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Obligatory ‘my blog has moved’ post which I probably should have done a few months back

11 Feb

Hey there

So I think that might have been an article going viral? I’m not sure – my husband asked how many view is going viral, and I think maybe 16k unique views in two days might qualify

I’ve moderated all your comments, and I thank you for all of them – yes even the ones telling me I’m wrong.

That post was never written as an ‘I am right, this is what to do’ post – my posts are merely collections of thoughts about what’s happening in my life. I’ve never had a blogpost viewed by more than 50 people before, so I’m overwhelmed and a bit weirded out.

I also don’t really blog here any more. All  my blogposts were migrated to my new website, so that article also appears there, and hasn’t been viewed nearly as many times. C’est la vie

If you’ve enjoyed reading here, why not follow on the newer website where there will be more updates, and you can read stuff that doesn’t appear here.

Thanks again for joining in

www.lifesbigcanvas.co.uk

Keep your eyes on your own plate

11 Jan

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

Here’s a useful thought for the holidays as we get together with friends and family over food and drinks: other peoples’ food choices aren’t your business. Unless people ask your advice, keep your food judgements to yourself. I mean best yet, don’t make them, but if you make them, no need to share.

You just can’t assume you know what choices people are making or why they’re making them. It’s wrong to assume everyone is trying to “be good” over the holidays.

A parent I’m friends with on Facebook talked about teaching her children the “keep your eyes on your own plate” rule. That’s an important lesson for adults too.

Ragen Chastain
has a broader principle, not just about food, but about other people’s life choices generally. She dubs it the “underpants rule.” You’re the boss of your own underpants and that includes what goes on your plate.

Here Pesky…

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We’ve moved!

13 Mar

 

If you are still following this blog, I should tell you that we’ve moved! All the old posts have been transferred so if you need to find an old post, you still can, and all new posts will now be posted here

http://www.lifesbigcanvas.co.uk/blog/

So please follow us there if you’ve been enjoying the blog here. Looking forward to your comments!

My teenage self loves the 30-something me

2 Jan

The other day I realised I have befriended not one, but THREE of my teenage idols on Facebook. Not only that, but they all know who I am, and respond to me when I talk to them. I am astonished this has happened – it’s possibly like you becoming chums with Keanu Reeves or Leonardo DiCaprio – I have no idea, at the age of 15-19 I was all about small zines and weird little comics

3. Joseph Champniss

Joseph did the illustrations on The Organ Gang on ‘This Morning with Richard Not Judy’, but I knew him before then as we were both contributors to ‘The Zine’, a mainstream magazine which attempted to behave like a fanzine. I had a conversation with one of the editors over the phone at the age of 15 as they wanted to let me know they hadn’t meant to publish my poem with my article (I specifically asked them not to publish them together as I didn’t want the subject of the poem to know how much he affected me.)

What I had on my wall

2. Lucy Sweet

Lucy wrote ‘Unskinny’, the first thing I’d ever read where you could be FAT and it didn’t matter. She talked about shops where jacket potatoes had ‘THIS MUCH BUTTER’ and I leant Unskinny to so many people I no longer have a full collection. I hate this fact, but I do still have the book she published. It’s a constant source of amazement that Lucy even knows who I am, let alone replies to me and laughs at what I say.

What I had on my wall

well not this exact cartoon, but it was from this story line. Hard to remember a time when I hadn’t heard of Ikea, but yes! I thought the names were funny! I was impressed by future husband living a five minute drive from one!!

1. Ralph Kidson

AH RALPH – I always thought we would get married. I even sent a marriage proposal to him, and Envelope opened it and replied, which became a strip in his comic. I had a custom cartoon of me as an elastic band, which is STILL framed in my bedroom. My husband, Ian, knows who ‘Ralphie’ is and doesn’t understand the humour, but lets us get on with it. He’s my husband from another dimension.

Ralph’s best characters were Envelope and Stick – Envelope being a stupid, irrational envelope and Stick a more intelligent and rational stick. It’s impossible to tell you all how much I loved Envelope and Stick.

What I had on my wall

Apart from the elastic band cartoon, I had this one. It makes me laugh so much, still to this day, which is why I think Ralph is my husband from another dimension

Vau Vau Fashion show Part ll: Fashion Circus

26 Sep

aestheticcontradiction

Those of you who have been following this blog, or my work in general, for a while might have already heard about Vau Vau fashion show. The last one was a great experience and this one promises to be bigger and better with more thought put into every aspect.
Following what has been described as ‘an evening of inspiration,’ Vau Vau is back by style demand and invites you to Part II: Fashion CircusSet in the picturesque Left Bank Church, guests are welcomed to a celebration in honour of all things fashion, and to a presentation party featuring the best of independent Northern talent.
Organised by Toria BrightsideIn partnership with fashionpony.co.uk and Urban Coco Magazine, Vau Vau includes:

– A warm welcome onto our runway for special guest Alysha Nett
– Complimentary goodie bags for the first 100 guests
– A runway show featuring award winning designers
–…

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Paper bead making

9 Aug

I’ve been making paper beads for the last couple of months – it started because I wanted to find a cheap, simple activity to teach at a workshop, and has since developed into just me making beads because it’s easy, basically free, and I love seeing the results. I haven’t done ANYTHING with them yet, I just have a box full.

Amy taught me to make them in the first place – and also told me you can find amazing tutorials online to make more and more complicated beads. It’s basically one of those crafts which is as easy or as difficult as you want it to be, and practice only makes you better.

So it’s my craft of the week this week, and here’s how you do it. I highly recommends trying it with children, because they can then be used another day to make jewellery with. I’m going to try and make pictures out of them eventually, so I’ll share the results when I manage that…

WHAT YOU NEED

paperbeads1

  • Paper – the best stuff to use is matt paper, and nothing too thick. I used a Charlie & Lola comic (is there nothing you can’t do with them?)
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • A stick of some sort – I use a wooden bamboo skewer, but a knitting needle would work. Be careful it’s not sharp if doing this with children!
  • Glue stick – you might be tempted to use another sort of glue, but I really wouldn’t recommend it to start with.

NB I don’t use the ruler, pencil and scissors any more – I cut multiple sheets of paper into the right shape using my guillotine – once you get more confident I highly recommend buying a guillotine if you work with paper a lot.  I got mine here on eBay and it’s paid for itself in time alone.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. First, you need to make your paper into triangles. This is what your pencil, ruler and scissors are for.  The easiest way is to measure 2cm intervals on the bottom of the sheet of paper, and then measure 2cm intervals on the top, starting 1cm in. Then you join them up at angles.This image from bigbeadlittlebead.com shows this method with 3cm intervals, but you can make it any size you like.
  2. Once you have triangles, however you want to make them, it’s time to start.paperbeads2
  3. Start by putting the wider edge against the stick, and flip it a couple of times using the stick. I’m finding this impossible to explain, but basically you want to get the end of the paper starting to roll, a bit like you do if you’re curling wrapping ribbon.
  4. Next keep rolling the paper tightly around the stick. This is probably the hardest thing to get right – at first the paper will be very loose, and keep flipping off, or it won’t roll straight and you keep getting weird shaped beads. KEEP AT IT. Some of these mistakes are my favourite beads anyway, but if you keep practising, they become more neat.paperbeads4
  5. When you get a couple of inches from the pointy end, stop rolling. Put the paper onto something you don’t mind getting dirty, and swipe the glue stick over the paper that’s left.paperbeads5
  6. Carry on rolling up, until you’ve used all the paper. Make sure it’s all straightly rolled, and press the pointed bit down hard. Then sort of roll the bead and make sure all the paper is stuck down and you’re happy with it.paperbeads6
  7. Leave it for a second or two, then take it carefully off the stick, and leave to dry completely.paperbeads7
  8. You can then varnish it if you like, but I’ve left mine all unvarnished as I’m not sure what fate awaits them yet.paperbeads8

I’d love to see what you come up with! Have a look online for other tutorials, as they’ll show different shapes of triangles. Make them as wide, or as narrow as you like, one sided for cones, square edges for tubes…

Playtime

25 Jul

I met someone called Lawrence last week – he came to pick up Ian’s old wheelchair to use it for some robot project Emma is doing, which we had a brief chat about. One thing he said in passing really stuck with me though, and I’ve been formulating this blog post in my head ever since.

Lawrence said he did a workshop with some adults, and in order for them to get involved, he had to sort of cover up the fact that they were playing. They didn’t want to engage in an activity which wasn’t productive, so he didn’t refer to it as playful, even though it was.

It reminded me of how children are treated, and how in order to get them to do anything we usually cover up the learning factor, and present it as playing – in order to get children to read, we have books with pictures, we learn songs with counting aspects to learn to count.

But where does the switch come? When does it happen that we no longer want to play, but we want to be productive? Does that ever happen, or are we forced into it?

At school, playtime is built into school hours, not just to give children a break from working, but also because it’s important for children to socialise – I often hear friends with young children saying they’re sending them to nursery for this very reason. Children need to build friendships in order to become social creatures, and in doing so they become better prepared for life as an adult.

Another friend told me how she was berated at work for ‘chatting when she should be working’ – the fact she works in social media, and was talking to a client was seemingly ignored by her boss, who presumably thought she was having too much fun (you’ll be glad to know she’s left that job now). Building a relationship with clients by being friendly and engaging is exactly what playtime at school was preparing her for, and yet it wasn’t being valued by her boss.

When I worked in an office as a temp, the health and safety notes told me to take ten minutes away from my desk every hour – it didn’t say what to do, but colleagues would often used the time to have a smoke break or go to the toilet. I didn’t smoke at the time, so I’d usually wander outside and sit somewhere writing or drawing. This didn’t really go down very well, but I never understood why. The smokers weren’t told not to smoke, and as long as I got the work done, did it matter if I doodled for ten minutes?

Children have playtime scheduled into their working day, and it’s seen as a vital part of their development, but once you get a job, it’s frivolous to play, almost as if adults don’t develop beyond the age of 18. However, we continually develop, and we should be allowed to do so, otherwise we stagnate.

I firmly believe that having a creative break away from work will make employees more productive in the long run, because they will be allowed to develop and grow, as well as being happier in their working hours. I understand that some jobs mean it’s difficult to have a ten minute break at all, let alone once an hour, but it doesn’t mean you should just work through whatever break you manage to get.

There is a tendency to think, ‘it’s only ten minutes, what can I do in that time?’ – well, I’m going to give you some ideas. In the next few weeks, I’m going to time myself doing creative things, and see what it’s possible to do in ten minutes. If it persuades just one person does something creative in their tea break instead of reading Grazia*, then it’s worth it.

* other brain rotting** magazines are available
** the opinions of Pesky are not necessarily*** correct
*** usually

Opening the family can of worms

5 Jul

When I was about 20 I started to trace my family tree. I didn’t finish doing it, and I eventually had to throw away the roll of wallpaper I ended up having to write it on. Everything got very complicated, and my parents ended up telling me I never should have opened that can of worms.

Let’s rewind.

I grew up with both my parents, my two older brothers, and I had a good childhood. Dad worked 6 days a week, Mum worked part-time. Our Grandparents had unfortunately all died before I was born – I think some were alive when my brothers were born, but I’m not sure. My Auntie Freda came over every Saturday whilst I was growing up, and my Uncle Bill came every Sunday – they were Mum’s brother and sister, and as a child even I could tell they were both a lot older than her. My Dad had a sister called Wendy who popped over at the weekend to pick up a chicken (my Dad was a butcher), and Mum’s best friend Val also popped over for her chicken every Saturday.

We also had family in Wisbech who we didn’t see very much. Any time we had to visit Auntie Phil, we moaned and carried on, because her house smelt of cabbages and we didn’t like the journey. We were always made to go at least twice a year though. She was another of Mum’s siblings, and a lot older than her.

I can’t remember when I found out Mum was adopted. I think I probably asked her one day why her brothers and sisters were so much older, and she told me. She also shared a lot with me about how my Grandma never made a secret of the fact she adopted Mum, and would taunt her with ‘being sent back to the orphanage’ if she was ever naughty. I don’t think Mum had a particularly good childhood – she didn’t say much more about it, but being so much younger than your siblings, as well as having someone who adopted you but also seemed to not really want you can’t have been easy.

My Uncle Bill doted on my Mum, and right up until he died, me and my brothers were always his favourites. He would babysit for us, wrote the most incredibly thoughtful cards for our birthdays – just thinking about his spidery looping handwriting right now is making me sad he’s gone – and had photos of us all around his house.

The Good Friday when I was 8, we arranged to go and see Auntie Phil because it was school holidays. I really didn’t want to go and we all complained. We were shouted down by Mum, and I said I’d go but only if I could ride my bike up the road for a bit first. I learnt to ride my bike really late, and only mastered it a couple of weeks before, so it was all still a bit exciting. I was allowed to go to Lisa’s house on my own but no further, so I rode to Lisa’s, and then did a big skidding turn in the road to come home again.

Unfortunately, I fell off my bike, and trapped my leg weirdly underneath. I couldn’t move, not only because I was trapped, but also because of the pain. Finally, a van started driving down our road, and I really thought I was going to get run over. Luckily, a man got out the van and recognised me as ‘Gilly’s Daughter’ (I look exactly like my Dad, as well as every single person in Spalding knowing Gilly) – he picked me up, put me in the van, and took me home.

Mum didn’t believe there was anything wrong with me, and thought I was doing it to get out of going to Wisbech. She made me walk up and down the hallway, wincing in pain, until eventually my brother convinced her I didn’t seem to be lying. We got in the car and drove to the local hospital, where Elliot and Mum carried me in awkwardly as I had finally refused to walk because of the pain. Mum begrudgingly allowed them to x-ray me, still not believing I had an injury, and it turned out I had a fractured femur (thigh bone). Worse still, because I’d been made to walk on it, the bone had broken, but then been pushed into itself by the pressure of standing up, so they had to pull my leg straight, and then put me in traction. I was told it was a week in traction for every year you’ve been alive, and so 8 weeks in traction loomed ahead.

My Mum cried and cried, apologising over and over, and then proceeded to never miss a day visiting me at about 4pm. It’s only as an adult that I can see she felt so guilty – as a child I never thought it was Mum’s fault at all. I don’t know what went on between Mum and Dad, but he cycled 16 miles every day to the hospital after work to see me, and then got a lift home in the car with Mum after 8pm.

A few months later, I got out of hospital, and after physio got back to walking normally. Then we found out Auntie Phil had a really bad heart attack. Mum never made that visit to see her, because I was in hospital, so she was really upset, and felt guilty, and wanted to see her at the weekend. I think I probably got a bit spoilt in hospital, and so I complained about going to visit her, but Mum had none of it, and insisted I went with her. My brothers by this time were old enough to stay at home.

Although she was out of hospital, Auntie Phil didn’t look good. She lived in a tiny council flat, and most of her children and Grandchildren were there – as a consequence it was jam-packed, especially as I believe she had about 30 Grandchildren. Mum seemed really sad and tense – I was just annoyed because I wanted to be at home drawing, and instead was sitting with a load of my cousins who I’d literally never met before, who are all older than me as well as being boys.

Suddenly Auntie Phil started to convulse. Everyone started shouting things and running at her, and it seemed like everything was in slow motion. I remember her eyes rolling back in her head, her mouth frothing, and then she slumped. I couldn’t bear to look at her, so after that I just stared at the fish tank – I remember that fish tank so clearly, even now.

The next thing I knew, Mum told me she had to take Auntie Phil back to hospital because she’d had another heart attack. I probably moaned and asked when I could go home, but she silenced me with a ‘look’ and said my cousins would look after me. As it was a Saturday, I sat in Auntie Phil’s flat, watching fish, for what seemed like hours, while my cousins drank beer and watched football on the television. Every now and again I’d ask when my Mummy was coming back, or the phone would ring and one of my cousins would say, ‘no news,’ to no one in particular.

Finally, Mum came back, and shouted at my cousins because no one had made me a sandwich, and then we drove home. We sat in silence for most of the journey – I can’t remember when she told me Auntie Phil had died, or whether I just guessed. All I cared about was going to Church Parade in the morning because I was carrying the flag for the Guides.

So the next morning I walked to Church as normal, and told them all my Auntie died the day before, because I thought it might get me some sympathy. When the vicar said we should pray for anyone who had lost someone, I felt a little thrill when the other Guides all looked at me, and I tried to look brave. I wasn’t really that upset I lost my Auntie, I never liked visiting her anyway.

After Church Parade, Mum had said she’d pick me up. When she was late, I thought I’d help her out by beginning to walk home – I knew that I’d probably pass her on the way and she could take me the rest of the way home. However, I made it all the way home without seeing her, and the car wasn’t in the driveway. I sat on the doorstep waiting for her to come back.

Finally I saw the car come round the corner. Mum slammed the car door, ran over and started shouting at me. I honestly couldn’t work out what I’d done wrong. She kept saying, ‘today of all days!’ and throwing her hands in the air. Uncle Bill followed her out of the car, came over and hugged Mum, and took her inside. He poured them both a whisky and orange, and she sat snivelling at the kitchen table.

Uncle Bill came over.

‘What on earth did you do that for, Chloe?’

‘What do you mean?’

‘We thought you’d been hurt or taken away!’

‘Well, Mum was late picking me up, so I walked home.’

‘We’ve been driving up and down for ages looking for you. Your Mum doesn’t need this, today of all days.’

‘I don’t understand what I did wrong.’

‘Chloe, her Mum died yesterday, she’s very upset.’

‘What are you talking about?’

‘Your Auntie Phil was your Mummy’s Mum, you knew that didn’t you?’

No, as it happens I didn’t. I was always told she was Mum’s sister. As it turned out, I’d watched my Grandmother die the day before. I felt so angry that no one had told me I had a Grandparent, whilst feeling guilty for being pleased she died so I could get sympathy at church. I felt guilty for every time I didn’t want to visit her, and even felt guilty for having broken my leg and therefore stopping my Mum from visiting her before she’d had the heart attack.

Since then, I’ve pieced together what I think must have happened from stories Mum told me, so some of this may or may not be true. Phil slept with a sailor called Herbert when she was 15, and because she was so young, her mother adopted Mum when she gave birth at the age of 16. Mum was brought up as Phil’s sister without knowing it was really her Mum, but was always told she was adopted. I don’t really know when Mum found out Phil was her birth mother, but I don’t think it was still while Great-Grandma was alive.

All the tension and sadness to do with Auntie Phil now makes sense. Mum felt she had to visit Phil at regular intervals, even though she hated the fact she’d been brought up as her sister. She was bullied and threatened by my Great-Grandma who loved to remind her that she wasn’t her own daughter, but not told until she was an adult that she was in fact related to her, as well as the rest of the family. To make a member of your family feel like a stranger is cruel and unusual punishment for daring to be born out of wedlock.

So this is the reason I finally threw away the family tree. All the cousins, all the shifting generations, marriages… it all became too complicated for me to simply draw on wallpaper. It seemed kinder to Mum to throw it away, and maybe get some peace.

GIVEAWAY!!

1 Jul

I’ve been having a clearout and have found a few bits and pieces so here… we… go!

The wonderful Sophie Wilson has been selling her cards and prints in my shop for about a year, and now I’m closing, she said I could keep the prints I have left and do what I want with them – so I’m giving them away!!

I have TWO sets of these Disney Princess prints left.

sophie giveaway

I’m sorry the photo is so rubbish, but I don’t want anyone to steal her artwork 🙂

LINK TO BE ADDED TO ETSY SHOP!

I also found this selection of stuff in a basket, with no idea of why, so I decided to give it away

giveaway

3 runners-up will get a craft kit, and another 2 runners-up will win the remaining stupid bejewelled glasses

Entry is via RAFFLECOPTER which I still don’t have an account for, so follow this link please

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lunchtime Creativity

24 Jun

I mentioned the other day about how you can fit creativity into small chunks of time by utilising smart phone apps. I’m a massive fan of Betty Lawless, and I worked with her on a photoshoot using iPhone apps only. Since then, I’m always looking for interesting photo editing apps, and use them to make my photos look more interesting.

Here’s my six favourite apps – I edited these photos all within an hour, so I make that about 10 minutes per finished edit. I’m not saying they’re amazing, I just enjoyed doing it, and it helps to make things look more interesting, and makes me see things differently.

It’s also an excuse to play with the wedding photos I took on Friday, as I want to print some coasters as a gift for the bride and groom 🙂

couple

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