Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Happy Christmas everyone and a wish for the new year!

It has been way too long since I blogged, but then it has been pretty long since I did any art. As anyone with a job and a family knows; this is is a manic time of year, what with nativity rehearsals, last minute paperwork to get finished before the end of the year and then all the cooking,shopping, wrapping etc. Still, it is pretty much all over now, and I have managed to spend most of this afternoon at my desk, arty-farting about.

This is my page for the Stampotique designers challenge, which is to use Stampotique stamps to describe our dreams and hopes for the year ahead. This is Twinkie, who is trying really hard to juggle all the commitments I have. The background is painted in Dylusions lime and lagoon, and Twinkie is standing on Tim Holtz tissue tape. I printed the captions and numbers on the computer and coloured them with pan pastels.

Right, I'm off to finish my December calendar page before I end up starting next year already behind schedule!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

November ready!

One of these days, I will get my calendar page in on time. Although I am working less, I don't seem to get any more done - how is that?
This is an homage to the fabulous Dina Wakley - on one of her courses, we did intuitive drawing and painting, and whilst I can't pretend that I particularly liked the piece I did on the day, there is something very therapeutic about painting random areas in bright colours. As a child I used to do this kind of thing with felt tips, and now I'm 38, but it still gives me pleasure...
You might notice that there is a slight technical hitch at the bottom of the page. My poor, long-suffering, moleskine has finally given up the ghost, and split down the middle. I have just enough space to get December in, and then it's on to the new, pink leather bound baby!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


I decided to do something a bit different this week, as it is so long since I did anything non-journal-y. As you will no doubt have observed already, I have something of a passion for Stampotique stamps, so the challenge on their design blog every couple of weeks is something I have been meaning to get to for a while... The challenge at the moment is to design a poison bottle, using Stampotique stamps only. I happened to be cleaning out my spice drawer and found an almost empty test tube container that is used to store vanilla pods in. Seemed like a good place to start. After a few mishaps (i.e. the cork getting wedged in the tube just after I had filled it with green spray ink, and the fact that as a test tube, it doesn't stand up - doh!)here is my finished creation:

Goglin just seemed the obvious choice for guarding the potion, and with his little hands poised - I kept thinking 'my precious' all the time I was painting him! I added some beads and buttons to the rusted wire, the pointing finger button is a handmade porcelain button, made by yours truly...

I used upholstery tacks to attach a tag (and to stop the cork sliding inside the tube again, hmm hmm)and used a torn piece of old book page to break up the darkness of the green 'potion' inside.
Hope you all had a happy halloween everyone!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

October almost over!

Yummm! Stroke my new, pink, recycled leather journal! I bought this to replace my A4 moleskine, which has all but disintegrated after two years of paint, ink and general abuse. I'm going to try and squeeze the last few months of the year into the old faithful, and then start the new year with a pristine new journal.
I'm not sure how it happens, but I always seem to be playing catch up these days. My only excuse this month is that my desk has been inaccessible as we have been shunting furniture around as we continue our decorating 'journey'. Boy, am I sick of it! But, we (that'll be the royal 'we' then)have finished all the rooms on the top two floors, and 'only' have the downstairs and the hall, stairs and landing left to do. Yippee! Bleuurgh!
Apart from all of that, it has been busy busy busy... I have been teaching at artisOn (great fun, and such lovely students - and such GREAT food!!). I have been on an upholstery course (also at artisOn)and have upholstered two chairs for our newly decorated bedroom. Here's a before and after:

I spent a fabulous weekend at Art from the Heart on a three day course with the beautiful, talented and generous Dina Wakley, which also involved the fabulous Jude and her husband and eldest daughter coming to stay.
So all of this is a build up to an excuse for taking so long to getting my October journal page posted! But, here at last, it is:
The stamps are Stampotique for the figures, and Paperbag Studios for the houses. My 10 year daughter came and took a look at the page just before I blogged it and suggested it needed sweets falling from the sky. I looked at her, looked at the page and decided that she was right, but I decided to make the dodgy character in the corner guardian of the sweets. I think this probably says something about our attitude to Halloween in our house. The kids, of course, love it. My husband and I are somewhat less enthusiastic. For him, it is a kind of begging, for me it goes against everything we ever teach our children about not accepting sweets from strangers! I guess we get the humbug award...

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Granny's wisdom

This page is for Roc's monthly journal prompt, which is for 'what quote moves you in your everyday life?' This phrase is a favourite of my husband's Grandmother, who was married to a man whose favourite quote was 'better late in this life than early in the next'. I often aspire to the second quote, as I am frequently in danger of meeting myself coming back the other way, but as a mantra for life, I think that being lucky has so many benefits. I have a couple of truly wealthy friends, but I don't think that they are really, truly, happy. Don't get me wrong, we aren't on the bread-line, but we are far from rich, financially. We do, however, live in the most beautiful place, have our health, wonderful friends, a large extended family and kids of whom we can be proud. I think that's pretty lucky.

The page is created with Dylusions ink sprays, using a technique I picked up from Kate at the Art from the Heart birthday party last weekend. The images are from downloads I have been hoarding for a while, and I embellished the rich lady with a pearl necklace and a crystal bead as a diamond ring. She is sitting on a torn piece of lottery ticket, because let's face it, winning the lottery is a secret fantasy that many of us have!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

A big week!

This week is a big week in our house for one person at least. My ten year old has to take her 11+ tomorrow and then again on Tuesday of next week. For those of you who aren't familiar with such concepts, this is a kind of entrance exam for the Grammar (High)school where she hopes to go next year. It's the most serious thing that has probably ever happened in her life, and at ten, it seems like quite a big ask when it is something that will influence her education for the rest of her life. She is very chilled about it, which surprises me, as I used to have to fight her tooth and nail to get her into school for a spelling test!I, on the other hand, am feeling quite nervous for her, but trying very hard not to show it!
The background paper for this page is a sheet of japanese newspaper that came as packing in a parcel of my husbands. It's a long story, but he is reliving his childhood with Airfix-type model kits of cars, and they keep appearing with the postman from various far flung corners of the world. As a committed scavenger, I saved the paper..
The stamps are a mixture of Paperbag Studios and Tim Holtz (for the stars), and the head and feet of the figure are from Lisa's Altered art, and the body is from an advertisement in one of the British daily broadsheets. I was covering a table at work with newspaper and thought, hmm, that picture of all those marbles could look good on a journal page...I'm sure my colleagues think I am slightly barking as I am often swiping things out from under the children's noses for my own creations!
As you can see,the page is dated the 17th August, as it is one of the backgrounds I did whilst on holiday. Don't know about you, but I just love the combination of colours, courtesy of Dylusions and jo sonja's.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

September ready!

So here is the page I showed you previously, but all ready to go now! Since we came back from holiday, all I have been able to do is paint walls and learn how to wallpaper, but haven't done much on the creative side. The kids go back to school on Monday, so there's every chance I'll get to play in peace and quiet.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Lazy days

We have just come back from holiday, I mean literally just come back. The washing machine is going round, the cat is meowing like crazy having been left to his own devices for 12 days (apart one of the local kids coming in to feed him), and we have been to our local half pub/half indian restaurant for something to eat, because the fridge is empty and I couldn't be bothered to cook. We have had a great time walking, cycling and generally kicking back in the Lake district. I spent a lot of time journaling, and the picture above is one of the views I had to admire whilst I was sloshing paint about. I have a few bits and pieces to show you, and wonder of all wonders, I have actually got my September journal page ready in advance! Well, I haven't stuck the squares on yet, but the page is to all intents and purposes ready. I bought these Stampotique stamps ages and ages ago, but just haven't got around to using them, so I took them away with me with the express intention of inking them up.

Whilst I was away, it was my birthday, and I had a lot of luvverly presents, including lots of journaling books:

And this, beautiful journal of rag paper from my friend, you know the one I made the journal in my previous post for? It seems great minds think alike! I have already done one page:

Yes, I know, it is very much the same as my September page, but when I had finished the September page, my husband said, 'I can't believe you are going to stick squares all over that, it's a shame to cover it up'. I had to agree, and so I decided to do it again. Actually it was an interesting experiment, as the different kinds of paper made for a very different result.
A long time ago, at a workshop with Kate Crane, I did an atc in hot pink, lime green and orange, which I look at everytime I use our downstairs loo. It bugs me a bit as I really like the colour combinations, but I was in a bit of a rush, and I didn't blend the colours very well. I decided to have another go, well two actually, one where again, it didn't work brilliantly, and one where it did. This is the not so good one:

The one I really like isn't quite finished yet, so I'll show you that next time. I need to keep a few things back, as I will back on with the decorating from tomorrow, and who knows when the journaling will fit in around that...

Friday, 12 August 2011

Holiday fun

So the holidays are upon us, and I promised my children I would take tham camping for a few days. The campsite is a looong story, but suffice to say whilst the views were fabulous, the facilities were a little...filthy? As we were not keen to use the showers, this waterfall and natural pool were a much more attractive option.
This view made the campsite worth the trip.

And who doesn't take Twister on a camping trip with them? Really, I must supervise my children's packing better...

Since we came back I have been pressing on with the wall and woodwork painting, but I found a few minutes one evening to do this page in my A5 moleskine journal.

Then, do you remember that I posted a while ago that I had been on a bookbinding course? Well, of course, part of the fun of doing a course in a new technique, is the shopping for new supplies afterwards! Whilst I had stocked up in various bookbinding goodies, I haven't had the chance to do anything with them. However, some people in your life are so special that you really want to give them something that you have put a bit of yourself in. So, I made this book for my friend, who as well as being like-minded, is an incredibly generous, supportive, shoulder-proffering, star. (And if she is reading this, she's probably reaching for the tissues now!)
This is the finished product, complete with 7gypsies bookband and 'little feet' stamp from Paperbag studios.

Here you can see that I made the register from 4 sections of handstitched watercolour paper:

I made a little bookplate to put inside with a message:

The book is about half way between A4 and A5, and 3/4" thick. I hope it holds together long enough to get a year's worth of journalling in it!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Ta -da!

In my last post, I said that my new studio was habitable, but not yet showable. Well, now I think I can share a bit of it with you. This is the very old bookcase, which came from husband's grandparents, which I have loved since the first time I saw it seventeen years ago!

Here is my desk, with my favourite pebbles on the windowsill and Charlotte the penguin, and lots of natural light. Believe it or not, if it weren't for the roof of the house opposite, Kate Crane and I could almost wave to each other!

As you will all know, we need somewhere to store all the 'paraphenalia' so I have this bookcase, which has plenty of space for baskets of paint, babywipes, etc, my collection of old books and the journals I am currently working on

and the books which I call on for inspiration..

But my favourite thing is this:

My husband was kitting out a his new office and whilst at the office furniture showroom, saw this and thought of me. Not only can you move the shelves depending on what you want to store, but at the bottom, there is a pull out table. Oo, but I was a happy girl the day he brought this home!
And this is the first creation from my new room. This year, having spent all our money on the building project, we will be spending our summer holiday in the UK, so we will be subject to the vagaries of the British summer - which, at best, could be descibed as unpredictable!

The background is a very patriotic red white and blue, and the figure is a Stampotique stamp.

Monday, 4 July 2011


It has been a busy time in the Haslam house recently, so a weekend away with very little on the agenda, other than relaxing and spending time with the kids has been something of a treat - not least because I actually got my June journal page finished! Well, I say finished, I haven't finished colouring it in in yet, but nearly there...
This month time seemed to be either flying or dragging - depending on the situation. My little sister was awaiting the arrival of her first baby, so for her, the time was dragging. For us, the end of the school year is approaching, ever faster, and it always focuses the mind on how much you have yet to achieve before time runs out.
Suddenly, the building project that we have been living through since last November is almost nearing an end, so I have had a mad dash on to get sanding and painting complete before the flooring people wanted to get the floor laid and carpets down. We are still a way off completing, but the children have moved into their new rooms and they love them! (So do I!)
So, my June journal page was pink and blue (with a bit of yellow in between) as we didn't know what 'flavour' the baby was going to be, and I have used old timetables as a base layer, clock stencils over the paint layers, and cut up a watch advert to make the body of the creature juggling time(the face is from Crowabout). I typed up several different phrases about time to complete the page.
Something of an indulgence was the fact that the first habitable room was my workroom! It isn't quite 'showable' yet, but I have a space to create in for the first time in 6 months! I'm hoping that I can squeeze some journal painting in between the wall/woodwork painting on a more regular basis now!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Playing catch up again

I always look forward to seeing everyone's new blog posts, so I feel that I have been a bit lax recently. I think that five weeks is a bit of a no blogging record for me, but I promise that I am still here! Things at home are not really conducive to creating anything but mess, and the only painting that I have done is acres and acres of new plaster with a bucket of emulsion! I have been 'camping', creatively, in the dining room for the past five months, and I have to say, it is not really the best environment, wedged in between large pieces of furniture, my husband's two best bikes, my horse tack, and various other non-arty bits and pieces. But, the end is in sight. Today I went to buy the flooring for my new 'studio', which measures 2.6m x 5.2m. How lucky am I! However, in the absence of space to create at home, I have taken advantage of opportunities to learn some new skills elsewhere.

In my last blog post, I mentioned about my glass fusion course that I did with my friend Nicky. I can't explain the alchemist kind of thrill that you get from putting sharp edged pieces of glass with mysterious looking powders sprinkled on them, and then how amazing the creations look when they emerge, still warm from the kiln. We spent the first day learning how to cut glass and mastering differing techniques, and then we went away overnight to come up with our designs for our final piece.
Here is my final piece before the kiln:
And here it is after:

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I went on a bookbinding course at artison in Masham. Run by Victoria Lucas, who has created some beautiful collections of images in hand bound books, we learned how to make Japanese Stab bound boooks, a concertina book and then a traditional hardbound book. I can't tell you how exciting it was, not only making the books, but thinking of the possibilities for creating my own journals. Needless to say, I was online as soon as I got home, buying supplies to make more books! Here are the three books I made on the day:
As far as normal journaling goes, I have almost finished my May page for the calendar journal challenge, which is good, seeing as May is almost over... It's half term here now, so hopefully, in between the painting and sanding, I might get some journaling done!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Catching up again!

I have to admit I have struggled to find inspiration for my calendar page this month, but a visit to my Mum's garden gave me the push I needed to get something on paper. Her garden is a riot of daffodils, tulips and grape hyacinths, and the combination of colours is so cheerful, I thought I should try and capture it. My attempts to draw and paint the hyacinths however, were pretty rubbish, so they didn't make it onto the page! She and her neighbour have an ongoing joke where they hide a garden gnome around the outside of their houses to make each other laugh, so the little Stampotique character had to sneak in too!

Things here are as hectic as usual - the building work continues with the constant demand for tea,coffee and decision-making - I always thought of myself as a pretty decisive persion, but I am becoming seriously decisioned-out! Hopefully it won't be too much longer until the builders are done, and I will share my new studio with you when it is ready!

Mary-mare has settled in well and is now well and truly part of the family. I still have to pinch myself from time to time to believe that something so beautiful is mine! We have had some great fun together, and I have realised a long held ambition to jump the hunt jumps in the woods near us, much to both of our excitement!

My first art teaching experience went well, in fact so much so, that a second date has been discussed. They were a lovely bunch of people and I have heard from several of them who are now committed journalers!

I have just come back from a weekend away with my friend Nicky. We attended a two day course on glass fusion with a lovely and very talented lady called Genevieve Thompson of Wicked Gen Crafts is her blog, but she also has a website here. It was very exciting and there is more excitement yet to come, as my final pieces have yet to be fired and so I won't find out how they have turned out until next week. I'll tell you more about it next time, with pictures too!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The cat that got the cream

Although I have about a million things I should be doing at the moment, such as finishing my teaching models for my art journaling course at Artison on Friday, I spent last Saturday afternoon at the Great Northern Papercraft Extravaganza in Harrogate, so that means new rubber! Purely in the interest of research, I have obviously had to have a bit of a play! This is one of three stamps I bought at Art from the Heart from Octopode. After some really tricky times last year, this year is definitely going our way, and I do feel like a really rather naughty cat with a really large pot of cream, especially since so many people around the world are having such a horrible time at the moment. A member of our family lives in Lyttleton NZ, and has all shades of carnage surrounding her, and a really good friend of mine in Japan has survived an earthquake and a tsunami, but now faces radiation from the Fukushima leak. It's hard not to feel a bit guilty, but equally, I think some of the events recently just reinforce that you have to live life to the full and seize the moment. And, on a lighter note, who could be downhearted in this beautiful weather!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Catching up at last..

Phew! I am, at last starting to catch up with things. Had an enjoyable couple of hours putting this together yesterday, in between doing the Brownie run and cooking and washing - does the pile ever go away? The stamps are from Claudine Hellmuth, and although I have had them for a couple of months, this is the first time they have been out of the packet. I decided to go with fresh, springlike colours, as the weather here has been be-au-ti-ful, until yesterday, when the fog descended and since then we haven't seen the sky, just grey, grey, grey. I figure if this weather continues, at least looking at this page everyday will cheer me up!
I'm always intrigued with some of the things that people blog, especially the what's on your workspace type thing, as I am always pretty ashamed with the state of my desk when I am in the groove, and certainly wouldn't willingly share unless I had had a bit of a tidy up first! However, yesterday our cat decided that my painting water was more appealing than his bowl of water (probably full of brick dust and cement, like everything else in this house at the moment!), and I couldn't resist taking a picture.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Long time no hear!

I know I said that I might be offline for a bit, but I hadn't anticipated it being quite so long! Lady Mary has settled in well, but in a busy life, a new demand on my time takes a little adjustment. Anyway, I now have her settled in at home and we have been having a fantastic time enjoying the spring sunshine and watching the little lambs over the hedges.
Mr H and I have also been skiing (our annual week of married time, no kids!)where we had a great time, did LOTS of skiing and even got a suntan. In the meantime, the building work at home continues apace, which is exciting, but not always in the right way...This week we have had high winds and driving rain at times, which compared to things happening elsewhere in the world, isn't worth mentioning, but at the moment we have no roof on half of the house, which makes for refreshing temperatures, intermittent electrical supplies and some interesting night time noises! It will all be worth it in the end, but the inside if the house is in turmoil to say the least. Each time I try to create anything, I have to search through boxes of stuff in at least three rooms to find what I am looking for.
As I was so behind with the 365 challenge, I decided to have a make a kind of summary page of February. it's not exactly true to the spirit of the challenge, but I hope that the other participants won't mind.. March is in progress, and I am keeping a note of the events of each day ready to put into my squares once the page is finished. To those regular visitors who have been asking when I was going to start posting again, thanks for waiting!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

New addition to the family!

Big news of a new arrival later, but the journal page above is something I did a few weeks ago, but it turned out to be strangely prophetic. The quotation is from Dyans Downloads and the image is, I think from Crowabout (I often spend my evenings watching tv with a pile of download sheets and a pair of scissors, so that I just have to delve in my box of images when the creative mood strikes which makes it easy to create, but not necessarily easy to attribute the images to their source). The quotation refers to a kind of pleasure/pain process I have been through this past few weeks. All my life I have wanted my own horse, because although I have ridden almost my whole life, and never been short of horses to exercise, it's a bit like borrowing someone else's car - convenient and cheap but ultimately not what you really want! Anyway, I have been looking off and on for the past two years, but I never found anything I liked enough to make myself cash and time poor for the forseeable future! Until now. Meet Mary:

Now, whilst Mary is not only beautiful by nature and looks, her owner was a nightmare to deal with! So, whilst the overall outcome was positive, I feel a bit about horse-buying the way some people feel about house-buying.

And this is how a horse looks when it is let out for the first time in at least a month:

Tomorrow we are off to get fitted for some tack, and on Saturday we shall be venturing out on our first ride together! There might be a bit of lull in the creative flow whilst we both get used to each other and get fit!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

happy days

This is one of the pages I started last week when we were away. I love orange on the page - it is so vibrant and happy. It's a colour I would never wear, but I can't get enough of it when I am sitting at my desk, it's just one of the paints I reach for first - that and pink.

This is a page I did yesterday. My Mum wants to start journaling too, so we spent yesterday splashing paint about, drinking tea and chatting. Not only was it fun, but while I was out today, she delivered a giant Toblerone as a thank you - not great for the post Christmas, pre-skiing abstinence, but who can resist Toblerone!

Thanks to everyone for the good wishes - I feel like a big fraud, I've only had the flu bug that everyone else has had, but cheers guys, nice to know you care!