DIY Cultures the Third


I'm currently experiencing a bit of a come-down from the weekend. Not for any chemical reasons, but because on Sunday DIY Cultures happened. It was the third DIY Cultures at Rich Mix and my third year there, but it was my first time with my own table, although I was the next door neighbour of the radiant Hanecdote. Here we are all set up:





This year was particularly frenetic, with over four thousand people attending. Unfortunately the busyness made it difficult to focus on the talks, which were on everything from arts education cuts to gender and technology. But the conversations I had with passersby, customers, and interested parties were equally as fascinating.

I spoke to the founder of an online publishing house and to a woman who hand stitches protest banners, to name but a few. And I sold out of Treasures For Your Troubles zine! I will be making it available to print-by-order online in the next few weeks.

There was a wonderful atmosphere at DIY Cultures; relaxed, and genuinely friendly, with none of the reserve one typically associates with the British. It was a summery day, and visitors had dressed accordingly; Hannah and I kept commenting to each other how gorgeous everyone looked.

I spoke to the lady presiding over Alternative Press's stall, where their project A Room of One's Own was features. AROOO, as it is abbreviated, focuses on "social housing, not social cleansing", and the effects of gentrification and "regeneration" on local working class and low income families and single parents. On the importance, which Virginia Woolf recognised, of having your own space for creativity. I will be following the project's development with interest.


A lovely woman bought my last fox brooch and immediately pinned it to her bag. We had quite a chat about the beauty of foxes.


Last but not least we met the man we referred to simply as Zine Man. He was, as you might have guessed, covered in zines; he swapped his own for ones for sale at the fair, and pinned them to his clothes and hat.


I couldn't stop smiling all day; here's to another three years of DIY Cultures. Long may it live.



Summer Dreaming

I had the dreamiest of weekends, starting on Friday night with cocktails and dim sum and night time strolls along the South Bank with two of my best pals.

Rose and lychee martini
You could say my weekend started on Thursday evening with a visit to the Virginia Woolf exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, but I'll save that for another blog post... it was a very stirring trip indeed.

Saturday was spent sewing and sipping sangria in my favourite dress with good friends. I met up with two of them the next day for wanders around the Walthamstow Garden Party. I'm sorry to say I misread the festival; I had thought it would be small and somewhat provincial. I could not be more wrong; it sprawled across Lloyd Park, with mouthwatering food and drink (I spilled chimichurri sauce on my dress trying to eat a very unruly burger), and an inventive array of activities for the little ones, including neon bright den building and wood work (there's something lovely about seeing a four year old girl expertly inserting bolts into wooden pieces of a rocking horse).


Dens built by local children
Significant Seams had a lovely display of a summer garden in full bloom, created entirely from discarded plastic. I particularly liked this tree of life, which, a volunteer told me, was based on Mexican paintings.







The garlands of wishes (destined for the wishing well) for the community were very sweet, too. Look what this one says.



I just have to put the finishing touches to a big commission proposal this week, and then this weekend I'm off to Brighton with Pip to visit friends and partake of even more cocktails. It's a hard life.

Revisiting the Constellation Quilt


The Constellation Quilt has been languishing unloved and uncared for for the past few months, in favour of "quick fix" projects over this time consuming (and daunting!) endeavour. It's not just that though; the quilt just wasn't "hanging together" for me; I wasn't happy with the aesthetic, or with the disjointed narrative of the piece; it all seemed a bit "bitty".

Now that my summer holidays are looming, I'm about to find myself with the time to really take the quilt to task. I toyed with the idea of converting it into a giant fortune teller or cootie catcher structure (and I may still have to make one up in fabric, though on a smaller scale), but it was the concept of the quilt as a giant linear comic strip that most appealed to me.

And so I have written a snippet of text to add into a reworking of the quilt, with much more of a cohesive narrative. I don't think it's quite "done" yet, it needs a decisive ending, and it will be accompanied by a few choice embroidered and appliqued illustrations, but the final quilt will be mostly text; the words will speak for themselves.
I'm excited to make a proper start once my current bee-themed embroidery is out of the way. My hope is that I'll have the quilt ready for exhibition in the Words Over Waltham Forest festival in October. Fingers crossed!