Chocolate and nudity

Sun 20th Nov

Invitation from Ni to participate in ‘Send Your Mates Chocolate’ Day (her own invention) so dusted off the old chocolate cookbook and ventured a first attempt at chocolate truffles! Grossly underestimated (aka ‘didn’t really read the recipe’) the sheer amount of chocolate I would need to dip the truffles in so most are sitting patiently in the fridge for their final coating.

yum!

Oh dear I have to bite one for a photo? Woe is me!

Mon 21st

Exchange of chocolate! Verdict on truffles: very good but the hard outer shell is a little too thick. Bought three more bars while out and returned home to finish off the others. Found I was making the coating just as thick as the first time! The chocolate gets more sluggish as it cools and so refuses to drip off the truffles, but if you warm it up then there’s the danger of melting the truffle centre! Any advice, keen cooks out there??

There was some molten chocolate left over at the end so I popped some corn and drizzled it over.

yummy but gets a bit messy when you grab a handful!

Tue 22nd

Panda nails! Had to use dark blue as my black has run out, but pretty pleased with how the nail gem eyes and noses worked!

cute!

Wed 23rd

Good deed for the day: ran after a car to let the guy know he was driving off with his petrol cap wide open.

Drawn Together at Quad in the evening, very happy to pay just £2 for 2 hours with a life model, hope this continues to be a regular thing!

click to enlarge

Complimented by a stranger on the way home for my panda nails, made my day :)


Christmas is coming…

Wed 16th Nov

Sew Darn Crafty time again, a really lovely evening to meet up and there was even a new face which is always good news! I worked on a crochet scarf while Faye made soctopi, Emmie knitted a chunky scarf with needles as wide as a thumb, and Ni worked on commissions for Christmas stories. The best thing? Labyrinth was playing on the big screen :D

We have another craft fair coming up, this time indoors and even closer to Christmas so fingers crossed for a good turnout!

Thu 17th

Began my new job at Sainsburys :)

Fri 18th

Festival of Light Derby lantern parade, didn’t stay long but saw some beautiful creations!

a bear and a fern, I think

click to enlarge

Came home and doodled in front of a Nicholas Cage film on BBC iPlayer, see what you think, recognise any influence?

click to enlarge

Then I watched The World’s Strictest Parents.

On a request from local art and craft seller extraordinaire This Is Bazaar, I made myself a Facebook page for my crafts. Check it out here!

current page profile picture, tablet drawing I did of myself meeting a horse

Sat 19th

Took some of my felted woolen jumper Christmas decorations out for a photo shoot on Markeaton Park, although I got there a bit late so there wasn’t daylight for long enough to get many good shots. Think that will be a job for next week!

"mum, what's that lady doing?"

yellow holly = subversive Christmas


Halloween!

Mon 24th Oct

Here is my finished pair of gloves!

slightly mis-matched but nice and warm!

Also I made a double glove so Jim and I can hold hands and stay warm :)

you could also wear it just yourself like a muff

Began making my fly mask by plastic-wrapping my face (with air holes! Don’t do this at home, kids!) and using lots of sellotape to hold the shape, and taping on a few bits of cardboard for extra strength. I’m sure there’s a better method but this is what my brain came up with in panic mode, and it is so nice to finally have a mask that fits perfectly!

Tue 25th

Zoetrope workshop at the Silk Mill with Jim Moore, Laura Mossop, This is Bazaar and Georgina Brookes, hosted by Nottingham Hackers. We span the zoetropes on a record player, which worked well except for the fact that it made our animations go backwards, so see below for Jim’s retracting flower and my backwards horse and jerky dancing man:

Georgina's zoetrope, a cute gambolling fox

Laura's zoetrope in progress, a girl whipping her hair around!

The night clashed with the launch night of Drawn Together but I’ll definitely make the next one!

Wed 26th

Worked on my fly costume; made a pair of wings from two coat hangers, a pair of nylon stockings, black ribbon and lots of duct tape!

DIY FTW :)

Not really true to The Fly film because he only got a fly head, not wings, but I felt like having them anyway.

costume plan

Thu 27th

Failed to go to Hatched Out because I was horribly cold-ridden.

like this

Fri 28th

Pixel Synthesis Halloween theme at Quad, Laura Mossop and Emma Reading drawing.

I did a (dodgy) sketch

Ni and Patsy with Jim

progress shot of Emma's design

progress shot of Laura's design

Stayed up late making flour paste glue from scratch and adding a layer of papier-mâché to the fly mask. Looked again at photos of houseflies and discovered they don’t have antennae, so that’s one less thing for me to make. Hooray!

Flour Paste Recipe

(makes enough for a large papier-mâché project)

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1.5 cups water
  1. Add both ingredients to a saucepan and stir well to get rid of any lumps
  2. Heat the mixture until it starts to boil, stirring continuously (especially at the base of the pan)
  3. Continue stirring on a low heat for another 20 mins or until it becomes clear
  4. Allow to cool before use. Store in the fridge and use within 2 weeks (ish)

Sat 29th

Rushed to finish off the mask with a coat of black poster paint and some acrylic brushed on for texture in places.

mask progress shot

Hot glued some hot pink fabric from an old top for the faceted eyes.

almost finished!

Used my new tiny-hole punch to make holes for ribbon on each side to tie it on. Finished! Jim was also working until the last minute on his ‘end-of-show’ Riff Raff (from The Rocky Horror Picture Show) costume:

lots of detailed sewing!

Dr Sketchy at Quad Halloween special: we were given a jackalope, two zombies and Velma from Scooby Doo to draw. Laura was there too and won a prize for her picture, well done!

jackalope in shorts

in its natural habitat of .....cubes? o.O

ready to marry Mr Jackalope

Miss World zombie will pose for brains

all this nomming makes me tie-tie

Halloween party in Hounslow with an 80s Horror theme! Other costumes included Lestat from Interview with a Vampire, Borg drones from Star Trek, Kiefer Sutherland from The Lost Boys and the little girl from Poltergeist.

Borg taking a break from assimilating

Riff Raff and Lestat

me winning a bloody heart in a sack.... just what I wanted!

I brought homemade 'stained glass' pumpkin cookies!

Sun 30th

Spent the day with my family at Farnham Pottery where people were having a party to celebrate a local potter buying the building and thus securing its future. Lots of good food and cake, and I had a go at throwing a bowl!

me eating cake ^__^

inside was decorated with lots of candles in jars

... which was pretty!

oh this doesn't look dodgy at all!

this was when my bowl was looking at it's best... I promptly ruined it after this picture was taken!

Mon 31st

Second Halloween party in Portsmouth hosted by Jim’s little brother Ed and his girlfriend Kiana, very impressed with the decorations and homemade foods.

home-made quiches ftw

me next to the desserts table (where else?!)

Ed was dressed as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, and Kiana was his secretary:

Objection!

group photo!

me as a very happy Pale Man (Pan's Labyrinth)

Jim did a better job at being scary

got me a proboscis!

We played a game of Pictionary and had to make up creepy things for the other team to draw for each other, scraping the barrel I suggested Pedobear and I am very pleased with their result!

genius!

Tue 1st Nov

Searched ASDA for Halloween sales, got myself some spiderweb coasters, a candle holder and a food tray for £1.75 :D

Finished off my stag cushion, finally!

stag cushion in its rightful place on the sofa

fastened with buttons and crocheted button-holes

Jim has decided to participate in Movember, which is brave as he hates having a scratchy face. He’s decided that he may as well go the whole hog and get the worst moustache style he could think of, which I can confirm is quite terrible. (Photos to follow once it’s grown a bit!) Hopefully he will be able to raise some awareness and money for prostate cancer, or I will have endured a month of hedgehog kisses for nought! Jim has made a video to explain more about Movember and his place in it. Follow this link if you find yourself with excess money and are in a sympathetic mood!

Wed 2nd

Sew Darn Crafty night at Bar One, more people than the previous few weeks which was lovely to see. Among them were Faye making fabric moons, Emmie knitting a chunky scarf (of the awesome kind), and Jim and Ni planning their plots for NaNoWriMo. I brought along the rest of the jumper that I used to make my stag cushion and made a couple of heart-shaped Christmas hanging decorations.

Came home to find that there had been a resurgence  (or should that be surgence, since it was relatively unnoticed when first posted) of interest in my Park Face. One day I got bored and drew a park on my face with eyeliner, and this is the result!

duck pond, playing football, throwing stick for dog, feeding ducks, flying kite

Very pleased to have people say nice things about my art, even when it is several months after the event! Beggars can’t be choosers :)

Thu 3rd

The collection of upcycled woolen jumper Christmas decorations is growing, will have to go by Pretty Things soon and see if he wants some to sell!

heart decorations

stockings

I made small hearts to use up the material scraps too :)

Fri 4th

Found a ghost cookie kit at Lakeland for 99p!

they fly like Superman!

Sat 5th

Compassionate Derby event with lots of vegan food stalls and a baby hedgehog! I won a tin of lentil soup at the raffle. Score!

Sun 6th

Collected some party poppers from a nice lady I met through Freegle. Good times. Now I just need a party!

Mon 7th

Made cookies for Jim’s upcoming third and final screening of Myth-Covered Peaks at The Brewhouse in Burton this Friday. Simplified the ‘peaks’ logo and frosted just the tops like snow, and made a Day of the Dead ‘sugar skull’ with the leftover dough :D

all cut individually as there wasn't a cutter

if I ever get my Day Of The Dead Halloween party...

Wed 9th

Watched The Adventures of Tintin at the cinema, thought it was very good and faithful to the style of the original comics but couldn’t help being freaked out by the uncanny valley-ness of the characters :S

Thu 10th

Made an owl Christmas decoration with a how-to from Prima magazine. It was meant to use mini pom-pom trimming but I didn’t have any in my stash so I made one big pom-pom instead!

Fri 11.11.’11!

Corduroy day! That is, according to The Corduroy Appreciation Club, who take the love of cords and numbers and animals that look like cords to a new level. This I approve of! (Of course, it was also remembrance Day, so I hope y’all remembered to remember.)

It was also Jim‘s third and final screening at The Brewhouse Art Centre of his documentary Myth-Covered Peaks, and despite all the equipment being locked in another room with no-one around knowing the keycode, we eventually managed to get things set up and have the most successful screening yet! Jim showed several short films from other local film-makers first with the theme of ‘storytelling’, and then we saw the main feature, which has been improved since last time with artwork to accompany the introduction. My cookies went down well too!

I decorated a collection pot which Jim took along to raise funds for Movember.

you can't see it, but there's tiny flying mustaches around the edges :)

Sat 12th

Finally made use of my DIY Weaving Loom I was given by fellow Derby creative Su Mwamba to make a simple panel of red acrylic wool, which I used in a wristwarmer :) Free instructions for weaving if you follow this link.

Also found a reduced bat cookie kit at ASDA, couldn’t resist :D…

grumpy bats will bite you!

the cutter is also good for making owls :)

Sun 13th

Saw Super 8 at Quad cinema, really fun film to watch and as it is about a group of film-makers I recognised some of Jim in there too (A train’s just crashed and we barely escaped with our lives? We could film there!) :P

Met up with a friend in the cafe afterwards and made a doodle of a lady with a beehive hairstyle.

Mon 14th

Took apart a woven bag handle to do some macramé, which took a good few hours but with nice results :)

parts from bag handles, old necklaces and a decorative frame. These cost me £0


Soldering is funtimes

Sat 8th Oct

Jim finished off my t-shirt with the sewing machine and I’ve worn it out a couple of times! The white ‘shines’ on the eye and the nose fell off during sewing but I’m not too worried about replacing them, it looks fine how it is. Had a few compliments, but only after telling people I made it. Is this because it’s so good they assumed I bought it, or just because you have to say it’s good when someone says “look what I made!”?

With Halloween coming up, and a generous invite to attend an 80s horror themed party, it’s about time Jim and I made our costumes! I wasn’t very inspired by the brief at first but I found all the relevent films I could on ye olde internet and actually the choice looks quite good. My shortlist consisted of:

  • Black Cat (never seen it but it’d be easy enough to come as a cat)
  • The Fly
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show (yay<3!)
  • Thriller (Michael Jackson)
  • Alien
  • Terminator
  • Little Shop of Horrors

I’ve decided to do The Fly with a normal human body (that’s the easy bit) and either a papier-mache or a fabric fly head mask. I have yet to begin but I’m pretty excited for it since it will be awesome.

While researching Alien I came across this cool facehugger ski mask and my first thought was ‘do I have pink wool?’ Yes! Yes I do. So here is the start of my copied version! I think I will need to get a plain black hat to attach the legs to like in the original.

Mon 10th Oct

Went to the Open For Business 2011 business exhibition and trade fair as Jim was there for a business lecture from the creative enterprise people. I enjoyed a good look around and saw my friends Laura Mossop and This is Bazaar there selling beautiful things, and also got lots of free cake and popcorn from various stalls. Outside I met Forever Forged who is a talented lady with awesome forging skills, she has made a gate like a custard cream and when I have money to spend I would like some of her wall hooks to decorate my future dream house with. Another new lady I met (actually at the first stall I went to!) is Jan Merryweather who creates various felt and fabric homewares and accessories, and she gave me a leaflet for her feltmaking classes so I am definitely going to go along sometime and try it out!

On a wedding note, we found a couple who have a white VW camper van to hire for special occasions (and they tell us there is a fridge with champagne inside!), so they are currently top of my list for wedding transport hire!

Tue 11th Oct

At the business exhibition This is Bazaar had mentioned a soldering workshop at The Silk Mill, so I decided to try it out and dragged Jim along with me (for company, but also because soldering is something I know he’ll need later on when he gets around to making some circuit-bent instruments). The Silk Mill is currently being used as a creative space while it’s undergoing renovation, so the nice guys from Nottingham Hackspace came down to share their skills.

my notes

They began with a basic introduction to soldering, what it is and what it does, and then let us choose to either make a flashing LED badge or a MAGICAL MUSICAL PENCIL (aka a Drawdio; draw audio) which I NEED for Christmas and then my life will be measurably improved. Unfortunately, the kit cost £10 and so I could only afford to get Jim and myself each a badge kit for £2 each. We had a cunning plan; we would use the badge kit to learn to solder, and then later on but the Drawdio kit and use our new skills to make it at home.

Only one lady in the group, Patsy, made a Drawdio and it looked quite complicated so maybe I’ll wait for another class so I can have the mentors helping me again. Patsy’s worked perfectly and I had some fun trying to make tunes with it! It really is amazing. I’ll be posting photos of this when I can get them from Jim’s camera, but you can see some already in Jim’s post of the event!

Wed 12th

Had an interview for a job in a craft shop yet to open in Derby, really hope I get it! The role would also be to lead craft workshops in the evenings which I am all over. I am crossing all my fingers and my toes and my arms and my legs, but if I’m honest I don’t think this will actually sway the will of the universe. Edit: didn’t get it : (

Miss Will! Pedro is crying waterfalls!

Fri 14th

Got a free Graze box in the post, courtesy of Ni from Sew Darn Crafty! The online process of claiming your free box does include setting up your card details, as they do want you to subscribe for a weekly box that you pay for after the free one, but you can do what I did and cancel as soon as you get the free one and not spend a penny! Bwahahaha >: D Seriously though, when I have enough steady money coming in I will want to treat myself to a weekly healthy snack, so when I can I am totally reactivating it.

To get your first box free like me, enter promotional code VJ2JFX83 (this will also get Ni £1 off one of her boxes so happiness all around!)

Sun 16th

Carboot day! Got some good cheap things including a boxed kit to make a mosaic candle holder for just £1! Joy!

Brought it home and spent the whole evening carefully glueing the tiles on…

Mon 17th

Now that the glue had dried overnight I started grouting it. Either the glue was too weak or my grout was too wet, but tiles started becoming unstuck and falling off and making me sad : ( So it pulled all the tiles off and gave it all a wash and now it is waiting for me to regain enough heart to try it alllllll again. *sigh*

It wasn’t such a bad day though, because in the morning Jim and I met a very lovely affectionate cat who monopolised our existence for as long as he was able with his soft fur and refusal to acknowledge when stroke-time was over. Photos when I can get them! Read Jim’s account here.

Later that day, with a deadline looming (the next day!) I worked on the promised illustrationsfor University of Derby’s graduate handbook on Personal Branding. I made some backgrounds with used tea bags and picked a few pieces of long grass from the garden to use as mark makers with the black ink, and used a paintbrush for some neater bits. Pretty happy with how they turned out after some Photoshopping, although more time could have been used matching drawings with backgrounds to ensure they went best together (the finished one below worked well though!)

'How Not To Present Yourself' idea sketch

grass and ink sketch of someone wondering what to name themselves professionally

pencil sketch of a boring cake

Personal Branding booklet cover

I’m looking forward to seeing these in print with the other booklets, no idea when that will be but expect to see photos when I have them!

As if that weren’t enough, late that evening I suddenly decided to start making a version of a cushion I’d seen at Next Home but didn’t have the disposable income to treat myself. I used a felted old woolen jumper as the base and cut the stag’s head from a piece of Jim’s old jogging trousers fused to Bondaweb. I got the shape for the head by printing out large the photo from the Next Home website, I’m pretty sure this is allowable since I’m making it for myself and not for profit.

Tue 18th

Continued working on the stag’s head cushion, the blanket stitch around the edge is taking forever but BBC iPlayer is helping. Here’s a progress shot, I think I need to go and buy a basic cushion pad before I can start making it up though.

I also took some nice photos on our walk this morning around the pond, pictures when I can grab them off Jim’s camera! See some of Jim’s photos on his blog post.

Wed 19th

Sew Darn Crafty in the evening, I made another crocheted wrist warmer and began on my second glove, and Ni was there designing a flag for the Clockworks Social Centre and a not-Christmas (she’s pagan) story featuring teddy bears. She also drew a hippy bear.

Thu 20th

Make and Mingle meeting at Déda in an effort to dissuade spending cuts by showing support for our local arts centres. Organised by Corey Mwamba and This is Bazaar, it was a very pleasant evening of meeting new creatives, learning watercolour techniques from Laura Mossop, finishing my right glove off from the previous night and discovering liquid marzipan (read: ‘Heaven’) in the form of Amaretto :D

photo credit: This is Bazaar

Fri 21st

Day trip out to IKEA with Jim to take advantage of an offer to save back money spent in the restaurant on a subsequent spent in the store. Had a lovely time wandering around planning what we would spend our credit on until we realised that we’d missed our return trip home, and had to wait around for a different bus that would take us half-way back and then have to hunt down a second bus to Derby. Fortunately, the bus drivers were very helpful and sympathetic to our predicament, and we had the good fortune to spot a Black Cat bus which I knew would take us to Derby, which we hopped on to when our bus stopped behind it. Score! Still arrived home several hours later than planned though.

Anyway, at IKEA I bought a pad to go inside my stag cushion, so hopefully that project will be able to progress soon : )

In the evening we finished off a fruitcake we’d baked the night before with some butterfly decorations, which we’d decided on because we wanted to use our new black icing pen which was good for antennae. This was our first ever attempt at a fruitcake and judging from the results, it won’t be our last :D Nyom nyom nyom…

featuring a butterfly made from ice cream wafers

packed with fruity goodness

Sat 22nd

Went to a craft fair at Memorial Hall that I’d seen advertised on a notice board at Sainsburys. Turned out there was only one actual craft stall and the rest were jumble sales, but I found something to buy (for Christmas presents! Shhhh secret!) which made it worthwhile : )

Sun 23rd

Carboot in the morning, a very pleasant walk in the sunshine which I’m trying to make the most of while it’s still here. I spent £2 on a necklace and a craft stamp. The stamp is for a tiny circular hole which means I can finally make proper tags from my tag stamper!

Inspired by Home Cooking Made Easy on the BBC, I decided to try making fresh pasta from scratch for dinner. The recipe is actually very simple:

  • 400g flour
  • 4 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  1. Sieve flour and mix in the salt
  2. Mix in the eggs to make a firm dough. Knead it for 15 minutes to make it supple (otherwise it will tear when you roll it out)
  3. Divide it into two balls (or it would be too much to work with) and roll them out as thin as you can, the thinner the better as it will swell later when cooking, dusting with flour as necessary to stop them from sticking to the table. This will take ages and according to the recipe I used, your buttocks should sweat. Appetising, no?
  4. Lightly flour the top of your dough and roll it into a log, then use a sharp knife to cut slices off it lengthways. Unroll these slices and you will have long strips which you can then hang up to dry for 15 minutes

    this is the fun bit

    I used coat hangers

    if I could knit my own yoghurt, I totally would

  5. Bring salted water to the boil and cook the pasta for about 4 minutes. Do not allow it to overcook or apparently it becomes very flabby (I wouldn’t know *proud*)

    to take the pasta off the hangers, slip a long knife between the strands...

    ... and lift off

  6. Drain water and let a knob (teehee) of butter melt into the pasta. Serve with the homemade sauce that your partner diligently made for you while you were busy with the pasta

    hooray!

Success! I do have bruises on my palms this morning though from all the rolling, think I may need to get one of those rolling pins with handles.


Myth-Covered Peaks screening #2

I found a bag of unwaxed lemons reduced in Sainsburys so yesterday I made a lemon drizzle cake with one of them! Unwaxed is better for this since you need to grate the zest. I used a recipe I’d never tried before but it turned out darn g0od and we will be having lots more of these  in future!

Yesterday I also crocheted a bracelet with some of the green wool recovered from my old scarf and a handful of wooden beads I found a while ago at the carboot. I’d tried this before ages ago but this one was a lot more chunky.

I went along to Pretty Things today and added the wristwarmers and the bracelet to my collection there. Hopefully as it’s getting quite chilly now people will be tempted! Here’s a couple of photos of Pretty Things and my pretty things there:

zip rose and owl brooches etc.

rabbit pincushion

shop front

Now for the main thing; Jim’s film screening! Tonight was the second night of his documentary screeningat The Brewhouse art centre in Burton and I went along to support him and take photos of the event.

also to take photos of myself, because I am vain :)

‘Myth-Covered Peaks’, as it is titled, is still a progressing project and there will be a third and final (for now, anyway) showing at The Brewhouse next month, where it will no doubt be even better than it was tonight with more improvments and additions made.

The difference between this version and that which was shown on the first night is noticeable and since Jim has added more of an ‘essay’ structure, it flows better and makes more sense to the uninitiated viewer. He has also made some music for the beginning and end credits which fits really well and gives a ‘story telling’ vibe.

giving the introduction

interviewing Pete Castle at Pickfords House

in Bakewell

empty cottage in Edale

storytelling on Mam Tor, Castleton

hilly hills of Castleton

roll end credits!

I get a credit too! ^__^

Jim next to Huge Jim


sew darn spidery!

Went to Sew Darn Crafty again tonight, a good turn-out and a very nice evening spent crocheting another wrist warmer :)

me crocheting and trying not to look like I know I'm being photographed BUT I TOTALLY KNEW!!!1

Amoung the people there was the girl from last fortnight, and I finally found out her name so she has to stop being the mysterious internet lady because now she is named as Ni! A very cool name, I know. She drew some steampunk teddy bears for me:

enlarge to see the cogs on the toes

Walking back home, my and Jim’s night was topped off by seeing some awesome spider webs hanging from motorway lights!This was even better for me since I am getting excited about halloween already and have spent a good while today teasing my eyeballs with things I could make.

Tired now. Bed. Goodnight!


Big catch-up time

Sat 10th Sept

Got engaged! Jim proposed to me at his birthday meal at Darleys, a complete surprise :D Love you hun! x x x x x

wooooooo!

For Jim’s birthday present I made him a cross-stitched QR code with a link to his WordPress. Neither of us actually have a QR reader so still no idea if it actually works, but I made one previously for our good friend Jj and his worked so fingers crossed! I whipstitched it onto white felt so Jim can attach it as a patch to his bag or scarf later on.

Monday 12th Sept

Made Jim a (late) birthday cake –  apple and marzipan with some fun decorations. Still a newbie at cake decorating but getting fancy with squiggly glittery icing, although I wish it would set.

I also used some chess piece chocolates I got in the Christmas sale early this year to top some muffins. It turned out they weren’t full figures as I’d hoped but flat on one side, so I made half a set by glueing matching pieces together with icing on their flat sides. The King and Queen had to be mismatched but I don’t think they minded.

what you mean when you say, half-caste?!

The muffins themselves turned out a bit disappointing and soft, but I had my first venture into buttercream icing and had fun covering the tops, although I will be more adventurous and try a shaped piping nozzle next time!

Sat 17th Sept

Designed and cross-stitched a wedding sampler for my friend and ex-colleague Jenness who got married the next day to fiancée Franklin! I adapted the design from a set I’d done previously for a website so that bit didn’t take too long, but the actual cross-stitching took most of the day and I was happy when it was finally done and in its frame!

Sun 18th Sept

Wedding in the morning! Lots of singing, which was kinda fun, lots of talking about God, which was less fun as they were trying to convert us, but interesting nonetheless and one of the speakers presented a good lesson which can be applied to everyday life whether you believe in God or not. Basically, don’t lose sight of the important things. (Matthew 23:23)

Then straight to Sew Darn Crafty Craft Fair, where myself and the other girls (boys are allowed too but they’re apparently less crafty than us) set up stalls to sell our creations from the months before.

Everything was going well until it became apparent that we weren’t going to have many people actually coming, which was a shame as I’d prodded all my Derby Facebook friends as hard as I could through the medium of internet. It didn’t help that the football was on in the pub, so we were sat lonely outside with our tables while inside it was packed with cheering blokes who occasionally came out to smoke and not buy anything.

Plus a personal tragedy, I managed to choose the corner where the adorable pub dog apparently likes to wee, so I was stuck in a stinky spot in my wedding outfit trying not to feel too cold and disheartened. In the end I sold three things, so at least I came home with a tiny profit. A learning experience certainly.

stalls from Faybel Craft and Craftastic

Most of the others had done a craft fair before so they had a better plan of how to dress their stalls, so I have a good idea next time of how to not just have a bare table with stuff laid flat on it. Click these links to see Faybel Craft and Craftastic!

Mon 19th Sept

Took a train to Sheffield to collect my Crocollage set back from firing. The transfers seem to have faded a tiny bit and some of the paint apparently hasn’t adhered like I wanted it to, but really I still love my naughty kitties and I even had an enquiry to sell a couple of pieces, so I might see if I can go back and make some more :D

uneven paint

faded transfers?

Tue 20th Sept

Decided to use the Bondaweb I’ve had rolled up in my stash for ages and finally experimented with some appliqué! I free-handed a fox onto a sheet of A3 and used some old clothes pieces to get the different colours. Bondaweb is actually very easy to use! The hardest bit I think is going to be stitching over all the edges to make sure it doesn’t start to peel off with wear. I have a wonderful boyfriend to do that scary bit for me but unfortunately he’s always mega-busy so I think foxy will wait a little while longer before he can ride my chest into the big bad world.

Wed 21st Sept

Glowing with appliqué enthusiasm, I patched a long sleeve top I’ve been avoiding wearing because I pulled a hole in it walking past a bush. I stitched the hole closed and stuck a rain cloud over the top to cover it up, with a few raindrops below to make it look like it was always meant to be there and no-one will ever know otherwise unless they read my blog. It’s only small so it wasn’t such a big task to secure the edges with stitching, so I finally have a piece complete! Yaay!

Later on it was time again for the fortnightly Sew Darn Crafty, and this time it was just myself and a nice girl who makes clay pendants for LARPers and the like. She suggested I try to sell my crafts at Pretty Things, a shop I’d never heard of in the Market Hall, so I made a note of it as I am a little unbalanced in the crafts made Vs crafts sold department. I passed the evening cutting and sewing a hanging heart decoration of the type I’ve been making recently.

white hanging heart decoration with red snowflake stitching

I got the snowflake cross-stitch/back-stitch pattern from CrossStitcher magazine, but I came up with the idea for the decorations and how to do it on my own. I will try to sell as many as I can but I won’t be too sad to have them for myself this Christmas!

Thu 22nd Sept

Was proactive and loaded up my bag of unsold crafts from the craft fair and took it into town to show to Pretty Things. Turns out the guy who owns the shop is a lovely friendly chap and he took most of my stuff (after a little self-editing; “Don’t have that, it’s actually a bit crap”), I signed a contract, and all is good :) This really gives me peace of mind to just get on with the fun making bit while he does the hard selling bit, and to be honest the 35% commission I will pay on each item is probably comparable to the amount I’d be spending on stall hire elsewhere. Hurrah!

I also found an open call for illustrators to do some free work for Derby University, so I got in contact with the guy responsible and he’s given me a graduate booklet to illustrate! Unpaid of course, but this will be good for my CV and it’ll be nice to see my work in print. Haven’t started on it yet but there’s a couple of weeks yet until the deadline so I shall finish my current creativities before I concentrate on that. Is this the attitude that resulted in me constantly working til the last minute at uni? It may well be. Ho hum.

Fri 23rd

Jim’s last day of employment before he goes freelance next week. Exciting and nervous times ahead. He has a few jobs lined up already so fingers crossed we can keep paying the bills!

Another burst of appliqué, I made a ‘sex kitten’ t-shirt for Jim as I had tried to make him one years ago using Coventry University library printing services and it turned out crap, so this is an owed present from then really. When I came to design ideas for it I couldn’t actually think up much that I would be comfortable with. How are kittens sexy? They’re not, they’re loveable though. I didn’t want to start drawing a provocative kitten, that would just be too weird to wear on a t-shirt. So I settled on a cute design focussing on love instead, with two cats making a heart with their tails.  It is still awaiting the final step with the sewing machine but it’s looking pretty wearable so far ^__^

In the evening, Derby Festé! We wandered out to see the Fire Garden, which had some awesome burning sculptures and flame poi/fan/staff dancers. My favourite bit by far was the Mechanical Menagerie by Alfonso Milanos, which was a cart pulled by a skeleton on a bicycle and driven by a tiny skeleton, with funky music booming out and two flaming blasts issued periodically from the roof.

Sat 24th

More Derby Festé events, and this time we headed to the town centre to see the wonders on the Cathedral green which included a huge inflatable pig with a show inside, which unfortunately we didn’t get to see as there was a long line of parents and buggies outside and they could only fit ten viewers at once. No matter though, because we got front row seats (well, pavement) to the Grimox Brothers’ amazing ‘Les 3 Points de Suspension: Journey on the edge of the end of the world’, which featured a man being fired by a catapult twice (!!), acrobatic stunts and evil magic. Click here to read Jim’s account of it too :D

Sun 25th

Jim and I went to a wedding fair to start gathering ideas with more seriousness now that WE’RE ENGAGED!! *ahem* We tried lots of cake and I was even refusing cake by the end as I was getting too caked-out, but it helped us get more of an idea of what we might go for (nothing too rich or moist!) and the styles we like. We’re considering a slightly Victorian/steam punk theme so I found these perfect cog icing shapes which I could cascade down a plain white cake base, and maybe have cog shaped cupcakes for individual guest portions. This will of course involve lots of home-baking experimentation and practice, which will be terrible :D One thing I know I want (but can I afford??) is a photobooth for everyone to get fun photos on the day, and glue into a guest book! Our friends Tom and Naomi had one at their wedding and it was such a good idea and fun to get people involved so I really hope we end up with one.

Mon 26th

My arty friend Sally was taking part in PixelSynthesis #3 so I went along to watch the art unfold and make some doodles of my own. The other artist was Glenn Millington aka pictographik, the guy behind PixelSynthesis, so it was good to see what his art style is. There were a few technical problems at the start so I used the time to practice my drawing with the cup of tea I bought from Quad.

coloured in later with Photoshop

The theme was ‘Sequence’ which I think suited Sally as she is a comic artist, and she used a tablet to illustrate a three-panel story showing a lady writing on a typewriter.

Sally Jane Thompson at PixelSynthesis 3

Glenn had taken a photograph of a blazing sunset and used Photoshop to rotate and repeat sections so that it curved into a large S that filled the screen.

Glenn Millington at PixelSynthesis 3

Very different styles and approaches this time. Check out photos from the event here.

Tue 27th

A few years ago I made my first crochet scarf and it turned out all different widths as I didn’t know when to start a new row. It was nice and long and dark green though so it served me well last winter, but now that my crochet skills are a bit more sound I decided to pull it apart and remake it better. So far I have made a tiny scarf which I am planning to add duplicate bits to so it’s a bit ‘Frankenstein patchwork’, but I soon got distracted and started on something else. I had an inspiration to try making wristwarmers with some lovely variegated acrylic wool I have several balls of cheap from a charity shop, and made up button holes by leaving a gap of chain before attaching again to the rest of the material. It worked pretty well! Here’s my first one :D

Wed 28th

Walked up to Markeaton campus of Derby uni where they had some craft stalls and picked up lots of leaflets for various uni things I might be able to get involved with despite not being a student. Plus I got a free goodie bag containing a rice krispie square, a cheapo energy drink, tetley tea and sanitary towels. Score! My life is all about the free stuff.

Thu 29th

Had an assessment interview at Pride Park Stadium for an admin job in one of the offices there. There were about 80 of us in the room vying for 4 jobs, and as they took us in groups of 10 to do the first exercise while the others waited, it took ages to get through it even though according to the itinerary it should only have taken about half an hour.

The task was to choose from a long list the ten items we would choose to help us survive and get rescued after a coach crash in the central African jungle. Some people in my group who hadn’t read the brief tried to argue that we needed life jackets, even though we weren’t anywhere near water. And apparently a single pack of cream crackers was more crucial than someones contact lenses, but there you go. A guy at my table told me after his turn that lots of people in his group had been arguing to take a bible. Srsly. I suppose if you believe in God then that might seem sensible, but considering He doesn’t seem to intervene much anyway I don’t think reading from the bible would be any more effective than just praying in your head.

After hours of waiting… I got through the first cut! Woohoo! More than half of the candidates left and suddenly my table was very empty. Apparently that round was to find people with the right personality so there you have it, proof that I have shiny personal skills!

The next task was an individual one, to present in front of the six assessors in another room on a subject from a choice of four. I chose the first one, which was to describe an event or achievement that I was proud of, which I did about the time in junior school where I made my teacher actually listen to me play recorder since I was sick of being stuck in the beginners class with all the newbies screeching through A, B and C. This time the wait seemed even longer, as they had about 30 people to get through individually, and I went about halfway through. I spent the rest of my time chatting to the guys on my table and drawing the water jug.
Next cut…. I didn’t make it. But that’s ok because only 7 people did so I guess they were getting more serious and I was happy to finally be free after six and a half hours there, only 15 min of which I had spent actually being assessed. Plus I got free sandwiches. Yay!

In the evening there was Hatch’d Out at Quad, a monthly networking event for local creatives. I only stayed for a short while but I was really impressed by Elly Lucas’ photography and embroidered appliqué, and I met Heidi who does amazing freehand facepainting with her company featurefaces, and she kindly put some awesome on my face :D

I managed to smudge it, of course

Fri 30th Sept

Got The A-Z of Wedding Wisdom out of the library to get some tips for a trouble-free wedding day, and found some beautiful buttons in the local haberdasherers for christmas crafting!

Also popped in to Pretty Things and the guy informs me that he has sold a couple of  my zip rose brooches, hurray! (To see how it’s done, check out my how-to)

Sat 1st Oct

Looked around Derby museum to see what new was on offer, but wasn’t too impressed. Went afterwards to the gallery space at Quad and was much more interested in their Ha-Ha Road exhibition which was exploring humour. To be honest, there wasn’t much that I found funny, but one clever person had rearranged anagrams of food tin labels with such results as ‘danger peas’ made from ‘garden peas’, which my brain thought was spiffing.

There were quite a few films to watch but they were all so slow-moving and boring to watch that I wonder if anyone waited around long enough to see if they were funny. I watched a man sit down with a cello… and stand up again. This took about twenty seconds and I was buggered if I was going to waste more of my life on it.

One other thing I did like though, and you might be a little suspicious of my motives on this, was a vending machine that automatically vended free food whenever it found a news story mentioning the recession. I got a pack of prawn cocktail crisps. Art ftw!

Sun 2nd Oct

Car boot! Spent £2 on ten vintage buttons that I can add to my future craft creations and hopefully make people go “oooooh vintage I’ll buy that!” (Well it worked on me!) I also bought a ladle for 10p and scored some free butter knives, spoons, chess pieces, kids party bags and a canvas bag that would have otherwise ended in the compactor bin. Good times!

Jim and I then went to see Arrietty at Quad, and despite being a CineKids screening we weren’t too disturbed by wriggly shouty talky children. The film itself had some beautiful scenes and the style was recognizably Ghibli, but the story was a little too basic in places and unexplained in others, and there was one cringeworthy part where some environmental morals were randomly shoehorned  in.  Overall though it was a very fun watch and it had me in tears at the end, in a good way.

Mon 3rd Oct

Further experimentation with crocheting, I evolved the wristwarmers into a mitten with a very rudimentary thumb hole. This one fits my left hand, I will try to make one for my right but I am under no illusions that they will look anything like a pair, I am still very much making things up as I go along.

* * * * *

Phew! And thus concludes the massive catch-up! This is what happens when you put off updating because you don’t have the photos taken yet.

Events that are coming up in October: