December Newsletter

Christmas Greetings to  you all.  Thank you to everyone who sent me wonderful cards too. It is so lovely to hear from you. Each of the little units in the little hanging below is a 2″ finished Japanese folded patchwork unit. A circle is folded over a square. I appliqued the letters onto the white square and embellished the finished units with tiny star sequins and a single bell.

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I sincerely hope it has been a peaceful and happy time for you.  December is such a busy month for most of us and at times I wonder how I am ever going to fit everything in! I have been making presents, Christmas cards, and gift labels, not to mention preparing the Christmas food, shopping, baking, visiting family and friends to distribute presents and getting organised for visitors. Oh, and one of my sons asked me to make four cushions….! I have to admit that he did ask about three months ago, saying “there is no hurry Mum”…I took advantage of that little thought, as I had rather more interesting things to do, however, guilt eventually hounded me, so I have now made them, just in time for Christmas! Although it is busy, it is also enjoyable. It really is, but the presure is increased, and perhaps I am feeling my age more, these days!

I told you in last month’s newsletter that in this one I would explain how I made my Christmas cards this year; a Christmas tree in the falling snow! (Grahame, a great friend and very talented artist showed me how to print leaves using this method when he and his wife, were staying with us last month). I love the fine detail that can be obtained! Thank you Grahame. This technique opens up all sorts of possibilities!

I  like to use the 1400 wall paper lining paper to work on. It is extremely good value. It supports everything in terms of craft work, dyeing, painting, printing, book making etc, that I have ever used it for over very many yP1040753ears!

For this project I measured my “printing block”; a sprig from a Leylandii branch, and made sure the resulting print would fit my blank greeting cards. Then I cut the wall paper lining paper into strips, having measured what I was going to need. These particular strips were 5 ” wide, and I was going to be cutting them into 3″ units after they had been painted. I covered the floor with a large sheet of polythene to protect it, put disposable gloves on and a pinny to protect myself, then the fun began! I had some left over green dye, from a dyeing session, so I diluted this and used a sponge brush to paint the paper quickly.  I painted the first strip, then immediately placed the next one on top of it, and patted it down, so that it was “taking a print ” off the wet strip. This gave a mottled effect on the background of the second strip which remained when I quickly used the sponge brush to wash over that with dye too. It is always much nicer to have a textured background rather than a flat colour. I treated all the strips in the same way, just painting one side, as it was going to be stuck onto the card. These striP1040754ps were left to dry overnight, then cut up into units using rotary cutting equipment. Next I prepared my printing area; polythene to protect the table surface, then an old magazine, opened so that I could ink up on the left hand pages and use the right hand pages as a printing surface! The bulk of all the right hand pages was firm but also provided a little “give”.  The photograph above shows that I have mixed black relief printing ink with an equal amount of appropriate extender. This makes the ink go further, and also stops it from drying out too quickly. It is an oil based ink; the same that I use for lino printing. I use a small kitchen glass work top protector, which I bought several years ago for about £3. The top surface is textured, but it is smooth underneath, so I use the underside. I needed two rollers; a small one to ink up my “tree” and a larger clean one to roll over the back of the “receiving” paper pressing the paper on to the Leylanddi surface. I also have a small pair of tweezers, to manoevre the sprig into its correct position on the clean surface after inking, and have my prepared papers close by. In the photo below, you can see  a piece of Leylandii tree. This is what I am going to print onto my painted paper. I “worked up” the ink mixture on my glass plate with the small roller, then placed the sprig onto a clean page, and rolled the inked roller firmly  over it, in several directions, making sure it had picked up the ink.P1040762 (3).JPG
Then I  picked it up with the tweezers and placed it down onto a clean magazine page. I placed the piece of  paper, painted side down over the inked tree, and using the clean roller carefully and firmly rolled it over the back of the painted paper, thus producing a print. I was getting about five prints from each inking up. The printed papers were left to dry for four or five days. I had two different printing sessions, about three weeks apart, using a fresh sprig on the two occasions. It is essential to clean up any equipment as soon as the printing session is over. A mixture of a little cooking oil and a good squirt of washing up liquid works fantastically! Work it into any black inky areas with an old paintbrush, then rinse. Pat dry with a clean old cloth, or paper towel, then leave to air dry P1040769 (2)

Next I made a stencil; a piece of the same lining paper into which I punched holes, all over. I prepared a white acrylic paint mixture; 50:50 paint to acrylic medium, ensuring that it was really well mixed together. This would give my snow effect! I placed the holey paper stencil, over the printed tree, and using the small roller, with a good covering of white paint, rolled it over the stencil. In the photo to the side, you can see the results. When dry, I mounted the finished prints onto single fold blank cards, using double sided cellotape, and wrote “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” with a silver pen, and initialled each one.

For my gift tags, I took a photo of one of the cards, then printed it using  the windows 10 software, choosing the option of multiple small photos. These had to be trimmed and then mounted onto folded cut card. I punched a hole, and inserted a tie. A gift card and matching Christmas card, makes a delightful duo! In this photograph I have just noticed that I have a gift tag from the first printing! and the card from the second; but you get the idea! They look very simple, but, as you can tell, now, there is actually a lot of work involved!

20171205_094839-1Earlier in the month I made these little drawstring bags, in various sizes to give with a gift inside. Karen and Maggie taught them as an in house workshop at Gate Quilters. They did a very good job. I had previously made a couple of drawstring bags earlier in the summer, and Karin’s method was far superior to mine! Sewing these made me realise that I had made a mountain out of a mole hill. These, on the other hand were straightforward and quick to make, especially as a “batch make”!

The bags are a useful item in their own right; great for storing chargers for a range of different devices, or for sewing equipment, camera, phone, little sketch book and pencils etc…..there are endless possible uses. They have a double drawstring and are lined. Two or three of these would be fantastic for packing in a suitcase. If they are made with different fabrics, then they are easily identifiable when searching for specific items! I love “containers” of all sorts. They make such practical gifts, even to give as a little thank you with a special bar of chocolate inside! What’s not to like?

Last month I also suggested that I would show youhow to sew a zip and lining in  at the same time”. However, as I have told you all about the Christmas card method,  I shall now hold this over until another newsletter.

I have been using my book press to print off little houses. They make me smile everytime I look at them! I have almost finished a couple of small stitched pieces which have one in each piece! Again I will show next time.

Finally, do you remember in last month’s newsletter how I showed you a cushion top I had pieced a long time ago? As I really did not like it, I cut it into four, and said I would do something different to each quarter to alter it to my liking. Last month’s effort was my first changed quarter! Below, the photo on the left is a reminder of the original, and on the right hand photo shows the changes I have made this month

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A very happy new year to one and all, and I sincerely hope you all enjoy the stitching projects ahead of you.

If you need to email me please note that I have changed my email address to: 

Until next time…