Out on the Fells

The weather has been so good lately I have to get out and about so I’m not going to spend time with a lot of explanations today. This is a follow on walk from one of our regulars  up Blake … Continue reading

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An Impromptu Trip To The Beach

As I mentioned in my last post we had an impromptu trip to the coast to photograph my rockpool bowl. When we got up the sun was shining, I had hinted that I would like to photograph my rockpool by the sea. OH must have heard because he suggested we head off to the coast.

I’m always looking for seaside inspiration so I made a picnic and we headed to one of my favourite places on the Solway coast.

The first thing I noticed when we parked up was the light streaming through the trees illuminating the bluebells.
.I had to get a closer look..The air was filled with a strange but not unpleasant mixture of the sweet scent of bluebells combined with wild garlic. This took me straight back to my childhood days..I love coming to Auchencairn as the beaches on this side of the Solway have an abundance of cockle shells. We don’t get these on our side, but we do get a lot of driftwood..The woodland path meanders along the shore..We dipped down onto the beach where we could, there was plenty of inspiration everywhere..On a sunny day you could think you were in Cornwall..


.The path took us up through fields to Balcary Point. I love the trees at this time of year when they aren’t in full leaf , and cast some lovely shadows..Wild flowers in profusion, I think I might use this for a thread painting sometime..The path follows the cliff edge, I’m glad it wasn’t windy..The path got closer to the edge so we sat here for a while before retracing our steps..It was a little hazy but you can just see home in the distance.IMG_0992A wonderful day out full of beauty and inspiration. Thank you my lovely 🙂

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Art Elements May Challenge – Tide Pools

When I saw the theme for the May challenge on Art Elements I was very excited, you might say obsessive as I thought of nothing else for 3 days. Then we went to Liverpool which gave my brain a rest. I wrote a list of at least 10 ideas before I left so not to forget, but on my return I knew which two I wanted to investigate further.

I gathered together my rock pool photos,  none of which are turquoise or azure blue like those on the internet but I do feel connected to these less colourful pools of the UK as I grew up near the coast.
Robin Hood's Bay 230 (2)
P1340455Both ideas use techniques I’ve not used before, or I have only just learnt but isn’t that what a challenge is all about, stretching oneself?

I started with something that was familiar, out came the clay and my shell moulds and I got to making the ‘rockpool’. I was so engrossed I forgot to take photos.

While the bowl sat drying I started on the textile part of my make. I have only just learned about water soluble fabric but thought it might be perfect for making anemones, and the seaweed was made from tyveck which was stitched, painted, cut out and burned along the edges with a soldering iron.



Whilst waiting for the bowl to dry I was thinking about the term tidepools, as well as rockpools. While going through my photos I  came across a photo with the tide going out, there are shallow pools left in the sand. Tidepools right?

I decided to make a stitched picture, as I need the practice having only just finished a stitching course, my thread painting technique needs working on.
Photos from a happy day at Newton by the Sea with friends.

It didn’t start well, I had some tension issues on the underside, and not enough colours of thread!
P1500171 I realised that there was something wrong with the darning foot of my new machine, it’s fortunate that I kept my Gran’s old 1970’s Singer machine, the feed dogs don’t drop so I covered them with masking tape. It worked like a dream. Two days of stitching later I had something resembling the picture in my head.
P1500176This is stitched on felt which was placed over a larger piece of soluble fabric so it would fit my hoop and also because I wanted seaweed spilling over the bottom edge. I love the way the stitching distorts the shape of the piece, I wonder if you can have some control over this. Next the fun part of dissolving away the solvy fabric.
P1500173I stitched some seaweed and a weedy thread on the spare soluble fabric rather than waste it.  I wasn’t  sure if the weedy thread would work but it did, apart from getting tangled up in the bowl of water.
P1500179 The next stage was to drill some shells and while I was going through my seaside stash I found I had a piece of driftwood the exact length for my hanging.

When the fabric was dry I hand stitched some pebbles and then assembled the piece, all will be revealed at the end of this post.

Back to my rockpool bowl now ready for firing.


The fired the bowl didn’t quite live up to my expectations, not sure why but I don’t really like it. It’s probably destined to be a bird bath in the garden. I wasn’t sure if I should spend the money on the resin but following a discussion with OH, who asked what had been my intentions with this piece, and did I meet those intentions, (which it did so far apart from adding the’ water’, I just don’t like it) so I decided to continue with the rock pool as it’s all about learning new techniques and answering those ” I wonder what if” questions, so I ordered some resin.

The resin arrived , I couldn’t wait to see my seaweed and anemone’s underwater.

And here is the finished rockpool, my lovely husband drove me 4 hours so I could photograph it on the beach.




Saving my favourite ’til last here’s my finished wall hanging, which I love. It’s the first thing I see in the morning, and it reminds me of a lovely day at Newton by the Sea with friends. Happy days!


Ebb Tide at Newton by the Sea.

P1500187I have started anther ‘rockpool’ inspired project but I will save that for another post.

Here’s a list of everyone participating in the Art Elements blog hop, why not head over and see what they have been up to, I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s blogs.

AE Team Members:

Thank you Lesley for a very inspirational challenge.

Posted in Arts and Crafts, ceramics, kiln fired art, textiles | Tagged , , , , , | 38 Comments

My Semi Wild Spring Garden

When I came to live here I decided to work with nature and what was here already to make a semi wild nature garden. I have to work with what will grow because of the weather and site conditions. So I tend to let things self seed and if it grows in dry shade and will withstand the wind the plants are more or less left to themselves. I do weed out some things like soldiers buttons and avens. My semi wild garden is at it’s best at this time of year,

We do have a lot of trees and bushes so there is a lot of dry shade.
.The bluebells in my woodland corner don’t seem to mind as they are self seeding, soon there will be a bluebell wood, albeit a small wood.

P1500191I love seeing the fern fronds unfurl.

P1500192And the sunny faces of Welsh poppies, I wonder how something so delicate can survive in such a windy garden.


Granny’s bonnets self seed everywhere, they look so pretty with the cow parsley which has self seeded from the wild.P1500197

I know these are not native bluebells but they still look very pretty.

P1500198I like to let the plants join together to form a rich tapestry, I love all the leaf textures, also it gives the voles some protection even if they do eat my wild strawberries.

P1500195Here are my neighbours who came to say hello while I was out in the garden.

P1500189Having watched Chelsea this week, drooling over the plants and gardens, I decided to buy this hydrangea Runaway Bride from Thompson and Morgan for the edge of my woodland garden.

qI think I might plant it near the footpath where my hostas and daylilies grow.


I’ve updated this post, it’s a week since I wrote it, now my bluebells have gone over, the wind got up yesterday and damaged a lot of plants, you would think it was Autumn the number of leaves lying around. That’s how it is gardening here unfortunately. But I cut few leaves and flowers to try out some eco dyeing yesterday , it didn’t work as well as I hoped but it was fun. I need to play some more but might tell you about it later.

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Speke Hall

I have a bit of a thing for Tudor buildings, well I love architecture full stop.

I fell in love with the black and white Tudor style when I lived in Cheshire. Although it was the Victorians who painted them black and white, originally the wood was left untreated, silvery grey and the daube would any colour depending on the muck that was used.

Speke Hall was built in 1530, with later extensions which were quite obvious once the guide pointed them out.

I love the patterns and the joints of the woodwork


I love the attention to detail, look under the eaves, there is  carved wood detailing. Notice the peep hole in the chimney.


The geometry is amazing on this building, although if you have been to Little Moreton Hall you will know sometimes the lines go a bit wonky. I think L M H is my favourite Tudor building.


I do love the inner courtyard, today it was a restful place from the hustle and bustle and heat of the sun.


These people must have been very rich, they have a lot of very expensive glass windows.


I didn’t know but when they travelled in these times people took their windows with them.


Can you spot the little hole, it’s in the eaves? This is above the main entrance and was used to listen to the conversations of visitors, hence the term eavesdropping.


There are 2 very old and beautiful yew trees in the courtyard, called Adam and Eve.

IMG_0664I found the interior of the house very gloomy with it’s Victorian decor but I could have sat in the courtyard shade for a while if there had been a seat to sit on, and maybe a long cool drink and my book would be good to………

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Another Place – Crosby

I have wanted to see the Anthony Gormley work ‘Another Place’ for a while. Having done the day tripper thing in Liverpool during the day we decided to visit Crosby early evening. This was a good call as it was the hottest day of the year, and a bank holiday, so the beach would have been crowded earlier on.


There are 100 life size cast iron statues all looking out to sea. Some were buried in the sand, others were up to their necks in water. I liked the way our shadows became a part of the installation.


I was a good time to go as the sunlight played on the sea but it would be great to see them at sunset.

IMG_0770I liked seeing silhouettes of real people alongside the statues.

IMG_0775I can’t  decide if the wind turbines add or take away something

IMG_0780It was the perfect way to wind down after the hustle and bustle of Liverpool


A peacful end to a wonderful day.


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A Day Tripper in Liverpool

We had a trip to Liverpool over the bank holiday weekend, although I was a bit too young to be a great beatles fan at the time, you can’t go to Liverpool without doing a beatles tour. We drove past John Lennon’s house and down Penny Lane, and past the Sergeant Pepper roundabout.
.Liverpool has some amazing architecture, I love seeing old and new together. This is the White Star Line offices (now a hotel), I love the reflections in the new building
IMG_0710One of my favourite areas on such a hot day was the Albert dock
IMG_0688You can see the very impressive Liver building in this shot. I have never been to Liverpool before but I knew of this building from watching the Liver Birds on TV in the 1970’s, I can hear the tune now.
IMG_0697IMG_0709Liverpool gets it’s name from a small natural harbour which was situated between the Hilton building and the one on the left, which is also curved. The land in front is reclaimed and it’s where the river Mersey would have been in 1190. Luierpul means muddy pool.

IMG_0704The Bluecoat School is the oldest building in Liverpool, it was built to educate poor boys but sadly this was financed from slavery.

Eleanor Rigby sculpted by Tommy Steele and sold to Liverpool council for half a sixpence.

.I got quite excited when we arrived at the Cavern club, it is the most famous club in the world.


.The wall of fame bears the names of acts that have performed at the club.



As you would expect on a bank holiday afternoon the club was heaving, we didn’t stay long. After a swift half to quench our thirst it was time to set off on our next adventure to Crosby, more about that later!


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Design Sketchbook Pages – Geology

I am trying to develop a rhythm with doing my sketchbook pages, and I thought blogging would help me establish my practice on a regular basis. I’m not sure how regular my regular will be but time will tell. For now it’s probably going to be monthly with the possibility of an extra post now and then if I develop something into a finished piece that I might want to share to chart my progress if you like.

The theme my sketchbook group chose for April was Geology, which is just up my street as we have loads of geology books and I have hundreds of photos of rocks from my walks.

Things do have a habit of not going quite as planned and I have found myself with very little spare time this month so I decided to work on my pages quickly, with a lot of line drawing using different tools on pre-coloured pages.



I like using frames to help find areas that I particularly like


More drawing with some added embellishment

I liked the idea of doing these very quick drawings


P1500008I can see the potential for stitched work or ceramics


P1500020I can’t wait to take the screen printing course so I can print my designs on textiles and then stitch.

P1500021I was taking a risk with tearing here so I could replicate fault lines, sometimes this works well but maybe not in this case.

P1500025Once I put the frames on I had a totally different outlook, I can see how I could develop these further.



P1500027I know I will return to this theme when I have more time, there’s so much more to explore.

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Art Elements April Theme Challenge – Horses

Firstly I hope I’m doing this right, it’s the first time I have joined in an Art Elements theme challenge but I have wanted to do so for some time, but things seem to get in the way.

Back to the challenge and the theme horses, I don’t think I could draw a horse to save my life! I had thoughts of doing something in ceramics with cave painting style horses, then I thought about Swedish Dala horses which I thought I would be able to draw. Dala horses have a long history, the first reference to selling them can be traced back to the 1600’s, they originated in the Dalecarlian area of Sweden where they would be carved from wood in the winter by the woodsman to sell in the summer.

IMG_0638I’ve made the decision not to use tea bags whenever possible so my teapot has started to see the light of day once more. We don’t drink much tea in this house but we like the ritual of an afternoon cuppa these days, and we have come to realise that we need a new fine mesh tea strainer and a tea cosy.

So I decided (as I have my sewing machine out) to make a tea cosy with a Dala horse on it for the challenge. I chose a lightweight denim and red ric rac trimming, I already had some wadding in my stash.
Next I measured up my teapot and added seam allowance taking into consideration the wadding would take up room too, then I cut out my pieces making the inside lining and outside all in one piece of fabric, which made things much easier and quicker to make.
IMG_0639The horse was cut out of calico and attached using bondaweb, ( I have only just discoverd this wonderful stuff ) Then I zig zagged the edges.
I was going to use machine embroidery for the decoration but as the sun was shining I spent the afternoon in the garden hand stitching which was very relaxing and enjoyable.

IMG_0640Then I stitched on the ric rac and quilted the wadding to the inside fabric.

IMG_0641I made a little tab for the top of the cosy, then stitched it all together around the edges leaving a gap in the inner lining at the top to turn the cosy right side out. The lining part was stitched at the top to close it then pushed up inside the outer fabric and stitched into place.

I then spent a few days eagerly waiting for the flower buttons to arrive to finish the whole thing off and while I waited I managed to squeeze out a coffee pot cosy from the left over fabric, it just fits.
P1490998I gave the tea cosy a gentle press then took a deep breath and tried it on my teapot, and it fit!

Art Elements Horse Challenge

At least my tea won’t go cold now.

If you would like to see what everyone else has made for the horse theme then have a look at the participant’s blogs here:

Guest participants:










AE Team members:










And I suggest you have a look at Art Elements Blog too. Thanks to the AE team for hosting the blog hop, now I’m off to read about everyone’s makes.


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A Metamorphosis – Giving myself a treat!

I decided as it’s my 60th year to give myself a special treat, I have a bracelet of great sentimental value which I was given Christmas 1973.

This was a very memorable Christmas, Slade were number one with Merry Christmas, how could anyone forget.

I can see myself in my C&A dress standing by the fireplace with the smell of turkey wafting through the house, looking at my bracelet and feeling very happy indeed. I was so pleased with the bracelet because when Mam took me to the jewellers to pick my present I could have the bracelet, or a watch on a chain. I chose the watch because I can’t wear wrist watches, they go crazy, it was a practical choice. Then on Christmas morning there was a small package, when I opened it I cried because Mam had bought me the bracelet as well.

I wore it a lot, the catch broke and was replaced twice, then it got put in a drawer never to be seen for many years, then one day I came across it and had an idea.

I first came across Anna McDade’s work when I saw her dragonfly cuff in a jewellers shop in Keswick, and later I got to know Anna in person. I thought I would ask Anna if she could melt down my bracelet and make me a cuff to match the other pieces of her jewellery  which I wear all the time, my hare pendant and matching hare earrings

Today the postman brought me small package, my cuff is so beautiful and I will wear it  always knowing it is a metamorphosis of my Mam’s silver bracelet, something to treasure forever.
.Thank you Anna 🙂

If you aren’t familiar with Anna’s beautiful work here’s some links:

Website – Anna McDade

Etsy shop

Folksy shop




Posted in jewellery, kiln fired art | Tagged , , | 11 Comments