Monday, 13 October 2014

bell jars

I really shouldn't be writing this post, there's packing to do (we are moving house lord help me), and lessons to plan, and children to feed, and a sauce that is most likely burning on the stove. 

But. I was sorting through some shelves, and found some boxes, and it was like slipping on an old favourite jacket. One I used to wear back when Lucy and I used to make this kind of thing.

A box full of things like this:

and this:

It was too tempting to just stop and play. So I did. I remembered the days before I was a qualified teacher, and life felt quite different. 

A couple of bell jars had been sitting around on my workbench ever since I had been to this amazing place in Antwerp this summer. 

I don't really know how to describe it. It was a floating vessel but I couldn't truthfully call it a boat. It had a cafe, and pigs, and chickens and a tiny farm. There was clearly a strong upcycling/recycling thing going on, and a corner that sold homemade bell jars. It was very steampunk: futuristic sustainable technology but everything felt old.

I could never resist a bell jar. I bought one of their homemade ones and a tiny, dolls house scale for myself. Which has sat on my work bench. Until I opened the boxes.

And did this. In a corner of a room which is about to be packed up when we move in a few days. When I had so much other stuff to do. But you know, sod the to do list I say: sometimes you have to stop and put leaves chipped from plates into bell jars instead.

Time well spent.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

on the last day of the holidays

How to make a window box on the last day of the summer holiday.

1. Find all the buttons, glue, pieces of felt, scissors, tape, shoeboxes you can find. Cover the table entirely

2. Make some playdough (first ever solo trip to the shop to get the cream of tartar optional here). 

3. Press down and fill the shoebox with playdough. Observe dyed-brown fingers. There may be some reminiscence about making playdough in days gone by. This is ok.

4. Make some flower stems from tightly-rolled tissue paper. Draw some petals on felt and cut them out.

5. Choose a button. Negotiate with the button owner. Re-negotiate. Glue the button on to the petals with a gluestick. It falls off. Glue it back on with PVA. 

5. Chat about school, about new beginnings. There are butterflies.

6. Display with pride. Over the coming days it's fun to water the playdough soil. It's less fun to wipe it up. 

I hope summer is ending gently for you and yours. Good luck with all new starts.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Shazbot and a giveaway

One of the best things for me - beating off stiff competition - about being at a music festival, is seeing all the different t-shirts people wear. Funny or serious, new bands, old or obscure ones, it's like the culture department of people's brains walking towards you. 

Trending at Glastonbury this year were Breaking Bad t-shirts, especially this one: 

And it got me thinking about drawing and how, mixed with a t-shirt, there's really no better way to say what you want to say.

Someone doing this brilliantly at the moment is my friend Simeon with his Black Score t-shirt label. I'm lucky to own this beauty:

And this one, which came along with me to Glastonbury and everywhere else I've been this summer:

I love it so much. 

My brother and I used to have a VHS tape of 'Robin Williams Live at the Met' and we would watch it until we were crying and sore from laughing and the tape broke. 

We didn't understand everything, but we didn't need to. He was just so funny. Like the essence of funny. We'd try and do Mork's hand sign with our small hands. My brother could always do it better than me. He could also swim like the Man from Atlantis.

Thinking about all this, I made some drawings. It felt so good to sit quietly and draw. I thought a lot about this article.

From the drawings, I did this on a spare babygro I had lying around with a Sharpie (a textile one for marking laundry):

The best way to do this is to make a screen and screen print it - you can get any effect you want that way - but for quick and dirty printing, it doesn't look too bad does it?

I don't know any 0-3 month babies at the moment so if anyone wants it drop me a line and it's yours. Leave a comment or email me.

Monday, 28 July 2014

a wedding

A very modern wedding. I really love these deeply personal ceremonies: a bit of this tradition, a bit of that. 

A three-year-old boy walking down the aisle with his mum, whilst his dad and his big brother wait at the other end. A deconsecrated chapel housing a very inclusive, very civil - in every sense of the word - do.

I made dresses for my girls, using the Bella dress pattern. I added some elastic shirring at the waist and sleeves. For my older daughter, I used some fabric I had embroidered on a while back.


For her sister I used Heather Ross' Princess and the Pea fabric which is completely beautiful, soft and light.

But, in many ways my proudest achievement that day was made not from fabric, but from loom bands (z?).

The bride and groom sent a piece of bunting out with every invitation, asking that all guests make...something. 

So this is what I did. As well as all the things that have happened in my life this year, as well as being the year of this special wedding; this year will always be the year of loom bands.

Guided by some of the kids at school I followed this tutorial and damn, it was complicated! Those looms were designed for fingers much smaller and younger than mine. I made a figurine for each member of the family. Just don't look too close.

I love this kind of challenge, but can see how troubling this is to the non-crafter. 
A fair few guests spoke in hushed tones about the deep stress they had had over the bunting, and really, couldn't they have just bought a set of serviettes instead? 

Blurry iphone photos as I (the DJ) was a bit blurry by this stage

They strung all the pieces up at the party, and don't they look beautiful? Steak knives wouldn't give you that. So personal and special, just like the day.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Glastonbury top

I have been sewing like a woman possessed lately. I don't really know why, perhaps the seasonality of certain crafts (wool based = winter, sewing = summer). Whatever the reason: if there is sewing funk I have been giving it up. 

I made this top with my upcoming trip to Glastonbury (whoop whoop, first time after an eight year hiatus) in mind. I chose the fabric because it was full of things you might find there. I had a search around for simple sleeveless patterns and found this one bought from an Etsy seller:

Let's hope it's not buried under a cagoule the whole time. Please.

I also made two of these simple blouses for work.

The little patch of Liberty fabric is quite dear to me as it is the same as a dress and bloomers my Granny made me when I was tiny.

I made the second one a bit longer, more a tunic length to go over skinny jeans. 

You basically cut out the front and the back, and sew them together. Add some bias binding and that's it. I decided to add the asymmetric panel because I felt that's what David Bowie would do if he made blouses for his job as an art teacher. And I try to think of what David Bowie would do every day.

More to come, but for now I'm off, off to where the ley lines meet, the kids will be at my mum's... if you see me say hello!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

You Can Call Me Owl

I finished the cable owl tank top. Cabled owls and no pattern. This was boldly going to new frontiers in crochet for me. And I don't even watch Star Trek. I put the link to the tutorial I found helpful to make the crochet owls in my last post. 

Structurally speaking, a tank top is pretty simple. So when I couldn't find what I wanted, I decided to just go for it on my own. I looked at the pictures of this pattern for a bit of guidance on shaping. A train journey to Nottingham and some ribbing along the bottom and it was finished.

This experience has reinforced my belief in the tank top as a superior garment. What else keeps your vital organs warm, your hands free, and allows you to wear three owls on your chest, all whilst looking badass?? Nothing, that's what.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Owl odyssey

I fell down some rabbit holes recently looking at crochet owls on PinterestWho knew there were so many ways to crochet an owl? Not me. 

In the end I chose this one. Meant to be an iPhone cover but now my older daughter uses it as her, umm, make up bag. 

Then, I had a go at this one and I loved it, it's basically a granny square. Before I knew it I had finished a couple. Another surprise: it turns out owls are pretty quick to do. 

But the biggest achievement for me has been getting the hang of crocheting an owl in cable. There a lot of tutorials around for this, but they all defeated me. I finally found one that was (almost) easy to follow here. It took a practice run but I got it. I was too impatient to watch the video, just followed the pattern for the owl.

I am making a little tank top for them to roost on (do owls roost?) nicely dovetailing my belief in the tank top as the ultimate garment with my new skills.

a year above the shop

a year above the shop