Wednesday, 29 June 2011


 Even for me, it's been one hell of a couple of weeks. In the main comprising a lot of mechanical failure as well as some really exciting opportunities, lots more followers on Twitter and even a few more followers on Facebook (tricky getting people to click that little 'like' box). So where to start? Well, I was very happy that my own space on lovely online emporium From The Wilde went live on Monday. It's especially nice as From The Wilde also displays the collections of some other artists whose work I already know and absolutely love such as Poppy Treffry, Sophia Victoria Joy and Warbeck & Cox and a whole host of other amazing artists whose work I am less familiar with and am looking forward to getting to know better. All very inspiring stuff and I am brimming with pride.  
  I have also managed to produce two new designs in the face of considerable odds. Not only did my sewing machine peg out last week but this weekend, my beloved and much used MAC laptop ran up the curtain to join the choir invisible as well. All I can say is thank goodness for a creative mother-in-law with an available (and far superior) machine and the computer back up system or I would currently be experiencing the frustration and personal anguish of a sex addicted cyclist at a keys-in-the-bowl party.
  The first in my new 'Edibles' collection "Eat Me /Drink Me" (pictured above) is a double-sided offering, handprinted and finished in a blend of cranberry and black ink on my customary hessian. It is a homage to the fabled size-altering consumables Alice encounters down the rabbit hole in Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland. The second "Let Them Eat Cake" (below) references the infamous comeback usually falsely credited to Queen Marie Antoinette of France but that mostly now sums up our cultural leanings towards comfort food and indulgence. 

 That's two down and there's a few more in the pipeline. Or should that read 'piping' line? Forgive me. I'm a bit giddy. It's a rare occurance.
  Now back to my new home at From The Wilde. For starters, it's worth mentioning that, as part of their 1st anniversary celebration at the beginning of July, From the Wilde is offering 15% off all purchases. Simply enter coupon code 2222 at the checkout. Secondly, I've been wandering its galleries and here is my pick of the lovely creations I've found so far. 
Doorstop  Warbeck & Cox  £30

Bebe Blouse Trefall Design  £18

Lavender Soap Sarah Harper Handmade £2.29
Victorian Wooden Tray West Egg Interiors  £45.00
  There we go, just a small selection from the vast array of beautiful items on offer but inspiration enough to motivate me for the enormous amount of catching up I have to do if I want to make a decent show at the Monton Village Festival this weekend where my cushions will be on sale all day. Pray for good weather and low winds so we can keep control of the gazebo. There's just enough time for one more thing before I go. 
 This week's list, in deference to France's doomed Queen, is about the hallowed and elusive art of the 'comeback' or for most of us, myself included, what we would say to people who offend or annoy us if we had the time to come up with something really witty and clever that negates the insulting effect of the original insult. Get it right, and in most cases, you'll trump the argument. On some rare occasions, it will lead directly down the path to madame la guillotine. Perhaps you have one you don't see here. Feel free to add it to the collection. Here are some of my favourites. I've never managed to use any of them (not quick enough) but there's still time:

The Best Comebacks
  1. Dismissive: "A thought crossed your mind? That must have been a very long and lonely journey."
  2. Very dismissive: "I'm busy right now. Do you mind if I completely ignore you tomorrow?"
  3. Mega dismissive: "There you go confusing me with someone who gives a damn."
  4. Superior and patronising: "I sincerely hope you were able to get a full refund from the charm school."
  5. Harmlessly witty: "I'd like to help you out. Which way did you come in?"
  6. Just plain rude: "I am really trying to see things from your point of view but I can't get my head that far up my b*m."
  7. Anecdote 1 - Sharp as a razor from the Master of the comeback himself: Nancy Astor, the American socialite, becoming frustrated with an increasingly drunk and beligerent Winston Churchill at a dinner party exclaimed: "Mr Churchill, if you were my husband, I’d put poison in your coffee.” to which he replied "Madam, if  you were my wife, I'd drink it". 
  8. Anecdote 2 (and my personal favourite): A woman reporter was interviewing Australian General Peter John Cosgrove about planned activities for a number of young boys who were visiting his Army base including, amongst other things, shooting practice. When she suggested that, in doing so, he would be equipping the youngsters to become violent killers he replied, "Well Ma'am, you are equipped  to become a prostitute, but you're not one, are you?" 
Touche. Now back to the sewing machine.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Dad's The Word

  Just in case you haven't been anywhere near a shop in the last month or so, it's Father's Day next Sunday (the 19th not the 26th as I thought up until yesterday). I had been thinking about these designs (left - now available at my shop on Folksy.Com) for a while but hadn't got my act together because I had assumed I had buckets of time. I really must start checking things more. As you can see, my proverbial 'act' was then in fact 'got together' PDQ when I realised my mistake.
  Working in this industry is all about a whole heap of deadlines many of which are holidays and special occasions. Father's Day is the last one for a while I think (unless you celebrated Bastille or Independence Day). You can never be too prepared apparently.  I am reliably informed that I should already be doing more than just 'thinking' about Christmas.
  Father's Day is a tough one because many men are hard to buy presents for. None of the men in my family ever seem to get over-excited enough by anything to the extent that it can be termed a 'pastime' and, when they do, they are not natural activities to accessorise (golf club covers anyone...good grief no.) As my father honestly explained the last time I complained about not having any inspiration in this regard, the sort of things he wants, I can't afford to buy him. I imagine he probably wants his own personal golf club or ownership of the MCC, in which case, he's absolutely right. My dad is probably an extreme example as he really is almost impossible to find a present for. Most desperate attempts have ended in disappointment and, in some cases, offense (a walking stick at 45 and a golf caddy at 62 must have made him wonder whether we all thought there was something wrong with his legs). So he has had to content himself with the customary annual hardbacks, socks and golfballs while the quest to find the perfect present goes on. I have had one instance of success and that was when I made him a cushion for Christmas about ten years ago. To my knowledge, he still perches it on his stomach every time he settles in front of the television in his den. I don't think that it is a cushion he necessarily would have chosen for himself (dalmation spots and black velvet anyone?) but it is unique among my other gifts in that he actually uses it and I don't find it still in the packaging (sometimes in the same room) when I tip up for Christmas the following year! I like to think it was because I made it. ; )
  So for Father's Day I have designed some cushions for other people's fathers (my own can't stand the occasion...or says he can't). I know men don't 'do' cushions as such but hopefully these are masculine and funky enough to grace the private comfort areas of a few dads about the place who 'really don't want anything' but might like it because it reminds them of a relationship they are (hopefully) at least passingly enthusiastic about.
  I've done a quick search of some of my favourite sites and come up with some other ideas that I think might pass muster for those who aren't averse to the idea of a present next Sunday (and who already have a cushion to hug in front of the telly ;0) ). Starchild Shoes are best known for baby slippers but I really like their Union Jack men's slippers on For the sporty parent, I really like this 3-D soap from Soaps By Laura on Folksy and I think this tape dispenser from Georgeous Gifts is particularly original for the home office as is this cardboard shed by Paperpod on WowThankYou.Com although there might be severe competition for residence from the actual offspring themselves. It's obviously the thought that counts.
  No post about Father's Day would be complete with a list about fatherhood. So here's mine. This is my:

7 Factoids You Didn't Know You Wanted to Know About Fathers
  1. A popular story circulating on the Internet (a few people have been using the cut and paste function so it's hard to know the true source) claims that it was Sonnora Dodd from Washington who had the idea for a "Father's Day" while attending a service for Mother's Day in 1909. You see? And I would have put money on it being a man's idea.
  2. Father's Day is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday in June in the following countries as well as the UK and the USA: India, Canada, China, France, Greece, Japan and Hong Kong. It has been claimed that Father's Day makes up the fifth-largest card-sending holiday in the world by Hallmark Cards who have no identifiable interest in the accuracy of that statistic whatsoever. Honest. 
  3. A poll by search engine MSN in 2007 placed Baywatch actor and Germany's national mascot, David Hasselhof, as the most 'searched for' Dad on the Internet. Father to two girls, Hasselhoff rewrote the book on emabarrassing Dad things to do by falling off the wagon so spectacularly that the girls videoed him unable to stand up and posted it on Youtube to shock him into going to rehab. It worked and Hasselhoff later defended their actions. For the record, other embarrassing things that dad's do include dancing at a child's birthday party, wearing jeans after the age of 50 and driving a Passat.
  4. Still on the subject of the embarrassing things that fathers do, Dale Price of Somewheresville, USA clearly didn't think that calling his son Rain was going far enough when it came to shaming his only child. When little Rain was old enough to go to school on the bus, he decided to mark the occasion by waving him off every morning...wearing different fancy dress. Costumes to date have included a clown, the Roman god Neptune, a pirate complete with an artificial leg (which is real by the way), Ariel the mermaid and (in a bid for The Turner Prize no doubt) a man reading the newspaper while on the toilet. Presumably, if he hasn't already, he will shortly be snapped portraying a man who needs a divorce lawyer and a good psychiatrist.
  5. In a week where a twelve year-old was named runner up for singing in the Britain's Got Talent competition, it is perhaps fitting to note the achievements of another young British teenager. In 1998, 12 year-old Sean Stewart became Britain's youngest father - a record that he still holds (although he is no longer 12 of course). He was allowed to take the day off school to be at his 16 year-old girlfriend's side during the birth of their baby son. Apparently taking the concept of coursework to a whole new level, the girlfriend Emma, was in the middle of her GCSE's at the time of delivery and one of her subjects was 'Childcare'. This no doubt came in useful when Sean and son were fighting over the X-Box or needed a time out on the naughty step. For the sake of balance, the UK's oldest recorded dad is 79 year-old Raymond Calvert who described the baby boy he had with his 25 year-old wife in July last year as 'his little miracle'.
  6. According to records, the most prolific father in history was Russian Feodor Vassilyev whose first wife gave birth to 69 live children. All but two survived infancy. During the course of 40 years, she gave birth to 16 sets of twins, 7 sets of triplets, and 4 sets of quadruplets giving women everywhere a genuine reason to be grateful for the invention and development of the modern television set. When his wife finally pegged out in 1965, Vassilyev remarried and fathered another 20 children with his new wife. What a guy!
  7. Jim Bob Duggar and his wife, Michelle, have turned their procreative activities into the subject of a spirotual website. The husband and wife team, again from Somewheresville USA, host the site about their growing family of children whose names all begin with the letter 'J'. A counter on their homepage proudly proclaims the total so far as "19 kids and counting". The eldest, Joshua, is now 23 while the youngest, Josie, is currently 18 months-old. In between, there are 17 children with names as exotic as Jessa and Jinger who all have their own profile page that includes details of each child's favourite Bible verse, Bible character and hymn. Joshua has a wife, Anna, who clearly wasn't entering into the spirit of things at all when they named their daughter... McKenzie. There weren't any names beginning with the letter 'J' left anyway.