Monday, October 12, 2015

Letting loose my inner William

Do you remember the Just William books, by Richmal Crompton? My friend Brinda and I were crazy about William (yes, at age 26 - so what?) and hunted down as many of the books as were available to us, by hook or by crook. Incidentally, isn't Richmal the most unusual name? I've never come across it anywhere else, never heard of anybody else with that name, in reality or in fiction. Until I checked on on the Internet, I hadn't even been sure if Richmal was a man or a woman (woman, if that was unclear to you too). 

In one of the books, William is collecting writing implements for him and his gang to bring out a newspaper. Richmal Crompton's description has remained with me all down the years - "William's task was to collect pencils. Henry's was to supply the paper. William collected pencils, and in collecting pencils as in everything else he was very thorough. He seemed to attract pencils like a magnet. They left their hiding-places of bureaus and davenports and attache cases and pockets and boxes and flocked into his possession. For days afterwards the adult members of the Brown family were indignantly accusing each other of having taken each other's pencils, nor was peace restored till Mr Brown brought back a large supply of fresh pencils from the City".

Specifically, the bit which says "he attracted pencils like a magnet"? I do that too! Not in collecting pencils, but in other things - and the main place where I do this nowadays is on Amazon. Over the years, my interest has been taken by various things arty-farty. It started with fabric painting when I was in my early 20s (and had got my first job). Camlin fabric paints were my favourite, and also the only ones that I knew about. At that point the magnet effect hadn't started because I hadn't quite grasped just how much money could buy, and I was still innocent enough to only buy what I needed. (Yes, I do wish I could go back to that state of mind - it would save a bleddy fortune, I tell you!)

However, that innocence didn't last long. In Singapore I had other vices to pander to, but artsy craftsy didn't come into it. It was only after coming to the UK, during the couple of years that I wasn't allowed to work here, that I really got into the arts and crafts. Apart from indulging in loads of fabric paints (which I didn't use as much as I should have) from Dylon and other manufacturers, I did a few courses.
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Watercolouring was the first, and of course I bought all the paraphernalia - sketchbook, artist's easel, palette, water colour paints, the best brushes I could afford (although I wasn't quite far gone enough to pay over £100 for a single brush!), books on teaching yourself to watercolour, a DVD by a famous children's TV arts presenter on step-by-step watercolour painting - you name it, I bought it. I didn't, however, use all these things as much as I should have, because by then my interest was taken up by....
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Embroidery. This was a craze that lasted a few years (and is still ongoing, although perhaps with a little less craze) - so I bought embroidery threads by the dozen, supplemented by some really beautiful expensive silks from a trip to the USA by way of a shop called Michaels (I think). I admit to going slightly bonkers there because of all the things that I wanted to buy that weren't available back home (or at least not in the same avatars).Oh, and I went to the Hobbycrafts Exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham and while I tried very hard to restrain myself, I still ended up with silk fabrics, threads and a few books on embroidery. Of course at the same time I was also trawling Ebay and Amazon for whatever offbeat books I could find, and yet more silks.
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In between, I experimented with...

Jewellery making. This didn't last beyond the one beginners course that I attended. Too much like hard work, and it required a workshop if I wanted at all to make anything worthwhile. I didn't want to play with fire and I definitely didn't want to bend metal into weird shapes. However, that didn't stop me from getting the paraphernalia that went with it - copper wire, a whole set of pliers of different sizes and a jeweller's magnifying glass, plus a book on metal craft. After that...

Beading. I went to quite a few classes, and made some bracelets and a couple of necklaces, some of which were even wearable, and one really rather complicated necklace that I gifted away (kinda sorta regret that, almost). But I bought dozens and dozens of packs of glittering little beads in various shapes and of various makes from various Internet crafts shops - and believe you me, a lot of the beads are incredibly expensive (I lusted after them, but couldn't afford them)! Other accessories like beading needles, wax, strong threads, a design board, and so on, also found their way to me. Sequins, too. I had big dreams of embellishing T-shirts and clothes with the beads and sequins - I did a few, but again, not enough. However, the beads remain with me, because they are just so very pretty! Shiny, glittering little things in such gorgeous colours. If I could eat them, I would! Then...
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Colouring. I always loved it, and with colouring being classed a de-stressing activity, I was only too happy to buy colour pencils and gel pens and sketch pens and adult colouring books (by which i do not mean pornographic pictures!). I'm not in the least stressed but I do enjoy colouring very much. It's something that my niece (five years old) and I have in common! 

My latest venture is sewing. This was partly wanting to take it up and partly being pushed into it willy-nilly by my sister and brother who gifted me a gorgeous Janome sewing machine last year. It sat at home for a few months while I guiltily ignored it, too scared to actually check out its workings. ew. But of COURSE I had all the accessories arriving at my doorstep in a series of deliveries way before I signed up for a few classes at a local sewing school (which unfortunately closed down a few months after I joined! - I swear it wasn't my fault)  - so the pinking shears, the tailor's scissors, sewing threads in a dozen colours, 3-foot quilting ruler, square quilting ruler, needle threader, seam unpicker, measuring tape, rotary cutters in two sizes, flat-headed glass pins, table-top ironing board, cutting mat in two sizes,  and various other necessities were all in place before I knew how to thread the darned machine! And let's not forget the cloth and pre-cut fabric squares for quilting. 

To be fair, I've actually stitched usable things that look quite pretty too: A Christmas table runner and four matching placemats. A cushion cover complete with piping and concealed zip. At least a dozen little bags which I gifted to various little girls I knew (it's a different matter that my mother had to sew zips to the bags to stop little-girl possessions from falling out). A small quilt for a small child (which incorporated some embroidery too). And now I'm working on a bigger quilt for a bigger child, my niece, who is 5 years old. When I complete it, I will be making a bigger quilt still, for my sister. This sewing lark might just be the one that lasts the duration...but there will probably be other things to try, and let my inner William loose. Watch this space, won't you? 


Anonymous said...

This was such a cute post on your shenanigans(all good of course!) in the world of "making". You are a maker thats what it is all about innit? You make pretty things whether it's a beautiful quilt or a watercolor on paper. You have a lot in common with my mum, an avid embroiderer, quilter and painter of miniatures on peepul leaves!

Show us photus of your creations sweets.

I recall my early days in the U.S. newly married waiting for my work visa to arrive doing something very similar- haunting Michaels and Hobby Lobby mesmerize by all the doodads available for an aspiring(delusional more like it!) amateur artist like myself:-)


Shammi said...

Thank you so much for your comment, Deep. :) I've taken your suggestion on board and updated the post! :)

30in2005 said...

Loved loved loved Richmal Crompton books when I was a kid.

And so impressed by all your 'making'. I am a sloth and have killed all my own creativity by letting it slowly rot away. My creative bones only appear under duress of children's birthday parties. At all other times I greatly envy the creative stuff I can see others doing.