Where have the last couple of weeks gone? Life has been bright around here – solo steps being taken (the little one), a new job started, friends seen, projects organised, muffins baked, a new game…
So I thought I’d pop by today to share a quick project I did on Saturday morning. We had invited friends over for a Chinese new year dinner party. I visited the oriental food shop in our town for the first time and it was the loveliest experience, the lady was so friendly and helpful. We served duck and pancakes for starters, followed by slow cooker Honey Sesame Chicken, and then finished up with some sweet nibbles from the shop, mainly picked up because I thought it would be fun to get people to guess their names and what was in them – “Peanut Dainties” and “Green Tea Mochi”.
Each course was followed by a quick (sometimes tenuously) Chinese themed game. It was so lovely to squeeze eight of us around the table and spend the evening enjoying ourselves. Something to build on if I remember my one little word!
To make it a Dinner Party rather than just a dinner, I put out some candles, napkins and these place cards. I already had the cards from a family gathering last year, and used my new watercolours to do some little pictures on each one. It took about an hour to do all eight, and some people took theirs home (no higher compliment!), so I just had these five left to photograph this morning. It was such a fun little project, and I am filled with respect for the people who did the originals – after a few failed attempts at replicating these I decided plants were easier than fish!
Happy New Year everyone! Today I’m sharing a project I completed just before Christmas as a gift for the little one.
One of his favourite books at the moment is ‘Come on Daisy’ by Jane Simmons. I’d never heard of it before but we got it out of the library the first time we went and then renewed it about five times before finally returning it. The Daisy books were one of the first things I suggested when family began asking for Christmas present ideas for him.
I decided it would be fun to try making a Daisy artwork for his bedroom. I don’t know how long the interest in ducks will last but it made a good project and having it in mind as a Christmas present meant I had a deadline. Always good.
My first step was to paint the background – a splodge of a few different blues, green and white on a plate, and a nice wide sponge “brush” and I spread it over the canvas until it looked right. I always overestimate how much paint I’ll need. Luckily with acrylics you can cover the plate in clingfilm (pressing it close down into the paint) and it stops it from drying out for a few days. This helps when doing multiple coats of the same colour as well as you don’t need to match the colour you’ve previously mixed.
Once that was done, I drew the outline in pencil and began colouring. The issue with painting the whole background first is that then lighter colours like yellows need a few coats to stop it showing through. When the base colours for each section were done I started the shading – a lighter red on the top of the beak and feet, the darker edges of the leaf and so on.
Again, my method is keep going until it looks right and then stop. Sometimes the stopping gets missed and I have to go back a bit. I used acrylics and the brilliant thing is if you paint something and then decide straight away it looks wrong, you can usually fix it with water and some kitchen roll.
I added the dragonfly at the end and finally it was done. The whole thing probably took about 3 hours, but with lots of drying time in between. I did it over a week, a little bit every day. In reality the colours are a little brighter than in the pictures. I was so pleased with how it came out and I’m sure the little one will enjoy having it in his bedroom in 2015.
Last week on a whim, and with at least three other more important things on my to do list, I decided to take the plunge and try making a wreath. I have wanted to ever since seeing this round up (and especially this rosemary wreath – so simple). I’ve never done one before and have only given the many many tutorials a cursory glance, but I went straight in. It was nap time so no chance to pop out so I used what I had. That meant a star shaped base rather than a circle – we have a whole pile of sticks from cutting back the garden trees this year.
There were a few straight-ish branches so I sawed them down to similar lengths. The next step was to tie them together. No garden wire to hand which would have been my first choice, so I went with the plain old string I found lurking under the kitchen sink. First I tied the five points but the corners needed securing as well to hold the shape rigid.
That turned out to be useful later for tucking the greenery into. Once that was done I raided the garden for greenery and a bit of colour in the form of dogwood twigs and hawthorn berries. Then the layering began. I had gleaned from my readings that things look better if you stick to going in one direction so I tried to go with pointing everything upwards. At this point I realised it would have been better (and so much easier to get a nice look) if my string had been green instead of white but again – nap time.
Once I felt there was enough green I added the berries, which did help give a finished look. The whole thing probably took around an hour and a half so if you are tempted to give it a go, there is still time before Christmas!