Sunday, August 29, 2010

whatever floats your boat

Ta-da! I'm still not 100% happy with my (lack of) photographic skills, but without further ado, here are my new gocco creations - cards above and framed print below. I'm liking them a lot, so much so that I could have cried when Poppy broke into the room they were drying in last night and destroyed five of them :( Thank goodness my new registration technique worked so well, or that would have been practically every print!
Hopefully you can tell that those are boats (please!) but they are actually very specific boats/people. These are the sandboys, a group of men who work in Lagos, Nigeria. Every morning, they sail out in these boats (with sails made from old rice bags stitched together) and collect sand to be used in the building trade. They don't have any fancy equipment, just a bucket. They dive down to the seabed, scoop up a bucket of sand and put it in the bottom of their boat. Once the boats are all full of sand, they sail home again and sell it. You can see from the golden sand (yes, gold ink! eeep!) in the bottom of their boats that this is them on their way home after a hard day's work.

I learned about the sandboys when I was subtitling an episode of the BBC's Welcome To Lagos series many months ago, and as soon as I saw all the rice-bag sails, I thought the image would make a lovely gocco print. I had to use a fair amount of artistic licence, but I'm really happy with the results. Hooray! I already sent one card in the post this morning and am just about to write another three to people who are owed mail. Once I have some better pictures, I'll be listing the cards (provided I haven't used them all myself) and two sizes of prints in my shops at a very reasonable price! Watch this space if you want to nab one...

Saturday, August 28, 2010


I finished my gocco printing today! I honestly don't mean to keep you in suspense, but none of the photos I took of the finished prints really turned out and it is too dark to get a decent photo now. I will definitely share them tomorrow, though, and that is a promise :)
After the fiasco of printing screen two, I fully expected to be tearing my hair out for fifteen hours or more with screen three, but it couldn't have gone more smoothly. I used a much simpler technique to register the prints this time, something that only dawned on me two thirds of the way through the previous printing session, by which time it was too late to do it properly. Aargh!
Before inking the screen, I put one of the prints (with the first two layers done) in the machine, lined it all up with the third screen and stuck masking tape on the gocco's window where the edges of the image went. I guess this technique depends on your image having a straight edge or corner to work with, but mine did. So that the ink wouldn't smoosh out and obscure my view of the image/paper as I printed, I used a little bit of ink-blocking sticky-back foam stuff. Every time I printed, I would close the lid most of the way and then move the paper until the edges of the image lined up with the masking tape before I printed. This worked so well. It was still a little bit fiddly, but felt like a breeze after my attempt with the home-made registration plate. I was a bit worried about sticking masking tape on the gocco window, but I peeled it off as soon as I was done and it left not a mark. Maybe not a technique for faint-hearted printers, though ;)

My pessimistic estimation of having only a handful of usable prints was proved very wrong - I have hundreds! Hooray! I was a bit worried (and sad) about my design after printing the second layer, but adding the third layer was like magic. Every print went in looking a bit dubious and came out looking exactly as I wanted it to. It was such a good feeling and has got me wanting to gocco again very soon. I actually have three whole ideas taking shape in my head. Yay!

Now my only remaining challenge is to photograph (or scan?) the finished prints successfully. I hope you will not be disappointed after all this waiting about...

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Short and sweet today, as I'm typing this with my white gloves on, plus a cat on my lap. It's not easy! I so want this print by Charley Harper. I would hang it above my fireplace. I don't think I have quite reached the stage (will I ever?) where I can bring myself to spend $300 on a print though. Oh well, I will put it here on my blog for free instead.

p.s. Found via Grain Edit.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

not dead, just a bit broken

Sorry for the extended absence. I've had a couple of weeks of crazy hours at work, but that's why I have a lovely mini week now and practically feel like I'm on holiday even though I'm not. I like that about my job. Sometimes.
I have been doing things other than working, I just haven't found time for blogging about them. My main "entertainment" of the last week or so has been throwing myself in at the deep end with my gocco. Oh my goodness. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I'm doing a three-screen print and I think I've been a bit over ambitious. Here's the scene of the first screen being printed. I fully expected to have some registration disasters, so printed absolutely loads of the first screen. That meant I spent five hours hunched over the gocco, kneeling on this cushion. I spent so long in that position that Lola actually curled up and went to sleep on my back. In hindsight, it was not really the most sensible set up and I had backache for a couple of days afterwards.
When I printed the second screen yesterday, I set up on the kitchen table with the idea that it would spare my back. Well, it might have done, but thanks to my stupid design, I had major problems with registration, so printing the second screen took ten hours. I've learned a lot about gocco through my mistakes, including the fact that ten hours hunched over the kitchen table leads to approximately the same amount of pain as five hours hunched over while kneeling on the floor. Oh, dear. One more screen to go. Ha! That crazy looking contraption in front of the gocco is my attempt at making a registration plate. It didn't really work too well, but then it was made out of a paperback book, a block of wood, a wobbly bit of plastic and shedloads of masking tape, so what did I expect? I'm glad I printed so many of the first screen and actually wish I'd printed even more. By the time the third print is done, I think I'll be lucky to have more than a handful of prints that have actually worked. We live and learn!
I've seen a lot of good films lately. Graham and I were both off on Monday, so went to the cinema twice and even squeezed in dinner in between. It was a top date. We saw The Secret In Their Eyes and The Illusionist and they were both brilliant. Earlier in the week, I was on my way home when I got caught in the rain. I happened to be right outside the cinema at that point and a film I had quite fancied was just about to start, so I took myself on a surprise trip to the cinema. (Actually, the film didn't start for another half an hour or so, but I managed to entertain myself with coffee and cake in the interim!) It's the first time in ages that I had been to the cinema on my own and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. Since I don't have any pictures of my cinema outings, here are some gratuitous cat shots.
I made the cats a hat to wear. Poppy was very obliging.
Lola refused to even try it on.
Nope, definitely not happening.
In other news... Ouch. My fingers are still very sore and I miss sewing a lot :( There's a new sewing club/happening starting up at a fun new place just round the corner from my house, one of those bring your own sewing along and eat some cake type things and I am sad not to be able to go along and sew sociably. I am starting to wonder if I will ever be able to sew again. Waaa! I did think gocco could be the new route for me (and I've come up with quite a few gocco plans, all of which are much simpler than the one I'm in the middle of just now!) but I just need to decide whether I'm going to sacrifice my back or my hands to the crafting cause... Ha! I'm only joking - I'm sure I can find a gocco set-up that won't hurt my back at all, especially if I stick to single screens.

My blog rustiness means this has taken rather a long time to write. I need to run and get something to eat before work. I promise I'll try to blog again soon.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

kitch, you're so sweet

Tonight I am drawing and drawing and drawing, something I've been doing quite a lot of lately. While I draw, I like to listen to nice tunes on Spotify. My playlists have names like "French-ish", "Country-ish" and "Sweet Electro-ish". I do know what I like, I just don't always exactly know what it is. This song is one of my favourites from my rather small "Reggae-ish" playlist, though it's not really reggae, I don't think. Please ignore the cheesy edit effects on the video and just enjoy the song. Puts me right in the mood for a foot rub :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

back to life, back to reality

We've just been on a minibreak to Perthshire for a few days, visiting Aberfeldy, Dunkeld and Pitlochry. I left my camera in my bag most of the time (failing to get even a single photo in lovely Dunkeld, where we browsed art/shops/antiques/the cathedral, ate stovies and got hustled at pool by some old men) but here are a few things I did snap.
We had a very nice day wandering around in Aberfeldy and visiting the shops. I got some books and photo frames (not pictured) in the charity shop, some notebooks and that great cowboy card (all wrapped up in handmade woodcut bicycle paper) as well as a lovely chat about printing in the Temple Gallery, some buttons in one antique shop and these adorable Russian dolls in another antique shop.
I am not sure about their "antique" status, but I do love them very much.
Look how tiny the smallest doll is! Tinier than my fingertip!
Whenever we are in Pitlochry, we always visit the amusements. Graham so nearly won me this black pony in the grabber machine, but its leg got caught in the hatch on its way out! I was very sad to leave it behind :(
The horsey game always keeps us entertained while we gamble away 2 pence pieces by the cupful.
I liked this sign. I did have ice cream once while I was on holiday (rum and raisin - mmmm!) but did not have any candyfloss or popcorn. I put my finger in a heart-rate monitor just beside this sign. It told me I needed to exercise. I think it was right.
We stopped to say hello to the scary chip man. He does not put me in the mood to eat chips at all! That said, I did eat some chips shortly after seeing him...
..when we enjoyed a very lovely dinner at the Moulin Inn just before getting the train back to Glasgow. Because I drank quite a lot of their own brewed-on-site ales, I had a lovely nap on the train :) You can also see from this picture (by what was once my fringe) that we got rained on quite a lot. It didn't rain all the time though and the sky was clear enough for us to do some stargazing and even spot some shooting stars.

We arrived back in Glasgow/reality with a hideous bump as Graham rolled over during the night to discover one of the cats had puked under the covers on his side of the bed while we were away. Ming! Sigh... The holiday was short but sweet and it's back to work tomorrow unfortunately. I want another week off, please!

Apologies for my lacklustre blogging of late. I've totally lost my blog mojo and it's been a bit like getting blood from a stone these last few weeks. Not to worry though - I have devised a cunning masterplan to get my blog juices flowing again. Prepare to be dazzled and amazed by my vintage craft book collection...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Been and gone and back again

Lurking in shop windows
Originally uploaded by nz_willowherb

Graham and I are just back from a sneaky few days away in (and around) Aberfeldy, where the shop mannequins are many and varied, but all slightly spooky. Please forgive my paranoia and our sneaking off in secret, but our neighbours have recently been broken into again and I didn't want to advertise our holiday (however mini) on the internet! I didn't take many photos while we were away, but I'll be back with some of the photos I did take very soon. For now, though, it's a wee whisky and off to bed for me. Good night.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

not so rubbish after all

Talk about good timing! My mum and dad got back today from visiting my sister and just sent me a photo of my eldest niece Kim's newly decorated (super duper pink) bedroom. And what is that hanging on the wall? A-hem! It's the giant cupcake bunting that I made for Kim about three years ago, long before my blogging days. Now I don't feel like quite such a rubbish auntie, despite the dinosaur fiasco.
And for a bonus auntie point, here's a photo of (some of) the people who know me as Auntie Laura - Angus, Gav, Kim, Kerry (my sister) and baby Ruth.

I think I've done a bit too much blogging today, but it is good to throw yourself back in with gusto after a period of non-blogging. It's funny how quickly you can become self-conscious when you don't blog for a bit... and how quickly you can get over that self-consciousness and start posting random pictures of pink bedrooms and family members!

p.s. I bought myself the cat gocco print from two posts back :)

roar-bish auntie

My nephew, Angus, turned three two whole weeks ago and I have only just finished making his present.
Plus his present turned out a bit rubbish. Hopefully he doesn't mind too much. I am a bad auntie :( As well as dinosaurs, Angus loves volcanoes. Thank goodness I managed to send him one of Marceline's kawaii volcano cards in time for the big day, at least.

I did use a pattern for this dinosaur, but I'm not even going to post a link to it because the pattern/instructions were so awful. It was free to download, but was foolishly posted by a publisher as a teaser for a whole book of patterns. I certainly wouldn't buy the book now. I had to adapt the pattern a lot, as I couldn't work out how half the pieces fitted together. I'm pretty sure it's a bad sign when half the pieces you cut out are left over when the dinosaur is finished... Their shoddy pattern has not helped my auntie-rating at all. Harumph!

Angus's birthday marks the beginning of crazy season as far as children's birthdays go. There is a gift-requiring birthday every fortnight or so for the next few months. I can't keep up! I think perhaps I should give up on the handmade gifts - better a shop-bought present than no present at all?


Originally uploaded by k e e k i
I love this cat gocco print by keeki. I got some new colours of gocco ink yesterday and they are so lovely - turquoise, gold, fluorescent pink, mustard... I've been plotting a new gocco print on and off for a few months now. I haven't used my gocco since I made the ice-cream van cards over a year ago! I thought I had the design sort of finalised and this week I drew most of the bits for it, but couldn't quite bring myself to commit. After chatting to a couple of people, I realised it wasn't (only!) the usual gocco fear that was putting me off, and that my design wasn't actually getting across the things that had most made me want to print it in the first place. I'm starting from scratch (back to the doodling on envelopes and old receipts) but I have a good feeling about it now, so hopefully I should be able to share my own gocco print here soon, instead of just stealing other people's. I'm so excited! Yay gocco!

Friday, August 6, 2010

market mayhem with made in the shade

The two markets I did seem like a long time ago now... probably because they were! I can only apologise for my terrible lackadaisical blogging style of the last couple of weeks. I have actually really enjoyed my unplanned break, but I promise to do better now that I'm back.
Part of my blogging problem is that I am no good at taking photos (or more accurately, no good at taking my camera out of my bag!) so I should confess that I stole the first and second-last photos in this post from the markets' organisers' flickr photostream. Thanks, Made In The Shade, for awesome market-putting-together-skills and for the photos!
These first three photos are from the Summertime Hop through in Edinburgh - the tatty-looking back of my stall (oops!) the out-of-focus front of my stall (oops!) and a close up of my newly packaged handkerchiefs and space-saving display methods.
Space-saving display methods turned out to be very necessary. Here is the scene (very late at night) on the night before the market, when I realised I had made enough stuff to fill my whole living room, let alone a six foot by two foot stall! Excuse the cat's scary eyes. Look very closely towards the right of my imaginary stall and you can see my miniature bunting hanging. Eep! The bunting was very well received. I didn't sell that many, but it had lots of people squealing and oohing and aahing. The really big sellers of the day were the pinwheel brooch kits.

My first ever market in the capital was brilliant and I set a new personal best in sales (smashing, obliterating, stamping upon and destroying my previous personal best) even though the day had a nice laid-back pace to it. I was there on my own, so didn't get the chance to look at all the stalls, but I did find the perfect Christmas present for my brother-in-law on the stall next to mine. My brother-in-law (notoriously difficult to buy presents for, hence why I'm saving this for Christmas!) works at the Hadron Collider at Cern and my neighbours, The Lindstrom Effect, had made this IKEA style flat-pack Hadron Collider instruction manual. Perfect!
Here I am at the second market of the week, Pin Up Nights, with my friend Bernie who (thank goodness!) came with me for moral support and even brought some stuff to sell with her. This market was... interesting - the sort of thing I'm glad I did once, but probably won't do again! It was fun (drinking cider funded by sales and chatting to Bernie and other stall holders like lovely Mhairi from Bonnie Bling) but I did spend most of the night defending my wares from drunk people and their sloshily full pint glasses. "Noooooo! Not the bunting!" etc. We didn't quite last until 3am, but did stay late enough to sell some Pat and Frank lavender bags to a man who was almost too drunk to get his purchase into his jacket pocket. Oh how we laughed at the thought of him finding his lavender-scented friends in his pocket the next morning! I gave him a discount - it does feel a bit weird to sell things to drunk people, not knowing if they would ever buy them sober, plus he was the first person all night who was nice enough to put his drink on the floor rather than on top of my stock!
This hand-drawn notebook was my purchase of the evening, for a friend who always laughs at the word "jobby". I don't know the name of the person who made it (I'll try to find out it's by Jolly Joyness) but she does really lovely line drawings and portraits, by which I mean that she is a very talented individual and hasn't merely built her artistic empire on the strength of the word "jobby"! This was, in fact, the only jobby-related item I could see on her whole stall. I wish I'd never started trying to explain that!

Phew! This post has taken me so long to write. I'll try to come back soon with something more snappy for you. I'll be off now, to forage the bare cupboards for food.