Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Seasons Greetings

 Wishing all my 'internet friends' a Happy Christmas
and best wishes for the coming year.
Helen xx 

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Hot glass - the results!

We got our pieces back from the hot glass day - very exciting! Here is my paperweight - it is purple, honestly... and so smooth and shiny!

One thing I have realised today is that if I am going to make more glass I need to learn how to photograph it properly - all you can see is reflections in these!

And here is the piece made from the sandcast mould of my indian printing block - also pretty difficult to photograph. The glass is tinted where the sand sticks to it, the darker spots are a few little bits of red glass frit I threw in to see what would happen.

It is just a lovely piece of pure texture!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Working with hot glass

I was really really lucky today and had the chance to have a go at working with hot glass at World of Glass in St Helens.  We had the chance to each make a paperweight and also make a sandcast of an object.  I was pretty nervous about it at first, but we were quite a large group and I was one of the last to have a go, so by the time it was my turn I was just impatient to get going and had forgotten all about the nerves!

The tutor gathered some hot glass from the furnace for me and I had to keep it moving, turning it all the time.

Then I dipped it in coloured powdered glass...

Heating it in between each step, and remembering to keep it turning steadily all the time. You do get very very hot doing this!

I shaped the paperweight using a very sophisticated piece of equipment - 6 sheets of folded soaked newspaper!

The finished paperweight is now in the kiln cooling down very very slowly.  I can't wait to see it!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

A little snow

We haven't had much snow here - just the merest sprinkle.  My eldest son went out hunting for it the other day and took some lovely pictures...

I told you he was tall!!!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

New! ffflower kits!

Have you ever fancied having a go at making flowers?  Well now you can.  New in my etsy shop are these kits, each containing a lovely wooden flower loom and enough ribbon and buttons to make 3 flowers, plus the all important instructions.

Now available here in my etsy ffflowers shop.

I only have a very few of these at the moment so if you would like one, don't delay!  They would make a great Christmas present for someone crafty!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010


I'm feeling much better today, but other people aren't so I'm still at home.  Unlike the rest of the country we have only the merest sprinkling of snow (so far) but with our clear skies it is particularly chilly! Lovely sunshine and blue skies this morning made my favourite tree look really pretty - I love the combination of blue and gold.

Monday, 29 November 2010

More Weaving

I have been stuck at home today with a cold, feeling sorry for myself. Well enough to want to do stuff but not really well enough to do anything much... and bored! I did take some photos of some little weaving experiments I did the other week - not very good pics because of a certain lack of light at the moment - but here they are anyway.

The first sample I made, I was experimenting with including strands of a fine copper thread to add a bit of sparkle - very subtle and doesn't show too well in the photo, you can see better if you click on the image for the larger version.  Part way through I decided it needed a bit of green - I do like using little bits of fluffy yarns, they add interest to the texture but the weaving manages to keep the fluffiness under control!

The next piece is my favourite - the coloured bits are pieces of grass - I was really pleased with how well they worked.  This is where I discovered I had holes in my slippers as I kept rushing outside in the wet to get just one more piece of grass...

And the last one I got a bit carried away with the whole using natural materials thing and used some bits of twig - they don't hold together so well so I think I need to rethink the technique for this.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Etsy in £s!

Just a quick one to let you know (if you didn't already) that the Etsy site has brought in currency handling.  So you can pay in your chosen currency and I will receive my payment in good old £s sterling.  The upshot of this, in my shops anyway, is that for UK customers my prices now appear a little cheaper since there is no commission on currency exchanges to pay any more.  Hooray!

Saturday, 13 November 2010


I've been to London this week on the 'let's send all the first years to experience London' trip.  It wasn't such a novelty for me, having grown up just outside London and worked there for a while too - but it's lovely to go back.  Unfortunately in these days of tuition fees and (late) student loans not many of the first years could afford to go, but those who did had a great time.  We stayed for 2 nights and personally I was totally exhausted at the end of each day.

So, I went to the British Museum, the V&A, the new Contemporary Ceramics Gallery, the Contemporary Applied Arts Gallery, Tate Modern, and had a mooch round the craft and design shops in the Oxo Tower.  And we managed to fit in side visits to Liberty and Anthropologie, plus a little time spent stroking all the lovely handmade papers in Paperchase.  My feet have just about recovered now!

The British Museum is one of those places - like the V&A - that I have been to quite a few times and never managed to explore fully.  This time I discovered the Assyrian relief panels - I loved the amount of detail in them and that once they had covered the slab with detailed pictures they quite often went on and wrote the story right over the top - creating a whole new layer of texture.

I was pleased to get to see Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern (click on the link to see far better photographs than I could ever take!).  I was sort of sad that we're not allowed to walk on it any more, but on the other hand I don't think it would have been  quite so impressive covered with people! The 100 million (yes, 100,000,000!) porcelain seeds are incredibly realistic, and have all been individually hand painted by workers in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen, where the people have traditionally worked in the porcelain industry.  There was a fascinating video showing the production of the seeds, how deftly they were painted - and how pleased the workers were to have the work, while not quite understanding why anyone would want so many painted seeds...  Well worth the visit.

I did allow myself just a little retail therapy... couldn't resist these sheets of handmade paper in Anthropologie...  I'm sure I can find something lovely to do with them!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Still Life in torn paper

Apologies for being a bit quiet lately... I am working on an essay so whenever I think I might write something I think it should be that!  Nearly done now though, I think...

This week at uni we have mainly been tearing pieces of paper into tiny pieces and sticking them to other bits of paper.  In the end I have quite enjoyed it in spite of the sore fingers - who knew tearing paper could get so painful?  The object of the exercise was to get us to take notice of colour values and I think it has been successful in that.

...and After

Sunday, 17 October 2010


Yesterday the textile group I belong to were lucky enough to have Sue Lawty as a visiting tutor.  Sue is an amazingly inspiring and generous teacher and her work is fabulous - do go and have a look.  I have done a little bit of weaving before but not 'proper' tapestry weaving.  Usually after one of these days I am far too tired to do much in the evening but yesterday, tired or not, I was back on the weaving the minute I got home!  Here is my little sample, not much, it is only 2" wide and I have been using fine threads so it grows very slowly.

I don't really have a plan for it, I am experimenting with combining different fine threads together at the moment to see the effect I get.  Then I want to try using grasses, and wire, and...  I am finding it totally addictive!

Friday, 15 October 2010

This week

So I have survived another week at university!  Last week we were out and about drawing and photographing bits of architecture around Wrexham, and I did a bit of drawing at home as well.  This week we have been abstracting parts of our drawings  and then 'drawing' in 3 dimensions with wire.  The brief was to create a form from wire and tissue paper which would work well when lit.

The piece of 'architecture' I decided to use as a starting point was a bridge in my local park. I really like the curves, especially from this angle where they look like they are one inside another.

I have to say I really struggled at first with 'drawing' freehand with the wire.  I love the loose scribbley style that some people achieve doing this but it just doesn't seem to work for me.

After several false starts I started to form some nice smooth(ish) curves around a mandrel, and the taper of the mandrel enabled me to make each one smaller than the last - a bit like a tapering slinky!  Fixing these together on one side let me fan them out.

And then on to the tissue paper - here I was in my element - well, it's practically fabric, isn't it?  I decided I had 2 choices, cover between the rings to end up with something like a snail shell, or cover across the flat of each ring.  So I did both.

I made several units and put them together.  In fact I had a bit of a production line going and ended up with three pieces instead of one.  And here they are with the light - it's all about the shadows really.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

ffflowers in print again!

The first thing I have to do today is gloat a bit because one of my ffflowers features on the 'Things We Love' page of this month's Sew Hip magazine - on the shelves now!  The only slight hiccup is that they have put the price for a bouquet with a picture of a single flower...  never mind, definitely a lesson learned - never give editors a choice!

And now... to the question everyone has been asking me... how is the course going?  Well, we have had our first 'proper' week, although it was still an introductory week, not quite the usual timetable.  And so far, so good... the tutors are all really nice, as are the other students on the course.  We have been doing a lot of drawing, which I always struggle with, but I know I have to do it and it's all about practice.  The driving in the morning hasn't been too bad at all and even though the car park was completely full one day last week I did manage to find somewhere else to park so I'm feeling a little more relaxed about that.

BagSomething I have found with all this going out drawing is that I didn't have a bag big enough to hold an A3 sketchbook, and which would fit comfortably over my shoulder.  So on Friday I took a little trip to Abakhan for some fabric and I have spent rather more time than I should have done this weekend making myself a new bag - making it up as I went along.


It is big enough to hold my sketchbook quite comfortably, and has pockets for absolutely everything, including an emergency chocolate pocket!  It will certainly make getting ready in the mornings a lot easier.  I've also ordered myself a little folding camping stool - I am just too old to draw standing up!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Etsy UK Silly Sale!

The UK sellers on Etsy are having a silly sale today with bargains galore at silly silly prices!  Why not come and do your Christmas shopping early?

Here are a selection of the goodies you can find in my own silly sale section - click on the image to go to the item - up to one-third off the normal price.  Most of these flowers are made with discontinued yarn and have limited availability,so if you've had your eye on them then now is the time to snap up a bargain!  My own silly sale will be running until next Wednesday 13th October.

















And here are just a few of the great silly sale bargains from other Etsy UK sellers - so much to choose from!  Click on the image to go to the item.


















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