Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category


I have spent the best part of the last two days putting together an application  for the first stage towards  being credited with sufficient previous learning experience to cover the first level of a distance learning Creative Arts degree through the Open College of the Arts – www.oca-uk.com – and I can’t believe quite how exhausting it’s been.  The first level of the degree comprises three units, which in my case would, I hope,  be Drawing Skills, Writing Skills, and Illustration, and as I’ve done a lot of all three things over the years I am hoping I will be able to skip the first level and begin at the second. 

 I am very excited to have found this degree, as it combines some of the things I most love doing and offers a lot of variety. But it has been surprisingly difficult putting together a portfolio for each and making a convincing case  within the requirements for a pre-application application, which will give me an idea for £50 whether I am likely to be successful and if it’s worth paying the  £250 for a full application. It’s possible to send more information with the full application, and I am worried I won’t send the right  bits first time to convince them I have a chance. The standard of my work should speak for me, I know, but I cleared out so much stuff last year when  we moved and this year has been so busy that I haven’t  done so much,  so I’m not sure I’ve got enough variety. And where I’ve had choices have I chosen the right one?   Oh dear!

Still, I can only give it a go, and I’ve certainly spent a lot of time trying to make it a persuasive bid,  so now I will send it off and keep my fingers crossed!


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A while ago I designed some penguin  digital stamps for the Christmas issue of PaperCraft Inspirations, and the mag is published soon. Jenny, the editor, chose five of my designs and I said I’d make the other four available on my blog, so here they are!  Just click on the file names, and save them, then you can print them out and have fun with them!

penguin009        penguin001

2penguins   snowballpeng

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Edgar’s book

Gorgeous guy on the cover…

This is the fabric book I made Edgar for his 6 months birthday. I’d done a fabric scrapbook for ScrapBook Inspirations a few years ago, using some brilliant fabric sheets from Crafty Computer Papers that go through inkjet printers, and that gave me the idea. I thought Edgar might like a book that had pictures of himself and his family in.

I find the cotton fabric with an adhesive backing is the best, it goes through the printer more easily, and the adhesive backing is good for positioning the pictures for sewing them on to the backing fabric without them moving around.
Edgar loves bright colours so I tried to use a mix of plain and
patterned fabricsin cheerful primary colours, although I wanted to
       use fabrics from my stash – I knew if I let myself go in to a fabric
       shop to buy one or two extra bits it could get very expensive –        I’m terrible when faced with the temptation of any sort of craft
          I printed out photos of Edgar with each of the members of his close
          family, and some simple words, and I then created the pages with
          some extra fabrics, ribbons, ric rac etc. It was frustrating not to be
          able to use buttons, but I didn’t want to risk Edgar being able to
          pull them off. As it was, I made sure I stitched everything down
          really well using my machine. I used a lot of zig zag stitches,
          mainly in red thread, giving a good edge to the pictures.
It was fun trying to think of different ways to do each page. I tried
to give them some texture and add things for Edgar to play with like
ribbon loops, but I didn’t have enough time to try making pockets
or flaps to hide pictures – maybe  next time!  
The pages, put together, make a small book that Edgar can handle, but it was still a bit thick to sew together, and my sewing machine had to be coaxed. I bound the “spine ” of the book with fabric to neaten it, and made sure all the ends and edges were well finished off.   
Everything goes straight into Edgar’s mouth at the moment, so, although the fabric is supposed to be colourfast and washable I tested
a few scraps with some water – not by chewing it as some of the family expected! – and the colours didn’t run.  But I expect Ben and Tess will
supervise him with it until he’s old enough not to mangle it completely. 
I really enjoyed doing this – it’s been a while since I’ve done very much with my sewing machine other than things for the house, but I can see myself  making a few more things for Eggles before he’s very much older.   

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I’ve been working hard all morning framing some pictures for the Combe Down Art group exhibition on Saturday. Why do I always leave it to the last minute? Every time  I promise myself that next time I will frame them as I finish them if I think I’ll put them in the exhibition, but it never seems to work out!

I’ve not got a lot of new works for this exhibition, but I am putting in this one that I did for the club’s Christmas card competition – I shall probably reproduce it on cards to sell, too,  and use it for our Christmas card this year. I’ve also got one  that I did as a demonstration using wax pastels earlier in the year, along with two flower paintings that I did back in the summer, and an abstract that I did as an experiment for the fringe festival this year, so at least I shall be contributing.

This exhibition is a bit of a gamble – it will be the first  time the group has been back to the Church Rooms in Combe Down since they were condemned and we had to find alternative accomodation. Now that it’s been done up it’s terribly expensive, so we could make a loss on this, but members want to give it a try so we’ve got our fingers crossed that people will come – and buy – and it will be successful.

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The coast a few miles down from St Ives

We’ve just had a really lovely trip to Cornwall. We’re working our way round the coast of Great Britain, and, having done Wales, North Somerset, North Devon and North Cornwall, had got as far as St Ives. So this time we’ve been moving along the south coast, and had a fabulous time. We were very lucky for weather most of the time, and even when it rained we managed to time it right so as not to be out in it. We have a small motorcaravan, so have somewhere cosy if it does rain, and we do tend to spend quite a bit of time parked up looking at the lovely sea views, drinking tea or coffee or reading the paper – very relaxed – but we do also do explore the beaches, harbours and small towns when the weather allows, and this time  we managed quite a bit more walking than usual.

If only it was always like this...

One of the things that amazed us was how quiet the campsites were. We normally choose small campsites, but this time we just stopped at the first sites we came to when we felt we’d gone far enough for the day, and some of them were very large sites where we were almost on our own. It was lovely. On this site we had an amazing view down to a lake, and there was no-one else anywhere near us. I bet it’s a different story in the summer!
In fact everywhere was quiet – a couple of times we were the only people on a beach or harbourside, which was a real pleasure.  Parking was never a problem. It came as a bit of a shock on our last day, when we’d crossed into Devon and reached Dartmouth on the Saturday at the beginning of half-term, to find it heaving with people! There was a food festival going on there too. Luckily we’d decided to call it a day then anyway, as bad weather was forecast for the south coast on Sunday, so we headed home after having had a week of real peace and quiet,  amidst beautiful scenery, that really recharged our batteries. 

Can't remember the name of this place , but it was beautiful...


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There's something about penguins......

What a great weekend we just had. The weather was still doing it’s record-breaking late summer thing, absolutely glorious, and we went up to Chingford to visit Jon. The North Circular wasn’t all that brilliant, lots of roadworks and an accident,  but once we got there, the campsite was good, mellow in the evening sun, and after an hour with a drink and the papers, we met up with Jon for a meal in his local Italian, which is excellent.

On Sunday we all went to Colchester Zoo, a bit by accident as  we couldn’t find anywhere to park the car in Chelmsford so we just kept driving towards Colchester ! We  all really enjoyed the zoo. It seems very well planned, and the animals have more space than we expected. They were mostly lolling around in the heat, and the penguins looked quite dozy, really cute. We were very envious of them and lots of the others for the water they had! I just love penguins, and I took loads of photos to work from, as I often use penguins on my cards.

In fact, some of the Christmas cards I was working on while we were in Wales  were penguin cards, and I’d meant to put one up on here before. I’d drawn a few Christmassy penguins, and created a digital stamp of these two playing with a huge snowball. I printed it on card  and cut them out, putting them on a background of a dark blue paper that has the look of a  swirly, snowy sky, that I found in my stash. The little trees are actually punched shapes, the punch, from Craftime,  is called Fern, but it makes lovely little fir trees.

I raised a few of them up on slivers of foam pad for a slightly 3D effect with the trees at the front, but they tend to wobble about as it’s such s tiny bit of foam, so I wouldn’t recommend it! With their hats I used a glue pen and glitter to give them some sparkle then stuck on a few tiny gems.

I had lots of fun drawing the penguins. If anyone would like to use them here is the file.


On our way home on Monday we stopped off at Kew Gardens for a few hours. That was fantastic. the weather couldn’t have been better and, although we only managed to walk round a third or so of the gardens it was fabulous. We came back with several plants in mind for our garden, and lots of inspiration, and also thoroughly relaxed. We particularly enjoyed walking along this lovely walkway, just  the sort of thing we  want to do for our pergola once the patio is dug out, and we spotted a rose with masses of little red hips on that seemed to be climbing very vigorously across the beams, so we noted the name – hope we can find it!

Altogether a really good weekend and it felt like we’d had a much longer break than we had. It’s always great to spend time with Jon but this one was especially good.

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I’ve been experimenting with creating digital stamps from my drawings, and this is one of my first efforts. The bride and groom, and the rose used for the background, are my drawings, used in the same way as rubber stamps by printing them on to white card and colouring them with coloured pencils. This is a fairly simple card to show off the bride and groom, I cut them out and raised them up on foam pads then matted them on several colours before raising the mat on foam pads over a background created with lots of the rose motifs put together in Photoshop then printed out.

I’m going to put in two links that should enable anyone who wants to to download the digital stamps for themselves – fingers crossed, I’m not too hot on the technology so hope it works!



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