Tuesday 23 December 2008

Not tomorrow but the next day.

I'm sorry about the spacing of this post but I've editied it three times and it still ignores my returns. I've even put full stops in - that usually works. No luck.
However - lots of lovely comments:

Heather - I have a great mental picture of the 'Timber' moment.

Deanna - What is an Akita? I might want one (don't tell Clive).

Pat - the chewing goes on as Smudge has started eating doors. Do cats have teething problems - he's eight months old so it seems a bit late.

Wabbit - we have a 'get off' spray (we call it 'bog off' spray) which does stop some of the carpet scratching but I must confess I've never thought of spraying it on Stevens, That's some inventive mind you have. I remember big wagging tails - no ornament is safe.
We were talking about my friend Olga, who sadly died and it was good to know that lots of you knew her, too. Thanks for the emails. This is Olga wearing one of her bodice creations.
And this is the luggage - her C&G final piece. It had all the things you were likely to use on holiday (plus quite a few that you wouldn't) on the outside. Really need a close-up. Olga was a great one for fossicking in charity shops and found some amazing stuff.
I have been working on my stuff for Salisbury museum exhib in January. I've finished Skulljuggery and facebook and am working on this design which is based on a historic site - Old Sarum - and what goes on beneath it.
In a minute I will be collected by my friend Jane and taken to a 'Pagan' lunch at Elli Woodsfords - to celebrate the solstice. As a member of the Church of England (who doesn't go to church) this is a challenge, but I like to be ecumenical. I don't think it will involve bacchanalian revels but I'm taking some wine, just in case.
I was reminded on Sunday of the reason we stopped going to church. We went to the local Carol service. All in candlelight, lovely singing and just when we were all feeling really spiritual the rector preached a very boring sermon for over forty minutes. Talk about turning spirituality into a sore bum!
Are blog rules the same as dinner party rules - no politics or religion? Apologies, if so, but it made me so cross.
We have to take a small gift for the solstice lunch and I made some dear little books, in tiny cases. Can't show them, as they are part of the next lesson for the catalogue killers. Will put them up later.
Yesterday we had all the granchildren here for a rehearsal of the Boxing Day panto, Snow Beauty and the one and a half dwarves (it's the recession). Such a hoot and Smudge joined in by stretching out on Snow Beauty's carefully constructed bed and going to sleep.
After this, we had a Chinese takeaway for lunch and I found a new way to amuse five children - give them a pair of chopsticks each and put a hazlenut on each plate for them to pick up. Hours of fun.
I may not be back before the day (big cooking session tomorrow) so I wish you all a happy, peaceful, Christmas with all sermons limited to ten minutes!

Thursday 18 December 2008

More Duck Speech

Glad you all enjoyed the duck speech and just for you, Viv - quack, quack.

Hi arti - good to hear from you. I must try to translate more of the German mag. Perhaps I could illustrate it, got a great idea for duck speech.

Thanks to Christine I have a proper translation and it was a good review and turned out not to have been written by a duck. Very kind of her.

I used to love Stanley Unwin, Heather. It does sound just like him. Liked the H&S comment, too. In fact the drawings were wonderful - Jane had caught the movement and the faces had something of Bacon about them. There's a very rude joke trying to get out here so I will just say, Gilby, that I will try to get a pic for you

Yes, Aussie Jo , I can't believe we're going to do a book with Jean - her outline sounds fantastic and I can't wait either. Will she do a little extra for the site, asks Shirley - I'm sure she will, but it might not be classes. We may have something else up our sleeve.

D4daisy has had an exciting week with a big package of books going to America. They also wanted copies of a CDROM called Paper and Beyond that Jane Wild and I put together. We'd had such fun with the Paper, Metal and Stitch book that we didn't want to stop and because we decided, while driving up the motorway to the photoshoot that we had too much material in the book and it would make the pics too small. So Jane was tearing out pages from the file as I drove along and some of these went in the CD. It features surface decoration, paper techniques and lots on using embossing powders. Now that it has been re-pressed I may put it on the secure site.

At the end of this post I have included a step by step of gradients in Photoshop Elements - lots of people had emailed me about this as they are a bit hard to find. Have also included Displacement maps in Elements. I've done these before but forgot to label the post and, again have had emails on the subject.

We tried to put up the Christmas tree today - in view of Smudge and his tendencies we've dug out a fake tree. It had to be lashed to several boxes of books to make sure he couldn't pull it over. Fiona says that his sister climbs their tree and goes to sleep in it. Here's the lashing.

First he tried a good ear rub.

Then he had a good chew. Haven't put much on it yet but I think lights might not be a good idea in view of the chewing.

Enough of this wittering here's the Elements bit.

Open a new page and then click on the gradient tool on the left-hand toolbar.

Then choose a gradient from the drop down menu, as shown.

Now drag the mouse down the blank page in the direction that you want the gradient to go. Just experiment.

To make a displacement map you will need to have saved a suitable image as a photoshop (PSD) file. Remember where you saved it. Then go to Filters, distort and displace.

Make the numbers in the two boxes quite high - about 100.
I'd saved a file of this tower with a tree - worked out well.

Monday 15 December 2008


Another hectic week - mostly spent doing all the admin that I've been putting off for weeks. My desk looks a lot clearer now. I've just realised that I failed to comment on the comments from the blog before last so there is a grand catch up at the end of this epistle.

A big d4daisy excitement - as well as Lynda and Carol (I'm so thrilled about their book) we are going to publish a book by Jean Draper. Her work is just so fantastic and we're flattered that she wants to do a book with us. More details later, but it looks as though d4d will be having another exciting year.

My pieces for Cyber Fyber have arrived and, my goodness, but it looks as though Susan Lenz is setting up a great show. She is working so hard. I so wanted to go over for the exhibition but the flights to Charleston are very expensive - no cheapies that I could see.

I've been doing lots of work but it's mostly for the next lesson in the Textile Translation free classes, so I can't spoil the surprise. Here is something I'm working on for an exhibition with Wessex Textiles in Salisbury Museum in January. More about that in the next blog. I am doing a Timeline of Salisbury, which has an interesting history, right back to Old Sarum in the Neolithic times. As space is limited we are all producing six, eight inch square pieces, and this one is based on an artifact - a jug- in the museum collection. It has a face on it and I'm calling it Skulljuggery.

Here's a detail.

There are lots of faces in the museum artifacts and the next piece will be based on a book with a face. What else to call it but 'Facebook'.
We went to give a talk in Somerset on Saturday and met with terrible flooding. It was a bit scary but the Grey's, like Wells Fargo, made it through. Great day but I was so glad to get home. The nervous tension was tiring and I was just wiped out yesterday.

I was sent a copy of a lovely German magazine, Patchwork Professional, which reviewed my Image to Stitch book. It was, of course, written in German and I tried to use a translation site. This is what came out.

Textilschaffede, already long with the topic besschafigen, are many valuable tipsIf they know its lake a mad subjects, however, like them it on New project ubertragen could caused Maggie Grey do need know show in their New book on the basis of many inspiring textile models like one pictures, photocopies, digitally photo, designs ubertragungsmethoden into a simple or one computerntwurf with merges. In the printed picture can be continued working anschliebebd with hand or machine passport. Way suitably best The book is ace if duck speech into the in a modern manner textile technology in the. But therefore .

Here are the replies to some of the comments I missed.

Jolly good yarn girl - of course you can do the classes. Anyone who has the book can do them, and very welcome they are.

I like the gory bit, Kim but I didn't drip blood on it - honest!

Am trying to find a pic of Olga's luggage for you, Lizzie - you are right, she was certainly interesting and we all miss her.

Pot luck not really an option with my kids' cooking, although Fiona makes a mean cake.I love the way Aussies have a traditional Brit Christmas, Doreen. I've met loads that do that. Bread Sauce - one year, when the kids were all going through different phases, we had three varieties of bread sauce. Carnivore, veggie and vegan. How's that for spoiling the little blighters?

Jane W is on her way so I must finish now. She is bringing work from her life drawing class which featured a naked man with a sword. I can't wait.

Sunday 7 December 2008

The Secret Revealed

I promised I would tell the secret - you may have heard already - but the result of our assignation on the M4 with Carol and Lynda is that they are going to write a d4daisy book. Isn't that exciting, and well worth the horrid driving conditions. I'm sure they will be blogging about it themselves, so watch their blogs.
I have had a manic week even by my standards. Mostly it has been about getting my pieces off to the Cyber Fyber exhibition. You saw a tiny piece of Binary Humanity and here is a little detail of Digital Reliquary.

I don't know what I would do without Clive - he measured, cut, soothed, made labels and travelling boxes (as well as cups of coffee) - and did most of the cooking. Then he did the packing up. What a treasure.

I've also been trying to keep up with my on-line class girls, who are doing the most amazing things. Here are two examples, but I could have chosen many, many, more.

A wigwam book from Sonja:

Another wigwam from Ali:

Here's Faye, taking the shape and colouring further:

Other highlights from my week:

Stuffing my face at the Beyond Stitch Christmas lunch and watching while everyone made paper-fold stars from the cracker wrappers. Following Jane Wild's step by step instructions, of course. I didn't have to drive and so enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine.

Going out with my technophobic cousin and helping her buy a laptop. Now to get her on-line.

Doing the talk at our charity Christmas party yesterday. This is held at Stanpit village hall which is where most of us did our City and Guilds. Sadly the C&G no longer exists but the party goes on forever. Last year we raised £800 for our local children's hospice and the Macmillan nurses and this year looks set to top that. The hall only holds 70 people and we always have a huge waiting list but we refuse to move from our C&G hall.

Taking the kids on the Father Christmas express at our local garden centre. You ride a little train through a magical world of toys and fairy lights and then you visit Santa at the end. Lauren is now 15 but won't give up the annual visit. Here is Sophie (Fiona's daughter). There's a song about teeth in there somewhere.

We see all our grandchildren on Christmas Day but only briefly. I'm so concious that they have other parents, in laws etc on this day. But they all come to me on Boxing Day and we have another Christmas with huge sacks of pressies for the kids, silly games etc. Last year we took them all out for dinner - such bliss not cooking. This year they elected a spokesman who said "We did like the meal last year, granny, but could we go back to your cooking this year. We need tradition"!!! Back to slaving over a hot stove, then.

Saturday 29 November 2008

Hissy Fits, Cats and a Secret

What an amazing response to my grumbling. It made me feel so much better to know you are all on my side. In Batsford's defence, they were cross too, as the article hardly mentioned the book. They had given permission for an excerpt and sent some images but I can't blame them for not expecting what the magazine did. As those of you who are editors know, there is a code of ethics and this magazine seems to breach it all down the line. I can't imagine not paying for articles - with WoW and Quiltwow, I take the view that if you want good people you have to pay for them.

Love Diana's idea of a letter. Might try that but I doubt they'd publish it.
Don't think it's a copyright issue as Batsford gave permission, Hippopip.
The piece has been dispatched Julie. Hope it arrives safely. Thanks for the condolences - it was very sad. More on this later.

Hadn't looked at the Flair site, Writer in Res, but you are right and this is borne out by their treatment of Annette, Viv and Rosalind.
Lorraine is right and having d4daisy as publishers makes it easier to control things like this.
Heather - I'm so glad you are enjoying the free lessons. I'm loving the Yahoo group, now I've got the hang of finding everything!

Sewlknit2 has it in a nutshell - unfair to readers of the mag and the book. It really wasn't the lack of payment that I minded - book publicity is often a quid pro quo arrangement.
Good to hear from you, Annabel, a concise comment. Poo just about sums it up.

Diana - thanks so much for nominating my book 'Raising the Surface' for the CPS 'Book bits'. I've just had my royalty statement from Batsford and this book just goes on selling - amazing.

Thank you all again - I feel I can stop moaning now - seems to me that the mag won't be around long with an attidude like that.

I've had an excellent week. Finished Digital Humanity for the Cyber Fyber Exhibit. Here's a little detail. Just got the finishing touches to Digital Reliquary and they will go off to America - via Michael for some photos in case they vanish on the way.

My new table and chairs came which meant a total rearrangement of two rooms. They look great but why is it that when you swap rooms around you are always left with:

Two vases and a large plant that don't fit anywhere.

A piece of furniture that is two inches too long for the place you planned for it.

A bad back.

I had a lovely day out with Jane Wild. It was Olga Legg's funeral that we went to and she was a very close friend of Jane. Olga had battled against cancer for many years and she was a real 'one-off' as a character. I will try to get an image of her C&G final piece - called The Luggage - and you'll see what I mean. Jane and I were in that rather fragile emotional state where you either laugh or cry and we settled for the former. I haven't laughed so much for ages and it was a lovely day.

A brief history of cats. I've had lots of enquiries about Stevens'health and I've been scared of speaking too soon but the steroids seem to be doing the trick. They've reduced the dose now so it's still fingers crossed.

Smudge is still a bully. Here he is in Killmouski mode. Luckily it's just a toy.

He hides his toys in the wine basket so everyone thinks we have an alcoholic cat. his markings are really developing now and he such a lovely soft coat. He makes a great hot water bottle on these cold evenings.

Must go now as I have a secret assignation with Purplemissus and Carol M on the M4 motorway. More on that later.

Monday 24 November 2008

Layers in Photoshop Elements

Layers in Elements. Just a quick idea on using them.

I used a pic of the LLoyds building and duplicated it so that it was on the first layer. Then I clicked the New Layer button and filled it with a mid blue. I drew mad squiggles on it with a paint brush and went over them with the Impressionist brush. Thought this would make a change from a gradient.

Clicked on the middle layer and went to Filters, Adjustments menu and selected Invert. The same as PSP Negative Image.

Then had a play with the layer palettes Modes menu. I chose Difference for the top layer and played for ages with the middle layer options. All worked well.

Finally I went back to Filters and Adjustments and played with the gradient map. Hours of fun, here.

Hope that helps a bit with the Layers conundrum.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Layers in Paintshop Pro

I've had a little play in Paint Shop Pro with some of my London photos. I love this view of the Gherkin with a tree. bear in mind that I use an ols version of the program so newer ones may look slightly different but the method should be the same.

I went to the Layers menu and clicked Duplicate. Then I added a new layer and put this gradient on it.
Then I clicked on the middle layer, went to the Adjust (or Colour) menu and changed the colour to negative. After clicking on the Merge Modes and changing the top two to difference, my Layers palette now looked like this.
And the resulting image like this. Love the colours.
One more effect - this time a Distortion filter called Wave.
I like the contrast between the tree and the geometric areas and the way the lines have gone all loose - like threads.
And yesterdays stitching? Not sure how much Susan Lenz wants us to give away before the Cyber Fyber exhibition, but this is how I am incorporating all your comments about blogging.
The little coloured tiles symbolise the pics on the comments. I hope to finish the first piece today and have a new idea for the second piece of work.

Sunday 16 November 2008

Away from it all

Still time to put your name down for the give-away folks - see last entry. Add your comment to that post, then I won't get muddled - it happens so easily, these days! Thank you all for the magnificent response. So encouraging.

We have had such an exciting time over the last few days. We were supposed to be going to Paris for a few days but the agent had a muddle over our booking form and, by the time we realised this, there were no places left. Despondency. So on Thursday I suggested to Clive that we go up to London to see the Bacon and the Byzantium exhibitions. He said that was pushing it a bit and why not stay the night. This turned into two nights and we have had such a good time. It is not easy for us to be spontaneous, due to all the commitments but this just squeezed in fine. (Suitable arrangements were made for cats in case you are worrying).

The hotel was great and we parked the car and took to tube, foot, taxi and river bus. The Byzantium exhibition was amazing, especially the icons. Lots of them were on thick slabs of wood in a very distressed state and Clive kept muttering about catalogues. It's true that they did look just like killed catalogues. There was a whole room full of icons from St Catherine's monastery in Sinai. I have drawn them so often in my sketchbook and it was a real wow moment to see them in the flesh.

It was late night opening, so we went around tea-time and it wasn't too crowded. There was a lot of criticism of the labelling which was very sparse (I think they want you to hire the audio-thingys) but it caused everyone to talk to each other and pool their knowledge and it made it all very friendly. We kept going back to the beginning and starting again. I will do some drawings of a reliquary that I really fell for and post it tomorrow.

When we eventually tore ourselves away from the RA we walked up Regent Street to see the lights and these driftwood horses were in the window of the National Geographic Shop. Fantastic, aren't they?

They were made from driftwood collected by Balinese schoolchildren and are an allegory of the four horses of St Mark's in Venice.

Here's a close up from another angle.

Then we found a lovely little Italian place for dinner. We walked up to Oxford Street and then it was back to the hotel.

Having slept like logs we breakfasted well and set off for Tate Britain. The Bacon exhibition really blew us away - we're both big fans. Spent our coffee break discussing scale, perspective, artistic devices, tortured lives, man as meat, non-narrative descriptions and the meaning of life. This was exhausting and we had to have another coffee to recover. We soon reverted to normal and enjoyed a drawing exhibition in another part of the gallery. Thanks to Jane Wild for telling us about that - would have hated to have missed it.

Then on to the river bus that travels between the Tates. Proper tourists and here's a shot to prove it.

After that little sit down we went on a tour of the city, where Clive slaved for so many years. There was a lot of 'I used to work in that building' and he realised to his horror that one of the buildings he'd worked in had been pulled down and rebuilt THREE times since he was there. What a waste. No wonder the city is in such a mess - how can that be justified?

Soap box over. Here's something really good. Can you see it peeping out shyly at the top?


And a bit closer?



Yes, it's Foster's wonderful gherkin.


.Love those reflections

I've never liked the Lloyds building as it makes me think of pressure cookers.



But it makes a great Displacement map.


More on London next time.

Friday 14 November 2008

Post 200

Well, this is my 200th post - a red letter day. Thanks for sticking with me. I'm still really enjoying it, although I haven't posted as often as I should lately. It's been such a roller coaster, what with Julia and the books. Workshop on the Web is now put to bed and we have the funniest article on a day in the life of Art Van Go. Still lots of the usual workshop articles but this one is a bonus.

I understand that a 'giveaway' is in order so if you would like this small embroidery, from my Shrine doors series, leave a message on this blog. I'll be drawing it on Wednesday, so that gives a few days. The textile is nine inches by seven inches and is mostly paper, metal and stitch. Reminds me of a book I once wrote!

One of the articles in WoW is on using stuff built in to your sewing machine, in particular, what you can do with embroidery machine motifs. Since I've had this Vista laptop, I haven't been able to use any of my digitising programs and I decided that it was time to remedy this. So I upgraded my Bernina Artista software and installed it, together with the patch for Vista. To my surprise it worked really well, first time. Hooray!

I had to take the laptop to the machine, which is a pain, so I've ordered a Bernina memory stick which can be read by the sewing machine - so much easier.

I tested it by placing some letters on a page in Paint Shop Pro. Used the Jokerman font, which is a bit recognisable but probably not when I've finished with it! I am making an installation, titled ebooks, for Cyber Fyber so I used lots of eeeees.

This was then brought into the digitising software and converted using the automatic feature.


Stitching it out on water-soluble was not easy - due to the furry paws of the helper. He had to be removed from the scene.

Finally it was finished - the ultimate test, using metallic thread on water-soluble film. No problem! I'll dissolve it later today and show you the result.

.Don't forget to leave a comment for a Shrine Door.

Sunday 9 November 2008

A Wonderful Class

I am back from my workshop. We had such a great time and they were a lovely class and very forgiving, considering I made them do designs! Here is Isabel, surrounded by all the colours in her design. I thought it showed what a colourful lot we were.

It was an embellisher course and usually we just leap straight in. But this time I wanted to work in a more structured way. So we tore coloured paper and used soft pastels (developed from a Sue Dove idea) - the idea being to work with blending techniques. They stopped grumbling when the most exciting artwork started emerging, based on the designs. This is wonderfully colourful work from Joan. Design first and then embellished piece.

I think the one below was by Kay, but I may be wrong.


And Jenny came up with this design and finished piece.

We had a lovely meal on Friday evening and my friend Sylvia came home with me for a cuppa between class and food. Smudge was delighted to see her and even showed her his secret pipe cleaner. He keeps stealing them and I keep taking them away in case they hurt his mouth. He was very polite at first and asked permission to hide it in her bag. Unfortunately he then attacked the bag and had to be removed from the room. What a let down.
Here he is below - making the point that there is nowhere in my workroom to sit except the smallest sink.
Back to the course - Sylvia made this lovely glitzy flower piece. Lots of hand stitching, too.

Dorothy made a great sampler.
Andrea has a great gift for colour, as you can see.
I didn't get a picture of Sandra's wonderful shell - can you email me one, Sandra?
There was so much lovely work that I shall put more up later in the week.

Arti - so glad the class went well. I had no doubt it would. I can remember the very first class I taught, just after finishing C&G. I loved it and knew straight away that this was what I wanted to do. And now I am to have a year without teaching - will I make it or will I have to set up an emergency workshop. My class from yesterday have volunteered to be available if I get withdrawal symptoms.

Doreen - yes, the real Jane is quite special and I count myself very lucky to have her as a friend. Especially when she makes me lovely papery bits.

Wabbit - I didn't realise the shells on the Yahoo site were yours - you were going under an assumed name. Hence the formality in my reply. I shall know in future.

Glad you've joined WoW, Adele - the next issue is looking good and I have had such a good play with Grungeboard that it turned into two articles.

Julie, you are so right about how a funeral can be sad, moving and uplifting.
Julia's was wonderful. Alex asked that we wear something colourful and the crowds around the church formed a sea of colour. I kept thinking how she would have loved it. There was lots of her work there, too and so many photos. It was a communion service and the vicar asked everyone to partake (very unusual for an Anglican church) which made it really spiritual and special. Alex gave a marvellous tribute, I don't know how he did it without breaking down. They were married for over fifty years.

We all had a bite to eat and then, on Julia's strict instructions, we toasted her on her journey with champagne. We took Yvonne Morton up and it was good to have her company on the way home when we were all feeling rather sad.