In 2017 I decided to open my website with my monthly 'Journal' page instead of the traditional 'bio' Here I endeavour to explain some useful knowledge pertaining to the creation of a visual piece using photography and examples.


Every now and again the photos within this website will be changed (so do please check them occasionally!) but as this isn't done every month the Journal page was created so that each month there is something new to read and see!


(Links to previous News Letters can be found at the bottom of the page.)



The Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts, based in Collingwood, Ontario, holds a Juried Art show each year - this year was their 39th! Artists are invited to submit a piece of their work - either 2D or 3D - which is then assessed by a panel of Judges.


I decided that I would submit one of my wire Squirrels. I am delighted to announce that I won 3rd Prize in the 3D section!

I've been continuing with my Pen & Ink drawings and have now completed another scenario which covers 3 pages. I'm not holding my breath, but I may actually be near completion of my book! I am not saying how many years it has taken to reach this far!


I have also had fun making some needle-holders. I was given one by a dear Great Aunt who was an avid embroiderer and lace maker. The needle-case is now showing it's age but was made with detail and embroidery stitches. A number of friends have commented on how useful it is so we spent a few hours one day making one each. I now have 3 new ones as I did different stitches and detail for demonstration purposes! They measure 2 1/2" by 3 1/2" inches.

We are now at the end of April and embarking into May. April is always a mix of fine weather and foul weather! One day is beautiful sunshine and we can shrug off our winter clothes, then the next day the sky fills with grey clouds and snow covers the ground once again! The only good thing is that snow at this time of year generally lasts no more than a day.


It is so wonderful seeing the daffodils as they show us that winter is coming to an end. They brave the elements and occasionally sport a soft cap of snow!


I'm making steady progress with my Pen & Ink drawings with only a few left to do. One of my recent completions is that of a traction engine. The engine featured in my drawing is a Fowler 6nhp A4 Class agricultural engine No 9230 built in 1902.


Lots of numbers! Engines - both steam and traction - have numerous designs, classes, numbers, wheel configurations that all add to the overall identification of the engine. One of the easiest means of identifying (as there are so many models and Classes etc.) is to name the engine. I tried to find out the history behind naming but basically it started centuries ago with the naming of ships and has numerous hypotheses. The  steam engine named "The Rocket" made by Robert Stephenson in 1829, is probably the first named engine publicly recognised. This steam engine was not the first one to be built but it paved the way to steam engines being built for transport and other uses.


Many famous people have had engines named after them, and some companies even name their rolling stock after their employees! "The Flying Scotsman" is also a well known engine that was famous for setting two world speed records, and doing the rail route from London to Edinburgh. It's official name is LNER Class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman. It a Pacific Steam locomotive  and was built in 1923. As there are numerous other engines of this make and Class, having a name is a much easy way of identification! Also, saying you are travelling on the "Flying Scotsman" is far more exciting than saying you are catching the LNER Class A3 4472 at 12:56 from Kings Cross!!


Traction engines have been around since 1848 when companies making steam rail engines decided to diversify and make road transport engines and agricultural engines. Many steam engines were used for ploughing and threshing. In the film, "Ladies in Lavender" (2004, Directed by Charles Dance and starring Dame Judy Dench and Dame Maggie Smith) there is a beautiful scene of an agricultural engine in use.


Apart from Fowler engines, other companies also made them, one notably being  Charles Burrell & Sons, Thetford, Norfolk, UK. They built portable engines first then branched to traction engines (also known as steam tractors) from 1905. Traction engines had a top speed of 5 m.p.h. !! The final steam tractor was built in 1927. Luckily many steam tractors and road locomotives have been saved from scrap by museums and enthusiasts. We saw a road locomotive at a local steam fair and it is owned by the Grey Roots Museum, Owen Sound. The engine was fired up and being used for cooking corn-on-the-cob!! See picture below.



We actually have our own Burrell traction engine! It is a 3" model which means every 3" represents one foot; in other words it's quarter size model. It took the builder 6 years to complete! We named our engine "Julianna" in memory of our daughter. Once the fire is lit and the steam produced the engine can tow quite a remarkable weight, in fact 2 tonnes  which is similar to towing a SUV automobile! Quite a achievement for such a small model.


To finish off, here is a little potted collection of other goings on in March! Our two Maine Coons continue to grow and entertain. For some reason the female loves to sit in the metal bowl!!


And whilst we still have snow it is nice to see the Chipmunks emerge. They don't actually hibernate but are rarely seen during the depths of winter. Seeing them out and about means spring is definitely on it's way!


And lastly, a card designed for Mother's Day,


February has been filled with snow storms, icy roads and high winds. On days like these it is so nice being indoors - preferably near a log fire! Even the animals disappear when the weather is unpleasant.


When the weather improves the squirrels re-appear, foraging in the snow and nibbling at something obviously delicious on the trees! It is always interesting  to watch the squirrels and these little red ones are very entertaining! Their colour is so similar to that of the tree that they merge beautifully with the bark. The clear blue sky has made a pleasant change to all the cloudy days.

Whilst sheltering from the rages of winter, I have been having fun making more zipped bags. I made a number for friends and family for Christmas and have had requests, so I've made more!


One thing I always love is colour. It fascinates me how diverse the colours in our world are, and how they either compliment each other or conflict. Sometimes you take two colours that you wouldn't think would work together and they do! For example a particular shade of blue and coral, or turquoise and sage green. Colour combining has endless permutations and is always full of surprises - not all good ones!! Mixing patterns can also reward with great combinations.


Bag sizes are all approximate as I'm human and not a machine! All are fully lined.

Sizes are: 4" x 6:",  4" x 7", 5" x 7", 6" x 8", 7" x 9". Prices range from $12 to $25. Matching tissue holders are $10 (see my December Journal for examples).

Bags are made to order and can be done in shades of any specified colour.




I had a lovely visit with my mother and brother who braved the Canadian winter and joined us for Christmas and the New Year. In early January it was my brother's birthday so I did a needle-felted picture for him.

I did a Steam train for him as not only do we share a passion for these wonderful engineered locomotives, but he works in the engineering workshop renovating  carriages and wagons for the steam preservation railway, The South Devon Railway, Buckfastleigh, Devon in England.  This is a great website with lots of information and links to other areas. They even have a 'live stream' web cam which today showed it was even snowing in Devon, England!!


When steam trains were replaced by diesel many went to the scrap yards but fortunately many were rescued and preserved to carry on serving the public. There are many preservation railways which are really living museums. There is nothing more nostalgic than the sound and smell of a steam train! Travelling on one during a starlit winters night is beautiful! It is not surprising that there are many holidays that can be taken where the trip is on a steam train traversing the countryside stopping at interesting locations en route. Visiting these preservation railways is a great way to spend the day.


The advent of diesel changed many things. One that may  seem insignificant proved quite a challenge. Many houses back onto railway lines. Woman said that when the trains changed from steam to diesel they couldn't get their curtains clean any more as the diesel left a nasty oily grime behind.


The featured steam train in my needle-felted picture is 1369, a GWR 0-6-0 PT that originally worked for Cornwell Mineral Railway. (GWR stands for Great Western Railway, and 0-6-0 depicts the wheel configuration). When steam was replaced by diesel these engines needed preserving. The whole history behind this engine and that of the South Devon Railway can be found on the website mentioned above.

And of course, I can't end without adding a couple of photos of our new kittens that love helping out with my projects!

 Click here to view January to April 2018

Click here to view May to August 2018

Click here to view September to December 2018



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