Wednesday, 26 October 2011


Thanks again, Julia, for hosting our wonderful blog hop where we all go round spying out each other’s workdesks to see how messy and creative we are being! For anyone new to this, click on the WOYWW icon in my sidebar which will take you to Julia’s blog where you can join in the fun.

I haven’t done too much this week as I haven’t felt up to it – away from my workdesk I’ve been learning loads on Youtube about mixed media techniques and am itching to start again! Also, a friend has asked me to convert some cut files she bought, into pdfs – she hadn’t realised what they were when she bought them and doesn’t have a cutting machine. They are alphabet letters to create a word book that her mum wants to make. After getting some excellent advice from Penny Duncan (thanks Penny!!) on the software to use, I have now started on these, so she should be getting them soon. This is something I can do on the laptop with my feet up. It’s given me the idea of designing my own word book pages, but that’s on the back burner for now.

So… to my workdesk. I have made a start on the stash of birthday cards I’ve decided to give my mum for Christmas. She is 90, and doesn’t really want any more “things” as presents, and it’s getting increasingly difficult to think of anything to give her! Earlier this year she asked me if I’d make some birthday cards for her to give people, and I balked at the idea because I’m not keen to get too stuck into card making, preferring to branch out into more adventurous areas these days!! Anyway, thinking about it, I thought it would be a good Christmas present for her – I am making them all the same size, and I will make a nice box to put them in. I’m making her a dozen, and while I’m at it, I’ve decided to replenish my own somewhat depleted stash – after all, nearly all the birthdays in our family and friends occur in the first half of the year, starting on 1st January, so I’d like to make a start!

It’s a bit of a mess, but on the brown table on the left, you can see a stack of papers that I’m using – there are Core’dinations of various colours and sizes, a couple of Tim Holtz paper stashes, and various different scrapbooking papers. On my workdesk itself you can see my Cuttlebug, and some cards in progress. The dark brown one I am quite pleased with so far – I’ve chosen various bits of Tim Holtz papers to do with vintage school, as both my aunt and my cousin have been/are teachers – there’s a times table, an attendance certificate, a dictionary entry and an old fashioned ruler, which I am going to collage onto the dark background. The ones on the left are just at the stage of having chosen some card to mat and layer, and the one on the right has got a piece of Core’dinations paper embossed with a Tim Holtz Texture Fades folder, rubbed down and inked with Distress Inks, and certain parts highlighted with a white marker and Glossy Accents. So far it’s all a bit samey so I’m going to add something (don’t know what!) to give a bit more impact.

I REALLY want to be doing something else!!! – but I’m quite enjoying doing it really.

Not on my desk, but I was just going upstairs and spotted this through the landing window.

I love tortoiseshell butterflies! At this time of the year they tend to come in the house and look for somewhere to spend the winter. This one was sunning himself on the wall, idly flapping his wings open and shut. I zoomed in on him on maximum zoom (18x) with the camera resting against the window. Hope he survives the winter!

I got my camera back from being repaired last week, and it’s great! My wonderful hubby lent me his last week which was a tremendous help, but it’s really good to have mine back again, complete with a huuuuge new SD card so I can do lots of videos as well as photos if I’m out and about!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Shoshi’s Artpourings–My New Etsy Store!

After not selling much at the recent exhibition, for which I’d worked really hard to produce quite a few items, I decided I’d select a few items for Christmas presents and then upload the rest to a shop on Etsy.

I’ve often been envious of people who were able to produce enough to sell! This year has been so productive for me, and since the middle of the year I’ve been able to do more stuff for my own satisfaction, after a lot of special birthdays etc. etc. in the earlier part of the year.

When the time drew near to open the shop, I got increasingly nervous – what if I wasn’t able to do it properly and got myself into trouble? Then I reassured myself that loads of people do it every day, and I’m sure they’re not all expert business people, but primarily creative artists who just want a bit more exposure for their work, and the opportunity to sell to a world-wide audience. So – I took the plunge, and “Click!” my first item was on view!! Phew!

Now I’m really excited, and hoping lots of people will visit my shop and hopefully buy my work.

I spent a long time mulling over a suitable name. I wanted my name in it, but wasn’t sure I wanted to call it “Shoshi’s ARTHaven” because that’s my studio where I create the stuff, not the gallery where I want to sell it. I wanted a name that somehow conjured up an image of how my creativity works. It begins in my heart and bubbles up to my brain where the ideas start to gel, and then pours out through my hands, as if I am a vessel pouring water which I hope will bless and refresh people, and give them joy and delight – an outpouring of something unique and personal, from within – an Artpouring!

I have put a slideshow in my sidebar of the items I’ve put in my Etsy store, with a link to take you there (or you can click on the picture at the top of this post). I do hope you’ll pop over and have a look, and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


Thanks Julia for organising another weekly get-together where we show off our work desks for all to see! For anyone who doesn’t know what this is all about, click on the WOYWW link in my sidebar.

After all the rush of getting everything ready for the exhibition, this week I’ve got nothing of interest on my table at all! I’ve been trying to recover for a few days.

On the brown table you can see the stuff that I’ve finally managed to get out, to do last month’s accounts!! Getting stuff out is a good start, I suppose… makes me feel virtuous, at least. I’m sooo behind, and if I don’t get on with it, my hubby will start creating!

Also on the table you can see some of my mirrors and boxes that came back from the exhibition. These are the ones I’ve set apart for Christmas presents. The rest are in a box ready for the photos to be uploaded to my brand new Etsy store which I’ve decided to open. Nothing there yet, but soon there will be a link to it in my blog, and hopefully someone out there will like my stuff enough to buy it!

Next project will have to be making up a pack of birthday cards to give my mum for Christmas. She asked me a couple of months ago if I’d make her some cards to give people and I balked at the idea as I’m not really into card making unless I have to, but thinking about it, now my mum is 90, it’s hard to think of things to give her for Christmas as she’s trying to get rid of things rather than accumulate more, and this is definitely something she’d use, and would be pleased with. I shan’t do anything as ambitious as the stationery box I made for her last year, though, but keep it fairly simple, and make a pretty box to put them in.

This week my hubby finally got round to finding me some bricks to make my life easier. Bricks? you ask?

Many many years ago (longer ago than I care to remember!) when I was setting up my first home, I bought my old brown table from the office where I worked – they were clearing stuff out, and some of the staff said they should have paid me to take it away rather than having to buy it!! It was a wreck, covered with an oilskin cloth, and underneath were numerous rings from cups, and ink stains, and the whole thing was ccovered with ghastly bubbly brown varnish. I set to work on it and sanded it right down. When I moved to my tiny cottage it wouldn’t go up the stairs to my workroom so I cut the bottoms of the legs off, thinking I’d somehow screw them back on one day, but never got round to it. Not sure I even know where the bottoms of the legs are now anyway! It’s been too low ever since and I’ve bruised my knees so often! I asked my hubby to find me 4 nice bricks and yesterday I put them under the legs! Success! I can’t believe what a difference a few little inches makes.

Hope you all have a good WOYWW!! Sorry I was so hopeless following everyone up last week – I was snowed under, and no energy to spare for anything else.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Altered Boxes–Part 2

As I was doing the post about the village harvest exhibition, I realised I hadn’t posted the photos I took of the boxes I made for the show.

I ended up making 8, in different sizes, and decided to put poinsettias and Christmas roses on them, hoping they’d be bought by people for Christmas presents – I only ended up selling one!

Thanks to Penny Duncan, as always, for her excellent cut files and flower designs. I was hoping she’d done a Christmas rose one since I last looked, and sure enough, she had! It’s a beautiful design. She uses little gold beads to embellish the centres, but I preferred to use yellow Flowersoft.

On her blog (see my blog list in my sidebar) in her tutorial for these, she shows how beautifully her Lynx cutter cut the centres of the flowers, which are extremely fine. I had absolutely no joy with the Cricut which is just not accurate enough. I made several attempts and each time it didn’t cut them correctly, so I had to print out the pdf file and then cut them out by hand – very laborious! Makes me want a decent cutting machine more and more…

I used her original poinsettia design (“3D Poinsettia”) because I prefer it to her later one.

Here are the boxes laid out with the strips of scrapbooking paper I cut to cover the sides, with their respective flowers laid on top, ready for assembly.

Three poinsettia boxes:

Details of the flowers on top:

For the centres, I added little spots of yellow Stickles.

The lids of the boxes had very pale green fluid acrylic paint added with a dampened natural sponge on top of the cream emulsion that I painted all the boxes with. I started with a very pale green shade, and then went over it twice more, each time slightly darker, so that the sponged effect had a dimensional look.

Three heart-shaped boxes with Christmas roses:

and a detail of the lid of one of them – this picture shows the sponged effect a bit better, and also shows the red leaf trail I used in this case.

I also made an oval and a round one with Christmas roses.

As you can see, I embellished the sides of the lids with ribbons, and used my bow-shaper tool to make the bows, which were adhered with hot glue.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Village Harvest and Art Exhibition

It’s been a weekend of harvest! Yesterday we saw all the harvest displays in Exeter Cathedral, and today we had our harvest songs of praise service in our local church. The harvest supper was on Friday, but I didn’t go to that, as I knew it would be a very busy weekend and I had to pass on something or I’d get totally exhausted!

The weekend has been full of church and community events to celebrate the harvest this year. Starting on Friday, the church was open to show all the lovely harvest displays, and the art exhibition, and the harvest supper was in the evening in the village hall. Then yesterday there was again an open day in the church, and in the early evening, a concert called “Words for Voices” with the theme of food, in which four people took part, with a combination of songs, readings, and little sketches. We hadn’t planned to be there because of being in Exeter most of the day, but we decided to call in to the church before going home, to see the displays, and found them to be in the interval, so we stayed for the second half. It was very entertaining.

In the evening there was a marvellous hog roast in the pub garden. I think it was the best I’ve ever tasted. Delicious locally-bred pork with perfect crackling, served with apple sauce and stuffing in a nice big bread roll! Lots of people there, and a good time was had by all.

Today, Sunday, again the church was open all day for people to view the displays. In the mid-afternoon there was a cream tea in the village hall – I am supposed to be watching my weight but just couldn’t resist fabulous home-made scones and jam and cream, and a slice of absolutely delicious home-made coffee cake!

After this, we had the songs of praise service in the church, with the choir, and the children singing a song, lots of congregational singing with the old favourite harvest hymns (could you possibly have harvest without “We plough the fields and scatter” and “Come, ye faithful people, come”??) and then someone read John Betjeman’s absolutely gorgeous poem, “Diary of a Church Mouse” which made us all laugh, as always!

Wine and cheese was served afterwards, and the opportunity to chat, and look at everything.

Here are some pictures of the harvest displays in the church.

Each year our local organic farm donates a selection of their vegetables for the big display at the foot of the font.

Here is one of their magnificent cabbages. I just love the design of cabbages! All those tightly overlapping leaves, gradually expanding. I’m sure there’s evidence of the Fibonacci series somewhere here! God the great mathematician!!

These were some more of their fruit and veg, on top of the font. They always put in some of those fabulous ornamental cauliflowers which are definitely geeky – living fractals! I can’t resist them!

Here are some photos of the beautiful floral arrangements around the church. I admire tremendously anyone who can do this. I may be creative in other directions, but flower arranging is definitely NOT my strong point! I’ve got no patience for it, and the results are horrible. I think it makes me appreciate what others can do even more!

Here are some of the window displays. This one depicts the harvest of the orchard. Our area of the UK is famous for its apple growing, and the production of cider and apple juice. See how the apple juice in the bottle on the left glows with the light from the window shining through it!

This arrangement was so pretty, with the delicate mauve flowers and the lace.

This next display depicts the harvest of the sea, with rod and line, fishing nets, and shells.

These stars are made from tissue paper, and they glow with the light passing through them from the window.

This church has a fine example of the sort of carved wooden screen for which Devon is famous. This year someone has made a beautiful garland, complete with lights, to adorn it! He first made one last Christmas, and someone visiting the church on that occasion, who is getting married soon, has requested that a garland be made for her wedding. I think it may become a regular feature!

Here’s a view of it from the back of the church. This photo also illustrates what a huge building this is, for a small village. This weekend has been partly about raising funds for its maintenance, as a little village is ill-equipped to keep up such a demanding mediaeval building.

Also in this photo, you can see the children rehearsing the song that they sang in the service.

While I was going round photographing everything, the bellringers were busy summoning everyone to the songs of praise service. Here is the steep, narrow little staircase that leads to the ringing chamber.

The following are photos of the art exhibition. Both my hubby and I put things in. I was hoping to make a nice lot of sales, but eventually only sold one mirror (the butterflies one with the glass bead gel medium) and one box!! Yesterday someone said she was going to buy one of my mirrors today, but nothing happened, so I don’t know if she’s changed her mind or just forgotten. If she wants one, she can always contact me.

On the table they put out some of my boxes, and also the two frames I made (not for sale!!), one for my hubby for our silver wedding, and the other for our nephew’s wedding. (I’ve just realised I haven’t put any decent photos of the boxes on my blog – I’ll do another post with those.)

On this board are displayed my small flower paintings at the bottom, and at the top right, two little silhouettes my hubby did, and also his watercolour underneath, of a narrow boat in a lock. Unfortunately he didn’t manage to sell anything.

At the further end of the table was the glass blowing and the wood carving.

Everything is being returned to us tomorrow. I shall decide what to set aside for Christmas presents, and then I am thinking of starting an Etsy shop. Our village shop now has an exhibition corner where my hubby has had some of his watercolours, and I may put some things in there.

It’s strange. Everyone loves to look, and admire, and show enthusiasm over one’s work, but when it comes to parting with cash, it’s another matter! I certainly don’t think I overcharged – far from it – if I’d charged realistically for the time put into making the items, NOBODY would have been able to afford them!!! I thought that people might have liked to buy my stuff which was reasonable enough for Christmas presents, and I especially made the boxes with poinsettias and Christmas roses to attract the Christmas market.

The man who was organising it said that everyone who’d exhibited and managed to sell anything, sold stuff to approximately the same value, which was strange. I was pleased that one of my little flower paintings which was selected for the silent auction to raise funds for the church, received 2 bids and the final one was more than I’d charged for the other ones. So I really sold 3 items, but will only be paid for 2.

It’s been a very full, and very tiring weekend for me. I have neglected my emails and all my wonderful blog followers, and the WOYWW blog hop – my apologies to everyone! Over the next few days I shall have to rest, and also catch up with different jobs that have been neglected while I was trying to finish everything in time for the exhibition, but I will get back into some sort of routine soon!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Visit to Exeter Cathedral

Today my hubby and I went over to Exeter to attend a special service in the Cathedral for the licensing of new readers (lay preachers) in the Exeter Diocese of the Church of England. An old friend from our last church was one of the new readers and we wanted to support and encourage him – it’s been a long time coming, but at last he has finished his training which he did around his full time job. He used to lead the mid-week house group when we were there, and it’s lovely to see his gifts being used in a wider field, with more influence, and for them to be officially recognised in this way.

It was a lovely service with lots of singing, communion, and the bishop preaching, and afterwards there were photo opportunities outside, and then we had tea in the Chapter House.

The Cathedral was all decorated for harvest, which was lovely. Being such a large space, the displays round the pillars were large too, with lots of wheat, barley and maize, vegetables and fruits, flower arrangements and even the fleece of a shorn sheep!

One of the displays included a traditional harvest loaf.

The main altar for the service had been set up in the nave. It had a beautiful altar frontal.

I was surprised to see that there was also decoration on the back of the altar.

Wandering around before the service started, I discovered a wonderfully imaginative piece of art – a small triptych made of mosaic, which on closer examination I discovered to be made of tiny pieces of beer cans! This was so effective, and all the more attractive for being something beautiful, created from something that the vast majority of people would throw away as rubbish. It’s definitely something I’d like to try!

We had a cup of tea in the wonderful mediaeval Chapter House afterwards. This is the ceiling. What a jewel.

Around the walls in the niches is a series of modern sculptures created by Kenneth Carter in 1974, depicting scenes from the Bible. They are highly dramatic and contrast wonderfully with the ancient Gothic style of the building. I didn’t photograph them all, but here is a selection.

The first is a representation of the chaos before Creation: “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2).

The next shows the separation of the waters and the dry land. “And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear” (Genesis 1:9).

Next is a representation of Eden, with the serpent on the left, and Adam being formed from the dust of the ground.

I love the way the man is emerging from the flat background of the niche.

From the New Testament I chose the annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to the Messiah.

Then the birth of Jesus.

Then this wonderful representation of the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. Note how the sculptor has represented the water.

The final one I chose was the resurrection.

I think you’ll agree that these sculptures are very dramatic, and full of life and movement, and that the sculptor has achieved an amazing feat, and sensitively filled each niche in a way that does not detract from the beauty of the Gothic architecture in any way, but adds impact to a beautiful space.

On our way home we called in to our village church to see the harvest display and the art exhibition, and caught the second half of the concert, before going on to the hog roast, and then home. A long and tiring day, but fun!

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