Balnacra Arts & Pottery by Vicky Stonebridge

January in photos

1 (2)They don’t call January the Wolf month in Gaelic for nothing. Here’s my winter ware snowy selfie. We’ve had big storms, lots of tree damage, some snow, waterlogged ground and Brrr… it has been sooo cold!  I’ve been waiting for a lot of house repairs for YEARS, this includes having heating putting in. the 1970’s storage heaters are not affordable or any good in any way. So we heat ourselves with a rickety gas bottle heater, a small plug in heater, duvets & hotwater bottles. and layers and layers of clothes. But the wind is the worst because it gets in through all the holes in the walls, rotten timbers, wobbly windows rotten window sills and loose doors. Hope has also kept us warm. A contractor has been given the job to do the work at last and… had to cancel appointments last week due to being snowed in. The plan is to give us a wood stove for heat and water! As well as all the repairs etc. At the moment I have to carry hot water from the bathroom in a bucket to was the dishes in the kitchen. Imagine, warmth, dryness AND hot water ?! * shivers *

20150104_151023so to keep warm, busy & sane between shivering bouts of work frozen to the desk, we thought we better have another go on the climbing wall after some months out for injuries. We go to either the indoor walls at Gairloch or Inverness. I am rubbish at it because of my wrecked right arm grip, but it certainly warms you up!
20150117_134854We like to get out for walks as often as possible.  I love the snow & the light it creates, worth getting soggy petticoats for.20150117_135116This is the view West from above Achnashellach , looking towards Loch Carron.20150130_140030-EFFECTSThe treehouse, is one of our community assets, that I look after, It is available for hire ( £5 an hour ) and is nice and cosy with a big wood burning stove in it. It has a slight sway when it is windy, and with the sound of the river below is a really relaxing space. The footpaths through the small wood to get to it are currently very wet with snow and thaw, so wellies on !20150130_14014320150130_140343This is one of the path’s to the Treehouse, I was part of the party that planted these trees in 1990, it was bare crofting ground that was donated to the then Heritage charity which later was transferred to the Kirkton Woodland and Heritage Group, which is now renamed the Lochcarron Community Development Company– confused? don’t be, its all the same charity owned by the community that deals with environment, heritage, culture & sustainability. We’ve had a few treeplanting sessions with school children & community volunteers since then, but it is a battle with deer nibbling the baby trees.20150130_140319These two cabins were recently built on site for local ventures to run arts/ heritage type businesses from. The one in the Foreground is where we run training courses in the winter, and in summer houses ” Made in Lochcarron ” ( formerly the iGallery ) a shop/ gallery/ information point run by local artists, makers and volunteers. The cabin further away is Kiki’s Craft Corner, which is always busy with training courses in textile arts and is a treasure trove of craft tools and materials, specialising in textiles.
20150131_105520So if it’s too cold, or I feel too ill for a walk, there is always a wee drive to look at scenery & get out of the house. This morning the Applecross road was closed and the wind was blowing the snow about up on the hills, 
DSC00072DSC00088DSC00104DSC00112DSC000571DSC00097Not my handywork! Great place for a snow man though!???????????????????????????????The greenhouse is too cold & wet to get much done in. I can’t wait for a dry hour or so to get in & start tidying up & preparing for planting seed trays !DSC00058???????????????????????????????This is the condensation on my art room – “studio” window. Everywhere is so damp and mould affects our health. But it is rather pretty!
Inside the art room, is a crazy combination of pottery, sewing, painting and woodwork…and everything else, pencils, sequins, willow, wax..mess. I’ve been making some pots for a raku course i’m doing in February.20150107_10054520150107_100536The kiln is handy when the power goes out, we don’t have a camping stove or anything so we use this in the shed to heat water & basic cookery. We had three days of cuts but at least it was coming back on occasionally between outages.20150109_101834 Talking of basic cookery. My diet is very odd after being ill this last year. I can’t eat shop bread, Can’t eat fatty things, but can eat homebaking & i can eat butteries. a traditional Scottish item which is VERY fatty. so we had a go at making our own. The recipe i used had way too much fat in! incredible amounts of butter and veggie fat, it was gross! a lot of work too, so not one of my favorite kitchen experiments, but they tasted okayish. 20150107_173723This year’s marmalade was also rubbish. I tried a new recipe for “Easy marmalade” because it is always a bit of a long job. this one was 3 hours worth of sieving, de pipping, scraping pith and cutting peel, then after a rolling boil of 6 hours, i repeat SIX HOURS ! it didn’t set. delicious, but runny. I think my pan is too wide to get a good heat on it for big batches of preserves. Need a smaller based taller one. 20150126_200335Meanwhile out of the kitchen, because I’m certainly no domestic goddess or anything so housewifey, back in the studio where the power tools live.20150121_153043What? an Iron? how housewifey is that !? no, rest assured, I do not do ironing. I only use that when sewing things. That pink fabric in the middle? I’m wearing it as I type, it’s a dress/ petticoat & nice and warm. It was upcycled. I have a cupboard full of fabric scraps, except to find anything, the cupboard ends up all over the floor as you can see in the above photo & it is a disaster area. so i made some shelves & sorted it out. I’m working my way through making patchwork at the moment.

20150128_100644and the really raggy stuff gets cut into strips and woven into rugs. The long one was done on a peg loom & the round one i crocheted with my fingers, it was painful but very fast. I prefer the tighter weave of the peg loom though, it just takes more time to set up. These sort of things are great to do on long dark winter evenings under a duvet while we watch tonnes of films and box sets.DSC00004 (3)DSC00005 (3)I  have also dug out my old pottery pugmill, which mixes and squishes the air out of clay. It hasn’t been used in 14 years or so. The motor seems to be seized or is damp or something. I’m hoping we can get it working to lend to a community pottery project. More on this another time.20150128_100711So there you have it. A long cold- indoors a lot sort of month. January.

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This entry was posted on February 1, 2015 by in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

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