Bits and pieces….

Aah tis the weekend and Saturday mornings are for relaxing, eating a healthily cooked breakfast, whilst watching Saturday morning kitchen and the bunnies playing in the garden. I have also been pottering around my vegetable pots and am amazed at how well they are doing. After my disasterous courgette plants that didn’t flower or fruit last year, now I can hardly pick them quick enough and we shall be making chutney soon enough in order to use up the excess.

This week has flown by and whilst I have been busy this has been more in the form of ‘planning’ rather than ‘doing’. But from Monday, for 2 or 3 weeks there will a flurry of ‘doing’ as the middle of July see’s a few deadlines all happening at once.  There is work to finish and finalise for The Art of Childsplay exhibition happening at New Brewery Arts in Cirencester to be delivered by the 15th and the Craft Candy Summer Fair on the 16th of July.

I am also incredibly excited to be creating stock for a brand new gift and lifestyle shop opening in the next few short weeks called Home…Oh in the beautiful town of Hebden Bridge. Warren and Marcus have been so enthusiastic about stocking my work and having already visited their beautiful shop The Yorkshire Soap Company, I can say wholeheartedly that I cannot wait to see the new venture which I know will be beautiful and quirky and incredibly stylish. (just visit the website for the beautiful YSC shop to see that it is the defintion of luxury!) Their new facebook page is here if you would like updated on the development of the new store and details of it’s opening. I will be hand-delivering my work their to coincide with a camping trip so will keep you updated on work that is created for them.

I am also over the moon to have been accepted to sell on a beautiful new Online Store – Seek and Adore which has the most wonderful vision and belief in the artists and makers that they represent. The photograph that I was fretting about the other day…. this is what it was for! I love the fact that Seek and Adore really want the customer to ‘meet the artist’  and that they believe that each product ‘has a story’. So my shop has been set up, my 60 second interview published and I will be gradually moving most of my clay characters and original artwork over to my new store on Seek and Adore over the next few days.  As much as I love Etsy, I often feel that my original items can become a little lost in my store which is full of prints. As someone who would rather be in the studio ‘creating’ I can’t dedicate the time it needs to promoting my original work as much as I would like to. So Seek and Adore seems perfect for me – a place to showcase my original work amongst a wonderful selection of other makers creating unique and one of a kind things. It has also made me think of how I package my work and present it – Hattie, the creater of Seek and Adore chatted to me on the phone (another wonderful aspect is the personal touch with the company – chatting on the phone!!) and she mentioned that the lyric

 ‘brown paper packages tied up with string

these are a few of my favourite things…’

was an inspriation for creating an online store that searches for beautiful things to share with their customers and that follows through to the packaging too! So if you order from me there I have the brown paper and string all ready with a fountain pen for your address – I love the thought of going back to the old-fashioned care and thought that went into packaging up precious things!

Anyway sorry to go on….(and for the gazillion and one links) it is just exciting to find something that ‘fit’s’ so well with what I want for my work and how I want it to be presented. Things are going to well at the moment in terms of my work that I often wonder what I have done to deserve it all, but I guess the years of hard work are finally paying off and I really, really hope it continues….

So I may be blogging and blog visiting a little less frequently over the next 2 weeks or so but I do hope to pop in from time to time to keep you updated on the characters soon to be appearing in my studio…

Wishing you well!

xxx

a novice gardener …

a novice gardener, originally uploaded by gilfling.

The last few weeks (crooked back aside) I have been spending lots of time in the garden, pottering around, planting seedlings and trying to learn the basics of creating a small vegetable plot in such a tiny space. I have bought a couple of books from charity stores and a couple of new books and when not working you can find my nose buried in one of these trying to learn all I can in order to create some produce for ourselves.

This is only the second garden I have had as a grown up and the last one was even smaller than the tiny space we have now – well established, it required little more than the odd bit of weeding and cutting back. Now however we live in a brand new build house and so literally I have had to start from scratch. Also we are renting and on a very small budget so there is not much in the kitty for making any substantial changes as yet, nonetheless I am making a new discovery about myself, which is that I LOVE gardening!! I might only be the most novice of novices, but I love getting my hands dirty, I love pottering and I love seeing the progression of a pot of nothing but earth turning into bright green seedlings and hopefully if I have got the alchemy right, eventually some edible veg!

We have had weeks of sunshine here in the UK and I treated myself to a very cheap plastic greenhouse in which I have been starting things off. It feels a lot like art and crafting, this creating something from nothing, the time pondering and pottering and the slow wait for results and I guess that is why I am so drawn to it.

Most things I am growing in pots as the earth is so poor here with it being a new house but I am slowly learning what I can do in the future to help it along. I bought a brilliant book The Thrifty Gardener by Alys Fowler and I am learning that I will be able to plant crops that will grow quickly and then can be dug back into the earth to help condition it so I hope to do that soon so that I can begin growing things in the ground too. In the next couple of weeks I hope to build a composter and although we have no drain pipe down the side of the house (we live in a terrace and our neighbours have them but somehow our house has been missed out) I hope to find a solution to the dilemma of how to collect water.

The garden may not be pretty, with its parched lawn, empty half dug beds, the line of a rather mixed collection of wonderfully aged pots, ugly plastic ones and even uglier plastic containers but I am rather proud of how it is developing. I am growing tomatoes, courgettes, peas, runner beans, cucumbers, lettuce, beetroot, salad onions, peppers, and lots and lots of herbs. Not bad for such a small space! In amongst this practical plot which will hopefully save us some pennies on our grocery shopping, there are pockets of soon to be loveliness in the form of honeysuckle, hollyhocks, sweet peas, cornflowers and poppies and I can’t wait to see them begin to appear.

Anyway thank you for indulging me wittering on about my new love – Mark is definitely NOT a gardener and I fear that I bore him rigid with my endless updates on what seedlings are making an appearance and dilemma’s on what to plant where and what is working and not working! In the photo at the top you might also be able to see the fortifications I have had to put in place to stop the bunnies from using the pots as an assault course and their own personal dining area! It is a constant battle as they do like to try a bit of everything and the sweet peas I planted in the ground the other day might not survive the trampling they have been suffering the last couple of days.

I would love to read any blogs about your gardening ventures or any hints and tips you might have for a complete beginner so please feel free to put links in the comments to your own gardening progress. x

Easter Bunnies

The dudes, originally uploaded by gilfling.

Jeeves and Wooster enjoying the gorgeous weather we are having here in the UK with more to come over this bank holiday weekend. Jeeves seems to have made a great recovery after we almost lost him last weekend and we are so grateful to still see him galloping around the garden and even using my vegetable pots as some kind of private eatery.

Today is about enjoying the garden, baking and relaxing and we are out for the day visiting tomorrow. I wish you a wonderful holiday weekend whatever you are planning. x

Mosaic Monday 11 April 2011

Mosaic Monday 11 April 2011, originally uploaded by gilfling.

1. untitled, 2. Sail Away Ladies, 3. Roger, 4. Náufrago em cores, 5. dreamers4, 6. Miniature Paper Ring Sculpture., 7. Everyday Objects Tell My Story, 8. A Whisper of Snow (detail 2), 9. *, 10. Wilfilda commissioned artdoll, 11. Mixed-media Calmer, 12. fletcher no.4

Another monday another mosaic and I am really loving this one!

The weather was gorgeous here this weekend and we spent our time at home pottering, tidying the house (as quickly as possible), gardening (at our leisure), playing board games and just enjoying each others company. I love weekends like that.

My minature vegetable garden is coming along nicely and I am trying new-to-me plants after my small beginnings as a gardener last year. I am not being too ambitious, preferring to think that I can build on my plot year upon year as I become more confident and see what works and what doesn’t!

So now onto a new week!! Wishing you a good one. x

Treats……

Wobbly bowls from Roost Living (Photo from Roost Living)

With all that is happening in the world and the feeling of being helpless that I think is common to many of us, one thing that I am making sure to do, is to take time to be thankful for small things. To acknowledge the things that make my days brighter.

In many ways, last year was so difficult. I am not sure if I mentioned it here much but for most of the year my (now) husband was extremely ill for months and months after surgery. His illness overlapped with my diagnosis and my months of treatment (which I think I mentioned a great deal). An added stress was that for me, self-employment and sickness was extremely worrying in terms of our finances but I tried to put my recovery first and put the rest aside to deal with later. I don’t write any of this in order to gain sympathy, or to complain, more to share my experiences and to ackowledge that even when times have been hard, I still have so many good things going on.

 One of the things that got me through that time was reading the experiences of others. That and my absolute faith that things were going to get better are what helped me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I feel like I am rambling a bit here and am not really sure of what I am trying to say, but I do know that things that I might have taken for granted before, I now am so, so grateful for and life just keeps getting better every day (as corny as that might sound). Funnily enough corny statements are par for the course these days and I don’t care.

So in an effort to get back on topic, I just wanted to highlight a few good things that have been happening around here lately. I already mentioned a few in my post yesterday. I have begun painting again and it feels so good. I have two works in progress – one of which you can see here. I feel my artwork has changed since last year and although I am not sure that I can put my finger on ‘how’ I just know that I am liking what I am doing.

After a year of having to cancel personal and work related events due to all that was happening and also not being able to book the events that I would normally have wanted to do throughout this year due to lack of finances I am pleased with the current exhibitions I am taking part in. For the first time I have also had galleries finding my work and approaching me to take part in exhibitions – I have a few really exciting things coming up such as this exhibion – The Art of Childsplay. I am really excited about it and we are hoping to get away for a few days in the Cotswolds when I deliver my work there.

I also wanted to share with you the photo above. I won 2 of these delightful wobbly bowls from the Roost Living Facebook page and they arrived last week. They are so pretty and delicate and look wonderful on our kitchen dresser. I really really love this lightshade which is only one of a few items that I am coveting from the website. One thing I hope to do this year (finances permitting) is to spend some time making our home more ‘homely’ – making curtains and framing up and hanging a whole host of prints that I have been collecting over the years.

Finally I also have one more treat planned for this afternoon. I am off to the hospital again – not for the endless days of treatment that were my journeys to the hospital at the end of last year – but this time for an afternoon of a skin-care and make-up workshop which is called Look Good Feel Better. I won’t write any more about it here as this is already the length of a novel but if you would like to read more then I shall be updating my other blog here very soon. (Edit – newly updated here).

I am hoping to return home a slightly more polished version of myself, sporting a smile and with the knowledge that I am indeed a very lucky girl.

(If you have reached the end of this rambling and link heavy post then I thank you for sticking with it and me – from the bottom of my heart. x)

Containing the past…..

Containing the past II, originally uploaded by gilfling.

Today has been a day of pootling and pottering – you know, doing a bit of this and a bit of that…..

I needed a rest day after a few busy days of getting my work ready for the exhibition and my day of applications yesterday so a walk, a trip to the post office, a bit of baking and a bit of housework.

I am excited to get to work on new things for an upcoming contemporary craft event that I am attending in a few short weeks and am really hoping to get some painting done very very soon! As ever the cogs are turning with new ideas….

About the baking…. I made the most wonderful cookies today – chocolate cookies made out of cannelini beans!!! Healthy and delicious! I think I will blog the recipe tomorrow as they are so good – too good to keep to myself.

Also I have added a few older items from my etsy shop to the Art Sale section – time to make room for new work – they are affordable and original and you can find them here! (the image above is one of the items)

An ink bottle a day

Friday, Friday and in this work that I love so much Friday does not signal the end of the week for me. My days are different at the moment as I am still moderating my hours to allow for recovery time and so my working hours are short and I am allowing myself even more time than is usual to just dream and let my thoughts drift.

 I spent rather too long in the studio yesterday just sketching and enjoying the company of Jeeves and Wooster but it has left me a little tired today. I also stayed up far too late last night tip-tapping on my computer for an exciting bit of news which I will be able to reveal in good time. So today I shall take it a little easier and will look forward to getting into my studio a little more over the weekend.

I have been continuing to work on the coursework for Stretching Within – one of the tasks being to draw the same object every day for the duration of the course. This will be an interesting experience! I chose a collection of old pottery ink bottles and already I am finding myself increasingly aware of the textures and imperfections in their shape. I have always loved them of course but they are there in my studio every day on the windowsill and after a while I have stopped ‘seeing’ them.

I have started with basic pencil and charcoal drawings, observational and true to life (although those blinking ellipses always fox me) so it will be interesting to see how these will develop and how I can make the drawings more interesting. You will be able to view the collection here.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend whatever you may be doing.

Buttery goodness

Buttery goodness, originally uploaded by gilfling.

Yesterday I went on a wee jaunt with a friend to Leicestershire to visit this gallery. I am part of a group exhibition next month and wanted to check out the space in order to help me decide what work to exhibit there. Unfortunately I did not take my camera (a lesson learned) but it is in the most beautiful rural setting on an estate with a small grouping of interesting and quirky shops and luckily a lovely coffee shop selling coffee cake and hot drinks in vintage cups and saucers. Bliss. Ferrers Gallery is beautiful, small and quirky and I can’t wait to have my work shown there. I love Leicestershire and although the first part of the drive is down the motorway, you are soon surrounded by rolling hills and fields with ponds, sheep and ducks and mist. It was a grey day but lovely nonetheless.

Returning to Nottingham I just had to take Katie to the charity shop ‘up the road’. This is a real find – 2 floors of thrifty goodness and only a hop skip and a jump from my house. Over the last few years I have taught myself to walk away when tempted by lovely things. This life that I have chosen ensures that I don’t have a ready amount of cash at my disposal and I have to be choosy about where the pennies go. We live in a spacious house, books are my downfall and the rest goes on art supplies as and when I can afford them. Very occasionally we go off to a car boot sale and pick up the odd thing for the house. The last 3 times I have visited this shop I have coveted these serving plates – their faded buttery yellow tones just the right colour to ensure that I am drawn to them peeking out from under a pile of other plates and crockery. Three times I have picked them up and put them down again but this year I have decided that a wee treat now and again is not a bad thing so home they came. Along with a set of 6 butter knives bringing back memories of tea with granny and a real sense of nostalgia for her kitchen and pantry. Last night I rediscovered the joy of spreading butter with a lovely, springy butter knife! These small things matter to me now after the journey that was 2010. Small moments that remind me of the past and ground me in the present.

I realised that these platters and knives cost me less that the coffee and cake I enjoyed earlier in the day, but they will be loved and used for years to come.

Lesson # one – take your camera everywhere possible.

Lesson # two – if they are still there the second and third time, perhaps it was meant to be.

Still here…..

Hello! I just wanted to let you know that I am still here!  Despite the fact that I am languishing on the sofa with little more to do than a wee bit of crochet, sketching and watching of historical documentaries and eating victoria sponge, it seems that keeping up with two blogs is proving too much.

So if you are interested in a catch up – you can find me here. There is even some wonderfully good news!

I am hoping that all this laying around will bring about some productivity soon and that I will have something more to show you than a picture of my slippers or rabbits. Or my rabbit slippers.

(PS – I don’t actually have rabbit slippers but I am sure they must be very cosy andwould be perfect for laying about on the sofa)