Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Cool links

Let’s dance…

I have been cutting board for the last few days for the 20 books (and matching clam shell boxes). 14 precisely measured pieces of board for each set. 280 pieces altogether. I am having a day off today as my arm is starting to hurt a bit at the wrist and a slight twinge of tennis elbow – which is annoying as I haven’t even had the fun of a game of tennis. In between, I have been tweaking and cropping 90 images (web sized image and a thumbnail for each) for the web site I am working on. I’m starting to feel like a robot. Luckily, my friend who owns the Pierrepoint Gallery has just offered to cut the rest of the board on this amazing all-singing, all dancing glass/board/perspex cutter he has at the gallery. Hurrah!

Talking of all-dancing….(tenuous link alert!) A while back, I did a post about the search engine terms people use to find my web site. Here is the latest all time stats.

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As you will notice, inexplicably ‘strawberry’ is still up there.  I hope the 79 people searching for ‘frumpy’ were disappointed – cheek! Javier Bardem is  climbing the charts – possibly due to the release of ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’ in the UK (such a good film). There are still a lot of people looking for polar bear jokes but top spot goes to people searching for info on Sylvie Guillem. This is rather good news as I have just bought tickets to go and see Sylvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant (also a genius) in a new ballet ‘Eonnagata’ at Sadler’s Wells in June.

“Eonnagata tells the story of the Chevalier d’Éon, Charles de Beaumont – diplomat, writer, swordsman and a member of the King’s Secret, a network of spies under the control of Louis XV. De Beaumont was perhaps the first spy to use transvestitism in the furtherance of his duties and until the day he died his true gender was a source of constant speculation, even provoking public bets in the late 18th century.”

Wow.

Watch this clip and then you will get a small idea of how excited I am! (Plus it might attract another 1357 Sylvie fans to ‘Much of a muchness’ – which won’t hurt!) I have optimistically bought two tickets for the performance in June and am now holding auditions for the part of ‘ballet enthusiast and date for the night’. Form an orderly queue ;-)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

In complete contrast, this is the most hilarious thing I have seen on the TV in ages.  ‘Red Nose Day‘ approaches – a huge charity fund raising day here in the UK organised by Comic Relief. As one of the events this year, a TV show called ‘Let’s Dance’ has lots of celebs and comedians re-creating famous dance routines in a competition which runs over several weeks. The comedian, Robert Webb, (half of  ‘Mitchell and Webb’ of ‘Peep Show’ fame and the UK version of the ‘I’m a Mac, I’m a PC’ ads) performed the famous routine from ‘Flashdance’. Here is Robert as he usually is.

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Here he is performing ‘Flashdance’.

I keep watching this and it makes me laugh every time. The rest of the competitors might as well throw in the towel now. It’s in the bag.

Milo news:  I have bored Milo into submission! He was fed up of sitting at my feet while I worked one day so he got up, ran downstairs (a first) and then went through the dog flap all by himself (also a first), came back in through the dog flap, back up the stairs and lay down by my feet again. I knew he could do it and was just being stubborn. Glory be!! It’s a miracle!! Now just need to train him to make me a latte and I’m sorted….

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Inspiration…and a little perspiration

I’m sorry, I’m sorry – been neglecting my blog, I know. My excuse is that I have been working on a very complicated web site (well, for me anyway) and after spending every waking moment toiling away at my computer, the last thing I felt like doing when I stopped to relax was blogging. Anyway, it’s all finished now , I even found time to make a book for a friend. I made her a web site a few months ago for her new bed and breakfast business, and she asked me if I would make her a visitors book for her guests to sign. Here it is.

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I used an image I took of her house and printed it onto Belgian linen bookcloth. I made the striped back cover in Photoshop and it was tricky working out where to place the stripes and image so that they were in the right place when I bound the book. It worked even better than I hoped. I hope she likes it.

One of the things that tempted me back to my blog (apart from my friend Carol telling me how much she enjoyed reading it – all bloggers should have a friend like Carol!) was finding that the lovely writing gb had given me this award. The award was originated by Montessori Mama – isn’t it pretty? Very cheering on these cold winter days.

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The rules are these:
– List six things that inspire my creativity
– Pass the award on to 6 more kreativ bloggers
– Link back to the person who gave you the award
– Link to the people you are passing it on to and leave them a comment to let them know.

Six things that inspire my creativity. Hmmm…

1 Reading. Once I am interested in something, I have to read as much as I can about it. The down side of this is my ever expanding library which threatens to take over my house. My latest inspiration is a book called ‘500 Handmade Books – Inspiring Interpretations of a Timeless Form‘ published by Lark Books.

2 Other bookbinders. One particular thing that has caught my fancy (which is in ‘500 Handmade Books’) is a wonderful ‘bustrophedon variation’ by Cathryn Miller, which is a sort of book which folds up into a small cube. I think it’s delicious and especially as I think this was created by the same Cathryn Miller who also comments here and is a member of the Book Arts Forum, a wonderfully inspiring place to visit.

3 Blogs. I was inspired to try bookbinding by reading the blog written by Dennis Yuen. He also has a beautiful book featured in  ‘500 Handmade Books’. His blog features lots of tutorials and images of the gorgeous work he does.

4 Curiosity. I see something, I have to try and work out how it was done and reproduce it. Expect to see a ‘bustrophedon variation’ attempt gracing (or otherwise) these pages sometime soon…

5 A slightly obsessive nature. I have been designing and writing this web site I have been working on for over a week. I sit down to work as soon as I get up and often find myself sitting working until late at night. I even dream about solutions to problems I am having. I realised on Monday, I had not been out of the house for a week, apart from taking Milo into the garden for a run around. (No wonder I am not having much luck meeting a new chap). I am also obsessive about finding lovely materials to work with, nice paper, leather, fabric and so on. Oh and kit. I love the tools and gadgets and equipment that go with bookbinding.

6  I love it when people appreciate something I have made. It gives me such satisfaction. When I was younger, I was always lacking in self confidence so when people praise my work it gives me such a buzz.

So there you have it.

I pass this on to  the following people who all create such wonderful things and who all seem to inhabit a parallel universe where days are 48 hours long. How else do you explain how much they achieve? Or is it that I am rubbish at time management….?

Teresa – home schooling , soap making, homesteading, cooking wonderful food, writing and so much more

Amy H – she knits, she makes books and brings up two small children – they are all gorgeous.

Kylee – making polymer clay jewellery, running language and jewellery making workshops, bringing up a baby, President of her local Arts and Culture Association….

Kim – the friendliest, most supportive blogger who encouraged me when I was first starting out and who is a wonderful artist. She also founded the  Top Artists Directory which must take so much time to keep updated and also writes the poetry blog PoeArtica

Astrid – a bookbinder from Germany who has never failed to inspire with the quality and the variety of the books she produces. Not to mention the quantity….

Claire – my friend in the real world, who has written a really funny book ‘Plus One: A Year in the Life of a Hollywood Nobody‘ and whose persistance and hard work in getting this book into print and then used as the inspiration for a movie ‘The Making of Plus One‘ is truly inspirational. She even appears in the movie – how cool is that?

Now to close, this is so creative it deserves a Kreativ award of its own. Great music and a superb video by Oren Lavie. Enjoy.

Busy old weekend

Well, it’s been a fun weekend. Milo continues to delight – even when he is being very naughty. He refuses to walk on a lead. As soon as you attach the lead to his collar, he sits down and refuses to budge. We had a breakthrough of sorts yesterday. Some friends dropped in and we decided that the three of us ought to be able to persuade one small dog to go ‘walkies’. This was the result…

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Milo got about 100 yards from the house walking nicely on his lead, the excitement of us all setting out together overcoming his hesitation. A car passed us and he sat down and refused to move an inch so this is how he continued the walk. I see we are going to have to join puppy school.

I’ve had a very productive weekend. I sorted out my workroom which had become a bit of a disaster area of late. I now have a creative space upstairs for my books and a desk for computer based activities in the kitchen. If I work upstairs, Milo sits at the bottom of the stairs, crying. If I let him come up with me, we have a potential ‘puppy pee/poo’ disaster as although he can climb upstairs , he cannot climb down, so if I become engrossed in what I am doing, I pay for it. So it’s easier to stay in the kitchen with the pooch so he can take himself off into the garden when nature calls.

I also managed to set up my Mac in the kitchen to talk to the printer on the top floor and worked out a very complicated double sided, right way up, back to back, A4 on A3 paper, nightmare of a printer problem. (don’t ask!)  I’m still trying to track down some A3 sized inkjet printer paper which is double sided, about 200gsm (or thereabouts) but which isn’t brilliant white. I want off white or cream even and despite hours faffing about on the internet, I can’t seem to track any down. Any thoughts anyone?

I would be feeling quite pleased with myself had I not made the mistake of weighing myself this morning. Bummer. Literally. So the downside to a promising weekend is that I’m back on a diet. And spending my days working in the kitchen is a real test of my shaky will power. I get on much better when I am two floors away from the kitchen, because then I either forget about snacking altogether or at least running up and down two flights of stairs goes someway to mitigate the damage…

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I daren’t turn on my Wii Fit, it will shout at me…

On the real life sporting front, Andy Murray won the Qatar Open, easily beating Andy Roddick and Manchester United beat Chelsea 3 – 0 which thrilled me no end.

To finish, here are two more things which have entertained me this weekend. First was from my friend Claire, who rightly pointed out how clever this is. In her words

‘This guy traveled all over the world with his recording equipment, recording street musicians playing the same song, and then meshed it into one fantastic and inspiring tune.  Just the feat of getting everyone to play it in the same key, in tune and in the same tempo is mind blowing.  Very nice job.
Music is, indeed, universal.’

and the second was from my friend Sharon. It’s a bit like popping bubble wrap and equally as addictive. Just click on this link, then just run your mouse over the bears. You’ll see what I mean.

So that’s it,  my new week’s resolutions are – train Milo, lose weight, get fit – no problem…

Have a fun week.

Art for art’s sake

I have been really useless at keeping my blog up to date this week. In my defence, I have been really busy finishing a website and a blog for a paying client (hurrah!) and also updating an old website so I can show it to potential clients as part of my portfolio. I almost feel like a proper working person! In addition I’ve been working on my own website to sell my books. I’ve probably missed Christmas now but with a bit of luck and a following wind,  it will be up and running soon.

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I went up to London yesterday to see the Mark Rothko exhibition at Tate Modern. It was just as wonderful as I expected it to be. My favourite room at Tate Modern is the Rothko Room which normally has the Tate’s eight Seagram murals (originally intended for the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building in New York). For this exhibition, they have brought together others from Japan and Washington and the result is an inspiring exhibition. It also gives a fascinating insight into the techniques Rothko used to achieve the subtle tones and shading in these works.  Rothko specified these works should be viewed in subdued lighting and it makes the whole visit a very peaceful if not spiritual experience. It would have been even better if the gallery had been as quiet as the photograph – on Saturday, it was packed to the gills!

We also went to see a Surrealism exhibition and then had a mooch around the rest of the Tate’s collection. I particularly wanted to see ‘The Snail’ by Henri Matisse which is a particular favourite.

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I remember the first time I saw this ‘in the flesh’ after knowing it well from seeing many reproductions. I was blown away. It’s enormous for a start (2864 x 2870 mm) and it is made from paper painted with gouache, torn into shapes and then pasted onto paper which is then mounted on canvas. The colours are rich and vibrant and I loved it on sight. It also reminds me of a trip to the old Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain) when my #1 son was about 8 years old. His school had arranged a visit to the Tate as a treat and I went along as a parent helper.

A guide sat the group of about a dozen boys on the floor in front of John Constable’s ‘The Haywain’.

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She coaxed the boys into discussing the painting. What did they see? Did they like it? Was it realistic? Did they like the colours? And so on. They then moved on to Picasso’s ‘The Three Dancers’.

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The boys were encouraged to compare the two paintings. The colours, the style of painting, the subject matter. Which painting was painted most recently? And then they moved on to this. Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’.

the-kissThe guide asked the boys ‘ What is the difference between this and the two artworks you have just been discussing?’ She was expecting the boys to say that this was a sculpture and the others were paintings. What actually happened was this. One of the boys tentatively raised his hand and said ‘Well, with the other two, you have to put the light in but with this one, the light is already there’. The guide’s jaw hit the floor and we all looked at little Thomas in amazement. So succinct and one of those wonderful ‘wisdom of children’ moments.

We then moved on to ‘The Snail’ and after a discussion, the boys voted it their favourite of all the artworks they had seen. Not hard to see why, in my book.

I started writing this on Friday. Wrote the first paragraph and left it open to finish after my trip. Today, I finished the post,  saved it and then went to view it to check for typos – and discovered that WordPress has changed the user interface in the interim, and bottom line – it had lost all I had written. Aaaagh! So this is version 2. Not half as hilarious and informative and all round brilliant as the first version but there you go, it will have to do :-)

So to end, an art joke.

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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…..