Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Lily Takes a Bow .

I am really proud to announce that I won 1st place at the British Bear Artist awards on Sunday , with Lily (above) in Category 1 : Single Miniature Bear .
I also took home a 3rd place award for my "Golden Celebration" Group of Miniature Bears , in Category 6 .

Nobody was more surprised than me when I realised my name had been announced as the winner in section 1 ! All the nominees in every group were wonderful , and so I was delighted just to be amongst them !

I'm still letting the news sink in at the moment .Oh , and finishing my last two micro hobby horses so that they can soon get under way .
It was a quite surreal weekend in more ways than one really ; I'll post later about Brighton Pavilion when I've got the photos sorted out , although (unfortunately) you couldn't take pics inside. I shan't forget my son beaming a thousand watt smile at my side , and saying "I knew you could do it Mum !" Nor my husband shedding a proud tear for me .

Back again soon without the lump in my throat ...

Ruth xx

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Just the Two of Us .

I completed my swap with Wendy Ching ( Matilda Huggington Beare ) so I can now reveal the little critters who passed each other in the post, whilst going in opposite directions across the globe !

We decided on a short turn around time of just over 2 weeks , to keep things exciting . Swapping with another artist whose work you admire is a fantastic way to increase your hug , but not only that ; you can really get to know them as well . For instance I found out that Wendy's Great Grandparents came from Newcastle-upon-Tyne - and in the UK we call people from there Geordies ..... which gave rise to her hamster's name .

"Geordine" has emigrated to Rockingham in Western Australia , where the lucky little rodent will be able to watch all kinds of exotic birds landing in Wendy's garden ! You can check out her blog here to see some of them .
Geordine is around 4" , made from Kunin Plush felt , with Long Pile upholstery velvet paws . She took a little felt bag with her and an Ultrasuede sunflower seed for rumbly-tummy moments . I must admit she did have a whisker trim after her photo shoot :0)

I received a very shy little girlie-cute "Puddle" from Wendy ; a Puddle being a whimsical interpretation of a baby Duck-billed Platypus . Her name is "Sugar Plum Fairy "

She is made from specially hand dyed silk plush , velvet and tipped mohair , and has the most adorably kissy , felted facial features . I had asked if I could have a particularly girlie one (to counter all the boy-madness of this house !) and I'm sure you'll agree with me that Sugar Plum is pretty perfection ! She's even wearing a tiny tutu , and tie-on organza wings , and has adorable little flowers sprinkled liberally over her .

Thank you so much to Wendy for making it such an enjoyable swap !

T.T.F.N Ruth x

photos of SugarPlum generously supplied by Wendy - thanks :0)

Friday, 14 November 2008

Orange For Orangutans !

Ahhhhhh , what an adorable baby ! :0)

Today has been declared a special Orange Day ; to help publicise the plight of orangutans who are endangered in their shrinking habitats .It is all the brainchild of the Orangutan Foundation .
Details can be found here of how donations can be put to good use. I decided to fund care for one baby Orangutan for one week , but even a £1 donation could help the Foundation reach their target figure .

If you would like to consider donating to these beautiful , gentle animals the simplest way is to visit here
where you can securely and speedily key in any amount you wish to give .

I know it is also Children in Need day , but I tend to think that particular yearly venture gets the lion's share of publicity , whilst other charities are no less worthy . Anyway , I believe that Orangutans ( and all creatures !) are the "children" of this Earth too!

Ta Ta For Now , Ruth x

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Hardwick Hall

"Hardwick Hall ,
More Glass than Wall ...."

A couple of weeks ago we ventured in to The Peak District on a gloriously sunny , but freezing cold day to visit Hardwick Hall . My 12 year old son wanted to visit somewhere "possibly haunted", and atmospheric in his Half Term holiday , so this vast Elizabethan country house fitted the bill ; not least as there is a ruin of the original building in the same grounds .

This house has been famous , since its architectural plans were drawn up , for the amount of glazed windows , and their sheer size - the rhyme being a hang over of people's amazement at such an audacious design during a period when glass windows were tiny and hugely expensive to produce . In fact the building stands as a monumental status symbol of Bess of Harwick ; who was probably the richest woman in the country , and certainly one of the most powerful . She was married 4 times ; expertly improving her land , property and ownership of wealth with each husband's demise . Bess was a formidable figure whose portraits can still be seen in the house today - always painted with red hair (like her friend Queen Elizabeth 1st) there is something undeniably intelligent and strong in her features ; a roman nose , piercing eyes and high arched eyebrows . Maybe a touch contemptuous too - she fell out with her last husband the Earl of Shrewsbury , who she had partnered as "house arrest" jailer to Mary Queen of Scots .

Obviously her original house was just not grand enough for the "conspicuous consumption" which she craved and it was abandoned for the new building on completion . Although it stands as a ruin (largely caused in the Georgian period when the stones were sold as building material) there are still glimpses of sumptuous plaster friezes which sat above fireplaces ; seemingly indestructible after more than 450 years .

The stag was a family emblem.

A representation of the wind .

The giants Gog and Magog .

How are we doing for "creepy" ?

Bread oven - How many loaves of bread were made here ? How many weary feet stood on this spot ?

View from the top back to the "new" building . Unbelievably a kestrel flew past us at eye level !I also found out from the audio tour that ladies and gentleman would go on to the roof ( "the leads")to walk about and take the air .

We took a conservation tour through the house , before normal opening time , and it was extremely dark , and cold ! The windows are normally covered by 3 layers of curtaining as light levels are the main culprit for deterioration . The National Trust have Hardwick listed as a 1000 hour house as that is the amount of time (in light terms) they can open per year without damaging the precious contents . Humidity and pest activity is also monitored closely , as the house is full of original tapestries , paintings and elaborate painted friezes throughout . Being a shrewd woman Bess purchased a few of the wall hangings when they had already graced other houses ( and had cheap squares sewn on with her coat of arms !) so they weren't even new in her own time . I could only stare and marvel inwardly at the lifetimes work hanging there stately and defiant .
It was particularly dark in the bedrooms , with their fusty bed hangings embroidered in gold thread , matching canopies and chairs , which only trained conservators are allowed to touch. The guide's torch weakly picked out the detail but ..... I wouldn't have liked to get left behind the group !

We went back inside when daylight was let in and marvelled again at the fantastic array of treasures . If you would like to be transported back 400 years in a day I highly recommend a visit . I also can't wait to start reading the biography of Bess which I bought there - "Bess of Hardwick" by Mary S. Lovell .

T.T.F.N Ruth x

Sunday, 2 November 2008

A not so welcome visitor.

This post should really have been before the last one , as it concerns an unusual visitor to my garden who showed up in the midst of Tuesday's snow storm ....

In the afternoon , whilst I was innocently tapping at the computer my husband suddenly jumped up with a "What is that in the garden !" exclamation . We cautiously approached the kitchen windows so as not to scare "it" off , and there , bold as you like was a Sparrow-hawk ripping one of my beloved little Goldfinches in to shreds !
Now , I belong to the RSPB and I'm an avid bird supporter but I can't say I'm keen on this particular ruffian like raptor ! To be honest they aren't majestic and handsome like other birds of prey (with which we have a fascination ) you can't imagine a noble man of yore flying one of these off his gauntlet in the "sport of kings". There's something sneaky about pouncing on (my) chirruping little garden friends ! They don't have an elegantly balanced shape; rather lumpy in the body with an over-long tail ... and those orange eyes !

Whilst Ashley took photos this opportunist was quite happy to look straight at us .
After about 15 minutes of snacking he flew off leaving just a circle of gold streaked feathers on the snow . Poor little finch ! Mr. Sparrow-hawk , may I politely request that you lunch elsewhere in future ?

T.T.F.N Ruth x