Category Archives: Art and crafts

Beside the seaside – part 1

On a recent visit to my grandparents’ house, my grandfather showed me another box of old postcards and photos he had dug out the attic. What caught my eye were the holiday postcards, dating from the 1930s to the present day. I’ve split these into three blog posts and will kick off with the oldest, dating from 1931 to the 1950s. You can click on all of the images to make them larger.

Posted from Bognor Regis, 1931.

Posted from Bognor Regis, 1931.

In the photo you can just make out the name of the beach hut – Linga Longa. This was sent by my great grandmother to her husband.  She writes, “I went to see the lady yesterday she let me have it for a pound a week as we seem such nice people.”  Presumably she was writing about the rental of this hut.

St Osyth Beach, Essex, August 1939

St Osyth Beach, Essex, August 1939

This was sent to my great grandmother’s family by friends, less than a month before the start of the Second World War.  They were “having a lovely time here very little rain”. No British holiday postcard is complete without mention of the weather.

Lulworth Cove, posted between 1955

Lulworth Cove, posted 1955

This was sent by my great grandmother to her son, John (my great uncle). I didn’t find postcards from the 1940s in the box – presumably holidays were interrupted by the war. My great grandfather was too old to fight but their son – my grandfather – trained to be a fighter pilot in South Africa.

The Old Mill Camp, St Helens

The Old Mill Camp, St Helens

This postcard was never written on or posted. It looks to be from around the 1950s and kept as a souvenir of a holiday to St Helens.

The Luck, Gurnard, Isle of Wight

The Luck, Gurnard, Isle of Wight

Another postcard not written on or posted that looks from a similar era – the 1950s. My grandmother was a great cyclist and would regularly cycle from London, where the family lived, to the south coast and Isle of Wight for holidays. It would take a whole day to make the 80-mile trip.

The sailing beach, Hayling Island

The sailing beach, Hayling Island

After so many holidays spent on the south coast my grandfather eventually moved there after the Second World War to raise a family. My mother and I were both born less than 10 miles from the place on this postcard.

If you’re trying to date a posted postcard and can’t read the postmark, this is a good website listing the dates different stamps were used to help you pin it down.

The next blog post will look at colour postcards from the 1960s.


A brief seaside interlude

This weekend I went down to stay with one of my oldest friends – Starryeyed – who lives on the south coast with her French husband Dr. X, who likes to cook, much to everyone’s delight.

Dr X. and I dragged Starryeyed around the Tank Museum at  Bovingdon on Saturday. I was mostly interested in the First World War tanks, which will no doubt make an appearance in my WW1 novel at some point. Starryeyed sighed a lot and then claimed she didn’t realise she was doing it.

On Sunday it stopped raining just long enough for us to rush down to the beach for some sea air.

In between the showers

Starryeyed likes to blog about secret messages in the sand.

We had a birthday present exchange (we’ll gloss over the fact it was Starryeyed’s birthday in *cough* April). I’ve been playing around with this design over the summer and made her a beaded wrap bracelet with a Greek ceramic bead as a button. In return she gave me two of my previous necklaces to repair that she’s managed to break by chewing them. We’ll see how long the bracelet lasts…

Wrap bracelet with ceramic button

Novel update

Progress on the first draft of City of Djinn has been fairly slow. Imagine a snail who has left his shoe at home, faced with crossing a road covered in broken glass.

It’s not the fault of the novel. This should be the most exciting part as we draw towards the conclusion – the wrapping up of story threads, big reveals, confrontations, battles, deaths…

As is often the case, outside life has been getting in the way. I started a new job three weeks ago and I’ve been sick twice in last two weeks. Both of these have taken up much of my brain power and physical energy. As I settle into the job and kick this last cold, I’m planning to get back on track.

The characters have split into three groups in three different locations, each searching for something – a thing or some knowledge – that will help them prevail against the baddies. Soon they’ll regroup in the city of Alzremi for the final showdown. I still don’t know how that will pan out. I’m just giving them a number of things that might help and I’ll see what happens when I throw it all together.

I estimate I probably have around 15,000 words left to write. The total word count currently stands at around 100,000.

Once I complete the first draft I’m going to treat myself to a copy of Scrivener, a software package for writers. It gets very good recommendations and, at only £30, is  worth a go. It has lots of functionality to help structure novels, which will be very useful in the rewrite stage.

To finish up with a picture, here’s something I made last week – simple labradorite earrings. I’ve been working on make my wire wrapping much neater and it’s certainly getting better.

Labradorite earrings

Crafting ahoy!

I’ve been itching to make things. I keep seeing jewellery or textiles that inspire me. I want to sculpt and paint horses. This is not helped by the fact I’ve not had access to any of my arts and crafts supplies since mid-January. This weekend I got to spend some time with them. All being well, we should be reunited for good at Easter when I move everything back to my current home.

Before I get crafting again, here are a few bits I made before Christmas that haven’t yet seen the light of day on this blog.

This is a necklace and earring set I made my mother for Christmas to match one of her outfits. I really like this colour combination – it’s one of my favourites. They use glass and lucite flowers and swarovski crystals on a brass chain.

Green, blue and brass flower necklace

Green, blue and brass earrings

I just finished up this little fabric button badge this weekend. I cut a circle of fabric and sewed red seed beds to outline the rose. Then I cut a smaller circle of card, added a little padding fluff and sewed around the fabric to pull it tight around the card circle. I glued it all in place. Lastly I sewed a pin fastening to a circle of felt, then glued that to the back of the badge, covering up the messy bit.

Rose button badge

Painting is not my forte, but I keep having the occasional crack at it. This is a painting in acrylics I did back in the summer. It’s based on a photograph I took of a beach at the north east tip of the North Island in NZ. It was the most unusual place, with strange, ethereal white mist and sand. I wanted to have a go at bringing in different colours to a scene that at first glance seems to be quite monochromatic. It was an interesting exercise and parts of it are more successful than others – bascially I quite like the top half and don’t like the bottom half!

Beach, Northland, New Zealand

This was the original photo, put through the ‘auto smart fix’ filter in Photoshop to make the colours pop out more.

Northland beach

This is another photo of the beach, showing the colours more as they really were that day.

Northland beach, NZ, May 2011

New jewellery inspiration

Here’s a round-up of some of the most inspirational jewellery I’ve come across recently.

Book necklace from Peg and Awl

I love these little book necklaces from Peg and Awl. Inspires me to try making things with leather – I have a stash of scrap pieces from my forays into making model horse tack a few years ago. Peg and Awl make some wonderful things from reclaimed materials – be sure to check them out.

Floral Button pendant necklace by Lune Designs

This is by a piece by Lune Designs. I love the rustic, original, characterful work she creates. She also writes a very interesting blog – The Cerebral Dilettante.

I could look at handmade lampwork beads for hours. These next two illustrate two completely different styles. I love the ancient look of the second set.

'Aqua Tide' bead by Claire Scott

Glass lampwork beads by Radiantmind

I’d love to try hand felting one day. This owl brooch by ShishLOOK Design is ridiculously cute.

Hand felted owl brooch by ShishLOOK Design

52 weeks: 52 crafts

Chris at Lazy Crafternoons, a very talented and original crafter, has taken on a 52 weeks: 52 crafts challenge this year. He and guest crafters will be producing one new craft a week which will be sold to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

I think these coffee cup sleeves are my favourite so far. They’re up on ebay at the moment.

Coffee cozy sleeves by Lazy Crafternoons

I’m really looking forward to seeing what else Chris produces during this challenge. Check out his blog for inspiration and lots of useful tips. I think this London Underground inspired quilt he made last year is really incredible. Chris also regularly runs crafting workshops in the Bristol area if you find yourself over there.

My stash

I love storage boxes. I love arranging things in colour order. What you are about to see gives me a deep and meangingful sense of satisfaction…

My jewellery making supplies are currently stored in four Really Useful Boxes. I love these boxes. I’ve road-tested a lot of plastic storage boxes over the years and these are by far the best. I use the 9 litre boxes with a variety of insert trays and some smaller boxes. Here’s the whole lot.

All my supplies

The beads are arranged partly by colour, partly by material or type. As well as beads I have tools, metal findings, different types of thread, cord, leather and ribbon, buttons, gift boxes, needles, bits of seaglass, wire in various colours and gauges, hand sculpted fimo beads, plastic toys out of Xmas crackers and anything else that takes my fancy.

Beads, beads, beads...

This is the blue/black tray. There are beads in here made from glass, plastic, ceramic, wood, haematite, lapis lazuli and labradorite.

Blue beads and black beads

Here is the red/purple tray, with similar beads and materials to the blue tray.

Red beads, purple beads...

Here are four different trays. The bottom left tray contains my semi-precious beads and artisan lampwork – all the really good stuff.

Four trays of beady goodness