Sunday, 29 September 2013

October Calendar

I don't  know where the time is going.  Another month has flown past and it's time to make our October calendar.  If you want to know more about the idea behind the monthly calendar please look on Kate Crane's blog as the whole thing is her idea.

Here is my October calendar.

First layer was gesso.

Then Dylusions inks.

And circles cut using a punch.  The oak and maple leaves were also cut with a punch.

I'm looking forward to seeing your calendar.  Don't forget to use the linky.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Children's Book

I'm pleased to welcome Carolyn again with a blog post about children's books.

For the September book I really wanted to concentrate on school stories as a genre because above all September to me speaks of the new school year and all that brings with it; rows of coloured pencils, timetables, uniform, backing exercise books (with wallpaper in my day!) and lots and lots of stationary – oh how I always loved that aspect of it. My plan was to speak generally about the genre and then pick out one of my favourites, Elinor M Brent-Dyer’s Chalet School and look at in a little more detail.  However given that several people did not know about Enid Blyton and the Famous Five back in summer, I thought that the Chalet School would be too little known so I will concentrate mainly on the genre.

My own children’s book collection has as its main component a large section of what are known as ‘Girl’s Own’ books. That is books written for girls in their teens from around 1900 to around 1960 and mainly English (although some American and Australian books fall into this category) and a large section of these are set in schools, be it day schools or boarding schools. The school story became a subgenre of the Girlsown genre. There are more authors than I could possibly list who wrote this kind of book, but the ‘big 4’ are Elsie J Oxenham, Angela Brazil, Dorita Farlie-Bruce and the aforementioned Elinor M Brent-Dyer.

Apart from Brazil, they all wrote series of books (Brazil wrote stand-alone titles) with heroines who were loyal, honest, good at sports (but not good enough to become games prefect as the heroine had to become head girl!) leaders, hard workers, and of course middle class, or even verging on upper class in a few places. Oxenham especially was class conscious marrying one of her heroines to an Earl and sending her to live in a castle based on Arundel Castle.
Arundel Castle

School becomes a place where a community of girls can be established, living with their own rules, both those imposed by the school and those by their own community. A world apart is established and adults, like in many adventure stories, are side-lined or shown as living within their own parallel community (Such as the staff in Brent-Dyer’s Chalet School). We see mystery, feud, prank, adventure, and growing up, all in a setting which is both familiar and at the same time a step removed from the real world of the reader. Many of these books, because of the period in which they were written confront topics such as death and illness of friends and siblings or war, peace and patriotism and in all of them girls are shown as developing their own thoughts and opinions. Although very old fashioned and sexist in numerous ways, such as presuming girls will learn to cook and sew, focus on arts rather than science and most will want a family; they also present many role models of bright, intelligent girls who want to study at a university level, and/or have careers even if they do then expect to give them up when a family comes along. Those stories that also focus on the staff again show strong women who are satisfied with life and happy with their career and independence.

Looking wider than the UK, other books that fit this genre include Susan Coolridge and ‘What Katy Did at School’, many of the Anne of Green Gables books by L M Mongomery have school as a focus, especially when Anne is training and then teaching. (And of course the famous scene with the young g Anne when she is called ‘Carrots’ by Gilbert and she hits him over the head with her slate!) Many of the Laura Ingals Wilder ‘Little House’ books have these elements as well, and all of the above books are certainly considered by enthusiasts to be ‘Girlsown’.  Clare Mallory in New Zealand also wrote books in this genre, most famous being her ‘Merry’ series, which despite being set in New Zealand has all the same features as the English counterparts.

Whilst this article focuses on my own early 20th century interests, the school story is still alive in modern forms.  Moving on into the later part of the century was Enid Blyton with Malory Towers and St Clares and then Antonia Forrest with her stories about the Marlowe family, 4 of which were traditional school stories. Then there was  Gene Kemp’s ‘The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tyler’ in the 1970’s, Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones in 1982 and of course the Harry Potter books of modern times. Whilst these later two are fantasy books, they also sit very well within the School Story genre, with all the traditional aspects being seen.


My project to go with this article is a covered exercise book. I wanted to keep to the idea of school, so I used a composition book and worked directly onto the cover.

I started with taking out two inside pages, ripping them up and then gluing onto the cover along with some other dictionary and tables pages. Over this was a light coat of gesso and then I used spray ink through letter and number stencils.

The final layer to be glued was made up of pictures and papers relevant to school and then I doodled on top of this in the way we used to doodle on the covers of our rough books when I was at school. (If you didn’t have them, a rough book was one we could use for notes, homework, drafts, revision, scribbles, writing spellings to learn them, and anything else that we needed to jot down but wasn’t to go into our exercise books. They were low quality paper and never collected by staff – only the office looked at them to make sure they were full before giving us a new one.) We could write all over these, but never on our exercise books.

The photographs show my book laid out flat so you can see both the front and back, as well as a couple of close ups.

Thanks Carolyn.  A great article and project.  

Don't forget to share what you do using the linky below. 

Friday, 20 September 2013

Art Challenge

Susan very kindly said she would provide a tutorial for this month's art challenge.

Create Decorative Papers with Everyday Items
A Tutorial by Susan Ernst

Using items found around the house and some craft paint, turn scrap paper into one of a kind decorative papers to use in collage, mixed media paintings, journals, cards and more.
I like to create decorative papers that have three layers:
 1st layer – print on the paper
2nd layer – paint
3rd layer – stamping or stenciled designs

1. Gather paints of your choice (I used the autumn theme colors of orange, red, mustard and brown); scrap papers, book pages, black and white lightweight scrapbook paper, found papers, etc.

2.  Apply paint randomly to papers. Allow to dry.

3. Use loose leaf reinforcement sheets as a stencil or use hole punchers to create a stencil in cardstock or other heavy weight paper. Use a sponge to dab paint through the stencils.

4. Use bottle caps, corrugated cardboard strips, foam packing peanuts, corks, etc. as stamps.

5. Create a printing plate from a foam meat tray. Draw designs with a pencil or press objects into it to make an impression. Apply paint with a brush at a low angle so that paint does not get into the recessed areas. Place paper on top of this plate and rub the back with your fingers to transfer the design.

6. Continue to stamp, stencil and print until the papers are done to your liking.

7. Cut or tear the papers into small squares and rectangles ranging in size from approximately a half inch to two and a half inches. Glue to 4 x 6 index card or backing of your choice.

1. In general, apply darker colors over lighter ones. Use 2 or 3 colors only on each sheet of paper to prevent muddiness.
2. Embellish as desired. I could have added the painted reinforcements but didn’t think these collages needed them. You can also add postage stamps, buttons, metal bottle caps, tea labels, etc.

Thank you so much Susan.  A fabulous technique.  I hope you all enjoy having a go at this.  Don't forget to add your work using the linky below.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Creative Date

Julia Cameron in The Artists Way suggested the idea of making time for a regular creative date.   This idea is also picked up by Matt Tommey in Unlocking the Heart of the Artist.   

Judy shared this page with us: 101 Artist's Date Ideas.

I am suggesting that we should each make time for a creative date each month.  Ideally we will go out.  Go to a local museum, a local art gallery, go for a walk!  Whatever idea you have that will feed your creativity.

However sometimes it's not possible to physically visit those places.  So here's my idea for July.  A dance trail.

Watch the video.

Then click on one of the video links on the right hand side of the YouTube screen.  When you've watched that video, click another one of the video links on the right hand side of that YouTube screen.  Keep repeating this for as long as you wish.  Make a list of the links to the videos you went to and share them with the rest of us in the Facebook group.  Please keep to dance videos although you don't have to stay with Ballet.

Of course surfing YouTube videos can use up time like nothing else can.  So you may want to set yourself a time limit - say an hour - or a number limit of videos - say 6.  Choose what suits you best and 
have fun!

Friday, 13 September 2013

September Technique Challenge

This month's challenge is to make a journal page Dyan Reaveley style.

If you don't have the Dylusions journaling block and the Dylusions stencils/masks don't worry.  Make your own.

This blog post is excellent.  Do check it out.

For the journaling block find a piece of thick card and draw a wavy line and cut it out.   For the mask, find a picture of a person in a magazine, stick it onto card and cut round it.

There's also this newish video if you would like to try a different style.

I look forward to seeing what you come up with.  Don't forget to share your work using the linky below.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Recycling Challenge

This month we are going to make our own stamps using recycled materials.

Please watch the video.


Enjoy making your own stamps and share with us what you make via the linky.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Quarterly ZIne

Today is the start of a new Zine.   For instructions on how to fold and cut the paper to make your Zine go here.

As I am going to make all my quarterly zines into one book at the end, it was important that I cut the cartridge paper for this quarter exactly the same size as the last one.

I used Dylusions Squeezed Orange and Melted Chocolate and sprayed lightly through the stencil

I added a spritz of Colorwash Butterscotch.

I stamped using Sepia  Archival Ink.  I printed out the quote, cut it up and inked it with Barn Door Distress Ink and stuck it down. I used Vermillion Archival Ink to stamp the month.

I look forward to seeing your Zine page for September.  Don't forget to use the link below.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Photo Challenge

In March I introduced this monthly challenge.  Each month we take a photograph on the same day, at the same time, of the same place.  How are you getting on with this challenge?

You choose a day or date and a place to suit you.  It could be taken from your front door, your back door, a particular place on your journey to work or on the school run.  It could be where you walk the dog.  Wherever it is, it needs to be a place you are at or near regularly.

Each month we take a photo and over the year we will build up a picture of the changes in the seasons.   If you haven't already, I suggest you have a folder on your hard drive where you keep these photos so you can find them at the end of our 12 months together.

If you upload them to the Facebook group please add the photo to your album or if you are new please make an album with your name and a suitable title.  Thanks.

There's also a Flickr group if you don't have a blog or a Facebook account.

I've added a linky for you to add your photo or blog.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Flower of the Month

This month is a shrub or a tree with beautiful flowers in May and berries in September.  Susan has yet again excelled in bringing us information about the Hawthorn.

Hawthorn – Crataegus species

Hawthorn, May Blossom or May Tree is a member of the Rose family and contains over one thousand species found in England, Europe, Asia and North America. A small tree, it grows 20-30 ( 10 m) feet tall and wide. Small white flowers borne in clusters (properly termed corymbs) are said to smell foul until pollinated by the flies that are attracted to them. Once the flower is fertilized, the scent becomes a pleasant one. The tree flowers in May; hence its alternate common names. Deep green lobed leaves in spring and summer turn beautiful shades of scarlet and orange in autumn. Haws, as the fruit is called, ripen in September and October. The fruit is similar in appearance to the hips of wild roses.
        Crataegus monogyna 002

Haws are a favorite food of birds and small animals and have been used by humans. The ripe fruit is gathered and used to make a preserve (with lemons and sugar) or cooked with other fruits to make jellies, as they are rich in pectin. This plant has been used to treat arthritis and rheumatism as well as emotional stress, nervous and heart conditions. Native Americans dried the berries, then ground them into meal and mixed with wheat or corn flour for baking. They also turned the bark fibers into cordage and used the thorns as awls.
Crataegus monogyna 004

Another name for this tree was Fairy Thorn. Named by the ancient Bretons, they believed that the tree was haunted by fairies. English Hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna or C. oxycantha, was planted extensively as a hedgerow plant because of its quick growth and long thorns. The word “hedge” is in fact derived from the Anglo-Saxon word for hawthorn – Haegthorn.  According to one author, Frank Tozer, ancient hedgerows are becoming a thing of the past in England. He writes, “In densely populated Britain, Hawthorn hedges were very important to wildlife, as a source of both food and habitat. Indeed much of the wildlife in that country has disappeared in the past forty years, as hedgerows have been torn out to enlarge farm fields for mechanized farming. Another negative effect of their removal has been vastly increased soil erosion.” Hawthorns spread by suckers which can be a nuisance if planted in a small area, but does help to keep soil in place.
110 Crataegus oxyacantha L
There are several hawthorn species native to the United States. These are usually found growing along the edges of forests or meadows. Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson planted Crataegus phaenopyrum on their estates.

In the Language of Flowers, Hawthorn symbolizes hope, marriage and fertility. A plant rich in English folklore, the ship which carried English pilgrims to the New World was named The Mayflower, after this plant. A pretty comprehensive survey can be found here.

Thank you so much Susan.

Susan gave us a tutorial in March about drawing.  So why not revisit the tutorial and this month use the Hawthorn.  You can download a colouring page I found on the internet.

Don't forget to use the linky to add your page.

Monday, 2 September 2013

The month of September

Our first month of the Autumn season.

September in the UK is associated with returning to school and the time when we celebrate the gathering in of the harvest.  There's some more information here.

There are some more really bizarre celebrations listed for this month.  How about Ask a Stupid Question Day or Fight Procrastination Day.  I probably need to celebrate that one!

Our Flower of the Month is the Hawthorn or May.  Interestingly September 16th is Mayflower Day remembering the ship that took the English to America.

  • The hawthorn was thought to be the ancestor of the maypole and was the source of May Day garlands. The rhyme “here we go gathering nuts in May” referred to the collection of knots (not in fact “nuts”) of may blossom
  • The saying, "Ne'er cast a clout till May is out" is thought to refer to the hawthorn blossom, not the month and was good advice that summer hadn’t really arrived until the blossom was in flower.   

  • Here's your September checklist.

    Art Challenge
    Make a page inspired by the information or poetry you have found here.

    Don't forget to share your work with us all via the linky.