Saturday, 31 October 2009

Samhain, Ancestors & a Parting Ceremony


Samhain is a time of witnessing the death of summer in preparation for rebirth and spring.

Samhain is a time to honour the ancestors, those that passed before us. This year, for me, that will also include descendants. To mark the passing of Samhain I have chosen to honour ancestors and descendants through the medium of felt using the language of flowers. The Iris symbolises honour and respect.

Samhain is also Celtic New Year. A time for letting go of the old year and things that came to pass and embracing the new. I wish you health, hope and happiness for the oncoming year.


Blessed Be

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The HERO Initiative

This week Theme Thursday is all about Halloween. I thought about writing what Halloween means to me, Samhain, All Hallows Eve, a time to honour the ancestors, noticing the death of summer and of course MAGIC, fancy dress, parties and FUN.

Thinking back at some of the parties I've been to I can say there is always a Dracula, Cat Woman, Hellboy, a Werewolf or two...

So that got me thinking about Villains, Anti-heroes, those with supernatural powers, our favourite comic and graphic novel characters. My sister lives next door to a very successful comic artist. She's even modeled for him once or twice. I seem to remember she was the model for Judge Anderson on the Placebo album cover her neighbour drew many full moons ago.

Over the past 18 months or so I have noticed this comic artist posting pictures of his work on facebook. Its always refreshing to see art on there instead of the mundane 'tiffany's Coronation St name is...'.

What I have noticed and respected about these pictures is that he has donated the works to the HERO Initiative . The HERO Initiative is a charity set up to help veteran creators ( and their families ) who need financial support and may have been largely forgotten by the industry they helped to forge ; people who were creating comics long before things like royalties and reprint fees became the norm, and whose work may no longer be in vogue, or who simply can't draw anymore. The works below, and 99 others, are being auctioned to raise money for this worthy cause.





Many of the donated works of comic art are being auctioned on Ebay. The starting bid prices are very low. Please click HERE to visit the Ebay auction site and see the wonderful donations available for purchase. Wouldn't they make great and unusual Christmas gifts?

The success of a project like this is in ensuring that as many people are aware of this project as possible. Please feel free to link to this post and circulate knowledge of this project.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Fibre Experiments and Autumn Walks

From top left, going clockwise - Bamboo, green alpaca, merino, scoured Norwegian sheep wool.

Made into this large piece of fabric. My camera isn't really doing justice to the felt. The pattern is very pleasing. I was able to make this pattern because the wool had not been carded into rovings. I had to lay out each little bit at a time. My lovely P. helped me :) What you can't see in this picture are accents of green, navy and apricot alpaca running beneath the surface. You can't see the difference in texture between the bamboo and wool, which compliment each other very well.

I intend to make this into a granddad shirt (when I figure out how to use this sewing machine I just bought, quite a scary looking thing it is!)

Autumn leaves are like conkers, you just have to stop and look...


Pine cones smell wonderful on a log fire...

Friday, 23 October 2009

Feed The Birds Day

(Click on image to find out how and what to feed birds)

The 24th-25th October is 'Feed the Birds Days' here in the UK. Feed the birds day aims to remind us of all we can do to help out birds and our garden wildlife. The winter of 2008 was one of the coldest winters in many years. This has forced birds into our gardens in search of food for survival.

With climate change many birds are migrating late or failing to migrate at all and sadly, natural habitats are at threat. Birds and wildlife need our help more than ever.

Top five tips on helping birds this winter

There are so many things you can do in your garden to provide food for all wildlife. And Autumn is a great time to plant something great for wildlife. Over the winter, there are other things we can do. The RSPB have created this top five for us.

  • Plant native plants such as hawthorn, ivy and honeysuckle that will provide berries in the winter for adult birds, and insects for young birds in spring
  • Make a log pile – it will be the ideal place for insects, fungi, mosses and lichens
  • Provide an insect home – insects will spend the winter in these
  • Install nesting boxes for birds such as house sparrows, winter hibernation places for hedgehogs, and roosting boxes for bats
  • Create a water feature such as a pond or bog garden - much wildlife relies on a regular supply of freshwater
(Click on image to find out how to build this wildlife stack)

Autumn Birds by John Clare
The wild duck startles like a sudden thought,
And heron slow as if it might be caught.
The flopping crows on weary wings go by
And grey beard jackdaws noising as they fly.
The crowds of starnels whizz and hurry by,
And darken like a clod the evening sky.
The larks like thunder rise and suthy round,
Then drop and nestle in the stubble ground.
The wild swan hurries hight and noises loud
With white neck peering to the evening clowd.
The weary rooks to distant woods are gone.
With lengths of tail the magpie winnows on
To neighbouring tree, and leaves the distant crow
While small birds nestle in the edge below.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Traffic - another work in progress

It's Theme Thursday time again. I started this project a few days ago with high hopes of completing it for today. A traffic jam of herded sheep seemed perfect for todays theme. But I've got a nasty flu, might even be that killer 'Man flu' I've heard so much about, I'm sure it must be deadlier for us women :)

So I'm afraid a work in progress is all I can show as I haven't been able to muster up any energy for felting the past day or two. Sorry its not much of a offering.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Peacock Scarf - Work in progress






I received my wool order yesterday. Lots of predyed alpaca wool, Wenslydale scoured wool, Norwegian scoured wool, hemp, cotton, bamboo and olive soap. I read somewhere recently that olive soap is best because it produces less suds.

So this is my first attempt at wet felting with alpaca wool. Linda of Fiber Fabrications kindly explained to me that:-

Sheep's wool is comprised of fibers made up of many, many scales that have barbs on the ends. (This is microscopically) Those barbs are what make wool prickly to many people. Alpaca fiber has much bigger scales that are smoother and do not have barbs.

The piece photographed above consists of 5 shades of alpaca wool, 2x green, 2x blue and apricot. I have scattered some bamboo fibres in between the layers and have also layered some cotton circles. My energy levels were flagging after a while so I hung the piece out to dry.

Its interesting seeing how different fibres behave. I found that the alpaca wool seems to take a lot more time to felt than merino wool and doesn't seem to have much shrinkage, but it looks incredibly silky when wet and is wonderfully soft.

The above piece will need a second wet felting session to make it functional as a scarf but I enjoyed taking time out to study it and the directions the fibres seem to be moving in. I think this transitional stage is very pretty.


If you are interested in learning more about alpaca's and alpaca wool crafts please visit Linda at Fiber Fabrications. Click HERE to see Linda's wonderful felt soap tutorial.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Knotwork Purse


I've been trying to felt a knotwork trim to liven up a purse I've been making.

Its my first attempt at knotwork in any medium. Even the simpler designs are more complex than they look. I've made quite a few mistakes on this but altogether I still like this purse a lot.

I've found an artist who does web classes on knotwork and also offers a few free patterns. I'd love to take one of Cari Buziak's art courses but my computer won't open PDF's and I don't have an apple... Maybe in the future. In the meantime I'll keep practicing, the reward will be worth it :)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Climate Change

I made this felt picture today in response to Theme Thursday's Blog Action theme of Climate Change. You can't see it on this photo, but the picture is set inside a circle which in turn is inside a square. The circle and the square intertwine like knot work. The circle and square were made with wool that had been dyed in nettles. Assayya recently wrote:

The stinging nettle grows in places where the harmony and balance in the soil is disturbed. He purifies as it were the soil to which plants can grow again, who first disappeared. That makes the energy of the nettle in the emotional sphere. It purifies and makes the atmosphere back into balance from a give and take.

Using nettle dyed wool to encircle this picture seemed both symbolic that the earth is out of balance, but with acknowledging that we can each try to do our bit to restore that balance.

The heart of the picture depicts the earth, the sky and the sea. Each of which are effected by climate change. In the spirit of optimism I have also made a ship donning a Greenpeace flag :)

The above pictures are images from Greenpeace campaigns.


This picture was posted on Dot World.
It's not about Climate Change but it does say it all!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Nature of the Night


Dancing in shadow, rustling the leaves
Snapping of twigs
A quavering branch
Then, silence.

The forest of night
Frozen in time
A land of primal lore
Beyond mans miasmic clench.

Mother Nature, wildlife under wing
Her gliding grace
Branching antlers
Her translucent moonbeam face.

Blessed by cloaks of midnight
Hedgehogs, owls, hares
Brock's, vixen and doe
Lady Oak tracing each move as they come and go.

Lady of the night
Transcending circles
Osmotic to and fro
His will, her woe.

Felt

I got back from Wales on Thursday and have had family visiting from London this week end.

I showed them how to make felt. The top bark like pattern was made by my mother in law. The purse was made by my 13 year old niece using off cuts from the autumn berry bag.

1st attempts at making felt for both of them :)

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Love


Love is talent, the world love's metaphor.
Aflame, Octobers leaves adore the wind,
its urgent breath, whirl to their own death.
Not here, you're everywhere.

The evening sky
worships the ground, bears down, the land.
Yearns back in darkening hills. The night
is empathy, stars in its eyes for tears. Not here,

you're where I stand, hearing the sea, crazy
for the shore, seeing the moon ache and fret
for the earth. When morning comes, the sun, ardent,
covers the trees in gold, you walk

towards me,
out of the season, out of the light love reasons.

Carol Ann Duffy - UK Poet Laureate since 1/5/2009
To read more about Carol Ann Duffy and to hear her read this poem please click HERE.


Today is National Poetry Day. I love poetry. I love the moon. Carol Ann Duffy has skillfully merged both of these loves.

Tomorrow NASA will send a 'bomb laden missile to the moon'. Really. To read more about this lease click HERE.



I will be thinking of The Moon

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Theme Thursday - Collection

I love music. All kinds of music, except maybe some disco and contrived bands, Simon Cowell, Stock Aitken and Waterman style. I have a deep respect for poetic or meaningful lyrics. I love to hear a song sang well, an instrument mastered. I even like bands that are not that musically good but have a passionate feel good factor that prevents me from subduing a smile or tapping a foot.

Most of my friends are musicians.

I collect unusual instruments. Or rather, maybe I should say, I used to buy them as gifts for my dad and coveted them... I now buy them for my 3 year old daughter who is naturally drawn to anything capable of noise.

I have carried instruments that I don't know the names of from one continent to another. Instruments from Chang Mai that had crossed the borders from Laos. I would be stopped in the street by Thai folk beaming from ear to ear looking with a recognition and love of a rarity seldom seen.

These things I have bought for my dad. I once bought him a Cora. An African stringed/percussion instrument originating from an Island near Ghana. Plays like a harp and beats like drum. Its hard to explain.

My daughter has rain sticks, shaky things, nutshells on sticks, painted gourds, xylophones, recorders, harmonica's, and so much more. She has a drum kit, guitar, microphone, keyboard, steel drum... And yes, she loves and uses each one. She could even blow a hunting horn at 18 months.

On Monday, I went to see my grandfather sing in his Barbershop Band. He sings lead and at times Baritone. I had to blink back tears it was so beautiful. All of those men, tenor, lead, baritone and bass. Friends in Harmony. Complimenting each other beautifully. It made me think of my grandmother who died nigh on 20 years ago. She sang the songs that they sang, perfectly. The style may be dated but wow, we cant let this tradition fade. The group sang many semi-modern songs, such as Unchained Melody, a selection of Beatles, Lean on Me, Always look on the bright side of Life. But my favourite were the older nostalgic songs.

My granddad is the handsome chap in the centre

Tonight, we went to see some of the Barbershop members rehearse their Skiffle Band. A delight of folk songs sang and played with tea chest bass, kazoo's, tin whistles, guitar, harmonica and more. Old songs such as 'My old man's a dustman', 'Put a log on the fire', 'You are my sunshine'. There is something wonderful about seeing passionate people having fun and expressing themselves in a way that brings cheer to the hearts and ears of those they encounter.

There is always time for fun.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Made4Aid

Well, Christmas is only a few weeks away. This year I have decided to make as many presents as I can for my friends and family and will probably only buy presents for children.

For those of you that can not afford the time to make all of your presents, why not consider buying arts and crafts from your fellow bloggers. Or better still, why not buy gifts made by your fellow bloggers which have been donated to raise funds for the refugees of Darfur, the reforestation of Attika or the welfare of rescued animals.


The above felt painting is a piece of work that I made inspired by the vibrant hues of Parys Mountain in Wales. I intend to get it mounted and send it to Made4Aid by the end of the week. Made4Aid auction arts and crafts on line and the raised funds benefit the refugees of Darfur.


I have also made a piece of felt and donated it to Attika SOS. That piece will be auctioned at the Folklore Museum on the periphery of Athens. The raised funds will help with the reforestation of the fire damaged land of Attika.



Art for the Animals is another blog that encourages artists and crafts people to visit their local animal sanctuary and make a piece of art inspired by one of the rescued animals. The Art for Animals project is simple. Make a portrait of an animal in your local shelter, or of an animal who's a part of a rescue operation, and donate the painting to the shelter or the rescue group. That's it! The shelter or rescue group can do whatever it wants with the painting - or drawing or mixed media piece or whatever medium you choose.

Art for the Animals often displays the artwork of donated pieces explaining a little about the subject of the piece and providing a link for the ebay auction of the work. I am always amazed by how little the bidding price is for such beautiful creations. I know they would make great Christmas gifts!


If you are interested in buying from or donating to any of these causes please click the names of the projects to find out more or on the pictures.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Parys Mountain - Copper Mines


Parys Mountain is probably my favourite mountain of all time. The colours are magnificently autumnal. Its strange that I should love this mountain so much, after all, it is a mountain that has been raped and pillaged by mankind, excavated like a hard boiled egg leaving only the outer shell. This mountain has been mined since the Bronze Age 3500 years ago.

Parys mountain once offered a wealth of copper, sulphates, welsh gold, silver and tin. There were acidic pools in her cavities that the miners would throw cast iron into to the pools and the chemical erosion would turn the metal into copper. The copper was used to line the bottom of the English fleets giving the fleets an advantage over the armada's.

New industry on the Island - Sustainable energy...

I was amazed by the nature surrounding this harsh environment, gorse, hawthorn, fern, heather, yarrow, herb bay willow. I loved that the natural growth here mimics the colours of the mountain. The literature on this mountain tells that :-

This extreme, harsh, acidic setting has resulted in a unique environment supporting unusual forms of life. Special bacteria derive their energy from the oxidation of sulphides, and rich flora of special lichens can be found coating rock surfaces, whilst heather survives over most of the mountain. Bats, including the rare lesser horse-shoe bat, have colonised the mine workings, and amongst the birds to be soaring with the jackdaws over the opencasts are the red-legged/billed choughs.

This picture doesn't pick it up, but from here i could see the Ilse of Mann. A friend once told me that the Isle of Mann was very similar to New Zealand. I have not been to either but would love to visit both.

The mountain is no longer mined. A new shaft was built in the late 1980's but the price of metals dropped so mining ceased. It is expected that when the price of metals are more favourable the mountain will be mined again. I'm hoping the rare wildlife flora and lichens will prevent that from happening.

The mountain range you see in the distance is Snowdonia.

Spectacular colours. I'd love to capture the beauty of this mountain by felt painting using only natural coloured wools or wool dyed with natural plant, bark and berry dyes.

The locals often dug their own mines off the beaten tracks and hid the entrances with foliage. Some of the shafts were 20ft deep or more so you wouldn't want to stumble into them!

Part of this mountain is owned by Australian companies. The rest of the mountain is owned by various investors and is sought after.

I am dedicating this post to Tammie Lee of Spirithelpers. I have always admired her mountain and lake photographs and the gentle sentiments that accompany them :)

I have taken almost 100 pictures of Parys Mountain. If you are interested in seeing more I am happy to email a few.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Aleph



Aleph has posted some wonderful photography recently about the moon and use of light.

I thought of Aleph earlier today at Beaumaris Castle ( Castell Biwmares).

You can see the Snowdonia mountain range in the background.