Wednesday, 27 January 2016

A fishy Whitstable-inspired burnt-box (a re-do)

This re-drawn fishy burnt-box managed to get completed yesterday in-between hide and seek, rocking the conga, fort building and lots of mess-making.

It now matches the Wheelers Oyster Bar box, and they look like a pair. While the oyster box has oysters around the borders and a pile of oysters on the back, the fishy fisherman box has fish tails around the border and a pile of fish and oysters on the back.


Now I have to do the third box of the set, which I think will be another of the beautiful shops in Harbour Street, perhaps the book shop. Unfortunately, the lock on our back door has broken, so I can't get out to the garden and my lovely shed where all my blank boxes and art supplies are. The other night I had to climb out of the dining-room window, while girly looked on with a frown on her face. "No Mummy, NO, this looks TOO dangerous" she said, as I plopped onto the grass below. "It'll be fine darling," I said slightly winded by the fall "But don't you even THINK about doing this, it's just for grown ups!" Mr Husband had to haul me up and pull me back through the window. It was then I realised I hadn't closed the gate properly, so he had to plop himself out of the window to secure it. Now kids, that just goes to show that you don't need drink and drugs to have fun! 
Thanks for reading xxxxxx

Pssssss! All these boxes are for sale, so if you would like one just ask!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The second Whitstable-inspired burnt box

Oysters anyone? The sea, the sky, seagulls, oysters and the very famous Wheelers Oyster Bar - a burnt box which has Whitstable written all over it.

This box just seemed to appear out of nowhere. I drew the design on while making girly's tea, so in between stirring and chopping it just happened.

I knew I wanted the iconic Wheelers Oyster Bar on it, and so last week I took my girly to Whitstable, and while she scooted along the seafront path, I took photographs. One broken scooter, a lost hat, a dog poo shoe, an ice-cream and a doughnut later and we were exhausted, but I had a few ideas of what I wanted my boxes to look like.

However, as always, as soon as the burning and painting begins everything changes and the boxes just do themselves.

I prefer this box to the first one I did. I like the simplicity, and so I will be re-doing the first box in this style. Two paces forward and one back! Always the way.

Last night I re-drew the first box and that is looking at me now impatiently wanting to be burnt and painted. I, however, have other plans today. They involve building forts with cushions, perhaps going on a mud walk, and playing lots of hide and seek. So the boxes will have to wait. XXXX

Monday, 25 January 2016

A Whitstable-inspired burnt box

This is the first of three Whitstable-inspired boxes that I've been working on, and it features the iconic yellow fisherman statue who welcomes everyone to the harbour with his massive fish.

I've always loved the yellow fisherman, and we have lots of photographs of my daughter, when she was very little, stood next to him. When I think of lovely Whitstable, one of the things that immediately comes to my mind is this iconic figure. He's like a friendly, fishy, smiling beacon.

I always think of Whitstable as a beautiful vintage-sea-air sort of place, which has a lovely character about it. It's definitely one of my favourite places, so I quite enjoyed making this box. Plus, the box I made is very similar to one of my Margate-inspired boxes, and if I could put the two together it would be a nice little pair.

Anyway, hope you like it. No time to chat, gotta get on with the second one now! 
Thanks for reading xxxxx.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

A Uganda-inspired burnt memory box

This week, after lots of procrastinating, I completed the brightest, craziest and busiest burnt-box I've ever done. A Uganda-inspired memory box.

I reached 'expert level' at the game of procrastination while preparing to make this box. The house was spotless, the washing all done, the dishwasher constantly on, and I even ironed clothes, tidied cupboards, decluttered whole rooms, sorted clothes to take to the charity shop and considered crocheting a bloody scarf! That's how good I was at NOT doing this box. On Monday morning I woke up annoyed with myself, and with the deadline looming over me, I was determined to just 'get the f on with it'.
And then, I have no idea what happened. The brief was to do an Uganda-inspired box which incorporated my friend's memories of her and her husband's time there, and included Murchison Falls. The rest just happened. I wanted to include African patterns and colours, so it went a bit crazy. So much so that I kept messaging my friend with pictures of the box's progress just in case she wanted to stop me in my tracks, move house and delete my contact details.

Anyway, she said she likes it, so that's fine. Phew! It's definitely a box that draws your attention. I still can't stop staring at it. I just need to varnish it and hope all the paint doesn't run!


Next, I've got three Whitstable-inspired burnt boxes to do, so I'll try not to procrastinate and let the house mess itself up.
Thanks for reading xxxxxx

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Busters Bones - the most terrifying game EVER

It's not often I find myself screaming, but this Christmas I did quite a lot of screaming. The first two screams I did were unrelated to this blog post* and did not involve a plastic dog. But the rest of the screaming was directly the result of playing the popular children's game Buster's Bones. 

I love family games. I like nothing more than us huddled around a game squealing with excitement. I like it because neither me or my husband are that competitive, so it's actually fun. Girly-pants loves it when she wins and it beats cleaning up after mammoth crafting sessions. So this Christmas Santa brought us lots of games.

Pig Pop is brilliant - you feed the pig hamburgers and his shirt busts open. It's good for number recognition and packs up nice and tidy. The fishing game is amazing. It's not as easy as you think and good for hand/eye coordination. Gooey Louie - disgusting but good fun. Pick his bogies and his brain pops out. But Busters Bones...

Buster is an angry dog, he sleeps and you have to pinch his bones using some tongs. If you wake him up he attacks you and you lose. He attacks you! He gets up and his mouth opens and he has massive teeth. While no contact is actually made, it is very scream-worthy. Even my cool eleven-year-old-make-up-wearing-niece flinched. My little girly and me screamed blue murder. It was fun though. But when I ask girly to play Busters Bones now, she says "no dank you". And pig pop comes out.

The other day I heard her shouting for me in terror. It was a scream no mother wants to hear, and it stopped me in my tracks and then had me running into her room imagining blood and guts. "AHHHHHH! MUMMY! He's ON mummy, HE'S ONNNNNNN!". She had picked up buster, turned the 'on' switch accidentally and he was barking at her with his teeth out. "Ahhhhhhhhh! MUMMY HE'S ON!" Terrifying.

I took photographs of Buster for this blog post, and jumped out of my skin twice when he 'attacked' me. He's a vicious little bugger, he really is. Honestly, you should get a buster and see for yourself. I would definitely recommend him for any parent who is reluctant to get their child a pet dog. One session with Buster and you'll be getting a goldfish in no time.

*The first two screams were my niece's fault. My brother and his girlfriend have just bought a house in Yorkshire which has a very big, very scary, very atmospheric cellar. All the Christmas booze was stored down in the cellar and it was my job to go down there to get the bottles (we did a lot of boozing, so I was down there quite a lot). I have a big imagination, that's all I'm saying, so when my niece hid down there and jumped out on me TWICE I nearly had a stroke. While everyone was laughing at my blood curdling scream, I was wondering why my legs had taken me half way up the staircase and why my heart was now relocated on my throat. While I was hyperventilating, Mr Husband said casually "you're very jumpy", and yes I am bloody jumpy. And so would he would be if the undead spirits he was imagining jumping out on him, actually did jump out on him! Later on there was an incident with an extremely loud bang, an open window and the baby monitor, but by then I was acclimatised to the undead, and when you have to explain what's happened three times to your in-denial-she-needs-a-hearing-aid mother it's all a bit passé.

Oh look, the little doggy is asleep, so cute!


He's ON mummy, he's ON!


Monday, 4 January 2016

My Christmas reading list

Urghhhhh! Ehhh! What? Is Christmas over already? Are you bloody sure? Oh crap, is it the New Year NOW. What NOW! Right hang on, hang on. JUST HANG ON. Get dressed, brush your teeth, ignore your greasy hair. Shiiiiiit! Where's all my clean clothes! Oh stuff it....
Right!........ Happy New Year everyone. You must excuse me I have been drunk for two weeks. But now it's January I've promised myself that I'll go on a very strict diet, be tea total and consider something called 'exercise'. This happens every January but usually by March I give it up and my sense of humour returns.
Anyway, I have been so lazy that all I've done since returning from a lovely Christmas in Yorkshire is play games with girly, read graphic novels and do jigsaws. I won't bore you with jigsaw talk (I love a jigsaw) but I did want to tell you about five fabulous graphic novels I've read:

Displacement - a travelogue by Lucy Knisley (published by Fantagraphics. ISBN: 978-1-60699-810-6)

Here by Richard McGuire (published by Hamish Hamilton. ISBN: 978-0-241-14596-8)
Calling Dr Laura - a graphic memoir by Nicole J Georges (published by Mariner books. ISBN: 978-0-547-61559-2)
The Bad Doctor by Ian Williams (published by Medicine. ISBN:978-1-908434-28-9)

Can't We Talk About Something Pleasant by Roz Chast (published by Bloomsbury. ISBN: 978-1-60819-806-1)

Lucy Knisley is a critically acclaimed and award-winning comic book artist who specialises in confessional comics and travelogues (and also writes a great blog). Displacement is all about the cruise she took with her 90-something-year-old grandparents, who have their own special needs including dementia. This is not a subject often touched upon, especially in graphic novels, so it was fascinating. Plus, she intersperses her own story with the war diary of her grandfather. Loved it! If you have a chance then read French Milk (Touchstone Simon & Schuster 2008), Knisley's travelogue about her trip to France. It is also a great read.

Here by Richard McGuire is one of the most original books I have ever read. Richard McGuire is an illustrator, graphic designer, musician, comic book artist, children's book author and toy designer. His book, Here, took him 15 years to complete and concentrates on one corner of one room. It then takes you through time from the earth's earliest days to its extinction.

His amazing drawings give us snap shots of the lives of the people and animals that have occupied that tiny space - from Native Americans and Colonialists to future generations. It really is original and worth a dozen re-readings. Chris Ware, one of my favourite comic book artists, said, "It's a work of literature and art unlike any seen or read before. A book like this comes along once in a decade if not a century". Just read it people!!!!

Nicole J Georges is another award-winning comic book artist who was born in Kansas. Her book Calling Dr Laura is a graphic memoir about her family. At 23 she discovers that her family have been lying to her about her father's death, and her life hits a bumpy patch. It's not only a good read but also beautifully drawn too. 

The next book on my list is Cant We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast, a cartoonist for the New Yorker. This is a true graphic memoir which includes cartoons, text and photographs to tell the story of an only child helping her elderly parents as they come to the end of their lives. Poignant, touching, scary and real.

It's funny as well, so don't dismiss it as a depressing read. 

The best bits for me where the actual photographs. As she clears out her parents apartment she finds all the things that make up their lives including the 'crazy closet', which is a mish-mash of things no one would ever need. I loved this book.

Then finally I read The Bad Doctor by Ian Williams. Ian Williams is a GP, cyclist, comic book artist and writer based in Brighton. This is his take on his life as a troubled doctor and how he copes with the many responsibilities he has to his patients, while going through his own midlife crisis. This is yet another subject that doesn't really get an airing, and I loved it. It's honest, funny and sad, and definitely worth a read.

So there you go, my Christmas reading list! Now I've finished all that reading and am bored of jigsaws for the time being, I will have to get on with burning boxes. That's if I can get any time in between playing Christmas games with Girly. She is still scared stiff of Busters Bones! Thanks for reading XXX.