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!