Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Peg Dolls

I've made some peg dolls to go in a bag for each of my granddaughters. With slightly old sausage-like arthritic fingers, I can't say as I found it easy. Plaiting wool for hair and tying ribbons on the ends, was at the limits of my dexterity.

They will go into little bags to be worn over the shoulder and hopefully suitable for school playground games.



Wednesday, 31 January 2018

A Battle for Good Bread

Have you noticed in the last few months that bread from supermarket bakeries has changed shape and got a lot more airy? Tesco's small loaves are now square not oblong and have more in common with that Swedish diet bread - useless for sandwiches. M&S loaves are getting smaller too and it won't be long before they count as rolls. We do have a few bakeries in Leamington but one makes artisan bread that's all sourdough and mostly useful for propping doors open, but hopeless for a sandwich, and another who's bread is delicious but who rations it to about 3 people a day and only if they smile and grovel for the pleasure!

So I thought I'd make some bread! I'm not the worlds greatest cook so am looking for a really easy and successful recipe which involves research and experimentation I guess.

It has to be quick, it has to be easy. My "bread day" runs like this:  About 5pm start making tea, and measure out the bread ingredients. Mix in the food mixer and leave in the same bowl to rise. Have tea, watch telly and forget you're supposed to be kneading the bread now it's risen. Watch that nice Mr Gardening Monty Don on the TV and finally go at shape the bread at 8pm. Pop it in the fridge overnight to prove. Get up next morning and put on to bake at about 9am after a couple of coffees. Nice bread for lunch and 2 in the freezer.



Here's 2 recipes and my results in case you're interested in baking bread at home.

(above) The bread police say you need 2 tsp of salt per 500gms of flour for flavour, but it's too much for me, so this recipe reduces that:

Recipe 1

750gms of strong white flour
1 oz butter or 2 tblsps olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 x7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
3/4 pt lukewarm water.
oil for greasing

Combine the flour and butter and rub in. Add yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl (salt is supposed to adversely affect the yeast action - can't say I'd noticed) and add water to mix to a soft dough. Knead for about 5-10 mins until smooth and elastic (Tip: use your food mixer and mix on minimum until a dough forms and then 3 minutes on speed 1)

Leave to rise for about an hour until doubled in size. Knead again for about 5 mins (2 mins on minimum in a machine) and shape into rolls or put in a loaf tin. Leave to rise again until doubled and then bake at 210 Fan for about 25/30 minutes. Cook at 200 for a longer period if you prefer a crisper crust.

Recipe 2


(Bakes 3 continental style richer loaves - apologies for the switch to imperial measurements, it's from a very old book - a machine is best unless you have very strong arms)



2lbs 14oz flour
1 1/8 pint milk
5oz sugar
8oz butter
25gms fast action dried yeast
3 eggs
2 tsps salt.

Melt the butter, add the milk and keep until luke warm. Add the dried yeast and leave for 10 mins.

Add flour and sugar to a bowl and then add the salt at one side. Add the eggs and milk mixture and mix until a dough is formed (1 minute on minimum in a food mixer)  Knead for 10 minutes or 3 minutes on 1 in the mixer.

Leave to rise until doubled in size.

Knead for 10 mins or 2 mins at speed 1 in the mixer, and shape. Leave to prove for another couple of hours (it takes longer because of the other ingredients inhibiting the yeast) and bake at 210 Fan for 30/40 minutes depending on loaf size. The crust will brown because of the sugars, but is delicious.



Thursday, 18 January 2018

Part of the updated storyline for the princess and the pea.

 My daughter has updated the story line of the Princess and the Pea for me and here's a little snippet from the first 3 chapters!! I think it's hilarious!

 

😂😂😂 The prince, the princess, and the pea.


Chapter one: A lonely prince


Once upon a time there was a prince who wanted a friend because he was lonely.

He often sat in his castle and thought how much fun it would be to have somebody to play table tennis with and tell bad jokes to. Somebody who would eat the gold-wrapped fruit creams out of his chocolate tin (he was a purple-wrapped chewy caramel kind of prince),

The prince sighed, and the royal dog rested its head on his lap.

Chapter two: A terrible storm


One evening a terrible storm came to the prince's land. The thunder crashed! The lightning flashed! And the rain poured down in torrents.

Suddenly a knocking was heard at the castle door:

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK!

So the prince opened it....

Chapter three: A princess arrives


It was a  girl standing out there in the storm. But, good gracious, what a sight she looked!

The rainwater ran down from the top of her head to the tips of her wellies! She was covered in mud, and was holding a spanner. From the crown she wore and the royal crest on her anorak, the prince could tell she was a princess.

"Oh good sire!" the princess cried. "My magical royal carriage broke down in the woods. I tried to fix it but I think the magic must have washed away in all this rain. I'm so cold and wet and muddy, please can I come in and dry off?"

Chapter four: A happy coincidence

Chapter five: The pea test

Chatper six: Morning

Chapter seven: A very happy ending.


Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Chocks away! Starting with some fabric dyeing

I wish that was chocs away instead of chocks away, but alas I'm still working my way through the Christmas tupperware tub of random choccies (the ones no one is keen on - you're getting desperate when you're down to those)

I started to dye some fabric yesterday for the new piece. Now if you know my work, you may have gathered that I get an idea and then a title, and it's a bit hit and miss from thereon in. I like to make it up as I go along and often don't have specific plans.

I've noticed from following MOMA and the modern art movement from the 50's onwards, a lot of work involved experimenting with materials especially paint - putting it on, using different things like emulsion,  mixing it all with odd things, and letting the image you produce reflect the materials you use. The overall impression for me is one of effects rather than intent. (There's always exceptions of course.)

I often get quick ideas about materials and applications and wonder "What if...." This is a magical sensation and I try to follow it up with experimentation as it leads to some fab happenings - some rejects too. Yesterday was about lathering acrylic paint onto fabric with a squeegie - using mark making to give direction and vague shape only. Nothing to report - it went in the bin!! But you never know what it managed to store in the subconscious.

Today a fresh start with dyeing (there's loads of info out there if this isn't enough for you).

Choosing my colours. I use Procion MX dyes which come in powder form in lots of different colours. For this effort I'm using a mix of lemon, tan, and a hint of indigo to calm it down.

First thing to do is soak your cotton fabric in a soda ash mix. (you can use washing soda from the supermarket but the proportions are different) I mix 3/4 oz soda ash with 1 litre of hot water and stir to dissolve (you need rubber gloves) Use more if you have a big piece of fabric by just doubling up. Leave your cloth to soak in the mix for at least half and hour or overnight.




Then squeeze out. You can reuse the leftover liquid or store for another session. You can also use the fabric now whilst wet or you can leave to dry - you get slightly different results.


Put on a dust mask. Yes, you do need one as this powder is really fine and flies around without you knowing it - no one wants multi coloured diseased lungs. Measure your dry powder into a dish and add hand hot water to mix.

You can do all sorts of things at this stage, but I'm keeping it simple. I've dissolved 2 big tablespoons of salt in hot water, then added the dye and stirred. I've topped up with cold water to make half a bucket of liquid.


I've put the fabric into the solution and stirred and gyrated it. I'll leave for 2 hours before rinsing out and leaving to dry.


This colour is a background neutral to show through when other things have happened on top. I don't want anything too dark.


Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Beginning that latest piece at last!



I've begun work on the inside of the Princess and the Pea castle for my granddaughters but have had to stop whilst I wait for supplies. In the gap between yesterday and waiting for the post to arrive, I've been planning the latest piece of work, The Last Vision.


It's largely based around one of my favourite works which is in my image library - I'm sharing it and a couple of others but don't have artists details I'm afraid.  My first thoughts go to discharging dyed fabrics and adding paint afterwards. It will be a multi-portrait quilt and although I can see lots of places to go with it, nothing has been finally decided yet. If you are not sure what I mean by this technique, my friends Linda and Laura Kemshall have how-to videos which are quite inspiring.

I love the intensity given to the focal point by making the background unresolved. I have some portraits that I can use, but am always on the look out for more if you fancy it! Just contact me.






Saturday, 13 January 2018

Princess and the Pea Castle - part 1

I have two adorable granddaughters, and thought I'd make them a book/model of a well known fairy tale. There's lots of story options of course and I'm making a start on The Princess and the Pea. I used to like this story when I was a child, though I intend to update the story line a bit, so stay tuned for a bit of a laugh as things progress! I had also thought of Rapunzel - maybe see how this one goes.

Here's the outer construction of the castle. I'm making it up as I go along so have no patterns to share with you, sorry.  Obviously it will be covered with vines and flowers. I was also thinking about a turret and possibly some astro turf and a nice table and umbrella! I'm sure if I had a castle I'd want to go on the roof to play.

Making the walls from mount board covered in stone effect paper.


These bits will hold the sides of my box together - no idea what they're called, but I've seen them on the corner of buildings.


Painting them a bit to look like stone edging.


Gluing them in place


Roof next I think.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Foraging in the garage trying to avoid diabetes

This is how far I've got with that pencil sketch. I'm going to call it a day for now - staring hard at someone you know quite well is an odd sensation, almost as if you've never seen them before, and that intensity is to be taken in small doses!


I've also started to get the work down from the tidy place I'd hidden it before the Christmas celebrations started, and am reacquainting myself with Talking Heads.  Hope you had a good Christmas and New Year - me? I'm still working my way through a large tupperware box of chocs (I put them all in together and am eating at random!) which I'm keeping in the garage so I have to go on an expedition rather than picking at them when I pass. I ought to stop and perhaps even throw them away but of course I can't.


Friday, 5 January 2018

Working on a pencil sketch portrait

Beginning with a starkly staring eye....


And a gape which doesn't really say "smile" yet...


Working on lighting-up the expression ....


More fiddling today I think!

Friday, 29 December 2017

Portrait using fast flow acrylics

I haven't used these paints for a portrait before. They are quite expensive but fortunately go a long way - a few small brush-fulls did this A3 sized portrait on cartridge paper. A second applications may get rid of the brushstrokes you can see and give the more uniform appearance this style of portrait needs (in my mind anyway!)


This is my daughter Sarah. She quite likes it, so for me, that's success!

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Post Christmas sketchbook work

I like to work on a large scale so I suppose it's unusual that I've started a new little sketchbook. I've had a go with bits and bobs cut out of magazines etc and made collages on the inside of the covers.


It's a good place to keep copies of lino prints and odd things like beetles.


A pen and ink drawing of one of my volunteer "Leamington People".