Tag Archives: Art Elements theme challenge

Art Elements Theme Challenge – Foliage

I was delighted when I saw the September theme challenge from Art Elements was foliage as I was already working away with some leafy makes. So this was the perfect opportunity to push my makes a little further.
First let me apologise for forgetting to take WIP photos, I was so in the zone and feeling I had to get things done that I forgot.
I have been working with the seasons for much of this year, just now I seem to be working frantically before the leaves have gone.

I made some more of my hosta leaf succulent  pots / ikebana bowls.
Ceramic leaves home decorThen I decided to go a step further and make incense stick holders, my daughter likes burning incense.
Leaf ceramics for a Zen homeI thought some tea lights holders would  be a great complement to the incense holders.

Leaf ceramics for a Zen homeThen I got thinking about spas and relaxing Zen bathroom style so a soap dish happened next.

Ceramic leaves home decorThen a larger leaf to use as a candle stand.

Leaf ceramics for a Zen homeI can just imagine if I ever had the time to lie in a bubble bath with candles, tea lights and incense burning but it’s probably never going to happen.

More tea lights, incense holders and trinket trays happened. I’m glad I got them done because I noticed yesterday that the hosta leaves were going over very quickly.

Ceramic leaves home decorThen I turned to eco printing, if you read my last blog post you will know I have been gathering leaves, like a nesting dormouse.

I decided to stitch some scarves myself from beautiful fine merino wool gauze, the fabric is expensive so I was hoping not to spoil it. It took ages to find a technique that gave me an edging I was happy with, there was a lot of fraying, and not just the edges, I said never again!

The first one had a double neatening on the long edges but the fabric kept sliding, the stitching is like a dog’s back leg so this one is a keeper. I will look forward to wearing it.
UntitledThe fringed one worked well but it was very time consuming to make. I do love how the printing turned out though, I know I said never again but that was before I saw how it turned out.
Ceramic leaves home decorMy next blog post will be about my ecoprinted silk scarves.
Now I am heading over to see what everyone whose taking part in the blog hop have made, my favourite part of the challenge.

AE Team


Art Elements July Theme Challenge – Flowers.

I have missed not participating in the Art Elements challenges lately but life seems so busy these days. The theme this month is flowers.

Whilst sitting in the garden watching the bees on the lavender bushes I had an idea that I thought might suit the challenge but not take up too much time. It’s a little different to what you might think I would do for a flower challenge.

You may already know I like to make my own soaps, lip balms, lotion bars etc. One thing I find with soap is the scent doesn’t last as well as I would like. While I was sitting I was thinking if I could infuse my olive oil for soapmaking with lavender flowers, and would it last longer. Then I started thinking about the huge rosemary bush and some Corsican thyme that was flowering right by my seat. I love the way the smell wafts up when the breeze catches it.


I went to pick some lavender, which is not an easy task, the bushes are at the other side of a low fence, which I had to climb over. From here the ground slopes off to a wall and a 4 foot drop to the road. It’s a nightmare to garden, it’s south facing and dry so it has become a low maintenance rock garden, lavender thrives there.

I started cutting my flowers, I have 3 varieties of lavender but some looked past their best, I happily cut and smelled the flowers taking in their scent, then I felt my foot stinging, when I looked down I had ants crawling up my legs and biting my foot where they had gotten into my flip-flops. I made a hasty retreat with a meagre bunch of lavender flowers. It was so much easier picking the rosemary and thyme.


These were all left to dry for a couple of days before infusing in oil. The rosemary and thyme were put in a pan with oil and warmed up, then left to stand a while before straining.




The lavender flowers went in the slow cooker with the oil for a couple of hours, then it sat overnight to cool before straining.


The scent wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped but it was definitely there, maybe I needed more lavender, but I wasn’t going to pick more with those pesky ants about.

Next I set about making ‘crockpot’ castile soap (google to find tons of recipes) using my lavender infused oil. Here it is at the start of cooking, having blitzed it with the hand blender.


After about 40 minutes, (stirring every 10 minutes,) it becomes translucent, thick and jelly like, ready to go into a mould. I forgot to take the photo 🙂 but here it is cut into bars, it has a light lavender smell, I hope it lasts but only time will tell.

UntitledBack to the rosemary and thyme oil; my intention was to make some lip balm and use the rest for cooking but my family said they didn’t like it. So I could make more soap with it, or just use the oil on my hair and skin. My husband’s Aunt told me a long time ago rosemary was good for the memory, I believe the quote “Rosemary for remembrance”comes from William Shakespeare.

UntitledHaving looked on the internet it seems to be good for a lot of things, I’m going to try it as a tonic for my thinning hair, it’s also good for arthritis and Raynauds syndrome which affects me in the winter. I think it smells, and tastes lovely, I like it drizzled on bread.

I made some lip balm, it’s 1 part beeswax to 1 1/2 parts oil, melted in a double boiler. I used a lot of lip balm last winter, it’s great for the hands as well. If it’s too stiff when it sets just melt it down and add a few more drops of oil. The little jars get reused, and are so easy to slip into your pocket or handbag.


Now I’m off to see what everyone has made for this lovely floral theme, why not go and take a look?

Art Elements Theme Challenge – November – Stars

When I saw the topic for November’s Art Elements theme challenge I knew exactly what I wanted to do. However things kind of went downhill all the way, I thought maybe I shouldn’t tell you about it but as I enter these challenges to basically challenge myself and either expand my range of work, make something for me, or learn a new technique I am posting my journey, to evaluate how I could do better next time.

It’s nearly Christmas so I thought a hanging star decoration would be lovely.

18 years ago my friend helped me make a couple of stained glass windows and lurking in the loft there was a box that I discovered the other day containing glass and copper foil and a soldering iron. The windows were made with lead came, I’ve never tried copper foil technique before so I thought I’d give it a go.

The copper foil looked a bit dirty and tarnished but it was a full roll so I would see how it worked (mistake 1)

Stained glass starI had some gorgeous cobalt blue glass, I love this colour glass.

Stained glass star

It cut really nicely so I decided even though I have a glass grinder not to grind the edges. I really really hate using the grinder. ( Mistake 2)

Stained glass starWhen I tried it all together I realised my triangles were a bit too wide but I thought the way they overlapped would make the star shape stronger and it would look ok, (wrong)

I cleaned the glass and stuck on the foil

Stained glass starThen I rubbed it down onto the glass with a lolly stick as I didn’t have a proper tool              ( maybe another mistake)

I didn’t have any flux or solder so while I waited for it to arrive I painted a little snow scene on the glass, I had several white glass enamels to choose from.
Stained glass starAfter painting the glass I fired it to 580C.

Stained glass starAt this point I was really pleased with how it was looking.
Stained glass starThe solder arrived and after watching loads of Youtube videos I couldn’t wait to get started. This was when things started going horribly wrong.

Firstly the soldering iron didn’t want to melt the solder, then when it did it went very very lumpy, but I can go over and smooth it off, right.

Oh I forgot to mention the solder stuck to the star and in trying to melt it off I think I must have pulled some of the foil away from the glass, or maybe being old it wasn’t sticky enough.

I gave up, cleaned the soldering iron with emery paper and left it for another day.

The soldering worked much better, maybe too well as it was flowing all over the place, and where there were tiny gaps where it flowed through to the other side. Next time I will grind the glass and make sure the foil goes on well enough to give a perfect fit.

I did some smoothing off with the iron once everything was soldered, there were lots of solder drips and I could see where the foil was coming away so I decided enough was enough and so I soldered a wire on the back to hang it up, that worked very well so I felt a little pleased with myself.

UntitledSo now I know how not to do it I would like to have another go but I don’t have much time this month so it will have to wait but I will come back to this technique and have another go . I do love the colour, and my little painting is just how I wanted so it’s going to be my studio decoration this year.

Here’s a list of all the Art Elements blog hop participants, enjoy!

Art Elements October Challenge – Petroglyphs

This month’s Art Elements theme challenge is petroglyphs. My mind immediately went back to just a few days ago, to the Banksy ‘petroglyph’ in the British Museum which I had read about. I have to say it put a big smile on my face. I hope you enjoy seeing it too if you haven’t already seen it.

Then I got to thinking about Neolithic and Bronze age rock art in the UK, which is mostly cup and ring art. There are some great images here

I like the idea of making a garden sculpture with cups and rings and little connecting channels so water can flow between them. Maybe just rainwater and over time the ‘rock’ would weather and maybe grow mosses and lichens. But I have little time this month so I need to keep this challenge simple, I don’t want to do what happened last month and run out of time.

A couple of weeks ago I visited a stone circle at Castlerigg, I always take visitors there as it’s such an amazing place and I enjoy their reactions to the site. So I thought I’d look on the internet and see if there were any petroglyphs on the stones. I saw some visible lines in the rock but I didn’t see any obvious carvings, only contemporary graffiti. The University of Durham have done some 3D scanning of one of the stones which shows a vanishing spiral carved in the rock.

Next I had to explore the rock art carvings of Northumberland, the county of my birth. I do remember seeing some when we were out on family picnics. They are all quite simple but I like that, it confirmed my decision to work with cups, rings and connecting channels.

I think I have a plan!

Bear in mind I don’t have a lot of time just now so my original plan of making a water feature for the garden became a plan for another day 🙂

Looking at the petroglyphs on these websites I started thinking of points and adjoining lines, a bit like join the dots. Then I thought about a join the dots shopping trolly, thanks to Banksy; which took my thoughts to the Plough and other constellations, as a child I used to look at the Plough from my bedroom window and always thought it was a pan and not a plough.

I made some balls of clay and pressed them between my palms to make pebbles which I would decorate with petroglyphs of the constellations, and on others I’d carve some rings and press in to make cup marks. Sorry I forgot to take photos.

My pebbles were bisque fired, then tumbled to give them a lovely smooth feel.

Art Elements theme challenge Petroglyphs.

Art Elements theme challenge Petroglyphs.

Then I connected the dots with china paints and fired again.

Art Elements theme challenge Petroglyphs.

Art Elements theme challenge Petroglyphs.

I am going to use my pebbles as scent carriers for room and drawer fresheners . Hopefully I can keep those pesky moths out of my woollens. I think lavender oil works well for keeping moths away but I will have to check.

Art Elements theme challenge Petroglyphs.

Now I’m heading over to Art Elements to see what everyone has made 🙂

Guest Artists:
Jill Egan: https://kilnfiredart.wordpress.com
Tammy Adams: http://www.paisleylizard.com/blog
Alison Herrington: http://AlisonAdorns.blogspot.com
Alysen: http://chicchixnchampagne.blogspot.com
Sarajo Wentling: https://sjdesignsjewelry.blogspot.com
Jenny Kyriach: http://anafiassa.blogspot.com
CraftyHope: http://CraftyHope.com
Kathy Lindemer: https://bay-moon-design.blogspot.com

Art Elements Team:
Lesley Watt: http://www.lesleywatt.com
Jenny Davies-Reazor: https://jdaviesreazor.com
Cathy Spivey Mendola: http://cmendola.blogspot.com
Sue Kennedy: http://www.suebeads.blogspot.com
Caroline Dewison: http://www.blueberribeads.co.uk
Laney Mead: https://laney-mead.blogspot.com/
Marsha Neal Minutella: http://blog.marshanealstudio.com
Claire Fabian: https://saraccino.blogspot.com