Half Term Art

This half term we’ve been lucky to all have the week off and we decided on doing some new things as a family.

So on Monday we were up and out early for a trip out to the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. I last went there when I was doing my art GCSE, back in around 1987/8, so I was looking forward to seeing all the changes. It was not really a surprise to find it nothing like I remembered. The galleries are really bright and airy, and the exhibitions are full of thought invoking pieces of art and sculpture. One of the most interesting pieces was a large cave-like structure adorned with knitting and crochet. It was very spookily lit, which made us think it was an old cave filled with cobwebs – very appropriate for this time of year. However, we were informed by one of the staff that it was actually the ‘Womb Room’ and with the low lighting inside it felt very warm and cosy.

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As it’s half term, there were several activities on offer for children. We opted for the ‘art hamper’ where we filled a small picnic hamper with art supplies and found an inspiring spot to make our own art. We decided on a bench overlooking the art garden and we all came up with something unique! It was great to do some drawing again, I realised it’s been a very long time since I actually sat down to draw a still life. But we all had fun and came away with our own piece of art.

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We finished the visit with the ‘welly walk’ around the sculptures in Whitworth Park. The weather was glorious, so we made the most of the dry conditions and played in the leaves, collecting some for possible future crafting back home. The walk involved trying to work out which of sculptures to find, using some slightly cryptic clues. We had great fun and particularly liked the out-of-season snowman and the upside-down trees!

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After lunch we headed off to The Imperial War Museum North, somewhere else I have been previously, but many years ago now. On arrival we were met with another menu of activities for half term, and we found ourselves in a studio doing still life drawing! This time of items from the Second World War. It was great that the parents were also encouraged to take part not just the children. So we all had another go with some beautiful pencils, drawing gas masks, goggles and incendiary bombs! This was all part of the ‘Big Draw’ and the gallery of work was pretty impressive – children and adults.

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We didn’t have anywhere near enough time to see all of the exhibitions, but we did do the Horrible Histories ‘Blitzed Brits’ exhibit, which was very popular with my daughter, even if she wasn’t really understanding everything. She loved doing the activity booklet, following the clues and getting hands on with all the interactive exhibits. It turns out I would have been a bomb disposal expert in the war!! Not sure I would have been any good at that, I see me more as a land girl or knitting socks for the troops.

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It was dark by the time we came out of the museum, so we had a quick walk over the ship canal to Media City, looking in vain for the Blue Peter garden, whilst enjoying the lights and the incredible moon. A quick cuppa in the Lowry while my husband set about taking plenty of arty photos in the dark, and then it was time to go home, thoroughly worn out!

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A great day out which we finished with a chippy tea. I would thoroughly recommend looking into any of these attractions and I think we will be going back to them again very soon. It was brilliant to do so much art too, I will have to see what else is on offer for the Big Draw week.

Happy crafting
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A touch of Autumn Colour

This week I fancied a bit of relief from all the Christmas bits and pieces in my craft room. I finished reading the latest issue of Craftseller and decided to use some of the papers that came with it to make a couple of Autumn themed cards.

There seems to be no end in sight to the trend for woodland themes, so I thought I’d make these cards using the lovely leaves and woodland animal prints. It’s lovely to use some different designs and colours.

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It’s really starting to feel like Autumn as the nights are drawing in and we’ve just started to lose the leaves off the trees. I expect we will get some strong winds soon and the rest will descend to the ground all in one go. But for the time being I am enjoying the beautiful colours and the glorious Autumn sunshine.

I am very lucky to live close to farmland and there are lots of trees in the area too.  While I sit in my craft room listening to the radio, I can look out on several very mature trees.  We have a fabulous horse chestnut tree over the road which always seems to have a squirrel in it – he’s a real little terror, dropping conkers on passers by!  These papers are the perfect accompaniment to watching the squirrel running around.

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The colours work so well with some recycled kraft card.  Mixing the brown natural cardstock with bright white really makes the colours of the leaves pop.  A lovely chance for some Autumn colour.

Happy crafting
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Jam and Jerusalem

There has been so much on the TV recently about the centenary of the WI, I decided to take a leaf from their book and use up the remaining blackberries to make some jam! I always thought this would be a difficult process and would need loads of extra ingredients and equipment. My neighbour said it was dead easy to do and I should give it a try. So I did a bit of research on the internet – You Tube is amazing for tutorials – and thought I would have a go.

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So out came all the washed blackberries, a large bag of sugar, my largest pan, masher and pots for the finished produce. Everywhere I found on the internet called for added pectin with blackberries, but my Delia book doesn’t mention it. As this was my first go at jam making, I decided on the simple approach – fruit and sugar.

Firstly I mashed the blackberries a bit in the pan, then added the sugar, stirred with my trusty wooden spoon and then brought them to the boil.

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Here they are on the hob, nicely boiling away. I removed some of the bubbles as they boiled and kept a watch on it to check on thickening up.  It didn’t take long, and then I left it to cool, whilst boiling my pots.

I was amazed at just how much jam I made.  I finished the day with six pots ready for the fridge.  I hope they last as I don’t think we’ll get through it that quickly on toast – oooo, that’s made me think of scones, maybe I shall have to have another baking session again soon.  Watch this space!

Happing crafting
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