There has been crafting aplenty!

I’ve been doing an art class this term, on my day off, and it is SO MUCH FUN. It’s a perfect reason to get up, get dressed and leave the house. We laugh a lot. We play with colours and shapes and patterns. We sometimes make things we’re amazed by.

Here’s the sketchbook I made in the first week. Acrylic paint, finger and the edge of an old credit card:WP_20160115_002

 

And here’s the first pages of the sketch book, done the following week. Drawing ink and the wrong end of a paintbrush: wp_20160122_14_28_28_pro

This week we were making patterns:

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This wasn’t in the art class, this was a screenprinting workshop I did a couple of weeks ago with some friends. Everyone made something really beautiful and they were all completely different. This was my giraffe. It’s called “Giraffe”.

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Finally, I have finished this embroidery based on a doodle by a friend of mine. I sent her the finished piece as a surprise. I don’t seem to have a picture of it when it’s finished, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

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At half term I went up to Chester one day for an RSN workshop at the cathedral. We were working on silk shading/needlepainting/long and short stitch, which is a technique I’ve never really got good results with before. I think I am starting to get the hang of it. This is how far I got during class:

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And last but definitely not least, I AM DECLARING SPRING. Today I did a little bit of garden tidying and planted some spring flowers.

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Phew. That’s a lot more than I thought. I’ve also been making some progress on the doll’s house – I’ve rehung the front so that the door is on the same side as the stairs which makes a lot more sense to me. I’m working away on my knitted hoodie, and I’ve started a new embroidery project.

Book review: Virtually Human

virtuallyuman Virtually Human: Flourishing in a Digital World
Ed Brooks and Pete Nicholas
IVP: Nottingham, 2015

First I want to say that this book is fine. If you’re looking for a way to start thinking about how you interact with different kinds of technology, especially online, as a Christian, you’ll find some very helpful things here. As I read through it, I agreed with pretty much everything the authors said, though in a few places I wanted a little bit more nuance. I also think it’s a difficult sort of book to write, given the constantly changing nature of technology, and on the whole I think they did a good job of being specific enough to be useful, but general enough to continue to be useful for years to come.

BUT, I didn’t enjoy reading the book, and I want to talk a bit about why, because I don’t think these issues are limited to this particular book.

I’ve read a lot of Christian books over the years. In particular, I’ve read a lot of this sort of book, aimed at the ordinary Christian in the pew, addressing a specific issue of doctrine, life or Bible study. I’ve never read one about Christians and digital media before, and given that my job is online, I was looking forward to this.

I was bored. Especially in the first part of the book, I was very bored. As the authors gave their version of a biblical theology I’ve read in practically every book of this kind, I couldn’t help but wonder why they’d chosen to focus only on the creation and fall in Genesis 1-3 and then leapt forward to the cross, as they explained their ‘yes and no’ to technology.

There’s an amazing thing about the Bible, which is that it is deep and rich and multi-layered and complex and glorious. Yet, so often, we reduce it to the same short summary. It’s not that the summary is wrong, just that it is limited. I think there would be a fascinating biblical theology to be told about technology. From Adam and Eve’s first ‘clothes’, through the construction of the tower of Babel and idols like the golden calf, as well as the proper use of technology in building the tabernacle. You’d still get the sense of human creativity and ingenuity, flowing from their creator. And you’d certainly understand the sinful ways in which humanity perverts the use of technology.

So that’s the first thing. I wanted a deeper, richer, fuller, more thoughtful and nuanced engagement with the Bible and technology. Every so often the book hints at more but doesn’t take the time to explore those questions.

The second thing I want to say about why I didn’t much enjoy reading this, is that the writing is (mostly) functional but far from beautiful. The prose is sometimes awkward, as if it has been transcribed from speech. There are far too many questions interrupting the flow for the reader. I don’t know whether some of these issues stem from the difficulty of co-authoring, or the admission in the acknowledgements that the first draft was written over the course of several late nights.

I do think that editors have a very important role to play here. Good books don’t just need good ideas, they also need good writers. And writers need the help of good editors to become good writers.

It’s as true now as it was when Ecclesiastes was written that ‘Of the making of many books there is no end.’ But please could we work a bit harder at making better books, even if that means making slightly fewer books?

A wall

There has been progress on the doll’s house:

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I painted one side wall and then I got to work. I wanted a painted brick effect, so I mixed up some talcum powder and white emulsion paint to make a sort of plaster substance. I took some craft foam, drew lines on it and then cut out brick shapes to make a stencil. The foam was a good depth, but not quite stable enough, really. It lasted for one wall, but I’ll need to make new ones for the others. And when I put the plaster through it, I had to keep tweaking the foam into place. It’s fine for the cottage I’m doing, but it wouldn’t be great if you wanted a more even look.

I left the bricks to dry overnight and then sanded it down to get rid of some of the extra-blobby bits. I left the dust on the wall while I painted it once more with white acrylic, to add a little extra texture. I’m really pleased with how the brickwork turned out.

So, then on to the fun part: the Banksy. Seriously, this is going to be the coolest house ever. I’m planning a Bridget Riley wall in one room and a Rob Ryan ceiling in the attic. And on the outside a Banksy:

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I’m very pleased with it indeed!

Oh, and the bricks at the bottom of the wall? Let’s just say that Banksy, like me, can’t paint feet. ;)

My new project

I don’t really like to have too many different Works In Progress (WIPs) on the go at the same time. At the moment, I have the hoodie I’m knitting and one piece of embroidery. I’d also like to finish hand quilting the bedspread I started last year. That feels like enough. Oh, and there’s some weaving and some spinning on hibernation.

Hmm.

Anyway, I have a new project and I am ridiculously over-excited about it!

LOOK WHAT I GOT:

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A doll’s house! I’ve been wanting one to do up for several years. They sometimes have doll’s house fairs at the County Showground, a few minutes up the road from me, so yesterday afternoon I went on impulse, hoping that I might find a bargain. And I did! Someone was selling this off very cheaply. It’s an ex-shop display house. No interior work had been done at all and on the outside there was just some badly applied tiling and brickwork papers, which I have removed.

The only other thing I bought was some lovely wood laminate flooring for it. I have laid the attic floor and the first floor. It was a lot of fun, and very satisfying, especially sanding the wood down at the end. However, today my wrist and arm are really quite painful! Ah, well. I think it was worth it:

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I did look round the fair but to be honest, I think most of the fun for me is going to be making all the things to go in it, not buying them. I don’t want this to be an old-fashioned house. It’s going to be (one of) my dream home(s), so it will be fabulous and modern and I can’t wait to get started on some of the ideas I’ve got for it. I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

Bible colouring

I’ve uploaded some pages of meditations and colouring for several psalms. You’re free to download and copy these as much as you like for individual or church use.

You can find them all here and when I have more done, this is where I’ll add them.

Please do NOT upload the files to distribute these as if they were your own. Please do NOT sell these images or meditations in any format. The copyright on them belongs to me, not you.

New year, new look, new plans

I hope you like the new look website. For a while now I’ve wanted to consolidate some of my different sites into one, and I’m so glad to have finally done it. I hope you’ll find it easy to locate the content you’re interested in.  Occasional posts (like this one) will appear in several of the different blog pages, but mostly they’ll be separated out.

If you have any feedback, especially about accessibility, please let me know.

Plans for 2016:

In the Resources section, I do plan to make some Christian colouring and meditation resources available. I’ve got a couple of Bible study guides to polish up and format for the site. I’d like to finally start getting some Song of Songs resources together this year.  Of course, a lot of my time is now spent producing various resources for the Online Pastor website that I run as part of my job, so you might be interested in checking that too.

Under the Romance heading, I am very hopeful that following the hiatus in 2015, there will be some new content here in 2016. I’ve started working on a story for an anthology of over-40s romance which won’t be out until October. But I think there might be one or two other things coming sooner than that. Stay tuned!

And, always the most fun part of the new year, I have lots of new craft plans. I’m going to sign up for a weekly art class – I signed up in September but it was cancelled, so I’m really hoping that won’t happen again. I’ve got a cardigan to finish knitting and a quilt to finish hand-quilting. I started a new embroidery project yesterday, which I LOVE. After that’s finished, I am going to work through my RSN embroidery book, tackling the lessons and projects in an attempt to improve my technique. I’ve just joined the Embroiderers’ Guild and I’d like to start going along to the local branch whenever possible.

That seems like plenty to be getting on with, now that I’ve got this full-time job taking up all my free time!

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