Category: mel

In the Frame – A Journey into Self Portraiture – Part Two

Over the summer I have been continuing to play and experiment with taking selfies. From the point of view of my phone camera I never really stop taking photos often of my feet and sometimes on the timer but I have been using the big camera more to try and hone my self portrait skills.

You can read the beginning of this story here.

Going back and reading that post has me inspired all over again! Anyway here are a few from this summer, some thoughts and revelations!

I bought one of Vivienne’s online classes and have loved reading her tips and positive messages about this form of photography. I’ve been trying out one of the methods she uses for focussing the camera. Simply put she turns off auto focus and uses the feet/metre guide on the lens to work out where the focus point is then stands there.

I don’t always get it right as you can see in a couple of the photos above but I’m still enjoying it and also now deliberately standing out of focus for a different type of shot.

I’m obsessed with the jumping shots and want to get a good one….. I’ll keep practicing.

Something I have got better at is looking for the light. Photos are just better when there is some light and dark, some sunshine basically. And from a technical point of view the more light the faster you can have the shutter and hopefully capture an in motion type of shot.

And even sometimes when you use that sunshine to take a great all be it a technically bad picture.

The light in Tuscany was just amazing. And I have more evidence that I wear skirts!

I say that a little tongue in cheek but this photo journey has made me realise that I dress in jeans all the time. I like to be comfortable and I guess I have a uniform for day to day living.

However, going back to Vivienne’s original idea about ‘cultivating self love through self portraiture’ I have come to the conclusion that although I like being ‘comfy’ what that actually means is that I choose to wear those jeans over skirts and dresses because of the thoughts I have about my body. I should add, the negative thoughts I have about my body. I hide behind what I feel are neutral clothes, nothing that makes me stand out too much.

Yet by looking at the photos from the post in 2016 and some of these here I love to see myself in something other than jeans. I can honestly say that this has been a revelation, a pause for thought, something that I need to be conscious of and work towards changing. Loving myself in whatever clothes truly want to wear.

This self portraiture journey really is turning into an adventure of discovery on so many levels and I am bravely taking these steps, practicing all the things and embracing what I see through the click of that shutter.

The Click Tick List – See the Leaning Tower of Pisa

You know when you get an idea, maybe it’s something that you have had in your head for ages like seeing one of the amazing sights of the world.

And you get to actually see it one day and it was sort of a disappointment? Well, the day we saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa was not one of those days! HA!

It was just as wonderfully quirky at I’d imagined.

I mean. Look at it. It’s crazy.

And beautiful.

And even better when the sun shines on that marble and limestone.

I could talk about its history, how they tried to correct the lean while still building it and at several times over the next several hundred years but the internet can fill all those details in for you. I simply want to remember how amazing it was.

Such a great day and I’m happy to have crossed it off the list.

The Gelato

Ice-cream is one of my very favourite things. And gelato is even better. So when we went to Italy we ate all the gelato we could.

I know what you’re thinking….. isn’t gelato just Italian for ice-cream? Simple answer no. The main difference is that gelato has more milk than cream so freezes at a lower temperature and is denser in consistency. It does taste smoother somehow too. I don’t know if I could pick gelato out from ice-cream in a taste test but for research purposes I’m happy to give it a whirl……

Before we went on our holiday I did some research and had about five gelateria’s in mind for us to visit during our stay.

In Lucca we went to Piniko and Grom. I had such delights as mango, coffee and nocciola (hazelnut).

In Venice we wandered to find Fantasy Gelato and I tried pistachio, stracciatella and peach.

In the little town on the coast, Lido di Camaiore, we visited Modo and at Viareggio,  Kremmy. Gav liked Kremmy best as they were very friendly and helpful. Translating the flavours for us and letting us try before we bought.

I loved our first visit to Modo not only because we’d walked and walked to get there so it was a perfect reward but also that just ahead of us into the shop went a large Italian family.  Each member of the family stepped up to the counter, chose their gelato and headed to the seating area on the promenade to tuck into the yummy dessert. And the best bit of that scene was that the Grandad paid for all the family. It was a lovely sight to witness.

I had more pistachio and I tried out chocolate and fig. And at Kremmy more hazelnut strawberry and nutella.

Finally in Florence we went to Grom again and Vivoli. Not sure which flavours I had but they were very good.

If you’ve ever watched the movie City Slickers then you’ll recall the scene where Billy Crystals character is testing another characters knowledge of what ice cream goes with different foods. Pretty sure those ice-cream making pair in the movie were supposed to be Ben and Jerry! Anyway, I felt a bit like that stood in front of all that gelato. I wanted to get a good combination of flavours in my cup. I can honestly admit that I didn’t achieve that goal. But they were all delicious in their own right so I’m not complaining and I think my favourite was the hazelnut.

Now to hunt up so gelato and keep practicing!

The 100 Day Project 2018 – Thoughts on the Completed Project

It’s over three months since I made my final heart on fabric for this years 100 Day Project! Where does the time go?

I did really well at sewing the squares together and finished that part of the quilt a few weeks after the end of the project. The time lapse is partly to do with me, the well known fact that crafts go in seasons with me, and partly that I have struggled to get a good photo of the quilt top.

I had it in my head that I wanted to hold up the quilt top not lay it down as I had all through the 100 days. After my second ‘photo shoot’ I should have given up and just laid it on the floor but I was stubborn and tried again.

Argh…… still blurry and with shadows but here it is.

Back at day eighty four I promised to return here and share what I learned from doing this project. I’ve just gone back and read my roundup post for last year to see what I thought about that project (I’ve linked all past post’s below).

What I mentioned in that post was that I’d surprised myself by completing the 100 days and that I was happy to have carved 15-30 minutes out of my day to craft.

Both of those thoughts are true this time around. I had set a more challenging project but still completed it and I made the time to do it.

I also simply love what I have made. I love that I tried new techniques, learnt about fabric paint (grr) and stamping with ink on fabric. That I used a well loved blouse, a sheet my sister gave me and mostly materials I had on hand for the squares. That I carved my own heart stamps, used a colour palette and fell in love with applique.

I think my biggest takeaway should be that I can do it. I may tweak and make it work for me but I can do it.

What I would really like to do then is believe this of myself day in and day out. I have a dream to sell things that I make. But I do not believe I can. I don’t really try to do it. There are a dozen reasons why I don’t. Excuses I should say, not reasons. There are too many folk already doing it, it will cost more that it makes, I don’t have people skills to sell things, nothing I make will be good enough………..

Perhaps I need to look long and hard at those 100 quilt squares and realise that I can do it if I want to and stop all the excuses? Maybe I will. We will see.

In the meantime I am already looking forward to 100 days 2019 and planning to finish the quilt obviously!

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Here is my intro post to the 2018 project and my thoughts on 25 days down and at 80 days. And here is the post I wrote at the beginning of the 2017 project with this one summing up my thoughts at the end of those 100 days last year.

Travel Time

Just popping in to say we are in Tuscany enjoying cappuccino and gelato! Be back soon.

Timely Reminder

I’ve just read a wonderful post over here. I adore this blog, her outlook on life, her words, her photos.

It made me feel like I needed to write something today so here I am.

The day did not start as planned. We were out last night at Gav’s uncles Diamond Wedding Anniversary do. Diamond Wedding! Consequently we were home late and I slept in. I hate sleeping in (actually I LOVE sleeping in!) because the rest of the day seems over too quickly somehow and I end up shortening our morning walk so I can get home for that first cup of coffee. Then while Bud and I were walking our shortened walk I got a text from my older niece to say she was visiting my Mum with our newest addition, my great niece, so the walk was shortened even more and off I went to see them all.

I got my first cup of coffee there while I watched this 11 month old walking and laughing and being so crazily stubborn about going all those places she shouldn’t. Looking quizzically at an old toy phone my Mum brought out then at a mobile and wondering what the old one was. Technology eh? She doesn’t recognise an old phone! Anyway, it was an hour of loveliness and a timely reminder to live and love and enjoy even on days that don’t begin quite as we’d hoped.

Happy Sunday!

The 100 Day Project 2018 – Thoughts on 25 Days Down

Where did those 25 days go? I have be messing about with fabric pens, dimensional paint, scraps of material and embroidery floss and created a quarter of the squares. I’ve been sharing a photo everyday over here on Instagram along with a few words. I am smiling all over my face as I write because I absolutely adore this project.

The first 16.

Since I’m plod, plodding along I wanted to get a few of my thoughts and feelings about the project so far down ‘on paper’ because I know I’ll hit a wall at some point so let’s celebrate these first 25 days with a little honesty.

Here’s quick list of things that have come into my head so far –

  1. I don’t love every square and have made some mistakes
  2. I’m not doing it over if I don’t like it (yet anyway!)
  3. I’m a little panicky about them all looking the same
  4. I’m getting too conscious about the designs/colours matching other days nearby in the layout
  5. I dislike dimensional paint!
  6. I love applique
  7. Play is good

Here’s a bit more of a ramble about point 4.

Seeing my ‘grid’ of squares grow over on Instagram makes me want them all to be cohesive. I will hold my hand up and admit that I’ve made a pile of squares all in order of how I want to use them for the next 15 days. Is that cheating?

First of all Mel, it’s your project so you can do what you like and second of all if it is then so what! Maybe I’ll loosen up on this as time goes on or maybe I won’t and I’ll keep planning the fabric choices based on the other growing rows of squares. It’s just one of those quirks in my personality that I’m very matchy matchy.

Play is good. Below is a great example of how I played with card and supplies and made a template so I could use it as a mask.

I went for the ‘negative’ look so used the cut out hearts as the mask.

I loved making that template. But unfortunately the stamp I picked to create the design over the masked hearts didn’t allow those ‘negative’ hearts show up enough. (Plus I seem to have some old blue paint on the stamp….)

So I grabbed a Mister Huey’s spray mist and covered the square in pink ink!

This is one of the ones I don’t like. The combination of slightly patterned background fabric with the swirls and then the pink is too much. But it’s staying in the mix of squares if only to make me remember that play is good but test things out first is also a necessary part of play.

The dimensional paint issue. So on day 2 and 10 I used Tulip dimensional fabric paint. I loved day 2 but when I came to use it on day 10 my test runs with the white matt paint just looked awful. I’d committed to using paint on that day so I just did it. You can see the result in the last photo below. It’s the grey square with three white hearts and that zig zag border. It turned out ok and I like the addition of a border, something I’d yet to try. My thought about the paint overall should have been a good thing as it was pushing me to different things. But really I just didn’t want to work with the paint again.

Then I looked at the three tubes of paint and knew there was no way I wasn’t going to use them on this project again so I googled dimensional paint and came up with the technique I used here.

I drew the hearts onto a sheet of card and smushed the fabric square onto the paint. It’s so messy and imperfect but I love it. I really like the ‘negative cream heart on the inside of the paint and think I’ll try this again but paint the hearts closer so I get hardly any space between smushed hearts on the finished square. We will see.

I found that I was panicking around day 15 when all I seem to have made were squares with a big heart in the middle or squares with random little hearts. I know that really that wasn’t the case because when you look at them all laid out they do vary but that’s how I felt. I tried to just ignore those feelings and make the next square.

Just pushing on is really all you can do in a project like this because if you don’t you end up not making anything and that day is suddenly gone.

Day 24 is perhaps my most fav square of all. You know how I love a spotty fabric…… And my new love of the applique technique.

Below are all 25 laid out as they will be when I put them together as a quilt. Day 1 is top left.

I think you can tell by the length of my ramblings that I’m loving this so much and that is the most important part. Bring on the next 75!

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Here is my intro post to the 2018 project. And here is the post I wrote at the beginning of the 2017 project with this one summing up my thoughts at the end of those 100 days last year.

Currently – Spring 2018

Yesterday we had the hottest day of the year. When the weather turns I always feel the same. I may have felt lethargic and festered all winter but then one day when the breeze is warm and the light is right I am ready. This is one of the reasons I love living in a country with definite seasons. I’m sure I’ve said it many times before but I love the seasons.

So with my new found energy what am I up to in this year of 2018?

  • Sowing lots of flower and vegetable seeds.
  • Waiting for a trip to the World Snooker Championships next week!
  • Anticipating a visit to Harrogate flower show again.
  • Watching Baseball.
  • Hoping to cross at least four things of my list this year. What will they be??
  • Practicing yoga and One Little Word®.
  • Trying to eat more healthily.
  • Walking more. I really slipped this winter with my 10k steps to getting back on that feels good.
  • Making a list of vinyl to look out for at charity shops.
  • Planning a family trip to see the Terracotta Warriors.

That should keep me busy this summer!

Adventures in Quilt Making – The Purple One

Hooray! I’ve finished it and I think this is the fastest quilt I’ve made so far. Under a year, now that progress.

Little photo bomber……..

I mentioned it over here in January.

I bought the fabric last year at Jo-ann in Florida with the intention of making a quilt for our living room and even though I say so myself I think it goes perfectly.

I also feel like I employed some of my previously learnt skills on this one too. I measured correctly this time and I trimmed all the edges as I sewed. Being precise does not come naturally to me but I have learnt that it’s vital when piecing your quilt tops. I also used a technique I saw on one of the Creative Bug tutorials about how to secure your quilting stitches. By turning the size of the stitches down to very very very small you can start the line off, trim your threads and the quilted stitches stay secure. A great tip which saved so much time for me because previously I sewed all my loose threads into the quilt.

I’m still no expert and it isn’t perfect but I’m fine with that. Do a little, learn a little.

I wanted to get this finished before spring and before the 100 day project as I know I won’t be doing much crafty stuff other than making hearts on fabric till July.

Glad it’s finished and ready for the autumn, or right now as it’s been snowing again today!

The 100 Day Project 2018 – 100 Hearts on Fabric

Can you believe it is almost a year since I began writing 100 Brush Script Quotes? I can’t.

I loved the project so much last year that I have decided to jump on board again in 2018 and have shamelessly plagiarised the project that Elise Blaha Cripe  did last year. But instead of 100 Plants on Fabric I’m going with 100 Hearts on Fabric!

And let me tell you I am about as excited as I have ever been about this! The idea came to me about two months ago during a quilty phase when I found myself wondering how I could do something similar to Elise (because I thought her take on the idea was so cool) without being exactly the same. Then it hit me. I love hearts as a motif so why not do hearts on fabric.

I began by pinning over here to see if I could come up with enough ideas……..

Then I thought where is the challenge if you know you can do it? I was hooked on the idea anyway and now can’t wait to get going.

Although I’m all fired up, which is of course exactly how you need to be at the start of something that is going to last a long time, I’m also realistic and know that I’ll get fed up and stressed along the journey. To help combat those feelings I know I can consult my board over on Pinterest when I need inspiration.

As far as supplies I’ve purchased some fabric markers, fabric inks and dimensional fabric paint.

I’ve sorted out a pile of embroidery floss, sequins and beads and have a small stack of fabric. The salmon linen on the top of the pile is the only one I have purchased so far all the others are from my stash.

I intend to make squares (when I said I’d plagiarised her idea I wasn’t kidding!) and sew them into a quilt so my colour scheme is going to be white, pink, grey and some other neutrals. If I get to the end of the 100 days and manage to sew a quilt I’ll put it our bedroom to go with my very first quilt.

A week today is all begins again!

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Here is the post I wrote at the beginning of the 2017 project and here is a post summing up my thoughts at the end of the 100 days.