Home is where the art is

Hello Dare! I was very brave this morning and hung out two washloads on the line. The outdoors! But am now feeling that it might not have been the best decision…  First thing, the sun was smiling, really beaming,  but now the sky is grey. To add to the fretting, I keep ‘hearing’ the sound of rain – except that I don’t – it’s just paranoia and auditory hallucinations. A bit like the Blackpool Hallucinations, only visual.

Anyway, just so you know that I give my all to my art, I managed to sever an artery cutting my latest piece. (Hence the title, home is where the art – arterial bleeding – is).  I exaggerate. It just felt like it but the volume of blood lost was enough to make me faint even if the sight of it didn’t. I’m full of porkies today, aren’t I? I’m not squeamish, I didn’t faint and was perfectly able and up to dealing with it. My quilty pockets kitchen roll mopped it up admirably and saved the day and the carpet.

Anyway, I was cutting my latest design, ingeniously and intriguingly called ‘Home’ on account of the word ‘Home’ in the design (no shit Sherlock), and persevered (notice that word ‘sever’ in there?) even though my scalpel blade was a bit blunt. For information, you’re more likely to damage the paper cut design and / or yourself with a blunt blade than a sharp one.

So, knowing this, I stupidly, carried on. Even though looking at the design I knew that I wanted to re-do sections of it. Even though it was as much fun as chewing cotton wool (do you get that really bad mouth feeling if you imagine biting cotton wool? uurgh!).

Part of the problem for me is that I hate and fear changing my scalpel blades. They are extremely sharp and are of surgical quality. They would perform a certain Jewish ceremony in the blink of an eye and remove a couple of cataracts in the duration if you got too close trying to get a look in – nearly said ‘Butchers’.

I just don’t have an easy knack of changing them and find the whole operation (ha ha) one of such intense concentration that when I actually try to, I would put a bomb defusal expert to shame for acting like a flibbertygibbert. Well, says me, anyhoo. And I’m the one who nearly had a home like a murder investigation so I’m qualified to say. Besides, this is my blog, my play pen so my rules. (Am up me own arse today, aren’t I?).

This was the final and ‘best’ design held up against the window. In real life, the papercut comes to life and has an almost translucent quality when offered up to the light but cameras don’t see things the same way so here it is looking dark and opaque. But it has its own charm. IMHO.

This was the heap of disjectamenta. No bandages or blood spillage. No transfusion bags, even though I have donated over 25 times so should be owed at least one back by now.

I gave up on the cutting as it was so laborious. Really must ALWAYS use a sharp blade. Press, pull, press and pull again, still not cut… A right CHORE.

And also, I wasn’t happy with the design. Certain elements displeased me. You know how it is. Once your eye sees things that aren’t right, you can’t unsee them. Then it’s like the Princess and the Pea. Can’t settle until the offending element is removed. Though, in the case of the princess, the problem would have been solved with a pair of Tenna Lady incontinence pants without all the fuss of turning her mattress and remaking the bed.

New watercolour crayons

But there was another bright spot (the sunshine being the other – which, btw, seems to have re-appeared – Yay!). St Parcel of Motel had something for me to collect. Staedler crayons with ABS!!!  Yes!

ABS (wikipedia)

Anti-lock braking system (ABS) is an Aquaelle water colour crayon safety system that allows the lead in a water-colour crayon to maintain tractive contact with the paper surface according to artist inputs while braking, preventing the crayon from locking up and avoiding uncontrolled skidding and scribbling.

That’s right – my crayons are totally Top Gear. They have ABS.

More porkies. They DO have ABS. However, it actually means Anti-BREAK System  ‘for uninterrupted creativity’. Actually, that’s not always so welcome. I kind of like the odd interruption – cup of tea. Cup of coffee. Quick visit or a pop round. Bit of cake. Fig roll biscuits (proper ones – Jacobs). Good interruptions. Not annoying or bad ones. Ding Dongs at the door from stranger-dangers. I am always mindful of the good advice from Moss (IT Crowd) ‘A happy door is a closed door’:

Moss: This is London, Jen. It’s not someone with cake. Unless that cake is made of dog poo and knives.

Such wisdom in one so young.

The crayons are ‘Ergosoft’, water colour Aquaelles so will do a bit of sketching and painting when I get some free time later on. They look fab and have given me a happy head and made me a bit fizzy. I can’t concentrate for the nonsense inside myself today as a result!

Also, painted this pot for a neighbour. It’s planted up with a gorgeous Hebe which suits the pot shape and size perfectly.

As well as some water colour painting and sketching this evening, I have a queue of stuff recorded on the box. The Great British Bake Off – Superb! So sorry Ugnes had to go (it was in the papers); she was something special and so fun. And the Jo Brand Friday show about TGBBO which is always a good laugh.

Have also got a few ‘8 out of 10 Cats’, My Haunted House, Drew Pritchard and his Salvage Hunting and I must ‘fess Up, Abby Lee Dance Moms or whatever the latest offering is…. I so love that show. I’m an A. L. Junkie.

Well, confessional time is over. And, so that, today, is that.

Byeee!

Potted History

I was asked to decorate a plant pot for the home of a new baby girl. The name was a new one to me but is, apparently, an ancient Gaelic one. I looked it up on Google to find out how to pronounce it (Thir-in) and found the mythology and cultural history documented here: Wikipedia  and here: Irish_Culture. I love fairy stories and mythology so read about the hounds of Finn and enjoyed engaging in the process.

The pot is a large one and came in the traditional terracotta colour so my first job was to paint it. I used a creamy eggshell, inside and out. The stencil came next. The family love cats and, of course, have one so that decided the theme. I looked around the web for inspiration, found something that I liked the look of then created my own, adding the name and date using a Celtic-style font. Naturally, green was used to celebrate an Irish baby! It’s turned out grand and will, hopefully – fingers, legs and eyes all crossed – be well received.

Home

New homes and being thankful to have a home (I was dismayed to read that the Mayor of New York sees homelessness as a ‘lifestyle choice’ and encouraging passers by to photograph pictures of those sleeping rough and post them online to shame them).

Anyway, I always Give Thanks for my bed at night, that I have warmth, comfort and a roof over my head. Especially when I hear the rain slashing down and the wind blowing a hooley round the chimney pots and howling about like a Banshee. Am not being pious or Holier-Than-Thou just something I always feel grateful for.

We moved to our current home a couple or so years ago now. I’ve said before, there are lots of things to be done and they all cost money, some of it big money, but we got the house at a reasonable price for being in need of some refurbishment so am not complaining. But I’m human and do sometimes and then think, you know, girl, you’re dead lucky to have a house. It may be shabby but it’s solid and big. I have a lot to be thankful for so stop complaining and give it some love! Ungrateful mare that I am some times!

In this spirit of thankfulness, I made the little ‘Home’ papercutting to hang in the kitchen to remind me to appreciate what I’ve got instead of what I haven’t got. The grass is always greener….

Confetti

Papercutting produces a lot of ‘confetti’. It gets everywhere. Little pointy jaggy bits snag in wooly cardi’s and drop off here there and everywhere and so I found this intriguing cut-away. Hmmm. Where did that come from? I knew it was a recent cut and probably the ‘Home’ as I am fairly meticulous about vacking up after myself. My home does not have drifts or piles of paper snippings housing families of cormorants, set-squares and slide rules like a mathematician’s beard.

A ,ittle detective work and – Aha! That’s where it came from!

Framed

I designed it to fit this old frame that I got from a charity shop. The picture is a little dark – it is much more baked bean coloured than it seems here. My mission over the next few evenings is to get the frame rubbed down and painted. I will show you the end result in due course.

Mug

My Other bought me this mug on Amazon. It had two listings. One for £5.95. The other was for £30. Yes, thirty!!! Sterling. Well, the choice was obvious. But how on earth could it ever have been justified at 30? It’s an enamel mug. I have a certain superstition about what a new mug signifies… I can’t tell you because it will break the spell but I am hoping the new mug promise will hold true.

It’s a beautiful mug and I love it. Thank You my OH.

AND talking of thanks – MORE THANKS – I put the ‘Mastermind’ chair on Jumbletown recently (It wouldn’t be chair friends with the ergonomic computer stool so had to go). Jumbletown is a forum where you give things away, for free. Things you have no room for or no longer need. You’d be amazed at how resourceful people are in transforming and giving new purpose or a new lease of life to unwanted bits and bobs and old furniture. Check the site out: Jumbletown

Anyhoo, I’ve given stuff away on it before many a time. Like I say, for free. And the people who have collected have been polite and sometimes heartwarmingly thankful. But the person who came for the Mastermind Chair gave me three scratchcards! It was unexpected and just cheered me up no end! He was delighted with the chair and the cards gave us €8 and a Free Go. A cheerful giver and cheerful receiver am I.

And MORE THANKS!

I got an e-mail from a lady who bought a couple of templates from me and shared pictures of her finished models (3D pram and Bootees) on a Cricut forum she is a member of. I was very touched she did this and let me know and delighted she was happy with her templates.

Naturally, I thanked her but wished I’d asked for pictures of the models so I could show you them here… maybe I’ll get back to her and ask!

Anyway, must go. That coal won’t wash itself, you know! Hey – the sun is SHINING!!! I must be very blessed today! Ha ha!

Here Goes… At Last!

** I have opened an Etsy shop – whooo-hoooo! It’s called Ellie Emyn!! I’m new to it all so will find the ‘proper’ Etsy badge and post it when I get more time but it’s there!! I did it!! **

I think this will be the first cutting file I’ll place on Etsy as either a PDF template or actual papercut. This one is custom made, obviously and was for a winter baby, hence the snowflakes. But the main part of the template is easily (ish) customisable although I#d have to find a substitute for the snowflakes. And the moon wouldn’t be appropriate for a day time baby….

***Ellie Emyn – NOW ON ETSY!!**

And what if the baby’s name was more than say, 13 characters or so long?  And shipping out a flimsy piece of paper makes my toes curl. How could it survive the rigours of the PO?

Just trying to think though the logistics and whether I’m prepared for all eventualities… off to read up and research but fingers crossed. We shall see.

Cushions & Kitties

Cushions galore. After cutting paper for ages, the urge to run up a few new cushions took hold of me.  See the white rocking chair – this is the one I got from a charity shop recently. Big, sturdy and strong. But it was a dark brown and I wanted a clean, fresh colour and this egg shell off-white was perfect. I’ll take a bigger picture of it when I finish with the red rocking chair….

The strawberries and cream patchwork fabric (it’s a print, not real patchwork) cushion is intended for the red rocker. I made the most fabulous ruffled cushion to go with it but it got snaffled! It got bought! And before I could get a picture of it! It was the donkey’s conkers for being so pretty.  I tried to make another but the colour combination didn’t have the ‘Wow’ ( the green and cream bon-bon cushion above). It’s nice, it’s sweet but just doesn’t quite do it.

The inky blue and white florals are for the white rocker. Good Ikea fabric.

Finally the round one – used up the last of some Ikea fabric I’d had for ages to match one I made a while ago. It’s a very retro, 60s sort of print. Colours all sorts of sour oranges, green olives with pink-gin angostura bitter tones. Delicious. I topped it off with some fat bobble trim in a dark olive green and love it.

You can get a better look at the bon-bon here cushion here. And, while you’re looking, see the bookcase on the left? It’s a manky makeover in progress.

Manky Makeover

It’s not finished, not quite, but nearly. I’ll show you the original:

Since we moved in a couple of years ago we’ve done a lot to get the house sorted. There’s still a way to go with big ticket items like a new boiler, new shower room and some other stuff to save for so everything else we try to do on a shoestring.

It’s actually kind of fun to do it this way though time means that nothing gets done super quick. But it makes us think about ways to repurpose and upcycle stuff we would have just chucked or given to charity. Look at the manky unit in the picture. Jess is giving it a thorough once-over. It is minging. You can see why it had to go.

Originally it was an old MDF built-in ‘wardrobe’. Not my cup of tea so we ripped it out.  Then we thought it could make a useful tool box for down the shed so a box was made. Then I thought, ‘why not make a couple of shelves and turn it into a small bookcase?

And the almost-finished bookcase in the second picture above  is the result so far. It’s been cleaned, smoothed and papered. Where it wasn’t quite square there are some dark lines showing at the corner – this is wall paper paste with some brown colour that’s leached out of the MDF. No bothers – will touch up with some white paint and when that’s dry will Modge it and trim any bits of paper just proud of the frame.

For info, the papering job took about 3 hours and cost €9 for the roll of wallpaper from B & Q. Wallpaper paste was €1.49 from Dealz.

The Modge will bump the price up a bit but it’ll be worth it for a nice little bookcase which we really need. The first bookcase we made over (bookcase) is full and I have piles of books by the bed, the sewing room and my little bedroom office space.

Red Rocker

The red rocking chair got its first makeover a while back. (Rocker) BUT it was nothing more than a paint job. The trouble was that the piece of wood at the top of the chair had been replaced with plywood. It didn’t match and even with the paint, you could see the gritty (shitty) surface of the panel. Hence the throw over it in the shot.

We’ve had a piece made for it and it’s been replaced. Then the whole chair needed painting again to get an even colour but now it’s gorgeous. All I need to do is add a doty little stencil across the panel in cream, fit its strawberry and cream cushion and it’ll be perfect.

Lovely stash

I went into Dublin at the weekend. It must be tourist time because the big stores have their top-hatted doormen out. Do they keep them in a back room or cupboard the rest of the year like Richmond from the IT Crowd? I LOVE Dublin. And since finding that the fabric and notions store from the old Woolen Mill (now a restaurant) relocated to Capel St as W. M. Trimmings, it’s a city visit with extra joy.

I top up my fabric stash and buy notions and trimmings and threads and other gorgeous things, darling, just because it makes me happy. I have no vision what these bits and materials will become. It’s sheer acquisition. I can’t even put the bag in the boot – it has to be beside me, under my watchful eye!

Once home, I like to pore over it and enjoy the colours and just revel in the Lovely Things. Like Smaug from the Hobbit, I preside over my treasure most greedily. The more I have, the happier it makes me. A  feast for my senses, a Smörgåsbord, you might say. (Groan, an AWFUL pun, I know).

On the way home I popped into Ikea. And bought a couple of metres of ‘useful’ (bwahaha) fabric and some other bits. Cheap and cheerful. The fabric. Not the experience. It’s never pleasant there on a Saturday.

Cat Cushion

Then home where I had lots of tweed fabric waiting to get made up into cushions. This design was inspired by stationery***  I had seen somewhere on the net. Lots of work in Illustrator to create all the elements for the applique work. Lots of fussy cutting and bondawebbing. Lots of stitching round each of the elements. But worth it… I really like the end result. The outer is a rich-wool mix tweed, as is the mouse. The cat is mainly 100% cotton with some tweedy bits for decoration. The inner is a feather filled cushion to keep it soft and plump and ever so comfy.

***  I see, all too often, the word Stationery spelled with an ‘a’. Yes, Stationary IS a word in its own right but means static, not moving. It does not means paper-related articles like cards, writing paper or drawing materials.

An easy way to remember how to spell the paper-related word is to think ‘E for Envelope’. This may make me sound like Big Bird from Sesame Street but I don’t care. ***

Samsara Dicky Bird Babies

Finally, made a few more Samsara bird babies. I didn’t really like using felt (even double thickness) for the beak so now use a four-fold cotton instead to give the beak a bit more peckability and perkiness. I adore making them and the filling them with lavender leaves my little sewing room beautifully fragrant. The whole experience is very absorbing and zen-like, almost. Ahhhh.

Jess

And talking of Ahhhh  here’s Jess chilling out. Comfy, warm and content settled down. She was fast asleep with five minutes of this photo being taken!

Now to grab something to eat before I get on with stuff I have to do.  Which reminds me… Yesterday I made a big batch of meringue nests (recipe from Mary ‘Bez’ Berry – the best IMHO). Six eggs to make 16 nests.

Now, I’m a very confident cook and have made meringues dozens of times and am really blasé about cracking those eggs and separating the yolks from the white. I have a glass for the yolks and put the whites straight into the mixing bowl. For some reason I had a hunch not to do that and check the whites into a different bowl first then put the white into the mixing bowl. Good bloody job I did. The sixth egg white was streaked with yolk. Dodged a bullet there. Intuition or what?!

Anyhoo, used another egg to make the meringues. And used the yolks to make a Spanish Omelet with mixed salad and chips followed by a bowl of blueberries with natural yoghurt and a meringue nest for our tea. Nom Nom.

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