Thursday, 10 May 2012

Folk House Flea Market

In my usual absent-minded way, I forgot to mention this in my last blog post. I'll be having a stall at the Folk House Flea Market on Saturday, which is safely in the warm and dry in the centre of Bristol, so we don't have to worry about the weather. Phew! There's usually a nice mix of craft and vintage there, so if you're in Bristol, do pop in!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Crochet on a Wet Afternoon

It was very disappointing yesterday to discover our local bank holiday fair, the Redland May Fair, had been cancelled. Disappointing, but not altogether surprising, given that we are experiencing the monsoon season round these parts.

So we stayed in, watched some slightly trashy vintage TV (classic Star Trek and The Saint, with Roger Moore eyebrow-acting), and I did some cheerful crochet. I'm really enjoying these bright colours of yarn.

I did some colourful, doodly drawings recently, too. I used a doll's face as a starting point, and drew madly-patterned bodies for them.

It's very therapeutic, setting to with a bunch of felt pens and making patterns. I'd like to develop these further, but, as ever, I'm not sure how...

Friday, 27 April 2012

Giving and Receiving

Why is it that when I have time to take photos, the clouds gather, the rain pours and it goes so very dark? Needless to say, when it's bright, I always have to go and do something else. I've tried in the past to make some sort of photo set-up with artificial light, but it's never very successful. Partly because I just don't have the space or the time to set up anything complicated.

Like most of us, my "photo studio" consists of plonking an object down on the dining table, possibly with a sheet of paper behind it, if I'm trying to look 'professional'. I then take a couple of quick photos before I have to clear it all away again.
So anyway, the bad weather is my excuse for taking so long to show you the lovely notebook that Jane sent me in her giveaway a couple of weeks ago. Thank you so much, Jane! The collage cover is fantastic, and  I only wish my dull photos could do it justice. I especially like that there are photos of Jane herself peeking out from the cover. It makes it even more personal.
As you can see, the back is equally lovely, and so is the inside, as she has used all sorts of different papers. I think it might be too beautiful to use. I have a few notebooks like that! She also sent me some of her wonderful cards, which are clever and fun and stylish.
A few weeks ago, I spotted a marvellous little purse on The Custards blog, and knew that I had to have a go at making one for a friend's birthday. Here's my version.
It has such a pleasing design, as the whole thing unzips to become a length of ribbon, but zips up into a tetrahedron. I gave it to her yesterday, and she spent a lot of time zipping and unzipping it (it's very addictive), so I think it was a success! (Incidentally, the button pattern at the top of the blog is the birthday card I made for her.)
The purse tutorial is here

Things have been quite busy here at the Kitsch Plaza. I have started doing some new (paid!) work, which although it's not creative, will help to put the focaccia on the table. (Well, you don't think I'd have just any bread, do you?)

And I have continued in my struggle to resist spending money, and to stop filling up the house with stuff. I've been quite good, but did buy a couple of things in a charity shop the other week. The little picture book is lovely - I might have to put the whole thing on here. And I think that's my new favourite plate.

Friday, 20 April 2012


It's a funny old world, isn't it? A few weeks ago, I got an email out of the blue, asking to use my strange Silver Jubilee souvenirs in an exhibition in London to mark this year's Diamond Jubilee. It was all because of this blog post on my other blog.

I wasn't entirely sure about it. Did they think I was some sort of royal fanatic, with Prince William pillowcases and Union Jack sheets? Or that I spent my days with a lifesize cut-out of the Duke of Edinburgh and knitted corgis? But the organiser seemed to know where I was coming from, and it was going to be a fun and quirky exhibition, as part of the celebrations in Battersea Park.

Then this week, the emails really started flying. I was asked for some more photos for an article to promote the exhibition in The Evening Standard. It was supposed to appear today. I don't know if it did, but my can of Jubilade has now put in appearance on the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant website!
I was also asked various questions, and to send in a photo of myself posing with my royal collection! I'm afraid I was way too shy for that, and besides, my 'collection' is really just a few random bits of kitsch.

They are asking for more unusual or personal items of royal memorabilia, like craft projects etc., so if you have something you'd like to share, why not contact them?
21/4 Update: They have now put this story on the BBC website, with quotes from me!


Monday, 26 March 2012

A Very Vintage Weekend

Goodness me, I really love the Vintage Jumble! I had a stall there on Saturday, and it was lovely to meet up with all the other 'vintage ladies' and basically swap stuff! There are so many bargains to be found - most of the stuff I bought was 50p a go. How good is that? Quite unintentionally, I seem to have bought quite a lot of pink plastic things. I suppose it's inevitable, given my kitsch leanings.
I also got old cards and children's books, all of them very sweet and charming. I was especially pleased with this Little Indians book, as the pictures are photos of puppets, which I really like.
Then on Sunday, we popped in to visit a Craft and Vintage Fair at M Shed in Bristol.  It was a combination of a Blind Lemon Vintage Fair (which is a  fashion fair) and Magpies and I Vintage & Craft Market. It was a rare treat for me to go to the fashion fair. I don't normally bother, as they charge a few quid to get in, but this weekend it was free. Yay! I really don't like paying to go to fairs (unless they're charity events, of course). I'll pay up to £1, as I know it can be difficult to cover costs. But above that, I resent paying for the privilege of going to see if I want to buy anything. It's like making customers pay to go into a shop. And although Mr Kitsch will put up with following me around while I look at lovely old dresses (for a short while at least), he certainly doesn't want to pay to do it!

The other reason I don't often go to fashion fairs is that I can never find anything nice that fits me. Being big, I usually find the only thing on the rail in my size is a 1960s nylon housecoat or some kind of rough hessian kaftan. Neither of which will do me any favours, believe me. Oh, how I sigh, when I remember my young, slim days, when I used to find so many 1960s dresses at jumble sales. But hey, guess what? Yesterday, I found a nice dress that fitted me! I was a bit doubtful about the yellow at first, but with the white background, it seems to work. I was chuffed to bits! That's it in the photo below, along with a gorgeous little dish I also bought.
I have written before about the healing power of shopping, and how shallow that makes me, but buying this dress lifted my mood no end. Do you ever get like that? The sunshine helps too, of course. For no real reason, I feel like things are getting better. Spring is springing everywhere and I have a happy frock! 

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Various Textile Doings

My first textile doing to share with you is a cardigan I knitted for our friends' new little person. I'll be honest - it was a bit of struggle to finish. I've mentioned before why I prefer crochet to knitting, and completing this little article was a forceful reminder of that fact. I am not a natural-born knitter.
I actually started this about 6 months ago, while he was still just a bump. At first, it was great - don't little baby clothes knit up quickly? But then it all started to go wrong. The pattern I'd got off the internet didn't give the required quantities of yarn. Like a fool, I cheerfully assumed I'd be able to get some more if I needed it. Nope, it was discontinued. I ran out of the mauve and blue yarns, but just managed to scrape together enough for the body. The pattern was for a hooded cardi, so I thought that I could do the hood in plain green. The green ran out just short of the end, and I had to undo it all and improvise a collar instead. The final straw was when I managed to break one of my knitting needles in two!

But I got there in the end! (In case you're wondering, the different coloured buttons was a deliberate design decision, and not just another cock-up.) Despite my mishaps, I am very proud that I managed to get the stripes to meet up on the raglan seam, and also that I managed to get it finished before his twenty-first birthday!
Moving from the ridiculous to the sublime, I have been meaning (for a little while) to show you this lovely handmade purse I received from Jenny of The Custards. Isn't it wonderful? She printed an image of a wartime envelope (from her family) directly onto fabric, and then sewed it into a purse, with some vintage patterned fabric on the back (which you can just catch a glimpse of in the photo). She is so ingeniously creative and has the most enviable vintage fabric stash I have ever seen. Her blog is well worth a visit for all the vintage loveliness!

And on the subject of enviable amounts of vintage fabric, I went to the Vintage Rag and Remnant Rummage in Trull, last Saturday. It's a great new event organised by Lizzie of The Washerwoman blog. Trull is close to Taunton, where Mr Kitsch's family live, so we were able to combine it with a lovely family visit, on a gorgeous sunny day. Hooray for Spring!
A bag of vintage buttons for £1 from the fair. Result!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Trinkets, Tokens and Treasures

On our landing, we have a huge cupboard, which contains many boxes. Most of these boxes have not been opened since we moved nearly 5 years ago. I know a lot of what's in there - mostly collections of toys, curios and pictures, which we just don't have room to display right now.

However, I know I need to go through them and sort out whether I really need to keep it all. So as a start, I opened one smallish box. It really was a treasure trove, as it contained mostly metal things. Firstly, my collection of enamel badges and metal pins. The photo above just shows a selection of my favourites. I'm particularly fond of the Noddy one.

Next, we have more badges, brooches, pendants and charms - some more weird than others.
And this last photo contains filigree-type things and dangly-type things, not all of which have any obvious use. (Again, just small selections of the whole collection)
You know what? I love them all. I love their weirdness, their prettiness, their ugliness, their shininess, their dullness. I put a couple of cheap pendants to the side as 'not wanted', but I'll probably end up keeping them. Some of them have been with me for years, in any case.

It got me thinking again about objects and my fascination with them. Jane wrote an excellent blog post recently about an exhibition of amulets and charms at the Wellcome Collection, and shared her own collection of 'amulets'. Whilst I wouldn't call my own objects amulets, I am always drawn to objects that have been given a value beyond their inherent worth. This value might come from memories or superstition, or might be because of what they represent - like a love token or a reminder to stay hopeful.

There is much to be said for William Morris's instruction, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful", but it completely ignores objects with special meaning. It might be the ugliest pot you have ever seen, but if it's your child's first attempt at pottery, you might want to keep it for a while. Old toys no longer fulfill their use as playthings, but if they invoke happy childhood memories, or remind you of a lost parent, then it doesn't matter how deformed and hideous that old stuffed dog is - you should keep it.

Of course collecting other people's old toys, love tokens, or souvenirs is another matter. There's still value attached, but it becomes a strange mixture of vicarious sentiment, collecting greed, nostalgia and aesthetic appreciation (or derision).  Of course, some of the stuff I collect has never been considered of value by anybody!

P.S. If you're interested in objects which have superstitious meaning, I can recommend this book, (although it's quite old and appears to be no longer available new)

Monday, 13 February 2012

A Few Doings

I haven't been feeling very inspired lately, so I'm afraid the blog posts have been few and far between. To be honest, I don't think I've done anything very blogworthy. Having said that, I'll show you a few of the things I've been up to. I managed a little drawing, but as you can see, most of it just turns out to be elaborate doodling!
I did manage to stir my stumps yesterday to go to a carboot sale, and for the first time in ages, got some real treasures. A lovely Midwinter plate (for 50p), and a kitsch cat in a hat. Flamenco playing cards and a cute dolly teacup. And some...ahem...clogs. I would just like to point out that I don't buy all the souvenir clogs I see. There are many, many, many pairs of clogs that don't make the grade and get left in the shop/ on the stall. But these were red ones, and just a little bit too cute to leave behind.
I've also been putting new stock in my Etsy shop.

And here are a couple of makes from before Christmas that I couldn't show at the time, because they were presents for a very new little chap called Jack. I crocheted him a little friend called Colin the Caterpillar.
And, as his nursery is cowboy themed, I also crocheted some cowboy bootees.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Come Fly With Me

It's 1969 and Swinging London is buzzing about the glamorous jetset arrivals at Heathrow airport. Wait, who's this? Is it Liz Taylor and Richard Burton with their entourage? Not quite. Me, my mum and dad and one of my brothers on holiday in London. We weren't at the airport to fly anywhere, you understand, we just went to the observation terrace to look at the planes. With my three transport-mad brothers (not sure where the others were), we always ended up going somewhere where you could see planes, trains, cars, buses, or some such boring nonsense.

I love this photo, not least for my cape (which my mum sewed herself), but also for my mum rocking the sunglasses-and-fur-coat look. The coat was fake fur, and I inherited it when I went to art college. My wrinkly-kneed tights are rather less cool, though.

My brother got some of my dad's old slides transferred to CD, and I thought I'd share some of these vintage classics. They say if you can remember the sixties, then you weren't really there. That's certainly true for me and these pictures. I have no recollection of most of them.
That's me on our front lawn, but when, I have no idea. I suspect it may be my birthday, as that looks like a party frock. There are several pictures where my brothers and I all have these severe fringes. Presumably, my mum at work with a pudding bowl and the kitchen scissors!
This one looks like some sort of Enid Blyton-style seaside holiday, with buckets and spades. I've no idea where. Devon or Cornwall, I expect. My sister (the eldest, and 12 years older than me) has decided to go with a comedy hat. The rest of us have opted for comedy shorts, it appears.

That's all for now. Sorry I haven't been blogging much here (over a month since my last blog, tsk!). I hope to remedy that soon, but thanks to all of you who have followed me over to Curious Objects.