This year I decided to follow the German-speaking tradition and have an Easter tree. I have been in Switzerland around Easter several times, and love the little scenes they set up in shop windows, cable car stations and everywhere else.
The decorations for my tree, the wreath and lights have come from many countries, from Latvia to China and back to the UK! So enjoy some photos of them on this happy day.
There is a shop on The Street in Kirkwall, called Aa’ Fired Up, where you can paint pottery blanks and they fire it for you. (There is one in Lerwick, Shetland too.) One of the many blanks they have available is a large yarn bowl, so three of us went together to paint our own bowls.
is very well organised, with tables set out with the various paints and
brushes. We were told how best to proceed,
and shown the reference plate with the finished paint colours, often quite
different from the colour in the bottle.
decided to paint the inside first. Sharon
and Jackie chose a pinky-lilac colour and I chose a greeny turquoise. We had been told to give it three coats to
get the intensity shown on the plate.
The paint dried very quickly so we didn’t have to wait between coats.
Sharon and Jackie used a purple for the outside of their bowls, and both chose to screen print things on. I used the pinky-lilac with two coats only, and then painted on some stylised lavender.
Then we went away with instructions to come back a week later to pick up the fired pieces.
We were all very pleased with how they had turned out!
I was vaguely searching Etsy for stained glass one evening in February,
when a driftwood cross came up among the glass offerings. (I find Etsy’s search engine often does
I couldn’t get the image out of my mind, so the next day I went back and
looked some more. The Etsy shop is The
Driftwood Gallery, based near Weymouth on the south coast of England.
The Christian tradition I come from does not do Lent or crosses, but I
have always taken on board ideas I like and find useful, from many traditions. And this cross spoke to me in so many ways, I
could take reflections from it for a year’s worth of sermons! Here are some of the ideas I have pondered
over the past few weeks.
The driftwood pieces which make up the body of the cross show signs of
providing a home and meal for marine worms.
Between the ‘branches’ there are shells, small animals protected by the
There are pieces of sea glass – broken glass that the rocks and waves
have tumbled to smoothness.
Broken pieces of pottery, some with still-sharp edges, have found a
home, and their colour enhances the whole.
On the top of the cross there are three, equally spaced holes, a perfect
reminder of the Trinity.
Some of the shells are big, bright and shiny. They do not eclipse the smaller, duller ones,
but together they enhance the whole piece.
The individual branches are just broken, and some burnt, bits, but together they make a thing of beauty.
But most of all, this cross reminds me of how the church should be. A collection of odd, seemingly useless, pieces that come together on the firm foundation of the cross to protect the weak and embrace the broken.
to be a season of its own up here. Some
days hark back to winter, others forward to spring. And all the while, the days lengthen
start of the month the sun was still low enough for some interesting sky
shots. I love the juxtaposition of the
900 year old Cathedral spire with the two industrial chimneys of the power
also the month of the shed! We have no
flat space to put it, so it is going in the car port. Nick and The Butler have done all the work.
It is not finished yet – ‘flu has got in the way – but it is going to be great when it is! (The same ‘flu that meant I didn’t write a post last week.)
have continued doing what they do best – sleeping and getting in to
mischief. Magnus was not pleased to be
woken for some snaps, so he proceeded to yawn hugely until I have finished!
bushes were changing. The Alder has
these cone-like fruiting bodies which stay on the branches all winter.
Birch has a host of catkins which look dull and brown in some lights, and a
brilliant rust red in others.
and lichens are starting to grow…
… and by
the end of the month some bushes like this Blackthorn, have come into bud.
We have had some lovely days, where I was able to open some windows for the first time. They have a setting where they will open a couple of inches, but no more. Eilidh spent hours trying her hardest to get out…!
The end of the month also saw the first cruise liner of the year, the Astoria. My usual afternoon dog walk has good views of ships coming and going, and also at anchor. I am no sure yet whether we will be able to see those at the Hatston pier. Time will tell!
ago today the Longhope lifeboat answered a shout to go to help the Irene, a
cargo ship which had lost power and was drifting on to rocks on the east coast
of South Ronaldsay. The weather was
horrendous, with hurricane force winds, and the Pentland Firth, one of the most
dangerous pieces of water in the world, was boiling with mountainous seas. Eight men were aboard.
morning the lifeboat was found upside down in the Firth. All eight men were in the cabin. The coxswain still had his hands on the
about a mile across the water from Flotta where I lived until recently. The graveyard is beyond the village. A lonely and lovely spot. As you enter, the memorial to those eight men
is visible between the pillars, stark and haunting. A simple representation of courage. The graves of the men who died are nearby.
videos about the disaster.
The first includes interviews with two men who helped launch the lifeboat that day.h
is a song written by a local girl with photos and paintings of that day.
The third shows how much all of Orkney relies on the lifeboat crews. St Andrew’s School is on the East Mainland and they produced this video.
first blog post about my embroidered pictures I showed you some of the pieces
where the embroidery was used to enhance a photo. In this part I am showing you some examples
where the embroidery has been used to add something to the photo.
above came from the same shoot as the last one from my first post. Here I used ribbon flowers to mimic the
rosebuds on her dress in colours taken from the photo on the fabric.
I used this
technique on several portraits. This is
a girl I knew who hoped to go into modelling and she asked me to take some
portfolio shots. (She got taken on by
the agency!) Again, this shot cried out
for ribbon flowers.
Flowers did not feel appropriate for a male friend, so I used needle lace leaves instead. These are made by attaching the wire to the shape you want to a piece of card, then stitching as required before taking the leaf off the card. It is a technique I enjoyed very much.
photo feels empty. It needs ‘something’
to give it a focus. That is what I felt
about this photo – it needed someone on the bridge, but nothing too
complex. I therefore decided on the
dress and parasol only, and enhanced the trees to bring the focus right in.
scene was another empty shot. When I saw
the flat rock, I knew it needed a mermaid.
Once she was complete, I felt it needed something else to balance the
picture, and the boat she was luring on to the rocks seemed just right!
took shots with embroidery in mind. An
example of this was a row of trees below.
We had been watching hot air balloons from my parents’ house so I looked
out for a suitable place to photograph what I wanted.
original photo for the picture below was a small section of a photo of shadows
on grass. I wanted to embroider a garden
and it formed the ideal background.
One of the last pieces I made used a photo of a lochan on Hoy. There were hundreds of huge dragonflies flitting about, but they were too quick and too translucent to photograph with the camera I had that day. So I added my own. This is again goldwork, but this time most of the embroidery is not on to the fabric, but on wires. The four wings were made separately as the leaves above. The body was made with two strands of quite thick wire, embroidered over in gold. The eyes are gold beads This was then attached to the photo fabric and the wings attached to the thorax. A flat bead was added over the wings to form the thorax, then the wings were bent into the right shape.