Sunday, 30 October 2016

Nostalgic Knits

Today is my daughter, Eilidh's, 21st birthday.

Birthdays inevitably make me nostalgic as I think back over the years and the happy memories of birthdays gone by.  Recently my eyes hit upon a box marked 'baby memories' whilst I was in the loft looking for something completely unrelated.  Well, I sat down there and then and took every item out of the box - annotated baby books full of mementos, precious china given as gifts, first shoes, a baby-grow.

Then I found a set of baby clothes I'd knitted.  A layette - or first set for a newborn.

But I didn't knit this set for my own baby.  In fact I'd made this set quite a few times for friends having babies, long before I had one myself.  This set was made specially for my nephew Calum, who's now a strapping 25 year old, and it became a bit of a family tradition that my newborn nieces and nephews would be brought home from hospital wearing it.  I still have the pattern, though it's a bit creased nowadays.

Here I am as a new mum, preparing to leave the maternity hospital in 1995 with Eilidh wearing the special hat, matinee jacket but possibly not the bootees.

And here we are together last weekend, celebrating her forthcoming 21st birthday in London and creating more lovely memories for the future.  


Monday, 10 October 2016

Bits and Pieces

It's nearly a year since my husband, Geoff, gave me a two day course at Blue Sky Mosaics for my birthday.  Though courses run throughout the spring and summer, it wasn't until the first weekend of October that I was able to try my hand at mosaicing for the very first time.

Not only did I find creating a mosaic to be a therapeutic pursuit, I was impressed with what I was able to make in (just over) two days with the help of course tutor and mosaic expert, Ann Stephen.
Ann Stephen is the creative force behind Blue Sky Mosaics and this is a small selection of the materials in Ann's studio available to students like me.  Ann's studio is in her garden and the surroundings where the course takes place are full of mosaic treasures.  Though it was October, it was sunny enough to sit outside for morning coffee and warm croissants with Ann and Bill and my fellow course attendees.
I'd only a pretty vague notion of what I wanted to make - a rectangular plaque to be situated outside our front door but Ann lent me some mosaic books for inspiration and her husband, Bill, made me a suitable substrate.  All I needed now was a design!
Here you can see my picture evolving from a mosaic I liked in the book (top left) to my own interpretation.  It won't surprise anyone who knows me that my design features a chicken!  She's pecking at 'corn' in a flowery garden with 'grass' made from a broken Spode teacup which belonged to my Grandma.  Much of the mosaic is made from coloured glass with the inclusion of glass pebbles, beads, ball bearing chain and small ceramic tiles in the border.
The glass was all shaped, cut and ground into the desired pieces using specialist tools.
All the flower petals and leaves were made individually.
Transparent glass is backed so the adhesive does not show through and its vibrancy is not lost.

As the design comes together, all the small pieces can be stuck into place...
...then grouted - the messy bit!  Grout has to be worked into all the crevasses and that's best done by hand.
Next comes polishing with a soft cloth - and the mosaic is revealed with its bright colours and detail.
I can't wait to see it hung up at home.
A truly inspiring weekend spent in affable company, an encouraging atmosphere and beautiful surroundings.  Many thanks to Ann who is generous with her both her time and her talent.

Like to have a go?  I thoroughly recommend you do - here's the link again :
Blue Sky Mosaics, Kintore, Aberdeenshire

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