Archive for July, 2010

Sculpture at Newby Hall

There was a sculpture exhibition at Newby Hall in Yorkshire this month.


Sam and Jay got stuck in to some stone carving…

Unfortunately they didn’t have time to finish it…

…but they know what they’re aiming for!….


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Summer in the Garden

Here’s how we’re getting on in the garden. Our newly made ‘Olive Beds’ (Sam called them that because of their shape) are doing really well! We added about five bags of organic compost to each bed when we made them, and I think it’s really paid off.

Here’s our first baby pumpkin, and our first baby marrow. I particularly excited to see these as we grew them from seed, whereas last year we just couldn’t get any to even germinate.

The potato crop looks happy, even though it’s got the shadiest spot.

You can really see the ‘olive’ shape of the beds in this one.

Rocket galore! But what I’ve realised with this is that you need to plant a little bit every three weeks or so to get a good crop all summer long. We planted half a packet, it came up beautifully (above), but then bolted within a fortnight before we could even eat half of it. Needs more of a strategy for next year I think…


Strawberries and lettuce.

Strawberries and Tayberries.

Two rather large courgettes.


More courgettes and giant radishes (they’re supposed to be like that!).

Spring onions.

Potatoes. Yum.

And finally, a few flower shots. The Verbena above is my absolute favourite at the moment. We grew it from seed last year in pots, then I moved the plants this Spring to where I wanted them. You can save a fortune growing your own Verbena, as it’s really expensive to buy grown plants from the garden centre. We got about thirty plants from one packet of seeds. And I think I can split them next Spring, as they’re really big now.

Black stemmed Lilies from the Welsh Botanical Gardens last year. I’m keeping these in a pot for now, but even so they have quadrupled in size since last summer.

And lastly for now, a HUGE orange Dahlia. So far this is the star of the Dahlias we bought, but there are still plenty that haven’t come out yet, so we still have them to look forward too. X

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Plaster Casting

We had so much fun with our Crafty Tuesday group making plaster casts this week.

Here’s what you need: coloured or natural clay, Plaster of Paris, cooking foil, old bowl and mixing spoon, water, wire and pliers for hanging loops (optional – depends if you want to be able to hang your cast on the wall), plates for supporting casts while they dry, bits and pieces for pressing ie: seed heads, old keys, tiny children’s toys eg. plastic insects, fingers and toes, old jewellery, buttons etc. Anything with a texture really, but make sure you choose things which you can wash, as they will get covered in clay.

Ok let’s get started. Press or roll out a piece of clay.

Press your design.

Wrap it in a double layer of foil. Try to keep the foil tight and get it to stay as close to the edges of the clay as you can, (to minimise the amount of plaster which runs down the back).

Make sure your work is sitting on a plate or tray to support it for the next stage.

Mix Plaster of paris with enough water to form a thick creamy texture.

Everyone likes this bit!

When you’re ready, carefully pour the mixture into the mould. Jiggle and gently bump the plate or tray a bit to try to remove air bubbles that may be left in the plaster.

If you need loops for hanging, form the wire using your fingers or pliers as shown here.

When the plaster starts to thicken up in the mould, but is not yet fully hardened, push the loops well into the plaster so that only the loop sticks out.

Set aside to dry and enjoy your lunch!

Half to an hour later, gently peel of the foil and the clay (the clay will still be soft – in fact you will be able to save most of it to re-use for another cast).

And voila! Some amazing textures appear. You never quite know what you’re going to get – it’s very exciting and quite addictive!

So much so, that after everyone had left, Sam and I wanted to do more. And guess what we chose? Yep, a train!

Wrapped and ready.

We put sellotape across the top of the foil to stop the edges spreading out with the weight of the wet plaster. The above picture shows Sam cutting them once the plaster had hardened, ready to remove the train.

Patience was needed to remove all the clay from this one.

But it was worth it!

Just to add that Sam and I had never done this before today, and yet by the end of the afternoon we had some fantastic casts which are now on our walls. It was great fun, I’d strongly encourage you to have a go….. X

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