Friday 29 October 2010


See a pin and pick it upPhoto credit: My P, aka binaryape on Flickr, took this photo the other day, on his way to work. I’ve also been stepping over the spill of pins on my way to the office, and yesterday I stopped resisting the temptation to pick them up. A few years ago, my then joint managers gave me some strong magnets as a Xmas present (I was covering over the holiday period, and not only did they feel a bit guilty, but they are both nice, gift-giving types, and knew I would love the magnets) which I usually use to hold a phone list to my in-trays. The magnets are very good for picking up pins as well.

When I first saw the spill, I thought someone had just dropped a new box of pins, possibly someone in the garment industry that still exists locally, even if it couldn’t be described as thriving. However, closer investigation shows that the pins are actually a mix of different types of pins and needles, more like a collection than a fresh box of supplies. Though it could still be from a professional, I suspect the pins may have been dropped by someone more like me, a craft enthusiast, who experienced a supplies box failure while walking down the street, maybe to go to a sewing course or something like that. Or it could have been a student.

Anyway, I now have a collection of dirty, rusted and/or bent pins and needles, plus some possibly usable ones. Why would I want them? Well, recently we re-watched the Street of Crocodiles, and it made me want to make spooky dolls, using bits of wire and old light bulbs. (As an aside, another of the shorts on that CD featured using magnets, and now I’m wondering if that’s what linked the two things in my mind?) The pins would be excellent for that type of thing. And until I get around to that, they don’t add that much to my piles of stuff to craft with. Not really. Honest.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Moles Bowls Goals

I've been using Joe's Goals for a month now, and, well, it's nice. I like how simple it is, and I am the sort of person who can be motivated by putting a green tick on a form. Yes, a bit sad, maybe a bit neurotic, but it gives a certain satisfaction to know that in the past month I've managed to work on the secret project 12 times. It also produces a low level of panic about finishing the project on time.

I'm toying with the idea of using Joe's Goals to track what I'm starting to call my 40 Things Year. Next year I'll be 40. To celebrate, I'm trying to come up with 40 things to do 40 times, like do 40 sketch crawls, or 40 evenings reading in bed. I've not come up with the full 40 yet, but I hope to get it worked out and in the goals list for the end of the year. (Part of me is saying I should check out other goal tracking aps, but I'm just ignoring that, because checking out aps is not my idea of fun.)

As part of my effort to get a good start on next year, I really want to finish off 5 of my current projects THIS YEAR:

  1. The Secret Project, which is taking up most of my bus crafting time at the moment, making this blogging business a bit more difficult because it's a secret!

  2. Mending the Make do and Mend bag

  3. That clanger- armature, clothes and everything

  4. The wire storage baskets- one is mostly done but I've started on 3 others that are storing nothing at the moment

  5. A story about a mermaid, a rough draft at the moment that needs to be thrown away and rewritten from scratch

I often get to the point where I feel burdened by a project, I'll start to refer to it as an albatros. None of these five are at that stage yet, but I'm not totally enthused by any of them either. But I do want to have them done. And I'm curious, can I finish all five by 31 December?



Saturday 16 October 2010

No lo se nada

I went to see Miguelanxo Prado's talk about his work as a comic artist. It was a learning experience. I didn't know what the site meant when it said the event would be in Spanish with simultaneous translation. What it means, is that you wear headphones with a broadcast from a translator at the back of the room, like at the UN. I figured that out when it dawned on me that the speakers were only using Spanish, and a sizeable part of the audience was wearing headphones. By that time, I felt too awkward to go over to the wine table and explain that I need the headphones. Yes, I am that silly. I did understand the bit at the start about Altimira, and the bit at the end about the importance of the gap between frames, but I totally missed the Margaret Thatcher joke.

I was impressed by Mr Prado's enthusiasm for comics. No translation needed for that.

Friday 1 October 2010

Review of the Mending Project and other stuff at the Liverpool Biennial


With encouragement from P and colleagues at the office, I took the afternoon off last Wednesday so I could go to the Mending Project while Lee Mingwei was there. He was doing the work only for the first two weeks of the biennial, and because I wasn’t organized on the weekends, I had to take an afternoon off at short notice. I had seen a piece about it on the local news (thanks to P) and was very excited about it. Possibly so excited that I was driving other people crazy talking about how I wanted to go, but I had a lot to do at the office, but it would be such a shame to miss it, etc.; and that could be the reason people were so encouraging for me to just go already!

It took me a while to decide which garment I wanted to have mended. The jumper I’d been wearing at work until I finally notice a huge hole in the arm? The denim jacket I’ve treasured since a friend gave it to me in college? The striped shirt in my current mending pile? Yes, I could continue listing my clothes with holes for quite a while.

I finally decided on a tan shirt, which I remember my mom buying at a garage sale because it looked warm. This may be a false memory, or a mash up of two different incidents, but anyway, I’ve had the shirt a while. It’s difficult to describe why I like it- it’s a synthetic, and a rather dull tan, but I like the way it hangs in a sort of saggy way. There were two little holes in the back which I had tried to mend years ago, but I gave up wearing it when I noticed another little hole in the front. When Lee Mingwei saw it, he sort of teased me that no one would notice the hole when I was wearing it, but he understood how since I knew it was there, I would feel like everyone would notice. It made me reflect that I usually only notice people’s clothes when it’s something I like. His mending with bright threads forming a tassel will definitely be noticed.

He asked me if I was an artist and I rather awkwardly explained how I didn’t think of myself that way. I asked how he felt about someone else taking over working in the project next week. He said that the sharing of the project was part of it, he’s enthused about the other people participating in it, ‘I told them, once you sit here, it’s your project.’ He didn’t use the term control freak, but making the project open to others is a positive part of his whole idea of the Mending Project.  It reminded me of the open source software ethos. Though the Mending Project uses thread and fabric, it is much more about ideas: involvement, making contact and giving, creating value.

I also asked how he had selected the threads for the project. A friend at the office said they were like a rainbow on the walls of the workspace. Turns out, he had ordered them as a selection pack!

I strongly encourage anyone to go to the Mending Project while it is in Liverpool, and do take a garment to be mended, have a chat with whichever artist is there, and just enjoy participating. I found it quite inspiring, and I’m wondering if I could do a similar sort of thing by returning the lost buttons I’ve been collecting.

If you do go to the Mending Project, let me know if you see my old tan shirt there. When I pick it up at the end of the show, I will start wearing it to the office again, so plenty of people will get a chance to see it as I sit on the bus.

While in Liverpool, I went along to some of the other pieces in the biennial. Lots are video installations, which aren’t really my thing (perhaps I’m too impatient for them). I liked Bridging Home by Do Ho Suh, and there’s lots of graffiti in that area, too. For fabric enthusiasts, and for anyone else really, Ndize by Nicholas Hlobo at the Bluecoat is just a brilliant experience. The intricate work on the rubber and ribbon outfits appeals to my fabric senses, but walking through the maze of ribbons in the room upstairs, well, I just don't have the words to describe it. Sensual, beautiful, and just a little bit scary.

glimpse of Ndize
On a crafting note, I made progress on the Secret Project on the train, but that’s all I’m saying. It’s  bad enough that P knows there is a Secret Project.