Category Archives: Hand made

Art Class: Marbling

We have started a new year of art and I have a class of four regulars with a couple more students who will join in occasionally. Our first unit for the year is printmaking and we kicked off with two weeks of marbling. For Christmas one year B11 bought me a marbling kit which, until now, has sat on the shelf unused. We had a great time with it and are all keen to have another go at a later date. I will need to find a new source of chemicals having used up the ones in the kit and I would like to try better quality paper and/or inks as the prints are a little washed out.

Marbling involves a bath of “size” onto which you drop coloured inks. The inks spread but do not blend so it is possible to manipulated them into patterns with combs and skewers.

Once the pattern is created,  paper which has been soaked in an alum solution is lowered onto the size to pick up the marbled pattern.

During the first week we familiarized ourselves with the way the inks reacted to the size and to each other, creating some basic and random patterns. Above is a print B11 made.  The second week we were more deliberate in creating our patterns following some recipes included in the kit. Below are two prints; the pink one A15 made and the other is mine.

Weddings: the violinists

Our family has attended weddings the last two Saturdays and our girls are playing at one next weekend also.  Yesterday and last Saturday we were at weddings of girls we have know since they were ten years old.  We have been friends with their families for most of our years in Ottawa. Both brides especially wanted the girls to play violin, which they did beautifully. There has been some overlap in repertoire for the three weddings but also some new pieces to learn and arrange for each one. One of the perks of playing during the ceremonies, they found, was the close proximity to the wedding party; unfortunately they were not able to juggle cameras and violins. I will post pictures of other aspects of the weddings but why not start with my violinists?

As the girls almost always have to perform in black they were keen to have new “not black” dresses for the weddings.  The guest lists were totally different so wearing the same dress to each wedding was not a problem. Finding the dresses in the first place was more difficult. I was willing to make the dresses if necessary but we decided to shop first. L17 and I went out one evening and within an hour had found a dress which would only need minor alterations.  A15 and I went out numerous times including a visit to the fabric store and kept returning empty handed.  Finally with less than two days to go we found a pretty dress which was long but close to the style she wanted(most she had tried were way too short!) After taking a good look at it I assured her I could transform it into the style she was after but had been unable to find.  Here are the before and after shots:

L17’s dress as we purchased it:

and after I created straps and altered the sash:

A15’s dress as we purchased it:

After I made a few changes:

Art Update

I haven’t written about my art class since last June but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been doing art.  When we resumed in September it was a smaller class, just 3½ members.  We started off with some drawing and sketching exercises and then moved into an acrylics unit.  I am not very comfortable with acrylics and despite my reading and practising I didn’t feel that I was able to guide my students very well.  We continued doing some sketching each week and worked on two landscapes in acrylic: one realistic and the other with a monochrome colour scheme plus a black silhouette image.

Just before Christmas we signed up for a pottery class and created quite a selection of gifts as well as a few pieces to keep ourselves.  During our first lesson we created bowls and platters, large and small. Our teacher showed us how to make mugs the second week and we created some candle holders as well.  During the final week we glazed all the pieces that had survived the kiln; there were a few casualties.  Everyone enjoyed doing pottery so we hope to do it again and include some lessons on the wheel.

After Christmas we returned to drawing exercises, both still life and faces.  We had been drawing before Christmas as we always began with a warm up exercise of one sort or another.  One of our first still life subjects was a classic one given to me by every art teacher I ever had and which I see again and again in books: the humble capsicum, or, as they say here, pepper.  I expected complaints from my class at being asked to draw vegetables but everyone enjoyed the exercise as we did them in pencil, charcoal, watercolour pencil and fine tip marker. Over several weeks we also did lemons, shoes and toy cars before the artists chose a few fruit or vegetables to create their own still life arrangement to draw.

Practising drawing faces turned out to be difficult but quite amusing at times. We used the guidelines given in various books to get our proportions right but also  used each other as models.  It is safe to say that most of our sketches were hardly flattering.  It was a very good exercise however and we now know more the relative positions and sizes of all the facial features.

After completing our faces unit each of the three girls in the class embarked on a project of their own choice to be entered in the Young at Art competition held by the City of Ottawa.  The competition is open to 12-19 yearolds.  A14 chose to do some digital art using the Bamboo we gave her for Christmas.  She took a photograph of the canal in winter, desaturated it and turned it into a spring or summer scene at dusk.

P16 chose to paint a watercolour of a Peruvian child bundled in a traditional blanket.

H13 tried several ideas before settling on one of the projects we had done in class: capsicums drawn using charcoal, watercolour pencil and graphite pencil.

All three submissions were very well done but unfortunately only a selection are picked for display and winners are chose from those displayed.  A14’s digital print Reflections at Dusk was chosen as the winner this year in the junior level of the “Other Media’ category.

Our last unit for the year was abstract art.  The first task required everyone to choose a colour scheme, either cold or warm, and a shape to be repeated throughout the abstract design.  Most of us tried several different approaches to this task.  The second abstract project required a mass of liquid coloured paint, again in a cool or warm colour scheme, into which imprinted different textures.

The creative mind of a ten year old boy

My ten year old boy to be exact.
B10 outdid himself this year in the creative gifts department.  Each member of our family as well as some people outside our family received gifts or cards that he created.

The cards he created for his immediate family were most amusing.  He likes to take well known sites, monuments or paintings, print out a copy then replace the head or one of the heads with a member of out family.  Andrew found that his head had replaced George Washington’s on Mount Rushmore.  L16 became the Statue of Liberty.  He took a different tack with A14 and I; her head was on Mario and mine was on a LEGO character.

He published two books this year, I received his original short story:  Douglas Saves Christmas on a Treadmill:  A Very Merry Tale of Christmas Coffee.  A14 was given the first edition of bOB COM1CZ.

But the industry does not stop there; our family joined another family in hiring a pottery teacher for three weeks in December.  B10 made a couple of lovely mugs for friends of ours and for Andrew he made a coaster and bobble head complete with Andrew’s face.

Christmas notes

If you look around our home you will see signs of winter and indeed glimpses of Christmas.

When I look out the window I see we have about 10cm of snow on the ground, which seems to be staying.  B10 and the boys across the road have started building snow ramps to toboggan down.

The boots and mitts are congregating near the front door.

We finished up our ancient history studies for the term with the reign of Caesar Augustus so were able to study the biblical account of Christ’s birth alongside what was happening in Rome and Judea at the time.

I am onto my fourth batch of gingerbread (baking not eating); this one is a gluten free batch.  Baking gingerbread is a tradition for me so when I had to go gluten free it was hard to bake gingerbread I couldn’t eat.  However I do get a lot of pleasure from the decorating as do others in the family so I kept on making it.  Last week Gluten Free Girl posted a recipe for gingerbread on her blog so I am giving it a try.

We bought our tree, put it up in the lounge room, decorated it and it did look beautiful.  Another tradition I have is picking a different colour scheme each Christmas and this year’s is silver and white.  On account of our cathedral ceilings and sparsely furnished lounge room we usually have quite a tall tree and this year was no exception.  Our tree was 8½-9 foot tall and quite full and wide also.  Have you noticed the use of past tense yet? Our tree fell over.  Now we have a shorter tree with fewer glass balls on it.  But it is still pretty and stable too which is important.

There are secrets being kept, doors being shut and whispers heard.

L16 and A14 have played carols together several times at church: for the senior’s Christmas Banquet, during the service and at a Christmas concert on Sunday night.

Although I have looked at nativities over the years I have not found one that I really want to own so B10 made one this year from lego.   No shepherds in this scene but three very imposing and intimidating wise men.

I have begun writing a Christmas letter, it seems to be the first one I have written in four years!  That couldn’t be right.  Four years already? Well that just means there is more of our life to draw from. I might get it finished and sent before Christmas.

Andrew has been doing preparation for the Christmas Eve service which is a service I enjoy every year.  It is fairly simple service with carols, a few instruments, this year a children’s story and a devotion.  A14 is going to join him with her violin, B10 is going to help me in the sound booth.  We always end with Silent Night by candlelight.

I have been listening to Christmas music; A Cold December Night by Erin Bode in  particular.

Yes some shopping has been done, a little more needs to be done.  Every year I say I will do it earlier but it just does not happen.  Maybe next year.

I am looking forward to spending time with our family and our friends here.  I am enjoying reading news from family and friends far away and hoping to catch up via skype before the year is over.

I am rejoicing that the reason we celebrate is that God loved us enough to send his Son for us.  He has not stopped loving us and sending us blessings since, but his Son is the gift we really need

More summer sewing

This skirt was another of my summer sewing projects.  A14 is definitely not on a clothing diet.  She has grown so much taller in the last year she needed new clothes for just about every activity.  After much fruitless searching in the stores she pointed out the sort of thing she wanted and we went in search of fabric.  It turned out to be a fairly simple skirt to make with two layers, the top one 4″ shorter than the one underneath.  After her friends had seen it a couple of them placed orders too.  As it is a summer skirt and the ground is now covered in snow, there is probably no hurry for me to fill those orders!

Clothing Diet – a remake

It has been a while since I posted about the clothing diet.(or anything else!) I did continue sewing over the summer and made a skirt from scratch but don’t have a photo. What is more interesting, I think is this top which was a skirt.  Here is the skirt.  It is a white cotton skirt made from panels of different fabrics.  Some panels are embroidered, others pin-tucked or lacy.  It does seem a little stained in the picture but bleach and sunshine did a great job on that.

I wanted to feature the embroidered panels in the top so I cut my pieces from the bottom of the skirt making the scalloped hem the hem of the new top.  There was enough of the pin-tucked section to cut both sleeves from it too.

I made it in summer, photographed it in fall and finally got around to posting just before winter.

Clothing diet posts:

Clothing diet – Made from scratch 2

My next sewing project was a dress from a piece of fabric I have had for quite a while.  My plan was to wear it for the girl’s final Stellae Boreales concert but as I started it the day before, it was never a realistic expectation.  They were guest performers at a fundraiser the following week so I wore it there.  As usual when I make something, I adapted the pattern.  There is generally something that isn’t quite what I want so I have to work out the way to adjust and the order to put  it together.  That being so I was happy with the outcome.  I know my mother won’t be happy that my head is cut off in this shot but I have been waiting to publish this post and the only thing holding me back was the lack of a good picture.   Rather than wait for a good picture of me I decided to just chop my head off and proceed.

Clothing Diet – Made from scratch 1

The first thing I made from scratch this year was a blouse.  I was shopping with A13 for a birthday gift for one of her friends.  The shop where we were does not usually have much which appeals to me.  This time however I saw a bunch of blouses and tops in styles I really liked.  After studying them I came home and designed a similar one myself.  I had the perfect piece of white linen/cotton  fabric already and only had to buy buttons to finish it.

Clothing Diet

I have a project going this year which, although the year is already half gone, I will finally write about.  I decided early on in the year that I wouldn’t buy any new clothes this year.  Instead I would make do, make over or make from scratch.  Like many women I have plenty of clothes in my closet and only a fraction of them get worn on a regular basis.   There are some I can get rid of but others I like too much only they either don’t fit or don’t suit my current state of mind! I was mentioning to the children recently that I would need new runners soon and B9 exclaimed, “But aren’t you on a clothing diet?”  His words not mine, but it describes the general idea so that is what I’m calling it.  Shoes, by the way are not part of the diet,  I cannot make shoes.

I have done this once before.  In 1989 I spent the year at Theological college doing a 1 year Diploma of Bible & Missions.  I had worked for two years and saved in order to study that year and decided not to spend any money on clothes from January to December.  I did not know when I began  that before the end of the year I would be preparing for my wedding.  I stuck to my commitment regardless and made my own wedding dress, something which I had always planned to do anyway.

So far this year I have turned one dress into a skirt.   The dress was one I bought in Melbourne while shopping with my dear friend Alexandra.  She convinced me to step out of my comfort zone and buy a green dress,  a change from the blue I usually wore.  I bought it from Monsoon, which was for a long time my favourite clothing store.  Fortunately they had very impressive sales twice a year otherwise I could never have bought anything there.  I realized too late that I should have taken a “before” shot, so I could post it beside the after.  L15 was not impressed when she saw that I planned to cut up the dress, she thought it was much prettier the way it was.  She was probably right but I felt I would wear it more as a skirt and it would fit me better.  Just after I converted it I was given a “hand me down”  blouse which matches beautifully.  Hand me downs are totally acceptable in this diet, in fact they are encouraged.

There are two sides to this challenge of course, one is making or remaking what I want or need.  The other is not buying;  the best way to not buy is to not shop, but I do see things when I am out shopping for the girls.  I saw a pink sweater one day for $20.  It was calling my name, despite the fact that I have two in that colour.  They have zips, but this one was a pullover, an important distinction.  I walked away.  Harder was the day I saw a swimsuit.  I will need a swimsuit very soon and the one I saw was precisely  the style I like, exactly the colour I wanted, and on sale.  It was however, not  my size.