Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Barn Owl Embroidery

I've finished my barn owl wall hanging so here are the pictures of it. First of all, to remind you, this is the original painting I did:

Here's the painting printed onto fabric and the tea-dyed fabric I used for the background:

This was the work in progress when I was sewing the wheat on the bottom:

This was the finished wheat:

And here's the finished thing all together:

As you can see, I added a hedgerow in the background and did some machine embroidery in the sky with blue and lilac thread to try to convey a look of cloud and dusk as that's when barn owls become active. I've also hand sewn the pattern on the owl's back, around his head and machine stitched along the wings, which you can see better in this close up:

This was intended to be an experiment to see how my idea might work out and I'm quite happy with it. There are a few little things that can be improved, though that might be me being hard on myself!

My mother loves owls, especially barn owls, so she's claimed this for herself to put on the wall! I'll be making another one soon, so you'll see the process here when it comes.

Have a lovely day. 😊

Friday, 17 November 2017

Lillith the Lynx

I don’t know if you’ve heard about the lynx which escaped from a zoo in West Wales a few weeks ago, but when I heard about her and saw her picture in a newspaper, I had to draw her. She was beautiful. The problem was, after I began to draw her, it was announced that she had been killed because she had strayed too close to human habitation.

They had tried to find her for days and had caught her on camera, the ones they use to photograph animals which take a photo when they detect movement, but she didn’t go in to the traps that they’d set for her.

I hope you won’t mind me writing about this instead of my usual art or nature. I did wonder whether to post this or not but I feel so angry and depressed at what happened that I had to.

Why is it always animals who suffer when humans are to blame for the situation they’re in? It was human error that she escaped and human error that they couldn’t catch her. She had apparently wandered into a caravan park so that was why they killed her, but I really think that was the wrong thing to do. If there were people there at this time of year, all they had to do was tell those people to stay inside while the experts darted her. I know it takes a few minutes for an animal to be knocked out once they’re darted, but as long as the marksman was far enough away, this would have been a better choice.

I doubt anyone would have been in much danger anyway because lynx are just twice the size of domestic cats, which isn’t that big. They’re hardly a proper ‘big’ cat. Also, there hasn’t been a reported attack on a human by a lynx in the countries where they are still roaming freely.

As I say, it’s always animals that suffer. Elephants and rhinos in Africa, orangutans in Borneo, fish and dolphins and sea birds because of the plastic in our oceans….. Why do humans think we have the right to do whatever we want with animals and nature?

I finished drawing the lynx even though I was really upset about what had happened to her. Her name was Lillith and she was only 17 months old.  

I will probably turn this into a piece of art or textile art one day. I feel like I want to remember her and have her as a symbol of everything that humans do to the world. 

I don’t want to leave you depressed, so I’ll finish by telling you this:

I showed my drawing to my father and said it was a lynx. He replied, ‘Oh, draw a few more and you’ll have a chain.’

Have a lovely weekend!

Friday, 3 November 2017

Late Halloween

I’m back after a slightly enforced internet break. It’s a long story that I won’t bother you with, but I ran out of data to use and had to wait till this week before I could get online again. Who knew I used so much data? I think it was the podcasts for creative people that I discovered last month. Downloading them took more gigabytes than I thought. I must be more aware of that! I found myself missing the internet a bit, but I just about coped. I don’t think I had any withdrawal symptoms apart from the sleepless nights, fidgety hands, nervous tremors…..

So, because of my break, I’m late for Halloween, or Samhain as it’s called in Ireland, which comes from the Celtic name for the time that they celebrated the end of summer, the end of the year and the beginning of winter. The spirit world was very close at that time of year and people could easily wander into it, never to be seen again – or at least until Beltane (May Day) the following year. The spirits could also pass through into our world as well of course.

I had a couple of photos ready to go for Halloween, so although I know it’s a few days late, here they are.

This is my drawing of a lovely black cat with a pumpkin.

And here’s a spooky photo I’ve digitally altered of a graveyard.

I went for a walk here looking for conkers because they’re meant to keep spiders away (you should have seen the three huge ones I found over two weeks in September – eek! They were so big, I named them Goliath 1, 2 and 3. I caught them in a jam jar and put them outside.) But there weren’t any conkers. Plenty of shells laying around but no conkers. The squirrels must have had a good feast on them and stashed a lot for the winter.

While there, I found this hole in a tree.

What do you think lived in it? A small bird? A fairy? I’d love to know, but at the same time, it’s nice to have a mystery. If you have any thoughts – real or imaginary - I’d love to hear them.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, 20 October 2017

The Cheshire Cat Moon

I hope everyone is all right after the storm we had here last week. I saw some terrible pictures on the news from Ireland and West Wales. There was an eerie pink and then yellow light in the sky last Monday morning. I didn’t manage to get a photo of it though.

On Tuesday morning, however, I was up early and saw this in the eastern sky:

The waning crescent moon, which apparently is a time to slow down and rest before you return to using your energies again with the next waxing moon. I thought it really looked like a smile in the morning sky, like the Cheshire Cat gradually vanishing.

As you may know by now, I love the moon. It seems to have a magical quality and I thought I’d look up some quotes on it, so I’m sharing them with you. Here are two I’ve found so far which I liked.

‘The moon will guide you through the night with her brightness, but she will always dwell in darkness, in order to be seen.’

Shannon L. Alder

The moon, like a flower

In heaven’s high bower,

With silent delight

Sits and smiles on the night.

William Blake

I‘ve also taken some more photos of the hydrangea skeleton petals because they had droplets on them after the rain and you know how much I love droplets!

I think things like this are good for me, to see small details in a big world. A tiny, shimmering droplet can be like a gift of nature and noticing them gives me moments of happiness because happiness isn’t always about the big things in life, like going on holiday or celebrating something special. It’s about finding small moments of beauty in everyday life, little things that make you smile, appreciate nature and remind you that there are other things beyond yourself.

It may be droplets, or the moon, or stars, or a bird flitting by, a flower, new shoots sprouting in the spring, dry, brown leaves in the autumn…..  It doesn’t matter what anyone else likes, it’s about what you like, the things that are unique to you.

Another thing I love is the different colours that can be found in the evening sky as the sun is going down. This is a photo of the sunset one day this week.

I love the gradation from amber to rosy pink to the beginnings of violet in the top left corner. The world works in a wonderful way and I wish we looked after it more.

On a slightly different subject, I’ve been wondering about a change to my blogging. I normally write one post a week, but I’ve begun to think maybe I could do two a week. If you have any thoughts on this, whether you’d like to hear more from me or not, please let me know.   

Have a lovely weekend.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Autumn Crochet

I've finished my crochet shawl! It's all done in time for the colder weather ahead. Here are some photos of it. (In case you're wondering, I'm modelling. 😃)

Here's a side view.

And the back...

These photos don't really show the colours very well though. I think the light affected them on the day I took them and they look paler than they actually are, so here are some more shots which I hope show the colours better...

The way the wool worked as I crocheted, the colours seemed to naturally fall in a graduated effect, so that one side is full of pale, muted shades, while the other has more bold, deep shades.

I had to make over ninety tassels to create the fringe on the edge. 😣 But it was worth it and didn't take as long as I thought it would.

The wool itself is acrylic and very soft. I'm sure I'll love wearing it in the winter, all snug and cosy! It was lovely to work with too, so there may be more crocheted items on the way. 😊

Enjoy the weekend. 💗 There's meant to be a mini heatwave here so I probably won't need my shawl, but then a storm is forecast, so it may come in handy.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Moons and Skeletons.

Just a short post this week to show you my photos of the harvest moon from last night. It was so bright! 🌝

I couldn't quite get a good shot with all the markings you can usually see on the moon - the craters and everything, but I love the halo effect here.

Here's one with the silhouettes of leaves.

I love looking at the moon. There's something magical about it which seems to make me feel calm. Perhaps it's that the light is a reflection of the sun's light and so is more gentle.

I know we're coming up to Halloween, but the "skeletons" in the title of this post are not what you might think! 💀 😃

As I was in the garden today, I noticed that the hydrangea petals had turned to skeletons. All the colour and membrane have been worn away and all that's left is the weathered veins.

They are now just skeleton petals on the stem, looking like little, pale ghosts in the garden. It's quite sad but also quite beautiful.

I've nearly finished my shawl and my barn owl, so there'll be updates on them soon. Meanwhile, I hope you're enjoying the sunny autumnal days, even if it has turned a little bit chilly.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Autumn Equinox

“Autumn days when the grass is jewelled…..” Anyone else used to sing that song in school?  🍃

Before I get into autumn, an update on my barn owl wall hanging. (Although it does have a certain autumnal feel to it anyway with the colours.) I’ve completed the machine embroidery wheat.

Now I need to do the hedgerow behind the owl and some sewing on the owl himself.

As well as that, in my spare time I’ve been crocheting a shawl with the yarn I showed you last time and this is how it’s coming along.

I absolutely love the colour changes and I’m hoping to get it done by the time the weather starts to get colder.
But for now, we’re definitely in autumn. Today is the Autumn Equinox and you can feel the shift in the season. I love the subtle light of these days, it’s paler, not so intense as the summer sun. A bit more gentle. The cooler air is lovely too, making you need just one extra layer maybe, the start of wrapping up for the winter. It all has a kind of fragile feel to it, like nature is vulnerable at the turning points of the seasons, in a transition from one thing to another, shedding her skin or her bright summer cloak. The leaves on the cherry blossom in my garden have begun to turn colour already; a few are now that amber-yellow shade.🍂🍁

It all makes me feel a bit wistful, though I don’t know why. Maybe because the warmth and colour of summer sped by so fast, especially as it rained a lot in August which it seems to do every year now. I’m sure August used to be warm and sunny.

It also feels like a time of new beginnings, probably because school starts in September and that always brought new books, pens and uniform to go with the new school year. It seems to have stuck with me even though I left school a long time ago.

I think it’s connected to nature as well. As she is going through a time of change, withdrawing and preparing for winter, it seems to make you think about things, to re-evaluate where you are and start to plan again. To get back on any path you wandered off. The berries are already out on my holly tree, so nature is definitely thinking ahead. The birds will have food, but I feed them anyway, so they’d never go short. 🐦🍒

Happy Autumn to you. I hope you enjoy some wonderful colours on display on the trees. Stop for a while and really notice them.