When you turn out to be cleverer than you thought you were…

I’m basking in the warm and particular glow you get when you have created something that turns out to be rather special, albeit in a small way.

Like many people who learned the basics of knitting as a child, I have recently rediscovered the pleasure of knitting and for the last few years I have been making simple items, mostly following the patterns of the wonderful Erica Knight. She’s inspired me to let my mind wander towards my own projects and I have just re-opened my Etsy shop so I can feature the result: some rather desirable neck-warmers.

Why neck warmers? Well, obviously the pattern is straight forward – it’s a rectangle of knitting stitched together into a tube. Keeping to a simple rectangle has allowed me to experiment with yarn combinations and needle sizes to come up with a very easy to wear and versatile result. I have been wearing my prototype for weeks now and love it – whether going out for a walk, working at the computer, sitting knitting or just watching television it provides the right amount of warmth and definitely helps to stop neck and shoulder muscles freezing. I also love the stitch I’ve used so much that I am toying with the idea of knitting a jumper – something quite blocky, based again on rectangles. I think it could work. But in the meantime, why not neck warmers?

It’s not just me who likes them – I’ve gifted them to family and friends – women, men, boys and girls – and everyone has told me how much they like them. (I know what you are thinking, but my friends and family are very honest people!). I sent one to my artist daughter who tells me she’s been wearing her’s while she works, and that she loves it: it stops her getting a cold, stiff neck while working. Although scarves are great, they often leave a gap where the draft gets in, and they often need adjusting which, if you are focusing on work, can be distracting. My neck warmers are very much “wear and forget” items – that is until you look in the mirror and remember how nice they look!

One of the things that pleases me most about the design is that they are very stretchy and shape-able – you can spread them out for maximum neck coverage, or let them roll up when that suits you better. You can improvise a mini-hat/head band too.

Please take a look at my shop for more colours and information. At the moment I am only posting within the UK, but if you live elsewhere and would like to buy let me know – I can give you a quote for postage.

Thanks for reading! If nothing else, I hope I’ve helped pass on the knitting inspiration and that you’ll have a go at some projects of your own.

 

Why I’m taking so many photos THIS colour

1-_mg_0226-002Here’s a typical example of my recent photographic output. Monochromes, subdued colours…

Why am I drawn to colours and subjects like this? Maybe it’s because of where I live – on the coast near Bristol, where the water is the muddy water of the Bristol Channel. The water is usually brown because of all the silt it contains and hardly ever blue – only if you catch the perfect angle of the sun and the reflection of the sky. And then it is not the blue of the ocean, but a silvery, metallic blue. There are some sand banks in the channel, but the coast is lined with mud flats. It’s often cloudy so skies are quite often grey.

Does that sound depressing? Well I don’t mean it to because the very nature of the colours makes you aware of the variety of subtle shades within the blanket terms “grey”, “brown” or even – dare I say it? – “beige”. The more you look the more you see shades of pink, green, blue and lavender, to name a few.

The colour palette is even more varied when the sunset is spectacular.

The training of your eye doesn’t stop at noticing colour. There is the not insignificant matter of texture too. The mud flats are lined with meandering water channels, gulleys and creases, that bring to mind the image of the skin under a blue whale’s throat. Even a rolling grey sky above a silver grey sea has textures to delight the eye and the soul.

Throw in some man-made features for a little extra variety and there is always something to tempt the photographer.

There is interest and beauty everywhere – you just have to look.

[Many of my photographs are available to buy from my RedBubble online shop. Here’s a link to the latest Lines and leaves ]

Masks: art work and inspirations

So, a while ago I was indulging my artistic streak and I created a series of naïve pieces that I really like. In fact the more I look at them, the more I like them!

I was inspired by a number of things – the traditional reversible designs on playing cards (Jack, Queen and King designs), the masks you see in many different cultures world wide, and legends such as the ancient Green Man. Quite a lot of art starts with playing with ideas, so the idea dawned and I doodled, thought and tried out different ways to get what I wanted. After some work developing a style that worked, I completed several takes on the theme, pictured above.

I like them all! If you do too, you can buy the images in several formats on RedBubble and Zippi.

You can also buy some of the originals – on A4 perforated paper, just as they came out of my art book – in my auction on eBay. Here’s where you’ll find the Blue and Blue Masks. As with eBay, the starting prices are crazily low, so there’s a good chance to snap up a bargain and get your Christmas shopping off to a unique start!

#shamlessselfpromotion!

 

 

Have you heard of Zippi?

Have I mentioned that I paint? And draw? Take photos?

Lots of us do, and lots of us like buying unique and unusal art and things for our homes. Since I started producing my own art I have become much more tuned into the quality of work out there and I love looking at new sites and seeing what other artists are producing.

For a long time I’ve been selling on RedBubble and I’ve used the company as a way to get my art photographs and paintings produced into high quality formats and products. However, you need to try different outlets in this modern world, so I have just registered with Zippi, a Hampshire based firm, and I am really interested to see how things work out with them.

What I like about Zippi is:

  • It’s a UK based firm, so people getting goods shipped from within the UK should get speedy delivery.
  • They only allow artists to have up to 25 items in their store, and they delete the items that don’t get enough views. This will be useful information for me: although I paint mostly for my own pleasure, I do like to sell things too, and on RedBubble it’s harder to get a sense of what people like. Seeing my less popular work being deleted from Zippi will be a hard but helpful lesson!
  • The range of products they have. There is some overlap between products in RedBubble and in Zippi, but in general RedBubble do more art for wall hangings – framed and canvas pictures – Zippi have a different range of home goods, including placemats, coasters,and mouse mats.
  • RedBubble accept art and photographs: Zippi don’t accept photographs. This will help me sort my work so it’s easier to tell people about what I have available.

So, as I write my first images have been accepted onto the website. Just go to http://www.zippi.co.uk/portfolio/maggiecranford and you’ll see my portfolio. Click on the designs you like to see the products.

I’ll be interested to hear what you think!

 

 

 

Strange day: calm beside the storm?

I’m just back from a breath of fresh air down by Clevedon Marine Lakes, and as always I took a few photos along the way.

1-IMG_3910

It’s a strange day out there today: quite grey as you can see, but brighter than you might expect. Cool but not cold, calm but a little breezy. Almost raining, but not quite! The latest seasonal storm  hit the North of the country yesterday, so maybe this is the calm behind or beside the storm.

The Marine Lakes are looking good now all the renovation work has finished, and it’s easy to see how well used they will be in the summer if we get some nice weather. Much more inviting to get in the water, with lots of ramps and steps, wider paths beside the lake and a wider walk walk between the two lakes. The blue thing you can see in the photo is the platfom for swimmers to climb onto in the middle of the water. There’s also a wide area at the far end for families with little children. All very nice indeed!

The soft light somehow picked out some of the old metal-work set into the stone wall: a drainage pipe capping contraption and metal rings which must have beem used for life rings, or maybe boats, although they seem very high up and far away from the water level.

1-IMG_3915

These are all features I haven’t noticed before… and the lovely colour to the rusted iron, the rust stain on the stone, the stone and lichen all provide nice contrasts and textures for some photography.

Many people still think that you need sunshine for good photos. Grey days can give great results – for the right subjects – so keep snapping through the winter!

 

 

I don’t think I like photographing landscapes…

… I think detail is my photographic thing.

I like landscapes and potraits – some of my own but especially some done by other people – but in my own photography I really like to capture a detail that you may have to look at for a moment or two to work out. Here are two photos I took back in May, but have only just put into my RedBubble shop.

1-_MG_9013 1-_MG_9016

I like the backdrop of the silvery water highlights, against the strong vertical and horizontal lines, overlaid with the diamond mesh, whether a shadow image or reality. The monochrome nature of the subject – the Bristol Channel usually looks brown/grey, metallic or pearly – adds to the abstract quality, I think.

Editing was minimal with these: a little cropping was about all that was needed.

Hopefully, even if you prefer a landscape yourself, you’ll agree these make good images!

People like these…

I’ve been selling my photographs and  other art work on RedBubble for a while now.

My main reason for posting work is to share the things I’ve done that I like – I never expected high volume sales – but of course I’m interested to hear what other people think of my pictures and I’m happy when others say they like them too. Anyone who takes the time to post a comment, send a tweet let alone buy a copy is a frind of mine!

It isn’t always the work I like the best that gets the most comments however, and that is something that will always interest me. I thought I’d share just four of the images that people have liked most…

1-IMG_97061-IMG_5843-006

1-_MG_53921-_MG_9627

I’ve just created a new calendar based on some of my favourite water-inspired photos – some abstract and some scenic.

Here’s the cover photo… Hopefully you can see the bear!

1-IMG_8691-002

All these and plenty more are available in my RedBubble shop. Please do have a look – and if you see something you like,  please leave me a comment!

Thank you!

The colours of Clevedon…

There’s lots going on in Clevedon just now, thanks to The Theatre Orchard and their Theatre Shop.

We got to the pier too late to enjoy the ballet, but I love this shot: slightly misty and nostalgic. It really looks suitably Victorian to me!. You’ll need to imagine the music and the appreciative applause of the crowd…

1-_MG_8970

It’s fabulous to have so much extra going on locally, and it’s already clear that lots of people are visiting. I’ve seen Living Spit – who will be performing during the theatre season – before, and really enjoy their shows, and there is much more going on besides. So good to have performances in the community, as it really brings people together. Something, as they say, for everyone! Just have to make sure I get my tickets before everything sells out…

And, if there weren’t already enough reasons to grab your camera and mooch around the village and it’s environs, the shows add an extra buzz to the place.

In the sunshine, the colours of Clevedon really stand out. Here’s a small selection of my photographs, which I have just uploaded to my RedBubble shop – and if you really like them you can buy them on cards, prints, posters, phone cases, mugs, and even duvet covers and scarves!  Please feel free to browse!

1-_MG_8975.CR2

1-_MG_8976

1-_MG_8968

The things you see on a walk…

I’ve always believed that walking is equally beneficial to your mind, body and indeed your soul.

Physical benefits – heart, lung and muscle work- surely we all know about those. Blood flowing through your veins; fresh air and exercise. Marvellous stuff – helps keep the weight down, and more importantly helps keep you healthy too.

But here are three examples of the mind and soul benefits from my early morning walk around Poet’s Walk and the Marine Lakes in Clevedon.

1-_MG_8951

Soul-food. Not my finest photograph – I had an all-purpose lens on the camera – but maybe you can just see the sunlight catching the lower mandible of this wren, singing for all it’s worth. You can certainly see it’s distinctive tail sticking up. A fabulous sight and sound. I just stood and listened for a while – set me up for the day.

1-_MG_8952

A bit of brain fodder – certainly food for thought. When you walk, you have the chance to notice things that you’d never see if you were in a hurry. You wouldn’t notice this old gateway if you were jogging around Poet’s Walk, I bet. But if you wonder while you walk, you can easily work out that this is a left over from the days when there was a lower path on the hill: maybe even a path down to the water. They are gradually replacing the fences along Poets’ Walk, and one day this gateway will be gone. A hint, a clue, about the changes going on quietly around us will have vanished.

1-_MG_8961

A rarely seen spectacle. Well, water regularly fills the Marine Lake as the tide rises, but the sun doesn’t often turn the cascade into quite such a silvery curtain as this. Maybe the calm of the sea added to the sight, but it was worth a photo.

So there you have it: just three of the things I saw that made my walk special. And the truth is, there is always something worth seeing: you just have to get our there! Walking for pleasure, indeed.