Saturday, 3 December 2011

Crafts are not optional

It's been a bit of a multi-crafting week.  Last Sunday I went up to London for my semi-regular visit to the V&A Museum. I had forgotten that the ‘Power of Making’ exhibition was still on, so had the pleasure of going around that. It had received a fair bit of attention in the craft magazines but the photos used (of a cubist knitted dress for example) hadn’t really attracted me. But the exhibition turned out to be really interesting, a wide-ranging look at made objects ranging from the functional (machine embroidered surgical implants used for attaching artificial tissue that looked like strange alien flowers; hand-cast replacement eyeballs; 3-D ‘printed’ aerodynamic plastic bicycles; bespoke leather shoes) through the unusual (a full scale crocheted bear fashioned realistically from mohair yarn; a gigantically upscaled Aran rug/wallhanging; a wooden marquetry ‘textile’ fabric) to the bizarre but fascinating (spray-on fabric used to create a dress of fantastical fibres; 3-D printed vase of strange labyrinthine tangled shapes; a shoe-guitar; ) and lots in between. There were also audio-visual installations showing artists and craftspeople at work – I watched a fascinating clip of a pin-hole camera box being installed in a park which apparently contained a pottery vase coated in photosensitive material, that was slowly rotating inside the camera box. When the artist ‘developed’ the pot in a darkroom, it was printed with strange ghostly silhouettes of trees and shrubs. All very inspiring.

While enjoying my cup of tea afterwards, I was looking at Twitter and realised the Bust Magazine Craftacular Christmas Fair happened to be on that same afternoon. Since I was in town already, I headed over to Bethnal Green and paid a very reasonable £2 admission charge to join the crowds thronging the stalls in York Hall. Lots of hand-made and one-off designs were on sale, there was a party atmosphere as the DJ on the stage provided entertainment, and craft workshops were underway at one side of the hall. I was very tempted by a pair of porcelain ‘button’ earrings that had a cross-stitch through them, but they only came in white which I didn’t think would suit me. I did pick up a little craft kit for a friend, and saw lots of neat ideas, screen printed custom fabric made into various bags and purses, and some hilarious anarchic cross-stitch mottos adorning various items. All a bit off the wall and a sense that you were taking part in something more than just a commercial event.

There and back I was knitting furiously on my Cowl at the Moon garter stitch cowl. The pattern is easy to memorise and it grows fairly quickly due to the bigger yarn weight (I used two strands of DK held together). By dedicating my commuter knitting to this, I was able to finish it by Tuesday and wore it some of the rest of the week.  Not the most flattering object in the world, but it’s going to be ideal for keeping the cold winter winds from blowing down the back of my neck in my winter coat. The pattern says to knit until the top edge is 15” but I found that was too tight for me. I knit about an extra inch on the top edge and about an extra two inches on the bottom edge. It’s still more close fitting than the picture of the model, but I think this will be better draft-wise anyway.  I used some Rowan RYC Cashsoft DK from my stash, I really don't like this yarn because it pills and I've now discovered it also sheds like crazy all over my coat, but it is soft to the touch and it's good to use it up.

I also got a fair bit of sewing done over the last weekend on my Turning Twenty Around the Block flamingo quilt. Once cut out, this quilt is very fast to sew and could probably be done easily in a day if you had the opportunity to sew all day without interruptions. I am enjoying my colours and might even look at my fabric and see what else I have that could be used for this pattern.  I've done the 12 blocks and laid it out on my homemade design wall to see what it looks like.

In a burst of Startitis, I've decided to do the three-part mystery quilt in McCall's Quilting magazine.  I've got a butterfly/bird fabric I bought in America, and have matched it up with three stash fabrics including an old 30s backing remnant.  This is described as a quick and easy quilt. I've had mixed results with mystery quilts in the past, but hopefully this one is being error-checked before publishing due to the McCall's staff also making it along with the readers.

This is turning into a bit of a long post, sorry about that.  Although most of you probably don't read my ramblings anyway and are only looking at the pictures.  I should probably test that by inserting a really bizarre sentence in the middle of a paragraph and see if anyone comments on it  :)

Anyway, today (Saturday) I had planned to go up to London to the London Kensington Christmas Dollshouse Fair.  But I decided not to go, and to spend the day actually working on a dollshouse rather than shopping for things to go in them.  Kensington is a great show, but tends to be mostly the same vendors, in the same locations, selling the same things as last year.  Also not much 1:24th scale.

So instead I got out my Tower House to do some long-awaited repairs and finish up some long overdue elements.  This house started out as a Dolls House Emporium competition kit, and I decorated it to look like a Loire Chateau gatehouse tower,which I fantasise is our holiday home in France (never going to happen unless I win the lottery!).

The ground floor is open with archways on either side, like a gatehouse.  I had made a half-hearted attempt to indicate some outdoor living with a set of metal chairs and a table, but it was all a huge dust-catcher and very sad.  I found some plexi-glass in the attic, which was a bit scratched but not too badly.  I traced the archway shapes onto card and then cut them out in the plastic with the Unimat scroll saw.  They are a reasonably tight fit (although there are still some gaps) and should cut down on the dust getting into the ground floor.  To keep them in place, I made simple pivoting clips out of paperclip wire. The wire is fairly unobtrusive against the 'stone' work.

Ever since I finished this house several years ago, the opening front has been held on with a piece of string tied around the tower.  As it was high time to rectify that, I made a simple closure using a screw, more paperclip wire, and a screw eye.  Once painted to match the roof, they are unobtrusive.  No more string!

With the ground floor now protected from dust, I installed some of the items bought or made for it.  This two part cast plaster fountain was glued on the wall (doll was only used for scale, he doesn't live here) then touched up with paint to look like it has been in use for a while.

I glued some ivy pots on the wall that I made a few years ago, touched up the bench with acrylic stain, added the flowers my friend bought me at Kempton, discarded some dodgy poorly made croissants that I had acquired somewhere, dusted everything, touched up the cycles with some silver paint, and stuck it all in.

On the main living floor, I once again dusted everything, and stuck various things in or down.

In the attic bedroom, I dusted and made a bedside lamp from an old fitting and some origami paper trimmed with edging.

On the outside, I mended the long-broken railing and stuck the pot plant back in place that I made a few years ago.

And that dollshousing took practically all day, plus about five trips into the attic where I have to keep a lot of my dollshouse stash.  No wonder I don't get much done on my minis.


Tamra said...

I read your whole post. I'm not just here for the pictures! (Why does that remind me of the men who say they subscribe to Playboy for the articles?)

ShinyNewThing said...

Tamra, your comment really made me chuckle, thanks for dropping by!

swooze said...

Everything looks great! I too read everything. Your friend got her craft in the mail. She loves it! Lol. It is about half way done. Thanks forthinking of me :).

Daisy said...

I spotted the sentence where you threatened to post something off-topic! See, I was paying attention.

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