Thursday, 4 August 2011

Garden Improvement

At last our tiny garden is beginning to look more like a garden and less like a builder's yard with the runner beans, carrots, water cress and poppies romping away in the vegetable patch. The new lawn is growing well, despite the dog constantly rolling on it. It's a big change from the images I posted in May! Hello Sheddy.
Gardening on a budget means that we have to do thing slowly so I try to grow most of my plants from seed or donations from friends but I can often bag a bargain at Old Bridge Nursery in Ilkley.  I have bought a beautiful Meconopsis Himalaya Blue which should look wonderful in flower next year. 

Whilst cutting back the overgrown ivy I uncovered two objects that I had completely forgotten about, a mosaic I made over fifteen years ago and a Green Man wall ornament. The lizard mosaic was made from small coloured tiles and glass cabochons and, even after 15 Yorkshire winters, not one tile has dropped off. 

Now I'm saving up for a garden bench so that we can sit out and appreciate the garden before the summer is at an end. Then there's a potting bench, compost bin, water butt.....

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Restoring My Confidence

The Stalls, Harrogate

I haven't been making much glass lately, despite buying a lovely new kiln, because I have been too busy with the day job and also organising Handmade events in West Yorkshire.  I have been neglecting both my Folksy and Etsy shops and haven't exhibited at a craft fair in over a year. To be honest, I'm never happy with my table display and I think that the way I show my glass makes it look amateur and a bit "cheap". 
Then last week I gave a talk on glass fusing to my friend's church group and sold lots of glass, which restored my confidence in my product.  So it's time to get back in the saddle and start finding selling opportunities and marketing my glass again. The first gallery to stock my glass designs is The Stalls in Harrogate. Natasha only received the box of glass I posted out yesterday and she has already sold one cupcake dish! This has given me a boost and I am already planning new designs.

Cupcake Dish
As for handmade and designer-maker fairs I am going to start back behind the craft stall. I have been looking at mechandising and window display for retailers so that I can create a more inviting and professional  layout. Having visited the British Craft Trade Fair this year I have studied each trader's stand to decide what works and what doesn't. Less is definitely More so I am cutting the clutter and resisting putting out every piece of glass I make. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The High Alps

Les Haute Alpes
This year's main holiday was a week away in the High Alps in France with my OH, sister and her OH.
We took the Eurostar to Paris and then the TGV to Grenoble, where we collected the hire car to drive to Vallouise. The trains were so clean and efficient with great views of the passing french countryside and it only took 3.5 hours on the TGV!
The mountains are breathtaking and full of meadows of wildflowers with waterfalls and clean, clear air. We walked high up to 6,000 feet and looked down on the valleys. The cattle wear bells and the sound carries up to the top of the mountains. We saw lots of flora and fauna and even a marmot!
Marmot at Chambran
We stayed in a huge chalet house belonging to our friend and she took us on a few mountain walks, including the village where her ancestors come from, Auillard. We ate at the local restaurant, dining on potato pie and salad.
Les Rhodedondrens
Aside from walking, we also drove to the nearest town, Briancon,  which is a walled medieval ville complete with church, boutique shops and lovely restaurants.  I love the ochre and pink buildings of Briancon that glow in the sun.
The end of June is the ideal time to visit Les Haute Alpes because the tourist season hasn't begun but the weather is warm enough to enjoy being outside. We saw lots of people kayaking and serious climbers in the mountains yet Vallouise is a pleasant, sheltered valley. We sat out on our balcony watching a dramatic storm over toward L'Argentiere that never reached us. The torrent of the l'Onde was a constant backdrop of sound, alongside birdsong.
The Balcony
We really enjoyed our vacances and we were sad to leave at the end of the week, although the drive back to Grenoble was quite spectacular. Meanwhile, I have enough photographs and sketches to begin making art based on my holiday in The Alps. I hope to go back again.

You can see more of my photographs by clicking HERE.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Hello Sheddy!

A couple of years ago roots from the horrible eucalyptus next door broke through our sewage pipes causing lots of damage and smell and resulting in our back yard being re-concreted.  So, after much complaining that I need a new garden we saved up our pennies to have the back yard dug up and new flag stones laid in the Victorian tradition. 

Nasty concrete and our rotten old shed
Back yard in 2009

View from the back gate

The shed was so old and rotten that the only thing holding it up was the things in it! The way it listed to one side made it positively dangerous and a few bashes with a sledge hammer turned the shed into a pile of fire wood. 

Since the demolition of the old shed last year and the flagging of the back yard, we have been saving up for a new shed so our "garden" has looked like something out of Steptoe and Son for the entire winter. 

But I have great plans for our small back yard and Steve, our friendly builder, made me a raised bed at the bottom with slabs and a low wall.. My lovely Other Half has also made a wooden edged bed for growing vegetables. 

Now "Sheddy the Shed" has arrived (yippee!) and we have started to clear the garden of all the debris ready to get some serious gardening done. Hopefully, we will have a new lawn soon and we are saving up for a bench. More garden transformation posts coming soon....

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Malham Dale

Friday was a public holiday (Yay)! so we took a walk around Malham, starting off at the village to Janet's Foss and then along to Gordale Scar

It's not a strenuous walk as there isn't much up hill walking until you get to the Scar. There people can climb up the rocks past the waterfall and walk on to Malham Tarn.  But, as we had two dogs with us we didn't attempt the climb.

Instead we walked over the fields toward Malham Cove and the weather got warmer and brighter. 

All the walls around Malham are made from limestone and they glow a bright white in the sunshine. 

The top of the cove has the famous Limestone Pavements,  created after the last Ice Age by the slightly acidic water that ate into the soft limestone to create fissures. 

It's easy to walk across the pavement and it's fascinating to see the rocks looking like ancient prehistoric bones.

The descent from Malham Cove is quite easy as there are man made steps running down the side that lead to the path back to Malham Village. 

Of course a walk wouldn't be a walk if Jackson couldn't carry the largest stick he could find with him. This one was a bit charred and had obviously been used in a camp fire at some time. It was very heavy and gave me a crack across the back of the legs on several occasions. 

So our walk terminated at the pub for sandwiches and chips. Thanks for the day off, Will and Kate!

Saturday, 30 April 2011

I Love Cake

Coffee and walnut cake. Ingredients: butter, caster sugar, SR wheat flour, free range eggs, Fair Trade coffee, vanilla extract, walnuts, icing sugar.
Compared to a Shop Bought Cake. Ingredients: palm oil, sugar, glucose, fructose, invert sugar syrup, dried egg powder, skimmed milk powder, wheat flour, corn flour, modified maize starch, soya flour, disodium diphosphate, sodium hydrogen carbonate, glycerol, emulsifiers, flavourings, potassium sorbate, xantan gum, tragacanth and salt. 

What's to compare?

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Glass Finds

Today in Ilkley I popped into Cakewalk for a chat with Emma and a browse in her lovely shop. Cakewalk is a mixture of hand made loveliness and vintage finds and I was delighted to find three vintage Murano glass animals on a shelf. 

I love original Murano glass animals as they remind me of my childhood when we had "nick-nacks" on small wooden shelves. My middle sister collected Whimsy animals and my eldest sister had a Murano deer, complete with little gold chain.  This little fish has Millefiore at its centre and also a tiny shard of Gold Stone, which is not a gem stone as those people who sell rocks would have you believe, but is glass. 

Aren't these two tiny dogs just delightful? They are less than 2" tall but the detail is exquisite. I have a large shoe box full of this kind of glass, all carefully wrapped in tissue paper. They aren't displayed because I don't want them to break and I don't want to dust them either! 

Buying vintage Murano glass is very much a case of "Buyer Beware". Much of the glass you see on eBay is not real Murano, particularly if it comes from Hong Kong or Russia. Vintage Murano animals have a quality to the glass that shows they have been made with a torch and mandrel, not poured into a mould. 

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Fused Glass Workshop for Jewellers

Individual workshops available at Glassprimitif studio near Keighley, West Yorkshire for jewellers.

Design and make your dichroic glass cabochons. This one day workshop will give you the skills to cut, grind and prepare glass for fusing. Glass fusing tuition is also included and your finished cabs will be sent to you by post. 

Costs: £40 including materials and kiln time. This workshop will suit glass fusing beginners and is tailored for jewellers. Suggested further workshop: Designing for Fusing.

Workshop dates: Saturday 12 March, Sunday 13 March, Saturday 2 April, Sunday 3 April 2011. 10am to 2pm. Tea/coffee included. Please bring a packed lunch and a notebook.

Tel: 07919302908 or email: