Square cushion cover

Sewing machine re-vamp

Back in 1999 I was looking for a sewing machine that I could use that didn’t require a foot pedal as being paraplegic my lower half is paralysed roughly from roughly the bra line.  While I was in the Singer shop I asked to see how a certain foot pedal worked to see if I could come up with a solution.  It basically worked by air pressure.  The more pressure you put on the foot pedal, the faster the machine would run.  So I asked them to take the foot pedal apart and I was able to use the air bubble (that was inside) with my right hand,  squeezing and releasing to do the same actions as a foot  pedal would do.

Singer Concerto sewing machine and foot pedal
Singer sewing machine
Air pressure connector to Singer sewing machine.
Air pressure connector.

This worked for years and years until I started getting arthritis in my hands.  My fingers can no longer bend around the air bubble so I couldn’t use my machine any more.  Just recently I found a place called REMAP on the internet.  They are a voluntary organisation who  come up with solutions to problems that disabled people may have, that would enable them to carry out everyday functions or be able to maintain their hobbies.

I put in my referral and Paul came out to visit and go through what my actual needs would be and we brainstormed a few ideas.  Initially we thought that as the machine used air pressure then I may be able to use a mouth part to blow air through to run the machine, however, I have Sjogrens syndrome which affects the mouth and teeth so I asked if he could come up with something else.  At the next REMAP meeting where all the volunteers discuss the cases, Paul put me in touch with Benjie.   The very clever Benjie was able to make an electronic solution to fix my problem.

Electronic adaptation to Singer sewing machine.
Electronic button and slider on L shaped bracket.

Benjie made an ‘L’ shaped bracket, that slots under the machine, that has a slider control that I just have to nudge with my hand or finger to adjust the running speed, and has an emergency stop button.

L shaped metal bracket with switches attached.
L shaped metal bracket.

For the reverse stitching he added a button that I can press as I pull the reverse lever down.  This is just attached with blu-tac so I can remove it if it gets in the way of material going through the gap.  As all the electronic buttons are removable I can still get the sewing machine lid on.  He made up a small electronic program where he could just adjust the air pressures required to allow the machine to run and put all the circuit boards and other gubbins very neatly into a clear box and viola –  I can now use my sewing machine again!

Electronic components in a clear box.
Electronic components neatly in a clear box.

Just to get some practice I made a square cushion cover from a pillowslip so it would match the rest of my bedding.

Square cushion cover
Square practice cushion cover.

If you have a disability, infirmity or illness  and have a problem that you think REMAP could make or adapt something that would help,  you can use their online referral form 

REMAP is a voluntary organisation and need donations so if you want to volunteer or make a donation please don’t hesitate to get involved.


Art journal double page collage, quote 'Focus on what could go right'.

Still stuck in a craft rut.

I am finding it difficult to get motivated to anything right now.  The weather is just cold, wet and miserable and the craft room is too cold to work in.  I am in a bit of a rut so I went through some old art journals and sketchbooks that I have for inspiration.  The next few pics are from an old small 9cm x 14cm hard cover sketchbook (maybe a Talens Art Creation book).  They are quite good little books but as I open them out to do double pages the spine takes a bit of a bashing.  I used quotes that I liked and tried out multi media and methods.  So I am feeling inspired to do more of the same.

There is a youtube channel called ‘Put some colour in your life’ so using mainly acrylics and pastels  and some posca pens I made this colourful double page spread.

colourful art journal double page spread quoting put some colour in your life
Colour in your life.

For this one I collaged some clips from magazines and an old page from a book.  I highlighted the words ‘craft’ and ‘tinkering’ in the book page as when I am feeling a bit lost I like to just tinker and play in the craft room rather than go full steam into a project.

art journal page using multi media, old book pages and magazine clips for collage.

One of my bug-bears of painting is that it uses up a lot of paint and supplies which is expensive and I used to worry that I was wasting not only time but all of my art media if things didn’t turn out well.  This quote helped me change my attitude to that way of thinking. Paint is only wasted when it stays in the tube – so true.

art journal double page spread. Quote:'Paint is only wasted when it stays in the tube'
Wasted paint.

I think the next quote was by Suzanne Vega.  ‘Money can buy: doctors but not health, clothes but not taste, make-up but not beauty. ‘  More collage work using collage papers and a napkin £20 note.

art journal double page quote about money, collage.
Money can’t buy:

Always worrying about things not turning out right will stop you doing anything, so you have to focus on what can go right and not what could go wrong.

Art journal double page collage, quote 'Focus on what could go right'.
Focus on right.

Don’t strive to be perfect but just making progress is good enough.  Embrace imperfection uses acylics and stamps.  I used to use this little book to list all the media (stuff) that I had so that I wouldn’t buy doubles but that never worked so I painted over the pages to use it as an art journal instead.  Here I have left some of the writing showing through the paint.  It is a nice wee reminder  that it isn’t about what you have, but how you use it that counts.  Wabi sabi comes to mind as the Japanese find beauty in imperfections.

art journal double page with acrylics and stamps 'Embrace imperfection'.
Embrace imperfection.

Fear of the blank page (or anything else in life).  this quote sums it up nicely.  ‘Fear is not the enemy.  Waiting to stop felling afraid is’.  I don’t know where some of these quote come from, maybe a pod-cast I was listening to or a TED talk?  Mainly acrylics in this one and a bit of collage and stamping using found objects.

Art journal double page, 'Fear is not the enemy. Waiting to stop feeling afraid is.'

Using napkins with bright autumn leaves on and gel medium, I added this quote;  ‘Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.’  Oh if only we could just let things go.

Double art journal page with bright autumn leaves falling, with quote 'Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go'.
Let things go.

So I still have plenty pages to fill up yet just need some more quotes.


Happy New Year 2024

That is another year gone.  Where did all that time go?  I am so good at procrastination and wasting time that I have become quite an expert.  This isn’t what I wanted become an expert in so I will have to change that and utilize my time more efficiently in future. I am not going to answer my phone (text/emails etc) while I am doing craft-work, and I am  going to set boundaries to make sure I am not interrupted.  I often feel that the universe is out to thwart my attempts at getting some craft time: the numerous bleep alarms for taking meds/eye drops,  tea times and pee times.  As soon as my hands get hold of a pen or paintbrush somebody comes to the door.  I just set up my craft table to do some macro photography only to find my husband has put his  washing on.  Great you might think – he has put his own washing on, however,  the washing machine is just in the other room and the vibrations mean that, despite using a tripod, I can’t get my subject in focus.  Ok enough with the excuses!!  Here is a wee doodle I did to make a greetings card.

abstract doodle
Abstract doodle

Happy New Year!

Finished painting with more layers, drips, shading and blending

Abstract a la Michael Lang

I love Michael Lang’s large abstract paintings and decided to have a go following one of his you tube videos and I enjoyed learning his blending techniques although I didn’t exactly master it.  I found it difficult to keep my circles round and my straight lines straight but it looks ok from a distance.  I also couldn’t get the drippy technique – partly due to the buckle of the paper (he used a flat board) and I just couldn’t quite get the right consistency.  I used mainly acryics and acrylic medium, but also pens and finished with gel pastels to brighten a few areas.  The camera didn’t pick up the aqua colours and made them look a bit blue.

Here are a few photos of some of my layers:

the 1st layer of the abstract - mainly blacks and browns, circles and lines.
1st layer abstract
2nd layer abstract adding colour and shading.
2nd layer abstract
More layers abstract adding more circles and lines and blending.
More layers abstract
Finished painting with more layers, drips, shading and blending
The finished painting.

Well I think I am finished the painting.  It will probably sit in my folder and I will pull it out every now and then to see if I  want to add anything else to it.

Doodle rectangles with Ecoline liquid watercolour.

You know that feeling when you are anxious and overthinking and you just want your brain to stop.  Mindfulness and breathing are useful tools, but then doodling can be pretty good too, at allowing yourself to be in the present moment.  This is what I was doing yesterday after watching linaforrester on instagram.  I loved the colours she used (bright green and yellow) but I wanted to try my own colour combo.  I have a few Ecoline liquid watercolours that I haven’t touched in years so I made up an orange and a purple and gave it a go.  Sadly my ‘Delicate surface Frogtape – low tack painter’s masking tape’ ripped my paper in a couple of areas when I was very carefully peeling it back.  It may be that the paper pad I was using was too old (the cover had come off so don’t know what it was) or that I was leaning on it too hard while doodling. Hey – ho these things happen.  It was fun to do.

small rectangles with doodles and watercolour
Doodle rectangles


Tangled art journal pages.

It has been a while since I last did anything in the way of art so just to get my little grey cells thinking creatively again I got out an old art journal, that I hadn’t filled, and randomly put down some colour for the background across 2 pages.  Next, I doodled about with some black lines and filled some areas in.  It was way too black so I brightened it up with white dots and just had a play.  It isn’t quite zentangle but it was fun to do and a good way to get me back into doing some art.

2 art journal pages with black lines, black filled in circles and white dots, on a background of magenta and turquoise toned down with white wash
Tangle journal pages

Dried fungus

This little guy (couple of cm )was found in amongst a pot plant that I was photographing the other day.  It is all dried up but I loved the texture.  The black background is black velvet – gosh is that tricky to get properly spotless.  I have never tried stacking photography and I think would have looked much better using that method. Nothing is properly in focus so I will give it another go.

dried fungus on black cbackground

Photos of pot plants.

Happy New Year.  I have not picked up my camera in quite a few months so I thought I had better use it again before I forget how to.  It is too cold for me outside just now as my arthritic hands just won’t work at all when cold.  Even my craft room is only 14°C  so not great.  Over on A Year With My Camera (AYWMC) I joined the  ‘Plants and flowers’ group once I had completed the course, and January’s topic is: potted plants indoors or outdoors so I took a few photos.  Both batteries for my camera had run out of juice so while I waited for them to charge I used my phone to do an overhead shot of an oxalis. Cropped, a filter and vignette added – I do like the effect but maybe a bit OTT.

Oxalis palmifrons with filter, taken from above
Oxalis palmifrons

Once my batteries were charged I used my mirrorless camera to take a couple of shots against a black background.

Oxalis palmifrons side lit foliage
Oxalis palmifrons
Aeonium Voodoo on a black background
Aeonium Voodoo