To Round Up

Here’s a roundup of our recent activities – such a lot has been happening.

You will know of the two stalls we had on the 16th and 17th of this month (advertised on Facebook).

The ArtiGras in Ashford Kent on the Friday was very exhilarating. The Lower High St buzzed with a vast variety of handmade products accompanied by lots of entertainment. The weather was kind to us all day as well – sunshine all the way!

Ashford ArtiGras

Ashford ArtiGras

On the Saturday I left all the sewing craft products at home and had the opportunity to display instead many of my batik art pictures and products at the Deal Artisan Fair.

Dot's batik art display. Deal Artisans Fair

Dot’s batik art display. Deal Artisans Fair

This resulted in a number of people signing up for the batik and sewing workshops that I was advertising.

Batik Art at Artisans Fair. Deal

Batik Art at Artisans Fair. Deal

My contact with the exciting CCE project www.facebook.com/creativityenterprise in Ashford run by the amazing lady, Betsy, is producing dividends. They have taken some of my batik pictures to exhibit in a new gallery space that has been acquired in a more prominent position in the town. Do pay a visit to this new location if you are in the area and be amazed at the collection of both art and crafts displayed – all handmade. It is situated above the ‘Cafe Nero’ in New Rents, Upper High Street.

To Round Off:

We made a very quick decision at the end of this month to revisit YWAM The King’s Lodge, http://thekingslodge.com/ in order to join in with their 30th birthday celebrations. We were so glad of the break after doing such a lot of hard work preparing for the above activities. It was a real blessing to spend 4 days in the Nuneaton area catching up with old friends, meeting new ones and seeing the amazing changes that have been made in this old building that still means so much to us. What exciting days we are living in! It was certainly a time of refreshing for us.


New Pastures?

Les and I had such a lovely meeting with an amazing lady this week. Betsy has been responsible for setting up the Centre for Creativity and Enterprise in Ashford, Kent (CCE). If you are in the Lower part of Ashford High St, do go and visit the CCE. It’s off the alley (St John’s Lane) that leads to the Vicarage lane car park. The place just overflows with almost every craft imaginable. From the moment you enter the side door (you have to push hard and go up the stairs!), you are greeted with handmade crafts in every nook and cranny, on every level and in every room. Such a lot to appreciate! Betsy has also been responsible for organising the Ashford Festival – Friday May 16th and Saturday May 17th.

ArtiGras Poster

ArtiGras Poster

There’ll be lots of live music, stalls and much more. We will be there on the Friday with our ‘Dot’s Workbox’ craft stall. Please come and find us and at the same time support this Ashford initiative. We’d loved to see you.

Dot's Stall at the Deal Artisan's Fair April 19th

Dot’s Stall at the Deal Artisan’s Fair April 19th

Dot's Stall at the Deal Artisan's Fair April 19th

Dot’s Stall at the Deal Artisan’s Fair April 19th

Should you be in Deal on the following day (17th), we will be having another stall in St George’s hall (as before). This time we will be concentrating on Batik Art. Some new work will be on display. Again you have an invitation.

'Reaching into Sad Hearts'

‘Reaching into Sad Hearts’

Batik Covered Notebook 4

Batik Covered Notebook

Come and say ‘Hello’ Where? At  St George’s Hall, Deal on Saturday 17th May. Visit the Batik Art Gallery – http://www.dotsworkbox.co.uk/batik_gallery/bg_gallery_1.html

News Event

I had planned for another project in this blog entry but have been very busy preparing for this coming Saturday. I will be running a ‘Dot’s Workbox’ stall at Deal, Kent.

Les and I would love to have you visit us during the day especially if you are in the area. It will give you a good opportunity to see some of my products in real life – pictures on the internet do not always do them justice! We can have a good chat about the different items available. There will also be a few new items that have not yet been added to the website.

There are other stalls that you might be interested in as well ranging from woodcrafts to jewellery to stationery – ALL ‘HANDMADE’. So please, take a run out on Saturday, enjoy the beautiful seaside town of Deal and pop into St George’s Hall in the High St. You can even partake of a coffee/tea and cake if you wish.


Deal Artisans Fair

Deal Artisans Fair

I just hate to be without them. I gather them as a squirrel gathers nuts for the winter months – labels scrubbed off, washed well, oven dried and stored away in boxes at the top of my renovated, large, kitchen cupboard that reaches to the ceiling. It requires a certain amount of gymnastics to retrieve just one of these glass wonders. Every time I need one I ask myself, “Why do I need to keep so many?”, and the answer is always the same, “Imagine the rows of pickles, chutneys, jams, fruits and veg that will be my storehouse for the coming winter months!” Then I know why I hoard so many. Of course, it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I wish to save them from the fate of the cruel crusher!

I had cause recently to search for a particular jar that I knew lurked somewhere on high, so I performed the usual gymnastics and was amazed at the huge collection I’d amassed. The boxes were too heavy to remove in one go so there was no alternative but to empty them jar by jar. What a revelation! So many! Far more than I needed for next winter. Surrounded by this sea of glass in its varying forms of size and shape, I realised that I was grouping them. I determined to separate those that matched from the oddly, but often beautifully, shaped ones. Now it was crunch time. Either I make something useful with them or sadly they would be destined for another life. A very brief check with ‘myself’ saved them from the latter fate! I set aside a group of ten, packed away the remainder, exerting yet more calorie burning energy in the process, and thought on the opportunities presented to me as I descended to the recently renovated ‘Workbox’. Have I already expressed how much I love my new workshop space??

The creative juices began to flow freely as I experimented with odd bits of fabric, the scissors and needle and thread. Eventually I produced the following with more to come. Please click on the pictures to zoom.

We often have a lot of people in our home and the majority of them like to have a nice ‘cuppa’. They also appreciate having a variety of teas to choose from. Consequently I have boxes of many different kinds stashed away in the cupboards. I have also trained these guests to prepare their own ‘cuppas’. How sensible if they could see at a glance which tea they wished to have – regular, decaf, Earl Grey, Assam, all the fruit and herb teas and the spicy ones. I didn’t really want all these boxes out on the worktops. I also like to see things ordered – it brings a sense of calm into the kitchen.

These covers are easy enough to make, so, if you have more jars than you know what to do with at the moment, you can put them to good use and decorate your kitchen at the same time. Do make sure that you have enough fabric to complete your set. I used an old curtain for the outer and a sheet for the lining. As well as the fabric you will need bias binding, elastic and thread. Try to keep your colours coordinated and check your outer fabric to see if it has a pattern that needs to stay the right way up.

Now for the instructions:

Step 1: You will need bias binding to make loops for the name tags. Fold a length of binding in half and machine the 2 halves together. Cut off 6cm pieces for each jar you are going to cover.

Step 2: Make a paper pattern. Measure around the body of your jar and add 1.5cm. This is the length. Measure the height from the bottom to the neck (this includes the top and bottom turnings). This is the width. Draw a rectangle with these 2 measurements. Use this pattern to cut 2 pieces of fabric, one in your outer fabric, one for your lining.

Step 3: Measure the diameter of the jar lid and add on 7cm. Draw a circle with this figure and cut a paper pattern. Measure 2cm in from the edge and draw an inner circle on your paper. Measure in another 1cm and draw a 2nd inner circle. This will be the path for sewing on the bias binding that you will be threading elastic through. Using the pattern just made, cut out a fabric circle for the lid cover.

Step 4: With pinking shears cut around the edge of this circle to limit fraying.

Step 5: With a pencil, mark the 2 inner circles on your fabric and machine on a strip of bias binding easing it around and turning in the edges at the start and finish.

Step 6: Using a small piece of elastic stretch it around the neck of the jar to make a close fit. Add enough for the overlap. Measure this length for future reference. Feed your elastic through the bias binding, overlap the ends and join by hand. You have now finished the cap for your jar lid.

Fold one of your 6cm bias binding strips in half and pin it about a third of the way down the right hand short side of your outer fabric piece as shown (loop will be inserted into the side seam as you sew). See Fig. 4

Step 8: Join the long edge of the main fabric to the long edge of the lining, right sides together. Press the seam back and front. See Figs. 5 & 6

Step 9: Open out the joined fabric and press the seam back and front. See Figs. 7 & 8

Step 10: Fold the 2 short sides together, right side to right side, enclosing the bias loop.
Stitch down the length and then press the seam as before (front and back then opened out). See Figs. 9 & 10

Step 11: Turn the lining to the inside and press around the top edge. Turn up the 2 lower edges (about 1cm) and press. See Figs. 11 12 & 13

Step 12: If you have embroidery stitching on your machine, choose a pattern and decorate around the top edge and the bottom edge of your jar cover. If you only have a straight stitch, add a strip of braid or ribbon to these edges. Whatever you choose, the 2 lower edges will be attached to each other.

If you have reached Step 12 you have now completed the project. Well done! If you are making a set of covers try making the different stages all together. You will save time. Don’t forget to hang a label from the loop you added at the side.

The following are just a few more of my ideas for using jars, especially the small jars that come with many yoghurts and desserts:

  • WEDDINGS  –  glue sparkle to the top rim, tie a piece of lace around the bottom, stick on punched 3D butterflies and add a nightlight – very effective on the tables.
  • SUMMER EVENINGS IN THE GARDEN – fill numerous small jars with nightlights and line winding paths and ponds with them – hugely dramatic.
  • CRAFT ITEMS – use them to store your supplies of very small items e.g. sequins, beads, punched shapes of flowers, hearts, butterflies etc.
  • CHILDREN’S CRAFT – they make sensibly sized individual glue pots.
  • TABLE GIFTS – use them as welcome gifts for your guests and fill them with homemade jams, marmalades etc.
  • BEDROOM POTS – very useful for keeping handy items such as cotton buds, small brushes, lipsticks, even more candles. I have yet to cover mine to match the bedroom decor!

Finally, I was given a lovely bunch of roses the other day in some of my favourite colours, mixed yellows, oranges and reds. I popped them into a brilliant blue vase that I treasure, but the neck of the vase was too wide to support them without cutting them down. Not wishing to deny them their stately stance, I placed a narrow necked jam jar into the vase, transferred the stems into it and now I can enjoy them to the full. I feel as though I’m looking at a living painting by Turner with all the rich colours that he loved to use. Delightful!

I’d love to hear about all the things you have made so please communicate your successes. If there is anything you don’t understand, do ask and I’ll try to clarify things. Until next time ——— Dot

I’m one for making notes. People who are part of my everyday life, know that I have lists all around the house – jobs to do; things to research; ideas to work on; shopping lists; menus to make; recipes to try; ideas for the garden – it can be endless. If you took away my pens and paper, I think I’d be lost!

There is something so satisfying in making a list and then being able to highlight the items done – ‘Finis!’ Mission accomplished!

Thoughts that would normally be fleeting and lost can, in a brief moment, be captured on paper. When dwelt upon, these thoughts can become tangible and then action can be taken. This always makes our lives richer.

I’m a person who cannot throw away a piece of paper if it can be married to other like pieces and then worked on to become a small notebook – ideal for slipping quickly into a handbag. A stapler, hole punch or needle and thread will come to your aid. Of course, it would look even better with a little cover – odd scraps of wallpaper, fabric and suitable glues essential here! You’ll now be aware that it is impossible for me to throw away these also, along with leftover small pieces of batik fabric that I have made.

I just don’t have the heart to dispose of all these materials, however small, without trying to give them one more life before designating them to the local recycling centre.

And what about the notebooks that have been acquired in the past, so often because you couldn’t resist the urge to buy, just another? They were used for a specific purpose and are now obsolete. How about removing the used pages and beginning again with what is left? It seems to make economic sense to me. Some of my notebooks are on their 2nd, 3rd or even 4th lives! – sensible and satisfying, in my book.

Here are some examples of what I have been discussing. Perhaps you will be inspired to contribute towards ‘saving the planet’, lessening the pile in the landfill sites and at the same time making a beautiful and useful item.

Most of the paper in these notebooks has been recycled from underused pieces of A4 – perhaps only half the sheet or less was printed. These notebooks have utilised the rest.

The method of covering a notebook permanently is generally the same every time:

  • Find colour coordinated fabric or paper scraps
  • Stick on a spine that extends over the sides
  • Cut out 2 larger pieces to cover the back and front and attach to the outside. Turn the edges to the inside cutting out an angled wedge for the corners. Glue down.
  • Cut 2 pieces to fix to the inside of the front and back. These will cover all the uneven shapes

Use a glue stick or wallpaper paste.
You do not need to turn the edges of fabric in – the glue will hold it together and there will be less bulk.

Re-covered Notebooks 1 -3

Covered Notebooks 1 -3

Notebook 1 is the smallest (7cm x 10.5cm). A6 paper offcuts were folded in half and stapled down the centre. Two pieces of card (from a cereal packet) were stuck to the back and front papers and then the small booklet was covered. A strengthening strip of cloth was added inside either side of the spine.

Notebook 2, originally purchased, was covered after its redundant pages were removed. This is currently being used to list the source for recipes that are worth using again and again. (7.5cm x 11cm)

Notebook 3 – (8.5cm x 12.5cm) Again made of A6 paper scraps, this notebook has been covered with a piece of my batik but, instead of stapling the centre fold, it has been stitched. This makes for a stronger fold. I use this to write shopping notes for Dot’s Workbox.

Re-covered notebook 4-5

Covered Notebooks 4-5

Notebook 4 – Another rescued notebook, also batik covered. This one documents the expenditure for the website.

Notebook 5 – This is a truly well-worn notebook constructed of A5 offcuts. It is used as a record when shopping at large stores and contains vital home measurements. The cover is made from a recycled shirt, the decoration is a small piece of braid rescued from a gift wrap and the inside uses a scrap of curtain fabric that had faded on one side.

Re-covered note book 6

Covered Notebook 6

Notebook 6
Here we have a shop bought empty file, filled with punched sheets of A6 offcuts and covered with a small piece of furnishing fabric. Spare sheets are stored in a back pocket and the removable cover has seen many washes. When sheets become obsolete they can then, and only then, visit the local recycling depot!  (12cm X 16cm)

Re-covered note book 7

Re-covered note book 7

Covered Notebook 7

Notebook 7
Another shop bought file, this time filled with A5 paper offcuts and also with a removable cover. It has a spine pocket for pens etc. and contains inside storage pockets. Please note the amount of paper that has been rescued! (21cm x 27cm)

I do hope that you have enjoyed this blog and will look with new eyes on so-called ‘rubbish’. Please tell me if I have inspired you to rescue a piece of fabric, card, paper, ribbon or something else. Next time I will have something different to share with you.

I’m almost too embarrassed to tell you that I’m back online and in circulation again, but those of you who have been following our activities will know the reason why.
After a very long wait we eventually sold our lovely house in France to return home. ‘Homesick ‘ I think the word is – homesick for family and friends. We now own a house ‘with potential’ in Dover, for which we are very thankful.

Our new home - and hill!!

Our new home – and hill!!

For the past two years we have been hard at work renovating it. We think we have ‘broken the back of it’, (not literally, you understand!), with one room left to tackle  and snaggings everywhere. Take note you ‘Homes under the Hammer’ addicts – yes, it REALLY does take that long, especially if you’re pensioners with ‘0’ budget. How would Lucy and Martin respond to that one? I can just hear Lucy saying, “Well, I’m worried about this one, the fact that their budget is so low etc. etc. How are they going to get on?”

Opening from dining room into the kitchen

Opening from dining room into the kitchen

Dining Room re-visited

Dining Room re-visited

Dining room revisited again

Dining room revisited again

Well, we did ‘get on’ and since the beginning of January this year we have been concentrating on getting our business back together, soon to be up and running. We feel that these are exciting times for us.

Our most recent work of renovation has been conducted in the basement/coal cellar, mainly to the strains of ‘Classic FM’. That has motivated us to keep ‘playing’ our part. It’s amazing how your attitude to work can change while you’re listening to beautiful, uplifting music, sometimes so stirring that you don’t notice the weight of sheets of plasterboard, the fact that you are struggling with nth square metres of black membrane or you are up and down on your knees with groaning hips as you lay flooring – to name but a few of our antics. BUT, how worthwhile it has all been! “Thank you, John Suchet and all of your fellow presenters. We salute you!”

We now proudly present to you our PC suite and workroom. What a blessing it all is.

Imagine an IT area!

Imagine an IT area!

The IT suite

Sweating over a hot PC

Dot's small work area in France

Dot’s small work area in France

Making Plans - literally!

Making Plans – literally!

Part of Dot's Workbox

Part of Dot’s Workbox

Ok, so it also is unfinished, but how wonderful it is to have all my fabrics, patterns, haberdashery, books, wools etc. etc. all in one place and almost all ordered. It has been a pleasure to design and produce new items for the website in this special ‘tailor-made’ space.

While I have been enjoying myself designing, cutting, sewing, my husband has been valiantly spending hours producing our ‘new look’ website, but at the expense of sorting out our new IT suite with all its cables and all manner of ‘techie’ stuff. (Well, you can’t have everything when you want it!). The ‘housekeeping’ will have to wait a little longer! In spite of all this I think he is doing an excellent job.

Each time I blog, which I trust will be more frequently now that we have a dedicated space for work, I will try to share with you something that I have made either for myself, my home or my friends. I do hope it will inspire you to be creative with your hands and use the simple things that you have around you to produce something useful and/or beautiful.


Created from an old woollen jumper

A Bag - created from an old Woollen jumper.

A Bag – created from an old Woollen jumper.

Last week I chopped up a woollen (real wool) jumper that I had felted in a hot wash. The body made a cushion cover for my computer chair. The sleeves made a useful bag with the addition of an old curtain for the lining, a scrap of coordinating upholstery lace for decoration and a piece of calico for the strap.
Make a simple paper pattern for the bag folding it in half so that both sides are equal. (Buy a cheap roll of lining wallpaper to draw your patterns on.) Use both sleeves to cut out a back and a front. Cut the same pieces with the lining. Sew down the two sides and across the bottom edge. Slip the lining inside the bag. Turn the top of the lining in and slip stitch to the top of the bag (the original cuff of the sleeve). Add a strap and ‘Voilà!’, A USEFUL BAG. Because you have felted the jumper none of the stitches will run. Press it and treat it like felt. If you have any questions about the making of either the cushion or the bag I’ll be happy to help further. Please use the Comments box below for this. WordPress has changed a lot since we last used it and things are not working as expected. 😦 Despite our best efforts, it will insist on showing every blog but no Comment box. Click on the current blog in the ‘Archived’ box or the numbered ‘comment. below and it should be okay – hopefully!! 🙂

I wonder what I’ll have in store for you next time? Ok, until then ………….

Fun, Fabrics and (F)otographs
I love to write. I also love to make. Often I feel the two are in competition with each other! I have to admit that the latter usually wins. Take today for example. I’m at the sewing machine working on a waistcoat (more of that later). As I pin and press and stitch and embellish etc, I’m thinking, ‘just one more seam and I’ll sit down and write my next blog entry’. I’m fashioning sentences in my mind as I plan each sewing step.
‘I’ll just press this section and turn it to the right side.
It’s looking good. It won’t take me long to top stitch it.
What closure will I choose to use? Yes, I could talk about that. Will it be a vintage button – I’ve so many in my collection? Do I have the right colour, the right size, the right shape?’
And so the choices are being made. It always amazes me to discover just how many buttons and beads I do have! Even so, in this instance, my search for what I am looking for is fruitless and in the end I find I am making a ‘cord’ to match the yarns I have applied in the embellishment on the two fronts. Now I am satisfied. Before I know it the new waistcoat is up on the hanger alongside the others I have been working on ——- and not a single character has been written! But now I am rectifying that.

One of the Waistcoats

One of the Waistcoats

It has been a busy month. Two projects have occupied me.
The first is a new set of cards that we have produced. They depict the famous sheep of Romney Marsh. This area is a huge wetland of about 100 square miles and spans the counties of South Kent and East Sussex. My husband and I always enjoy our trips there, especially the stretch between Hythe and Dungeness between the shingle coast line and the distant hills. It’s a wonderful place for cycling as it’s so flat and fairly quiet car-wise. You’ll often find us eating at Lathe Barn where the food and service is always excellent. Much of the vast expanse of this land, reclaimed by the sea over the centuries, (Romney used to be a port!), houses small quaint villages, individual farms, streams, an abundance of reeds and rushes and, of course, the famous SHEEP – famous because they used to be sold to countries as far afield as Australia and New Zealand for breeding purposes. They are a particularly hardy breed.
The numbers of these sheep are now in decline and they are harder to find on the Marsh, but with camera in one hand and determination in the other we managed to acquire a collection of fotographs – that should read PHotographs(!) – on our last visit.
We have now produced 10 A5 cards and, as usual, we are selling them in packs of 4 and will present them for you in a calico case with 4 gift tags. They are left blank for your own wording but the inside has a pale transparent image that you can write over. We’ve given you the option to build your own set of 4 cards from the 10 depicted. You’ll find them in Stationery on the website. All our packs of cards and notelets make unusual gifts for your friends.
My other project has been waistcoats. This very versatile item of clothing can dress up a plain garment, inspire a whole outfit, keep one warm between seasons, and even hide a few unwanted bulges! For some time now I have been gathering together special fabrics that I wanted to piece together in various ways. I find great satisfaction in patchwork, appliqué, stitchery and quilting – you will see this in my cushion covers. I also enjoy making and adapting my own patterns. I’ve now produced 4 waistcoats employing some of these processes in each one. You can view them in ‘Clothing’ on the website. There are more to come. Please continue to check out Dot’s Workbox. You may have already noticed that we have separated up the art section and this is now known as Dot’s Art Workbox. Who knows, it might help you with your Christmas gift list!


Sheep 2

September has finally arrived on our doorstep. I call it the ‘back to’ month. It’s ‘back to’ school; ‘back to’ work; ‘back to’ structured days; ‘back to’ structured eating patterns (hopefully!). The holiday season is great and we need it, but that’s just what it is – a holiday from all that is normal about our daily lives.

In this blog I want to commend my husband for all the hard work that he has put into the ‘Dot’s Workbox’ website – many hours of taking photographs for children’s clothes, personal accessories, batik greetings cards and preparing them for use, hours of building pages and moving information around. In fact, all that needs to be done to make such a site attractive and easy to navigate. Since the beginning of September he has been ‘back to’ the job of web building and admin. For this reason I am handing over the reins of the blog to him on this occasion. Enjoy!

Facebook. You either love it or hate it! It would seem though that mass communications are being taken over by social networking, and it is here to stay!

Whilst Facebook is not exactly for me on a regular basis, I do realise that I need to move with the times (in some things). Websites are an electronic means of textual, graphical and audio communication. Dot has a website www.dotsworkbox.co.uk and she wishes to communicate to the public that she has art and craft wares to sell. The alleged old, old adage that stated (so ‘they’ said) “if you build it, people will come to it” was probably just a myth  and certainly in today’s technological climate, there is definitely no room logically or practically for such a statement. If Dot wants folk to flock to her website (and she does -but  in moderation!) she could sit and do nothing and wait forever for that to happen, or she could hit upon a fantastic keyword that lights the communications world up or she could simply try to reach as many people as possible with the good news that both she and her website exist! Enter!  The realm of social networking beckons.

So – I decided to try and make that possible. Facebook would not be a natural choice for Dot as she much prefers paper and pen, note books, things she can hold in her hand. But provided the current medium can be used in a clean, decent and moral way to communicate her existence in the electronic market place then that is fine. 

I used the weekend up learning about the vagarities of communication through Facebook other than just leaving comments and writing on walls (don’t they call that graffiti??). Consequently, we now have ‘Like’ buttons on the web pages and I am just left with sorting out the same on the blog. They say you can connect the Wordpress Blogger with Facebook but is not quite as straight forward as one would hope. However, progress is being made and by the time you get to read this, it should all be working. It better had otherwise we will need a password to get through the grass to the front door!!


Long Grass!

I trust by now that you have all seen the report, including pictures, on our ‘Events’ page of the visit to Blandford Forum over the May Bank holiday w/e. It was so good to be able to display all the hard work of the previous 3 months. We are so grateful to my cousin and her husband for their incredible hospitality over the few days we were in that lovely town of Blandford. Some of our family came to encourage us and they too were in receipt of this hospitality. ‘Thank you’, Carolyn and Len.

It was refreshing to meet new faces and talk to people of like mind. Particularly stimulating were the conversations about the medium of batik that I was able to have with various young people who visited the exhibition. I hope they move on to experiment with this specific way to design on cloth. Do take a look at the rest of the pictures.

Blandford Forum May 2011 (2)

Arts and Crafts Exibition Blandford Forum May 2011

Blandford Forum Arts and Crafts Exibition May 2011

Blandford Forum Arts and Crafts Exibition May 2011

On returning to our home in Normandy we were faced with a long overdue job in the house. Early in the year we had to have a new boiler installed in the kitchen area. We were left with a mass of ugly pipework and a gap in the wall where the previous monstrosity and also a cupboard fitment had stood. It was renovation time again! It should have been a simple job of boxing in these pipes and filling in the gap. Have you ever noticed how a ‘simple’ job invariably leads to another, just as one idea cultivates a second? Yesterday we put the finishing touches to the room and now the whole of our open plan living area has taken on a fresh new look. Painting, woodwork and tiling have all been tackled including a mammoth scrub (literally) of every individual tile on the floor. Some of the furniture did not escape the paintbrush and even some earlier batik pictures have been reframed. We are more than pleased with the end result.

Worktop Renovation 1

Worktop Renovation 1

By the way. Did you know that you can enlarge the pictures by clicking on them? 
Worktop Renovation 2

Worktop Renovation 2

Renovation Completed!

Renovation Completed!

 Just a taster!

You can see all the fruits of our labours by clicking here.

We would like to mention that our lovely home is up for sale. If you fancy a change of lifestyle then this property may be just what you are looking for. You could let out the 2-bed and studio gites to bring in that extra income or easily open up the wall area that we blocked up to make a larger living space for yourselves, your family and friends. Alternatively, you could purchase the house with perhaps one or two other couples/families and have a wonderful shared holiday home. The acre of land will provide for all your needs. Talking of the land, we have an abundance of apples, pears, blackberries (huge!) and walnuts this year. The herbs are always fresh and, at the moment, I am able to eat just-picked Mirabelle plums with my cereal every morning. Yummy!
You can discover more about the property and its location if you click here.
I can hear some of you saying, ‘What has happened to Dot’s sewing?’ Well, I’ll not disappoint you. One of the pieces of furniture that was subjected to the paintbrush was a small rocker. The seat and back cushions suddenly looked so dowdy. Here was a great opportunity to sift through material scraps again and get those creative juices flowing. I quite like the results. I hope you do as well.

Restored rocking chair

Restored rocking chair

The last two months have proved to be very busy ones. I’ve been preparing a variety of new batiks for an event at the end of this month (more about that later). Since February many different ideas have been going through my mind, I have taken numerous photographs and used them to make sketches. Suitable colour samples have been collected. All these things have been introduced into my NEW batik sketch book which is already now bulging. I was very loathe to part with what I consider to be ‘an old friend’, but it too was bulging and even the tape that held it together had given up on its duty! Of course, I shall never discard it completely. It serves as a good reference book for me but, more importantly, it is my journal about my walk in the world of batik art.

Dots Batik Sketchbook (1)

Dots Batik Sketchbook (1)

Dots Batik Sketchbook (2)

Dots Batik Sketchbook (2)


From ‘idea’ to ‘sketch’ to ‘planning’ to ‘cloth preparation’ and finally to the ‘waxing and dyeing’, can take many days, even weeks in some cases, but then comes that ‘all-defining moment’. The table is padded with newspapers and cloths. The iron is heated. The thick waxy cloth is laid out on top and covered with plain paper. The hot iron is then applied to the paper and little by little most of the wax is ironed out. It can take many sheets of paper before I am satisfied that the process is completed. This is the ‘ALL-DEFINING MOMENT’! I peg the finished picture onto the line and study it. Wonderful – the culmination of all that hard work! I’m always pleasantly surprised by the richness of the colours. I love to see where the dyes have sometimes crept to, where the wax has cracked of its own accord or the patterns made when I have deliberately cracked it. It’s such an exciting moment for me and one that I hold on to for some moments and enjoy. Then it’s, come back down to earth, back to work and concentrate on the next project.

I’m pleased to be able to announce that the Batik Gallery is ‘up and running’ on Dot’s Workbox and you can now view some of my latest work. I do hope that you can find something that might interest you. Please remember that I can undertake commissions so I’d love to hear from you if there is something that you would like for your home to fit in with your decor. Please email me and we can discuss your ideas and needs. I am able to produce larger pieces of work than those currently shown in the Gallery. If you want to see some of my past work you can view it on the Notelets page. By the way, the production of notelets is a new venture for us. They’ll make great gifts.

Now for the event that I briefly mentioned at the beginning. Over the last Bank Holiday in May I shall be demonstrating the art of batik in Blandford Forum, Dorset and displaying my latest work. If you are anywhere near the area or you’d like a trip out, I’d love to meet you on the Saturday, Sunday or Monday. For further details please click here.

Finally my congratulations go to Mrs Chris Kane for being the first to answer my two questions correctly. Well done, Chris! By now you should have received your ‘surprise’. The correct answer was that Jesus said the words about the sheep knowing the shepherd’s voice and you can read about it in the Gospel of John in the Bible. Look out for the next question – you too may be able to receive a surprise in the post!

Dot's Workbox

Arts and Crafts from the 'Box'

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My endless quest to keep myself being creative and staying organised

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Canal Art and Christian Outreach

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I'm no Alan Titchmarsh, so please humour our humble attempts!