Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Cat ornament - first attempt

Die Tatzen Uber Berlin, anyone?

It's all about lighting; Dietrich knew this.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Trouble with Polymers

Alan Weisman's articale "Polymers are Forever":

There's a useful A-Z guide here to reducing the everyday individual use of plastics:

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Russian Animation on YouTube

Above is a capture from Russian stop motion animation, "Old House",
based on a Hans Christian-Andersen Tale, directed by Irina Sobinova-Kassil.

This image is from the astonishing paint-on-glass film,
"СОН СМЕШНОГО ЧЕЛОВЕКА" by Alexander Petrov / Петров

(1992) based on the short story

"The Dream of a Ridiculous Man" By Dostoevsky

this film stirs memories of the intensity I felt when I first read

Dostoevsky in translation as a teenager:

Many more wonderful Russian animated
films here:

Early scene from the celebrated "Tale of Tales" (1979) by Yuri Norstein.
You can see the film in several parts on youtube here:

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

All I want for Christmas is...

 Hieronymus Bosch Tree Man Figurine (deluxe model, please).

Over the weekend I was toying with this idea to make a Bosch figurine, specifically the blue flautist.
But someone had got there long before me. Typical! :-)

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Art of Eternity

I've been catching up on the BBC iPlayer's arts documentaries.
I found the Coptic paintings and Mummy portraits in "Art of Eternity",
Andrew Graham-Dixon's exploration of the development of sacred art,
particularly compelling.

Vintage Pick: Art Deco Dress from Secret Backroom

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Velvety Chocolate cake

6 ounces self-raising flour
2 to 3 oz cocoa powder

4 oz butter/marge
4 oz sugar - a mix of dark sugar, runny honey or golden syrup, 
        and black strap molasses/black treacle, to taste

2 large free range eggs
(For a richer moister pudding-like cake, use three eggs. )

Vanilla extract 

Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C.

Beat fat and sugars together in a large bowl, 
till fluffed up a bit.

Sieve the flour and cocoa; shake bowl a little and stir together until well blended.

Break eggs into separate bowl.  Pour into mix and stir gently. 

Fold in the flour and cocoa gradually, increasing the speed gradually, so you get a good creamy mixture with an even texture. One of those heavier flexible rubber spatulas is great for this as well as a wooden spoon. Add in a little milk or Guinness if the mixture is too heavy and stiff; if too wet, sieve in a bit more flour and cocoa.

Turn out the mixture into a greased springform or loose bottomed round tin and using a metal fork or spoon first run under the cold tap, gently press down evenly, leaving a slight dip in the centre. shake the tin around a little and tap on the worktop to settle the mixture in.  If I don't do this I sometimes get huge air pocket craters in the cake!

Bake for about 40 minutes, with a baking tray or saucepan lid over the top,  to stop the top surface getting too crisp. I've found this to be a great way to keep the cake moist and cooking evenly. 
Resist any temptation to check the cake early.

If using three eggs, test the middle at 40 minutes with a fine skewer or cocktail stick, then bake for a while longer on a lower heat, with the top covered until the last few minutes.

This is especially nIce warm with a little creme fraiche.  OR CREAM.
Or cover with a mixture of dark chocolate melted in a glass bowl with about one dessertspoonful of butter.
I would include a photo, but I seem to have scoffed the lot already.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Hallowe'en is the perfect time to watch (yet again!)
the Raveonettes' Black and White video directed by Chris Do

Easy Seeded Toasting Bread

This bread turned out so yumsome
as well as toastable
and is quite seasonal too,
so I thought I'd post it today on Hallowe'en.
You might leave it to rise
a bit longer than I did to get a taller loaf -I'm a beginner -and impatient! :-)
the bran element and seeds
slow the rising down
and you need a bit more liquid/oil
than you do making white bread
to make it softer and bouncier.


12-14 ounces strong white bread flour
2-4 oz wholemeal/granary/rye flour
Sunflower oil and olive oil - a swift swirl of each
Fast-action bread yeast - 1 sachet
Sea salt to taste ( I use one level teaspoonful to 1Ib of flour)
Around half a pint of warm, boiled water in a jug
Mixed pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax seeds, or your own favourites
A little warm milk.

Toast the seeds gently.
Cool and crush.
Resist urge to snaffle these immediately.

...Oh, go on then - just a spoonful!

Use to taste but if you add in
quite a lot of seeds, leave the bread to rise longer.

Mix yeast with a little warm water and pinch of sugar.
Even fast-action yeast works better if you do this.
Sieve and stir the flours and salt.
Add oils, yeast mixture, and begin to add in the warm water.
Mix with your index finger initially in a figure of 8 shape,
then with your whole hand when more water begins to form a dough.
Knead for a minute on floured worktop/board,
Shape into your preferred loaf shape. I tend to roll the dough into a rough
baguette shape, which grows into a good sliceable loaf.
Place on baking tray in middle of warm, low oven to plump up for a while.
Turn up heat to full power and bake, turning once.
When done it should sound hollow when you knock the base.

The bread has a great flavour and is really nice just lightly toasted.

It really doesn't take long to make your own bread and it's so much more
satisfying and tweakable to your own taste than cardboardy generic shop-bought stuff.
Your own bread tips are very welcome!

Don't skimp on the butter, now!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Vintage Swoon: Long Formal Dress with Bishop Sleeves in Mustard Velvet

This is so wonderful, in every way, except that it's too small for me :-)
I think these are also known as "leg of mutton" sleeves.
Leg of Bishop, Bishop of Mutton, I don't care, I'm inamorata.
From Painted Soul Design on Etsy:

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

fall flurry

Blog treasury: For when life is too short to wait for etsy's Treasury to open.
Click to enlarge; just a tiny glimpse at some of the wonderful fine art on etsy.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

New photos - abstract autumn

Love your wrinkles!

Forget smooth, flawless, bland and soulless; this fits my notion of true beauty (click for detail)!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Friday, 18 September 2009

Vintage Pick: 1950s l'Aiglon Dress

From SmallEarthVintage on etsy. This shop will certainly be getting regular visits from me;
right now it has some of the loveliest Midcentury and seasonal vintage items I've seen on etsy in a while!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Recent work: Autumn-inspired ACEO set

Vera vintage lemons

Classic Vera Ladybug scarf!
I love the combination of the gentleness of the colours and the liveliness of the lines.

from smartvintage on etsy, who also has this stunner:

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

In search of a certain colour...

I seem to have a bee in my bonnet about a certain very soft autumnal yellow at the moment.

Perhaps it would be easier to capture with tempera painting, or gouache.
This gorgeous piece is by VieModerne, on etsy.
You might call this more of a pale golden colour, but the colour I have in mind is yellow
just before it becomes golden, if you see what I mean.
Of course context is always so important,
and the cool, pale tint of the background colour of this photo really enhances the delicate colour
of the chiffon petals.

Let me know if you see a magical yellow on your travels, and in the meantime I'll try to find other examples!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

A big thankyou to Talulah Blue for featuring my painting, "September" on her blog,
which also features a "Withnail and I" -loving fox! 
Gorgeous cocktail hats including the one pictured above, and more divine decadence

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Vintage pick: Nine Magic Wishes

A first edition of Shirley Jackson's book
from daisychainvintage on etsy

"A girl is given nine wishes by a mysterious magician, and her choices
perfectly capture a childlike imagination. For example, wish one is for
an orange pony with a purple tail; wish two is for a squirrel holding a
nut that opens and inside is a Christmas tree; wish eight is for a little
box and inside is another box and inside is another box and inside is
another box and inside that is an elephant . . . But the girl is hard pressed
to make a ninth wish, and instead leaves it on a rock for some other
lucky person to find. "

Friday, 7 August 2009


Great collection of various illustrators' takes on Alice.

More wonderment here, too (wishing I could read Russian!):

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Vintage Special: Jorma Laine Bronze Belt Buckle

From Mascara Jones on etsy:

I'm thrilled to have found this! I'm always fascinated to see Finnish bronze pieces
and Jorma Laine is one of my favourite names from this era.
Here's some background information, a great article that I go back to regularly for inspiration,
by Maggie Snell at Modern Silver:

UPDATE: I'm delighted to add that Mascara Jones has very kindly added
a fantastic "Finnish Bronze"set of jewelry photos to her flickr pages!
Here's the link:

Sea of Hope : DurandPottery - ArtFire Ceramics & Pottery

Take a look at this beautiful serving dish by DurandPottery on Artfire. I love the subtly opulent, painterly colouring:

Monday, 3 August 2009

The City Under The City

"Why don't you quit cryin' and get me some bourbon?"

Watched "The Asphalt Jungle" again.
Quite a while since I last saw it and it just knocked me out all over again.
It has a moral subtlety and emotional depth, despite touches of melodrama,
a respectful attentiveness to each character's background, unique vulnerabilities
and quirks that lifts it above many other crime films. It is superbly cast.
It's one of those noir classics that you could watch again and again just to
study the play of emotions on the actor's faces in close up,
as well as the framing, lighting, movement within any given shot, etc.
I think one reason that you get so involved is that the music is pretty minimal and,
although highly dramatic, it only comes in at crucial moments
(the robbery sequence is a good example of this) and more often you are
acutely sensitised to the various significant silences between the players.
For me the film is especially memorable for Sterling Hayden's terrific performance,
by turns edgy and restless, unflappably cool, startlingly amusing, and strangely touching.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Gardens Under the Rain

Days of rain took their toll on the poor floribunda blooms; sparse enough already.
The tomatoes are just fine with it of course...
ETA: Update! NOT so! They all succumbed to late blight! Sob!
How I crave a greenhouse!

Syd Barrett: BBC 6 Music Documentary repeated

A two-part documentary available on Listen Again for a few days, here:

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

On Air: Khmer Rock

Ros Serey Sothea

Fascinating and very moving BBC Radio 4 documentary about musicians in Cambodia:

Nik Cohn article here:

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Seriously considering changing my name by deed poll...

T'will certainly be my avant-rock pseudonym/literary antihero name anyway.

Friday, 24 July 2009

...and "dancercise"!

Lubki: Russian Popular or Folk Prints

I found an interesting exploration of Russian popular prints,
called Lubki (Singular:Lubok), with translations of their texts, by Alexander Boguslawski.

The first image depicts a scene from Firdawsi's poem Shah-nameh, a Persian work, in which the hero Rustam, turns into a lion (araslan).

One of my favourites, The Bull that Did Not Want to Be a Bull and Became a Butcher
(below), invites us to ponder

"what the world would look like if things were opposite to what they really are.
In the middle of the print, which in its form resembles a hagiographical icon, unfolds the story of
a bull who took bloody revenge on the butcher.
Around the central image, thirteen smaller pictures with rhymed short inscriptions
illustrate the impossible reversals:

A sheep is shearing a shepherd,
a peasant changes places with his judges,
a donkey hits a heavily burdened peasant because he is going too slowly,
children put an old man to bed and amuse him so he does not cry,
a student beats the teacher who does not learn fast enough,
a blind man leads the one who can see, a man is wearing
hats on his feet and a shoe on his head, a stag runs away from a pig
and a hunter from a hare, a parrot puts a man in a cage to make him speak,
a donkey rides in a carriage drawn by women, a beggar gives alms to a rich man,
a nobleman spins yarn while his wife is on guard duty; in the last picture
a donkey is shaving a man and accidentally kicks him on the head."

(Copyright Alexander Boguslawski*, 1999)

*I really hope that's a genuine name :-)

...All of which reminds me of the bespectacled hunting rabbit in Struwwelpeter :

More Lubki here: