Wednesday, 27 November 2013

WOYWW - An Artful Dwelling Christmas Advent

Actually, my work space is empty.  You see I have been on a creative retreat this weekend and my bags are still packed....

I had a glorious time with an amazing group of women. There is nothing like crafting from morning til night, or if I am honest, the early hours.  I found my mojo two weeks ago on my last retreat.  Yes, two retreats in two weeks, how lucky am I?! 

This time I was inspired by a Christmas advent that I'd seen in the latest Craft Stamper magazine. It used Tim Holtz 'Artful Dwellings' die, but I decided I didn't want to buy this as the houses looked simple shapes. So I cut card templates and made my own. 50 of them in 4 different shapes.

Meanwhile a friend posted on Facebook, asking if anyone had the die that she could use. I offered her my templates but she managed to buy a die before the weekend, so that made two of us making this calendar. I turned up full of motivation. I have too much Christmas paper so using it up on this project pleased me.  I spent Friday evening cutting out paper to decorate the houses. And I did it again all Saturday morning. And afternoon. What had seemed a simple project turned into something much more complicated. Though perhaps that was just me over thinking things because trying to balance patterns, colours, size and shapes was much more time consuming than I ever imagined.  I was not going to bed before I had finished because I could not face getting up and working on it again! The row of 25 houses were attached with tape and backed with another house shape to give strength and neaten the back. Meanwhile, my friend with the die cut out her houses and papers in a short time. She used just a small selection of co-ordinating papers and the same for the numbers. Hers took a fraction of the time it took me and I learnt several good lessons:

a.  Using up old papers is a good idea in theory
b.  Using different sets of numbers and materials is also good in theory 
c.  Cutting out my own templates is cheaper than buying a die
d.  Cutting out my own templates takes considerably more time than using a die
e.  When you plan a project it is worth thinking about the time involved to prepare materials rather than assume using up your stash is a good idea
f.  You can save much time by using co-ordinating or complimenting papers and embellishments  
g.  Time has a cost.  Enjoyment can give way to frustration!

The day after I got home my friend let me know that Sizzix had the Artful Dwellings die at a great discounted price.  Guess what?  I BOUGHT THE DIE!!!  I also bought 9 others.   Next week these might be on my workspace.    Do pop back and see!

I hope your own creations have been less frustrating than mine, but I'm pleased to say I like the Advent Calendar now it is finished and on display.  What's more, it's a perfect fit. At least I got that right! 

This post is part of Julia's weekly sharing of 'What's On Your Work Desk?' To see what others have been up to why not pop over and see.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013


Lately it has been difficult to find time to create. I always know when this is lacking in my life, I feel off balance, not quite complete.  And so it was with huge relief and excitement that I packed my bags and set off for a weekend retreat.  I met these ladies for the first time earlier this year and had one of the best weekends ever!  I have never been made so welcome or laughed so much. 

This time I also took my friend Pauline. Now, this is no grand affair. We sleep in a village hall on lilos, and create/crop in the other half.  Like grown-ups on a Brownie camp! And do you know what? I was so comfortable and relaxed in the company that I shared that on Saturday I did not get dressed!  No - I had a pj day! I never do this at home unless I am unwell but I have had a lot of pressure lately and having a r-e-a-l-l-y chilled day was just what I needed. 
Sometimes it is good to listen to the body and do what feels right,  this felt really liberating and rebellious and it fed my inner child!   

Some of you will know that I am working through The Artists Way book written by Julia Cameron.  Well one of the things I most enjoy and embrace is 'morning pages'.  Much like journaling this is time for me to empty my mind and create space for other ideas and thoughts.  Hopefully useful ones. And this weekend my writing blew me away by what it unearthed.  Earlier this year I started a new Art Journal following an online course 'Passport to Art' run by Bernice.  Well, I started the journal on the last retreat but I could not connect with some of the prompt quotes.  I made several attempts to fill more pages when I got home but I was not excited or inspired. But I wanted to work on this so I took my journal and during my 'morning pages' I had a realisation.  I needed to make the journal more personal. 


I made up my own quotes or journal related themes and completed lots of pages. I wondered why I hadn't done this before but I guess when we are overloaded the obvious can be overlooked.  I am grateful to Bernice for the inspiration because I LOVE metaphors and things to do with travel and journey. I LOVE art journaling and getting messy with ink and paint. I LOVE being experimental and doing things just for sheer fun.  And now I LOVE my Atlas-journal!  Here are a couple of my early pages.  I will make a video one day and show more. Other pages are shown on the link above.

Now this page irritates me.  The spacing is wrong and I want to redo it. But I am learning to live with imperfection and I challenge myself to let go and walk away. To acept that sometimes it is 'good enough'. So it is almost fitting that this page came together in this way. My cabin is too full for me to use right now. Another reason my creativity is stifled. There is no room for play!  I find it hard to throw things that might have another use, you see. I love upcycling, making things from old. And it was interesting that the words on this page just flowed, there was no practice run or pre-contemplation. With the recent loss of a dear friend and other things going on, this page is very much where I am right now. I did have a good day in the cabin and I can find the floor and table top again. There is still much to be done but this weekend I am off on another retreat. I am super excited! I'll share more about this another time, and what I made this first weekend because day 2 of my 'morning pages' was also liberating and productive.

So glad that my mojo is back!

Monday, 11 November 2013

5 in 5 - MELANIE November 2013

Those who follow my posts might know that Melanie is my friend who lives in Australia.  She loves photography and enjoys taking part in this monthly challenge.... there is just one problem.  Melanie does not have a blog!  And so each month I post her photos and I love that we have found a way for her to take part. 

Thanks Melanie, over to you:

" November '5 in 5' -  I had a plan but it failed on two counts.

The first failure was the date.  I planned to go on November 5th and do my 5 in 5 in the New Forest.  Well my daughter was worried November 5th was expected to be a day of showers (as it turns out this expectation has come true)  but November 4th was expected to be blue skies and sun shine .  Since to get to the New forest I had a ferry ride then a 3 mile walk which wouldn't be much fun in rain I decided November 4th was the better bet.  This as it turned out was the perfect day to go.

The second failure was my reasoning for going to the New forest which was I wanted pictures of ponies.  When I visited the same spot earlier in the year there had been heaps of ponies there.  Not so yesterday the only sign that ponies frequented the spot was lots of hoof prints so as you can see no ponies in my 5 photos.  However plenty of water as the ground was very wet from the abundance of rain and the five shots although different require no further explanations".


I love the reflection in these photos and there seems to be a watery theme going on this month!  If this has inspired you to take photos  to add to this challenge you have until 25th before the link closes! It's great fun and this post should answer any questions or give any other information that you need.
Thank you to Melanie and everyone else who has taken part so far this month. Links for these posts are here. I'll be back next month and hopefully with more photos from Melanie.  Will they be taken in UK or Australia I wonder?  
Recently Melanie's daughter had a serious car accident while in Namibia.  She was flown back to UK where she lives and Melanie flew over to provide the high level of support that her daughter needed. I'm pleased to say she is making a good recovery and the cage she wears to support her neck and head will be removed in the next 2 weeks. Melanie plans to return to Australia at the beginning of December and with all this going on I so appreciate that she finds time to do this challenge. 

Monday, 4 November 2013

5 in 5 -RIVER WALK -November 2013

Welcome to '5 in 5' where on the 5th of
 each month I post 5 photos that I have
taken in 5 minutes. 
There is a river near my home where I love to go.  The sky feels immense and the clouds always catch my attention whatever the weather. On this day, if you looked up the river rain clouds were starting to form.  Turn around and the sky was more blue. This is a place of contrast and constant change. A place where I can unwind and appreciate the ever changing scene.
This gate had a beautiful rusty hinge with a cobweb attached.
Which photo to include? Sometimes being restricted to 5 photos is difficult as I want to add more! The gate leads to a path that winds along the river, from here it starts to narrow and the landscape becomes quite remote. Sheep graze on the marshland.
 There were a lot of birds around that day.  Many come to our local coastal water and marshland to overwinter. Usually there are lots of swans on this part of the river too and it was lovely to see a pair with their five cygnets. They were too spread out to get a good photo of them together but I liked this pair with the breeze ruffling their feathers.  

  Although I love blue sky, clouds always hold a fascination for  
me. Did you know I am a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society? 


This is the sort of house I would love to live in, with steps going down into the water and somewhere I could sit with my camera or a book.  How wonderful it would be to watch life pass at a slow relaxed pace, and the comings and goings of the tides and seasons.  I would love to have my own boat. But meanwhile I am blessed with having this favourite spot to visit when ever I choose.

Someone else who took photos of water was Helena. She used the idea of '5 in 5' and shared some amazing abstract photos on her blog, taken of reflections. Unfortunately Helena was too late to add to last months link, but they are too good to not mention and I am inspired to take another trip to the river and to use Helena's idea! It is exciting each month to see how everyone uses different approaches to this challenge, sometimes a theme, a place, or an interesting idea. And if you like to take part this month you would be VERY welcome! Here is the plan:

1.  Choose a location.

2.  Have your camera ready.

3.  Set a mobile timer for 5 minutes.

4.  Take as many photos you can until the time is up.

5.  Choose 5 photos to download and share by using the link tool.
   You have until the 25th of the month to add your photos. 
If you want to know more there are details here.

And one more thing - when you use the link tool, please click on your post title.  This will show the web address. Please right click, copy and paste this as your link.  This will take readers directly to your '5 in 5' blog page and be easier for them to find.
Thank you to those who have taken part so far. I have loved seeing your photos and hope you will be back with more. 

And don't forget, you have until 25th to post your link!
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