It got to the stage where I was grumbling about making them and I decided it was well and truly time to stop. I’m not a face mask maker, I sew for fun and I learned some time ago there’s a difference between crafts for fun and crafts for work.
But I also know that many people wanted the masks that I made because of the fabric I used. I printed fabric with Salvation Army red shield on, just for the Salvos who felt a bit naked without a uniform of some sort.
The shield didn’t have the Salvation Army wording on, but I was then asked by a corps if I would make the official logo on fabric and so I did…
Oh the wonders of Photoshop! I also have another Salvation Army themed fabric I’m working on that you can see above on the left.
I know, many of the folk who have bought a face mask from me will be wanting the official shield pattern and be a bit miffed that I won’t be making any.
The fabric is printed by Spoonflower, in case you wanted to make your own masks and raise funds for your corps or favourite Army project. This link should take you straight to the page where you can buy the fabric…
Obviously, because it’s printed to order and in small batches (you can buy as little as a fat quarter) it’s a bit more than the fabric you buy in shops which is mass produced. I get about 12 masks from a yard of fabric, but I use a plain cotton fabric for the inner layers.
The elastic ribbon I buy from Ebay, around 5mm width is ideal, you have to shop around, some have raised their prices, but you can still buy is on Ebay for less than £1 a yard and I think I get four masks from a yard (8″ lengths times 2 per mask).
The pattern I use is the Olson nurse mask, and there are free patterns out there to download. However the need for masks has created other designs including ones with clear pockets for those who need to lip read.
Anyway, I’ve 2 masks left and a bit of offcut fabric. The offcut is currently on Ebay and I think I just might find a free home for the last two masks. If you feel up to making masks it’s a great way to raise funds while helping people get masks.
A few posts ago I wrote about the Bristol quilt, a quilt made by one person who saw an article about the quilting project and wanted to make a quilt for us.
Margaret made a whole quilt to be used by vulnerable women, then she arranged for the quilt to be blessed in Bristol before posting it to me.
This week I took the quilt to the Joanna house, home of our first quilt of hope, where it has pride of place in their quiet room.
The Joanna Project works in Leeds with women caught up in street prostitution, outside of this crazy current world of restrictions, they go into Leeds managed red light area and serve the women working on the streets, they visit the women in the daytime and work with them in whatever capacity the women need to help them improve their situation.
Our current quilt is being made for the Salvation Army’s Faith House in Kings Cross, London. They run a similar project to the Joanna Project. We are in desperate need of squares for this quilt so if you feel you could make a square for us please do so, it’s a wonderful way of doing some good with basic sewing skills.
Yay! I’ve completed the perfect pattern for the upcoming bank holiday weekend.
This little pattern is quick to make, I made it in two evenings. It consists of a t-shirt, shorts, bag and hat. The pattern is mostly knitted, with the hat being crocheted.
The pattern worked out well, apart from the hat. As you can see, the yellow hat, made from the pattern just sat on top of the head, rather that fitted properly.
So, I re-worked the hat. This time I used a 3mm hook. I also added two additional plain rounds before the colour change of the hat body.
If I made it again I might just add an additional 2 rounds and not work the final colour changed rim. I’d also work the last round with no increases to take away some of the bend and make the hat look more like a straw hat.
Anyway, the pattern is free, because it’s a small pattern and comes from a book rather than be a stand alone pattern. Also the pdf isn’t perfect, but that’s the way it is with vintage patterns sometimes.
The image was an attempt at art therapy during a difficult time. I’ve removed some of the picture, but around the edge I had written the things I struggled with at the time. My parents being ill, my difficult family situation, months of not sleeping, then sleeping too much. There was so much going on that it felt overwhelming, then added to that was the start of this blooming virus, not being able to visit my parents, dropping snacks off to mum in a care home and not getting to see her, and at the end not saying goodbye and a whole host of hurts that went along with months and months of struggle.
So I sat down and I wrote out everything I was struggling with. Then, when I had exhausted my list I sat and waited.
I thought about who I was as a woman and who I was as a child of God.
Then, inside the figure I wrote what came to mind. Even though I was going through one of the toughest times of my life I knew that God was with me, I’d prayed several times over the months that Jesus would wrap his arms around me, so I wrote that I was wrapped in safety and comfort.
As other thoughts (and songs) came to mind I wrote them down and it was a powerful experience reminding me that, even in the valley of the shadow of death, I have nothing to fear and I am not alone.
I wanted to take this idea of using a figure as a way of reminding women who they are in Christ to a new level and I’d been reading a book on healing through dolls. I decided I’d design a figure that could be decorated in the same way that the painting was and see how that would look.
So, a lot of sewing later I made a figure I was happy with and started testing out the dolls.
So, my first two tests.
Doll 1 on the left is Eve, I wanted to create a woman from the Bible, and I wanted to see how the dolls would work as a less therapeutic form. She’s painted using Inktense blocks, which works well, but can bleed a little. I’m still working on them both, currently embroidering leaves over the body. They also have arms, but I didn’t attach them so it would be easier to decorate the body.
The doll on the right was done after listening to someone talking about gratitude. She is painted with acrylic paint, which is less messy, but leaves the fabric with a tough feel and it’s a little hard to sew into afterwards. I beaded onto this doll, but stopped halfway across because the beads would hide the boat and birds image.
Ideally, I’d like to sell the blank dolls for people to design their own, and I’d like to send them with a booklet with instructions and some art pages to help get the creativity started.
And that’s where I’m at!
I’m actually surprised I explained it as well as I did, I’d be really interested in what people think of the idea.
This is another pattern I remember from my childhood, but not one I remember mum knitting.
Again, because 4-ply isn’t available everywhere I used Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift, which is great for small doll projects because it comes in 25g balls and the colour range is incredible.
I changed the colours, the difference doesn’t show except in the knitted jacket where I replaced the different colours for a striped sock yarn, it gave a much more subtle effect which I prefered. I also left the sleeves off of the jacket.
I made the skirt shorter too and instead of making it a slip on skirt I changed it to add a hook fastener, which means it won’t stretch as much over time.
The shorter skirt comes just above the knee, but the pattern skirt would have been much too long for a modern doll.
The Aran jumper I think was a bit too large and perhaps needed a size smaller needle.
The trousers fit well, but I made a mistake reading the pattern and made them a bit too short, although the shorter length means they fit my Blythe doll quite well.
The boots, if you’re interested, I bought for the Blythe doll. I’ve discovered some Blythe shoes fit Sindy.
I closed the jumper with a hook and eye fastening, but a snap fastening on the neck rib would have been better. The jumper has a back opening to fit onto the doll and needs a fastening on the rib to pull the neck in, otherwise the neck looks too wide.
Mind you, the jumper worn back to front does look like a V-neck with collar, so you could wear it that way.
Finally the Jumper dress. I don’t think it’s meant to be a dress, but the length is so long it would be crazy to not use it this way.
The dress, like the Aran jumper, looks slightly too big and might be worth missing out a few stitches on the front and back. The pattern also has a belt pulling in the dress, but I didn’t want that.
So, the pattern is finished. I think the pattern is one that still works today, perhaps with minor adjustments in length, but a nice pattern.
I’ve decided to sell these patterns in my Etsy shop, but for £1. Very affordable I think.
I haven’t posted anything for a while, but I’ve been busy making things and working on a few projects, maybe too busy.
I’ve had a sense of… hmmm… maybe uncomfortableness about my crafting ‘career’ and where I’m going and I’ve been struggling with what to do about it.
What made it more difficult is realising just how big a part my mum played in my crafts.
My mum bought me my first handmade rag doll, a topsy-turvy Cinderella who still takes pride of place over 40 years later. She took me to my first craft fair and introduced me to a lady who taught me my first craft, quilling.
When she was making cakes she would sit me down to help her make flowers from fondant and it was mum who encouraged me with endless craft supplies. When I had stalls at craft fairs she would turn up and sit for hours dealing with customers and it was mum who told endless people about the things I made.
It’s only now she’s gone that I really recognise how big a part of my crafting world she played. Whenever I made something I was proud of, the first thing I did was go and show my mum. When I was deciding which options to choose for university it was mum who I discussed it with, and now I’m in a place where I feel uncomfortable in my craft world and my confidant isn’t here.
And so, I’ve been quiet, trying to figure out my next steps in a different way.
I was listening to the Phil Laeger version of I’m in his hands earlier.
When I describe my crafting as unfortableness, I think it’s really a newness.
I could say that God spoke to me about a new way last week, but it’s been a gradual moving towards something new that’s been going on for some years, to this final ‘reveal’ I guess.
From the quilting sessions at university in the second year, the regular thoughts of giving my crafts to God in the third year. The quilting project, then the growing thoughts on craft groups in churches and how they could be used as a ministry.
Making the boundless salvation quilt, meeting someone who instead of just saying “No”, told me I would carve my own path.
Most recently the zoom craft group, the enabled craft sessions, having the right courses and professionals come into my life at the right time, meeting someone who pointed me in the right direction for the Art therapy course.
All the little coincidences (God-incidences?) that bring me here and now with a plan or vision for where I’m going next.
What I always thought was a journey between mum and me has, all along included a third person, who is constant, who is on our side and who has a plan for us that far outweighs any idea or dream we could make up for ourselves.
This is a panel for my next quilt, you might recognise the image from a few posts ago, well this is the machine embroidered panel.
It’s based on the words of the Salvation Army song
Then how much more shall God, our Father, in love forgive.
Which is from the musical based on the story of Hosea.
I’ve heard it said that there are no such things as coincidences, but there are God-incidences. Connections where the lives God uses and changes connect in amazing ways.
This week, in the Salvationist magazine is mum’s tribute.
It’s a very fitting tribute to a woman who gave her live for others. It was my sister-in-law who noticed the next tribute though, Raymond Fensom, and reminded me of a connection between out families, without which, I wouldn’t be here.
Raymond’s father, Alge Fensom, was a name I was raised to be thankful for. When dad was unwell last December he told me how he wanted to talk to Raymond and let him know what his father had done for him. Well, I tracked Raymond down, actually it was his corps officer who connected me to Raymond’s daughter and I managed to thank Ray and his family for our family. I also heard more of the story of how my dad became a Christian.
For those who don’t know the story and for those who don’t know this part of the story here it is.
My dad was in prison (Wakefield I believe), in solitary confinement after punching a prison guard.
Dad says that the cell door opened and in walked a Salvation Army officer, Alge Fensom. Alge was expecting to see the previous cell occupant, but found dad instead. Dad, not too pleased with his visitor told him to go away (but not as politely).
Alge wasn’t fazed and spoke to dad, then asked if he could visit him again, and he did.
I’d always understood that dad became a Christian after prison, but when I connected with Alge’s grandaughter earlier this year her dad (Raymond) passed on Alge’s side of the story.
My dad became a Christian whilst in prison, and eventually became a soldier of the Salvation Army in prison, Alge managed to get a flag into the prison and dad was made a soldier from his cell.
Dad said when he left prison, he had nowhere to go, his family had disowned him. But Alge was there at the prison gate.
Raymond told me that his father had brought a coat for dad to wear and had put money in one of the pockets. When dad put the coat on he found the money and tried to give it to Alge, but he denied any knowledge of it.
Alge took dad to the local Salvation Army hostel, and well, he went to the training college, met mum and they spent their lives looking after homeless people.
It’s interesting (to me anyway) that one of the one things dad always wanted to do was to go back into the prisons to talk to men about his life, but because of his criminal record he wasn’t able to. However, my brother is now a prison chaplain and perhaps continuing the legacy of the Fensoms and my dad.
I doubt, when Alge walked into that prison cell all those years ago he thought about the lives that would be changed by this one encounter, or that through the prisoner he was looking at, his work of being a prison chaplain would continue. It just goes to show how small our idea of the world is, how God’s plans are so wonderfully woven throughout time.
I’ve been writing notes, drawing pictures and colouring in sections of my bible for as long as I can remember, but only recently has what many of us have always done, been re-marketed into a money making business for many creative Christians.
There are a lot of free journaling ideas out there, videos on YouTube and ideas on Pinterest, but there’s also a lot of expensive kits too!
I’m not against buying things if I like them, I’ve paid quite a bit of money for a journaling bible with wide edges to write or draw into and I really like it. However, I do think we have to be aware that some ideas are being marked up just to make money from a new trend (something for another day perhaps).
One idea I’ve seen are printable pages with bookmark sized images, great for colouring in. You can download these onto card and use them as actual bookmarks, or you can copy them onto a page of your journaling bible and colour it in onto the bible page.
I made one for you to try, it’s based on the verse in Genesis 16:17, where Sarai (later Sarah) was mistreating her servant Hagar. Hagar fled, but was met by an angel who told her to return (because God had a plan – Ishmael). Hagar, a mistreated servant who I expect felt had no one on her side realised God sees everything and she said, “You are the God who see me”.
And this is how you put the image into your Bible.
Print off the page on normal printer paper.
Fold the paper so it fits under the page where you want the image.
Use a pencil to sketch the image onto the Bible page.
4. Using a black fineliner (0.3 – 0.5mm) is what I prefer. I also keep looking with the original image incase I’ve missed a line.
5. VERY GENTLY use a rubber to remove the pencil markings. Remember GENTLY!
6. Colour the image in. I use coloured pencils, and if this is your first time then I would recommend you do this too. Once you get into journaling you can venture out into other media like watercolours and gelatos.
7. This next step is optional, but I like to go over the page with a coloured pencil blender or a paper stubby stick. It blends the marks of the pencils together and makes the image look a lot better. I’ve half done this image, you might be able to see inside the circle. I’ve done the top half of the letter E.
8. I also added one tiny last detail, I used a white gel pen to add a tiny highlight to the eye.
Last week two things happened that broke into a difficult week and reminded me to keep focused on the goal God had set me.
The first ‘gift’ came as a sympathy card.
On Monday morning my brother turned up at my home to tell me mum was dying, by the afternoon she was gone.
So, a few days later a sympathy card arrived by way of the husband of a friend. I put the unopened card on the table and left it for a while, but when I opened it I found two gifts included, a wrapped chocolate biscuit and an embroidered square for a quilt which read,
'Life is tough, but so are You'
It reminded me that I am not alone, not only is God with me but I have so many friends all supporting me. It told me what I am starting to realise, that I am tougher than I imagined. And it reminded me that I have square to make into another quilt! That although my mums work is done, mine continues.
I didn’t sleep well on Saturday night, I’d been a bit unwell, so in the middle of the night I gave up trying and went to look at my emails and found one from a lady called Margaret.
Margaret had seen the article about the quilts of hope project and had decided to spend some of her quarantine making a quilt for vulnerable women. She had finished a beautiful quilt.
It made my night! and I replied the next day.
To be quite honest, it’s difficult making the quilts, not making them so much, but trying to get people making squares for them and I was asking myself whether I should go all in with the project and push deeper or accept that it was perhaps a short term project.
To find that the project is still relevant and that there are people who still believe in the quilts. Making a quilt is no easy or quick task, so I figured if God prompted someone to take all that time and skill then it’s because God still wants the quilts made.
If you want to know more about the quilts of hope project there’s a link at the top of the page.
I gave Margaret a few options for the quilt, I like the idea of the quilt staying close to where it was made, so she can have a closer connection to where it is supporting people. If anyone knows a project near or in Bristol that it would suit, please get in touch.
It always amazes me, that a blessing made for one person can bounce blessings all along the journey to its final destination, that something as simple as an embroidered square of cotton can be part of a huge picture of blessings for women (and men) who we may never meet.
Thank you Margaret, for the quilt, and for the blessing you passed onto me during one of my toughest weeks.
A few little things have happened recently that have brought back an old gripe of mine. That old feeling that as a Christian artist, one of the hardest hurdles is finding a sense of belonging in the church.
Next week there’s a five day Christian event for Christian artists. Professional Christian artists and creatives from around the world will be coming together to run workshops and events around Christianity and creativity. Of course, it’s all online because of the current situation, but that makes it even better, more affordable because I don’t have to find hotel fees and the event doesn’t need to hire huge venues.
The first small event happened a few weeks ago…
Actually, as I sit here, the first event that caused this recent sense of not belonging happened several months ago when an off-handed comment made it clear that my art will probably not be shown in my church.
Yep, my church won’t get to see things like this…
It’s ok though, this quilt was seen by someone who really wanted it and it has pride of place with someone who values the work and promises to use it.
The sense of not belonging goes way back to childhood though, being made to sing in the children’s choir at the Salvation Army, then told I’d never make friends if I didn’t learn to play a brass instrument.
I didn’t hate singing or playing a brass instrument, but it wasn’t really something I loved to do, more something I had to do, which as often happens, led to me fighting against it.
Probably the most memorable fight was when I was old enough to have a say in what I did or didn’t do. My parents were the visiting ministers at a Salvation Army church one weekend, and mum had told me that she wanted me to sing in the evening service.
At lunchtime I developed a headache and told mum I didn’t feel well enough to sing. Mum said I didn’t have a choice. Now, I was a determined young person and decided that this time, I would stand my ground. I told mum I was not going to sing. Her reply, “Oh, you will.”
We got in the car to head to the corps and again I said, “Mum, I’m not singing”
Her response, “Oh, you will”, and so it went on. This time, I would have my way.
Several times I repeated myself, as did mum, and I decided that I simply would refuse, as was my right.
The service started and I thought I’d won.
My mum was relentless in getting her way and unknown to me had approached the pianist, telling her that when she announced that I was singing she was to get herself ready. I normally sang with backing tracks and thought I’d win by just not handing any over.
So, halfway through the service, mum announced that I was going to sing, then said I would be singing from the song book.
I sat there, determined.
The pianist started playing.
I sat there.
Mum had the song book opened at the right page.
I sat there.
Everyone looked expectantly and I realised I would be the one looking foolish, so I got up, took the songbook and sang.
Forcing young people into doing things only makes them hate, and I put that event down as the time when my feelings of participating in Christian music took a downward turn.
Of course, I came to a better place with my singing for a while, managed to get a place in the London Philharmonic choir, switched my brass instrument to the flute which I enjoyed and at some point in the past, my solo singing career was thankfully put to rest.
But the damage of being forced into what really should have been free worship had been done, not just by my mum, and I have struggled with it ever since.
Anyway, after the off-handed comment about textile art not being allowed in church the isolation happened and we all went online. What a fantastic opportunity for a creative person and I’ve certainly used my time in isolation to my advantage.
My church recently started an online women’s group, so I joined. It was the usual join up process, reply to questions as to why you want to join then get a list of rules and agree to them.
Rule number 2 was a bit of a downer though:
2. No promotions or spam: Give more to this group than you take. Self-promotion, spam and irrelevant links aren’t allowed. If you have something personal that you’d like to promote please message an admin :-)
So, while the posts are mostly people showing other people’s art or photography and why it helps them as a Christian, or why they have a message to include about someone else’s art, I read the rule as saying I cannot post my own artwork, since that would be self-promotion.
So, I cannot share with my church images like this…
I don’t think my church is bad, quite the opposite, but I think it’s a part of the church on the whole that sees more value in musical arts, than in visual arts.
The third recent event, that really prompted me to write this post was a very recent comment from a Salvation Army minister on a random facebook post.
Not all recent events have been negative, and recently I took notice of an advert for a Christian Creative Summit. A 5-day online event for Christian artists and creatives. Of course, I signed up and am looking forward to experiencing that rare sense of belonging in Christianity.
I noticed the advert again on Facebook but it was the top comment that got my interest.
It was just a simple response which said,
“I haven’t seen what this entails but immediately a shudder went down my back.”
The idea of people finding value and worship and dare I say, a deeper relationship with Jesus, through non-musical art sends a shiver down the spine of many Christians and churches. Maybe that’s not exactly what he meant, but it’s how I’m often left feeling.
When pressed as to why he felt so negatively about this his response included the words…
“I’m words and music. Colouring in as worship leaves me cold.”
That, sadly is what I feel the church thinks it’s all about. Messy church, children gluing paper together, colouring in bible pages or a group of card makers adding to a stand of unsold crappy cards at the back of the church hall that no one wants.
Art, as worship, is actually used a lot in churches, just looking through the women’s facebook group at the endless photos of trees and sunsets shows that the church still wants to see visual art, but it’s got to come a long way to be appreciated.
You don’t sing a single song in church without the composer and writer credited and a contribution being given to the artist for allowing the church to use their music. Perhaps there needs to be a visual art license in the church, so that the artists who took the photos of trees that are so loved and shared, those Youtube videos that are added into the Sunday services, can also be financially supported. At the very least, they should receive the same accreditation.
In the meantime, I look forward to five days the rare sense that I am amongst like minded artists, and maybe I can find a way to move forward in feeling a better sense of belonging in the church as a whole.