Sunday, 20 April 2014

Summer - The best time of year by far

Hello again

As the title suggests, I'm just loving this time of year right now and feel ever so happy. I think it is because we've had some great sunny spells here during the last few weeks and it's just magical how a bit of vitamin D can boost the spirits.

I recently visited Windemere in the beautiful Lake District for a 4 day weekend to celebrate my mum's 60th birthday and we were blessed with beautiful weather then too. It's probably the only time I've ever been there where it hasn't rained . . . . . . . . it was even more gorgeous as a result.

We all stayed in a gorgeous lodge on the shore of the lake and it was just the most perfect get-away. Our last before our little man arrives.

The whole weekend we ate fantastic food and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery. This was topped-off with a lovely cruise of the lake. Simply gorgeous.

So I'm 32 weeks and 3 days pregnant - not very long to go at all and the tiredness is starting to kick in! I'm off for the Easter break at the moment though which does help as I'm really enjoying the opportunity to take lots of afternoon naps

The first week of the Easter Break I was poorly with a chest infection amongst other things (The curse of being a Teacher!) but this week I'm feeling much better, much to my relief. I'm back at school on the 22nd and straight back into A Level & GCSE Textiles and Photography exams. 

So far the kids have been doing great so I am very proud of them all right now.

I'm staying in work up until the end of the exams and then I leave to start my new life as 'Mum'. I'm very excited but some nerves are starting to kick-in a little.

I'll very much miss teaching but know that at some time in the future I can do a refresher course and get back into it again. It may be a few years though so in the meantime I intend on throwing myself into as many mother & baby groups as I can.

Speaking of baby, his room is almost ready now. We've just had some furniture delivered which I'm now in the process of filling with all his freshly washed and pressed clothes.

To match the bedding we bought for his cot, I've made a matching Owl softie (shown in the photo above) and I'm also in the process of making a hand-sewn Hexagonal patchwork quilt (it'll be a while before he can use this thankfully as it's going to take a while to make!!)

I also made a cute baby ball last week and put a loud bell in the middle - it'll be perfect to hang from his pram.

Some more exciting goings-on around here involve our Great Tit V's Blue Tit chaos that has been going on in out 'penthouse' bird box the last few weeks.

Every time the Great Tit um & dad brought in their bedding material, the Blue Tit couple would remove it - looking to make this luxury box their own! In the end though it looks like the bigger Great Tit's won as she is now happily sitting on 10 eggs!

Last year we had 9 Blue Tit eggs and 7 fledged - here's keeping everything crossed that these two are just as successful.

In the meantime, I'm going to be glued to 'bird-cam' whilst we await our own little arrival.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The hectic life of an Art Textiles Teacher!

Hi all,

I've been very busy of late preparing resources, examples and materials for my GCSE and A2 pupils for their upcoming AQA Art Textiles exams. I'm in my element when surrounded by all my fabric scraps, beads and arty things. It really is a great job and i will really miss it once I leave to become a full time mum in may. I guess that this really is the end of an era.

Most my GCSE girls have decided to respond to the exam question 'Fairs and Carnivals' whereas my A2 girls are opting for either the 'Sea Life' or 'Natural Forms' questions.

To help inspire them I have created these . . . . . . .

This is my GCSE sketch book as it stood about 2 weeks ago. I'll get some more closer shots over the next few days. It contains lots of artist and theme research and lots of technical examples (including applique, patchwork, emulsion printing, sellotape printing, free motion embroidery and heat transfer examples). The girls are not far behind me now with their own responses but this has really helped them to visualise what it is exactly that they are expected to produce.

We are now working mostly on the exam planning and prep stage . . .  making marquettes' of what it is that they intend to produce in their final exams.
I have produced a pouch for my sketchbook, a wall hanging and a circus performer doll (in the style of those made by 'Blue Raspberry Designs' although I am asking the girls to choose one option (as they are not the quickest workers!)

Work in progress!

One of my year 13 girls really wanted to make a mermaid following her research on sea-life so I have made this example as a guide to help her focus her designs. I though my previous mermaid doll would be too 'cutesy' for this project!

To begin with I researched mermaid dolls and found the gorgeous work of 'Noelles Art' - her mermaid dolls are beautiful. I also re-visited the work of  'Jess Brown' to see how it was she assembled her dolls with their cute button shoulders.

Noelle's Art mermaid Doll
Jess Brown Darling Dolls

I made a template loosely based on a Jess Brown doll and then cut out and interfaced the tail. To get the bluey-green colour I used the heat transfer process (ironing fabric painted tracing paper over the fabric) and I just loved the effect it created.

I then drew with biro the scales and tail detail. This was then free-motion embroidered (F.M.E) twice; once with a blue thread and a second time with a turquoise thread. I love to use two colours and two layers of stitches when using F.M.E as it gives such a lovely, sketched finish.

Next I took the shells off a necklace that I picked up in a local second-hand shop to apply to the tail. I was so happy with this purchase as I knew it would be perfect for the job. I added some seed-beads too.

My £1.99 second-hand find.

The completed tail
I made the body using the same fabric and drew the facial details with biro to keep them simple. I painted the lips using acrylic paint. The arms were affixed with buttons.

Next came the top half of her outfit. For this I decided to modify the rest of the shell necklace and to weave small shells (also taken from an old necklace) and seed beads into it.

Before assembling her body and tail I inserted wire to both parts so that she can be posed.

I also added the hair (which was the fiddliest bit yet!) This is made using blue, turquoise and green threads from a mixed pack which school got from 'Pisces' I made her a shell hairband too using more of my necklace shells and seed beads.

Back view - I love the mix of colours and thread types

So here is my finished mermaid. I completed her look with a little silver fish charm sewn into the palm of her hand. I found this knocking about in my crafty bits and knew that I just had to use it somehow.

Her little fish charm
   They will be able to figure out how I created her to them help inform their own work.

I may be employed part-time but at this hectic time of year I spend the majority of my free-time working to produce these examples. Don't tell anyone though but I really don't mind! I see these tasks as a challenge and they really help to stretch my creativity and arty/crafty abilities which is no bad thing. 


Friday, 21 February 2014

My NEW sewing room is here!

Hello again...........

My posts are a little few and far between but I am getting more organised so hope to be updating frequently again soon. I am back at the sewing machine once again so hope to be bringing you lots of tutorials and photos soon of all things crafty and stitchy!

So, I am 25 weeks and 5 days along today but annoyingly still experiencing some pregnancy sickness. Only about 107 days to go before we meet our little man though so I am trying to hang in there! It's so exciting and as you can imagine (despite the nausea and constant nasty taste in my mouth!).
Our house is in chaos getting things ready for his arrival.

Part of this has involved redecorating some parts of the house and moving my sewing room to the other spare back bedroom (it now takes up part of the guest room) as my previous space is now the baby's bedroom.

I don't have quite as much space as I did have but I am slowly getting it more organised. In the photo above you can just about make out the room in the background that was my previous sewing room but now housing a gorgeous little cot bed.

We have decided to go for a mostly turquoise theme for his nursery and I have been busy making some accessories ready to get it dressed up

I visited Aberkhan in Stoke recently . . . . .(and nearly got squashed when an old duffer reversed through the front window of the shop but that is another story!) . . . .and bought some gorgeous fabrics to make this lovely 4metre length of double-sided bunting.

I've been stocking up on baby stuff too but we still have so much to get!

I have also been busy making lots of English paper-pieced hexagonal patches by hand - ready to make a matching baby quilt.

This is going to be a labour of love as you can tell but I love making patchwork in this way - it's perfect to pass some time whilst I wait for my little boy to arrive too.

As well as all this stitchery going on in my personal life, It is GCSE and A Level Art Textiles time too so I am busy getting exemplar work ready for my pupils. I have chosen to focus on the Fairs and Carnivals question for my AQA GCSE girls and for my AQA A Level girls I am going to concentrate on the Sea Life question.

It takes some time to compile resources to inspire pupils but I love doing it. It's just a shame there are not enough hours in the day really to do what I would like.
I've started my sketchbook and am currently looking at the work of Milena Doncheva

Before I sign off, a quick word about the craft fair which I had my first stand at on December 1st 2013 (as I have been asked how this went.) To be frank it was a waste of time in terms of sales but a good experience in terms of setting up, displaying craft products and meeting other makers.
The Christmas fair itself was at the Wychwood DeVere Hotel in Cheshire. . . . .  a gorgeous location and really beautifully presented HOWEVER. . .  it had been really badly advertised and the footfall was dire.

As a result, I sold the grand total of 2 (yes 2) items - not even covering the cost of the stall. This was good considering many other sellers sold nothing!

I think my stall looked OK for a first attempt. I took loads of photos so that I can make sure next time the presentation will be even better (and I'll definitely be looking more into foot-fall next tie I book a stall!)

I'll be back soon with more stitchy projects and pregnancy updates.

See you soon
Gem x

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

This is what I have been up to of late. . . . . .

Apologies for not being around much this last few months but I have been working on my trickiest (and favourite) project yet ...

I've been extermely poorly with Hypermesis Gravidarium (acute pregnancy sickness) for the last few months and am only now just getting back on my feet.
I'm 21 weeks and 3 days pregnant and last week we discovered that we have made a little boy. This is our first baby (and it will be our last too due to the poorliness I have experienced during the process!)

Needless to say that we are delighted and very excited about our little man and just cannot wait to meet him. He is due on June the 8th and it can't come quick enough for us.

I've been avoiding anything sewing/craft related as I didn't want to form an assosciation between that and my sickness but now I feel that I am ready to return and I have some wonderful projects in the pipe-line.

I'm back teaching 3 days per week right now where I am very lucky to teach Photography, Textiles and Art. I adore my job but intend to have a few years off when our little man gets here to be a full-time stay at home mum.

I look forward to blogging frequently again and it's lovely to have you all along on this journey