Wrapping It Up Potion

With this week's potion complete, the Apotheké/#secretsofselfpreservation project has only one more week before its conclusion. That is one of the reasons why I have named this week's creation "Wrapping It Up" potion. The other is that this week has been marked by frantic gift buying and the dispersal of my work Secret Santa. So the ingredient to accompany the embroidered text is a message from a Christmas card, and the label the card's front. This week's text reads "Giving gifts is good for the soul." I love giving presents, and the only reason Christmas shopping this week has been rather frantic was because I was yet to give the perfect gift for several people, and I still haven't, so fingers crossed for the next few days!







Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Grasshopper Potion


Last week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion is not one but two days late to be posted, despite being finished in time. I'm feeling less and less inclined to blog lately; I don't know if it's wanting to hunker down and hibernate at this time of year, work becoming busier, or winding down with #secretsofselfpreservation as the end of the year draws nigh. I'm eagerly anticipating my next big project, but as last week's potion advocates, I must have "Patience." I've always been one to want to run before I can walk, but I'm learning to accept my limitations and take my time, and, crucially, wait.

To accompany the text is what can only be described as fluff. I spent a good part of Saturday evening picking bobbles out of a new (old) angora jumper I had picked up for two quid, so that I could wear it the following day. In addition to that small example of patience, I had found a number of similar jumpers in Brick Lane for around thirty pounds a piece, but had decided to forgo them, so my patience really paid off!





Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.





Powerful Concoctions Potion

Last week was a bit of a boozy one. The weekend brought my little cousins to stay, the eldest of whom is obsessed with giraffes, and so it only seemed right to combine the two themes of the week in the diaristic element of its #secretsofselfpreservation potion with a giraffe shaped cocktail glass accessory. I named the potion Powerful Concoctions Potion, due to the alcohol consumption and the fact that I do believe these potions constitute powerful talismans and  the process of making them plays a significant part in keeping me well each week.

The words embroidered on the ribbon read "You are good enough." I am gradually beginning to believe that more and more.







Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

O.K. O.J. Potion


I'm not very good at living in the moment. I have a very noisy and often unhelpful mind that, when I am trying to concentrate on doing the task at hand to the best of my ability, has a tendency to say "Remember when you were doing [completely unrelated thing] and failed utterly at it?" or agonise over whether I will be up to doing the task at hand next week, or fixate on the seeming improbability of ever moving out of my parents' house. Welcome, my friends, to pervasive anxiety.

So, I would like to live in the moment a little more, and in the rare instances when I am able to, it is sheer bliss. It was that way during the two sessions of paper-making I led with young people at work over the past couple of weeks. I was completely invested and engrossed in introducing the young people to a new and creative experience, and buoyed up by their enthusiasm. Fingers crossed there will be similar results next time I lead a creative activity with them!

That's why this week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion reads "Be present." Not letting it all pass me by in a tangle of worry.


Some of the paper I made is included too, embedded with sequins and sparkling thread.





The potion's title is "O.K. O.J. Potion" as the bottle is a relic from the Sixties when orange drink was delivered in glass bottles direct to door alongside pints of milk. From the way it is described, I would guess this "orange drink" was full of E numbers rather than being a more wholesome orange juice, but it still has a perkiness about it that speaks of hope and fresh beginnings. The drink was marketed under the name SuKie SunKap, with a little cartoon orange lady, which is about as perky as you can get. It reminds me to savour the moment and the little things, such as simply really enjoying a glass of juice first thing in the morning.





Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Dumpling Days Potion

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that food looms large in my life. This time of year heralds plentiful supply of my favourite food group; stodge. Realising this always reminds me of an idyllic autumn afternoon I spent with my Mum in Epping Forest, hunting for fungus and crunching the fallen leaves. I mentioned that the change of the seasons augured the cooking of my favourite stodge, stew and dumplings (mentioned in the previous post). "Yes" my mother said; "It definitely feels like a dumpling day."




It is now that time of year once more; dumpling days are here again. Hence this week's potion is named Dumpling Days Potion; my particular brand of salad days.


This week's diaristic element is a scrap from one of Daily Life Ltd's illustrated coasters (don't worry, I have several) which succinctly expresses my views on dumplings. The embroidered words on the autumnal ribbon may seem unrelated, but as I mentioned in last week's potion post, I am feeling much brighter than I have of late over the past few weeks. So the embroidery reads "Yes you can", which is not particularly meant as an Obama reference, more a simple and impactful affirmation for me to always bear in mind, and a reminder for you, too, should you need it.


Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Agency Potion


For the first time in over a month, I'm feeling (somewhat) in control of my life and (somewhat) positive about the future. I am moving towards accepting that I am an artist and a millenial and that consequently it's never going to be easy.

This meant that last week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion was a no-brainer. A tutor of mine once described me as being "a bit of a free spirit", which, as a person for whom the phrase "highly strung" would be a polite way of putting it, I found hilarious. But I must concede that going with the flow a bit more would be good for me, and so last week's potion reads "Being mistress of your own destiny is nothing to fear."



Inside the potion bottle is a smaller potion bottle filled with coffee, for reasons best left to myself and my future therapist.

The potion's name, Agency Potion (as in self-determination) is written on the back of my business card, which I like to think of as a metaphorical passport to my future.





 Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Get Your Nails Did Potion

This week's potion pays homage to Missy Elliott and her seminal track Work It. "If you a fly gal get your nails done, get a pedicure, get your hair did". Currently I can't afford to get my nails done, but I did get my hair did the other day, and between that and cleaning and tidying my bedroom from top to bottom I feel like a whole new woman. 

Due to my work rota I'm finding myself with a lot of extra time on my hands at the moment, and I tend towards thinking that when I'm not working I must be being productive, i.e. making. In the midst of doing this the other day I decided to paint my nails, and took five minutes doing something nice for myself; the entire point of #secretsofselfpreservation. It doesn't take a lot of time or effort to practice a simple act of self care, and so this week's potion reads "Self care takes a second and you don't need to 'earn it'." It is accompanied by a tiny pot of ruby slipper nail polish.







Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag ‪#‎secretsofselfpreservation‬, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.


Stick At It Potion




This week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion focuses, once again, on perseverance. These last few weeks, and the next, are some of the busiest I have had all year. Naps have become essential.

Next Sunday, I have a table at DIY Cultures, selling embroidered brooches, necklaces, lino print patches, badges, and my zine, Treasures For Your Troubles. I am slightly worried about getting all the stock ready in time, as well as some other commitments. Thus, once again, the potion bottle and ribbon are orange, to signify anxiety.

To accompany the simple mantra "Keep going" are miniature calendars from now until the end of the year. If I can just get through next week as well as possible, I should have some time for r'n'r.

After worrying in recent weeks about my future as an artist, a very wise person gave me a brilliantly simple piece of advice; just keep going, and don't get discouraged. And that is what I intend to do.

Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.



Pulled out a Plum Potion

 My fingers smell like soft fruit. I have been finger painting with jam. Before you ask, yes, I am feeling ok. It was Pip's suggestion for the ingredients of this week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion, the text of which is "Have your fingers in many pies". "Fruit pies" sampled are plum, gooseberry, and lemon.

I am trying to keep busy creatively, keep on pushing and looking for opportunities, without getting crushed by the feeling that I'm running on the spot. I do feel like things are moving in the right direction though, albeit at the rate of continental drift; I'm not the most assertive, go-getting person, so it doesn't come naturally to me. Tips for getting work out there, into the big wide world, where people can see it, would be much appreciated.

I also feel like I have too many ideas, which can be very distracting. Trying to stick to getting things finished, whilst accepting that some things may be too ambitious at the stage I'm at now, is a painful process. I just want to do it ALL. Patience, young grasshopper.

In the meantime, these potions are a happy medium. I don't have to think about them too much, but there is something very pleasing about creating and gradually hoarding them. What to do with them when they're done, though? That is the question. Most or not all of the ones I've made so far will be on show as part of the E17 Art Trail from the 30th May, along with other stitchery. I will post more about that, and the workshop I'm doing as part of the Trail, a little closer to the time.

This one owes a debt to Clerke and Joy, fellow Dartington alumni, who created a performance lecture to tour art schools a couple of years ago. It's called Tips For The Real World, and imparts wisdom (or lack thereof) on how to function as a young art graduate when released into the wild. One of the drawings on the website is captioned "Have your fingers in lots of pies", and I often find myself scribbling the phrase down. It's become a sort of mantra to keep on going even when I feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall.

This blog post has become a lot more naval-gazey and mopey than I intended; I think perhaps I'm just a little hungover. Hopefully I will have some more exciting news to share soon. I am writing a book, although I feel terribly pretentious whenever I tell anyone. Unfortunately books are a bit of a slow burn and can't really be shared until they're done, so let's just say it has a stitchy-feministy-mental-healthy flavour and I am enjoying writing it tremendously. Perhaps I will be able to share more soon. Until next time!















Pet Pals Potion

I feel that the title of this (belated, sorry) potion was partially inspired by Rudi of Sidcup and Roxy of Holloway "friends and colleagues" of Bobby Baker and stars of animations featuring Bobby and promoting the work of Daily Life Limited. I have been thinking about the work that Bobby and Daily Life Limited do in the run up to their micro festival, which I need to buy tickets for as soon as I get paid! The feedback that I got about this particular project when I took part in a Daily Life Limited workshop really helped get #secretsofselfpreservation off the ground, so I can't wait to see what they do next. It would be easy for Bobby "just" to make work about her own experiences, but the fact that Daily Life are supporting a whole new host of (often young) artists who make art out of their mental health experiences is commendable. I would love to be in a similar position to do so some day. Without wanting to sound completely bleeding heart (which I am), I want to make a difference with my work.

I suppose this week I have been making a (very) small difference to the lives of some animals; tending to two cats and a bearded dragon, feeding and chatting to them, and on occasion removing (tremendously) pooey newspaper.

I have found that caring for animals is a very particular kind of pleasure; companionship without backchat, I suppose. I think, once you've fed something, you can't help but care for it, in a way.

So in honour of this newfound, short lived responsibility, I have stitched that "Animals are good for your health" (rather shoddily as I haven't been feeling very well the past couple of days), and accompanied the text with some copyright free illustrations of domestic and more exotic animals.

I think this should all act as proof to my boyfriend that co-owning a rabbit is a practical and sensible notion. But until he relents, I will keep stitching.







I need art like I need God potion

I'm an atheist. However, few artist's slogans have resonated with me as much as Tracey Emin's "I need art like I need God". There is often something religious in visiting an art gallery, worshipping great artists and seeking communion and guidance with them. For me, art offers both solace and purpose, so perhaps it is my God. I know I love it more than anything.



And so, this week'Apothéké / #secretsofselfpreservation potion title is Emin's quote, coupled with the ingredients "Have faith in your art". This week I have begun working on what will be a real slow burner of a project. Thousands of stitches. It has been brewing in my mind for over a year, and I've put it off because I didn't know the best way to execute it, and didn't feel technically able. It still may not turn out like I imagined, but I am going to try. As a young artist just starting out it is easy to get discouraged. I find it helpful to remember that it is primarily me I make art for; anything more is a bonus.

Alongside the stitched words in the potion bottle are the tools of my trade; a reel of thread with a needle nestled in it.











Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Turning My Heartbeat UP Potion


So tweeted writer Stefanie Gray on Valentine's Day last year. And for the most part, I agree. Gender is performative. There are no such things as "boys'" and "girls'" toys for example, only what we have assigned as appropriate for each gender, arbitrarily and in the mists of time. Numerous studies have been carried out where participants have been told one baby is a girl and another a boy (when quite the opposite is the case), and the disparity in their treatment of the two babies is shocking. I've written about "gender appropriate colours" and how they have changed over time before.

I'm also sure that being bombarded at this time of year with constant depictions of heterosexual couples, advertisements for engagement rings (yes, really), and a "romantic" film depicting domestic abuse and selling women their relegation back to subservient, literal punching bags as an aspirational fantasy is not going to make people whose sexuality falls outside man/woman binary pairings feel particularly normal or included in the festivities.

Besides, Valentine's Day is just a Hallmark holiday, right? Well actually, its association with romantic love dates back to the Middle Ages. 

I can't help feeling that wide-spread disdain for the day is largely because if you haven't got a significant other to shower you with/be showered with gifts, or a significant other at all, you're going to feel pretty rotten. I'm sure if I were single I would feel a little miserable and hope against hope for flowers from a non-existent secret admirer. So bah humbug-ing Feb the fourteenth becomes a defence mechanism against the societal pressure to couple up, and perhaps, if we're really honest, against loneliness.

And all that showering with gifts; a little materialistic, no? Is spending a whopper on lavish gifts really the best way of proving your love?

So I completely understand misgivings about the day.

However.

Two things which should be abundantly clear to regular readers of this blog are

1) I adore kitsch

and

2) I am a notorious romantic

A whole day dedicated to being all lovestruck with my boyfriend, in shades of pink and red, with more heart shaped foodstuff, homewares, clothing, and assorted flotsam and jetsam than you can shake a stick at?! Sign me up!

A phrase that I've been hearing a lot this week is "Valentine's Day is every day", usually accompanied by a rueful laugh to indicate that this is in fact not the case between the speaker and their partner. But it is something I try to live by.

And so, this week's Apothéké / #secretsofselfpreservation potion ingredients read "Nurture one another". On a ribbon printed with Love Hearts, several tubes of which Pip and I consumed this weekend. Accompanied in the potion bottle by red silk roses (yes, he did get me twelve, it seems we're fully paid up consumerists, time to do some hand-wringing). The label, which bears the potion's name on the reverse, is from my extensive collection of appallingly-punned 1950s Valentine's cards. Turning My Heartbeat Up is one of our favourite Northern Soul tunes to tear up the dance floor (or the kitchen tiling) to.

I feel very nurtured and loved every day in my relationship, but I think it is an ethos which could extend to all our relationships, romantic and otherwise. Even to our relationships with ourselves; how would your life change if you did the things which nurtured you? Definitely something for me to ponder.






Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Tomorrow I will post pictures of the aformentioned #heartshapedfoodstuffs along with recipes. À bientôt!


Warts and All Potion

This week's Apothéké / #secretsofselfpreservation potion is the witchiest yet! It contains a frog or toad, and is named "Warts and All Potion".

That's because this week what I feel I need to work on in terms of self care is accepting myself, including my (many, many) flaws.






 The potion ingredients read "Accept your entirety". This is something I'm going to endeavour to get good at, realising I'm not all that bad really. The ribbon and its text are warty green, as is the text on the potion's label.



Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Emergency Glitter Potion

This week I celebrated my twenty fourth birthday. This meant two things: cocktails (oh so many cocktails) and extreme levels of glittery fabulousness. I've come to realise that even when I don't have a special event such as a birthday to look forward to, the smallest of gestures can really alter the way I feel about myself. Such as painting my nails iridescent twinkling shades. It's a small treat and act of self care that makes it that little bit easier to get through the week.



And so, my potion this week reads "Persevere and apply glitter liberally". The phrase is accompanied by a tiny vial of emergency glitter, and I've taken the liberty of bedazzling the potion tag.

I must say I feel a good deal better than I did this time last week; I seem to have taken my mantra, "It will be ok" to heart. I'm sure it really will be.










Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.