Tuesday, 25 May 2010


Thank you all for the good wishes. My house hunting in Wales was very successful. I have found a wonderful traditional cottage with a huge garden, and have been to enrol my little girl at the local school this morning.

My time will not be my own for the next few weeks while we pack and move and unpack. A time of change and excitement. A renewal in energy.

I will be back to visit you all once I am settled. Until then, take care xJ

Friday, 21 May 2010


Just a quick note to say thank you all for your well wishes with my house hunting. Sorry I have not time to reply to you all individually.

Here are some pictures of my latest nuno felted scarf embroidered using some of the eastern techniques. The silk was solar dyed with onion skins with the exception of a little silk layering at the ends which was dyed in a bath of daffodils. The merino wool was dyed in onion skins. The chocolate coloured spots are the natural tones of vicuna fibre.

Have a wonderful week end and enjoy the heat wave xJ

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Sunshine, Good Fortune and New Beginnings

Today, it feels like my birthday. The sun is shining, my garden is blooming and the postman loves me. Or at least it feels that way with all of the wonderful mail I have received the past couple of days, and not a red letter amongst it!

A month ago, I signed up to Nicola's Flickr group Spring inspired 'Clasheen Crafty Swap'. It is a really nice swap group and has been so much fun taking part. Not only do we make our swap partner a gift, but we send recipes, craft tips, tea, coffee, sweets and a small gift. It is so much fun making up the hampers to send, and waiting excitedly to receive my own mystery parcel. You can see some of the other swap parcels by visiting the link above. Thank you Nicola for organising this seasonal event. I have really enjoyed it.

A few weeks ago Lisa Achison of 'A Touch of Glass Designs' showed some interest in buying one of my scarves. I love Lisa's work so quickly seized the opportunity to suggest a trade instead of a sale.

The two pictures that you can see show the front and reverse of each bead. I was only expecting one bead so you can imagine how blessed I am feeling right now to have received two beautiful beads. Lisa's work is very inspired by nature, right down to the curves, colours and themes she uses. One bead, has a tree and full moon on it and a real leaf electrofoiled onto the back. I can't describe how exquisite her work is. Quite extraordinary. Thank you Lisa, your work is unique.

Yesterday, this beautiful card with Momo Luna's art print on it arrived. Momo is an amazing artist who works the patterns of the natural world into her art. She has some wonderful organic patterns. If you do not know Momo already, please pay her a visit. Thank you Momo.
I also wanted to show you some of the books I have been collecting. So much inspiration here! The Jenny Dean book of natural dye techniques that you can see on the bottom left hand side of the picture is a bargain at £3.60. If you have any interest in eco dye snap this book up while you can. What I really like about this book is that Jenny gives a colour chart of each dye she uses and the variations depending upon which mordant was used. It is laid out in such a user friendly fashion that I think it will be my constant companion this summer.

I won't have much time for blogging for a while. I am in the process of trying to find a new place to live which is that little bit harder as i am planning on leaving England to begin a new rural life in Wales. Exciting. I will also be meeting up with Susan 'Artsparker' while she is visiting relatives in England.

So, not much time for the computer or crafts for the immediate future, but know that I am happy, and thankful and will visit you all soon. Until then, enjoy the sunshine xx

Saturday, 15 May 2010

An Eco Dyed 'Slow Cloth'

This scarf is nuno felted and embroidered on both sides of the silk. The silk nuno gauze was pre-dyed with onion skins using the solar dyeing method. At each end of the scarf, you will find additional nuno silk which has been naturally coloured in a dye bath of daffodils.

In many ways, this scarf was experimental for me. I have not tried layering nuno gauze prior to nuno felting before. It is the first time that I have laid wool and fibres both beneath the silk and on top of the silk prior to nuno felting and it is also the first time that I have tried to embroider on both sides of the felt.

I really love the variation of tones given by the onion skin dyed materials. The silk, where exposed, looks very pinkish brown like the rich fertile clay of the earth. The lilac dyed wool looks like a pale antique gold when laid out against the onion dyed wool.

I loved the scarf as it was, but have been reading a new book called 'Embroidery Techniques from East & West' by Munni Srivastava, and was desperate to try some of the ideas out. If, like for me, stitching has been limited to added an occasional bead or following a cross stitch pattern, then this book is perfect for you. It gives step by step instructions for simple, yet beautiful Indian embroidery techniques that can be used to compliment our own sewing skills. The book also gives a fascinating history of some of the origins of the techniques. I have been feeling very inspired by the shisha mirror work.

Shisha became very popular with the rise of the glass industry in the 17th century. Initially, shisha mirror work was developed by Mumtaz Begum, wife of Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal in her memory. Mirrors and glass were auspicious and considered a protection against the 'evil eye'.

Today, shisha mirror work is very popular again both within and external to India. Cooperatives have formed which provide the women with the raw materials and design suggestions and buys the shisha work that the women are able to produce. This gives the women an economic freedom they have seldom had before and allows them to buy things for their kitchens and their daughters to make their lives less of a 'drudge'. Some of these cooperatives act as a support system for the women helping them with the costs of illness or debt.

It is really encouraging to know that if we buy good quality shisha mirror work, we are in some way helping improve the lives of women in India, allowing them to be the bread winners and take a little control of their own lives and destiny that they were previously unable to do.

I've thoroughly enjoyed this book and practicing the eastern embroidery techniques. Stitching onto felt is so gorgeous and gives me a great excuse to keep touching the softness of the fibres. I think I will continue further with this piece before listing it for sale.

Have a great week end xJ

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Thinking Yellow

Hello. It seems like I have little to show of my own work of late. Maybe that is because my own work is slow, and takes a while to mature into fruition.

I have been busy with natural dye baths. Firstly, I dried out almost spent daffodils then boiled them into a dye pot using an alum mordant. Initially I had dyed angora, bamboo, merino, silk nuno gauze and silk tussah. The colours were very vibrant and enriching. However when I tried making nuno felt, it just did not work. After three failed attempts I started to doubt my own ability to make felt. I thought I had had time off and just lost the knack. Do you ever feel that way? It was a real crisis of confidence.

I had also tried dyeing barberry bark with the same alum mordant. Again, the colour had come out fantastically, but attempts to nuno felt were less than successful.

I had a Spring crafty swap with Nicola from Clasheen so I really had to put aside my felting doubts and create something that was spring inspired.

I created this nuno felted scarf using white nuno gauze, angora, lilac dyed merino, daffodil dyed bamboo and silk tussah.

I had recently bought some embroidery books. One, taught me how to use shisha mirrors. The mirrors seemed perfect for Spring, the dew, and the April showers.

Yellow can be such a gentle, yet inspiring colour.

And a wee while ago, I bought this limited edition print for my little girl from Joanne May. Isn't it magical! It really does radiate sunlight and cheer the soul. Thank you Jo x

Sunday, 9 May 2010

And the Beauty Flows

Yesterday when the post arrived I was delighted to see a package from Spirithelpers' Tammie Lee. Tammie is a friend that I have come to know and admire over these past months of sharing my adventures with felt and dyes and reading Tammie's inspiring poetry accompanied by the most beautiful reflections of nature.

We had agreed to do a little exchange between friends and Tammie generously let me pick a couple of prints. I chose orchids. Aren't they exquisite!

To my surprise Tammie has also included some greeting cards with two additional pictures of orchids, dancing harebells and a wonderful leaf resting on rocks.

Many of you will know Tammie, and that she has used this picture for her profile in the past. What you may not know is just how wonderful the picture is close up. I had not realised that the leaf in Tammie's picture was covered with droplets of rain that shine like jewels on a bed of the golden leaf. A heartwarming vision evoking images of my favourite season, Autumn.

Please visit Tammie at Spirithelpers, her new art blog Beauty Flows and Etsy.

Thank you Tammie xx

I have also been wanting to post a big THANK YOU to Suzi of Spirit Whispers. Last month I received this wonderful calligraphy canvas in the post. I have really enjoyed getting to know Suzi these past months and reading her tender observations of nature and love for trees. I have also just discovered that Suzi has another blog and a website in which she showcases her work that is for sale. I know I am going to enjoy exploring them as much as I have enjoyed Spirit Whispers. Please visit Suzi at Healing Whispers and Suzi's Scribbles.

Today, as Spring illuminates our lives, like the ever changing of seasons. I find that not only are the flowers and trees of the gardens and wayside beginning to blossom. So are the friendships we make with those across the land and over the seas. The connections we make that enrich and bless our lives. For this, I thank you all x

Friday, 7 May 2010

The Bonzo Dog Band - No Matter Who You Vote For...

The Government Always Gets in!

Yesterday we had a general election in The United Kingdom. Some polling offices closed the doors at 10 pm turning a way hundreds of people who had queued for over an hour to vote. Despite this, there is no clear winner. So today we have a Hung Parliament.

Thursday, 6 May 2010


I know that you have seen it here before but I have been obsessively up cycling old packaging to store things in and also to contain gifts that I have been posting out. It all started with the flower pounding, and then the daffodil dye baths. The petal pulp that was left over from the pounding and dye baths were calling out to be used, so they decorated containers. Soon, flowers of any description were no longer safe. Its so addictive even my little girl has been having a go.

The boxes have mostly pink flowers attached, the red pink of the camellia, pink roses and carnations, deep cerise and pale purple pink of the giant daisy. They all dry out into a pale golden colour in the end. The rose looks particularly good, almost like a leaf skeleton.

The other day an old lady stopped me in the supermarket and asked me if I had heard the expression 'pink to make the boys wink'. She seemed lonely and in need of human contact so I stayed to talk a while. I told her about something I heard on the radio recently. Pink was once a colour worn by men. It could show status as achieving the colour was more difficult than other colours at the time. I don't know how true that it is but it made me think of the psychology of colour and that pink is on the spectrum of the power colour red. If it is true, it is now interesting that women wear pink and have more status than at any other time in history.

Please visit my friends at Theme Thursday to see their interpretations of pink.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

The Festival of The Trees 47

May Day, Beltane & The Tree of Life

The Festival of the Trees n0.47 is upon us leaping joyously into the month of May and Beltane. As Samhain marked the beginning of the Celtic year and the death of summer, Beltane is the celebration of renewed life after the long winter. Everywhere there are signs of life, renewal in energy and inspiration. Lambs, calves and foals can be seen in the fields. The earth is waking and sending up shoots and sprouts. Our gardens and embankments are awash with blooms. Nesting birds enchant us with their song and the trees tenderly uncurl their leaves showing us reassurance and promises of splendour to come. Spring is here!

It is no wonder that the magical changes of season, the stepping out from the dark into the light inspire us so. Robert Frost describes the early leaf as 'a flower', Shakespeare writes 'When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim, Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing'. Robert Louis Stevenson speaks happily about 'The fallows and the leafless trees, And all my spirit tingled', and Phillip Larkin captures the essence of the fertility of this time exuberantly in his poem 'The Trees'.
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something alm
ost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? N
o, they die too,
Their yearly
trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is de
ad, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, a

This month we have some wonderful participants generously sharing their love of nature and trees. Spirthelpers offers inspirational poetry and pictures of breathtaking beauty in posts celebrating Earth Day, and the Festival of the Trees. Seabrooke Leckie enthralls us with the remarkable tree climbing porcupine. Leaves and Bloom gives us the 'scentsational' Mimosa Tree. The Honest Hypocrite shares with us an explosion of colour wit his pictures of Cherry Trees and Magnolia's. Mille Fiori Favoriti explores the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Prairie Walker also shows us the beauty of the Magnolia tree and that:

'Trees remind us that there is always hope for a rebirth,
a refreshed spirit, and a renewal of life'.

Above you can see Lynne Hoppe's own special way of honoring the trees. Stay a while and watch Lynne's enchanting film about her 'Green Shrine Tree'. T takes us walking through the bush to visit the Fungi Tree. Cheryl Dolby shares her magical tree inspired paper dolls in her collection of 'Grandmother Trees'. Below you can see a draft of 'The Tree of Life' by the esteemed artist Patricia Ariel. Ariel has worked on this piece for many months and it has evolved in many ways since this picture was taken. The work is rich in symbolism and a delight to behold if yet still incomplete. You can follow the progress of this painting at 'Mesmerised by the Sirens'.

Tales from the land of Oz share the experiences of 'Autumn in Oz'. 'Saving our Trees' are 'Mad about Fig Trees'. Faerie Moon Creations post twinkles with magic as the blue jay moves into her Lilac Tree. Lois Wakeman sows us her springtime blossoms. Ash Krafton tells of the distracting nature of trees in her humorous post 'grabbing gold'. Autumn Belle writes:

"We can learn a lot from the trees - they are always grounded, but never stop reaching heaven wards.... ~ Everett Manor "

Garden writer Carol shares offerings for Bloom Day and her adventures in Lob's Wood. Joan shares her poem 'Dulwich Woods' while poet Elizabeth Rimmer presents her poem, 'Birch Tree Englyn' below.

Seed tree, weed tree, the shining silver birch
grows in the waste places.
Pioneer on the peat hags –
forest trees root in its wake.

Aleph so carefully catches the elemental beauty of nature mingled with art and dressed with the words of Conrad Aitkin in her post 'Tree'. Suzi of Spirit Whispers generously shares her gentle observations of the unfurling trees, the ladybirds that live on the trees, the buds of the Ash and the Elm, feathers in the breeze and in 'Wise Woman Elder' Suzi echo's our thoughts.

'Trees talk... if you're prepared to listen.... to sit in silence.... and hear. Not just the sound of of leaves or branches in the breeze... but a voice from deep within...'

A thought that evokes the poem 'A Murmur in the Trees' by Emily Dickinson:

A Murmur in the Trees -- to note --
Not loud enough -- for Wind --
A Star -- not far enough to seek --
Nor near enough --

A Hazy Moon flows with beauty in posts 'Wet Woods', 'Sun on the Gums' and 'Koala Update'. Shine the Divine and 'Woodland Things' show us the graceful art of Haiku. Below, Indiaphagme shows us different kind of 'Arbre De Vie - Tree of Life'.

Nature Blogger Matthew Wills educates us with his beautiful insights of Apple Cedar Rust and encounters of the destructive nature of the the earth worm on the Northern Hardwood Forests. Noelle explains how 'large trees with little leaves' survive hot dry conditions. Roberta shares with us her 'mystery seed' and the delights of the Redwood Forests. Robin spends her Independence Day with friends and trees. Joan shows us the beauty of the Serviceberry. Ash of Treeblog shares magical visions in the post Loch Tay and the Falls of Acharn. and Arati offers us 'Images from the Tree Park', 'Pink' trees, and Lavender trees reminding me of the poem 'City Lilacs' by Helen Dunmore.

Lilac, like love, makes no distinction.
It will open for anyone.
Even before love knows that it is love
Lilac knows that it must blossom.

Above, Susan Sanford share her Grandfather Tree. Lisa Atchison works trees and leaves into her glass beads. Jim Moffat shows us just how much trees influence each of his paintings in his 'WaterColor Digest'. Ester Wilson shares her organic tree and plant sketches in her Daily Drawings and Nick Gulley teaches the delights of looking up. The Silver Lodge treats us with creative displays of nature and tree inspired Jewelry. 'Recovery in Art' highlights the magical healing qualities of nature and trees in her post about the Celtic Tree of life.

'The Celtic Tree of Life. One of the most spiritual symbol of the Celts, intertwining begin and end, each drawing experience and strength from each other'.

Lastly, the very talented Debrina made the film clip above as part of her contribution to the Pulp Redux collaboration . You can read more about the making of this tree inspired altered book HERE.

So now, this May Festival draws to a close and I thank each and every participant for all of the enjoyable posts I have read these past days. I offer thanks to all that take the time to read this post and visit the links.The June edition of The Festival of the Trees will be hosted by Wandering Owl Outside, http://wanderingowloutside.wordpress.com/. The deadline is May 30th. The Theme for the June festival is: The relationship betwen trees and game animals/birds, or any environmental benefits of trees. Please email all submissions to: cjharn [at] gmail [dot] com.

It is now time to go and celebrate Beltane festivities. I leave you all with a Maypole Dance of Glastonbury.

Happy Beltane!

When in the springtime of the year
When the trees are crowned with leaves
When the ash and oak,
and the birch and yew
Are dressed in ribbons fair...

-- Loreena McKennitt