Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: jewellery

It’s all go….

Yet again I have to apologise for a long absence, I’ve had a very busy couple of weeks. I finished the website I was making for a friend who makes polymer clay jewellery. It’s my first e-commerce website called Al-Andalus Creations, it went live last week and he has started selling the jewellery and it all seems to be working as it should which is a huge relief. I also set up a blog for him today and he has a Facebook fan page, so it’s all go! Here’s a screenshot of the home page.

Please visit, and even better buy some :-)

I also helped my young friend Jemima Hunt bind another book for her uni illustration course. You might remember she did a set of illustrations for the book ‘Roverandom’ by J.R.R.Tolkien and we bound the book last year. For her extended final project, she has been making collages to illustrate a children’s story she has written called ‘Tomatoes’. It is SO good. You can read about the making of ‘Tomatoes’ on her blog but here are some photographs I took during the process.

Bear in mind all these illustrations were originally  collages – they are so clever.

I have just finished the wedding album I am making for my god daughter and her husband. I am really pleased with it. It is A3 size and the wedding photographs I have printed out look wonderful. I sent to Paper Source in the US for the book cloth and it was well worth the wait as it has turned out very well. Can’t show you photographs of that as she hasn’t seen it yet but here’s a sneak peek of one of the pages…

I’ve also been putting the finishing touches to another website, this one for a wool shop in Weymouth called ‘Spin a Yarn’.  They have a selection of baby shawls for sale which are hand knitted by the staff and they are so pretty. They are also going to be selling crocheted throws – have a look at those too!

I’ve also been trying to keep my photoblog up to date each day which I must confess is proving harder than I anticipated. I have had to resort to trawling through my iPhoto library when I haven’t had time to get out and take a new image and am fast running out of suitable images. It’s a very good discipline and is making me be more discriminating about the thousands of photographs I have in my library (not to mention the thousands of photographs in boxes which aren’t digital). I was just having a rummage through a large box of old photos to find a particular one.

Yesterday was my youngest son’s 24th birthday. As usual, my ex rang me up to wish me a happy birthday – a tradition he started when my first son was born and he has continued to do ever since. As he says, in a way it’s my ‘birth’ day too :-)  Here’s the photograph I was looking for,  the birthday boy aged about 9 months. Soooo cute.

Well, that’s news of lots of projects coming to an end, my plan now is to finally get round to making a website for ME! What’s that saying? ‘The best laid plans of mice and men…..’ – we shall see :-)

PS I have been nominated in the ‘Best little blog’ awards over at Dorset Cereals (who make my favourite muesli and porridge) – you can see an icon in my sidebar to vote for me – all votes gratefully received! I thank you :-)

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A very good trip…

I decided at fairly short notice, that I needed to go to London. My #2 son and two friends have just moved into a new flat, I needed to have a meeting with a client about the jewellery website I am designing for him and last but not least, my ex was in town (not in itself a reason to rush up to town but he was bringing some bookcloth from the US for me…) so a trip to London was in order. I decided to travel by train and as some of you might have read (and the rest of you may have heard me complaining from wherever you are reading this!) the train fare to travel from Dorset to London and back the next day was £96. £96!!! Ridiculous. Yes, I now know if I had booked weeks in advance I could have got it much cheaper but I didn’t know I wanted to go weeks ago! I could have flown to the Mediterranean a couple of times for less than that – and it wasn’t even First Class. Anyway, rant over.

My son’s flat is in Shoreditch, near Spitalfields Market – an area of London which has become very smart, full of great places to eat (we ate at St John Bread and Wine – highly recommended), design studios, art galleries and shops. At the same time it is full of history – it’s ‘Jack the Ripper’ territory – scene of the famous Whitechapel Murders and many of the pubs and places associated with these infamous times are still standing and included in many of the “Jack the Ripper’ tours in the area.  Spitalfields  (probably a contraction of ‘hospital fields’) was home to a large community of Huguenots who fled France in 1685 following the treaty of Nantes and who settled in the area bringing their silk weaving skills. They built beautiful houses, many of which are still standing. My favourite street was Fournier Street which has been restored beautifully and these homes are now worth a FORTUNE.

Fournier Street

Opposite this street is the beautiful Christ Church built by Nicholas Hawkesmoor

Christ Church, Spitalfields

The area is also home to a large Bangladeshi community centred around Brick Lane, famous for its market and curry houses. I love that the street signs are in English and Bangladeshi.

On the corner of Fourner Street and Brick Lane there is a mosque – the Jamme Masjid or Great London Mosque which has in its time been a Huguenot chapel, which then became The  Jewish Chapel (for promoting Christianity to the large Jewish population in the area) then it became a Methodist chapel, then it was consecrated as the Machzikei HaDath (or Spitalfields Great Synagogue) and then finally a mosque. What a testament to multiculturalism.

The Jamme Masjid

As you wander the streets , you can’t help but notice the amazing graffiti on the walls. Apparently Brick Lane is world famous for this street art (some done by the mysterious and secretive street artist Banksy). Here’s a small sample.

My favourite piece was carved out of a wall which had been painted black then painted white on top, by exposing the different colours they had carved this image – not sure if it is technically graffiti or not but so clever. You can click on this one a couple of times to enlarge to see the detail.

We also passed this on our tour – a shoe tree. No idea what it is all about but very silly none the less.

So all in all, a wonderful visit (and if I’m honest well worth £96.) Back home now and putting the finishing touches to the jewellery website (will tell you about it when it’s launched) and looking forward to beginning the wedding album for my god daughter and her husband, using the beautiful book cloth brought over from Paper Source in the US by my ex. I adore Paper Source but they wanted $115 to ship a $63 order. Please Paper Source, open up in the UK or at least sort your shipping costs out. Sheesh.

Festive guzzlings…

Christmas has been a very ‘moveable feast’. It started with a whistlestop visit ‘oop North’-ish to visit my family which was fun. They were all terribly organised and handed over Christmas cards. I hadn’t even written mine as I had lost my address book, I might have missed some folk off my list :-(   All the internet savvy amongst my friends, who send emails, are in my address book on the computer but the others were doomed to not receive one. I wonder if they noticed? I posted them at the last minute anyway so they probably didn’t arrive in time.

Another lovely cartoon from Dave Walker at cartoonchurch.com.

We had a lovely Christmas morning (once I had prised my sons out of bed) and I was well pleased with the gifts I received, my #2 son bought me a beautiful gold pendant which is a leaf skeleton cast in gold – quite beautiful. My other son bought me a copy of Wii Fit Plus amongst other things. I suspect he is trying to tell me something. Copies of Michael MacIntyres DVD were exchanged – I reckon every household in the UK must have at least 2 copies of his DVD right now… but it is SO funny. Here’s a taster.

I spent the rest of Christmas day with some dear friends in Somerset, who always take pity on my non-vegan son and I and invite us over for Christmas dinner. My vegan son usually heads off to Bristol (clutching the nut roast I have made for him) to spend the afternoon with his vegan buddies. We turkey guzzlers had a fab time and ate far too much as usual but hey! it’s Christmas! The next morning, I went to Cardiff to visit friends there for a couple of days. We had a wonderful time – ate far too much again, and on my return to Dorset, a couple of friends and my son’s girlfriend arrived and we have been eating and drinking and eating, ever since. Roll on the New Year and the annual diet/get fit regime.

We went to see the new Sherlock Holmes film yesterday (having tried unsuccessfully to get in to see ‘Avatar 3D’) and I loved it. The recreation of Victorian London is amazing and the lovely Robert Downey Jr is a gorgeous, hunky Sherlock Holmes, I highly recommend it.

Anyway, talking of hunky men, I have another very pleasant duty to perform. My #2 son, Ben and his friend Tom, are starting their own business. It’s called Mylo Design and they are setting up a design agency which will connect aspiring young designers who would otherwise find it hard to obtain work, with businesses who need branding and visual communications projects completed to a high standard – without paying high established design agency fees. They are approaching design students and newly qualified designers to join them

‘Becoming a Mylo designer will give you the best opportunity to immerse yourself in the creative industry, improving your portfolio and skills whilst getting paid for the work you put in. On top of this, the Mylo team will do its best to guide their designers towards getting the best out of themselves, providing all the relevant resources and support needed to become a notable force within design.’

There will also be an associated social network site where the young designers can ask advice, chat to each other and take part in forums discussing design issues. They also plan to have online tutorials and resources available.

It’s a brilliant idea and I’m sure that it will be a success. So if you know any young web or graphic designers who might be interested, let them know about Mylo Design. They also have a Facebook fan page for those of you who do FB, and already have 342 fans.

So tomorrow is the last day of 2009. The end if the ‘Noughties’ and a new decade begins. Even though it doesn’t seem five minutes since the party we held to celebrate the new millennium  and such a lot has happened in the interim – when it was good it was very, very good and when it was bad, it was horrid. So I hope 2010 is a good year for you all, I’m hoping for very good things (although I just pulled a wishbone with Ben and he got the good half) but still, I remain an optimist :-)

Have a great time tomorrow and Happy New Year!

Quel méli-mélo!

So the pooch is called Milo. I was embarrassed to take him to the vet for a check up and have to confess he was unnamed, so we finally bit the bullet and picked a name. Why Milo? Well, mainly because my friend Jenny, suggested Snowy (who was Tin-Tin’s dog – as in “Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin!” and in French, Snowy was called Milou – anglicized to Milo.

I tried to film Milo playing in the garden but it is so difficult as he only seems to want to play with my shoes and the bottom of my jeans (a problem Snowy seems to have too) but I did manage to get this short movie of him earlier.

His name also reminds me of a French phrase I always liked – ‘Quel méli-mélo!’ which roughly translates as ‘What a jumble!’ or ‘What a mish-mash!’ or a ‘What a muddle!’ and which describes one of my posts beautifully :-)

I remember a few years ago gazing longingly into a Cartier jewellery store window and seeing THE most beautiful necklace and matching ring, bracelet and brooch – which needless to say was completely out of my price range. It was called the ‘Méli-mélo’ collection and I have always remembered (and coveted it!)

It’s so aptly named as it’s a wonderful mixture/jumble/concoction of various precious stones. I have a birthday on the horizon if anyone is feeling generous….. :-D

Milo is also a chocolate malt drink from Australia

and the first name of the actor who plays one of my favourite characters in my favourite TV show ‘Heroes’ – Milo Ventimiglia who plays Peter Petrelli.

On a more serious and sensible note, my favourite shop, Falkiners, which I am sad to say I have not visited for quite a while, has been reborn as Shepherds Bookbinders. It will be hard to think of it as anything but Falkiners, but while perusing their excellent web site, I noticed they now have a blog which contains new products and news of workshops etc. I highly recommend a visit. They have just brought out an instructional ‘Handmade Books’ DVD which sounds very interesting and I also want a deckle edged ruler and the new 2009 diary book blocks are in and there is new paper to tempt me and an archive of traditional tools from Sangorski and Sutcliffe and gorgeous reindeer leather from Finland…. did I mention I have a birthday coming up…? :-)

…and I don’t look a day over 199

I like this paper. Despite being a Japanese chiyogami paper, it’s a very tribal or ethnic design and according to the latest edition of the fashion magazine I subscribe to, that is one of the trends for the summer. We should all be wearing dresses made out of fabrics like this book. Well, all you ladies should – guys, it’s optional :-)

Guess what? This is my 200th post. 200! Whoever would have thought when I first started this blog 14 months ago that I would have so much to say? Certainly not me! I used to be incredibly shy and spent my teens hardly speaking to a soul. Things did improve as I got older, largely due to my (then) husband who made a point of making me speak up for myself at parties and the like. It was far too easy otherwise to let him do all the talking. At the time I thought he was being really cruel but with hindsight I see that it was just what I needed.

I remember the moment when I realised I wasn’t shy any more, vividly. I had enrolled on a course designed to get women who had taken time out to raise their families, back into the work place. We were asked to describe how we saw ourselves and how we saw everyone else on the course. Describing me, I came up with shy, lacking in confidence, quiet, reserved. All the other 20 or so people on the course said talkative, confident, friendly, outgoing. And in one of those Damascene moments, I realised I had been talking my socks off and joining in happily for the entire week! I do still find some occasions where I revert to crippling shyness and become awkward and tongue tied, but they are few and far between these days.

This was my anthem in those days – I give you Kajagoogoo – I had a huge crush on Limahl, my world fell apart when I discovered he was gay…..

Check out those hairstyles and fashions – hilarious!

Now to celebrate my 200th post, I thought I would say a little thank you to some of the regular visitors to Much of a Muchness who take the time to leave a comment. I always try to visit their blogs in return but sometimes I don’t manage it as often as I would like. So this is for you

Kim – wonderful artist and all round lovely person. She regularly updates the ‘101 Top Artists’ Blogs’ and is quite justifiably at number 1 in the rankings. (The fact I am number 3 has no influence on this list at all – honest) A labour of love if ever there was one. I won one of her portraits in one of her regular competitions, it is quite wonderful.

Paul – also known as Struggling Writer. Read his blog for snippets of his wonderful stories and news about his toddler daughter, ice hockey and his play off beard. Manages to be first to comment so many times it’s uncanny….

Creechman – what can I say? He loves actresses, TV, tennis, movies and his dog Emerson. He is a semi-rocket scientist from Houston. He seems to like English accents.

Teresa – sometimes her comments are funnier than my posts, but I forgive her :-) Her blog is full of news about yummy food, home schooling her lovely boys and birding amongst lots of other things.

Durano Lawayan – always has a pithy amusing comment to make. His blog is so full of wonderful, insightful posts about the world and all it’s many vagaries and absurdities which he brings to our attention with superlative skill.

RennyBA – everything I know about Norway I have learned from Renny! He is a ‘network evangelist’ and his mission is to introduce the food, customs and people of Norway to the rest of the world in a fascinating way. He succeeds admirably!

Diane CA – is Renny’s wife, her relatively new blog is full of insights into her interests in social work, her life as an American living in Norway and her views on the world around us. Her description of herself as ‘if I were any more of an extrovert I would turn inside out’ made me laugh!

Peteej – takes amazing photographs using his mobile phone camera and even is kind enough to give tutorials showing how he achieves such wonderful results. He also publishes photographs from other mobile phone photographers (ahem, mentioning no names but someone not too far from here was featured a while back…..)

Kylee – makes beautiful jewellery out of gemstones and polymer clay. She is an expat living in a beautiful part of France and I must warn her, one day I am going to arrive on the doorstep of her studio to see it properly! I have always vowed to visit Carcassonne and she lives quite close by…..

Astrid – is a German book artist who is talented and thoughtful enough to write her blog twice, once in German and then in English. I will confess to shamelessly stealing ideas from her and slavishly following her advice. A leading light over at the Book Arts Forum too.

Lord Likely – what can I say about Lord L that he hasn’t said himself? And in a much more – how can I put this? – outrageous, outré fashion than I could ever dare to….

Daddy Papersurfer – he thinks I’m scary. But perhaps not as much as his lovely wife, Lo the Terrible Goddess, who tries to keep him under control – with varying degrees of success it seems….

70’s teen – the diaries of a Manchester girl growing up in the 70’s. Strikes so many chords with me it’s scary. She is going to send me food parcels containing Northern delicacy, Hollands steak puddings – hurrah!

AmyH – I think Amy lives in a space -time continuum where she has 48 hours in each day – she has two small children and manages to make books, crochet, cook, read and do a million and one other things which totally puts me to shame….

Lady Banana– just loves to blog, in fact she thinks she may be addicted to it…. and I suffer from widget envy whenever I visit her blog. She loves photography and her life in London and it’s always fun to visit her wonderfully yellow blog.

Jenny – writes funny comments and has a blog to rival Lady B’s for widgets and an enthusiasm for life that leaves me breathless, Jenny’s blog contains the immortal truth ‘Drink coffee – do stupid things faster with more energy’ – that must be where I am going wrong. Memo to self – drink coffee!

And now to finish, a thought for the day.

Me? I’d be 21 again. But still with my lovely sons, (not sure how that would work as they are older than that!) but with the benefits of hindsight and experience…and better judgement as far as the opposite sex are concerned….. :-)