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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Mixed Media Letter Rack

Had fun making this with Pebeo ceramic vitrail and Fantasy paints

This view shows the base which is same as reverse and was "splodge" with Pebeo DYNA paints in black, blue/black, bluegreen and silver to match the front.

Monday, 28 September 2015

A Memory from 75 years ago (A Wedding in the Blitz)

As talk recently has been of The Blitz 75 years ago, I though it would be apt to share this little memory from Dad's memoirs: of the day they got married in the middle of an air-raid in London on 28 September 1940.


"Elena and I became engaged on the 17th April 1940, which was our joint birthday!  Not the same year though.  Elena was a Senior Clerical Officer with the Post Office Savings Bank HQ, near Olympia, West London.   I was a dispensing optician with the Ministry of Pensions (Acton, West London), helping to turn out THOUSANDS of pairs of gas mask type spectacles for the whole of the armed forces.   We also made and fitted artificial eyes for those who unfortunately needed them as a result of warfare, including, believe it or not, prisoners of war!

We arranged our wedding for Saturday, 28th September 1940.   Father-in-law was the deputy Mayor of Stoke Newington (North London) and was quite prepared to give his daughter a super reception at the Council’s premises…  BUT on Sunday, September the 8th, (the day Jerry set fire to London’s docklands), father-in-law’s house suffered a direct hit.  Fortunately dad and mother-in-law were safely in their shelter.

Elena and I used to go to Church on Sunday evenings and then went back either to her place or mine, both houses being about the same distance from the Church.  On this occasion we decided to go back to my place (a flat shared with my mother).   Just as we arrived home the three bombs fell on Elena’s home.   Had we gone back to her place that evening, we would have arrived just as the bombs fell!   The thought of all the implications shook us all quite a bit.

Elena wanted to speak to her dad… but couldn’t find him!   Apparently, after the bombing, as he had nowhere to live, he lodged with his Bank Manager… but forgot to tell us.  During the day he was very busily involved at the Town Hall looking after Heavy Rescue services; with all the bombing around he was kept hard at it, so much so that Elena had to make an appointment to see her own father!

He said the reception would have to be cancelled.   Fairly rightly he felt there would be a lot of criticism having a posh reception with all the devastation around us.  At least we had a superb three-tiered wedding cake.

Further disaster struck.   On Monday, 23rd September (we were getting married on the 28th) an unexploded land mine fell on the wreckage of the previous bombing of father-in-law’s property.  (He was a master builder, and his wrecked timber yard was adjacent to his home).   The Navy mine disposal squad examined it, but decided the mine was so precariously buried in all the piles of timber it would be madness to chance doing anything with it… so they arranged to detonate it on the Thursday, two days before our wedding!  Everyone within half a mile had to be evacuated.   All traffic was stopped.   They (the authorities) would not allow precious foodstuffs to be cleared from the shops – the whole area was deserted, waiting for the big bang.  Here ended father-in-law’s home, business offices, works, etc.  About seventy houses were demolished by the blast, with some of dad’s scaffold poles found over a mile away!

It was the law in those days that people were not allowed to congregate in groups or more than twenty – for safety purposes.   Also, it was the law in those days that all marriages had to solemnised by 3.00 pm.

Elena was now living with my mother and me…  with most nights spent sheltering under the stairs.   All very romantic – especially when we had to go out and smother incendiary bombs with a dustbin lid!  With all the shrapnel falling from Ack-Ack shells, we were made to go out in the streets.

We had no telephone (telephones were a rarity in those days) so, as a measure of propriety I stayed the night before our wedding with my best man, Sid.   We arranged for the car that took Sid and me to the Church to then go on and pick up Elena and father-in-law; by so doing, they would know we were already at the Church.   Excellent organisation you would have thought… but Jerry, who already had made two attempts to mess up the wedding, had other ideas.

Just as the car pulled up outside the Church, the air-raid warning sounded, and the Vicar said sorry, but the Church will remain closed.   All pleadings were in vain, he just was not prepared to risk sixty to seventy people getting hit in the Church – and in any case, it was against the law.   All the congregation dispersed into Clissold Park opposite the Church, where, fortunately, the tea rooms were still operating.

Sid kept up pressure on the Vicar, stressing the fact that if we were not married by 3.00 pm we would be in a real mess.  In the end he (the Vicar) relented and agreed to re-open the Church somewhere around 2.30 – but there were to be no hymns.   Sid then had to dash around the Park to tell everyone he could find, “it’s on”, and the car went off to collect Elena and her father, who had spent the previous hour walking around the garden watching the aerial dog-fights going on.   What a way to spend a wedding day!

After we were marred, and the Vicar was saying a few words, the ‘all-clear’ sounded… and you could hear a very audible sigh of relief from everyone present.

I have already mentioned that the reception was cancelled, and it was just going to be a family get-together at my mother’s flat.  That meant father and mother-in-law, my mother, Elena’s bridesmaid, her brother, Sid my best man, plus Elena and myself, that’s about eight of us.   Nothing ‘special’ had been prepared, although we did have a bottle of wine and the 3-tiered cake.   BUT father-in-law, in spite of cancelling the reception said to everyone while photographs were being taken, “You’ll come back, won’t you?”  Where upon, some sixty or so people arrived at our two-bedroom flat.   Most of them had to sit on the stairs!

For our honeymoon we decided to get well out of London for a week.   Friends of ours lived in Fownhope, south of Hereford and we had written well beforehand to get them to book us in at the “Green Man”… but up to the time of our wedding we had not heard from them.   Wartime posts were a bit erratic, as you can imagine.

Nothing daunted, we set off in the evening from Paddington Station on the train for Hereford.   What a journey!   No lights were allowed on the train, and travelling times were extremely erratic and often disrupted.   When we got to Gloucester we had a    15-minute halt to get tea, etc. (no buffet cars!).  The train was already a long way behind schedule, so I got out and asked a policeman if he thought we might get accommodation in the town.   In a rich dialect voice he said, “Well sur, the last train brought us 2,000 refugees and there’ll be more on this one, so if I was you I’d stay on to Hereford” – which we did arriving there some time before midnight.  We immediately looked around for a waiting car or taxi, but there was NOTHING.   So off we went, with me lugging two fair-sized suitcases, to tramp the streets of Hereford to find somewhere to stay for the night.   We found two hotels, all shut up.  We rang the bells, and after some time the door was opened a couple of inches, only to be told, “Sorry we’re full up”.  We trudged further, and as luck would have it, we came to the Imperial Hotel, which was still open!

The ‘Boots’ sized up our predicament and said, “The Guv’nor will probably let you sleep on settees in the lounge if it comes to the worst.”   Can you imagine our relief?  He said we would have to wait until the BBC News on the radio was over, as the Guv’nor insisted on hearing it from the beginning to end… and it used to last an hour in those days.

Soon after one o’clock we were ushered into the dining room and met the affable Guv’nor who was sitting with another affluent looking gentleman, having a nightcap and a cigar.   This other gentleman took an immediate interest in us, ordered suitable refreshments, and then asked us most searchingly what things were like in London.   We had plenty to tell him, especially about our wedding.  It transpired that this other gentleman was the Impresario, Henry Sherrick, who had evacuated his whole theatre company from London to Hereford to rehearse his forthcoming production of “Chu Chin Chow”!

It was well past 2 am, when the Guv’nor said to the ‘Boots’, “Is the Doctor in?”   On being told, “No”, he said, “In that case, he won’t be back until Monday.  Would you mind sleeping in a single bed for the night?”   Let me assure you, we were so dog- tired we both slept very soundly until the morning.

After breakfast we made out way to Fownhope and contacted our friends, who said, “Didn’t you see the car waiting for you?”   **!!     We checked in at the “Green Man” and were shown our room, which had two single beds with a very large circular table between them.  On returning to Reception our friend said in a loud stage whisper, “They’re just married.”  After lunch we returned to our room, which was now minus the table and the two beds pushed together!   I wonder why!

We had a super week’s holiday.  "

Additional Comment

My mum also recalled walking up and down the garden path in her wedding dress with her father watching the dog-fights whilst waiting for the car.  
As Dad stated the vicar said "no hymns", but I can report that they eventually had their hymns at their Golden Wedding Blessing fifty years later!   I also gather that as the vicar declared them Man and Wife the "All Clear" sounded.

Mum and her bridesmaid (my godmother) also recounted the story of making sandwiches at her "reception" back at the the house to try and make the food for about 9 people stretch to 60!   A bit like the two loaves and five fishes parable!

Thanks for popping by - and hope you enjoyed this story of a Wedding in the Blitz

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Cold Porcelain Flower Spray

Cold porcelain flowers with airbrush finishing touches

I showed you the work in progress yesterday - here is the finished spray.  Not up to my normal standard, but I have discovered how bad my eyesight has become: added to the fact that I am very out of practise these days, and it is the first time I have worked in cold porcelain in earnest.  (I have made the odd flower in the past, but never a complete spray)

Anyway the are only for me for my Sapphire Anniversary, and as my Dad would have said "A blind man would be pleased to see them.

another view

I probably should have gone with the current trend of just doing a large rose and a couple of buds and some leaves - less work!

close up

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Saturday, 19 September 2015


Topper for a card for a family friend, who goes on a few cruises.  I used one of the layouts from Vintage Paraphernelia by Hearts Designs.  I changed the colour of the ribbon, and added the "brush" chain and changed the sentiment.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Felted Pictures

I promised my granddaughters that I would teach them needle felting the other week, having attended a fayre at Brighton, where there was a workshop being held by the person who taught me to felt.  We didn't have time on the day for them to have a try.  So last weekend when they came across for the afternoon, I kept my promise.

landscape with birds, tree and bush (9 yr old)

autumnal landscape (6yr old)

Didn't they do well for a first time?  - and no stabbed fingers!

Work in progress 

Work in progress 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

A quick card ...

... for a FB pal, who has just started a university course to train to be a Maths Teacher

Thursday, 10 September 2015


I know it isn't crafting, but wanted to share this beautiful visitor to my garden yesterday.  Haven't seen any for ages, although we used to get them quite often.  Never managed to capture such a detailed photo of one before - they are normally darting all over the place.  Feeling honoured.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Felted Stones

Felted Stones (from left to right) by 9 yr old, 6 yr old and 3 yr old

Last Saturday, I went to the Mini Maker Fayre at Brighton with my son and his girls.  One of the things they tried was making felted stones.  Great fun.  They really did well (and no help from me as I knew how to do it, and just sat and watched).  Even their Dad got involved helping the 3 year old roll hers.  I think he enjoyed himself too.  The 3 year old was most pedantic as to what colours she wanted on hers  (the one on the right).

Didn't they do well.

There was also a needle felting workshop, but they didn't get to try that (a bit to dangerous for the littlest one, who always wants to do what her older sisters do), so I have promised to teach the eldest one how to do it very soon.

Alien Granddaughter

I had to include this photo from the afternoon too for my crafty friends, as an idea for Halloween or Fancy Dress party -  How about this for a fantastic mask made from papier mache over a cycle helmet.  Contour done with string, and the eyes are from sunglasses.

I love it - think I might have to borrow one of the grandchildren's cycle helmets!

Sunday, 6 September 2015

This is what it was!

A Planet

A back to school space project with No.3 granddaughter a planet.  Fab isn't it - she did a grand job.

Papier mache over a balloon, and then some crumpled serviette added for texture.  Painted with black gesso, and then she let rip with the Pebeo DYNA iridescent colours.  Base colour we blue/green and green/blue sponged one, and then with the scratchy side of a kitchen scourer she add the highlights to the "wrinkles" in the serviette layer with a bit of I think every colour in the range.  

When dry we tied some stretchy silver "ribbon" around it.

Planet and satellite
Her Dad and older sister (aged 9) helped her  create a satellite from a pringle tube, some kebab sticks, kitchen roll tubes and some kitchen foil - another brilliant project.  Photo doesn't really do the satellite justice - but it looked really effective.

Good job Nanny is a crafter and has a stash of bits and bobs for grandchildren to craft with.    

All three children then started to make some "sputniks" with polystyrene balls and cotton buds, but the first layer of paint wasn't dry so we couldn't take any photos.  Hopefully weather permitting we shall finish these next time they visit.

what's it going to be?

The start of a project with one of the granddaughters!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Discovering some old stash

work in progress

I discovered some old craft stash tucked away in my bedroom - I thought it was glass paints, but it turned out to be mainly ceramic paint, with just a couple of bottles of glass paint.  It was Marabu-Ceramica.  I bought the bottles for peanuts - something like 20 p - 40 p  each many years ago when Hobbycraft were discontinuing their stock.  I had forgotten about them.  I had to look up the make on the net and discovered that they were water based!

Well nothing ventured nothing gained.  I applied Pebeo white gesso to the letters and when dry took the plunge and painted one of the blue ceramics thickly onto the letters.  Whilst it was still wet I dribbled on some darked blue ceramico, then a blue glass paints and finally some more ivory ceramic and dragged a kebab stick through it.

I shall eventually apply the blue to the other sides and on the reverse side I will try a different combination.   So I wait with baited breath to see how the first side dries, and hope that it is as good as the solvent ceramics/glass paints that I usual use.   (watch this space as they say!)

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

A little experimental canvas

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a sort of folk art mould for cake making at a ridiculously low knocked down price at Dunelm - well it would have been rude not to buy it!  I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but thought it might amuse the grandchildren, if we were playing with cloud clay.

Well yesterday I caught up with a programme on Create and Craft, woith Kathryn Sturrock showing how to make a canvas with clay embellishments, and thought I might try the new mould out.

The canvas was prepared with some texture paste through some Sheena Douglass stencils (albeit the deisigns are not showing up, I should have made the paste thicker.  I then applied gesso all over the canvas and when dry I stuck on the embellishments which I had made from Hearty Clay - some from the mould and a few plunger flowers

Gesso was then applied again.  When dry I applied some mica sprays over it all - and wasn't really happy with the effect - so blotted that, and out came the pink and blue Iridescent DYNA acrylics, and I just did some random "dry brushing".