Thursday 27 June 2013

Sometimes I think it's like living in a zoo!

Well we made it. The new quilts were finished and packed in time for the courier to collect them yesterday. You can see Laura's latest piece on her blog. By now they should have arrived in Llanidloes ready to be hung for the exhibition which opens on the 8th. I hope we'll see some of you there during the afternoon of 21st July. Most of the group will be there between 1 and 3 and happy to chat and answer questions about the work on show. Once the parcels had been collected I felt some of the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders and took a few minutes to wander round the garden in celebration of a deadline met! It's not that we don't have lots more stuff to do right now but it was one thing crossed off the list so that felt like an achievement.

As I wandered round I thought I'd photograph a few of the current stars - I'm so pleased the Indian Bean tree has survived its first winter with us. I admired a large specimen at a garden we visited again last year and was really happy to be given one for my birthday. The way those new leaves form a bronze triangle is just gorgeous but it will be a while before my tree rivals the one at Stockton Bury.

The old fashioned geraniums are good doers whatever the weather throws at them. We've got lots of different colours but Johnson's Blue has to be one of the best.

And the complex blooms of Alliums are literally stars. Looks as though the bees like them too.

The peonies are at their best now but they don't like the heavy showers we've been having. The only good thing about the bad weather is I am allowed by 'he who gardens' to pick any blooms that fall over in the rain. A big vase of peonies is hard to beat!

Despite the cold wet spring most of the trees in the orchard show signs of fruiting. We may get a crop of cherries if the blackbirds don't beat us to them. Trouble is they start to pick them way before they're ripe. You should hear the cherry stones when they hit the mower - sounds like a hail of gunfire going off.

At least the cucumbers are safe from wildlife in the greenhouse. Speaking of which, you might think the conservatory would be a wildlife free zone too but tiz not so.

When Laura walked in there yesterday this little female bullfinch was perched on the back of one of the armchairs. She'd flown in through the open window and unable to get out had panicked and hit the glass. We scooted the cat out of the room before he decide Christmas had come early and managed to lift her to safety. Just had time to grab a camera before she flew up into the trees! They are listed as endangered on the RSPB website so thank goodness we found her before the cat did.

 There's never a dull moment around here. People often wonder why we both feature birds so much in our work but with close encounters like this it's hard not to!

Thanks for visiting. Linda

Sunday 23 June 2013

Nothing like a deadline is there?

I really hope the lovely people at Minerva aren't reading this or they may begin to panic. The quilts will be there on time for the hanging I promise! I worked like a demon yesterday and again all day today to get the 3rd new piece for our SiX and Friends Orientation exhibition finished. Thank goodness it's only small and the other two bigger pieces are already complete.

Here it is under the needle yesterday lunchtime.

For a bit of light relief from the repetitive quilting I painted in a little critter using discharge paste - can you tell what it is yet? He's swimming between the waterlily stems blissfully unaware of the fate that awaits him. If you've been paying attention and seen the two mad heron quilts in this triptych you'll know what I mean!

Here he is once the dry discharge paste has been ironed to remove the colour of the digital print. That's the beauty of Fingerprint fabrics - they are printed with dyes that discharge just like regular Procion dyes!

I quite like his unadorned state but he may have additional painting - I haven't decided yet.

While I was in free motion quilting mode I finished the lower edge of this Fingerprint panel. It's a sample destined for our stand at Festival of Quilts in August so for once I'm ahead of a deadline.

I'm not the only one being productive- our Creative Sketchbooks students have been busy again as well this week and I'm grateful to Rosemary for agreeing to share a few of her latest pages with everyone.

Laura and I love to see all our students' work but sketchbooks are secretly our favourite.

Lovely monoprints!

Thought I'd end this post with a photo I took in the lane this week. After watching Springwatch on TV for days on end, when nothing happened with the bee's nest they were filming, we had this happen on our doorstep. It's a honeybee swarm hanging in the hedge like a big squirming egg! No sign of them next day so the scouts must have found a nice new home!

Thanks for dropping by - Linda

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Back from France

I've been quiet for a while because I've been on holiday. It's almost unheard of these days to take a day off so a whole week in France was a real treat. I hate to bore you with my holiday snaps but can't resist sharing a few with you.

We enjoyed a glass of wine on the deck of the ferry as Portsmouth harbour disappeared into the sunset.

It takes 12 and a half hours to sail overnight to St Malo but with a cosy cabin to look forward to no sooner have you gone to sleep than you are waking up in France. A short drive away, the old town of Dinan is very French! I didn't mean to photograph a man with a baguette as it's such a cliche but every other person seemed to be carrying one.

This is Vannes in Morbihan, Southern Brittany. I know it looks like something out of Hansel and Gretel but it's typical of the towns here.

We strolled down to the port and discovered it was hosting the world championship under 20 rugby tournament that week - I had noticed more than a fair share of big beefy young men around the town!

Of course I took a sketchbook, a few pencils and a watercolour palette. I was the one taking the pictures so you'll have to imagine me here under the parasol happily painting!

The cottage had a 5 acre garden full of inspiration but if you've been watching recent DMTV videos you'll know I've done a lot of work with Ivy. This is French Ivy growing on a rock face but you'd never know we weren't in England except for the basking lizards - we don't get those at home!

There was some time for culture. The eroded faces carved into this ancient fountain at St Nicodeme des Eaux intrigued me.

Now normally when I get home from a holiday it takes an age to get back into work mode. For some unknown reason I feel strangely reinvigorated this time. Today we taped a video and dealt with loads of email - a typical day for us. At the end of the working day I escaped to my workroom and finished my latest quilt - yippee! OK it's not quite finished - I still have to paint a few details and add the binding and sleeve but I shall enjoy that now the quilting is done.

With a few minutes to spare before dinner I stencilled some more ivy leaves across an open spread of my sketchbook using oil pastels. This page might get a wash of watercolour next.

It was early evening by now but there was still enough daylight left to plant up the marigolds. This is just one of many, many blue pots we have every year. We've had such a miserable spring that we are at least a month late with the summer planting.

And then, because a soul needs more sustenance than gardening and art I made bread. These will keep us going for the rest of the week. I call that a satisfying day! I don't suppose this level of productivity will continue - I'll probably be like a limp rag tomorrow but never mind - I'm happy to take it a day at a time.