This page includes various ‘arty’ activities I have done with stones and sand, as well as cakes I have decorated with crystallised flowers, and confectionary.
I love stones – and rocks and fossils. When our children were young, we used to collect stones from beaches and polish them in a stone tumbler, a process which takes four weeks to get them beautifully shiny. We also made some jewellery, while I have kept the rest on display – they are so lovely to feel and look at and run through your fingers.
I sometimes use stones to draw on other stones on the beach. This is particularly easy with sandstone and chalk. I have always been fascinated by stones which have holes going right through them and have collected some from beaches all over the UK which I have then arranged in the garden on metal spikes.
During the Coronavirus lockdown in 2020, I saw photos of the beautiful artistic creations by Jon Foreman (https://sculpttheworld.smugmug.com/) and was inspired to try some simple arrangements with some of my polished stones collected over the years. It was lovely sitting in the hot sunshine on our front paving and making some simple formations. I’ve got a long way to go before I can do anything like Jon Foreman, but this is a start!
I then decided to make some short animated films of the stones and shells moving. Later, I made a crude sundial using a circle of stones and a red-hot poker flower in a slim vase as the gnomon. This involved taking a photo every three minutes from 7.00am until 6.00pm, with the added interest of a few shells getting up to mischief. All these videos can be seen on YouTube as part of my series of Lockdown Movies.
This is probably my only real attempt at modelling a figure – in 1994!
Many years later, Sabine gave me a lump of rough soapstone and some tools to begin shaping and smoothing it. I didn’t attempt to carve anything specific, but enjoyed making it very tactile with gentle, rounded shapes that my hand fitted round.
I was inspired by an ephemeral art form I saw on the internet, that of people drawing beautiful designs in the wet sand using rakes and other implements. You only have a few hours either side of low tide to complete a large scale drawing, which is best seen from above – and then it’s washed out for ever although still retained in your memory.
I had an ideal opportunity to try this out when we rented Waterwynch, a very large house with its own little sandy bay near Tenby in Pembrokeshire where we celebrated our 50th Wedding Anniversary with all the family and another sixteen friends in July 2017.
One day, Amelia and I made a large labyrinth which we invited anyone walking along the beach to follow through, taking a stone to leave in the centre. A labyrinth is different from a maze in that you don’t hit dead ends and have to retrace your steps to find the right way – there is only one trail to the centre, albeit very much longer than it at first appears!
1992: I made this cake for my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary with guidance from Jane Goddard. Being winter, I painted some winter jasmine flowers on an edible icing plaque (with edible colours).
2014: Two cakes I made and decorated (using edible flower petals from the garden which I crystallised) for Robert’s wedding in Tubur (Teso, Uganda).
2020: Some of the hundreds of flower petals from the garden which I have been crystallising in preparation for decorating Becky and Rob’s wedding cakes in November.
Chocolates and fudges made for Christmas