26 October 2016

Fashion gallery at the National Museum of Scotland

This was my first visit to the museum since some of the galleries re-opened last year. I'm still eagerly waiting for my favourite, the Ivy Wu Gallery (or whatever they call it these days), to open up again, but in the meantime it was lovely to see the fashion gallery open.

The first thing that caught my eye was a very striking dress which turned out to be by a Scottish designer whose work I love (ever since one of my outfits was compared to her work!), Holly Fulton.
I loved the bold colours and designs of some of the other items on display which are in the photo at the top of this post, and the intricate lace and embroidery below.
Sadly they didn't have the beautiful pea-green jacket with red pompoms by Vivienne Westwood on display (that I'd painted years ago). I also haven't yet spotted one of my favourite displays, Miss Crowford's Bequest, a collection of costume jewellery - I'm hoping it's there somewhere!
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25 October 2016

National Library of Scotland

As a book lover, it's very surprising that I haven't ever visited the National Library of Scotland until now! I think I was just a little bit intimidated, knowing it's one of those libraries where you have to apply for a reader's card and follow a lot of rules!

I made my first visit because I'm preparing displays for the 50th anniversary of the school where I work, and I knew they had a copy of one of the school magazines from the 1970s.

I'd applied for my reader's card online, so there wasn't too much to do when I got there. I had to show some ID, and have my photo taken for the card (if I'd known that in advance I'd have made more effort with my hair!). A quick run-through of the rules, then I dropped off my coat, bag and umbrella in a locker and headed upstairs.

First I had to scan my card (marked with a red dot to show I was a newbie) and show my clear plastic bag (for notebook, pencils etc). Then I headed to the issue desk, where I was able to pick up the item that I'd requested online. I had to go to another desk to ask about making copies. I was lucky that they were running a trial for using (small) digital cameras (I had my big one with me for using in the museum later, but had to use my phone only in the library). I was given a sign to put on the desk saying that I had permission to take photos.

I quickly did the drawing above in pencil, which I finished off later at home with pens.

Half an hour later I was finished, and headed back downstairs to have a look at the exhibition of maps (where photography was positively encouraged!). Now that I know my way around I'm sure I'll be back to see lots of their exhibitions, and maybe to look at some books too!

21 October 2016

My collections: Playing cards

I have a collection of playing cards and other cards that I've gathered over the years, and, since I recently added to it with the Flower Families cards, I thought I would get the whole collection out and tell you a bit about it.
Like postcards, playing cards are miniature works of art, and I think this is one of the reasons I like them. But the artists designing them have to fit within a set of rules, so this means they have to be creative.

There are certain types of cards I particularly like, and all my cards fit in one or more of these categories:
Transformation cards
Tarot cards and similar
Cards from places I've travelled to
Cards in tins
Tiny cards
Cards with interesting illustrations
Vintage cards
Cards I've illustrated myself
Transformation cards

I think my favourite category of cards is transformation cards. These are cards where the "pips" (hearts, diamonds etc) are incorporated into the design of the card. I like these because it means that each card is unique. I first came across these through "The Key to the Kingdom", a book and pack of cards by Tony Meeuwissen, which form a puzzle. I got this as a present back in the early 1990s because I loved illustrated puzzle books such as Masquerade by Kit Williams. Later I found other transformation cards online, and got the Teddy Bear pack and the Kitten Club pack.

Cards I have made or illustrated

The pack of cards from Muji was perfect for adding my own illustrations, so I set about creating a pack of transformation cards on a Japanese theme. I'm about 3/4 of the way through illustrating these, and I think I have run out of unique items to draw on each card, so I'll start repeating some of the ideas. The Charles Rennie Mackintosh cards were a much simpler idea, using carved stamps.

Tarot cards

I'm not superstitious in any way, but I do love the art on tarot cards. I particularly love the Ukiyoe Tarot, which is fashioned in the style of Japanese woodblock prints. I made a black velvet drawstring bag for one of my packs of tarot cards, since they did not come in a box.

I-Ching cards

These I-Ching cards are used in a similar way to tarot cards.

 Tiny cards

On long-term loan from my parents are these Peanuts cards which they've had for as long as I can remember, they used to be kept beside the chess pieces and metal puzzles. The other tiny cards were from a Christmas cracker.

 Cards in tins, and from my travels

I happened to be in China just before the 2008 Olympics, so I found a few Olympic souvenirs including this fantastic tin of playing cards illustrated with the five mascots doing a different sporting event on each card. And I picked up the Peru ones as a last minute buy at the airport when leaving Peru, to use up the last of my cash!

 Hanafuda cards

On my second trip to Japan this was something I was particularly looking for - a pack of hanafuda cards (flower cards), and I eventually found them at the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts (Fureikan). The illustrations on them are amazing, and I love the subtle colour scheme!

Happy families type cards

The Flower Families cards were my most recent find for my collection, at an antiques fair in the Grassmarket. The "Cheery Families" are a modern re-issue by M&S of a vintage pack of cards.

 Continuous landscape cards

This pack of cards was the very first one in my collection, and lived in my box of treasures until the rest of the collection grew to join it! They are copies of a vintage pack of cards that can be combined in any way to make a continuous landscape. My artistic mind loves the tiny illustrations, and my mathematical mind loves the calculation on the box of how many combinations there are! I can remember playing with these at my Gran and Grandad's house, and imagining that these were real places somewhere along the coast of Fife.

18 October 2016

My collections: Pins

Pin collections are huge at the moment, and I'm just starting to develop my collection. There are a few themes I've started or am going to develop - Japanese themed pins, and pins that look like or represent me in some way. And probably I'll add some 80s nostalgia in there too!

I already had one of Kyoto, and one that looks like a plum blossom, so when Marceline brought out her Mount Fuji pin I just had to have it! And then I added a couple more on a Japanese theme - the limited edition soy sauce fish by TingsByUs, and the matcha latte one by Queenie's Cards. And I got two lovely vintage Japanese hiking badges from the 1980s with amazingly stylish illustrations on them. These screw on rather than pinning, but they are just perfect for the buttonholes of my denim jacket. I've tried to theme the pins on the pockets by colour too.
Also here is a pin by Stay Home Club, which is the beginning of the collection of pins that look like me!
These three lovely pins are vintage Russian ones that I bought on Etsy. The only problem is that the pins on them are a bit flimsy, like teeny safety pins, so I'm nervous about wearing and losing them. I may glue regular pin backs on them to make them more secure. The lion one reminded me of children's book illustrations, and the face one looked very Jonathan Adler-esque.
 And here are the rest of my pins and other metal badges. I'm not the Unison steward (I'm the Health & Safety rep) but this pin was left for me by the former steward. There's the badge of my former high school, which I bought when they knocked the building down. An Innsbruck pin from my trip to Austria. My house badge from work (but I'm apparently in Yellow now that they changed the house system, so I need a new one!). Stephenson's Rocket one from a trip to a model railway exhibition when I was a child. A green trefoil badge from when I was in the Guides. And a kawaii cupcake by Holly Illustrates.

14 October 2016

Hama bead tooth

I recently got my braces off after wearing them for about 20 months! This is what I made as a present for my orthodontic therapist, Louise.

On the day I got my braces off I'd been wearing my smiling watermelon necklace made from Hama beads, as I thought it would be quite apt, and there had been a big discussion about Hama beads and how to use them - they thought it might be a good way to train the husband of one of the staff how to correctly use an iron :D
So, in the two days between that and my appointment to get my retainers, I quickly whipped up this present. It was quite easy to make the design, as I just drew a full sized template on paper and laid this against the board to make the outline. Luckily I had just enough white beads to complete it!
I insisted Louise open it while I was still there, as I knew it would make her laugh! I told her she could either use it as a coaster or put it in the display cabinet. She said it was the best present from a patient she'd ever had! And, along with the card I made, they displayed it on their Facebook page the very next day!

11 October 2016

Teeth card

At the end of August I got my braces off after having them on for about 20 months. Here's the card I made for the staff at the orthodontist. They must have liked it a lot, because the next day they put it on their Facebook page!

09 October 2016

Sunday self-portraits: Sailor style

I've wanted a yellow raincoat for ages, and this summer I finally decided on this one from Seasalt. I love it! It's really comfy (the stripey lining is so soft!), and not too heavy. Finally I have a sensible coat to wear in the rain, but it's amazingly stylish too.
Another thing I've wanted for a while is a striped dress, seeing as I wear my Breton style striped tops so much, so when I was ordering my raincoat I decided to get this one at the same time. It immediately became one of my favourite items of clothing, and I've since ordered one in a different colour! I usually tend to wear it with this necklace which was a £1 bargain from Miss Selfridge years ago, black tights, and my black and white Clarks shoes. I usually like to wear a lot of colour, but I'm loving this monochrome look at the moment.