Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Edinburgh Festival

On Monday I spent an excellent day in Edinburgh, soaking up the Festival atmosphere and visiting as many craft stalls as possible.

The Royal Mile was buzzing with performers giving wee tasters of their shows and handing out leaflets.  There was a really great atmosphere.

Craft stalls, musicians and actors in the area around St Giles Cathedral.

Here's a shot of Edinburgh Castle from Princes Street Gardens - how many city centres can boast a view like this?  I can't imagine living in a city ever again, but if I had to choose one it would undoubtedly be Edinburgh.  In the past I spent a lot of time in the city as, when we first met, my husband-to-be lived just off the Royal Mile.

The castle esplanade is covered with tiered seating for the Military Tattoo.

This is my favourite bit - the West End craft fair in the grounds of the church in Princes Street Gardens.  About 100 exhibitors spread across a marquee, in wee arches under the bridge and in individual stalls.

This is the third year I've been down for this fair, and in the previous two years I've been very tempted by the amazing juniper wood products made by Pure Juniper in London, but managed to resist.  However, I gave in this time - you just have to smell these beautiful pieces to fall in love with them!

I bought this pot stand made of oak, juniper and forest herbs.  The stallholder assures me that when a hot pan is placed on it even more of the natural aroma is released.

I also treated myself to this beautiful wee box.  It's on my desk beside the computer and I keep opening the lid to smell inside!

Although it would grieve me to do it, apparently if there's an outbreak of plague sometime soon, all I need to do is toss my juniper wood on the fire to keep the disease from entering my house!

I know a lot of crafters read my blog, so I also want to tell you about something awful that happened whilst I was there.  A stallholder called out, "Oi!" then, "Stop that man!" and my friend and I turned just in time to see a youth tearing out of the marquee.  He had stolen the man's cashbox from his stall. 

He was out and away into the crowds before anyone had a chance to stop him. 

Most of the stalls were laid out in such a way that this wouldn't have been possible, but this particular one was selling large pictures and was a bit more open and exposed than most.  I don't like to mention something so horrible when writing about such a lovely event, but it doesn't do any harm to highlight this kind of problem to other makers and exhibitors.  Bum bags are probably the safest thing to use to store your money at any kind of event. 

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Paintings of the village

Yesterday I was thrilled to receive a commission for a pair of paintings - Johnshaven and Stonehaven harbours.  I have painted Johnshaven harbour and Dunnottar Castle more than any other subject, but I never tire of either of them.  I've painted the harbour at Stonehaven a few times too, but not in the last couple of years, so I'm looking forward to getting stuck in to this project.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the different way in which I've painted Johnshaven so far..

Most of these have been printed as greetings cards which are available for sale in the shop.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


On Saturday Kirsty and I went to Logie Steading to attend a Shibori class run by the very friendly mother and daughter team, Christine and (big!) Kirsty at Diva Design Studio

They explained everything very clearly and are obviously very knowledgeable about all felt-related matters.  If it wasn't so far from home we'd be going there very regularly!

We trapped marbles and beads in the wool and tied them with cotton.

Then we stitched wiggly lines all over the fabric.

Next we soaked the whole thing in soapy water to shrink it and firm it all up.

After a yummy lunch we coloured the piece with dyes.  This bit was especially good fun!

After steaming, rinsing, drying and popping out the marbles, this is how Kirsty's piece looked.

Finally we removed the visible stitches and either stuffed the marble holes with wool
or turned them into cups.

Here's Kirsty's finished piece...

...and here's mine - although I'm still planning to stitch some beads onto it.

After that we had a wander around the steading and its lovely location.

Kirsty and I enjoyed a fabulous treat - 4 days away by ourselves, staying in an excellent b&b, Woodside of Belivat, a few miles from Nairn.  It was more like a 4 star hotel than a b&b - can't recommend it highly enough!  We went for long walks, visited Cawdor Castle and several crafty shops and galleries, and ate lots of pizza!

Here's a pic of the b&b.