Thursday, 24 October 2019

Halloween Art Sale

First of all, let me mention (because I know you like sales!) that I have 10% off my Halloween art and prints in my shop. If you like a more subtle effect in your Halloween decorations, with cute rather than scary, you’ll like it. It’s especially for my blog readers, but I’m going to make you read about Halloween before I tell you how to get the discount. You could always skip to the end, though. I hope you won’t. You’ll see my art and prints as you read…

Halloween decorations are kind of a new thing, aren’t they? Back when I was a child, people only went to town on the spider’s webs, pumpkins and skeletons if they were having a party, as far as I remember, although lanterns have always been used. Pumpkins weren’t the original vegetable to be carved. That came from the USA. I and my mother had swede lanterns when we were children. My grandfather carved one for me. I still remember the scent of it: warm, sweet and …vegetably. Turnips were the traditional lanterns and were lit to keep away evil entities at Halloween. 

I read an article once in which a journalist said we should do away with Halloween because it’s an imported American thing and just celebrate Guy Fawkes as that’s the older tradition. He obviously didn’t do his research! The Gunpowder Plot happened in 1605. Halloween, also known as Samhain in Irish, goes back at least two thousand years here in the UK.
The native British, who we call the Celts (and a people I’m very interested in, along with their art), celebrated Samhain as the end of the year, the end of harvest, the beginning of the dark half of the year when the sun’s power weakened and as a time to honour the ancestors. It was also a time when the veil between our world and the Otherworld became very thin. Beings of both realms could step through with ease.

It was celebrated right up to modern times, as I mentioned with the lanterns and British migrants who went to live in the USA took the traditions with them. Those traditions evolved there and were imported back to us as we have it today. I prefer the older version, all about the seasons, connecting with the earth…
Black cats were seen as lucky here, by the way, particularly in Wales. It was good luck for a black cat to cross your path. 

So, my Halloween/Samhain artwork includes a black cat, pumpkins and a tabby cat in her witch’s hat (because witches’ cats are not all necessarily black). The Bat and the Hat is an original watercolour. The Cat and the Hat, The Cat and the Pumpkin and The Pumpkin are all prints.   
You can get 10% off these by typing HALLOWEEN2 into the box at checkout in my shop: RustyandBoots
The offer runs until 31st October, but please bear in mind that if you order late, it may not arrive until after Halloween. If you like cats and witchy things, though, they might suit your walls all year round. There’s also free shipping to the UK! 

I really hope you like my painting and prints as much as I do. They’ve been getting a lot of love on social media, which you can find me on here:
Instagram: @rusty_and_boots
Twitter: @RustyandBoots
Facebook: @RustyandBoots

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Wall Art for Your Home

Hello again! It’s been quite a while since I last wrote a blog post. Things, such as life, have been getting in the way and as time marches on, there seems to be less of it. I’ve been busy with my shop and some personal things that have taken my time. I hope to post regularly from now on though.
While I’ve been away from my blog, I’ve been making lots of new wall art and having lots more ideas, which are all drawn in my ideas sketchbook with notes on colours, shapes, etc and I hope you’ll be seeing them soon. 

One of the new things I’ve been working on is dreamcatchers as wall hangings. I’ve been interested in them for a while, since my mother bought me one for a birthday years ago and I love the idea of them.

They’re originally a Native American creation, made with string, beads and feathers and are meant to catch the bad dreams and let the good dreams through, but I have read somewhere that the opposite is true: that they catch the good dreams for you and let the bad ones through so you don’t have them. Most people agree on the first explanation, but if you have any thoughts on which one is correct, let me know.

Just a side note: I love the Native American mythology and way of looking at the world; I think it’s quite similar to the Celtic myth and view with its connection to nature, respect for the land and seeing Spirits in every tree, rock and river.
With the dreamcatchers I’ve made so far, I haven’t tried to copy those traditional types; I’ve done something different, using weaving and crochet. The lavender crocheted dreamcatcher is inspired by winter with its pale frostiness and I’ve tried to make the crochet look like a snowflake. The “frosted” leaves are all handmade from scratch and take quite a while to make. It would be a lovely addition to a cool, minimal décor.

The purple and orange dreamcatchers are hand woven and are the first two items that I’ve woven in the round, apart from experiments. One is very bold, with warm colours and the other I decided to make an opposite, with cool, calming hues. They’re both finished off with a simple fringe and the varying yarns – from 4 ply to chunky – give a lovely texture. Also, because they’re handmade and I can’t achieve the same placement of yarn with its varying colours every time, each one is unique. If I make another purple one it won’t be exactly the same as this one, meaning that you’ll have a one-off piece.
I think I now love weaving as much as crochet! 

All of these, along with other items, are available now in my shop with free shipping to the UK. You can find it here: Rusty and Boots
They won’t be on their own for long as I have more dreamcatchers on the way.
This one has recently joined them:

It’s handmade with chunky yarn in blush pink and beige and is a bit of wall art that will bring a hint of cosiness to your décor this winter. Just looking at it makes me feel warm and comfy!
As always, you can find me on social media where I try to reply as soon as I can:
Instagram: @rusty_and_boots
Twitter: @RustyandBoots
Facebook: @RustyandBoots
Pinterest: RustyandBoots

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.