Monday 31 August 2009


Where does the time go? It's been a busy week, getting unpacked from the Festival of Quilts and planning a trip to Scotland next week. I'm in Peebles, doing a talk and seminar followed by a workshop. It will be great to catch up with my friend Kathy, editor of Stitch magazine, and to see all the lasses up there (note - I'm practising my accent). I haven't done this workshop (which is on using metal in textiles) for ages and have lots of new ideas. This not only means rewriting the handouts but also doing lots of preparations as I want to bring in water soluble paper and there isn't time for it to dry. So I'm doing enough for everybody, all ready to paint. Such dedication!

Smudge came home for a few days and settled straight back in, although he did seem quieter than usual. He is still a bad boy for fighting and has had multiple punch-ups with his dad while he was away. After a trip to the vet for his injections he went back to Claire as we are still away a lot. It does give poor Cat Stevens some peace. As you can see he hasn't lost weight.


Yesterday we went to the Arboretum at Westonbirt in Gloucestershire with Fiona and Sophie. The wood-working son-in-law (wwsil) has a stand at the Festival of the Tree, showing his hand-made planes. All the demonstrators were camping and Phil had decided to splash out on a camp bed, rather than an inflatable mattress. Unfortunately it was too big for his tent and he had to sleep with his feet sticking out. He was doing well but we thought that it wasn't such a good show as last year. Might have been the weather, of course. The Morris dancers were good.


This guy's coat reminded me of a piece of work I once made with lots of dangling tatty bits.


The rescued owls were lovely. Look at the patterns on this short-eared owl (I think that is what it was - it did have short ears!)



The one above looks very wise. There were lots of stands that all seemed the same and I think they should combine it with textiles to sharpen it up a bit. It cost us £25 to go in, quite a lot of money.
I met a stitchy friend, Yvonne, which was good and Sophie liked the Punch and Judy and the swing-boats. It was a long damp drive home and we cheered ourselves up by lighting the new wood-burning stove and settling down with the Sunday papers. We were soon roasting but it was lovely.

Monday 24 August 2009

Festival of Quilts

We've had such a great few days - first at the Festival of Quilts, then at home with the GCs.


Let's start with the trip to Birmingham. Off we went to the Festival on Wednesday, stopping on the way at a National Trust house nearby. It was Baddersley Clayton - a moated manor house. Here's a pic - and one above.

One of the lovliest NTs we've seen for ages. It was all old panelled walls and priest-holes, small but quite lovely and they did a good lunch. We walked around the moat and I took a swoopy pic of some trees by accident.

This was a good accident and I put it on one layer with a photo of pots beneath it. The eraser was then used to rub through to the pots. Here's the result.

On to the National Exhibition Centre - although we didn't have a stand we wanted to suss out the lay of the land and we had several boxes of books to deliver to the Home Workshop stand. (I'm pleased to report that they were all selling well at the show). Also, if I'm honest, because I love the buzz of set-up day and we saw all our friends and got in their way for a while. It was a perfect day and we stopped off in a park on the way to our hotel and walked around a lake.

The FoQ was up to its usual standard - shan't show you too much as there will be a 'free to all' review on the site on 8th September but here is a pic from the recent graduates area. This girl's work was wonderful and technically excellent, too. Her name was Victoria Shepherd and she'll go far.

The talks went well, once we had persuaded them to replace the duff projector. Luckily we had a good techie. It was great to have such a huge audience for Old Walls - hardly a seat to spare and everyone was so interested in the work I took along. It wasn't easy lugging that great case around (the downside of not having a stand) but it was worth it.

We ran away into Birmingham for the afternoon and went on a tour of the Jewellery Museum. This was a factory that closed in 1981 and had been left just as it was - even down to the MDs jar of Marmite that he had on his toast every morning. They didn't go in for mass production and the way they worked, demonstrated by a knowledgeable guide, was fascinating. We also managed to go out for a meal at Tamarinds (Balsall Common) with Oliver Twists and the Ario gang. We do this every year and the food is wonderful and very reasonably priced.

Not having a stand meant that we came home feeling as though we'd had a holiday and we were able to go to the park with Sophie, who had a new bike. Her ever-patient dad soon got her going, after a few mishaps.

She disappeared into a hedge at one point and I'm ashamed to admit that her mother and I had an attack of the giggles - but only when we were sure she was OK. She was soon riding like the wind, as you can see here (with a little help from Paint Shop Pro).


We finished our wonderful few days by going for a walk by 'our' lake and catching the end of the Air Show in the distance at Bournemouth. The Red Arrows flew right over us on their way to the seafront. A great end to the week.

Not finished yet - here's a chat about the comments on the last blog.

Heather – the Starburst Stains are better sprayed, I think. I want to do more work and am rushing to clear the decks and get on with it.

Glad you are feeling better Doreen – want to see your work when it’s done, but it’s not easy when one is under the weather.

Hey Aussie Jo – bad about the sound system. We will probably try to claim on the travel insurance. That’ll take a year or two!

Dale – put me a box or two by – I know your stand. You turn around and the locusts have cleared it.

Margaret – so sorry to have missed you – we should have swopped mobile numbers.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

The Festival of Quilts

It’s a mad house here, getting ready to go to the Festival of Quilts. We are not having a stand this year - it was so close to our return from OZ and we thought we wouldn’t be up to it. However, I am doing two talks at the show: on Thursday it is Design to Stitch (mixed media) and on Friday a new version of our Old Walls and Painted Halls talk. Do come along if you want a sit down - at £6 it’s a very reasonable price for a comfy seat.

I’ve got the rock art photos and drawings in the Old Walls talk. I have printed out some pages on Ink-Aided paper and am stitching into them. Made a couple of stencils and sponged clear embossing fluid through them, then sprinkled with clear powder and puffed.

This acted as a resist when I printed them. Simple hand stitching will be followed by some machine work.

I think we were right not to do more at the show and I’m so glad that I put a lot of work into the two new talks before we went. It seems to have taken us longer than usual to get back to normal after this trip.

Our laptop was taken ill in Oz after being dropped by a taxi person. The fan broke and a very clever couple of chaps in Sydney fixed up an external one which kept going really well. This week however it finally died so we had a quick trip to the putey shop and got a dear little Dell-boy. He’s all up and running with all our talks on him, so fingers crossed.

I have been very remiss lately in answering comments so here is a catch up. Thanks for the comments on the hat. It was only an M&S one but I tarted it up a bit.

Ann: I sent for my paper from Power Planet – found them on Amazon Marketplace and they were very quick. I ordered loads so I hope it keeps well.

Doreen – are you better? Hope so.

Wabbit is so right about one’s own bed but it’s difficult to get it on a plane. Btw, Margaret – we didn’t set the timer for the bed pic, but got a granddaughter to take the pic. She thought it was a hoot.

I’m in Peebles – Scottish borders - soon Tattiekite, but that may be a little too far north for you.

I must also explain to Dale that a small holding in the UK is rather large – not quite a farm but usually a pretty good acreage – like your stand at Perth. I am kicking myself for not buying more while I was there – in particular those Starburst Stain sprays – I have put all my dauby Stains into spray bottles but I now need more colours!

Monday 17 August 2009

Where did I get that hat?

Guess where we went on Saturday?

Yes, a wedding. My goddaughter (the daughter of an old friend), got married and it was such a lovely wedding.

Great to get dressed up in all the gear, new hat, new shoes – the lot. The ceremony was lovely – everyone seemed to find it amusing that I was squashed between husbands. The ex was invited and it was good to catch up with his news.

It was a lovely occasion – these days we seem to have been to more funerals than weddings and it made a most delightful change – Laura was a lovely bride and the groom was Scottish so it was all kilts and funny socks. The vicar said it was great not being the only man in a skirt! Instead of confetti we were all given special wedding bubbles to blow. Great fun.

At the reception I produced the little Pogo printer from my handbag and was able to print off some pics while we waited to be fed. It was a simple matter to stick them into the order of service booklet and the bride and groom were delighted. I told them that they won’t be the best photos they’ll see, but they were the first.
I’ve been playing with my rock-art photos. Here is a postcard decorated with Pogo prints and sprayed with Moon Shadow Mist.

Lots of printing has been done to turn these studies into a bigger piece – now I must start on the stitching.

Wednesday 12 August 2009

Queen of the Morning

Have you seen Google today? Love the little pic of the Perseid meteor shower.

Glad you all liked the photo - we were supposed to look like John and Yoko, Lynda - not Bill Oddy and Co. Although I wouldn't mind looking like Kate Humble.

Hope you are better, Doreen. It's not the dreaded swine flu is it? Most of the people on the plane coming home were wearing masks and looking like extras in a Doctor Who production.

So lovely to have such a great welcome home. Thank you all. At the moment we are both waking up at exactly 4am - feeling very lively and slaving over our keyboards. By lunchtime we are done for. I've been to the library and stocked up with lots of books for afternoon reads. Past experience suggests that this is a short lived phase and I hope to be normal (is this house ever normal?) soon.

Here's a few last Oz pics to share. I found a new setting on my camera suitable for fast action shots of jumping crocodiles as even the continuous setting wasn't fast enough. This one took eight photos in one. Clever stuff. If only I could remember where I found the menu.

Here are a couple of shots of Hong Kong where we spent a night on the way home. I didn't think I'd like it as all the shopping malls leave me cold. Literally as the Air Conditioning means you need your coat in those places. But there was lots to see and do and I want to go back again. How about this for a coffee stop. High up on mount Victoria (we took the funicular railway) looking down on a little temple.

And this view of the harbour with the ancient boat's prow set against the sky scrapers.

I have never seen so many people in one place - all these little side roads were packed solid. I like the suggestion of speed in this 'semi-swoopy' photo.

Finally this is a pic of a book that one of my lovely students made for me. thanks Jane. It has super paper separating the signatures.


Hope to be back making more sense soon. I have found that when you read back anything produced while jet-lagged it often makes no sense at all. If that is the case here - just bear with me.

Monday 10 August 2009

The Best Thing About Getting Home Is Your Own Bed

I'm with Doreen on this one - there's nothing like it and we slept for 10 hours last night.

Thanks for all messages and great to see pics on the Dale,Doreen and Aussie Jo blogs. Will answer messages tomorrow - catching up with emails etc. and doing some more sleeping today.

Good to be home.

Thursday 6 August 2009

Maggie & Clive's Big Aussie Adventure

Have managed to get internet access but don't know if I can load photos. We have had the most amazing time and today is our last full day in Oz. The show and the teaching went well - here is Dale at the show - it was not so much a stand as a smallholding.

Wonderful to meet so many stitchy Aussies and especially great to meet Aussie Jo and Doreen. We all went out for a meal and I'm sure the pics will soon be on their blogs.

Perth is wonderful - we've seen kangaroos (check out the eyelashes), parrots and today we saw a pelican.

Spent the day in Fremantle, home of the world's best fish and chips.

What else have we done? For me the highlight was a three-day tour of the Kakadu National Park (and neighbouring parts) in the Northern Territory. There were only eight people in our group, six seats each in a 48-seater coach. Luxury! We visited two centres of aboriginal rock art, both excellent, both located in hilly country, overlooked by great towers of rock.

I was bowled over by the art and asked our knowledgeable guide if I could do some drawing - I think you have to be careful of other peoples beliefs. He told me which ones had been OKd for postcards as they were not considered sacred. I had some watercolour paper cut to postcard size but no paints of any kind. Had to resort to squeezing a lemon over the paper and then rubbing them in the orange/ochre coloured earth. Drew with a writing pen and then ran it under the tap as it was too heavy. Worked fine - especially when a little brown eyeshadow and a lip pencil came into play.

I also used my pogo printer and drew into the photos. Here the photos are at the top and the drawing continues at the bottom.

We went on cruises too - on this one the boat crew held out lumps of meet on ropes to tempt the crocodiles to jump - which they did. These were saltwater (estuarine) crocodiles - the biggest and most ferocious in the world, some up to 20 feet long. They are protected and have spread from the coast to the extent that virtually no rivers nor billabongs are safe for swimming. Lots of crocs and lots of film (still and movie). Then came the kites, also tempted by food.

Sunsets I have seen;

Darwin - the Pacific.

Perth - the Indian Ocean. Lots of surfers here.

We have only had rain at night or in the early morning and the weather has been wonderful everywhere. Looking forward to a bit of sog at home - quite miss it.

At the crack of dawn tomorrow, we leave for Hong Kong, then one night on the plane and it's back to good old Blighty. It's been a fantastic adventure but I miss home and the kids. Back soon.