Monday, 28 May 2007

Stop and smell the flowers

This is my latest craft creation, made for the great UK Etsy monthly challenge.

This month's challenge was on the theme of flowers. Closing date is 31st May and already there are some awesome entries.

I'll do a full round up after judging, but meanwhile you can revel in the beauty that is my entry.

Made from swarovski crystal briolettes and bicones plus two absolutely gorgeous spotty heart shaped pottery buttons from Woodlane Crafts in Doune.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Moving up

As those who know me in real life will know, I was recently lucky enough to get a promotion at work. Not only does this mean I get a scarily senior job, it also means that I have inherited a beautiful corner office - with high ceilings, original cornices and immensely huge (and very empty!) walls.

I do have a few small prints from my previous office, but they are seriously lost on the vast swathes of empty wall that I now have.

So this weekend, rather than worry about whether I can actually do the job they've appointed me to, I've entertained myself by picking out some art work that I might just get to hang on the walls of my luscious corner suite!

To set the scene, imagine yourself in the top corner of a late 19th Century house. Original cornice work is still to be seen around the edge of the white ceiling. The walls have been painted a delicate shade of primrose yellow and a (new) blue-green carpet graces the floor. From late morning onwards, sunshine bursts through the large sash windows on two walls of the room. A functional desk sits in one corner, while a pair of brown leather couches are angled to form an informal meeting area. Two large green palms sit in corners of the room.

And to this haven of light and space, I'm thinking about adding some of the following:

Last Light by BudanART.
A Canadian artist, Mandy, based in Pickering, Ontario and working alongside her photographer husband, Steve.

One Tree Hill by LittleArty
A New Zealand based artist with a real passion for her art

Atlantis Underwater CityScape by TheDevilsWallpaper
An artist and writer based in Southampton, UK - and a bona fide Dr to boot!

Darling Garden by WhimsicalNature
A New York based artist currently exploring the use of nature in abstract forms and bold colours

Captive Audience by Pinwheel
A professional and entirely self taught artist born in England, raised in Scotland and currently living in Wales

Always making the wrong choices by Gorjuss
Also known as Scottish painter, Suzanne Woolcott

Secret Prism by Scheri
Boston, Massachusetts based artist who uses art as an escape from the everyday grind (and joy) of child rearing.

Tourmaline by BettyCBowen
A lifelong artist living and working in the town of Cushing, Oklahoma. Betty took the inspiration for this picture from a ring she bought in Italy

I'm sure you'll agree there are some great choices there. Anyone want to give me a helping hand in deciding which one(s) I should choose - feel free to leave me comments to help me decide!

I'm already lucky enough to own this original artwork, Down to the Sea, by MaeveW. Maeve is based in Nottingham, teaches art in school and has been drawing since she was a child. I love this painting because it looks a little bit like the road down to the beach in the village I grew up in.

I have a strong suspicion that this will be making it into my office before too long.

Along with these cute little prints from Bunny , a London based artist and artisan, who as well as producing gorgeous prints, makes the most beautiful to-die-for customised shoes that you have ever seen.

All this amazing art work is available to buy on Etsy - but if you buy the one I want before I do, there'll be trouble!!!

Sunday, 6 May 2007

One of my favourite places

Today on another website we've been posting pictures of our various houses. While I was putting one of my house up, I got to thinking about one of my favourite places - where I used to live in the Scottish Borders.

It was this artist (Tom Davidson) that made me think about it. I've got a number of his fantastic works of art in my house. I've even bought this one for my big sister to hang in her house in Canada.

Scottish Borders is a truly amazing place - beautiful countryside and real communities. And above all, a really strong arts and crafts spirit.

Even the small village I lived in had its own art gallery - with coffee shop attached, much to the delight of my dad when he came to visit. Lots of cakey cakies! The FlatCat Gallery is a treasure chest of art, jewellery, knick knacks and other delights. Many a birthday and Christmas present was bought from there.

It also sells (and uses) amazing furniture made from wood left pretty much in its natural form - all burrs, blemishes and all. Tim Stead was a legendary craftsman who has sadly passed on, but it's good to see his workshop is still flourishing with equally talented craftsmen and women carrying on his trade. This is the kind of furniture he and his workshop are famous for.

As well as amazing arts and crafts, the Scottish Borders also has an awesome array of great places to eat. One of our favourites was a little restaurant called Chapters in the small village of Gattonside, close to Melrose. We had many a celebration meal there in our time in the Borders.

Also worth visiting was The Old Thistle Inn in Westruther - out in the middle of nowhere but serving the most fantastic selection of steaks you could ever ask for.

Our most regular haunt, however, had to be our local pub, The Eagle in Lauder. Sadly they don't have a website but suffice to say we would go on a regular basis for a meal in the lounge bar and never be disappointed. We did once try the public bar but after a tumbleweed moment when everyone stopped drinking and stared at us, we stayed faithful to the lounge bar thereafter.

Anyone thinking about visiting the Borders should definitely head for Melrose, home of the rugby sevens but also home to some gorgeous pubs, shops and cafes plus an amazing abbey.

Kelso, Coldstream and Jedburgh are also worth a visit, as is the coastal area from Eyemouth, through Coldingham and all the way to Berwick, just across the Border in England.

Not surprisingly with all the beautiful scenery in this area, there are a couple of long distance walking routes that go through the Borders. The longer of them is the Southern Upland Way from Portpatrick in Dumfries & Galloway in the south to Cockburnspath just in the Borders in the north. The shorter is St Cuthbert's Way, following the ancient monastery trail from Melrose in the north to Lindisfarne in Northumberland in the south. I've walked a couple of sections of St Cuthberts Way and can vouch that the walking is relatively easy and that the scenery is truly stunning. A friend of mine walked the middle section of the Southern Upland Way at Easter and was very taken with the area, never having visited before.

I'll finish now and wait for my cheque from the Scottish Borders Tourist Board! Seriously, it's a beautiful part of the world and well worth a visit. It's more than just the bit of Scotland between England and Edinburgh - a true gem in its own right.