Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Botany Bay Bound

This is going to be a very exciting week. First, my mum's coming to stay (which is exciting in itself) and secondly, I am opening my first 'shop' space at the Botany Bay mill near Preston. It's a five storey department store in a beautiful old cotton mill that's sandwiched between the Liverpool and Leeds Canal and the M61 motorway and set against a backdrop of rolling Lancashire hills. Have a look here: www.botanybay.co.uk. My space is to be on the second floor where I can sell some of my homewares and painted furniture. The best thing about it is finally being able to do the furniture which was my reason for setting up in the first place. The only thing standing in the way was a distinct absence of space chez nous. Now hopefully I will be able to produce pieces on a demand basis and take them straight to the shop floor. I'll be heading down there on Wednesday armed to the teeth with emulsion and polyfiller to sort out the space itself and will then hopefully be open for business in time for the bank holiday weekend. I will also be stocking a couple of my new hessian cushion designs for the first time (below) and adding them to my current inventory on Folksy and Etsy.

 In spare moments, I have been having a good dig around on Blogger and Twitter to see what everybody else is up to and I found the button (bottom right) from a really interesting blog called All About The Boys in support of shopping from independent retailers. I also started following Poppy Loves which provides really inspiring and entertaining commentary on "all yummy things". I just can't believe how much great alternative stuff there is out there and it's particularly encouraging when you see how much overpriced, mass produced c**p you find on the high street. 
  In all the excitement I've lost track of current affairs but I note that Russell Brand has been thrown out of Japan on account of previous bad behaviour which puts me in mind of a list about events and ideas that have been about as welcome as swimming gala at a sewage works. The definition of (un)popularity is quite broad ranging but, in the context of entertainment, it is probably best when seen to be synonymous with ideas of the anti-social and unusual. So here goes...

 My Top Factoids About Unpopularity
  1. Aeroplane neighbours: In a 2009 poll, Katie Price and Osama Bin Laden were voted the least popular people to sit next to on an aeroplane. I'm saying nothing.
  2. Academy Award Winners: Opinions about movies are always a subjective but some of them receive inexplicable acclaim that never really gets explained. This was definitively illustrated by in 1998 when James Cameron's Titanic won Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars. This cringefest of iffy special effects, blatant anachronisms, factual inaccuracies and unintentionally hilarious set pieces that plays fast and loose with one of the worst human tragedies of the past century was not only an incredible missed opportunity, it also facilitated the double tragedy of affording James Cameron so much Hollywood clout that he was allowed to spend the next 10 years perfecting yet another self-indulgent assault on the senses, Avatar. Cheers Oscar.
  3. Music. Strangely, the sort of tunes that make us want to tear out our own teeth often become inexplicably popular. Good examples from the last 30 years include the obvious contenders "Agadoo" by Black Lace, Los Del Rio's "Macarena" and "Asereje" by Spanish group Las Ketchup (I'm seeing a bit of pattern here). But spare a thought for some lesser known yet hilariously awful songs like David Hasselhoff's classic "Jump In My Car" and "I wanna Love You Tender" by Finnish duo Danny & Armi. Featuring a video that quite brilliantly attempts to cash in (there's no way you can use the word parody in the context of this song) on the recent box office success of both Star Wars and Grease at the same time, it contains some of the most fantastically bizarre and scene-stealing choreography ever committed to film and is well worth a look.
  4. Art. In 1987, photographer Andres Serrano took the (some might say egregiously dodgy) step of combining self-expression with religious iconography and consequently earned himself a whole heap of contempt. His piece, entitled Piss Christ, featured an image of a small crucifix suspended in a tank of the artist's own urine. Serrano received hate mail and death threats and, on the plus side, global credibility as an artist which many of his detractors probably view as a pretty cheap trick particularly when since the piece sold at auction in 1999 for $162,000.
  5. Literature. Generally, banned books are more unpopular with the prevailing powers than they are with the individual but plenty cause upset in both camps. In any event, the act of banning a text usually makes everyone desperate to get their hands on a copy - often only to then wonder what all the fuss was about. Mein Kampf is understandably banned in most European countries and Russia to this day. How to Make Disposable Silencers (1984) is similarly ostracsised in Australia (although you can probably get all the info you need on the Internet nowadays and save yourself a tenner). Paul M. Handley must be kicking himself that it didn't occur to him to choose a more deferential title for his biography of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand The King Never Smiles. It was banned because criticising the King is illegal in Thailand which goes to show that research can only get you so far.
  6. And finally, Names: The most popular boy's first name in the world today: Mohammed. The most unpopular?: Adolf (probably) but the last 100 years has seen many once popular names 'fall' from popularity. Herbert and Edna top the poll both falling almost 1000 popularity places in the space of a century. Elizabeth remains the most stable girls name falling only 3 places from 6th to 9th position. No prizes for guessing why. God Bless You Ma'am!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

New designs at Capesthorne Hall

This post features photographic highlights from this weekend's three day event beginning with my pitch in the marquee nicely framed with my own bunting which proved popular. 
Even though it was a relatively quiet weekend, certain of my new designs were popular with customers and in particular my "Kate & Wills" Royal Wedding pin cushions with Friday's celebrations still very fresh in everyone's mind.

I have developed designs for two different types of apron. The cook's apron (blue with pinstripe details - below) comes in two colours and the pinny (bottom) will soon have an aqua/coffee version and most probably a pocket thanks to feedback from customers. Thanks also to my lovely mum for modelling them and showing them off so beautifully.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Royal Wedding Weekend

We're in Cheshire this weekend for the Capesthorne Hall Craft & Food Fair and the weather has been absolutely glorious. With one day still to go however, footfall has been (I'm told) uncharacteristically low and there have been grumblings of overall disappointment from the exhibitors. Shame really. It seems a lot of people have taken advantage of the double bank holiday and gone otherwheres.

  That said, we've had a really good time and made a few sales. The atmosphere is very jovial and the setting is beautiful. An 18th century Jacobean-style family seat set in 100 acres of park, lakes and woodland. As you might expect, there has been a good deal of chatter about the Royal Wedding on Friday which was executed, in my view, with a great deal of class. My "Kate & Wills" souvenir pin cushions have been very popular. I've received a lot of positive comment about my hand printed hessian sofa pillows and vintage cook's aprons. And there's something very civilised about sitting in a big white marquee with a cannister of tea, some cheese sandwiches and the aroma of a British summer's day in the countryside in your nostrils. 
  Very nice too. Cheers!