Monday, 19 November 2012

Fundraising Art Auction

Regular readers will know that I am doing a degree in Applied Arts; what you might not realise is that I am in my final year now.  I know, its come round really fast, hasn't it?

So we final year students are holding an auction next week, to raise money to take our work to the New Designers show in London next June.  Lots of generous local applied artists are donating work and we students will be putting pieces in too.

You are all invited... there will be mulled wine and mince pies and the perfect opportunity to buy some really unique Christmas presents.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

More upcycled bottles

I am getting to grips with cutting the tops off larger bottles to make them into vases... a good thing too as I have quite a collection of lovely bottles now waiting for me to do something with them.

WIP topless bottles

After a lot of research (and ruling out buying my own brick cutting machine!) I decided that running a small diamond wheel at a slowish speed on my Dremel was the way to go.  The glass needs to be kept wet so of course I get wet too; I've invested in a proper safety visor to keep the wet ground glass spray away from my face.  And at the moment I do the cutting outside!

As you can see on the left, the initial cut is jagged and not very safe so I then spend some time polishing the edge smooth.  The one on the right is nearly done...

WIP jagged cut edge WIP nearly smooth edge

Next step will be to mask off my design and get sandblasting.

And in the best Blue Peter tradition, here's one I made earlier, now available in my Etsy shop.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Island

Beautiful weather and a low tide combined made it an ideal day today to walk out to Hilbre Island. Just a few of the photos I took...

Looking across to Wales
The old lifeboat station (and rainbow)
and slipway.
Looking back to the mainland.

So many mussel shells... they reminded me of Ai Weiwei's sunflower seed installation.

Friday, 9 November 2012

An Upcycling Dilemma

There is a problem with using recycled materials to create with.  And the problem is, it is absolutely missing the point to go and buy something new just because you want to recycle the packaging, or in my case, the bottle.

My lovely husband braved the sidelong looks and smuggled an empty 330ml Ty-Nant water bottle out of a restaurant for me a while back, and since then it has been sitting on the shelf looking so lovely and blue, waiting for me to do something with it.  This week, I did.

Upcycled bottle vase

The bottle is interesting because it is not, as I expected it to be, blue glass, but clear glass with with a blue enamel coating.  Which means that, with a lot of patience, I could sandblast the blue away altogether to get a two-tone effect (I have to admit I stopped where I did because I ran out of patience, but I think it's enough!).  And the result is just so much better than I thought it could be.

I do have several of the larger 750ml size bottles which have been collected for me waiting to be played with; they appear to be blue right through; we shall see.  I'd love to have more of these little ones to work with but at the moment I am resisting popping over to Wales just to stock up... buying such small bottles of sparkling water really is a bit of an extravagance... isn't it?

Sunday, 4 November 2012

New Flower Loom Kits

After receiving many requests, I've been selling kits to make flowers like mine for a while.  I had the looms made especially for me but my stock was beginning to run low and I wasn't sure I could get any more.

Up steps Mike from Wudwerx.  Mike usually makes great bee hotels like these

but he said he would have a go at making some flower looms for me.  And not very much later he had produced these, perfect!

ffflower looms 3

So now my flower loom kits are back in stock on Etsy and on Folksy and Mike assures me he will be happy to make more looms when I run out - thanks Mike!

The kits contain everything you need to make 3 ribbon flowers and make a great gift for someone crafty.  But be warned, flower making is addictive!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

New Sketchbooks

Everything is getting more expensive.  You've probably noticed!  This includes the materials I buy to make my mixed paper sketchbooks with; I do use as much as I can in the way of recycled and reclaimed material but some paper, and the board for the covers, I have to buy.

I decided it was time to rethink the design to avoid having to increase my prices massively.  I used to measure the pages in inches, 4"x6" and 6"x8", this suited the paper I was using when I first started making the books.  But now, most of the paper I use comes in standard A sizes so it seemed a bit wasteful to stick to the old page sizes and end up with lots of little offcuts.  And expensive too.

So I've resized the books so that (most of) the pages are now A5 for the larger journals and A6 for the smaller ones.  But I also decided that I quite liked the idea of different sized pages in the one book, so to make best use of the 'imperial' size sheets that watercolour paper comes in, the watercolour pages are a little smaller than A5/A6; to make up for it I've added an extra sheet into each book.  Once I'd started down the different sized pages route, it seemed only sensible to make any reclaimed paper pages whatever size made best use of the paper, so they may be odd sizes too, it just depends.

I've listed the first few of my new books in my Etsy shop.  Since this term I have a dissertation to write I'm really not sure when or whether I'll have time to make more any time soon, so if you fancy one for Christmas don't hang around!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


Autumn is my favourite season.  Certainly where I live it is often drier (and sunnier) in the autumn than in the summer.  I love the changing colours of the leaves, the autumn wet leaf smell in the air and the dew heavy mornings.

Friday, 28 September 2012

From one estuary to another

You probably know how much I love living on the estuary (except when the wind is blowing sand in my face, of course!).

So it was really lovely to drive across country to visit an east coast estuary last weekend. Especially on such a glorious day.

We don't have exciting things like old lighthouses in our estuary, but then we do have islands you can walk out to when the tide is out. So I think we're all square...

West Kirby Beach

Monday, 24 September 2012

A Day Out: Spurn Point

I had a lovely trip at the weekend; I managed to get to Spurn Point to see Alice Fox's Textures of Spurn exhibition.  It was a bit of a trek but so worth it!  Alice has been artist-in-residence on Spurn Point for the last 6 months and has created some beautiful work, do take a look at her blog to see some of the work and also the dates and venues for the exhibition tour, it's well worth a visit if you can.

Alice used the a room in the lighthouse as her studio during the residency, what a fantastically atmospheric studio it must have been.  The lighthouse is not normally open to the public so it was an extra treat to see her work displayed in there, I've never been in a real lighthouse before!  There were a lot of steps...

You can just see the back of one of her pieces here; there are much better pictures on her blog.  I was distracted by the spiral of the stairs and the ceiling.

As you can see the weather was absolutely glorious, so the point didn't quite have the atmosphere that I expected.  But I really shouldn't complain, it made for a lovely day out.  Of course I took loads of photos, here are just a few...

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Time off

I've been taking some time off, time off from blogging, time off from making, mulling over the direction I want to take for the final year of my degree (and doing a bit of long overdue decorating!).  Still not sure yet but I have the germ of an idea, a starting point, we shall see where it leads.

We've had gorgeous weather this last week or so.  It looks as though today might have been the last of the really nice days, so I'm glad we took advantage of it and went for a walk along the beach this morning.  It's something I don't do nearly as often as I should.

Looking out

I love the 'wideness' of the estuary landscape, and the sheer quantity of open sky.  Mountains are beautiful too, but the way they block out the sky makes me feel a little hemmed in.

We met someone on our walk... there is a natterjack toad reserve fenced off on the beach but I've never actually met one before...

Natterjack Toad

...he didn't stay long...

Looking back the way we'd come...

Looking back

Being so shallow for such a long way out, and being estuary of course rather than 'proper' sea, our beach is not much good for beachcombing.  But today there were piles of tiny pink and white shells collected in the sand ripples, looking a little like sugar sprinkles on a cake.

Now I have some tiles to grout and some decisions to make...

Monday, 13 August 2012

TX Creative Textiles exhibition 2012 - more pictures

Just a quick one, reposting my slideshow from the Collections exhibition as I have added a few more pictures to it.  The exhibition is on until 16th September if you want to catch it, details here.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

TX Creative Textiles exhibition 2012

Just thought I'd show you a slideshow of my photographs from the Collections exhibition for those of you who haven't spotted them over on Flickr.  I will try and do some more, I seem to have missed a whole wall out when snapping, oops!  And some of the ones I did take didn't come out that well, apologies for the dodgy bits, the gallery spotlights are not very sympathetic.  But these will give you a flavour of what is a really lovely exhibition, if you want to see more then you need to come along in person!  Details on my Events page.

And don't forget the 'Meet the Artists' evening on Friday 10th August (that's tomorrow!) from 7pm to 9pm.  Everyone welcome!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


This year the annual exhibition of the TX Creative Textiles group is centred around the theme of 'Collections'.  For my part I have been collecting leaves and rusty things and kitchen scraps and using them to colour cloth. I started my experimenting back in October and every month or so I have tried something else.  Due to the pressure of other work I've not been so good at documenting my progress here, but I have been documenting it all in a journal which forms part of my exhibit.

Not everything has been successful of course, not every piece of cloth has made it into the exhibition, but I have been really pleased with most of my results.  Left to right, these hanging cloths have been coloured using
  1. Various fallen autumn leaves on cotton
  2. Fallen autumn leaves, mostly copper beech, on silk
  3. Ivy leaves (aka weeding!) on silk
  4. A variety of seaweed on cotton
  5. A variety of seaweed on silk
  6. A variety of seaweed on silk
  7. Rust, with tea, on cotton
  8. Rust, with green tea, on cotton
  9. Rust, with green tea, on silk
  10. Onion skins on silk
  11. Onion skins on cotton
I will try to tell you about some of them in a bit more detail over the next few days, now that I have time to step back from them a little.

But back to the exhibition, it runs from 8th August to 16th September at Castle Park Arts Centre in Frodsham, full details on my Events page.  There is a really wide variety of lovely work this year, more pictures to come.  It's definitely our best yet.  But then, we say that every year! 

And on Friday 10th August we have a 'Meet the Artists' evening from 7pm to 9pm, everyone is welcome.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Catch up

Oh I have been away a long time...  lots to tell you, I'll probably forget most of it...

The De-Junk, Re-Junk exhibition was very well received with lots of lovely visitors who all seemed to enjoy themselves.  I sold some of my new upcycled bottle vases and some eco daisies too, and lots of my seashore art cards.  I was chuffed!  I have some bottle vases left over but some of them will probably be going out to a couple of lovely local shops, I'll let you know when it's confirmed.  I've made a couple of new ones and listed this one in my etsy shop, more to follow when I have more stock.

Straight after the exhibition finished we dashed away for a few days over in Scarborough.  We had glorious weather, in fact, it was really too hot, something I never thought I'd say about a holiday in Scarborough!

Now I need to get my head down and sort out my natural dyed fabric experiments which are going to be part of the annual TX creative textiles exhibition at Castle Park Arts Centre in Frodsham.
Just a few sneak peeks for you here...

Friday, 6 July 2012


At last I have a moment to sit down and play with the beautiful new blue ribbon that has been waiting for me for a week or so...  it's a gorgeous periwinkle blue which I know is going to make lovely flowers.

I do think the colour is going to be tricky to photograph though, I've had to tweak this picture to get it looking right.  At least it's not as difficult as purple, that defeats my camera every time.

In other news, the De-Junk, Re-Junk exhibition is now open for visitors at Birkenhead park Visitor Centre, see my Events page for details.  I will be 'minding' the exhibition this coming Sunday and Monday afternoons, and Sunday morning next weekend.  I'd love to see you if you can pop along, it's well worth a visit.

And on to the next thing, I am preparing my piece for the annual TX creative textiles exhibition at Castle Park Arts Centre in Frodsham, details to follow soon.

Oh, and in my spare time(!) I have been setting up a new Facebook page for me as an artist and maker, in addition to the page I already have for my ffflowers.  It is somewhere where I will be able to collect photographs of my glass and collagraph prints etc. and post details of events I am taking part in.  I'd love it if you would take a look and maybe 'like' what you see!

Busy busy busy!

Friday, 22 June 2012

More Upcycling

Did I tell you about the gorgeous dark pink bag I got when I bought some large sheets of paper a while back?  Of course I made some eco daisies out of it straight away... I've sold a couple of sets of them lately so I thought I'd better set to and see how many daisies were left in the bag.

Blackcurrant Eco Daisies

This is the lot, sadly there is no bag left now.  Don't they look lovely all together?  Displayed here in one of my new upcycled bottle vases.

I particularly like the flowers made from the part of the bag which had gold writing; I'm going to list these 3 as a separate set later.

Blackcurrant & Gold Daisies

In the meantime I have one plain(ish) set still available.

I've also made a few larger daisies ready for the DeJunk-ReJunk exhibition.

Bigger Eco Daisies

They are rather fun, I may make some to list in my shop if I can only sort out a sensible box to ship them in!

This morning I packed an assortment of daisies up with all my new upcycled bottle vases and a few of my seashore art cards too, and delivered them for the DeJunk-ReJunk Exhibition.  I can't wait to see everyone's work all together, I think it's going to be a really good show (details on my Events page).

Thursday, 14 June 2012


Like it says over there → in my profile, I really don't like to throw stuff away without trying to make it into something new.  So recently I've been using my newly learned skills to make these

Bottles - after

from the likes of these (we did finish the contents first...)

Bottles - before

And then of course, vases need flowers so I made these

Bottles and carrier bags - after

out of these...

Carrier bags - before

This is all in preparation for the 2012 DeJunk ReJunk exhibition, by a group of Merseyside based artists creating art and craft from 'junk'.  The exhibition is on from 2nd - 20th July at Birkenhead Park Visitor Centre, see my Events page for more details.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Sunday Window Shopping

I've been doing a little weekend browsing on Etsy.  I seem to have been finding quite a lot of sheep...

Click on the images to go straight through to the items - happy window shopping!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

My Sugar Jar

I love ceramics.  I'd love to do more work with clay.  It's just that my skin doesn't agree, and my naturally cold hands get even colder when working the clay, little twinges in the knuckles reminding me how osteo-arthritis runs in my family.  So I think I will stick with the limited amount of clay work I do to create moulds for my glass, and leave the real stuff to other people.

I was fascinated to read this post by potter Jude Allman about the process of making lids for her storage jars.  They are all so neat!  I loved the little jars she was making and decided to ask her to make one for me, but without the spoon hole.  I will use the jar to store sugar and I want to keep the moist kitchen air out as much as possible; too often I have ended up with a solid bowl shaped sugar lump.

My jar arrived this week and I'm thrilled with it, the neat shape, the subtle glaze, just lovely. Thank you Jude!

You can find Jude's work on Folksy and on Etsy and get a fascinating insight into her processes on her blog.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

New seashore cards and notebooks

With all that's been going on I haven't had time to replenish the stock in my hypsela shop on Etsy lately and it had begun to look a little empty.  So now I'm officially 'on holiday' (ha!) that is one of the things at the top of my to do list (along with clearing enough space in the garage for a small glass kiln*).

I've had a set of little backgrounds waiting around for me to do something with them for a while and at last I've had time to finish them; some of them are already listed in the shop; the rest will be in there shortly.

*We had enough space for a short while yesterday but then apparently all the stuff that was piled up in the front garden had to go back in, and had to go into that particular corner...

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Sunday Window Shopping

For the first time in ages I've had time to do a little browsing on Etsy.

Click on the images to go straight through to the items - happy window shopping!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Almost done

Very nearly at the end of my second year at uni now, the final assessment is over, we've had the last lecture, just tidying up now and helping the third years get ready for their degree show.  The year seems to have rushed past extremely quickly, I have learned a lot but this has only highlighted to me how much I still have to learn.  Ah well, learning is good.

Photograph by Russell Smith

I didn't quite get what I wanted (i.e. free standing forms) from this final project; I ended up with one rather distorted free standing form, a set of 3 broken bits, and a rather nice piece which doesn't curve enough to stand by itself but miraculously slots together with the one that does.  So we took what I had down to the beach again, in rather better weather this time.

Photograph by Russell Smith

While I didn't manage to control the form I am pleased with the textures and the effect of mixing the wire with the glass.  And the colours are very me, and very in keeping with our beach, which 'my' colours always seem to be.

Photograph by Russell Smith
Photograph by Russell Smith
Photograph by Russell Smith

You might have noticed that I have credited my photographer; I did take some photographs but his were so much better!  And at least this time he had worked out how to use the flip out screen on the camera so he didn't have to lie on the wet sand...  He will be off to college in the autumn to continue his own artistic journey; you can see some more of his work here.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Beach Treasure

I rarely come back from the beach with empty pockets, this time I brought back 2 mermaid's purses.

I try to avoid photographing anything in strong sunlight but this time it was perfect - it's hard to see where the squiggly bits (what are they??) end and the shadows begin.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

On the beach

We took some glass down to the beach, my son and I.  It wasn't the best of days for photography and there is a lot I'd do differently if we try again.  Take something heavy for a start to stop the bags and bubblewrap from taking off down the beach as soon as I'd taken the glass out!  But we got some nice shots (well, he did...)

Untitled Untitled Untitled

The things he does for his mum...


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