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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Promises, promises...

Pop still being somewhere in that nebulous region between mud and canvas, I find myself with rather more time on my hands than usual and in a position to discharge a promise I recently made.

Ordinarily, when I refer to Etsy artisans on this blog, it is by nature of a review. But I am breaking with my own self-imposed tradition in this instance to promote the work of a jeweller whose work I covet, but who is not yet high enough up on my "waiting list" for me to have yet made a purchase.

EmiliaRose2 offers high-quality beaded jewellery in a colour palette which is strong, sophisticated and distinctive without being brash or dazzling: class, rather than bling.

Whilst it is entirely possible to buy considerably cheaper necklaces on Etsy, I don't consider this work to be overpriced in any way. Unusually - and I can think of only one other Etsy jeweller who does this, off the top of my head - the stringing is done on silk cord, which is knotted between each bead. If you have your grandmother's pearls hidden away in your own jewellery box, it's extremely likely that this technique will have been used to string them.

Knotting between beads provides three main benefits:-

  1. it prevents the beads from chafing against one another and, if they are made from something soft or friable, consequently incurring damage;

  2. should the cord break, you will not find yourself standing helplessly by while several dozen beads bounce individually off into the distance to be lost for ever down a drain;

  3. knotting creates necklaces with beautiful draping properties. There is simply no comparison with necklaces strung on beading wire.

In short, a knotted necklace is a necklace which is made to last and to be worn for many years. EmiliaRose2's designs, whilst distinctive, are also classic: they aren't suddenly going to go out of fashion.

When I first saw EmiliaRose2's work, I contacted her to enquire about the source of the coral she uses. I'm pleased to report that it's all bought from stockpiled sources of several decades' vintage. This is another element which pushes the price up somewhat in comparison with her competitors, but she believes that ethics are more important than turning a swift buck.

Promise duly discharged, there are a couple of other Etsy artisans to whose work I'd like to draw a little more attention than they may gain from other sources.

It's always a sad day for a middle-aged woman when she realises that there are some kinds of jewellery in the world which she really is now too old to get away with wearing. I had just such an epiphany when I stumbled across UpcycleMart's shop. My horror of being perceived as mutton dressed as lamb prevents me from purchasing any of these items which are cunningly constructed out of those free CDs which all of us endlessly receive through the post, whether we've asked for them or not. However, knowing that some of this blog's readers are young - if not necessarily sprightly - and that some of those who are neither young nor sprightly have teenaged daughters, I'm providing the link through to the shop and a photograph of one of the pairs of earrings.

Lastly - but by no means leastly - I have, within the last couple of days, taken advantage of the sale which is running at MidnightBluAdorn's shop. (Great shop name.)

MidnightBlu does very clever things indeed with translucent polymer clay, glass, paper and shrink plastic, producing tiny little works of art to take with you wherever you go. I'm enormously intrigued by the idea of wearing a preserved pen and ink sketch round my neck which is why, amongst other items, I have bought this wonderfully-atmospheric Bird and Tree necklace.

Although I'm more usually drawn to strong, bold colours, I'm not averse to a bit of monochrome if it's appropriate to the design. Do go and have a look - this is highly original work at a very affordable price.

The Editor

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cherchez l'homme

Mr Larkin having departed from civilisation this very afternoon for the mud pools of Glastonbury, Lady Bracknell believes she could have been forgiven for having anticipated that her amanuensis would be temporarily available for the purpose of transcribing her pearls of enviable wisdom onto the screen of the computing device.

Her ladyship is displeased to report, however, that no sooner had Mr Larkin boarded his charrabang than the Editor was making furtive plans to take luncheon with Another Man. And, moreover, a man who is at least twenty years her junior!

Lady Bracknell, who takes a very dim view of such behaviour, is considering despatching a carrier pigeon to a field in Somerset.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

An expotition!

Yesterday, after much planning, and after taking a day off work so as to be able

a) to attend when it was relatively quiet, and

b) to have two days to recover from any damage incurred

I went on an expotition to the Liverpool Design Show with my friend S.

This was the first time I had left the house for social purposes - i.e. neither to go to work, attend medical appointments, or pick up groceries, meds or library books - for nearly a year. Liverpool is - as any fule kno - the European Capital of Culture 2008, and it grieves me that I am not fit enough to attend the cornucopia of cultural events on offer. In fact, I find it best to avoid looking at the listings, if possible, given that doing so is roughly equivalent to prodding a bruise to see whether it will hurt.

But this I really did want to attend, if possible. Having registered my interest with the site at an early stage, I was able to get two entrance tickets for the price of one. S needed very little encouragement to come with me, and knowing that I would be meeting her there gave me the push I most definitely needed to get out of the house when resting in relative comfort seemed like a far preferable alternative. (I did, however, let her have her ticket the day before: determined to attend a function or no, there is never any guarantee that I will be fit enough on the day.)

So, decked out in some carefully-chosen pieces of handmade jewellery - and the "Support Independent Artisans" badge I won in one of Life Adorned's fantastic blog giveaways - I headed off to attempt to find the entrance to the colossal Contemporary Urban Centre.

Having met up with S - and pausing only to point out to the first member of staff I encountered that there was a sandwich board blocking the level access to the building - I waited with S to hand my ticket in.

We were pleasantly surprised to exchange the torn halves of our tickets for complimentary Liverpool Design Show canvas tote bags, albeit somewhat bemused to discover that each bag boasted a Crown paints colour chart amongst its contents.

Exhibits are on the ground, first and fourth floors, and it was not exactly straightforward to get our bearings, particularly given the sensory assault from the combination of exceedingly dim lighting and some species of ghastly techno music which was being piped through the ground floor spaces. A floor plan with stall numbers and an accompanying list of which artisan was occupying which stall would have been useful. Considerably more useful, in fact, than a Crown paints colour chart.

But navigation issues are a mere bagatelle compared with the underlying problem which befalls all such events: people attend them. For an ouchy crip, this is a severe drawback. They are attended by the sort of people who block access by gathering in small knots of like-minded pretentiousness to engage in earnest discussion, and who reverse suddenly from stalls whose wares they consider sub-standard, without indicating.

Top marks for Being A Danger To All Around Him must go to the yummy daddy of an infant saddled with the hardly-at-all pretentious name of Milo. (One can only pray that couple will have enough money for private schooling when that child is older...) Milo's daddy was wearing some sort of metal-framed papoose thingummajig high on his shoulders. This, combined with the fact that he was holding a wriggling Milo in his arms, added at least two feet to his width. Wholly oblivious to his status as a wide load, Milo's daddy - who was revoltingly energetic - pirouetted his way around the first floor exhibits, leaving in his wake quantities of ashen-faced punters who had just barely escaped being smacked in the face by a papoose. He was later overheard proudly recounting the fact that dear little Milo had managed to pull over a display table at one of the stands. This is just one of the many reasons why I should never be permitted to run a stall at such an event. If Milo had pulled over my display table, I would have gone after his self-important daddy with every walking stick at my disposal.

But, of course, it wasn't all bad by any means. I was very pleased to get the opportunity to catch up with Helen Of The Lovely Scarves. And, speaking of lovely scarves, there were several scarf-creators who, had I been feeling flush, would undoubtedly have benefited from some of my hard-earned cash. If scarves are your thing, you will want to visit Helen Bolland, Murrindal Design and Nawal Gebreel.

Although I was able - just - to resist spending money I really haven't got this late in the month at the scarf stalls, my resolution crumbled in the face of Katie Adams' wonderful City of Culture ceramics. Photographs don't begin to do justice to Katie's work: you really do need to see it in three dimensions. The mug I bought is great: there are two other designs in the series - one featuring St George's Hall/St John's beacon and one the Anglican cathedral/St John's beacon - and I suspect I will get myself down to the Bluecoat centre at some point and complete my collection. It is also possible that a cereal bowl may sneak into my shopping basket. These really are lovely things.

My other downfall was - as I had always known it would be - Rowena Park's gloriously divine jewellery. In fact, it was seeing Rowena's listing on the Design Show website which had made me so determined to make the effort to attend. Exhibiting super-human levels of self-control and restraint, I rationed myself to just one luminous-blue, eminently-strokeable acrylic pebble pendant. I must say that Rowena bore up very well under my statement of intent to stalk her hereafter. I'm looking forward to gradually building up a collection of her pieces.

After a much-needed cup of tea and a sit-down in the cool, airy restaurant space, in full view of one of the multitude of superlambbananas which populated the city this week, S and I wended our weary way home. I was stiff, sore and very tired, but I seem, much to my relief, not to have incurred any lasting damage.

The Editor

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bouyant Bertie!

This is going to be one of those blog entries in which I heap praises on a particular artisan -if you are, at best, indifferent to jewellery, you may therefore wish to click away hurriedly rather than risk getting drawn in...

Some months ago, I chanced upon the work of a very distinctive metalsmith in the great wilderness of Etsy jewellery listings. "I'll heart that pendant", I thought, "and buy from that chap at a later time".

Famous last words.

If an Etsy item which you have saved to your favourites list is sold, you will still be able to see the details of the listing.

If, on the other hand, the item has expired or been withdrawn, you are left with a box of frustrating blankness. Which is what happened to me with this seller.

Armed with nothing more than the knowledge that he was Australian and that he works in copper, bronze and silver, I embarked on a frustrating two hours of increasingly-desperate searching. I finally tracked him down by searching under the term, "rhinoceros".

Since which nightmare, I have taken great care to favourite shops as well as individual items. In this instance, the shop name is davidloong.

Moving forward to my most recent payday, I decided it was finally time to buy the dear little flying cat pendant I had been hearting for so long because it was so reminiscent of a certain young Master Bertram. But it was gone!!

Reasoning that David sounded, from his listings, like a very decent chap, I ventured to send him what Etsy cringe-inducingly refers to as a "convo".

He explained that the original flying cat had been sold at a craft market, but that he would be happy to make another one for me. The new cat is much more Bertie-coloured than the original, and even came listed with his own poem:

"Bertie was a lively boy
Who loved to leap around.
With fur of curls
And wings with whirls
He rarely touched the ground."

Bouyant Bertie flew over from Australia with surprising speed, and arrived - sewn in to a tiny, protective package - on Tuesday morning. He is gorgeous.

How David can work on such a tiny scale with sheets of metal, I know not: although you can learn more about the techniques he uses on his own website. Given the hours of work involved in creating each piece, his prices are absurdly low.

Whether or not you could envisage yourself wearing an original, miniature artwork round your neck, please do visit David's Etsy shop, even if it's for nothing more than the pleasure of reading his listings: it's rare to encounter such gentle, whimsical humour in a commercial setting. David's work is peopled by mythical beasties who inhabit a world of his own creation: it's a truly seductive vision for anyone brought up on the books of Messrs Tolkien, Pratchett, etc.

David being far too diffident and retiring to market his own work sufficiently aggressively for it to get the exposure it so richly deserves, I am doing what little I can to increase the number of people who are familiar with the magical pieces he creates.

The Editor

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fun and games...

... is a title which could (if said in a sarcastic tone) refer to how very much I enjoy the days when I am doing my level best to work at home, but I can't access the effing Secure Remote Access System. (See how they put "Access" in the title, so as to lull those of us who use it into a false sense of security? Bah!)

After a good forty minutes of keying in my user ID and a variety of passwords, and plugging something called a "token" into the USB port when prompted, and swearing at the computer, I capitulated and phoned the IT Service Centre. (See how they put "Service" in the title, so as to con us into anticipating that they might actually serve us? Bah!)

The young man I speak to - they are all young, in my experience: far be it from me to suggest that the work they do is guaranteed to burn them out before they pass 30 - tells me that this is a "general problem" which "was first reported yesterday afternoon". But, he adds, in an encouraging manner, it's a "priority 2 referral".

As you can imagine, this information makes me feel a lot better.

Or, rather, I suppose it might have done, if I had any idea what the significance of a priority 2 referral is. I think that means they're working on it. But might they not be working on it more vigorously if it was a priority 1 referral? And what criteria does a problem need to meet for it to be a priority 1 referral?

What the young man can't tell me, of course, is how quickly the problem will be resolved.

So here I sit, periodically moving to the other end of the table to swear at my work PC when it smugly flashes up its "access denied" message. Again.

At least I long ago ceased to feel guilty about the delays this technological incompetence causes to work which I have previously promised faithfully to expedite. Or to feel duty-bound to sit up half the night answering my emails once my access has been restored.

Of course, some games are genuine and can be a lot of fun. Well, for some of the participants, at least....

Bertie's favourite game in the world ever is bouncing Caspar. It never ceases to entertain him. Caspar considers this to be a rubbish game and is, I suspect, fondly waiting for the day when he grows up sufficiently not to feel the need to play it any more.

The best time of all to bounce Caspar, according to Bertie's dear little pea-brain, is when she is running up the back steps to come in out of the garden. This is why he lurks at the top of the stairs, assuming a far-from-convincing innocent expression. If he had the equipment with which to whistle in a nonchalant fashion, he definitely would.

Only Bertie is taken in by his own pretence. Caspar knows he is there. Her task - should she choose to accept it - is to do everything in her power to trick him into thinking she isn't going to attempt the steps yet and is, in fact,completely fascinated by a fallen leaf she has discovered at the bottom, before hurtling up them at the speed of sound so as to avoid being landed on heavily by one very solid young cat. As she is a lot faster on her paws than he is, this ploy does sometimes work.

Having chanced to be standing outside the back door with my mobile phone earlier today (don't ask...), I bring you photographic evidence of the early stages of The Game. Note Bertie's convincing impersonation of a plant pot.

The Editor

Monday, June 09, 2008

An apple a day...

By virtue of no greater skill than having happened to be reading the front page of Etsy's Promotions forum at a particularly opportune moment, I am the proud winner of this print of Debra Linker's glorious painting, Apple on Blue, which arrived this morning.

How lucky am I?!?

The Editor

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Through the SQUARE window

No matter how long he's been out playing in the garden, Bertie's internal clock always lets him know when it's time for tea.

Which means that, at six o'clock, if you look out of the kitchen window, you can often see him waiting patiently to come in.

The mysterious red and green shapes which appear to be floating in the foreground are Gelgem chilli peppers.

The Editor

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Before and after

You know, in many ways I was really rather fond of my rampant brambles....

... but now they have all been slaughtered.

I know very little about these things, but I'm hoping that the front garden will at least look green again when it's had a couple of days to recover from the shock of being viciously attacked with a variety of wickedly-bladed power tools.

The Editor