Thursday, 7 February 2019

Much Room for Mushrooms?

If you’ve seen my social media posts, you might know where I’m going with this. Last year I had a bit of a mushroom phase, which I like to think was like Picasso’s pink and blue periods. That’s what I like to tell myself, anyway!  :D  My mother asked me one day if I’d seen this particular group of mushrooms growing nearby, so I went to look and took my camera with me. This is what resulted: lots of photos of cute fungi.

 While I’m on the subject, did you know that mushrooms are only the ‘flowering’ part of the fungi? Most of it is underground in vast strings of interconnected webs and are mainly found around trees, especially in a forest. As you can see, these were surrounding a tree stump. Fungi is useful to the trees because it connects them to each other and helps them to communicate.

I know that might sound hippyish, but it’s been scientifically proven that trees communicate with each other. If one is being cut or eaten, it releases chemicals which other trees pick up and they react to it by producing another chemical to make their leaves taste worse. At least that’s what I remember from watching a programme on it! They communicate in a similar way through the fungi, so it’s like a symbiotic relationship.

Nature continues to amaze me and the more I learn, the more I think our ancestors were right that there are spirits in the landscape; i.e., more going on than we think.

Anyway, I was inspired by these photos to draw this, a sort of whimsical, fantasy art picture where the mushrooms in the middle are feeling a bit hemmed in.

That turned into a painting:

It is now mounted and available in my shop.

I love fantasy art, especially that of Alan Lee, Anne Stokes and Lisa Parker. I’ve been thinking about trying some myself, particularly after joining in with the Drawlloween challenge last year hosted by Mab Graves on Instagram. I really enjoyed it and surprised myself with what turned up on the paper. I’ve also begun to like whimsical art, so I think I’ll be doing more of this, trying to stretch myself into new areas. Here are a few of the artworks from the Drawlloween challenge, as I didn’t post on my blog during that time. Some of them need more work and improvements and I may do better versions. Let me know what you think. 

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Slow Burners

There are a few “slow burners” for me to tell you about today. The first is that, if you haven’t seen my social media posts, my shop Rusty and Boots is now open on Etsy! Yay!

I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, very long, but now it’s finally happening and I’m excited but nervous about it too. Some of the items on my shop are my wall hangings that I’ve already shared on this blog and some are newer, my hand painted hearts, for example, but all the work is handmade by me.

There have been quite a few hurdles to overcome in getting my shop open and the work ready for it, setbacks and delays etc. but it got there in the end. It’s now a reality and I can’t quite believe it. Textiles and art have been really big things in my life since I was old enough to hold a paintbrush and my mother taught me to sew and knit as a young child, so to have an opportunity to create things for you is amazing.

Here are a few of the things available so far:

My painted hearts.

 My wall hangings.

The wall hangings are made to order so may differ slightly in the details but that means that each one is unique, no two will be exactly alike. Here is the link to my shop if you’d like to have a better look: RustyandBoots

I’ve got more things coming soon and I hope you like them.  

I’ve also been experimenting with something else;

I’ve had a bit of an interest in pyrography for a while and always wanted to have a go. So, for my birthday this year, my parents got me a pyrography tool. Yay!

Pyrography turns out to be not a great thing to be doing in the hot weather that we had this summer, but it’s good for keeping you warm on chilly winter days.

As I’ve only just begun to try this, my attempts are not perfect, but they’re ok I think. They’re good enough to give me encouragement to carry on and get better. Here are a few of my first forays into pyrography.

 Here, I’ve tried to get the pattern going all around the box.

 Finally, I wish you a happy Winter Solstice… 

…and a Merry Christmas. 

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Weaving Trials

As I wrote in my last but one post, I’ve been doing a lot of things recently. For today, I’m going to tell you about my weaving test.

I’ve tried weaving before on a normal straight loom but this year I found out about weaving in the round with either a square or, yes, a round loom. I just had to give it a go and see how it worked.

Before I show you though, please bear in mind that this is my first attempt and only a practice run to try it out. I only used yarn that I had in my stash and I didn’t attempt to produce any type of pattern on my first go. My aim was just to get the hang of it before trying anything more complicated and to see how it looked when I took it off the loom.
This is how it turned out, just as I was about to take it off the loom:

And here it is all cut off and tied up:

I’m not quite happy with it because it turned up at the edge like a bowl and I’m not quite sure why. If I were to tie it to a ring to hang it up, I think it would be all right, but if I was going to do anything else with it, I’d have to work out how to get it flat. Maybe I pulled the yarn too tightly.

But these things are all part of learning and I’m sharing it with you because it shows not everything turns out correctly first time round. Art and craft are all about learning how things work, what doesn’t and how best to deal with whatever materials you’re using. Sometimes I wonder if people think these things pop out fully formed and don’t realise the work behind it, the trials and the failures, the tests and the try, try, try again. I know I’ve been through lots of this kind of thing and I sometimes forget when I see other people’s work that they’ve probably gone through a similar trial and error period too.

When I’ve done some more trials with this and worked out what I’m going to do with the finished thing, I’ll let you know.

Have you ever tried anything that didn’t work first time, that you’ve had to have several attempts at to get it right? Let me know.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Fabulous Felt

I first tried felting a long time ago, back in college. I left it alone for quite a while because I could never get the result I wanted, but having recently tried needle felting, it got me wanting to try wet felting again.

I got some wool from Crafty Cat Knitty Bits and started to felt, only then remembering the effort involved in rubbing the fibres together. Anyway, I carried on, nearly getting repetitive strain injury, and here is the result. I think I should have started with something smaller, but it kind of worked as a first attempt after so long. 

 I tried to get a kind of vessel shape and tried to keep all the beautiful colours visible in their own right rather than mixing them up.

 I added the swirls when it was dry using needle felting. It was easier than trying to achieve them with the wet method and I’m fairly happy with it, but I need to refine some parts when I do another vessel and I may go smaller. All part of the learning process! 

I quite enjoyed making it. I think there’s something about making something with your hands, especially being so ‘hands-on’ with felting. It seems like a natural thing to be doing and is very satisfying, especially when you get a product at the end of the process.

Monday, 24 September 2018

New Season, New Start

I haven’t written a blog post for over two months. There have been lots of things happening and not good things. It’s been a range of personal and family problems, including Boots my cat being ill. It turns out he has a thyroid problem and now I’m giving him medication for it.

I’ve been trying not to let it all get to me and I’ve been carrying on with my creative endeavours. I’ve learned over the past two months to be calm under stressful situations and to let it be rather than fighting against the tide. Things are what they are and sometimes you can’t do much to change them. You can change how you react to them though. Some wise words from a friend: will it bother me tomorrow? If not, it’s not worth getting stressed about today. I’m learning to deal with things better, in a much more philosophical way. 

My artistic pursuits might be too much for one post, I don’t want to bore you, so I’ll start with this:

I’ve been doing a lot of knitting recently, having bought lovely 4ply yarn from Crafty Cat Knitty Bits which is hand-dyed. Here is the yarn:

Beautiful colours, aren’t they? It’s BFL and lovely to work with.

I decided to knit a hat for the chiller times in Autumn and for the cold days in Winter. 

I was worried about whether I’d be able to do it because I’ve only knitted with double-pointed needles once before, but the pattern I found on Ravelry was really easy, just rib stitch and then stocking stitch. It’s called the Sockhead Hat by Kelly McClure. 

It took a while because I’m not the fastest knitter, but here’s the finished thing:

(Yes, that’s me modelling.)

I’m quite happy with how it turned out.

I’ve got another knitting project on the go at the moment, as well as lots of other things, which I’ll be posting next week, hopefully.

I hope you’re having a good week.

Thursday, 5 July 2018


I know I’m going really slowly with this but I don’t know why. My “Wild Nature” wall hanging has now been embroidered by hand and I’ve got to make the leaves.

I think this is going slowly because I’m having so many ideas at the moment and I’m getting distracted by them. I bought this lovely hand-dyed wool top from Crafty Cat Knitty Bits to try to do some felting with it. 

I’ve had ideas about trying felting again for a while though I haven’t done anything about it, but when I saw this, the colours were so gorgeous I had to get it.

Lovely Debs who made it sent an extra piece of wool which I couldn’t wait to try, so I made this bracelet.

It’s fairly easy to felt really, you just need wool, water and soap and rub it all like mad. I first learned how to do it when I was 18 and doing the Foundation Art and Design course. My first attempt didn’t turn out that well though; it was felted but because I’d used different colours of felt in a pattern, they weren’t really that neat. I hope I’ve improved!
I’ve begun some of my new ideas as well and I’m going to give you a sneaky peek at them. Here is a painted heart which I’m going to use with some fabric.

And here’s another painted heart with a grass and flower picture.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been boiling during the last week. This heatwave is kind of nice in that it’s been dry, but it’s been too hot for me. The air has seemed thick with the heat, like it’s pressing on me and I’ve resorted to eating ice cream and lollies nearly every day. It’s been hard work! I’m thinking of emigrating to Norway. Or Iceland. Or maybe the North Pole. Yes, the North Pole sounds nice. Here’s hoping it cools down this week, just a bit. Have a nice time whatever you’re doing.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

New Fabric & Other Things

I went shopping the other day and as well as coming home with two new plants – a cactus and a succulent - (I’m dangerous when I go shopping; you never know what I’ll come back with!), I bought some lovely new fabric.

Here are the plants, if you’d like to see them:

(I re-potted them in some bigger pots.)

These are the fabrics I’m planning to use in a few new project ideas I have whirling around my head. (I’ve also written them down so I don’t forget!)

I hadn’t planned to buy so many, but when in a fabric shop, I can’t help myself; they’re all so gorgeous and spark beautiful new ideas. It’s the same in a book shop – I have a stack of books waiting to be read – and in art shops and I also have a bit of a weakness for shiny things like beads and jewellery findings. This is why I shouldn’t go to animal shelters: I’d end up bringing the whole lot home. I wouldn’t be able to move for little furry creatures. There’s enough to do looking after one.

I’ve got some feathery creatures in the garden though. A couple of weeks ago, my mother noticed a wren flying back and fore to the ivy around the cherry tree and when I listened a few days later, I heard a riot of tweeting coming from there, like there were chicks competing for food when the adult came back with a beak full. I didn’t want to disturb them at the time, but this week I had a look and found the nest.

It was empty, so the chicks have fledged and I’ve seen three flitting around. They’re tiny! I tried to take a photo of the mother as she left the nest, but ended up with a photo fail, getting just her leg and tail because she hopped off the branch as my finger pressed the button.

 I did manage to get this one though:

 A female chaffinch on the bowl of water I put out for them. She almost looks like she’s smiling to me. Then there was another one perching on a branch:

 And a woodpigeon on a tree:

 It wouldn’t be my usual blog post without some flowers, so, if you haven’t had enough, I’ll leave you with some poppies, an aquilegia and droplets on grass and an aquilegia leaf: