Another charity shop book- this time from the 70s. It's a slightly strange mix of technicolour things made from recycling bin objects or fabric scraps, and then a section about making candles.
I got this craft book for kids from a charity shop in Austria earlier this year. Austria doesn't have the same volume of charity shops as the UK, but when you do find one they're usually really good, especially in small towns, where vintage isn't really a big thing.
I haven't posted much this month because I was ill- not ill enough to need medical attention or be bedridden, but not ill enough to do anything much either. Was it the virus, or not? I have no idea because of course I wasn't able to get tested, but the symptoms fitted, and the people in the flat next to and below me were equally ill with the same symptoms, and I live in one of the most affected parts of the UK. I also felt tired and grey for a long time after recovering- similar to after having glandular fever and shingles (not helped by doing something painful to my shoulder in the meantime). So it seems likely.
I’ve split the article up into four sections- my criticisms of radical spaces and scenes I’ve known, of the fashion industry, and of the current commercial craft revival, and then at the end explaining the ways I think doing textile crafts can be radical. In writing the article, I was specifically thinking of crafts such as sewing and knitting, both because they are things I do, and also because they are stereotypically done by women and often dismissed as silly and frivolous, but a lot of the points can apply to any handicraft. As well as dealing with the topic of crafts, it’s really more of a kind of wander round my thoughts about “radical”. The section on crafts is actually the shortest, but I’ve used it as the overall framing device. I’ll probably manage to piss off both the cliquey punx and the craft blogger people with this, but never mind.
For the past six months I have been hand-sewing a new patchwork quilt for my bed to replace the worn out one my nan made for me when I was a teenager. I'm still no-where near finished, but I've done the bulk of the work. These photos are from my Instagram account over the past few months, so they're not as sharp as if I'd taken DSLR photos of the work.
I wanted to learn how to make things for ipads, so I've rejigged an old zine of mine with improved instructions and colour diagrams. It has step by step instructions and diagrams for drafting a skirt pattern to your own personal size, whatever that may be, and then making the skirt. For anyone really who would like to have skirts, but struggles to find any they like or that fit, and who would like some help with sewing.
I have a lot of fabric. Mostly remnants from charity shops or from my nan's stash (she was a dressmaker / tailor). I haven't done any sewing this year, because I lost a lot of weight in February due to a nasty bout of gastritis, and it seemed silly to make something that would later be too small, or to try to guess at what my normal fitting would be. I'm back to my normal weight now though, so I can go ahead.
Puppetry is a big thing in the Czech Republic. As well as being the home of Jan Švankmajer and Jiří Trnka, there are a few puppet shops in the Old Town in Prague selling the work of local puppet artists. I'm afraid I didn't get the names of the artists who made these ones I photographed. I really wanted to buy a small puppet, they weren't hugely expensive, but I didn't have much chance of getting it home in one piece, so I reluctantly gave it a miss.
While I was at my grandparent's place, I scanned some books. Here's the Golden Hands Book of Crafts from the 70s. I have some of the magazine of the same name, which I scanned before. You can see that here. Most of the tutorials in the book weren't very exciting, but there were some nice 70s stock pictures.
I'm currently at my grandparent's place in West Sussex. I picked up some teaching work in Germany over the summer (and some as yet unknown other destinations too), so I gave up my sublet room, put my stuff in storage for the summer, left London for a while, and am spending the next 10 days wandering around Kent and Sussex until I fly off. My grandparents' place is in a small village called Aldwick near Bognor. There's a shingle beach, lots of bungalows and old people, and hydrangeas everywhere. It's about 3 minutes from a very quiet beach (apparently Robert Smith lives here too, but I haven't seen him). My nan died last year, and my grandad is now in a home, with dementia, so the house belongs to my mum and aunt. They are currently refurbishing it and clearing out decades of things. The heavy lifting had already been done, but the other day I went through my nan's fabric stash for anything I wanted.
Here's a dress I recently made. I'm not very practiced at taking photos of myself, I'm usually on the other side of the camera, and it felt very awkward (and that's probably why I look so bad tempered). The remote control only cost £3, and has to be pointed directly at the camera, which doesn't help. It also didn't help that I don't have any space to use the 50mm lens, so I had to use the 28mm, which is really not a good idea around faces, especially if you've recently been having sinus trouble like I have, with the resulting puffy hamster face. None of the photos facing front were at all to my liking, and the ones from the back just emphasised my scoliosis, so you're not seeing those either. I still need to finish off the hem and the sleeve edging, I prefer to slip-stitch those by hand.
I recently made this fake fur collar from a free pattern on the Colletterie blog. It's easy enough to draft something like this yourself, but having a pdf to print is far more convenient. I used some fake fur fabric and white satiny coat-lining. I cut out the pom-poms, but they looked scraggy with the wispy fur fabric, so I used a satin ribbon instead, and turned the ends in. When you sew with fake fur, it pays to snip all the hairs off the seams once you've sewn them, because it makes the fabric lie flatter than slashing the curves alone. With denser fur you can tease the ends out of the seams, but it made the edges look too messy with this fabric. The collar was very easy and quick to make. If you can't sew, my friend Kaitlin Kostus often has some very nice ones similar for sale.
This is how I personally make my zines. There's no right or wrong way (aside from doing things like accidentally making it unreadable once photocopied or forgetting about your margins and cutting off half the text). If you want a more in-depth guide to all things zine-related, I can recommend Stolen Sharpie Revolution. You can see all the back issues of my zines on my website.
got this stack of 70s craft magazines in a junk shop in Devizes a few years ago. That place was amazing, a multi-floored cavern of junk. It's gone now, I think. Here's some photos.There's the usual ultra-cheesy raffia work projects and crocheted plant holders and so on, but the clothes patterns are actually mostly pretty nice, which is why I bought the magazines. What I've scanned is a mix of nice things and weird stuff though. I also couldn't scan double page spreads very easily, because the binding on the magazines is dodgy, and I didn't want to pull them about too much in case they broke. These issues are from 1972 and 1973. I have another issue from 1976, but it's printed on much cheaper paper (the paper quality wasn't sterling to begin with) and the contents are pretty dull.
This was something I made as development work on my MA, and never finished. It's an endless card. Basically you cut four rectangles of card, and fold and glue them in such a way that you create a card that opens to reveal another opening, which then opens to another, and so on. You get four different pictures that open up. There's a tutorial to make one here. I went to a workshop where they showed you how to make them, and the woman running it had made a very nice card of the story of Dorian Grey.
Today I screen-printed some patches. When I've done screen-printing before it's been with proper facilities, not on my dad's newspaper-covered kitchen table, with a cheap kit I got in the clearance sale, so I was a bit nervous. Preparing the screen and printing is a lot more fiddly when you don't have a light table, spray washer or anything to rest the print on except a piece of cardboard. I thought that I'd messed up my screen when I was rinsing the emulsion after exposing it, and the water suddenly turned hot.
Last Saturday me & Tukru decided to go to a party on a boat at the last minute. I saw that a friend of mine, Rob Bidder, who I hadn't seen in person for a looong time, was doing some music at the event, and it would be good to see him, and the party looked like fun anyway. Being on a boat, and near Hallowe'en, the dresscode was aquatic, so I had to come up with something to wear in an afternoon (and Tukru in even less time). Good old Costumes for Plays and Playing came to the rescue. A fish hood/cape with scales for me, and a button-on mermaid tail for Tukru.
When I was a kid I used to borrow this book again and again from the local library. The first thing I ever sewed myself was from it. A friend of mine at junior school's older sister was in a school play of Toad of Toad Hall, and we went to watch. When you're 7, 13 year olds seem incredibly impressive. What impressed me even more were the weasel costumes. I wanted one for myself. Armed with an offcut of brown fabric and a toy sewing machine I'd got at a bootfair, I made a hood with ears like the ones in the book. It was wonky, and I was a bit ashamed of it though, and wished I knew how to sew straight (looking back, I'm not sure the toy sewing machine was actually capable of a straight seam). My opinion of my sewing projects has improved slightly since.