Tuesday 12 November 2013

The Hungry Wasp

Putting my boots away the other day and I noticed a wasp on the top of the boot stand.  It's getting cold now and you could see that it was struggling, it barely moved as I went to shush it away.  I lifted it onto a leaf and couldn't help but notice what a beautiful little creature it was.  Not that Summer Wasps are my favourite thing and had it been full of the joys of summer, I wouldn't have been anywhere close, but I couldn't ignore an animal in such need.  I found a skewer, coated it in honey and let Waspy get some much needed food. Watching it work its way around the skewer was a fascinating and touching, it had so obviously been in need.  It was also a real pleasure to enjoy a creature that I would, in other circumstances, be doing everything in my power to avoid!

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Selene... my nemesis... completed!

Halloween came a little early to our house this year and yes, I got the Mermaid costume finished, I was (finally) Selene for an evening.  

Reading back to my first thoughts on this year's project, all buzzing with inspiration and optimism, I honestly don't know whether to laugh or cry; I had such great plans and hopes and have found it, instead, to be deeply frustrating.  Giving up and starting again was exactly the right thing to have done, the wonderful Mrs B is a wise woman indeed!  It was a therapeutic and very satisfying experience and one that I found that I didn't want to blog about.  The majority of the dress is handstitched, curled up on the sofa with the boyf and the dogs, remembering, as I went along, little details about how I made the first dress and reminiscing about those first early days of falling in love with the Jedi.  It became a private process that I felt no desire to document.

That said, now that it's all done, I'm more happy to share the results and finish off Selene, once and for all! Starting off with my favourite picture of the evening, taken by Mrs S.  Blurry I know, but I love it.  It's us.

So, to start, my lovely little Starfish and Seashell tiara.  This was the second attempt as the mutts ate the first and I mean ate... demolished, destroyed.  It was touch and go as to whether I took them to the vets; happily, starfish, it seems, are not poisonous to dogs, nor bits of shell and silver plated wire... Even more happily, I had spares of everything and time in which to quickly wire them all back onto the headband.  It was a huge improvement on the bouncing silver stars I sported in 2006!

And then the dress itself.  A boned, empire line bodice attached to a gathered skirt, in the dark grey/blue sateen.  The bodice was of my own design (I may post the pattern later) and the skirt was based on the fantail skirt from the Victoria costume.  I shortened it to the point at the back of the knees where it is gathered and cut the front into a slightly deeper "V" that dropped from knee 3-4 inches.  Each panel of sateen was matched with a 1/2 as big again panel of a very soft net tulle which was gathered, stitched on and then treated as one piece.  In this way I was able to create the deep drapes and ruches without losing too much structure.  The bodice was attached to the skirt and the netting handstitched to it, first along the neckline and then gathered, vertically, along each seam of the bodice and stitched in place.  A zip was then handstitched in at the back.  The bodice is a far improved version of the original and inspired by a 50's prom dress that I have.  The front panel naturally fell into an attractive drape and so I left it as was.  The bottom, fishtail, of the skirt was a double layer of a pale blue chiffon under a iridescent, stiffer, dress net.  This was just over twice the width of the skirt hem, gathered and stitched in place.  The back half of the skirt was gathered at the back as per the fantail skirt pattern.

Green ceramic beads and silver and orange seed beads were stitched across the top of the bodice and at various points on the dress, with individual shells added in places and a rosette at the knee of sari fabric ribbon and a shell "corsage".  Again, a huge improvement on silver stars!

So that's it, before and after.  An although I have replaced my Jedi for a Vampire...

...it all worked out in the end ;o)

Sunday 27 October 2013

How to have a happy Monday...

according to the good folk at exemplifyonline.com at least.  This appeared on my FB page recently so I decided to give it a try. 

Brew Something Caffeinated:  One mug of Pomegranate Green Tea and, as a bonus "For All We Know" on the radio, any day that starts with the Carpenters is going to be a good one; I skipped to Blast Your Favorite Song.

Stand in the Sunshine: did that, didn't take a photo, but in October, a little warm is lovely.  

Wear Your Favorite Blouse:  I don't have a blouse to have as a favourite... it got me thinking that I would like a blouse to call a favourite, I will have to be on the lookout for one.  In the meantime, my favourite grey marl T and matching cardigan did the job nicely.

Let Psalm 118:24 Take Root:  "This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." I may not be the most religious of folk, but I appreciate the message and it was a wonderful one to leave percolating in mind for the rest of the day.

Laugh, Laugh, Laugh: we did that and being told to do so made a difference to my mindset for the day.  Seeing the humour in things is easy when you're actively looking.

Eat Lunch On Fine China: well there was none of that to be found at work, but I borrowed the nicest plate I could fine and, whilst I still ate at my desk, just the act of eating my lunch (leftover vegan chilli, yum!) from a plate made a far greater difference than I thought it would.  I learnt a much needed lesson in taking a little time and a proper break to not just eat but savour my food; pause, refocus and regroup.

Work Excellently: I work hard, but do I always excellently?  Another great mindset for the day and it brought a surprising amount of joy to the day too.  Not just completing a task, but making the process excellent is a compelling way to approach the jobs of a day.

Stretch Throughout The Day: at any possible opportunity.  I found that it centered me, focused me on my physicality and brought me back to the present. Again, all important reminders.

Eat Dessert: and that I did!  I had nothing in the house so a scrubble round the cupboards resulted in my first proper attempt at tofu ice cream.  Peanut Butter Maple Tofu Ice Cream to be exact and damn, is it good!  Shame no-one else at home likes the sound of it... one whole tub for me!

And so, in 10 simple instructions, I had a very happy Monday.  More importantly I was truly "present" in my day, focused from the moment I got dressed to the final moments before I went to bed on what would bring pleasure to my day.  I was also reminded that happy is not a selfish concept, that focusing on my happy was also a way of bringing my best me to the rest of my day.

So tomorrow's Monday, have a Happy One folks and, if you have time, try a some of this little experiment :o)

What's been happening...

Goodness, it's been a long (busy!) time since I last had a chance to get my writing hat on; here's a small hint of what's been happening the last few weeks...

Designing, for me is more often than not purely for personal reasons; cards, invitations etc. but recently I've had a few external commissions and it's certainly been a smörgåsbord design-wise.  It started with a company logo which is now on their building's external signage and I can't deny its kinda cool to see your work in 40 foot glorious technicolour. Project 2 was to design some engagement party invitations and all the corresponding paper items: menus, placecards, table number cards etc.  Project 3 is a complete change of pace from florals and creams; a website for a private Respiratory specialist.  I now know more about lungs and the respiratory systems than ever thought I would, its been really interesting work.

The engagement invitations are an iron grey (coincidentally, now also the colour of my bathroom woodwork) design on a very pale cream, pearlised card. The floral design is a combination of two brushes (Blossom and Sweet Pea) from one of my favourite designers Pixels & Ice Cream - their website is definitely worth a look. All names and details have obviously been changed.

The Invitations
The Reply Cards

The reverse of both the invitation and reply cards

Table Numbers

Menu Cards (gorgeous menu!), each guest's choice indicated with glued on Swarovski crystal

And finally, a A4 header for additional papers (maps etc.)

The website is a completely different look.  London based, we went for a red, white and blue theme and the dark navy blue works well with the x-ray of a throat and lungs that we chose as the site's main image.  It's very simple, but clean and bold and I'm pleased to say that I have a very happy client.

And finally, in amongst all that, there has been work and coursework, lots of dogs to walk, the Halloween costume (more of that later), handmade Christmas presents and Christmas card designs, and the rather mad idea that I would redecorate around the house "just because".

Monday 14 October 2013

The Three Sardines Cushion

My three little fishes are all done!  I briefly contemplated a box cushion descriptor but there's the right way to make them, the wrong way to make them and then whatever it was that I got up to yesterday afternoon!  The zip also didn't make it to the final cushion, I liked the idea but not the reality.  I'm loving my three fishes though, and, as one of my lovely two decided, they do make the old uncomfy rocker look both cool and comfy!  Definitely going to have to start looking around for a couple more patterns at least; just no more box ones please.  

PS it's not as wonky as I've now noticed the photo suggests (promise), that'll teach me not to plump before shooting!
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