Initials BB

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I have recently acquired my aunt’s old sewing machine.

“Old” doesn’t do it justice. It’s a black vintage Singer 306, whose model and serial numbers date it at 1954, and whose original handwritten receipt places its purchase by my aunt in 1955.

When I agreed to house it, I was slightly concerned, for two reasons: 1. Would I have room to store the thing until someday I decided I needed it? And 2. Since my experience of machine sewing was limited to a matter of minutes back in the early 80s, I was wondering just what I’d do with it if I ever I did decide it might be needed.
I wasn’t counting on it being quite such a beautiful object.

I have named her “Black Beauty”, and she’s been out on display for the past 9 days because I cannot stop looking at her.

My cousin was part of a dance troupe that appeared regularly on tv variety shows in the 70s and 80s. My aunt, her mother, sewed all of her costumes on this machine. When my cousin died, my aunt decided she would never again find a use for it.

I’ve been playing with BB, these past few days, and I confess that I’m a total novice – but I love her! Two days ago I didn’t know what a bobbin was or where to find it, let alone how to wind one; today, I can wind that bobbin, tighten its tension and thread the needle ready to sew. No doubt, once upon a time, these were basic domestic skills possessed by every young woman, and it must seem ridiculous to anyone who was ever taught to sew that such clueless creatures as I could even exist – but we do.


I never in a million years imagined I would one day have an interest in sewing. Is this what being 38 does to a girl?

Been amazing the people next door …

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How can shoes this small come with such a big price tag?

I’ve no idea why octopuses feature twice in this post. I’m just grateful we humans aren’t eight-footed. I’d have to pay out for four pairs of shoes every time my offspring grew out of hers.

I’ve been and gone and …

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… got seduced

by flickrTM

You’ll find me there at roseanglaise

Mindful messing

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I’ve been doing some “mindful messing” with my oil pastels: making linear marks and then obliterating them in places; scrubbing with the side of the stick and blending areas with a tissue, leaving other patches looking more textural; combining and juxtaposing colours in a fun, intuitive way. I needed to cast off a few expectations about where I allow my inspiration to come from when I’m using certain media … how my initial idea might be allowed to go for a walk in its own direction, rather than taking the path I think a piece of “real art” would go … and how making that picture might actually be made to feel like an enjoyable process, rather than a chore – something that’s kept my poor oil pastels shut away in their tin for so much of the time, when all they really wanted was to come out and play.
12×9″ Oil pastel on Daler Murano paper. I like it so much more on the paper than on the screen.

I really needed …

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… yet another self-imposed creative challenge.

Yarnstorm, the blog of photographer, crafter and author of “The Gentle Art of Domesticity” Jane Brocket, has inspired me to pack my digital camera into the already way-too-tiny-to-be-crammed-with-so-many-art-and-craft materials shoulderbag that I tend to lug about with me, and attempt to take a photo every day for the next year, starting (quite arbitrarily, since that’s when the mood took me) on 11th August.

It’s not that Ms Brocket has ever (to my knowledge) advocated – even alluded to – such a discipline, but the photos on her site have convinced me I need to be making more colourful use of my camera, and since I have lapped up the offerings posted to the blogs of those who have taken part in challenges to photograph more frequently over the past couple of years, my Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ7 is now a daily companion in the service of Project 365. The subject will be anything that strikes me, and the fact that the medium is digital photography suggests the task should take little more than the blink of an eye to accomplish each day, not so much taking away from my art time as providing additional inspiration and reference material. Ha. That’s the theory!

I almost certainly won’t be uploading to my Flickr photostream daily – more like once or twice a week – but I hope to capture a joyous little something on every one of these 365 days. If I fall short of my aim, I will still end up with a vast album of images reminding me of the beauty of my everyday life. And that surely can’t be a bad thing.


Photo taken 12 August 2008

Miscellaneousness

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A few quick sketchbook pages I’ve neglected to share!
The plum wine was a gift from Paul, a souvenir of his trip to Japan back in June. This was an idea for a larger painting which didn’t happen. The shape in the bottom right-hand corner is a packet of what I can only describe as squid jerky.


For M, he brought back a stuffed plush version of the ubiquitous “Hello Kitty”. She loves her, but for some reason was at first troubled, then intrigued and now amused by the fact that beneath her lovely satin dress, Kitty isn’t wearing any underpants.


EDM Challenge #75: Ingredients of a favourite recipe

Chicken paprikash deconstructed.

Pen & watercolour in Canson journal

Colour me inspired

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“Sit in reverie, and watch the changing color of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind”. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

My mind has been no idle seashore lately, but waves of changing colour I can relate to.

I’ve been prompted to experiment with my oil pastels by a sudden and voracious exploration of magazines, books and websites not primarily about drawing or painting, but showcasing textile arts such as batik, felting and embroidery (Pascal Jaouen’s stunning broderie glazig being my most inspiring find), as well as beading and rubber-stamping. Colour, colour and more colour – and texture, and yet more colour – have been this weekend’s obsessions. This small doodle is just me playing around with a possible approach to a painting. 6×4″ Oil pastel on Daler Ingres paper.

But is it art?

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Today, as on most days, my creativity took many forms. Today, as on most days, they were forms that would not be considered high art.

I drew thumbprint butterflies in raspberry yoghurt on the kitchen table to amuse my daughter.

I made spiral patterns in her porridge with the squeezable honey as she guided my hands.

I made a dozen silly things out of plasticine, among them a carrot, a dinosaur, a pig, a tortoise, a snowman sporting a hat and scarf (“Pingu!” she exclaimed delightedly), a false nose, a strawberry, a rose.

I also squeezed in 30 selfish minutes of oil-pastel sketching – an eggbox, since you ask, for an EDM challenge – before she awoke from her afternoon nap.

The art is there … You just have to look with a somewhat creative eye to identify it as such.

This is what the two of us got up to a few afternoons ago. As you can see, M rejected the interesting shapes I had laboured to carve into a potato (I do not buy potatoes … this was a special purchase) in favour of the beautiful mess she could create with her own fingers. Apologies for the rollercoaster effect induced by the bizarrely-chosen angle of this photo: clearly a further attempt, on my part, to justify myself as an artist.

This is what Mummy produced, with cheap poster paint, as a souvenir of the afternoon. Thumbbugs.

Yes, say I. It is art.

Shake your booties

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These are the “One-Hour Baby Booties” from Stitch ‘n Bitch Nation, and they’re on their way to baby Max as I type these lines.

After faffing about with different needle sizes and settling on 8mm, I probably spent about 2 and a half hours on these. Next time (and I plan to knit another 2 pairs in time for October!) I’ll be quicker … and I would certainly recommend this as a cute, quick knit for the upcoming baby in your life, or the life of somebody near you. A modicum of knitting, a cheaty bit of crochet (just chain stitch for the strap) and a small amount of sewing up … et voilà.

I used leftover Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky in “Chianti”, which is less girly-pink than it appears in this photo, and the buttons are in reality pale yellow. I bought this wool in 2006 in order to knit a hat from the first book in the Stitch ‘n Bitch series, and I’m amazed that the 4 skeins I purchased have seen me through so many projects over the past 2 years.

Carpe minutum!

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I listened this weekend to a couple more back episodes of the Creative Mom Podcast, one of which spoke of ways to carve out small chunks of time for artmaking when you’ve convinced yourself there is no creative time available.

Desperate to pick up my neglected oil pastels, I’d been struggling to find extended drawing time during daylight hours, but the podcast removed that apparent obstacle from my path as if by magic: I went on to do this one-hour sketch over 3 short sessions.

The box itself is a souvenir from Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, but I won’t reveal its contents just yet; it might be fun at some point to make them the subject of a companion sketch!

8×8″ oil pastel on Daler-Rowney Murano paper. #12 in the 100 Pastel Sketches challenge.