Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The fox-ness of the fox

I'm drawn to foxes, particularly those that live amongst us in our busy streets and tiny gardens. I don't see them as a nuisance, more brave vanguards of their species, daring to live amongst us crazy humans. I'm planning to do more of these embroideries, using the other wild animals and birds that share our environment. I'm enjoying the intricate stitching and it's nice to freestyle. I draw the faint outline onto muslin and then just stitch away from it in any direction I please, building the geometric shapes from triangles as I go, ocassionally changing the pattern to cause a bit of chaos.

I just had a thought about a favourite poem and decided to share it with you. I'm not a massive poetry reader but I studied Ted Hughes at school and liked him enough to buy his collection of poetry, 'Birthday Letters', a few years ago. This poem has always stood out for me. It's a great story for a start. And so sad. And now, re-reading it, I think I've created a bit of a 'cosmic derangement' for my little fox.

Epiphany by Ted Hughes

London. The grimy lilac softness
Of an April evening. Me
Walking over Chalk Farm Bridge
On my way to the tube station.
A new father – slightly light-headed
With the lack of sleep and the novelty.
Next, this young fellow coming towards me.

I glanced at him for the first time as I passed him
Because I noticed (I couldn't believe it)
What I'd been ignoring.

Not the bulge of a small animal
Buttoned into the top of his jacket
The way colliers used to wear their whippets –
But its actual face. Eyes reaching out
Trying to catch my eyes – so familiar!
The huge ears, the pinched, urchin expression –
The wild confronting stare, pushed through fear,

Between the jacket lapels.
    'It's a fox-cub!'
I heard my own surprise as I stopped.
He stopped. 'Where did you get it? What
Are you going to do with it?'
    A fox-cub
On the hump of Chalk Farm Bridge!

'You can have him for a pound.' 'But
Where did you find it? What will you do with it?'
'Oh, somebody'll buy him. Cheap enough
At a pound.' And a grin.
    What I was thinking
Was – what would you think? How would we fit it
Into our crate of space? With the baby?
What would you make of its old smell
And its mannerless energy?
And as it grew up and began to enjoy itself
What would we do with an unpredictable,
Powerful, bounding fox?
The long-mouthed, flashing temperament?
That necessary nightly twenty miles
And that vast hunger for everything beyond us?
How would we cope with its cosmic derangements
Whenever we moved?

The little fox peered past me at other folks,
At this one and at that one, then at me.
Good luck was all it needed.
Already past the kittenish
But the eyes still small,
Round, orphaned-looking, woebegone
As if with weeping. Bereft
Of the blue milk, the toys of feather and fur,
The den life's happy dark. And the huge whisper
Of the constellations
Out of which Mother had always returned.
My thoughts felt like big, ignorant hounds
Circling and sniffing around him.
   Then I walked on
As if out of my own life.
I let that fox-cub go. I tossed it back
Into the future
Of a fox-cub in London and I hurried
Straight on and dived as if escaping
Into the Underground. If I had paid,
If I had paid that pound and turned back
To you, with that armful of fox –

If I had grasped that whatever comes with a fox
Is what tests a marriage and proves it a marriage –
I would not have failed the test. Would you have failed it?
But I failed. Our marriage had failed.

Monday, 17 October 2011

the crow road

I've been wanting to take the embroidery in a new direction. And I needed a little project to take with me for an evening of babysitting last week. Erin and Tim lit a lovely fire for me and I happily sewed away all night, whilst watching the fab Stephen Fry series Planet Word. This is what I came up with.

And I love it. I've wanted to use negative space for ages and as you can tell from that Etsy treasury post a couple of weeks back, I'm loving geometrics at the moment (like everyone else). I can feel a few more of these coming fact I'm itching to get started on another one right now.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

hoopy birthday

It was a friend's 40th recently. We had a lovely time - dancing, drinking, sitting outside till midnight on a balmy October evening! The words are Neil Diamond's. The card was made using a piece of old measuring tape.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

the wall

I hit a bit of a wall last week. In a mad panic to make before the Christmas craft fair rush starts, I had the crafters equivalent of writers block. Stuck and trying to think up new ideas, my head started to fill with questions. What could I make that would sell really well? What do people really want to buy? How can I crack the male market? I know. In the space of a day I turned from happy maker into sales obsessed hack. Suddenly, I want to please everyone. There are a couple of reasons for this. Now I'm relying on the crafty stuff to earn a living I really need the things I make to sell. And of course, if people buy your work, well, they're saying they like what you do. It's validation. And a nice ego boost. Fortunately, my friend Erin was able to knock (very gently) some sense into me and she wisely advised that I calm down and stick to making what I like. Don't search for sales, just trust what you do.

Well, I'm trying. I've been a little bit more productive. I made this little framed owl piece with a vintage doily moon to start with. I've embroidered a few stars onto it since I took this picture.

I've also made up some more owl mobiles because I sold out of them at the last fair. And some of the owl mini-pins. I've spent some quality time experimenting with a couple of new projects but I'm not sure that they will be ready for the weekend. And yesterday, just for fun, I made a couple of cute little hoops specifically for the lovely people of Fillongley. (Click here for info about this weekend's Fillongley Craft Fayre) Will they sell? We'll have to wait and see, but if they don't it's not the end of the world.

In other news, my online shops are doing ok. The Folksy one has had regular sales, though not nearly enough. I need to do more some networking and publicity drives. I can't imagine a time when I won't. You just have to keep plugging away with the online stuff. The problem is though, that time in front of the screen sucks the life out of me. Fair enough, surfing the blogosphere can be quite inspiring - there are so many talented designers, artists and makers out there, but it's also very easy to get carried away. Before you know it, you haven't showered or eaten and it's almost time to pick the kids up from school. (Well that's how it is for me anyway) And I haven't even mentioned Twitter. Or Facebook. Or Pinterest. Just writing this blog takes an age....

So there we have it. I hit a smallish wall. I climbed over it. And now I'm hurtling downhill towards Christmas madness. But Christmas or not, I know I've got some much bigger ideas, lots of plans and some new techniques to master. Plus lots of support from friends and family.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

treasure this

'We are Home' illustration by Virginia Kraljevic

I did my first Esty Treasury last night. If you're a seller or customer on Etsy (an international online marketplace for all things handmade and vintage) you can spend many happy hours browsing through beautiful things to pop into a collection (Treasury) that you post on the site for others to look at. I can spend many happy hours browsing Etsy as it is, but particularly in Treasury world. People put together some really lovely assortments, taking the most beautiful, edgy, well photographed images, often within a theme, and giving them a lovely title. Before you know it you're imagining spending all your pennies on things from Industry and Nature or Mod Glam Halloween or Bible Verses on Canvas (maybe not!) I say 'imagining spending' because that's all I'm likely to do. Actual spending won't be happening until there's some actual earning. But I did spend some time last night putting the finishing touches to my own little treasury. Geometrics are big at the moment, but there's a slight folky twist on them too, which appeals to me. So, here it is....i wish geometry was like this at school.