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Glittering Shards

Glittering Shards: October 2009

Glittering Shards

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Still in bed

I thought this morning would have me bouncing up out of bed and off to the British Mosaic Forum day. But, oh no, the shivers and aches have given way to a bounding headache that kept me awake half the night and has only just faded with a couple of tabs of the strong stuff. Ho hum.

I have managed to sort through lots of my digital photos whilst lolling in bed and I discovered some lovely pics of our dear cat, Millie. In honour of her (she died a year ago) and because its halloween, I thought it would be appropriate to post them here today. The mosaic was a doorsign I made for my brother and sister-in-law. Mmm, the pictures need captions - ideas?

 "Err, excuse me, I am trying to sleep here!"

"Huh, you think that's a good likeness do you?" 


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Putting the brakes on

I am in bed, under the duvet with a themometer in my mouth, trying to convince myself that I don't have flu (and very grateful for lap tops and wifi!).   I am aching from top to toe and shivery for the last two days - no runny nose, sore throat or cough thank goodness, but what I have is enough to keep me in bed and, let me tell you, that takes some doing. Ok, ok, I confess. Yesterday, I was trying really hard to not be ill so I sorted through all the kids clothes, re-organised their cupboards, changed bedding from guests who had just left, loaded then hung out the washing. As soon as my burst of activity finished I felt just dreadful, and duly got a right old ticking off from my dear husband.

I know I am not alone in finding it hard to stop. It just feels like there is always so much to do, and fun stuff at that. I don't want to 'waste' a minute. My dear friend Jane and I often muse that we need at least 3 lives to do all the things we want to. But truly, does anyone have some good advice for a organiser / maker holic?

Here is a picture of  intense oranges and blues that I snapped on Tuesday before I was strucken  down. It's the beautiful rowanberry tree in our back garden which I planted as a tiny sapling 15 years ago. I'm so glad I did as it gives us shade, berries, blossom and a home for our dear birds visiting the seed restaurant we lay our for them.

Ho hum, my creating will just have to wait til next week as even I can't make mosaics in bed!


Friday, October 23, 2009

Crazy patchwork and mosaics

I stumbled on this lovely new place last Saturday. It is a shop dedicated to patchwork and quilting, called The Wandering Line in Purley, Surrey. For a while, I have been thinking how nice it would be to have a very cosy, gorgeous blanket on the couch for us all to snuggle under when we read or watch DVD's, but I have only ever made a 5 inch square of patchwork and that was when I was 12!

Well, in this shop I saw an example of crazy patchwork and was really drawn to it, so I acted on the moment and signed up for a course last Thursday. It was wonderful and I can see why I was attracted to it as there is a lot of similarity between crazy patchwork and the mosaic making process . It is very intuitive - you move materials around until it feels right so there is a lot of 'going with the flow' and letting the materials shape the design. It is very much about using scraps and re-purposing old materials, which is a strong theme in my mosaics. There are two stages to making the patchwork. Firstly is to sew the materials onto a backing fabric and secondly to embellish the squares you create. At this point I had to laugh as the teacher had all the magpie characteristics of a mosaic addict - scouting around for anything shiny and pretty to attach to the work - bells, buttons, beads, ribbons, knicker lace!! Nothing is wasted!

I love my finished square, it is just what I had in mind for our snuggle blanket - only 19 squares to go. Hopefully it will be ready by next winter!

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Pine needle jewellery and pretty things

When I was a child my mother taught me how to make necklaces from pine needles. Our recent holiday in the forest bought this back to me (oh how I love the smell of pine forests) so Isabella, Jules and I sat for an hour making things with pine needles.

Here's how you do the necklaces:

1. Pull complete 'V' shaped needles off - you will probably need about 20 (allowing for some breaking!)

2. Carefully remove one of the needles from the V, without damaging the brown "cocoon" that it sits in. Bend round the remaining needle and tuck the pointy end into the cocoon. It should stay (some don't, just discard and use another).

3. Repeat this process but loop each new "link" into the previous to create your necklace! If you want it to last a bit longer, put a bit of PVA glue at the top of each link.

While we doing this, Isabella decided to put beads onto the pine needles, so we tucked the ends into the top bead to make a loop and hung them from the trees - so pretty! They probably won't last long but it is a nice way for the little ones to learn about threading!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Yay! Here it is! The new "Shed"

Walk with me...

Through the door...

See my new table where I will create...

Here are some of the pretty tiles...

And the table at the other end for the children,
workshop students, for sewing and for Neil!

Now, this beautiful space needs an improvement on the name "Shed", don't you think? Can anyone think of a better name? Please leave any inspiration in the comments!

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Moontree and other things

I am a tired bunny. Tired by wonderful stuff but tired nonetheless. I was so encouraged this morning to flick onto the international Contemporary Mosaic Art website and find my Moontree mosaic showcased on the front page. Big smile!

I am too excited for words about the fact that my workshop is now finished and just exquisite. I have imagined this moment for so long and am happy happy happy that it has finally arrived. I have not yet had the space to just be in this peaceful and creative space and to sink into this wonderful moment (or to make any mosaics for that matter - its been over a month now since I nipped - oh my). Pictures next week!

We have had a stream of friends and family visiting for over 3 weeks now and it has been fantastic to be with people who we love and mean so much to us. The children have relished the company and Toby's little face was sad and thoughtful when we said that tomorrow our dear friends Nina and Benni Astrom are going. Benni returns to rural Finland and Nina goes on to a recording studio north of London to finish her 10th album.

I was listening to a song of Nina's a couple of weeks ago and it really speaks to the issue of comparison, so easy to fall into, especially as an artist. Here's the You Tube link to the song "The Best of Whoever You Are" - beautiful.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Urban Grape Harvest

Our little grape harvest

At the weekend we took part in our local urban grape harvest. This is a fantastic community co-operative organised in our neighbourhood (a sub area of the town of Tooting called Furzedown). The project is called the Urban Wine Company and here is a little about it from the website:

The Urban Wine Company has grown from a simple idea that sprung up two seasons ago in a community called Furzedown in Tooting, South London. Grapes that were growing in Richard and his neighbours’ gardens were unfortunately going to waste. The only beneficiaries of the grape glut were the local birds!

Sitting under the vine, glasses in hand, Richard and Tim decided to team up and do something about it. After rounding up a group of local friends the first collection of garden grapes were pressed into London’s first urban wine. There was nervous excitement as the first bottle of “Chateau Tooting - Furzedown Blush” was uncorked.

We duly did our first little grape harvest on Saturday, Isabella helping to place the cut grapes in the bucket and Toby participating to the extent of wanting to go up and down on the tail gate of the lorry where all the grapes where loaded on Tooting Common!

It was quite reminiscent for me as my family used to own a large vineyard in Southern Italy so I have lots of memories of harvesting grapes and the amazing smell when they were all collected together (I jumped onto the van with all the cut grapes, sniffing and ahhhhing a few times as the memories flooded back!)

I am looking forward not only to our wine (which I am told will be ready to taste in March -in time for a celebratory drink for Neil's birthday and our 16th wedding anniversary!) but am also excited about the community aspects of this brilliant project. Neil and I are also hoping that promised local Community Supported Agriculture scheme will start up soon as we love the community elements of these initiatives.

When we got back from dropping off our little grape harvest, we found two bunches that we missed. So glad because we at them and they were oh so sweet. Thank you September sun, you did your job so well.

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Saturday, October 03, 2009


I am currently part of an online creativity course called "In the Fishbowl" and in two weeks, I have been prompted to think (more than usual!) about what I do. Why do I create? Why do I love what I do? What does it say about me? What is success?

I have curled up with a good old fashion journal and pen to muse on these questions and will share some of my thoughts in the next few weeks when things quieten down (it's crazy round here at the moment - have spent ALL day sorting the contents of my workshop which, hopefully, will be ready to occupy on Thursday - hurray!)

One thing that I have been challenged about is the source of my creativity and art. Getting in touch with it, staying in touch with it.

This quote arrived in my inbox today from the "Inward, Outward" daily mailings and it rings very true:

Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. Source unknown

Have a beautiful Sunday.


Thursday, October 01, 2009

Oh so quiet....

My workshop being insulated - looks a bit like a space ship at the moment!

Its been a quiet little bloggy here for the last week hasn't it?

We returned from hols on Monday to to a veritable mountain of laundry and unpacking AND the need to empty out my whole studio ready for the big insulation project. Oh, AND we have had guests staying. I guess you might understand the radio silence now?

The insulation project is now well underway and I have been so lucky that is hasn't rained because the entire contents of my studio is on the lawn! Our dear friends, Julie and Laci, have been working soooo hard on insulating my workspace so that it is all warm and toasty ready for winter (did I ever mention that during the big cold snap we had in February, I made a mosaic and when I went to grout it ALL the tiles fell off. Baffled, I soon realised that -10 celcius and adhesives are not the best of friends).

I just want to say a hello and wave to the other Fishies from the fishbowl popping in to say hello. I have been a little frustrated not to have dived in too much yet with getting to know you all and keeping up with all the comments but am really hoping that the chaos here calms down in the next week - and that I get the chance to visit your blogs and say hello :)