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Shandon Bells in print

Posted on 28 March, 2015

High-res version

The Shandon Bells have played a big part in my Cork life. Steve and I used to live right under it’s loud chimes. We would lay in bed on lazy mornings (something that seems alien since having a child!) and rate the tourists’ performances. For five euro you can climb the tower and ring the Shandon bells to whatever tune you can manage. Renditions of Three Blind Mice and Amazing Grace would ring out over the city while we listened on. Now we live a little further from the bells but its tower, its fish shaped weather vane and one if its four clocks greet me every morning and evening as I open and close the shutters in time with the day.

Cork has a lot fancier and grander churches but for me the Shandon bells at St Anne’s church is my absolute favourite. Partly because of it’s little quirks. For years the clock was called the four faced liar because it’s four clocks on each side of the tower  had a different time. It has recently been fixed but I still can’t bring myself to trust it so I end up double checking it with my watch. Being able to see it from our window made me geek out a little when we first moved in. For a few months after moving in  I would make visitors look at the milk cartoon and then look out our window.” LOOK,LOOK, YOU CAN SEE IT OUT THE WINDOW AND IT’S ON THE MILK CARTOON”. After a few polite nods  I realised that not everyone found this to be AMAZING!

To cement my love of Shandon Bells I decided to make a print of it. I used the same foam print technique as the other post but I got a lot more detailed.

To add the personal touch, and so I don’t infringe on copyright, I based it on a photo I had taken on my birthday bus tour .



First, I edited the photo in Picassa to turn it into a pencil sketch. This isn’t entirely necessary but for me it really helped because it have me a nice clean outline to follow.

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I printed this to A4 size and used baking paper to trace it. When tracing it I drew the outline and then just choose parts of the tower I wanted to highlight: the arches, an odd cluster of bricks and of course the clock.



I used the scalpel and th traced image on the baking paper to cut out the outline of the tower into the foam . Then drew on some details with a pen. I started to do this free hand then quickly realised I need the guidance of the baking paper trace. That’s why a few of the lines are more than a little off!  I also cut out some of the parts of the arches to allow the colour of the paper to come through.



I tried using the orange ink that I had from the other projects but it was a bit too harsh for what I wanted so I baby wiped the foam stamp (I  have no idea how I lived without baby wipes being at hand all the time!) and I invested five euro on a new white printing ink.

Just as I did in the last foam post I rolled the ink up and down then over and back until it looked like corduroy. To make sure the detail of the stamp came out I placed the inked foam stamp on top of the paper and then I turned them over. I ran my knuckle  over the back of the paper to press down on the foam stamp underneath.



This also meant that when I was finished I was peeling the paper away from the foam stamp rather than trying to lift the foam stamp gingerly from the paper. I should have had the paper on top the last time too. This way is much,much easier!

One thing that I forgot is that a stamp prints the other way around so my chosen clock numbers were on the wrong side. As I happens the turned out like blobs rather than numbers so no harm done. Lesson learnt for the future though!

PicMonkey Collage

There you have it. A local landmark made into a print.


What about you? Do you have any landmarks, shops or spots that you would love to make a print of? If you do it please please try this out and let me know how you get on. I’d be delighted to hear how you get on!

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How to entertain a toddler

Posted on 19 March, 2015

I picked the title for the post because this is exactly what I googled about a month ago. I was in a stage when I would look at the clock, then calculate how many hours I had to entertain Ewan for before Steve finished work and I would then proceed with panicking. I felt like I had to be a one man show all the time.

It turns out the answer is simple, let them make a mess!

The messier the better.

During the week we go to a toddler group, swimming,library story time and a singing group and the thing he gets most excited about is ten yards away. When I suggest going into the garden he literally flaps with excitement and squeals ” sticks, stones, mmmeeeessssssss!” .  Those three little words are all he wants. When I bring him to a wildlife park he will spend the time finding sticks and puddles!

When I googled  “how to entertain a toddler” I think I was expecting to find a world of hidden gems, a key activity that would entrance him for hours on end and involved no effort on my part. Although I did find this which looks amazing generally the ideas aren’t revolutionary.  When I scrolled through the blogs and forums I found suggestions like a sink of water, things with lid, putting things into other things I realised I was taking this entertaining idea far too literally. All toddlers want is to do is make a mess, explore but things into other things and be fed. For a brief time I thought that there was, or should be, more too it. But no, it turns out that a paper bag with receipts still in it ranks higher than a new truck every time!

Toddler groups are great for me because I have finally met some lovely people who I can chat easily with but for him he is happiest without all that laid on entertainment and is happy just filling his nails with mud, biting rocks and finding an “amazing stick”.  The muddiest trips to the garden bring out his best smiles.

I’m sure this time will pass and sticks will be so last week but for the moment I’m loving how simple it is to just go outside and watch him make an utter mess.

Long may it last:)


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St Patrick’s Silence

Posted on 18 March, 2015

st patricks day collage

As you might have guessed I am a huge St Patrick’s day fan.

Rain,hail or big pregnant belly I have been there at the edge of the Cork parade willing and able to wiggle my way into a good viewing spot. I struggle to understand why some stay away from the parade but I can just about get my head around it if people are busy or bed ridden. Where I  fail miserably in my understanding is the stoic silence that surrounds the parade. This is a celebration, it should be full of whooping, clapping or at a passing comment.

I’m not sure if it was where I was standing or whether my enthusiasm frightens people but this year the response was so lack luster it boarded on eerie. The parade delivered the goods. There were giant robot heads,


glorious stags,


 aerial dancers…


and a giant inflated garden!!


Not one of them received so much as a clap from the majority. People made these amazing things, people practiced and practiced and barely received a response at all.Up to 60,000 people turned up to line the streets of Cork and from where I was standing you could hear a pin drop!  Not even a muted discussion  was ushered about the delights passing us. I grand you some aspects of the parade may fail to inspire but the tone was so sedate that at one stage it felt like a funeral procession!

When I clapped, or whooped or enthusiastically pointed things out to Ewan, eyes were cast back at me as though I was breaking some sacred vow of silence. Maybe a memo went out to say a new rule of silence must be obeyed. Well I for one will continue to break this strange tradition that seems to have creeped it’s way into the parade.

I will even continue to risk annoying those around me in the hope that next year others will join in and at least give a smiling nod towards the participants. Despite the lone clapping, I had my fun and I’m already awaiting next years parade and as long as it involves being fed some tasty food Ewan is willing to play along too!  Happy belated St Patrick’s day from a blogger who is very happy to have her blog back working again:)



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Craft foam fun

Posted on 5 March, 2015

High-res version

Today I decided to use Ewan’s nap time to get crafty. Life has been a little hectic around here recently and few things help me feel more like myself than crafting and taking photos so that’s exactly what I did.  This is probably one of the more exciting DIY projects I have done in a while because it’s cheap, easy and the possibilities are endless.

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The supplies for this are very inexpensive coming to a total of less than €10! I bought a scalpol, roller, block printing ink, safeprint foam and coloured card. I used a piece of glass I had from a second hand frame but you could use a glossy magazine or a shiny surface.

I came across this video my local craft shop, Vibes and Scribes, had done a few years ago about printing using foam sheets and it looked like it would be worth a go (and importantly simple enough to get done in a nap time!). As another little side note the person who served me when I went to get the bits and pieces was the same guy from the video!

The only printing I had done in the past was lino printing at school. I wasn’t keen on the process and I took a few chunks out of my finger trying to dig into the lino. Their video tells you all about printing with foam in full but I’ll try and give you a flavour of it and let you know where I went wrong!

I decided to make a stamp of an opened orange so I cut around the shape of the glass with the scalpol. Instead of dragging the knife around it I made a series of little dots and this helped make the circle much more accurately.


Once I had my lovely circle I drew the orange segments on the foam with a pen. This made indents in the foam. The indents mean that  those parts won’t get ink on them and so when you lift the stamp the indented parts stay the same colour as the page. (I forgot to photograph this but you’ll see what I mean in a minute. For the moment the power of words will have to do:)

Next up rolled the ink. The instruction was you roll it until it looks like corduroy pants.

I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for but after a less than a minute rolling this happened which I presume is the desired effect because it worked a treat. You roll up and down over and back and hey presto corduroy pants style ink…


Next you roll the ink onto the foam so that it’s nice and even. This is where I made a few mistakes. I was a bit heavy handed with the ink and so some turned out a bit blobby. Plus I didn’t wipe the foam before using it again so with ink on top of ink the blobbiness continued! . I also was a bit afraid of putting it down and peeling it up again.  You can see squashed bits below from when I pulled it off at an angle. My tip would be to do it confidently. Place the foam down firmly then turn the paper over and rub the paper with your finger to make sure the ink sticks. When your taking the stamp off just go for it, don’t over think it or go to edge it off like I did!


Once I got the hang of it it really is easy and fast!


I got a bit over adventurous and  printed on to some spare tiles. In case your wondering I didn’t use tile paint and used the same ink and it probably won’t stick but I’ll let you know tomorrow if it dried or not! (UPDATE: Using block ink on tiles doesn’t work at all. You need tile paint. Ah well, it looked good for 24 hours:)



In true Blue Peter style here is one I made earlier.  I made the flamingo before the orange but I didn’t photograph the steps. I used the same process as the orange except to make the foam shape I traced a printed image using baking paper.  Tracing with baking paper  made me feel 10 again but my drawing isn’t that good to attempt drawing a flamingo free hand and expecting people to recognise it! Again I used pen to make the indents to allow the colour of the paper to come through in parts.


The foam is reusable too if you clean them very gently with a wet cloth. As you can see the foam flamingo has suffered an injury during cleaning and is held together with tape! But he ‘s still good and is ready to hobble into action again if needed!


What do you think? Any more ideas of things that need to be made into prints?

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