Home of The Small Art Company and a bit of British all sorts about my family, kids, home, art, mixed media, craft, photography, illustration, travel, cooking, organisation, teaching... Good to see you:)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Butterflies and Enchanted Gardens

It's been a funny old month weather-wise. Paddling pool, BBQ and picinic at the beginning of October and a beautiful warm sunny day yesterday. We decided to make the most of the good weather and half-term and went to Butterfly World near St. Alban's.

I went once before when I was little, but didn't remember much of it. It's an ideal place for a day out. There's enough to see, but not so much that you're rushing to get round everything. Little W loved the playground and craft activities. And I loved the gardens. Just thought I'd show you some pics I took of my favourite one - the Enchanted Garden. Each section was made to look like a room in a house which had merged with the garden...

The other interesting garden was this one, which is a back view, but it had lots of giant garden bits and pieces. I love anything with an other world feel (hence my Folk of the Forest shop!).

And then we saw these stuck in the wall..!

Of course, the butterflies themselves are beautiful! They fly all around you and some are huge! I was able to get a few good photographs, which will be ideal for my new projects. I was hoping my shop relaunch would be the end of this month, but I might not make it... I keep changing my mind about the shop's tag line. I may go with something about mixed media, instead of just altered photography. Hmm, we'll see...

(Available to buy as always:) Just e-mail for details: victoria@carefordcreations.co.uk)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Firework Cake!

It was little W's 4th birthday last week. I always make his cake, but this year I'd hardly had time to think about it. I'd had to buy a Lightning McQueen cake for his party the day before as well. So when I saw a rainbow cake on Sew Recycled's blog, I thought it was perfect! It was so simple yet so effective. I called it a firework cake instead though as my son loves fireworks. Every drawing he does seems to have a firework in it!

I made 4 layers, although you can do as many as you like. I made each layer as a half mixture (so, four cakes of 4, 4, 4, 2). It's just a simple sponge with food colouring. When cooled I covered it in buttercream icing so you couldn't see the colours.

Little W loved it! It's a great surprise when you cut into it! If I'd had time I would have made more layers and also found some sort of firework candle. Anyway, it was extremely yummy! Let me know if you make one for November 5th!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Travel Tuesday - Greenland

Not the most popular destination, but Travel Tuesday is after all, about places that are a little unusual...

I blogged about a place called Vik in Iceland last time. While we were staying in Reykjavik we made the most of being quite a way north and decided to take a trip to Greenland. It was just a day trip but was enough to get a tiny taste of another fascinating country.

We arrived in Kulusuk after a two-hour flight. Then we walked to a little village called Kap Dan, which is home to the Ammassalik Inuit. I think there are around 350 people living there at the moment. I loved the brightly coloured houses. I guess you need some colour in a landscape that is so cold and bleak for much of the year.

Here we watched a drum dance and kayaking demonstration. We also visited a tiny wooden gift shop and I bought an intricate beaded necklace that a lady had made. There was also a church and an old and a new cemetery. Both are very picturesque and perhaps unlike cemeteries elsewhere. This is the Old Cemetery. The crosses don't actually have names on as the Inuits believe that when the body dies, the name and soul live on. The name is then given to a new-born in the village.

We took a boat back to the airport and saw some pretty big icebergs! It would have been utterly amazing to see a polar bear floating along on one, but alas, that wasn’t to be! Here’s an iceberg on land...

We visited Greenland at the very end of the ‘summer’, so these icebergs are rather small compared to what they must be like in the winter.

Here’s the stamp from my passport!

Hmm... where shall we go next week??

(Apologies for the different fonts, I can't seem to edit it!)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Travel Tuesday - Iceland

OK, it’s Tuesday and that means a quick post about somewhere I’ve been that’s perhaps a little unusual. Thought I’d start with Iceland. Not ones for lying on a beach somewhere, Mr W and I visited this northern European country 9 years ago.

Iceland has a most bizarre landscape. You may have heard people liken it to being on the moon (not that many of us would know what that’s like!). I guess it’s true though. Being volcanically active, the land is full of lava fields and has hardly any trees, or at least, not big ones like we have in the UK. It’s pretty odd seeing so few trees!

We took a trip one day down to a place called Vik and decided to go for a walk to the beach. We were so glad we had, for this is what we saw (this is a colour pic!):

I’d never seen a beach quite like this one. The black ‘sand’ against the green grass and misty white/grey sky was amazing. It was truly like being in another world. Everywhere we looked was just black and white! I can't seem to find my pic of the grass and the sand, but here's another, taken with a filter:

And this is a geyser (available to buy if you wish! Just e-mail me for details). We could have stood watching these erupt all day. They're absolutely fascinating!

Anyone else been to Iceland??

Monday, October 10, 2011

A-Z About Me

These type of questions did the rounds by e-mail a few years ago. Seeing as I don't work in an office anymore, I haven't filled one out for a while, so here we go:

A - Age – 34. How did I get that old??

B - Bed size – Double, but would love a King Size if we had the room!

C - Chores you hate – Ironing, without a doubt.

D - Dogs – Had a dog called Charlie when I was about 14/15, but only for a week or two. Then we got a beautiful Yellow Labrador called Tiggy. She died a few years ago, but I still think of her all the time. I wish she’d been around to meet my children. I’d have loved to see what she made of them!

E - Essential start to your day – This will sound odd, but I have to moisturise and put lip balm on quickly once I’ve washed then I feel I can start my day! No coffees or anything for me!

F - Favourite colour – I’ve always liked yellow. Not sure if this was because I genuinely liked it or because no other child ever said it was their favourite colour, so I thought I’d be different!

G - Gold or silver – My engagement and wedding rings are gold with some white gold, although I like silver too. Don’t wear any other jewellery, apart from the odd polymer clay pendant I’ve made.

H - Height – About 5’6.5” I think.

I - Instruments you play – Used to play the piano. I had lessons for about 9 years and wish I could say I play well! Had one violin lesson once too...

J - Job title – Main job is primary school teacher. Proof reader and also business owner I guess. Sounds posh!

K - Kids – One boy, one girl.

L - Live – Hertfordshire for nearly 6 years. 18 months in Essex before that and the first 26 years of my life in north London.

M - Mother's name – Colleen.

N - Nickname – Little Vic. I was always one of the smallest at school!

O - Overnight hospital stays – Only when I had my children.

P - Pet Peeves – Rudeness and inconsiderate people.

Q - Quote from a film – I am absolutely rubbish at remembering quotes.

R - Right or left handed - Right

S - Siblings – Two younger brothers.

T - Time you wake up – 6am if I’m working, 7am if not and 7.30 at the weekend.

U - Underwear – Usually M&S.

V - Vegetable you hate – Only Brussels sprouts really. I like veggies, especially home-grown ones or from my mum and dad’s allotment.

W - What makes you run late – Only severe transport delays. I hate being late. I’d rather be an hour early than a minute late.

X - X-rays you've had – Only for my teeth I think.

Y - Yummy food you make – I’m told I make pretty good roast potatoes, if that counts?! I love cooking and try to make a lot of dishes from scratch. My son likes my homemade pizzas.

Z - Zoo animal – I love pandas, but the monkeys and chimps can keep me entertained for hours.

Feel free to copy and paste your answers on your blog!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Handbound Books... and New Business Direction

I love, love, love books! I love really old books with their dusty covers and falling apart pages, threads hanging from the spines... And I love brand new books with their crisp clean pages and that lovely new book smell! I love reading books, I love writing in cute notebooks, I love listing in them, creating in them. And I love to make books too.

I've had a long think about the direction my creative business is going. I've never been able to stick to one thing as I have several crafty passions and can't just not make! The problem I have is that my shops have always seemed a bit of a mish-mash. I thought that it could be a good thing - a bit like a handmade department store, never knowing what you might find. However, I'm not sure this really works when selling online.

So, I think I've found how to combine all my crafty things while keeping a cohesive look to my shops. I'm going to concentrate on handbound books. The books I made before were either just tied with ribbon (polymer clay books) or used Japanese stab-stitch. I've decided to have a go with Coptic stitching. Each book will have a polymer clay button and most will have an altered photograph or an original illustration.

I've mentioned altered photographs as that's how I'm going to be selling my images from now on. After some research (and a few years trying!), I've realised that standard photographs generally don't sell that well. People are looking for something different and unique. I've been learning lots of techniques on altering images and that's how I'm going to be selling them from now on - on books, as greeting cards and ACEOs.

Phew - sorry for the long rambling, but I think I needed to get it all down on 'paper' to make things clear in my head!

So - pics are my first Coptic-stitched listing on Folksy, planning for the next few books and some of my altered images I'm working on.

Anyone else out there love books?? I'm sure there are a few of you... Or is your business heading in a new direction?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My Workspace!

Seeing as the Folksy folk are asking to see people's workspaces, I thought I would post mine here. I would dearly love a whole room just for me and my crafty bits, but I'll have to make do with a corner of the living room:

Here you can see on the top shelf paints, paintbrushes, Fimo, polymer clay tools, cutters etc., paper trimmer, lightbox, cutting mat, sketchpads, tissues and a baby monitor! Second shelf has a spotty bag full of bits like charms, keyrings, an awl, cutters, a rug hook, jewellery tools, organza bags... another box with jewellery findings and threads, my old Kodak Duaflex camera, pasta machine, Fimo canes, pencils and a mini tripod. Oh and my son's sponsored fill-a-pot pot for Nursery! On the desk are a load of folders, books, my children's illustration course, my latest bookbinding project and there's a computer under there somewhere.

Underneath is more Fimo, fabric, raffia, ribbon, threads, camera stuff and a bin! On the wall you can a French memo board I made which has a few ACEOs including one made by Wellydog as part of a swap we did. There's altered images of some of my flower photos as well. You can also see a few other bits from Folksy sellers like Hidden Eloise and Asking for Trouble. My art portfolio and work board are in this pic too. I use one side for polymer clay and the other for painting!

And a little bit of the conservatory:

These canvas boxes have loads of different papers and board for my books. And another of my memo boards too. This one's for my son's room.

Actually, I also have an upstairs cupboard full of stock, craft fair display bits and other odds and ends I don't use very often. And then there's the shoe cupboard in the hallway that has all my envelopes and bubble wrap, erm, which is also on top of the fridge... I seem to have taken over the house!

So... that's my space. I always thought I was a tidy, organised person. While I do love labelling and organising, I can't seem to keep it tidy!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Travel Tuesday - Japan

I’ve been fascinated with Japan and its culture since I was 14. I’m not sure why, but I really wanted to learn the language and remember going to the library to borrow a cassette and bought a book too. I didn’t get very far. I’m reading a book at the moment called ‘Japan, Through the Looking Glass’ by Alan MacFarlane (actually, I’ve been reading it for a couple of years but don’t seem to have time to read more than a page at a time nowadays!). I’ve discovered that Japanese is a wonderfully complex language.

Later, at university, I took a unit called The Japanese Business Environment. It was one of my favourite modules. Every lecture I sat engrossed listening to how Japan’s history has shaped the country and its people today. The Japanese have a unique way of dealing with people in business. I’m sure you’ve heard they never like to say ‘no’.

Since then, I’ve come to love everything Japanese – from fine art to Kawaii. I love their politeness and their not wanting to offend. I sometimes wonder if I was Japanese in a past life! I feel I can really relate to their culture and always feel a kind of empathy when I meet someone from Japan. Although, having said that, there was one thing in the book that surprised me and that was that blood relations don’t necessarily have a closer relationship than a friend. Anyone can become an important part of the family. I can’t quite imagine that myself.

Anyway, hopefully one day I’ll get to visit Japan. For now, I can just read and dream... So... that’s a bit about where I’d like to go, but I'm going to try and blog about a place I have actually been to on a Tuesday. I would say every week, but I very much doubt that will happen! It will definitely be on a Tuesday though, just so I can call it Travel Tuesday!

P.S. If you’re wondering what on earth these notepads have to do with Japan, then I’ll tell you that I handbound them using a traditional Japanese stab-stitch method! Click on the bumble bee notepad to buy in my Dear Duck shop. To purchase the other notepads, please drop me an e-mail.