dimanche 27 décembre 2009

Sunday Dec. 27th. Spinning and animal care day

This is a cat bed.....?  Frida the hunting dog adopted the bed as soon as she came to live with us.  The following month Spitty the cat and her three tiny kittens moved in.  The cat above is Marmy, one of those kittens, he has always been bold and the first of these wild kittens to venture into the house.  He has always made a fuss of Frida and often lays along the dog's back on the sofa.  Frida was in the cat bed asleep and Marmy just pushed his way into a tiny corner, there are never any complaints from Frida, she never growls, and lets the cats sit all over her.

Today has been wonderfully sunny and a heady 11 degrees, so we have been out cleaning chicken coops and making some urgent repairs.  Termites or ants have softened one of the big oak posts that hold up the roof to the llama and goat shelter, and the goats have eaten all the wood, so there is just the outline of the post now!!  Fortunately we made the shelter on 'earthship' principles, using old car tyres filled with drink cans and sand, covered with soil.  This goes up to roof level and protects the whole structure from wind.  Some of the soil has erroded away now and of course the llama and goats have trodden paths all over it now, and perch on various levels in the evening sun.  We had to clean out the remains of the old oak beam and tidy up a little to prepare for a new post.

Dennis Hopper the actor has a fantastic home in California built in 'earthship' style, check it out on the internet.



We also 'liberated our 3 latest chicks.  They are about 6 weeks old, hatched very late by BTM a silly chicken who hid in the canal for 3 weeks to brood them, we did not find them until they all trooped out behind her one day and it was a race to get to them and catch them before the cats heard them, we managed it and put them into a cage with the mother inside the chicken coop.  Today as it was warm and sunny we let them out into the coop and waited.  It was ages until one of them, a black bantam hen, ventured out and she was completely stunned by the pea fowl in the next enclosure, and the pea hen was mesmerised by her and displayed her tail feathers to her, I have only seen peacocks do this.  We stayed close to the chicks for a while as we were recovering some of our hay from the hay stack which had got wet in the extreme weather we have been having.  We put it in the sun out of the reach of the goats.

The next job was to trim the hoof of one of the goats, he limps because of arthritis and the hoof or nail on this leg always grows faster than the others as he does not put enough pressure on the leg to wear the nail down quick enough.

It is 3pm now and will only be warm for about another hour so time for a cup of tea, then before we realise it it will be time to shut all the animals away for the night.  We will need to so this early tonight as soon as it is dusk to make sure the new chicks go in safely, we will probably have to put them up on a perch this evening unless they go back in their cage.

I have been wanting to spin some yarn for a few days now and yesterday evening I prepared a batch of turquoise, magenta and pink merino with some pink banana fibres and some silk, by combing the colours together on my hand carders.  I was able to do this quite quickly as all the fibres we already bought as prepared rovings.  I divided the colours and brushed them together to make about 14 rolags ready to spin.

I had also bought some pink and orange rovings from Etsy (www.etsy.com) in the US which had arrived just before Christmas.  It had been hand dyed by the seller and I was a little disappointed in the colour and it seemed to be slightly felted, but it may have been just because it had been squashed and packed for a week or so. Anyway I decided not to recomb it and spit it into finger-width pencil rovings instead, something I have never done before.  I will spin this as thick and thin and experiment with it as I am not too keen on the fibre.

jeudi 24 décembre 2009


Dave and Josie wish all their family 
and friends a very Happy Christmas 
and New Year

If this is the first time you have visited this blog feel free to trawl through the archives and see what we have been up to for the last few months.  

There is also a link to You Tube you can use from this site.  

If you want to keep up with postings on this blog then click the 'Follow' button and you will be notified of new postings.  

There is a list of blogs and sites I use, mainly for information on peacocks, glass fusing and spinning, I add and change these regularly.  You will also find a silly gadget to feed some fish.

Today I have been working at the town hall trying to get the municipal bulletin out before Christmas Day, and there was also a big discussion about the usual problems of cows wandering about everywhere, which is one of my pet hates.  Tomorrow I have offered to go in early to help staple and distribute the bulletin, then we will have cackes at the Mairie before getting home to start the short holiday.  There is no 'Boxing Day' in France, and so the day after Christmas Day is not a holiday, although this year being a Saturday most people will not be at work.  In France, if a public holiday falls on a weekend, tough, there is no day given in lieu.

The snow situation in northern France is as bad as in the UK and just as in the UK there will be many people on the roads today trying to get to their families, and heaven knows how Eurostar are going to get their backlog shifted in time.  Easy Jet was ready to make flights on Christmas Day and was calling in staff, but apparently the Civil Aviation Authority say that the airports will not be open.....well maybe they will be this year to get people home.  Just like there was never any tennis played on the middle Sunday at Wimbledon until one year when there was so much rain they needed the time to finish all the matches.

We had to retrieve one of our hens from under the haystack this evening.  We were one hen short when we counted yesterday and thought she had been taken by a fox or something, but she was out eating this morning when I fed the cats.  When she was not in the coop today we went to look for her and found her sitting on a clutch of about 15 eggs under the plastic tarpaulin covering the hay.  She protested when we picked her up and took her to the coop, and as it was dark in there we had to actually place her up on a perch, this always causes some clucking and shifting about in the coop as all the other chickens had already chosen their places for the night.

We are waiting now for our first blue eggs from the Araucana hens we have.  Very strange hens these, they have no tails and they have horizontal feathers on their 'cheeks that stick out giving them quite a comical look.  All this and they lay blue eggs.  They are approximately 18 weeks old now and should be at point of lay at 20 weeks but this of course may be delayed because of the cold weather.  We have not had any 'wind' eggs yet from them - these are thgeir first strange efforts at laying eggs and can be small soft shelled things.  I'll post some photos of these hens after Christmas.

Time for bed I think, I have promised to be at the town hall before 9am and I am not usually awake befor that time, and it is Christmas Eve after all.

Don't forget to put a drink out for Father Christmas and carrots for the reindeers.


mercredi 23 décembre 2009


Dave and Josie wish everyone
a very Happy Christmas
and New Year 

Thankfully, we spoke to Andrew last night and during the conversation we realised that Christmas Day is actually on Friday, we had thought it was Thursday......this is what happens to people who retire to the wilds and rarely check the date on the telly.

Our snow has disappeared for the moment but I hear you are having a white Christmas in the UK nearly everywhere.  We are having a very quiet Christmas here this year, on our own for the first time in 26 years!!  

This has not stopped us buying in enough food for a 6 week seige, and we have not forgotten the wild birds, we went out of our way yesterday to go to a hunting/fishing department to buy some mealworms for the robins.......mad or what?

Bookmark this blog if you want to periodically catch up on our news out here,  look on the right in the archives, there are plenty of articles about us and the animals,  we will post more news and pictures on Boxing Day, in the meantime eat loads but stay in the warm.

samedi 19 décembre 2009

Purple,magenta and glitz mix.......and a trailer of snow to Narbonne.....

The purple and magenta with glitz that I spun last week turned out very well, and is soft and glitzy.  This trial square means I can match it to a pattern.  I knitted it upstraight away but just didn't quite have enough to finish the hat, so I unpicked it (frogged it in the US!), I can still knit the same pattern but will make a band of fluffy mohair on the brim just so that I have enough wool.

On Thursday we went to Narbonne Christmas shopping,  which is about 50Km away, down on the coast of the Mediterranean.  We attached the trailer to our car as we intended to bring back our Christmas tree.  We parked in the main Carrefour car park at the Tridome in Narbonne but our car and trailer were causing a stir.  Everyone was staring and commenting on the snow on the roof of the car, and then people spotted the trailer which had loads of snow in it.  We though it would be much warmer in Narbonne but it was still minus 1 degree so all the snow stayed int he trailer.  We came out with our trolley load of shopping to find the trailer surrounded by kids poking the snow and some were making snowballs.  One mother nearby said her daughter aged 3 had never seen snow and was fascinated.  LOL :o)  made our day......

Since then we have had further snow showers and temperatures have not risen above 2 degrees maximum all week.....thank goodness for Ugg boots.  This evening is the carol concert in the old church - which has no heating.....Hmmm...I am wearing a large cape to hid the hot water bottle I will have underneath - taking no chances.  Made a big pot of vin chaude, spiced wine today and the smell has permeated through the whole house.....very Christmassy.

It has just started to snow again but we think it is really too cold for it to be much, but who knows, it will add to the atmosphere of the carol concert anyway.  Off to chase chickens and ducks into coops now before we go out, it is still light so it may be hard but always good for a laugh, they may all be inside because it is so cold.


Just returned from the carol concert and supper at Rik and Christel's in the village, and we are in a blizzard again, the roads covered in about half an hour. The neighbour's cows and calves were all sat on the road to our property, they moved as we drove past which was a shame as they needed to be there under the trees to be out of the snow, one little calf was only born yesterday - hard life this being born into a blizzard and then the first human you see comes and inflicts pain clipping a tag in each ear.

The Christmas tree is up, it has survived half a day without a cat climbing it, but give it time.  Last year we had just brought the tree inside and had to go quickly to the village, when we got back there was a chicken sitting in the christmas tree,  'Dave, there's a chicken in the Chritmas tree', is not a phrase you hear very often, not in normal household's anyway.

mardi 15 décembre 2009

It certainly snowed..........and more to come



The animals were not impressed.......except Larry the llama who is always happy.  The chickens were all crushed up behind the one or two blocking the door and they eventually pushed their way back in.  The ducks jumped in their pink bath and skidden on the ice - missed that shot.........and the cows were looking for grass near the trees.

Will write more later but I have to go out to the village to our craft workshops, we are finishing boxes to sell and wrapping presents for the village tree.

lundi 14 décembre 2009

Let it snow.....Let it snow....stay in the warm and card fibre

I carded up a mixture of merino rovings in several shades of purple and magenta together with a little silk and some Glitz in each.  I do not have a drum carder but as there was no hard work involved I quite enjoyed doing this mix.  I spun a little but it was really too late to carry on.  I plan to make this a 2 ply with itself, so I will have to try and guess to make each half a bobbin.  I only have three bobbins at the moment, all the same size.  To ply a decent quantity it would be better to have a jumbo flyer and bobbin able to take double the normal bobbin quantity.  The old Haldane wheel I have which is so old,  was made before art yarns became fashionable.  It would be great for lace weight spinning, and for spinning singles, but I can see plying and core spinning becoming a problem.  Hey I am only a beginner so this is great to learn control.

Majacraft spinning wheels in New Zealand make a Wild Flyer attachment for all their wheels, it has a large ceramic lined guide for the wool which is very big, capable of letting silk worm cocoons pass through, and comes with a jumbo bobbin.  There is one on their website which has the wheel and whorls painted deep purple, I have saved a copy as my screensaver so I can drool over it.......In fact Majacraft wheels do not have a normal orifice for the yarn to pass through, they have a Delta orifice which is a 'V' of metal, so spinning chunky yarns is possible on most of their wheels, and for really wild spinners, spinning really wild things into their yarn, there is the aptly named Wild Flyer - great.

There is a group on Ravelry for Majacraft Fans worth looking at if considering a Majacraft wheel.

It has been snowing hard this evening.  We are in a sort of Bermuda Triangle here for weather forecasting.  We are situated in the middle of a triangle drawn from Narbonne to Toulouse to Perpignan on the Spanish border, I suppose with the Pyrenees mountain range it might be difficult to make accurate forecasts, but Meteo France are always wrong.  Let's see if they are right in the next few days.  Meteo France yesterday showed heavy snow, this was changed for 'quelque flocons' - a few flakes (!), now they are showing light snow turning to rain.  Sky News and CNN have just said Spain and France will get heavy snow for 48 hours.....let's see who's right.  We have taken the snow shovel inside tonight just in case.  Trouble is it becomes difficult for us to get off our property even if there is only a small amount of snow as the snow ploughs come along the road and push it all up against our exit, so a shovel in the car is essential............

dimanche 13 décembre 2009

Marmy the cat is back.....!

It has just occured to me that I do not have a recent photo of him, so must rectify that in case he goes missing again.  He just walked in this morning as if nothing had happened, he looks well fed, and no signs of any fighting, so I guess he may just have been visiting some neighbours.........Or maybe the cold weather and snow forecast made him think of his lovely warm bed by the stove.....who knows?  Cats choose who they live with after all.

The water in the barrel next to one of the chicken coops froze last night, and we had to break a thin layer of ice on the old washing sink that is a water trough for the llamas and goat, so it seems winter may have arrived at last.  Some ski resorts in France have been closed for two years due to the lack of snow, but some resorts were open earlier than usual in November because of early snow falls, the villages want to make the most of what  may now be shortened seasons.

samedi 12 décembre 2009

Meteorites and strange clouds.....and a chicken with an identity crisis.......

I photographed these clouds a couple of days ago.  The photo does not do the scene justice as the clouds were edged with lovely morning red.  I think this formation is called a pile of plates???  Can someone correct me?

At the moment the earth is in the path of a meteor show called the Geminides, because they emanate from the area of the Gemini constelation.  Don't ask me where this is as I am not sure.  If you look for Orion's belt , the three quite bright stars close together in a line, then look up and to the left, the Gemini constellation is a defined square of stars????  I cannot work it out either, but just look in the direction of Orion's belt.  Last night in the freezing cold I was wrapped in a blanket, hat, coat and gloves and stood out for only 10 minutes and saw three shooting stars, two of a golden colour and a white one very low on the horizon (for us anyway in the mountains!).  They were at least worth getting cold for.  The shower reaches it's most intense period on the 14th in the early hours of the morning.  So get your quilts out and your hot water bottles and have a look......I'll be tucked up in bed. :o)

It is exactly 4 degrees C outside at the moment, 23:15, which usually means snow for us, and it is forecast. I have just looked out and it is cloudy so no shooting star spotting tonight - thank goodness........

One of our cats is missing at the moment, I expect he is looking in the village for a girlfriend, he has been missing for 4 days now and we have been walking around the village calling for him, hoping he is not shut inside someone's garage.  Maybe he will come back now the weather has turned so cold.  It is also worrying that we heard a fox screaming at about 2am this morning, he was around for quite a while, no evidence this morning and thankfully no damage to the chicken runs.

The peacocks were making their warning honk noise today but I saw nothing when I went to check, Tony peacock was sat on his perch looking up the long field.  My husband was in the canal out of sight, throwing out the oak logs he had cut down in August, so maybe the peacock could only see the logs flying out of the trees.

The pen where the peacocks are housed at the moment is next to the flight where the ducks and Araucana chickens live.  All these birds seem to congregate in the back corner of their respective pens.  The ducks have an elegant pink bath in this corner for a pond, and the peafowl have an old bench to sit on.  Today all four hens were in the corner, the duck were in their bath and the peafowl on the bench.

The Araucana chickens arrived in the post from a breeder in Northern France who I met through a web forum.  They were about 4 weeks old, three of them, we already had one Araucana that we had hatched from eggs also sent in the post.  We put the all together in a small pen inside the duck flight and they were great.  After 2 days we let them out into the main pen and they were very comical running around chasing the ducks etc.  One of the chicks was infatuated by the ducks and followed them about all day, then every evening when we went to shut the coops at dusk this one Araucana chick would not go into the coop with the three others.  She sat on the edge of the pink bath while the ducks flapped about, then the duck obediently hopped out and went to bed, but the chicken had to be picked up every evening and put inside the coop.

One evening, the peafowl were 'honking' loudly, we were on our way down to put everything away, but it took us a long time to realise the Araucana chick was actually in the bath, she was standing on the stones we had put in to help the ducks get out, and she was squeaking.  So I had to pick her up, stuff her inside my jacket and bring her up to the house.  I dried her off, put her in a cat box and sat her by the fire.  She eventually stopped shaking, I thought she would die as she was so cold, but she perked up and the next morning we put her back with the others.  She did the same thing for the next 3 nights......I think she liked being in the house, or she was just stupid.  All the hens are so similar, I put a green ring on her so that we could see which one was the mad one!  She does go in at night now, but sometimes she is still out when we get there and she seems to enjoy being picked up and cuddled for a minute.  We need an appropriate name for her now?????  Must begin with the letter 'A for Araucana, all the Marans have names starting with 'M', ordinary chickens which we may eat are named accordingly, Tandoori, Cous Cous, Coq au vin etc.....

Araucanas lay blue eggs and in France the breed standard has no tail, in the US and UK  I believe tail feathers are allowed, but I am not sure.

I have been spinning all evening, yesterday I blended and carded by hand two lots of lovely mixes of wool, (Masham), banana fibre, bamboo fibre, and glitz, one a peach colour that I dyed myself and the other made up from a selection of Merino wool in shades of purple and pink that I found in the bag of Botany lap waste scraps.  I had 15 rollags of each colour combination and I thought it was so much, they filled a pillow case.  I was very disappointed in how much wool I ended up with after plying (2 ply).  I tried to spin as lightly and finely as possible, to learn more control, the purple made up 100yds and the peach 70 yards.  So I could probably make a purple hat and the peach neck warmer, I will have to look up some patterns on Ravelry, they have a great pattern section, some are free to download, and thankfully in the US the wool quantities are given in yards, not number of balls.

A bit fed up today as my relatively new camera (6 months old) is dead as a Dodo today, nothing.  I checked out the 'Troubleshooting' section in the handbook.  It was laughable.....'If the camera will not switch on.....switch it on and off'.   If the camera will not switch off......switch if off'......Doh  I will have to find the bill and take it back on Monday.

Time for bed said Zebedee.........

mardi 8 décembre 2009

Here is my stash at last.......and strange noises in the woods.....

Actually this is not all of it as I hae three enormous paper sacks of quite dirty fleece which are years old and from the old Wool marketing board. I hae been washing the cheiot fleece and some of the better parts of the jacob's fleece to learn to spin with and they are really quite good to use but such a lot of work.

The ginger, pink, shocking pink and bright blue at the front of the table are Wenslydale locks I bought on Ebay, they are sooooo soft and I hope to do some tail spinning with these, but I hae to make a decent core fibre first.

Extreme left are the green blue fleece and banana fibres I bought from Blonde Chicken Boutique on Etsy.

The small pile of pinky colours at the front between the Wenslydale locks I bought from someone in France I met on the Ravelry Anglophones in France group. Some silk and some hand dyed rovings, I want to get better at spinning before I attempt these as they are 'special'.

Behind the pinks to the back of the table is a mass of different colour rovings, black, blues, greys, reds and a load of glitz. This was an amazing bundle I bought from World of Wool, it was listed under special offers, as 'Botany lap waste', it was just a jumble of colours when it arried but after I sat down and separated the different fibres and wound them into soft balls I realised what a bargain the pack was. I do not like all of the colours but I hae been blending them with the Cheiot I hae prepared to make the cheviot softer and more interesting.

At the right hand end of the table behind the blue locks are several rollags I have made from Cheviot wool which has been hand dyed in walnut husks (ginger colour) and red wine (light purple colour).....well wine stains clothes if it is spilt, so why not use it to dye with?????

So I think I have enough to keep me busy at the moment...LOL

I should be writing Christmas cards.......last minute again. I have to take a photo for the card yet, in fact I have just taken one of the two dogs asleep together on the sofa wrapped up by my husband in a red blanket, it may just do for the Christmas photo....we'll see. I cant put it on here yet if I am going to use it, can I???

I will post my experiments with dyeing as soon as I have a moment.

The wierd warm weather we are having is upsetting the equilibrium of everything here....I have crocuses and snow drops up already, and the Mimosa is very advanced for December, the future flowers are starting to turn from green to a dull yellow. Birds are getting amorous and certain wild flowers have not stopped flowing as they usually do. I picked fresh dandelions yesterday for our tortoise (Hermans) who is still awake, and the grass is still growing. All mt chickens are laying daily as if it were spring. The stopped briefly when we had a cold snap a few weeks ago.

If I tell you we are also at an altitude of 500 mtrs in the foothills of the Pyrenees you may find all this even more astounding. We have turned the Rayburn off again and have used very little wood so far this 'winter'.

Early this morning we heard a very strange animal sound and all our cats were hiding, this could either have been an amorous female cat from the village or the wild, or a female fox calling, either way this is early for both animals. We are still confused by this noise and will keep a watch on all our animals, we have had sightings of an Iberian Lynx on our property. We always
have wild boar around at dusk and dawn, which is hardly surprising really as the river which runs across our land is the only river that runs all year, and the only one accessible by these animals in the surrounding area.

I love all this nature around us and have always wanted a pair of night vision binoculars.......Dear Father Christmas.....I have been very good this year.......

mercredi 2 décembre 2009

Un lien parfait en France

Voici un lien parfait pour mes amis francophone (et des autres, parce qu'il y a bcp de photographies).


C'est un blog que je vien de trouver ecrit par une passionee de filage et tricotage.....a ne pas manquer.........

Today I won another auction on Ebay for some llama fibre, I must stop buying fiber now and start spinning some........I have a 'Stash' as they say in the States, so I put it all outside in the weak winter sun and took a photo - It will be uploaded here later.

lundi 30 novembre 2009

A video that changed my spinning style.....

This is how I was using the drive band and the scottish tension - in fact I had it on the bobbin, the whorl AND the Scottish tension on once - impossible.

I found Spindlicity from a link on Abbys Yarns, and on this page there are two videos which have helped me to spin the way I want to now.


Just one second in the first video made the penny drop for me about ratios. Reading about ratios did not enthral me and I found it hard to understand, now I know which whorl to use and to put the drive band on my bobbin as well. I had been struggling with the Haldane wheel I have using it as a single drive wheel. I had the double length drive band on the small groove on the whorl and used the Scottish tension. So I was spinning very fast and found it impossible to spin big yarn and pronouced thick and thin yarn.

The second video and the photographed instructions for spindle spinning down fibres, like camel and yak and I suppose my Akita dog. I had had a go at spinning my dog's fibre and the air was blue with me swearing at the wheel. Now I know that it is better to use long draw and because the fibres are so short and have a lot of air between them it is actually better to squash up the fibres and roll them in your hands before you spin.

I spent more than an hour hand carding some of the Cheviot fleece I had washed myself, with a royal blue merino roving, mainly to try and soften the Cheviot a little, and for interest. I made about a dozen large rolags of fibre. When I changed the ratios on my wheel so that I could attempt spinning 'big' again, I used all the rolags in about 15 minutes - I need a drum carder NOW !!

samedi 28 novembre 2009

Why call the blog 'Another quiet day in the Corbieres' ?

Because there is no such thing as a quiet day in the Corbieres'. This was a phrase coined by our group of friends here. We retired (!) to France about 7 years ago now and have not had a quiet moment since.........

We have loads of animals which occupy a lot of our time and are themselves highly amusing. The neighbours cows are always invading our territory.....time for a chase.....

Shiro the white Akita dog above is now nearly blind and totally deaf, but this does not stop him 'escaping' with our other dog, Frida, to pillage the local village.

Plenty of wildlife to watch, buzzards, Golden eagles (Aigle Royal), flamingoes on the salt flats when the weather is bad out at sea, and of course crows (Corbeaux) which is where the Corbieres gets its name from.

Local fetes with noisy 'bandas' walking around the villages in competition with each other.

Bull running between horses in a nearby village.

A fete in all the local villages every weekend from May to October. Meals, wine and entertainment for around 12 euros.

Flower and plant fetes.

The list goes on, but mainly just enjoying a change of life here. A day may start off quietly, then one thing leads to another..........someone needs help with a project, a lift somewhere, an impromptu invitation to a barbecue, or just a chance meeting in the one local shop.....and things mushroom from there..........

So unless we shut the shutters, turn off the lights, unplug the phone and don't answer the door, there is never, 'A quiet day in the Corbieres'.

The Corbieres is a very varied area of southern France near the sea and the Pyrenees mountains.

vendredi 27 novembre 2009

Spin it......or....... Eat it?????

The top picture is banana fibre !!!!! ......Amazing stuff, it is shiny, looks like candyfloss, feels like silk and is so light and fluffy.
It arrived from the States today from blondechicken on Etsy - there is a link in my lists on the left. It smells fantastic as well but that must be the dye and the washing product the seller used.

I plan to card it into a batt for spinning made from the other fibre that arrived with it, second picture, these are locks from Blondechicken's own sheep Shera, but I might wait for a little bit of Angelina fibre to arrive for that added bit of sparkle.

Living in a particularly wild part of the Pyrenees we rather depend on web purchases within France as well as international. Mind you we are not easy to find, this week I have had to meet two delivery trucks in the village because they could not get down our track ( or didn't fancy driving over our little bridge?).

I willl upload a picture of my 'stash' tomorrow. I now have a stash worth photographing, since I have been collecting all these different fibres by stalking the auction sites and other web sites.

My husband is asking me to knit him another hat with some of my yarn....does he realise I have been reading 'Intertwined' by Lexi Boeger???? His hat could be spun with beads, bottle tops, plants, feathers, paper, old Beatles cassettes or anything else I happen to grab. LOL

My Old Haldane Spinning wheel

This is the very old Haldane wheel that I am trying to teach myself to spin on. My main problem has been with the Scottish tension - in fact it did not even have a spring or wire and I was trying to use it. I managed to spin something before I realised there was anything wrong.......

I have my eye on an Ashford Country wheel as I know I want to spin chunky, art yarns.

The cat in the background is Pookie.

I have to go and bid on something now. I Will add to this later.

jeudi 26 novembre 2009

Cat in a Hat

Did not take any yarny photos today so here is one of our 11 cats in a hat.....

When ever I start an new craze I am glued to the web researching. I have 4 old fleeces, Cheviot and Jacobs which are in great condition so have started with these for practice, but it is a load of work, washing, drying, carding etc.

Bored with the colours already I started dyeing with plants as you have seen, today I won three Ebay auctions for dyes, including some lovely Australian Landscape dyes.

The wool in my first skein is Cheviot natural and Cheviot dyed with walnut husks.

Today another Ebay purchase arrived......Amazon UK have Lexi Boeger's book 'Intertwined' in hardback edition for about £12 ! Had to have it......only took 48 hours to get to me in France - great, it is sooooooo inspiring.

I have just been snipping up holographic Christmas decorations to use in my first wild spinning.....I am learning in reverse....starting with the hard stuff, in at the deep end. Lovely instruction pictures in Lexi's book, very simple. I also watched a YouTube video - Extreme tail Spinning. I don't have a link but if you put that into the search you will find it, after you sift through the tail spin clips for bikers.......

I am adding a list of links I have found in France, in case I have people linking from the Ravelry francophone group as finding unusual supplies in France is quite hard but getting better - finding Wacky supplies that I want is impossible, but hell I am creative, nothing will be safe here, if it stands still I'll spin it up!

mercredi 25 novembre 2009

My first skein of handspun yarn........

My very first skein of arty yarn. I skirted it, washed it, carded and combed it, spun it, plied it, washed it, beat it about......and twisted it into a skein. Quite a lot of work.

The peach colour is the result of the walnut husk dye, the white ply was another spool of single white Cheviot. Cheviot wool I find quite rough and it is recommended for outer wear and rugs, so you will understand that I am now searching the web for some different wools.

I ordered several different types of wool from www.worldofwool.co.uk, including what they call Botany lap waste which is just ends of runs of various colours and it was a great big bag and very cheap, great for beginners. Also ordered some Wenslydale because I like the long curly locks, and some angora to try out as I am looking for an angora goat now........

I have collected some oak leaves to make another dye.

Dyeing with natural dyes - walnuts part 2

This picture shows the dye and wool in the jam jar, pushed down with a plastic fork until all wool is covered. It looked really dark.

Top picture is of the wool drying on the stove, I couldn't wait for it to dry naturally.

Dyeing with walnut husks

Now this spinning bug has gripped me I was very soon bored with spinning the white cheviot fleece and wanted to experiment. I loked on Google and found some recipes for walnut dye. So out I went to search for husks, found plenty caught in the netting of the peacock enclosure. I peeled them from the nuts and my fingers became very black.....hmmmmm...remeber gloves next time.

I covered the husks with a mix of water and red wine vinegar about 50/50. Red wine vinegar was all I had at the time and so I expect this influenced the colour as well....remember to buy some white. Heated all together to boiling point and let simmer for an hour on very low temperature. Added 3 tablespoons of coarse salt stirred to disolve. Strained mixture and put into glass jar that would fit in the microwave.

I had previously washed some fleece and dried it, I have dyed clothes before and have always put them into the dye bath wet, so I gently wetted the wool again in quite hot water so that it was of similar temperature to the dye bath which had cooled a little. If the temperatures are not the same then there is a danger of the wool felting. Also do not stir or pour any other water on top of any wool in a dye bath or while washing.

Gently put the wool, about 100gms into the jam jar, I say 'about because I was not following a precise recipe, just put in enough wool so that the dye covers all the wool Slowly and gently push the wool down into the dye to make sure dye goes through all the wool. Do not pack too tight as result could be patchy.

Microwave on high for a minute, let cool a little and repeat. Now I was frightened when it started to boil so did not continue. There is a very good video by www.blondechickenboutique.com showing the microwave method. I left the wool in the jar of dye over night. The next morning I strained the wool from the dye - keep the mixture to dye some more wool a paler shade - amd slowly and gently rinsed the wool, this time in cold water as the jar of water had cooled over night.

Squeeze out gently and tease the wool apart to spread out to dry.

See results on next posting.

lundi 16 novembre 2009

Dichroic glass or spinning this afternoon????What a choice.....

This piece uses an etched design of bamboo leaves (CBS glass I think) on a background of Bullseye black glass, with some tiny strips of turquoise dichroic glass along the edges, topped off with a slice of crystal clear thin glass - sounds yummy....good enough to eat.......

Time to make some more dichroic jewellery.....for Christmas, I have already been asked to show some more items to friends........so I am putting down the spinning this afternoon to make up a kiln load. I only have a small Paragon kiln but it is just right for the amount of work I do, some of my pendants are quite large but I can still get about 15 on the small kiln shelves. If I put in another shelf on stilts it seems to affect the firing temperatures and usually items on the bottom shelf towards the back do not fire properly. Sometimes it is still worth loading the kiln like this, I put my best items on the top shelf and my experiments on the bottom shelf. Items can always be fired again, especially if they are looking good.

This summer I was filling all the little spaces on the shelves with tiny 1/4 inch pieces of dichroic glass with a slightly larger piece of clear on top, these made some brilliant cabochons which I intend to use eventually to construct some three dimensional pieces. I will use a background made as I would normally make a dichroic pendant in several layers and then change the firing programme to a 'Tack Fuse' firing and balance the little cabochons on top. Hopefully they will just attach to the base piece and add even more interest to my pendants.

Help.......my husband has just collected the post, disturbing a buzzard on the way back which we have just rushed out to look at, and to make noise to keep it away from our chickens.......now I am torn between spinning or glass work......the packet contained some Wenslydale locks in some wild colours.......question is....can I keep my hands off it long enough to do some glass??????

vendredi 13 novembre 2009

I can't spin chunky.........

I thought it was going to be really difficult to spin fine thread, but I cannot stop. That's OK you might think but I really want to spin chunky Arty yarns. Maybe I am too tense and pinching the draft too hard preentling more from slipping through, who knows? I have had some advice from the www.ravelry.com forum so will try out the suggestions.

I also have difficulty keeping one of my cats, Jack, away from the roving that is hanging at my side and moving as I spin, so I end up with lots of little short pieces.

Jack is the beige cat next to Frida the dog, the other cat is a stray from the village!!....seems to have moved in now.........

Right I am off to paint grapes, autumn leaves and pumpkins on the wall in the village hall for a meal and dance we are having tomorrow evening, so no spinning tonight.......

jeudi 12 novembre 2009

I have diversified a little......

Spinning has taken me by storm.......I dug out my spinnning wheel, a castle form Haldane wheel, for the cupboard it has been hiding sin since we moved to France.

I had been particularly inspired by Tara of www.blondechickenboutique.com on Etsy and her web site/blog, and used her videos on You Tube to help me to self learn again to spin. 10 years ago spinning was very ordinary and I managed to learn to spin and ply some uite reasonable yarns in wool and llama. Now I only want to spin wild, chuky, art yarns but I only seem to be able to spin thin!!!!

I also spin left handed when I do everything else right handed????? Maybe that's because I was looking at people on the net as a sort of mirror image????

I have ordered some different types of yarns and a carding machine is high on my Christmas present want list. I have knitted up all the little scraps I have spun lately and have stuck them in a folder, even my 'failures', or what I consider failures but what now seems to be fashionable and desirable.

Pictures to follow

samedi 7 novembre 2009

Autumn is here - time to stay in and get 'crafty'

Wet and windy here in our southern corner of France. All the autumn leaves are flying around and making a delicious carpet of colours on our drive. This has put me in a creative mood and I have recently posted some new items on www.LibellulaGlass.etsy.com in autumn and winter colours.

I have also dusted off my spinning wheel and found some old fleeces we had stored for 7 years since our move to France. So I have washed, dried, carded and attempted to spin some yarn this week. When I frist leart to spin about 8 years ago, I was taught by an old lady in Wales who taught me to spine quite fine worsted yarns. Now I have really been inspired by a Blonde Chicken!!!!

Blonde Chicken Boutique is also on Etsy and has a website of her own and her yarns are chunky in the extreme...fantastic......so now I want to spin chunky yarns and I want to add in loads of additional texture from silk, banana fibres, locks of fleece, bobbles, etc., the list is as long as I can be inventive.

Today I have been collecting black walnut husks from our trees to make a natural brown dye for some of my Cheviot wool.

So watch this space for a little diversification from glass into fibres.

mercredi 25 mars 2009

Up before dawn.........too early for me.....

Dichroic glass pendant - transluscent green
Green Goddess

Up too early this morning - our recent guests from the UK wanted to leave by 6am to drive all the way to the port in the north of France to sail tomorrow. Too early for me, but an early start means I can get down to making some more jewellery today.

Yesterday spring became winter again with wild winds, rain and a drop in temperatures, but we were cosy beside the log burning stove.

We ate lunch at a local restaurant, Chez Divine in Mouthoumet, Corbieres, 11 Aude. The only restaurant for miles around here and fortunately it serves good food and quite cheaply. The decor leaves a little to be desired, having changed the old fashioned chintzy wallpaper for fake plastic beams and stick-on fake stones last year. Ignor this thogh and enjoy the food.

After that I was giving a demonstration to the 'Troisieme Age' - the pensioners group here. They had asked to know how I made canes in Fimo, polymer clay for decorating little yogurt pots for making candle holders. The candle holders will be used on the tables during the village fetes this summer.

I taught myself to make canes by finding links on the web, they can be easy or complicated, either way they make spectacular designs and are really impressive.

I prefer to work in glass now as polymer clay requires too much kneading, pushing and rolling which affects the arthritis in my hands. Glass, once the cut is made is much easier on hands anf joints. I found a pistol shaped glass cutter from a mosaic website here in France which is easy to hold and use. Shop around as the prices are very varied.

lundi 23 mars 2009

Rural postal services...............?

Dichroic Glass - Slider pendant - Mardi Gras - multicolored dichroic glass mosaic:

www.LibellulaGlass.etsy.com or contact me on www.libellulaglass@yahoo.com

I have a blog on French Blogger and one in english on Blogger.com, they seem to have linked themselves and I have been posting on one and it has come up on the other.

We have visitors here at present and I have not checked any mails for 2 days, so it was a great suprise to look on line and find I had sold three items on Ebay, so I am about to do battle at our little village post office here in France......On saturday I checked the opening times of the post office and went to the next village. The post lady was outside talking to the postman. I went up to the door and she moved aside and said the post office was shut.....she was ill (?) and there was no one to replace her that day.......she had jsut walked across to put a notice on the door.......so no post was sent saturday. I am now about to go again, Monday to the same village, it is supposed to be open today from 3 - 5, of course the post for day has already been collected, before the post office opens, so anything left there today will not even get into the system until tomorrow at 2pm......Oh the joys of country living.......

mercredi 4 mars 2009

Hurricanes and power cuts.....

I had to cut the last posting short as the wind is terrible here and we had three short power cuts, that usually means the next one will cut the power off for the rest of the night.....Oh the joys of living in the wilds.

Launching shop on ETSY.....www.LibellulaGlass.etsy.com

Phew, I was holding my breath while adding jewellery items to my new Etsy shop - nerve wracking, and having to invent names for each piece too so much time.....is this essential I ask myself??? I will have to jot names down in a notebook as they come to me.

As my flash on the camera is jammed I had to take the photos outside - surrounded by chickens again.....I have now made up a small 'studio' on the table inside, and the photos can be readjusted on Photoshop, so I think I will get better at it.

I received some new glass pieces from Warm Glass UK yesterday so I will be making up some new items this evening. Etched glass is interesting, but etched, dichroic glass is spectacular. There are some dog tooth check designs and animal prints, which could give me some more masculin designs.....

jeudi 26 février 2009

New Firing in the kiln Now......

These are all ticking away in the kiln right now - I'm off to build my white box before I have to photograph these.

Gardening Hands

No that's not the name of this piece....sorry, I have just realised that my hands show that I have also been doing some early planting int he garden this morning......I think the next thing I need to do for my jewellery photography is to make a 'white box' so that I can photograph things in peace away from the chickens and iindoors, more professional......

This pieces is actually a 'slider' it has a hole in it at the top, made at the time of firing, which has a cord threaded through it - no bail needed.

I will soon - glue permitting be able to photograph my finished items displayed on necklaces, then they will all be on my Etsy shop - Libellula Glass Jewellery - www.libellulaglass.etsy.com.

Pink Candyfloss

I like trying to find names for these pieces..... Pink Candyfloss sums it up, but if I translate that into French it becomes, 'Barbe a Papa Rose', Dad's pink beard - does not somehow conjure up the atmosphere of my piece.......Hmmm, so I'll have to think up two sets of names....I don't think so!!

Blue Heaven

Translucent blue glass, followed by dichroic glass on clear and topped off with a thick clear Bullseye glass capping.

Translucent red pendant with dichroic glass mosaics

Excuse the hand in these photos - I was trying to twist the pieces to best show off the colours.
These pieces without holes will all have silver plated or sterling silver bails attached to them, and will be sold with our without necklaces or cords.

Latest Firing of Dichroic Jewellery

These are the items that were pictured on the shelf ready to fire in a posting a little further back. Dichroic jewellery is very hard to photograph as the 'Dichroic' - 'Two Colour' effect is only really appreciated as the items are moved in sunlight or electric light. Add to that the fact that the colours change whether the pieces are in daylight or electric light and I guess you would have to have about 4 photos of each item to show it off successfully.

Dichroic Chickens........help with the photos

This was truly a Corbieres moment.....I was trying to photograph my latest fused cabochons and the chickens would give me no peace. The chicken at the front peering into the camera is 'Squeaky'. She was hatched all on her own on the day I brought home the peacocks. I was not expecting any more 'babies' and all the coops and arks were occupied, so she had to pass her first few nights with us in a box in the lounge. Ever since then she has alwasy been very attached to us. If we go outside to do something she is first there and flies up to our shoulders - so did I expect anything else when I went outside to take some photos????

Spring is really here, mind you we had a very heavy frost last night -3 degrees C, this afternoon it has been 15 degrees and wonderful.

My glue to stick my bails on the pendants still has not arrived, so I have prepared another firing. I 'won' an auction on Ebay last Thursday, paid for it by Paypal Thursday night and the parcel of glass arrived from Brimmon Glass UK, on Saturday morning - wonderful....I ordered some E6000 industrial glue from a company just up the road in Montpellier, France, paid the same way 10 days ago and it still has not arrived......

I am going to upload some more photos here of the individual new items, which will soon be on my Etsy shop: www.libellulaglass.etsy.com, just thought I would try selling somewhere other than Ebay, especially when I found out I could put stuff on Etsy for 4 months for the same price as Ebay charges for a week, and the commission is less. It's worth a try but it will be quite strange to coordinate as if things are on Etsy for 4 months I cannot really sell them to anyone else, so I will have to have three boxes, one for jewellery on Ebay, one for Etsy and the other for items I can sell locally at craft fairs etc.

jeudi 19 février 2009

Ready for the kiln

Here is a shelf load of potential items of jewellery ready to go into the kiln. In fact they are firing now as I write this. I cannot wait for midnight tonight when I can open the kiln. The firing process is quite long as the glass has to be slowly brought upto temperature, held at various points along the way, and then brought very slowly down to room temperature. The final process is called annealing and has to be done to strengthen the glass. If this section is skipped or done too fast, then the glass can crack and craze and can even shatter some time later, this would be particularly dangerous for a piece of jewellery worn close to the skin.

I tried to take the picture at a slight angle to show the different layers of glass, some pieces are two layers and some three. Some use thick glass and some think. I am still experimenting with the glass and my kiln, so I keep careful notes of each firing. As each piece looks so different after firing I draw a plan of the kiln shelf or take a photo when it is set up ready to go, then I number the pieces and describe what I did to make the different layers and I also list each particular glass type that I have used. You can see from the picture that the top layer is larger than the bottom one or two layers. This is so that when it slumps down in the kiln the top layer goes slight round the other layers to get a good seal on the edges. The difference in size is very slight, in fact in the photo the differnce on some of them looks enormous, it is not, that's just the angle and the light. As I am an artist and not builder, engineer or other precise craftsperson, I do not measure anything precisely, I use my 'eye. I do not want pieces to be so perfect and contrived that they look as if they have been made by machine.

mardi 17 février 2009

Back to glass fusing.....

Here is another picture from this week's fusing. The backing glass was a transparent Royal Blue which is very dark. When viewed flat this looks like a normal dichroic pendant on black. I wore it with a black T shirt last night and it looked 'ordinary' - if dichro jewellery could EVER look ordinary!! When I took it outside in the sunshine and put it on a piece of white paper it looked completely different, so blue, then I lifted it up and the light that shone through it was spectacular. The middle layer is a mosaic of dichro glass on clear to allow the light to pass through, although this was not my intention when I constructed the pendant.

Making holes for cords in dichroic pendants

I have learnt all my techniques for making fused glass jewellery from the internet. I had been making tansverse holes in pieces for neck cords using ceramic fiber. I only had a very light fiber and sometimes the hole was uneven and actually collapsed on one side once. Now I have purchased FIBER ROPE from www.warmglass.co.uk and the process is much cleaner. They sell the rope in two thicknesses, I bought the larger but when I saw it it was way to 'fat', so I unravelled it, it is in three strands. I now use two strands which I slightly dampen and retwist together to form a slightly more solid rope. I then put a little PVA glue, which is what Elmers Glue is, along the gap between the two pieces of glass where I want the hole. Make sure the rope protrudes at least a quarter inch either side of the glass construction. Now sometimes I have found that the edges of the glass on the top of the hole have melted down slightly which makes a hole that opens a little to the back. I did not think this was ideal so I support the rope during firing (the quarter inch that protrudes) on a tiny square of ceramic fiber - this could also be on another little piece of fibre rope. As you can see from the picture above, the hole is very neat on the edge. The dullness inside the hole is just the remains of the fiber rope, I was too impatient to photograph the pendant as I loved it so much. I have since washed it out with a little detergent and a pipe cleaner.

I now have some large beads with vertical holes lined up for firing - these will be constructed later into larger pendants, so that I can pass the cord right through the 'bead' and add other beads above and below. I am always experimenting. I have not made a bracelet yet using this method but it would be very possible to do so, making two horizontal, parallel holes in the fused glass constructions, then stringing the various fused pieces together with stretch cord.

When I finish these pendants with cords I have found it better to use a cord that tones in or matches with colour of the glass that it passes through, as I use a clear glass capping, the top is always clear which looks a bit strange.........I must buy some Royal Blue for the pendant above as it will look much better. I also think that organza ribbon passed through these holes, again in a matching colour, looks even better, it tends to fill the clear glass hole up more.

By the way I think Spring has sprung here in the south of France, we have had three glorious days of warm sunshine - exceedingly cold frosty nights, but fantastic days.

Happy fusing.

dimanche 15 février 2009

Freddy the tortoise

Freddy is very old, about maximum for a Herman's tortoise - he is more than 60 years old. He has been in our family for most of his life, having been brought to the UK in the 1940's. No one can remember him having been any smaller than he is now, so we presume he was already adult. A great many tortoises were brough over from europe and north Africa at this time, they were very popular pets. He lived all his life with my husband's Nan until she was too old to look after him, then he was passed on to her daughter, my mother-in-law, until she went into sheltered accomodation. Now he is our responsibility. We repatriated him to France 6 years ago, a year after we moved here, Herman's tortoise are resident down here in the south of France. When we brought him out here we had no idea that there were any restrictions on movements. My husband just put him in the foot well of the passenger seat in the car and drove him here, he was just waking up from hibernation and with the car heating he was very active by the time he arrived.

We took our new responsibility very seriously and I did much research on the internet to give him the best possible retirement. For many years he was subjected to the then Blue Peter hibernation system - pack them away in October until March without lookng at them......I am surprised he survived. Blue Peter is now a much better informed children's TV series I am happy to say.

He has a very large pen, planted with bushes and landscaped with different strata, covered with netting here because of eagles, foxes and martens, he has a Flintsone's type stone hill with a tunnel for shelter underneath when it is very hot, and a shallow pond. In fact it gets so hot here he goes into Estivation, the summer form of hibernation. I had never seen him do this in the UK.

He had a companion until last year, an Iberian tortoise called Benji, who unfortunately died, of old age, having been brought to the UK not long after Freddy, he moved to France with Freddy. We are looking for another companion but do realise Freddy is now very old, we are also retired now and so we are considering the possibility of rehoming him at a tortoise sanctuary near here, just outside Perpignan. Until then he is well loved and has loads of visitors, he is alert and seems to know his name, if we stand in his pen he comes and stands on our feet.

samedi 14 février 2009

Billy the cat shares with the tortoise........

It really was cold today and Billy realised the tortoise was under a heat lamp and decided to share with him. He does not show up well in photos as he is so black........The tortoise woke up a couple of weeks ago when we had some really mild weather. It is hard to find a place around these buildings that stays below 50 degrees F all the winter.

First piece of dichroic jewellery on Ebay!!!

Well daringly I have put this pece of jewellery up for sale on Ebay. www.ebay.fr in fact, ref. number 320341242900, it is probably far too cheap considering the work that goes into a piece of dichroic glass fusing. My next pieces will have silver bails and leather cords so they will have to be more expensive. I am testing the market really, as in France the market seems to have been flooded with cheap mass produced dichroic jewellery from China, and glass fusing is relatively new out here. In the States I think things have happened in reverse. Crafts people have been producing dichroic fused jewellery for some time and it has a good reputation so buyers know the difference and will pay the prices for artisan produced work. Anyway we'll see what happens.

Tomorrow I am going to experiment with glass fusing paper between the glass. I was sent a free sample, but have read that some people have not been too pleased with the outcome as they thought the backing paper would disappear and it doesn't. So again, I will experiment and report back.

My Paragon SC2 kiln went beserk the other day, I switched on and the only programme that would show up was PRO3, not my fusing programme. I discovered the red 'UP' arrow would not work. I was disappointed as I really had to fire something to give to people coming for dinner the following evening. So I labouriously programmed the kiln using only the down arrow......this took ages to do, especially programming in a hold of 10 minutes, when I had to hold my finger on the button all the way down from 999.9.....!!! Then half way through firing the temperature started to drop on its own and I tried to correct it and skip a segment......this did not work so I ended up just standing next to the kiln and watching the final part of the process and adjusting the kiln manually. I emailed the company in the UK that had sold me the kiln and I had a message immediately that Paragon in the US were sending me a new controller, so maybe it's a problem they know about. I hope it arrives soon as I already have two kiln shelves full and ready to be fired.

Today it has been really cold, never getting above 3 degrees. All the cats were inside sleeping in various warm places around the house, the sofa was covered in a heap of cats and dogs and the kittens, I call my 'Pusst Cat Dolls' were all in a pile on the chair by the Rayburn.

The picture is at the top for some reason, I thought it would appear here......

mardi 10 février 2009

Including silver wire in fused jewellery

Here is a picture of a piece of fused jewelery I made yesterday with a piece of silver wire added between the glass layers to act as an attachment for a leather thong. Not one of my successes or I am being too picky maybe. I had protected the wire with ceramic fibre and covered it with some dichroic glass and a clear topping. I was disappointed to see that the wire had more or less passed through the dichroic and was too apparent for my liking. I had expected it to be further back.

I do not know how to recitify this I will probably ask a question on on of the glass fusing forums, but I have thought of adding an extra layer of glass, so it would be stacked like this:

5.Clear on top
3.thin black
2.wire insert
1.thin black at the bottom

Since I am really only at the experimental stage with all of my fusings I will probably try this out. I have had quite a fvew great pieces and only a couple of failures. I have kept very precise notes and have 'invented' a form for myself to show the kiln shelf layout, side by side with a list of the composition of all the pieces.

I am writing this as I wait for my next firing to finish. I was confused to find that when I switched on my Paragon SC2 kiln this morning, the controller would not work properly. The 'UP' arrow would not work at all, which made it a long process to programme as I had to hold my finger on the down arrow for ages to come down from 99.99 to 00.10!!! And I could only access Programme 3. I have sent an email to the company in the UK where I bought the kiln and hopefully they can tell me if it something I am doing wrong. I dread having to send the controller back to the UK to be fixed, but it is all still under warranty.

Today was a typical day Chez nous.......constant visitors, and I have just beenup and down like a Yo Yo serving drinks and checking on the kiln sitter all the time. Anyway it looks good.

France has just had its second hurricane in 18 days, and they seem to have decided to give them names like in the states. The latest, yesterday is called Quentin and the one 17 days ago hsa been called Klaus......I have no idea why they started with Q and why they are not going in alphabetical order like anywhere else? Who knows???? Maybe it will be explained.

The airports in the north of France were all closed yesterday, but Air France had predicted the chaos this may have caused and they pre-booked thousands of hotel rooms and people were just put in taxis and sent away for the night. Maybe there was an ulterior motive here as well. This was the airport building that collapsed not long after it had been built a couple of years ago.....maybe they were just avoiding a potential disaster of this happening with an airport full of people sleeping on the floors. Of course it was a full moon, I have been keeping weather records for over 6 years now and we often seem to get dramatic changes in the weather around the full moons, yesterday was no exception. We in the southern corner near Spain escaped very lightly, just heavy rain and some wind. Apparently there are 500,000 homes without electricity again in the north west. We tend to get very little coverage of this on French news - not like having Sky News or CNN constant coverage.

OK I need to get supper in the oven and switch my fused glass off - best not to get them mixed up...............

samedi 7 février 2009

Art Clay Silver with fused glass

I have read recently that these two media go very well together. So today I will try to put one of the cabochons I made yesterday onto a 'mount' of art clay silver. I have some fine silver bezel that I could surround the cabochon with first and then attach the whole thing to a backing of rolled out metal clay. I will cut a hole in the back of the backing as I think this will benefit the dichroic glass cabochon, allowing the light to shine through.

I have been experimenting with metal clay now for a few months. For anyone who has never used this it is 99.9 per cent pure silver mixed with an organic binder to the same consistency as pottery clay. This means that this can be worked as clay, no traditional metalsmithing involved. No hammering, no cutting - just use like clay. There is no waste, every tiny bit of scrap can be saved and put in a jar with a tiny bit of water. This makes your 'slip', a very wet form of clay which can be used to 'stick' together components parts of a piece of silver art.

The piece above was my first piece of silver clay jewellery, a wearable piece of artwork. I am sorry the photo is not too great. I am experienced with pottery and using clay in all its forms as an art teacher, but to work on a piece so small I found really difficult. I am used to throwing large lumps of clay around a table or a wheel. Metal clay arrives in tiny packages of 7, 20 or 50 grammes.

We have sleet and snow again here in the south of France so I will be inside today experimenting with the metal clay and glass combinations. I have found some great links and tutorials for these media and will publish them in my next posting.

The cats will be glad I am staying in today.

vendredi 6 février 2009

Kiln sitters and power cuts

Two posts in one day?????? I have just watched a Blog video tutorial on how to add photos so here goes......

This is a picture of the whole kiln shelf of glass fusings I made yesterday. It was nerve wracking programming the kiln, I was holding my breath. I started and stopped it several times to make sure the programme was correct - OCD showing itself??? LOL. All was going well when we had several power cuts.....we have been having them since the hurricane and snow this area of France had about 10 days ago. Anyway the kiln sitter would not reset itself so I had to try and reprogramme it after each power cut. We had three cuts in all and having read more about cuts when firing I realise I was really luck as the cuts were right at the beginning and the last one was near the end of firing so no damage done.

It is fascinating to watch the glass through the kiln window as it starts to sag and melt and change shape, this is when the glass is fusing together. I had not a clue what was correct at this stage and I know that some experienced fusers will stop and start their kilns according to the state of the fusing pieces. I had no idea so I just let the kiln do its job, I can make adjustments another time.