Workshop Write Up: Edge of the Universe Printing Press – Book Binding and Marbling


When I was in primary school we did loads of cool art things that I don’t get to do any more.  I could do something about this; I could build a makeshift flower press; I could take out some crayons and paper and head out for a walk to take some rubbings; I could even buy a load of different pasta shapes and make a collage, but I am less likely to do any paper marbling at home.  Mainly because I can’t really remember how to do it and I don’t really remember what equipment I might need.

So when I saw that my friends at Edge of the Universe Printing Press were running a series of workshops last Summer I signed myself up straight away.  It’s just taken me this long to type up my notes about what we got up to!

I went along to have a go at marbling and book binding in a two part session.  Sarah and David divided up the participants into two groups, one tacking the marbling first and the others working on the book binding.  I had brought along some coloured paper, trimmed to A5 size, and sat myself down to bind my little book first.

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I like the cut of your gib


On Friday the 13th of May I got up stupidly early, took the tram to the station, sat on a train bound for Manchester and made my way to the absolutely huge Paperchase store that they have there. Now I like stationary as much as the next girl, but that’s not my reason for making the trek, oh no! I was going to learn a new technique for making things, lino cutting.

 

I’ve seen lino cut prints before but I’ve never actually tried it before, so when I was sent a link to the Paperchase Project craft workshops it caught my eye immediately and it turns out I bought the first ticket.

The class takes place on the first floor, but you have to pass through a mezzanine level to get there.  The lass who was teaching us introduced herself, but I’m afraid I forgot to write down her name, so if you work at the Manchester shop please tell me so that I can amend this! Continue reading

The Journey


Fifteen minutes before her stop she packed away her things, put on her cardigan, coat and scarf and moved to stand in the vestibule.  She could feel her cheeks getting redder as she loaded up with her bags, but the blast of cool air was welcoming after the stifling heat of the carriage.  She let her over-stuffed over night bag fall against her boots as she stood at the door. She grasped the bars either side of the misted window, their metallic chill passing across her fingers and steadying her from the rocking of the train.

The landscape rolled past, a comforting combination of greens, browns and yellows, spotted with vibrant flashes of orange and red from the changing leaves.  She snuggles her nose and mouth into the folds of her scarf and tried to imagine some of the lives contained within the sparsely scattered homes passing by her.

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#Inspiringwomen


This year I have officially joined the WI.  Having dabbled in finding a suitable group for a few years, I am now apart of Steel Belles WI in Sheffield, a very new group full of great ladies.

2015 is the centenary of the formation of the WI and as we are entering the week of the centenary celebrations I’ve been thinking about the women who inspire me and why they do.  So here’s a top 4 women (in no particular order) that I think are awesome.  They are all people I’d like to be when I grow up please, or at least steal aspects from…

Tina Fey

tina fey fashion beauty

I bought ‘Bossy Pants’, Tina Fey’s autobiography and it’s hilarious.  I’ve read a huge number of funny books, but I’ve rarely laughed aloud to one as often as I did with this.  In my eyes, Tina Fey can rarely do any wrong – she wrote Mean Girls, she wrote 30 Rock, created ‘The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’, she turns up in all sorts of things and is a breath of fresh air; I even really like Baby Momma and Date Night, I know I’m somewhat in the minority with the last two.

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I am giving up on greener grasses


Ah, the world of internet dating.

Every so often I begin to think it’s a really good idea, that I can get to know people, communicate with them and see where things go from there.  These are normally times when I get a general feeling that I could really do with a boyfriend, as I find myself eating a large amount of toast and watching Grey’s Anatomy from the beginning again.

Speaking of Grey’s Anatomy, I’ve been re-watching a fair bit (as I am prone to) and this little quote from new doctor, Maggie Pearce, jumped out at me:

Maggie: There’s  a gap. Between me and most people. There’s just always has been. I used to think I was younger in school but even  after school. The gap, it just got bigger. And more impossible. I wasn’t too young, I was just too different. So I know what it looks like when I say yes to Ethan. It’s fun and we’re happy for a while until it’s not. Things always get awkward and weird so I over correct and he misinterprets and then we’re not on the same page anymore cause we were always miles and miles apart with  this gap between us, pretending it wasn’t there. I don’t wanna pretend.  I came here to work and just stay focused on that, and I’m fine on my side of the gap. I’m a little lonely but fine. There’s just no point to me saying yes.

 

Now this is not entirely me, but there are some aspects that made me just think ‘Yep! That’s it!’, specifically thinking there’s a gap and me over stressing an interest in something the other person likes that I’m not so bothered about.  For example, a couple of months ago I meet a man who was stupidly beautiful and as I got chatting to him I found he was into comics.  I like comics, I’ve seen a fair few film adaptations but I’m by no means an expert, but I could get away with a shallow level discussion about them.   But why would that be a good idea? Feigning an interest in something to get someone to like me?  That’s not a good way to go ahead.  I’ve done that lots with men and perhaps that’s why I’m still single.  Because I wasn’t being me.

 

But, every so often I think ‘Come on, you’re a grown up, it shouldn’t be this hard.’

So I sign up to a site.  I start off quite eager, sending off messages to people I think I’d get on with and getting excited when I get the email through saying I’ve got a new message or something.  Then my enthusiasm sags as they admit to enjoying hunting with dogs or that their mum is their best friend and they do really enjoy going on holiday with her twice a year or that their favourite band is U2.

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Build me up, don’t get me down, weather the storm, because life goes on.


“This band behind me’ll tell you that that trophy means more to me than owt else in the whole world. But they’d be wrong! Truth is, I THOUGHT it mattered. I thought that MUSIC mattered. But does it bollocks? Not compared to how people matter. Us winning this trophy won’t mean bugger-all to most people. But us refusing it – like what we’re going to do now – well, then it becomes news, doesn’t it? [flurry of press camera shutters] You see what I mean. That way, I’ll not just be talking to myself, will I? Because over the last ten years, this bloody government has systematically destroyed an entire industry. OUR industry. And not just our industry – our communities, our homes, our lives. All in the name of “progress”. And for a few lousy bob. I’ll tell you something else you might not know, as well. A fortnight ago, this band’s pit were closed – another thousand men lost their jobs. And that’s not all they lost. Most of them lost the will to win a while ago. A few of them even lost the will to fight. But when it comes to losing the will to live, to breathe, the point is – if this lot were seals or whales, you’d all be up in bloody arms. But they’re not, are they, no, no they’re not. They’re just ordinary common-or-garden honest, decent human beings. And not one of them with an ounce of bloody hope left. Oh aye, they can knock out a bloody good tune. But what the fuck does that matter?”  Click on the quote for Pete Postlethwaite in his full glory.

Well, it’s been quite a week hasn’t it?

I can’t say I was particularly confident of a major shift towards something that I would have seen as more positive than the last government, but, as I believe was the case for many of my friends, the last thing I was expecting was a Conservative majority.  I am saddened, I am disappointed, I am angry, I am frustrated, I am filled with dread with what is to come.

I have mixed feelings about my national identity.  I am both English and British.  I was born in a cottage in Buckinghamshire.  I have one Scottish grandfather who died 10 years before I was born and one Irish great grandfather who died 75 years before I was born.  We’ve traced branches of our family tree back over a thousand years and, as with many English people, our family has come from all over Europe – France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Norway, Germany, Turkey, Hungary – and that’s just the people we have records for.  When I was abroad I think I ended up saying either depending upon how I felt on the day.  I haven’t visited Europe recently so I’m not sure how we are currently being perceived over there.

I have real struggles with national pride and nationalism.  I can see why people want to have a sense of pride of where they come from.  People can be house proud, proud of their hamlet, village, town or city, their county, their region, their country, that’s fine if it brings them some happiness.  What I really hate is when that is then used as an excuse to say “I’m this, so I’m better than you!”  Just because you were born in this time and place doesn’t make you better than anyone who wasn’t.  Perhaps you are a better person than someone else, but that has nothing to do with an accident of birth, that’s to do with how you speak to people, your actions and your intentions.

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…but they’re not yours, they are my own…


My hands look old today.  Well, when I glanced at them about 40 mins ago they did.

The nails are bitten too far down, I keep trying to stop but it’s not worked yet.  There are small, irritated patches on each of my middle fingers, where my ring has worn at the skin.  I’ve had to stop wearing it.  The veins on the back of my hands seem darker, the skin covering them a little more translucent, the skin around the knuckles is seeming more wrinkled. My wrists look thinner.  I’m not sure that they are.  Looking at the palms there are more lines.  I must have changed the way I use them as the patterns of tiny ridges and valleys have morphed and adapted over the years.

I’ve always had warm hands, no pastry making for me.  Warm and a bit moist but these days they are drier, sometimes the skin on my fingers and thumbs crack from dehydration.  I have hand creams but they don’t help.

In the heat of summer, tiny blisters push themselves to the surface along the side of my fingers and itch and irritate until I have to scrape and scratch them to find relief.  Of course this is short lived and the broken skin torments me until it heals and starts the cycle again.

In the winter, I lose feeling along the tips of my fingers, the cold biting into the nails, far further than my teeth could and extending along my fingers before rocketing through my body.  I now have two sets of gloves to protect me from this onslaught.  The first were hand made by a stranger who left them behind in a corner, in a tent, in a festival, in the Australian autumn.  The yarn the stranger used has a myriad of colours but is mildly scratchy.  There are no fingers, no yarn finger tips, it’s simply a knitted tube with a side shoot for the thumb and yet they are remarkably warm.  The other pair fill me with joy each time I see and touch them. I have just re-discovered them, sitting in a bag by the side of my bed.  They are a dark khaki green.  The colour of fresh pine tips, of basil, of a rocket pesto freshly made.  Bought from a shop instead of collected from a gathering of lost things, these were made by a stranger in China.  The yarn is thick and soft, I thought wool, but really acrylic.  The gloves fit my hand snugly, again with no tips to the fingers, instead a hinged mitten fastens back towards the wrist, presumably to allow the wearer to swipe a screen as it is impossible to read a paper whilst wearing them.  They bring warmth, comfort, a feeling that takes me back to being 9 and searching for conkers or interesting fallen leaves on the school playground.  They remind me of making snowballs – with latex gloves over my woolen ones, Dad’s idea to stop getting soggy and cold – the noise of the crunch of the snow and scrape of fibre on fibre as I shaped the icy missiles, ready to throw.

My hands ache by the end of the day, they’ve been put through so much.  Typing, writing, clapping, clenching, clasping, grasping, signalling, holding, folding, working.  Touching objects, but rarely people.  It’s a little sad really.

Earlier, my hands looked older.  They seem to have come back to life now.

More than words


Aren’t words brilliant? You can use them for everything.  You can take them and combine them and shape them into whatever you want, however you want.  They can give you power, they can give you humility, they can give you insight, explanation, beauty.

I was reading over a book that I want to read to my class – The Wee Free Men  by Terry Pratchett – and early on, Tiffany, our 9 year old heroine is thinking about the word sussuration and how much she likes it.  It’s the sound of wind through leaves or grass and it alerts Tiffany to something odd that’s about to happen.  I love that sussuration is included in a children’s book.  Would you get a word like that in the rainbow fairy series of books?  Would you get a word like that in one of Katie Price’s children’s books?  In Beast Quest? Or even in Harry Potter?

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Gimme a head with hair…


I was ill last week with a horrible bug.  I’ll not go into details but it wasn’t pleasant.  And whenever I’m ill something horrendous happens to my face and my hair.  All nutrients and good stuff that get whizzed around by the little red and white blood cells get re-deployed to fight whatever is battering me.  I picture it like this:

how my body works

If you want to understand how it works, then this instructional video will definitely help.  Despite watching days, weeks, probably months of House, ER, Grey’s Anatomy and all that jazz, this is still how I picture the inside of my body.  I love those red blood cells.  I’m far too susceptible to TV programmes.

Anyway, by Saturday I was almost feeling normal and the only way I could make myself fell almost human again was to get my hair cut.  I’ve been growing it since last January, only having a small trim and getting my fringe cut in, so that’s what I planned to have done again.  Or get it cut really short, one or the other.

It started reasonably well, with the bleach going on to boost my red and blue streaks, the brown going on to sort out all the grey roots.  I chatted to the lady, she seemed quite busy.  I said that I was going to try and keep it long and to get some long layers in.

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So lay away your livery, forsake and cut them down


I moved up to Sheffield carrying with me one large suitcase of general stuff, my travelling backpack, my tent, ready for Towersey Festival, and a big Ikea blue bag filled with things to make stuff from.  When thinking about what I’d need to move to a new city with, I packed clothes, a few items for the start of school, and I knew that travelling up on a train would be a pain, but I couldn’t bear to leave behind my felt, embroidery threads, needles, bits of ribbon and other odds and ends for making bits and pieces.

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It’s life Jim, but not as we know it…


I’m aware how slack I’ve been, so let’s have some retrospective mini-ish posts while I wait for my washing to get done here at the Base Hostel in Wanaka, New Zealand.

 

A little over 6 weeks ago I landed in Melbourne and started my Australian sightseeing by taking a trip to Melbourne Museum.

 

I had a few great surprises there.  Firstly, because I have a student ID card, I got in for free! Brilliant, there’s nothing more I love than free entry to museums.  It’s something that we have in Britain, but not everywhere else has the same great opportunity.

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A Philadelphia Story


Nine years ago (nine! blimey, how quickly time flies) my flatmate Claire and I headed to London for a trip to watch plays and meet famous people.  Well, that was our plan and we were definitely going to achieve at least half of it, having bought tickets for Ewan McGregor in Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly Theatre, Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Ehle in The Philadelphia Story at the Old Vic and Neil Patrick Harris in Jonathan Larson’s Musical Tick Tick Boom! at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

 

Claire and I were, and actually still are, the type of people who like to get photos with famous people and will normally achieve this by going to a show then rushing around to the stage door and waiting for people to come out.  Sometimes we are in a big crowd and it will be snowing, as it was when we met Queen Dench (have a care with my name, you will wear it out) other times, it would just be us, muttering to each other that perhaps we had made a mistake and were making ourselves look silly.  Should we stay, should we go?  But what if we go now, we’ll miss them by minutes. We usually stayed until we were likely to miss the last transport home.

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Out of reach, so far…


I’ve got a bit of a problem.  I’m totally in love with Mark Darcy and I can’t get him out of my head. There is a good reason for this, I’ve had a fair bit of bus travel lately and so have binge-read Bridget Jones’ Diary and am now over halfway through Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (book is far superior to the film, to me the film never existed).

Am now though thinking, and writing, about self as ‘self’, starting to wallow in self pity at lack of boyfriend and wanting to resort to urban family for support.  Unfortunately, urban family is spread across 3 different continents, a number of time zones, many are no longer singletons (although in no way smug about it) and I should be doing other things instead of pining about something that it totally impractical anyway.

So, reasons for being currently in love with Mark Darcy:

1) Is helpful in the kitchen and thoughtful at birthday (v.good)

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