Tuesday, 22 December 2009

How Christmassy am I?

Wasn't it exciting to have snow on the ground while finishing off the shopping? I can't remember having snow so close to Christmas before. Hope it didn't cause you any problems, but I think it's just lovely! I'm feeling pretty darn good now, having packed and posted my final parcel, and declared myself officially on holiday! Yay!!

As you can see, we got the tree up last week, and have smothered it in baubles. We've only got our little white tree this year, as we decided that was all we could manage to do. However, we put as many baubles on it as we do with the big tree, so I'm happy. Also because we followed one of our kitsch Christmas traditions, and drank snowballs while we decorated the tree. One of those Christmas treats I can't resist!

These deer are a mixture of vintage and not-so-old. I'm particularly pleased with the newest member of the family, the 'filigree' plastic one, I got in a charity shop recently.

I couldn't resist some new additions. These fluffy, camp reindeer came from Paperchase. As I took each one out of the box, I decided to give them reindeerish names.
"Olga, ...Ferdinand, ...Mitzi, ...and..."
"Nigel'" said Mr Kitsch.
So that's what they're called.

Hope you all have a happy time and enjoy the holidays!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Winter Weekend Wonders

I had a fun and successful weekend. On Saturday, the Festive Flea Market at the Folk House was excellent. Much to my surprise, I sold lots of badges and magnets, and I only have one pincushion left! I have to say that I was pretty pleased with my stall. You see, my natural inclination is to cram as much stuff as possible on the table, in the hope that there will be something to please everyone. Clutter is my style. Of course this does not work. It's overwhelming and it looks bad. A bit of space makes things look more special, and shows them to their best advantage.

It seems to have taken me an extraordinarily long time to realise this. I can only put it down to being a bit slow on the uptake, sometimes! Even at the Vintage & Handmade Fair, I overdid it despite myself, and put too much stuff out. But on Saturday, I think I managed to keep it just on the right side of junkyard!

On Sunday, we met a friend visiting from London, and went to Gloucester. I'm not sure why we thought about Gloucester, really. Mainly because it's somewhere we hadn't been before. And in all honesty, I may not go again. To be fair, we probably didn't see it at its best, on a wet Sunday afternoon.

I had checked online, and was quite excited about the promise of a "Winter Wonderland" in the city centre. A more accurate description would be a large tent surrounded by fake snow. (We did see a polar bear, but that's another story.) So we wandered round Gloucester Cathedral, where the choir sounded wonderful, but we weren't allowed to go and look. We tried the coffee shop for afternoon tea, but the lady behind the counter had clearly had a trying day, and although it was only ten to three, she told us very firmly that they were no longer serving. The cloisters are impressive, though, with some wonderful stained glass, including the rather charming elephants above. The cathedral has been used as a location for the Harry Potter films. Presumably you need those magical powers to get in there...
Like the cloisters, my advent calendar is a bit medieval, with interesting windows. (Whoa, smooth link, or what?) This photo is a bit old, and there are now more windows open than closed! This means it's time to get Christmassy. I don't have any more fairs before Christmas, and the online orders have dried up a bit, so I'm definitely starting to feel a bit holiday, a bit festive. Hopefully we'll get our tree up tomorrow....

Monday, 7 December 2009

Lemons and Art

If life gives you lemons, make lemon curd! Every now and again, I need homemade lemon curd. It can't be shop bought, it has to be homemade. It doesn't have to be my home, mind. I'm quite happy for someone else to do the work. The W.I. do a very good line in lemon curd. I used to get it from their stall at the farmers market. But I don't work near that market any more, and so I have started to make my own. I'm rather pleased with the result. It's not difficult, and tastes SO good!

Lemons have also turned up recently in a painting Mr Kitsch and I bought. Back in May, when we celebrated our 20th anniversary, we agreed that instead of buying each other presents, we would buy a piece of art. Circumstances intervened, and we never got our art. So when we saw this painting, and liked it, we decided this would be our anniversary art.

It's by a local artist called Sarah Duncan. We got it at the private view of Art Presence, the Christmas group show, which includes some of my work too. I keep mentioning it, I know, but it's actually the first time my work has been up in a gallery (as opposed to fairs or markets), so I was a bit excited.

All the artists have to do three sessions 'invigilating', and I did my first one on Tuesday. What I didn't know is that one of the essential duties is to go out on the streets, handing out flyers and encouraging people to venture down the rather hidden alleyway where the gallery is. Well, it only rained a bit, and I was quite pleased with myself for managing a cheery, if damp smile at all the poor people I accosted.

We actually did quite well, considering it was a wet Tuesday afternoon, and I like to think that my superior flyer-distributing skills played their part! Sadly, no-one bought anything of mine. I wonder if I put people off by standing behind people, shouting "BUY IT! BUY IT!"...?

P.S. If you're in Bristol on Saturday, there are lots of cool Christmas markets to go to. I will be selling vintage and handmade at the Festive Flea Market at the Folk House on Park Street. (10am to 3pm)

Friday, 4 December 2009

The Winner!

Many thanks to all of you who entered my giveaway and gave feedback on my choice of shop names! I had a record number of comments (66! One was my own, though.) As promised, a winner was picked yesterday at random by Mr Kitsch. He picked number 23, and the 23rd comment was from hetlieveheersbeestje. Her blog is in Dutch, but I think the title means 'The Ladybirds'. You can read it in English using Google translate (button at the top of the page), but the auto-translation has a strange and rather quaint effect on the words!

In a spirit of Christmas largesse, I'm also going to give a runner-up prize. The second number to be picked by my lovely assistant was 11, and the 11th comment was from m.e. Cathie, who is from Australia. How very exciting to be so international! I'll contact both winners for their addresses, and get those parcels packed up as soon as possible!

It was great to read all the feedback on my shop ideas. As for the names, when I also included the comments on Flickr, I had 19 votes in favour of 'Nearly Teatime', but 23 for 'Hey Tiger!'. Many people gave me the wise advice to go with my gut and pick the name I truly wanted, but honestly, I just don't know any more!

The great thing was to get the feedback that both names are okay. Some of you also confirmed my feeling that 'Nearly Teatime' is sweet and nostalgic, and 'Hey Tiger!' is more sassy and upbeat. Trouble is, I don't know which I am! I like so many different styles and like to try so many different sorts of projects that it's very hard to know what my style is. 'Eclectic' about covers it...

I think 'Hey Tiger!' has an edge in that regard, in being a bit more neutral, whereas 'Nearly Teatime' conjures up some definite images. So I'll probably go with the popular vote. I'll let you know when I launch my shop.
Thanks again to you all!

Don't these vintage Christmas labels make you feel all warm and cosy?

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

It's all going on...

(Apologies if you saw this as blank post previously- technical problems!)
I'm busy finishing off some pieces for the Art Presence show at the Centrespace Gallery, which I need to deliver tomorrow. The private view is this Saturday (the 28th) 6.30 - 9pm. If you are in Bristol, do feel free to come along. There are lots of artists exhibiting, and the emphasis is on work that's suitable for presents, so there will be lots of lovely things, I think. It's always good to get handmade presents and support the art/craft community.

As well as cards and framed assemblage, I've created some new, simple word badges. I like using words in my work, and I enjoy finding new ways of doing it. The style is very different from a lot of my handmade stuff. I'm not a natural minimalist(!), but it's effective sometimes. You probably can't read the small print in this photo, but it says they are 'guaranteed lo-tech', with no printing involved.

Maybe my changes in style account for my confusion over names, as I described in my previous post. A big thank you to everyone who has commented and entered the giveaway. 45 comments and counting so far!! A lot of these were due to a lucky coincidence. Following a link from another blog, I just happened to find 'Meet Me at Mike's', where they are hosting links to giveaways this week. So lots of new visitors have found me, which is all very exciting. And there's still lots of time to enter the giveaway, if you'd like to!!

ps Sorry the photos are a bit rubbish, but during these dark rainy days, I've had to take photos under a lamp on my desk - not ideal! Will it ever stop raining???

Monday, 23 November 2009

100th Post - Giveaway Time

Hey Tiger Artwork I created
100 posts! Woo-hoo! Cue the brass band and streamers!! Huzzah!

OK, simmer down everyone, I know you're all over-excited by this awesome news. What do you mean, you did 100 posts in less than a year, and you're underwhelmed that it's taken me about 18 months? Speed isn't everything.

Anyway, prepare for more excitement. Oh yeah. Because you're going to have a week of unbearable suspense wondering who will win my blog giveaway!! The winner will have an all-expenses-paid trip to their letterbox to receive a fab parcel of my handmade and vintage goodies!

Handmade, you ask? Why yes, I've been making a few things, and will be making a lot more, I hope. I've been planning to open a new online shop for my handmade, crafty things for months. I wanted a separate shop because I decided 'Kitsch and Curious' didn't really fit my new work. Also, in the past, when I'd tried to put handmade things into my Etsy vintage shop, they were totally ignored. (Possibly wisely...) So I hope a separate shop will have things flying off the shelves.
Magnets created from pages of a Mrs beeton cookery book
Actually, my first shop on Etsy.com was for handmade stuff. It was 'The Dolls Have Eyes'. I didn't really understand how to get the best out of Etsy and I only sold one card. Oh. and someone ordered an altered doll, but never paid for it. Not a great track record, but I still like the name and have a website www.TheDollsHaveEyes.com. Trouble is, nobody else likes it much.

So that experience has made me think hard about a new name. A bit too hard, actually. I have considered hundreds of names. I'm not exaggerating. Everything from Velvet Morning to Midnight Feast, Red Feathers to Grey Squirrel, Peanut Park, Peppermint Carnival, Little Plum, Budgie, Pigeon, Plastic Posy, Curious Mind, Tangerine Art Engine, and...so...on....

I had settled on 'Hey Tiger!', but started to lose confidence (isn't an exclamation mark is a bit showy?), and have now returned to a previous front-runner, 'Nearly Teatime'.
Pincushions created with dolls' china
But now I've totally confused myself, and I need help. I'd love to know what you think. What will fit best? 'Hey Tiger!', 'Nearly Teatime', or something else entirely?

Please leave a comment and your name will be entered into the giveaway draw on the 3rd December. The winner will receive one of my dolly teacup pincushions, a magnet pack, a handmade greetings card, and other little goodies. And as I'm feeling all generous and Christmassy, there will also be a runner-up prize. This is open to everyone, no matter where you are in the world, so I hope I can lure out you lurkers too! Please leave a comment !

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Oooh, look!

Time to share some of the goodies I got at THAT fair. (If you couldn't get to the Vintage & Handmade Fair, sorry we all keep going on about it, but it IS brilliant. Congratulations and thanks to Jayne and Michele for all their organising.) I mean, just look at all that!
And that..

And there were other things that I can't show you (Xmas secrets!). But this next one was a present to myself.
And thinking about present-giving on special days, my next blog post will be number 100!! So to commemorate this notable landmark, I'll be doing a giveaway. Woo hoo! So keep watching, and I hope you won't have to wait too long.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

See you on Saturday?

I know I have been very blog-silent of late. I hope you all understand. If you're a last-minute person like me, then you will know how the run-up to Christmas can get very busy with making. I have had my head down for the last few weeks. But I thought it was about time I popped by the blog and said hello, in the hope that you won't forget who I am completely.

Hmm, I hear you say, a case of bad planning, surely? Yes, I know perfectly well that if you want to sell Christmas cards, you're supposed to have them all ready at Easter, but I have yet to master that sort of timetable. Instead, this week has found me busy making cards, magnet packs and other goodies as well as sorting through mountains of vintage china, and oceans of old dolls, getting ready for the Vintage and Handmade Fair on Saturday.

The teaset (top) will be coming along, and I will also be taking my charming old dolls' heads like this one, and this box of kitschy vintage pom-pom pets. (I can't actually identify all the animals...) And so much other stuff that I'm thinking of getting a team of porters to carry it all.

Hope to see you there?

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Only 63 days to Christmas

These days, it doesn't take much to make me feel under pressure. I have just got the West Bristol Art Trail out of the way, and was psyching myself up to make stuff for the Vintage and Handmade Fair, when I got an email to say that my work has been accepted for a large group exhibition called Art Presence at the Centrespace Gallery in Bristol. This is great, but I have to submit work by the 6th November. The idea of the show is to provide alternative Christmas presents (average spend is £30, apparently), so I'm not sure that the work I have to hand will be suitable. Hmm... I better get going.

I told myself earlier in the year that I must make lots of opportunities to sell my work in the run-up to Christmas. Now that I'm faced with just a few opportunities, I'm panicking slightly. As ever, I am hopelessly under-prepared. I think I got a bit side-tracked by making more 'arty' pieces for the Trail, which are necessarily more time-consuming and experimental. I have quite a few unfinished pieces, which are interesting, but not particularly saleable, and will just take too much time right now.

So I didn't even get as much done for the Trail as I hoped. This is my table in the pic below. The nice thing about my stuff is that people generally stop to look. Mostly in a 'What the hell IS that?' kind of way, but at least they look! It was a nice day, but not busy. I only sold one piece (not counting cards and badges, that is.) Oh well.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Art Trail This Weekend

This post is a shameless plug for the West Bristol Art Trail this weekend. Bristol appears to be a city of artists, and there are now at least four different art trails each year. Each one covers a different area of the city, and artists in that area open their homes to exhibit and sell their work. I'm not exhibiting in my home, but in the Hope Community Church. We have a preview evening on Friday (tomorrow) 6 to 9pm, and then we're open 10am to 5pm on Saturday (17th October). The trail as a whole is well worth a visit, if you're in the area. You get to see all kinds of art, AND you get to have a nose in other people's houses!

I haven't got as much work finished as I hoped, but I'm quite pleased with my new technique using beads and pins. I've pushed in a lot of pins now, and boy, are my fingers sore!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Pretty crazy

Goodness me, I've been a very poor blogger lately. But it's been deliberate, really. I've been trying to focus on getting some projects finished, and so I have to stop myself from spending too much time on the interweb. It's rather like not being allowed to watch TV until you've done your homework. Rather a sad state of affairs for a woman my age, but there you go.

However, I thought I'd do a quick 'show and tell' of the wonderful junk (or tat, if you will) I got from the charity shops in Weston-super-Mare on Saturday.

I was in sunny Weston to do another tour of duty at The Mythical Beast Sweet Shoppe (art exhibition plus sweets). In fact, I left Mr Kitsch doing the shopkeeping with Camilla, while I went went off round the charity shops. I haven't been shopping much lately, so I think I went a bit crazy. I would have bought more, but I just couldn't carry it. And, yes, obviously I need this many china animals...(rolls eyes and sighs impatiently). Well, duh!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Last Weekend, Next Weekend

I found this little pet on Sunday, at the Gimme Shelter Vintage fair in Bristol, held in the retro bowling alley called The Lanes. Lots of lovely vintage stalls there, including Lizzie's - it was lovely to meet her again. I'm afraid I added more to my over-large stash of vintage fabric...

On my way home, I went into Paperchase (in Borders) to look at their 'kawaii' stationery. I bought a pencil tin and a photo album (I did actually need a photo album!).

And then in the magazine section, I found this wonderful publication.
I loved Jackie magazine when I was a teenager. I got the retro 'annual' they published a couple of years ago, but I couldn't resist getting this as well. My favourites are the fashion illustrations. I used to copy this style of drawing and I remember drawing a whole page of platform shoes in a history lesson. History lessons really helped my drawing skills.

So that was last weekend. Next weekend, on Saturday, I will be a guest shopkeeper at The Mythical Beast Sweet Shoppe in Weston-super-Mare, weather permitting. (They people who have the keys to the shop aren't there when the weather's bad.) Ostensibly, I will be there to sell art, but really I intend to eat as many of the sweets as I can! Heeheehee!! Sweeties!!!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Is It Art?

The West Bristol Art Trail is only three weeks away. Three weeks! Yikes!
I've been pretty busy making work for it. Or trying. I start things and have lots of ideas, but finishing - that's difficult. Sometimes I lose confidence halfway through a piece. I did with this doll. (No, not the one Val's holding, the one below.)
I didn't love it. I think it's because I went for subtle colours. It's not very 'me'. I do like subtle colours, and I appreciate gentle colour combinations, but somehow it's not a way I can really express myself. Kitsch and garish speak to me so much more strongly and happily.

I know that much of what I do is strange and unpopular. But I need to express myself and explore these ideas, and I hope it's worthwhile. But am I an artist? I've called myself an artist when I exhibit my work, because I have to. I feel like I'm an imposter, but I do it to try to convince myself. The boundaries between art and craft are blurry in any case. Is it mainly about originality? Well, that's open to debate at the best of time, with purists arguing that there's no such thing anyway.

I don't suppose it really matters, except to me. Like so many women, I struggle to have confidence in what I do. I only finished the doll because Mr Kitsch gave me a pep talk.

And then I gave myself a pep talk. I may not be creating masterpieces, but I'm finding my way to what's important to me. It's about self-expression and creativity. It doesn't matter what other people think. Maybe this sounds like needy psycho-babble, but perhaps I'm a needy psycho. I don't know. Whatever the case, it helped me a lot, and I've got lots of new ideas which I'm excited about working on. I may even manage to finish them before the Art Trail, with good luck and a following wind.

I think I need to remind myself of all this at regular intervals. I suppose it's an affirmation.
"I am an artist."

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Blogs and 8 things

We all do it - feel bad for not keeping up with everyone else's blogs. There's so much out there, and I'd love to comment more than I do, but well, you know... Every now and then I try to work my way through the list of blogs I follow, to make sure I haven't missed too much. I must admit I have to sneakily stop following blogs occasionally, when the list gets too long. I could look at pictures of vintage fabrics all day, but then I really wouldn't get anything else done, would I?

So on one of these backtracking journeys, I discovered that I had been tagged by another blogger way back in May, and I never knew anything about it. She seems to have stopped blogging since then, so I'll let her remain anonymous. Her lack of new posts since then, also accounts for why I never picked up on it. Anyway, the tag was about lists of 8 things, and the idea inspired me to give it a go.

8 things I did yesterday
1. Got hot (yes, hot! in September! Yay!), walking up the hill from the shops.
2. Looked for vintage fairs & carboot sales to go to in the next few weeks.
3. Made a watermelon slice from hama beads (a.k.a. perler beads, pyssla beads).
4. Crocheted a 'doll' body to work on.
5. Discovered the wonderful world of Allee Willis. I got sent an email about her new Museum of Kitsch. I'd never heard of her but her career is amazing. She has written hit songs - most notably 'Boogie Wonderland' and the theme to the TV show 'Friends'. She has worked as an art director on TV, she makes art, collects kitsch, and has some very cool and famous friends.
6. I read some more of my current book - Claire Tomalin's biography of Jane Austen
7. Enjoyed an hour-long phone call with my friend Tessa.
8. Inspired by the kokeshi exhibition I mentioned the previous day, I drew a couple of designs for decorated dolls.

8 things I'm looking forward to
1. Having auburn hair again. I coloured my hair 'golden brown' over the summer, but I think I preferred it redder, so I'm stocking up on a different shade of Nice 'n' Easy...
2. A flea market tomorrowDetail of work from West Bristol Art Trail 20083. The Mythical Beast Sweet Shoppe. 12 Sept - 11 Oct
4. The West Bristol Art Trail 17 Oct (Pic above is from last year's)
5. The Vintage & Handmade Fair 14 Nov
I'm participating in all these three events, but even if I wasn't, I would visit them anyway, as I think they'll all be enjoyable
6. Gimme Shelter Vintage Fair 27 Sept. (Definitely just planning to visit.)
7. Collecting conkers. I love them when they're fresh and shiny. (I'm a bit worried about the local horse chestnut trees though, because they've been attacked by a leaf miner parasite, which makes the leaves die early.)
8. The run-up to Christmas. I enjoy the anticipation and preparation more than the event!

I'm going to skip the rest of the tag, which was '8 things I wish I could do' (I think everyone wants to teleport, don't they?) and '8 TV shows I watch' (I get bored enough by TV without inflicting it on you) and finally the last list was to tag eight other people. Well, I tag anyone who reads this, if they want to do it. Can't say fairer than that.

Friday, 11 September 2009

American Museum Part 2

Why is there an incongruous tipi in the middle of the English countryside?
It's the American Museum near Bath, which I visited yesterday.

This lovely museum and its gardens gained a special place in my heart, when I went there in 1992, just when I was about to take voluntary redundancy from a job I disliked, and start a more creative career. It became associated with that feeling of freedom and creativity. I have visited it regularly ever since, and now I try to visit it every year, to see the annual exhibition. This year's exhibition featured American folk art. They have a wonderful permanent collection of folk art, which has long been an inspiration to me. They also have an extensive collection of beautiful American quilts. I'm afraid photos were not allowed, so I can only share some of the outdoor delights. Like the gardens in the September sun...

Some architectural details in the gazebo...

Tree roots in the arboretum....

And finally, the 'Tussie Mussie' posies they sell. They are full of sweet scented flowers and herbs, and the ladies used to carry them to church as a nosegay.