Friday, 26 June 2009

Stained Glass - making a start

Last Friday I went off to Liverpool, my home town, for a one-day class in leaded lights (leaded stained glass) with Pearson's, probably the biggest stained glass supplier in the UK.

There were only four of us in the class - I understand this is usual. It meant a lot of personal supervision from Ian Hartless the tutor. Ian works on cathedrals all over Europe.

The class takes place in the showroom on a small mezzanine and space is quite tight, but since we were only creating something of about A4 size, that was OK.

Ian, offering to stretch the lead with me - stretching pulls out any twists, straightens the lead 'came' and makes it more rigid.

This is the start of my piece; I was interested in producing geometric Art Deco designs and really enjoyed the process. However, the difficulty was that nothing was measured - everything judged by eye. Of course, I discovered that while this is OK for the swirly shapes some were creating, when it comes to straight lines, you really need to measure. Unfortunately, there were no rules - plenty of straight edges and squares, but nothing to measure with (see my result below).

The view down into the showroom with all the racks of beautiful stained glass.

And this is the piece I made. I know it's full of mistakes, but they're all things I've learned from.

So I feel ready for my first real project, to replace the modern glass in our 1912 internal doors. The design was half drawn with a charcoal pencil which gives the right thickness of line for the heart of the lead came, then folded, rubbed down and copied for the other half. So far, I've cut the easier bits of glass, but if you look carefully just to the top right next to the sellotape (Scotch tape) dispenser, you'll see that I broke one of the more expensive pieces by not cutting boldly enough. Hopefully, I can reuse the pieces for smaller sections. I'll need the grinder for some of the tighter curves.

And this is my little glass store. I've bought some rather nice green water glass since then for the leaves and some other bits. In the bottom left, you can see the photo of a local window I used as inspiration, though, of course, everything has to be adapted to new shapes and sizes.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Nighttime Explosions - Elderflower Champagne

The Elderflowers are at their best at the moment. Marea's tempted to make Elderflower Champagne, but my abiding memory of the last time is that some of the bottles (genuine Champagne bottles) exploded in the airing cupboard during the night and we thought it was a earthquake! The remaining bottles had to be buried up to their necks in the garden before it was safe to unwire the corks. Elderflower champagne makes great fountains.

If you are thinking of making Elderflower champagne, then this is probably a good recipe, though I never put vinegar into anything - can't stand the stuff and won't have it in the house.

I was taught to ask the Elder tree for permission before taking any of the flowers. it was said that this would prevent the flowers smelling of cat pee, but the truth is that if you pick flowers in the morning they should smell slightly of bananas, if picked in the afternoon/evening they WILL smell of cat pee. Be warned.

The best Elderflowers are picked when they’re white and newly opened. The older creamy ones are riper and should be avoided. Leave them for the berries and a rich red wine. Don't wash the flowers, just shake them to get rid of insects and pull the flowerets off the stalks. If, like me, you suffer from hay fever, beware the pollen - wear a mask.

Also very beautiful in the hedgerows around the village are the dogroses. lovely to look at and beautifully scented, but beware the thorns. What I want to know is why, if the idea of thorns is to prevent the flowers and leaves being eaten, they all face backwards, so an animal can thrust its muzzle in but not get it out (without consuming everything first).

Friday, 5 June 2009

The beauty of the poppies

The poppies have come up trumps this year. It does take a whiloe for them to settle in and build up their strength. I love the original oriental poppy; the way it catches and holds the light.

But we also have other varieties and colours

... including my all-time favourite, 'Patty's Plum'.

The Summer House/Studio is finished and I'm off to take a class in stained and leaded glass in a couple of weeks time in Liverpool, so I can get started.
The bunting, by the way is for Marea's volunteer party (for those who fundraise voluntarily for Marie Curie Cancer Care). They promised rain, but, so far, the weather's holding. My only problem with the bunting (well, no, not my only problem - I'm not really sure I like it at all) but my problem with this bunting is that it hides the lettering.

Last year, I cleared a patch of land that had been totally dominated by our aptly named Stipa Gigantea, divided the stipa, replanted a small bit and then planted alliums and other good stuff around it.

Well, this is how it's turned out. I think that's a success.

The Allium Christophii are spectacular, but the small ones (you can just see the spearhead buds on this shot) produce small deep red balls of colout that last quite a long time. Perhaps more later.

Actually, the whole garden is at its best at the moment. Though I love August (I was born at the end of August) I have to admit that the garden is never quite as beautiful as in June.

This, by the way, is a little rose called 'Eye Paint' from David Austin. It's not done too well in previous years, but it plainly enjoys being among the Alchemilla Mollis.

Monday, 1 June 2009

NOT Sitting in the Bleachers

Early arrival's a pre-requisite,
And parking in the ground's a real bonus,
And lugging chairs (they're not exactly light),
While midday sunspills light and heat upon us.

Hats and sunblock, sandwiches and cider;
Having the perfect view, no heads between;
Behind the picket - just; an insider
Fans in the bleachers crowded looking keen.

And so we sit and wait and eat and drink,
And watch the late ariivers seeking seats,
And while the teams warm up, I lounge and think;
The voice is right that in my head repeats-

'The first balls bowled so close, so clear, teach us
Cricket's best NOT sitting in the bleachers.'