Saturday, 14 February 2015

Musical Interlude: "Take Me To Church"

The official music video for Hoziers Take Me To Church, wonderfully portrayed the heartbreaking persecution of a man in a homosexual couple, as the community they live in become of aware of his sexuality and their relationship and a violent homophobic backlash begins.

Hozier's Andrew Hozier-Byrne explained: "The song was always about humanity at its most natural, and how that is undermined ceaselessly by religious [organizations] and those who would have us believe they act in its interests. What has been seen growing in Russia is no less than nightmarish, I proposed bringing these themes into the story and Brendan liked the idea." (Huffington Post, 2013)

But this post, is about the latest interpretation of the song, which in many respects portrays the same emotional intensity of the song by means of this beautifully choreographed. shot and epically danced interpretation of the song performed by former principle at the Royal Ballet, Sergei Polunin, who is also known as the bad boy of ballet.

It's one of those videos which, with exception of the actually dancing, is so simple, but is incredible powerful.

Plus. Why would you not want to be able to move like that? With such grace and poise, power and sensitivity.

I finally managed to get to watch this, this morning, and I was awestruck.

I assume most little girls go through the ballet stage, where, even if you don't verbalise it, you want to wear the tutu* and the slippers and twirl. I did and the closest I ever got was Scottish country dancing and getting to borrow my friends old dance shoes, in primary school**. We'd even go to big school competitions and it was fun, dancing with the other girls in my classes. I've since ceased being graceful in any way shape or form. I blame hips, breasts, embarrassment and a complete lack of balance or grace.

*I still have an old dance costume of my grans, which my mum made into a fairy dress for me when I was a little girl. It's tucked away in a box to stay safe.
**It's amazing how high school, hormones and boys stops you wanting to dance in public... that and being as graceful as as something which lacks any grace at all.

Listening: Take Me To Church - Hozier

Musical Interlude: "Eggshells"

I have to admit, it's been a while since I listened to an Aqualung track and instantly fell in love with it. In fact, the track was probably Strange and Beautiful (I Put A Spell On You), from Aqualungs' début album, and it was released a decade ago*.

Eggshells, from Aqualung's fifth studio album, 10 Futures, features Lianne Le Havas, whom I love as I solo artist, but, it's the video, by Jonathan Irwin and Eva Delimata, which makes it.

Production designer, Delimata, created most of the two hundred and fifty paper buildings herself, over the course of a couple of weeks. Cutting out approximately twenty thousand windows, which allowed the colourful light of LEDs, inserted into the buildings and throughout its base, to illuminate the city. Pre-programmed using a Raspberry Pi computer, the director, Irwin, timed and synchronised the light patterns and colours to spread across the cityscape to the beat of the music. Ultimately destroying the entire paper city, as it bursts into flames. as the set is showered in sparks and it falls into slow motion.
This is the part I really like. Tiny sparks splashing on the roofs of the buildings, bouncing and skittering off, as though the paper is impervious to them, until, from they hit the ground and the flames rise and consume each of the buildings.

But then again. I like burning things. Not in a scary pyromaniac way, more in a, I spent five years burning stuff and got a degree at the end way.

What Aqualung, Irwin and Delimata's video really reminds me of, is artist Nathan Colley's, The Lamp of Sacrifice, 286 Places of Worship, Edinburgh 2004. 
The 2004 Edinburgh edition of Colley's work features a handmade cardboard, scale model of each of the 268 Places of Worship, listed in the 2004 Edinburgh Yellow Pages. The models include churches, cathedrals, synagogues, mosques, Salvation Army halls and temples throughout Lothian, Fife and the Borders.

Placed into the exhibition hall in without relation to their geographic location throughout the region or their religious affiliation. Colley was inspired "by an essay by the nineteenth-century artist and writer John Ruskin called ‘The Seven Lamps of Architecture’. Ruskin stated that ‘It is not the church we want, but the sacrifice; not the emotion of admiration, but the act of adoration: not the gift but the giving’." (National Galleries of Scotland, 2004)

I went to see this exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, and I think it may be the reason I like making paper houses. There was something really wonderful about a room filled with cardboard buildings and how different each of the religious buildings in one area actually are, even at their simplest.

Link | 250 Model Buildings are Burned in Aqualung Eggshells Video via Deezen
Link | The Lamp of Sacrifice, 286 Places of Worship, Edinburgh 2004 by Nathan Colley  via National Galleries of Scotland

*For the love of Bagpuss, when did 2005 become a decade ago! That was last week, surely?
Listening: Eggshells - Aqualung feat. Lianne Le Havas

Friday, 13 February 2015

Happy Galentine's Day!

I will be there

Don't know what Galentine's day is? Well, it's today.

More specifically, it's the day before Valentine's day*, February 13th, a day for women to get together and celebrate their friendship. This invented holiday, is brought to us by the beautiful unicorn that is Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) in Parks and Recreation.

And so post work, I am spending my Galentine's day (and Valentines) by watching Season Six of Parks and Recreation and using it as an excuse to encourage everyone to watch one of my favourite bits of telly**. If only there were waffles...

Happy Galentine's Day, go find waffles!

*I'm not big on Valentines. Having never actually had one. Which also leads to a stereotypical dislike of the commercialism which surrounds the whole affair and irritation by the googly eye stuff. In other words, thinly veiled jealousy for the kind of love people around me are lucky enough to have. However, I like the idea of Galentine's if only to use as an excuse to seeing your friends... which I don't. I kinda suck. Where's my god damn waffle!
** Don't judge it by the first series, stick with it and you'll fall for the ridiculousness of it all.

Link | Make a Holiday by Jimena Gamio on Flickr
Listening: Real Love - Regina Spektor

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Pinfest: "Haberdashery: In The Details"

Follow Emily Boyd's board Haberdashery: In The Details on Pinterest.

I have become a secret Pinner.

Bar a couple of attempted clear outs, pretty much everything I've added to my boards for the past year or two, has been to either a secret board, or to my likes list*.

So, I'm trying to go through it all. Meaning, that when I have the thought, "oh I know just the image!" for a particular project, window display, blog post or terrifyingly frequent insert into a conversation, I can actually find it!

I'm not going to apologise for the things I pin, just so you know. I'm an image hoarder, I love pictures, I love photos, I love visual things and so rather than having folders of magazine cuts outs and computer print outs, I have Pinterest. And while there's quite often a psychopathic randomness to my pinning, I'm going to try and do it all board by board in a mass pinning.

First board up for a madman like pinfest... Haberdashery: In the Details**

Which is my board for all those beautiful haute couture, hand sewn, tambour stitched, broderie decorated beautifullness covered in beads, smothered in sequins and absolutely gorgeous...

... I love this board at the moment. Perhaps because I'm going through a sewing kick, or more likely because of the over abundance of sparkly. If you like, have a look, if not, I don't mind. More sparkles for me.

* I stopped pinning due to self conciousness, which sounds insane, but when you go from no one you know being on a site to everyone you know being on and either pinning baby stuff or their own work... well, everything I pinned seemed to just show the lack of anything or anyone in my life. My brain works in mysterious ways and I'm just going to say fuck it and pin what I want.

** Do you say "the Devil is in the detail" or "God is in the detail"? 
I've had this debate on Pinterest before and the actual difference is, if the Devil is in the details, it's referring to the mysterious hidden elements in something that makes it special. If God is in the details, it is done thoroughly and the details are just as important as the whole. The latter phrase is where the former is derived, however, which do you use? Especially when in regards to this sort of intricate work? Just a little question for a Sunday afternoon...
Listening: Come Home Baby - The Charlatans

Musical Interlude: "The Lonely Life"

Listening: The Lonely Life - City and Colour

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Leftovers: Gingerbread Men vs. Yeti's

I have never in my life made gingerbread before. Unless you count a large quantity made out of foam board and my own less than edible icing recipe. So having spent weeks researching gingerbread houses online, I wanted to try and make some, and fearing I might have to resort to a hot glue gun to get a house to stick together, I settled on making gingerbread men. I also decided to use Martha Stewart's Gingerbread Snowflake recipe because Smitten Kitchen, a blog I've successfully used recipes from before, recommended it. But for the love of ninja-bread men, if you make this recipe, make half! Make a quarter even! I didn't... which was a mistake.

Gingerbread adapted from Martha Stewart Gingerbread Snowflake Recipe

  • 750g (6 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 227g (1 cup/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 200g (1 cup) packed dark-brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 345g (1 cup) unsulfured molasses (or treacle if you're in the UK)


  1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy. 
  3. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses/treacle. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. 
  4. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F/Gas Mark 4). 
  6. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to about half a centimetre thick. Cut into your shape of choice. Space a couple of centimetres apart (they don't spread much) on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
  7. Bake biscuits until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Let the biscuits cool on sheets on wire racks.

Lemon Royal Icing from Martha Stewart

  • 2 large egg whites, or more to thin icing
  • 500g (4 cups) sifted confectioners' sugar, or more to thicken icing
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 drops glycerin
  1. Beat the egg whites until fluffy and stiff (but not dry). 
  2. Add sugar, lemon juice and glycerine; beat for 1 minute more. If icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it is too thin, add more sugar. The icing may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  3. Put into an icing bag or squeezy bottle with a small tip.
  4. Decorate as you wish...
  5. ... allow sisters to help. End up with vampires. 

Who wouldn't like a blood sucking gingerbread vampire in their biscuit tin at Christmas?

In hindsight, this recipe, while really good and easy to make, wasn't really what I'd been wanting. It was too treacly (I don't like treacle), too clovey (I don't like cloves, especially in sweet food), I slightly under baked them so they were soft rather than crunchy and most importantly, I didn't read the recipe quantities properly. It's measurements were based on making sixteen, seven inch snowflake decorations and so I ended up making enough dough to actually make my giant gingerbread house a reality.

Shame, but then there were Yeti's...

Marks and Spencer's were selling Gingerbread Men Yeti's before Christmas and they were so good I wanted to make my own. Which was actually the main reason I wanted to make gingerbread other than having spent weeks looking at houses made of it. So using the same - slightly more naked - gingerbread men, I dipped them in melted white chocolate (a good one with vanilla seeds in it) and then covered them in dessicated coconut. I set them in the fridge and there you go, gingerbread yeti's. 

Actually, with the white chocolate and the coconut, the gingerbread was quite nice. It sweetened and mellowed the spices, but again it would have been nice if the biscuits were crunchy.

So, not an overall success, but I may try Mary Berry's recipe next year. She uses golden syrup and fewer spices, which should make the biscuits taste more of how I expect gingerbread to taste. But, that's months and months away, plenty of time to research.

Link | Martha Stewart Lemon Royal Icing Recipe via Martha Stewart
Link | Spicy Gingerbread Cookies via Smitten Kitchen

Listening: Ball and Biscuit - The White Stripes

Leftovers: Christmas Window 2014

For Christmas, I'd had a plan, which again my sister and I had been talking about for a few years, but it was only with the removal of a set of shelves that actually gave me the opportunity to do it.

Seems silly, that extra meter by thirty centimetres or so, shouldn't make that much difference, but it's actually great. It's allowed me to make something big for Christmas. So of course, it was gingerbread house* time! I even piped the whole house with icing made of a concoction of glue, flour and shaving foam.

I even roped Sarah (the self confessed least crafty person in the house) into helping me make felt balls to make into garlands for removable decorations. Annoying things was, she was really quick and apart from making them bigger than mine, really quite good at it.
I made little window boxes, with felt poinsettia in them, with little beaded centres and paper foliage Then I lit it all from the inside, with a load of LED fairy lights so that my Dad's brilliant idea of using old, damaged colorimetry sheeting as stain glass, would be bring a little colour to the house. Colorimetry sheets, just as a side note, are used as a reading aid for people with visual distortions and dyslexia related reading difficulties. The patient tries a dozen or so colours, which are laid over pieces of text and each individual will find a different one, which help to make reading them easier.

Did actually think he was mad for that one (though how appropriate for an opticians), I thought they were too sheer and would show all the writing and mess I always leave on the inside walls, but once it was lit from inside it was perfect. Not a scribble to be seen.
 All of the icing was done freehand bar the sides, which I marked up first. Thus why it's all wonky and every batch of the 'icing' I made, had a slightly different texture and colour. Some really holding their shape and others flattening out. Not bad for an odd mixture of ingredients. Then, as a final bit of decoration, I made wreaths for both the front and back doors (painted blue to match the practice logo), hand sewing hundreds of punched paper flowers to a base... don't do it. It takes hours! Plus, I had no red beads, so had to paint old plastic karma beads from the nineties with nail varnish. Don't for the love of small furry animals, follow my lead with that one! It's impossible and messy and just go to the craft shop!
So, that's it, Christmas window 2014. I think it's one of my favourites. It kind of felt proper if you know what I mean. Plus, I got to continue using my trees and a few sheep wandered back in.

I'm so mad at myself though, and I have to apologise. I thought I'd taken so many photographs of the window, but half of them are blurred or really low resolution because I didn't put on HDR. The other half are dark because, well, I worked from one, when I finished work and the practice closed, until around six getting it all set up. So it was dark when I got around to photos.

Why didn't I go back before the Christmassy parts of the windows (garlands, lights, wreaths and stars) were removed? Well, Christmas, then exhaustion, then illness, then not going back to work at the same time as everyone else. Plus it was the holidays and I'm lazy.

What it does make me realise is how I have to stop relying on my phone to take photographs. It takes great photos if you have good lighting and a relatively close subject matter, but it isn't good enough quality for window photos. I have to start using my digital camera for again.

And you know what's doubly annoying? I had it with me.

* The whole house comes to pieces and can be stored flat. It's very sad to be proud of that fact, but I am. Storing work isn't always easy and it's really important to try and get things to store flat to keep them good for another year. Or for taking home. Never know, maybe one day I'll have somewhere to use it of my own. Also, do you think I could make doll houses like this? I don't know if there's a market for foam board gingerbread doll houses, but if I or my sisters ever have kids, they're not getting the choice. 
Listening: Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand) - Irma Thomas

Monday, 19 January 2015

Leftovers: "Off To See The Wizard" Autumn Window 2014

More leftovers from Christmas, as you know, 2014 was the Centenary of the First World War, so I made hundreds of poppies to fill our window at work to mark this. However, around about Halloween, people always ask what we'll be putting in the window.

Now, I actually don't see a huge point in Halloween windows. It's like doing a window for Valentines day. It's one day of the year, which given how long it takes me to make the windows, is an idiotic idea for me to try and do. However, when I put the Poppy window in, I left a gap and put down a yellow brick road. See, I'm not daft, Everyone else was watching the Wimbledon final and I was thinking about Halloween.

So, (slightly later than intended) I started making the characters from The Wizard of Oz. In sheep form...
The Wizard of Oz was a theme my sister, my mum and I had been talking about doing for years. And Annie at work had only been slightly cursing me for never doing it, as this is one of her favourite films/stories. It had always just been a little tricky to work around. But the idea of making Dorothy Gale, the Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and Tin Man in sheep form... how could I resist?*

It was still a lot of work for only - in the end - a few weeks but it was worth it, I love them. So did Annie, who made me take her photo with them for her daughter, before I took them out for Christmas. She also spent all of the time they were in, pulling down Dorothy's skirt, so she wasn't exposing her bum.**

Have you ever tried making a dress for a papier-mâché sheep***? No. Don't. It's impossible... then again shirt and trousers is harder! Especially when a piece of dusty fabric means you can't breathe because of an allergic reaction.
A little breathing difficulty was definitely worth it. What do you think?

* Sorry there aren't more pictures! I've been lousy at taking enough/good enough photos of the windows this year. Add that to the ill-fated resolutions list.
** Must make her some bloomers!
*** If you're making a dress for a real sheep, I may have to ask you to leave the blog.
Listening: Somewhere Over The Rainbow  - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Musical Interlude: "Bunny In a Bunny Suit"

I got a film for Christmas called The Pretty One, starring Zoe Kazan and Jake Johnson. This was one of the last songs of this lovely film, and since I heard it, it's been stuck in my head.

Listening: Bunny In a Bunny Suit - Simone White

Dulux Colour of the Year 2015: Copper Blush II


Dulux Colour of the Year is Copper Blush... did you expect anything less than copper overload?

Especially coming from a (failed) jeweller? You're really lucky I didn't just put up a picture of a sheet of copper and some wire! That would have done me, but instead I've ended up with fifteen Copper Blush items I would not be unhappy with. Then again, a reel of thick electrical cable to strip down into huge coils of lovely new copper wire would make me happy too, especially as I used the last/most of my old one making crocheted flowers.

As I said in my last post, I actually think that this is a great colour for fashion and objects, it's got a really great rose gold quality to it and skirts between really quite an orange copper, right back to being very pink in hue.

Plus, nude colours have been big the last few years, so, let's face it, this is just another nude to add to your palette.

  1. Bleach Super Cool Colours in 'Rosé' and 'Awkward Orange' from Bleach London | Link How-To
  2. Frends 'Layla' Headphones in Rose Gold and White from Frends | Link | Image
  3. Rose Gold Fox Earrings Stud Simple Earrings by Petitformal on Etsy | Link
  4. Folded Copper Light by David Derkse from Vij5 | Link | David Derksen 
  5. Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish Eye Shadow in 'Rose Gold' from Stila | Link
  6. Blush with Copper Accents Scarf by Francesca's via Allwomenstalk | Link
  7. Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo Metal Eyeshadow in '65 Pink Gold' via ASOS | Link Image
  8. Sexy Mother Pucker Gloss Stick in Nudist from Soap and Glory | Link Image
  9. Moscow Mule Mug from Anthropologie US | Link
  10. Lucia Mirrored Plexi Clutch from Stella McCartney via Pinterest | Link | Stella McCartney
  11. Madden Girl Treble Chunky Sequin Pumps via Pinterest | Link
  12. O.P.I Nail Lacquer in 'Hands Off My Kielbasa' from O.P.I. | Link
  13. Essie Nail Lacquer in 'Penny Talk' from Essie | Link
  14. Tricolour Gold & Platinum Wedding Rings by Niessing  from Orro Glasgow | Link
  15. 'Dinner and Romance' Dress from Modcloth | Link
But alas, I don't think Copper Blush is my colour, too pale for me. I can wear bright yellow, bright red, bright pink or greens and feel no dent in my, albeit tiny amount of confidence, but put me in white or a nude colour and I feel really self concious.

Bar, when my hair went that peachy colour when it was bleached and the pink was all but gone, I loved that. And I would very much like those headphones, so when I'm drinking my favourite cocktail, the Moscow Mule*, in a copper mug, I can listen to some good music and quietly get drunk in my own little world**.

Unexpectedly good colour choice Dulux!

* If you fancy a Moscow Mule, mix two shots of vodka with the juice of half a lime and your favourite ginger beer to taste. Serve in a copper mug if you can, but if not, just over lots of ice. Plus, if you're feeling fancy, add some raspberries for a Raspberry Moscow Mule, which is the drink I had when I got my degree results in the beer garden of one of the uni locals.

** Yep, drinking alone is kinda the mood I'm feeling for today.

Link | Dulux Colour of the Year 2015
Link | Colour Futures 2015
Listening: Copperline - James Taylor
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