Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Guinea Pig Christmas Tree Decoration Tutorial

For any Christmas Tree to be complete it needs a decoration of a guinea pig or two!
Here is how you can make your own. Firstly you will need a model. Luckily I have McLaren.
Secondly you will need:
  • felt sheets in guinea pig colours
  • threads in the same colours
  • scissors
  • card to make a template
  • tailors chalk
  • a small piece of red ribbon
  • toy stuffing
  • one button (for the eye - usually black or red for gps!)
  • one small bell
Firstly cut out a template on your card of a guinea pig side on, remember they have big bums & noses, and a little dip midway on their backs.
Using this template cut out two shapes on felt of the main guinea pig colour, these are your front and back.
You will also need an felt ear (guinea pig ears are almost cornflake shaped), a button for the eye, any other markings the guinea pig has can be made in felt.
Arrange these on top of one of your main guinea pig shape, and when you are happy, you can start sewing them on.
To save time in the long run I only sew the inside edge of the felt shapes initially (as when I come to sew the outside line I attach the backing piece).
Then pin the back piece on and sew around the outside. Leave the dip in the guinea pigs back till last, this is where you will hang the ribbon. When you have almost sewn all the way round, and reached the dip in the back, sew in a loop of red ribbon (with the ends nicely tucked inside the piggie). Ensure that this is securely fastened with some extra stitches.
On top of these extra stitches sew the little bell. Now in the small gap that remains add the stuffing. I find it easier if I cut the stuffing in to small pieces and stuff in with a crochet hook.
Ensure that your piggie is looking well fed and sew the final stretch. Now your guinea pig is ready to be hung up!The likeness is pretty good if I do say so myself!
Use different coloured felts and markings as per your guinea pig.
A word of warning, other guinea pigs, such as Godber, can get extremely jealous that they haven't got a felt doppelganger and start to eat the ribbon!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Things I like today....

Of my five minute sketches I did last night, I like these dog rose hips.

Other lovely things today include:
  • Yesterdays Observer magazine had an article on people who make crafts, including Donna Wilson who makes such fantastic knitted characters.
  • Toffee magazine for its beautiful printed papers.
  • This blog, with its excellent title of 'a journey round my skull'.
  • A page about crows, to go with this page about owls. When will there be a pied wagtail page?
  • And finally La Sera, the support act for Jenny and Johnny, can you believe the guitarist Jennifer Prince had never seen snow before?
Do not watch this video if you are squeamish!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

What have the Romans ever done for us?

Back to the Burrell for more sketching.
This time Roman art. My drawing skills are coming along, practice, practice, practice!
I did attempt to draw this lady - but it turned out like a bad Susan Boyle. Too bad to share here!

And as for the question, what have the Romans ever done for us? Just ask Monty Python...

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Code Name "Cyclist" (Radfahrer)

Harald Hauswald is a photographer who was once considered to be an enemy of the state. Living in East Germany he was followed for several years by the Stasi. Marc Thummler's film uses the text from the actual state security reports in combination with Hauswald's images to produce a very thought provoking film.
It is the mundane details that the Stasi recorded that surprised me, from how many tins of fish he brought to the number plates of cars going in and out of a drive. There was also a clumsy nature to the observations, losing their trail and being unsure of numbers. They also referred to him as the cyclist, yet he didn't actually own a bike! Hauswald sent many photos to the west for publication, and this led the Stasi to attempt to art critique his work, all of which is contained in his security files.
I was lucky enough to go to a showing of this film at the CCA, where Harald Hauswald and Marc Thummler were present to discuss the work. Hauswald spoke of his experiences - being followed by ten Stasi agents, being questioned and even arrested, all for taking photographs. The film is a good starting point to debate what is freedom of expression, and do we take these rights for granted?
Images taken from here.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

A neoclassical building...

For UWA I had to visit a building in a classical style. I chose GoMA, with its giant Corinthian orders that dominate the Royal Exchange square, displaying the great wealth of the merchants.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Bah Humbug!

Not feeling the full on festive force? Why not crochet a humbug and then sew felt letters to it. Seems like a perfectly good waste of my time :)
I made a chain row the length of the humbug in white, then as I went back along doing a couple of single crochet stitches, then doubles in the middle (to create girth) and then singles again till the end. I then swapped colour, did a row of singles, and on the way back did as above. Repeat, whilst changing colour for stripes, until it can be joined up. Sorry - my crochet pattern abilities are pretty dire! Any problems just ask me.

I'd like to point out that I do love Christmas. The cosy feeling, an endless supply of nibbles, eating chocolate for breakfast, a few days off work, adding bling to a plastic tree, an excuse to heat up wine and bring dried fruit in to the house. But what I don't love is somehow Christmas has become a spendathon. Dear Santa, bring me a satsuma and a walnut please!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Remembrance Day...

Corn Poppy Girl and The Quince Tree today feature my favourite war poems. Reading Dulce et Decorum est always makes me shiver. This week on the Genius of British Art, Jon Snow looked at war art. These images are haunting.

Two Sleepers - Henry Moore

We are a making a new world - Paul Nash

Column on the March - Richard Nevinson

Morning after the Blitz - Henry Moore

War pictures - Richard Nevinson
Wishing you all peace.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Getting strapped in...

The weekend was spent on a 'supplementary warp' weaving workshop at the magnificent Stirling Castle. The view on Saturday morning was just beautiful.
The workshop was led by the very talented Louise Martin. Supplementary warps create 3-D structures with endless possibilities. Actually creating the supplementary warps - well that is the tricky part! They are made by using yourself to provide the tension for the extra warps, instead of a frame. This involves a using a rod or cane and a back strap. It took a little time to get used to such a set up!
We also learnt how to create smaller supplementary warps using fingers to create loops to needle weave. The result from both these methods is fluid structures appearing from the base, taking on quite organic forms.
Both my samples remain on the loom, as the problem with these extra warps is that they need to be sewn in for stability, so I must find some time for that dull job! I have also joined the British Tapestry Group in the hope that this inspires me to get weaving!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

First Thursday...

As it was the first Thursday of the month, we thought we would swing by Trongate 103 for their late night opening. In the print studio were some very vibrant works by Abigail McLellan. Flowering, pretty images, reminding me of the best days of Spring. With rich, textured backgrounds due to layers of colour delicately balanced on each other. I took a leaflet to read later.
Abigail McLellan - Alliums
It was when I got home and paid more attention to the leaflet, that I discovered Abigail McLellan died last year, aged just 40, see here.
Abigail McLellan - Pink Sea Fan
Interestingly I think she worked in the studio nearby. Despite her continued illness her work seems so beautiful, tranquil and happy. There will hopefully be a large scale retrospective of her work in 2012.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Avoiding the rain...

My plans were to go in to town and visit a neoclassical building for UWA. However, the weather was awful, (to the point I would have probably needed a boat rather than a bus to get there). Instead I stayed indoors and decided to finish a few projects instead. One herringbone rib sock down, one more to do.
Eccentric weaving off the loom, inspired by starbursts and zig-zags.
And a cute deer sketch based on a Greek bronze from 725-700 BC.
Hopefully the rain will stop soon!

Monday, 1 November 2010

The Enchanted Forest

As I child one of my favourite books was The Enchanted Wood, so when I found out The Enchanted Forest was in Pitlochry, I had to visit! We went on Halloween for an extra spooky adventure.
Beautiful colours and textures. And I even got to dance under a mirror ball!