Wednesday, 18 April 2018

More creativity... cards and playing with the gelli plate

 I have been continuing with card making (just as well because I have amassed a large stash in a relatively short space of time) and have made a few more cards including thank you, get well and hello.  I like to decorate the envelopes too.
 This was made using a two layer stamp which gives a lovely result.
In my other news, I have discovered the joys of a Gelli plate.  This is a polymer based gel printing plate which can be used to make monoprints.  They have been about in the crafting world for many years, particularly in America, but, as usual, I am a bit behind the trends.  I watched lots of videos on the internet and decided that I needed to get myself a plate and have a go.  I have always enjoyed creating prints, whether these were monoprints, screen prints or lino prints, so I knew I would enjoy this.  Acrylic paints work really well with the gelli plate and distress inks can also be used, so it can cross into the papercrafting and card making too (hoorah!).
 Here are my first attempts, using marks, bubble wrap, stencils and stamps, in my favourite cool blues.
 I like the way the gel plate gives you a positive print and then what is called a 'ghost print', which is a negative sort of image.
More mark making and bubble wrap.
 Bright and bold colours blended on the plate and then stencils, bubble wrap and marks again.
 This is the ghost print.
I really liked the smudginess of this print which was actually a 'cleaning up the roller' waste piece which I put the stencils onto to remove most of the paint and then used a baby wipe to clean them - the baby wipe caused the slightly smudgy look to the stencil.  This is one of my favourite prints and wasn't even a 'proper' print. So often the way!
I have been watching more 'how to' videos and have been taken with some layered prints using more sophisticated colour mixes than I have used so far. 
I really like the process, it is fast, some great effects can be created and it is easy to clean up, so I shall be enjoying lots more playing and creating over the next few days/weeks/months.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Back again!

One of the very nice IT boffins at work was able to sort the computer out for us, so we were very pleased we wouldn't need to buy a new one just yet.  However, all my photos and saved pictures etc. have gone (luckily, I keep my photos in several places so was able to put them back), but not the pictures.  A salutary lesson - I won't save so many and I will print them out if I really want to keep them.
It has been so cold and grey for what seems like months, but despite the distinctly un-Spring-like weather, the garden is doing its best to provide some colour. I went out this morning to see what I could find.
 Lathyrus vernus...
 and Lathyrus vernus with pretty pink and white flowers.
 Muscari latifolium, bringing a lovely splash of blue...
 ...and erythronium Pagoda which has steadily grown and looks as though it will have lots of flowers this year.
 A new plant - Rhododendron Bloombux (not a very attractive name). It is a dwarf plant with pink flowers in May and June and can be shaped like topiary after flowering.  It had several buds on it, so we'll see how it does.
 Another Rhododendron, Patty Bee, which has yellow flowers in April/May.  It has lots of buds so I am looking forward to seeing them open.
 The camassias 'Blue Candle' I ordered at RHS Chatsworth last June have come through the winter and have put on a bit of growth.  I am sure that they have enjoyed the rain.
 The hellebores are still doing well.  White...
 Pink Picotee...
and the pink spotted one.  Nest week, we are being told that temperatures will get to 18 degrees centigrade.  This is hard to believe at the moment, but it will be lovely if it is true!

Friday, 6 April 2018

Forced intermission due to computer tantrum...

(image from wikipedia)
There will be a slight break in transmission of my latest blog post as our computer has decided to have a tantrum and give up on us...
Once we have a new computer installed, normal service will resume (I hope!)

Saturday, 31 March 2018

A Hare-y box and a pinafore

I made a hare material box for my friend Maria who was visiting from Canada.  Unfortunately, the unseasonable weather curtailed our plans for meeting up, but we did manage a day visit which was lovely.  I  made her a fabric box using this hare fabric - light and squashable for taking back on the plane.
 I have also made myself a needlecord pinafore using this pattern, 'Cleo' from 'Tilly and the Buttons'.  The pattern is really well done with both written instructions and photos too.  I made the knee length version and put the split in the back rather than the front.  I used the automatic buttonhole on my sewing machine for the first time too - I had a few issues and had to unpick a bit, but this was because I couldn't find the 'buttonhole lever' on the machine.  Eventually, thanks to the internet, I discovered where it was (up inside the part where the needle mechanism is held - but this wasn't obvious from the machine handbook).  Thank goodness for the internet!  I made a toile in calico first, just to check on the sizing.  The pinafore is designed to be loose, but I wanted to be sure the size would fit my hips.
 Here it is - success!   I had bought the needlecord a couple of years ago and it had been sitting in my material stash ever since.  I used buttons rather than the dungaree clip option.
Here's the back too.  I'm really pleased with it and have worn it to work several times.  It is really comfortable too, which is always good.  A denim one and another needlecord version (a very floral pattern) are being planned next.  For my pinafore (size 12), I needed two metres of material, which is a bonus as there are some lovely needlecords out there... 

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Just when you think it's Spring...

 There were definite signs of Spring.  Crocuses...
 more crocuses...
 the last hurrah of the snowdrops...
flowering away with the cyclamen coum...
 more crocuses...
 and more...
 and daffodils...
 then, last weekend, this (again!)
 Those poor plants - they wouldn't know if they were coming or going.  Luckily, the snow had gone by last Tuesday and today...
 anemone blanda...
 camellia flowers...
 cardamine quinquifolia (I bought this last year, so this is the first time I have seen it in flower - so pretty)...
a self-sown sweet violet...
 bright and bold primulas...
 lovely blue scillas...
and a blue hyacinth (Blue Magic).  Is it Spring now?  Well, it looks like it today but there have been mumblings about a cold snap over the Easter weekend, including more snow.  I am really hoping they are wrong!

Thursday, 15 March 2018

A Fox box and cushion

It is our friend Rachael's birthday at the end of the month and as she is very busy then, she came over last week.  I had got myself organised and made her presents in good time, so it all worked out well.  She likes foxes, so I bought some rather gorgeous fox material in colours I knew she would like and made a fox box.  I enjoy making these fabric boxes, as they are quick to make and are useful.
I also used my screen printing set to print the fox panel for this cushion.  It is a lovely print and printed out really well.  I mixed the shade of grey ink I wanted too.  I made the cushion cover with the fox fabric and was pleased at the way it turned out.
I made an envelope back, which is a really simple way of finishing the cover.  Rachael really liked the box and cushion, which I was delighted about.  I have a cat screen print too and some cat material so I would really like to make a cushion for myself now.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe

I was asked to post the vegan chocolate cake recipe, so here it is:

220g/7oz plain flour
200g/7oz caster sugar (I use granulated and it works fine)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
half a teaspoon of salt

5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
250ml/8 fl oz water

1.  Preheat oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas 4.
2.  Lightly grease a 13 x 23 cm loaf tin or 20 cm round tin (I line my tin with baking parchment).
3.  Sieve together the flour, sugar, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
4.  Add the oil, vanilla, vinegar and water.
5.  Mix together until smooth.
6.  Pour into cake tin and bake for 45 minutes (until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean). (I usually have to leave my cake in, covered in foil to prevent burning, for an extra few minutes).
7.  Remove from oven and leave to cool.

100g/4 oz icing sugar (You can make more, depending how much icing you would like in the middle of the cake - the proportion is half spread to icing sugar)
50g/ 2oz vegan spread
2 - 3 teaspoons cocoa powder (depending how chocolatey you would like the icing)
a tiny drop of vanilla extract

1.  Mix the spread in a bowl to soften it.
2.  Sieve the icing sugar and cocoa powder into the bowl.
3.  Mix together until smooth. 
4.  Add the vanilla extract to taste.

Split the cake if you are having icing in the middle and spread half of the icing.  Place the top half of the cake onto the base and spread the remaining icing on the top.  Slice and enjoy! 

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Recently I have been...

 ...making a vegan chocolate cake for a colleague's birthday...
...spending an afternoon making cards using paper piecing (using some of my ever growing card making stash), where I die cut the same shape in different colours and types of card and then pieced them back together in different combinations. 
...finally getting my MDF 12 x 12 storage unit (bought as a kit and put together by Chris and me - it was a two person job!) painted and decorated to organise my 12 x 12 papers more efficiently.
 I used the same paint as the other units - Orpington Duck Egg - and the same or similar papers too. (the other projects are here and here)
 I did include a different one for the back.
 I particularly like the Chinoiserie look of this one
 This unit is now full of my papers and makes me feel happy!  If only I could organise my other stashes - jewellery making equipment, sewing, polymer clay, art materials...a never ending list!