The snowdrops are out and I’m beginning to feel like the hedgehog at the bottom of my garden, it’s time to emerge from the the cosy place that has kept me warm during the winter and start thinking about doing some work.
The snowdrops are out, and as they have done over the past 20 years, they inspired me to get busy and make something.
Out came the clay and I set to work, it felt good to be making something again. My hands coped quite well but I scaled down on the quantity of tiles made, in the past it would have been a lot more.
I gathered a few seedheads on my walk too.
Some have been fired already and will be in my shop now, some are waiting until I have a kiln load ready.
These plant tiles always make me happy when I’m making them, it’s like sharing a little piece of my neighbourhood.
There are some hearts as well as the wall tiles.
I have some snowdrop trinket dishes waiting to be glazed, hopefully they will be ready to show you before too long.
I have been taking the first month of the year slowly, I could easily hibernate when it’s dark and cold. A few years ago I started taking a hygge approach to the dark winter months, and gave myself the luxury of spending more time reading in bed as well as twinkly lights, bowls of soup, homemade bread, long walks, weather permitting, I love winter when it’s sunny and I can get outside.
I’ve been writing in my new journal daily and as I am trying to reinvent myself creatively I’ve asked myself some questions, to find/ reassess my creative voice. Some things don’t change even when the medium does, I still love tone and texture.
I’m still not in the mood to make anything really but I did buy a lovely pattern for a crochet scarf from Etsy. My hands have been feeling a little better so I thought a couple of rows in the evening might kick-start my creative juices.
The scarf is meant to be done using vibrant yarns but when I got my yarn bag out and tipped it on the floor there were blues, greens, neutrals and a bright pink which was the only bright colour I had. I don’t know where it came from, it’s not a colour I like.
So I made the scarf with blues, greens, turquoise and neutrals, a few rows in and I found myself enjoying the process and loving how the colours worked together. I realised these were my colours.
Looking back in my journal I had written that I love the colours of the British landscape, from the turquoise water of the Hebrides, green pastures, blue skies and the colours of seed heads in winter. Here it was all along in my yarn bag. Then when I was dusting I saw all my favourite colours around my home. It was there all around me the whole time and I had stopped noticing. Its not surprising really, as being outdoors in the countryside or on a deserted beach are my favourite things to do. Reconnecting with my favourite colours made me smile and reminded me to trust myself, I don’t have to reinvent myself I just need to go with the flow.
None of us know what 2023 will bring, lets hope it’s good, but I do know it’s time for me to make some changes in my creative endeavours. I think I have reached a time in my life to take things more slowly and I’ve made the decision that because of the problems I’ve been having with my hands I will make less ceramic pieces and go back to my first loves which were painting and textiles. I have had a yearning to spend time doing some fibre arts for a while but so far it hasn’t happened due to other commitments.
I’m looking forward to finding the time to explore new pastures, I have been out of my creative groove for a while now . It’s not unusual for me to change media, but most of my makes since becoming a self employed crafter has been “kiln fired”. I think I have become stuck in a rut so hopefully a change will rekindle my enthusiasm for making.
If all goes to plan things will have changed over completely in the next 12 to 18 months, but I’m not putting pressure on myself, I’m just going to take it a day at a time and see what happens. My Etsy shop will remain open next year.
I was gifted this beautiful year planner for Christmas, I will document my journey in it. There are so many new things to try, old techniques to revisit, books to read, techniques to learn and courses to do. I’ll keep you up to date with how it goes.
I hope 2023 is kind to you all and it brings you much love and peace.
If you read my blog regularly you will know that each month this past year I’ve written a post about eco printing on paper. Sometimes I use a fabric blanket in my paper bundles for various reasons which you can read about here.
My favourite fabric to use for blankets are vintage cotton sheets but I have used other fabrics including silk, calico and both acrylic and wool felt. Cotton can be quite difficult to print on but I have found old cotton sheets print very well. Here are some examples with the eco prints on paper on the left and the cotton blanket on the right.
I hope to start using both my eco prints and cyanoprints on cloth and paper in some craft work next year.
I hope you have enjoyed the journey as much as I have.
During the long dark days of winter I look for ways to find pleasure in small, everyday things, to let the light in.
A couple of weeks ago we took a trip to RHS Bridgewater . This is not the time of year I would normally visit gardens but it didn’t let me down. Seeing the ‘bones’ of the garden, an amazingly moody sky and also a few remaining hints of Autumn colour was very inspirational.i
I have been thinking how wonderful these gardens must be with a mantle of frost this past week.
I hope to use these photos as inspiration for some new experimental work in the new year, if my mojo ever return.
I can’t believe I have been sharing my ecoprinting experiments with you each month for a year now.
Today I’m trying out ways of getting leaf prints when there’s not much fresh foliage around. I have some dried leaves and onion skins, frozen and fresh cotinus to compare, and some fresh leaves which can still be found in my garden.
If you want to see my ecoprinting posts for the rest of the year type “Ecoprinting throughout the year” into the search box.
Pot – New roasting tin.
Water – Tap water with vinegar.
Paper – watercolour paper.
Mordant – alum acetate
Leaf dip – rust water
Plants – Cranesbill geranium, fresh, dried and frozen cotinus, dried fern, onion skins, and fresh eucalyptus and geranium leaves.
Cooking time – 40minutes, turned, 40 minutes.
Blanket -Procion dye blanket used with fern.
Conclusion – Cotinus prints from dried and frozen leaves have some blue from their undersides but the fresh leaves have no blue. Onion skins give good colour and some interesting effects. The geranium leaf and eucalyptus printed quite well but not as strong a print as other times in the year.
I can’t believe my year long eco printing project has come to an end. I will be continuing to eco print as I find the process fascinating and I will keep you informed if I get any great results.
I hope you have enjoyed my eco printing journey, I will make a page with links to all the ‘Ecoprinting throughout the year’ posts, you will see a link at the top of the screen or just use the search box on the right.
Blanket -the geranium had a logwood blanket made using kitchen towel .
Conclusion – Good orange yellow from tagetee. The fern leaf had Inktense crayon rubbed over the damp leaf picking up the veins, this worked quite well. The kitchen towel blanket left a texture on the eco print. Daphne paper seems to have darker prints and the paper is wrinkled a bit. Notice the colour of the tagetee print is olive green on this paper but it was orange on the other papers.
I was gifted a couple of squash and I received one in my weekly veg box so squash has been on the menu all week.
Monday – Butternut and borlotti bean soup.
This isn’t the best looking soup ever but it hit the spot in terms of comfort food. The weather has been terrible so a good heart warming soup was called for. I made it in my Ninja 9 in 1. I buy dried beans, soak then pressure cook them, these are frozen so I always have beans on hand. I love the texture of borlotti beans. The butternut squash was cut up into large pieces, skin on, then roasted in a little oil with onion, garlic (4 cloves left whole), and rosemary. I roasted them for about 25 minutes. Once they had cooled a bit the squash was peeled and chopped, onions chopped, garlic squeezed out of their skins and the sprig of rosemary discarded. Then they were added back into the pot with the beans, stock cubes, water, pepper and pressure cooked for 5 minutes. I liquidised about a third of the soup and put it back in the pot to give a lovely velvety texture. I served it with a slice of toast and melted Lancashire cheese.
Tuesday – Squash and chickpea curry.
As I was going out shopping then to the gym I needed something that would sit all day cooking in the slow cooker. Curries are always good comfort food to come home to. This one has onion, garlic, ginger, pumpkin, tinned tomatoes and chickpeas. I used spices from The Spicery but I could have used a combination of Indian spices or even a curry paste. I stirred a bit of yoghurt in it just before serving.
Wednesday – Butternut, brussel sprout and bacon tray bake with a fried egg.
If I’m honest this didn’t really do it for me as the sprouts were very strong, I do like sprouts but if I make this again I would par boil the sprouts with the squash before roasting.
Thursday –Butternut and bacon pasta.
This pasta dish was heavenly, it was like a healthier version of macaroni cheese, we all loved it. The squash was roasted with some garlic cloves, cooled and peeled, then blended with some low fat cream cheese, pasta water, seasoning, paprika, and chilli powder to make a silky smooth sauce. We had crispy bacon on top for a bit of salty crunch. I feel squash needs something salty like bacon or cheese, or both.
Friday – Butternut, leek and sage risotto.
I followed the instructions in the Ninja 9 in 1 cookbook for mushroom risotto only substituting the mushrooms for roasted diced butternut and chopped leeks. I made it really cheesey. I was dubious if risotto done in the Ninja would be a success ( pressure cooked) but it had just the right texture. I will make arancini balls with the leftovers and air fry them in my Ninja.
Saturday- Tonight it’s the leftover squash curry with flatbreads.
Sunday- will be the 7th day of squash, I will make roasted root vegetables, with squash to go with our roast beef dinner. There may be a little squash left over but that will go into a soup for lunch one day next week. It’s been a cost effective week, and no wasted squash.
I will keep this post short as I’m still having problems with my hands but they are getting better gradually. I haven’t been making anything as I’m resting them but I have finished some pieces and got them in my shop. Because I’m having a break from making my stock is quite low this year so when it’s gone it’s gone.
I did have lots of raku leaves but most of them have gone already. Also there are just a few ecoprinted silk scarves left.
I’ve just taken the large snowdrop plaque out of the kiln, it’s larger than the plant tiles and has a frame on the back so it looks like it’s floating off the wall. It’s a reminder that before we know it spring will be here.
There are some coloured bottle spoon rests with a bit of sparkle to brighten the days.
Only one ecoprinted paper craft pack left. Next year I plan to add more craft packs including ecoprinted and cyanotype fabrics for crafters.
Only one ikebana bowl left, I think I may retire these next year so it could be the last one I make.
I will be retiring soap dishes too. I think it’s time for me to do less clay work.
I will be making a few changes next year, as well as more craft bundles there will be mixed media work involving collage and stitch, also I will be getting back into watercolours which I love but never seem to have the time for.
I am looking forward to the change in direction, I’ve never been one to do just one craft, I’m sure my hands will thank me for it too.