Monday, 19 December 2016

Comfort and Joy

I have been meaning to give my Star Heart Dolls a makeover for quite some time and over the summer I found some time to do just that. It started with my desire to create two attractive Christmas dolls called Comfort and Joy. Attractiveness was key and I worked on making the dresses, hair flowers and shoes as lovely as possible and also to find pretty ribbons to finish them off. Working on Comfort and Joy encouraged me to create more dolls, I call them the four seasons. As well as Winter Comfort and Spring Joy, I now also have Summer Bliss and Autumn Reflection.

I also gave makeovers to the Dream Box dolls; Chloe, Jane and Alice, and the ALF dolls; Lorna and Amy.


 My dolls are made using old white sheets that are no longer suitable for bed linen, my daughter said I could have different colour dolls so I will be hoping to create more different colour dolls using different material in the new year.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Resolutions resolved

I wrote some resolutions for myself back in January. This is a consideration on how I got on with each of them.

1. Piano teaching - I taught piano to eight people this year, and despite a lot of coming and going I managed to keep teaching all year (except August). I also helped one of my pupils achieve a distinction in her grade one.
2. Concerts - I performed ten piano pieces in concerts this year, the tune that went down best of all was Queste Notte by Einaudi.
3. Zumba- my main source of exercise became zumba which I started in February. Zumba has changed venue since then but has been a real find this year. It is also a good activity to do with my daughter.

1. Wattpad -  I said I would make more use of Wattpad this year and I did. I now have twelve items on there. My story 'Underground' has proved to be the most popular so far. It is written in the first person and is about sinsiter goings on during a commuter's daily tube journey.
2. A social media strategy - I feel a little happier with FaceBook; I made more friends and managed to make my news feed a little more pleasant, although I still find it a quite unsatisfactory virtual environment, I think GooglePlus feels a lot nicer. I'm also happier with other social media; blogger, Pinterest, YouTube. I'm not very popular on other Social Media, but they feel more open and honest. I've been developing Deviant Art and Wattpad. I hope 'At the Piano' on 8tracks might get enough likes to go gold. I also have nearly 50 book reviews on GoodReads.

1. ALF Creations - I raised some money for charity through my arts and crafts stall, as well as through my regular contributions.
2. Landscape paintings - although I have been painting pictures for many years, most of them are portraits, this year I produced a few more landscapes, primarily so they could be more easily used in an ALF calendar and to represent some of my songs on YouTube.

1. Walking - as well as zumba I walked more in 2016 and I would like to do more walking in 2017
2. Giving - I would like to expand my charity and voluntary work next year. Maybe 2017 should be a year of living more generously.
3. Blogging - I feel that working on my blog has helped both my art and my writing; having to think about the combination of words and pictures that make up a good blog post.
4. Creativity - art, music and writing are areas I continually want to develop, I think next year will be similar, plus a longed for visit to New York.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Craft stall for Trinity Homeless

The chairty coffee morning for Trinity Homeless at the URC, Northwood Hills, was quieter than previous occasions. I was joined by both my mother and my daughter, so that made the occassion extra special.


The table was smaller than usual and I had brought new display items with me so it took a little longer to set my stall up. Amy helped a lot in this, arranging the dolls and the books very nicely. I was also given a smaller table which I used exclusively for my variety of cards.

We enjoyed a cup of tea and a chat and Amy took pictures of the church's interior which she thought might be useful for a life and death art project. Despite a slow start, interest in my crafts grew and in the end I sold over twenty cards, mostly Christmas cards, and about ten lavender scenters. The church was cleared and locked up very swiftly, but I was able to donate money to the homeless charity via a lady who took part in the Big Sleep Out.

This was my ninth craft stall since presenting my first one in a wine bar in Eastcote in 2013. I hope to branch out a little more for craft stall number ten and maybe go somewhere where my Star Heart Dolls might prove to be more popular.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

ALF Christmas Cards

I worked out that the best time of year to work on Christmas ideas was in January. You are not caught up in the pre-Christmas rush, the taste of Christmas is still in the air, there is a bit of a lull in many other areas of life and the memory of the festive season is still fresh. I started on my batch of Christmas cards in January 2015.

And Amy's were developed in October 2015.

Monday, 21 November 2016


I fell in love with Edgar Allan Poe after listening to the BBC radio drama production of 'The Fall of the House of Usher' in the 1980s. Although Poe's stories were written nearly two hundred years ago I still find them fresh and meaningful, written in a first person narrative that is very relatable, even when we are in the mind of a murderer. I was working on Madeleine, my musical based on the Fall of the House of Usher, while visiting my boyfriend in Ramsgate and the house I was thinking of was Charles Dickens' 'Bleak House' in Broadstairs. I have attempted to get it performed in the past; at the moment it exists as an eight minute musical on YouTube.

This is my small collection of Poe memorabilia that I really enjoy reading, watching and listening to, including an edition of Tales of Mystery and Imagination that was published over one hundred years ago.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Heroines on Deviant Art

I have been meaning to put my heroine paintings up on DeviantArt for a while and have just got around to doing it. They are a mixture of literary heroines like Scarlet O'Hara and Tess of the D'Urbervilles, historical figures like Cleopatra, film heroines like Amelie and musical heroines Ella Fitzgerald and Tori Amos. The collection includes a very recent painting of Katniss Everdeen.

I have done another painting of Madeleine Usher to represent my 1970s reading for my 'A life in books' project. This represents the fact that it was Edgar Allan Poe's short story collection 'Tales of Mystery and Imagination' that really got me reading. Madeleine is not on my DeviantArt page which you can find here, but you can find it on my Pinterest paintings page which you can find here.


Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Christmas crafts for Trinity Homeless

I'm taking part in a charity event for Trinity Homeless in December  at the URC Northwood Hills and these are some of the crafts I have been working on. As well as my old favourites like my fabric brooch cards, knitted gadget pouches, lavender scenters, ALF books and greeting cards, I also have new selections of Shepherd's Bush Star Heart dolls, lavender birds and digital collage cards.

The cards I have been working on include, by special request, 'Get Well Soon' and 'With Sympathy' cards. I have also worked on my Virtue Haiku cards, at the moment I have developed four cards for my favourite virtues; humility, kindness, patience and diligence. A virtue haiku card I feel I should work on is one for generosity.

I'm glad the next craft stall I do will be for a homeless charity, I've been a regular supporter of the London homeless charity St. Mungos for several years now and receive regular updates about the good work they do which is very humbling.


Monday, 7 November 2016

Amy occasions

Amy started drawing when she was about four and when she was five she produced the story and drawings for 'The Legend of the Dream Box'. Some of my favourite of Amy's pictures have found their way onto ALF Creations greetings and note cards.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Xmas gifts for St Mary's

I spent a lot of my spare time in September and October working on my crafts, which has been pleasant and rejuvenating but also quite tiring. I made ten new Star Heart dolls following my visit to Shepherd's Bush, I also created more fabric brooches, in particular more crochet poppies, also new cards and more lavender scenters including new owls and swallows. I am also aiming to produce a new ALF Creations book of poetry, but I am still working on that idea.

Below are the crafts I have produced for the St Mary's Christmas Bazaar which will take place later this month. They include all twelve ALF Christmas card designs. I also have more crafts I have made for a charity event to support Trinity Homeless, which is taking place in early December, I will share these nearer the time.


Monday, 31 October 2016

The Original Star Heart Dolls

I had been attempting to make cloth dolls for years before I created the original Star Heart dolls in 2010. I like making dolls as they are small scale projects that I can complete in a reasonable amount of time. they incorporate a number of needlework techniques: sewing, knitting, crochet, embroidery, felt-work and dressmaking. I have made quite a few dolls since 2010, some I have kept, some sold and some donated to charity. To see more of my dolls you can watch my 'A time for dolls' video on YouTube, you can click on the 'Dolls' label to find it.

Monday, 17 October 2016

ALF and Audrey calendar 2017

My mum is working on her own calendar for 2018 but in the meantime we have gone ahead and organised a 2017 calendar featuring the work of mum, me and Amy. I was very pleased with the result and it has given my mum an idea of which of her paintings would work well in a calendar for the following year.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Log Cabin Squares

I love knitting, I find it very relaxing, but I'm very slow, it takes me ages to finish anything. That is a big reason why a lot of my knitting projects are doll size. These doll blankets are knitted in a 'log cabin square' pattern. I find it a slightly mad method as you knit in different directions in a spiral and build up a bigger square from the centre outwards.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Shepherd's Bush Dolls

I was looking to make different coloured dolls and different outfits for them and found out that practically on my doorstep, in Goldhawk Road, Shepberd's Bush, there are loads of fabric shops, selling a mindboggling array of beautifully coloured and patterned fabric. The result of my shopping exhibition can be seen above and below, as well as some pictures of the work in progress.