THE LAST KNIT - A VIDEO & A CAUTIONARY TALE

A charming little video on what happens when our art obsessions run away with us!



This reminds me of last year when I knitted my scarf (the first thing I ever knitted since the age of 12 when I knitted a sweater for my Sindy doll - which took two solid weeks!). Far too long to reach the end of a row... so I used to crochet. However, I needed a scarf, so I made one with giant needles and fluffy yarn... found a couple of dropped stitches (I was on the last ball of wool, so nearly finished) and thought I'd unpick it.

HAH! Don't ever try to unpick fluffy stuff. I couldn't even SEE the loops (although you could have driven a bus through the holes the dropped stitches made).

Snow Day, Feb 2009 - wearing That Scarf
To cut a long story short (hysterical laughter) I threw a tantrum, threw in the towel, threw out the wool (which I kept unravelling, trying to find a spot where I could start knitting again - except the fibres were so kinked it looked horrible).

So I bought another 5 balls of wool and started all over again. Then, if you remember, it was a hot summer... so there was a 4-month hiatus before I finished the scarf. Anyhow, I didn't give up (which was amazing). I gritted my teeth and fought my way through every damned stitch and finally finished the beginning of December last year. Then we had SNOW - hooray! So my patience was rewarded.

And the moral of the story is... I'll stick to using knitting needles for piano hinge books and Japanese stab-bindings, thanks very much!

PINK SATURDAY - CANVASES

I'm starting off my Pink Saturday post with an introduction to a brilliant blog I just found tonight: The Old Glory Company.

Snowman Melting copyright The Old Glory Company

T'was the Night Before Christmas copyright The Old Glory Company

If you are a fan of primitive art, you'll love this company, which has patterns for just about anything you can imagine including altered book assemblages like the one above. They even provide the printable images and text!

Now for my own part of the post:
Here are some of the things I put in the gallery show: 4 canvases from my Kitchen collection, 16inches square if I remember (I should have measured them) which are acrylics, mixed media etc. I'm hoping they look edible! They were certainly a lot of fun to do.

Coffee Time   
all artwork copyright Susie Jefferson 
Coffee Time - closeup. I'm hoping you think the "sugar" looks realistic.
Two Cupcakes
Cake
Tea Time
Wish me luck! If these don't sell, they're going on to my Etsy site.

Go to Beverly's site - How Sweet the Sound - to see the rest of the Pink Saturday posts! Happy PS everyone - oh, and happy Thanksgiving for everyone in the USA.

GETTING READY FOR THE SHOW

I know everyone loves photos of studios (and gets a vicarious thrill when someone's studio is in an even worse mess than their own). So here is my living room - artwork finished, and just packed up for the show (14 pieces) and this is what I have to tackle in the morning.


The "art" table...
I should explain - I have a table in the living room, with some shelving above. At the opposite end (either side of the fireplace) are two recesses - one with bookshelves, the other with my computer.


The bookshelf side.



I had to make little trails across the floor to get to my computer chair!
Now just stop laughing, and sympathise!

DIY SHRINK PLASTIC

I love shrink plastic - but it's really frustrating when you want to do it and find you haven't got any left! So what about this brilliant project which uses old food containers.

Claire Chauvin at Poopscape Projects shows you exactly how in step-by-step photos, to turn these:



into these!

PoopScape Projects



I never ever would have thought of this - and we're doing our recycling bit for the planet too. Brilliant!

D.I.Y. SHRINK PLASTIC!

I love shrink plastic - but it's really frustrating when you want to do it and find you haven't got any left! So what about this brilliant project which uses old food containers.

Claire Chauvin at Poopscape Projects shows you exactly how in step-by-step photos, to turn these:










into these!

Photos and project copyright Claire Chauvin, Poopscape Projects




I never ever would have thought of this - and we're doing our recycling bit for the planet too. Brilliant!

NUMBERING YOUR COMMENTS


Copyright-free image from Art-e-zine


How many times have you wished the comments left under your blog posts were  numbered (especially if you are hosting a giveaway & use the Random Number Generator to pick a winner)? 

After the last time, I was determined to add a counter to my comments. Today I finally decided to go for it, and Googled several tutorials. Needless to say, no one tutorial worked for me, but after having spent a happy (!) 4 or so hours trying to get it to work, I have finally managed it.

If you, too, want to number your comments, you might like to look at my new tutorial, which you will find on The Computery page.

PINK SATURDAY - IF WOMEN RULED THE WORLD

It's been really hectic this week, trying to prepare for this show. I am basically spinning my wheels: like Alice, I am running very hard to stay in the same place.

So this week, I thought I'd go for some fun and lighthearted stuff, beginning with my favourite blinkie, which pretty much sums me up right this minute. This baby elephant puts the PINK into Pink Saturdays for me!



And now for some oldies but goodies. I found these saved in an old folder on one of my backup discs - unfortunately I have no idea where they originated, but I do love them!









Which PROVES we not only multi-task, but are also perfectly organised!


Happy Pink Saturday, everyone, and don't forget to visit Beverly to see the rest of the Pink Saturday posts.

ONE FOR THE MONEY, TWO FOR THE SHOW....


Artwork copyright Susie Jefferson

Well, I'm poddling along and getting stuff prepped, although there is just so much to actually finish that it's almost overwhelming. 

I shall do what Laure suggests (in the Comments of the previous post) and make lists, prioritise and TRY not to procrastinate, make excuses, throw in the towel... or avoid altogether!

I finally got the address for the venue, which is Amersham Art Gallery, running from 27th November - 5th December, inclusive. The show will be called The Fabric of Life, although there won't be much re fabric in my stuff - unless the threads & fibres used in sewing books counts as fabric! At least there will be ribbon, lace, fabric flowers... although I have a feeling this exhibition will feature quilts and wall hangings, that kind of thing. Which is not my kind of thing!



Artwork copyright Susie Jefferson












Still, I phoned and told them what I do; they're quite happy so I'm going.  It'll either be a great success or a resounding flop (in which case, I'll have all my Christmas presents made, and a year's worth of stock for Etsy...)

Think positive! Yes!

PROCRASTINATION, PRIORITISING & BEING SIMULTANEOUS


I wonder - do you ever try to do too much? I'm trying to prepare for an art show (in 2 weeks) and need to get a lot of stuff finished off.

Trouble is, I'm trying to do everything simultaneously - and therefore, as usual, getting in my own way! I don't know where to start, what to do first, and am therefore faffing about doing virtually NOTHING - and what I am doing, I'm doing badly.

The show is at Amersham Art Gallery, and will be my first (I'm going to be one amongst many - definitely one amongst several, anyway) and I'll be taking altered books, handmade books & journals, a few small canvases... basically as much as I can of everything! I'd also like to take some of my handmade and soldered jewellery.

However, I'm getting absolutely nowhere fast. I wonder - does everyone have this problem with procrastination and prioritising?

I'm also wondering whether cards would be a waste of time or not, or to stick with larger pieces. Or packs of cards, say sets of 5 or 6, either all the same or the same theme.

You can tell the hysteria is mounting....

MICHEL DUDOK de WIT

Here's a lovely little short by Michel Dudok de Wit - bittersweet, very touching. I just had to share.



Turn up the sound, grab a cup of coffee and a box of tissues, then sit back and enjoy.

Not only beautifully told, but also beautifully illustrated. Passing time is all too fleeting...

POST DIVIDERS

If you fancy a spiffy new post divider - or want to make your own, you might want to check out my latest creations and tutorial.




There'll be more soon!

BONFIRE NIGHT


Copyright free photo courtesy PDPhoto


Today is the 404th Anniversary of Guy Fawkes Night, or Bonfire Night.























It's the 404th Anniversary of Guy (aka Guido) Fawkes and his gang attempting to blow up Parliament.

This is what Wikipedia says:
Guy Fawkes belonged to a group of Roman Catholic restorationists from England who planned the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.[3] Their aim was to displace Protestant rule by blowing up the Houses of Parliament while King James I and the entire Protestant, and even most of the Catholic, aristocracy and nobility were inside. The conspirators saw this as a necessary reaction to the systematic discrimination against English Catholics.[4]  The Gunpowder Plot was led by Robert Catesby, but Fawkes was put in charge of its execution. He was arrested a few hours before the planned explosion, during a search of the cellars underneath Parliament in the early hours of 5 November prompted by the receipt of an anonymous warning letter.
Guy Fawkes Night (or "bonfire night"), held on 5 November in the United Kingdom and some parts of the Commonwealth, is a commemoration of the plot, during which an effigy of Fawkes is burned, often accompanied by a fireworks display. The word "guy", meaning "man" or "person", is derived from his name.[5]

To this day, school kids chant this round the bonfire:

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot,
We see no reason,
Why gunpowder treason,
Should ever be forgot!
In addition to fireworks, there are the special sweets: toffee apples, Cinder toffee, Bonfire toffee (also known as Treacle toffee). I think the recipes are a few hundred years old as well.

Here's some recipes (courtesy of The Foodie). See below for how to boil sugar correctly and safely.

PARKIN(the traditional cake)

225g (8oz) Plain Flour
225g (8oz) Medium Oatmeal
110g (4oz) Lard or Margarine
110g (4oz) Golden Syrup
110g (4oz) Black Treacle
110g 4oz Sugar
1 Egg, beaten
4 tsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
Pinch Salt

Pre-heat oven to 170°C: 325°F: Gas 3.
Grease and line a square baking tin with buttered greaseproof paper.
Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, salt and cinnamon (if used).
Add the oats and sugar, mix lightly.
Gently rub in the lard or margarine.
Stir in the beaten egg.
Gently warm the syrup and treacle, so that they can be easily poured.
Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the syrup and treacle.
Mix thoroughly.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin.
Bake for 45-60 minutes or until firm and cooked.
Allow to cool for at 15-20 minutes before removing from the tin.
Cut into squares, keep in an airtight tin for 24 hours before serving.

Cinder Toffee photo from Domestic Goddess in Training (who also has her own great recipe for Cinder Toffee).











CHOCOLATE CINDER TOFFEE

450g (1lb) Granulated Sugar
300ml (½ pint) Water
50g (2oz) Butter
25g (1oz) Dark Cooking Chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
4 tbsp White Vinegar
3 tbsp Golden Syrup
½ tsp Baking Soda, sifted

Place the butter, water and vinegar into a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat gently until the butter has melted.
Add the sugar golden syrup, dark chocolate and allow to fully dissolve.
Bring to a boil, to a temperature of 138°C (280°F).
Remove from heat.
Add the baking soda, stirring well until bubbles subside a little
Pour the mixture into a well oiled 18cm (7 inch) sandwich tin.
When the mixture has cooled a little mark the surface into squares with a knife.



Treacle toffee photo courtesy Diana's Desserts









TREACLE TOFFEE

450g (1lb) Soft Brown Sugar
225g (8oz) Black Treacle
110g (4oz) Unsalted Butter
2 tbsp Water
1 tbsp White Vinegar

Place the butter, water and vinegar into a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat gently until the butter has melted.
Add the sugar and black treacle, allow to fully dissolve, this takes about 20 minutes.
Boil the mixture to a temperature of 138°C (280°F).
Remove from the heat, allow the bubble to decrease.
Pour the mixture into a well oiled 18cm (7 inch) sandwich tin.
When the mixture has cooled a little mark the surface into squares with a knife.
When cold break into squares, wrap in cellophane and store in an airtight container.


SUGAR BOILING BASICS

And here are the essential basics in boiling sugar the traditional way:
  • Always measure the sugar and water exactly.
  • Heat gently, do not allow to boil until the sugar is fully dissolved.
  • Whilst heating stir with a wooden spatula, scraping the bottom and corners of the saucepan.
  • Brush the sides of the saucepan occasionally with a pastry brush dipped in warm water, to prevent a build up of crystals.
  • Never stir the boiling liquid unless directed by the recipe.
  • Ensure that the correct temperature is reached.
  • If using a sugar thermometer, dip it in to hot water before tested the sugar, return it to the hot water after testing.
  • When the correct heat is reached, remove the saucepan from the heat and place on a damp cloth, to prevent further cooking.

Tests for Sugar Temperature

To water test, fill a small bowl with cold water, remove ½ teaspoon of sugar mixture from the saucepan and drop into water. Leave for one minute, then test using thumb and forefinger.

Thread 110 - 114°C (230 - 238°F)
The sugar mixture will form a fine thread if pressed together then pulled apart.

Soft Ball 114 - 118°C (238 - 245°F)
The sugar mixture will form a soft ball which can be squashed flat.

Hard Ball 118 - 138°C (245 - 280°F)
The sugar mixture will form a ball which will hold its shape when pressed.

Small Crack 138 - 152°C (280 - 305°F)
The sugar mixture will separate into threads that will snap cleanly.

Hard Crack 152 - 163°C (305 - 325°F)
The sugar mixture will separate into threads which are brittle and hard.

Caramel 174°C (345°F)
The sugar mixture becomes golden in colour.



Photo copyright densleybros.com.au






TOFFEE APPLES

Toffee apples are easy - just select some nice ripe apples, remove the stalks and stick them with wooden skewers, chopsticks, whatever - then dip into toffee. I'd recommend the Caramel sugar mixture. Dip in, take out and twirl around till the toffee starts to set, then dip again to get a nice thick layer. Allow to cool down upside down (stick side up) on non-stick paper etc.

Don't core the apples first, as you'd need a very thick stick - as skewers etc will pass right through!

ARTIST - AMY SOL

I always love to find new artists I haven't seen before, and have a weakness for illustrators and anything hand-drawn.

I discovered her via AlphaButtonPusher (check out her blog Simplify - GREAT header!) for featuring Amy Sol.




Copyright Amy Sol

Here's the link - her site is beautifully constructed, one of the nicest I have seen for a long time.

Her muted colours somehow remind me of Lladro china.