A blog about my photos, my artwork, quotations, ideas, collections, passions, England, authors, handwork of all kinds, rusty bits, buffalo, and architectural detail...for starters. And the occasional rant.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Teapot Cottage

Sometimes a miniature scene is created from an inspiration. My Cornish cottage was the result of my fondness for the cob cottages and all the bits that speak of Cornwall and the sea. Teapot Cottage was quite simply the result of too many teapots!

I had a tea tray that had already been upcycled once as a frame so I put down some stone, brick & bits of grass & weed and I was ready to go. Trees, shrubs, and flower beds followed with all the necessary accessories to an English garden - Gnome, pheasant, birdhouse, and climbing vine.

I filled the cottage itself with some of the best pots and a little greenery. I confess I had plans to paper the inside and add the odd little sign such as "We Ship to US" or "Ask to See the Emma Bridgewater Range" but I was working on a deadline and those plans went by the wayside. I'm not likely to ever paint or paper the inside, but the signs may show up eventually.

Just barely managed to fit all the teapots in...
Tea in the garden with scones, jam, & clotted cream - perhaps a few more pastries, and the obligatory tea sandwiches. The food was rushed to me direct from England by Lucy and Gillian of the Etsy shop
Abasketof  here.

Looking at this now, I realize I should have put tea in the cups!
So I made my deadline, and used up my teapots.

What is next you ask? Well, I'm giving some thought to a small corner vignette, a young English boys desk...fish & chips, homework, and lots of football (by which I mean soccer) memorabilia - Liverpool, of course.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

365 Photo Challenge - August

Much like the February Fabric challenge, I didn't need to leave the house to find plenty of subject matter for Ceramic. In truth, I probably could do an entire 365 of ceramic without leaving my house. As a serial collector I was able to do my month without even unpacking the balance of my miniature shoe, or salt shaker, or little English cottage, or reamer collections.

Aside from my various collections, I have a fondness for small bowls. Where else am I going to put all those bits and bobs I can't seem to part with.

A few of my brass bits in one of my collection of Scott MacDowell pieces

It did give me a nice opportunity to add to my Squircle Flickr Group. What the heck is a Squircle you ask? It's a squared circle...and I promise more on Squircles at a later date. If you can't wait check out my Flickr Squircle album.

Squircles from the August challenge

Ceramics need dusting, and they break, but even broken they are lovely things.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Men ARE different...

Recently I was part of a group gathering at a pub to watch a football/soccer game. There were five women and about  15 men present although I was seated alone.

This pub serves a really delicious Beet Salad and I never pass an opportunity to have one...lots of greens, sliced beets, fresh orange bits, feta cheese, & candied walnuts with a beet vinaigrette. It's a little bit messy, but as good for you as it is good tasting, which is something to be treasured in a British themed pub.

After the game, before I left, I had perfectly normal conversations of several minutes duration each, with four different men. When I got into my car and glanced into the rear-view mirror I was horrified to discover I had a big spot of beet juice right on the tip of my nose.

Not one of those men had the nerve  consideration   kindness whatever to tell me. Were they just too embarrassed? Did they have a right good laugh after I left? I know they noticed it - it was right on the end of my nose for Pete's sake!

I think too highly of them all to be offended. Nevertheless, I know any one of the women there would have told me.

I'm just saying, men ARE different...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Magpie Cottage on Treacle Mine Road

A miniature setting should be able to stand on it's own without explanation, and I believe my Cornish cottage does that. However, since so much of this setting has memories or special meanings for me I will indulge myself and explain some of the bits and bobs that I consider quite special. In truth, this cottage has been about 20 years in the making, some of the pieces picked up during early trips to England. Once I constructed the room itself (it was a weekend project requiring my daughter's very able assistance) I found I already had most of the pieces that eventually found a home inside & outside the aged cob walls.

In Cornwall you are never far from the sea, so my resident is a fisherman with a model ship on the wall, and his nets drying outside along with a few glass floats and the odd seashell.  He is sitting down to breakfast - his wife has been up for hours and hot Cornish pasties for his lunch are cooling on the stove.

Don't miss the English Robin perched on the open kitchen window.
The table is set with a full English breakfast, a Brown Betty teapot, last weeks 'Beano' for amusement, and HP Sauce for the sausage. Someone has left a Meccano set of the Tower Bridge on the chair - I have a soft spot for the Tower Bridge My Tower Bridge Bathroom

That's a Cornishware jam pot with the cold toast.
 I knew exactly what kind of stove I wanted and I knew I needed just the right mantel. My son-in-law took on the task, choosing just the perfect piece of rhododendron branch and carving and finishing it to perfection. On it I placed a Toby Jug, pewter platter, a bottle of Beefeater's gin, ciggy's & matches - all traditional British brands. In the cupboard are more British brands - Wheatabix, Hobnobs, Smartees and all the necessary Cornishware dishes.

The magazine on the mantel is a Coronation souvenir.
For the wife, breakfast makings are just waiting to be cleaned up.
As much as I love the traditional English postbox, I love the way one finds the flat fronted mail drops stuck in the odd coutryside stone wall or cob building. Street names are also often posted on the buildings so as a massive Terry Pratchett fan I couldn't resist Treacle Mine Road for an address.

Peeping out of the barrel...what else...a hedgehog!
One last item needs to be mentioned, the cat lounging at the front of the cottage. Not just any old cat, this is THE Mousehole cat. A bit more here: Mousehole Cat

Most of the particularly English miniatures I have collected have been used in this setting. The word 'most' is important here because I find there is still a quantity of teapots to be dealt with. Stay tuned, Teapot Cottage is coming soon to a blog near you!

 More Magpie Cottage

Monday, September 8, 2014

365 Photo Challenge - July

July...picnics, farmer's markets, fruit and vegetables literally ripening all around you. What could make for an easier or more enjoyable subject. Very few of the foods I photographed were on my health-limited diet but with the artsy-fartsy excuse of a 365 photo challenge I was able to at least have a few bites of such blessings as Kathy's lighter than air scones with clotted cream & jam...chips with my 'full English' at the Three Lions...a cheese danish at Starbucks.  All in the name of art of course.

I now understand why such a thing as a 'food stylist' exists. More than once I found myself in front of a plate with heavenly aromas - but muddy colors and woeful design. I did manage to get my grapes to glisten and for color you can't go wrong in a farmer's market.

It was a little embarrassing pulling out my camera in a restaurant, but it was fun watching the look of alarm when I did it at a friend's house.

Special thanks to the Yakima Market in Bothell for being my fall-back location.

And gratitude to the Duffy Girls for the joy of a Champagne Tea in the sunshine.

All things considered, this was probably my least successful subject so far, but I sure enjoyed working on it!

365 Photo Challenge - June

It seems that each month I start the new subject with an expectation that quickly gets turned on its head. I thought the subject "Sky" would be really difficult. In a way it was, but only by being too easy. I'll try to make sense of that convoluted statement...

Sky is everywhere - you needn't even go outside, just step to the nearest window - which makes it easy. Sky is everywhere - how on earth does one decide which part of sky to photograph - which makes it hard. If you don't have a tree or a building or a kite you have no sense of scale. If there are no clouds (I live in Washington State - grey skies are normal here) then the picture becomes about the tree or the building or the kite rather than the sky.

Fortunately, June in Washington does provide a lot of 'blue sky with clouds' days so I had enough opportunities. Towards the end of the month I traveled to Montana, the Big Sky Country and I was overwhelmed with sky!

All of the previous monthly subjects were chosen because I had some interest in them. In all honesty, the only interest I had in 'Sky' related to my need for a jacket or an umbrella. Vapor trails hold a new fascination for me now, as do the countless building cranes reaching up so optimistically. I still know little or nothing about clouds, but I can say with certainty that I do look up now with a whole new appreciation for all the amazing cloud formations - and here in Washington...all the Shades of Grey.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

365 Photo Challenge - May

May was a piece of cake! The Pacific Northwest was in bloom and my choice of 'Floral' as a subject might just as well have been 'Rhody'. The conditions this year made for a brilliant spring bloom for all the fruit trees, dogwoods, hawthornes, labernums, and the like, but the rhododendrons were exquisite. The bushes were loaded with blooms and there was no rain damage. As a result, I found myself searching for variety and although I left quite a few rhody shots on the cutting room floor, the trees got me though - along with a few 'flowers' we tend to ignore.

Some of the rhody's left out:

See what I mean?

With this embarrassment of riches, I took time to play with a few of my favorite shots.

Bearded Iris
I met a man once who hybridized lilies. When asked how he choose lilies to work with he told us that his first love was iris, but the iris blossoms were so delicate and faded so fast it continually broke his heart so he switched to lilies. They are one of my favorite flowers and I see his point completely.

We have so many amazing and enormous alliums in our flower beds now, we must take a minute to appreciate their less spectacular relatives.

Sometimes we have to look for the flower, especially with grasses and trees...but they are always there.

I have chosen 'Sky' for June, which will certainly be more difficult than 'Floral'. The good news is that I will be heading for Montana near the end of the month so I can look forward to Big Sky Country. Like this...

Great Falls, Montana - 2010

Saturday, May 31, 2014

365 Photo Challenge - April

In April, I had what will likely be the easiest of my monthly challenges - Foliage. Unless one lives in a desert, we all have an ample supply of foliage to zero in on. But in the Pacific Northwest we are sometimes overwhelmed by foliage. Gardeners here spend as much time figuring out how to stop things from growing in their yards as they do actually encouraging plants to grow. In April, you can see the landscape greening right before your eyes on a daily basis.

So I was spoiled for choice. I found however, that like the omnipresent grey rockery variety of rock I encountered in March, unless you got very close, green foliage was very much of a muchness. So I tried to get close, and I went for what caught my eye.

Maples caught my eye more often than anything else, I left a lot of maples on the cutting room floor. What surprised me most was how much red there is in spring growth - one of those things I think I knew but had never really considered. Much of the red remains in stems but you must catch some red leaves quickly before they turn.

New rose growth

Another group of surprises came when I was at my computer looking more closely at some of the tree leaves I had shot. Quite a few of them turned out to be very much in bloom, something I tried to remind myself of when shooting the May Florals.

Just because it's green, doesn't make it foliage

When one is planning, whether it be a flower bed or a much larger landscape, your color palette is supremely important. I have always been drawn to the blue-grey and the chartreuse foliage for that defining 'pop'. Had I done foliage later in the year I think I would have found more of the blues and greys.

One of the many grasses now being cultivated

I suspect I could have done an entire year of foliage photos - and I might do that one year, if only to catch the autumn leaves turning. Until then, here is one from 2010 taken from my deck.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

365 Photo Challenge - March

The subject for March was stone. I thought the world outside was full of rocks and the challenge should be a piece of cake. The problem, I found, was that most of the rock to be found just sitting around waiting to be photographed in the northwest was the big hunk of dark grey rock used in rockeries. There are rockeries everywhere around here...and every rock in every rockery looks almost exactly the same.  Fortunately, my parents were rockhounds when I was a child, so I had odds and ends of their collection to dip into.

Something about this subject brought out my tendency to corny jokes...
She had a splitting head-ache.
Dumber than a box of rocks....
A geode-   the Schrodinger's Cat of the mineral world.
Now that I am halfway the April's subject - Foliage - I am suddenly discovering all sorts of rocks, minerals, and objects made of stone that I wish I had included. I fear that will be the major downside to this project...all the things I find a couple of months too late.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Framlingham Castle, Suffolk

Framlingham Castle was a spur of the moment stop. It is not one of the more famous castles, nor does it feature in the 'Must-See' books and articles. But on this day we were on schedule, so the opportunity to put ourselves behind, as usual, was something we could not pass by.

First, the history, which will be brief because we all know the important stuff is what we actually did there. Framlingham is a 12th century fortress which was the refuge of Mary Tudor when she was proclaimed Queen in 1553. Having passed through many hands, it finally wound up owned by Pembroke College, which as a philanthropic gesture in 1636 took down all internal buildings and constructed a poorhouse within the site.
The interior of Framlingham                                              Photo by Amethina
 I chose to pass up entering the castle itself, choosing instead to make some lovely old men very nervous by plopping myself and my camera down on a bench at the end of the bowls lawn. They couldn't tell whether I was taking pictures of them or the castle. It was lots of fun.

One of the many and varied chimneys on the castle
The Castle exterior
The nervous old men
While I was entertaining myself, the kids viewed the castle, which included walking the walls and exploring the remains.
There is nothing like a castle wall to give you a commanding view of the neighborhood
Photo by Amethina
Vertigo-inducing view of the circular stairs from the top of a tower
Photo by Amethina
All this was pure joy for my son-in-law. He's had a lifetime of interest in knights, their weaponry, and of course, their castles. This wasn't the first castle he had explored, but Framlingham gave him an opportunity for a one-off thrill. I was waiting at the car when they left the castle and as they approached I could see the happy grin of a ten year old on my son-in-law's face.

"Tell her," said my daughter.

He paused a moment for effect, then leaned forward and said..."I peed in a castle."
Shouldn't it have said "KNIGHTS" instead of "GENTLEMEN"?

Note: For the English majors among you, in spite of the urge to write "pee'd", I did my research and the past tense of "pee" is properly "peed". Still doesn't look right though...