Monday, 18 February 2019

Learning a new skill

I spent Saturday morning here, at Bartington Forge, taking a masterclass in blacksmithing. My husband and daughter bought it for me for Christmas. I had a great time learning from David Wilson, who has been doing this sort of work for 60 years. And I (mostly) made a poker. I say 'mostly' because you can't expect, in 3 hours, to gain a skill that takes years to build. There is so much to learn, but I did get to do a good amount of stuff myself with David tidying up my messy, first-try attempts. 

Above,  David is holding the main body of the poker firm while I turn the circle of the handle. This happens after you taper the top of the iron rod, which is the hard arm work of hammering. 

Here I'm getting ready to twist the tapered top around the body.

This is the end of the first turn around the body. The loop is removed from the peg and turned around before doing the next turn, otherwise you end up walking around the anvil. You continue to twist and then form a little tail with the thin end.

Here is the finished article (on the messy carpet in my studio 😊)

Here's a close-up of the top of the poker, and below you can see the twist in a squared off section of the bar. You square it off so that the corner lines show up nicely. The end is thickened up and then made into a point.

 It was a great morning but blacksmithing isn't something you can take up and do at home.
What new skill would you like to have a go at?

Wednesday, 13 February 2019


Waiting to feel like myself again.

My pages all feel like a mess at the moment - all over the place, uncoordinated, bits of this and that, just plain messy. I guess that's because it's how I'm feeling myself. There are times when I feel fine and others where I just don't feel like myself. It's my age and I'll grow out of it, but while I'm in it it just plain sucks.

So that's where I am. How about you?

Monday, 11 February 2019

Make ripples

This is the latest in my little square canvases. I'm almost up to twenty.

The circle is cut from a foreign (to me) language book. The ripples are from gelli-printed greaseproof paper, and the spots in the background are done using alcohol on watery acrylic paint.

So, go out and cause ripples. Remember that your actions affect others even in an indirect way. Make an impression on those you meet, as long as it's a good one!

Friday, 8 February 2019


The night may be long, but the sun will rise eventually.

This page felt like a night sky but there is a big area of light. Whenever the night feels long - and let's face it, we all go through times that feel dark and unending - we know that the dawn will come eventually. Even in the far north where the darkness lasts for months, the day eventually comes.

We look eagerly for the light.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019


Do not let your adorning be external.

Once I stuck the circles at the top of this page, I couldn't see them as anything except baubles, ornaments. They really stuck out on the page for me. Then the word 'adorning' popped into my head. It reminded me of a passage in 1 Peter chapter 3, verses 3 and 4. It says '...let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.'

True beauty does not come from the things we drape ourselves with. We do not paint it on our faces, hang it from our ears or around our necks, or gain it by going under the surgeon's knife. It is not made of cashmere or silk or gold. No amount of outward adornment will disguise an ugly spirit for long, just as a beautiful spirit will not be hidden.

True beauty comes from within. It does not fade but instead blossoms with age as we practice gentleness and quietude.

Monday, 4 February 2019

It's easier to make lots of small course corrections. Take your bearings often.

If you want to get somewhere, a straight line is the quickest way. When a farmer ploughed a field with oxen, he would take a sighting on something on the other side of the field and head straight towards it to help him not veer off course.

When we get distracted and take our eyes off the target, the quicker we look back to it, the smaller the course correction we'll need to make. Better to keep checking than to go off in completely the wrong direction and have to do a massive change of course later.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Layers over time

We are all made up of layers set down over time.

The shapes in the top right of this page reminded me of agate. We are all gemstones and each part of life sets down a layer in us. The trick is not to hide those layers but to let them show. The agate is beautiful because we see the layers.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Good stories

Tell yourself the good stories.

On Seth Godin's blog yesterday he talked about how we keep stories alive by retelling them to ourselves. If we do that with all the negative stuff that happens to us, we dwell on it and give ourselves the chance to become bitter and resentful.

On the other hand, if we remember and retell ourselves the good stuff, we reinforce a positive attitude.

Forgiveness allows us to let go of the negative stories from our life. Gratitude allows us to remember the good and be thankful for the small things as well as the large.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Smell the flowers

Make time to stop and smell the flowers.

Make time.

It's not something that just happens. You have to make sure your schedule is not too packed. Carve out moments to appreciate the small things around you and be thankful.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

In other projects

If art journal pages seem to have been a bit thin on the ground lately, it's probably because I've been busy doing other projects as well. This is some knitting I'm working on - a long cardigan with a shawl collar. I love doing cables. Here are some close-ups:

I also sew. My husband is a vicar and he finds that clerical shirts are a bit... well, boring! He likes bright colours and most ready-made shirts are plain and pastel. They're just not him, so he loves a trip to the fabric store where he can pick out some bright fabric and find buttons that are fun. This is the latest one. I think that makes it thirteen that I've made for him :)

These buttons are clear flowers that just add a bit of sparkle to go with the shiny fabric.

And finally, I've made a new journal for Bible study by repurposing an old service book. The spine and some of the pages were fragile, so I ended up making a new spine, but the covers are substantial. I decorated pages with gelli-printing, stamping, and washi tape before sewing the signatures together.

So these are a few projects that I'm working on or have finished lately. What's your creative 'side-hustle'?