Christmas present shoe bags

Shoe bag with hand embroidered butterflies (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Shoe bag with appliqué felt

Two shoe bags for a brother and sister. Loved doing the butterflies which started as appliquéd felt and ended up being completely covered in embroidery. Simple appliquéd felt tools were appropriate for the boy recipient. I know from my grandson’s shoe bag the felt washes well on an ordinary coloured wash, so the bags should stand up to a certain amount of wear.

Shoe bag with hand embroidered butterflies (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Shoe bag with appliqué

We’ve had an indulgent time – for me that meant day time sewing by the bedroom window while the light was good, followed by evenings of knitting in front the the television or the various catch up channels on the laptop. This is regularly followed by my reading for a couple of hours as one day changes into the next. At the moment I’m feasting on my happy charity shop find of a book I’ve been after for ages, the novel,  This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson. British readers may remember Thompson as the first producer of Have I got News for You, from its beginning in 2000 until just before his early death from lung cancer in 2005. His first, and only, novel is about Robert Fitzroy and Charles Darwin on board The Beagle and at 600 plus  pages is a brick of a book. The first hundred pages describe the Beagle’s first eventful voyage under Fitzroy’s captaincy, brilliant and stern seamanship, early practical weather forecasting, ‘adoption’ of 4 native Tierra del Fuegans and the first hints of the mental illness that was to, much later, claim his life. Darwin only sailed with Fitzroy on his second voyage and, accordingly makes his first appearance in the novel only around page 100 which is where I am at the moment. Much more to enjoy!



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Happy Christmas 2017

Angel, take from Duncan Grant’s mural of Christ in Splendour, Berwick Church, near Brighton (hand embroidered and appliquéd by Mary Addison)

December has done its usual thing of being a long way off  with plenty of time seemingly left for making things and then, wham, it swooshes away like billyo and all those manufacturing plans suddenly seem too ambitious – well, impossible. I finished my Christmas card over a week ago but what with a family visit and family visiting have sent few more than half a dozen cards so far. I haven’t yet made up my mind whether to send my cards by email or devote a large chunk of next week to physically writing them. (When you’ve moved twice in two years, you really need to write a  few more words than ‘much love, Mary and David’.) At the moment there’s something terribly attractive about procrastinating and I suspect my desire to connect properly with individual messages will tip me over into the ‘late but lovingly so’ category.

Duncan Grant sketch for an angel, from the mural, Christ in Splendour, Berwick Church, near Brighton

This little angel is based on one of Duncan Grant’s from the mural, Christ in Splendour, to be seen high up on the chancel arch of St Michael and All Angels, Berwick. The church is just a few miles away from Charleston, the farmhouse made home by the artists of the Bloomsbury group and both farmhouse and church occupy a wonderful seemingly untouched landscape evocative of sacred domains and timeless beauty – the paradox of land farmed, often intensively, since ancient times.

Complete study for the mural Christ in Splendour, Berwick Church, near Brighton

Wanting intense colour for my Christmas card and limited by the few scraps of silk I could find, I changed the angels dress to red and made the circlets of flowers more like Christmas garlands than the nosegays of spring. As I worked from Duncan Grant’s sketch which fits a quarter of an  A4 sheet rather neatly, one wing is cut short. I realised when I framed my embroidery that I had room for the full wing, so I think I may well restore what is missing..

Detail of embroidered angel, take from Duncan Grant’s mural of Christ in Splendour, Berwick Church, near Brighton (hand embroidered and appliquéd by Mary Addison)

If you have a moment, do look at the church’s website and the Christ in Splendour mural in particular and spend a few minutes going through the slide show of Duncan Grant’s sketches and photographs of the model(s) for the angels. Wonderfully, the model for my angel has managed to position herself in an armchair (upholstered in Bloomsbury fabric, naturally) in a way that suggests imminent flight across celestial skies – ok with the legs but not the arms and of course she has no wings …but for all that, you can see how Duncan Grant has captured what is perfect about the pose and set it free on the walls in his mural! (see below for a poor  photograph I took from the church’s website but there are others and the text is interesting too).  I’ve always had a fondness for this angel. My first husband painted a copy of it on the loft hatch on the top landing of our London home – it worked so well, at the top of the stairs, with access to the roof and thus sky beyond. I should have removed it when we left, but there you go…

Girl modelling for angel in Duncan Grant’s mural of Christ in Splendour, Berwick Church, near Brighton

So, to anyone reading this blog, have a wonderful Christmas and may the New Year be full of all the best for you and your families.

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