Friday, 30 March 2012

Bags galore

I have been quite busy making bags since last weekend the first one is ready to list on ETSY and there are six more in various stages of development.  Some are paper mache and others started life as cigar boxes.

For some years now I have been bringing home the boxes when the shop I work in has had a delivery of Havana cigars.  The boxes are so lovely and looked so useful that I could not resist them and I have them squirrelled away in various places in the house.  It was only last autumn that the idea of turning them into handbags occurred to me.

The wood of these boxes is very beautiful and on the bags I have made this time it does seem a shame to have covered it up.  But I had found some lovely DECOPATCH paper that I wanted to use and the bags took shape from there.  

This one has a floral background - perfect for summer parties, picnics and weddings.  I sewed beads onto the centres of the felt flowers.

CIGAR BOX HANDBAGS/PURSES - the completed one and two almost ready.  I have to line the snakeskin one and attach the handle.  The Union Jack one just needs its handle and a little embellishment.

I made for myself a paper mache bag in January (this was the first one).  It has stood up to a bit of rough treatment and still looks good.  Although the bags are small compared with the huge things that are currently high fashion they are more practical.  AND who wants to follow the herd.

I have to get the linings made for these paper mache bags to finish them.  Then I can put on the finishing touches.

Monday, 26 March 2012

RESTORING OUR POND - re-construction

ready for planting
NOW THE POND is completely emptied and clean we can put it back together again.  Have so been looking forward to doing this, especially while kneeling in the mud trying to ignore the numbers of worms and grubs, worrying that I would break fingernails (I didn't) while sawing through chunks of root matted earth.

a blank canvas
 We made a trip to BEDGEBURY PINETUM  one of our favourite places, and this time took the Ashford route instead of the Maidstone one this was a very lucky decision. 

making the bags of earth for the pond
The Ashford route took us through Rolvenden
and past the gates of WORLD OF WATER.  An added bonus was that they had just had a delivery of plants.  If only we had known what a good price they were.

placing of earth bags and back filling
We are still using hints suggested by the late Geoff Hamilton, what a great person he was. 
We filled old tights with earth to stop the banks of the pond all slipping into the bottom and then back filled behind the bags.  Working our way all round the pond - it is only when the pond was completely empty the size was plain to see. 

planted and being refilled
As soon as pond was ready we planted the margins.  We used eleven 35litre bags of top soil.  It was important to us not to have any of the old plants (some of which were very invasive) which is why we purchased top soil from our local garden centre
We had saved some of the old pond water and used it when
  we refilled the pond, we also had a water butt filled with rainwater.  We only had to use a small amount of tap water.  Then we put in the oxygenater plant

Now that there is clear water instead of a reed bed the trees are being reflected.  Hopefully dragonflies and damselflies will be attracted to it this summer, as well as pond skaters, water boatmen and other wildlife.

This has always been an area of the garden we have worked with wildlife in mind.  So the log pile has been moved to a better place and stacked.  We are going to use bark chippings to blend everything together.  Even though the pond is about done there is still work to do.

Plants used for the pond are  trollius golden queen,  primula denticulata, blue water iris, typha minima (a bullrush type plant), mimulus cardinalis, lysichiton americanus, caltha palustris,ranunculus flammula,mentha pulegium, caltha palustris plena, lobelia cardinalis.   
We have planted seeds to fill the gaps for this year - mimulus and a poppy that likes damp soil.  Plants for ponds and boggy areas tend to be quite vigorous.


Thursday, 22 March 2012

Restoring our pond - the destruction

Before work began
One of the first things we did when we moved into our home twenty years ago was to start putting in ponds.  The hard one to do was a pond for koi carp which we no longer have.  A lot easier to do was a pond built with wildlife in mind. It did not have to be as deep and had sloping banks for planting.
 We watched GARDENERS WORLD every week when GEOFF HAMILTON was presenting it and these bags made from old tights were one of his ideas. 

The culprit
 A boggy area at one end, planting shelves and sloping sides meant there were lots of cover for anything that made it their home.  There were some mistakes made with the first lot of planting so when the liner needed replacing and we had to get rid of the koi pond and fish we cleared out the whole pond, got rid of most the plants and used the old liner from the koi pond.  That was twelve years ago and the plants have got out of hand again.  The summer months can be spent pouring water into the pond over and over.  If we don't keep a close check the pond can be close to empty.

 This week we made a start - pumping the water into a butt to re-use.  There were at least twenty smooth newts in the pond.  The newts in our garden are a complete success - we were given thirteen when we first built the pond (we were only given them because their habitat had been destroyed) and now the garden is pretty much heaving with them.  There are times when anything moved reveals another newt - from very young ones to mature adults.

half way round
Only a third of the way round we discovered the true cause of the pond emptying, not any leaks there were roots from the silver birch tree (planted by us as a 12inch sapling many years ago) it had several roots growing over the top of the pond liner.  We had to cut through them to clear the pond. 
The butyl pond liner was 100% hole free.  We were very careful as we cut through the roots of the reeds, irises and the purple loosestrife (a beautiful plant the the bees adore but we are replacing it as it just gets so big. Over 6 foot high and clump forming. We still have one in another pond that we are keeping).  
Now all we need to do is finish cleaning up the last of the mud and wash the liner.  The roots of the Silver Birch had punctured the original PVC liner that we had left in situ when we last did the pond but not the butyl one.


When I was fifteen I started to collect GOLDEN HANDS ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CRAFTS - a partwork publication.  It cost 35pence per issue.  I had a lot of fun making loads of the crafts included and it was often hard to wait for the next issue.  I made flowers out of tissue paper and crape paper, tried varies different types of weaving and made assorted soft toys.

Crafts covered included :- BASKETRY, BEADWORK,CLAY,APPLIQUE,PATCHWORK,SEWING, SOFT SULPTURE, UPHOLSTRY, PAINTING,PRINTING ENAMELING,LAPIDARY, LEATHERWORK, METALWORK, MOSAIC, PAPERCRAFTS, WAX, WOOD and lots more.  In my mid twenties after moving home several times I decided it was dated and got rid of it.

MAJOR MISTAKE  yes some fashions changed and even in the seventies I could not see the attraction of jewellery made from forks but I have yet to see a more comprehesive collection of crafts.  If you ever find a copy of this grab it.  I was incredibly lucky and was given a replacement by a friend who had discovered it  about to be thrown away. 

Monday, 19 March 2012


It is the BIG KENT WEEKEND.  This weekend 17 and 18 of march more than 120 attractions have donated tickets. We have tickets to EMMETTS GARDENS near Sevenoaks.
I was a little worried that it may be a little early in the year to see much.  There is really not that much sign of life in our own garden (the ornamental cherries are just showing signs of bud) but we are on the top of a hill and often have a late start.

soon to be a mass of colour
There was so much already in bloom.  And the promise of more to come - like the carpet of bluebells throughout the woodland walk.  This is not a grassy bank just masses and masses of bluebells.

 The plants were clearly labelled.  I do like to know what I am admiring and as I am often too lazy to write names down being able to get clear pictures is very useful.

There were also lots of interesting stumps, rocks and fallen trees.  All of which I love.

The shapes are the kind of sculpture I would love to have.  And as a couple of years ago I finally learnt to draw I tend to take lots of pictures of the so I can try to paint them.

Saturday, 17 March 2012


 A few years ago while browsing through the craft and sewing section in my local paper shop I discovered the first issue of a re-vamped magazine.  This magazine had a cover disc with craft kits, software programs to install and contained tutorial's to help you make the most of everything.  Although I had several CD roms at that time I hadn't discovered the full potential of using the computer as a tool to craft with.  The name of that magazine was COMPLETE CARDMAKING.
A recently purchased another digital cardmaking magazine from the same publisher :- THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO DIGITAL CRAFTING.

From that moment my computer is as important to my craft as paper, glue and scissors.  I don't use it for every project but I now have a large collection of pictures and vintage advertising images as well as my own photos available to use.  

My first experience of SERIF was freeware that came on the cover disc - SERIF DIGITAL SCRAPBOOK.  I have tried a couple of other digital scrapbooking programs but I haven't found one as user friendly as this (or the newer SERIF CRAFT ARTIST).
It is easy to upload your work either as a private keepsake or to be shared with others, people at DAISY TRAIL are very friendly and supportive.  It is inspiring to see the fantastic works of art on the site.

Here are links to a couple of my creations
This is a fairly simple page with a picture of my cat.
This is a more complex layered piece only using items from the many digikits I now own.
This is me learning some of the different techniques to alter photos - the background of the photo was altered to emphasise the hot rod. (craft artist)

Some of the bags listed on my ETSY shop were started with SERIF.  All the images used were my own - just tweaked with the software, 

There are so many techniques available digitally that would be impossible any other way for example adding shadows.  Pictures can be layered to give a spooky other worldly feel.  Words and images can be reversed - useful for transferring images unto wood or making decals.

Add to all these digital delights some of the amazing products from CRAFTY COMPUTER PAPER and there are no limits to what can be achieved.  There are almost more varities of papers and fabrics to be used with an inkjet printer than can be imagined.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


Its my partners birthday next week so he needs cakes for work this coming Friday. 

Because I love baking I have been looking forward to choosing the selection of goodies with him.

I am, however, a little worried as after his birthday last year I had a severe attack of needing to bake.  I wanted bake cakes all the time - not  the odd cake now and then I wanted to bake large numbers of different types of cake.  As there are only the two of us this quantity of cooking would have been impractical to say the least.

In the end we had to have lots of people to a brunch to get the urge out of my system.  And now it is birthday time again.

I have made the sausage rolls up tonight and tested a couple to make sure they are ok.  Luckily there are some bacon puffs in the freezer ready to bake so they will not take to long tomorrow.  Just tried the sausage rolls (quality control) very scrummy!

I have also baked the mincemeat squares tonight.  This is such a quick and easy  cut and come again cake.

125grams butter (softened)
125grams soft brown sugar
250grams self raising flower
1 level teaspoon of baking powder
3 eggs
400grams mincemeat

Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well
Put the mixture into a prepared 28x18cm shallow tin
Bake at gas reg 3/160 degrees Centigrade for one hour or until firm
Cool slightly and turn out and cut into fifteen squares

I am also baking chocolate brownies and maybe a lemon drizzle cake. But that can be done tomorrow.


Monday, 12 March 2012


Ever since I moved to Thanet as a child the power station has stood there.

At nine o clock the first tower started to fall.

Then the second.......

The last of the cooling towers falls.

The dust from the towers looks like a horse lifting up its head as the chimney falls.

The dust begins to clear and the Richborough wind turbine will stand alone on the Marshes.
a friends footage on youtube. 
Cooling towers coming down frame by frame the rest of my pictures. 

Saturday, 10 March 2012


view from our roof
On Sunday  11th March 2012 Richborough Power Station will be demolished.  There is divided view points in our house about the power station.  I love it, when you have been away and you see it you know you are almost home, I think it looks lovely when the sunrise and sunset hit it and it has been there all the time I have lived in this area ( I will admit that if it was bigger than three cooling towers I may not feel the same way about it).  My partner hates it, always has, and thinks the sooner it goes the better.

I have been talking to a lot of people since the time and date for the demolition was announced and
these differing view points would appear to be reflected across the area.


While I feel that a campaign started in the last few months to save the power station was a little too late to do any good I do understand the sentiments that inspired it. 
Peregrine falcons have regularly nested there, it has been used in numerous films and TV shows and could even have been called the star of FULL METAL CHALLENGE a few years ago.  It is quite hard at the moment finding anything about the History of the power station because all the links are for the demolition.  I have heard that the construction won an award for design when it was built - I cannot find out more as yet. 
I found found all kinds of linked items such as Port Richborough and information on the East Kent Light Railway EKLR and of course the Kent coal fields which originally supplied the coal for the power station.  So I will finish with a debate found on THE KENT HISTORY FORUM

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Getting down to reading

My shopping trip to Tunbridge Wells resulted in two new books for my collection:- SHE WOLVES a book about some of the Queens of England before Elizabeth Tudor came to the throne.  I had not realised when I found the book that it was also a TV series (BBC4 Wednesday evening at 9pm)  It covers some very interesting women and will be tonight's bedtime reading.

The other book is PAPER JEWELLERY by Sarah Kelly (a design and make book).  So far I have only had time to glance at it but it looks quite intriguing, I think it will be a proper how to do this book.

And there is still a big pile of craft magazines to get through - especially as the new ones are due out soon.......

I was quite pleased to re-discover my packs of wool this means I can try needle felting. 

Sunday, 4 March 2012


Had a lovely crafting weekend      
.......on our way home from shopping Saturday
 got a invite out for a friends birthday.
 So needed to make a card and present

The card I made using items from the DOCRAFTS goody bag I had just brought.

 And as a present I made her a telephone message pad using the set of vintage URBAN STAMPS.  I love this set although I am slightly confused by the inclusion of a VW split screen camper van in a range of British iconic images. 
The telephone box is perfect for a message pad.  I found out by accident while making the message pad that if the ink from SUKURA pens is still wet when micro/accent beads are put onto it then the beads stick to the ink.  It looked really good I will use this again on future projects.

Had a lovely evening celebrating her birthday with friends.



Part of Sunday was spent making headbands to list on ETSY.  They were great fun to make - I did six all different.  I like all of them, it would be hard to pick a favourite.  I really want to make some more.

What I really wanted to do was do some more of the book I am altering but "work" if I can get away as decribing the headbands as that came first.  I will try and find time to carry on with the book in the week.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Altered books - part two.

continue with altering this book because all the cutting has been completed.
NOW MY BOOK IS READY TO DECORATE.  The papers I chose for the front and back covers have been glued on, with a hole cut in the front cover.  All the pages that needed to be glued together have been.  I decided to print some custom cotton tape for the edges of the covers because I thought that would be harder wearing.  



 I wanted to use the printer to do the cotton tape but the printer that I have just would not do it today, it is quite often fussy about what it will print.  So I had to go with PLAN B.  I am pleased with the result.  


I dry brushed the pages with white GESSO making sure that some of the print could be seen through the paint and left to dry completely.