Sunday, 28 July 2013

He's up a ladder, she's out…

a little picture for a bedroom or a bathroom

A needlecase with a woodsman

…so I have spent some time making a couple of little needle-crafted items for my Etsy shop (in between making coffee, fetching bits and pieces, and generally being encouraging to Himself, who to be fair, has spent some time up said ladder in the heat). I must say, I do like a man up a ladder (keeps 'em busy and out of the way).

Thursday, 25 July 2013

school's out 4 summer, school's out 4eva!

new glittery brooch in my Etsy shop

Normally, on a week-day, I get up, get dressed, and cycle up a big hill to do something I love but have little control over. When I have free time part of the pleasure is the planning.

My plans this summer include:
spending as much time as I'm allowed with Number One Child
re-learning how to bind books
making more vintage-style goodies for my etsy shop
charity-shop shopping
Paris (!)
tidying up (properly!)
spending time in the Tate
Visiting the V&A
Finding my wedding outfit
hunting down some decent films to watch
catching trains
being outside
drinking lots of water

I've made a good start with this little brooch, and I'm planning some more needlecases because they're selling well in Diverse Gifts, my local gift shop. But I admit I have been a little side-tracked by blog-land and have been reading some fantastic and inspirational blogs, like this one!

I'd love to know your summer plans. Drop me a line and let me know what you'll be up to this summer!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The best second hand shop in the world, ever

Having a rummage
Ladybird books


We went in search of air…  Brighton is great on a hot day, and it was toasty. The sea breeze wafted up from the front, and we trawled charity shops and flea-markets in search of the perfect find.

I was looking for aggressive 70s wedges in a size 4, to wear with a dress which I rather impulsively bought from ebay. I want to wear it to get married in, later this year. It's small - I'm on a diet.

In the best and biggest flea-market in Brighton, I nearly bought some foldaway opera glasses for £4.00 (but a glimpse into the future revealed my even-more crumpled self regretfully passing them on for 50p at some car boot sale in a few years' time). I probably should've bought the 'making a transistor radio' Ladybird book pictured above, or Marco Polo and his excited camel. Or the lovely sixties umbrella. Or the forties bathing suit, (made for a belle - but I'd never have filled it properly). Or the toy iron-with-a-face (so tempting). But no, I was uncharacteristically strict with myself. Number One Child, though, who is a lot less blurry than she looks in this photo, has an art project on the go, and bought a fistful of tiny photos of people. Taken between the 30s and the early 60s, each captures an unfamiliar face in their respective moment, and fires the imagination with possibilities.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

'I'll take the stairs'

I took my daughter to see the opening of the 'David Bowie is…' exhibition at the V&A. We stood in a 45-minute-long queue - not to get in as such, because as a member I can swan right past the average punter, and anyway it was members-only at the opening night. No, we were queueing for the headsets which delivered music and information about select exhibits. As we waited, and shuffled slowly towards the desk to collect our headsets I had a chance to weigh up the other visitors. They were a motley crew, as you might expect. A fair few were like me, middle-aged mums with shiny teenagers. Some had younger children with them (who must have found the whole thing quite bewildering, like some mad circus, which it was).

And some were what I had hoped for - the poseurs of that era, still dressing up to show off in public, as they had back in the day. They came singly and in couples, and had made such an effort to stand out it seemed rude not to stare. One woman, 60ish, wore half her short hair black, the other half white (like a '30s Cruella DeVille). Her skirt suit was black with white trim, and her stockings white and black the other way round from her hair, if you see what I mean. She tapped the floor with an elegant walking stick. I'm not sure she wore a monocle - but she should have.

A couple stalked past. He was impossibly thin, she sported middle-aged spread. Incredibly angular, he appeared to have traveled at such speed that the top of his head was still trying to catch up with the rest of him. They gleamed and glittered with lurex and post-punk plastic, and were very smart and disdainful, raising their eyebrows in pity and pursing their lips in disapproval at the rest of us. How exhausting it must be to be elevated to so lofty a position.

The exhibition was spectacular. I'm sure there are many reviews for those of you who are interested. For me, some of the most interesting pieces were: footage of David performing some spectacularly embarrassing mime which made me laugh out loud (he is brave to allow us to see that), a lovely photograph of Lindsay Kemp looking very beautiful in full make-up and glittery cozzy, DB's ridiculously impractical asymmetrical knitted jumpsuits and the two dolls with DBs animated heads projected onto them. There was no mention of Angie at all, which seemed a bit peevish, considering…

As we passed through the exhibition, our dodgy earphones delivered music. Every time a new song played I felt 'That was my Bowie era…no, wait, this was…'. What a versatile musician, and what a lasting impression he made. Number one child thinks him a marvel and she's made a little shrine to him in her bedroom. I had rather forgotten how much I love his music, and now I have Hunky Dory playing in my head all the time.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Git off ma land…

Blisteringly hot last Sunday, and Himself had far better things to do. But he's a trooper, so he got up at 6 with me, had coffee, grabbed 2 of the 4 suitcases, and trundled off ahead. I grabbed the other two, gritted my teeth (what's left of them), and followed on behind. We crossed the main road easily (7am on a Sunday, who's out there?) and passed through the estate (council, not stately home) to the park. 7am on a Sunday in Brockwell Park, and the world and her keep-fit mum-auntie-father-brother-civilpartnership-on-a-mission-to-look-good-in-a-bathing-suit were all there. We passed dog-walkers. Their charges were - well, charging - all over the place, excited at the prospect of freedom for an hour or two. We met runners, joggers, walkers and crawlers (a baby was giving his mum a rare lie-in by taking the dad out for a stroll).

We got to the lido car-park. It was already very full. Damn. I asked the guy in charge were there any pitches left? He looked stressed, and told me it was too early in the morning for this. He was obviously already dealing with fuckwittery. One couple had parked their double-decker bus diagonally across two spaces and were setting up stall in a third pitch. She was brittle in opposition,  expecting her partner to back her corner. Another vendor had parked her car right in the middle of two spaces, and the attendant was pleading with her to move over and make space for someone else. We waited. They moved. We moved in and unpacked.

My stock was mostly books. Books have formed the foundations of my life. I am addicted to them. I like the feel of them, I like to touch them, and most of all I like the way they smell. We have too many. I was selling some I had collected during my profession as a book designer. I specialised in gardening and health, so I had quite a few on those subjects, which I had used as reference when commissioning illustrations or photography, or for ideas. A man came over and browsed. 'Interested in gardening?' he asked. I explained. 'Book design?' He told me he was engaged in some work involving teaching Chinese to primary school children and that he was putting it together in a book. 'I need a mentor,' he said, and gave me his email so I could volunteer my services at some future date.

Himself went back home to paint the windows (another story for another time). I was left with one neighbour, Kim, whose bike you see in the picture above (it went for a tenner), and another neighbour to my left, whose goods crept ever closer to mine throughout the morning, preventing people from coming down to see my books and also some of her own stuff too, which she hung on a rail. I grew increasingly irritated at the big cardboard box, which she kept moving on top of my stock. Eventually, like some character from a radio 4 play, I stuffily squeaked at her that I was going to move her box so that punters could get to my suitcases, and she blinked back at me in bemusement, not getting it at all. I thought about the pioneers and claim-stakers shown in the films of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. They would've understood.

At 1, Himself reappeared, very hot and bothered, having slipped on the ladder up to the windows and spilt half a pot of milky paint on the ground. He swore and cursed about it as he gallantly helped me pack up again, and back we trundled with half the stock we'd brought. At home I cashed up. £50 minus a tenner for the pitch. For 5-ish hours. About minimum wage?

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The intimacy of clay


my student's creation is the small domed yurt in the foreground

The helter skelter is my favourite one

In art M's class have been making a city out of clay. They started by drawing 'footprints' on paper to determine the shapes of their buildings, and then using the coil process they built up the walls, added roofs and windows and doors, and other features for decoration. As my vision-impaired student has been off for two weeks of this seven-week term she's missed a lot of lessons, and when we returned to the class we were amazed to find what the others had achieved. We appreciated the progress of their constructions and worked hard to catch up with them so that ours could be part of the city too. As we did, I looked around for inspiration, and I was suddenly struck by something about their shapes. Many of the buildings were round and very tall, with domed, mushroom-like roofs…a couple of them even had a hole in the middle 'to let the smoke out'. I caught the art teacher's eye and nodded my head at these rather explicit creations. She winked and laughed, and agreed that all the other art teachers had remarked on this curious phenomenon. We looked down at my effort. Still in the early stages of construction, it was kidney shaped, with grey leathery walls which grew outwards. Strange, how clay inspires us to create such intimate reconstructions!

I hastily put a roof on mine - it's far more decent now.