Archives

Chop chop!

In Europe we’ve been signing documents for centuries. If you couldn’t write you used to get someone else to fill in forms for you (hence the variations in spelling of some surnames) and you marked the paper with a cross.

In China people used a stamp, known as a chop, to “sign” documents.  I’ve read that they used to say that whoever held the chop in a company holds all the power. Whilst this practice has changed and signatures are becoming more common, you can still get a chop made.

Examples of chops:

image

I’ve seen places selling chops all over South East Asia, and have liked the idea of owning my own chop, but was always unsure as to how good a chop made by someone who sold chops as a sideline, as part of a gift shop. Hong Kong however, has an alley of stalls specialising in chops.

image

Man Wa Lane, known as Chop Alley, is in Sheung Wan on Hong Kong island. 
Choosing a stall to use was hard as they all appear pretty similar!  I eventually  chose to use Hung To Chops and Printing.

image

Like many of the stalls on Man Wa Lane,  the stall sells more modern stamps as well as the traditional chops.

I had lots of stone chops to choose from (as well as other options).

image

I previously had decided I wanted to have Mrs M on my chop, along with a flower.  I went through rough ideas with the chop maker and we eventually sketched out a design on my receipt.

image

The chop would be ready in just over an hour,  but I wanted to keep sightseeing,  so I waited a whole day!
I was amazed at the detail put into a little chop by hand…

image

When printed it looks like this:

image

It was well presented in a case, complete with some ink:

image

I’d chosen a chop with two dragons twisted together.

I’m very pleased with my chop and think it is a perfect souvenir for a crafter like me! You’ll find me using the stamp in the future on my papercrafts etc ☺

Advertisements

Murano and Murano Glass ☺

Murano is more than just a pretty island near Venice.

image

image

image

Murano is also home of Murano glass, which is world renowned.

You can find more than glasses and vases such as these, which we used in a restaurant in Lido, Venice:

image

You can find stunning chandeliers, sculptures and much more.

If you visit the island you can watch some glass blowing. It’s amazing to watch something colourful and beautiful being made from a lump of molten glass. Many fornaces don’t let you take photos and in the first one we visited we saw colourful glasses such as the ones above being made.

Luckily the second one we visited allowed photos ☺

The fornaces literally use furnaces:

image

In these photos a vase is being made:

image

image

Ta Dah!

image

We also saw this being made:

image

You can see it being made yourself ☺

I have uploaded my first ever video to YouTube.
Watch Glass Blowing in Murano here:

http://youtu.be/Ixi9QbuKQhM

Cardiff – I love that city!

Everytime I go to Cardiff I discover something / somewhere new. Cardiff is a convenient meeting place for me and two of my closest friends as we can all get there relatively easily and no one travels too far, despite living hundreds of miles apart from each other. We only meet there roughly once every eight months, but it is a time to enjoy when it’s just us girls – no men or kids are allowed!

I last visited Cardiff just after I
started blogging and then recommended to my very small readership that they should visit the arcades. This trip I allowed myself a little shopping time before the others arrived mid morning to explore more. Despite getting up early and leaving earlier than I do on a work day, once I got to Cardiff I was very glad I had this time.

As I was walking up St Mary’s Street towards one arcade I wanted to return to, I saw the entrance to Cardiff market. I decided to explore…

image

The market has virtually everything you could need: butchers and bakers (but no candlestick makers), pet stalls, cafes and of course a few more stalls that I was interested in. The first one I stumbled across was a haberdashery stall.

image

The photo shows roughly half of the stall. How a stall can stock so much I don’t know! I treated myself to webbing (for which I have a plan, but don’t know what colour I need!) and something pretty:

image

Just down from the haberdashery there is a little wool stall. The woman behind it was very friendly despite still opening the stall up (it was roughly 10am). She had really cute teacosies and knitted bears for sale as well as needles and a fair selection of wool.

image

The final stall I was interested in was a fabric stall. They sold other notions too, but compared to the stalls I’ve seen elsewhere (e.g. Ho Chi Minh) you could fit more in!

image

image

I did give in and treat myself to some fabric:

image

I don’t know if it’s suitable, but I thought the pattern would make a pretty top.

Where I live in Reading, we don’t really have much of a market. Probably about 10 stalls set up on a street for a few days each week, that’s all. I wish we had this (or even better!)

I then had roughly half an hour left. Where to go? I decided to head here:

image

This is the only button shop I’ve come across, although I do know others exist. It’s been there for over 30 years. You can see buttons everywhere and they are squirreled away everywhere. There are every day buttons and buttons the like of which I’ve never seen before. The owner (or manager – I’m not sure which) actually goes to Thailand and Indonesia and not only sources buttons, but commissions her own too. Therefore you’ll find buttons here that you won’t find anywhere else. So, what did I get? Those on you who follow me on twitter or like me on Facebook already know…

image

I have no idea what I’ll do with some of these, but I liked them! The scissors and tape measures caught my eye. You can also get thimbles and cotton reels to match, but these were my favourite. There were lots of pretty hand painted ceramic buttons, like the pink background one with blue flowers, in all sorts of different designs, but they were outside my usual price range so I only bought one. The relatively boring blue plain buttons match the fabric bought earlier and how could I not get a Welsh dragon, which was painted especially for this shop? When in Wales after all…

I have wondered how a button shop could survive, but whilst I was there I saw four customers come in and everyone bought something. One man came in with a suit jacket on which he’d broken a button. With a bit of help he choose new buttons for the front and smaller matching ones for the sleeves. As he left the shop assistant commented on him having a busy afternoon ahead sewing buttons, and his reply was that he was going to take it to the tailors! I dread to think how much that would cost!

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Cardiff with the girls after my little shopping spree. I know they’d not want to spend as long as I did in these places, but I’ll try to squeeze in more crafty shopping next time we’re there. Roll on September?!

Femmage?

I have never come across the word femmage before yesterday, but some femmage work caught my eye at the Lighthouse in Glasgow.
Look at these:

image

image

image

image

These outfits have embroidery and applique on them, as well as the very obvious buttons. They were made using recycled fabrics from the artist’s grandmothers generation. An awful lot of work went into them!

The outfits were inspired by Femmage. I had to look up a definition. This is what Brooklyn Museum says as part of information on one of their exhibitors:
Definition of “Femmage:”
1. It is work by a woman. 2. The activities of saving and collecting are important ingredients. 3. Scraps are essential to the process and are recycled in the work. 4. The theme has a woman-life context. 5. The work has elements of covert imagery. 6. The theme of the work addresses itself to an audience of intimates. 7. It celebrates a private or public event. 8. A diarist’s point of view is reflected in the work. 9. There is drawing and/or handwriting sewn in the work. 10. It contains silhouetted images which are fixed on material. 11. Recognizable images appear in narrative sequence. 12. Abstract forms create a pattern. 13. The work contains photographs or other printed matter. 14. The work has a functional as well as an aesthetic life.

I would definitely say that the work I have shown you above fills most of their criteria. Therefore it must be Femmage. The exhibit was called Love and Femmage and you can find out the artist here.

The Beadster

There is no bead shop in Reading, so if I visit somewhere that has a bead shop, I make sure I pop in!

image

Many UK residents will recognise this hill as it was in Hovis adverts (see here to watch the advert on YouTube). More recently the olympic torch was carried up the hill.

This hill is known as Gold Hill and is in Shaftesbury, Dorset. I was there as it is roughly halfway between where I live and where my parents live and it seemed like an appropriate place to meet for lunch.

At the top of Gold Hill you will find this:

image

I have visited bead shops in Cardiff and St Ives this year. The Beadster in Shaftesbury is twice the size of both of those shops.

image

image

image

image

image

image

Luckily I had allowed a lot longer for my drive than needed, so I had a while to browse. There was so much choice! They sell all sorts of findings and lots and lots of beads. This is what I treated myself to:

Lots of loose beads

image

Two strings of beads

image

Sale beads (50p for all of these!)

image

And a few other bits (including the bead mat all these photos were taken on)

image

I think I may suggest another meet up in Shaftesbury at some point, but until then I will keep an eye on their website.

Sew and So

Whenever I explore a town I always visit markets, if they have them. My favourite type of market are permanent covered markets which can be both historic, visually appealing and contain some real gems. Most of you know my favourite charity shop is in Oxford covered market.

In Bath, near the Abbey, you will find the town hall and next to it is the Guildhall Indoor Market. I hadn’t researched it at all before entering. This market is a lot more functional than Oxford covered market, with pet food shops, diy shop etc. We entered from the riverside and explored. I had to have a groan at the name of the sweet shop – Bath Humbugs (although I did have to explain it to Mr M who didn’t read it that way to start with).

At the opposite side to where we entered, on the outer circle of stalls, I spotted the end of Sew and So.

image

Little did I realise that this haberdashery would keep going for almost 1/4 of the outer way round the market.

image

image

It is huge. Even Mr M was amazed at the size of it! He commented on all the ribbon, and he only saw the outer bit. You can just about see some of this on the 2nd photo above this paragraph!

Mr M even called me over to look at the button collection.

image

He asked if I’d ever seen so many buttons in one place! At this point he offered to get a capuccino and sit in the cafe whilst I explored. He is lovely, isn’t he!

I explored the ribbons and had far too much choice! Mr M had only seen some of them. This is what the inside bit looks like:

image

See, lots of ribbon! They even had a column of just bias binding:

image

I was very restrained and only bought a few ribbons, and only 1m of each. As you can tell I got bits which I think I will use over the next three months:

image

As for buttons, I was also restrained there. I got more red buttons to add to my collection, ready to make my sister something.

image

I have seen plenty of polka dot buttons, in lots of sizes and colours, and they had lots here. I can’t remember ever seeing strippy buttons before, so treated myself to a few in one of my favourite colours.

Sew and so also have a small line in beads. I didn’t have a look at them as Mr M had returned, and was bored, but I did treat myself to this board:

image

I’ve been meaning to get a bead board for a while. I’m hoping this will stop my beads rolling around too much when making jewellery on the sofa. It should also save me having a tape measure out so much. At £4, this seemed a similar price to these I’ve see on the web.

In conclusion – I want Sew and So to be near me! I went into another crafty shop where another visitor was commenting on bits on sale in said shop and directed her to Sew and So! As great as he was, I want to go without Mr M so I can spend ages exploring everything. If ever in Bath, go!

Bath Abbey and Embroidery – A match made in heaven?

image

Bath Abbey is in the centre of Bath and is a beautiful place to visit. Whilst architecturally it share many features with other abbeys and cathedrals, some parts were a bit different. I was very impressed with the ceiling!

image

I learnt to look up as well as around at a young age and you can be rewarded.

The big stained window over the altar is worth a look at too. It has lots of scenes from Christ’s life, in what is effectively lots of stained glass windows together.

image

I won’t be making my stained glass anywhere near that complicated!

All the way down the left side of the Abbey, there is an exhibition of embroidery and lettering by one woman.

image

Each piece of embroidery has lettering beside it linking it to a section of the bible. As they are hinged together they are technically diptychs.

image

Both the lettering and the embroidery is very ornate:

image

image

Excuse the reflections in the frames – it was quite bright outside! I preferred the embroidery to the lettering and took a photo of quite a few of them to share with you:

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

I managed to get the shadow caused by my head out of most of the photos, but couldn’t take photos without my phone shadow being present. These photos show you only a selection of the embroidery on display and a minute amount of lettering. There is more to see if you visit in person. It is amazing that this was all done by one person in a year!

There are also a few more places you can see embroidery in Bath Abbey. One of the smaller chapels had this behind the altar:

image

One of the women stood near me when looking at this commented that it is very pretty, but a bit dusty! I wouldn’t like to dust an abbey, I can tell you that!

The main altar cloth was also embroidered.

image

I went into Bath Abbey expecting to be exploring the abbey, looking at stonework etc, but I spent more time looking at embroidery than anything else (we were in there for longer than we thought). I recommend popping in if ever in Bath to see both the abbey and the embroidery within.