Monday, 27 June 2011

Look who else came to the party

Happy Birthday to my Father in Law: an organiser of some of the best summer parties.  This year he ordered up better weather than ever, arranged for a delightful convocation of guests and sent out instructions for support acts.  Arranging the children's picnic lunch was my supporting act.

 But as in all the best parties we get the gatecrashers:

And they always seem to bring a friend with them!

I can feel a new painting coming on.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Edition two: what do we do with Dippy...............

and now, for your delight and delectation; pray give due diligence directly to Dippy:

Who is now causing me a few headaches!!!  What do you do with a 5 metre long dinosaur, who is afraid of the wet?  Our classroom is too small to display him safely...we could put him in the main hall but there is a problem of where and how.  Does anyone have any suggestions?

Dippy the Diplodocus.

He is the result of the design ability, teamwork and determination of 29 year 5 and 6 children (ages 10-11 years).  My only input was to give them the materials available to them, teach them which glues would work best for which part, and the options we would have for joining the sections together.  Every subsequent design decision was made by them.  

What a character!

Not bad for a class with 8 different languages; two year groups, and one slightly bonkers teacher! Thankfully my wonderful teaching assistant attempts to keep us under control (when she is not encouraging us to go even further!!).

Additional Pictures for your perusal.
added at 9.10pm.

A big thank you to my other half (computer whiz and photo-shopper extraordinaire) for the amazing panoramic picture.

Just to show I didn't need to hide under a table to cry, afterall.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Shadow Dancing

This was one of those magical moments. For there, dancing on my wall, where they felt they were free from prying eyes: joyous shadows, leaping, swirling, moving.  The music they move to is in the wind, the sun and the clouds; too high for the human ear to hear clearly.  But if you stand, silent and still, if you listen carefully you can catch a snatch of song.  You can bear witness to the dance.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Wistfulness and yearning

Sometimes when I am doing the most mundane tasks I find myself in other places in my head.  Folding the washing, tidying up after the boys: this morning I had the radio on and this song was playing.

I have not listened to it for a long time, had forgotten how beautiful it is, I want to share with you the ethereal other-worldliness that it has.

Do you remember being a child; just becoming aware of the wider world around you.  This song reminds me of that feeling;  long hot dusty days; my brothers catching grasshoppers and chasing me with them;  telling me there were Red Indians over the top of the hill.  This song brings to me memories: of walking with my Dad in the winter, our Sunday ritual, out and about in the Leicestershire landscape.  Him teaching me the names of flower, birds, trees and insects.  Us watching moorhens and coots skating on frozen canals.  Of Summer days,  watching dragonflies dancing over local ponds, spying on the ballet of hares or foxes in golden fields.

Memories chase memories: playing at the bottom of the garden, under the old apple tree on an island of grass in the vegetable plot.  The small hole in the hedge where the fairies lived, making beds of grass for them, adding in cups and saucers for them to drink out of.  Swinging on my swing, trying to get high enough to see the church spire, when they rang the bells.  

More memories come: sitting in my bedroom window, on the deep sill, watching evening clouds.  if you looked at them carefully you could make out bays and small islands; you could imagine the ships sailing in, the wild cliffs and soft sands of mystery coastlines.  Each day a new island, a new country, never the same one twice.
Can you see it?

Friday, 17 June 2011

Wonders of nature

I am not that sentimental about animals, although I love anthropomorphic illustrations and stories, I don't like ascribing human emotions to animals.  I much prefer to think that they have their own understanding of the world around them and express themselves according to their own natures.

But this is one time when I felt quite choked. Take a look at this video.

I will post the finished Dinosaur next week: we have done the paint job but still have to work out how to add the joints and control rods.  He is a real character!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Willow Foundation

This beautiful image is by Gillian Lee Smith:  (Gifling).  Gillian is currently trying to raise money for a special charity.  To find out more visit her Blog, while you are there have a look at the wonderful characters she makes.  To buy copies of the print try here and here

For many of us we have been touched by the same diagnosis as Gillian (through loved ones or personally).  I think it is a fabulous cause and hope she reaches her target.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

chewing the bite, it's not so much after all.

Sadly I don't have any pictures yet, but today we turned the design into a reality.  Never have I seen so many kids enjoying the squidge, slip and soapiness of cellulose glue.  We got our hands stuck in, using recycled computer paper torn into strips and all our old boxes and bottles.  Now we have upper head, lower jaw;  4 sections for the neck; two sections for the body, two front legs (upper and lower) two back legs (upper and lower) and four sections for the tail.  The sections are now drying in our open area: they will need 24 hours to harden then we will paint each section of the dinosaur.

Our puppet still presents some problems, the children will need to suggest ways to join each section and how to attach the rods.  I love this kind of problem solving, they really get stuck in and come up with great ideas.
We have discovered that if we work as a team we can create amazing things and (perhaps more importantly) that art takes time, patience and the adjustment of ideas when you can't make it work the way you planned.

Hope to have a picture at the beginning of next week.

I will leave you with one of our favourite school songs; chosen by the children 

Monday, 13 June 2011

Biting off more than I can chew

Sometimes I have an idea, which grows and grows and grows...until it gets massively out of control.
  Thanks to the bbc
I love this (and the other Royal de Luxe and la Machina) puppets.

I have long wanted to make something big with the children in my class (not by sticking them together, I promise).  Today we planned out each section of a giant puppet, each section will be taken on by a small group.  At the end of the week we will join it all together and add rods (to manipulate it) then present it to the school.  It is currently planned to be 5 metres long: Watch this space I will post the photos of the finished piece; either that or a photo of a teacher, huddled under the table, sobbing and covered in paper mache.

music for monday morning

Thank you to Terri Windling for setting me off: here is music for getting Monday going with a song in your heart.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Moonrise and Hares

Having witnessed the dawning of the day, now it was the turn of the dimming.  The moon hung in the blue sky, floating high above soft and billowing cloud.  Utterly enthralling but almost impossible to capture. 
The air was still below; up above the trees it was boiling and rolling, the clouds in perpetual motion.

I have been enjoying a growing confidence in creativity; for some years I had been in a rut, the brushes were dry, the paint unused and the paper plain.  Then I started to look at the work of artists like Rima Staines, Jackie Morris, James Mayhew, to name but a few.  I found an itch in the fingertips, and the growing need to paint for myself again.  

I am rarely pleased with the finished results; I am not that keen on my own style as the results are rarely on a par with what is in my head.  But just occasionally I feel pleased with elements of the finished piece.

I do like the eye of the hare and elements of the tree.  Slowly but surely the skills are coming back and I get less despondent about the finished pieces.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

morning music

I am up at the most ridiculous hour for a Saturday morning:  The sun is through the window and the songs filtered in through the cracks. However I am laggardly, slug-a-bed, for I am the late comer for the second encore.  So even though I have been awake since six o'clock I am the ticket holder who has sneaked into the concert, at the back.
We are lucky, because of the park and the gardens where we live, there are so many different birds. The morning symphony starts at four; don't be late.  If you can't make the first there is a second performance at five thirty.

So here I sit, listening to something rather like this. Wondering what to do today.

A little painting, a little music, a lot of playing with some wonderful children:  Anyone for Dr Who, bags I am River Song!

I will leave you with another piece of music, more 'modern' this time. From the wonderful Telling The Bees.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Very proud indeed

I am exceptionally proud of my husband, Tim.  He often hides his light under a bushel, not letting on to many how talented he is.

Over the last few years he has been using Blurb to make up our family album.  They are private and personal to us.  However he has finally published a book of his landscape photography.

The front cover features the picture that set him on his photographic odyssey.  The following is my favourite in the book.
Click on the Blurb link, the page has a preview book that will let you see all the pictures, in their full glory.  The boy done good!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Work in progress

Meet Archimedes:  the name is taken from my favourite character in the Sword in the Stone (book not film).  He is destined for a piece of wind-fall wood, found some time ago, that he will ultimately sit on and then lurk on my desk (in the classroom). 
Here he is, next to my very tatty felting block and the tops I am using for his feathers. 

Occasionally I am asked to teach the needlefelting part of the advanced course (at the Textile Workshop). My friend Helen teaches the course; she is the most amazing maker of all things felted, from hats to flowers, but she doesn't like needle felting.  However I am not sure that I am the best teacher.  I cannot seem to explain how I know what shaped of wool top I need and where to push the needles to start.  So I teach by demonstration.

The wonderful Gretel Parker recently posted the evolution of one of her amazing creations.   She has probably taught more about how to needlefelt in her photographs than I manage in a 2 hour lesson.

Anyway, back to Archimedes, he is actually more of a challenge than Alice and the Flamingo, and the surface detail is proving quite a challenge.
The colours are quite limited, and the patterning is fiddly.

It is also very hard to get the shapes right.  He is worked from photographs of a stuffed owl (kept in the reserve lodge at one of our local nature reserves.) apparently a rescued owl who became a pet and was stuffed upon it's demise. The deadline for finishing is September so I have plenty of time to work on him. 

I often work from my dining table, which gives me a view of the plum tree; yesterday we had a rather lovely visitor, often heard singing but less often seen. I will leave you with the view:

Friday, 3 June 2011

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Come with me, for there are jewels in the green and something new for us to explore.

An old familiar trail this; one we have walked in all weathers and seasons.  It is a popular walk, busy with old and young, fast and slow.  We have traversed sections of it with our boys over the years; now they are big enough to scramble the banks and trees by themselves.  The Monsal Trail runs along the old Bakewell rail line, it is straight and good under foot, a lovely walk for children.

Today we will start at Hassop station, This has changed over the years, from the tatty-ish but successful bookshop to the smart cafe you see here.  It would seem that knights stop for tea here, although this young squire had only a dustbin lid to defend himself from the dangers of the road.

After stopping for fortifications we set out on the adventure ahead; for this time we knew we would tread somewhere new, somewhere that would fulfill the childhood ambition of one of our party!
Along the trails edge is a carpet of green: nettles, burdock, dock and cow parsley grasses of varying hue.

Nestled in the greens are jewels to be found, delicate blues, gentle purples, brilliant yellows and subtle greens.  Each of these jewels needs to be searched for, there is a treasure trove of vetch, herb robert, campion, wild geranium and others.

There are also treasures to be found away from the mantle of green that covers the ground.  Up the sides of the cuttings are the giant ash and oak that shade the traveller, providing the weary with a restful shadow to cut out the sun.  Under the grown trees are the remains of others, long gone but still leaving a place for the living to grow.

And so we ambled and rambled along the way, enjoying the sights and sounds, in the company of good friends.  But then....

....the object of our journey, the reason we had come:

The Headstone tunnel.  Closed since the days of Mr Beeching, this tunnel has long been on Tim's list of places to explore.  For years it has been too dangerous to walk through.  As a boy he and his brother played along the trail, climbing, running, exploring; once again he was able to go through.

(NB: edit, I have had a telling off, the Midland Central line was closed by Beeching, the tunnel was walkable until Tim's teenage.  Then the cutting at the entrance became unsafe so it was closed.  That will teach me to get my facts straight)
Along the walls are the years of soot from steam trains; what journeys they must have been?  The tunnel curves so that you cannot see light in front, until a greenish glow starts to creep along the walls.
It is an exciting walk, with side alcoves to explore and echoes to be heard. 
And at the journey's end:

The spectacular views over the edge of the viaduct.

So with the quest fulfilled, one happy husband and his merry band turned towards the sun and wended their merry way home.

And when they got home?  well that is another story.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

A mystery, a puzzlement and a wondrous prize

At the edge of the ocean where the selkies lie, kissed by moonbeams, there lived an artist.  Now this artist was a weaver of tales; each decorated with dragons and cats, foxes and seals all bound together in the spell of the story. 

Around the her neck, held fast by a coiling chain, this lady kept a bottle.  Ahh my child, what could be in that bottle?  It was small and jewelled with a single crimson stone;  it was pricked and pierced with a delicate pattern made by tiny fingers.  Often she was asked what this vessel contained. Always she replied (with a smile shimmering around her eyes) with a different thing each time:  kisses, or mist, and other suggestions each like thistledown, fine and flyaway.

The secret of this vessel was even more wondrous than any spoken explanation she gave; for in that tiny bottle the artist kept stories;  each gossamer thread ready for the weaving, each rainbow colour ready for the binding;  each one a precious seed to be sown into ears ready to hear and eyes ready to see.  Child, that bottle contains something beyond treasure and price.

What's in your head when you are daydreaming?