Blogging – taking some down time

Things aren’t often noisy over here on Magpie, but they’ve been a bit quieter than usual. I’ve been having a bit of an emotional slump, which I think are related to the hormone injections I’ve been having as part of the fertility treatment. I’ve been quite flat. As a consequence I haven’t really had much to say. My intellectual muscles aren’t really engaged right now.

When not in work I have found myself drawn to a more physical existence. Pottering in the garden, making sure everything has had enough water in our uncharacteristically hot summer, and picking courgettes, which seem to be doing well while everything else wilts. Swimming in the Serpentine Lido. Drawing with pencils on paper. Cutting up bits of cloth (soaked in watered down glue to prevent the edges fraying) and paper into new shapes. Arranging and rearranging things so experiment with different forms and colours. Anything that I can touch with my hands, anything with texture.

The online world feels a bit more unreal than usual to me at the moment. A little less engaging than it has been in the past. I am sure it will pass and I’ll have a bit more to say. Soon.

Like what you see? I also make art. You can things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying

Experiments with pattern

I’ve been experimenting with different materials recently to add some different texture to my paper designs. These spirals were cut from scraps of cloth I have been collecting. Cutting cloth ‘raw’ leads to lots of fraying, which isn’t really what I want here. I like shapes with quite clean silhouettes. So I’ve been trying out soaking the cloth in different types of glue. For these particular bits of cloth I used watered down PVA glue, (which is really cheep to get hold of so that’s a plus) and I think this has worked well. The cloth is still soft and flexible, but it doesn’t fray when I cut with scissors. Which is pretty much what I want.

Like what you see? I also make art. You can things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying.

What is it that I blog about anyway?


I’ve been thinking a bit about what it is I am doing (or trying to do) when I’m writing this blog recently. Looking back over previous posts there are bits and pieces about my art, other people’s art and being creative, and sometimes (but not as much as I initially thought there would be) on trying to sell it. There are bits about being in nature (mostly in the woods), or out and about in lovely bits of the UK, and on appreciating the wonderful things we may have that may often go unnoticed close to home. There are also some thoughts on mental health, wellbeing and some of the tiny steps that may be part of the journey to getting us there. I think for a while I have felt a bit like this is a messy blog with out a central theme, which, while it may suit my messy brain, may ultimately not be of that much interest to other people.

I’ve been looking around at some of the ‘alternative lifestyle’ movements for a while and with each one found that it wasn’t quite for me. I like some of the principles of minimalism, but am far too (proudly) messy to be minimalist. I can see that living a ‘laptop lifestyle’ while travelling and living on a shoestring may be exciting, but I like my home and my friends and family too much to feel like swanning off into the sunset would be my thing. I don’t rage against my day job, which is meaningful and I think involves important work, but I do want to do a bit less of it. I have always been a bit anti-consumerist, but at the same time have a deep appreciation of (and am very happy to pay for) the sensuality and materiality of objects and food that have been made with skill and love. I find some of the writing coming out of the self help movement useful, but find they often promote an approach that for me is uncomfortably self absorbed. I like being with people, but also like my alone time too much to consider some form of communal living to be the answer. So I kind of didn’t really fit with any of the alternative lifestyle tribes that would require quite radical changes to my current way of doing things.

I think I’ve come to realise that the blog is all about me efforts in trying to carve my own pragmatic (and messy) path to living a creative, purposeful, connected, meaningful life.  While I may not be a perfect fit with any of the currently available ‘alternative’ tribes, I do think that what I’ve been trying to think about is living a different kind of life to one that is normal and heavily promoted in western culture (striving, ambitious, busy, individualistic, resource and spending heavy). I think that in particular I’m beginning to see the kind of isolation that kind of life can lead to, and how frankly unhealthy that is. There has got to be a better way that may involve slightly softer lifestyle changes. I’ve been pretty inspired while reading the blog of Mrs Craft of Craft and other crazy plans, who seems to be doing all sorts of interesting creative and outdoorsy things and generally enjoying that. And I’ve been thinking about more collective ways of doing things. I think over the next year or so I’ll be posting a bit more about this as I work things out as I go along. We may even start our own pragmatically, proudly messy, creative tribe, together. Would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below.

Buying my own swag – experiences with Threadless and Redbubble

Tote bag from Threadless

Over the last few weeks I have ordered some of my own swag from Threadless an from Redbubble to have a look at the quality of the products and to see what the experience of being a customer to either platform is. As far as the quality of the products goes, I was happy with the things I received from both organisations. The tote bag in the picture at the top of this post was from Threadless, it feels really solid and strong, the colours of the digital printing are really good.


Tote bag from Redbubble

The blue tote bag above is from Redbubble. I would say the quality is similar, the digital printing again is really nice and the cloth is a little softer which I prefer I think. 

I think the main difference has come in the form of my experience of getting the products shipped to me in the UK. Redbubble appear (from one experience so definitely not a systematic exploration) to have world wide shipping sorted out. I ordered things last week and they are all already in my sweaty excited hands.

Threadless unfortunately do not seem to have this cracked. I think I made a mistake in the early stages of ordering – you can opt to pre-pay surcharges and I didn’t do this as I didn’t quite realise I needed to do this (if you live outside of the US do this). Two of my items are now floating around the uk postal system somewhere. I contacted Threadless’ customer service team for help with my undelivered items and let’s just say I had a very frustrating interaction with someone who didn’t seem to understand my problem, or didn’t care that the did give me a second tracking number, which I had not seen before, so I could work out the problem for myself. I am not trying to work with the courier, having had to find contact details for them via google, to find out what I need to do next – I think I need to pay a customs charge, but not really sure as neither Threadless nor the courier have actually contacted me directly to tell me what to do next. So basically I’m having to do far more detective work than I have time for to get my hands on my own products. I am hoping this is a one off shipping problem, and not their general approach to customer services as it is pretty disappointing so far.

Another thing – I submitted a design to a Threadless competition this week- it’s the first time I’ve ever done something like this – if you had a spare moment I would really appreciate your votes, which you can submit here.