Wednesday, 22 November 2017

WOYWW 422–Infusions, Gesso and Socks

Well, here’s some amazing news from Shoshi – managed to spend some time in the studio this week and actually start creating again!! It felt good, good, good.

My desk on Tuesday evening:

WOYWW 442 Main Work Zone 22-11-17

Over on the other side of the room it’s pretty chaotic as well, because I’ve got a lot of knitting stuff out – no point putting it away while I’m still looking for colours for my socks!

WOYWW 442 Other Side of Room

I needed to make a card quickly for someone but as it turned out, I knew I wouldn’t get it finished in time, so I found one I’d made some time ago and gave her that one instead, but continued with what I’d started. Unfortunately the Infusions Mini-Album is still on the back burner but I have been working with Infusions again.

04 4 Small Infusions and Gesso Backgrounds Complete

Remember this technique using gesso from my mini-album?

82 Brayered Gesso

I really loved the effect you can get by applying gesso to the surface, sprinkling on Infusions and then brayering over it. It gives a gorgeous subtle streaked effect.

In the four samples above, I did the first one (top left) in the standard way, and the rest were the result of mopping up the mess on the craft sheet, and adding more gesso and infusions. The Infusions subtly colour the gesso the more they are mixed.

I made a selection of die-cut circles from these samples. I’ve started making some card bases with gesso and inked backgrounds to put these on, and they will then be embellished in various ways. This is a stash-busting exercise as much as anything – covering up some over-bright card I couldn’t see myself using, and turning it into something useful!

07 Three Completed Backgrounds with Die Cut Circles

The outer two pieces in the above photo were done with gesso and some stamping with Distress Inks, and the centre one just with Distress Inks and Infusions. You can see full details of these here.


The project from our church to provide socks for the homeless is ongoing. I’ve finished the blue pair and am very pleased with the result. They are great fun to do.

04 Blue Socks Completed

I’ve now started on a really bright pair, using rainbow colours with black. Why knit boring colours when you can go a bit wild and make something that not only keeps people’s feet warm but can help brighten their lives a bit too, with a bit of fun and colour?

05 Starting Rainbow Socks

I am hoping to complete at least one more pair after this, and hopefully if the appeal goes on, I can continue – but even if it doesn’t, there’s an initiative from the local churches to help the homeless in lots of different ways, so there will be an open channel to continue to use.


The kittens are still in their little suits.

11 Two Kitties in Body Suits 16-11-17

We are taking them back to the vet’s this week so that Lily’s stitches can be removed, and they can both have a good check-up to make sure they have done OK since their operations. Lily has been on antibiotics since her operation because they found an ulcer in her mouth, and this needs to be checked too. The poor little thing has had diarrhoea since being on the antibiotics and I think we are all keen for her to finish them asap so she can get back to normal! She’s been a bit subdued, which isn’t surprising. Ruby has been her usual bumptious self – that kitty is so full of enthusiasm for life and has the exuberant character of Tigger in the Winnie the Pooh stories! It’s very flattering how much she loves me and how she gazes up at me when I’m giving her a cuddle, and she instantly turns on her little purr engine! After years of two kitties who hardly gave me the time of day if my hubby was around, this is such a joy!

I shall miss it when her little suit comes off. She looks so like a little baby in a babygro! That is one dinky kitty.

Lily is definitely more bonded to my hubby than she is to me. I am so glad about that, and the fact that we now have “one each” as it were!

Health Update

Still no appointment from the hospital for me to see my surgeon. The hernia is causing me intermittent problems (slight pain and discomfort, and Kermit, my stoma, is definitely not as settled or easy to manage as he was last year) and it’s now visible. I am most anxious to avoid a repeat of what happened at the beginning of the year – it was exactly in this state when I had the blockage that put me in hospital for 2 1/2 weeks… I really hope my surgeon can be persuaded to get this sorted once and for all.

I had a blood test at the surgery on Monday in advance of my oncology appointment next week. This will be the final 6-monthly check-up, as it is now two years since I got my all-clear; thereafter they will see me once a year for three years, and then, all being well, I will be discharged. I’m not a bit concerned about next week’s appointment as I am convinced the cancer was all dealt with at the time, with surgery and chemo, and also, my latest CT scan in September to check on the hernia also revealed no evidence of cancer.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Backgrounds with Infusions, Inks and Gesso

Returning to my Card Factory for this year, over the last couple of days I have made some backgrounds using gesso with infusions, and distress inks, and have die cut circles from some of these backgrounds.

07 Three Completed Backgrounds with Die Cut Circles

The materials used to create the gesso backgrounds.

02 Materials for Gesso and Infusions Backgrounds

I spread gesso onto a piece of A6 card with a palette knife, and immediately sprinkled on a mixture of Slime and Rusty Car Infusions from set 2, and spritzed it lightly with water, and brayered over it, which spreads the infusions into parallel streaks. This is the sample at top left. There was quite a mess on the desk so I brayered this on to the subsequent cards, adding Infusions as I went. The colour gradually got more blended with the gesso with each subsequent sample and all are useable and slightly different.

03 4 Small Infusions and Gesso Backgrounds

The finished samples.

04 4 Small Infusions and Gesso Backgrounds Complete

I mopped up the rest of the mess onto an A4 sheet and added more gesso and Infusions as required. For this sample, I brayered over the top of the right-hand side of the sheet and left the other side to dry naturally.

05 A4 Infusions Background - 2 Ways

This is the final mop-up sheet, with further Infusions added, but no additional gesso.

06 Gesso and Infusions Background Mop-Up Sheet

These two A4 sheets can be used in other projects.

From the four small A6 samples, I die cut two different sizes of circles and also some larger circles from some printed card I had in my stash.

02 Die-Cut Circles from Infusions Backgrounds

I am keen to use up quite a bit of stuff that’s been hanging around for years – much of this card is far too brightly coloured for my taste now, or not of a pattern or design that I am that keen on, being part of sets I bought many years ago. With a bit of treatment they can look perfectly reasonable.

I cut a piece of orange card 5 inches by 10 inches and folded it in half. You can see the original colour on the scrap underneath the background piece.

03 Pink Gesso Background with Materials

I applied gesso all over, using a foam brush. This left a lot of unsightly brush marks, so I spritzed it with water and then blotted it with a crumpled up piece of kitchen paper. I applied more gesso and repeated the process until I was happy with the result.

I heat dried it, and then stamped it using the Artistic Stamper Harlequin stamp (C349) without an acrylic block, stamping fairly randomly and taking care not to press the whole thing down each time. I stamped using Iced Spruce Distress Ink, and then distressed the edges with Aged Mahogany, using a home-made ink blender.

In the above photo, you can see the matted die-cut circles laid on top. This circle will be stuck down in the centre and the card base folded in half, and I will stamp something on the die cut circle and/or add some form of embellishment.

Moving on to the next piece, I took a piece of yellow A4 card and folded it to A5, In the following photos you can see its original colour, and the results of toning it down with gesso and inks, giving a much softer and more subtle effect.

05 Gesso Background on Yellow Card with Materials

I applied the gesso, again using a foam brush, but taking care to use only vertical and horizontal brush stokes, and then spritzed it lightly with water. Once I’d heat dried it, I used the same harlequin stamp, this time with Tattered Rose Distress Ink. Using an ink duster I added a bit of Cracked Pistachio Distress Ink randomly, and finally distressed the edges with some Aged Mahogany Distress Ink (visible on the photo above). Again, you can see the die cut circles chosen to go with this particular sample.

04 Gesso Background on Yellow Card

I decided to create a different background without gesso on another piece of the yellow card. For this one, I blotted off the Iced Spruce on the harlequin stamp, over most of the surface of the card until the stamp was clean. Then I added a small amount of Slime Infusions (from set 2) and repeated the stamping process, this time using another Artistic Stamper stamp: Calligraphic Mat #12, us9ing Aged Mahogany Distress Ink.

I applied a little Hickory Smoke Distress Ink with an ink duster, and also some Milled Lavender, both with an ink duster and with a home-made blending pad to distress the edges somewhat. Finally I added a small amount of Blackcurrant Infusions from set 1, randomly here and there.

06 Inked Background Complete with Materials

Here are the three backgrounds so far, with the die-cut circles not yet glued down. I am not sure how I am going to embellish these yet, but they will all need the heavy book treatment to flatten them out properly before then.

07 Three Completed Backgrounds with Die Cut Circles

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

WOYWW 441–Toe-vember and Kittens in Coats

Hi everyone and a happy WOYWW to you all. STILL nothing to show on my desk! I do have an excuse this week though, because there’s been quite a bit going on.

First of all, my hubby has made numerous trips to the vet with the kittens this week. Ruby’s wound was wide open again, so they put her in a little suit.

08 Ruby in her Body Suit 8-11-17

To start with, she rolled on the floor a lot, and did a bit of walking backwards to try and get it off, but eventually she settled down and accepted it. Phew. We thought that was the end of it.

Then Lily, who had been quite good with her stitches, started having a go, and a couple of days ago she ended up in a suit as well!

The vet told us to take Ruby’s suit off after two or three days, and when we did, she immediately started biting at her wound again, so back she went to have it re-glued, and she was back in the suit again.

This morning, my hubby called me to come quickly with the camera because Ruby had sprouted wings!

Anyway, the little body suits seem to be working pretty well, and they are not able to get at their stitches any more. We’ve got to take them back in about a week and they’ll have to wear the suits until then.

We’ve never had any trouble in the past with our female kitties after they were spayed. These two are such naughty girls!

10 Me Cuddling Both Kitties 2 12-11-17


Our church has joined with others in a local project this month, called Toe-vember, to provide socks for the homeless now the weather is getting colder. They have stretched a couple of strings between two pillars at the back of the church and pegged the socks onto these. So far, all the socks have been bought in a shop, and they are all boring black or grey and they don’t look all that warm, so I thought I would raid my huge stash of yarns to make some nice brightly coloured warm socks. I’ve just started the second sock of my first pair.

01 First Pair WIP

I found a pattern on Ravelry which I have used for the shape, but I have used my own design for the colours. I made the largest size which I think will fit the average man. Hopefully I will get time to make at least one more pair before the project comes to an end – apparently it will be going on into December.

02 First Sock of First Pair Completed

03 First Sock Pattern Detail

I found a brilliant Youtube video – – a tutorial on extra-stretchy casting on for ribbing. Wish I’d known this years ago! It’s really good, and just the thing for this project.

It’s years since I knitted socks and it’s fun to be doing them again. I thought I had some sets of four needles somewhere but I must have got rid of them as I normally knit with circular needles now. You need four needles for socks, though, because there aren’t that many stitches. I found some lovely sets on Ebay and decided to treat myself – these ones are metal, and each size is in a different colour, with the size etched on each one, and they come in such a nice zipped pouch. They are lovely to use.

05 Double Ended Knitting Needles Montage Nov 17

It’s good to be doing something creative again, even if it isn’t in my studio.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

WOYWW 440–Kitten Spaying

Again, nothing on the creative front – too busy, then too tired… Also, we’ve been very involved with the kittens who have had a pretty eventful week. I am writing this late on Tuesday evening.

On Sunday it was the Pet Service at our local church and we took Lily and Ruby!

06 Lily and Ruby at the Pet Service 5-11-17

They were very well behaved, and everybody admired them greatly. Those who had visited them when we first had them were amazed how much they had grown. The service was lovely – not long, but very touching, with everyone having the opportunity to introduce their animals by name, and it was so nice to see everyone’s pets – mostly dogs, including a beautiful guide dog. There was one other cat. We had a young lady from our local Animals in Distress charity to talk to us about their work, and she showed us photos of six puppies that someone had brought in – they’d found them abandoned in a cardboard box. They were thought to be no more than 24 hours old. How can anyone do something like that?? Anyway, the staff worked with them round the clock, bottle feeding them every couple of hours and bringing them on, and they only lost one. They are now about to go to their forever homes. The local paper reported on it.

Today we took them to the vet to get them spayed (what my hubby calls having their squeaks removed!). It was really strange not having them in the house all day. My hubby took them in about 9 a.m. and we went to collect them at tea time.

Both had done fine, but by the time we got home, Ruby had pulled her stitches out. Their wounds are tiny – I can’t imagine how they got everything out through there! My hubby took Ruby back and they super-glued hers shut again and put a lampshade around her neck to stop her biting at it. By the time he got her home, she’d pulled that off, and she went bananas when he put it on her again, and she managed to get her lower jaw on the outside of it, so off it came again. We are keeping a close eye on her and it looks as if the wound might be opening again – he will take her back in the morning if necessary. They said that if the lampshade didn’t work, they could put a kind of suit on her but I can’t see her taking kindly to that either!

They gave us some easy-to-digest food for them but of course Ruby wouldn’t touch it because she doesn’t like wet food. We gave her a few of her biscuits instead.

We have to take them back in ten days for the stitches to come out and to be checked over. While they were there, the vet discovered that Lily has got an ulcer under her tongue – we can’t imagine how that happened. We have got antibiotics to give her, and when we take them back for their stitches, they’ll have a look at it again if she’ll let them.

Lily has behaved as one would expect – quite subdued, and needing to sleep, but Ruby has been wild, rampaging around and playing, and trying to wrestle with Lily (which we have been stopping) – all this leaping about is not conducive to her wound healing, is it!! She is such a baby still. It’s awful to think that in about a month, she would have been ready physically to be a mother herself… Talk about teenage pregnancies!

I always go to bed very late, and I’m staying up with them as late as possible to keep an eye on them, but will have to go up soon in order to be up early in the morning for my grocery delivery, and to check on the kittens as my hubby has to go out first thing.

What a worry this all is! I hope things settle down and that things soon get back to normal again.

Other stuff

My hubby decided on Saturday, bless him, that we hadn’t been out on a jaunt for ages, so we went out for lunch in a local pub and then went over to Plymouth to visit the National Marine Aquarium – one of my favourite haunts. I’ve done a post about it with lots of photos, but here are a couple.

05 Anemones through Dome

09 The Large Tank

Health Update

Still no news about my hospital appointment to see the surgeon about my hernia. I really hope I hear something soon. My ME continues to be a pain and I’m just not getting on top of things as much as I would like. Every time, art gets pushed to the bottom of the heap. I’m back to doing the monthly accounts again now and need minimum brainfog to deal with that!

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Pet Service at our Local Church

This afternoon we attended the Pet Service at our church. When it was being planned, my hubby said we must take Lily and Ruby but at first I was reluctant to agree to this, thinking the experience would be too frightening for them and I didn’t want to add stress to their happy little lives, but eventually he persuaded me, and as it turned out, they were pretty relaxed!

They have had lots of visits and are used to people, and are remarkably unfazed at the vet’s. Several people from the church have seen them, but for the others it was a lovely opportunity for them to meet our two girlies for the first time, and they were universally admired!

The service was short, and consisted of a hymn or two, a reading (which I did, from the Book of Genesis, the account of the creation of the animals and mankind on the same day, and how God saw that it was “very good”), some prayers, and a lovely talk by a representative from our local Animals in Distress charity.

Here are our two babies enjoying their first visit to church!

01 Lily and Ruby

Amelia, who was responsible for inviting us all to the service, and who belongs to one of the churchwardens. We had heard so much about her, and it was lovely to meet her at last. I stroked her through the bars of her basket and she rubbed her ears against my hand and purred and purred!

08 Amelia for Blog

Cats were outnumbered by dogs.

11 Various Dogs for Blog

09 Dog for Blog

One very special dog was in attendance, helping her owner.

10 Guide Dog for Blog

06 N Leading the Service

The lady from Animals in Distress giving her talk.

07 Talk about Animals in Distress

She told us all about the puppies who had been in the local news recently. Someone came to them with a cardboard box that they had found abandoned, containing six tiny puppies, clearly only about 24 hours old. The staff at Animals in Distress fed and cared for these tiny babies around the clock, bottle feeding them. All but one have survived, and they are all now going to their new forever homes. How can anyone be so cruel as to abandon these defenceless creatures in this way? All they had to do was to hand in the box to Animals in Distress or one of the other rescue centres – the staff receive all animals in a totally non-judgemental way, and all they would have asked was the whereabouts and welfare of the mother.

An offering was taken up for the work of this charity.

This young lady had lots of photos of the puppies which were handed around afterwards when we all gathered at the back of the church for tea and cakes.

This was such a lovely celebration of our beloved pets. As we often see when we go out, when dog walkers talk to each other and to other walkers – animals bring people together. Everyone there had such special relationships with their fur babies, and were proud to show them off and introduce them by name for a blessing. Such a happy afternoon!

Our two little darlings survived their first outing to somewhere other than the vet’s very well indeed, and they were very quiet and well-behaved throughout. I am sure it helped that they were both together, keeping each other company. We had a few tears in the car on the way home and they got a bit cold going to and from the car because there was a very cold wind today, but once they were home again, they soon snuggled up together and got nice and warm again before it was time for their supper. We were very proud of them for behaving so well!

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Visit to the Aquarium

Today my hubby asked if I’d like to go out. I don’t get the opportunity to go out very often because I am either too tired, or too busy catching up with things I couldn’t do when I was too tired! By the time I was ready, it was nearly lunch time, and we ate out at a pub on the way, and then drove to Plymouth and visited the National Marine Aquarium. We haven’t been for quite a while, so it was lovely to go again.

Here is a selection of photos from today’s visit.

01 Mussels and Anemones

02 Jewel Anemones

03 Cuttlefish

04 Starfish

At the aquarium they have several domed glass tanks to enable better viewing. Here are some of them along a corridor which is also rather attractively decorated with timber cladding. I love the reflection of the illuminated domes on the floor.

08 The Domes

I thought these domes made beautiful pictures with the lens distortion effect around the edges, and editing out the background and replacing it with black.

05 Anemones through Dome

06 Anemones through Dome 2

07 Blue Crab

This is the huge tank which is the centrepiece of the Aquarium. It contains many native fish from Plymouth Sound, and it always amuses me to see the labels identifying cod, mackerel, pollock, etc. – fish that are more familiar on the fishmonger’s slab!

09 The Large Tank

Every day they have a display where the divers go into the tank to feed the fish and clean the inside of the glass.

I love the jellyfish display. Normally one sees them as unsightly blobs of gelatinous goo on the beach where they’ve been washed up, but to see these delicate creatures gently undulating through the water with the light shining through them, is a beautiful sight.

The tanks are placed between two corridors so you can see right through the circular viewing windows. I love the shapes they make.

10 Jellyfish Tank

13 Tiny Inverted Jellyfish

This picture of jellyfish looks like some otherworldly landscape with an alien moon in a starlit sky.

14 Tiny Blue-Green Jellyfish

These jellies were tiny.

15 Tiny Transparent Jellyfish

Here is a close-up.

16 Tiny Transparent Jellyfish Close-Up

A view through two jellyfish tanks, either side of a corridor..

17 Through the Jellyfish Tanks

Lots of art inspiration here, too!

Another dome containing seagrass. I love the painted surround on the wall, and the border of twisted rope.

11 Seagrass Dome

12 Cuttlefih with Seagrass

The shark tank. There is a replica of something like a wrecked plane for the fish to swim around.

18 The Shark Tank

The sharks were quite shy. There were also lots of fish, photographed here, that looked like metallic silver. It was very hard to photograph them because they were moving so fast.

I love the “Blue Planet” room with all the tropical fish and corals.

19 Tropical Fish 1

A close-up of the brightly coloured little fish above.

20 Tropical Fish 1 Close-Up

21 Tropical Fish 2

22 Tropical Fish 3

Not sure what these extraordinary creatures were but they looked like great big leaves.

23 Large Green Anemones

24 Large Green Anemone Close-Up

Lovely clown fish.

25 Angel Fish Amongst Anemones

One of my favourite tanks with the dramatic black-spiked sea urchins and black seahorses.

26 Black Seahorses and Spiked Sea Urchin

In the same tank were my favourite Cardinal fish.

27 Cardinal Fish

28 Tropical Fish 4

29 Tropical Fish 5

There’s a beautiful curved tank with sharks and rays in it. You can stand under the overhanging curved wall of the tank. The level was reduced because of maintenance work. There’s a waterfall on the far left.

30 Ray in Curved Tank

32 Fish in Curved Tank

My hubby looking at the curved tank.

31 N Looking at Curved Tank

There’s a fascinating projection on the floor with turtles.

33 Turtle Projection on Floor

34 Turtle Projection on Floor Close-Up

Here is the harbour in the early evening as we left the Aquarium.

35 Coming Out of the Aquarium

We had such a lovely afternoon wandering around and seeing everything again. I took these photos with my new camera. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the video to work properly on it – I need to get the book out to see what I was doing wrong – I’d love to have filmed the beautiful jellyfish with their gently pulsing undulations.

I find the life in the oceans endlessly fascinating. I think God let His imagination run wild when He created the sea creatures – endless variety and some of the most extraordinary creatures that you could never dream up! Aquariums like this help raise awareness, too, of the mess we are making of the oceans with our pollution, and they do great work in preserving the wonderful heritage of biodiversity we have in our oceans – the Aquarium in Plymouth is our national centre for marine biological research and they run a seahorse breeding programme and other significant projects. Our entrance fee helps to further this important work, as well as providing a thoroughly enjoyable day out. We are very fortunate to have it on our doorstep.

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