Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Zoom in on raindrops

with frequent rain showers over recent weeks (although no flooding here) I frequently look out of my kitchen window to see the lovely sight of raindrops on roses cabbage

I'm amazed at the size of some of the drops that seem to balance on a slope.

I haven't actually eaten anything from this plant but I keep it because it was so nearly eaten away by slugs over the first few months that it was in the garden - I'm still glad to see it survived and flourished. A testament to tenacity!

Looking forward to seeing what others have zoomed in and out on this week

Monday, February 24, 2014

Around here

definite signs of spring with new spring flowers popping up each day and my rhubarb is sprouting nicely


my nurse factory is progressing well with all of the bodies now finished so I just need to crochet the hair – colour and length specific to each person – and sew it on then the hat and arms


Some strange sights on a walk by the water


a massive fish?


a crocodile?

or just a lump of something throwing interesting reflections!

I went to a quilt expo on Friday with my Mum – a throng of ladies of a certain age examining the exhibits and buying.  We enjoyed seeing all the creative work with patchwork (traditional and modern), quilting and embroidery.  But I was not tempted to buy up supplies.  There were signs up asking that photos of the works on show were not shared on internet – so I can’t share any of my photos here. Fair enough if people want to protect their creative ideas but I can’t remember the last time I saw a similar sign as most places seem to have accepted / are resigned to the click and share world – do you still see such signs around?

Friday, February 21, 2014

fields of light

one of the parks in town has been covered in interesting white balls on stalks



Interesting to view through a camera lens.

But once it grows dark they transform


the colours change gradually giving endless wonderful colour patterns.

A nice project from the council to make use of the long dark evening at this time of year (it gets dark between around 5pm at the moment). I’ll definitely be visiting again as they are in place until end of April.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Zoom in on the blooms

I love spring bulbs and planted some in my garden soon after I bought it (in June) and was delighted the following spring to discover that there were also a lot of bulbs already planted.  The display starts with snowdrops and then crocuses.

I'm sure the succession of bulbs over the coming months will feature again in a zoom in and out

Looking forward to another lovely batch of images this week

Monday, February 17, 2014

making a silver ring

I’ve been using my hands in another workshop this week – very different from the sign language class on Tuesday.  I had a lovely day on Sunday at a silverclay class where I made a ring.

silverclay is pure magic – you start with some white clay or putty like material which you roll and mould etc and then when it is fired it becomes silver – alchemy at work.

Emma (on the right) is a professional jeweller and lovely, generous teacher. We were in her workroom, surrounded by lots of examples of her work and other interesting things. There were just two of us in the class so we had plenty of attention and could choose what we wanted to make.  silvercalay-1

We both opted for a ring for our big afternoon make. I  chose this style of ring


lots of steps (I didn’t remember to photograph them all) but each was easy enough and the clay is easy to scrunch up and start again if it all goes badly wrong. In all classes I take the approach of making something I like rather than something perfect, particularly when you are learning new techniques.  So my iced lines are not as straight at the original.


With the steady progression of different steps, easy chat and plenty of tea the day flew by and before I knew it I was applying the last rub of the polishing cloth and modelling my new ring. 


I love the result – organic and uniquely mine -  and it fits!!! always a bit of a worry when making a ring. 

Such an easy material to use (especially compared to siversmithing) and so many things you can do with it.  I have plenty of ideas for what I might make next.  Emma runs regular studio sessions when you pay to use her tools and kiln.

I think if I’d ever made a crafting bucket list that ‘make a silver ring’ would be one of the items.  Well and truly ticked off now.  Is silverclay or silversmithing on your craft make bucket list?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Learning a new language

I started a new course this week, one with an exam at the end and recognised qualification.  I think learning to drive was the last time I learnt something that was then tested!


I’m learning BSL – British Sign Language  (other English speaking countries have their own distinct sign language)


including finger spelling

strange contradiction I just noticed – to indicate  ‘finger spelling’ you use a sign and so say ‘BSL’ (which is largely made up of signs) you finger spell it.

There are 12 of us in the class.  From next week we are not allowed to use our voice during class and must sign everything (or write it on the board). So far we know the alphabet and a few phrases such as asking names and boy / man, girl / woman, dog, tree, bridge, stand, bite.  Which does not lead to a great deal of useful conversation.  It’s all about practice and feeling confident with signing and reading signs.

I’ve been interested in signing languages for a long time but never  had the time or opportunity to learn before.  It appeals to me much more than learning any other language.

Anyone else know a sign language?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Zoom in on the nurse factory

You may remember that I showed 2 nurses that I crocheted in January, following the 1 I crocheted in December for my nephew's girlfriend Nicole who is training to be a nurese. Well after I made little nurses for 2 of her friends she asked me if I would make for others in her class who wanted one. I said 'yes', just tell me the hair colour for each.

So last week I received the list - 24 little nurses to be made.  I decided it would be easier to do them batch style, all the arms, all the hats etc.  In this box are 48 arms, 24 hats and 12 leg pairs. Its a good occupation to make me feel more productive while watching the Winter Olympics during the day.

And on the subject of my nephew, Dylan, he is doing a research project for his final year of his computing degree, on silver surfer security.  He has a short survey as the basis of the research and needs people to complete it, who are over the age of 60.  It does not take long and all results are annonymous.  If any of you are eligible and willing, or know someone who is, please let me know in the comments and I'll send you the link.  The delights of the blogging community.

Loving the range of subject matter people are sharing for zoom in and out - lots of snow last week.  Looking forward to week 7's batch

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Have you been watching the Winter Olympics?

I happened upon skateboard slopestyle and was amazed at both the acrobatic skill of the athletes and also the amazing language of the commentary with so many terms that meant nothing to me but sounded great


so I started to write down phrases that they use a lot – bosh was common to describe a good landing.  And I had to laugh at the ‘push of shame’ when a rider falls and then has to unclip one foot from the board to push himself off the snow.

I took the photo of the TV as they kindly show slowmotion of the run.

Thinking I might repeat this for some other events during the games to capture the full experience.

Which event do you most look forward to watching?  or are you turned off by the whole thing?

Monday, February 10, 2014

5 swans a swimming

I’m joining Sandie again this month in her invitation to take 5 minutes to capture lots of images and then choose 5 to share.  The light was good on the resident swans were in a good position to photograph so I used them for my subject matter.


They are used to people (and dogs) and some will even take bread from the hand as they are fed so often


the ones with brown feathers are the chicks from last year – the ugly ducklings – and the father seems to spend a lot of his time at the moment chasing them away from the family group, in readiness for a new clutch this year


that  green leg tag indicates  that they are locals


I love how the seagulls are in amongst them (the brown showing that is a chick from last year too)


fascinated by their ability to balance on one leg

and here is a shot of the chicks in May last year – amazing how they grow, and as far as I can tell all survived this year.

Thanks to Sandie for the reminder to pause and study one subject for 5 minutes

Friday, February 7, 2014

why did I leave it so long?

I was looking through images that I created last year, to choose some to have printed for Liberate your Art 2014  postcard swap. I realised that I had done very few pixel magic creations in the latter part of the year once PhotoArt Friday stopped being a weekly event.  I also membered how much I enjoyed creating pieces from a photo, some images and PSE and how much I enjoyed the pieces that I created.

So when Bonnie posted the subject for February – angular and geometric, I immediately thought of a photo I’d taken of railings and set to work.


Why did I stop for so long?  I loved the process and I love, love this image.

For those of you happy to enjoy the pixel magic, stop here.  For those who like to see behind the scenes, here are the ingredients I used


I created the 4 images, rotated them so the top right of the photo was in the middle on each and then cropped and rotated.

I started with 10 different textures – mostly ones I remembered having success with in the past – tried each and kept the 4 I liked the best.

I always apply textures in this haphazard way, waiting until I see something I love.  I was wondering – does everyone do it that way or do some people have an end result in mind and know which texture will provide that result?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Zoom in on glowing warriors

To mark Chinese New Year a display of lantern warriors, modelled on the terracotta warriors, is in Edinburgh
As with the terracotta warriors, the heads are made separately from the bodies and all are different.  But on the lanterns the heads are solid on top of lantern bodies – which I found a bit odd in the dark.  I will go back to see them in daylight to see how they look then, without the lit up effect.
and yes I have seen the terracotta warriors in Xian, China (10 years ago on a lovely tour)
looking forward to seeing what everyone else has zoomed on this week – thank you to all participants.

Monday, February 3, 2014

January summed up

thank you Julie for providing a safe harbour for a monthly roundup in numbers

In January I took 31 photos of numbers – each appropriate to the day – as a personal challenge and something different to look out for on my walks (although some were taken in my house).  I took 307 other photos. I was delighted to capture 5 zoom in zoom out pairs and to see so many people join me in this meme.


I read 4 books – one extremely long and another extremely short (a short story really) I enjoyed the former and didn’t mind that it was long, and heavy to hold.  I hated the later and only finished it because it was so short. Both were short listed last year for the Man Booker fiction prize. The other 2 had good narrative and kept me interested.  Tana French is a new author to me – intriguing detective fiction set in Ireland – I’d recommend her if you are into that type of book. Farewell to the East End is part of the ‘Call the Midwife’ set and full of lovely stories mixed with social history.


I crocheted 2 mandalas, 3 hexagons to contribute to a charity blanket for dialysis patients, 2 (more) nurses and finished the 21 flowers and 22 leaves for my spring garland.


For the communal count Julie asked what we pay for bread.  I usually buy the small multi-grain loaf at 85p  or the pack of 6 rolls for 60p, or in a 2 for 1 deal - £1 for 12 rolls.  Which is why I found I had 300g of dry bread in my fridge and made a yummy bread pudding which had to bake for 2 hours at 150C.