Wednesday

We're planning to snap


BorderlineStraggler and I are off on a mini break tomorrow. One of the hardest things about going back to college has been trying to juggle college, work and a relationship. I have a great bar job which is round the corner from where I live, fits in around my college hours. Unfortunately bars are generally busy at evenings and weekends which means that I usually leave for work before BS gets home and when I get home after a 7 hour shift of serving thirsty theatre go-ers I am ready to flake. It is not uncommon for us to spend less than 3 hours awake together in a week. Whilst we both know that this is temporary(ish) and we need the money it doesn't make it any easier, so the prospect of three days together away from Hereford is very exciting.

BS studied photography at college and whenever we go away there is always a bag full of cameras and film but looking at the short list of cameras for this trip I think things are getting out of hand. If a picture says a thousand words we are taking at least a mobile library with us this time.

That is NINE cameras, and yes we probably will use them all. They are:

1. His Holga a trusty favourite which takes lovely leaky pictures. You will see lots of the holga's fine work on BorderlineStraggler's blog

2. 3-D camera. I cannot express how cool this little camera is without showing you the pictures it creates in real life. It is a twin lens analogue camera and you view the pictures through a plastic viewer. Can I please urge you to shun digital equivalents and get yourself an analogue 3-D camera. They are all kinds of fun.

3.This is my digital point and shoot camera, bought mainly because how cute it is and the shamelessly lifestyle porn advert on amazon. Shallow...moi? Never.

4. Super8 movie camera I am most excited about this camera. BS has bought splashed out on some Super8 film so we can make some proper silent, clunky, projector requiring, holiday home movies.

5. My instax mini 25s. This was bought with some of the proceeds from the Christmas pop-up shop. Several of the bloggers I *love* were waxing lyrical about these instant cameras and I couldn't resist.  It is a crowd pleaser whenever I take it out, the look of wonder on people's faces as a picture pops out of the side and then slowly appears before your eyes. Wonderful. You can get one of your very own on amazon

6. BS's Olympus trip. My husband never looks more like himself then when he has this camera slung over his shoulder. It brings the biggest grin to my face just to see this camera, it has captured some of our happiest memories.

7. This is my 35mm camera which gets precious little use but I think this trip is a good time to change that!

8. Another new-to-us camera. This is a Baby Brownie, it takes 127mm film and is going to be a fun experiment - hopefully we will find somewhere that will process it!

9. And finally.... Yes we have his and her's holgas. Mine is a limited edition White Stripes "Jack" holga. We also have a matching "Meg" which is a version of the Lomography Diana camera, but that camera is so finicky it never gets used. To be honest I am not great with the holga but I love BS's pics so much I always give it a go. 


Please take this post as fair warning that there are going to be some picture heavy posts in the next few weeks. Oh and the giant box of film in the picture at the top of this post - that is our cool bag which is going to get it's very first outing in this hideous heat I think.

Monday

Big girl nerves


I am exhibiting my quilt 'Called Control' at the Festival of Quilts this year. The FOQ is an international quilt festival held each year at the NEC. I have been for the last few years and usually leave with a camera full of inspiration and a small but full bag of beautiful fabrics. Last year it was the glasses print by echino, this year I am hoping for some Melody Miller prints to reupholster my deck chair. Entering a quilt to be shown at the festival has taken me an awful lot of bravery. I had to enter back in May when my quilt was designed but not started in anyway. I sat in the studio and floated the idea of entering to my studio mates. They were unanimous in their agreement that I *had* to do it. So I did. 

Entry is a three step process. First you send in your form registering you interest, a month later you are sent an entry form which asks for lots of technical details and a 10 word (!) statement about the piece, you then get sent labels, instructions of where to send your quilt and a whole lot of other important paperwork. Finally you have to send in your quilt with a hanging sleeve attached and all the right labels in the right places. With each passing stage of the process I got more and more nervous until last night when I was trying to package my quilt for sending I properly freaked out and ended up in tears in my studio frustrated that I couldn't fold the quilt properly to wrap it up. BordelineStraggler rescued me with wine and chocolate orange. My freak out mainly came from the fact that though my quilt has been very well received so far, FOQ is full of very talented quilters who will be judging it. Properly getting their judgement on about my work, and that terrifies me. I keep having to tell myself that this is what it feels like to be an artist. I have to put my work out there and see what  reactions I get. It's just really bloody scary. 

This morning I approached my posting problem with fresh eyes and textured wallpaper. I have quite a large selection of textured wallpaper having discovered it was an amazing surface to help design my quilts on. Turns out it is also a very sturdy alternative to bubble wrap! My precious quilt has been parcelled up and sent on her way to the show. I am trying to keep all my worries about being judged to a minimum and start looking forward to 19th August when I can see it in situ.

As well as trips town, the post office and a whole host of other errands I took ten mins today to tame this box of tangles which is my machine thread storage and get organised. I am sick of trying to find a spool of thread I know I have and ending up tipping the whole thing on the floor resulting in a lot of rewinding. I finally got round to buying a thread organiser and got stacking. 

Isn't it pretty? Turns out I have more thread than I thought though, so this is going to have to be the first of several stands, I might even wall mount them, I think a wall of pretty threads would be very inspiring. Until then they are hiding in my somewhat messy notions cupboard. It might be the week for studio cupboard reorganising.....

Friday

Library times


The one piece of advice that I have consistently gotten from recent graduates, from tutors and from friends who have done their degrees is to do your dissertation research over the summer between your 2nd and 3rd year. Of course this sounds like a laudable ambition, but I am not sure quite how many people I have spoken to actually followed their own advice. However that doesn't make it bad advice and as I am not working full time in an office this summer I planned to spend a lot of the time researching, freeing up my time next year for making. That being said I have been dragging my feet a bit about this. The idea of starting to research my topic was daunting - I am looking into the relationship between abstract painting and quilt design - and I had no idea which bit of it to try and tackle first. Unfortunately our college library was closing today until early September for repairs, so this week I finally got the fear motivation to start. 


Somewhere. 


Anywhere.


I am really glad I did. I had a refresher course from one of our fabulous librarians on how to use ATHENS so now I have hundreds of pages of journal articles and dissertations to read, as well as a huge stack of books in my studio, and even several books on their way to me from all over the world. My plan is to try and spend at least one day a week on over the summer and continue this on once the new term starts. And before you ask I am not going to use this weeks binge of dissertation time as an excuse not to do anything for the next month!

Sadly all this academic work has meant a hiatus from my sewing machine, so I have nothing crafty to show you. I plan to make amends to this over the weekend and have a few little projects I'd like to make a start on before Monday invariably rolls around. Until then you can enjoy a little self-portrait indulgence, taken with the toy camera setting on my camera, taken for a little stress reliving frivolity! You can tell how hard I am concentrating can't you....


Monday

Designs for Living


I spent this weekend at Hampton Court Castle as an exhibitor at Designs For Living, a new design fair in Hereford. I was an exhibitor. And a very excited one at that. HCA took a stand at the fair and our course leaders selected a mix of 3rd years and 2nd years work to be displayed.

The venue was amazingly beautiful, even through the pouring rain of Saturday, and was stunning in the beautiful sunshine on Sunday. Hampton Court Castle is exactly what it says on the tin a castle with formal gardens and a view of stunning woodland. I didn't get chance to take too many pics but hopefully BorderlineStraggler will furnish me with a few from Sunday. 

Designs for Living was very much a fair for selling things and as my white quilt is an expensive wall hanging I wanted to try and take this piece and build a more practical, affordable collection of pieces to go with it and hopefully sell. I made a lap quilt and a cushion based on the original design of my quilt, but integrating colour to make it more practical. I was really pleased with how they turned out and got a lot of very good feedback. 

Sadly I didn't make any sales but today I am following up on a few contacts I got at the fair which may lead to a commission or two. As with point six six (my recent gallery experience), Designs for Living was a wonderful learning experience, I got to see how much work goes into being an exhibitor at fairs and pick up some good practice for the future. I also got to spend a lot of time pumping the third years for valuable New Designers advice whilst the experience was clear in their minds. My head is already buzzing with ideas, hints and tips that I need to get written down before they evaporate. All in all it was a great way to end my second year at college, and brilliant motivation to keep going over the summer. 

And of course if any of my readers out there are interested in buying or commissioning a piece from this mini collection please don't hesitate to contact me penny@ratsasbigascats.com

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