Archive | creativity

Diverse Manners exhibition, Riverfront, Newport

Sorry for the lack of blog posts recently – I don’t know what happened to the UK summer but it seemed to shoot by and turn into autumn in the blink of an eye.  I haven’t been doing much art either.  Too much juggling of family needs… and a few weeks ago, our 21 year old cat had to be put to sleep which proved pretty traumatic for the whole family as he had been around for as long as the boys could remember.

But next week, my five Reeds wallhangings are going to be hanging in the Riverfront arts centre here in Newport as part of an exhibition by the Diverse Manners arts group of which I’m a member.   If you happen to be in the area next Friday, you are warmly invited to the Preview Evening which starts at 7pm.

diverse manners exhibition at Riverfront Newport

Reeds 1 is on the background of the flyer!  The exhibition is on until the end of September.

Sketchbook Project 2011

My Sketchbook that I submitted for the Arthouse Coop Sketchbook Project earlier this year has now been digitized.  You can see it here. My profile page with all my submitted artwork is here.

I am taking part in the 2012 Sketchbook Project as well – this year they have designed their own sketchbooks with slightly better paper. I still prefer the Moleskine notebooks, apart from the paper! The theme I’ve signed up for this time is A Path through the Trees. Haven’t started it yet although I’ve got a few ideas for it.

I am also taking Elizabeth Barton’s online class at Quilt University on Working in Series. I’ve only got as far as reading through the first week’s notes so I need to get down to some serious work on that.

How to draw

Elizabeth Barton, whose quilting blog always makes great reading, has written a brilliant post entitled “But, I can’t draw!”. With some straightforward step by step instructions of, yes, how you can! Definitely worth a look.

A few book reviews!

At the end of last year, I was asked if I would review a few books published by New Holland Publishers, and, being a complete bookaholic, of course I agreed!  So here is the first one…

This is called The Felted Bag Book by Susie Johns.

Felted bag book by Susie Johns

It is hardback, very colourful, and contains instructions for 21 different bags.   There are lots of photos and a detailed section on making felt at the beginning, as well as lots of photos of possible buttons, handles, zips, etc.  The book is split into four sections – making bags from scratch using merino wool tops, knitted felted bags, crocheted felted bags and using recycled felted sweaters etc, reconstructed into bags.   There are lots of different embellishments, including how to make felt beads and cords, and I do like the look of the circular crocheted bag!

I decided to test it out yesterday and have a go at Scarlett.

red felted bag from book

Well, the instructions said a total of 12oz of merino wool tops, so I had to use a mixture of colours … here they are all in a tangle:

tangle of merino wool tops

The ‘recipes’ are very well laid out and numbered step by step, just right for a novice… I got all my stuff together successfully.  There are templates in the back of the book and here I met my first little hitch, when I failed to notice that it said ‘template shown at 70% of actual size’.   I had to guess that, percentages aren’t my strong point! 

Here is the bag halfway through in the process of being felted (complete with fingerprints!).


All went well apart from getting the sides felted together … for some reason this didn’t happen so I’ll have to stitch them, but no matter… here it is busy drying:

felted bag

Not a very good photo I’m afraid.  Once it dries, I think I’ll trim it a bit but I’m pretty happy with the results, though maybe the instructions for the side felting could be a bit clearer.  It may be my materials, of course, since I was using what I had sitting around.  If you’re new to felting I would advise trying out the basic instructions at the start of the book first.

This is the circular crocheted bag I want to make:

crocheted felted bag from book

Despite the hiccups in my experiment, I think this book is pretty good if you like bags and especially if you are new to felting and want to have a go.    Maybe I’ll try an easier one next time!

The  books I’m reviewing are called Self Sufficiency: Hen Keeping/ by Mike Hatcher (£7.99), The Felted Bag Book by Susie Johns (£14.99) and The Artist’s Guide to Perspective by Janet Shearer (£8.99) and New Holland Publishers are offering 20% discount plus free P&P if you buy them through their website – put the code Spiral at checkout (this lasts till 31st March 2011, UK customers only).

Strathmore Online Workshop

I hope you like my new blog layout.  I decided I wanted to make it cleaner, less cluttered and more minimalistic (is that a word?).  So I’ve moved the blogroll to its own page, added a page of links to websites I like and just kept the essential sidebar items (though the list of essentials seems to keep increasing!).  Do tell me if there is anything that you miss…

This cleaning up process must be an integral part of the New Year, because I’ve had a good studio clean-up too!  I put so much stuff away that I reclaimed about 2 feet on two sides of the room, which feels a lot more spacious and less claustrophobic.

I also signed up for the free Strathmore Visual Journalling online workshop which started in the new year.  This is proving to be fun – there are three different workshops – the first started on 1 January and lasts 4 weeks, the second starts on 1 March and the third on 1 May.

The current one is called Recycled Journal Pages with Pam Carriker and consists of one video per week.  We had to make copies of some of our old sketchbook pages and collage them into new pages with other papers and found objects, cutting and tearing as we liked.  After that we added various art media to enhance it and make it into a new page.

I forgot to take a photo of my original base collage but I used a printout of the left hand page of my sketchbook for one of the pages:

sketchbook page

The whole thing turned out quite turquoisey blue because the red ink was running out!  But that was fine…  The other elements I introduced were some Gocco prints of Honfleur harbour – I just used the houses, cut out; and a diary page too.  This is how it is looking at the moment.


As you can see, it’s quite different!  You can’t see all the texture but there is quite a bit as there is gesso underneath.  We also used charcoal, graphite sticks and oil pastels.  Two weeks to go…

The second page I collaged, I used a printout of some icicles hanging from the wisteria.  Again, this came out rather turquoise…  Not sure if this is the actual photo because I took so many of them as they were so beautiful!  But you get the general idea.  I cut the paper into two around the jagged bits…


This is the collage so far – again, nothing like the original, but it’s not meant to be!

collaged journal page

Not sure how this will turn out, but I’m having fun and that’s the main object of the exercise!

Moleskine Planner video

I love this video about the new Moleskine Extra Small Planners:

Moleskine do make some very clever videos. More information is here.

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