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Monthly Archives: March 2013

RCA Secret 2013

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I recently came across a web article about a new exhibition at the Royal College of Art called RCA Secret 2013. It is such a good idea. Basically, the RCA has asked well known artists and graduates who are relatively unknown, to produce work on or the size of, a postcard. The artist signs the work on the back and all the postcards are displayed to the public. ‘So what?’ I hear you ask. Well, each of these postcards is on sale for only £45 meaning that you could get a piece of work by a big time artist at low, low prices. It’s like a lucky dip into the art world! The famous names participating this year include “Paula Rego, Julian Opie, David Bailey, Christo and John Baldessari, Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park, film director Mike Leigh and from the world of fashion, Sir Paul Smith, Orla Kiely and Manolo Blahnik.” I guess some of them like Nick Park and Orla Kiely might be easy to spot if they stick to their well known styles, but with 2700 postcards on display by 1034 artists, it might be harder than I think! The only problem with this is that you have to be there in person to buy. That means going all the way to London (which is not my favourite place to be) and hoping to be there in time before everything is sold 9the exhibition opens to sales at 8am!). You have to register to be able to buy, and you can only buy 4 works at most. If you were in London though, and you like art, and you don’t have access to the Saatchi fortune to spend on random art, it would be a great opportunity.

What would you put on your postcard if you were invited to exhibit? The works can be jewellery and 3D so long as they are the right size. I might make a paper collage, or stitch a tiny bag!

Blanket of many colours

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blanketAbout three of four years ago, I bought a knitting book really cheaply in the sales. It was by Rowan and had all sorts of designs for cushions, blankets and rugs. (I tried to find it on Amazon to link to but couldn’t. I should just go downstairs and find it, but I’m feeling lazy today! I will post it later.) This patchwork blanket caught my eye. It is made up of different hexagons, some in knit, and some in fabric. All the knitted hexagons have a different pattern so it’s really textured and interesting to look at.

My Mum and I were given a big bag full of odd Rowan balls by my Aunty and they were just perfect for this project. I knitted them on and off for about three years (!) until I had finally finished them. I then went hunting in the fabric stash box, and came across some corduroy type fabrics to use as the other hexagons. Now there was a laying out pattern in the book which seemed straight forward, but when you consider that no two same knitted patterns or colours should lie together, this got complicated! Finally I arranged the knitting pinned and sewed it together (I don’t mind sewing up knitting. I know some people hate it, but to me it means I’ve nearly finished, Hurray!) then I came to a stop.

The book said, sew the fabric hexagons into strips according to the pattern. I did that on my tiny sewing machine that just does straight stitch. Then lay the knitting over the top, pin and zig zag stitch to the fabric. I’m not doing that by hand! I eventually got myself a sewing machine, and my first project was to finish the blanket. I zig zagged, cut out a plain grey wool backing, used the same for the edging and sewed it all in place. The edging was like bias binding, so I then had to flip it over to the back and hand sew 😦 all around the edge.

Finally after four years I had finished and just in time for the snowy weather. Although at times I absolutely hated this project, I love the finished result. I can really see it being something I will always have, and the fact that I finished it by hand makes it all the more special. I don’t know if four years is a record for not finishing a project? I’d love to hear of anybody else’s long suffering craft projects!

blanket1

Mmm! Chicken and ham pie!

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pieI thought I would get back into blogging by sharing a recipe I sort of made up (the sauce and pie top recipes were from other places but I can’t remember where!) It is really yummy and you can use up leftovers and add whatever herbs and spices you like. The amounts aren’t exact because like I said, I was sort of making it up as I went along.

Ingredients

  • Chicken breast fillets, cut into bite sized pieces.
  • Pre cooked ham or gammon, chopped into smaller pieces.
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Pinch of Cayenne pepper
  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 150-200g of chicken stock (depending how thin you want the sauce)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of double cream
  • A squeeze of lemon
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 75g vegetable suet
  • chopped sage
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Fry the chicken in a little oil until browned all over. Add in the cooked ham and mushrooms and stir. Add some cayenne pepper (or whatever you fancy!) and season. Leave in the pan but take off the heat.
  2. Make the white sauce. In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour. Cook slowly, stirring, until the mix is the colour of straw. Pour in the stock, turn up the heat and stir constantly until the mix is simmering and smooth. Add in the cream and reduce the sauce to your desired consistency. Add the lemon.
  3. Make the pie top. Put the flour, suet and herbs (I used sage because it goes with chicken, but you could leave out the herbs if you don’t like them) in a bowl and add enough water to make a sticky dough. Dust the dough with some flour and wrap in Clingfilm to rest for 10 minutes. Roll out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin and hands (I told you it was a sticky dough!) into a shape that will fit the top of your pie dish.
  4. Lightly butter a pie dish. Add the chicken mix into the sauce and season. Stir well and pour into the pie dish. Take the rolled out dough and place it on top of the mixture, making sure it reaches the edges of the dish. Make a small hole in the centre of the dough with a knife and brush the top with a little milk.
  5. Put the pie on the middle shelf of a pre-heated oven at Gas Mark 5 for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is lovely and golden. Serve and enjoy!

My family really loved this recipe, and like I said it is easy to customise. If you try it, I’d love to see pictures and let me know how you liked it!