Thursday, 8 December 2011

Festive Frolics

As you can see, I went a little overboard buying old toys at the Vintage & Handmade Fair last Saturday (a wonderful day, as always). But look at those wonderful old packets! I also got some barmy kittens...
...and I got quite a few vintage kitschmas decorations too. When I was photographing them, a tragic scenario appeared.
Snowbaby forgot to look both ways while he was crossing, and was knocked over by a a reckless reindeer. He was very nearly trampled underfoot! Fortunately, Santa was able to pull up in time, and the poor little snowbaby escaped with just a few bruises. Phew!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Good Grief, it's December!

December seems to have appeared all of a sudden. I suppose that mild autumn confused me into thinking that Christmas was a long way off. That, and becoming increasingly senile.

So it's time for advent calendars (just because I'm old and senile doesn't mean I can't have an advent calendar). Mr Kitsch and I have one each, and I've got an extra one I wrote about in my Curious Objects blog. Two windows open already!
December also brings us the Christmas Vintage & Handmade Fair in Chipping Sodbury tomorrow. I have been busily packing up all sorts of kitsch nonsense to take along, including the ever-popular chenille robins. Tweet tweet!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Day of the Dead exhibition

The preview night, 27th Oct 2011
Work by Hannah Dymond
The Mexican Day of the Dead is celebrated on the 1st and 2nd November, and over the years, it has become more well-known in this country. One of my dreams is to go to Mexico and experience it at first hand. Until that happens, I am more than happy to enjoy the work produced by artists in this country who are inspired by these celebrations.

Last Thursday, I went to the opening night of a Day of the Dead exhibition here in Bristol. Mr Kitsch's paintings are part of the exhibition, and the whole thing looks amazing.

On Saturday, they were doing face painting, and guess who got his face done?
The face of Cactus County
Mr Kitsch with his work
Although it's a small gallery, the exhibition is rather marvellous, so if you're anywhere near College Greeen in Bristol this week, and you like looking at skulls, do go and have a look!
The preview night, 27th Oct 2011
Work by Lou Gray
Through the window
Skull design by Sam Bevington
Day of the Dead exhibition, The Showroom, College Green, Bristol. Open daily 11.30 - 6.30 until 6th November.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Art of Cactus County

Last night Mr Kitsch (otherwise known as Gary Smith) launched his new exhibition at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol. It was a great evening, with live music, tequila, lots of friends showing their support, and of course, his amazing art. The exhibition is on for the whole of October, in The Green Room, just off the main cafe bar of the Tobacco Factory, and as you can see, looks wonderful on the deep red walls!

I'm very proud of what Gary's achieved with his painting, in a relatively short period. He has only been painting for a couple of years with no formal training, but has developed a bold, naive style inspired by the Mexican folk art of the Day of the Dead. Into that, he has woven stories of a fictional place called Cactus County, where science and rationalism are celebrated, rather than religion. You can find out more at

It was great to see it up on the walls, to be appreciated by so many other people. Let's just hope he gets lots of buyers!
My lovely man with his lovely art!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Catching up on Summer

Time for a bit of a catch-up. I haven't been posting much on this blog, as I've been having so much fun with my other blog - Curious Objects. I'd love you to take a look, if you haven't already. It's all about the strange and silly stuff I find myself collecting.
Michele's charming menagerie at the Vintage & Handmade Textile Fair
I'm afraid I had to control my collecting instincts when I popped in to the Vintage and Handmade Textile Fair on Saturday. I'm trying to stop spending, and although I sighed over many a piece of vintage fabric, I didn't allow myself to buy. Much to my chagrin, Mr Kitsch was the one to spend money, as he bought some buttons because he liked the card they were on. (Should that really be allowed? It's okay for him to follow one pace behind me at vintage fairs, but to go around buying stuff? Hrrumph.)

It was a textile-y weekend, as we went to the American Museum on Friday. The folk art and textile collections there were as marvellous as ever, and their temporary exhibition this year is 'Marilyn - Hollywood Icon', which is full of outfits that were actually worn by Marilyn Monroe in films. There were jewellery and other small possessions too (but no photography allowed). It was interesting, but the displays were rather lifeless, somehow. It think it would have helped if the mannequins had been Marilyn-shaped  - some of the dresses hung rather sadly on the standard-sized dummies. It just seemed to underline the fact that all the glamour came from her. The dress from 'Niagara' was very plain, but in the photo it looks fantastic on her.

Hooked rug at the American Museum
I spent ages looking at the quilts in the museum (but didn't get any good photos). Every time I look at those old quilts all sewn by hand, I am stunned by the amount of work in them. I'd love to try my hand at a quilt one day, but it would have to be a very simple one!
Beadwork is another craft I'd like to have a proper go at. There are some great examples of native American beadwork in the museum. And lots of great folk art and artefacts.
Although the photos look like we were indoors all the time, we spent plenty of time enjoying the grounds in the sunshine. I think it's jolly nice of the weather to make up for my missing so much of the summer. These hot days have felt like some recompense for all the summer days I felt were passing me by!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Woman 1968

I've been buying quite a few vintage women's magazines lately. I love the old adverts and fashions. This 'Woman' magazine from 1968 is one of my recent purchases, and I love that stripey mini dress on the cover, and the way they've picked out the colours in the side headings.

As I leafed through, I came across an offer for a little girl's dress, 'cut-out and ready to sew'. After a looking at it for a while, it gradually dawned on me that it was a bit familiar. In fact it was remarkably similar to a photo of myself I'd come across recently, when I was putting some old photos away.
I'm the one on the right.
It all fitted. The photo of me is from our summer holiday in Wales in 1968, just a few months after the magazine came out. I could tell it was a dress that my Mum had sewn for me, because of that crazy pink ruffle. I've no idea why she added that. Knowing her, it was probably to add a bit more colour. Maybe we were disappointed with the fabric, because the colourway was called 'Rainbow Pink', but is actually predominantly green. I can well imagine the 6 year-old me, being grumpy about a dress 'not being pink enough'. I look a little grumpy in the photo. My hair is wet, because we'd just had a day on the beach (possibly Barmouth?), and the picture makes me think of the feeling of getting dressed on the beach, still damp and sandy, with clothes sticking, and my mum trying to sort us all out.

Here are a couple more pages from the magazine, to take you back to 1968...
Oh yeah, I bet she knitted those jumpers for the whole family. And has a pet deer.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Blogging about stuff

This week I am a guest editor on 'four for the day' blog. This will give me a chance to share some of my random collections. It's a simple idea that works very nicely - four things every day.

I've started off with four elephants. I don't exactly collect elephants, I just happen to have a few. By coincidence, I discovered Peter Blake's collection of elephants, in his exhibition at the Holbourne Museum last week.
I took this photo, after checking with an attendant that I could. I was just getting started, when another attendant came in and told me photography was NOT allowed. So I have just three photos of random objects, and none of the really good stuff. The exhibition has closed now, but I'm very glad we managed to get to see it. (My thanks to Jane of Things to Make and Do, for reminding me about this exhibition, and also for discovering 'four for the day'.)

I've been focussing a lot recently on my various collections of kitsch and curious objects. Partly I suppose, because I haven't been able to get out and about much, and partly because I've been going through stuff to try to bring some order to it all and get rid of the things I don't really love any more. It's reminded me of what I love about kitsch and weird stuff, and also of some of the great stuff I own!

With that in mind, I've resurrected an old blog of mine - Curious Objects. This is where I share the weirder items from my collections, or that I've seen on my travels. I hope to add something every weekday. It's a chance to focus on the object, with less chat. I hope you take a look and let me know if you like it.

Monday, 29 August 2011

In Progress

This is a crochet throw I've been working on for a little while now. I'm not quite sure how much bigger to make it, but there's definitely some way to go before it's finished. I'm enjoying the candy-bright colours, and I was able to work on it, even when I was lying on my back!

I haven't really made anything else to speak of lately. I've been in a sort of creative limbo for quite a while now, feeling frustrated about all the things I can't do during my recovery, but not really pursuing the things I can do.

I had a bit of a setback when my slipped disc got worse again a few weeks ago. A second operation was ruled out for now, thank goodness, but I have to be careful for a while. This has meant no car-booting and very little vintage-hunting at all (although Ebay is my boon companion). I couldn't even get to the Vintage Jumble a couple of weeks ago, which was bitterly disappointing!

But I'm able to do a bit more compootering, and so I want to catch up with stocking my Etsy shop, and blogging. Getting there slowly.
I'm a work in progress at the moment.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Mind How You Go

I have a few photos to share with you of some stuff I picked up at a car boot sale and photographed before 'You Know What' happened. This was when I was trying to be gung-ho about keeping active, and decided to 'fight the pain'. How wrong can you be? I should have taken the advice of this cute card of the Squirrel family, which says 'Mind How You Go'!

However, today I'm still feeling very well, and have ventured outside for a short walk round the block. I know! How brave am I? It was a very short walk - just a few hundred yards on our housing estate, but nice to start making progress.
I was so chuffed to find some vintage cards - they are my current obsession.
Thanks again for all the good wishes. For those of you who were slightly freaked out by my medical details yesterday, here is a picture of a kitten... and a puppy and a chimp in a nappy. God, I love weird postcards like this!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Not too bad, thank you

I'm afraid this is another blog about my 'op', to explain a little more about what happened and where I am now. Thanks to all of you who have sent get well messages - it's very much appreciated. This may get a bit medical in places, so if you're squeamish, you may want to walk away and look at pictures of kittens instead...

So, I was diagnosed with a slipped disc seven weeks ago, and was told that it should get better by itself. It didn't, and I was in a lot of pain, despite lots of painkillers. It seemed as if someone had set fire to my leg, and this leg arsonist was not going to allow me to move anywhere. About 10 days ago, after three particularly debilitating days, I finally thought it was getting better. There was less pain and I could finally do something as normal as standing in the shower.

However, one of the danger signs my doctor kept checking for was incontinence, and numbness in the groin. Thankfully, I did not become incontinent, but I did get numbness in the groin, thigh and bottom. It was as if my bottom had gone to sleep after sitting in a hard chair for too long. So last Sunday saw us in the A & E department of the Bristol Royal Infirmary waiting for hours for a doctor to come and look at my bottom!

He said I needed a scan in the next couple of days, but the request got lost, and I didn't get the scan until Wednesday morning, when it was arranged for me to go A&E at Frenchay Hospital. Mr Kitsch was with me, and after the scan, we were told to go and wait in a ward, as 'they needed the bed in A&E'. I think they knew at this point I was going to have surgery, but the final decision hadn't been made. So, as I said in my previous post, the next thing was that I was told they had a bed on ward 2 and would operate that evening.

In the end, the op was the following morning. Apparently my slipped disc (it doesn't actually slip, but bulges out and presses on the nerves) was extremely large. "Huge", in the words of one of the doctors! As Mr Kitsch said, 'If you're gonna have one, have a big one!'.  I also had (have?) Cauda Equina Syndrome, which accounts for the numbness. I was also pretty unique in having had the pain in one leg and the numbness in the other leg. How nice to feel so special...

The scary thing about the numbness is that there was a 50% chance that it would spread and make me incontinent, possibly permanently. Hence the emergency of the operation. I had to have a microdiscetomy and a hemilaminectomy to decompress my spine. (Again, probably best NOT to follow the link if you are squeamish!)

I am so grateful to all the medical staff for their prompt action. From my GP who made me aware of the danger signals to look out for, to the surgeon who performed the operation, and explained everything so well. I am very lucky to live reasonably close to Frenchay Hospital, whose neurosurgery department is excellent, and although I was only on the ward for less than two days, I was so impressed by how friendly and helpful all the staff were.

I was very grateful too, at having had so much hospital experience visiting my mum and my sister in the last few years. Although I'd never stayed in hospital before, I was used to what goes on and how things work, so I wasn't upset by all the weird things they have to do. So when a nurse came to give me an ECG at 6am, I could just relax and let her put stickers and wires all over me without worrying in the least.

In fact, I was surprised by how calmly I took it all. I think the speed of it gave me no time to think, and all I could do was concentrate on what was going to happen next. I think poor Mr Kitsch has had the hardest time by far. He had to dash to and fro across Bristol to get the things I needed, and then all he could do was to go home and worry.

And now I'm back home, the poor man has to look after me. I'm really only allowed to lie down and stand up, and walk to and from the bathroom for the next week. I've been up and down stairs for meals, but I have to be careful not to overdo it. I've written this blog post in many instalments over a couple of days, standing up. In the next couple of weeks I can start to walk a bit further, and sit for short periods in an upright chair. Yesterday was exciting as I had a shower, and was able to wash my hair for the first time in a week! Boy, that feels better!

Amazingly, I am in virtually no pain now. Keyhole surgery really is amazing, isn't it? I hardly feel like I've had a scratch on my back. Frustratingly, I still have the numbness, and this will take months to go, as the nerves have to regrow. The sensation might never fully return, but hopefully I will get rid of the 'numb bum' eventually!

I can only keep thinking about how lucky I've been, and how wonderful everyone has been to me. And of course, how lucky I am to have Mr Kitsch to look after me. He has had an incredibly difficult week, with other things going on, apart from my troubles, and he has been uncomplaining and cheerful, and ready with a cup of a tea at the right moment. Which is always Very Important...

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Back - just about!

This is just a quick blog to explain my absence in the last couple of weeks. My back did not get better. In fact it got worse, with some symptons that were alarming enough to necessitate a visit to the hospital A&E. After an emergency MRI scan, I waited to be told the results. After hours of waiting, the next thing I was told was that they'd 'got me a bed on Ward 2'. A bed? I wasn't going home, and was going to have an emergency operation on my spine that evening. In the end, the operation was scheduled for first thing the next morning, but I still found myself unexpectedly in hospital and having an operation for the first time in my life.

The operation was on Thursday, all was successful, and I came home yesterday (Friday). The wonderful thing is that most of the pain has gone. Less wonderful is that I can't do much for a while, and have to spend most of the time lying down. Standing and walking is okay but sitting is not allowed. I have put my laptop on a tall chest of drawers and am writing this standing up.

That's all for today, I think, but I thought I'd let you know I'm still here - just about!.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Impatient Patient

A brighter day today, than it's been for a while. I'm not just talking about the weather, but the fact that I'm finally starting to feel a bit better.

I have to admit I've been feeling a bit sorry for myself lately. My slipped disc has been stubbornly painful and my cold improved for a day or two only to get worse than ever over the weekend. I spent most of yesterday lying down, but I think that may have helped, as I felt rather better this morning. Yay! So today I'm up to blogging, and I'm sharing some of my Get Well cards from my ever-increasing vintage card collection.
Many thanks for all your kind comments and get-well wishes on my previous posts. I've been a pretty miserable, moany invalid this last week. I can be stoical for a day or two, but a longer illness makes me feel "It's just not fair!". Of course, my slipped disc is my own fault for not keeping fit enough, so I shouldn't complain. But I will anyway.

I decided last night that my cold was probably flu. If it lasts longer than a week, it's got to be flu, right? And I think that gives me a right to be miserable and whiney, doesn't it? OK... possibly I was getting a bit carried away when I suggested to Mr Kitsch that I might be dying of consumption. I told him he should buy me camellias, so I could fade wistfully away on a chaise longue, like Greta Garbo in 'Camille'. He just muttered "Camellias, right." and carried on watching Midsomer Murders.
He's had a lot to put up with. Like my endless complaining about the cold. Over the weekend I was thinking of putting the heating on! It's supposed to be summer, isn't it? I didn't put the heating on, of course. I just can't bring myself to do it. There's no logical reason to it, but it's just very wrong, somehow.

The trouble is that our house gets very cold. It's often warmer outside than inside. The front of our house doesn't get any sunshine, and is always in the deepest shadow. Well, I say 'always', but I think on an early midsummer morning, it might just catch a ray or two. Like Stonehenge or a Mayan temple, I expect the alignment of the sun at dawn on the summer solstice will light up the whole house. Hmmm, I doubt I'll get up in time for that, though.
So a bit of sunshine today has been very welcome, and I even got out of the house (only Sainsbury's, but it's a start). Maybe I was literally 'under the weather'? Well, I'm very glad of a warmer, brighter day today. Let's hope it stays that way!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Yay for Pattern!

Hooray, hooray! I love my post today! Because I got a copy of Orla Kiely's book, which I won in the giveaway on Kitschen Pink. It's even better than I remembered from when I leafed through it in Waterstones (as you do). A huge, huge thank you to Teena, for this generous giveaway. (I'm not sure how you were able to part with it!) Do check out her wonderful blog, if you're not already familiar with it.

I've photographed it with a small piece of Orla Kiely goodness that I bought in Cornwall - a face flannel.  I can't really afford/justify anything else, much as I covet her designs!

I've already spent quite a lot of time going through the book, and it's nice to see some of the less well-known patterns, and to read about her design process. 

And try to decide which handbag I would have, if I was rich enough. Answer - all of them!

Collection - My Rubber Duckies

Once again, this is not a deliberate collection, just some toys that have been acquired, but I do like the icon of the yellow duck. Although these are plastic, they always make me think of Ernie's 'rubber ducky' in Sesame Street.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Not really a collection - Novelty Erasers

Another random collection - novelty erasers. This is not really a collection, as I certainly don't collect these, but just discovered that I had a few, when I was looking round my workroom. I really like the word 'novelty'. Don't you think any object is so much better if it's a novelty version?

Anyway, I appear to have a small collection of novelty erasers. I'm particularly fond of the japanese figures, as I remember having a similar one when I was little. I was delighted when I found them on Etsy. The heads are made of wood, and are just spiked into the triangular eraser.

I'm only photographing things I have to hand at the moment, as my back is still limiting what I can do. I have a slipped disc, and have now got some industrial strength painkillers from the doctor. I can move around, but I can't really go rummaging through cupboards and boxes. Nor can I sit at the computer for very long before I have to go and have a lie down. To add to the joy, I developed a streaming cold over the weekend. In case you were in any doubt, sneezing when you have a slipped disc is a Bad Thing. You know it's coming, but there's nothing you can do about it....until....aagh! Perhaps I could stuff a novelty eraser up my nose....

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Collection - Children's Buttons

Another collection to share - children's buttons. Once again, this is not all of them, but there are probably too many to photograph! Jane is still sharing her wonderful collections, and in today's post is also sharing some of the collecting 'madness'!

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Collections - Brooches and Bunnies

I have been itching to join in the sharing of collections that Lesley started and Jane has been continuing so brilliantly, but wasn't really up to taking photos this last week. However, a slight improvement in my back has allowed me to put a few things together today.

The main problem was where to start. Even if you say you need six of anything to make a collection, then I have a huge number of collections. I can even sub-divide. So my collection of china animal ornaments, say, can be broken down into many collections - rabbits, deer, cats, elephants, birds, dogs, and so on. Or my collection of rabbits could be broken down into china ones, wooden ones, plastic ones. And this is without actually looking very far. These are things I don't even consciously 'collect'! 

So I'm sharing two small collections today. Brooches and pins with people on, above, and the china rabbits, below. (I actually have more china rabbits than this...I don't know why.)

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Colour and Curiosities (Stroud Part Two)

'Kitsch Blogs would like to apologise for the late arrival of this blogpost, owing to staff sickness.' I've had a bad back and haven't been able to spend much time at my desk in the last week. I'm hoping that, with copious amounts of ibuprofen, I can start getting back to normal now.

Thanks for the comments on my last post. I might have guessed that when I called it 'Part One', something would interfere with my posting 'Part Two'. Well, the second part of our day in Stroud was not quite as exciting as the first. We went to the Museum in the Park, to see part of the Stroud Textile Festival there.

I loved the 1950s textiles in the foyer by Jane Edgar, who designed for Heals. Some great geometric designs, and some charming chickens, too.

After all that colour and style, I have to say I found the main textile exhibition there rather disappointing. I don't have any photos; I don't know if photography was allowed, but I just wasn't inspired to take any.

Moving swiftly on, we had a look round the Museum itself. It's quite small and contains a nice random mix of all sorts of stuff. I particularly enjoyed the toys and games.

Can you solve the anagrams? I did a few, but didn't have the patience to do them all. You might like to know that RED NUTS AND GIN is an anagram of UNDERSTANDING. But of course you knew that.
This animal alphabet merits a second look. B is for Baa Lamb? Well, I might have overlooked that, if they hadn't added this -
L is for Love Birds? What was wrong with B for Bird and L for Lamb? You might also be able to spot Q for Quacking Duck and Y for Yellow Canary. And they ignored X completely.
The museum also had some other very curious objects.
The textile festival is over now, but I will just mention another exhibition which we visited. The South West Textile Group, had a lively, enjoyable exhibition with the theme of 'Talisman'. You can see photos on Facebook.