Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Is this a 'Collection', or just 'More than One of its Kind'?

I've decided that there's a difference between a collector and someone who just owns more than one of everything.   When I was looking around for something to contribute to Lesley's challenge to other bloggers to show their collections, I couldn't help concluding that I definitely fall into the latter category.  

My stamp-collecting passion faded in about 1962, having survived an attempt by my youngest sister to chew most of my Magyar Posta treasures, perhaps because they portrayed soft fruits of the region.

Since then, although I have gathered a lot of stuff around me, it's been more a case of "oh there's one of those things I've already got two of, perhaps I'd better get it to go with the others".  

Many many moons ago, I developed a keen nose for identifying places that Victorians dumped their household waste.   Not necessarily the most useful faculty, I grant you, but digging up an old rubbish-dump did provide an occasional diversion when the weekend had little else to offer.    As a result, I became the proud owner of a large collection of Bovril jars.   They were thankfully disposed of long ago, but I did keep a handful of little bottles just for sentimental reasons.

ribbed bottles, denoting that the contents could be poisonous if taken in quantity

oh, I seem to have kept one teenytiny Bovril jar after all....
hardly big enough to contain a tablespoonful
 Eiffel Tower fruit juice bottle
The Foster Clark company was founded by George (who was for a while Mayor of Maidstone in Kent) in 1890 and these pale green glass bottles contained concentrated lemon juice, probably used more for culinary purposes than for drinking.

These stoneware ink bottles were picked up in a ploughed field (near Ayot St. Lawrence, the home of George Bernard Shaw - do you think he dipped his knib in them?) and I am truly besotted  with them.   I love the colour, the weight, the warmth, shape and size of them and admire the way they withstood many years' daily use and survived being buried for years before I came across them.  They are always out on display somewhere, so that I can see them all the time.

These old broken clay pipes are special, too.  I love the decorative detail they have been given, despite the fact that they were workaday objects destined to have a very short life.     My vegetable garden is always turning up pipe-stems, broken by their owner probably 100 years ago or more.
I invariably rescue any bits of broken china I find in the garden or when walking alongside a ploughed field.   Lots of it is blue-and-white, maybe a cup handle or the rim of a marmalade jar.  

this one is a strange one, with a little hatchling making its way into the world

Bits of broken china were an important part of my mum's play in the late 1920's.   In the back yard of her Glasgow home, mud pies were made and sold, the local currency being small shards of broken plate found in the household tip.   Anything with a gold rim was treasure indeed.   It must be in my genes!

What do you collect?


Sunday, 29 May 2011

Paint the Town with Joy, (and other happinesses)

Making some little owls for a woodland-themed craft demo on Monday


A wonderful addition to my New York New York! postcard swap collection, beautifully made by Sue.

Click on the this Postman's Knock link to see the latest batch, including the Yee-Ha! Ride 'em Cowboy one that I made for Jo.   Can't seem to access the photo to post on here for you .....

We've all had a lot of problems with loading, logging in, commenting etc. on Blogger at the moment, so please excuse me if it seems I haven't visited you lately.   Not for want of trying on my part!

And a few random Spanish holiday snaps, just to brighten a dull day.   Wind and rain and cloudy skies here at the moment, but at least not the torrential hailstorm we had the other day when I had to give shelter to passers-by who were in danger of getting concussion!

Calella de Palafrugell
Aigua Blava
footprints in the sand
Hope this helped to brighten the day!


Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Shibori and The Tramp

Back from sunny Spain, I decided to waste no time and set-to tying up pebbles with rubber bands in cotton sheeting,

 wrapping more sheeting round a drainpipe and securing with string and thread,
and sewing circles and pulling up the thread to wrinkle the fabric.
Ready to dunk everything in an indigo dyebath.
Look what came out -

clamped with clothes pegs
 concertina folds clamped with bulldog clips and pegs
 string wrapped

 marbles secured with rubber bands
 here are the stitched circles

 the drainpipe wrapping

 more pegs
 marbles and drawn-up stitching (looking mightily like dental x-rays!)
Although I loved the workshop and simply can't wait to try it again at home, the day didn't end well.   We had been told to wear old clothes and shoes and to take quite a lot of 'props' for the various techniques we would be trying out.   So when a misunderstanding seemed to have arisen about my being collected and driven home at the end of the day, I set off walking, expecting to meet the car at any moment.   I ended up tramping all the way home.   'Tramping' could not be a more appropriate term, bearing in mind my tattered and faded combat trousers, gardening shoes and old grandad shirt covered in big splotches of red paint.   I looked as if I'd had a severe nosebleed, or been stabbed.  And of course I was carrying a collection of plastic bags, drainpipes and a bucket full of pebbles.   Three miles is a long way to try and keep your head held high and remain dignified when the passengers of every passing vehicle obviously recognise you as a dangerous and probably pongy old bag-lady.  No, don't ask me why I didn't have a mobile phone with me.....that's not helpful.

That was Monday.   On Tuesday things definitely began to look up when friend Charlotte and her daughter came to learn how to make felt.   What a wonderful time we had - they were keen and quickly picked up the technique and had lots of ideas about colour combinations and things to add to and trap in the felt.   We started off making bobbles and 'sausages', to get the feel for the process and soon the kitchen was full of glorious drying felt.   It was a very rewarding and inspiring day for me and I loved seeing how the girls wanted to use what they'd learned.


Sunday, 15 May 2011

New York New York! and a magpie's nest

Most of you will probably know that Blogger had a glitch for a couple of days and although I got my last post resinstated, the comments that went with it were lost. Now that's a great shame, as they were very very funny indeed. I was 'accused' of cutting and pasting pages out of the Boden catalogue just to make it look like I had attractive relatives! This seemed to initiate a spate of people resolving to dispose of all their family photos and just use magazine pictures instead. I have a suspicion that most of us would probably end up being 'related' to George Clooney!
The nephew pictured in the last posting was walking down a Manhattan street with his girlfriend and it reminded me of an older photo I have of him in that fair city. He lived there for a while when he was just a toddler and this is a photo of me pushing him in his stroller near the Rockefeller Centre .... I never imagined then that 30 years later he would be 6' 5" and that playing rugby would have rearranged his cute little button nose into about 5 different directions.

I definitely do heart New York - and Lesley has captured this so beautifully in the latest postcard in our Postman's Knock swap.   The felted lovely above was just one of the wonderful interpretations she produced - she always has a head so full of ideas that she can never rein in her generosity and produce just one thing.

I think this concertina card is just magical.   The faded vintage pictures of the skyline are so evocative and have just the right kind of nostalgia attached to them.   And so cleverly presented through the lens and viewfinder of an old camera.   Brilliant!

Look at all the layers of skyscrapers and landmarks that Lesley has incorporated into this 3D card.

And a well-travelled leather suitcase covered in fancy New York hotel stickers -
isn't it great?

And this is the card I made for Joanna, whose theme was 'Collections/Collecting'.   I collaged a magpie out of scraps of paper from my Toast House & Home catalogue and made a shredded paper nest to fill with the magpie's collection of glittery things.   I rather like the postcard I found to put it on and even discovered I had a magpie postage stamp.

OK - got to go and pack my bag for Spain - see you all in a few days!


Saturday, 14 May 2011

The Curate's Egg

Well, what's been happening around here?   Curate's egg - "good in parts".  

I'm not sure which category this falls into, but when I was walking to the postbox a man in a beat-up old van shouted "hello gorgeous" at me.   When you're just about to turn 60 you can't be fussy, so I turned a blind eye to the fact that he had a face like a carved halloween pumpkin (only redder) and I smiled sweetly back at him.   Just enough to be polite, you understand, not enough to lure him into further communication.  

In other circumstances, this might have put a spring in my step. However, I've had a bad back and springing steps have been out of the question. I've therefore been under the physiotherapist, who referred to me as a "classic middle-aged gardener". Doesn't have quite the same ring as "hello gorgeous", but at least he wasn't gurning at me through the window of a rusty pick-up. Anyway, after he ground his bony knuckles into my spine for a bit and made me do some twisty contortions, I'm definitely on the mend. So that clearly falls into the good category.

Driving the car into a brick pillar (which, in my defence, was looking mightily like a hedge at the time) and denting (big-time) the front bumper definitely counts as not good. OK, reading that back, the fact that the wall was disguised as a hedge is no defence at all. The insurance company didn't seem to think so anyhow.

Firmly in the good section are four things to look forward to. A few days away paddling in the Mediterranean here;

a visit from my nephew and his American fiancee;

a workshop day learning shibori and dyeing the results in an indigo vat; and the next day teaching a friend and her daughter how to wet-felt.

Oh, five things - on Saturday opening Lesley's parcel which contains her NEW YORK NEW YORK postcard in this round of Postman's Knock.  Can't wait!

Hope you all have a good weekend when it arrives.


Sorry to everyone who left those really funny comments - Blogger has managed to delete them in the past two days ....

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

From the Cotswolds to Manhattan

What a weekend!   We watched The Wedding, of course, and loved every minute. That Kate is going to be a real asset to the Royal Family.     My feelings about some of the guests are perfectly summed-up by Hannah Betts' hilariously scathing article in the Telegraph - http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/Article/TMG8484892/121/Royal-wedding-the-best-of-styles-the-worst-of-styles.html.

But the highlight of the weekend for me was, of course, the chance to meet Lesley and Cathy, who were in Stroud for the International Textiles Fair and taking part in a workshop.   Richard and I drove through the beautiful sun-drenched Cotswold countryside to join them for a cuppa.  We stopped on the way at Painswick, the quintessential Cotswold village, golden stone, delectable architecture and fascinating history.   We had lunch in the courtyard of a tiny pub - Richard had a pint of Fairy Liquid this award-winning local beer -
apparently the hop leaves are left in to add colour.

Lesley suggested that we call in at the Gloucester Guild of Craftsmen Gallery while we were there and we found a room full of wonderful things.   Silver jewellery, ceramics, woven textiles, prints and the most exquisite felted items.  Purchases, needless to say, were made.
beautiful block-printed textile sketchbook by Sophia Blackwell

Meeting Cathy and Lesley for tea was a real tonic - although they had already been laughing together all day in their workshop, they certainly had some giggling left in them to share with us.  Lesley's inspired conspiracy to help me persuade Richard that I should use an electric sander for my felting was so subtly introduced that even I didn't twig what was going on for a minute!   And, if you are a dachshund owner, please contact me for a reference before asking Cathy to dog-sit....

Postman's Knock, round 3, brought me this magnificent 3-D pop-up card from Jane - full of my favourite Manhattan icons, even some bagels and a ticket for a Broadway show!  

I made a 'Windows' card for Jill to add to her collection.

My next card was due to be from Lesley, who decided to give it to me on Saturday when we met.   She had sensibly taped it securely into a box, so that I couldn't poke it and prod it to get any clues, and suggested, quite forcibly, that I shouldn't open it until the appointed date, a fortnight hence.   All I can say is, I've lasted this far ....

OK then, off to the physiotherapist for more pummelling for my poor old back!

Chrissie x