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.

Anticipotion

Last week's potion is belated, an all too common occurrence lately as the project approaches its conclusion.

On Friday, Pip and I booked our first holiday abroad since 2013. In February we are travelling to Gothenburg, Malmo and Copenhagen, hopefully in the snow! With that and the New Year in mind, for last week's potion I stitched, simply, "Look forward" on to the ribbon.



To accompany the words is a small coil of grey thread, which I am using in another, new project.


The other day Pip found some of this thread in his room and couldn't resist sending me this photograph, hence this potion is a combination of our plans together and my vocation.


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.

Pining Potion


I must admit, with the end of 2015 rapidly approaching, I am looking forward to having my Sundays back. Not because I have better things to do with them than create #secretsofselfpreservation potions, but because I'm itching to get started with a new project (or projects). More on that later, but in that spirit (sort of), this week's potion is named Pining Potion; that is, if you can pine for something which will occur in the future?

The diary element this week is a sprig of needles from our obliging Christmas tree which has not yet been brought in from the garden; I helped decorate Pip's yesterday whilst we listened to Carols from King's. 

Different types of strength have come up in conversation a few times this week; in the context of brains Vs brawn, stereotypical gender roles, youthful machismo Vs mature responsibility. So this week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion reads "Strength and softness are not mutually exclusive." Something I think very much applies to me, and all of us.


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.

Drawing Strength Potion

 This week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion follows on from thoughts last week. I am still drawing, sketching every other day, and finding I am not as hopeless at it as I thought (although perhaps still slightly hopeless... practise makes better!)

I am doubting myself ever so slightly less than I have done of late. So, the stitching this week reads "Have more faith in your abilities". This applies to every area of life; work; friendships; juggling swords. My dyspraxia aside, I feel more comfortable in my own skin, more sure of myself, and more ready to try doing the things I feel trepidatious about, but I know either must be done or I desperately want to do. The peachy pencil represents conquering my fears and proving myself to the only person I need to prove myself to; me.





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.

Sweet Kernel Potion



This time of year heralds some of my favourite things; Twin Peaks watching season, warming bowls of food,  woollens, the colour orange in plentiful supply, hunting for mushrooms in the forest, and yes, leaf-peeping. I realise all this makes me sound like a Pumpkin Spice Latte acolyte (I've never touched a drop I swear), but I still think Autumn is somewhat magical.

As yesterday was spent fungi foraging, it seemed apt to include sketches of mushrooms I made last week along with photographs from our family walk in Epping Forest as the diaristic element of last week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion.

I finally bit the bullet and started drawing, and the results do not appear to be utterly catastrophic. It reminds me of a page from this visual diary entry and this #secretsofselfpreservation potion from back in March, which was about feeling the fear (of drawing terribly) and doing it anyway.

I drew inspiration from one Ms Hermione Granger and embroidered "Fear of a thing is worse than the thing itself" on to autumnal ribbon. Because it so often is.

The potion's label is from the first page of my altered book What To Look For In Winter. The potion's title is Sweet Kernel Potion, a reference to Keats's To Autumn, and to hope in the face of fear.







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.

Fortitude Potion

One of my favourite young artists, Caitlin Hazell, once scribbled an illustration which read "I'm sad because I'm not Kate Bush". I'm sad at the moment, but I thought that Kate Bush might help rather than making me sadder still.

Therefore, this week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion borrows (or do "great" artists steal?) a line from one of her most beautiful songs, This Woman's Work; "I know you've got a lot of strength left." Because I do, despite what even I may believe. I have been in this place before, and I have come out the other side. I will be happy and healthy again, and I will work at it until I am.

Accompanying the words is a tiny LED light, which I thought made a good metaphor for a kernel of hope. It was gifted to me by a lovely lady at a workshop I was involved in at the weekend. More on that later, possibly. 

The concoction is named Fortitude Potion. Fortitude, I am told, is defined as strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage. It might seem a little contradictory to be talking about strength of mind when in fact my mind is so vulnerable. But buried deep inside me is a stubbornness that won't let me give in. That wills me to keep going, like Sylvia Plath's "I am, I am, I am." A little lightbulb, if you will.








 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.





Bedding In Potion




Properly moving into my brother's old room last week brightened my mood of the previous couple of weeks significantly. I spent far too many hours scouring eBay for precisely the soft furnishings and knick knacks (including this crochet blanket) I wanted and now I am very happily installed in there.

Because colour is so important to me (I could never be a minimalist) and I am determined that I will not feel gloomy because of my environment in this room, this week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion reads "Build a bowerbird nest". Male bowerbirds build structures decorated with brightly coloured flotsam and jetsam to attract a mate. I doubt kitsch mid century paraphernalia will attract my mate, but he was kind enough to provide the potion's name: "Bedding In Potion". I truly think it is so important to be happy where you sleep. 

Rather wonderfully, the label paper is embossed with little birds, although my camera couldn't capture those.

The embroidery above is a sample I am working on for a two day workshop next weekend. Very serendipitous colour coordination! The off cuts of thread I collected as I worked on the embroidery over the course of the week, and I thought they represented a bowerbird nest rather well.

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.



Keep The Faith Potion

 Still struggling, but still here. Sometimes you have to blindly go forward, hoping and believing that things will get better.

That's why this week's potion reads "It can and it will get better", and that's why it's named "Keep The Faith Potion" (as well as that being a reference to my predilection for Northern Soul).

This week's diaristic element is some electrically conductive fabric, a small amount of which I have been given to play with ahead of an event in which it will play a part next week.






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.

Lock Outs and Lock Ins Potion

Last week was a rather wobbly one. After a long day at work on Wednesday I came straight home only to find that my key wouldn't open the front door. After fretting for some time, finally my lovely neighbour let me in round the back. I thought all was well as I could unlock the front door with a different key from the inside, but when I came to lock up in the morning I found I couldn't. Not what you want when you've been home alone for two and a half weeks!

Perhaps because of how stressed I'd been feeling last week, I took every opportunity to let my hair down. So, in addition to the lock out on Wednesday evening, I had my first lock-in at my favourite gin palace on Saturday night, with a free cocktail and the hangover to go with it in the morning.

I've been thinking lately that maybe it's time to grow up, accept responsibility and stop having so much fun. But I feel like in the years when I was "supposed" to have fun, I didn't have very much, and I'm still relatively young; not even up to a quarter of a century yet! Growing up will come with time.

That's why last week's potion reads "Take it one step and one day at a time." I don't have to "sort my life out" all at once, and, with the way I'm feeling at the moment, simply putting one foot in front of the other is fine.





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.

Comparison Will Kill You Potion

As my previous blog post indicates, I have a terrible tendency to to compare myself to others. I really believe this can never end well; I certainly always find myself lacking when I compare myself to other people, particularly other artists.

Perhaps surprisingly, the awe-inspiring Joseph Cornell exhibition mentioned in the previous post didn't lead me to make unfair comparisons between myself and Mr Cornell. It inspired me and spurred me on to make art and not give up. For this reason, I included the ticket from the exhibition as the diaristic element of this week's potion.




The stitched words of the potion read "Not being the Best  being the Worst". As the year has gone on, the words of the #secretsofselfpreservation potions have become less self help happy talk and more straight-talking mantras. And I am happy with that.





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.

No Blueprint Potion

 This #secretsofselfpreservation potion brought to you in collaboration with the city of Glasgow.


In a fairly run of the mill week last week, the most remarkable thing that happened was mine and Pip's stay in Glasgow for the long weekend. We spent four gloriously sunny days in the city, consisting of rose lemonade, real roses and other flora, cocktails, vegetarian junk food, classic films, scouring Glasgow's charity shops, potato scones, running, walking, contemporary art, ancient culture, old clothes, and orange subways. I think it's safe to say that we'll be back!


So the diaristic objects of this week's potion are all artefacts of our holiday, from a leaf which matched our friend's dress to Saturday's subway ticket which matches the national drink of Irn Bru. The embroidered text of the potion reads "You don't have to have it all figured out yet." 

I seem to be having alternate #secretsofselfpreservation weeks of "Try harder"/"It's ok to flail a bit in your twenties"; my indecisiveness even comes out in the potions! But I am hoping a bit of both attitudes at work will keep me sane and well.




 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.

Give It A Whirl Potion

It may surprise some people who know me well, but I would primarily consider myself an optimist. An optimist who more often than not takes bad news very badly, but a hopeful person who tends to bounce back in the end nonetheless.

Lately I have been coming to the conclusion that I need to take the matter of my future into my hands; really give it some welly to make good things happen. Prestigious residency? Apply for it! A gallery starts favouriting your tweets? Get in touch about an exhibition!


I will be knocked back, but I have been before, and I have bounced back in the end. So, this week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion reads "But you must try, try and try, try and try"; a reminder that good things won't just fall into my lap; I have to work for them.



These are also lyrics pinched from Jimmy Cliff's song You Can Get It If You Really Want, a little cheery tune about persevering and succeeding "at last".


Back in April I spent an enjoyable day at Steakhouse live art festival. Amongst many hilarious and poignant works, the culminating performance by Marcia Farquhar really stood out. Marcia gave us her autobiography, illustrated (or soundtracked) with records. She finished up playing You Can Get It If You Really Want and The Rolling Stones's You Can't Always Get What You Want back to back, and those two contradictory songs seemed to sum up something of what it means to be human. Life never turns out how you think it will, but that's no reason to give up on it. Since the performance, I often find the songs playing in my head.


Yesterday, too, was a very musical day; I was at Visions Festival with my boyfriend, and we sang along to Jens Lekman and twirled to Camera Obscura. Thus, it seems apt that the name of this potion is Give It A Whirl Potion (though Pip lamented that he did not, in fact, whirl me around enough last night). I have included my wristband from the festival in the potion bottle as a memento of a week of letting my hair down (if indeed I had enough hair to let down!); fine dining and cocktails in the sunshine aplenty! I guess I'm gearing up for mine and Pip's holiday in Glasgow at the end of the week.


 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.



Self Esteem Elixir Potion


I have never had an over-abundance of self esteem. It's not anyone's fault, except perhaps my own, but I would say that, wouldn't I? In any case, it is something I am constantly working on. I find self help literature and buzz words nauseatingly patronising, so I try to steer clear of that. That's why last week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion reads "Begrudgingly love yourself"; it's not an easy task, and putting myself down comes much more naturally, so I do it with a certain amount of diffidence/resentment.


The words are accompanied by a clothes peg from a performance that was described by The Journal as "A raw and awkward, yet cathartic exploration of what it means to achieve success as a woman… groundbreaking originality and captivating humour ... an outstanding piece of performance art". I would tend to agree with them, though I am slightly prejudiced, as The Main Yvette is the brain child of the performance company Good Punch, one half of whom is my dear friend Rohanne.

Clothes pegs had a starring role in The Main Yvette (which previewed at Rich Mix last night); they were one of many ways of judging the women competing to be "Yvette". The piece merits a full review which I will try to post here whilst it is fresh in my mind, if it's alright with Rohanne before she takes it to the Fringe. Suffice to say, it produced copious joussance laughter, and referenced everything from psychosomatic tics/Freudian female hysteria to Activia: for happy tummies and a happier you™. And I liked it very much.


I have named the potion "Self Esteem Elixir Potion", both in gently mocking reference to such aspirational adverts and in the hope that some more self esteem will come my way soon.


 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.

Tenacity Potion


As #secretsofselfpreservation continues, the "mantras" the bottles contain are becoming more realistic, even bleak. I think this reflects the situation I find myself in currently; not where I'd like to be at this point in my life, but not capable of doing a whole lot about it, at least not for now. That's why this week's potion reads "You can't control everything, but  you can choose to get up in the morning." A slightly gloomy edition of #secretsofselfpreservation, but a grimly determined one nonetheless.

It is accompanied by the sticker I wore for this weekend's Roving Diagnostic Unit with Daily Life Ltd at Shuffle Festival, which I will write about in full shortly.

The potion is named "Tenacity Potion", because I feel that, now, this is what is required.



 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.

The Personal is Political Potion


As you can tell from these photographs, the garden has been utterly scorched recently. The past couple of days, however, have brought some very welcome rain. This hasn't aided my mood, though; the gloom has impacted on me whilst, like the grass, I'm feeling a little burnt out.

On a happier note, on Saturday I was invited to give a drop in workshop and talk on craftivism/making for change with Craftspace in Birmingham. And so the publicity materials diaristic element of this week's potion, and its title, "The Personal Is Political Potion" came from this event. Soon I will blog all about the day as well.


The words I stitched for the potion address those feelings of gloom, or, more appropriately, dread; they say, simply "It's almost never as bad as you think". I think I will be referring to this potion often; believing these words is something I struggle with daily. Only by starting with small acts of kindness towards myself, such as thoughts like these, can I make change for others.




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.