Ukuleles, hens and caravans

Had a wonderful weekend at Hollesley 2011 uke festival, a celebration of the Ukulele Cosmos. Highlights included Yan Yalego's cool blues on Tahitian uke; The Toots stunning interpretation of Yan Tiersen's theme from Amelie; and a storming set from The Re-entrants on Saturday night which left no-one in the house with a Poker Face. I loved S.O.U.P. for sheer jollity, fez wearing head count and London Girls; Alan Townsend's twinkly-eyed exuberant performances (he will forever be known as Doctor Jazz in these parts); meeting so many lovely people and laughing and grinning so much during the weekend that my face still hurts.

We stayed at the delightful St. Margarets Campsite, a short distance away from the festival base and shared our field with two vintage caravans, frolicking rabbits and some very companionable hens. We camped, ate and strummed our ukes in the fresh Suffolk air. 

The Toots
Yan Yalego
The Re-entrants
Peter Prim's Little Knitted Ukulele Badges
Pink caravan at St. Margaret's Campsite
Polka-dot caravan cat

Ukulele appliqué tote bags

I've made some small tote bags to take to Hollesley Uke Festival at the weekend. Hollesley Ukefest is a camping get-together and strum-together for regulars of the wonderful Ukulele Cosmos forum. It will be attended by some of the best and most enthusiastic uke players in the country (it's already sold-out) and I'm very excited to be joining them - I fall into the 'enthusiastic' category.

The tote bags are made from remnant pieces of fabric and the uke motif is life-size, inspired by my beloved Hamano soprano uke. Each bag is unique. 

I'm going to keep one for myself but have become so attached to them all, I can't decide which one to have...


Update on 23rd September 2011: Appliqué uke tote bags are now available in the shop!

Amy Butler uke gig bags in the Ivy Arch shop

I've just finished making two ukulele gig bags using Amy Butler's gorgeous Lotus print fabrics. Butler is an American print designer best known for her thoroughly modern approach to botanical, geometric and romantic designs.

What I like most about her work is that she reinvents vintage-style prints using lush contemporary colour combinations. She is a cult figure in the craft world, publishing how-to books and sewing patterns, as well as designing home accessories and selling sustainably produced yarn.

Both uke bags are on sale now in my shop.

Amy Butler Morning Glory Lotus print in slate.
I contour quilted around the large flowers to make the front of this uke gig bag.
I made this uke gig bag using Amy Butler Temple Garland fabric.

Six things about Worthing Artists Open Houses

My six favourite things about this year’s Worthing Open Houses were:
1. Seeing Teresa Stewart-Goodman’s excellent logo printed on welcoming large banners everywhere around the town.
2Alison Milner's mid-century modern Formica coffee tables at New Parade – described by The Observer newspaper last weekend as ‘awkwardly cute'.
3. Buying a Joy Fox corsage brooch made from the palest yellow recycled blanket. I love Fox’s work (it’s the third piece of hers I own).
4. Mireille Clark’s beautiful contemporary silver jewellery and the close up view of Elisabeth Frink’s Desert Quartet sculpture at Alexander Terrace.
5. The colourful embroidered Russian dolls by Lara Sparks and Fiona Hesford’s cute knitfolk toys at York Road.
6. Everything about Sarah Young’s studio sale; her superb Lady (with revealed organs), her wonderful paintings and prints, and best of all, finishing my tour of Worthing Open Houses by drinking tea and eating cupcakes in her enchanting garden.

Russian dolls by Lara Sparks
Coffee tables by Alison Milner
Ceramics at New Parade

Sarah Young's garden studio

Visible music

On Saturday I went to Gone With The Wind at Raven Row gallery in London where in addition to the beautiful sound artworks by Max Eastley, Walter Marchetti and Takehisa Kosugi there was a performance by 74-year-old Esther Ferrer. Ferrer was a member of Zaj along with Marchetti in Franco’s Spain providing a radical artistic alternative to the official (fascist) culture.

She’s still formidable and her brand of humorous but confrontational feminist performance art held a packed audience enthralled, including me and my six-year-old daughter. Ferrer did two pieces, one involving undressing and dressing while balancing a series of symbolic objects on her head. The other a rapid-fire explanation of art theory conducted entirely in gibberish. It really was a case of you had to be there but Esther Ferrer’s warm personality is so palpable I wanted to take her home.

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