It is no secret that I have a great fondness for foxes, and regular readers may remember several posts outlining or illustrating various reasons for this. Although it has been many months since I have mentioned them, do not assume that this is because I no longer think of them; it is merely because I cannot seem to find the time to make as many declarations of my love as I would like!
I have, however, been taking quite a few country walks recently, and these have given me some lovely quiet moments with a sketchbook. In true British summer style, the weather has been a little intermittent in the last few weeks, pouring with rain one moment and overflowing with warm sunshine the next, but on the dry occasions I have taken a few art essentials with me on my wanderings. There are some lovely worn footpaths which trace lines across fields of long grass and it is not uncommon to spot wild rabbits and deer in-between the occasional dog walker.
I quite often find a seat on a dry-stone wall or patch of mossy grass and fill a few pages with doodles and thoughts. The process verges on therapeutic, and these quiet moments are wonderful for planning new designs for my shop. Last week was perhaps a more obvious example of this, when I caught sight of a red fox along the edge of the wood across the field from me. Without my glasses on she looked like an orange smudge in the distance, but she slid into focus once I had retrieved them from my bag.
Perhaps she wasn’t used to humans, or perhaps she didn’t see or smell me sat upwind, or perhaps she simply did not care that I was there, but she came towards me in an unconcerned trot.
It was one of those instances when you daren’t move for fear or spoiling it, so I sat very still as she approached. She was a healthy fox, unlike the ones that has moved into my garden some years ago who had been covered in mange. She had a sleek coat, and a thick tail, although she was a little smaller than I had expected so I wondered if she were young, or if it were just because she was a vixen? I briefly wondered what she was doing out, being a nocturnal animal, but then decided it was relatively early in the morning and she may be on her way home for bed.
When she was about five meters away she caught sight of me and froze. We had one of those frozen and assessing moments, that seem to last longer when you’re involved in them than they do to those on the outside. Then she turned tail and melted into the shadows of the wood.
I had been thinking of heading back to my studio at that point, but instead I rummaged in my bag for my flask – for I sometimes bring a flask of tea with me on these occasions, never knowing if I will stay out longer. It is a lovely mustard coloured flask that came with a picnic set I got last winter in the sales, and I am very fond of it. Settling down with a cup of tea, I began another series of drawing of foxes. But once I had finished a few, I moved on to rabbits, who had been frolicking on the other side of the field during my drawing, and then an Eurasian Eagle Owl, which I had not seen, but had been on my mind a lot these days.
When the weather began to turn, I packed up my sketchbook and pencils and continued my walk home. Back at the studio, over another cuppa (raspberry and Echinacea herbal tea, this time, my favourite right now,) I coloured my drawings and scanned them in for preparation to transfer them onto tote bags for my etsy shop.
The weather this weekend was somewhat delightful, a wonderful change to the dark clouds and patchy rain we had in the middle of last week. I had been planning a photo shoot for my Mystic Moose website all week, but even though the sun was shining, the lighting just wasn’t quite right for it – it was too bright and harsh, and by the evening it had gone a little cloudy again. So instead I took my new teacup tote bag for a walk whilst I scouted for potential locations for photos.
I made this new bag last weekend, after a rather lovely day in the garden of a cafe. Although I didn’t intend to, I spent about four hours sitting at the slightly rickety duck egg blue table with a friend, drinking cup after cup of tea. The little teashop had some delightfully quirky cups and saucers and no two were the same; having been sitting there for many hours we’d gotten through quite a few different cups! If the wonderful waitress hadn’t been popping back and forth to collect our empty cups, our table would have ended up looking very much like this tote bag! I took to doodling some of these cups, whilst sitting in the sunshine, and once I got home I began to ink and colour them in. As with my other totes, I then reversed the image heat pressed it onto the cotton, resulting in the colourful drawing being transferred!
This walk was extremely lovely, and the air had that lovely freshness that comes when people realise that spring has finally come and begin to cut grass in the hopes for some outside activities in the coming weeks. Flowers seem to be re-emerging recently, so I spent a lot of time admiring daffodils and daisies and gathering inspiration. I also got to see some lovely dogs – lots of beautiful collies, a couple of Labradors and Staffies and an extremely friendly terrier puppy wearing a pink collar that was owned by a muscular biker-y-looking man. I had several dog walkers compliment my teacups tote bag, which is always a lovely experience, because it’s great finding out in person that people like the things you make.
I also met a lovely ladybird when I was drinking tea, who was kind enough to let me take some photographs. There were some lovely parts of the gardens, some beautiful patches of architecture and I think I found some nice stonework against which to photograph my totes – I’m still looking for the perfect banner photo for my new etsy Facebook page! Go take a peek – I’ll be posting discount codes and updates on new crafty delights!
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I’ve been working on these delightful papercut crafts. I spent a lot of time working out how to age the pine frame to create an effective rustic charm. It involved hammering dents and chips into the wood, and then using a diluted wood stain to wash over the wood using an old cloth. Although its a time consuming process, I decided to do several shadow box frames at once – some smaller 5 x 5 inch frames I hope to fill and put in my etsy shop soon – and found it takes less time to do a batch than each individually!
The paper cut is made from natural brown card which reveals recycled paint charts underneath, showing a selection of charming earthy tones. Romantic-themed colour names are written underneath each heart in typewriter style lettering, and the title on the top reads ‘Colours of Love’. Since this is for sale in my etsy shop, I decided that I would make a version with the US spelling (‘Colors of Love’) and ask people to leave a note specifying which spelling they would prefer! I am so in love with this little framed paper cut I found it difficult to list it on etsy; it’s so sweet that I wanted to keep it for myself! So I had to promise myself that I would make a bigger version for my studio wall soon!
Also, I recently set up a facebook page and twitter account for my etsy shop, and welcome followers and ‘like’ers! My New Years Resolution was to keep all these social networking outlets up-to-date, and its going fantastically so far, especially since I worked out how to link the accounts together!
With the Christmas season upon us, it’s time to deck the halls. It’s been many years since I’ve put up any decorations, because I’m not overly fond of the artificiality of tinsel, plastic baubles and synthetic trees, and I’ve never liked the idea of cutting down a tree for the holiday season. But this year I’ve made an early resolution – all the decorations will be handmade, thus saving our house from a plastic makeover and celebrating the creative coming together of loved ones.
I started this venture by constructing a driftwood Christmas tree, drawing inspiration from a few I’ve been ogling in the past month or so. It took under an hour to actually assemble, but finding and sorting the driftwood took considerably longer. I was lucky enough to have a box of driftwood in the shed, left over from a driftwood mirror project my mother was working on last year. We had spent many months combing British beaches for the materials, beautifully sculpted by the sea and sand, which cut out so much time from the process of making the Christmas tree. I only had to spend an afternoon sorting the wood into size order and then dividing it into two rough piles, so I could make two of the trees. (One for myself, and one as a thank you for using the materials!) After this, it was a simple matter of drilling holes in each piece of wood and threading them on a metal pole. I came across two rather sturdy pieces of curved wood for the bottom branches, which made a stable base, but this was sheer luck, and would recommend further research on the bases of driftwood trees for those who would like to try their hand at making one!
I have set up my video camera in the garden at various points over the last few days to capture footage of the birds. I’ve managed to collect clips of sparrows, blue tits and robins so far.
I’ve been thinking a lot about traces recently – the remains of a fire pit once a convoy has moved on, the crumpled shell of a bender tent and tyre tracks in the mud. Couple this with my vulpesmania and it can only lead to me donning shoes with fox paw print soles and trundling about in the forest in the early hours of the morning.
An idea for a documented performance, perhaps? Although, is vulpesmania even a word? It should be.
An amazing car boot sale haul today in terms of arty goodness. A few treasures include:
A loom – handmade and small, but perfect for little adventures into weaving. I could spend time making one, but felt £1 wasn’t much to part with.
Two little boxes with compartmental shelves – I plan to paint one white, and use them to store miniature things.
Blue polka dot cotton fabric.
Dylon die – A lovely woman who was selling packets for £1 each, instead of the usual £2.50 – £3, so I indulged myself with 5 packs of my regular colours.
The most amazing stall in the world. Not so much for the art materials, but for my own personal joy. A man selling what seemed to be end-of-line stuff from one of those shabby-chic shops. Everything was 50 pence or £1. I got some polka dot forks, Griselda Graham heart candle holders, and a metal heart shaped magnet board, which I will soon be covering with fabric.