Wednesday, 18 October 2017


My desk late Tuesday night.

WOYWW 437 17-10-17

Not a great deal going on – all my distress inks, Infusions etc. are still out for the ongoing Infusions Mini-Album project.

On Monday I did manage to make some cards because my stash had pretty well run out. Not my favourite activity – more of a chore than a pleasure and I wasn’t terribly happy with the result but I ended up with half a dozen passable ones that will be useful for upcoming birthdays.

16 Six Completed Cards

I’m still very up and down with my ME, alternating between busy days when I manage to keep going and don’t feel too bad at all, and then rest days when I just crash out. It means I get behind with stuff that needs doing and it’s a bit frustrating! We both seem to be quite busy at the moment.

I had a really really lovely day on Saturday when Margaret (glitterandglue) spent the whole day with me! She was coming down to Devon for a Pergamano course and arrived a couple of days before it was due to begin, and she was able to come and visit! I so value these opportunities to meet fellow WOYWW-ers because being down in the SW we are a bit cut off and not being able to travel much, I rarely get the chances others get for crops etc. Here is Margaret with some of her absolutely stunning Pergamano work.

01 Margaret with her Pergamano

I think she was hoping to get me going on it but seeing how incredibly fine and detailed it is, and how very time-consuming, I didn’t think it was for me, despite the beauty of the results.

The kittens are getting so big now. They are now nearly 5 months old! They weren’t very impressed with me yesterday morning and one day last week because I shut them in the bathroom for several hours while the electrician was here doing some work. They are very lively and also very loving – especially Ruby with me. She comes running to me and when I pick her up, she purrs and purrs.

Here are the latest videos of them – Ruby attacking one of my hubby’s new slippers, and then both of them having fun playing with a leaf. So much for the expensive toys we bought for them, which they never touch!!


Our apples from our tree have finally come to an end. We have sliced and frozen 5 big bags of them, each containing over 6 lb of apples, so this year’s yield has been well over 30 lb! I’ve got 3 lb of them in the slow cooker at this moment – I’m in the process of my first attempt at making apple butter from a recipe I found online. I want to cook an apple cinnamon loaf for our monthly Cakeathon meeting for our cancer group this Friday. I’ll try and take some photos of it if it’s successful!

Monday, 16 October 2017

Card Factory 2017

My stash of cards had pretty well run out so I really had to get down to making some more. I’ve decided I don’t really enjoy card making that much, so it’s a bit of a chore but I haven’t quite got to the stage when I’ve given up altogether and resorted to buying them!

Rather than falling into my usual trap of turning each card into a major work of art and taking far too long over it, I kept these ones simple. I shall continue to make special cards when the occasion demands, but the limited time I have available to spend in the studio (dictated by busyness elsewhere, and being too fatigued to do anything) is now dedicated to art projects I actually want to do, such as mixed media, books, experimenting with materials, etc.

Today I made seven cards. Six were more or less identical and were on a production line basis, and the other was a one-off which I made for our neighbour whose birthday is today.

16 Six Completed Cards

I really struggled with these! Such a simple project, but if anything could go wrong, it did… I was feeling a bit brainfogged which really doesn’t help, and I made quite a few mistakes which were not able to be remedied unless I started again, so I pressed on. As a result, they are not my best effort!

I began by making a circular mask. Rather than setting the cutting machine up (couldn’t be bothered – too tired!!), I cut a 2-inch circle with a punch, which of course had to cut quite near the edge of the paper, so I stuck this with a glue stick to a larger piece, out of which I had cut a rough circle, larger than the punched circle. This is the back of it.

01 Reverse of Mask

Turning it over, it provided enough margin not to allow anything to stray beyond the edges.

I had a couple of abortive attempts. I sprinkled Infusions (The Sage from set 1) through the mask onto two of the sheets I’d cut for the card toppers. In order to get enough coverage, they came out much too dark to stamp on. The one on the right was slightly lighter, and I thought I’d run over it lightly with a wet brush to make the texture smoother, but this was a disaster. Bin time.

02 Reject Circles

It was hard to know what order to post the photos in, because in order to photograph the process I went through, I had to get ahead of myself a bit – I used the first successful circle as a guide for the rest. Here it is on my light panel, ready to use as a guide.

03 Previous Piece Used to Line Up Next One

I lined up the next sheet over it, and you can just see the circle showing through.

04 Lining Up New Piece on Previous One

I was then able to lay the mask on top. I had to do it this way because the mask was bigger than the small sheet and I had no way of lining it up otherwise.

05 Mask over Sheet on Light Panel

I’d decided the only way I could get the effect I wanted, with good coverage of colour but with a little of the Infusions texture, was to ink the circle first with distress ink using an Ink Duster (I used Bundled Sage), and then add the absolute minimum of Infusions on top. This worked well.

Here is the distress ink going on, through the mask.

06 Inking Through the Mask

I picked up the whole thing and without disturbing it, carried it back to my main work area and sprinkled on the Infusions through the mask.

07 Infusions Sprinkled Through the Mask

I spritzed it lightly with water without moving the mask.

08 Spritzing the Infusions Through the Mask

I left it to stand for a minute or two and then blotted it off.

09 Blotting Off the Infusions Through the Mask

Finally, I removed the mask and dried it with my heat gun.

10 Drying the Infusions with Heat Gun

Here are the finished circles.

11 Finished Circles Ready for Stamping

The problem was, I should have cut these pieces from card, and not from paper. The paper didn’t stand up too well to getting wet, and it buckled a bit.

I got out a selection of stamps, to choose which designs I wanted to use.

12 Selection of Stamps

Using my wonderful new stamp platform, I stamped a single image onto each circle, using black archival ink.

13 Stamping with the Stamp Platform

This flower head one didn’t have a stem – you could use one of the stem stamps from the set but it meant setting it up on the stamp platform, and I thought it would be simpler just to draw one in with a black marker pen afterwards.

I have always been hopeless at stamping. The stamp platform is a marvellous tool for someone like me, but would you believe it… Only Shoshi could mess up a stamped image using a stamp platform!!! On the one in the next photo, the impression wasn’t quite good enough so I did it again, not realising that because I’d used paper instead of card, on the first impression the stamp stuck slightly and the paper moved fractionally when I lifted the lid of the platform. When I did the second impression, I got a doubled, blurred image! Grrrrrr. The tree branches weren’t too bad and I could get away with that, but the base part looked a mess. I blended it out with my alcohol pen and managed to salvage it!

14 Correcting Faulty Stamping with Alcohol Pen

Here are the other completed stamped images.

15 Stamping Completed

Finally, I matted and layered the toppers onto A4 white card folded to A5. Again, I experienced problems because the paper I’d used for the toppers was too thin, and I got a bit of buckling and creasing when I layered them, so the finish isn’t that great…

16 Six Completed Cards

The final step was to stamp the sentiment on the bottom. I used my green archival ink for that, and again used the stamp platform.

One single finished card, which shows what this stamped image should look like when you don’t go and blur it!

17 Single Completed Card

I actually made our neighbour’s card before I did the set, and I should have inked first with distress ink and then added less Infusions, which would have given a better result, but you live and learn!

I began by taking a mask from my stash. Some time ago I made a card with lots of butterflies and frames on it, and had a frame-shaped piece of card with six butterflies cut out of it on the cutting machine. I laid this down on top of the card base and sprinkled Infusions over it (Violet Storms from set 1).

01 Sprinkling Infusions through Butterfly Mask

This is the finished card. I didn’t really like it much as the outlines were a bit blurred. I went around the outside of the frame and butterflies with my white marker pen, and then defined the wings of the butterflies with a silver glitter pen and the addition of some stickles.

02 Butterfly Mask Card Complete

The final step was to add a silver peel off for the sentiment, and this doesn’t show up very well! Not a great effort.

Why do I find cards so unsatisfying to make?? Perhaps if I enjoyed doing them more, I’d do them better!


PS Today is the second anniversary of the day I finished my chemo! Where on earth has the time gone?

Saturday, 14 October 2017

A WOYWW Visitor and More on Infusions Mini-Album

Today Margaret (Glitterandglue) spent the day with me – she is down in Devon, about to attend a course on Pergamano being held locally. She really didn’t want to come all this way down and not meet up, and we had a really lovely day. I’d set up the table in my studio so that we could both work in there, but we didn’t actually do anything except natter and have a Really Good Time!!

My hubby was out, so she and I shared a home made soup and bread lunch. I’d made broccoli and Stilton soup, and a plaited challah loaf, followed by stewed apple and  custard and we tucked in!

She had brought some absolutely fabulous Pergamano pieces that she’d made. Here she is with some of them displayed on the table.

01 Margaret with her Pergamano

A detailed shot of the pieces.

02 Margaret's Pergamano Pieces

The little pyramids are a selection from a total of 24 which she made as an Advent Calendar. Each one is numbered, and they are all different. They have a painted design on one face, with the number on the opposite face, and on the other two faces, panels of Pergamano work in different patterns. These parchment covers slide up the ribbon loop at the top, exposing a box underneath, with the ribbons attached to the top. The sides of the boxes can be opened in order to insert a chocolate or other small gift in each one. They were utterly and completely exquisite – I couldn’t believe the fineness and detail of the work. The flat triangular piece in the centre of the table is a card – the three triangles open to reveal a small card inside.

Margaret had, of course, brought her Pergamano kit with her, ready to use on the course, and she got it out to show me – there are lots of different tools for embossing and for piercing, and two different mats for these processes. She was going to get me going on this but when I saw just how tiny and detailed the work was, and how incredibly time-consuming, I knew it wasn’t for me – it reminded me of my abortive attempt to learn Honiton lace making before I was married – incredibly intricate work that you have to do for weeks before you get anything worthwhile to show! I may be a patient person when it comes to my creativity, but there are limits!!!

I admire Pergamano greatly. It looks like a combination of lace and embroidery, and the designs can be very pretty indeed. Having seen it being done for the first time, I admire even more the people who do it. As Margaret says, when you see images of it online, they are always close-up photos, and you don’t really get a correct impression of just how tiny the patterns are.

I think I shall stick to mixed media and playing with stuff that makes lots of texture and colour, and above all, mess!!

After she had gone, I spent a couple of hours in the studio, working on the Infusions Mini-Album again, and tonight I finished making the tags for Volume One of the album. Here are the latest photos.

I had originally decided that I wouldn’t put any text on the front of the “Stamping” title page tag, but decided to go ahead and do that after all.

26 Stamping Tag Front with Text

The reverse of this page is as I left it when I completed it back in September. This page shows my wild grasses stamps on an Infusions background.

25 Stamping Tag Back

Moving on to the next page in the album, we come to the water droplets page. This is a stamp from Designs by Ryn, and one of my favourite – it is incredibly realistic.

27 Water Droplets Tag

Turning that page over, we have the painted flowers page.

28 Painted Flowers Tag

Finally, the Versamark stamping page.

29 Versamark Stamped Tag

I added more Infusions to the back of this tag. You can see that the reverse of the page has not been decorated. This will be covered with endpaper of the album.

30 Reverse of Versamark Tag

The final photo shows the set of blotting up sheets that I created. After sprizting each tag, rather than wasting the wet Infusions on the craft sheet, I blotted it up with some small square cards I'd cut for this purpose.

31 Mop Up Sheets from Session

Not sure what I’m going to do with them all yet, but in the meantime I shall add a distressed edge using Black Soot distress ink. I’m getting quite a collection of these now.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

WOYWW 436 A Tidy Studio and Some Zentangles

At last I have tidied my studio! As always happens when I haven’t been using it, it had turned into a dumping ground and was an absolute mess.

This is the further side of the room.

WOYWW 436 11-10-17 - Tidy Studio Far Side

On the left, by the lamp, is my little gallery area. In the corner is my sewing zone with my sewing machine, and the storage boxes on the shelves contain mostly textile stuff. On the right is my drawing zone.

This is the side of the room looking back towards the window.

WOYWW 436 11-10-17 Studio Tidy Near Side

On the left is my iMac. My cutting machine is across the corner. Misc. supplies in the storage boxes on the shelves. I’ve got all my distress inks and Infusions and Dylusions sprays and paints out (in the plastic boxes on top) so it’s not over-tidy at present! To the right is my main work area – my desk, for the purposes of WOYWW! The white unit in the foreground is one of several pull-out units. When stowed away, this one would go under the main desk but it never goes in there because that’s where I mostly sit. When pulled out, it provides an extra surface and still gives me access to the shelves – this one holds card and paper.

Here’s the desk itself.

WOYWW 436 Studio Tidy Main Desk

Apart from being a bit tidier than before, not much change – you can still see the current work in progress – my Infusions mini-album.

I continue to alternate between being busy with various commitments, domestic tasks and looking after the kittens, and crashing out on the recliner suffering from extreme exhaustion! I am taking a bit of a dip with my ME at the moment which is a tremendous bore because it’s preventing me from getting much creative stuff done – this is always what gets pushed to the bottom of the heap when energy is in short supply! I am trying not to overdo things on better days – I run on adrenaline on busy days and then pay for it later. My internal clock has gone all haywire again so I’m not getting to bed till well into the small hours, and then struggle to get up in the mornings – normal ME fare!


I was getting so fed up with not being creative that I charged up my Apple Pencil and started drawing Zentangles on the iPad again. I can do this from the comfort of the recliner or in bed, and I can also flip back and forth to look at the step-outs for the various patterns, either in my own folder on the iPad, or online. I can also listen to audio books while I’m doing it! Multi-tasking…

Here’s my experiment with Diva Dance flowing through Paradox – I’ve always found the latter pattern problematic but think I’ve mastered it at last! Full details here.

Paradox and Diva Dance Colour

Yesterday I completed another one, which had taken me several days to do. Full details here.

Gold Fold


Lily and Ruby are now 4 1/2 months old – I can’t believe how quickly the time is going, or how big they are getting! As my hubby says, they may be growing, but they are not growing up! Here they are in the kitty bed, suckling on the fluffy toy.

06 Suckling in the Kitty Bed 10-10-17

They won’t use the lovely new kitten bed I bought for them, and they are now getting too big for it! I got the old bigger bed out for them and they wouldn’t use that either, until my hubby put the fluffy thing in there, and now they go in to suckle, but sleep either on top of the wooden cat tree my hubby made, or in the kitty castle.

Lily pending…

05 Lily Pending 9-10-17

(In my hubby’s pending tray in his office!)

Together on the scratching post, looking like two little meerkats on a train.

03 On Scratching Post in Kitchen - Alert

They are getting on quite well with the clicker training but both tend to have off days when they won’t concentrate! Also, when I try and put what they have learnt into practice in a situation where there are distractions that they find far more interesting, they behave as if they’ve never heard of clicker training! We persevere, though.

A couple of weeks ago they discovered what fun you can have for a minute or two with a new roll of loo paper.

02 We have Discovered Loo Paper 27-9-17

The latest video of them, wrestling on the scratching post.

Health update

I got the result of my recent CT scan this week and the hernia has definitely returned. The emergency repair done in February when I was admitted for emergency surgery because of a blockage, has not even lasted a year. I knew it would fail eventually. I am seeing my surgeon again soon, according to his letter, and we will discuss options then. I really hope he agrees to admit me for elective surgery for a proper repair, and doesn’t wait for another blockage…

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Zentangle–Gold Fold

The other day I decided to experiment further with the tangle “Paradox” and was trawling through Pinterest for inspiration, when I came across something related, from Margaret Bremner, and was captivated! I just had to try this…

I have called this piece “Gold Fold.”

Gold Fold

I just love how the addition of some shading makes a design spring into 3D!

Tangles in this piece include Striping, Elven, D’eneh, Footlites and Barberpole, and I have added some dewdrops (my first attempt) and various random elements of my own devising. Elven and D’eneh are new ones in my repertoire and I really like them. They are really 3D.

This also embraces my ongoing interest in improving my ability to draw shiny reflective surfaces. I have learnt that the secret to this is to make as much contrast as possible, something I haven’t been brave enough to do in the past! After working on this piece for a while, I went back and added more intense shading and this helped with the reflective elements as well as the general 3D-ness of the whole thing.

I drew this on the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil, using Procreate, and it’s taken me several days to complete. It’s the first one where I have created a textured background – I’ve saved this as a Zentangle tile template so I can use it again. I have only recently attempted drawing on a non-white background, and I love being able to add highlights as well as shading. I am also thinking more about “white space” in my designs – like many people, when I first started, I thought the idea was to fill every space with tangles, but I think this approach sets off the individual patterns better, and allows them to speak for themselves.

I must get back to practising Paradox, though! It’s a pattern which has always been a problem for me!

Friday, 6 October 2017

The Return of Miss Piggy

I had a letter from the hospital today, from Mr. Pullan, my surgeon, with the result of my recent CT scan. As I’d thought, and had not worried about at all, was the absence of any malignancy, but the parastomal hernia is “substantial.” The last CT scan showed that some fat had come through, and Mr. Pullan has been keeping an eye on me. Now it has returned, he says that if I experience further symptoms, it will need to be repaired, and he is going to see me later in the year, and we need to keep in touch.

I do not really want things to get worse before it is repaired. If I have to wait for another blockage to occur, this will mean another emergency operation like I had back in February, when the only surgeon available was a general surgeon who was not qualified to insert the reinforcing mesh around Kermit, my stoma. (What else would I call the hernia but Miss Piggy?) A repeat performance would be disastrous because there’s a limit to how many times you can do this, and I could end up with Kermit being moved to the other side, with even further risk of herniation. What I want is to have elective surgery, performed by Mr. Pullan, who is a specialist colorectal surgeon, who will do a more permanent repair with the mesh. I knew that sutured repairs, like the one I had at the beginning of the year, have an eventual 100% failure rate, but I didn’t expect it quite so soon – this has failed in less than a year.

The last thing I want is emergency surgery for which I am unprepared, and already weakened and very poorly as a result of a blockage. What I went through at the beginning of the year was quite horrendous and I think Mr. Pullan is as anxious as I am to avoid that, but he is not prepared to operate unless it’s absolutely necessary because of the associated risks with major surgery.

Anyway, we shall just have to wait and see. It’s all rather unsatisfactory to say the least! At least I know that another operation is pending, but it’s just a question of when.

At least today I am feeling a lot better with my M.E. and hoping it will last this time. I’ve had far too many days recently with extreme fatigue and brainfog and the resulting inability to do anything. It’s so hard to pace yourself because there’s always a lot of catching up to do after off days, and if you do too much, you end up with more post-exertional malaise and the need to rest again. Boom and bust… I was much better at pacing in the old days before I got cancer. When I was recovering after the end of my chemo I felt so well and wanted to do everything, and seemed to have lost the art of pacing, with predictable results!

To more cheerful things! Here are some photos of the kittens taken this afternoon, sitting on the scratching post which I’d brought into the kitchen for their daily clicker training. They are now 19 weeks old and getting so big! My hubby says they are growing, but not growing up – they are still utter babies!!

04 On Scratching Post in Kitchen - Looking at Me

On high alert – my hubby was outside the kitchen window messing about in the patio and they were very interested in all the sounds coming from the open window! They look like two little meerkats on a train!

03 On Scratching Post in Kitchen - Alert

They are always together. When I separate them to do the clicker training, the one shut out cries – especially Ruby!

After our worry over Ruby earlier in the week when she was off her food, she is now fine again and is eating well. She was obviously feeling under the weather but the vet couldn’t find anything wrong, and she was obviously not sickening for anything, which is a relief.

I had a very busy morning and was cooking something that took rather a long time, and I had no end of trouble from two naughty kittens who kept rushing into rooms I’d shut them out of every time I opened the door! Lily was the worst offender and wouldn’t come out – they are like greased lightning when they don’t want to be caught, and even the sight of the clicker and the little box of treats took longer than usual to attract her more than what she was interested in. When they are focused on the training, they are pretty good and will come when called etc. but as soon as there’s another attraction, it’s a different story! This wasted a lot of precious time this morning, and we sat down to a very late lunch indeed!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Zentangle Again

Another day feeling poorly with my ME… just when I thought I was getting better this week! It seems to happen when I don’t actually have to do anything. I’ve obviously been overdoing things a bit “lately and as soon as it gets the chance, by body says “REST!!”

My lack of art has been getting to me recently, so today I got my iPad and Apple Pencil out and got back to tangling! I’ve been adding quite a few Zentangles to my Pinterest album over recent days and it’s got me fired up again to do some.

Rick and Maria, the inventors of the Zentangle method of drawing, recently uploaded a video with two different tangles interwoven, which was a new idea to me.

I was so taken with this that I thought I must give it a go. Rather than being tempted to follow what Rick did too slavishly, I deliberately didn’t watch the video again straight away, but did my own thing to see how I got on.

The two tangles are Paradox and Diva Dance. When I first started, I really struggled with Paradox and it always went wrong – I couldn’t seem to get my head round it! So I abandoned it, but I thought I really should get to grips with it and I think I’ve finally got it! Diva Dance was on my “to do” list, so this was a good opportunity to try my hand at both of them.

Here is my first effort (with only a memory of the video).

Paradox and Diva Dance 1st Attempt

I got the basics of Paradox right, but didn’t follow Rick’s instructions to make each one a mirror image of its partner, so it’s a bit random and chaotic. I added quite a bit of shading and a different “front end” to the design and it ended up looking like some weird deep sea creature!

I decided to watch the video again and try and follow Rick’s instructions a bit better. If you go to the end of the video you can see his completed version, and compare it with my take.

This is the black and white version.

Paradox and Diva Dance B&W

Doing the Paradox sections as mirror images does give the “gingko leaf” effect that I was after. Even with the shading, I didn’t think there was quite enough contrast between the two tangles, and the woven effect didn’t show up too well, so I decided to add some colour.

This is the final result. I added some spots to enhance the watery effect of the Diva Dance.

Paradox and Diva Dance Colour

I am quite pleased with this result.

I drew these on my iPad Pro, using the Procreate art app. It’s great because you can work in layers, and save the different stages as separate images – I tend to save the black and white version of my drawings, which I can then colour again and again to get a different effect.

In my first version, I drew the Paradox sections first, and then simply drew the Diva Dance over the top, and went back in with the eraser tool to give the woven effect. This is the lazy way! It could not be used when drawing in the traditional way with pen and paper of course, so for my second attempt, I followed Rick’s directions on the video and built up the two tangles simultaneously to get the woven effect, so that I could learn how to do it properly.

I hope any Zentangle purists out there aren’t throwing their hands up in horror, but there are definitely advantages in using the iPad Pro for Zentangles – working in layers enables you to put the string on the first layer, the actual Zentangle on the next, then the shading, and finally any colour. You can delete the string layer if it shows on the final drawing, and it’s very handy working in layers because if you make a mistake with the shading or colour, you can erase it without damaging the actual Zentangle. You can also zoom in for fine detail, and tidy up any careless pen strokes along the way. Drawing on the iPad takes as much skill as with pen and paper – more, in some ways, because even with a screen protector, the iPad doesn’t have much tooth and the Apple Pencil moves a little more freely on the surface than a pen on paper. It’s also not quite so easy to turn the drawing (or the whole iPad) as it is with a paper tile, as you work. Apart from being able to overlay lines and erase them to produce a woven effect, there aren’t too many shortcuts, and anyway if there were, I wouldn’t use them because the whole point of doing it is to enjoy the repetitive strokes, building up the pattern step by step. I do use the Paintstorm app to start my mandalas, though, because it has a nifty tool for repeating what you have drawn by a selected number of times around the circle, and this gives a nice even result, and takes a lot of the hard slog out of it – you do still have to draw the designs and I always colour each section individually on a separate layer.

I have made a Zentangle tile template on Procreate, and saved this. When I want to do a new drawing, I duplicate this file and work on the copy, so the template is available to use again and again. It is the standard 3.5 x 3.5 inches square and consists of the four layers mentioned above.

Procreate has just undergone a major upgrade and there are all sorts of new features I have yet to discover and try out. As far as I can see, there is now the ability to choose what sort of “paper” background to work on, rather than just a plain background colour – there are various textures etc. I am looking forward to trying some Zentangles on tan paper with a bit of texture.

I particularly like the ability to do Zentangles while I’m out and about (waiting for a doctor’s appointment, etc.) – I always take my iPad with me and I don’t need to take paper and pens.

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