A catch up on broadband, cats, life in Portpatrick and Chocolate Baroque

In my last post I was bemoaning the lack of broadband and I am delighted to say we did finally get it on December 2nd!  You’d be forgiven for thinking this would be the start of regular blogging, but it actually meant we could finally push on and get the new Chocolate Baroque website finished and launched.  Adrian and I did most of the work on the site ourselves and in those final weeks, it was occupying most of my time and all of my mental and creative capacity.

Once we got the site launched on December 18th, getting Christmas presents and cards sorted suddenly became the top priority, then in the blink of an eye both Christmas and New Year had come and gone.  I prepared to hit the ground running at the start of January, but just hit the ground instead, floored by the vicious sinus cold thing that has been going around.

That then meant I had a backlog to deal with and a bunch of deadlines I had to extend.  I have been working hard on a new 12 month long project for Chocolate Baroque and we just launched it yesterday, behind schedule but at least it is still January!!  It’s called A Year of Stamping with Chocolate Baroque and you can read all about it on the Shop Blog.

AYOS 01 Jan 2015 wip1

And talking of blogs, I know this one seems to be gathering cobwebs and tumbleweeds and there’s a reason for that.  I am trying to make a distinction between my own creative stuff and the business.  I love Chocolate Baroque to bits, but always felt a little uncomfortable turning my own blog into a constant advert for it, so instead, I will be doing things like product reviews, projects and tutorials on the CB shop blog and keeping this blog for more personal stuff.

For example, I’m doing a lot of crochet lately. Fans of Chocolate Baroque stamps probably aren’t that interested, but I know many of my readers are similar to me in that they enjoy a wide range of crafts.  We still have quite a lot to do to the house, including sorting out curtains and central heating to get the place cozier, which might have something to do with my desire to make a blanket.

I am making a tunisian crochet entrelac blanket which is a lot less complicated than it sounds.  It is worked in squares, working up a diagonal path which means that it is great for space dyed yarn as you get a checkerboard effect without having to change colours.  The yarn I am using is called Amazing by Lion Brand yarns and it’s a lovely soft wool blend (the colour is Glacier Bay).

entrelac blanket

I’m also still reaping the benefits of the two classes I took in Ireland last year and doing more painting and journaling.

Sometimes the journaling is just too private to share – after all, that’s the beauty of a journal, it’s a private, sacred place to express inner thoughts, to vent, to experiment and for me, to problem solve.  I ask my journal questions an awful lot, then I write, doodle, paint and glue until the answers come through.  Other times it’s a statement of intent like this spread here.

completion

click on the image to see the full size version

Completion is my word of the year for 2015 – most of the clutter in my studio is unfinished work and things I’m keeping “just in case” I ever need them.  In business I’m a huge advocate of playing to your strengths and delegating your weaknesses.  (Adrian is a detail freak so he does all our proof reading – a job I don’t enjoy, but he’s brilliant at it.)  However that doesn’t work with art, I can’t delegate the completion of a card or a painting to anyone else, so my goal this year is to get over the perfectionism of not finishing (it can’t be criticised if it’s unfinished) and get on and complete things.

There are faces on this journal spread too because I just love drawing and painting faces.  I included the Boticellis as something to aspire to and the painting is a copied from a photo.  I am ok at poker faces, but I’m trying to learn how to do more expressions.  I’m fascinated by the way the shapes change when someone smiles – the eyes are flatter at the bottom, there are wrinkles at the corners, the cheekbones become more pronounced and teeth – oh boy, teeth are hard and they are definitely not white.

I’ve actually added to this spread since the photo, practising painting aliums, and experimenting with something called TAP – Transfer Artist’s Paper.  You can print onto it with an inkjet printer then iron it onto another surface and it will transfer the image.  It’s designed for fabric, but can work on other surfaces as well.

completion2lr

click on the image to see the full size version

I used it here to transfer the Albert Camus quote “In the depths of Winter, I finally learned there was in me an invincible Summer” which is a quote that means a lot to me.  The TAP transfers come out rather patchy on textured surfaces such as layered paint and collage and the quote is a little smudged because I didn’t tape it down and it moved when I ironed it.

I have almost finished another painting that I started in Ireland.  Photographing a painting and looking at the photo is a great way to see what’s working and what isn’t.  After seeing this painting as a photo, I want to do just a little more tweaking, but overall I’m pretty pleased with it.

flowerbombs-lr2

This is acrylics and molding paste on paper with metallic gold powder and it is now on my Redbubble site, where you can buy various items with this design on.

flowerbombs-tote

floating-free-cushion

For those of you who are interested, this is the link to my shop – please take a look.  http://www.redbubble.com/people/glendaw/shop.

Purdy is growing up fast.

PurdyJan1501   PurdyJan1503

She was spayed and microchipped just over a week ago and everything has healed up great so she’s now mastering the cat flap and learning all about the big wide world of Outside.  She had us worried at first because she mastered going out of the cat flap a lot better than coming back in, but a rustle of the treat bag did wonders for her learning curve and we’re happy she knows how to get in if it all gets too scary.  Like Trillian, she’s not impressed with our inability to control the weather so she’s staying in today staring at it all through the windows.

PurdyJan1502

You can see who’s boss in this photo can’t you.  We have had some real problems with Purdy being very aggressive towards Trillian.  We hope that being neutered will do the trick of reducing the hormones that cause very territorial behaviour in cats.  There’s playing and there’s attacking and we were seeing a lot of both, to the point where Trillian was showing real signs of stress and anxiety, trying to get away all the time.  Trillian kept trying to find quiet spots to nap, but we’ve had to start keeping doors shut after we discovered Purdy would seek out Trillians napping spots and pee right where Trillian had been sleeping.  And the day she did it on our bed it wasn’t just pee – we had to have our duvet professionally cleaned after that little incident.

We have considered having her re-homed because we don’t want her behaviour to impair Trillian’s quality of life and right now, she is one pissed off looking cat.  Adrian’s worried she’ll simply up and leave and go off to a new home, but I think she’s too timid to do that.  Purdy already seems to be less aggressive so hopefully getting rid of those hormones will do the trick.

We are still enjoying life in Portpatrick, though the weather has been pretty rough with storm force winds taking out a couple of roof tiles.  Turns out we have fancy interlocking ceramic tiles that no one locally stocks, so Lesley is being a star and coming up with a bootful this weekend.  We figured buying spares is the ultimate insurance policy – now we have plenty, they will hopefully sit in the garage for years because we won’t need them!

The storms have made some stunning seascapes and Adrian and I both enjoy getting out there and getting photos.  I’ve been playing with photo collages and can’t decide which of these two versions I like best.

The drama of the black and white.

winter storms Or the mood created by the colour version.

winter storms COLOUR

Well this has turned into a bit of an epic post so I think I better wrap it up there.  We’re having a belated Christmas weekend with Lesley and David, so I’m off to mull some wine and prepare some brussel sprouts.  Have a great weekend everyone!

glwsig-orange

Trillian’s new house

When I first introduced Trillian on the blog (almost four years ago), I was warned by several people that calico cats are all bonkers and I have to say our little girl conforms to type.  The shower in our new house, apart from being a wonderful size, has a shower tray with embossed dots on it and it took a while for Trillian to realise they weren’t as mobile as she obviously hoped.

We let her out for the first time here just yesterday and it took her all of three minutes to express her gratitude with a poor little mouse.  We were following her closely around the garden, so were able to rescue it and return Trillian to the house in disgrace.

 

office cat

Psychotic killing machine? Moi??

I know you’re dying to see more pics of the studio and I promise I will oblige soon, but I’ve been focusing more on the office end of the room first.  It’s definitely coming together though and it’s a great feeling.

A crazy calico cat

trillian box

It’s been a while since you saw anything of Trillian, so I thought I’d give you an update.

She loves to hang out in the craft room

Trillian craft cat

especially if she can catch a sunbeam.

Trillian sunbeam

She’s healthy and crazy as ever and expects complete subservience from human slave no.1 and 2.   She likes to remind us from time to time of our inevitable fate if we don’t comply with her every whim:

The poor hapless victim is a Kong Wubba mouse which I have to say is one of the most robust cat toys we’ve ever found.  You can get them on Amazon – and no, that’s not an affiliate link of any kind, I am just genuinely impressed with any toy that can survive the kind of abuse Trillian gives this one!

She is not a very cuddly cat, but displays her affection with a casual nudge of the head as she weaves around your ankles.  Unless you have treats of course, in which case she will reach up and hold your hand in both her front paws and nibble the treat from your fingers in a very endearing way.

But you live with the consequences if you forget to put the treats away.

 

treats

She declined the opportunity to be interviewed for the blog, but her agent did issue the following statement:

“mmmphrrrrrrrrreouw”

I think that means “hi”, but it could also mean “feed me”.  Yeah, probably the latter …

glwsig-orange

 

 

 

Craft Cat

In my craft room I have a high sided plastic washing up bowl that I use for spritzing and spraying.  It generally has a few layers of kitchen towel in the bottom and when I’m not using it, I use it to store painting rags, sponges, foam brushes and lately cat hair.

Still attached to the cat.

CraftCat03

Little Miss Innocent has been told it is not a cat bed.

CraftCat02

CraftCat01

Yeah, right …

 

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