Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Art

A bit of a whinge….

I’ve been busy. Yes, me. Holiday Queen. I designed a website for a friend and she mentioned this to her friend who happened to need a website and her brother, who happened to need a website and Lo! and Behold! I have been working. All a bit of a shock to the system really especially to poor Milo who can’t understand why I won’t play with him every minute of the day.

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The other down side is that it has dramatically curtailed my blog visits – sorry! But after a day of coding html and css and wrestling with the vagaries of Internet Explorer (Please, World – buy a Mac!) I haven’t had time to visit or post here either.

I have come up against a very thorny, perennial problem working for friends – and friends of friends – how much to charge for my services. I’m obviously not a professional but I would like to think that I do a good professional job – basic with few ‘bells and whistles’ and that is what a lot of people seem to want. ( Check out Duck House) However, given the time it takes to code a website ‘properly’, if I charged a reasonable amount an hour, the costs would be huge, so I charge a fairly low fixed fee. Compared to a ‘professional’ web designer, I am cheap as chips. So my dilemma is, do I pretend to be a ‘professional’ or admit I am a beginner. I would like to make some money doing this. My #2 son who is a newly graduated graphic designer is going to send me a ‘rate card’ which he has taken to using, having suffered the problem of agreeing a fixed fee and then ending up with the job taking much longer than anticipated. It’s a minefield!

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I am rubbish at negotiating. Or standing up for myself. I have been attempting to sell my books at an art sale in the town where I live. I don’t want to undervalue them yet I don’t want to over charge for them and I would like to sell some. I put them at a lowish price (bearing in mind I’m not in the West End of London) and haven’t sold one. Do I lower my prices even more and almost give them away? They are getting lots of positive comments so I think that it’s just not the right marketplace for them but it is disheartening. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on all this. Sorry this has been such a serious post but it has been bothering me.

So to cheer things up, here is a clip from ‘Outnumbered’ which is quite my favourite thing on TV. The second series is fabulous. Last week Karen, the little girl held a funeral for a mouse caught in a trap in their kitchen. It was priceless.

Her teddy bear stood in for the Pope and she said ‘ Dust to dust. For richer for poorer. In sickness and in health. May the force be with you. Because you’re worth it. Amen and out’.

She also asked why Gordon Ramsey swore so much. ‘Shouldn’t it be people like doctors and soldiers and artists that swear? Not cooks. All they are doing is making salad.’ I love her.

And finally, that time of year which I prefer to ignore is looming fast. It’s a minefield and now the boys are grown up and I’m single, I dread it. I don’t want the boys to feel they have to come home but of course, I hope they do! The first time they both had other plans, I went to stay with friends in Vancouver. I had a great time but it was so weird not being with my boys. Last year they both came home and as I had just broken up with my partner and was not in the best of moods, my ex joined us – which was weird but OK. At least he was a welcome distraction! This year, one son has said he is home, the other is negotiating where to spend Christmas, with his girlfriend and I am waiting to hear his plans. Thankfully, a dear friend has invited us to spend Christmas day with them. #2 son is thrilled as she does cook THE BEST Christmas dinner. Yes, even better than mine….

I’m determined to be organized this year. I’ve already ordered my Christmas tree from Crocus, I am going to buy my cards soon so I don’t end up with the horrible leftovers and if I write and post them early, I won’t be stuck in the horrendous queue in the Post Office for hours on end on the last day of posting and maybe the cards I send overseas might actually arrive before Christmas this year.

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The bear necessities

There is rather a sweet blog called ‘Dear Teddy‘ which I have seen mentioned in various places around the old interweb (Daddy Papersurfer, 70steen and Olga, the Traveling Bra – I would have thought another kind of teddy was more her style!).

It’s a blog, by for and about all those old stuffed animals and other beloved childhood toys which have a story to tell.”

Well, a few years ago, I was given a rather strange bear as a Christmas present. I hesitate to introduce him to the other bears over at ‘Dear Teddy’ as I’m not sure of the reception he would get from Grumpy Ted, Snowy Bear and Busy Bear. He is a rather groovy if dare I say, freakish bear designed by Phillipe Starke the famous French designer. Here is a photograph of him….

I’m not entirely sure that any story this little bear has to tell would be suitable for kiddie’s ears. Quite how the puppy, the lamb and the bunny ended up where they did is a story for Hallowe’en I’m sure and would probably be a cautionary tale for us all.

And talking of Hallowe’en, (bear with me- tenuous link following)   Kim over at Laketrees is running another of her wonderful competitions to win a portrait painted by her. The prize will be a portrait of a subject of your choosing, painted in oils/acrylics on a 90cm x 100cm canvas. All you have to do is post about the competition on your blog with a link back to Kim, subscribe to her feed by email and then comes the hard part – choose your subject (you? your son/daughter? partner? pet?) and in less than 250 words say why you have chosen your subject and why you should win! The competition closes on October 31st (Hallowe’en – now you get the link) at 12pm (not sure what time zone that is so get your entry in early to make sure you beat it – Kim lives in Australia!)

Kim also runs the ‘Top Artists Directory’ blog which is a fantastic resource to introduce you to the many talented artist who have blogs. I am in there but I actually feel a bit of a fraud, I’m not sure I’m really an artist as such – and I have been so slack at making books recently (too many holidays, I hear you cry!) but I will get back into it soon.

Milo continues to be a total time waster, the only time I get anything done is when he is like this

He is just so playful and cute, I find it hard to ignore him. He is off for his second jab tonight so he will be allowed out to play properly then and can mingle with other dogs. I shall take him over to see my friend who has two Cocker Spaniel puppies ( who are quite a bit older than Milo) and we shall see how he gets on with them. He should be OK as he came from a house with lots of other dogs. In fact, I’m amazed at how well he has adjusted to just being with me.

I gave him a bath a few days ago. What a sad little creature! There is not much dog under all that fur and he stood there, shivering with fear and looking very bedraggled, skinny and sorry for himself. Once dry and brushed, he looks more like a teddy than Edward Puppyhands does…

Another teddy who I am quite enamored of is this one – the iPulse Teddy Speaker

Your iPod sits in a pouch on his tummy, the controls are on his paws and coloured lights pulse in his feet in time to the music. That is one hi-tech teddy – a Christmas present for the baby that has everything – including an iPod full of nursery rhymes and lullabies….

Here’s a track that should be on there, this is the original version of ‘The Teddy Bears Picnic’ by Henry Hall and his Orchestra – way before my time, you understand, but this is the version I remember from my childhood. And what about that record player? I’d like to see iPulse Teddy get that in his pouch…..


I’m back! Again.

Hello, I’m back. I apologise for just disappearing but I have been for a wonderful break to the South of France with a girlie mate for a week of gallery hopping and museum visits. Oh and lots of yummy food. I took 342 photographs so I will need a while to sort them all and I promise not to bore you all with too many of them but it was such a wonderful week, I do have to share some of it with you.

I came across this sculpture outside the Museé d’Arte Comtemporaine in Nice. Quite scary really, I hadn’t realised the cult of Daddy Papersurfer was so popular in France….

The prize for the cutest moment of the trip went to this little creature (no, not DP) who we watched for ages in the zoo in St Jean Cap Ferrat. He was SOOOOOO sweet! He was trying to be like his meerkat mummy – are baby meerkats called meerkittens? I must look it up.

The Worst Menu Translation prize goes to the ‘Trastevere’ restaurant in Villefranche sur Mer for it’s translation of the word ‘pignons’ (pinenuts) in the Salade Chevre Chaud on its lunch menu. Would you like oil with those, madame?

Most Spectacular View prize goes to the view from the Botanical Gardens at Eze. This photograph does not begin to do it justice.

Most Wonderful Street Art prize goes to the various installations which follow the path of the new tram system in NIce. These figures sit atop tall posts and at night light up and change colour. I love them but they are not universally admired – some detractors call them the ‘jelly babies’.

My favourite museum is just outside the hill top village of St Paul de Vence. It’s called the Fondation Maeght and it is the most beautiful tranquil place, full of wonderful sculpture and paintings – especially by Miró, Calder, Giacometti and Braque who were all friends of the founders of the Fondation, Aimé and Marguerite Maeght. Interestingly, there is an exhibition at the Royal Academy in London at the moment featuring the relationship between these four artists and the Maeghts.

I have been visiting the Fondation Maeght for 20 years or so and have always pronounced it ‘Fondation Mekt’. I recently found out it is actually pronounced ‘Fondation Magg’. I’m not quite as sophisticated as I thought I was!

I found this photo of my youngest son, taken in front of a fountain at the Fondation Maeght about 15 years ago. The fountain is still there but the little boy is now a grown man. Happy days.

Back to the real world…

It already seems a long time since my holiday. I have spent the past week faffing about trying to fix my internet connection which has been sporadic at best, dropping every couple of minutes at worst. #2 son was here and his connection was fine, so it was obviously my laptop which was the problem. I tried everything I could think of to fix it, rang my Mac guy for advice, followed his suggestions but no joy. To cut a VERY long story short, after days of increasingly desperate measures (including buying a new router) I was diverted by a pop up which kept appearing during my few and far between connected moments. It was called ‘Real Player Downloader’ and had started appearing since I updated ‘Real Player’. I decided it was so annoying that it had to go. I googled how to get rid of it – and found a thread on an Apple forum suggesting that if network connections were constantly dropping, Real Player Downloader might be the problem. I deleted it and lo and behold, hallelujah! Internet restored and no irritating pop up in one fell swoop. Joy.

When I haven’t been fiddling with my laptop, I have been searching for the garage keys which I had just before I went to Los Angeles, but which have now vanished. Can’t blame anyone else, I have lost them. I have given myself until Monday to find them and then I shall have to call out a locksmith – so annoying! It’s a good job I am so mellow after my trip or I would be going mad after such a frustrating week.

I thought I would have been making lots of lovely books by now but I have been so distracted and next week looks no better. I have some lovely friends from Vancouver coming to stay next weekend as we are all going to a wedding together, so I have gone into sort-the-house-out mode, which involves lots of dusting and tidying up. I like it when I have visitors because apart from the fun of having people to stay, it also means my house gets a thorough clean. Housework is so not one of my favourite things.

I’m really looking forward to the wedding. The bride is the daughter of some friends of mine and as they are an Indian family the wedding is going to be a traditional Sikh ceremony and we have all been requested to wear traditional Indian clothes. Most of the female guests are looking forward to dressing up, but from what I understand, the English male guests have chickened out and are wearing lounge suits! I am SO looking forward to wearing the shalwar kameez I have bought – which is a 3 piece outfit consisting of a knee length tunic over loose trousers with a matching shawl – all made out of silk and beautifully embroidered with sequins and beads. I promise you lots of photographs after the wedding next Saturday. One good thing is that I intend to make them a photograph album as a gift so at least I will have a new book to show you. The groom is a photographer – so no pressure there then….

Finally, à propos of absolutely nothing – but especially for Creechman who has a penchant for blonde actresses (and brunette actresses come to think of it…..)

This is SO cute, I’ll never eat octopus again (not that I could ever eat octopus now – all those tentacley suckery bits…..

Home again, home again, jiggety jig…

Well, I’m back and I seem to have brought back some sunshine – not as warm as California sunshine but very welcome nontheless. I managed to twist my knee playing tennis on the my last day so the 10 hour journey home in my cramped seat, followed by a 3 hour drive home to Dorset was really uncomfortable and painful. It was a price worth paying though for the wonderful time I spent in Venice, Los Angeles.

It’s hard to pick out a highlight as I have so many happy memories but certainly one great day was spent at the J.Paul Getty Museum where we went to see an exhibition by the Italian sculptor Bernini, but also saw an astonishing exhibition of photographs by a German photographer called August Sander, which I thought was truly magnificent. Here are some photographs which #1 son and I took of the museum and gardens.

I also made a pilgrimage with my very patient friend, Claire, to Paper Source and stocked up on very lovely paper so expect a new burst of bookbinding activity!

I went to a party at the home of the composer Michael Brook and his wife, Julie. Michael writes wonderful music , including the scores for the movies ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and ‘Into the Wild’. He showed me a beautiful book about the work of Pierre Legrain and Rose Adler whose Art Deco bookbindings are absolutely exquisite and very inspiring. I found the book on Amazon and have ordered it, I’ll show you some photographs of these fantastic leather bindings, when it arrives.

Claire and her husband, Colin and I went to a great restaurant in Culver City called ‘Vinoteque‘. We had a great meal which was also a tutored wine tasting, comparing Old World and New World wines. The food was tailored to match each wine and it was so interesting to see how the wines complemented and added to the wonderful food. The wine tasting was followed by the US equivalent of a ‘pub quiz’. Astonishingly, our team, ‘The True Brits’ came second and we won a $10 voucher towards a future visit!

Anyway, I’m back now and I’m trying hard to catch up on the blogging front. I’m starting to get round all the blogs I normally visit but it’s a slow process. What with dodgy knees, unpacking, laundry and jet lag, it’s all been a bit mad. I found today, I had been tagged by Kim over at Laketrees. Actually she was sent three tags by Mariuca@Mariuca’s Perfume Gallery but I’m actually only going to do one today. The easiest one (and I think the most fun one). It’s called the Handbag Tag, and in Kim’s words:

The Handbag Tag is from ECL and here are the rules.
Find a safe quiet place free of significant others, nosey meme makers, priests, nuns, all things religious and men in general. (If you’re a guy just reverse this process to male and tell us about your wallet, tool box, briefcase or metro sexual accessory.)
1. Dump the contents of your handbag in a pile.
2. Take a photo of your handbag and the contents.
3. Be brave and ‘splain to your fellow bloggers what lurks inside the handbag.
4. Tag others who might want to embarrass themselves.
5. Answer these questions:
Describe the contents of your handbag. See my list below.

Purse, iPhone, earphones in wallet, camera, spare battery and memory card and case, sunglasses, reading glasses and spare pair, car keys, my Moo card mini cards and wallet, tin of M&S mints, Japanese wallet full of photographs of my boys and my passport, 3 Moleskine notebooks, 7 pens – various colours, 2 pencils, (1 automatic, 1 with sharpener and eraser), Prada perfume, lip balm, travel tooth brush and paste, mosquito repellant, hairbrush, Glastonbury Festival wrist band, various hair ties and clips.

SO MUCH STUFF! My only excuse is that I haven’t had time to empty out the holiday stuff and I don’t normally carry a lot of those things around. No wonder that one of my shoulders is lower than the other :-)

What’s the most important thing in your handbag? My iPhone
What’s the most embarrassing thing in your handbag? Too many pens, pencils and note books! Too much everything!
What’s the smallest thing in your handbag? Hair tie
Is there anything illegal in your handbag? No, although I notice that the pharmacy no longer sells the brand of mossie repellant I like – I think it probably contains something illegal…

So there you have it, I’m going to tag all my commentators, male and female. Show us your handbags, purses, briefcases, wallets, holdalls whatever.

I dare you!

PS You may notice that the menu at the top of my blog is looking a bit untidy. I have expanded the tutorial page to include a gallery of all my books (130 in the slide show I’m afraid!) as I realised that readers who were coming to my blog following ‘bookbinding’ links were probably hard pressed to actually find any, so I decided to include the gallery. Now just need to sell some of the buggers!