Sunday, 18 August 2013

Dog walks and blackberry picking

Whilst out on our walk today, I found the bush where I collect my annual blackberry supply from, ladened with fruit. Although I only had my trusty little plastic bags (doggy poo bags - clean may I add), I made quite a little collection.
So home I trotted, to make some jam.

I picked some apples from one of the trees in the garden, to add for extra pectin (setting agent).

These were peeled, sliced and cored.

The blackberries were put in a pan of water for 30 mins to boil. This was then pushed through a metal sieve into a preserving pan, pushing out as much of the juice as possible. The seeds and other bits were discarded.

The apples were then added to this juice and brought to the boil. When soft enough the apples were crushed using a potato masher.

When the consistency was smooth, the sugar was added. Always lots of sugar.

The jam was gradually brought to a rolling boil, and then tested for its setting point.

The jam was then poured into jars. Ready for breakfast tomorrow!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Planes, trains and automobiles... Well, just planes actually.

I love making Airfix models, so you can imagine how excited I was to find some cotton fabric with an aeroplane print on it. At the time I bought it, I hadn't started making clothes, so just bought enough for patchwork or something small I could whip up like a pencil case.

However, I have recently become hooked on dressmaking after attending a 10 week course. It's quite nice to play around with smaller projects, as it allows me to try out new techniques such as applying bias-binding, sleeves, working with stretch fabrics and elastic etc.

So, back to the aeroplane fabric.
I ummed and arred and finally decided to make a simple 60's style top. I found and downloaded the pattern here

However, disaster struck when I discovered that both pieces needed to be placed on the fold, which meant I was about 25cm short of a front & back. So after much deliberation I plummeted for a light-weight linen fabric for the back. I wasn't sure if this would look ok, but thought I'd give it a try.

I think I'm quite happy with it, although I might try adding some darts in the back (to give it a more fitted look), if I make another.

The front has a box pleat down the centre, I added three vintage buttons.

I can always wear it when making my next Airfix model.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Widecombe Fair - Uncle Tom Cobley folk song - a Devon yarn.wmv

Agar Man

I've always enjoyed playing with anagrams. Whilst trying to come up with a name for my Etsy shop, thought I'd have a go with seeing what I could come up with by creating anagrams from certain words.
My favourite was from the word nostalgia of which I got again lost

quite beautiful

Image taken from a 1950's scrapbook I found at a car boot sale

When I discover objects and ephemera at car-boot sales, charity shops and house clearance sales. I often wonder where those objects used to be. What stories could they tell? Who did they belong to? Did they do a job, or serve a purpose. Where they hand made, such as the image above, which is a collection of hand cut out images taken from magazines, birthday, christening and wedding cards, tokens from birthday cakes such as silver keys and candles, or just oddities of found ephemera.
Sometimes I feel sad when I discover boxes, which could essentially be someone's life in a cardboard box. A little piece of nostalgia evoking images of the past. These objects are again lost, lost in a box, on a collapsable table top just waiting for someone to come and find them. Someone who they can tell their story to.

This reminds me of The Foundling Museum in London, UK.

I will continue this blog post later...

Setting up shop

So, after 2 years since I first registered my name on Etsy, I have finally managed to get my act together and start actually doing something about it. It's not as simple as it sounds either, especially when you're as indecisive as me.
It's taken me days to even get as far as deciding on the all illusive name for starters. This proved to be an extremely painful process which ended up with me going round in circles and literally driving myself mad. Finally I have it though and here it is in all its glory....

What? I hear you say. Who is Uncle Tom and why is he Cobley? And who's the lady in the picture?
All will be revealed...

Now the name is sorted, I have to think about other things too, such as very important things like how people pay me and how I get it to them and not forgetting 'what am I actually going to sell in my new shop'?

Here's a few things which I've got planned:
  • vintage plate cake stands
  • hand felted baby booties
  • collaged pendants from found photographs
  • paintings, illustrations and collages
  • handmade children's clothing, with a twist
  • homemade candles and soaps
  • sock creatures AKA Mutants
  • handmade collaged badges
  • screen printed T-shirts, bags and tea towels
  • handmade knickers and clothing accessories
  • crocheted and knitted things, but not sure what as yet...
  • whatever else may take my fancy along the way
A lot of the things which I sell will have their own story to tell, so keep watching this space for more updates.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Unwrapping Books

In 2010,  I was part of the show Unwrapping Books : rearranging formulae, curated by Metron.
Science and maths books, ranging from primary to academic texts, and journals were selected and donated by Oxford University Press.
A number was allocated to each book, and these were wrapped and distributed to twenty- seven artists who had been invited to respond in any way they chose.
The exhibition was held in the 03 Gallery in March 2010, and reconfigured in the public space in OUP in October .

This year, Unwrapping Books will be based at The Botanic Gardens, Oxford. This will coincide with  Oxford's World Book Capital bid. The final works by 30 artists (including visual artists, dancers and musicians) will come together at The Botanic Gardens in April 2014.

For more info see:

Articles from The Garden and The Gardening Chronicles are the inspiration for the artists to respond to. Each artist and article was allocated a number, these numbers were drawn from a hat to connect the artist with their piece if text.

The Articles

The articles which have been selected for me are:

Entomology - The Green-rose chafer or cetonia aurata
The Gardener's Chronicle - 1841
Pg. 452


Watering in dry weather
The Garden - 1881
Pg. 632

I'm looking forward to researching both of these subjects. Hopefully it will give me the opportunity to develop some techniques.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

finished amulets

  Continuing from The Small Blessings at The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, I went on to finish off some of the amulets which I started during the project. I have also made a few new ones.
To give the finished amulets a feeling of belonging to the permanent collections, they were all hand labeled and numbered.

plaster, gold and silver leaf

plaster, metal matchbox holder

aluminium, crystal bead, leather

embroidered wool purse, leather, donkey hair, found objects

aluminium, stone, leather

beeswax, plaster, thread, paper

copper, found objects, knitted purse

plaster, gold and silver leaf

Beeswax, plaster and pins

The labels were edged with aluminium and copper, to give a similar feel to the labels in the museum. All the specimens from the project have gone through conservation to check for any infestation and put through the deep freeze. This will protect objects in the museum from potential contamination.

Working on this unique project has inspired my work a great deal. It has led me to try out new techniques, such as mould making and casting and also to consider ways of presenting my work.
Hopefully I will continue to develop some of these ideas in my future work.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Small things arranged neatly

I recently came across an artist in America (Lisa Congon), who Created a blog based on photographing a collection a day.
It was interesting listening to what her thought son collecting were on what the appeal of neatly arranging things was all about. Her thoughts on why things arranged and organised had visual appeal was due to the fact that our every day lives can often be quite chaotic. Looking at something which has been organised can give calming qualities, even if these are not our own things.

I have been meaning to record and photograph my many collections for a long time, and seeing Congon's work plus other artists who do similar things ( Austin Radcliffe - ) has inspired me to think about this again.

I have many things which I have collected over the years (mainly from car boot sales), which I am going to start to document. They will appear on this blog as often as I can find the time to do this.

A few things which I have multiples of include:
  • butterflies
  • cigarette cards
  • vintage toys and games
  • vintage sewing ephemera
  • stamps
  • postcards
  • old letters
  • vintage scrapbooks
  • Vintage maps
  • old photographs
  • fishing tackle
  • dolls
  • vintage suitcases
  • old buttons
  • keys
  • old books
  • brass animal ornaments
  • tea
  • vintage press studs

Another artist/comedian who is quite interesting is Ursus Wehrli. His concept is about 'tidying up art' You can watch one of his performances here

Some of my lace making bobbins, awaiting organising