Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Peacock Dreams

Over the bank holiday weekend, Steve and I decided to actually do something rather than simply sit still, watching tv and saying very little. We infact went to Warwick Castle and Warwick races. Despite losing every single race on the bank holiday Monday (I wasn't running, although I may as well have been for all the good it did!) I had so much fun! I would certainly do that again, possibly dolled up to the nines like Holly Golightly. I did indeed come out with the line, "Move ya bloomin' arse!" which I think is only right, and quite frankly, necessary in the situation!

It was at the castle however that I got another idea, well a half baked one anyway! No I do not plan on making medieval style outfits or accessories, chain mail bags and brooches, or candles with an eau du plague rotting peasant, it was the peacocks that did it. For anyone who hasn't been, the place is packed with peacocks and peahens, stunning in all their seasonal beauty. Their distinct and formidable song echoes around the grounds from all directions.It was while watching (I think I counted about 9 males) these peacock present themselves that I suddenly remembered I have peacock feathers in the bottom of my sewing bag!

These feathers were left over from November last year when we went to see Mighty Boosh in Nottingham. We decided to go dressed up as characters (if you haven't seen boosh please do not worry about the pictures that follow, you really need to see it to understand just exactly what it is you are seeing) from the episode Nannageddon. Caroline was going to go dressed as Glamour Nanna (a bit saucy in the 50's) but decided she just looked like a nanna (still glamourous to me sweetie!!). So while she dressed as Ebola the Goth Girl, the rest of us (Steve, his brother Owen, and myself) went as members of the board of Shamen.

I made the boys their outfits, wether they liked it or not. Steve, as Saboo, who as we know has been to the 'Crunch' on several occaisions, and not as a tourist, needed lots of feathers and frills. His jacket was a charity shop job with an old feather boa stitched around the collar and down the lapels. I then made a fan style headress- neckdress I suppose - with long black feathers and peacock tail (which I did have to buy).

I wasn't too impressed to be honest, didn't look exactly as planned, butI think the outfit all together, with Steve's attempt at a look of contempt, kinda worked.

As for Owen, he had no choice in the matter. He was going as Tony Harrison, a pink headed pain in Saboo's arse (so many levels!). For this I bought some pink lycra from the Rag Market, stitched into tenticles and filled it with mini polystyrene balls from a bust squidgy cushion. I have to say, this I think worked a treat! I was so chuffed with my little self - this was the firt thing I made on my sewing machine!

So, after embarressing my Blokey and his brother, it's back to the question in hand. What to do with my spare peacock feathers? I was thinking about maybe a 20's style fascinator, or decorations on a black bag. . . not sure. Will have a think and a play, any suggestions, greatly appreciated!!

Monday, 11 May 2009

The Sock Conundrum

Now, all of us have often wondered what exactly happens to those rogue socks who decide to break free of their desperate existence on our feet. Every now and again whilst putting out our washing, we realise, yet again, that another woven friend has done a Steve McQueen on us. Despite our best attempts to loacte the tunnels which surely have been chisled out of our washer-come-tumble-dryers, or the tools with which they have accomplished this mesmerising task, we never see any evidence of their Great Escape.

However, it has recently come to my attention that this masculine, war time, movie style disappearing trick may not be the way in which they escape. I now believe they are being liberated. Liberated not by other socks who got left in the grass on a summers day having fallen from the washing line; not by the mice under the sink who found it lounging amongst the recycling having been dropped on route to the shiny tumbler; but liberated by quite a strange, small and slightly scary (for many many reasons) human being.

This individual has been sneaking into your houses in the dead of night, or while you are at work, or seemingly, just when you're not watching, to free our toe warmers. She has then taken the refugees into her trusting confidence to no other place than . . . FOUR OAKS! The hell which then befalls our socks is so bizarre and sick, that no other item of clothing could ever imagine it. They are sewn and stitched into a strangely bewitching and fairly funky ANIMAL!!!!

The above creation is one of the first, and I am sure many, of Kaye's sock animals. Despite her stealing your missing socks from the cosyness that is the laundry basket, she has actually made something quite cool - if not a little scary (a bit like the bad boys toys in Toy Story!!). But what a way to recycle?!!! I can imagine a whole army of these creatures, coming to life to aid Ms Martin in her conquest of the world - and lets face it, they'd be indestructable, after all they are just socks! Nothing kills a sock!

Kaye - hats off! I think this is awesome - can't wait to see the Sock-topus!

The Case of the Missing Glue Gun

Hoorays!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My candle making equipment has arrived! Finally!! The company apparently had some shipping issues, but no matter tis here now!

I haven't written or made much since my last post, mainly because I have been right royally knackered. Yes woe is me who gets to finish at quater past three! I know, I know, all the usual teacher jibes, its fine . . . get them out of the way now . . . thank you. I shall continue.

Today was the first of our SATs week and my nerves for several work related reasons have been on edge for a couple of weeks. I spent last night not sleeping well, and when awake feeling as if I was going to throw up any second. I hadn't been so nervous since, well, never! I didn't even feel that bad during my own exams! Poor little sods having to go through this at 10 years old! Bring on the scrap heap. Science tests over with but tomorrow is the one that I am most concerned about. The writing tests.

This is what has concerned me for the last couple of weeks. I, who wants to become a successful writer, am now in full on stress mode about wether or not I have given my kids all the skills they need. There is nothing more I can do now, but I am a little unsettled to say the least. Hence, distraction techniques!

When I got home to see my shiny new toys I got rather over excited (yes a 2kg wax does that for me!!). So I dug out the shot glasses, cleaned them up - all 50 of them! - found the instructions again about how to make them, got ready to start and then . . . brick wall. Twice! Firstly I realised I had no suitable pot in which to melt the wax. Secondly, I couldn't find my glue gun! I need to attach the wicks to the base of each container using hot glue, but alas! it has gone.

I just can't work out where I have put it. How do you loose a glue gun?!!!! Its in none of the places I can see, maybe the attic? hmmmm.

So before I can venture into the world of molten wax, I need to do two things, hunt down the glue gun and glue sticks, and go to the charity shop for a wax pan. Bummer. Was really looking forward to distracting myself this evening. Looks like I'll just have to wait til Sunday.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

All a bit Blue Peter

Ok so there was no wax. Fine. So, back it was to my box of bits and bobs. Today I have finished some brooches, a bag and made some hair slides / fascinators. I am wondering wether they should be put onto ebay or saved for some from of craft fair- come - car boot. I will see how the brooches go this week on Ebay. Having only sold one brooch so far (£5.70 - not bad!) I am a little cautious. I am not entirely convinced that Ebay is the best forum for this kind of craft.

Cie has suggested a site called Etsy. It is a site where people can sell their handmade products, however, everything on there seems to be very professional looking. My products at the moments still look a bit Blue Peter. Regardless of when and where I decide to sell my bag of bobbins, I am enjoying (so much) getting back to being creative - I should probably also do some writing at some point!!

Kirstie's Kandles

My absolute new fave TV programme has to be Kirstie's Homemade Home! ( ) Not only is she seemingly building and refurbing my dream house but she is so inspiring! She is making and creating things that, actually, I think I could do as well! Maybe not as professional as would be preferable, but it has interested me in other avenues of crafty finance. In particular - making candles.

In episode 2 Kirstie learnt how to make various candles - the ones I especially liked were container candles made in china cups. ( ) By the way, during this post I am aware that I may end up sounding like Kirstie's personal fan club / stalker, but I love her!

It looked so easy, so simple, and so fab for my whole 'recycled' craft thing. But I do think it will take a lot of practice. The problem with me is, when I get excited about an idea I have to do it NOW, regardless of what other things I have on the boil! Steve is going to kill me, our dinning room just keeps growing ever more into a junk shop and I have a horrible feeling it's not going to stop. Todays additions to the pile include these:

This is a box of shot glasses and a couple of china cups which I aquired for free. Since watching this week, I have been desperate to have a go. I have researched on the internet costs etc of wax and wicks, and its all very reasonable - this is assuming that the wax melts down to a decent quantity.

I thought these shot glasses would be a good way to test out my ability to create something functional and pretty. There are a few quite pretty glasses in the box anyway that should mask my crapy initial attempts!

There are also a couple of really pretty china cups, granted they have a couple of chips on the rim, but surely this is just another reason to recycle them into something useful?!!

As I have got my containers, this morning I thought I would go to the craft shop. There is a fab art store on the Chester Road, Boldmere (The Vesey) which has framed many of our prints and is a veritable aladdin's cave a crafty goodness. However, they didn't have any wax or wicks. The lovely assisstant had recently uncovered a box of 'random' bits which happened to have some candle dye. As it had been there some time, she let me have the dye for 75p! I liked her a lot actually, she had a similar aversion to Hobbycraft as I have! She too thinks they are vaguely evil and "not very nice!"

So I have my containners, I have some dye, I am still missing the all important ingredients of fire and fuel! I am thinking, to stick with my theme, I might go round the chairty shops this afternoon and see what tatty, old bits of candle I can pick up. However, I think it is only right I actually buy new wicks and wick holders! Not entirely sure I can get away with using pre-used wicks, it could be a unique selling point . . . but I doubt it!

There are some really fab websites with steps and advise for making candles, the best type of wax wick etc for the candle you want. This one I find especially good:

For me, as I am not particularly good with the whole maths thing, the most difficult part will be working out exactly which type and size of wick I will need. This is a good starting point I think:

However, I think this is going to take me a little time to perfect! I shall let you know how I get on with my experiments!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The balance returned - almost!

Today was much better all in all - I remembered what I am looking forward to so much! I got things sorted in my head again, and I got organised a little, which really helps.

Kids were back in today and it was good to see them, this actually helped my thinking again. We were trying to get them to realise just how little time they had left - there are 13, sorry 1 now, school days left until their SATs. THATS LESS THAN TWO WEEKS!!!!!!!!! That suddenly hit home. yes ok there are several weeks left after this, but that, essentially, is it!! I jst have to get through those 12 days, nothing more. To keep myself sane I am going to write, craft, and hopefully sell some stuff.

My first brooches are up for sale tonight (bags haven't sold so far. poo) and thankfully one has got a bid on at £4.99, which is very exciting (yes, I am aware that in the grand scheme of exciting things this is fairly low. I am easily pleased, it generally makes for a happier existence!!) With a little luck I would like to sell at least two tonight, make it feel more worth while.
Have been contemplating the idea that it might be easier to try and sell things at craft fairs etc. I could build quite a stock for precious little money - I have lots of fabric etc, it just needs something doing with it. My Cie sent me a link today for various crafty items which may be useful:

Not had a good nosey yet, but there seems some good stuff on there. Will be having a look to see if I can get some further inspiration.

I am loving this whole craft thing, I feel a buzz again. Its as if my creative streak and passion for pva glue and stickyback plastic has come back. Thats one of the reasons I have loved being a teacher, you get to play and be creative and enjoy having the excuse to get covered in clay, cover your hands in pva then enjoy the satisfaction of peeling it all off, pretending to children that you are part snake sheading your skin. Having the excuse to make monsters out of cereal boxes (no loo rolls this day and age I'm afraid - not unless you've microwaved them yourself to kill germs - seriously!), using glitter on everything, and sticking sequins on people's backs.

Bit by bit though it was sapped away to the point were I felt I actually didn't care. That was a stark realisation. Other rubbish started to get in the way, targets for everything, data, policies, budgets, ugly attitudes, uglyiness in general. And yes, I know that teaching is more about being a business these days but it all seems so extreme. Everything went a bit grey, I even got horrendously pissed off at glitter! It was banned from my classroom! However, since I got back into this frame of mind things have colour again, I mean, I've even let children destroy my carpet with glitter and glitter glue! Obviously not deliberately destroy the carpet, some bright spark decided that cordroy style carpetting throughout a primary school was a sensible cleaning choice! My room will now have green twinkles forever!

Today I ordered some willow withies for school - we are going to make some giant sculptures after SATs, mythical monsters I think to fit with our greek theme! Can't wait. May end up with a few eyes poked out and a couple of trips to A&E, but what the hell, its all in the aid of creativity!

Just to show you how things have changed in my head, here's a couple of pics of mine and erika's corridor. This is what we created to embody our ancient greek theme:

I'd forgotten I could paint!!
Sadly photos don't quite do our genius justice!
If anyone know of any craft fairs in the west midlands or an easier way of finding them (I have found one seemingly in the entire country - clearly doing something wrong), please can you leave me a comment.
Enjoy your evening!

Monday, 20 April 2009

How do I love thee? Let me show the ways . . .

Most romantics out there expect love to be fireworks, roses and a constant drug like high. I have to disagree - I don't take drugs, roses are not my favourite flower (I much prefer daffs) and I, embarressingly, am slightly afraid of fireworks (it's the nasty bangs!).

Instead, love is the many varied little (and big) things that make a difference, and as much as Steve will protest loudly againt this, I know he loves me! Yes, he does tell me, but theres those little moments that make it so much more. And over the last 12 months there have been even more suspicious clues that he may be in this for the long haul . . .

No, buying and house together with a joint mortgage, that wasn't it - terribly unromantic and financial! A business deal. But during one his cleaning fits he did weedle out all the duplicate DVDs in our now combined collections.

From this point things have gone further, after all he was the one who suggested and encouraged me to write and do something different for a while. On the back of this he bought me a dining table and chairs (which we have still to have a meal at - steve is refusing to have a dinner party!) so that I could do home tutoring to bring in a little money when needed. But the greatest offering of his love was last week when looking at my knitting!

The picture here shows my latest attempt at knitting - a much, much, much better effort - it even looks like it could be used for something. I aim to make this into a bag, hopefully one that someone would like to buy. I was thinking of using other bits of felt, wool and beads to decorate it up. will have to think of a design though . . .

Anyway, I digress. When steve saw my knitting he didn't say very much. It is knitting afterall. However, after a little pondering he asked if I would knitt him a scarf!!!!! Now that is love! He not only believes in my writing, in my methods of making some pennies, but now also in my knitting!! So, soon we are going to go and find some suitable wool for this project, and I am going to teach myself how to do tassles!! I am slightly concerned that this makes us a pair of old marrieds, but I don't care. It makes me floaty . . . oh, hang on, here come the fireworks!