Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Art night.

Tuesday night is my art night. I pack up my easel and canvas, grab my paints and brushes and head out to a nearby secondary school where I sit and chat and laugh and paint and get tips on how to use acrylics. In this case (like last year) this particular course was a gift from M. for my birthday. I like experiencing learning and is some ways it is a bit of an addiction. I pick up new hobbies quite frequently, get passably proficient then move on... its probably not a great thing to admit but I can do a lot of things only a little well. Occasionally some craft or art will meet all my needs for creativity and functionality and then I feel the need to do it all the time (knitting... my fingers itch for needles when idle). 
I paint in watercolour intermittently- usually to make gift pictures for family and friends ( a painting for M. of London South Bank can be seen on the wall here) and I love colour pencil painting (here) but I have been actively terrified of acrylics and oils. The solidity of the paint as you put on the canvas gives me a quaking of anxiety, feeling that whatever I'm seeing is going to look like a toddler sploshed it on. M. ever the pragmatist thought I really aught to learn to use acrylics so I can paint his mum a birthday present that is not in watercolour (they already have a watercolour of mine on the wall from a birthday gift in 2011for his dad).
The point of this post is not however the painting, or the picture, but the BOX. Ohhhhh yes the scrumptious little wooden beauty that houses my paints and brushes.
Also a gift from M. procured at our local car-boot sale for an astonishingly tiny price. Though I didn't know it was for me I was there and listened in awe when the vendor quoted such a ridiculously low price M. didn't have the heart to haggle with the poor man. It is old- no telling how old however- and it has a gorgeous patina of age which fortunately didn't wipe away entirely while M. was cleaning it up.
 My favorite bit?
The name and address of a previous owner written in an old fashioned scrawling hand on a stained, battered, peeling piece of paper stuck to the inside lid.
x Jo

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Jubilee Quilt

(drum roll please- or maybe a fairground organ like you get a British fairs)

The Jubilee Quilt!!!

(terrible photo, sorry- how do you photograph a 7 foot quilt??)
Perfect for cozy moments nestled with a hot chocolate and Pride and Prejudice while the rain taps against the windows and the sun has put itself to bed early for the night.
It has also been perfect for procrastinating doing things like ironing M.'s work shirts and hoovering the carpets! Not to mention making dinner for the family or washing my hair!
This is my first quilt in about eight years.  Note the lack of piecing... ahem... I chickened out of that bit.  However also note the plethora of applique! I started with one patch (the Corgi in a crown) and enjoyed it soooooooo much I had to just keep going. Then there is the freestyle machine embroidery... Kristy Alsop called it the "crack cocaine of the sewing world" and I totally agree. I settled with my new sewing machine, a piece of fabric and an embroidery hoop thinking I would just have a go at a little machine sketching and five minutes later I had finished the London sky line block! Its satisfyingly quick and creative, allowing a sense of freedom you rarely get when sat before a sewing machine!
A London Mayor
A Wee Highland Cow

Since we decided to move to the states I've been feeling nostalgic about all the little things in the UK that I will miss. Thus The Jubilee Quilt was born of all those little lovely quirky that I will miss. For example:  what other place can you find a cow that looks just like the Mayor of the capital city? Seriously.
So The Jubilee Quilt is full of things I love: Big Ben, postage stamps with the queen's profile, red squirrels, hedgehogs, foxes, castles, post boxes, red phone booths and the London sky line. 
It has Highland Cows too but (sorry Boris Johnson) no Mayor of London.
 I've adored and continue to adore two special little critters in the quilt. LOOK at those! Does anything get cuter than a red squirrel's tufty ears? Like armadillos you see hedgehogs more often spread several feet across the road but this little guy looks just like the fellow that wandered into our garden a few weeks ago. I picked him up (much to M.'s horror as he moans "They have mites!!") and he squirmed then stopped and just stared at me. When I put him down- cause they are surprisingly prickly- he did this funny little "keep your eyes on the predator" shuffle away from me. So that is what my quilted hedgehog is up to.
It took a little thinking to decide what time Big Ben should read right in the center of the quilt. In the end it was M.'s very clever idea for it to read 8:12. It is not a significant time of day for us for any reason but it makes a tiny little puzzle for those of you who would like to work it out.
x Jo