Tuesday, 3 April 2012


I haven't put anything of mine up for a while so here's the product of a recent day out; the other weekend was a beautiful day, we decided to go to Ribblehead and Ingleborough - out in the dales of North Yorkshire. I've put up my favourites from the days photo's.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Werner Herzog eats his shoe

Don't let the title discourage you, this video is so much more, it's inspirational. I highly recommend watching it.
Werner Herzog made a bet with fledgeling filmaker Errol Morris that if Morris ever got round to making his film, Gates of Heaven Herzog would eat his shoe. Needless to say, Morris made his film and Herzog stuck to his word.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Wish You Were Here

Almost three years ago I was listening to this album when I had, without being to dramatic, the worst moment of my life.It came on the back of getting a new job and new house in the same week, I was high on life.

On the 30th March 2009 my mum died. Not suddenly, she had cancer for the second time but we all thought she had a few years left. Rapidly that turned to a week, which turned to a few days. We were all left pretty dumbstruck but pulled together to organise the funeral. I remember immediately afterwards feeling the biggest heartbreak, I cried for so long I didn't think I was ever going to stop, in fact I'd stop myself from crying because I couldn't see there ever being a natural end to it.

Once that feeling left, and this is a cliche but it's honestly true; I felt numb, I felt nothing for weeks. I'd drive in my car and I used to think, 'I could just steer into that wall and I wouldn't feel a thing', It wasn't as if I willing it to happen, I just didn't see any consiquences to doing it. I felt like that for about three months, not caring about anything much. I Still did my job, and I did it well - none of my collegues would have noticed any difference. Then one night I was doing a sleep in at work and I was just lying there, I was feeling particularly low, I think it had been a heavy shift and my mind was wandering. I just started thinking, 'I could end this if I wanted' and I started thinking of all the ways I could do it, it was almost as if it was a desire. Then I caught myself thinking this, it scared me into thinking it through properly - 'I'm at work' I thought, I can't be thinking this.

When I was a kid I remember being upset about something or other and my dad was trying to cheer me up, at the end he said it's like Scarlett O'Hara says in Gone with the Wind, "tomorrow is another day". That stuck with me, that's kind of my go-to happy thought. I re-told this story to myself and I 'talk myself down'. I really don't think I would have done anything stupid that night, but that was my rock bottom. I made a real effort to snap out of myself after that point, just doing little things that make me happy; baking, knitting, craft etc -just keeping my hands busy and my mind active. I eventually got through the really tough times, but every now and again - it doesn't have to be near any anniversary, that pain comes flooding back, just as strong as before, but it doesn't last as long. Now I can have a\cry and get back to living.

This last week or so has been really hard, I think with mothers day having been last weekend, plus the anniversary coming up. But other little factors too.

I started writing this post because I was feeling sad, but also to remind myself of the positives - I'm here, I have my health, my family. The above album, although it could remind me of such a sad time in my life it doesn't, it reminds me that I've come out of that experience stronger and wiser, and that makes me happy each time I hear it.

Monday, 12 March 2012

To pin or not to pin?

I've been reading on a growing number of blogs about the issue of Pinterest and copyright. It seems there are a growing number of artists who are finding their work on peoples boards without their permission (read down to the bottom of that link). Whilst some say they find it flattering that someone else pins their work, it is still using the full sized image, sometimes without any reference to the artist.

This has made me stop and think about how I pin - when I pin through from another person's pin I rarely click on it to find it's source. If I'm aware of the artist I will put reference to them - but I've never asked for permission from the artist themselves. As this article suggests, the 'pinner' is liable for their own pin; effectively, if the artist sues it's you who would lose out, not pinterest.

Now, I've not had many of my own 'original' pieces re-pinned, but when I did it felt wonderful - but then again, I'm not making a living off art I create. I can't help but think I would mind an awful lot more if that were the case. It's funny, I was having a similar conversation with Stu (boyf) the other day about how the artist hardly ever sees the big bucks their work eventually makes after I saw some original Shepard Fairey pieces on ebay. I guess artists have made peace with that fact, but this pinterest thing seems to have opened up a whole box of worms.

Perhaps if pinterest would only allow low resolution thumbnails so you had to click through to the artists website to see it properly there wouldn't be such an issue. Or if the rules of pinterest were more clear (I wasn't aware of it until I'd read these articles).

The more I think about it, the more confused I get. A picture of an image isnt the actual image. Why do these images uploaded by artists have to be high resolution to begin with? I don't think you can get a great idea what the original is like merely by a picture on a website anyway - they just serve as a 'taster' of the work. If someone is interested in the work could they just ask for a better picture via email? There is a way of stopping people copying an image from another website isn't there? I'm sure I've seen that. What about artists images found on websites/blogs other than the artists? - Are they fair game?

But really, even asking those questions I'm still avoiding the big issue - it's not my work to be copying, I don't have artists permission. Should it be up to the individual artist to say whether they allow pins or not or should there be one blanket rule? I think it would be a real shame if the idea of Pinterest gets damaged because of these issues.

As a foot note, can I say for the record that I love pinterest, I love the idea of everyone sharing inspiration with each other in an inspirational and friendly community. As is clear by the link on the top left of this blog, I have no problems with you clicking through on my own pictures.

Interesting links:
pinterest and copyright
how to prevent your blogger images from being pinned - there are a lot of links on this blog
another link from DDK portraits in response to deleting her inspiration board
Huston Grey - to pin or not to pin

EDIT: I've answered one of my own questions -  if you pin this code into your website

<meta name=”pinterest” content=”nopin”/>

This will block the image from being pinned and the pinner will see this message;

“This site doesn’t allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!”

Thanks for the blog, Jax

Monday, 5 March 2012

Wikipedia Names your Band

If you {me} have got lots to be getting on with but would rather procrastinate on the internet, here's an activity that provides endless fun, courtesy of BuzzFeed.

1) Go to Wikepedia and hit 'Random', whatever the articles title - this is the name of your new band

2) Go to random quotations, pick the last few words of the last quote for your album name

3)Go to Flikr, explore 'Last 7 Days', the third picture along is the album cover.

I'd like to introduce my new band, we're kinda like Mike Oldfield meets Metallica. And I think I may be related to Ben Folds (or Penfold)

Friday, 2 March 2012

Again with this bloody leg!

The above title is from the comments section of this article by Jonathon Jones' art blog, where he questions the origins of Angelina's Versace dress. Give it a read, it's kinda funny...

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Inspiring words about creativity

I'd briefly scanned this text by Ira Glass a few months ago and thought it was pretty cool, but yesterday i found a video on youtube that reminded me of it. Be warned though, when I posted it on pinterest, I saw someone re-pinned it and said it made them feel seasick!
I think this is so important for me, and all of us to remember. I'm not always happy with what I make or do, but I have to remember that it's part f the process and that if I stick with it, something will click into place and it won't seem so difficult for a while.

Just my thoughts...

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A little cookery project

I wouldn't say I'm a particularly stressed-out kind of person, but one of the ways I love to relax is by baking.

Allow me to paint a little scene for you. Since moving to the new house my new journey to and from work passes ALL the best cake and coffee shops in the town - you know the ones, they sell huge slices of cake and biscuits crammed with nuts and chocolate etc. So imagine me, tired and worn out after a heavy day of work having to drive past all this temptation -cake is my major vice, it's just not fair! So I came up with an action plan. Huge cake-shop-sized cake slices sat at home ready for me to enjoy with a cup of chai latte. Mmmm
This is my coffee cake, I use a basic recipe for the majority of my cakes and just change the flavour. I invested in some silicone bakeware - so easy, no greasing and easy to clean. I made this cake as a tray bake.

I weigh out three eggs and whatever this weight is I use the same amount of self raising flour, caster sugar and butter.
I add the flavouring as an extra ingredient except when I'm using cocoa where I substitite 1oz flour for 1oz cocoa.
When I am making a darker cake such as a coffee cake or chocolate cake I use half caster sugar and half soft brown sugar as it adds richness.

The method is easy;
Grease and line a baking tin and set your oven at 180°C.
Cream the butter and sugar together.
Add the eggs and flavouring once the butter mixture is fully combined and fluffy (you can use an electric mixer for these two stages but I just use a wooden spoon)
Then add the flour and fold in by hand very gently. The flour mustn't be worked to hard as the texture of the cake will become rubbery where you want it to be light.
Put the mixture into the tin (or two tins for a sandwich) and put in the oven for around 20-25 minutes, each oven is different so keep an eye on it if you don't know your ovens little quirks as these times can vary widely. The cake is ready when it springs back when you press the centre, or when you skewer the cake it will come out clean.

When I make butter icing I go by eye for the measurements. You use less butter to icing sugar (about half the amount of butter to sugar) and mix until it is smooth- add whatever flavour you like.

This recipe is so easy to modify into whatever flavour you like, vanilla, lemon drizzle, chocolate sandwich, cupcakes. Have a go and have fun!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

My latest fad

I haven't been blogging for a few weeks, so I thought I'd put up some photo's of the latest thing I've been doing. Ages ago I bought some earring fastenings from my friendly local haberdashers; I bought a mixture of studs and danglies. The studs were easy to make - I just glued buttons and beads to them and voila - done. The danglies I wasn't so sure of - I'm not much of a drop earring wearer and was out of ideas so I just put them away for a rainy day.

That rainy day came this weekend. I'd bought some grey-smoky translucent beads and some thin copper wire last week because I liked the colours without really thinking much about what to do with them. They sat on my table until they caught my eye this weekend when I was at a loose end and I just played around with different looks.

I used some small wire cutters and needle nosed pliers to manipulate the wire. It was a bit fiddly to secure the wire; I wrapped it around itself a few times then made loops out of the wire to attach to the fastening and closed the loop (on the fastening). The black bead was made using this technique on LoveMaegan

Here are the results: Jewellery making is ADDICTIVE!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

IPad/Tablet PC cover

 My boyfriend/partner/lodger (to use a Sean Lock joke) got me a tablet for Christmas and I am totally addicted to it already, I think the screen will do my head in a bit though- I hate seeing finger prints in it so I constantly want to wipe it down!

I already take it with me everywhere; I have a Kindle on it so it's really useful to have when I'm doing a sleep-over at work (for those of you who don't know what that is and am wondering how I can get away with skiving off, sleeping and reading - I'm not on shift, just an extra body in the building in case the waking night staff need a hand.) The problem was that I don't have a carry case for it so I have to lumber it about in the HUGE box it came in. Being a hoarder I have plenty of things kicking about the house that I can use to create a case, so I went about it.

The materials I used were; fabric, wadding, thread, lace edging, velcro. The tools I used were scissors, sewing machine and darning/quilting foot, sharpie, pins.
I measured three times the width of my tablet and the length adding about 1 1/2 inches allowance. Be very generous with allowances as this will get whittled down quite a bit throughout the process.
Cut two of these rectangles out of your fabric and one out of the wadding then arrange the fabric right sides together with the wadding on top and pin

Sew the two short sides and one long side together. I used a quilting foot on my machine, this sits above the fabric rather than pushing it down as a regular foot does which is really helpful when using several layers as they don't bunch up. Trim the sewn edges, cut the corners off to help with turning back out. trim the wadding on the open side about 1/2 inch. Turn right way out and iron (be sure it's on a low setting so as not to melt the wadding!) Press and sew the last side closed. You can top stitch all the sides for a neater finish if you want.
Make sure everything's fitting well, work out where the velcro will need to be, pin in place. You can also decide where any other embellishments will go on the final design. Sew these on first then sew the pocket up. Be careful when sewing the pocket - there are loads of layers here and your machine may not like it, you may need to hand crank the thickest bits.
These are the two embellishments I chose, as you'll see in the end result I decided to draw on the bird as well as I liked how it looked on the flower. Now, a word on applique - traditionally these are hand sewn so you can't see the stitches but I quite like seeing the zig-zag stitches, it adds a rawness which I think is a nice juxtaposition against the floral fabric I used. I'm into seeing the working (just like a maths teacher, but that's where the similarity ends!)

Lastly it's neatening up the loose threads. To do this I thread these loose ends through a needle and sew them in between the layers of fabric. Here's the end result. I think the bird side needs something else, but I'm not sure what. Maybe a sketch or something? But yey! now my tablet has somewhere to go!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Colour my world

Boyfriend and I spent the weekend trailing through furniture shops (which is actually a bit of a hobby of mine - we have one or two really cool outlet shops near where we live where they sell end of range, shop floor models and smaller retailers. It was a pretty fruitful weekend - we've picked up a chest of drawers for the bedroom - two chairs for the conservatory and a sofa for the front room. So, 3 o'clock Sunday afternoon the boy say's, "I want to paint that wall". We live five minutes from B&Q so I said we should just go for a look. Off we went, had a look round - he'd said he was thinking about a blue-grey kinda colour. We found what we thought would look good, bought it and set off back home - the time was now about 3.20pm. As soon as we were back we got about painting, we were done by about 5.30 - neither of us are particularly quick decision makers usually, but I think for once spontaneity did us a favour. I really like it. It needs another coat because it went on silk paint (I really hate silk paint, but everyone seems to have it so I guess I'm in the minority)

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Garland/bunting project

So I said this would be the first project I'd post - and here it is.

Before I get into the actual project I'd like to set a bit of a background to how this came about. As the previous posts mention, I've just moved house and was severely broke this Christmas. On top of that, I hate the idea of  'stuff' cluttering up the world, both within the home and the planet. I don't like how you can go into any house anywhere and we all have the same things, mass produced, designed months previously without individuality in mind. I like to reuse and recycle.

Now let me be a hypocrite for a second, I do buy this 'stuff' from time to time, I just don't like to give it as gifts - it doesn't seem to be in the spirit of things to spend a few hours shopping for everyone in bulk when I could make something with love.

For this project I used fabric scraps, thread, cusion filling, metalic string and ribbon. The tools I used were pins, scissors,  hand needle and sewing machine. Without further ado - Here's how I did it;

I drew some simple shapes on card and cut out - adding about 1/4 inch stitch allowance around the edge.
I traced and cut out four sets (front and back) of each shape
I sewed around each shape, front sides together leaving a gap for turning out. During this process I also attached a loop of string to the shapes. Just have the loop sandwiched between the layers with the loose ends facing out and sew over. You can attach a pin for security.
Turn shapes the right way out and stuff with filling (I used the filling from an old cusion). Sew up gaps and you're ready to hang on ribbon.
I knotted the shapes in place. These could be used as Christmas garlands or baubles, but I think I like them enough to be up all year round as bunting. (Don't mock - I'm British, we love bunting). This project could even be a baby's moblie with a little tweeking.

This project cost me the price of the string (about £2), everything else I had already


Sunday, 1 January 2012

new year

Well, seems like all i've been doing lately has been working- just come off the shift from hell which topped off the working week from hell. I really pick my timings well; just moved house and not had a single day off since then! Whats christmas or new year? Not seen either yet!

But enough bitching about work- i do really enjoy it, just can be heavy going being part of a 24-7-365 kinda service. On to happy thoughts...

This year i resolve to really try this blogging thing- i stared because i wanted to re-discover my art/craft roots and document my journey, so far i have been a bit lacking. But in my defence i have had a lot on recently. I love to say i hate excuss but it seems i have plenty!

First off i'd like to put up some hand made christmas ornaments i made for my family- partly i made them because i was really short of funds but also because i have a bit of a philosophy on christmas gifts- but i'll talk about that more in the post.

There are a few other projects i'd like to put up but again, i'll put them up later. In the mean time, hope everyone's new year is filled with joy and hope!