Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Crafts

A fine day indeed

I had a particularly good day yesterday. The night before, I stayed up until 2am printing pages and then got up at 7am to finish the job, rushed to the post office and posted the latest book to the record company, so that’s 8 finished, 12 to go. Once that job was done I could head off on a much anticipated trip.

Since I became interested in bookbinding, I have come across the work of Cathryn Miller on many occasions and I have always admired it. I was thrilled when she started commenting here. I bought a book recently called ‘500 Handmade Books’ a while ago and two books caught my eye in particular – both were by Cathryn.

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The first of Cathryn’s books was called ‘Bipolar Dream Journal #2’ and it’s gorgeous, made using handmade paper.

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I particularly like this one because I had a go at this ‘dos-a-dos’ binding and it’s difficult! The colour scheme she uses is a favourite one of mine – I love the black and white and the red ribbons. My own effort used my images printed onto linen bookcloth.

double-standing

The second book I admired is one I have mentioned before in this post. It’s an ingenious construction made out of a single piece of card. The photographs on the book were all taken by Cathryn (the photographs of the books were taken by her husband, David) and when I think of what ingenuity and patience must have gone into working out the placement and construction of this it makes my brain hurt. It’s called a ‘bustrophedon variation’  and the piece is printed on both sides with Cathryn’s own images of street art. It’s called ‘No Skateboarding’.

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I was thrilled when Cathryn started to comment here on my blog, and I was even more thrilled when she mentioned that she and her husband, David, were on a walking holiday in the UK and she suggested we meet. Well, yesterday, I went to Salisbury to meet her and David for lunch. Salisbury in Wiltshire, is famous for two things (there are probably a lot more but these are THE most famous things about Salisbury)  – Salisbury Cathedral

salisburycathedral

and Stonehenge

stonehenge

and it is now famous as the place I met Cathryn Miller  – and she gave me the artist’s proof of the ‘bustrophedon variation’ I mentioned above! It is exquisite! I have seldom been more surprised and thrilled, in fact I was almost (but not quite) rendered speechless at her generosity. If you read this when you get back from your trip, Cathryn, THANK YOU. You and David are delighful, talented people and it was a privilege and a pleasure to spend time with you both. I will let you know how I get on when I eventually have a go at a ‘bustrophedon variation’ – but it will have to wait until I have finished my book commission!

I’m having a lazy day today – watching movies (Howard’s End at the moment), varnishing prints, tidying my desk

my-desk

and playing with the dog at the beach

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We had a nice walk today but a couple of days ago, we encountered a younger Bichon Frisé puppy. The two dogs squared up to each other, danced around for a few seconds, then the other puppy turned around, cocked his leg and peed all over Milo. We were both taken aback – I’ve never seen a dog do that before. The cheek of it! Poor Milo! Apparently, this happened because Milo was being submissive to the younger dog – so I am going to give him assertiveness training then we will go and find the puppy and show him who’s boss :-)

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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.

kreativeblogger

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.

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!

artsale

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.

diagram-to-do-with-christmas-cards

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…..


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!