Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Mini collection 8

The one on the left is my old globe from when I was a kid -- note the dents. I really did used to spend hours spinning it as fast as I could, closing my eyes and poking a finger at it to see where I would adventure to when I grew up. Now, how many times did my finger stop at Stevenage town centre, I wonder? This is really not a serious collection in any way, but I like the middle-sized one from a car-boot sale.

Monday, 30 May 2011

mini collection 7

vintage thimbles
These are old plastic thimbles. I love the colours. Some of them are slightly the worse for wear, having spent some time embedded in a very strange piece of work I did for my Foundation course a few years ago. Here's a detail -- just a detail as the full thing was too strange for mortal eye to behold.
You can see some of the thimbles cowering under layers of wax and glue. Happily I rescued the thimbles when I decided to break this monster up.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Altered postcards

The seaside comes to the park in my home town, Richmond, Yorks
It's postcard swap weekend no. 5 and some of us are having terrible problems with Blogger, locked into our own blogs like princesses in towers, and unable to post on Postman's Knock. That gives me an excuse to re-show the card I made for Jane, and also to show the four other cards I made afterwards along the same lines.
Some sort of madness gripped me. I was seeing seaside scenes on mountain tops and in grim shopping centres.
You can see some of the same figures recur. I don't think I've quite worked these out of my system yet, as I have a slightly different take on this theme to try, but I'm such a terrible dabbler that my skittish mind is on something else just now.

Lesley's 'Overhead' postcard

Lesley's Postman's Knock card arrived safely, with tantalising letterpress on the outside.
 Inside, there was a plethora of surprises. I didn't know what to look at first. This wonderful trapeze artists card would have been great all on its own...
...but the treats kept coming. This handmade dexterity puzzle is just so utterly beautiful and chimes so completely with things I love, it's incredible. I'm going to open it for you now...

And there was another, 'bonus' puzzle!
A second dexterity puzzle based on the game of lob the ball in the clown's mouth. Again, this is just so beautifully done. Lesley is a Dexterity Puzzler Maker Extraordinaire.
     Can't say thank you enough, Lesley.
     But I can't blog about it over on Postman's Knock as I'm now 'infected' with the bug that stops you logging out of your own blog. Really weird.

Mini collection 5

Oh no, I seem to have caught the dreaded Blogger lurgy -- I can no longer sign out of my blog. I'm really just posting this to see if I can still post on my own blog. I can't sign into Postman's Knock to post on Lesley's amazing Overhead card. I'll do it here instead. It's soooo frustrating.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Mini collection 2

I've blogged my collection of photos picked up off the ground before, but I've found more since then...Quite a strange phenomenon.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Mini collection 1

Four tiny ducks
In the spirit of Lesley's post, here is one of my very small collections ... Let's have a festival of little collections!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Long day

Yesterday I was in London. I was invited to one of my oldest friends' birthday lunch (for a 'big' birthday) so, being me, thought I should make the most of the train fare and fit a couple of other things in as well.
I was at Spitalfields Market by 9am as the stallholders were actually setting up. I think I need to go on a Thursday as that's the proper vintage day. Sundays seems to be more vintage clothing, handmade clothes and jewelry, and lovely foodstuffs. Well, I'm on a diet, so the foodstuffs were out. Part of the reason I'm on a diet is that lovely vintage things most usually seem to have been made for tiny prehistoric women. And I'm a bit funny about handmade things because I have a bad habit of thinking, 'Ooh, I could do that,' when I almost certainly couldn't, but it works very well as a discouragement to buy. So Spitalfields this time at least was a leetle bit of a disappointment.
But not to worry -- there was Plan B. I hotfooted it to Bloomsbury and the monthly vintage postcard fair, held in a room in a huge hostel-like hotel there. I've been once before, years ago, so knew what to expect.
Another suitcase card fair in another hall...
It attracts, on the whole, a quite particular sort of enthusiast of the, shall we say, trainspotterish inclination. There must be literally a million postcards, if that's not too wild a guess, all sorted into shoeboxes and marked by topographical or subject markers.
     I must say I enjoy going to places where a particular culture and language is observable, it brings out the amateur anthropologist in me. So it was fun earwigging on the conversations going on around me. There were many references to the 'topo's' and many boxes of 'glamour' cards for the discerning gentleman. One man came up to a stall while I was browsing and asked the stallholder whether he had 'anything nice' for him. I was riveted at once. The stallholder said, 'No, sorry mate, nothing nice today,' and then he said, 'Oh, but isn't it you who's interested in Warhol? Something's just come in that you might like'. Woo! I got even more vicariously excited then, if such a thing is existentially possible. The man bent down and hunted through a box on the floor. When he stood up he was holding a contemporary reproduction of a Warhol Marilyn, such as I own several of myself. I couldn't believe such a thing could possibly be considered 'nice' and, indeed, the chap was visibly disappointed and said, 'Oh, no thanks, I think I've already got that one'.
     I saw someone else writing out a cheque for £600 for three photos of Louis Armstrong (and I don't know who else). I think they must have been signed. It was all fascinating.
     And exhausting -- what with the strange smells coming from some of the customers (I'm not kidding), and the strain of staring down into the boxes for a couple of hours and the nervewracking etiquette that had to be observed. Seriously. It was like the Big-Enders and Little-Enders from Gulliver's Travels: some dealers stack their cards in front of the subject markers and some dealers stack their cards behind the markers. It was obviously very very important to observe this difference and never to replace cards you'd been looking at behind the markers of a Front-stacker or in front of the markers of a Behinder. Stern notices everywhere exhorted you to 'Put cards BEHIND markers' and so on.
couple of the cards I found
Most of the postcards for sale were much older than the ones I normally buy. The stock is really fantastic and a treasure trove for serious collectors but perhaps not so good for people like me who have many not very serious enthusiasms. I didn't get very far with my requests for cards showing pylons, though I did happen upon some lovely oil derricks in a 'USA' bundle. There were great images of New York but not so many of Coney Island, another passion of mine. Festival of Britain, good, Butlins a little bit harder to come by. I think cards from the Sixties onwards may count as 'modern' and today I found out that there are separate 'modern postcard' fairs, which I would like to go to.
At the last stand I had time for before I had to go to the birthday lunch, I hit paydirt with a big stack of 'cars in towns 50s/60s' postcards. That's how they were categorised, but I love 1960s townscapes so was happily leafing through them and had pulled out one or two to buy. Then a chap came up to the stall and asked if they had any 1960s cards. 'She's got them,' was the answer. This man looked so like the comedian Charlie Higson that for a second I thought it was him -- 'Here, these are the ones I've already looked at,' I said and handed over half the stack. So we were both standing there, looking through strange images of Swindon and Birmingham and Preston. He shows me 'a nice one' he's found; I admire it and show him my one of Sparkbrook, Birmingham; he says he knows it well as his grandad used to live there; I find a nice one of Skegness, show it to him, and he says he's afraid I'm 'stripping out' all the cards he'd like to buy. Then he pays up and leaves the stall. I say to the stall lady, 'Oh, there goes a kindred spirit -- there can't be many people interested in old postcards of ring roads'. She is just agreeing with me when she sees him leaving the hall -- 'He's going! You should go after him! It might be destiny.' I laugh and go along with the joke, saying something like, 'Oh, I'll never meet another one like him...'. Then I have to leave too, so I'm just walking through the foyer of the hotel when I hear a voice shouting, 'Madam, excuse me, Madam!' So I look round and it's the stall lady who has run out after me; she's looking very excited. She cries, 'He's come back in, he's in there now! You could come back and claim him!' Okay, perhaps she didn't say 'claim him', maybe it was more like, 'find him', but this is actually what happened. So ... gentle reader ... I'm afraid I didn't turn round and 'claim him', for I am a married mother of two, but I just said, 'Ah well, thanks, but I've got to go...' and I think she was really disappointed. That's what happens when you try to make a living selling postcards.
     And when I got outside, a huge wall of scaffolding had just collapsed onto a very posh Audi car right opposite the hotel and there was a lot of excitement and fire engines and so on (no one hurt, though), so obviously the earth had just moved ... or something.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Keeping busy

I had to clear my work table for a large piece of paper (work in progress), so that meant finishing some other little things. Necklaces -- nothing very sophisticated, in fact the opposite -- but it was just to investigate different ways of threading.
 And different materials.

This is another one, made a couple of months ago.
Then I had to make something to put them in. This is just two v cheap desk tidies from Wilkinson's stuck together, plus the product of a 50p charity shop book on budgies. I love budgies!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

St Ives memories

I've recently found my way to Carolyn Saxby's blog, Love Stitching Red. Carolyn lives in St Ives in Cornwall and reading her posts has made me feel terribly nostalgic for the place. My mum and I went on at least three holidays in St Ives, in the Eighties, when I was in my early twenties. I was still in the habit of holidaying with my mum then and we used to absolutely love St Ives. We alternated between Cornwall and St Davids in West Wales for a while -- St Davids is also a marvellous place -- but my heart will always belong to St Ives.
All the photos in this post are scanned from printed photos I took at the time -- most of them rather scuffed now, I'm afraid.
     We arrived by train, catching the branch line service from St Erth which runs along right next to the sea. It was stunning. But I seem to remember that the first time we went to St Ives, it was pouring down as we stepped off the train and we stood in the station car park wondering whether we'd done the right thing to come all this way to the far toe-end of the country. If I remember rightly, we were staying at the Chy Carne hotel which doesn't seem to be there any more. Another time we stayed at the much larger Tregenna Castle Hotel, which was supposed to be a treat but which was rather gloomy, and the third time we rented a grim 1960s house above the wonderful Barnoon cemetery.
What I haven't yet mentioned is that we used to come for Christmas, leaving my dad at home because he hated Christmas and hated holidays. We had almost always gone on holiday without him so it didn't seem strange and having Christmas away from home seemed exotic and quite indulgent, even in a damp rented house or a somewhat unglamorous hotel. It was so warm and mild in Cornwall in December that we felt as though we'd gone abroad.
I think this is the Seamen's mission and I always assumed the old chap was a seaman
We fell completely in love with the place. It's nearly three decades since I first went there and I can't remember every detail -- for example I can hardly remember eating any meals there -- but some things are stronger than memories: when I think about them, it's as if I'm actually there. We walked the streets endlessly, up, back and Downalong. We evolved catchphrases which amused us enormously, to do with the 'Digey' and Pedn-Olva, a hotel right down by the sea's edge which we fancied much more than the one we were in. We marched along the coastal path, past Eagle's Nest, the house where the artist Patrick Heron lived. We went in every single gallery -- and there were dozens -- buying nothing more than postcards and discovering Alfred Wallis, Bryan Pearce, Roy Ray, Tony O'Malley, Terry Frost. We used to fantasise about having a studio in one of the fishing lofts on Porthmeor Beach.
Basically we would just rake around the town all day long, not really doing anything but completely happy. We didn't buy very much, didn't eat very elaborately, we just tried to get under the skin of the place as much as we could. And now I have an enduring love of the place. If I ever imagine running away, it's always to St Ives -- probably shouldn't reveal that!
I don't suppose the seal that lived in the harbour is still there -- did they say he only had one eye?

More four for the day

I'm still posting sets of four at Four for the Day. One of my favourites today...

Monday, 9 May 2011

Four for the Day

 For the next seven days I'm going to be 'guest editing' Four for the Day, a blog where, each day, the editor displays a collection of four objects. So my magpie tendencies are going to be to the fore this week.
It's been really difficult deciding which foursomes to include.

But, rest assured, it won't be any of these.
Some of the previous posts on Four for the Day are wonderful, so it's worth browsing back through older posts.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Pleased to be Blease

Yesterday one of the blogs I follow (H is for Home) had an interview with a designer called Jane Blease.
Walnut brooches by Jane Blease (used with permission)
As I'm a Jane and Blease is one of our family names, I paid special attention. Perhaps we're related? I like Jane's cool designs and her use of some interesting materials, including recycled early plastics:
Vintage imitation tortoiseshell lampshade by Jane Blease (used with permission)
Jane's website showcases all her designs.
     When I looked online for Jane, I immediately found a rash of other Bleases. I'd always thought the name was very unusual and, historically, in my immediate family, we always said it in a slightly funny voice. Now Bleases were coming at me from every angle and there seemed to be a preponderance of highly creative Bleases.
Print by Gillian Blease (used with permission)
Gillian Blease is a wonderful illustrator who does a lot of work for the Guardian and masses of other publications. Then there was Matt Blease, another fantastic illustrator and designer:
Matt Blease illustration (used with permission)
I also found Joan Blease, a photographer, Jenna Blease, a dancer, Tracy Blease, a jewelry designer, and Adam Blease, an actor.
     I wonder whether we are all distantly related? I got in touch with Jane, Gillian and Matt to ask them if I could reproduce some of their work. They all replied in a most friendly way and I felt very buoyed up by the idea of a great diaspora of creative Bleases.
     My Mum (Audrey Carr) was also highly creative:
This is her painting of the top of Lombards Wynd in Richmond (Yorkshire). This was the way down to my old school near the river.
This is another of hers, a pastel, of the field just along from our old house in Richmond.
     In her email to me, Gillian told me that the name Blease means a 'bright and shining light' -- the light that falls on hillsides between clouds. How beautiful! And I especially love that sort of light. Indeed there is a Blease Fell in the Lake District, on Blencathra:
Photo by Ian Capper, Wiki Commons
In my online investigations, I also found alternative meanings for Blease. It's a flaming torch, a 'blaze'. And, fascinatingly, it's a corruption of Blaise, from St Blaise, derived from an old Roman family name indicating a defect of some kind, usually of speech or gait (from the Latin 'blaesus', meaning stammering, and/or the Greek 'blaisos', meaning bow-legged). St Blaise was martyred in Armenia in 316AD. He is the patron saint of wool carders because he was 'carded to death' -- my mind flinches from imagining that.
     I don't actually know much about the Blease side of my family, going back. My grandmother had remarried by the time I was born. But I'm certainly looking on the name with renewed affection now. Long may the Bleases flourish!