Plastic fantastic

I have just got home from an afternoon spent doing an acrylic workshop with Greg in 3-D. I already have a weak spot for acrylic jewellery, especially that by Kim at Finest Imaginary, so it was great to spend some time playing with the material.

There were the usual bendy samples:

And then I wanted to make something a little bot more complicated, so there was drilling, riveting and bending to make a twisted polka dot piece

After I had done this I was really getting into the acrylic love. Greg has some light absorbing perspex which has an additive which means it absorbs the light and then refracts it in a subtle glow-in-the-dark way. I really, REALLY wanted to play with it, but I wanted to make the most of the qualities of the material. The thing I love most about second year process workshops, is that unlike first year where the focus is on experimentation, this year we can make things. So I did. 

This is a 2inch high angle poise lamp with the magic perspex in place of the light. My mind is already buzzing with ways that I can improve this design and maybe turn it into a brooch or pin.

And because the scraps were so cute I made a little relief sample as well to practice gluing acrylic together. 

It is a shame such a lovely afternoon has to end with going to work!


50 images, 50 words

So here it is. My take on 50 words, 50 images which is the task CAA year 1 and 2 had to have done for today. For me the presentation of things is important, particularly for things which don't inherently have a function that dictates their display. For this task the images needed to be up on the walls of our spaces which meant I was quite limited in how I could display them. I wanted to reflect my studio at home and the haphazard way that I work, drawing inspiration from lots of places and things. I made a big corkboard and then stuck my images to it.

The trouble was with the words. I didn't want to caption my images. I wanted to be able to use the words to find connections in conjunction with the images, but also as a separate entities. My mind started a whiring, and then at some god-awful hour in the morning the idea struck me, what comes in 50's? Playing cards that's what (technically there are 52 cards in a deck, but it's near enough).
I fell in love with this idea and really went for it. Initially I toyed with altering a standard deck of cards, but I wasn't that excited by actual playing cards, it was more of the essence I wanted to capture, so I set about making my own!

I used the inside of a security envelope (another love of mine) for the pattern on the back of the cards and then hand-wrote my words on the front. And as I keep saying, it is all about the details for me, so I rounded the corners, and I made a playing card box complete with vinyl logo's for them to live in. As an object I love these, and I am so pleased that a middle of the night idea worked out so well. They are also really useful. Part of having the words displayed like this was so I could randomly pull words together and start seeing connections, which is what is happening. I keep sitting, shuffling, randomly picking pairs of cards and as if by Paul Daniels inspired magic connections are presenting themselves to me.

The most meaningful connections for me so far have been:

But my favourite was this one, where BorderlineStraggler picked two cards at random:

The universe has confirmed, he really is left-handed awesomosity.


Sunny Sunday

Today has already consisted of a sketchbooking in bed, poached eggs, lovely walk in the sun.

The rest of the day will be listening to an early birthday gift from the Mr

And writing my essay

I hoping to show you my 50 words tomorrow. I've been keeping them super secret, and I am really happy with how I chose to display them an can't wait to how you.


All about the details

I have mentioned before that finishing touches and tiny details matter to me. We are currently pulling together 50 words and 50 images that inspire us for college. These have got to be displayed in our spaces on Monday and I have been thinking about how I could present the images for quite a while. I really wanted to have a giant blackboard, but due to the position of my desk I couldn't do this, though I am enjoying how Esther has taken the blackboard idea and made a brilliant presentation of her images!

As Kate metioned on the crafts cluster blog, it is great to see the images coming together, and how everyone's presentation is just so *them*. I'm hoping my eclectic space filled with framed images, instant pictures, corkboard and just a little bit of blackboard will be as successful. I promise to post pics once it is done!

Today I turned my attention to the words (while turning my attention away from the cultural studies essay which is looming above my head but lets not focus on that!) I have a few ideas on what I am going to do but I know it will involve using the vinyl cutter to produce a decal. So I spent my morning in the lovely bright 3D workshop, listening to radio 6 music, watching the woodcarving third years creating beautiful pieces, wrestling with illustrator, and finally an hour of weeding out bits of vinyl to create these graphics. 

I'm really pleased with them and my mind is scheming all sorts of plans for them. Though for now it is back to my femenist art criticism and cultural studies paper, or maybe just one cup of tea first.


Sweet Charity (finds)

If there is one thing that Hereford has a lot of it is charity shops. BorderlineStraggler and I are big fans of charity shops, not just for aesthetic reasons, but also because having to furnish a house is an expensive thing. Over the last five years the majority of our furniture has been brought from charity shops, markets or from DailyInfo in Oxford. Despite all the lovely things we have got this way I often find myself very jealous of the american bloggers who go thrifting and come home with vintage gems. Antique thermos flasks, wool jumpers for felting, and adorable luggage seem to breed in american charity shops, but not over here.

That is until yesterday! I was killing some time before a meeting and ventured into all of Treasure Island's three shops, 'Hooked on Books', 'Styles for Life' and the classic Treasure Island.

In Hooked on Books I found this AMAZING 80's book on how to make lingerie.

And even better than that in Treasure Island I found a beautiful vintage Thermos,

and this really cute paper table cloth which is going to look great in my space at college:

I then went to Styles for Life, which is the clothes shop where everything was a pound. Everything. I was looking for leather jackets to cut up to use the leather and managed to find two! Though one of them has already been stolen by Esther....I also found this jumper.

Yes, I could resist no longer. I am now a proper student and I have the ugly jumper to prove it. They should just hand these out at enrolment. No-one can resist the lure of them it seems. However if you see me wearing it with hotpants or dungarees please take me aside and remind me that I am not 19 and cannot get away with that.

Musical Memory

I don't have musical memory. Or at least that is the position that I have held for quite sometime. I look at a wall of cd's or vinyl (which in our house is no small feat, we are clocking well over 3000 records and cd's!) and I don't hear the music in my head. There are a few albums that I look at and I know I like them, but that is a fairly small number. So for me the idea of music having an effect on me and my mood is not something I ever think about, but at the moment we are identifying 50 words and 50 images that inspire us and I am finding more and more song lyrics sneaking into my list. Now this may just be that I have reached the pretentious stage in my uni career, or perhaps I am actually more influenced by music than I think. Music is such a big part of BorderlineStragglers life it was bound to happen.

So I sat with my cd's and I had a think and realised the following:
  •  Happy, studio, sewing Penny is indie folk girl singers with just the right side of whimsy such as First Aid Kit or the Carravick Sisters.
  •  Mr and Mrs BorderlineStraggler time involves a lot of 1969-73 music with a lot of use of the vinyl collection. 
  • Lazy reading in bed, Leonard Cohen. 
  • And essay/college work based frustration and confusion is usually accompanied by early 2000's pop punk and if things get really bad Alanis Morisette.
I think there is going to be some lyric gathering going on today for this project. That and pancake making. Lots of pancakes. Maybe in stacks. 


Deadline Night

So tonight is deadline night. As usual I have spent all day putting the finishing touches on things and generally getting myself in a bit of a flap. I do this. And it seems everyone else knows that I do this. I was even banned from talking to some people about assessment criteria because I was just freaking everyone out. At least this year I recognise that this is just what I do, isn't that the first step to recovery - admitting you have a problem? Well, my name is Penny and I am terrified of doing badly.

Today may have been filled with stress and work, my studio started the day looking like this:

piles of samples on the cutting table,

on the ironing board,

drying on the radiator.

And now they are neatly bound together in these little sample books,

all packed up ready to take to college.

Wish me luck.


Let it snow

I love snow. While most people I know seemed to spend the day bitching on Facebook about how much they hate snow, we went to wander round town in the snow. We ended up in a shop I'd never been to before Lovely Annie, who, as the name suggests, sells lovely things. I was first tempted by the 'Gorjuss things' mugs but stayed for the fly London boots.

And left with them.

How could I resist? Petrol blue, mid calf, my size, half price (down from £150). They are currently being broken in while sitting watching the dough for cinnamon buns to prove. You'd never guess I had a deadline on Monday would you? But more on that after I finish baking and admiring my feet.

ps. These boots are clearly evil. I walked for 5 mins in them to sainsbury's before they tore my heels to a bloody pulp and I had to buy slippers to walk home in! I reached out to the internet for advice and apparently the solution is lots of socks, wet newspaper and leather softener.


Double Deadlines

It is deadline season round here hence the very loud radio silence. I have been buried under a mountain of fabric, chained to my sewing machine and consuming large quantities of tea and chocolate orange to get through it. My first deadline on Monday was for my design development module. This is the one where the tutorial floored me, but as predicted pushed me in a much more positive direction.

I made a 1/2 size sample of the quilt I designed in response to Berrington Hall, a local stately home which was our starting point. I was fascinated with a brick wall just outside the house:

I love the way the ribbon grouting looks like it has been drawn on with chalk (it hasn't), and to me all it said was "make a quilt, make a quilt..." So I did. But it certainly wasn't that quick or simple. I spent weeks and weeks sketching, painting, designing and then finally started sampling only to find a lot of my design work just looked wrong when they were made. I made 1/8 sized samples to be realistic with my time and more frugal with my materials. I ended up with an A2 sample book filled with bits like this:

Because I worked pretty much up to the last minute on this it wasn't until I went back to take pictures yesterday that I realised how much work I had done, so many tiny quilts. And the reason I was working up till the last minute, well that was because on Friday evening I decided that I really wasn't happy with just a 1/8 size sample I wanted to make this quilt for real. Now the quilt I designed had a lot of cut away appliqué on the top which essentially means I sewed an entire white layer on top of my quilt top, then cut away the brick shapes, before satin stitching every edge of every brick. For those of you who aren't sew-ers this was A LOT of work. Satin stitching is very, very close together zigzags which create an almost solid line, it is slow to do and uses a lot of thread. But having put so much into this module I wanted to see this quilt bigger than a sample. Now even I knew deciding to make this design a full size quilt would have been madness with only two days but I that a half size sample would fulfil my need to see it big, while still giving me a chance to actually finish it. And here it is:

(Sorry for the crappy pictures my desk at college is very dark). I am so proud of this piece, I worked really hard on it and I think it paid off. There is even a hidden panel which hides the quilt label - you can only see it when it is up against a light source so I'll have to show you a picture when I get it home to some better light.

And here is my workspace set up for assessment in all its quilty brick glory.


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