Sunday, 28 February 2010

Photo tag

I was tagged by Camilla of Made by Milla
This is what it means to play the game.

1. open your first photo folder in your computer library.
2. scroll to the 10th photo
3. post the photo and the story behind it
4. tag 5 or more people to continue the thread

So I found the photo above. It was one of a series of photos I took (and still take) of tree branches. I had this idea of doing a semi-abstract painting based on tree branches. As well as finding them endlessly pleasing, I'm also fascinated by the way they echo other natural forms, such as blood vessels in the body, or river tributaries. I like the pattern of the large branch diverging into smaller branches, and getting smaller and smaller down to twigs and buds.
I thought I would include some others from the series which illustrate better what I was trying to capture. That top one was a fairly poor example. It's made me think about it again. It might make a good subject for embroidery too. Hmm...

I think rather than tag anyone else, I'm going to wimp out and just invite you to try this tag game if you'd like to. (Some of my previous attempts at tagging have not appeared very successful, so I'm rather shy of trying it.)
If you do have a go, please leave a comment with a link, so we can see what you found...

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Nearly There

My new Etsy shop for my handmade items is starting to take shape. There are about a dozen items so far, but I hope to keep listing more in the next few days. I think the term for what I've done so far is 'Repurposed Vintage', as I've taken old vintage china eggcups and things and made them into pincushions, and also made badges from old children's illustrations.

Regular readers will remember my quandary about shop names last year. At the time I was trying to decide between 'Hey Tiger!' and 'Nearly Teatime'. I put it to a vote (how democratic), and got a small majority in favour of 'Hey Tiger!'. But I still ummmed and ahhed.

At last, I decided to go with 'Hey Tiger!', because I felt it was fresher. I even started to create an Etsy shop, but somehow, I wasn't happy... I started to rethink. Then I discovered several other shops and blogs with similar, tigery names, and I lost confidence completely. Oh dear.
So now I have gone back to 'Nearly Teatime'. I keep having doubts about that too, but I decided I should just do it, or I'll never get this shop open! I've considered several other names in the meantime, but nothing is quite right.

I hope you like the shop. Or just go window shopping - Etsy is a great place to look for gifts generally, so don't be put off by dealing in dollars - it's very easy, as Paypal sorts it all for you anyway. (However for Etsy-phobics, I intend to set up a shop in UK sterling soon too.)

Monday, 22 February 2010

Dreams of Treasure

Do you have dreams about finding vintage treasures? Real dreams, at night when you're asleep, and your subconscious takes you to the perfect shop where they have shelves stacked full of beautiful old things for 10p a time? It's usually toys and clothes for me. In these dreams, I usually end up with armfuls of beautiful vintage fabric, cool toys and kitsch ornaments. Well this weekend... No, it didn't quite come true, not that dream, but another lovely vintage-hunting dream came true. I got to go round a jumble sale before it opened to the public.

You see, earlier in the week, London Friend had come to visit us, and we'd taken her over to her parents. I think I've mentioned her mum's wonderful homemade cakes and jam, and her dad's home-grown vegetables, in a previous post. There was chocolate cake time this time. Oh yes. Anyway, they are involved with every activity you can imagine at the village church, and it just so happened that this week there was a jumble sale at the church hall. " Come to the side door, and we can let you in early." Let me in early? To a jumble sale at a village hall? Aren't those about the sweetest words you've ever heard?

And so, twenty minutes before the jumble began, I was able to saunter around and take my pick. My chief worry beforehand was that there might be a lot of stuff I wanted, and I'd clean them out before they started. Of course that didn't happen. There was just enough to keep me happy, without making me feel too greedy. I paid more than they asked, and I still felt I got bargains. So it was a very happy and excited treasure hunter who took her swag home.

Best of all was a tatty and cracked Ferrero Rocher box with lots of buttons in it. It didn't seem too promising, but it looked like there were a couple of interesting things in there. All the way home I was looking forward to going through that box of buttons. And I wasn't disappointed. As I sorted them, I discovered beautiful buttons in mother-of-pearl, glass, art deco plastic, flower shapes, and so on.

Looking at them again, later on, I started to wonder at the seemingly endless variety of designs for such a simple object. There's something very beautiful about each little variation. I love the process of sorting - examining, comparing, grouping. It's quite a meditative process. A moment of zen in a button box?

Monday, 15 February 2010

Introducing Mr Nuts

A quick post to show off my latest piece of work. It's not for sale, and is in the possession of a private collector, who is my biggest patron. Yes, well, alright. I'm talking about Mr Kitsch, and this is what I made him as a valentine's present.

We have so much fun watching Mr Nuts, the squirrel, in the garden, and all his furry friends, that I knew Mr K would love it if I made one. I'd been meaning to have a go at an amigurumi (cute little crochet animals) for ages. Couldn't find a suitable pattern, so I just did my own thing. Making the basic shape wasn't too difficult, but getting him to look like a cute squirrel was a lot harder. So in certain lights, he looks more like a cross between a cat and a koala, and an un-cute one to boot!

I have this nagging doubt that giving my loved one a soft toy on Valentine's Day gives the impression that I would quite like a teddy bear holding a big red heart embroidered with "I WUV YOU" or some other sickening message. I am not that person. Honestly.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Joy of Textiles

I've been meaning to do this post all week, to share the loveliness I got at a jumble sale on Saturday. I haven't been to a jumble sale for ages, so it was a real treat, and Mr Kitsch got up out of his sick bed to drive me there, bless him. But it was DEFINITELY worth it. As well as the rather cute clock you can see above, and the groovy elephant, who I think will be rather splendid after a good wash, I got all the stuff in the next picture.
Did you look closely? Can you see it? Yes, it's a real stuffed crocodile! I'm sorry if you disapprove, and I would not want anyone doing this nowadays, but vintage taxidermy is somehow appealing to me. And to find a stuffed crocodile for 10p at a jumble sale just had me dancing up and down.

I was also doing a very gleeful dance after picking up so much fantastic vintage fabric. A pair of gorgeous curtains, loads of groovy, flower-power pillowcases, some napkins and five tablecloths. I just can't resist vintage textiles, and I'm getting better at using them these days too. I also got a couple of old trays, and this horse design was on one of them.
Isn't it cool? It would make a fabulous fabric design.

My textile love has also resulted in my doing lots more crochet, and despite my enormous stash of yarn, I decided I needed to buy an enormous bundle of cotton yarn from Ebay. Well, it was a bargain...

I also managed to win a large lot of mending yarn on cards from the same seller. Vintage haberdashery also makes me very happy...

Monday, 1 February 2010


Isn't it odd how vintage things turn up together? Like buses, you wait for ages and then two come along at once. Recently, it was jigsaws. Not a thing I look for, particularly, unlike vintage china and fabric, say, which are always the first things to catch my eye. But I saw this "Educational" jigsaw puzzle (below) on Ebay, just by chance. The price was okay and I liked the picture on the box, so I thought I'd bid.(It's an addiction, I tell you!) Anyway, I got it. It was fun putting it together. Mr Kitsch and I tested our geography skills!
I must admit, I expected it to just show the USA, but I was forgetting that it was 'Made in Britain', where the important part of North America is Canada, that great pink swathe of the British Empire! And I think they only show Mexico so they can include British Honduras. (I had to look up what it's called now - Belize.)
A couple of days after getting that puzzle, I found this beauty in a charity shop. My goodness, I can't tell you how much I love this picture. It's not just the great vintage style, or because the little girl is playing with a doll's house, or because there's a cute kitten in it, but because it's me.

This picture reminds me so much of the pictures I identified with as a little girl, where my mum would say "There's a little girl, just like you." It's really just because of the hair. I had very blonde hair as a child, and being quite thick, it always ended up in a bob, pretty much like that. The clothes too are very like what I wore. Mind you, I don't think I was ever industrious enough to polish the dollies' furniture!