Tuesday, 19 January 2021

A hinge is a hinge... unless it's a different hinge.

 Its time to make, and hang, a door.


As usual, no idea what to do…. I have people I can ask, my friend’s husband is very handy in this department, in fact I am pretty sure he is enjoying these antics and shaking his head wildly at all the things I am doing wrong. But I want to discover how to do this stuff myself. It is incredibly frustrating when something goes wrong, and right now I am realising that one job leads to another almost immediately. I am almost definitely doing things in the wrong order… but next time I need to build a shed, or a rabbit hutch, or a doll’s house for the Granddaughter, I will be a dab hand… right?


Anyway, the door.

I’ve got a pile of (which I have since discovered is called…) tongue and groove. I liberated this from my Dad’s garage. I took two pieces, measure them to fit the gap and cut them down to size.

I thought the wood looked a bit raw and unfinished, so off I went to my shed to find my stash of spray paints…. But what colour?

In the end I decided on a dark grey.... you're all surprised at that aren't you?  I bet you thought it would be purple....


Leaving that to dry, I went off to B&Q to buy some hinges.  Having never hinged a door before I had no clue what to buy. I thought my only decision would be what size…. But no, I had to choose colour and style too!

A flush hinge or a butt hinge?  WHAT??

So I stood, with a flush hinge in one hand and a butt hinge in the other, glancing back and forth at each, wondering which hinge I needed.

I mean, I could hardly ask a member of staff could I?

“Excuse me, could you tell me what kind of hinge I would need so I can add a tongue and groove door to a mini shed made out of an old coffee table and some blind slats please?”   They would think I was quite mad!  They might be right.

I decided on a flush hinge (they looked most normal) in gold with a length of 38mm.

When I got home and unpacked I realised I had put the gold flush hinge back on the shelf and bought the silver butt hinge instead!  That was annoying!!  But at least it was the right size.

Hinge drama! 

Right, so how do I fix these things?   I started by screwing the hinge to a piece of scrap wood the same as my door – disaster, it split!  That didn’t fill me with joy at all, what if my door splits?  I’ve cut it, glued it and painted it, I don’t need it to be splitting and having to start again.  What could I do?

As it happens my Hubby came downstairs to see how I was getting on, and I mentioned the split wood – he told me that if I drilled a small hole first to give the screw something to grab onto, it shouldn’t split.

Now, the issue is here that Hubby does not, can not and will not do DIY.  He is utterly rubbish at it.  He is good at a lot of thngs, but DIY is definitely not one of them… so should I trust this information?

I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to try it out on some scrap.  So I did, and miraculously it worked!!

Now, I had wanted those hinges to be on the inside and hidden, but that wasn’t going to allow my door to open.

As It also happens, I have a bar of wood running across the inside of the table which stops the door swinging inside. I was going to jigsaw it out… but for two reasons I have decided to leave it.

  • It looks like it could be a proper fiddly job, and would leave a raw strip in side which I would then have to deal with.
  • It would be really useful as a barrier to stop things falling through the door when moving the Shed about.
  • I could make a safety feature of the strip by adding a ‘Trip Hazard’ warning.. therefore recognising the health & safety aspect.

(Ok, number 3 might be a bit of a cop-out, but clever all the same, right?)

So, once the paint on the door was dry (and touched up as I have left it out to dry in the garden and it got rained upon) it was time to take the plunge and fit the hinges. I was a bit nervous about this as if I messed this bit up I would have to completely remake the door. 

So, like a good DIY-er I drilled little holes first. 

That worked.  (breaths a sigh of relief)

Then I screwed the hinges in.

That worked too.  (high fives oneself)

Swung the door to check it all fitted….. now I am happy with that!  Proper patting myself on the back.

Door mission accomplished.   ** Blows the dust off the screwdriver in a Wild West kind of manner and goes to make a cup of tea. **

Monday, 18 January 2021

Wood glue really sticks!

Well, I have to say I am so impressed with the strength of wood glue!  I have used many glues throughout my crafting life and to be honest I didn’t hold out much hope for a glue that could stick and hold wood together, but it works!!  

My little bits of blind slat are securely stuck to the photo frame.  That is what I call a good result.  

So without further ado I nailed them into place.

And the whole idea worked out quite well. I am patting myself on the back for that one.

I have added a length of wood up the centre of this side to help support the window and the door…. I know I need to hinge the door onto something, and the slats would not be strong enough.  As I have never worked with this kind of material before I really have no idea what I am doing. My working style is very much to ‘suck it and see’, in other words… make mistakes (a lot) and learn from them.

When I design a piece of crochet I can draw and plan, as from experience I know how to make certain shapes and styles, but with this I have not one scrap of knowledge, so I am completely learning as I go.

With the window finally in place I decided to leave the door for now and turn to the last side. I needed a window in that side too and I now had a bit more confidence in doing that.

Once again I measured and glued my slats to my photo frame, clamping it down until it had set, then I nailed it into place.

Right, that is three sides complete now.  I need to tackle the door next.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Nails or glue?

Today’s task is to try and tackle a door and a window.  Easy said than done, I have since discovered.

I have a pile of photo frames left over from my Cross-Stitch kit days, which I thought would make quite a good window frame.  And I used two pieces of cladding wood to make a door shape.  I was quite happy with that.

I measured the gap in-between the table legs and the space where I wanted the window to be and cut some lengths of blind slats… to my joy I realised that three slats measured exactly the same as the frame side.  I got some nails and tried to hammer them onto the frame.  It didn’t work!

The frame didn’t want to be hammered into and I split lots of pieces of slats trying. I was getting incredibly frustrated and I was swearing… a lot!

So, I took a break, went and got a strong coffee and thought about it.  As I thought about it I spotted some smaller, thinner nails in the tool box….. eureka!   I was obviously using the wrong nails.  So, I went back and tried again with the smaller nails.  That did not work either, in fact the frame gave up on me at that point and decided it had had enough.  In the scrap box in went, and I went to get a new one out of my stash.

My next attempt was to try and glue it, I had bought some wood glue to put the trims on at the end. I have never used wood glue before, and I couldn’t imagine it would be strong enough to do this job, but I had no other options that I could think of.

I held it together with the two small clamps I had bought, thinking they might be useful… now wishing that I had bought a whole load of them because they are very useful indeed, then realised I couldn’t really put it down or the clamps would ping off.

So, I clamped it into my Workbench, which then meant I had taken away my workspace and couldn’t cut any more wood.  

I really need to be more organised with this project I think.

So, that brought my shed making session for today to an end.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that the wood glue works well, I shall see in the morning.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

My new friend the Jigsaw

I have now bought myself a Jigsaw power tool and I have raided my Dad’s garage for bits of wood to create my Shed shape with.   Still no idea what I am doing, as many lists and plans as I can write, I still have no experience in building a shed, however small… or even cutting wood for that matter.  But how hard can it be? 

I have decided that I am going to use the table upside down, therefore giving me a ‘floor’ in my shed.  Initially I was going to cut out the slats from the top, but this would then mean building a floor in it … and a roof. So, I figured that this way might save me some work.

The wood that I found in my Dad’s garage consisted of some old cladding and loads of old wooden venetian blinds.  The slats from the blinds seemed to fit the bill, so I nailed them up one side of the table.  My thought was that it would be much easier to nail them all on then cut them all in one straight line, than measuring and cutting them all individually

I was wrong.

Also, maybe I should have read the booklet that came with the Jigsaw, but I am not one for reading booklets, I am a very ‘suck it and see’ kind of person.  Apparently, you are supposed to have the black flat bit (no idea what it is called because I still have not read the booklet) flat against your work and not ‘floating’, so the result was that every single one of the slats split where the nails were.  

That was disappointing. I swore. A lot.

I just grabbed a whole load more nails and hammered all the split bits back down again, then decided that I would have to measure and cut each piece individually for the next side.   

Which I did.  It was a much slower process but I had no split slats, which also meant I used less nails.

So, that is two sides done. I now need to have a think about how to do the next two sides because I want windows and a door in those.  Not quite sure how I am going to manage that, but I am going to go and have a look around my workshop and see if anything jumps out and waves at me.

Sunday, 10 January 2021

How big??


9th December 2020


I showed my son the sketch I had scribbled of the shed that I envisaged making….”I am sure I can sort that out Mum” he said.  He works as a Chef in a Garden Centre and knows the shed builder guys quite well.

I gave him the rough measurements of two foot by two foot … ish…

A couple of days later he messaged to say the shed was built and told me a price which I was quite happy with.  Then he sent me this photo. I was overjoyed, it was perfect… except maybe the window could have been a bit bigger to show off my planned stained glass panel better.

Then I looked at the photo again, and, in horror, spotted the hammer on the workbench.  It took a while… but slowly it dawned on me that a hammer was about 12” long, and if that was the case, then what size was this shed?!


It was a few days before he got back into work to be able to measure it.  It turned out to be four foot long by three foot deep.  My heart sank.  Where on earth would I put that?   I couldn’t get it in the car to get it home, and I certainly had nowhere at home to put it while I worked on it.  It was the size of a large dog kennel!


So, with regret, I had to pull out of that deal and come up with Plan B.


While discussing sizes with my son again, I pointed at his coffee table and said “That size would be perfect”.  He measured it and it was exactly two foot square.  Now I knew what I needed to look out for… a second hand coffee table that I could chop up and add wooden strips to. I would make my own shed!


Browsing through Facebook marketplace a few days later I spotted a perfect ‘shed frame’. A lady was selling a coffee table for £10.00.  A bit cheeky really as it wasn’t in very good condition at all, very wobbly and really scratched, but for what I wanted it for it didn’t matter at all.  So I bought it.


So, watch this space.... this wobbly old coffee table is going to be transformed into a Shed!   Kind of.

Saturday, 9 January 2021

My head is in The Shed..


30th November 2020


I have started making plans on my final artefact. I am glad we have a bit of time to get this done as my plans have just snowballed.


Keith (our tutor) mentioned something briefly, after giving me feedback on my presentation, about using a ‘real shed’ in my exhibition piece.  I think this was just a throwaway comment but it got me to thinking that actually, I could use a Shed, a mini one.


My own business name is ‘Sooz in The Shed’, my business before was called ‘The Bead Shed’ so I feel that to keep The Shed concept and grow it could be interesting.  I also covered in my Presentation a small snippet of information regarding the Men’s Shed movement, to try and get men to congregate and fight against isolation.

There is also a phrase that I have heard used quite often that is “My head is a shed”, this is British slang for ‘I am confused, stressed, mentally disoriented, etc.’


So, I thought, I could get a small shed and fill it full of every craft I can think of – to give people ideas and inspiration of what they can do themselves to enable them to join in with mindful crafts. If they can admire or pick up a piece, they might feel inspired to give it a go.

Along side The Shed I will produce a document which shows what each craft is called and a very short description. People can take a copy away so they can research the craft they might fancy some more.


The plan.

  • ·       To design and build a mini shed – about 2’ cubed with a removable roof. To sit on a piece of wood for a garden.
  • ·       Hinged Door with sign to let people know what is happening within The Shed.
  • ·       Stained Glass Windows. (copper foiled stained glass technique)
  • ·       2 Beanbags  (Machine Sewing)
  • ·       Wooden bench with faux leather upholstery (upholstery)
  • ·       Table with Decoupaged top (decoupage)
  • ·       Crochet and knitted blankets (yarn crafts)
  • ·       Carpet for the floor (rag rug)
  • ·       Embroidered cushions (embroidery)
  • ·       Mini artist easel (abstract art)
  • ·       Wall decorations (cross stitch and quilted panel)
  • ·       Clock (Polymer Clay and a watch face)
  • ·       Bunting (upcycled fabric)
  • ·       Fake grass on the garden part, with a little pond for reflection (recycled fused glass or resin)
  • ·       Toadstool ring (Polymer Clay)
  • ·       Deck chairs (lolly sticks and fabric)
  • ·       Flower garlands  (beadweaving)
  • ·       Mini Cake on table (Polymer Clay)

 So, let's do this!! 

Friday, 8 January 2021

To Wine, or not to Wine.......?


Wine not!    It is an answer to a question that I ask myself most evenings.

It starts when I enter the kitchen to cook tea (for me, the Northerner) and dinner (for him, the Southerner). But that is a whole other topic!

I love to cook, I enjoy preparing food from scratch, with a dash of this and a splodge of that.  But amongst the chaos of the kitchen worktop, a small empty space happens.  Like a black hole amongst the plethora of carrot tops and dug out potato eyes. A black hole that only one thing can fill… the base of a wine glass.

It must be a certain shape wine glass though. I particularly like a set of stumpy ones I bought, with delightful bulbous bowls and short, different coloured, stems.

The wine must be red. Absolutely not French, not even European. New World wines are respectable, particularly Chilean. The grape must be Cabernet Sauvignon, or perhaps Merlot, sometimes a Malbec will suffice.

I take out the corkscrew from the kitchen drawer and have a little chat to it, it is probably my most favourite kitchen gadget after all, and I feel it should know how important it is. I tell the corkscrew that it is time for its daily exercise as I lift the wings up and down as if it is a mad 1980’s aerobics instructor.  I position the sharp spiral above my bottle and turn, as my corkscrew friend slowly creaks and groans under the pressure.  As I plunge down her wings the cork magically pops up and my wine is free to breath.

The corkscrew is left on the tiny bit of spare kitchen workbench, its reward is to spend the night out of the drawer until I can be bothered to unscrew the cork and put it away.


I pour the wine.  I will always love the sound of the air going up into the bottle making the liquid come out in a pleasing glug.  You can get about 8 good glugs in my short, coloured stemmed, globular vessels.

The first mouthful is bliss, it feels like velvety blood dripping down my throat – which is an odd comparison when I have actually never drank blood – but I imagine the way a vampire enjoys a good  swill of blood, I enjoy that first mouthful of wine the same.

I stand still for a minute and savour the taste, the whole world stands still with me while that thick, rich liquid makes its way into my tummy, warming every inch on the way down. I snap back into reality when I realise whatever I am cooking is burning slightly. 

I stir the pan, then have another drink, taste and have another drink, season and have another drink, until the meal is prepared and ready to plate.  By this time my glass is empty, should I top it up?  

Wine not!


Thursday, 7 January 2021

A presentation & Polymer Clay Owls

 It was 19th November 2020 when I wrote this....

It was quite exciting driving through this week, as we are in the process of buying a house which should complete on Monday – which meant that this was, hopefully, the last time I would need to travel both ways in a day.  It was a really bright sunny day, following a slight frost. The sun was bouncing through the trees causing a strobe lighting effect, which was unpleasant to drive through, but the cheery feeling the brightness of the sun gave me made it worth it.


The last time I travelled though I listened to an audio book, which was a little boring and it really affected my day in Uni as I was so tired, so this trip I played some loud, uplifting music, which when teamed with the happy sunshine uplifted my mood ready for the day ahead.


Today was the day that I presented my Powerpoint presentation.  I chose the subject to be on Crafting for Mental Health and the benefits it can bring.  It was timed to be around ten minutes long, not sure how long it actually took.  But you can watch a quicker version here, if you like....


A lot of my fellow students are nervous and apprehensive about this presentation, I am lucky in the fact that I have done quite a bit of standing up in front of groups to deliver a talk or demonstration, so that part didn’t really worry me.  Having said that, there was of course the added pressure of someone watching to specifically give feedback. Maybe I was going to find out that my way of delivering a talk has been wrong for all these years.  I was half looking forward to getting some feedback… and half not. As a general rule I do struggle to take negative feedback even if it is constructive.  That is something I have been working on for a while now and I would like to think that I would take anything offered as a way of changing the way I work next time.


Whilst I was talking I gave my fellow students a small craft task, to make a Poylmer Clay owl.  I ran a couple of slides then gave them instruction on how to make their bird, then another couple of slides followed by another instruction.  By the time the presentation was finished they all had cute little birds sitting on their desks.  They seemed to enjoy it.   This is a trick I have picked up over the years.  Talks can be boring, so I always try and break them up with a little bit of fun.


All in all, I quite enjoyed doing my presentation, mainly because it is out of the way now and I can just sit back and enjoy what other people have to offer.  I enjoyed seeing them all get something out of it and having a little fun, but most of all I would like to think I have encouraged someone to try a craft, something new, something that might help heal their soul.


Tuesday, 5 January 2021

A day in numbers....

 It was 5th of November 2020 when I wrote this.....

This week I travelled through to the university, I noticed on the way that it looked like a completely different road due to the trees changing colours and starting to drop their leaves. I realised that I don’t usually travel a route out of the city of Carlisle on a regular basis, so haven’t noticed how different the roadside environment can change.  There were some points that I actually had to check I was still on the A69 as it looked that different.


Today’s lesson was about using Data in an art form.  We were asked to jot down our day in numbers, for example, three cups of tea, two glasses of wine… then put them into a poster.


Its amazing how many numbers you can come up with for a whole day!


We then messed about and put it into a poster. I opened Photoshop, but I didn’t have a clue how to make something in there, which threw me into a very short state of panic – I don’t want to look stupid in front of my fellow students,  so I changed to Publisher. I think I have used Publisher once before many years ago, it seemed to come back to me so I didn’t find it too difficult, thank fully.


I really enjoyed messing about with a layout of numbers and images to produce my poster, and I was quite happy with the result.

It's an fascinating way of looking at data, making pictures from it makes the data so much more interesting.

Monday, 4 January 2021

Political Satire Collage

 It is the 29th October as I write this.....

This is week six, and the first week that I have not travelled through to Sunderland for my Creative Arts Module with Keith Nevens.


I had a banging headache and had to decide whether to undertake the nearly two hour drive. I reluctantly decided not to.   I say reluctantly, because I enjoy the experience of the classroom and mixing with my fellow students.  I have not had the opportunity to meet them all properly yet, so I feel any time spent with them is time worth taking.


Instead I logged onto the Microsoft Teams app and joined the class that way.  I was pleasantly surprised that it still felt that I was included in the class.  Other classes I have been doing via the Teams app have been totally online, so everyone was in the same boat. It was an interesting experience to be the other side of the computer screen for once.


Today’s class was about Political Satire and we were asked to create a collage of a political event that we felt strongly about.  At the forefront of the news this week has been the debate about providing free lunches for children during term time.  While I can appreciate both sides of the argument, I do feel that children are not to blame for the current climate and if we can make sure they are fed, then we should feed them.  It seems quite mean for the MP’s to vote against providing them with a free meal when they themselves claim £25.00 a day for food allowances as well as having heavily subsidised food offerings in the Houses of Parliament.


Based on this I decided to do a collage piece which I called “The Great Divide”.  The piece shows MP’s and their friends, sitting down to a table laden with all sorts of foods  (mainly cut out of a Farmfoods leaflet, which in itself is a little ironic as the food offerings are quite cheap options for families and I am not sure would be a wealthy politicians choice of nourishment.)  On the other side of the canvas is a photograph of Marcus Rashford kicking the word ‘Boris’. Kicking him into action was the objective I was going for with that image.  Marcus is surrounded by photos of children and some well-chosen words like ‘Fridge Envy’ and ‘Victim’.


The piece is divided by a solid yellow line, slightly off centre to show imbalance.  In the top right corner is a question mark to try and get the viewer to think about what the piece means.


I enjoyed this session, but then I enjoy any kind of hands-on creativity. I am not fussy about what medium I use, if I can express something within it.


I especially enjoyed learning about William Hogarth, I found his paintings and engravings fascinating, so much so that I spent a little extra time doing internet searches to find out more.

 Check him out yourself if you like...