Friday, 17 November 2017

The Joy of Snail Mail

Saying 'Yes', and 'I'll fit it in', have been  my mantras. In the past few months though, I've slowly  begun to stop and pay attention to the moment.

The world is becoming faster paced, there's a constant stream of information to receive and process,  endless lists of 'stuff to do'; social media and the dreaded busywork fill any gaps! We strive to cram in more and more.

 'Wasn't it a beautiful day today?'  ' Uh, I dunno, I was too busy to notice...'

Digital media gives us speedy and efficient communication (and it's the most brilliant source of information for any multi pod and trivia addict.) I've always relied on it heavily. Lately though I've realised I need to take a side road on the journey to revive and refresh myself.

Luckily, the solution was staring me in the face!  Your Beautiful Letter  is the brainchild of writer and illustrator Naomi Bulger. I've been following Naomi's blog for some time. I love her approach, which is basically, helping busy people rediscover their creativity and forge more meaningful connections through the process of writing letters - by hand.

'What,' I hear you say,'Why? Everyone knows how to write a letter. Besides, who has time today, that's what e-mail, text and DM's are for!'

I agree, technology has its place, and it's incredibly useful, but, don't we all love getting a real, live, personal letter?

Haven't you felt that rush of excitement when you hear the 'click' of the letterbox and look down to experience the joy of seeing a handwritten envelope falling on the doormat?

You pick it up, excitedly. Without any further ado, the handwriting tells you this is something very personal.

First, you guess who it's from. Do you know the handwriting?  What's the postmark ? Have they put a return address on the back? Hmmm, maybe you still can't work it out.

The excitement mounts. You open the envelope and realise it's from...... ! There are two sheets of paper and maybe a little something enclosed. You can hardly wait to know what the pages contain, but, you know you have to read them. No skimming over printed text here. This is something beautiful and unique. It's  been thoughtfully created, and crafted by hand, just for you.  You need to ponder over the handwriting, consider the words, and digest the content.

Maybe you need to wait, anticipating until you can sit in comfort with a coffee, so you can read and savour the knowledge that someone, somewhere, has made you feel special, and cared for.

Naomi's class has made me look at things differently. I don't want to give too much away, but she talks about writing and stories; about living in the moment and connection, as well as offering lots of practical advice and some things which are just fun! It was a delight and  lifted me.

I can honestly say since I took this class I've written over 10 letters, sent snail mail all over the world, each with some mail art on the envelopes. I've focused on slowing down to think and write, and connect. It really didn't take me very long. Letters don't need to be 20 page novellas. A handwritten note or a postcard is a wonderful start.

It means something.

I heartily recommend visiting Naomi.  She's encouraged me to become a writer who writes again. Ooh look, a blog post!                             

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Fun at the West of England Quilt and Textiles Show 2017!

I just had the most brilliant three days at the  West of England Quilt and Textiles Show sharing a stand with my dear friend, the talented quilter, Sallieann Harrison of Christmas Goose Stitches.

Sallie was on the walls, and I was on the table  :) with my embroidered and mixed media books!

We both had a fantastic time, and for me it was sheer joy to able to talk about books and nature and stitching and mixed media to lovely, like minded people!  These are some of the books I took along:

The cover of  'Briarside Lane' a current WIP which is based around The Raspberry Rabbits project of the same name....

  'A  Little Book of Stamps'  

The pages are simply painted, and enhanced with a variety of handmade stamps and simple stitch.

'Tiny Garden'  - meander book, came about from a sample class I created, making simple garden flowers from only three stitches. |A little book seemed the perfect format to  keep them in!

Whatever the size, or the mediums used, the one thing my books  have in common is hand stitch, and my favourite threads from Valdani  of course!

I'm very excited to be offering Saturday workshops this autumn, sharing some of the techniques I have developed! Details of these are on the Classes and Workshops tab, and I'll be talking about them more here soon.

So finally here we are setting up on Day 1, with a backdrop of Sallie's amazing Tumbler Quilt, which attracted a lot of attention! You can see more of Sallie's lovely work and find out about classes she offers on her website.

We were also proud to be representing The Raspberry Rabbits in the UK, with Michelle's original stunning quilt The Adventures of Harrington and Hannah, all the way from North Carolina, on display!  

Friday, 5 May 2017

Nature journaling - on a former landfill site!

Almost 10 years ago I had to move from a tranquil spot in the Gloucestershire countryside to live on the outer edge of a city. Culture shock was immediate, traffic, people everywhere - and so much noise! Accustomed to roaming through fields, bluebell filled woodland and past gentle streams,  I felt bereft. Desperate to find green space, I had to explore!

We live on the floodplain of the River Severn. Behind our home appeared to be an area of waste ground, close to the industrial site of Avonmouth, and adjacent to a roaring stretch of the M5 motorway.  I was told the area was a landfill site until 1988! Despite this not being the most appealing idea, my natural nosiness got the better of me.  I followed the decommissioned tarmacked road,  past fly tipped rubbish, and found, to my delight, a wealth of nature. 

This site, (now renamed Saltmarsh Drive Open Space) is indeed, old salt marsh. It's crossed by drainage ditches called rhines (pronounced rheen). Some of these watercourses date back to the medieval period. The Merebank Rhine, is actually a Scheduled Ancient Monument!

A few quick sketches managed this week!

The watercourses, and the scrub land surrounding them are a magnet for wildlife, and the soil of the former landfill site has allowed a unique diversity of plant life to emerge, including  stunning wild orchids.

This is one of the few places in Bristol which is home to the delightful water vole. 'Ratty' from The Wind in the Willows. A common sight in my childhood, spotting one is now rare - and a thrill. Otters have also been observed using the rhines.

Small groups of our shy native roe deer frequent the scrub, and  kingfisher and heron are regular visitors to the waterways. There's a wealth of bird life, ruled over by the resident buzzards, who soar above like miniature golden eagles.

 My journaling has changed  a lot in the last 3 years!

No one visits here much. There is litter from the motorway, and strange items which pop up from the landfill. Dog mess, ignored by careless owners, is a hazard; and tuning out the noise from the busy motorway, (and sometimes off road motor cyclists) is a necessity.

Nature, however, ignores these minor irritations; she goes about her work, making this unlikely spot a very special place indeed.