Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Pieces of Paper

Today I'm just going to show you pictures of paper.
Blank paper.
Many pictures.
You see, it all started when I saw this book, on Cathy's blog. It was made and given to her by Lesley, and I found it very inspiring. I don't have a wonderful stash of printed paper like Lesley's, but I went to the drawer where I stash all those bits of paper that 'I'm going to do something with'. (You know the one... What do you mean, you don't have one?) I started to sort through, and found various bits of old wrapping paper, chinese paper, mulberry paper, coloured paper, vintage wallpaper, textured paper. I cut them to size, and sewed them into a book.

My sewing technique was pretty random, I must admit. I was actually taught bookbinding when I was at art college, but that was twenty-heavens-to-betsy years ago, so I really don't remember very much. 

I found an online tutorial, and started to follow it, but it was only when I got to the third segment that I realised the tutorial only covered sewing two segments together. D'oh!

So I winged it, and it's worked well enough for my purposes. Actually, I'm not entirely sure what my purposes are, but I think I will be collaging in there, maybe. (Collaging - is that a word? Oh yes, I remember - it's a skin treatment...) Although my completed book is nowhere near as beautiful as the original, I was rather pleased with the experiment, all the same.

Sorting through the paper gave me other inspirations, and I cut out some circles to use.
It was like having a pile of treasure to run through my fingers... Mine, all mine!

Friday, 21 May 2010

The Wonder of Woolies

I've been meaning to tell you about Woolies for ages. The picture above is one of my recent dolls' china pincushions, and these are now for sale in Woolies. (Also available in my Nearly Teatime online shop) This is Woolies - 
Probably not quite how you remember it? When our local branch of Woolworths closed, it was empty for a quite a while. Then last autumn, an indoor market opened there, and they kept the name 'Woolies'. 
From the start, the best stall for me has been this one called Home Birds. It's run by Joanna Rose, whose ceramics I really love (and have mentioned briefly here before). Just look at all these gorgeous plates she makes, using vintage style transfers.
She runs the stall with a few other talented women, including Chez Williams, who makes these fabulous, cute cushions, which are also sold in some very posh shops in Bath and London.
They mix it all up with to-die-for vintage goodies like these -

If I could buy it all, I would! I am so pleased to have my pincushions sold here, amongst such great company.

The market itself has some other lovely stalls, including a few other vintage and handmade stalls, a wonderfully chosen secondhand book stall, a cafe, and food stalls, including the wonderful Pie Minister (now a Bristol institution!

Woolies market is on Blackboy Hill in Bristol. If you're in the area, do pop in and have a look!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Threads that bind us

Yesterday Mr Kitsch and I celebrated our 21st anniversary. Amongst other presents, he gave me this wonderful old book. I can't tell you how much I love it.  This 'Encyclopedia of Needlework' is a small, chunky book, with over 800 pages packed with dense type, beautiful engraved illustrations and colour plates. There's no date on it, but I would guess it was published in the early 1900s, perhaps.

It covers sewing, mending, embroidery, applique, knitting, crochet, tatting, macrame, netting, tapestry, lace-making and trimmings.
As I started to leaf through it, I got more and more excited by the sheer number of different techniques. Italian embroidery, Moroccan embroidery, Persian, Serbian, Hungarian and Maltese embroidery.

I know of Tunisian crochet, but Bosnian crochet and hairpin crochet? I always thought tapestry was a bit dull - cross stitch and petit point, and maybe a few more, but this book has 40 different tapestry stitches.
And then there's the language -
"The mending of wearing apparel and house and under-linen, though often a wearisome task, is yet a necessity to which every feminine hand ought to be carefully trained."
"Tattted trimmings worked in coarse materials may be classed rather among gimps and galoons than among laces."
and the rather scary advice -
"To preserve needles from rust, put a little asbestos powder in the packets. People with damp hands which make needles sticky in usage, will do well to keep a small box of the powder by them, and dip their fingers occasionally in it."
The list of thread colours at the back of the book is poetry. Just look at those shades of grey -
I want to try out so many of the patterns and techniques, but I don't suppose I can produce anything as exquisite as these illustrations.
I think Mr Kitsch was rather taken aback at just how excited and delighted I was by this little book. I got him books about space, so I think he was very pleased too (he seems so in his blog). They may not seem like the most romantic presents, but I think it's loving and thoughtful to understand each other's interests and obsessions. And so we're both very happy.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Doing it by Numbers

It's been a funny old week. For some reason, I've mostly wanted to sleep. (I'll try not to nod off in the middle of this post, but I'm promising nothing.) It may be a reaction to a few early (for me) mornings. I seem to function better late at night, and can concentrate better after dark. Perhaps I am part owl. Or maybe it's psychological, as I've been feeling a bit low as well.

Whatever the reason, I seem to have no energy. I lack lustre. I have no spark. I can barely glimmer. I admit, I'm not exactly a dancing sunbeam at the best of times, and even close friends probably haven't noticed the difference, but life is A Bit Of An Effort this week.
The thing I can never decide in these situations is whether it's better to push yourself onwards, or just give up and rest. If it is just psychological, then maybe exercise and action will make me feel better. Or worse, if I get stressed about doing it. Or I might just be coming down with some lurgy, and the extra sleep will do me good. Or not. Oh, it's very hard to decide, isn't it?

Well, I managed to walk to the postbox yesterday, and felt a bit revived to see all the lilac and wisteria coming out in the neighbourhood. The bluebells are coming out in our garden, and there are buds and blossoms everywhere. Mr Kitsch has bought live mealworms for the birds, and they love them. The great tits (Tommy and Babs) have been especially industrious, so they must have young to feed somewhere.

My general doziness at the moment, means that I also find it hard to concentrate, so... Ooh, look! Poodles!

Nice aren't they? Anyway... where was I? Oh yes, well, I decided it wasn't wise to try to do anything too demanding that might involve scissors or needles - I'd have probably cut an artery or something. So last night, I settled down with a paint-by-numbers set. Yes, I know, but I've been hoping to find an old paint by numbers picture for ages, with no luck. I've seen some fab crafty ideas using them, like this and this. And anyway they're just wonderfully kitsch. 

I'm quite pleased with the end result, although those are possibly the most evil-looking horses you've ever seen. Brilliant!


Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Awards, Rewards and Recognition

This week I'm trying to make up for my very sporadic blogging of late. I can't remember the last time I did a shopping-show-and-tell. Well, what with the V&H fair, the Redland May Fair, and going kitsch-hiking round the charity shops yesterday, I now have some lovely collections of junk and treasure to show you.

I also wanted to thank those of you who left such encouraging comments on my post last week about blogging. Don't worry - I was never intending to stop blogging completely. I'm far too addicted for that! It's so great to get comments, and I wish I had time to leave lots of comments on everyone's blogs. But, hey, let's not get me started on lack of time again.

Although I do have to apologise for my thanks being long overdue for some awards. A couple of weeks ago, I was given this award  by ted and bunny.

And several months ago (I'm too ashamed to admit exactly how long) I was given this Splash award  by Bumble Bee Cottage.
Thank you both, ladies - I really appreciate it, and I hope you didn't think I'd forgotten you.

I have also been honoured by having our downstairs loo featured in this wonderful blog, Eklektick. Many thanks to Kristin for appreciating my taste in religious kitsch!

(Fantastic kitschiness from the V&H Fair)

I'm not very good at following the rules of passing on awards to x number of people, but the usual cop-out of saying 'Please take this award if you want it' seems to defeat the object of the exercise. 

So I have devised my own award, 'The Giddy Kipper'. The name and design are from a wonderfully bonkers piece of Blackpool rock I found (blogged here). 
To me, this is a fine example of kitsch. So I'm going to bestow this award on bloggers who show a true appreciation of kitsch. I'm awarding three today. There may be others later. There are no rules, you don't need to pass it on to other bloggers. Just bask in the glory, gals...

First recipient is Kristin of Eklektick, not just because she featured my loo, but because she has great taste in the bizarre.
Second we have doe-c-doe, who finds and makes the coolest stuff that is also just that little bit kitsch.
Thirdly, there's Candy Pop. She's only just started her blog, but has been posting fantastic kitsch on Flickr for ages.

I appreciate that you may not want to feature the barmy logo on your blogs, or indeed admit to having received such an odd accolade. I won't be offended if you ignore it completely!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Quality, Quilty Time

Another big gap between blogs. This time it's more about being busy in the real world rather than anything else. And when I say 'being busy', what I really mean is 'managing my time badly'. However, I really was busy on Saturday, selling my wares at the Vintage and Handmade Fair at Chipping Sodbury. Many thanks as ever to Jayne and Michele for making it such an enjoyable event.

My big, huge thanks also go to Mr Kitsch, for all his help and support. He's even written about the day in his own blog, if you'd like to read about it from the man's perspective. As we were sitting behind the stall, he was telling me how much he enjoyed the vintage fairs, "I like all these vintage women. They're all slightly dotty...but that's a good thing." Hmm. Thanks, babe. I've known for some time that I am "slightly dotty", but I hope the rest of you will take it as "the good thing" it's intended to be.

Despite the thrown-together appearance of my stall, I did spend some time last week preparing for the fair, so I didn't have time to blog about some of my other activities. The previous weekend, we went on a day trip to London, mainly for Mr Kitsch to go the Science Museum and look at space stuff. However, I did manage to sneak in an unplanned visit to the V&A, to see 'Quilts: 1700 - 2010'. It's an excellent exhibition, and I can thoroughly recommend it, even if you're not interested in textiles. You can appreciate the quilts as historical artefacts, and read some of the fascinating stories behind them. Or you can just marvel at the hours of work in each meticulously hand-stitched work of art.

You weren't allowed to take photos, but there weren't any signs to say so, and nobody told me until after I'd taken half a dozen, so strictly speaking, these last two might be considered 'illegal'. But worth sharing, I thought.
It was nice that some of the quilts were displayed as if on a bed, but a bit frustrating as you couldn't get  close enough to see the detail. Probably just as well, as my feet were aching by this point, and I might have just had a lie-down...