Tuesday, 22 July 2014

creative flashback: potato printing

Who didn't love potato printing as a kid?! 

It was, for sure, my first introduction to the whole concept of printing and, given the chance, I would have happily done it everyday. There was pure joy in duplicating an image over and over again with as little effort as putting paint on a potato and stamping it onto a surface.

What is it about repetitive pattern that the mind finds so satisfying? 
I thought up a ton of complicated patterns and ideas for this Creative Flashback project, but it's simplicity that makes potato printing so fulfilling and the main reason I loved it as a child.

In the end, I whipped up a tablecloth from a couple of meters of calico and picked out a blue fabric paint from a set I had stashed in the art cupboard. I opted for the simplest of shapes and carved a triangle from a new potato.

I thought about carefully stamping the triangles in perfectly stamped lines, I thought about making an effort to load the potato, each time, with exactly the same amount of paint and producing near perfect replicas. I thought I wanted it to be perfect until I started printing.

I allowed myself the freedom of imperfect. Throwing caution to the wind, I simply stamped away. My lines were wonky, my prints varying tones of blue and yet the end product didn't feel flawed, it felt beautifully home-made.

So I finished my tablecloth and I hung it to dry. I looked at it often and found I rather liked the finished piece. William saw it and told me it was beautiful, he's so generous with his praise it makes my heart melt. His comment made my little Creative Flashback series that little more meaningful and, as you can see, from the above picture, it's getting some use...

... just not as a tablecloth ;)

For more potato printing inspiration take a look at this leafy project and I love this image of carved potatoes with all their geometric patterns. For something different why not try other kinds of fruit and vegetables like the citrus fruit used here. 

To see all the #creativeflashback projects in the series, so far, please click here.

Sunday, 20 July 2014


Making Three Little Pig puppets with paper plates and...

Thinking this print, of the book's theme, is beautiful.

Loving how excitedly William ran into the house today because he'd just found another ripe strawberry and couldn't wait to tell me.

Having a child-free night and not getting home till one in the morning. Seriously, 1am!! That hasn't happened in a long, long time. I was however, super happy when picking-up the little chap from Grandma & Grandad's house.

Enjoying the sunsets.

Waiting for the arrival of passports so we can book a family holiday :)

Getting confused between Masterchef South Africa and Masterchef Canada because Andy is watching them both at the same time. I've made the statement 'oh, they've changed the judges' so many times!

Feeling angry towards whoever broke into my son's preschool, during the last week of term. Who would break-in and trash a preschool??!!

Wanting to go to Southampton to see this exhibition by Dan Perfect and Fiona Rae.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

in search of romans

Earlier in the month we headed up to the North East of England, visited family and spent a couple of days exploring. I've previously mentioned The Angel of the North and of course Beamish but we also spent a day in Northumberland, tracing part of Hadrian's Wall. 

28 years it's taken me to see part of Hadrian's Wall. I'm a bit of a history geek so it's kind of a big deal and certainly something to tick of the bucket list. At some point in the future, I'd actually quite like to travel the whole length but that's something to consider on another day.

We started at Vindolanda, an Ancient Roman Fort.
The site was incredible. Archaeologists have uncovered huge amounts of the foundations and are still doing regular excavations. You can view some of the finds in the Vindolanda Museum which is nestled within some very quaint looking gardens. The museum was packed with treasures, including bones. William was delighted, to say the least. 

Regular readers may recognize the below picture from The Alphabet Photography Project but this post didn't feel finished without it. Our little Roman Solider. 
Our next stop, after Vindolanda, was the Roman Army Museum with exhibitions about, you guessed it, the Roman Army. 

They had a great little 3D film. William loved it and sat through the whole thing. He was mesmerised by the Eagle (also the narrator) and now knows, without doubt, it is associated with the Roman Army.

If you ever find yourself in the museum, make sure you test out the bow & arrow simulation. I was rubbish!

Finally, on our mini Hadrian's Wall tour, we visited Housesteads Roman Fort.
The views were simply stunning, it's worth the trip for them alone. I think the pictures kind of say it all.

You really don't want to be visiting Housesteads with inappropriate footwear. To get to the site, there's a little wander up a rather steep hill and unfortunately, that isn't our helicopter you see. 

William's little legs gave up whilst going up that hill. He definitely isn't a light little baby any more. Amazing how his energy was magically restored once at the top, flagged when we were walking back down and appeared again as soon as he saw a slide, outside the gift shop ;)

Note to self: if Andy takes William to the toilet we all get ice cream.

For further information about any of the places we visited please click on the links in the post. 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

j is for jelly

'It's fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day. That's what human life is all about, enjoying things.' Julia Child

I'm taking part in The Alphabet Photograph Project over at podcastdove.com

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

creative flashback: tie-dye

Tie-dye, a relief dyeing technique. It is hugely associated with the 1960s but has been used for centuries, all over the world. The technique is forever in and out of popularity and there's an apparent revival on the internet at present. It's popped up more than a few times on my Pinterest feed recently.
I was first introduced to tie-dye at school. It was a project that cropped up more than a couple of times. I was in total awe of the whole process, the mixing of the dyes, how the colours blended together on the fabric and the effects created simply by folding and tying fabric. 

But... the pure magic of the whole technique had to be the element of surprise, the never quite knowing what your going to get and the big reveal at the end of the process. This is, for sure, still the part I love most of all. My excitement, as I snipped the rubber bands away from these canvas bags, was verging on the ridiculous.  
Apparently, coral is one of my current favourite colours and was the dye of choice for this Creative Flashback project. The dye would certainly have benefited from sitting a little longer but I got slightly worried by just how bright it was and, in truth, a little too impatient to see the results.

Indigo is proving popular with the technique and is incredibly effective. There is a really good example here and this bleach tie-dye technique looks really interesting.

For further tie-dye inspiration, take a look at this tie-dyed bedding and for a more natural look, here's how to make natural dyes (I'm definitely going to give this a go with William).
You can find last weeks Creative Flashback and more about what this series is all about here. Please do share your own creative childhood using #creativeflashback over on Twitter or Instagram.

What did you love making as a child?

Sunday, 13 July 2014


Dragging my little family around the village on walks, for the sole purpose of taking photos of Creative Flashback makes.

Painting abstract acrylics on paper.

Looking forward to William being on his Summer Holidays from nursery, one more week to go.

Drinking peppermint tea.

Waiting for my sausage casserole to cook after turning the oven off by accident and not realising until 40 minutes into its cooking time. Argh!

Rediscovering Georgia O'Keeffe; 'I thought someone could teach me how to paint a landscape but I never found that person. I had to just settle down and try. I thought somebody could tell me how but I found nobody could. They could tell you how they painted their landscape but they couldn't tell me how to paint mine' - O'Keeffe

Watching final episodes of Penny Dreadful and Vikings, loved both these series.

Finding a nearly ripe strawberry in the garden and watching the runner beans get bigger every day.

Loving this Constellation Scarf DIY. I think I'm going to make me one of these.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

exploring beamish

That beam says it all about Beamish (pun 100% intended).

An open air museum, nestled within the countryside of County Durham, Beamish is full of history, nostalgia and a touch of magic. It is a full sensory experience. This isn't a museum you simply look at but one you can smell, taste, touch and hear. You become part of it, you live it. 
Is it obvious that I love this place? 

I remember coming here as a child way over twenty years ago. I can only remember glimpses but I remember it leaving an impression... I remember feeling like it was a different world. Even as an adult I found myself forgetting that the staff, dressed in their period costumes, were simply people of today dressed up (I think they forget too). 
These pictures show but a pinch of what there is to see and do. You can of course find out more on their website but exhibits include, a 1900s Pit Village and Colliery, a 1900s Town, 1820s Pockerly Old Hall and a 1940s farm. All are linked by old fashioned tram and bus rides.
William had his fair share of tantrums (wow, did he ever) and they were mainly over seeing a poster, in the entrance, of that carousel and wanting to go on it straight away. Our parenting stubbornness made him wait  and it was worth the wait just for that smile alone.

Minus the spirited three year old moments,  he loved exploring, he loved the transport and he loved the animals.  

It was great to show William the colliery. Both Andy and I have mining in our family histories so we taught him part of his heritage that day. A little heads up... there's a few lovely mounds of coal just asking for little curious boys to explore so go prepared ;)
This picture with the horse is my favourite. The horse looking so contentedly gentle and you just know my boy is smiling, even if you can't see his face.
I was asked if it was worth a visit and it so definitely is. So much to see and do and plenty of places for refreshments, including a pub. They are forever expanding and their 1950s project looks interesting but I would be happy to go again and again, regardless.