Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Creative Wednesday - Christmas Oddments

I haven't done a 'Creative Wednesday' post for a while, but here are a couple of little festive makes I thought I'd share.

I was making some Christmas shortbread biscuits for a friend of mine, and Mr Kitsch, in a stroke of genius, suggested that I make them into buttons. I pressed a smaller circle with a mini jam jar, and poked the holes through with a skewer. Hey presto - cute button biscuits for my button-loving friend!

Last year I made some tree decorations from plastic Hama beads (a.k.a.Pyssla beads or Perler beads). I wasn't sure about them. I liked them, but they didn't seem to look right on our tinsel tree (we're so classy). This year, I realised that they were waterproof and could therefore be hung on the conifer outside our front door. I was pretty pleased with the result, even though I could probably have done with a couple more. As you can see they have survived the snow, and still look festive.

And finally, more Hama beads, on my Christmas cards (which you may also have seen last year). These are tiny Mini Hama beads, so this little tree is only about an inch and a half tall. And I love old Dymo tape!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Kind Thoughts

More scans from my card collection for you. Today's theme is snow-covered cottages. Apologies if you are currently stranded in a snow-covered dwelling of any kind. They might not seem so appealing to you, under the circumstances.
Cottages appear quite a lot on greeting cards of the 1940s, sometimes surrounded by summery flowers, and sometimes in snow scenes like these. I'm not one of these people who long to live in a country cottage. I've spent time in cottages, and generally found them to be cold and dark, and not somewhere I want to live in real life.
However, I find these sort of illustrations to be very charming, and almost unbearably sweet, in their portrayal of idyllic country scenes. Who wouldn't want to walk home in the snow to these cosy cottages, with their smoking chimneys telling of warm firesides and home baking?

I find vintage Christmas cards have an surprisingly strong emotional impact on me, if I let them. Something to do with that impossibly perfect Christmas that we've all been brought up to believe in? A vision of the happy home and endless contentment? They just seem so... sweet. I can't think of a better word.

I don't why these old cards seem so much sweeter and more innocent that today. People are not really any different, and the sender of those 'Kind Thoughts' might have been an insincere neighbour who kicked your cat. Or the one who wished you 'Happy Days' might have been a grumpy aunt who picked the first card out of the box.

But I just see the pictures, and enjoy the idyll.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Robins and Snow

I'm feeling pretty Christmassy now, as I have no more fairs and markets to attend, and have sent out all the orders from my shop. Yay!! Now all I have to do is to get my Christmas shopping done and the cards sent! I hope I'm not too late, like poor Mrs Robin on the card above. These are from a lovely set of Happy Families I got earlier in the year. The illustrations are delightful, with details like Master Robin's hot water bottle (I know how he feels!).

The pictures below are from my ever-growing collection of vintage greeting cards. I do love a good snow scene, and as I'm in a holiday mood, I'll try to share a few more with you over the next week. (Judging from the forecast, we might have some real snow scenes too....)

Friday, 10 December 2010

Still Life with Tunnocks

I know it's a bit late for the frosty pictures, but I've just got around to uploading these, and thought I'd share. These were taken from the bedroom window. 
This was a day later when the sun was shining and making the treetops sparkle like Christmas cliches.
What with the weather and all, it's felt very Christmassy, and last weekend we went to a few Christmas fairs, and then popped in to see a craft fair at Ashton Court. In the park there, they have deer, and from a distance, I think you can pretend they're reindeer...

We've also had the fun of starting our advent calenders. Unfortunately, I went shopping a bit too late, and I couldn't find a nice one that I liked. So I ended up with this one.
I got it from a pound shop for 38p. Even in a pound shop, they didn't have the nerve to charge a pound for it. They didn't even have the nerve to charge 39p for it. Just 38p. 38p's worth of fun. It is huge - about two feet tall, but the art work is possibly the worst drawing I have ever seen. It's so bad, it made me laugh, which is why I got it.

I wondered if it had been drawn by a child, but I don't think so.  And why is it such a complicated cut-out shape? Look carefully - the outline of the clock actually bulges out around the figures on it.

Look at the creature below. Is it a monkey or a bear? Why is there a lump of wood behind his head?
The drawings inside the windows are actually quite normal, which is a slight disappointment.

And my last piece of random nonsense - a photo I took at snack time in the afternoon, a visual poem in praise of Tunnocks Caramel Wafers. I particularly love that on every packet it says that they make 5 million of these wafers every week! Five million??? I can account for part of that, but who is eating the other four million?
Winter Afternoon or Still Life with Tunnocks

Oh, and a quick, very late reminder that I will be selling at the Folk House on Saturday 11th December!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Rest & Recreation

I hope you're all keeping warm in this chilly weather. I quite like the look of the little girl above. I think that I might start using a muff. Could I rock that look?

If only...  I'm actually sporting a sniffy red nose, and a blanket over my knees, as I sit on the sofa (hooray for the laptop!). I thought I was getting over my cold, but it's laying me low again. 
At least I managed to sleep last night, thanks to a good dose of some evil-looking, bright green, Night Nurse-type stuff from Boots. A definite improvement on the three hours that I managed the night before. This lack of sleep left me a bit befuddled by the time I got to the Vintage & Handmade Fair yesterday. I must apologise to anyone who spoke to me and was answered by a complete load of  nonsense!

As ever, the fair was marvellous, and I met lots of lovely people, including the charming Jane from Things to Make and Do, and Cathy from Menopausal Musing, who brought me a wonderful gift of 'chalet chic' ribbons. It was so kind of her - I love them, and will have to take a photo as soon as I sort myself out.

I don't have any photos of the fair, as I forgot to take my camera. This was especially stupid, as I'd taken some photos of my 'dry run' at setting up my new shelves, and my cunning plan was to use the photos as a guide in arranging my wares.

I don't know if that would have worked, but without the camera there was no way to find out! Ho hum... Every fair, I think I'm going to do all sorts of wonderful things for the next one, but somehow, it never works out. Shall I tell you about all the Christmas decorations I never finished sewing? Or the elaborate display that never got made? 

Ah, well, never mind, I had a very good day anyway, and I think I've earned my 'sick day' today. Let's get back under that blanket... 

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Cabin Fever

I still haven't quite got back into the groove of regular blogging, but I have to say, I was really cheered up to read the lovely comments on my last blog post. It brightened my day to feel at least a little back in touch with the world. That's the trouble when you work at home - you can feel really out of touch, and to add to it, I've been in a bit of an autumnal slump recently. So I'm sorry I haven't been able to spread sweetness and light by commenting on other blogs. Hopefully I will have some time to catch up soon.

This week, I'm busy preparing for the Vintage & Handmade Fair at Chipping Sodbury. I got a bit carried away and started making things, which was probably a bit over-ambitious, seeing as I have now caught Mr Kitsch's cold, and feel like the shadow of a wet rag, and in no mood for festive sewing.

And on the subject of sewing (smooth link, huh?), isn't this bag gorgeous? Not my work, but a wonderful gift from Jenny of The Custards. I cannot tell you happy I was when I opened the package to find not only the much coveted bag, but a cute little lavender bag too! It really made my day to receive something so wonderful. Thank you Jenny! The Custards Flickr photostream is always full of the most perfect vintage loveliness, and she sells gorgeous handmade bags and vintage stuff on Ebay.

So thanks to the encouragement of others, I am slowly emerging from my metaphorical cabin in the woods....
Mind you, it does look nice and cosy, doesn't it?

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Accumulation and Speculation

I wish I wasn't a putter-off of things.
Sometimes I put off emailing a friend because I think I must spend some time on a 'proper' reply, and then I end up not sending any kind of reply for days or even weeks. Sometimes the housework piles up until it seems to be this daunting, enormous task that I can hardly contemplate. And sometimes I stop blogging for a while, and it gets harder and harder to start again.

But here I am, deciding to just get on with things, for a change. One task I have been tackling in a fairly undaunted manner is the attempt to reduce the amount of vintage 'stuff', piling up in the house. It was getting hard to move in the place, but just over a month ago, I did A Bad Thing. I went to an auction at a props company that was closing down, and I went a bit crazy, and bought even more stuff. Far too much stuff.  I have to admit that, in places, our house now looks (and smells!) like a seedy old charity shop...
But there's some really great stuff in there, and I just need to get selling! So the creative side of my work has been taking second place, and I've been focussing on selling vintage. It's been nice to concentrate on the one thing for a few weeks, but I'm not sure that vintage selling is really my forte.

I'd never call myself an entrepreneur, but I now have an even lower opinion of my business acumen after my experience selling at a local flea market last weekend. I thought it would be okay, as it's a monthly event that has been going on for years, with regular traders who seem to do okay. Surely I could sell a bit there? Well, I sold a bit. By the end of the day we had taken a grand total of £20. By a lucky coincidence, the cost of the table was ... £20. My profits were nil, nada, zilch. A big fat zero. I could have speeded up the whole process by just throwing twenty pounds worth of stock into the bin. Oh well. Oddly enough, I didn't mind that much - I was happy just to consider it 'a learning experience'. You never know unless you try, do you?
That experience also made me even more appreciative of the great events organised by other bloggers. A few weeks ago, I went to the Vintage Bazaar at Frome, which was a super event, with lots of fantastic stalls, and lots of visitors. (If you didn't get a chance to visit, I recommend going to the next one in April.) And in just 10 days time on Sunday 28th November, there is the Vintage & Handmade Fair in Chipping Sodbury. I have been saving lots of great stuff for that one!
However, even with these great events, the mountain of vintage stock is so large, that I am also selling stuff on Ebay at the moment. (I also have my Etsy shop, but buyers in the UK don't seem to use it, so I'm selling some stuff on Ebay.) I currently have some very kitsch Christmas ornaments for sale, and some vintage toys and dolls, so please take a look if you're interested. If you mention this blog when you buy anything, I'll include a small free gift with your purchase!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Teacups and Tiaras

Long time, no blog. I'll try to do some recapping this week, as there have been all sorts of events to relate.
On Saturday, we went to the wedding of our very good friends Katy and Mark. It was a lovely day, and so wonderful to see the two of them so happy together. I came over all soppy, I have to admit.

Katy had added some beautiful touches to the tables, including small vintage glass vases for the flowers, and gorgeous candles she'd made in vintage teacups. I'd contributed a few teacups, and I had fun spotting the ones I recognised. Katy loves buttons, and I had made her tiara (to her specifications) from old mother-of-pearl buttons. I'd never made a tiara before, so I was quite pleased that I'd made something wearable, not to say extremely proud to make something for her to wear on such a special day.

I also made a fascinator for her bridesmaid, and it was only when her dad thanked me in his speech that I was reminded that I'd also designed the invitations too! (To be fair, it was a long time ago, and I'd only done a bit of design to copy some typography that Katy had seen and liked.) It was so great to be able to contribute to the wedding.

One of the things I never got around to blogging about was Katy's hen weekend. If a hen weekend conjures up tequila slammers and male strippers, then think again. We spent the weekend in a thatched cottage in the Cotswolds, and our activities included cake decorating and country walks. No outrageous costumes, either, although we did all get matching aprons, courtesy of the bride's mum! That's far more my sort of thing!

However, in case you think it was all civilised, I should confess that I was slightly undone by a lethal pre-dinner cocktail. At that point, I was supposed to be keeping everyone busy with a craft activity. I'd laid out an assortment of fabric, buttons, beads etc. for everyone to play with, and hopefully make something fun to wear at dinner. As everyone got stuck in with glue and thread, I downed my cocktail and started to relax. Suddenly I wasn't feeling all that creative.

As the other hens created jewelled bracelets, gorgeous ribbon brooches and pretty flower hair clips, I stabbed a needle tipsily at a misshapen bit of felt, plonked a 'jewel' on with a massive glue dot, and attached it to a hair clip along with a wonky feather. Classy. As the evening wore on and more wine was drunk, my feather drooped at all angles, and fell out completely at one point. In the face of that, it seems to defy all reason that Katy still asked me to make her tiara.
But hey, that's real friendship.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Creative Wednesday - Grid Collage

Just a brief show-and-tell today. This is a collage I did a few months ago, but never got round to showing in this blog. (Although it was on Flickr, so apologies to those of  you who have seen it already.)

I like the idea of things in boxes, so keeping to a square grid for a collage seemed like a good idea. I also like the idea of random collections of things, so it's a way of providing an orderly framework for otherwise unrelated images and objects. I embroidered and machine stitched between the pictures & drawn squares. (During the course of this endeavour, I discovered that doing chain stitch on a thick piece of paper is a laborious task that any sensible person should avoid.) Thinking about the stitching has just made me realise that it's a bit like a patchwork quilt, too.

I have also been experimenting with photo collages, also in a grid pattern. Maybe I'm being unimaginative, but I think I like this rigid framework.

Monday, 27 September 2010

The Happy House - Lucie Smailes

Wow! I went to see the house and art of Lucie Smailes yesterday. Her house was open as part of the St Werburghs Art Trail in Bristol. (Bristol has several art trails, where artists in a particular area open their houses to the public, and display their art.) I have met Lucie a few times now, and I knew she has wonderful taste in vintage kitsch, and colourful 1950s clothes, but I hadn't seen her art in real life, only in photos.
I knew I was going to like it, (assemblages with dolls and vintage stuff - Hellooo!) but I had no idea quite how wonderful it would be. Mr Kitsch and I walked into her front room, converted into an art gallery for the occasion, and just stood there with our mouths open. Then, 'Look at that!', 'Did you see this?', 'Look at this amazing thing!'

The amazing thing above was a cabinet from an amusement arcade, with the mannequin head going round and round on a turntable, brushing noisily against the opticians lenses suspended around it.
Many of the pieces had lights incorporated into them, like these two. I wish my photos could do them justice, but I only had a phone to take pictures with, and I think I was shaking with excitement!

It wasn't just the art that was wonderful - Lucie's house is a shrine to colourful and kitsch ornaments of the 1950s, and I loved every inch of it. 
One final and rather wonderful discovery was that Lucie had featured in and help to style photos for one of my favourite kitsch books - 'Kitsch Deluxe'
 No longer available new it appears, but well worth seeking out if you like kitsch interiors.
Do take a look at Lucie's website for much better photos of her wonderful art.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Creative Wednesday - Crazy Dolls

As you've seen rather a lot of my crazy dolls recently, I thought I'd show you someone else's crazy dolls. These pictures are from a splendid book I bought a few weeks ago, called 'How to Make Soft Toys and Dolls'. It was published in 1977, as you can probably guess from these pictures.

I love the happy gals in the picture above, and the worried look of this unlikely trio of pets. A cat, a rabbit and ... a beaver? That mealtime is not going to end well, I'd say.
These big cushions based on children's drawings are delightful.
This gingerbread man might want to consider cosmetic dentistry...
OK, this one is a bit weird - a fried egg and vegetable mobile....
But not as weird as the naked beardy man in the bath.....

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Last word

Our exhibition ended on Saturday, with another day full of lovely visitors and kind comments. Big thanks to everyone who came and wished us well. You can see a video tour of the gallery on the Smith & Jones blog

We had to take everything down and pack up on Saturday evening, so as to leave the gallery ready for the next exhibitors, so we were absolutely shattered. It's taken a few days to even start to get back to normal. Hopefully I will get up to date with blogs, etsy, flickr and everything else very soon.