Saturday, 31 July 2010

bits and pieces

Picked up a few bits and pieces on our walk today, a few raspberries, a handful of early blackberries and an unripe cobnut. Also this lovely little glass bottle stopper, which I wound in a scrap of copper wiring I found in the loft.

There's lots of this glassy slag in the fields around here. I love the graduation of the colours. If anybody knows if there is a way to work with this do let me know, I suspect it would just shatter in a stone tumbler.

You know that you've been drooling over all those US prairie chic blogs for far too long when you find yourself handwashing a grubby hessian feedsack picked up from the side of the road. I have reached that point. Though I did rein myself in when it came to ironing it. Still it will make good storage bag for the shed. 

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

shed wars

The boys think the little shed is theirs. They have plans for a workbench, model aeroplanes, posters of cars and other "boys stuff". They are so wrong.  Having painted the most (I did the green exterior, red shelf, blue sky ceiling with clouds, OH did a bit of interior white washing) I am staking my claim but will relinquish it for a bit more help in getting the big shed to look just as nice. 

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

PAH - run out of lino

I'm eagerly waiting the postman for a fresh supply of lino. In the meantime here is my simplified sketch for the planned goldfinch print.  

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

small quiet creatures

We have found some wonderful life in our garden and on our walks and I itch to use their patterns and shapes in new work. I love the strikingly geometric grasshopper, like a moving blueprint of some complex mechanical contraption. The caterpillar of The Cinnabar moth is ingeniously camouflaged amongst the ragwort flowers but his yellow and black stripes remind me of some outlandish theatre pantaloons. But my favourite is the Gatekeeper, a modest little butterfly with a name that sums up his habit of lingering around the brambles and nettles that frame the garden gates and line the country lanes here. At the moment I am working up some sketches of the pair of goldfinches that seem to monopolise the bird feeder. More soon...     

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Sisal people

A ball of thick sisal twine found its way into the house yesterday and was sitting there begging to be used. This was the best me and the 4yr old could come up with, two sisal people dangling in the apple tree, one's me the other is him. The only similarity I have to sisal me is the unruly hair.

Thursday, 8 July 2010


I am pleased as punch to find myself living right next to fields of barley and wheat. Not just for the pleasing view of crops waving gently in the wind, the low swoop of the house martins and the occasional croak from an unseen pheasant, but because it means I can watch the crops turn slowly from green to gold. At this point I should confess to a professional interest in the ripening of crops. Most of my days are spent poring over aerial photographs looking for evidence of long buried archaeological remains, which sometimes show themselves as variations in the ripening crops. Click here to see some stunning crop marks .
So to celebrate the “crop mark season”, tomorrow’s Folksy Friday on this blog will have a crop and field theme.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


I made jam! For the first time. It was surprisingly simple, but a bit scary at the boiling sugar bit. Every recipe I read online was different but this is what I ended up doing (based on all in general and none in particular):

  1. One very big pan*, 1kg hulled strawberries, 1kg jam sugar (has added pectin), good squeeze of lemon juice & few drops of vanilla. 
  2. All gently heated on the stove until all the grainy sugar had dissolved. 
  3. Meantime put washed jars into the oven at c. 140C with metal spoons in and one plate into the freezer. 
  4. Once the sugar was dissolved (it took about 20mins, but I haven't got the hang of gas again yet) turned the heat up and boiled the mix for 10 minutes, 
  5. Then flipped a spoonful of the mix onto the cold plate, gave it a mo then stuck a finger in - well set.
  6. Removed the heat from the jam and the jars and left both for 10 minutes (but see 8) 
  7. Spooned jam into still warm jars, sealed with greaseproof paper and lids. 
  8. Realised 10 mins wasn't enough to distribute the fruit so kept turning the jars upside and back again until it had set to stop all the strawberries floating to the top.      

* boiling sugar is scary, my mix only filled the bottom fifth of my pan, which felt safe enough when it was bubbling up the sides.

And today found a damson tree at the bottom of the garden. Damson jam is my favourite!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Who let the dog out?

What with shed moving, box unpacking, dog searching, shelf painting, strawberry picking, bike riding, fence building, dog searching (again), more box unpacking, curtain lining, hedge trimming and even more box unpacking I haven’t found much time for printing recently. Can’t believe I bought jam sugar yesterday – jam making is so not going to happen before those berries disintegrate. I have a small kernel of an idea for my next print at the back of my mind but it is difficult to give it space at the moment. A bit like the bloomin’ goldfish. But hopefully now that the garden is dog-proofed (fingers crossed) I’ll find a few more minutes in the day for that idea to grow.


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