21 October 2014

Santa Catalina Monastery

Today I'd like to share with you some of my pictures of a place that I particularly loved in Peru - Santa Catalina Monastery in Arequipa. I say monastery, but it's actually a place for nuns rather than monks, so perhaps convent is the right word!
Santa Catalina is located in the centre of Arequipa, and it is like a little town of its own, with streets and houses (the nuns used to have their own individual living quarters, and servants). The colours the buildings are painted are absolutely stunning - terracotta red, bright white, and vivid blue, with orange geranium flowers and bright green limes providing even more colour.
There are still nuns there, but not as many, and they stay in a part of the complex that is not open to the public.
It was fascinating to see the pool in which the nuns used to bathe (fully clothed of course!), and the laundry troughs.
There are stairs to the roof of one of the buildings, and there are stunning views from there. And below this is a fountain with goldfish in the pool.
I was reading a novel at the time, The Book of Human Skin, by Michelle Lovric, which is partly set in Santa Catalina, and I think this made it come vividly to life for me.
Our group was taken round the convent by a guide, and, while she told us a lot about the history of the place, I felt that she did not allow us enough time to just soak up the atmosphere.
I thought about going back later in the afternoon, because it was a day ticket, but there was so much else I wanted to see in the town that I didn't. I have really regretted that since, as it is one of the places that has really stuck in my mind ever since, and I even had recurring dreams for months afterwards in which I went back there!
I took so many photos at Santa Catalina that they filled a whole album, and I'd really like to do some art based on them at some point.

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20 October 2014

Owl magnets

Welcome to another post in my Peru-inspired month!

The owl is a bird that I saw represented in a lot of crafts in Peru. I bought myself a red and black owl ornament, and I bought a gourd carved as an owl for my mum. Animal symbolism is a big thing in Peru - each area is represented by a bird (which flies above the earth), a mammal (which lives on it), and a reptile (which slithers through it).

So here's an owl craft that's cheap and easy!

As well as being inspired by Peru's owl-related items, I also took inspiration from (OK, I outright copied!) a set of four small owl magnets that are treasured nostalgic items from my childhood. I've got the blue and green ones on my fridge, and Mum and Dad have the red and orange ones!

Here's what I did to make my (larger) version of them:
1. Clean some jar lids and spray paint them a bright colour.
2. Draw a design in pencil (I used a stencil to draw the circle shapes).
3. Using acrylic or household paint fill in the design.
4. Glue a magnet or magnets to the back. I stacked two magnets to get the right depth, and in fact I didn't even glue them, as they will be attracted to the metal lid anyway (that way I can use the magnets for another project if I get bored of these! You could add a coat of clear varnish to protect the design too, if you want.

I think this would be a fun project for children if you spray painted them and glued the magnets in place, then got the children to add their own design. I'm thinking Angry Birds could be an idea! I also think it would be nice to use the decorated lids on the original jars, as a fun way of storing craft supplies.

These magnets were made from quite small lids (like the ones you'd get on Lazy Ginger or Garlic jars). I'm tempted to make an even bigger version, from a jam jar lid!

19 October 2014

Peruvian worry dolls brooch

Here's a cute little idea for a Peruvian inspired brooch that's quick and easy to make. It was based on some Peruvian worry dolls I saw that were in a little pouch, but these ones are fixed in place.

You'll need some wooden beads, patterned fabric, felt, a brooch pin and some ribbon or trim.

1. Using a fine paintbrush, paint faces on the beads using black and red paint. I put the beads in the ends on paintbrushes to make them easier to hold.

2. Cut some small scraps of felt. Apply glue to these and stick them to the beads.

3. Sew a rectangle of patterned fabric to make a little sleeping bag shape. Put some pieces of felt inside this to pad it slightly.
4. Sew the felt around the back and bottom of each head, and sew them in place at the top of the sleeping bag, finally stitching it closed.
5. Sew or glue some ribbon or trim around.

6. Sew a brooch pin to the back.

It looks even more fun with the two tiny dolls I got in Peru pinned to the front of it!

18 October 2014

Peruvian peg doll

When I was making my Peruvian worry dolls brooch, the idea of making a Peruvian peg doll came to mind, so here it is! It's a quick and easy project.

1. Saw the bottom off the peg.

2. Paint features and hair on the head of the peg.

 3. Cut a piece of patterned fabric long enough to wrap around the peg.

4. Glue this in place. I used hot glue. 

5. Cut a circle of red felt slightly larger than the head of the doll. Put hot glue on the head and hold the fabric circle on the glue. I also glued some tiny pompoms on top.

6. Tie a piece of cord around the middle.
7.  Glue the peg onto a little circle of wood.

17 October 2014

Peru souvenirs

I bought some amazing souvenirs on my trip to Peru two years ago, and today I'd like to show you some of them. The craftspeople of Peru produce some wonderful things, including beautiful silver jewellery and gorgeously patterned textiles. And the prices are very reasonable (especially if you haggle!).

Above you'll see a tiny copper church, which I bought (in Lima I think) to remind myself of all the gorgeous churches I saw in Peru. And three postcards from the Museo Larco - they would have been the first thing I bought in Peru!

Here is all the jewellery I bought in Peru. The pendants and earrings are all silver, and they were all reasonably priced. I wear the cross pendant, the huayruro pendant, and the stud earrings a lot - must get round to wearing the others more! The bracelet and matching keyring are made of fabric, and I love how they match nearly any outfit! I like to clip the keyring to my handbag.

Here's a gorgeously soft alpaca scarf I bought in Arequipa. It was the most expensive purchase of my trip. It's something to wear with a little black dress for a special occasion. I love the little bell/flower shapes that dangle from the ends of it, and the beautiful embroidery.
 Here's a little "Peru corner" on my living room shelves. The book was bought at a second hand book sale, but all the ornaments came from Peru. The seals are made from polymer clay on top of pumice stone, I think, and were a gift after a boat trip round the Ballestas Islands. I got a matching pair, a male and a female, because one of the tour guides gave me hers! (This isn't the first polymer clay seal I've had as a gift, by the way - a boyfriend at uni made me one!)
The owl and cat were from the gift shop at the hotel in Nazca I think, and the carved gourd was from a craft market in Cusco.
This t-shirt you may have already seen, earlier this week, because I based my hammered wire pendant on it! The little bag is made by the weavers of Taquile Island, and I love it because it's the perfect size to carry my keys and walkie-talkie about at work if my outfit doesn't have a belt or waistband to clip them to. And it matches pretty much anything! 

It won't be that long until December, when I can put these nativity scenes I got in Peru on display!

And there were a few more things I brought back too! A little hat for a petite Blythe doll (how I wish I'd bought lots more of these!), a pink fabric bag, and a large piece of material.

16 October 2014

Inca cross carved stamp

The Inca cross, or chakana, is a symbol you see everywhere in Peru, and I brought back a beautiful silver and turquoise pendant in this shape, on which I've based this stamp.

This was my first time using the stamp carving blocks I bought in Japan (usually I just use erasers). I really like that it has a coloured layer, so you can tell when you've carved deeply enough.

1. Draw the inca cross design. I did two - one a block colour and one an outline.
2. Transfer the design by holding the paper on the block and rubbing the back of the paper (I used the handle of my scissors to rub it).

3. Carve away the excess. I liked the spiral shape that formed as I carved the circle in the centre, so I left it like that, since the spiral is a symbol found a lot in Peru too.

I quite liked this test print I did before I carved some parts away!
4. Stamp!