Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Of hares and bears and.... weasels?! Jackie Morris and Celestine and the Hare at Bookish, Crickhowell

When magical paintings and felty friends beckon
You just have to visit the mountains of Brecon,
In a little white bookshop, under gold autumn sun,
Were hares, bears and weasels, choklit  - and fun!

What a brilliant time we had on Sunday!

Quite by chance last week I found Celestine and the Hare, and Karin's wonderful needle felted animals (along with her excellent sense of humour  - and much, much choklit). When I saw that she'd be at Bookish bookshop in  Crickhowell - along with her friend, well known artist, illustrator and author Jackie Morris, (who's work I've admired for many years,)  I squeaked so loudly that Malcolm Weasel got frightened!
Then he saw the photos of Karin's Norty Weasels and got very excited - we both knew we would have to  take a trip into Wales.

Here's Malcolm, wearing his special Santa hat, arguing with the Sat nav and asking 'Are we there yet'? - every two minutes.

The shop had been taken over by felt-y bears, weasels, and other delightful characters. The Norty weasels had made their very own tableaux re creating Jackie's illustration of 'Pop goes the Weasel'. Except - theirs had added choklit. Hmm...


You know what it's like when you  meet people  in the flesh  - and they are exactly like you  imagined?  Yes, I'm going to gush! Jackie and Karin are fantastic - and such brilliant fun. We had such a great time and must have been in the shop for well over an hour, chatting to them  - and all the other lovely people who had come along, especially Sarah, who blogs about subjects very close to my heart, and Emma who owns Bookish.

I know these are bear hats, but we just keep thinking Ewok.  I really believe Karin and Jackie are twins, you know.....

Jackie was working on this beautiful portrayal of one of my favourite creatures  - a hare!

And she let me have a cuddle with the famous Little P and Mary -  who were very well behaved.

 Unlike the Norty weasels! Although King Norty stopped eating choklit long enough to be thrilled with the gift of his own, rather splendid castle, which was brought along by a kind lady! 


Malcolm was so excited when Karin let him take part in 'Pop'! I think though, the weasels may have been a bad influence on him, as he now keeps shouting 'Underwear!' and running away giggling. (Malcolm is a very well brought up young weasel,  and does not know any really bad words!)

He squeaked even more when he found out a new friend was coming home with us - and was so overcome, he actually lent him his Santa hat! Yes, we have bravely adopted a Norty weasel - this is Cuthbert - doesn't he have a deceptively innocent face! 

Of course,  I had to have one of Jackie's books, and it was a hard choice,  but;

despite all the bears and dragons and other creatures in her beautiful books, the hare won! I am so thrilled with the lovely signature  which Jackie put in the front -  isn't it lovely!

Back at home,  Cuthbert is settling in nicely, and the weasels are behaving really well ... what? Hang on just a minute, who's this?

Smawg (no relation) the dragon, apparently looked lonely in Bookish, and  those Norty weasels smuggled him out of the shop so that Malcolm and Cuthbert could have their own dragon to ride! I knew I shouldn't have let Malcolm peek at my Robin Hobb books..................


Sorry about the poor quality of the photos,  but some were taken on my phone and the light's really poor.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The first frost

The first frosty morning this year turned the world into a magical place.

 Mist over the rhine.

 Diamonds coating every leaf.

 Jeweled necklaces bedecking the hedgerows,

spider's webs and sparkling crystals creating beautiful sculptures of common hogweed,

and the wild rose stems.

Then the sun shone, and the spell was broken.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Blog Hop

I’ve been tagged in a round the world blog hop by Rachel of  the excellent VirtuoSew Adventures .
Thank you so much Rachel for giving me the opportunity to  take part, and here's my take on the hop! 

What am you working on?  
I'm developing a way to uniquely link both my art and hand embroidery. I've kept sketchbooks for years, and am revisiting themes and ideas. I've become very interested in documenting life through my sketchbooks, and found a whole new art community, including the Urban Sketchers. Using your sketchbook as a life journal, drawing the world and events around you really appeals to me. For me that's normally something related to the natural world.

How does your work differ from others of its genre? 


 I've always had an overactive imagination!   I've always invented characters and writing about them, and this eventually found a way into doll making.  I love detail, (probably too much for someone who longs to loosen and simplify) and I'm interested in the process of how I can make something work. 

I call myself a textile artist,  but I wonder if that's really a misnomer?
 'Jack of all trades - master of none',  is more appropriate I think.
It's only in the last 2 years, since giving up the day job, that I've realised I've never gave much thought to developing my own style. So I'm concentrating on that now and just seeing what happens. There's certainly a simplification in my work of late -  finally I no longer feel I have to  'prove myself' by mastering complex techniques any more.

 The good thing about being a Jack of all trades is that you can revisit media and techniques and apply them in new and different ways, and no longer follow the 'rules', which is so liberating!

Why do you create what you do? 
Blimey! I can't imagine not creating. At age 4 I was given a little embroidery kit for Christmas. That was it!  I drew pictures, stitched and designed tiny felt toys.  Creating is like eating and sleeping. If I'm not drawing, embroidering or doing something creative I get tetchy and miserable. Certainly at difficult times in my life, being able to draw and make things has kept me sane.  I'm a great believe in the power of creativity to support and improve our health and well being.  

Making something out of nothing has always had great appeal for me, and even more so our concern for the environment  grows even stronger. I know I have far too many media at my disposal now, and I'm striving to strip back even more, which is not always easy!
How does your creative process work?
I have far too many ideas and not enough time and resources - or hands! I'm frequently inspired walking in the woods and marshland, and constantly jotting down notes,scribbles and sketches. I also take lots of photographs. Then I go home and do something completely different! 

When I have an idea I often tend to do a rough draft and then start work. If I'm designing a character I usually cut as I go - and then work out the pieces afterwards! This does make life interesting if I then need to create a pattern afterwards!  I  learned to work this way through having very little time when I was working in my career, and creativity was my luxury (or, this could just be my excuse for having a butterfly approach, and being incredibly impatient!)

I hope  you haven't got bored  with my ramblings as I'd like to point you on to some wonderfully talented - and extremely lovely, people.  I'm tagging two bloggers across the pond;
Tammie at  Spirithelpers takes the most stunning photographs of the natural world in the stunning State of Montana USA, plus adding beautiful words to go with them. They inspire and delight me! She also has another charming and whimsical art blog,  Beauty Flows

Deb is a self taught folk artist in British Columbia and creates all kinds of wonderful things with paper, fabric and paint at Paxton Valley Folk Arts.  She's ingenious and fun  -and amazes me with how prolific she is! 

Saturday, 8 November 2014



The Hawthorn Tree

Not much to me is yonder lane
Where I go every day;
But when there’s been a shower of rain
And hedge-birds whistle gay,
I know my lad that’s out in France
With fearsome things to see
Would give his eyes for just one glance
At our white hawthorn tree.

Not much to me is yonder lane
Where he so longs to tread:
But when there’s been a shower of rain
I think I’ll never weep again
Until I’ve heard he’s dead.

Siegfried Sassoon