Yes, you must all be getting fed up with images of spacers. Frankly, so am I! But the truth is that it's less that four weeks until the next folly, and I'm still about 1,500 spacers short. That kind of means I'm three-quarters of the way there, but I still have to clean them all, and stick them all down. So, I thought I'd take a wee ickle break to give an update. This was it on Lady Mary - apart from the fact that, in a perfect world, there will also be time to make some jewellery to accompany the folly!

As far as the pigeons are concerned, the first batch is out of the kiln, so I am pleased to report that there are, in fact, pigeons! Not that I ever doubted that, you understand, but it's good to 'meet' them. It was a rather exciting story, which took place just before I left for Germany, so I only get to share it now:

I was due to leave around 6am on Wednesday morning. After realising that the nuggets I had ordered didn't fit the mould, I made a snap decision to change to Bullseye frit, and ordered it on Monday. It arrived on Tuesday, 9am (Thank you for the amazing delivery service, Warm Glass!). So! Then, I discovered that the frit didn't fit the mould either, and that I'd have to 'top up' about 6 times during the cast (before you ask, yes, I probably could have waited longer and topped up more, but topping up three moulds each time, chucking a coffee cup full of frit at it was about my heat-resisting limit!) So, up went the kiln...90 minutes later, I opened the door to a stinky, smoky studio, with the carbon monoxide alarm going haywire. I then spent three hours standing in the open doorway, eyeing the kiln suspiciously, before I trusted it enough to leave it alone again for brief periods. The topping up took place between 7pm and 11pm. At 4am, I was up again, flash-cooling the kiln...and then I left for the airport. For the next ten days or so, I got daily updates on the kiln temperature, and once, during a brief power outage in Germany, I was caught shouting 'THE PIGEONS!' in reflexive panic. Waiting several days (as one should) after the kiln got room temperature, my husband finally took pity on me, de-moulded them, and took a photo. I have to admit, as a first-time caster with three pigeons as a first-timer project, I'm rather proud of myself! Massive thanks to Fiaz Elson, who advised me on the kiln schedule with such authority that I felt confident to adapt it myself after I switched to Bullseye. I have learnt an enormous amount from this folly!

The date has been confirmed with Shugborough Estate...now, all I need to do is to go through it again, because I'd really rather take six pigeons, than three......... 

When I organised the timetable for the final two follies for 2012, doing two within a fortnight of each other seemed not too problematic - after all, I had plenty of time, right? Famous last words, and 'enter the pigeons'. I still don't know whether I've mastered the pigeons. And I won't know for nearly three weeks, since I'll be off to Germany tomorrow. It is *not* a position I wanted to be in!

Lady Mary, on the other hand, is remarkably well-behaved. Apart from the minor problem that my new car is smaller than the old one, and won't be able to handle Lady Mary in her frame, everything is going as planned. It is work-intensive, but predictable, if that makes sense. 'All' I have to do is make 6,000 beads, clean them, stick them to a board, and frame them. Time is my biggest enemy, but if push comes to shove, night shifts can be employed, and Lady Mary can be completed. It'll still be a close call - I'll be in Germany until the 19th of August, the following week-end, at the International Festival of Glass, then on a well-deserved holiday for three days, then it's a case of steering munchkin through his first days at school - but it can be done!

This is me, signing off until late August!

Back in October, when I first started looking for potential locations for Follies for Follies, I was intrigued by an estate near Stafford, which not only had a vibrant programme of events and educational workshops, but a considerable number of follies! There's the Cat Monument, the Temple of the Winds, and even the Shepherd's Monument, which has links to the Holy Grail, plus several others...but it was "The Ruin" a partially destroyed folly on the bank of the river Sow, that interested me most. I mean, a ruin that was always intended as a ruin, with a druid on top...what's not to like?

Time intervened, and after initial contact, it took a while to get ducks into rows, but yesterday, agent munchkin and I braved the just-under-three-hour drive across the Peak District to meet Corinne Caddy, Sales/Interpretation and Events Manager for Shugborough Estate, to discuss a potential Shugborough 'follification'. Corinne's office sports a genuine massive old cooking range (complete with squeaky rat in the oven, which kept the munchkin happy), and we very quickly settled on both potential timings and "The Ruin" as our folly of choice.

As soon as we finished our talk, munchkin and I returned to the folly to snap countless photos (many of them puzzling to other passers-by, such as oblique angles, and seemingly uninteresting details) - what I was looking for were flat surfaces, to develop the plan...to replace the pigeons which used to be part of the folly (including a pigeon house) with glass versions. I think I might fit one into the druid's 'missing bit' (see right).

After 'work', we had a chance to visit the estate's museum, which includes a warren of servants' quarters, kitchens, shops, dressing rooms, an old school room, and others...every now and then, we'd meet a 'resident' in full costume, and munchkin had a chance to do laundry as they would have done 'in the olden days', grind sugar, and play with replica Victorian toys.

The folly is confirmed, and 'follification' will take place over the last week-end in September - I will post updates on the folly's page, and, of course, on Facebook.