Sunday, 29 April 2012

Waltzer restoration

Here is my first experiment with creating a slideshow. It is the initial stages of the restoration of a Lakins 1938 Waltzer. The Waltzer was originally painted by Edwin Hall, a wonderful painter. I was lucky to have been taught some of the fairground techniques such as shadows and marbling by Edwins brother, Billy Hall. Billy Hall gave me a box of brushes that he had had and used...I like o think that it was there when it was first painted.
I hope you enjoy the show !

I love Bluebells ! Greek Myths and Fairies

The first opening of bluebells in The Forest of Dean.The end of April.
The Bluebell fairy by Cicely Mary Barker
Walk carefully through bluebells because if you walk over them the bells will ring, knocking the fairy spells onto the ground. If you actually hear the bell ring  then you won't live for long...that's cheery isn't it, but the sensible thing is to not crush the bluebells because they will suffer. They are also known as 'witches thimbles' and is said that the bells ring at midnight calling the fairies.

All parts of the bluebell are poisonous but they have been used to treat leprosy and are now being tested to help sufferers of HIV and Cancer.
The following link is great for finding out if you have seen native species or the Spanish hybrid.
The native species have narrow tubular flowers with very curled back petals. It is also has a more delicate arching stem .

Some interesting facts about Bluebells
  • Bluebell sap used to be used to glue pages into a book (the toxins discourage silverfish ) and the glue was also used to stick feathers to arrows by Bronze Age people,according to archaeological evidence.
  • If you wear a wreath of Bluebell flowers you will only be able to tell the truth.
  • If you can turn a bluebell flower inside out without tearing it you will keep and win  the one you love.
  • Their bulbs were crushed in Elizabethan times to starch their collars, cuffs and sleeves.
  • All parts of the bluebell are poisonous but they have been used to treat leprosy and are now being tested to help sufferers of HIV and Cancer.

Hyacinthoides Non-scripta is the bluebells scientific name. It comes from the Greek Myth where the God Apollo cried at the death of Prince Hyakinthos. They had been playing discus when it had struck Hyakinthos on the side of his head killing him. Apollo's tears fell onto the the hyacinth flower that had sprung up from Prince Hyakinthos's blood, spelling the word 'alas' on the petals.
Stanley Spencer
Another Latin name for the Bluebell 'Endymion non-scriptus' also comes from a Greek myth. This time Selene, the goddess of the moon, fell in love Endymion, a very handsome man. Selene didn't want him to get old and particularly loved him when he slept, so she asked Zeus to make him young and sleep forever. When you can't see the moon it is because she is visiting Endymion. The bluebell is said to give a dreamless sleep which is probably death because it is so poisonous!  

There are white bluebells but the pink ones are almost certainly Spanish or a hybrid of the native and Spanish. I have a lot of bluebells, blue, white and pink in my garden. They are hybrids but I still love them. I'm hoping that in the next couple of weeks I will be able to sit in some bluebell woods and enjoy the smell and colour of is a sight that should never be missed.
 The Bluebells of Scotland Video and Music.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Stencilled Wallpaper at Sudeley Castle

Today I had a little experiment with making a slide show....I half thought of adding 'Greensleeves' music then thought better of it...phew what a relief I hear you say !. I'm afraid this is a link,...I haven't worked out how to add it to blog without link. David Starkey visited the Castle the other day and thought my work was 'terrific', always lovely to have a compliment. Camilla visited too . the legs belong to Jane at Winds of Change Gallery...she was a big help.....Thanks Jane.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

My Garden plants and their Romany meanings.

Tulip: Love

Honesty : Sincerity, fascination
Scatter flowers around a childs bed to protect them from nightmares.
Keep an autumn seedpod in your pocket to attract money.

cowslip : Pensiveness, winning grace

If a bumblebee enters your house it means a stranger will visit.

Apple Blossom : Temptation
Appleblossom when brought into the house or caravan will bring ill health to the family.

Bluebell : I am true,Constancy
Healing powers and bring calmness

Ivy : I will cling to you
'On Hallowe'en,October 31, Romany girls divine using ivy leaves. Each girl picks an ivy leaf, scores it with an individual mark, and passes it through a gold earing. The following morning, if black spots have appeared on the ivy it isa sign of romance with a dark-haired man, If black spots virtually cover the leaf, the girl will marry a dark-haired man within the year. If no spots emerge, no special lover will arrive within the next 12 months.' G.Kemp

Strawberry Blossom : Perfection
Children would make a wish when they ate their first strawberry of the season.

Daffodil : Good manners
Travellers would put bunches of unopened Daffodils into a bath of warm water to open them out and make them more attractive to customers when they went out calling .(Hawking/selling)

Violet : Faithfulness
Romanies often sold bunches of sweet violets in march. Make a love sachet with violets and lavender.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

'From Wool to Jumper' a brief story of the teaching of Dora Wigg.

This week Jane from The Winds of Change Gallery was sent a lovely letter .
It was sent by Dora Wigg and this is a gist of what she said...
In the 1960's there was a Forum  that met in The Old George and then The White Lion. They had regular speakers ,one of which was Mary Osbourn. Mary had worked in the poorest areas of London pre 1939 and had met Mahatma Ghandi on one of his visits. He gave his spinning wheel to Mary and taught her how to spin wool.
Wool dyed from old dyes found on a shipwreck.
During the second world war Mary moved to a one up one down in Laverton and began to teach local children how to turn raw wool into cloth. In the 1960's Dora gathered a small group and along with their children regularly visited Mary to learn spinning. Apparently Mary had twelve spinning wheels dotted about her cottage. Mary later opened a centre dedicated to the teaching of traditional crafts,called the 'Guildhouse' at Stanton. It is still running today and is well worth a visit.
Stanton Guildhouse

After a few years Dora taught 7 year olds at the local primary school how to spin with the most basic of spindle, a potatoe with a stick in it. She also taught them how to weave on backstrap looms with a heddle made from lollipop sticks. Dora called her lessons 'from wool to jumper'. One of the school inspectors was so impressed that he encouraged Dora to write a book, which she did.
French version of 'Let's Weave' by Dora Wigg
 It was published by Evans Bros and was called 'Lets Weave'. The opposite of these children were the children of Winchcombe who for hundreds of years had to spin and earn money for their families.
Waistcoat made by Jan Macmillan.
One of the parents became interested and so Dora trained her. ...her name is Jan McMillan and she is an expert in the craft and is a member of The Gloucestershire Guild Of Craftsmen. One of her lovely waistcoats is for sale in Jane's Wool in Winchcombe Exhibition.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Yarn storming in Winchcombe

Today as I walked into Winchcombe I came across some Yarn Storming.....or wool bombing....
.......some of the knitting was labelled with ' Wool Bandits '!....
I've heard of this happening in America and Chipping Norton ........
.and now we have some here....
...they must have heard of the ''Wool in Winchcombe''  and because it is a community event....
the Wool Bandits did their ''stuff''
.....good fun isn't it.

The crochet hanging basket was my bit of work and is hanging outside The Winds of Change Gallery......unfortunately it's not real wool..but it's bright and jolly.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

A toilet fit for a Queen

A couple of months ago I was given the delightful project of creating a 'toilet fit for a Queen'. Sudeley Castle is celebrating the Quincentenary of Katherine Parr. She lived at Sudeley Castle with Thomas Seymour. Jean Bray the wonderful historian at the castle found lots of interesting information about Katherine, including a description of her toilet.

'The Queen's lavatory must have been one of the most opulent privies in the whole of Tudor England at the time.
It had a crimson velvet canopy, cushions covered in cloth of gold and a seat of crimson velvet for the royal posterior. A removable commode was covered with red silk and ribbons attached with gilt nails.'

The only remaining old toilet I had to go on, as it were was a photo of one at Hampton Court. ....very nice but I didn't think it fitted the description. After a meeting with Lady Ashcombe where we both sketched out various designs we came up with this one. (Lady Ashcombe has a very good eye for colour and design )
Ryan the security guard at Sudeley with he help of Will kindly made the base frame up for me.

Then with my good mate Hayley Moreland we set too with the upholstery. We used beautiful velvet,and old silk brocade from Flanders along with the dismantled sections of one of Lady Ashcombes favourite silk skirts....she did know ! The canopy itself used up nearly twenty yards of material..... and here it is ! I resisted the temptation to try it out...but I bet someone will have sat on it !

Half of us were tickled by the idea of a velvet loo seat and half were appalled by the hygiene side...but to be honest, if we all had someone else to do the cleaning I'm sure we all would like one, after all it must be quite a treat on a cold frosty morning !
Interestingly it appears that the Royal family still sit on velvet covered loo seats. My Dad remembered a friend telling him that The Queen Mother when visiting the Cheltenham Gold Cup had a velvet loo seat...they all had a nick name for her...something like 'soft cheeks'.

Noel Gallagher also reported using the Queens loo and said it had a velvet seat.

The Queen visited Edith Bowman to have dinner and her Grandads especially made a velvet loo seat for the occasion.

From Midas property Consultants.
Recently the most expensive toilet that has been made is covered in swarovski crystals and costs £83000..
For a brief history of toilets please follow the next link...

Keep sitting pretty !


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