Working With The Seasons

Were has January gone?

I have to say I’m glad to see the days starting to get a little longer, and signs of Spring are to be seen in my garden. The birds are pairing up and the snowdrops are in full bloom.

When the clocks went back I didn’t  adjust very well, it took a long time to get back in sync. I think acceptance is the key. I decided to treat the dark hours as ‘me’ time, call it hygge if you like, I think of it as a hug. I have been taking a holistic approach to life, working less, reading more, watching films, exercising more, meditating and eating healthily.

I feel very calm and relaxed now and I’m ready for the longer days, although I will miss taking my breakfast back to bed and staying there reading until it’s light and warm in the mornings.

Back to my work, I’m  trying to have down time, where before I would wake up thinking about making and it would come before everything else 7 days a week. I decided to work 2 days a week, I actually mean ‘make’ as I still do the day to day running of my little business. I have found my mind is calmer, my ideas aren’t running away with themselves, and I have time for Spring cleaning, which is an annual chore I actually like doing, well it’s rewarding when it’s finished.

This year I am working more closely with the seasons, this is something I became increasingly aware of since Autumn when my leaf supply became sparse, but I think it’s a good thing.

Now the snowdrops are out I have been enjoying their ephemeral beauty, and making some clay pieces while they are in bloom. I started this project a couple of years ago but the snowdrops finished before I did, and last year I  missed them. Last time I made an’ outie’ tile, but the 2 part process meant it didn’t have the detail I was hoping for.

I think ‘innies’ give the best print, but I won’t  know until these are finished.



Untitled Hopefully I will get some hellebore pieces made next, then it will be time for the daffodils and bluebells


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An encounter with a headless woman, holding a pig!

Now I have your attention……..

We managed a walk along the river mid week as the weather was dry.
UntitledThe ground was what I  would call claggy, I think I brought back half a field stuck to my boots.

This was a walk over farmland, along the river, which is surprisingly low just now. Along the route I was conscious how peaceful everything was; there wasn’t any  wind , the air was still. The river made a gentle sound. The grass was lush and the sheep were grazing peacefully. Two herons were fishing on the river. I felt very calm and alive.
UntitledWe climbed over styles and fences, this is a lovely stone stile don’t you think?

It frames the view of the church beautifully.
Then along the woods, where I  stumbled upon a headless woman holding a pig, and some legs, probably dogs legs, I kid you not 🙂



There must have been a house in the woods at some time, these broken ornaments had been found and left on the fence posts. So after inspection they were put back for the next person to muse over.

Continuing on, back to the river, and after walking on a little way our tracks stopped due to an impenetrable barbed wire fence. This is a pheasant  breeding area so maybe we weren’t  welcome. We retraced our path back to town.



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Time for a clear out!

I have been looking forward to doing some sketchbook work for ages but things were too hectic before Christmas. I told myself that I would do daily entries at the start of the year, unfortunately this didn’t happen so I began to ask myself why?

There are two reasons, the first being that every surface in my workroom has stuff on it, in it, and under it, there is no room to work. Such a shame when I have some gorgeous new books, paper, pencils as well as my favourite book on keeping sketchbooks just sitting there waiting to be used.

Craft room clean up

Craft room clean upThis is my indoor room where I keep my stock, do packaging, make textiles, drawing, watercolours etc. I am ashamed to say the studio looks just as messy if not worse.
Craft room clean up

Craft room clean up

Craft room clean up

Craft room clean upI was inspired by Lesley’s post on Art Elements blog so I set to and made a start on having a clear out. I bought a few extra storage boxes and two days later I had a workable space once more.

Craft room clean upMy big drawers have been organised; please tell me not to buy any art materials, I have  so much already.

Craft room clean upI have kept the art stuff I use most in a box on my desk, the additional art materials like charcoal, pastels, inks, acrylics, glue and tapes are in the top drawers. Pads of paper and palettes in the next drawer, how can I have so many pads of paper?

Craft room clean upStuff for my Silhouette Cameo in the next drawer, and tissue, boxes and other packing materials in the huge bottom drawer.

I have tidied the sewing corner, this set up works for a quick sewing job but the machine is easily moved onto the desk for bigger jobs.

Craft room clean upMy desk has space for sketchbook work now. As I  said I have the materials I use most on the table, which brings me to the second issue that puts me off sketchbooking, I want to do it in front of the TV so having my essentials in a box means it’s easily portable. I’m going to try working on a tray.

Craft room clean upThere is a run of wardrobes on the other wall housing boxes of material, yarns, felting and textile art stuff, as well as a wardrobe with my stock, packing materials and an overflow of clothes and household items.

Now I am on a mission, I am having a destash on my Facebook page, I’m getting rid of a lot of books I don’t use (starting with all my china painting books), my bookcases are bursting.
Hopefully I will get sketchbooking soon, just now I am enjoying the purge and seeing the place looking tidy.

I will make a start on the studio next, that’s going to take time. I may be gone a while.

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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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