Thursday, August 25, 2011

Meet Aunty Elsie

Actually she was my Great Aunty Elsie, my Grandma's elder sister.

Hopes and Dreams (17cm x 24 cm)

Sadly I never knew my Grandma as she died before I was born so Aunty Elsie was a sort of surrogate Grandma.  She was born in 1899 - I'm not sure when or why this photo was taken, but she looks a lot younger here than in her wedding photos of 1928, so I'm guessing it was taken around 1920, maybe her 21st birthday?

Her and her husband lived in Cottenham (near Cambridge) and were fruit and flower growers.  There are pictures of them from the 1930s with strawberries and tulips they'd grown for market.

She sometimes looked after us as children and although they’d sold most of their smallholding by then, I remember feeding a donkey in the orchard behind her house.  When I was in my early 20s I worked nearby and used to call and see her every week.  She gave me tea and tinned salmon sandwiches, taught me how to harvest asparagus, and told me off for suggesting that at 86 she shouldn’t be up a ladder picking plums!  She talked lots about people and relatives that I didn’t really know but had probably met every year on Feast Sunday without knowing who they were!  

She was a lovely lady and I hope she would like what I’ve done with her photo.  After some editing in photoshop I printed it onto calico.  Then I added vintage lace, velvet, recycled sari ribbon and some vintage buttons. 

I used to think of her a lot when I had my allotment – especially when harvesting my asparagus as when she died I was lucky enough to be given this:

 her asparagus knife.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Whiter Shade of Pale

It's been a glorious day in Suffolk today, blue skies and sunshine - lovely!  Here are some of the white/almost white flowers that are blooming in my garden today, I think they provide a rather calm and cooling atmosphere:

Top row:  Cosmos Purity, Penstemon, Passion Flower (can't remember which variety!)
Middle row:  Rose 'Madame Alfred Carrier', Leucanthemum, Dahlia 'Cafe Au Lait'
Bottom row:  Mint flower, Anenome, Rose (unknown variety)

The penstemon was supposed to be red when I bought it, but I couldn't be bothered to take it back, and the passion flower was only planted this year and is already over 6ft high!  It's supposed to be a fully hardy one so should be ok in the winter as the garden is quite sheltered.

Wherever you are I hope the weather is kind to you this weekend - I plan to be in the garden as much as I can.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Then Came The Jolly Summer

Last week, while I was waiting and generally getting side tracked, I noticed a rather nice pattern had appeared on a piece of fabric I'd placed under some garden fleece I was painting (don't ask!) to catch the excess paint.  The fleece experiment wasn't a success but I fiddled around with that bit of fabric as it seemed to have flowers on.  I cut and stitched, and added some organza.  I painted some handmade paper and stitched the fabric on.  I used my new lumiere paints that I got from my recent visit to Art Van Go

Jolly Summer - 17cm x 21cm
The text is from The Fairie Queene (Edmund Spenser) because it seemed quite a jolly piece, especially when the sky was grey over the weekend.  I'm not actually sure how much I like it, but my neighbour does so I thought I'd share it anyway! (And is it a textile piece, or is it really mixed media, or doesn't it really matter? It all gets very complicated at times!)

The sun is back now - let's hope it stays awhile this time!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


While I'm waiting for summer to come back I've been inside fiddling with paints and fabric.  This also involves lots of waiting - waiting for crackle glaze to crackle, waiting for rusting powder to go rusty, waiting for paints to dry etc etc.  The trouble is that while I'm waiting for one thing I start something else and totally forget about the first thing, hence I currently have many half finished projects and a lot of mess!  Guess that's my random brain again!

I've also been waiting to have some time to join in with Gina's sketchbook project, and I've managed to start!  The challenge was to use one main colour and things close to home.  I chose purple, and flowers - obviously!

After preparing the background, (I used brusho, rather than watercolour, and clingfilm) I cut out a template of a fuchsia and rubbed round it with white oil pastel and then painted inside.  I then tried using markal paint sticks as well as adding pencil details.  I like the shapes that come from cutting away the page to reveal some of the next.
I also really like the shading that's left on the template!

I didn't do so well with the next bit - using a potato to print with.  I changed my shape to an aquilegia seed head (as the fuchsia was too big for my potato!) and think I got too fiddly.  I quite like them when there's hardly any paint on them though.  This is the area I've picked to enlarge (the next task):

I will show you more, but you'll have to wait as I got side tracked - again!