Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Three faces of the season.

How cute is this little girl? She's carefully cleaning her paw. Or is she? Caption competition?


Sometimes I have to wait to after Christmas to share what I have been up to with some furry friends. Such is the case with these three lovelies. 

So good to be asked to do a rat again. I will always love rats and value them as pets as well as subjects!


A girl Yorkie and a boy with the best nose ever are this years delightful dogs. 


I can't wait for the new year to begin. It's going to be a good one. I think 2016 held a lot of challenges. How was it for you? 

Monday, 26 December 2016

Facing up to it - 17

I hope you had a nice Christmas? Just before the big day I had another toothy appointment and had my mouth festooned with Christmas colours and some extra free hardware. With the bottom row now also in STEEL it was time to close that gap I mentioned last time! I repeat, all NiTi arch wire is gone!

I have extra hooks crimped onto the wire at both sides, and then L produced some tiny elastic on fine wires, one red and one green. She seemed very pleased with my gnashers.

On the 31st January I will have some more impressions taken to check to see just how surgery ready I am. I see a date for surgery in 2017 then! I'm always amazed at how juicy those bands appear when photographed up close! Happy Boxing Day! Xx

Saturday, 17 December 2016

It's beginning to look a lot like ...


The tree is up, I'm smashing chestnuts and school's out. Everything's looking and smelling very festive. But what's that on the sofa? Could it be a new furry addition to The Raggy Rat? Yes, that's two year old Ash, and this is his first Christmas in a family home. He seems to be taking it in his (long) stride .... 

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Best Compliment Ever ...

Well I don't very often draw people but when I do it's often for a really good friend! J asked me to draw her son so that she could surprise her parents, and presented me with this amazing photo which shows real cheeky character and I accepted the challenge! I also usually draw non furry faces in monochrome and J was happy with that. 

I chose to take out the seatbelt and therefore the sling since I couldn't see how the sling looked at the top. As I fashion my portraits in white-space the seat belt was going to look too prominent in the picture. If you draw portraits your self you will know how important the eyes are and in this photo our young man has a very distinctive highlight which I worked hard to get right. The eyes, and the shapes of our nose and lips are what makes us unique. Get these slightly wrong and your picture doesn't look like the person. 

Well I completed the portrait and waited for the time when J would present it to her parents, and after that I shared it to my Facebook page where Mum proudly shared it, writing something that made my day. She said, "the artist is so good I can't tell it apart from the photo. And she has captured my grandson's spirit of fun", and that's probably one of the best compliments ever!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Facing Up To It - 16

So today, and I am not long back from DCH, I have been in braces for 602 days. The orthodontist and nurse were in good spirits, planning Christmas in terms of a) my band colours and b) dressing up and playing games in othodontics. It was agreed that although mulled wine, which also stains teeth in braces, is a very definite no-no, wearing deely-boppers and sipping Benecol might be permitted. I declined to comment, mostly because it's rude to talk with your mouth ful, but also because there was lots to do inside my gob today. 

My next job is to Google the game SPEAK OUT. Dentists are generally good at this game.

So I've got some colour back in my life after experimenting with all the neutrals. I chose navy-knicker blue, but I agree to be Christmassy on the 15 Dec when I go back. The upper teeth were looking so good that they were rewarded with a steel. These are the arch wires needed for surgery. Yikes! I've got my third power chain on the top row, too. 

Down below, we looked at moving the front right i-tooth and the number 7 on the same side. That arch wire is another Ni-Ti but I'm hoping it might be a steel soon. Or do I? Surgery looms ever closer! 

Monday, 24 October 2016

Facing Up To It - 15

At the end of September my teeth looked like this ....

Though they sit in a marvellous curve they are still splayed out and need to become something more like perpendicular. Maybe there's a better word for that to do with the angles of teeth! I gave the URL for this blog to my othondontist and nurse, so I wonder if they came to find it. L was certainly helpful in letting Michael take photos such as this. Will we appreciate all of this in years to come? I do hope so!

Im going back next week to find out what needs to happen next. That wire which is wobbly in the pic above will be nice and straight I'm sure!

Cathy, aged 11

What a beautiful gentle old girl is Cathy the retired racing greyhound. She belongs to a friend of mine, and I was asked to draw her out of all the special dogs my friend has loved!

When I began to sketch her out, it was really important to me to capture the soul that shows in her big brown eyes. 

After mapping everything out in dark sepia, I build up colours in layers, my favourite part of making a portrait. I'm really pleased with how Cathy turned out. 

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Vegan adventures!

I've been vegetarian for nearly 25 years, and very glad I was too. I've seen it become much easier to live as a veggie, espially when it comes to quick-food and also eating out too. I've met many veggie friends, and then began to meet some vegans too. Recently I've met new ingredients and started to create vegan dishes for the family too, which feels really good and healthy. 

I do share my home with a couple of hard-core cheese addicts, and there is always more than one kind of milk in the fridge, but thanks to having our own small flock I never have to worry about where our eggs come from, or what the birds eat and that makes me happy. Nonetheless, we all enjoy vegan food together so I thought I would share some recent food-porn moments from the camera of my phone .....

The first is these rather fab fritters! Made using only three ingredients, diced red onion, grated courgette and a few handfuls of gram flour. Actually I've made these a few times, and the ones bellow also contain marrow which I left the skin on as you might be able to see! I had read about gram flour replacing egg and in this recipie they do just that, soaking up the wet from the vegetables and binding them together firmly once fried. You don't need too much oil to fry them in.

Tonight we had two courses vegan. The first being herb and oat rissoles, served with spinach. The rissoles are made with water, oats, herbs, tomato purree, soy sauce and some date sugar (replacing treacle) with finely chopped onion. After boiling the mixture I let it cool and firm and grilled as burger shapes. Low fat too!

Pudding was chocolate pudding, with strawberries and coconut cream. The pudding I made with a ripe mango blended thouroughly with raw cocoa powder. So not only vegan but RAW POWER and I'm sure you know how cool that is! 

Do you weigh your ingredients? I don't usually, but I did weigh the oats and measure the water for the rissoles. Usually I cook ... by feel! 

Saturday, 20 August 2016

A Handsome Black Dog ....

I A friend recently commented on the challenges of drawing black dogs! I've done a few, and a glossy black cat, and here is one I tackled fairly recently. 

This boy is done in coloured pencils, in a painterly sort of way. Have you been successful painting black pets?

Facing Up To It - 14

Just wanted to share how much difference a bit of fine tweeking can make, by first sharing this photo of my teeth on the 28th June this year.

Check out these incisors looking nice and straight in today's snapshot! I've been in braces for 527 days, but as yet, no date for surgery. The hygienist asked me this when I saw her yesterday, and gave me a super sand-blast and polish including my face. Free exfoliation too! 

I've even got a different style of bracket fitted but my dream is to get copper bands (ligatures) or maybe gold? These are supposed to be silver but they look gun-metal-grey to me? 

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Facing Up To It - 13 ...

I've compressed two visits into one here, as I've been to DCH today and the photograph below shows me with L on the 28th June. C introduced me to L as she was handing over ready to go on maternity leave. My giant trainers and my controversial nose dominate the picture of L getting to know my mouth before a discussion with C!

I took this picture before I went into the appointment. Claire had given me a leaflet about INTERPROXIMAL REDUCTION to scare myself with, and so I wanted the BEFORE pic for this blog. It does show a rather uneven row of insicors, and indeed Libby decided that the teeth ought to be straighter before this procedure actually be carried out. 

In another gaping mouth shot, you can see that Libby changed one of the bands on my molars for a bracket, and a new fine wire to get the molar into a better position. Then she gave me a longer gap till my next appointment, which was today.

Although I prefer the pop-up tent that P E first used on me, I had my face stretched wide by this evil device today, so that Libby could add new brackets to all my lower front teeth, and also a molar on my lower right this time. My lower lip ended up very numb. 

I chose silver bands this time, and here are my new brackets and another very fine wire. This is definitely a time for much tweeking in order to be surgery ready. 

And finally, although you cannot see it very well, I have my first power chain, as a gap appeared between my crown and the tooth to the left of it. It's clear so if you want to see it, look very closely around the upper wire!

So that's me after 518 days in braces! 

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Black Phillip from The Witch ....

It's not easy both sewing of photographing black objects! But I was asked to make a black version of my goat doll, and then I tired to make him look natural by taking him into the tree house!

Actially Black Phillip shows off our tree house quite nicely while himself still playing hard to get with my camera's exposure settings ...

His eyes, being hand tinted rimmed buttons, change in different lights which I think is nicely spooky! Eventually I got a good picture of him indoors against the white walls!

Friday, 10 June 2016

Tangle Art and Drawing Games for Kids: A Silly Book for Creative and Visual Thinking by Jeanette Nyberg,

Look at this Fabulously fun book cover! We recently acquired a copy of Tangle Art and Drawing Games for Kids because we enjoy being creative together, and as it happens, a good giggle too!

We have enjoyed playing some of these games on a rainy evening, or after we have been active all day and its nice to be sitting down together. There are games you can play on your own, the way all those grown ups do colouring and tangle art nowadays, and lots of group games that we like a lot. We found we could also adapt some of the one person games to family fun,  by simply swapping your papers before the interpretation bit to add that extra challenge!

Playing together in our family are a 65 year old male, a 45 year old very yummy mummy, and girls of 10, 10 and 8. I know ... time really flies by! This blog is almost 9 years in the blogging!

No one who can make marks will have any trouble having fun with this book, we have shared a couple of our results here compared with those in the book! My imagination really felt stimulated and i can see how playing these sort of pen and paper games can keep children's imaginations alive! 

Friday, 27 May 2016

Facing up to it - 12

Going mouldy, today I met an older version of me. The one we knew before I spent 443 days in othodontic appliances! Have those days flown by? Yes I think they have!

So here I am, with apparently no bottom teeth. Despite orthodontics in my late teens, I still had trouble eating, and no one had ever told me my bottom jaw just hasn't grown enough! That old NHS crown also looks far too big for my mouth ....

This view from the side hints at where my lower incisors might be. That lower jaw also hides wisdom teeth too. 

On the right-hand upper jaw you can see the one wisdom tooth I do have, and the other teeth jostling for best position!

A month ago I had more moulds made, by simply removing my wires, to asses what needs to happen before I am surgery ready. As you can see, the treatment so far has brought the lower teeth out of the palate where they used to come to rest and the dream of eating an apple like everyone else does slides nearer ....

Look at these beautiful perfect curves! You can see half of that wisdom tooth which has remained free of treatment but is now sitting at a different level. His days are numbered. I lost his partner after my first child, to a dentist in Inverness!

Something that can be done using these moulds, that cannot be done in my mouth, is that the position of my teeth post surgery can be checked. Here is where my teeth really should be, and it's clear a few tweeks are needed. So today I had my top wire widened and by the evening I was feeling the pain!

And next time I will have those lower teeth shaved down to narrow them, and l will let you know how that goes. But look - here is roughly how I will look, with bottom teeth! I'm pretty excited about that!

Monday, 23 May 2016

Sammy's Special Skully!

My friend Sammy was sad to find her hat mysteriously unraveled one day ...

In desperation she brought it to The Raggy Rat because sometimes miracles can be performed ....

I'm not a knitter but I knew I would have to pick up all of these stitches, gather them together and attach the bobble more firmly once again. I turned the hat inside out and used double embroidery thread. That would be 12 strands then!

Finally, it's done and looks like a hat again! It's very satisfying fixing broken things and sometimes broken hearts. And yes, I really cannot knit. I have tried.  People have been cross with me. I can still fix your knitted hat though! 

Sunday, 8 May 2016

A bunny and a box ...

I made a bunny from teeny tiny scraps. I rubbed chalk into her to make her look extra old, dirty and sad ... 

Then I placed her in a box with other items and felt guilty. Poor bunny. 

Monday, 2 May 2016

Old Barney ....

In March, an old dog called Barney came to live at The Raggy Rat ...

His forelimbs are almost parting company from his body and his wood wool leaks out. But I love him. And so do others, it would appear! 

I think Barney appealed to me because I'm also a work in progress ....

Saturday, 30 April 2016

I recently made another rat ....

I made the rat using button hooting and some vintage balding mohair from Bridport ...

And the rat turned out so sweet it was soon snapped up and sent to france!

So I suppose this rat won't be present at Dorset Art Weeks!

Monday, 18 April 2016

Pegasus ...

Mary's toy horse did not have any wings. But Daisy's did have some golden, curved wings. I used one of them to help me fix Mary's horse. 

I made small semi-stiff wings using red sheet foam and some purple cotton. 

UHU glued them into place. Mary is happy.