Thursday, 26 September 2013

Patchwork and Quilting at the Abergavenny Food Festival!

Last weekend people poured into Abergavenny in droves for the annual Food Festival. 

It’s definitely not a time to attempt any serious shopping in town as main roads are closed and cafĂ© tables spring up all over the place!

It’s difficult to move through the throng. And because the cost of most of the ‘attractions’ is somewhat high for me, I usually give it a miss and stay at home. 

But this year I had seen posters in town for an Exhibition of Patchwork and Quilting – admission free!

It was held in a church where the quilts could be spread over the pews and hung from the gallery - which didn't always make it easy to take photos.

I used to do a lot of patchwork – hand-stitched both at the piecing together stage and the quilting itself. It was a great way of using up the snippets of fabric left over from the dresses I made for myself and my young daughters in the late Sixties and Seventies. 

My patchworking basket, with all the little bits of equipment I use, is still sitting on top of a bookcase and I’d love to start a new quilting project.

One of my favourites!

But unfortunately my stash of fabrics is hidden under a pile of boxes and other things that need sorting in a corner of my studio! 

One day . . .

So meanwhile, I braved the crowds and enjoyed looking at other people’s quilts and chatting to the quilters.

Some of the quilts were for the group's own use, others were for sale to raise funds for the hospice, with those left unsold at the end of the weekend being donated to the children’s hospice.

One thing the quilters were keen to impress on me was that, although we know that patchwork and quilting is much more popular in the US, it actually started in the UK and was ‘exported’ to the New World, when the Pilgrim Fathers settled there.

I hope you enjoyed this little taster of my trip into town as much as I did!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Can you give a man a greeting card with flowers on?

Irises at St Remy - Vincent Van Gogh

I’m finding that as I get older, I’m questioning more and more of the things I used to think were ‘set in stone’. 

For instance, now that I’ve just passed my 70th birthday, I’ve found myself doing a radical re-think about how a seventy-year old should be – from how to dress without coming across as ‘mutton dressed as lamb’, to whether I’m spending my time ‘appropriately’ when most of my contemporaries have long since ‘retired’.

Another question that has keeps cropping up in my mind since I’ve been creating greeting cards is: why does it seem to be universally accepted that you can’t give a man a card with flowers on? 

Water Lilies - Claude Monet

Is it that men don’t like flowers? I think not! 

  • Many of our ‘celebrity’ gardeners enthuse about flowers as much as their female counterparts. (And my Dad used to grow Sweet Williams, his favourite flower, on his allotment.)

Percy Thrower was THE authority on gardening when I was growing up

  • And just think of the number of famous painters who have painted flowers, from Redoute and his roses to Monet and Manet and Gustave Klimt!

Peonies in a Vase - Edouard Manet

Ah, but they were a special case, they were artists, so they don’t count. Ordinary men don’t like flowers.

  • Not true. ‘Ordinary’ men have worn flowery clothes at various times in the past – just look at these 18th century buttons for  a man’s waistcoat! 
  • And there are certainly plenty of floral prints in evidence in menswear departments at the moment! I'm not saying I like this one, but it seems to be quite acceptable! (I don't suppose I'd like it on a woman either!)

The evidence does seem to suggest that men do like flowers! 

Garden Path with Chickens - Gustav Klimt

So, ladies, would you give a man a floral greeting card?

And gentlemen, how would you feel if you were on the receiving end of one?

I’ve talked this over with friends and there was general agreement that finding suitable greeting cards for men was a real challenge. It seems we aren’t yet ready to take the risk!

Luckily, I’ve managed to come up with plenty of ideas for cards for men and boys that don’t have a flower in sight. And, of course, they are some of my bestsellers! 

for just a small selection
  I've added lots more since I wrote this blog post, in 2010!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

September Fashion Trends in Abergavenny

Summer has well and truly given way to Autumn now and it'll soon be time to pack away the flip-flops and summer clothes.

But even while we were still enjoying the summer weather to the full, Mother Nature was warning us that all good things have to come to an end, even the best summer we've had for a few years. 

Would you believe I actually took these photos of a hedgerow just outside town at the beginning of August!

I couldn't bring myself to make the patterns from their colour palettes, though, until the weather felt a lot more autumnal . . .

Both colour palettes are authentically 'autumn' and yet what a contrast between the 'vibrantly flaming' and the more 'mellow, fruitful' face of the season. 

And then, on my way to a dental check-up last week, I passed a shop, rather on the edge of the main shopping centre, that specialises in outfits for the Mother of the Bride and Guests. 

The window display was certainly eye-catching! And even without my love of '70s psychedelic colours schemes and 'flower power', I'd have found it hard not to stop and take some photos.

I'm afraid the photos don't do justice to the brilliance of the colour palette. But maybe you can see why it stopped me in my tracks when I remind you of one of my recent posts?

So while the time may have come to put away our summer dresses and bring out some warmer clothes, it's looking as if, this year at least, we don't have to say goodbye to gloriously colourful clothes and accessories. 

And that's great as far as I'm concerned - how about you?

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Introducing the Amazing Cut Paper Art of Caroline Pudge

This month I am delighted to introduce Caroline Pudge, a paper-cutting artist.

I'll let Caroline tell her inspiring story in her own words:

'Basically I cut holes in paper with a scalpel and make it look pretty! I workalone from home with my two dogs to keep me company.


My friend bought a papercut last year. I was amazed! It was the first time I'd seen anything like it, when I asked how much they were, I decided I could make my own! 

I bought a scalpel and a cutting mat, and set about learning how to be a paper cutter. I have been unable to work due to nerve damage caused by arthritis. So I was thrilled when I discovered I was really quite good at papercutting and people actually wanted to buy what I made! 

It was an ideal solution! 

And so I officially set up in business in May this year, at the same time as teaching myself how to use Adobe programs on the laptop. 

I find customers are generally female, but I do get the occasional guy who needs a last minute gift for his lady! I'm able to offer a bit of something for everyone, from digitally produced typographical pieces, to hand drawn family trees and woodland scenes. 

I do most of my selling through my Facebook page:

I find it's a great way to keep customers updated and send images, make changes and check everything is spelled right etc!! (Yes, that happens- a lady once asked for 'I Love You Dean' it was a typo in her part and his name was Sean!) 

The future sees lots Wedding Fayres and Craft Fayres throughout the rest of this year. And hopefully some printed merchandise, bags &/or cushions with my designs on, will be joining me in time for Christmas. 

You saw them here first!

So now you have plenty of ideas for gifts for those  awkward people who seem to already have everything! But be sure to order well in time for Christmas - such lovely, careful, detailed work isn't quick to produce!

You can see more of Caroline's work by visiting her facebook page: