Wednesday, 1 July 2020

The latest

Making more masks
Found these when sorting
Beautiful wall of hollyhocks in Sheet
Met these sheep on a walk yesterday
Walking down a disused railway track
Spotted these wild cherries

Being out in nature is the best thing when life and the future seem uncertain.
Sorry I'm repeating myself. But everything feels more positive when we are outside and it's safer too.
I have made many more masks since the picture above was taken including some in Kaffe Fassett fabrics which are very colourful. Here in the UK it is compulsory to wear masks on public transport and personally I feel better wearing a mask in a shop too although you don't have to.

Yesterday I went on a long walk with a friend. It rained all day but we sheltered in a wooden bus shelter for a picnic lunch and kept on walking. Exploring new places to walk has been one of the joys of lockdown for me. I feel lucky to be able to do that.
I hope there are some hidden upsides to being restricted for you to. 
Take care and I hope you stay well too.X

Monday, 22 June 2020

Inspiration

From a card I made
And another card  I made I now find inspiring
Giant flower seen on my walk
Hollyhock time. How do they grow in the dirt next to walls?
The Chiltern hills where one of my daughters lives

I went to stay with my daughter who has just had a baby. That is why I haven't blogged for ages.  As you may have gathered from my last post I was going a bit stir crazy after 12 weeks on my own. It was lovely to be in Hertfordshire walking in beautiful countryside with baby, two year old and my daughter and son-in-law. 

I've come home inspired to start making again and to sort out my craft materials ready for my next project which, hopefully will be jewellery!

I saw the giant flower on my walk yesterday and immediately was reminded of Georgia O'Keefe's paintings of flowers. It was honestly the size of a dinner plate. 

When I looked through old photos of things I made in the past these two scraps from my cards caught my eye. I want to do more combining embroidery with papers. But first I have housework to catch up on after time away.

I hope you are staying well and feeling reasonably optimistic. It's hard when things feel vague and we don't know what the future holds for any of us. I find it helps to talk to friends and family and to get outside into the fresh air as much as possible. Take care. X

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Butterfly brain

Butterfly mobile designed and made by Jenny Stacy
Sun hats for tiny babies made by me
Playing with colour and a streak of gold ink
Petersfield has these magical places

This week I've flitted from one thing to another, never concentrating on anything for any length of time. It's week 12 of lockdown here in the UK and I am going a bit stir crazy.  It's great to walk in the countryside and I am grateful for that but I long for the library to be open again and/or the Oxfam book shop. 

I made the butterfly mobile after an art session with my four and five year old grandaughters. They drew round butterfly and butterfly people templates I sent them and added patterns and colour while I watched and encouraged on Face Time.

 The older one is back at school now and doing well with the 'social distancing'. Each child is marooned on their own desk and when they move they are told to walk like zombies with their arms stretched out in front of them. Genius, whoever thought of that. Although she'd like to give her friends a hug she is coping well with the restrictions. 

I made the little sunhats for my baby grandaughters, born this year. Two of the three in the picture are reversible. Most of the fabrics are Liberty tana lawn which is a joy to sew.

As you know I like playing with paint and I was pleased with the effect of adding a bit of gold ink. Encouraged by this I've just done two canvasses using watercolour and gold ink. I've got two more canvasses I could use, so maybe next time I write I'll have 4 new paintings to share with you...

Keep safe and keep well. Above all try to focus on the positive in these very difficult times for all of us. 

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Life in lockdown

June is roses month in the garden. Bowl by Ali Cooper ceramics.
I love this Drops fine wool and I found these buttons when sorting 
I've made enough masks now
Discovered this wonderful spot when walking

I try to focus on the positive but I have to say something about the disgusting way George Floyd was murdered. It shocked the world. Every right thinking person is disgusted and shocked. All men are born equal and should be shown equal respect. Why do some people still not know this?

 At the risk of sounding incredibly corny: Let's radiate love and be brave enough to speak out about injustice whenever we see it or experience it.

Sometimes it is hard to see how this world can change for the better. But the eternal optimists among us have to believe it will. The lockdown experience has given us pause to think about the kind of future we want. More than ever we have to take the world view and act on what is best for the planet as a whole. The weather is extreme, giving us daily reminders that climate change is happening right now. It we are to slow it down we all have to act now.

To walk in a park or by a river or in the woods is so good for us. Daily walks are the upside of having to stay at home most of the time.

I've been making masks as you know and those pictured are the last ones I intend making. I offered them on Instagram for free and most of them have gone to new homes. I want to focus on making something else now. Today I'm making a butterfly mobile and some sun hats. The tiny cardigan is for the newest member of our family, born just last week!

Friday, 29 May 2020

How to dry peonies

 Dried peonies at home
Peonies growing in the garden
Peonies drying on my clothes airer and peony close up

Drying peonies is easy. Once they are fully dried out they seem to last forever.
I think of peonies as a wedding flower and I would love to see these made into a wreath for a wedding or a pretty ring for a bride or bridesmaid's head.

The trick is to hang a peony up to dry when it is at the right stage. If the petals fall when you touch it, it is too late. You want to dry a peony with no brown edges. Only perfect peonies will do! When a peony first starts to look a bit sorry for itself and droop a bit on the stem this is the time it needs to be hung up.

Thread a needle with cotton. Cut the stalk about four to six inches below the flower. Push the needle and cotton through the stalk about three inches below the flower. Tie your cotton so you have a loop.  Hang your flower by the loop on a clothes airer like mine or from anything where you can have the flower floating free with nothing in it's way. If you are drying several peonies make sure they are well spaced from each other. A lamp shade or light shade might be a good thing to hang from.

Peonies take a few weeks to dry out depending on the weather. Dry or fresh they are certainly my favourite flower.

Monday, 25 May 2020

Mask making

Assorted masks in silk and cotton. Made by Jenny Stacy
I love Liberty. Masks made by Jenny Stacy

I've made about 20 masks in two sizes recently. Originally I thought I'd just make them for the family but when I put a picture on Instagram orders followed. 

I've never had any confidence in my dressmaking skills so I feel uncomfortable about charging for masks. They are well made and I'm confident they are well-liked, it's just that in this time of national crisis this is something I can do for other people especially anyone who is afraid to leave their house without the protection of a mask. So it doesn't feel right to charge for them.

I am very lucky because I have a lot of fabric. People used to give me fabric when I had the shop and although lots of it was given to fellow makers I kept what I loved.
And best of all I love Liberty tana lawns. This is a very fine cotton and I've collected any little bits of it for years. Now is a good time to use them.

The most important considerations when making masks is :
Does it fit well over your nose, mouth and chin and can you breathe through it?
The first ones I made had a double layer of cotton fabric. This was difficult to breathe through so I tried using plain silk as a lining with cotton and you can breathe through that. However I've nearly run out of silk so yesterday I made masks with a white gauze cotton lining which again is easy to breathe through.
Since taking these pictures I've also made mens' masks using fine linens in shades of grey/green and pale blue with the fine gauze cotton lining and these look good and again are easy to breathe through.

These masks wouldn't offer enough protection to anyone working in a hospital or working in a care home but I wear mine if I have to visit a supermarket and it seems possible that one day it may become compulsory to wear a mask anywhere indoors where there are lots of people gathered.

The good thing about wearing a mask is that you feel safer and that other people steer clear of you because seeing the mask  reminds them to social distance.





Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Are you ok?

The first peony has bloomed in my garden
I cleaned and tidied the dresser in my kitchen
Painting flowers in a vase
How are you?
Are you ok? Have you got enough food? Are you able to communicate with friends and family online? Is there a strict lockdown in your area? Are you working from home or outside of the home? Are you able to keep yourself busy if you are not working? Can you do some art at home?

These are questions that I cannot know the answer to as the comment box under each post is mostly unused. But if you do want to have any dialogue with me you can use my email address. If I don't hear from you I will assume you are ok!

Strange times with no obvious end to them. It's not good for our mental health not to know what is happening and what is going to happen in the future. Chatting to friends and family online and doing a bit of 'art' keeps me sane. What about you?

The peony picture reminds me that this time last year I posted another peony picture. In May 2019 I had the shop and I made things to sell in my shop. Medal brooches and colourful felt this time last year. I was also experimenting with making paper flowers and gold wax seals. 

This time last year one of my daughters kindly invited me to share a villa on a Greek island with her family. Even though it meant leaving the shop closed for a week it was a wonderful opportunity for me and a lovely break. Hot sun, beach, swimming pool and cool white villa. I can't imagine ever doing anything like that again. We can't travel abroad and airlines are rapidly going broke. Governments are keen to get the economy going again but until people feel safe they will be reluctant to leave the relative safety of being at home.

Make something. Making a face mask for example or making something for a friend or member of your family is a nice thing to do. I am half way through the canvas I mentioned in my last post. I'll get on with that now but whether or not it will end up good enough to share with you is anyone's guess !!
Take care of yourself. X

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Drawing etc

Self portrait from a photograph taken a while ago.
Watercolour of iris seen on my walk
First page of new notebook with ideas for a new collage on canvas
Inspired by Grayson Perry I did a quick sketch of myself straight after his programme last week. The jaw is all wrong but according to him that doesn't matter! The main thing is to just draw, every day and you know what they say about practice making perfect! Or at least making me improve!

On my walk I saw some richly coloured velvety iris and couldn't resist having a go at painting ,them.

I like Grayson's attitude that it doesn't matter if it's no good it is just so satisfying to have a go. After all anything you are not happy with you can throw away or put it in a drawer and not show anybody! But the chances are you will surprise yourself !! At the moment when we are restricted it is good to challenge ourselves with something different.

I play around with drawing and paints but I've now decided to use the pile of canvasses I've ignored and try a big collage. Watch this space. And please have a go yourself. You'll be so pleased you did!

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

What are you doing in lockdown?

I've painted and decorated cotton reels to use as beads
I'm challenging myself to produce a painting a day
Inspired by Grayson's Art Club on tv I drew some faces today
I'm enjoying nature on my permitted one hour walk a day


How are you doing?

 Most people reading this live in the States. Hundreds read this but I don't know who you are or what you are going through. I'd like to know. 

Here in England I am on Day 37 of lockdown. I am alone and my kids don't live nearby. Luckily, thanks to Face Time/ WhatsApp video and Zoom we see each other on the screen daily. But I do miss face to face meetings with family and friends. Is it the same for you?

 I do not want to get ill so I keep to social distancing (at least 2 metres or over 6 feet) away from everyone I see when out for a daily walk. I am lucky that I live in an area of "Outstanding Natural Beauty" so there are nice walks nearby.
I try to walk at 1pm when most people are indoors having their lunch. Otherwise it can get uncomfortably crowded.

Do you have enough to eat? Getting food in can be difficult. I go early in the morning ie 7am to one shop for the week's shopping. When this is all over it will be nice to be able to buy wholemeal flour, risotto rice, eggs and pasta again. I find I spend more time preparing meals and baking than I used to. Do you?

I like to be creative. A friend is producing a painting a day for 100 days. I doubt I'll go on for that long but I do find painting (or drawing) therapeutic. 
I don't know if you can watch this online or on "Catch Up" but Grayson Perry has a new series called Grayson's Art Club which inspires you to do art. Highly recommend that. 

I wonder how your routine has changed because of the pandemic? I rely on Joe Wick's exercise routines on Utube to keep fit.  
Maybe you have small children and a partner at home. Maybe you are working from home and bringing up children at the same time. That must be so difficult.
We don't know how long this is going to go on for. We must try to stay positive and cheerful, for our own sakes and for our families.

I hope you are well, physically and mentally. I hope you have fun sometimes and that your family bring you joy.

My two year old grandson told me he was coming to get me to take me to his house . He sat on his plastic pedal car and zoomed towards the front door. He only lives about 200 miles away. And sorry but there's no passenger seat. I'd have to curl up in the space under his lift up driver's seat. But I love the idea sweet boy!!



Monday, 20 April 2020

Lockdown Birthday

Ready for my birthday 
Weekly shop finds...


I had a Happy Birthday despite being alone . Normally my family would visit and we would have a meal out somewhere. But my three children organised a Zoom chat at 8am when they watched me open the presents they'd sent.  I felt lucky all day. Lucky to have a roof over my head and enough food to eat and a loving family. And lucky to have lots of creative projects on the go so that I am rarely, if ever, bored. 
The children also came back on Zoom later for a family quiz they had organised. Which I lost. However treat of the week was seeing the Rolling Stones live on tv last night. Did anyone else watch ?

What changes are you experiencing since 'lockdown'?

My shopping habits have changed a lot. No longer can we just dash to pick up milk or just one ingredient for a recipe. Now we have to think through what we'll need for the week ahead and then try to find those things in just one shop. I like Tesco Express because it's near my house and they have tape on the floor so customers find it easy to 'social distance' and the staff are lovely.

 I find I am baking and making complicated dishes more often than before. And often ingredients have to be changed or left out because you can't find what you thought you needed. This can lead to some nice surprises. For example I didn't have olives but I did have dried prunes and would you believe the dish tasted even better than usual!!

I haven't been able to find flour for ages. I like wholemeal or spelt flour but all I could find this morning was plain white flour which I would never normally  buy but I want to make a cake and a cheese sauce so plain flour it will have to be.

No pasta but it's surprising how even ancient pasta at the back of the cupboard has proved absolutely fine to use. I'm also using tins of pulses I've had for years. Now nothing can be ignored!

Eggs have also been as rare as 'hens' teeth' so I was pleased to find some in my 7am shop this morning. Even though they cost 3 times as much as the ones I normally buy... Ditto with the cheese pictured. It cost £3.65 - too much normally but no choice if I wanted a strong cheddar... Small compromises really.

Another vital part of my daily routine is Joe Wicks with his utube exercises. I find if i do them first thing in the morning everything goes better in the whole day. I walk at 1pm when I reckon most people will be having their lunch so it's nice and quiet. I hope you have nice places to walk. I have never been so aware of birds' singing and all the little wildflowers and wild life before.
Keep well and keep strong. Lots of love.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Paper Dolls

Paper doll drawn by Jenny Stacy
Doll, painted papers and clothes templates by Jenny Stacy
Twin paper dolls made for grandaughters by Jenny Stacy
You can cut clothes out of gift wrap or painted paper. Clothes templates drawn by Jenny Stacy
Happy Easter everyone!

This week's online session for my grandaughters was paper dolls. It took me a while to get the proportions right for the dolls themselves. I drew them then traced them onto thick card and the same with the clothes, not forgetting the tabs to fold back on the doll.

The easy way to make clothes is to draw round the clothes templates onto the back of gift wrap or even better, gift wrap you've glued to thin card to give them a bit more body. But I like the look of painted clothes better so I painted a few sheets of thin card and cut some of the clothes shapes out of that.

You could also glue pieces of fabric to thin card with a glue stick and draw round the clothes templates on the back of those. That would look really good using any bits of linen or printed cotton that you have.

I am very conscious at the moment that people can't get out to the shops the way they used to so any art project has to use things most people have already got lying round the house. Hopefully most people will have scissors, white paper,white card (although a cereal packet or other cardboard food box would be fine) glue, gift wrap or bits of fabric and paint.

I hope that you, dear reader, are managing to keep well and cheerful in these difficult times. If there's anything more you want to know about making paper dolls like these you can always email me on jennystacy6@gmail.com
Next week's project will be inspired by Nature. Now that walking for an hour has become a precious part of our day I think we are appreciating the sights and sounds of plants, trees and birds more than ever before.

Friday, 3 April 2020

Make an Easter flower crown - step by step

White card strip and strip with torn pictures or painted bits glued on.
Draw round your templates on white card and colour them in before cutting them out.
Glue cut outs to crown strip. Lastly add scrunched  yellow crepe paper or yellow tissue paper to flower centres.


Ingredients: 

white card, torn pictures from magazines and painted papers (optional), food box to make templates from, pencil, scissors, paints or crayons, glue and yellow crepe paper or yellow tissue paper.

I drew two flower shapes, 2 leaf shapes and a bird onto strong food box card and cut them out.  These are your templates.

Cut a strip of white card for each crown to fit round your head plus an overlap of 2-4 cms.  Mine were 4 cms depth by 54cms long.
Glue torn pictures of flowers etc to the crown to completely cover the white.
Remember you don't want these to stick out over the bottom of the crown but it is fine to have them sticking out from the top of the crown.

Then using your templates, draw round each of them as many times as you like onto white card. Do at least one of each shape. Paint or colour them in.
Cut out your shapes and glue them wherever looks good along the length of your crown strip.

Lastly add your flower centers. Draw some circles on white card to fit into the centre of your flowers, cut them out and glue them to your flowers.
Now, if you have yellow crepe or tissue cut off a strip about 16cms long by 3 -4 cms deep.  Cut a fringe all the way along the strip but only cutting half way down.   Add glue to the centre of your flower.Wrap the yellow strip round your finger and crush it in circular fashion into the centre of your flower. Repeat for all flowers that are on your crown.

Finally sellotape the ends of your crown strip so it fits your head perfectly.

Now you are all ready for Easter!

More roses

Paint crepe paper, cut out petal shapes and glue them around a bead. Two more roses (back to back) made yesterday.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Making flowers - and staying sane

The lower one is made by me
Not realistic but still fun to do

Daffodils from crepe paper


I'm trying not to leave the house and the challenge of making something different is keeping me happy! I'll try to make more roses today.  For the rose above I've painted crepe paper and glued cut out petals around a round bead.

My tips for staying sane and happy when you have to be indoors:
1)   I find getting dressed as soon as I wake up makes me feel positive about the day ahead. I've tried staying in a dressing gown half the morning and I found the day drifts a bit aimlessly. Being dressed, washed and ready puts you in the right frame of mind to enjoy your day.

2)  Exercise first thing. This is for my mental and physical health.  During this period of isolation I have found 10 minutes with Joe Wicks in the sitting room really beneficial. Check out utube Body Coach to find one of his sessions that looks like your level.

3) Try to shop just once a week.
 People seem to be getting creative with what is in their cupboards and fridge now that we can't just pop out for one thing. Being at home so much is a great opportunity to get creative with what we cook.
 I make a basic soup with onion, carrots and potatoes regularly. That's a base soup, you can add whatever you can spare to it. I can't do without Marigold stock powder. A heaped teaspoon of that in hot water added to soup, stews etc makes it taste great! 
Being a vegetarian I also make risottos, pasta and pasta sauces, lentil stew and ratatouille regularly too. Spice I'd find it hard to live without? CUMIN

Keep spare milk and bread in the freezer.

4) Have a routine. My very simple routine is just Exercise, Housework and Making. That works for me. What works for you?

I find housework very very boring. But yesterday I enjoyed it. I imagined the house was going to be photographed for a magazine and I was the stylist!!
I only got one room done to my satisfaction but I'll do another room today. That works for me. Would it work for you?

5) Walk somewhere you can avoid other people.  Not sure what the restrictions are like in the USA but I hope that wherever you are you are allowed to go out for a walk once a day.
 I've found quite a good time is between 1pm and 2pm. It breaks up the day and most people are having lunch at that time.  I went later yesterday and I was constantly having to detour round others. 

I hope you enjoy your day however you spend it.
Now back to that rose challenge. X



Friday, 27 March 2020

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Art class 1





My daughter asked me to give grandaughters aged 4 and 5 an art class via Face Time. I thought about something easy that anyone can do using things found in most homes:

Salt, coins, tissue paper, flour, some watercolour paints (any childrens' paints are fine, white A4 copy paper ie ordinary paper you print on to;
pencil, glue stick, paint brush, water and optional wax crayons.

  
Once my daughter had put all these things into little bowls for each girl (only a very little salt and a very little flour ( half a teaspoon) is needed per child) we were ready to begin.

First you get some tissue paper (the sort you would wrap something precious in or interleave clothing with in a smart store, not toilet roll tissue) bigger than your piece of paper. Scrunch it up in your hands into a ball.  Use the glue stick to cover your paper with glue. Then open up your tissue paper ball and make it flat, then lay it onto the glued paper and smooth it down so it sticks all over.
Put it to one side to dry and get your coins.

With a new piece of paper put the coin under the paper and use wax crayon ideally but a pencil or wood crayon will do and draw back and forth over the top so that the imprint shows on your paper. My girls used their wax crayons and different coins, one at a time. We also thought about what else they could use. An old credit card worked well. 

Now let's try the salt. Paint onto a new piece of paper, lots of colour, and as you paint scatter pinches of salt over your wet paint. Scattering the salt is the most fun. (The end result isn't great, that's why there's no picture!!) 

Back to your now dry tissue covered piece of paper. Paint over it using lots of different colours. See pictures one and two above. 

Last of all the flour. Flour can gunge up your brushes so do leave this til last and wash out brushes straight away.
Drip some water into your flour from your paint brush. Don't touch the flour with your paint brush yet. Now with more water on your brush load brush with paint and mix the colour into your flour to make a paste. Use this paste (blue or red or green are best).  Let it dry. See picture 3 for an example of what it looks like.

Next Wednesday I'll do something different with them. This session lasted about an hour. Feel free to use it for your own children.