Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Crafting with children

When your child begs to be creative and have a go at a making their own version of their favourite character what can you say?

So on a rainy Sunday we set too at making a needle felted Totoro each whilst watching one of many Studio Ghibli films.  My son is addicted to these films at the moment, I found them rather irritating years ago but watching them with a child I have started to understand them in a different light.

Between us we managed to create two very different fluffy little Totoros, each with their own unique cuddly cuteness. Mine was smaller, plumper and has a rather worried look, his oozed happiness and innocence and stood taller, prouder!

There were times when both of us could have given up, points when it was just not going right, even moments where I was the student being taught on the exactness, the shape of the ears. Although needle felting is a craft I have taught many times, I love that I can come away having learnt something new but what made this mini workshop special was to spend some quality time with my youngest, both of us doing something we enjoy. 

Coming from a very creative background seems to run in the family and that in its self is a joy and a comfort that you are doing ok. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

A good read - Meadowland by John Lewis-Stemple

I don't often get the chance to read anymore, I struggle to stay awake at night and there just never seems to be the right time in the day but when I do it has to be a book that I can't put down, one that grabs my attention and tempts me into another world.

Meadowland by John Lewis-Stemple is just that book!

So beautifully written I find myself transported to the edge of a Welsh meadow, lying on the grass looking, smelling and listening to a wildlife microcosm,  forever changing through the seasons. 

It has opened my eyes to a my surroundings, to slow down a bit and look closely, unfortunately the book is so good I am trying to not devour it too quickly!

Looking back at the books I have read, the ones that I  have been immersed in seem to be following a similar path so here are my favourite reads on nature :

Four Hedges - Clare Leighton
Deep Country - Neil Ansell
Red Sky At Night - Jane Strutters

and of course ...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Festival Bangles ~ simple Summer craft tutorial

You Will Need
Plain Metal Bangles
Silk Embroidery Thread
Glue Gun

For a quick make just before you head out to a Summer Festival why not try making these simple but colourful bangles, a perfect accessory for any festival attire!

1. Take one plain metal bangle and wrap colourful silk embroidery thread around it sticking the ends down with a dab of glue. Change colours to make it bright and cheerful.

2. To make a simple tassel, wind the embroidery thread around a piece of card about fifteen times, thread three lengths of embroidery thread under the loop and tie in a tight knot. 

3. Cut the other end of the loop to release from the card.

4. Then wrap some more thread around the tail a few centimetres from the knotted end to form a cinch, tie off and then trim the tail of the tassel for the desired length. Take the longer threads and plait to form one piece and tie to the bangle. 

5. Add on some colourful beads by simply threading on to some embroidery thread and fasten to the bangle, repeat all the processes above to make more bangles.

All thats left to do is wear with pride and have some festival fun!


Monday, June 15, 2015

Looking back to days of SLR photography

Old Man - Cardiff Train early 1990's

This photo was a tricky one, before the days of mobile phones I had to try and take this using a Canon SLR without being seen. Would I have captured it in the same way on a phone now?

The day I found an old Olympus camera on the Brighton train and handed it into the police station (only to have it given to back to me months later due to not being claimed)  started my love for the 35mm SLR camera, black and white film and its magic.

JP - 1992

I was lucky to start a photography course at sixth form which gave me the chance to learn the basics as well as techniques used in the darkroom.
Unfortunately college wasn't for me, I wanted the wild life that Brighton offered a 17 year old and soon found myself having to work. Desperate for my own darkroom and to carry on with photography I spent  years working in camera shops and photo developing shops which allowed me to buy the equipment and spend my spare time stuck in a small dark bathroom playing!

Inder - 1996

Finding my old prints and negatives  as I was tiding up has stirred up not only memories, many (I was never without my Canon!) but that excited feeling, the smell of the chemicals, the noise as you wind the film on to the next shot, that one moment captured in a second, the image appearing before your eyes through a red haze... we forget these feelings and emotions that photography gave us as we press that button on a digital camera, those multiple shots on a phone. 

Left - Then       Right - Now

How many of us actually print any of our pictures now?
Do we write down the names people who appear, the place it was taken and date of a photograph?
How much thought do give when capturing that perfect scene?

These stirrings have certainly made me more aware of how I will capture a photo now and think of its value, to try and get images printed (Instajunction are great for those Instagram pics!) and spend time looking and sharing with friends and family.

Who knows, maybe the old darkroom will be brought down from the attic, brush off its 20 years worth of dust and used by the next generation, my sons.

Friday, June 05, 2015

4 have fun in Devon, Airbnb style!

We managed to have an early summer holiday visiting family in Devon last week and decided to stay in one of the excellent Airbnb locations. There was the most perfect place just where we needed it, a Rustic Chalet with two bedrooms, lounge/kitchen with woodburner (which we didn't use due to be such lovely weather!) and bathroom all set in amazing grounds, with a games room in the bar ideal for rainy days.

Anthony the host was so welcoming and allowed us to use all the grounds with swings, zip wire and a huge trampoline which the boys escaped to as soon as they woke up.

This was our view from the bedroom one morning...heavenly!

With such glorious weather we visited many places with family, my father in-law Jim, partner Jane and lovely Polly moved to Kinsgsbridge last year so they knew some fantastic spots to take in the views.

The wildlife was amazing at the chalet, does anyone know what this odd bug is which was lurking in the hedgerows?

Of course we had to visit the beaches of Devon, so many to choose from. The boys learnt from their granddad how to throw the perfect flat stones for skimming across the flat sea. Then we all decided to draw faces on them, spot the Jane Foster one!

The evening light was so restful, with swallows flying around us nesting in the alcoves of the farmhouse roof.

Definitely take in the cliff walks if you venture down, great places to blow away those cobwebs, we really enjoyed the walk from National Trust Overbecks to East Soar Outdoor Experience, perfect place to refuel on tea and cake before heading back.

As you can see, I let my hair down!

It was very hard to tear ourselves away ......wish we were there!


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