Friday, 28 August 2009

pin me down

I love badges (pinback buttons, pins, whatever you want to call them!) because they are such an easy way to subtly change or completely transform what you're wearing. I usually wear one every day, and if I don't have one to match my mood or outfit, I make one!

But I love it when people wear lots all together, like this fabulous hat in Vogue (above) and the amazing customised prom bag posted as part of Suzanna Taylor's prom outfit on lookbook (see below). My mum used to collect badges (the roots of my obsession) and pinned them on a plum-coloured cord jacket. Once, in the 1980s, she wore this badge-covered masterpiece with hot-pink silk-satin harem pants to a dinner party - wonderfully outrageous! I wish I had a photo...

You can also pin them on shoes, hats, purses... even curtains! Anything made of fabric. And the beauty of it is that you can always just take them off, change them, start over.

Individual, versatile and transient... the ultimate fashion statement.

Homemade Bag With Badges, Topshop Pumps With Metallic Heart Print, Vintage DressSee the original post on lookbook, by Suzanna Taylor, here

Thursday, 27 August 2009


I love finding pretty materials to make things with. Yesterday I came across these end-of-line ribbons being sold off cheaply in an art supplies shop. Sadly the pretty origami paper wasn't discounted...

I was reading on Milomade's origami bag tutorial how she prefers re-using and recycling materials rather than buying new. It made me feel a little guilty about my expensive and pristine paper purchase!

However most of my crafty projects are made using bits and pieces I've recycled in some way. I use a lot of old magazines in my collages, as well as the decorative paper bags smart gift shops often give you when you buy buttons or cards or whatever.

This morning I opened up a beautiful, delicious-smelling pomegranate and blackcurrant soap some friends gave me for my birthday. The colourful wrapper is just calling out to be made into badge jam, birthday cards and other delightfully-scented projects!

There's nothing sweeter than stumbling upon the perfect materials, wherever you may find them.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

badge jam

Having been making jams and chutneys in every spare moment recently (a preservation rush that slightly resembles my obsessive hoarding of other things, like ribbons and paper and old calendars!) I've had an urge to create and wear jam badges: little gleaming 25mm buttons with images of plums, jars, chutneys, figs, peaches, cherries, blackberries etc...

They remind me of pretty jam jar lids and labels, late-summer fruits, and well-stocked pantries... I'm storing them in a jam jar for now (one of those lovely faceted 'Bonne Maman' ones): where else?


I've decided to sell some on Etsy since I have more than enough! Check out the listing here.

Monday, 24 August 2009

plum jam recipe

I always use the following instructions, scrawled into a little yellow notebook the first time my Mum and I made jam together:

1. Prepare space - needs plenty of clean space!
2. Get jars - wash in hot soapy water and put in lowest oven to dry out and sterilize.
3. Weigh fruit: 1kg - 2lbs - plums to 1kg sugar

4. Cook fruit in a little water (about 1/4 pint - 11oml - for 1kg/2lbs plums). Put in 1/2 lemon. Keep stones in (remove after cooking with a knife) or put them in a muslin bag - for the pectin.
5. Cook till soft
6. Remove stones if necessary (using 2 bowls, knife and spoon)
7. Plums back into pan (if necessary) - add sugar and stir in with big wooden spoon

8. Boil up - you need to be around, stir occasionally - not too often! - with spoon to stop any sticking on botton (use the heaviest-bottomed pan you can find)
9. You can boil the stones in water in another pan for extra pectin.
10. To test when it's ready - setting - drip some jam from near bottom of pan onto a chilled plate. Allow to cool. If it crinkles when you push your finger into it, it's setting.
11. Remove jars from oven. Dip pyrex jug into jam (or use a ladle) and pour into jars (you can use a funnel but I personally don't like this). Wait a few moments before putting on lids.

VoilĂ ! I love instruction number 1. It's so motherly - it always makes me laugh. But yet so useful - typical!

p.s. hope you like my little jam badge - worn with gingham Steve Alan for Uniqlo shirt above - there will be more of these!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

rich pickings

Victoria plums
Originally uploaded by The Owl Club
Heaps of them! Piles of lovely victoria plums picked from the top of a wobbly ladder.

At at my Mum's house so can't get a blog in edgewise... more on Monday!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

the owl club

The Owl Club collage badge

I've always loved owls. I'm in good company of course: my favourite filmmaker Chris Marker is an owl and cat lover, along with millions of other people. My mum reckons it's their front-facing eyes: it makes them seem so human and cute.

When I was a kid (not sure how old - about 6 or 7?) I started this club called The Owl Club for owl loving people.

Its members were a hotch-potch of my friends and (mostly) my mum's friends. The best bit was making the newsletter. I knew clubs had to have one. I would cut out pictures of owls and write about them. We also had jokes (I shudder to think...) and competitions.

We had a drawing competition and people actually sent in these amazingly beautiful drawings of owls. It was won by dear R, a friend of the family who sadly passed away last year. I hope my mum still has them somewhere: maybe I'll scan them and post them here sometime.

Anyway, that's the background to my blog title and Etsy shop name. I made a 58mm badge, an owl collage, to commemorate that time.

a good review!

I'm really excited to see that my 'rare' collage badge has been selected as the badge of the day by the excellent Badge Review blog! See yesterday's post for the story behind this creation.

They have lots of other sweet and creative badges on the site - definitely worth checking out if you're looking for a rare find!

I should also mention that this badge is on sale in my Etsy shop - and since it's a sample I'm selling it for the ridiculously cheap price of $1.00. Hurry as there's only one in the whole world!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


This is my latest creation, photographed among the mushrooms and roses in our lovely garden. I'm happy because last night I was able to salvage this little badge which had somehow gone wrong in the making.

After hours of carefully choosing the image, word, letters and background, cutting them delicately and painstakingly gluing them together, I put the backing wrongly into my badgemaker...

But I managed to prise and cut off the central image - a rare orchid - cut round it, and stick it on to a different background. I prefer it like this, with three layers instead of two.

And I'd been hesitant between a rich red and an animal-print background. So now there are both!

A trivial tale. A minute minutia among the minutiae of these small projects... but still satisfying when something that seems wasted can be recuperated. And salvaging things that might otherwise be thrown away is one of the pleasures of collage for me.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

badges and babies

A few days ago my friend told me that she is pregnant. She is my oldest friend and one of the very best; we've known each other since the age of 4. Every time I've seen her for the last few years she's mentioned how much she's longing to have babies, but what with one thing and another, it wasn't looking very likely. Then: surprise! I felt so joyful and excited.

I decided to make her one of my little collage badges and was inspired by this image of a pomegranate - often used as a symbol of fertility in art thanks to its sticky proliferation of seeds - held gently in feminine hands like a gift. A flower motif sets off the lettering and a little ladybird creeps in over the edge for good luck.

Our garden has reached a deliciously fruitful stage. The glossy pink Victoria plums have cracked a bough on the tree, so heavily massed are the fragrant bunches. Every few moments a dull thud alerts us, Newton-like, to the falling of another ripe apple. And great sprays of brambles have appeared over the shed roof, with juicy blackberries waiting to stain my hands.

It was my brother's birthday recently and I made him this badge, because it's his first birthday as a father. He's an amazing Dad: a real hero.

All these babies and fecundity: it's definitely inspiring me and my husband...

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