brush and made swirling brush strokes through the wash, which gave a better effect.

12 Applying the White Linen Wash

The wash completed. I am much happier with this result. The colour is much more subtle and the water droplets not so obvious.

13 White Linen Wash Completed

Time to stamp the shells. I used Distress Inks for this, but they didn’t go down onto the acrylic surface very well, and took quite a bit of drying with my heat gun, but in the end I was quite pleased with the result.

I began with the little starfish from the Seven Gypsies set, using Tea Dye Distress Ink, but this came out quite pale with a slightly greenish cast over the turquoise background.

14 Equipment for Stamping Shells

For the scallop shell I used Gathered Twigs Distress Ink:

15 Stamping the Shells

and for the other shell, Rusty Hinge.

16 Stamping the Shells

The shell stamping completed.

17 Shell Stamping Complete

Time to add the heat-embossed seahorses. The seahorse stamp came from the same Seven Gypsies set as the shells.

18 Equipment for Heat-Embossing the Seahorses

The gold embossed seahorses complete. I completed four at a time.

19 Gold Heat-Embossed Seahorses

I think you can see how nice and shiny they are in the photograph. I wanted to add a bit more sparkle, so I applied some variegated copper gilding flakes in small patches, using a glue pen, and stippling them on with a brush, and then brushing off the excess.

20 Equipment for Applying the Gilding Flakes

Here is the completed masterboard, showing the shiny seahorses and gilding flakes.

21 The Completed Masterboard

I am very pleased with the new paints. If the quality of the card had been better I think the blending might have gone better, but I like the way the colours go together, and how you can control them, and lighten or darken the effect with the addition of white or black, and other colour mixing, giving you the full range of colours. In their raw state the colours are very vibrant and not a bit subtle, and I think for most of the time I shall be mixing them for a gentler, more subtle effect. The addition of a white colour wash certainly improved this piece, I think.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Daddyhole

Daddyhole… what a funny name! According to one website, the origin derives from a natural arch or hole in the cliff which the Victorians named “London Bridge” but which has a much older name – “Devil’s Hole.” In Old English, Daddy was a name for the devil! In some ways I wish I’d never found that out!!

Anyway, today I felt sufficiently better to realise that I was going stir crazy, not having left the house at all for several days. I asked my hubby if we could go out for a while to look at the sea as it was a lovely day, so he took me up to Daddyhole, which is not far from where we live, in Torquay. This is a high-up plateau above the sea, with wonderful views and the air is always fresh. At this time of year there are plenty of wild flowers growing, too.

Coastguard Station.

01 Coastguard Station

This is unfortunately no longer in operation and has been turned into a museum.

I love seaside architecture! It’s so light-hearted. Isn’t this a fun terrace of houses painted in their pretty pastel colours.

02 Pastel Houses

My hubby.

03 N at Daddyhole

04 N Looking at the Sea

A most intriguing little archway to the left of the Coastguard Station with a path leading down the cliff.

05 Intriguing Archway

We found these really weird flowers growing on the cliff top. They look like giant lavender! They were quite large. I have not seen this plant before.

06 Weird Flowers

07 Weird Flowers

View over the bay.

08 The Bay

Looking over the cliff.

09 Looking Down the Cliff

Flowers and railings.

10 Flowers and Railings

Rocks and boats.

11 Rocks and Boats

I love those three rocks strung out across the sea. Lots of sailing boats out today.

The sky was so beautiful today – I think you will agree that the changing cloud formations are gorgeous. The sky and sea were so blue.

A short, but very pleasant trip out – a change of scene and a breath of sea air. OK, I was knackered when we got home, but it was worth it.

Edited later: Pic of me taken by my hubby. I wasn’t aware of him doing it so I’m looking a bit dozy!

Me on Buggy at Daddyhole 29-6-15

Here’s another pic he took the other day, at Anstey’s Cove, another beautiful bit of our Torquay coastline.

Anstey's Cove

Beautiful Card from Paula

I have been suffering pretty severe effects from my second chemo session and starting to feel a bit sorry for myself, getting fed up with it going on day after day – at least the nausea and other effects have subsided but the fatigue seems endless. In the middle of all this, last week I received the most wonderful package from the USA from Paula. If you haven’t seen her work, do check it out because she makes the most beautiful cards with intricate die-cuts and gorgeous embellishments, and I am sure she would appreciate a visit to her blog.

She sent me a lovely little pack of crafty goodies to use, with lots of die-cuts and embellishments, which I am going to have a lot of fun with. Also included in the pack were some precious little vintage Valentine cut-outs. Just look a that adorable little bird’s nest with the eggs in it, too!

07 Embellishments from Paula

She also put in a choccie biccie as a spoily – delicious despite it being so NOT what my waistline needs lol! Great feel-good factor though, touching those parts that only chocolate can reach! On the little tag it said “All you need in life is a friend who has chocolate. …I’m that friend.” Lol!!! (I’m afraid I can’t photograph the biscuit. I’ve eaten it!!)

Everything was beautifully wrapped and I felt very spoilt indeed as I opened each little package.

She has made me the most beautiful card, in her signature style with delicate die-cuts and gorgeous papers. The white-on-white is so sophisticated, with a little splash of colour with the delicate lilac of the flowers and the blue organza ribbon.

01 Card

I had to take lots of detail shots to show just how beautiful this is, and how much trouble she went to to make me something I shall want to keep and treasure.

02 Sentiment Detail

I have tried to light this so that the photos really show the shimmery nature and different textures of the paper and card she has used. There’s a lovely contrast between the bright silver behind the sentiment and in the corners and the matting and layering, and the more subtle brushed silver and the embossed glitter cards.

I love the floral embellishments with the ribbon and the little pearl flowers.

03 Flower Embellishment Detail

This embossed glitter card is so beautiful. I hope you can see the sparkle on it. Really hard to photograph to do it justice.

04 Embossed Glitter Card Detail

The base card, which extends around to the back of the card, is stunning. Beautiful silvery colour with a subtle design.

05 Card Back Detail

Inside the card she stamped a gorgeous floral corner decoration, and I do so love the stamped sentiment! This is definitely something I would use inside my own cards! Beautiful words.

06 Card Inside

This exquisite card, and the other gifts in the pack, certainly did a lot to cheer me. I feel so blessed to have such friends as Paula, who are prepared to do so much and go to so much trouble, to help me on my way through my horrible chemo!

Thank you, Paula.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Another Needle Felted Angel

I have made another angel body from needle felting over an armature, this time made from my mammoth new pipe cleaners.

01 Giant Pipe Cleaners

These pipe cleaners are enormous – very long and extra thick and fluffy! Almost large enough to sweep the chimney with. The colours are somewhat lurid but as they will mostly be needle felted or wrapped, I’m not too bothered about that.

Here is the armature for the angel that I made – this one is quite a bit larger than the previous one.

02 Armature

This armature was made from two giant pipe cleaners, one for the head and arms, and the other for the body and legs. I looped the ends of the legs a couple of times to form the feet, and the arms are double thickness with a loop at the ends to form the hands.

I began the needle felting by loosely felting a ball to form the inner part of the head.

03 Needle Felting the Head Ball

Here it is, stuffed into the head loop of the armature.

04 The Head Ball in the Head Ring

It was then a simple matter to begin wrapping the whole head with wool roving, needle felting as I went.

05 Starting to Needle Felt the Head

Here is the head, almost complete.

06 Continuing to Needle Felt the Head

As it was quite a bit larger than the first one, I decided to attempt to sculpt a face on this head. I began by adding more roving to the front of the face to build it up.

07 Starting to Sculpt the Face

This is the head in profile so far.

08 Head Profile

I sculpted the face by building up the nose, forehead and chin, and pushing in the eye sockets and mouth, and the area under the nose, with more aggressive needle felting. Not too bad for a first attempt!

09 The Head Completed

Here is the finished head in profile, showing the ear – I made the ears from two small fragments of wool roving, shaping them as I needle felted them to the sides of the head. The face is a little flat – a bit like an Easter Island statue!

10 Head Profile Completed

The next step was to needle felt the body. I made it a little bit too long so the proportions aren’t quite right, but once the angel is clothed, this won’t matter. I built up the chest and stomach/bottom areas with extra wool roving.

11 The Body Needle Felted

The final step was to cover the limbs with needle felting. I covered the hands and feet well with roving before beginning to wrap the arms and legs.

12 Completed Body

Not too bad, I think! With his rather long body and short, slightly bandy legs, he looks a bit like a drunken sailor. At least there was no angel abuse this time, unless you count being stabbed all over repeatedly with a barbed needle!

I’ve been pooped all week. At least the worst of the side effects of the chemo have worn off now, but my energy levels remain extremely low and I’ve done little else but flop about on the recliner since my last treatment. The next one is a week today and I really need to start feeling better so I can actually achieve something before the next one is upon me and I’m back to square one again!