Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder

or in my case, champagne, cava and prosecco…

It’s been a while since I posted – sometimes life just takes over, and sometimes I lose my direction a bit and get so caught up in what I’m doing that the regular stuff just gets neglected. Not very adult of me, I know, but that’s just how it is. But I’ve started to miss blogging and its associated joys, so here I am again.

I seem to have been very busy over the last few weeks, I’ve sent half a dozen dolls out into the world, and then decided to take a break from them for a week or two. That resulted in me standing back from my close-up workspace and for the first time in a while, actually taking a proper look at the space around me and realising what an extraordinary mess it is (again). This lead to some rash decision making – I decided to turn some of the huge pile of fabric into something more useful – a huge pile of quilts. In theory this seems very sensible, dontcha think? It’s starting to warm up a bit out there now, and it would be so nice to have a collection of quilts to throw over ourselves in the winter, when it returns (probably in about two months’ time). Using up the fabric in this way would:

(a) clear some space in our studio;

(b) be a practical use of my time;

(c) give me an excuse to take a break from the doll obsession; and

(d) make me feel virtuous (a rare state for me).

Also, I just love the look of quilts. You can fold up a pile of them and leave them on a chair and they just look pretty and welcoming.

That was the theory, anyway. As usual (being me) I just launched in and started, without a huge amount of pre-planning. The first quilt was made using a quilt top I had started about 15 or 20 years ago, then put away and never finished. Well now it’s finished – and very pretty it is too. However, it is ENORMOUS – Superking sized at least. Mega cozy and all made in ice-cream colours, which does not go with anything in our flat, but is lovely nonetheless. It was far too big to quilt on the machine, so I had to hand-tie it instead. This is a picture of it smothering the sofa.

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The next one is still in progress. I saw some printed fabric which is no longer available, but I loved the look of it, so I decided to try to reproduce the ‘feel’ and the look, but with patchwork where they had used printing. Easier said than done, although I am now getting there. This one is going to be rather more edgy and abstract than the first one, but then again, second children often are…

Here are the first few blocks.

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…and yes, that big pile of fabric at the end of the bench? It’s about a sixth of the stash I am trying to use up.

One last thing – here are a couple of the most recent Trippet Castle Dolls having a cuddle (in case you thought I had got lazy lately).

 

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a little to the right of the restaurant at the end of the universe

Valuable information for all of us – please read.

Stepfordsingles's Blog

I was having lunch at a place called the Bread and Bitter-an old bakery- with a fab friend who is an educational psychologist.We were planning our lectures on teaching and, most importantly, learning styles in the classroom.I was suggesting ideas for the section on ADHD/Aspergers and Autistic kiddies when she said-you should do that one because you know.I think a puzzled expression came over me and I asked her why she thought that.Well you know cos you are one? The puzzled expression took on a look of panic. Well you have Adhd and are Autistic she said.Don’t you know?

spacefood_thumb

Not only did I not,but the relief I suddenly felt wash over me was the most powerful emotion I had felt.Because after 54 years of those sinking feelings inside me,the terrors ,anxieties,worry,addictions and melt downs that were described as dramatic,over reactionary(and believe you me I really ,really dealt with them and…

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Trippet Castle Dungeon Doll

Trippet Castle Dungeon Doll

She has lived in the dungeons at the castle for so many years now that her eyes have adapted and become much much bigger. She was left down there years ago by one of the children, and the castle is such a rabbit warren of rooms that the child never found her again, and no one has looked for her since. She’s happy enough though, she has spidery friends and spends her time chipping away at pieces of coal from the coal store next to the dungeons, in the hope of finding a diamond.

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Angry Birds

I love this, Ceri always looks beyond what’s on the surface, when others often can’t be bothered. Every little person should have a teacher like her.

Stepfordsingles's Blog

2014-02-27 07.33.01 2014-02-27 07.30.10

I became a teacher at 29 after years as a copywriter for mindless products,even though the universe had always destined I should work in the toughest of the inner city schools.I am glad I listened in the end.

To the small person I only knew for the briefest of time.You are one of many.It doesn’t matter that you are not named here.You are one of the many.

Miss ,will you be my beautiful princess?

Yes I think I shall ,even though you are 5, and have already experienced such dreadful things that many of us wouldn’t know how to deal with.So when you said to me that you hated yourself,that you weren’t good at anything,we had a chat.I said I knew things.You asked why.I said I am old.You said how old.97 I replied.You smiled a cheeky grin.I asked you to make me a car out of stickle bricks.You said I…

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Columbine the second…

Columbine the second...

Much happier with this one – she’s a bit more edgy and much less princessy. – even looks like she could front a band.

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Columbine #1

Columbine #1

Here she is, but not for long. I’m not happy with her – she is too pretty looking – I don’t mind this in her face, but the clothes are a bit too Disney princessy for her to really be one of my creations – I don’t know what came over me, usually I can be relied upon to choose fairly neutral colours, but I had the silk and just HAD to use it. Big mistake. I think I will re-dress her in the net few days, reducing the colour and hopefully upping the quirkiness and increasing the strangeness a bit.

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Gonna get myself together

Gonna get myself together

Listening endlessly to David Bowie albums.
Sculpting strange little dolls.
Thinking about masks, theatre, and wondering if I am what I think I am. Or maybe I’m something else entirely.
Watching myself from the ceiling and wondering what on earth I am playing at.

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Living only in theory

Because we’ve done it – the gallery is now a second hand tool shop (boring), and locks are being changed as I write. We have retreated to the top floor of Ryepress Towers and organised our space into a delicious, decadent, rug-strewn, art-filled, sanctuary where we can misbehave together and create new things that no one has ever seen before. We are happy. We are still talking. We are invisible from ground level.

Wish us luck with getting some of this new work out into the world, when we are ready.

Come and visit us – we will pour wine for you and you can chill with us, we may photograph you, and write about you, but you can handle a little fame, can’t you?

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Start the way you mean to go on…

STICKS AND STONES - Beachscapes limited edition etching by Colin Bailey

STICKS AND STONES

Limited edition etching by Colin Bailey – http://www.ryepress.com

We are creeping up to the end of January now – and I do mean creeping – January is such a long month, a seemingly endless tunnel of grey days stretching between distant paydays, when you have to somehow find the money to pay off the credit card bills for all those Christmas presents you bought, and for all the ‘little indulgences’ that you (oh so rashly) gave in to over the holidays.  

For once I’m not complaining though. January this year has been good to me. Despite the fact that I have spent most of it (and of December) moving furniture, getting rid of furniture, swapping big furniture for smaller dual-purpose furniture, painting walls, and being really, really strict with myself about what I can keep and what I cannot keep (in order to make space in the flat to accommodate everything from the studio-gallery downstairs), January has been a great month and for once I have been grateful that it has gone on for such a long, long time, as it has given me time to sort everything out.

The flat is now looking habitable again – and more organised than it has ever been. We have space in it for me to make dolls and to sew, and for the Painter to paint and to etch, so the nightmare image of us entertaining the neighbourhood with our rows over working space is beginning to recede (a bit).

Also we have been reminded over the last couple of months just what a wonderful supportive community we live in here in Hastings. The first thing that happened was that one of the other gallery owners – Jon Wilhelm of The Rebel Gallery –  invited the Painter to put some work into his gallery. This was followed by an offer of studio space in their home from someone who collects the Painter’s work.

A little bit later, the owner of Warp and Weft, (very possibly the most stylish vintage shop in the universe), came into the gallery and bought one of my  Pierrot dolls. She also offered to house them for sale in her shop when our gallery closes, and she and I are going to be working together on a doll-related art project.

So the overwhelming feelings of depression and not-knowing-what-to-do-next have lifted. We are communicating with each other again (without shouting – always a plus), and actually looking forward to 2014.  We are both still a little nervous about having to make a living without the gallery, but we are hopeful again and much less prickly with each other – thank heavens – because for a  while back there I was wondering if I would have to change the title of my blog…

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Marianne North’s legacy, Hastings

Anna Keiller is a wonderful artist and friend. This post shows so clearly how it is not just the big corporations we have to be wary of – there are some very selfish people out there who will take advantage of other people’s apathy. Anna, as you can see, is not apathetic and is deserving of our support.

Annakeiller's Blog

Marianne North used to live across the road a century and a half ago.
She was a famous botanical painter who traveled with Charles Darwin across the globe collecting rare plants. She helped create Kew Gardens in London, where there is a permanent gallery showing her botanical paintings.

She also created a beautiful garden here in Hastings. It is now protected in a Conservation order.
Edward Lear used to visit, and there is a story about how he would paint her fig trees and other exotic trees and plants, pretending to be somewhere else entirely. He wrote the poem ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ for Marianne’s niece.

During the last year or so, the Headteacher of the Sacred Heart Catholic School who occupies part of her former garden has, without proper consultation, allowed contractors to cut down many of the trees Marianne North planted.

The neighbours, who live in…

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