Tuesday, 26 July 2011

All Hail Etsy

Etsy has been all change recently. The virtual labs have gone! Now, I read everything that the Etsy admins said about this and I understand, but it still makes me sad, I learnt so much in the Labs. Livestream is great but since they switched I barely ever bother going in to listen - I am going to make more of an effort from now on. There is a wealth of knowledge on that site and one of the best things about it is that almost everyone is willing to help others out.
Everything is changing. I am taking lots of advice, actually that's not new. For people who know me outside of Etsy they might be surprised at how much I seek out advice on Etsy and crafting/art in general. I love hearing other people's ideas and have a new page (called a lens for some bizarre reason) over on Squidoo after taking the advice of a lovely Etsyer.
I am also looking to bulk out my shop. I'm not sure what this will be with but this was the reason behind the 100-100 post a little while back. I'm aiming to be posting much more often, of  course as soon as I determine that I am going to do this a whole host of other things happen to get in the way!
I realise that there is a lot of a mixture on the blog so if people haven't had a poke around Etsy (I'm not trying to drive you to my shop now!) there is an awful lot of amazing stuff on there and it is very well organised. There are so many different ways to find handmade and vintage products, I highly recommend giving it a try.


p.s. The pictures I used today are the ones that I used as the background to my latest collages that I was working on over the weekend! See - not entirely random.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Serendipity, Epiphany, Redemption

I have no idea where this poem came from. Well, the idea came from Kona MacPhee (@konamacphee), award winning poet, scientific genius, amazing woman and kind enough to give me "serendipity, epiphany, redemption" to work with. I went to sit and write in one of my favourite places and was thinking about these words when a mini-story shoved its way into my head.
I might have another go at these words and try to fit them in to a regular poem but this is the oddly styled long poem that came first into my mind (and I did agree to post what I wrote from my three random word groups online). This is in a post on its own, partly because of how unusual it is for me but mainly because it ended up so long!
Very, very nervous about this. One because of how different it is, and two because it's Kona's.
Oh and if you haven't read any of Kona's work then look her up. Now! I'm serious.

"Binn Fraoigh"

Hunkered down high up in the hills
a woman lived alone.
Her twelve friends, the mountains
couldn’t keep her warm
even when they talked to her about
the first night and the final stars.
In spring the lambs came and she watched
as their proportions shifted, the woman was entranced
by new life and the loose formed ties to their world.
She made three daughters in anything but her own image.
They were created from the Earth by the strength of a comet.
Girls as different as sisters and as connected as rain-clouds
they grew close and grew apart choosing their ways.
Serendipity was of the sea and sky,
all at once rough and smooth.
Hard to read, soothing and dangerous.
Her peace was internal and for no one else.
Epiphany belonged to the land - she was nature
woken for each season, all four in her face.
Her smile broke the springtime but she could
bring the frosts of winter with only a glance
Redemption looked like the people
with bright hair and green eyes.
She could unwind a knot with just one touch,
holding her hand brought a longed for peace to mind.
They slowly grew quickly, running away with water
and yet always coming home.
It couldn’t last, they were made of infinite possibilities
and even the lure of the mountains could not stay
a hand and foot for very long.
Epiphany was the first to leave – she couldn’t be held.
A need to be rescued, she reinvented herself again
And once more to reveal a new layer under her skin.
Too many thoughts in one mind.
It took no time at all.
Serendipity left to escape the others’ wild quarrels
that only she could hear, called out to take a risk
never looking back to her home
but stumbling onto ever new discoveries.
Redemption stayed the longest, she didn’t want to move on
to meet new people, was happiest alone without questions
but she needed to find new mistakes to make
and a view of the world from another set of eyes.
The wind fell down from the battered trees, quiet.
And the old woman was left alone again,
in the peace of the hills, her hills.


Friday, 22 July 2011

Travelled Stories...

A while ago I posted about the awesome group Traveling Stories. After that blog I got chatting to Emily (the big cheese) and she was lovely enough to send me my very own Traveling Stories t-shirt.
back of the t-shirt

It got a *little* bit out of hand when said t-shirt arrived. There was squealing and I must say I love it and have been wearing it a lot. People can attest to this.
front of t-shirt

As promised, here are pictures of the awesome shirt itself (with reluctant model). A huge thank-you to Emily for sending it my way - it is very much appreciated!

Once again, check out Traveling Stories, they are utterly fab and deserve your love.


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Tattoo, Lithe, Opera, Elephant.

The first set of poems listed today was inspired by the word “screwdriver, tattoo, print” by my girl Adele Wearing (@Hagelrat) of Un:Bound (amongst other things, including the completely brand new and shiny Exlineal). Here goes.

A line of people walk next to each other
out of the station towards disaster.
Armed with the remnants of already looted stores,
they carry a hammer, file or screwdriver for
the few short blocks they walk,
the living and their machinery failing together.
Four tired men sit at the bar in a diner
across the street from a tattoo parlour,
of dried ink and forgotten customers
where the permanent no longer lasts.
Street signs faded and battered.
The only signs of new life are the
distressed missing-persons posters
stuck on street-lights and boarded up windows
that they had to print out, or give up.
A storm and fallout seen everywhere
except by the eyes of a vanished people.

Poem number two is based around “lithe, confidence, stone” which was given to me by my friend Stevie Horton (@TheKingofWessex) via Twitter. I’ve known Steve since Uni. and he’s a very smart cookie so I had a lot of fun playing with these words.

A long living tribute to myth
built in the arrogance of empire
when a confidence in strength
mattered more than individual will.
A contrast to the great men in theory
who built this lost world, stone by crumbled stone.
Tumbled blocks of memory are
worn down – eroded with interest.
The sanctuaries are far from safe places in a noisy world.
A trade of past and present riches lectured loudly
by a legion of unadventurous holiday makers
standing where speeches were once given meaning.
A silent dusk allows the lost battles
and lithe loves to reveal themselves
And the true history we all miss.

The next on the list was suggested through Adele again but this time from @Thanna_ZK on Twitter who had some fantastically brilliant ideas. I love getting more than one set of ideas from people and I’m taking note of all of them but I’m going to work on ones from new people before I go to repeats. I’m not sure if it was the first suggestion posted but the one that jumped out at me first was “yodelling, architect, opera”.

The clattering attack of feet on a wide cattle grid
rings a yodelling cry into bright storms
held off with anoraks and leafy shelters.
A careful wall of rock built steadily into a range
of mountains – made to last by an internal stone architect.
A maker made from lava and layers of 
Human history stacked up against each other
walked over by the living to keep it alive.
The wind calls around at all hours
creating an emotive opera with a pause
between each recitative as the land relaxes and waits for the next.
New telephone wires record a conversation
between ancient trees and April-new leaves
as the technology finds a way of linking us with nature again.

The final poem in this group is from Steph (@booktrunk) on Twitter. She gave me a bit more of a challenge (because I clearly wasn’t working hard enough…) and gave me a phrase instead of three separate words: "love your elephant". It was a very different process. Rather than trying to find something that inspired me and tied all of the words in, I created a story around the phrase.

“New Start”
One first day a reminder of another
so long ago and yet all blending now
into an amorphous past. Then and now.
Back at the tall gates she held on tight
to a dark green elephant
as they were all herded into a classroom
full of low tables and red plastic chairs.
A tall teacher, young beyond her years
crouches down to talk to my worried face
"I love your elephant" she says
and I'm not afraid. I fastforward a lifetime.
Boxes packed into the car alongside
small appliances and a clothes horse.
Out of the top of a bag a green elephant peeps.
Still there. In no time he's seen again
a new conversation in a new place
repeating the same words and once again I'm not scared.

So that was the latest four poems - I am close to catching up so will be on the look out for more ideas soon!


Monday, 18 July 2011

One Year

I hadn't realised but last week I passed my Etsy anniversary. I started my site over a year ago and for the first five/six months all that I sold was jewellery. Now there is no sign of the jewellery as I only sell it at craft-fairs and there's a whole bunch of cards and art pieces along with lots of room for more of both.
This inevitably made me think about the past year. I can't quite believe how different things are. I never wanted this to be an overly personal blog so I won't write details. All I wanted to say was that a lot of things seem to be very similar but all of the little things that matter a lot have subtly changed. I've got a whole new bunch of friends that I have managed to find, steal, borrow, etc. as well and it does no harm to say that I really appreciate them, a lot. I am doing something completely different now and have a range of interesting things coming up in the next few months from commissions to entirely new businessy ideas. I'm also playing around with some new places to sell my art pieces so hopefully there will be more on that when I know a little more. It's an exciting time.

I'm going to go and get back to work, because I have a lot more to do. I'm not as far with Etsy as I had hoped I would be but I'm still enjoying it and I'm still improving - I think!


p.s. The Etsy anniversary was a little while ago now but this looking-back post was delayed as I realised there were other things I wanted to put up here first...

Friday, 15 July 2011

More Hundreds

In an update to my 100-100 blog the other day I have been posting on Etsy and trying to decide what to make next. I'm debating a series of A3/A2 finer art pieces. Or maybe some more geometric shapes again. Hmmm. So many options! Anyways, rather than spamming Twitter and Facebook with links to the new cards I've put up I thought I'd just put pictures up on here.

So many cards - I'll probably promote a few of these in the usual places as well. Just because!


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

100 - 100.

I've set a new goal for myself on Etsy. I want to get 100 pieces in my shop and then get as many as possible with over 100 views. Maybe even one day I can be aiming for 100 hearts as well!
I know that the more items in a shop the better chance you have to stand out from everyone else so this is the new aim.

I'm putting lots of greetings cards on at the moment and once this section is done I'm going to spend a couple of weeks making a whole group of new collages. I've got some fun ideas to play around with so that's pretty exciting too.
I'm still writing the poetry but it felt like too long without an art blog post so here's what I've been doing with this part of my life!


Sunday, 10 July 2011

Time, Sinking, Fringe, Rose.

There has been a delay in getting these up because this week kept changing on me, also the order has changed a bit because I seem to be writing an epic for one of the ideas and it’s taking me a while to see if I like where it’s going or whether to try something new with it instead.

This first set of words came from one of my favourite people: Emma-Jane Davies (@emmajanedavies) via Twitter. I love getting random ideas from my creative friends, here’s where I went with “sea, fingers, time”.

I ran right on the edge
while he slept on a sheet of sand.
A rolling sea dawdling upwards
pushing shells into view and away.
Fingers woven in, out, together, apart
each gentle motion noticed and noted.
The light faded right on time
as skin cooled and we started
a long journey back, locked inside night.
We didn’t spend our time linked
but let the moments pass comfortably
Knowing that the oceans and clocks
were never going to be a part of our plans.

The next set of words were “hedgehog, sinking, pullulate” from Kate Laity (@katelaity). Oddly enough this was the easiest poem I’ve done so far which I did not expect from those words. I’ve not known Kate all that long but she is fantastic, wonderful, crackers and I’m stealing her.

A thrush hops along the broken ceiling
rubbled brick and paint work
past cries on ears unhearing and dead.
The walls now overgrown with life
and the lodestone sinking back.
Ants, spiders, woodlice pullulate
in the cool dark corners hidden from the light.
And in the very Eastern extreme
a hedgehog sleeps on.
Waiting for everything to come back,
to wake up, to re-ignite.
For the Earth beneath to quiver
and history to start again.

I was very excited to write this poem because I had no idea where it would go. The words “cat, banana, fringe” came from Mel Blount in the comments section of the blog. Here’s what happened next.

“Auntie E.”
Five children bribed by the promise
of chocolate cake and a toffee jar
visiting their future.
Her swollen ankles dangle alongside
the twisted fringe of her chair
with dust trapped in each turn.
Porcelain cats and dogs line
every flat surface to reconcile
the domestic void.
An almost empty fridge is
only stocked for visitors now
while the china fruit bowl
holds an over-ripe banana
and a pair of abandoned glasses.
Her face lighting up does not make the trip worthwhile –
until years have passed.
Then once again the same cat
reminds you of your future
and her well-loved past.

The last of today’s batch is inspired by my favourite man, Sawyer (@ScooterMcDubs). The words were “illuminate, doorway, rose” and here’s where I went with them.

Simply at peace, she doesn’t move.
Her pale skin is dappled
in all Heavenly hues
from the Rose so high up.
A brittle glass – filigree decisions
fused over time to create beauty.
She stands, equidistant between
the Crossroads and the doorway
to decide where to go next
whether to renew or walk out.
The sun shifts and everything old
falls into its place
so that the way will illuminate for one and all.
To follow, to choose, to believe.

Looking over these my titles seem particularly uninspired, sorry about that folks. Might work on them a little more!
Hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend. More to follow in the future.


Thursday, 7 July 2011

Open Gardening

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be invited by my Aunt Pat to an Open Gardens to raise money for the charity Rainbows Children's Hospice. I wasn't expecting to have quite so much space so my stall looked a little bare but it was a lovely day and I met lots of fab people, plus it's always fun being in my Aunt's garden as it is completely stunning! Over £1000 was raised so I think we can officially call this one a success.
How the display looked on the small table

Earrings and bracelets
Bracelet kits

Chunky bracelets
Bracelets and necklaces

Very impressive runner beans, beetroot and carrots


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Chainsaw, Milkshake, Ragged, Biscuit

The next in my 3RW posts where I'm putting up the poems I have written based upon three random words given to me by other people.
I’ll start by thanking everyone who has so far given me ideas to work with, I am having almost indecent amounts of fun writing poetry this way. I’ve been playing around with ideas for what to do with all of these poems and I’m still unsure but will just keep writing them until I run out of ideas to work with. I've now 28 sets of words through and have written fourteen of them. This is group three of the poems so far.

The first of the poems here was written to the words “scintillating, erstwhile, chainsaw” by Vincent Holland-Keen (@fiskerton). He’s also the reason that I’ve not written as much the past couple of days because his debut novel The Office of Lost and Found came out over the weekend and I’ve not really been able to put it down. It has been published in eBook format by Anarchy Books and is completely fantastic. I can’t recommend it enough.

A skyline of broken trees and moths.
Streams of cars not water
along the only direction through.
The erstwhile daughters of night and stars
lay forgotten in the shamed past,
only deer in the woods remember.
They stare at each other, the ants
as if scintillating enough to last
and outlast the natural installations.
The old men grow just tall enough
controlled by chainsaws and budgets,
watched by escaping crowds
protecting their destruction.

Sam Strong (@SamaelTB) gave me “pizza, milkshake, geese” which I think might have been the strangest process to try and fit those words into a poem. I also seem to have had a sort of green-theme to both his and Vince’s poems. Not intentional just sort of happened that way!

The world reversed its time
springing back and falling forward
turning nature on her head.
An arrow of geese flew too low – hiding
from a strawberry-milkshake sunset
pointing them away from home.
A confused heat trapped
in feathers over summer
encouraged by tourists eating pizza
in Neapolitan towns while the Alaskan ice melts.
Broad streams of defrosted tears
mourn the loss of un-caged birds
throughout the ever extending winters.
As we look on
troubled but understanding.

Charlotte Naylor (soon to be Charlotte Strong…as in Sam Strong of the poem above!) sent me “ragged, loom, surreptitious” via Twitter (@mithciriel).

“A Grave Hall”
Double doors swing inwards
by hands unseen
all eyes gazing up to the gallery.
A high ceiling framed either side
by ragged tapestries of
noble love and ignoble wars.
The box room with barely space
to stand beside the silent loom
with threads still caught in motion.
Everyone walks slowly along
taking nothing far away.
A surreptitious movement on a hidden staircase
and furtive knowledge lost to yet another generation
behind too many layers of wallpaper.

I’ve had so much trouble with the words that Tom (@ThermobaricTom) gave me. I think this had more entire re-writes than any of the others. I have been working with “educate, biscuit, indeterminable” and I think I’m okay with the poem now, there's a small chance it might change again though!

“Paper Lanterns”
The first time view walking in, nerves,
rows of labelled bottles under
multi-coloured flowers on pegs
names taken from the images.
Days divided in half
eased into the fast lane
on an extra stable wheel.
Bright colours educate
with fingers paints and chunky pens.
A kitchen full of biscuit tins
and orange squash.
As many options as there are hours,
as many as there are people.
An indeterminable future ahead
paths of choices not destinies.

That's all for now, there will be more in a few days time. Thanks for reading down this far!


Monday, 4 July 2011

A Nation of Nations


It's America Day and so I say congratulations to all my US friends for kicking us out, then making very subtle changes to language and chocolate...sneaky!

Here are a few super-American pictures from my trip around the USA.

Hope y'all have loads of food, fireworks, and fun.


Sunday, 3 July 2011

Robot, Whisker, Scavenge, Faculty

This is batch number two of the poems I’m writing for my ‘Three Random Words’ project. As a quick aside, all of them have been tagged with "3RW" if we get far enough for it to be hard to keep track.  I am still aiming to write a hundred poems while taking my inspiration from three words I’ve been given by other people.

So far I’ve been sent 22 ideas out of 100 and I’ve written a total of 13 of them. Bribes are starting to happen as I am now catching up too quickly.

Catherine Mann (@ctjhill) commented on the first blog post leaving me with “robot, rainstorm, circumvent”. After a brief daydream about 'Short Circuit' (1 and 2) I managed to come up with this:

A high mass of tree roots
growing down from the sky
circumvent the sunshine and
stick to sheltered shadows.
A nature impossible to avoid
in the heart of the country –
the centre of a field.
Grey light and purple cloud
herald in a rainstorm
of dancing lightning and crescendos.
The sparks flash and spit
as a mis-wired robot.
Everything belongs here –
except for the bench and it’s plaque.
The welcomed, jarring presence
of man and machine

Meanwhile over on Facebook Delaine Holland-Keen very kindly gave me “fork, whisker, flannel” which really sent my imagination spinning. I had so much I could do with these words, this is what I actually did:

“Above the Chimney Top”
The clouds creep darkly in towards
a tired landscape cottage.
Take the taken road –
the right fork. Left.

Slow boots treading footprints
over the bones of old prey.
Barbed wire marking the way,
a slight whisker breath between lives.

Cooling air outside gives way to comfort.
A flannel blanket with checked
windows to another place.
Somewhere like home.

I met Pat Kelleher at Alt.Fiction last weekend and after finding him on Twitter (@patkelleher ) he was good enough to give me “cedar, pearl, scavenge” to work with.

“One for Sorrow”
His beak breaks the mirrored water,
a knowing eye from an unknown mind.
Protected by a wide fingered cedar
with a carpet of tangled needles.
The garden an eternal market
with calls to sell and buy
ignored, preferring to scavenge from all.
Never to be left alone
always followed by superstition.
He collects silver and pearl
on the anniversary of each sunrise.

And once more, I also know Colin Barnes (@Colin_Barnes) from the Alt.Fiction gang and he also gave me ideas from Twitter. This time my words were “ramekin, faculty, omnivorous”. Now, let’s get something clear – getting ramekin into a poem was incredibly difficult. I tried an awful lot of things before settling on this approach:

“Old Curiosity”
Smoke scratched wallpaper on four walls
with a broken rocking chair centre stage.
An entrenched  faculty for wonder,
for curiosity and exploration.
The remnants of lives in plastic crates
a fluted ramekin, chipped and torched
alongside a gouged hammer once loved.
Destruction of time marked by
an omnivorous grandfather clock.
Burned down to dust and powder
and the lie that memories last.

Oddly this is still fun, and I'm thinking about what I'm writing a lot more than I usually do. I know this leads to an increase in the amount of coffee drunk and I think it leads to better poems as well. Thank you so much to everyone sending me sets of words, I really appreciate it. 
However. I need more ideas, I’m going to run out soon. Then the targeted threatening emails will begin. Help keep me out of prison, send ideas.


Saturday, 2 July 2011

Day to Night

A break from poems. Except that these were taken when I went to sit and write the latest few.
The sunset last night was quite spectacular. And yes, I did stand in the middle of an A road to take one of the pictures.


p.s. More poetry coming up tomorrow... please, please keep sending me your ideas. Thanks!