Snail Trail

February 5th, 2016

Tilda Snail and Dragonfly

I finally got round to making the Tilda snail and dragonfly. It’s fairly easy to make and quick to put together although I did go mad with sequins and beads on the dragonfly wings:

Lady Mary is still in a desperate state of undress but is looking less tired and emotional than in her last picture. Still, not the sort of publicity the daughter of an Earl would prefer:

Here she is, leaning against a lampost, groaning, ‘Oh My Head’.

She’s got some fiddly bits that make her hard to sew, unfortunately, and has had some bits unpicked a couple of times. Including her legs. Who’d have thought slim Lady Mary would have such wide hips and terrible cellulite?  And such a tall doll, too. She doesn’t lend herself to being photographed without being propped up and had to wedge her head on on a shelf to get these couple of shots. Ooh M’Lady! Would I be marched off the manor by Carson or what?!

I will finish her off (not in a Quentin Tarantino sort of way) and make her decent with some bloomers and a pretty frock of some kind. She still has that ‘opaque’ expression as you can see. And no hair. I have yet to follow the fantastic configuration of TV aerial  spikes to weave her hair around and create her hairpiece. (Google Tilda doll hair to see what I’m on about!).

Anyway, the intentions are good. I will finish her but… You know I said I have a crush *sigh* on Tilda ? I’m not sure if it’s the Tilda makes, per se,  or the books themselves that fire the passion. The photography and colour palettes are just exquisite. I never tire of just poring through the books. And have ordered three more from Amazon.

Trouble with Amazon is that you check out things on their site, ads for those items pop up in your browser when you’re innocently reading the news online, etc.  Not once but many times.  And, as Mae West said, I can resist everything but temptation. So I cave in and before I know it, they’re ordered and on their way. So, though I intend to finish Lady Mary the books (due today) will present a powerful distraction.

Door Number

I saw some slate door number plates in a local DIY store. They were the best part of €30 and a bit too pricy for me. But in the tiling section saw some tile samples – not slate but a matt, dark grey. Small squares were 1.35 each and large rectangles were about 3.00. I wished I’d bought one at the time but was on a mission to get other things and too preoccupied to see the potential…

…until I got home. Then *Ding-Dong* – inspiration called!  A large tile sample, one Cougar, a sheet of vinyl and some design inspiration from Craftsmanspace…

No chance to go back to the DIY place so it’s not been physically created yet but here is the design I will be using.

For information, the two side panels with the birds are from Knickerbocker Ornates on the Craftsmanspace site (Knickerbocker Ornates), the font for the numerals is Poor Richard (I think).

It’s been designed in Illustrator so is a fully scalable vector.

Rendering a text character into editable elements in Illustrator

The central circle with petal bits is an inner from a zero in the Decorative (that’s its name) font (free on Da Font or Font Squirrel). To create editable elements from font sets is very easy in Illustrator. I presume the functionality would be similar in applications like Inkscape but I only know how to do it in Illustrator:

  • Use the Text tool, type a character from ‘Decorative’ font
  • Switch to Selection tool and select the typed character
  • Go to the Type drop-down menu and select Create Outlines
  • Ungroup and delete the outer letterform leaving the inner petal bits

I will be cutting the design from a rectangle of vinyl (to the dimensions of the tile when I get it).

To finish the project:

  • Wash the tile with a detergent to remove any grubbins
  • Stick down the vinyl stencil
  • Spray paint or stencil the design with acrylic paints (or suitable paint for the surface of the material you’re using)

To mount them to the wall, we’ll probably drill and screw it in place but will first see if No More Nails (glue) is up to the job. Until we get the tile we can’t really make an informed decision.

Can’t see any reason why it shouldn’t work and will be loads cheaper than the ones I saw originally. I’m thinking that I might check out somewhere like TK MXX to see if there are any slate place mats or something along those lines that might work as well or better.

Will post picture of the end result in a few days (hopefully!).


If you would like an SVG of the template, leave a comment and I will send to you but seeing as it’s a number ten, it’s probably of little use to most and easier to create your own. However, if you do, you can have – just leave a comment.

It’s only just begun

January 27th, 2016


January is nearly over, Christmas is long gone and the heady days of wine and popcorn are over. Yes, Popcorn. Gave me awful bloody heartburn and indigestion picking at toffee popcorn with a glass of wine. Bleh. Up most of the night with it watching Lady Mary having a Farooq and Bates walking in circles learning yet another criminal art form to be brought to good use later on.  He went to prison on a murder charge that was later proven to be a suicide. So he went in with good character being convicted of a crime he didn’t commit but somehow cultivated excellent forging and pickpocketing skills during his incarceration. All, ostensibly, while walking round in circles in the exercise yard.

And poor Thomas. Despite him and O’Brien exchanging dialogue in such sinister whispers that you’d assume they were plotting to steal the family silver or sell Lady Edith’s knickers to underwear fetishists, I took to him.  In fact, I could have kicked Carson’s taters in when he described Thomas as ‘foul’ for being a man who liked to walk along ‘Bournville Boulevard’. Such odious opprobrium from a pompous old scrote who’d kept his testes wrapped in mothballs for years until Mrs Hughes came along! Of course, Carson got the ‘palsy’, or ‘w**k hands’ as George from Drop the Dead Donkey would call it, and this wine-pouring impairment was the opening for Thomas to come back as butler. And Mrs Hughes didn’t mind one bit, either. So, ended well for him. No thanks to Carson, though.

Anyway, the following day I cleared out the fridge. It was full of half-a-things. Mysterious things in tin foil which, on unwrapping, were nasty bits that should be buried in unmarked graves.  The salad drawer had its own dirty secrets. A sweet potato trying to set up its own eco system amongst the onion skins, by the looks of things, as well as Other Things that looked older than Keith Richards and just as unsavoury. Like pork scratchings that were probably once care home toe-nail clippings.

I got the steam cleaner out and steamed here and there to dislodge grimbly bits stuck in nooks and crannies. Surfaces were wiped down with oils of lemon and lavender. Hard work that had my cheeks as red as fire engines.

And now we’re having work done. New boiler – and that means new pipework to comply with regulations that came in since the last central heating system was installed. It also means floorboards up as well as carpets, etc.

Also getting new shower, cubicle, tiles etc. And new fire and surround in the lounge. That will mean new carpets as well so am getting the hall and landing done at the same time.

Noisy and messy not to mention costing a bit but we’ve scrimped for these changes for the last few years and finally got the cash to pay for the lot. It will be so much nicer when it’s all done and the boiler should save a fair amount on the heating bills.

The boiler we have at the moment is probably about 15 years old so it’s definitely an old boiler! And now only about 35% efficient. If that. Most of the heat is going up the chimney! Modern boilers offer efficiencies of between 85 and 98%. So mess to make and money to spend (hopefully with good cheer as it will return me comfort and economies) but when it’s done and dusted, it will be all good.

Even so,  January is nearly done yet  everything I’m making is a work-in-progress despite some of the projects being started before Christmas. I’ve only just begun!

Here beginneth the saga of the some-done stuff.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a real crush on Tilda everything.

I was overjoyed to get some Tilda books for Christmas! I think the summer angels look like Lady Marys. Tall, aloof with inscrutable expressions, what’s that word they use in Downton? ‘Opaque’, I think.

So I started not one, but two Lady Marys:

Poor Lady Mary! She overheard his lordship joking with Carson that the public might visit the house and see her in the bath. Here she is, all faint, with her head between her knees waiting for Edith to bring her a dose of cyanide. My mistake, I mean smelling salts, naturally.

In fairness to myself, I ran her up quick to familiarise myself with the littles wrinkles and tips to sew her nicely (tons of You Tubes on making up a Tilda doll). I didn’t like the ugly stitches across the top of her legs – certainly not up to the standard of her Harley St doctor! Suture, M’Lady! No,doesn’t suit her at all!

So have started a second. Still a prototype but might put this one together in toto. We shall see. But there are too many Tilda things to make – an abundance of riches, you see. With those beautiful pictures, you turn my head young lady (Tone Finnanger). I want to make the snail and dragonfly (from the ‘Tilda Characters’ book) as a pincushion.

Just as oranges are not the only fruit, re Thomas, Tilda books are not the only distraction.

I got these gorgeous books for Christmas as well! I love, love LOVE the Year in Crafts Book! The layout and typography and the drawings, the photos, the cardboard dividers…. OMG. It’s just jam-packed with the type of things that floats my boat.


Isn’t it gorgeous? I can pick this book up and touch it (tactile, hardback as well, btw) smell it (I smell all new books. ALL!) and just glory in the gorgeous pics and drawings. This book is lovely. Incidentally, lol, I love most of the projects in it as well.

The big Craft book  has a really wide range of crafts; it’s like a compedium of crafts. Really nicely explained and clearly pictured.  This book has so many things to make like making your own paper with dried petals and lavender seeds, soap making, silk screening, lino printing…. and absolutely tons more.

So I barely start on one thing then find myself distracted by something else entirely. Complete flibbertygibbet.

Then there was the intention to journal. That was something I had intended to start at the beginning of January and pour my thoughts and other nibbles of ideas into.

Thank You to Santa once again. How gorgeous is this leather covered journal? But it remains unsullied and unmarked. How can I bring myself to spoil it with my scrappy writings and other such nonsense?

And, material girl, that I am, I also got some lovely fabric stash!

WOW! Some sensationally lovely fabrics there. So trying to sew Mary together I’m faced with the primal call of colour and pattern and surface design that draws me like a moth to a flame. I pick them up. Touch them. S-m-e-l-l them! But it doesn’t get Lady Mary a new set of evening wear and so she gets left in her modesty undergarmentry looking very unhappy. So unhappy you could believe that not only had her and Gillingham been caught  fornicating  in flagranti  but in also in Mrs Patmore’s B & B of ill-repute in the Adulterer’s Suite. With Carson looking through the window, eyebrows up and down on pogo sticks in shock and disbelief!

And talking of hookers… sort of… I’m still into crochet.

I kind of finished this bag for my wools and bits. I rolled down the handle to make it a double thickness and stitched it in place. But so plain.

I think the next stage will be to decorate it with crocheted leaves and flowers – so it’s not finished even slightly!  I tried these crocheted hearts and beady balls I made over a year ago but think they’re a tinchy bit too small for the job. I have to play hookey and get some bits to pretty it up with!

Then I turned my hand to making a few pom-poms (the Clover Pom Pom maker is super for this job – just sit in front of the telly box and wind that wool) . A couple of red woolies and a turquoise mohair fuzzy wuzzy:

But cannot make up my mind what to do next. I stare around with the bewildered expression that you see on the little mouse faces in owl pellets. Unfootalootalu. Lol.

Unfootalootalu. This wonderful word came up in an episode of Judge Rinder. A ‘tradesman’ had done some plumbing work that was not up to standard. His letter of regret included the word ‘Unfootalootaloo’ (sp??) which served for ‘Unfortunately’ – as if you couldn’t have guessed! Ha ha.

Ingenious erudition, was as ever, also in evidence on Judge Judy. A plaintiff claiming for loan repayments alleged her ex-boyfriend had made ‘dentures’ in the wall. Amazeballs. And I thought walls had ears.

Anyhoo, must get going. This has been a pretty cathartic post for me – expressed a lot of frustrations with myself for being so dissipated and scatty. And cleared the way for me to plan ahead  – a plan without a goal is just a wish or a brain fog (or fart, depending on how rude you’re feeling). So have actually written a list (the pinnacle of organisational structure for me) detailing the way to proceed.

Toodelooo for now. Off to make the bed properly now that Jess has jumped off. Enjoy the rest of January and take care of yourself.

Happy New Year

January 10th, 2016

A warm welcome to this new year. The end of 2015 ended on a terrific high and so did the start of 2016. I have an embarrassment of riches (figuratively speaking!) and am feeling happy and blessed. I hope you are as fortunate as me!

I got some absolutely gorgeous fabric and will be sewing from here to eternity by the looks of things. There wasn’t much chance to do any sewing  over the Christmas break but did manage to fit a tote bag into this weekend.

The fabric came from Ikea. The colours are glorious and juicy, aren’t they? The wooden handles were from a ‘C’ shop bag bought for a huge 50c. The bag is lined with Ikea curtain lining, a plain calico colour. It was finished off with a boxed-bottom to make it easier to pack things in.

I got lovely presents but the best present of all was having both of my boys and their girlfriends here together. It was a bit of a surprise but a hugely happy one.

The cats got spoiled, well, more spoiled than usual, and got cat nip and radiator beds from Cat Santa. Being cats, they were contrary about them but am sure they’ll eventually favour some time to their radiator-hung snugs.

And so here’s Jess. Not in one but in her favourite chair, instead. Too comfy looking to disturb and she was snoozing soon after I took the photo. A day in a cat’s life can be very wearisome, you know. They need lots of naps to save up the energy for a proper cat sleep later.

Haven’t made any resolutions but have joined a Crime Thriller book club at the library. The first book of the year is ‘The Disappeared’ by Kristina Ohlsson. I have to have it read by the first week of Feb and have made a good start. I have to confess that the Swedish names with their various accents, umlauts and such, and not being able to pronounce them (I hear words in my head as I read or write) makes it difficult to keep a track of the characters. I’ll get there, though.

Feeling Christmassy at last!

December 17th, 2015

One week to Christmas Eve not that any of us need reminding, really! Well, my excity pants are finally on and I’m in the festive spirit at long last. Whooo – Hooo! The tree is looking pretty. The icicle lights around the outside windows look a real picture in the dark. Very Christmassy.

Shopping has been very successful and it’s pretty much all wrapped up. The cake is waiting to be iced but there’s plenty of time. Still got the supermarket Big Shop to brave but am prepared for those sharp elbows that vicious harpies like to dig into ones ribs to shove people out of the way.

Tilda Hare

Having made the rabbits, I’m having a go at the Tilda hare. Here are some of the bits ready to be assembled.

The legs are stitched on and topped with tinchy heart-shaped buttons to hide the threads.

Sitting up.

Lying down with two eyes and a pale pink nose. Next job will be to give him an outfit for Christmas.

Crochet Bootees

Talking of Tilda and outfits – remember those crochet bootees I had so much trouble with? Look what this cute pair of bunnies are wearing on their feet!

I made two pairs and stitched little pearl beads into the flower centres. The lilac pair match the outfit of the girlie rabbit.

And a twinkly white pair with matching bobble hat for the next girlie rabbit I will make.

But first, there are some jolly gingerbread men that need to be created and hung around a willow wreath! Yes, Tilda is my latest crush. *Sigh*.

Still lots of home made stars, hearts, bells, pears and other lovelies to go up. Hmmm, what’s that big box all this stuff is sitting on. It’s for ME! It’s a big pressie! Not a surprise, obviously, but the Big Thing I asked for.

While I was busy sorting and fussing through Christmassy bits, Jess was having a good nose and sniff at it all!

There’s catnip for her stocking but don’t tell her and keep it a surprise!

Charity Shop Mid-Winter, ‘Hazelwood’ Stonehenge dinner set

Found the most fabulous retro dinner set in a charity shop very recently. On my birthday, actually! Mint condition, dusty, but pristine €40.  There are some 30 pieces including two lidded casserole dishes, a gravy boat, 6 dinner, side and small plates, 6 two-handled ‘soup'(?) bowls, a large oval plate… all patterned and so gorgeous that I had to have them and carry them home – hadn’t brought the car, was supposed to be a pootle around the shops… But fantastico! My knuckles were scraping the pavement by the time I got in but it was worth it to me.

This is one of the sideplates. I love the brown grungy rim and the speckled white. Love the pattern, love the colours.

And here is a two-handled ‘soup'(?) bowl filled with my blueberry, fruit porridge breakfast. It looks purple and dark – only cos it is (apparently due to pigments, called anthocyanins, in the skins of the fruits) bursting their wonderful goodness into the mix of almond milk, porridge oats with sunflower seeds, apricots and other fruity goodies, enriched with a teaspoon of coconut oil.

Apparently, this set is on the rare side and just a few pieces can cost a very pretty penny! I have no cups or saucers, (no loss), no coffee pot (*sigh*) but plates, tureens or casserole dishes with lids, etc, that I cannot find as a set online anywhere. So, a really tremendous birthday find for me!

Speak laters!

Not quite neon signage but getting there

December 9th, 2015

This have-a-go at neon signage was inspired by a tutorial published on the Spoon Blog Graphics site. His tutorials are always pretty thorough and easy to follow so I dived in head first and just got on with it.

It’s not perfect but now I am familiar with the underlying principles and techniques it can be developed into something prettier and a bit more sophisticated. For the time being, play the vid, check out the effects and maybe have a go yourself.


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