Earlier this week I had a pleasant surprise to find that one of my scarves (Portia apple) had been selected and featured in an Etsy festive ‘Editors’ Picks’. Apparently, there are over 30 million items listed on Etsy so I’m genuinely surprised and very grateful to have something selected for the ‘Under £100’ gifts category.
I must be a bit thick as I only found out my work had been featured when I kept seeing referrals for this scarf on my stats page coming from ‘Editors’ Picks’. Well, anyway, thank you to the Editors!
And, also thanks to the folks at Make It British who also included one of my scarves (Hilda ruby) in their Christmas newsletter.
Oh yes, and whilst I’m spreading the love, today (3 Dec 2015) sees the arrival in UK bookshops of ‘I Belong to No One’ written by fellow blogger Gwen Wilson. Congratulations to Gwen and hopefully lots of sales!
My daughter’s birthday is in November and I’ve often thought how close it is to Christmas giving rise to the possibility of giving her one, extra large, special present to cover both occasions. In truth that’s never happened and like most families, especially those with birthdays on the 25th December, we’ve always kept birthday and Christmas separate.
Of course today it’s Thanksgiving in the United States and rather belatedly it has occurred to me that here we have another special celebration day only a month before Christmas.
It’s all a bit like London buses, you wait for hours then they all come at once!
Suburbia gets a mixed press, and ‘suburban’ (at least in the UK) is frequently thrown around as an insult. It can mean average, boring, pedestrian to restrained, uptight and limited. In gardening terms the heyday of the suburban garden was surely the fifties and sixties where neat rectangular lawns were edged with three flower-filled boundary borders. Hybrid tea and floribunda roses were popular for the summer along with bright vivid dahlias and then in the autumn chrysanthemums took over to bring some uplifting colour.
Of course, plants are plants and not in themselves suburban, and who cannot fail to love a classic pink rose or a blue mophead hydrangea. And, I’ve even found a style of flower arrangement that I like which works with the standard supermarket/garage forecourt spray chrysanthemums.
. . . so much so that I’ve used the palette for some scarves.
Oh yes, and finally, through the ether I’m informed by email and adverts that a festival called Christmas is on the horizon – UKHandmade has just published their Christmas Showcase featuring all kinds of handmade work including a stunning Christmas stocking embroidered by a lady who used to work at Buckingham Palace!
Silk chiffon is a beautiful fabric to work with and a luxurious fabric to wear. The sheer, diaphanous quality allows a scarf to appear fluid subtly changing colour as it passes over your skin, your shirt or your dress.
Hand painted chiffon scarf Valeria black.
A bright, eye-catching chiffon scarf can add an elegant, stylish accent too.
My colourful and somewhat quirky Lorina Words chiffon scarf has just been uploaded to my shop. It was inspired by the long, long needlework pieces patiently embroidered by Lorina Bulwer see previous posts ‘Words, words, words’ Part 1 and Part 2 for further details about her life and work.
Regular readers will know that as I’ve mentioned before I live in the driest region of the UK. Summer in East Anglia is renowned for open, sunny skies above a patchwork of golden fields of wheat and barley blanketing the gently undulating landscape.
Not this July, it’s been leaden skies and rain, rain, rain. Last Saturday in the Norwich area more rain fell in a 24 hour period than would normally fall during the whole month of July. Low lying areas are flooding, the fields are sodden and all the delicate flowers in my garden have been bashed to death.
Tough flowers surviving the weather – white dahlia
When creative folk talk about their sources of inspiration they often cite ‘nature’ or their local ‘natural’ environment. Observing the fading of some strong pink roses and the addition of July reds to my garden I thought I’d try out one of nature’s mid-summer colour combinations.
I’ve been reworking my Tudor Bows designs and adding smaller pattern details from the painted fabric worn by the Saints and Old Testament figures so beautifully represented in the stained glass windows of St Edmundsbury Cathedral.
Detail from the Christ in Majesty window. Stained glass by Hardman.
Detail of the creation of Eve. Clayton and Bell.
With the form and motifs worked out I’ve taken the opportunity to work with those inspirational garden reds.
A quick drive over to a quiet place on the east coast of Norfolk for a little product photography didn’t go according to plan. Quite often the final week of May feels like summer, but last weekend we had a surprisingly chilly east wind. Growing up on this side of England you’d think I’d be used to it. Actually one year in my teens I remember being on the Suffolk coast when it snowed on the 3rd of June! So I should have known better,
but we were caught out.
Recently I’ve been working on a slightly different way of painting silk. Taking a leaf out of my approach to gardening which categorically states ‘patience is a virtue’ I have applied this to my silk work.
This means doubling the time and work. Each design is drawn out, painted with mostly paler colours and then steamed. With the first layer fixed another design and more colour is applied over the first and then steamed again. The finished pieces have a deeper more complex and subtle appearance and look as if they have been made of layers.
The initial design is based on my Tudor bows series and then I’ve added some favourite motifs from my Ranworth scarves.
Just thought I’d share my recent re-working of a design littered with medieval rood screen motifs. This time the new colour combination is – pink!
I had originally painted a pale turquoise, mushroom and sage version (below left) and after a few sketches decided that a mostly pink with a few old gold highlights would make an attractive combination.
This scarf has now been steamed and is listed in my shop – Mildred Pink.
Last week a couple of photo shoots caught my eye. One was this advert for ‘Coach’ which shows a professional shoot where the images have been treated to a post-production working in a very similar manner to filters on a camera app on your smart phone or the filters on Instagram.
And, the second was a shoot for a magazine which also produced images with a bleached out effect. Now using filters in photography is nothing new, but I was just wondering whether this recent shift in the look and feel of these fashion pictures, is an attempt to close the gap between the immediacy and youth of mobile social media uploads, and the more sedate rendering of a formal fashion magazine spread.
Below is my series of three images using Instagram. It shows the original (left) and a couple of standard filters – not exactly subtle when viewed on my phone let alone on a bigger screen.
And then, I thought I’d take the same image and try a little Photoshop manipulation to see if I could achieve a ‘bleached’ kind of look but not as harsh as the Instagram filters.
Add some masking.
And finally, this is what I settled for. I like it as a picture, but it doesn’t give the most accurate representation of the scarf!
At the moment I am painting another scarf inspired by the Tudor bows seen in the stained glass from St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds. However, this time I’ve taken the bow motif and, with spring in the air, used some lighter spring pinks and greens.
Strangely, it was seeing this art nouveau ceramic tile that was the final push to make me mix up these seedtime colours.