Thursday, 14 July 2011

Pretty Handmade Bunting

One thing happened and then another thing happened.

The first thing was Fringe. The second was a bunting.

To see the bunting, scroll down.

Fringe is a television show which deals with the FBI and science and alternate Universes, yes… but really, it’s about three people and their relationship with one another. A crazy, worn, torn, lovable, genius, father, his tough, suspicious, hilarious, intelligent, sexy son and a strong, scarred, wry, practical, open-minded woman. I have such a crush on this show (and on Joshua Jackson) that I have to limit myself when describing it.

Three things that will sell it to you: complex plots, witty dialogue, fantastic acting.

FRINGE: The Fringe team returns in the FRINGE Season Three premiere airing Thursday, Sept. 23 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2010 Fox Broadcasting Co. Pictured L-R: Blair Brown, Jasika Nicole, Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, John Noble and Lance Reddick. CR: Andrew Macpherson/FOX

But as all good things must sadly come to an end, I reached the end of season 3, and when that post-season low hit, I had to fill it somehow.

So, seeing as yesterday was one of my friends’ birthday, it was about time I made her present (and a bag for it to go in), so here it is. I’ve made so many paper buntings recently that I’m totally pro now. Yup. That’s how to describe it.



The illustration of the girl is by me with ink and watercolours, and so is the ‘bag’. I made it from old file dividers.

The pictures on the bunting itself were nicked from etsy, for which I’m sorry.

The book which gave the pages was a 50p charity shop steamy romance about a woman called Sandie and a guy –a guy – called Sky. Beat that.


I kind of wish I could keep it. I love the animals – the walrus with a crown, the multi-coloured stag, the giraffe and the bug-crest are the best in my opinion.

What do you think? Opinions welcome on Fringe or the bunting, on TV shows you love and recommend, or DIY craft projects you’d like to see.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Homemade Art in Progress: Part 1

I’ve been thinking recently about how I’d like to decorate my room in University. University accommodation always has that distinct combined feel of a cheap hotel room -- and the broad who’s been using it to, er,  ‘entertain’. A lot of stories and history can be whispered from the tired, cracked plaster, from the green or red nylon carpet which never was in style or the creaking mattress, from the grooved table and the dust behind the dresser. After all, dust is mainly human skin. They’re stories you don’t necessarily want to dwell on for too long – especially when it comes to the bed – but definitely ones you want to augment and add to.

The sad thing is, Universities aren’t too keen on you leaving a permanent mark, so you must resort to temporary ways of making that space your own, of marking it out as separate to all those who had previous claim. You don't want to feel like you’re visiting someone else’s room while they’re on holiday. This has to be your home, your sanctuary; your love nest and your library.

One of the things which I thought would be a great addition to make the space personal is something to put on the wall – and I’m not thinking the traditional ones (Keep Calm and Carry On, a band poster etc.), though I’ll be sure to have some of those as well. No, my thought was handmade art. I’ve got a couple of pieces from friends, but even though I’m  not a very gifted artist i really wanted to make something for myself.

After a little thought, I decided on an Ainu clothing pattern. I love old, or folk patterns – the geometric shapes are beautiful, and whenever I go to a museum I am drawn to the Native American and First Nation ceramics and textiles first. The Ainu are the people indigenous to the northernmost island of Japan, Hokkaido, and have vaguely interested me for a long time. So when I came across this attus, I thought I’d give it a go.

My first step was to adapt it to a design I’d like. I cropped it, flipped it, and upped the contrast to make copying easier.

The next step was to overlay it on a grid, and then I began the painstaking process of copying out every line, which took several hours, and which I didn’t photograph.

After that was done, I copied it out again onto bigger grid paper. I also coloured it in, though that was more for fun than anything else, and they’re not the colours I’ll be using in the end.  If you look at the initial designs, you can see the swirly lines on the design, which I haven’t yet added. Those will be in red, the main body of the design in burnished orange, and the background in a warm teal. I hope I can paint it onto a little canvas, but I’ve not painted with acrylics since I was 14, so I may have to ask some friends for help.

As you might be able to tell, I’ve tinkered with the initial design a little (added two swirls on the bottom, and a few cutouts), but it’s still largely the same. If and when the project ever completes, I’ll be happy to share it with you!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

What I want to do with my life

YouGov is an organisation which performs polls and surveys on public thought and opinions about a variety of things: everything form how you use Facebook, to how much you trust the Pope, to what kind of fridge you buy.

Today I was filling out the latest of these surveys, and this question came up:


I was surprised at my reaction. Sometimes questions from YouGov really make me think*, and this is certainly one of them. I was chatting to some friends about how I have no real idea of what I want to do with my life so I guess I’ll just go into teaching at  University. I’m good at teaching and I like the holidays, but it’s not (as yet, anyway) my passion. That would be  Education.

I have also considered working in Hospitality (running a Youth Hostel or working as an events manager), Travel and Tourism (working as a Tour and Adventure guide),  or even Social Work… but looking at this list, and given the option to work in any of these sectors I would choose without a breath of doubt Conservation/Environmental (or possibly Charity/Voluntary).

You can go right ahead and skip the ”since I was a child I was afraid for the whales and the trees” speech here – it’s true, but we’ve all heard or made a similar speech ourselves – and instead focus on why it’s never occurred  to me before. It’s because I somehow got it into my head that the only way to help the environment is to be one of two things: a scientist; or an intimidating, high-powered, independent business women with networking skills and a sharp business acumen who can smoothly navigate the male-dominated world to beg, bully and seduce large corporations into giving money to her cause.



I am neither of those things. I mean, look at me:


Ok, I look a little like a goofy scientist but since there is no way that’s happening, I was stuck with the business powerhouse option and I’m really not that. I’m as smooth as a Russian backroad.

So I mentally discarded that option as soon as it occurred to me and decided (with the help of friends who nicknamed me Professor Potter) that I would become an eccentric academic who can speak Old Norse but whose total of helping the environment consisted of recycling and not owning a car.


To cut a very very long story very very short, I’ve decided I wail try to not let this stop me. I want to travel and save the planet, though I’m not sure how my skills (languages and organisation) can do that. I could organise fundraisers, but that’s just a bit too WASPY for me. Maybe I could take a more roundabout way of saving the planet and try to stop overpopulation by increasing women’s rights in male-libido-run countries.


But I’m taking it too far. The point is I now have a goal. It feels good.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

My Childhood Fairytale (or: Copyright Infringement Intended)

The place where I spent the first six years of my life, where most of my family lives, and where I have visited several times a year since we had to leave is called Bavaria. It’s the largest state in Germany, and it borders the Alps. It’s magical, and yet many people don’t really know what it is.

But don’t let me tell you: Have a read of this article from the Lonely Planet. The amazing thing is that this is not exaggeration. Bavaria is ACTUALLY LIKE THIS!


“Bavaria unfolds across Germany’s southeast like a fairytale. Jump in the car and head out on the road to encounter some of the magic and fantasy. This fairytale is in technicolour - everything seems just a little bit brighter than usual, a little bit quainter, surprisingly cool and slightly surreal.

This is where you’ll find men in lederhosen serving up black forest gateau; women dressed in dirndl pulling mammoth-sized pints of beer; and even a tram that serves as public transport by day and turns into a disco at night, with a resident DJ spinning tunes at the back while passengers take to the aisles to dance.

This is also the land of the deep, dark woods that Little Red Riding Hood skipped through, the land of towers tall enough for Rapunzel, and charming chocolate-box houses to tempt Hansel and Gretel. Roads skirt walled villages with castles fit for Sleeping Beauty, and picture-perfect towns tumble down to lakesides where sailboats bob in the sunset in search of the Frog Prince.


Throw the map out of the window and let your curiosity lead the way. As you roll into small towns in the evening you’ll be greeted by family-run bed and breakfasts and larger-than-life hospitality. You’ll be pointed in the direction of the local gaststatte where, in summer, you’ll be fed platters of fresh asparagus and new potatoes from the garden, fish caught in the local stream, and homemade sausage.

Follow the ribbon-like Romantic Road as it twists and turns its way across the region, taking you to gorgeous castles you’ve never heard of in towns with colourful architecture straight out of a film set. Get lost on the roads that wind their way up and down the hills of the Black Forest, where the summer sun filters through the canopy of trees to dapple the road in front of you.


Hit the city. Munich is an artist’s haven with galleries, live music and markets, not to mention over-sized beer halls. This is the city that accommodates backpackers in circus tents in summer and has sidewalk champagne cafes, vibrant clubs and whimsical puppet shows.

Take a dip in the spa waters of elegant Baden-Baden, where Queen Victoria and friends soaked away their worries. Hike through the breathtaking scenery of the Bavarian Alps or hop on the cable car to reach the top of Germany’s highest peak. Paddle across Lake Constance from Lindau, an impossibly pretty town that’s watched over by blue mountains. Scoff apple strudel and pretzels and taste test your way through the 14000 schnapps distilleries.

Bavaria comes as a surprise to most visitors who soon wonder how they thought they’d manage to see it all in two weeks. You’ll leave wondering what was just around that next bend - and planning your return trip.”

2003-08-Germany 083

All photographs by me.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Skills I never knew I had

Today I did something I thought I could never do. Then I did, and it was awesome.



PS… about last post’s drama, I’m just going to leave it at that. I’ve made my bed and I’m not only going to lie in it, I’m going to get comfy. Kant, come at me, brah! I can take you!