Art Therapy Colouring Books – Review and Giveaway

When I was approached the other day to review a couple of Art Therapy books I wondered if someone had been peeking in my office, because I have this picture pinned on the wall beside the monitor…

If anyone needs me I will be in my blanket fort - colouring in…and I have had a wonderful excuse to do just that with the two books which arrived a week or so back from Jacqui Small Publishing, Art Therapy Stained Glass and Art Therapy Mandalas.

Stained glass colouring book, art therapy

Art Therapy Mandala Colouring BookThere is something very relaxing about letting someone else worry about the lines and the shapes: when all you’ve got to do is think about what colour crayon to pick up next, or washing your paint brush ready to mix another shade.  And now it’s official, we’re not wasting time, we are relaxing, it’s therapy!Art Therapy Press ReleaseI’ve been scribbling away happily over the past few days and after all the worries about my mum it’s been lovely to switch off that part of my brain.  This was my favourite from the Stained Glass book…

Art Therapy Stained Glass Colouring bookI’d rather like this next design as wallpaper, wouldn’t you?…

Art Therapy book MandalasWith this one I went to town with the paints.  I may get round to finishing them but I actually rather like the colours set against the black and white.Mandala Flowers Art TherapyHaving shared my adventures on Facebook and Instagram I was not surprised to have lots of positive comments about the whole idea of colouring in.  Such positive comments in fact from both my daughter and daughter-in-law that I shall restrain myself from further scribbling so I can pass the books over to them.  As my daughter is soon to embark on Teacher Training and my D-in-L is a new mum I think they need all the relaxation they can get!

And I’m pleased to say if you feel in a need of a little Art Therapy and relaxation there is a Giveaway!  I have two more copies of these lovely books lined up to give away to the even lovelier Planet Penny readers!

All you have to do is to leave a comment telling us about your favourite place to relax and get away from it all, and which of the two books you would like to take with you.

The winners will be picked on Friday 8th August, I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

(Thank you to all who took part.  The Giveaway now closed, winners to be announced very soon)

It really is the Blog Hop!

As promised, and alas somewhat belatedly, I’m carrying on the Blog Hop from Claire of Mrs Brown Makes.  Being asked particular questions really concentrates the mind, none of my usual waffling!

So here goes…

What am I working on?

This is a hard one because I’m a butterfly brain by nature, and I’ve always got a bit of a conflict going on between all the things I want to do.  At the moment I know I really need to work on some new ideas for the Planet Penny cotton yarn to add interest to my Etsy shop, but I’m also planning a fresh project for my next needlefelt workshop.  I’m also in charge of social media and the website for our local community shop…, and the window displays. Oh, and I’m also designing leaflets and flyers for Arts Desire, which is where I hold needlefelt workshops.  And there’s a book review…   Hmm, sometimes I feel I need to clone myself!

So the latest pattern for the cottons is for a hat and bag based on the granny square…

Granny square hat and bag in Planet Penny Cotton Colours

And the experiments in flat needlefelt and embroidery will culminate in a workshop on making a sketchbook cover…

needlefelt felt flowers for workshop

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Gosh, that’s a hard one.  We all like to imagine we are unique, don’t we and then when you do compare yourself to someone else, it’s generally unfavourable!  I suppose with the cotton and the patterns I accidently struck a chord somewhere.  People love rainbows, and managing to source the yarn and colours that people love was serendipitous.  The Rainbow mice too.

Rainbow mice knitted in Planet Penny Cotton Colours

I’m not very good at being serious, (it got me into a lot of trouble when I was at school) and the things I create generally end up making people smile.  When I was at Art School I was told I would ‘grow out’ of wanting to make happy stuff, I’m so glad I didn’t!

With needlefelting I do compare myself with others.  There are some amazing artists out there who make wonderfully realistic things with needlefelt and if I think about it too much I feel rather inadequate. However, I don’t actually want to make things like that myself!  I do love the process, I like turning soft fluff into firm sculpture.  When people talk to me about what I do during Open Studios the main emotions seem to be surprise… and laughter.  Nothing wrong with that!

This is the Green Man I created for this year’s Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios and you can see how he came into being on the Two Rivers Trail Blog...

Needlefelt sculpture - Green Man - English Folklore
Why do I write/create what I do?

Well, I create because I’m alive, it’s just part of me.  I’ve done it since I was old enough to hold a crayon, snip with scissors.  And as for writing, I started writing the blog when I was at a low ebb and writing about what I was doing meant I had to do something to write about.  (It was very good therapy, I recommend it!)  Now it’s second nature and it really bothers me when life gets in the way and time passes and I haven’t written anything.  And I love being part of the Blogosphere with all the interaction with the rest of the World Wide Web.

How does your writing/creating process work?

Because I’ve been writing the blog for so long I have a sort of virtual filing cabinet in the back of my head where things to write about are noted and kept, and I usually have my camera or phone with me so I can capture images which inspire me to write. I don’t usually struggle to find material to use for a blog post, it’s more the other way around, there so much stuff stored in there I can’t decide what to write about first!

As for creating, it’s really hard to say.  Sometimes when I’m needlefelting things sort of arrive when I’m not expecting them, I suppose my subconscious is working out what’s going on  because it doesn’t trust the conscious me to get it right!

And now to send you hopping off in another direction…

First up is Gina, a very talented lady who writes the ‘Fan My Flame’ blog.  You might remember the beautiful little Alice in Wonderland I bought from Gina a couple of years ago…

Alice-in-Wonderland

Gina describes herself as ‘a textile artist, machine embroiderer, teacher, passionate baker and blogger’, which is very modest considering all she does.  You’ll find out when you visit ‘Fan My Flame’, I recommend it!

Secondly is Sue, aka Mrs Micawber…

“My name is Sue Perez – alias Mrs. Micawber – and I live and crochet in Wisconsin. When not crocheting, I read, blog, cycle, take photos when cycling (for the blog), cook, and occasionally clean the house. In winter I walk (though not as often as I ought), and grumble about the weather. I’ve been known to knit, sew, bead, and quilt, but crochet is far and away my favourite craft. These agreeable activities are financed by a job outside the home, but why talk about work when there are so many more pleasant things to discuss? :)

My blog, Mr. Micawber’s Recipe for Happiness, was started to while away the time when my work hours were severely cut. Through blogging, I’ve made friends all around the world, and now I can’t imagine life without it.”

Sue writes the most beautiful crochet patterns, again, well worth a visit!

I hope you enjoy hopping about in Blogland.  It’s worth working backwards too if you are looking for interesting new crafty blogs to follow…

And I’ll be back soon…x 

Blog Hop – Pending…

2014-07-05 16.42.46

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Claire of Mrs Brown Makes who asked me if I’d like to join in with a Blog Hop.  This sounded like a lovely idea with plenty of time to get to grips with it.

But you know what it’s like, life got in the way.  You may know I’m my mum’s carer, and I got the dreaded summons one morning, could I come, she couldn’t get out of bed.  She’s very frail anyway after a catalogue of illnesses, and this latest thing, a combination of Labyrinthitis and a urinary infection meant I had to decamp to her house to be in full time charge.

Although medication has improved things for her a lot, she’s lost confidence with walking and so needs help on hand a lot of the time, and that’s been me.  And although a lot of the time she has been contentedly reading a book and I’ve had time on my hands, my mum has no Broadband so I’m most terribly behind with everything.

So if you’ve arrived expecting a more interesting post than this, I’m so sorry.  I will post as soon as I can, I hope it will be worth the wait!

Flowers and Needlefelt

What a soggy weekend this has been!  We seem to be alternating between having so much rain that the water butt overflows and the road floods, and then having to run around watering the vegetable garden because it’s so hot and sunny.

My garden is now in it’s July slump, all the prettiness of the Spring flowers are just a distant memory and I’m confronted with all the things which should have been thinned out or consigned to the compost heap back at the end of the Winter.  Does anyone like Golden Rod?  I find it sad and funereal.

The roadsides however have been a delight.  This is a typical sight as you travel round the lanes in Norfolk…

PennygatePoppies020714 copy

I’ll just have to sow more poppies in my garden!

But talking of flowers, I’ve been working on a new needlefelt project having had a request for a different kind of workshop, making covered notebooks.

As you know, I like to use needlefelt as a sculptural medium as I love working in 3D, so flat needlefelt is a new departure for me.  However I have really enjoyed creating a woolly garden of flowers to make up for the ones I am lacking outside!

I started off by just using the fibres like paint…

Needlefelt Flowers…but found that adding in simple embroidery stitches gave it more detail and interest. And it was really fun to do!Needlefelt with embroidery

I’ve been using lovely 100% wool felt squares from Blooming Felt to practice on, I’ve got a gorgeous selection of colours. These are the next two in the collection…

Needlefelt flowers with embroideryEmbroidered needlefelt flowersBut the challenge now is finding sheets large enough to cover a notebook.  In an ideal world of course I would wet felt each piece individually but alas, M.E. has rather put paid to something as energetic as that.

But while that particular project is coming together, the workshops I have had for Beginners Needlefelting have gone really well, both the group session at Arts Desire, and a one-to-one session in my studio.  If you live in the area and would like to know more, follow this link.

The next Needlefelt Workshop at Arts Desire is next weekend, and there’s a place or two left, it would be lovely to see you.

And in case you are wondering whether my crochet hooks are rusting in the corner, no, they’re not!  I’ve just completed a commission, and I’ll be back soon to show you just what else I have been making, so watch this space…

See you soon…x

Midsummer! and a Festival…

It’s hard to believe we’re now halfway through the year and in this little patch of Norfolk we were blessed with a warm sunny weekend in which to celebrate the Summer Solstice.

We are just back from a Midsummer Festival which took place just down the road from us at How Hill, a beautiful spot on the Norfolk Broads.  You might just remember me taking part in a craft fair there a couple of years ago.

How HillThe aim of the Festival was to celebrate the success of the Truly Local shop in the small town nearby, so of course all the stalls, producers and businesses were truly local too.

Truly Local Midsummer FestivalThere was such a lovely atmosphere, we bumped into family and friends, and a great time was had by all, including Higgins!

He was particularly helpful when it came to testing the deliciousness of the beefburgers…

mini dachshund2014-06-21 19.54.542014-06-21 19.55.24What a look of sheer bliss…

Then of course he had to sort out the washing up after icecream…

Vanilla…

2014-06-21 20.05.59Mint Choc Chip…

2014-06-21 20.06.01…and that icecream cornet, surely the pointy bit would go to waste otherwise…?

2014-06-21 20.16.42There were more stalls than I can mention individually, but these are the ones I know you would like to hear about…

It was great to meet Rachael of Foxglove and Gingersnap with her snazzy stitching.  I only knew her through Facebook, I love meeting up with my cyber friends in reality!

Foxglove and Gingersnap

… and Sue Maton of The Mercerie We only ever meet when we haven’t got time to talk properly! She has so many gorgeous things to tempt knitters and crocheters alike…

The Mercerie

The Mercerie Crochet BlanketPaul Williams, one of our Two Rivers Trail-ers was there with his wonderful wooden creations…

Woods World Wide(I now have a dinky little board made from a local fallen tree, exclusively for me to slice lemons on! G & T, anyone?)

And a  brilliant, serendipitous find, Ros Arrowsmith who makes beautiful ceramics with which I have completely fallen in love…

Ros Arrowsmith Ceramics

Ceramics by Ros Arrowsmith

Ceramics by Ros ArrowsmithI particularly love her quirky lettering style and giant handles.  It’s good to find something so fresh and different.

We finished with a walk round the Secret Garden, where my camera started complaining about it’s dying battery.  You can get a little flavour of it here… so peaceful and calm.Secret Garden How Hill, Norfolk

The visit concluded with tea and cake, what could be better?

Back home I’ve a new project on the go, a spin off from last week’s Needlefelt Workshop, and a commission to complete, so I’ll be back soon with photos.

I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend too, see you soon…x

(now where’s that gin and tonic…?)

Needlefelting in Norwich

Well, Open Studios may be over for another year, but the needlefelting goes on… Last Saturday I packed my big spotty bag with a rainbow of fluffy fleece and went off to the Craft Lounge at the new Arts Desire premises.  It’s all looking very lovely there now, and I especially appreciated the posh new coffee machine, and Kay’s newly acquired skills as a barista. I function so much better after a shot of caffeine!

We had a lovely group of people on the Needlefelt workshop who were very creative and soon got into the swing of needlefelting, with only the odd squeak as someone missed the work and pricked a finger (with no swearing, I was impressed)

Needlefelt workshop at Arts Desire, NorwicgAt the end we had an eclectic mix of creations, several birds, a cuddly mouse, a French bulldog, a scary monster and a rainbow hedgehog…

Art's Desire, Needlefelt workshop

beginners_needleflet, Arts Desire, NorwichI’ve now had a request for a workshop for making needlefelt notebook covers so if you are interested, do let me know.

Back home, I’m trying to get to grips with the garden which seems to have gone mad while my back was turned.  I’ve made lots of moments to just stand and stare at the Albertine Rose though…

Albertine RoseFor 48 weeks of the year it’s a complete thug.  It’s rampaged over the fence into next door and is swarming up their house too, fortunately they really like it.  It sends out long, long branches covered in large thorns which grab at unsuspecting callers and it takes our son, Will, who is also our gardener most of an afternoon to trim it, tame it and train up the wires he’s put on the house.  But at this time of the year it completely redeems itself, smothering the front of the house with fondant pink.  I love lying in bed and viewing the world through rose petals!

It’s all too brief though, and already the North wind of the past couple of days has made the doorstep look as if we’ve hosted a wedding reception…

rose petalsSuch a fleeting moment…

Going back to the needlefelting again, one or two sharp-eyed people spotted the little old man in the tree when they came to visit for Open Studios…

Needlefelt man in the tree NNOSI’m going to leave him there and see what happens.  Will he rot? Will he be eaten by slugs or moths?  Will he be dismantled by birds for nesting material?  Or will he still be there for next year’s Open Studios…?

We shall see!

See you soon…x