Sunday, 26 December 2010


Continuing with the festive theme of recent posts, here's my latest wintery creation. 

Was a bit disappointed in the gingerbread itself but think there may have been a user error in the measuring (Christmas Eve pressure, plus doing double recipe which wouldn't fit in even the biggest mixing bowl!).  The kids loved it, though, which was the main thing, and did even eat some of the gingerbread, rather than just licking off the icing and chocolate.

And in case you're wondering, the white smudge at the front is deliberate - it's a melted snowman but that looked better in reality!

Saturday, 25 December 2010


Meet Frosty, the papier maché snowman.  I decided this year that a stocking for OH's presents was too traditional, and a 4 foot snowman was the way forward (it would have been bigger, but the papier mache was done around balloons and that was as big as I could manage). 

Am particularly pleased with the hat (a couple of pizza boxes and more papier maché, although the black is a bit lost in the photo) and the nose (maché-ed around a real carrot).

We had debated doing a snowman piñata for the nieces and nephews but felt that more sugar/over-excitement was probably not what was needed at Christmas and we'd save that for another occasion.  Hopefully they don't read this, or that could constitute a promise.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Mulled wine fig jellies

When I was a kid, at the end of a meals at Christmas alongside nuts and dates, we used to have a delicacy called Chinese Figs.  These were fig jellies rolled in sugar, sweet and deliciously figgy, sold in distinctive hexagonal black and red boxes with gold dragons on - I'm sure the packaging added to the general sense of occasion.  They haven't been available for a lot of years and so, having seen this recipe in the Guardian for mulled wine plum jellies, I thought I'd try and re-create some of the magic.

These are good, but not as good as the memory of the childhood ones, partly because the flavour is a bit heavy on the mulled wine (I'd have liked more fruit) and partly because they're still not properly dried (5 days later: if you try the recipe, I'd recommend drying them in the oven rather than being lazy and leaving them to dry on their own).  But they're good enough to give me ideas about trying to create a fig version.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Devon surfer

I went to a Janet Bolton workshop last month which was excellent - I like her stuff (particularly this deer picture, having seen it in the flesh) and it was a very inspirational day.  She is a very warm teacher, full of encouragement and also useful ideas.

My aim was to make a piece based around surfers, for my OH's niece.  As ever the vision in my head of what the picture would look like doesn't match the outcome, but I had fun doing it.  Surfers plural got downgraded to surfer singular: this is the nth iteration of said surfer and I'm still not particularly happy with it, but sometimes it's just time to call it a day.  I do, however, like having lots of different textures/patterns in the work, particularly the idea of including 3D objects (not sure if it's obvious from the photo, but the shell, fish and ring/star thing are all 3D).

Hopefully, given that one entry on a particularly long Christmas list was 'things for her bedroom wall', this will get past the hanging committee.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010


Today is day 2 of college Christmas holiday and, having an aversion to leaving things to the last minute, I thought I'd best get started on some homework.  Apparently next term we'll be doing installation art, so the task was to go to some galleries and see what's out there.  I struggle a bit with installation, it rarely seems to mean much to me, but I'm hoping that's just because I don't understand it.  

Richard Wentworth: Three Guesses (photo: Whitechapel Gallery

First stop was High Society at the Wellcome Trust which charts the history of mind-altering substances, both from a historical and medical as well as artistic point of view (it ticked the installation box with a work from Joshua White and Seth Kirby).   This was followed by various exhibits at the Whitechapel Gallery, including the image by Richard Wentworth which I like for the tactile string/wool/thread.  A couple of stops on London Transport's 205 took me to Rachel Kneebone at White Cube (I was intrigued by the texture of her work, it is porcelain but appears part plastic, part rubber, the subject however was all a bit overtly phallic for me) and I finished with a spur of the moment stop at Reverting to Type at Standpoint Gallery (have to confess liked this last one best: a room full of beautifully presented typefaces is much more my thing).
Photo: Standpoint Gallery

Sunday, 19 December 2010


It's snowy outside so an afternoon of baking seemed called for, and here is one of the products.  For all that gingerbread figures are traditionally meant to be hung from Christmas trees, I don't think I know anyone who used to do that as a kid (quite possibly because we all preferred gaudily-wrapped Cadbury's chocolate tree decorations).  But, in part prompted by the Guardian's quest for the perfect gingerbread recipe, I thought I'd go all retro.

Friday, 10 December 2010


I don't need asking twice to post pictures of the mutt (thanks, Oxslip!).  So, here she is, with a suitably seasonable backdrop.  She doesn't learn that snow freezes her beard solid; to be fair, she doesn't whine about it, nor about being made to sit on snowy ground to have her photo taken.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Stitched mutt

This is the first piece of embroidery I've tried in this style (i.e. something naturalistic and freestyle without sticking to recognised stitches).  I was aiming to capture the texture of the dog's fur and the shadows of her face (guess mutts don't have to worry about bags under their eyes, particularly the amount of sleep this one gets).

Work in progress
Stitching the dog's head took about 20 hours (forgot to keep track for the background, but maybe about a dozen).  I used stranded embroidery cotton on cotton fabric, with metallic thread for the highlights in her eyes.  Am slightly disappointed with the photo as the background has more variation in colour: stitching in circles means that the light catches the thread in different ways and it looks variegated. 

Monday, 6 December 2010

My biggest fan

Another college project: this time to make a larger than life cardboard model of a desk fan (because obviously it's the time of year when you need a fan). 

The model is about half as big again as the real thing, so is about 70cm high, and is made from cardboard and PVA glue.

I'm not too sure about the photo, though, as it makes the fan look like a computer-generated image - could have saved myself several hours of cutting and sticking!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Skinny dog

I've finally fulfilled a promise from quite a while ago: to make my sister a sausage dog draught excluder.
So, here she is (she seems female to me, largely down to the eyelashes and the pink inner ears, but the naming is up to sis, and she may have a different view). 

Whatever she ends up being called, hopefully she'll keep those draughts out while she sleeps.