I am part of a "birthday swap" and since mine is in January, I was the first to receive presents from the other 11 participants. I still find it interesting to think of the trouble one takes over a parcel for someone one has never met and is never likely to meet. The poring over their likes and dislikes to find the special something that will give pleasure. And the hours of work to get it finished in time.
I received a very mixed bunch, but almost everyone had exercised great imagination and care. I have favourites, which I cannot of course mention, have a look for yourselves at the photos on my other blog http://swappitydooda.blogspot.com/
Now it's my turn, and February's birthday was right at the beginning of the month. I made her a pair of slipper socks (my speciality - see photo below of my son-in-law, daughter, son and grandson all wearing my socks!) in chocolate pure wool (her favourite colour). I bought a packets of four different varieties of sunflower seeds for her summer garden, and I added a small pot of my own home-made organic lip balm. She seemed pleased. But you can never tell really.
It snowed again in the Finistere yesterday. Not much, but unusual to have snow so often, we're not used to it here! Nicholas and Marlena managed to get off the ground at Heathrow yesterday on their way to spend their two week holiday in Thailand - they must be exploring Bangkok as I write! No snow there...
I did a day's course with the German calligraphy lady again yesterday. It's such a beautiful, restful atmosphere, her lovely studio gives onto a wonderful garden filled with her husband's weird and colourful totems and sculptures and we work to mediaeval music in utter calm. I started a quadriptych (is that in the dictionary?), four 16cm squares, each with a calligraphied capital letter in the middle. I studied the dictionary before going to find good and meaningful four letter words - there are quite a lot, I hesitated between BLEU (which can also be BLUE), ENVY (all green...), BACH (all musical), CHAT (French cats), LOVE (a bit ordinary), and chose in the end ROSE (a bilingual option, which can also be anagrammed if the letters are hung in different orders, into EROS, SORE, OSER...). I would have preferred to work on canvas but was not given that option. So I wrote on very thick watercolour paper which now has to be stuck onto "carton plume" (what's THAT in English???). I first did a pale green wash, then inked in the letters (with a paintbrush, a calligraphy pen cramps my style immediately). I then washed the inside of the capitals with slighty darker shades of green. Then I gilded little tiny parts of the letters in pink leaf. Then I added three tiny roses to each letter (I'd traced green climbing stemps around the letters off which the roses bloom). And then it was time to come home!
So now I have to finish them off and give them a much "rosier" look, and then mount them for hanging. Looks good, I'm quite pleased with it all. I'll put a photo here when it's completed.