Friday, 29 November 2013

All that glitters

So much for my bright idea to make the Xmas ATCs for the swap, cos they should be blue!   Rats and double fink.  Good thing I'd only made 3,  and the flowers will be used for some cards.

I hope next week to show a picture of my glass painting.  I made a start on outlining it on the perspex.  I've used the 'lead' and outliner.  I was a bit nervous about the outliner,  not having been very successful with the one I got from the craft shop, I thought I'd have the same problems. But, well those we are using in the art therapy are much better quality, and so go on easily!  I've just got a bit more outlining to do and I can start with the painting.  The 'lead' isn't real lead,  it comes on a reel, and is self adhesive, but it gives the lead look to the picture.  That was quite easy to use.   At least I know now to avoid any cheap glass paint products.

I also got round to finishing off the box, which I decided to enter into the fantastic ABAC challenge, always great fun, and there are some amazing things to see.

I decided I didn't like the dark top so I embossed some gold card.  I hadn't intended it to have a Christmas theme, but on a search for red card I came across some glitter paper.  I did wonder if the spellbinders would go through it,  it has a cloth backing and is pretty thick.  Anyway I tried and...  ta dah!   It took a couple of passes in the machine but it worked a treat.  I used hot glue to stick it down,  it is a much nicer red in real life. But I am really happy with the finished result.

I finished off the front with this little handbag charm,  trying to make it look like a clasp.  Oh I also put some ribbon round the lid.  And did a bit more edging with the embossing pen round the sides.  I am now officially happy with it!

I've also sorted out two Christmas presents.  This is the inside of the box with another shamballa bracelet.   I can say that I have now got the hang of the shamballa bracelets!   And after a lot of faffing I have managed to use the smaller beads as stoppers.  At first I couldn't put the thread through them,  in the end I sort of 'burnt' the ends of the cord to make it narrower, then it went through.  

Here's the bracelet in close up.  You really get into a rhythm with the knotting.  And they are quick to make, around twenty minutes from start to finish.   I also found you didn't need as much cord as they say on the website, I only used 130cm for the knotting cord, and around 30 cm for the bracelet.  Of course for a larger wrist you'd need to alter the measurements.   Nice thing to do in front of the telly.

Now best to close your ears...  I am mad,  I'd be  hopping mad if I was capable of hopping.  I called the DWP today about my PIP claim.  They said they still hadn't received the paperwork from ATOS. So called ATOS and after being told they still had the paperwork I let rip.  The chap said he'd find out what was happening,  he came back to say all the claims are now being audited!   How bloody stupid is that?  If they want a health professional to make a decision then why not use proper doctors for the assessments?   He couldn't tell me how long it would take, so I let rip again, then I apologised for shouting at him.  I let rip a third time in an email to ATOS.  This is the Tory government for you,  incapable of any sort of efficiency, or leadership.   They simply decided to choose the soft targets, those claiming benefits, we are far easier to beat up, and of course the propoganda in the press doesn't help.   They always highlight the wasters, the frauds, but not the real people who claim benefits and are not living the high life, but are barely making ends meet.  The Idiot Duncan Smith,  is clueless and a coward, so far he has refused to answer questions on PIP in Parliament.   Can I tell you that this policy change is costing a fortune to implement,  there is a huge backlog,  ATOS has had to take on more staff,  another tier of staff has been added to that for the audit...    All those who are successful with thier claims are entitled to have their claim fully backdated.   But then who cares, this government doesn't,  it wants us all to be in debt, it encourages some to apply for mortgages that will cripple them when interest rates go up, it forces others into debt by penalising them for having a spare room.  It doesn't think of imposing a windfall tax on the energy companies, instead it wimpishly asks them to please freeze prices - as if!   The energy market is privatised,  who by, guess who...   and their function is to make profit, they want us to use lots of gas and electricity, if we don't then they whack up the prices.    We do not have a competitive market, we have a cartel,  and we get ripped off.  In the meantime our MPs claim back heating and lighting allowances!

Well I did warn you...  have a good weekend

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Brrrrrr - Jack Frost has been out and about

What a chilly week it has been.  I'm thankful that my flat is so well insulated,  when the sun has been out the living room has been lovely and warm.

So to crafting.  Well I decided to  have a go at glass painting, just couldn't wait any longer.  So I picked up a glass painting kit from the craft shop, and some other bits, got some glass ornaments and a very cute wooden owl cut out. Sorry can't resist owls.   I looked on Youtube for some tutorials on glass painting and picked up a lot of useful tips.  The two main points were how to apply the outliner, or gutta, and the paint. I was glad I did take the trouble to have a look as it saved much grief.  As it was I quickly realised that the kit I'd got wasn't up to what I want to do, but it will suffice for practice purposes.  The outliner isn't very good.  That's why I chose to emboss on this heart,  and then apply the paint on the reverse, and I did want it to be streaky!   I've been practicing, as many of the tutorials suggested on some acetate, my lines are almost straight,  and I'm gaining better control.   My other lesson was - don't skimp on tools,  I didn't get the proper brushes, luckily I did have a solid paint brush.  So with the glass painting experiment under way I turned my attention to a Christmas present.

I picked up this little wooden box for £1.75, it was of course plain.  It's for a friend's mum, who happens to like boxes  I didn't necessarily want it to be Christmassy.  I had some decopatch paper of owls,  that was to go on the top,  I first applied the gilding wax to the top of the box,  then the decopatch paper was applied.  The lower part of the box was painted red, in fact three different shades of red!   It looks bright here, but it is a bit darker.

Here's the top with the decopatch paper.  It came from a free kit with Crafts Beautiful.  I did give the top a coat of black poster paint.

I wanted to break up the red on the lower half of the box.  I used this lovely stamp,  it was hard to match up on all four sides so I cheated a little.  At the corners I used an embossing pen to draw a line on each side of the corner and then applied the powder.  The idea was to cover up the joins!

For the inside I painted the sides black.  I was being very careful, even remembered to use masking tape!  So unlike me to be this methodical.  I cut some felt for the top and bottom, and glued it into place.  The fetl also came from the Crafts Beautiful magazine, it should be used to make felt animals.  However it is far too stiff,  so I have decided to use it in other projects.

I've not yet decided how to finish off the top. I've got two ideas, as shown here.  The handbag has to go on as my friend's mum loves handbags.  I've also added more detail to the top, just to tidy up the edges.  I will take more pics tomorrow.

I've had a lovely few days making the box and messing with the glass paints.   More fun tomorrow I hope, and you never know maybe this will be the week I get to learn if my PIP claim has been successful or not!  Yes it is still going on,  this government couldn't organise a p*** up in a brewery.  Their incompetence knows no bounds.   Some decisions to stop benefits have been ludicrous, as in the case of the blind lady who had her benefits stopped because she refused to consider a cleaning job...  or the chap who was told he had to attend a course,  which he'd already done, he was told by one person he didn't have to do the course, so he didn't and then had his benefits stopped - he has 3 children,  or the woman who's jobseekers allowance was stopped because she said the job she was told to apply for was too far away, some 30 miles from her home, she has no car and it would have been impossible for her to get there by public transport.   As for all this nonsense about changes in rules, well it has always been part of your jobseekers contract that you will actively look for work, keep a job diary,   make note of all jobs applied for etc. The government trys to make it look like they are making changes, they aren't,  and also imply that all jobseekers are lazy good for nothings, which they aren't. 

I'll get off my soap box, and wish you a happy week.  Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Done and dusted

And here it is, complete, finito!   I got the positioning wrong, so had to make a new background,  then I didn't like another element, so made another...    I finished it yesterday but it was too dark to take a piccie.  I took it to the Art Therapy group and everyone loved it, so I can only hope that the person who wanted it also likes it!

At Art Therapy we watched a documentary on Brian Clarke, who is a renowned artist who works with stained glass.  And if you like boxes, then try Joseph Cornell  - I think he will inspire you.

For my glass painting I'm going to tackle a mandala,  these can be really personal.  Most think that they have to be circlular, but in fact you can use a square, not do they have to be uniform. 

I wanted a flower design,  but I didn't want it to be too complex as I have to use gutta, a relief paint, to outline the whole thing.  

Next week we should get going on the actual painting.  We've had people dropping in to say hello to us newbies,  which is really nice.  I also got an invite to the Christmas party! 

This is the other possibility... decisions, decisions!   Although at least I have a design, poor Vicky has yet to decide what she wants to do, though she was looking at Tiffany lamps.  We both agreed that they are divine, and that they would lend themselves to glass painting.  I hope she manages to reach a decision soon.

When I drove home tonight from the Art Therapy there was the most beautiful sunset.  I looked at the clouds bathed in a red and golden glow, the sky looked so magical.   I was so engrossed in it that I almost missed the green light.  Oops.   Everything was serene until a fighter jet roared past overhead.  They often do that, think they head up to Scotland, do  a U turn and come back. 

Well I started this an hour or so ago,   it got interrupted by a skype call.   Now my bed is calling me, I hope I get a lie in tomorrow.   The forecast is for a dry, sunny day....  I can only hope!   Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Not boxing clever

It seems to have taken an age to get the shadow frame together,  and it isn't quite 'together'.  Still not sure about the layout,  and methinks the background needs more definition.   The mojo keeps coming and going, mostly going.

I did make another shamballa bracelet, I'm really getting the hang of it now.

I also have an idea for an abstract picture.  Though  I need to focus on a new home card and some ATC's, but I'm not in the mood for either. I think Craft Artist may be employed for the New Home card!

Well I may not be happy with the layout, but I am happy with this corner.  It's not showing up very well in this pic,  it is these gloomy days, just no good for taking photos.  I found a faux pearl necklace, so I de-strung it,  and made some springs from gold wire, the roses were cut from black card and brushed with gilding wax.

I have to take this with me on Thursday to the Art Therapy session.  The tutors were interested in what a shadow box was.   I've also finished my Mandala outline,  now I can't wait to get it onto the perspex.   I was thinking today that I've got some pieces of glass, so I may invest in some glass paints.

I have found a great way of staying warm,  heat pads!   I got some for my back, I can say that they keep you nice and toasty.  The back has really been playing up lately,  it puts you off doing things. As on Saturday,  I just popped to the local shopping centre to get a few things, and to have a look round M&S, but I was soon down to a shuffle.  Think I'll have to invest in one of those shopping trolleys,  I would have got one from Argos only the queue was horrendous.  I'm afraid Christmas is also getting to me,  I would prefer it if the shops would at least wait till December, or maybe the very end of November.  I've always thought all the fuss was stupid,  as for all the rubbish talked about the Christmas dinner, it is a fancy roast, that is all.  I cooked my first Christmas dinner when I was sixteen,  we gave mum the day off, my sister wouldn't do the cooking, so it had to be me.   These days everything can be bought pre-prepared,  I do remember peeling mountains of spuds and veg, and making the Christmas pud.

Now I must remember to make a hair appointment,  been meaning to for the last week!

All for now folks, hopefully I will get that shadow box sorted by tomorrow.

Friday, 15 November 2013


I've had a lovely day today.   The week didn't get off to a good start, it was grey, cold and raining and it seemed my mood decided to match the weather.  Then yesterday it was my first Art Therapy session,  I was a little anxious, which was ironic as the idea of the therapy is to help with anxiety!   Once I got there I felt better, the group is small, there were six of us yesterday, there should have been two more.  Our course leaders, or artists are lovely, so friendly they made us all feel welcome.   We soon discovered what our project was going to be - glass painting.   We'll each have an A3 piece of perspex to decorate,  like stained glass, but using paints and something that looked like lead lining.   We watched a presentation on stained glass installations,  from cathedrals to modern art,  all were amazing.   Then we were asked to just come up with some sketches,  we've got to make something that reflects us, or our feelings and that we will find inspirational.    I had no idea what I wanted to do, a lot of ideas went through my head, a buddha, owl,  I drew a geometric design, which everyone liked.  It was when I got home and sat down with my sketch pad that my idea came to me - a Mandala!  So I was sketching all morning,  and now have most of the design,  it needs to be transferred to A3 paper.  I want to get the drawing bit out of the way so I can get going on the painting bit.  I felt so excited,  the rest of the group is really nice,  I met two at the taster session, so there were some friendly faces.  But everyone was just so friendly and understanding. 

I also had a nice surprise when I got home, my shamballa kit had arrived.  The beads are gorgeous, hematite, which is good if you need grounding, along with some sparkly beads.  The first thing I did was to repair my old bracelet,  I'd tried before using some stiff cord, but it was too stiff.  The result can be seen in the above pic.  I referred to the pics on the C&C website,  here's the link (if you are interested) Shamballa instructions.   It looks complicated, but I assure you it isn't.  Once you get the hang of the actual knot, you are away.  

These are the beads from the actual kit, the blingy one is just beautiful.  I think this took me about twenty minutes.   I used a storage box lid, A4, plastic, that I have for my card and paper.  It is just right for holding the cord tight,  you can use the corner for the final bit, making the fastening.   It's up to you how much space you want between the beads, how many beads you want etc.

Well I hope to have the mandala pattern made over the weekend.  I've also got to put the finishing touches to the shadow box.  I tried to explain what it was yesterday to John, one of the course leaders,  the I said it would be easier to show him.   He was very intrigued by embossing powders, frantage and the like, nor had he heard of steampunk!   There are a couple of other art classes running alongside the art therapy, so I am  hoping to go to either or both!   Well it is better than wandering around shops, or being stuck inside, so easy to take the easy option with depression.   Both classes are at the same venue as the art therapy, it has plenty of parking and is only a few minutes from home.

So I've got a busy weekend ahead, I've decided to take the bull by the  horns and go visit a Christmas fair, can't say I've enjoyed the Christmas stuff coming into the shops.  But there is no avoiding it.

Enjoy your weekend, and thank you for stopping by.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

A Blast of Winter

It's very remiss of me to miss so many posts.  The reason lies in this picture,  as it has become the bane of my life.   I have been asked to make a shadow box picture of the Tor in Glastonbury.  Finding an image of the Tor I could use was the easy part,  deciding on a background, finding all the bits and bobs etc has been the difficult bit.  I'm almost there with it. 

I took this pic a week ago.  Still unsure whether to go with a dark background or light one, now I've seen the light one again I think I prefer it. Some of the bits on this piece will not be on the finished piece.

I was in Glastonbury the week before last,  just for a weekend.  It was nice to get away.   Mind you I had the journey from hell on the way down.  I'd only just got on the M6 and I got held up by an accident,  no major injuries thank goodness.  I lost count of the police cars that raced to the scene, seemed like they didn't have much to do.    Once I got past that the journey to Birmingham was easy peasy,  all was fine till the M42 and then the speed kept changing, 50, 40, 30, but the motorway was clear so the speed restrictions made no sense.   So what should have taken around 3.5 hours took 6 hours!  I was very fed up when I arrived.  My SatNav had also stopped talking to me,  think it was offended when I yelled at it for recalculating!   The map bit worked.    Nevertheless I had a lovely weekend, and met the new resident at the B&B, Apache, the black and white cat, who decided to adopt me and my friend for the weekend, and also shared our room.  We didn't mind as we are both cat lovers.

I've also now been accepted onto the Art Therapy course, and will be starting this Thursday.  Would you believe they phoned me on the Friday that I was driving down to Glastonbury!  I have no answer machine so luckily they phoned me back.  We did all the form filling last week,  and got more background on what to expect, and who our tutors will be.  So I'm chuffed.  It also looks like the long saga of the PIP claim may be coming to an end,  had to make several phone calls,  it isn't the fault of the DWP, they did their bit quickly, yes it is ATOS who is at fault.  They did admit to a backlog,  and then blathered on about wanting to be accurate,  as if! 

And it seems winter has arrived.   We enjoyed a fifteen minute hail storm,  followed by a thunderstorm, and then back to rain.   During the day it had been quite nice, the rain held off and it was sunny.