First Fell Walk 2019 – Low Fell

It was a gorgeous, bright, frosty day on Wednesday so we got the ‘call of the wild’ and headed out for a walk. We chose Low Fell because it’s one of the smaller fells which is good when it’s icy but it’s higher than places like Dartmoor so it’s  still going to burn some excess Christmas calories.

I love a walk when it’s bright and frosty, I love watching the sun melt the white blanket on the fields, and the long shadows where the frost can hide.
I love the bracken, looks like they have been dusted with icing sugar
IMG_2468We didn’t have to climb far before we got a tantalising glimpse of the views to come. This was my first ‘Dr Zhivago’ moment of 2019 🙂
IMG_2463The ground got a little steeper, I was slipping so I had to put on my spikes.
IMG_2505Further on the view got better and better
IMG_2560I spied a painted pebble from Dearham Rocks
IMG_2567There was no wind even though it was cold; we had lunch on the summit with this incredible view for Crummock Water, with a hint of Buttermere in the distance, and the fells behind.
In this video you can see Lowes water as well as Crummock and Buttermere.
Low FellAnother painted pebble on the way down.
The sun was low in the sky when we returned to the car, the frost hadn’t given in the shadows of the fell.
What an uplifting day, just what I needed to shake out the January gloom.

Have you had any walks this year?

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My holiday makes – homemade shampoo bars, soap, and other makes

I like to have an easy project to make over Christmas while I’m sitting watching TV with family so I ordered some balls of cotton, more about that later.

My first make ( you may have seen it on Facebook or Instagram) was a throwback from the 1970’s, a macrame plant hanger. I made one all those years ago and seeing they are trending now, and would work well with my own pots I thought I’d give it a go. The instruction book was very sparse on directions but with the help of Youtube it went from a pile of string spaghetti to an octopus, before becoming a plant hanger, sorry I couldn’t fit it all in the photo, all I need now is a spider plant.

UntitledWith the turn of every year I try to be a little greener, I have been using, and loving a solid shampoo bar that I have been buying from Etsy. I thought it would be fun to order the stuff and have a go at making some balms, soaps and shampoo bars, and while I waited I got to crocheting washcloths to replace the wipes which I use on my face.

These are the ingredients for the lip balm / hand cream. I rarely follow instructions to the letter, so I used tangerine oil. There is a link if you click on the bold heading below.
UntitledIt’s simple to make, just melt everything over a pan of hot water.


Lip balm and hand cream  

I’m really happy with these, the taste reminds me of chocolate orange. I had these little pots so I didn’t need to buy any, and I can wash and re use them again and again.


Then I made shampoo bars which are cooked in a slow cooker, you blitz with a hand blender…..


……then cook stirring regularly. I may have over cooked mine as it turned out looking like scrambled eggs ( see what I mean in the photo below)UntitledHaving finished crocheting the face cloths I thought about using an old towel to make some wash mitts. I made a pattern larger than my hand allowing for seams and twice the length I wanted, one end is slightly tapered as this will be the inside as the mitt is double.

UntitledI used the hem off the towel to make a hanger, and having turned it out I hand stitched the opening and pushed this end inside the other to make a double mitt.

UntitledI made quite a lot of these from one towel, I’m sure they will have loads of uses.

UntitledThis is a coconut cleanser with almond oil and baking soda as an exfoliant, I have tried it and it’s ok, I wish I had kept some without the baking soda to see if it works as an eye makeup remover. I did have a patch of dry skin on my face which is now gone so something is working.

UntitledNext I made lotion bars, to replace my packet of wipes, this was another melted recipe which I tweaked. I used takeaway containers as moulds then cut up when hard. I’m not happy with it at all, it’s like candle wax on my skin. I won’t make this one again.


Avocado shampoo bars

These are the avocado shampoo bars, I told you mine came out like scrambled eggs. Click on the heading for the original recipe, I did tweak it, it’s yellow because I used some rapeseed oil in the mix, I have used the shampoo bars and it works really well on my short hair.


Olive oil crockpot soap

This soap is my favourite, I’m using it daily, it’s got few ingredients, I didn’t even add scent to it. I have used it on my face and it’s lovely. I will be making this one over and over again.

UntitledNext I want to try making some liquid soap to fill the hand wash bottles, I’ll let you know how it goes.

What did you make over the holidays?

Update – I bought the soap making ingredients that I couldn’t  get in the supermarket from The Soap Kitchen

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Happy New Year – Review of 2018

Happy New Year!

Looking back 2018 didn’t start that well but it soon picked up, becoming a very memorable year.

It was a special year for us with a big wedding anniversary and special birthday. OH asked me what I would like, I said memories, I wasn’t disappointed.

We had several UK trips to some of our favourite places like Newcastle, Scotland, Derbyshire, Birmingham , Liverpool, and Stratford. As well as a trip to Norway and Sorrento.

On the craft front I took several courses with Dionne Swift,  drawing for textiles , machine embroidery and screen printing. I will be expanding  on what I learned this year.

I taught myself to eco print, and I’m totally hooked, there’s so much I want to explore. Also I did some screen printing on bisque which I hadn’t done before.  I got back into glass painting too, I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed it.

Last April I decided to take part in the Art Elements monthly theme challenges. I’m getting such a lot out of these challenges, being able to work in any media is great. Hopefully I will continue to join in this year.

I’m siting here wondering what my favourite piece of work from 2018 might be.

I got some great colours on my raku leaves, fish and the clocks

leaf wall art

Raku ceramicsRaku clocksSome beautiful eco printed scarves and paper, each time is full of surprises.

Raku clocks

Eco prints on silk

IMG_1064My hosta leaf ikebana bowls turned out exactly as I had envisioned. It’s great when that happens.
UntitledUntitledI really enjoyed thread painting, I must do more of these this year.

.My favourite piece of all has to be the eco printed artwork ‘The Thread That Binds Us’ made using found materials from our anniversary and birthday holiday, each square has a memory of a place visited, there is a key on the back so when I’m old and doddery I will recall the smell of the beach, the mossy woods and the deer that came to say hello. Walks and ferry trips to Scottish islands, it’s all remembered in this piece.
UntitledI have enjoyed looking back on the past year it went over really quick. I won’t be travelling so much this year but that means more time to explore and develop new creative ideas. I have a notebook with several pages of ideas written down already this week but first I need a rest, then there are commissions to make before I can experiment.

I have some resolutions for this year but I will tell you later.

All the best for 2019 , I hope it’s a good one for you

Jill x


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Art Elements Theme Challenge – White

I was thrilled with this month’s Art Elements challenge, I jumped straight in with an idea I had, and spent an afternoon ironing strips of plastics to bond them. Then I did some stitching on soluble fabric only to find when I came to dissolve the fabric I had picked up the interfacing and not solvy so this plan was abandoned.

Time for plan B, I had loads of ideas but I soon realised this wasn’t the time of year to be experimenting with new techniques so I decided to make something that would be less of a challenge as I knew enough about the techniques involved not to have to think about experimenting, or things not working out.

As you know I was a china painter for a long time, when I was studying for the City & Guilds diploma I had a module on painting animals, to teach myself to paint fur I copied from the book Thorburn’s Mammals. I still have these tiles somewhere, you can see them here.  Painting the arctic hare was my favourite.

I enjoyed painting white fur, looking for colours in the fur, light and shadow, as well as reflected light. When you look you see lots of colours. But I didn’t want to do something I’d done already so I decided on another option, to paint on glass ( following on from last month’s challenge)

I did a bit of research regarding hare myth and legend, I like this one best. I was thinking of adding some text but decided the white hare manifestation of someone murdered by their lover wasn’t the best of subjects for inspirational words.

While looking for some glass to make a fused tile I found some glass plates that I bought years ago but I never got round to using them so that’s what I’m painting on, no tile to make. I think they are Arcopal. A black background is just perfect for painting white, the dark values are achieved by wiping out paint which is the other way round to painting on white where the highlights are wiped out.

Painting on glass is just the same as painting on porcelain, only the glass enamels fire to 580 C. I don’t know the annealing temperature for these plates so I went through a range from 540 very very slowly.

I drew my hare on paper and then positioned it on the plate and traced it on.



These are the white glass enamels I have in my stash, I used some for the glass star painting last month.UntitledI chose a selection of brushes, some soft sable for applying and smoothing the paint, and some stiffer brushes for texturing the fur. I also used a bit of sponge and a green pan scrub which is great for texturing fur.

UntitledFor this firing I’m using an oil based medium, which stays open ( doesn’t dry), to mix my paints. I intend painting on, smoothing the paint, then I will wipe out paint to create the darks. I have applied satin silver enamel here, where the moonlight will catch the fur.

UntitledFollowing smoothing the paint ( you can see this on the ear), the fur textures were created using the stiffer bristle brushes and sponge, as well as a wipe out tool to get back to black.

UntitledThe moon was painted in then the plate was cleaned up where there were smudges and greasy marks , then it was fired. Fingers crossed, I haven’t fired these plates before.


Second Fire – I only want to fire this piece once more, so to get 2 applications of paint on in one firing I am switching to a water based medium to pen whiskers and do some detailing, this can then be painted over with oil based paint when dry, the waterbased layer won’t move.

UntitledI used a metal pan scrub to texture the fur

UntitledI added some twinkling stars with a pen, they had a some oil based paint added later to give a shimmering light also I painted a ring around the moon.
Of course there had to be a hare in the moon.


After building up the light areas and fur textures with oil based paint the plate was cleaned up, and signed on the back and fired again.

white hare painted on glass plate

I could go on tweaking it, the hare in the moon has fired out quite a bit, but I decided 2 fires was all I was going to do so there it is 🙂

Now head over and see what everyone else had made for the challenge.

Guest Artists
















Art Elements Team









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Merry Christmas from Kiln Fired Art

I would like to wish all my blog readers a Merry Christmas. Also I’d like to thank you for reading and supporting me in my creative journey.

Christmas GreetingsAll the best

Jill x

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Pompeii in pictures

Pompeii in pictures

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Hand Dyed Silk Scarves Using Leaves From The Woods

I said yesterday at the end of the Dodd Wood post that I would show you the silk scarves that I dyed using leaves picked up on my woodland walk. Well here they are.

I have to say I feel quite pleased with the results.

I used plants as well as leaves, some didn’t show up at all, like the pine branches, but they gave a lovely smell in the kitchen. Some were quite pale so I over printed with some geranium leaves where there were gaps. The backgrounds were a bit of an experiment using food based dyes that I know are used for dying human hair and wool fleece, they worked really well.

This one is a soft aqua  with beautiful bronze, green, golden brown leaf prints, it has some splashes of pink too , to look like berry juice 🙂

hand printed silk scarvesThe leaves from the woodland floor worked really well here


P1540737I like the way some have bled, just like watercolours

Hand dyed silk scarves

This one is a stunning colour, I would keep it if I suited coral pink but it’s not my colour, it certainly would warm up an outfit on a dull day.

hand dyed leaf scarf

You can just see some faint fern prints here
P1540731Some beautiful leaf prints
P1540719I don’t know where the orange came from, and I love the look of the layered leaves.
P1540722I wish it was a bit lighter as the photos don’t do these scarves justice, they have that lovely sheen that only comes from silk.

I probably won’t be printing now until after Christmas, but I have scarves on order, and I must try some eucalyptus soon 🙂

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Taking Inspiration From A Walk In Dodd Wood

The sky was blue yesterday instead of the usual dripping grey that comes with rainy days so we headed out for a walk. It’s so muddy everywhere we decided to walk up Dodd, one of the lower fells with good paths.

It felt really good to be out there surrounded by nature, it’s been a while since we were last out walking.

The beck was quite full, it’s usually a trickle, but what I was attracted to most were the textures.




The colours and textures of sap  Untitled

Of bark


Leaves and reflections in puddles


Light branches against dark conifers

UntitledRock textures and lichens

UntitledThe view from the summit wasn’t so good as it was hazy but that didn’t matter, my attention was on the details.

I gathered some leaves and ferns from the ground and brought them home to dye with, will tell you more in my next post.

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Eco printing on silk

My fish kettle arrived so I was keen to try it out for eco printing . I bought some broom handles and cut them to the right length. I found plastic pipe would collapse when it was steamed.

UntitledThere aren’t many leaves about now but a lovely lady sent me some vine leaves to experiment with so I was keen to try them, especially the purple ones, I know cotinus gives a lovely purple print so I was hoping these would do the same.  Also I had picked up a bag full of leaves on the way to the shops the other day, I might be getting a reputation as the village mad woman. The mix included oak, beech and sycamore leaves, and fortunately my garden is full of geraniums so plenty of those leaves which print very well.

Here’s some closeups of my new silk scarves which are now in my Etsy shop

Eco printsilk scarvesI love the element of serendipity involved with eco printing, opening the bundle is like Christmas morning. Look at the detail and colour on this vine leaf, I love the way the colour has bled, just like a watercolour.

silk scarf with leavesGeraniums, (that’s cranesbill, not pelargonium) are my favourite leaves to print with, you never know what the colour will be, look at the chartreuse one above and the mottled one below.

silk scarf hand printed

Eco prints on silkThese geraniums are different again, and do you see those seed heads they are burnets. I used to gather those with my Grandpa, he made a wine with them that was a deep purple red like port. I hoped to see that colour but maybe they were picked at the wrong time so I will try again next year.

eco gifts for womenI found some beautiful papers that were in my flower press which I’d forgotten about. I would love to have framed them up but in the end I listed them as craft packs, or folks can frame them themselves.

Eco printed paper for scrap booking bookmaking journaling card making

Eco printed paper packs for paper craftsI’m still waiting for the arrival of the eucalyptus leaves which I ordered ages ago, I have given up on them so if anyone has some I’d happily pay the postage for them.

Enjoy your day 🙂

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Tick tock….clocks

I have been busy making things all week but I couldn’t get any decent photos as it’s been so dull and dark, so those are for later.

I can show you my raku clocks that are now adorning my walls, I thought they should be tested for a while before I go into production.

I made this one with the intention of keeping it as I need a clock in the lounge, the shape echoes a metal and glass lamp. This clock has some copper in the texture and at the bottom where the flame licked the surface.

Raku clocks

I didn’t intend keeping this one but when I hung it on the wall in the front room it looked perfect, it’s the room where my raku leaves live. I think you might agree that the colours are perfect and the play of light on the texture looks great.

There was a round one but as is the nature of raku it looked like something a cow had deposited so it went in the bin.

Raku clocks

I hope to have some clocks in my shop next year. Sounds strange saying that, where has this year gone?

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