Friday, 18 February 2011

Silver sempervivums

Sempervivum  means 'forever live' and that's pretty accurate - mine have been in their pot for eight years and have flowered, had umpteen babies, never even sniffed any fertiliser and yet still look lush and happy. It's this ability to survive that led them to be so steeped in European folklore:

They were associated with the Roman God Jupiter and were thought to guard against lightning, fire and storms, so they were grown on thatched cottage roofs as a means of protection.

They were used as husband selection devices: suitors were presented with a young plant and the gentleman with the healthiest house leek after a set period of time was thought to be eligible.

They were supposed to scare away witches and were a used to treat warts, corns and burns: quite handy on Halloween or as a living medicine cabinet.

I love their other name -  hens and chicks.

I'm hoping that tiny silver versions will look good round the neck or in the ears. If they fend off lightning then so much the better. They're in my etsy shop.

Monday, 14 February 2011

A year of wardrobe thrift

About a year ago I decided to follow Judith Levine's example, join in with Tif's challenge and try my hand at buying only thrifted or hand-made made clothes for a year.

A whole year. It was daunting. I had visions of carrying home bags and bags of musty-smelling purple cardigans from charity shops by mistake and looking as though I'd dressed from the rag bag every morning.

I decided to approach it strategically. I made lists of things I needed. When I ran the charity shop/carboot gauntlet I had a specific mission each time. I tried hard not to be flummoxed by all the cardigans. 

I didn't need any very smart outfits this year - fancy frocks aren't usually called for when supervising playdoh sessions or making jewels. I managed to find basic casual items that fitted fairly well and make up several outfits that I feel pretty good in. I was pleasantly surprised. 

All of the clothing items shown were thrifted from charity shops or ebay and cost £4 or under, except the dark blue White Stuff dress, which was £15. The boots were bought before the thrifting experiment - they're Fly London. New tights are classed as essentials so are permitted.

On a crack commando mission to find trousers one day my eye strayed round the local Cancer Research shop and I spotted this skirt - vintage-style floral linen, edged with lace, twirly dirndl, £4. It's a good skirt. I was thrilled.

So, so far so good, but I'm afraid I did not stick entirely to the virtuous thrifty path. Here's my confession:

I fell off the thrifty wagon three times and I bought:

Avoca cardigan coat: £60 (sale)
Fat Face dress £31 (sale)
A purple cardigan, TKMaxx. £19

Ha! I bought one after all (It is made of angora and has quite lovely leg o' mutton sleeves and MOP buttons so I think it'll be alright).

What about hand-made clothes? I had very good intentions but the reality of a five year old, a two year old, some jewellery customers, a conveyer belt of viruses and hardly any skill meant that I didn't hold out much hope. I went to Val's house last week armed with a copy of Weekend Sewing, a vintage brushed cotton candy stripe sheet and a total lack of confidence. I came home one pair of pyjama bottoms richer.

I MADE these! I'm gobsmacked. Val, you are a sewing sorceress of some kind. Massive, massive thanks for your tuition, patience and encouragement.

So, what did I learn?

  • Thrifted outfits do not have to look scruffy or odd
  • Friends could not spot that I was wearing second-hand
  • Charity shops are upping their game because of the financial climate: the quality of stock is improving all the time
  • A budget stretches a lot further with thrifted clothes (obviously)
  • It felt good to be greenish

I will certainly be buying more thrifted clothes in the next year although I think I'm sorted for purple cardigans at the moment.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

My Creative Space

The time for pinecones and acorns has long gone and I've been itching to make something new and Spring-like in silver. I really like the fractal-ish shape of pinecones, and house leeks succulents, or sempervivums are like a green, squat version of a pinecone. Sempervivums are great to grow in a pot - they seem to thrive on neglect and continue to have tiny rosette babies even though I never feed or water them.

I haven't fired my miniature silver clay versions yet (larger is 12mm in diameter), so they still look white but once they're fired and polished I'll team them with some peridot to make necklaces. That's once youngest has got over her 'flu-ish fever (seriously, how many viruses can two children possibly catch?) She's still wearing fairy wings though - a sign things aren't too bad.

There are masses more creative spaces over at kootoyoo

Monday, 7 February 2011

Four months of colour

An apology for the linky lists disappearing today. All linky lists from the website I was using were withdrawn with just a day's notice so I've brought forward the mosaics...

It's hard to believe that the Splash of Colour project has ended.
Four months,
over 650 colour-packed images,
many many lovely blogposts,
mosaics of eye-popping goodness,
and one purpose:
to lift the spirits during the winter months.

Mosaic of makes:
1.ItchinStitchin' 2. Summerfete 3.Bunny Mummy 4.Rowan Benjamin
5.Buttons, Ribbons and Other Things 6.Hobsdyke 7.Naturally Carol 8.Yellowhouse72
9.77Belle/Miriam Weaver 10.Andamento 11.The List Writer 12.Like it or Lump it
13.ItchinStitchin' 14.Makeyourpresentsfelt/Niminy Fingers 15.Planet Penny 16 Heldasland
17. Domesticali 18. Lilyflossie/Dragonfly 19. Little Green Shed 20.Bristol Parenting Cafe

A huge thankyou to everyone for taking part and for every encouraging comment, image and blogpost. I had no clue the reaction would be so positive - and so big! I've been completely thrilled that an idea that I cooked up whilst feeling rather grumpy about Autumn has had such a fabulous response.

It's tricky to tell whether the project has worked. Several comments have suggested that it has, a few people have emailed me to let me know it has been good for the soul and the fact that lots of people have joined in suggests that it might have been fun. I also know that visiting the Flickr pool has perked me up on lots of occasions. What do you think though? I'd really love to hear if the project has helped to brighten the winter.

Shall we do it again next year?

I'll leave you with a final joyful blast of Spring 2011 from the Flickr pool:

1. Green Rabbit Designs 2. Cattapilla Dreaming 3. 77belle 4. Colette Moscrop
5.Helen Phillips  6. Bunny Mummy 7. Menopausal Musing 8. Wild Acre
9. Kitty 10. Su (Tiny Acorns) 11.The List Writer 12 MKirkman/Beatnik Love Affair

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Sweet sweet galaxy

This morning eldest P and I visited a truly magical exhibition, perfect for the Splash of Colour project. Made entirely of glitter, beads, sweets, sherbet and miniscule origami, Sweet sweet galaxy is a three dimensional installation by Tanya Schultz, Nicole Andrijevic and John Kassab that fairies would be quite at home in.

This was eldest's face when she first saw it:

We could have gazed at it all day. The detail is phenomenal and it's easy to imagine you're two inches tall and get utterly lost in the tiny landscape.

There are quirky surprises here and there - a little toadstool or a grotto with a tiny horse grazing inside, a hillside made of sherbet pips or a bridge made of sweets. Ethereal twinkly music adds to the atmosphere.

I doubt there could have been more colour in one room. It was wonderful. Here's a little film I made:

If you're near Bury St Edmunds do go and see it - here's the geography. Thankyou SO much for the tip Celia.

Don't forget to add your blog to the Splash of Colour February Linky List if you're joining in for this final week. Mosaics to come on Tuesday.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Splash of Colour: February

This is the last Splash of Colour week of the project, designed to carry us through winter on a wave of colour.  Not only is Spring is just around the corner but we've also built up a fantastic stash of almost 600 colour-packed Flickr images to call on in the coming weeks should there be a grey dreary day.

I think the winter's effects are really being felt at the moment so if you fancy injecting some cheer into your week then seek out some colour. It doesn't matter what the colour is - a spot of blue sky, a child's drawing, a solitary flower in the garden - it's all good.

There are spring flowers in the shops and bulbs are peeping up. This week should be good.

Don't forget to pop a link to your blog here and link back if you're joining in with the colour:

Huge apologies - all the Linky Lists have been removed by the organisation that provided them with only one day's notice. I am trying to reinstate the list today (Monday 7th)