More Earrings!

When I started this blog, I envisaged writing mostly about Literature, poetry, politics, psycho/neuro/chiatry and a sprinkling of aesthetics. Maybe a little magic. Instead, enjoy your earrings.

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I’ll not run out of earrings for a while now.

Some bought, some made by me, but most of them are gifts transported across the world on a complex journey from my Indian cousin, via Leeds, London, and several relatives. Uma, it was a journey, but we made it in the end.  ❤

I have 3 piercings in each earlobe, so I go through a lot of earrings. Before the beautiful blessing from my cousin, I was down to my last two rings. I’m terrible at keeping earrings. Every time I get drunk I lose at least one.

I do own some expensive earrings I got as an 18th birthday present, but I never dare to wear them. I just know the back will get caught in my hair or something, and then I’ll have to explain to my grandmother how I lost an 24 carat gold, sapphire and diamond heirloom. I have very few valuable pieces of jewellery, and I keep them locked away. I am not responsible with valuables.

So this is my stud/pin earring collection. Some just bought cheap off eBay, some exotic finds, some pretty expensive gifts (made of actual silver and everything!), and some handmade by myself with all the power that entails. If you’re really bored, there’s a fun guessing game for you. Which is which? What did I make, what’s Indian, and what is a genuine commercially available piece of jewellery? Answers in comments please.

I will soon write a post about the craft skills behind the earring storage box. Keep reading to discover that thrilling information!

More Earrings!

Shitty Craft Project #3 – SPOOKY LAMPSHADE

Add a little character to your everyday life by painting boring household objects. The handprint has been a staple of artistic expression since caveman days, and adds a great slasher movie vibe, especially if you stick to a palette of reds, pinks and blacks.

This was a plain cream fabric lampshade from some cheap value range. It was battered and vaguely stained with what looked suspiciously like blood spots, so I decided to make it a statement piece. I chose colours which matched my room’s existing scheme, and matched the design mood to my room’s ‘cursed junkshop run by the Order of Thanateros and several magpies on acid’ vibe.

As this is a craft instructional, I’m basically saying that you should paint all your stuff. You don’t have to be skilled, just do it. All you need is acrylic paint, water, and a paintbrush. Go mad, have some fun. The urge to put our personal mark on our surroundings is one of the origins of human artistic culture, don’t let yourself be alienated from that. It’s 100% more satisfying to put your own mark on something than to buy readymade. DIY, express yourself; these things are punk as fuck. Capitalism would have it that only professional designers and artists are worthy to have their work displayed. Money isn’t the point here. This is Shitty Crafts, proudly worthless in monetary terms, massively valuable for fulfilling the basic human need for creativity.

Shitty Craft Project #3 – SPOOKY LAMPSHADE

Shitty Craft Project: Customised Phone Case

Phone case
A certain kind of Needlework. (Sorry about the shit photography. I was probably drunk.)

For this project you will need: Plain PU leather phone case, a needle (sewing variety preferable), chalk, leather varnish, paintbrush, superglue, plastic tat with flat surfaces suitable for gluing.

  1. Think of a meaningful and beautiful phrase. No stupid cliches, no spelling errors, nothing that will make people think you’re an idiot as soon as you get your phone out. They’re already judging you for your phone addiction, don’t add fuel to the fire by writing YOLO on it or something like that. I chose a quote from E.M. Forster, but the most well known one, so that more people will recognise how intelligent and well read I am.
  2. Get your sewing needle, thumb tack, really small screw, or large guague hypodermic, and scratch your phrase into your stuff. You want all the letters to be even and legible. Think about typeface and kerning, but then realise that unless you’re some kind of craft genius it will look like something you idly scratched into your desk at school. And that’s OK. This is shitty craft, not fucking Pinterest.
  3. Scribble over your lettering with chalk. Experiment with different colours and effects, wipe it off a few times. The main point is for the chalk to fill the scratches so the letters show up. Wipe off any excess chalk, then varnish it. I kept a square area of chalk smears for aesthetic reasons, while the lettering is relatively clear. I used this leather finishing varnish from Direct Leather Supplies. I had it left over from a boot painting project, I knew it would come in handy again one day!
  4. To make your project even more amateur and shitty, glue on whatever bits of garbage you can find around the house. I used a plastic ant, in keeping with the social theme of my quote. I glued it on with Loctite and then weighted it down with books while it bonded. I must say, Loctite is the shit.

    I wholeheartedly recommend these tiny glues.
  5. In 12 hours or so, the glue and varnish will be dry and your phone holder will be ready to go. Take it out and show it off. Make sure everyone knows how interesting and crafty you are by waving your phone case in their faces and yelling ‘I MADE THIS!’. I promise they will be impressed; this may even be your way into that fashion design internship you secretly crave.
Shitty Craft Project: Customised Phone Case

Craft: Hand Painted Letter Writing Paper (& envelopes, don’t forget the envelopes!)

Today was a craft day. I have some letters to write to friends, so I decided to make some customised writing paper. This was a pretty spur-of-the-moment thing, so I just used A4 printer paper and white office envelopes. If I do this again, or decide to make paper for other people, I’ll use fancy paper in that weird letter size.

This was fun and really easy, I just laid out a few pieces of paper so that each one had an inch or so showing at the edge. Then I painted my designs. When you separate the stack (discarding the top page which gets covered in paint all over), each page has a neat abstract border.

Letter Paper with Turquoise Leaves design
Turquoise Leaves.

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Made some envelopes to match, picking up an element of the main design but keeping it a lot more basic. I feel like If envelopes are too visually busy, the post sorters might get distracted from the address and then my letters will get lost. I think in reality the Post Office are more competent than that, but I don’t want to risk it.

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Splatter Paint!

This design was great fun, and even managed to spread to my bedspread. A sheet of wood on top of a bed makes a great art table, but you should probably cover up any exposed bedclothes before you get to work. I think using the same design at different scales on the paper and each side of the envelopes makes this paper really visually interesting. You can see in the picture though, some of the more watery paint seeped under the edges of the paper, spoiling the clean line of the border. If I do this again I’ll put it on a downward slope when I paint, so any drips run away from the clean paper.

They say that letter writing is a dying art, but I don’t think we should let it go. A hand written letter, on hand painted paper, can’t help but be more meaningful than a text or email, even if you format in pretty pictures and fancy fonts.

I think I recommend this easy craft project, as it is very simple, requires no fancy materials, and can be adapted to suit anyone. Whatever art or craft things you have, you can use. If you can paint with more competence than I did, and present it in a cute box, a handmade letter writing set would make a sweet handmade gift. You can customise it completely to suit, and I’m sure that hipsters will soon have a revival of the retro art of letter writing, making this a totally relevant way to spend your time.

Craft: Hand Painted Letter Writing Paper (& envelopes, don’t forget the envelopes!)

Wirksworth Festival: Sweet Art, Fancy Homes, and Hella Hills

Both days of this weekend, I went with my dear old mother to Wirksworth Festival. It is billed as “a leading rural arts festival”. This is the second time I’ve been – I was at the 1st or 2nd outing as well, about 4 years ago. It’s grown since then. The main idea with this Festival is that you get a map, and walk around the town to see art displayed in 70+ different venues. The venues themselves are all regular parts of the town at other times, be they churches, houses, shops, schools or studios. There are also performances, talks, film screenings, and musicians playing all over the place. Oh, and most importantly, food vendors and stalls on the street, as well as all the local cafes and pubs.

Wirksworth is a pretty town in the Peak District, meaning that half the town is on such a ridiculous gradient that peoples’ back gardans adjoin sheer cliffs, and the beautiful views barely make up for the pain of walking up the hill roads. It used to be a lead mining place with a slightly shady rep, but these days the stone miners’ cottages are likely to be home to people who like architectural furniture and white or pale grey paint. Luckily, they also had enough taste to retain the original log fires, stone flagged floors and wooden doors in a lot of the places we saw. Getting to look inside rich peoples’ fancy houses is weirdly amusing. There’s some real design creativity there. Also I think my bar for labelling people as “rich” is ludicrously low. If you bought a house and a car and aren’t in crippling debt because of it, you may as well be a millionaire. If you can afford a designer sofa, you’re the bourgeousie.

Anyway, back to the art. Having seen hundreds and hundreds of paintings, ceramics, textiles etc, things have somewhat blurred together in my mind. There was plenty of pretty stuff. But things that actually stuck in my mind: Geoff Litherland explores interesting themes as a painter, painting paintings which are then featured within the landscapes of his other paintings. Lyn Hodnett‘s mythlike images of women intrigued me since a few years ago when Mum sent me a couple of postcards of her work. It was great to see some in full size original form, and to tell Lyn face to face what her art has meant to me.

Mums bought an amazing print by Hannah Sawtel. The artist luckily has an Instagram, with a photo of this exact piece, so go look. It’s a lot of fun.

Hundreds of creative people suddenly appear for the Festival. A lot of the artists themselves turn out to be quite local; a couple even live or work in my own town. Of course the Peaks are infested with landscape artists, and Nottingham and Sheffield have busy creative scenes. I complain a lot about having to live in the middle of nowhere, but there are other people managing it just fine. Derbyshire might not be so bad…

Wirksworth Festival: Sweet Art, Fancy Homes, and Hella Hills