Sunday 23 February 2014

Midnight Blue Chest of Drawers Transformation

This item was a slightly more tricky number than normal.
I collected it from a lady residing near Brick Lane who was uncluttering her house.  It was, of course pretty filthy as standard, however, it also needed a lot more attention that I had anticipated.  You can see on the photo that one side is quite badly damaged, so I needed to rebuild this section before commencing with the decoration.  Additionally, the chest of drawers had been cut from a dresser, but not very well so the other side needed a good few millimetres shaving off one end to straighten it out.

Now, it was ready for makeover!  I wanted to create a dark blue themed item, as I have just sold my other dark coloured bedside table.   I like to keep a mix of colours and styles in stock and I haven't made a blue item before so thought it might be a nice challenge.  I am rather pleased with the result.  The piece of furniture is actually quite tall and thin, so therefore could easily fit into a living room space, rather than just a bedroom.

Friday 7 February 2014

Welcome to 1920's Style Upcycled Lamp

My task was to create a stylish and elegant ornamental lampshade from a disregarded plain version using a colour scheme of green and purple.

Often the tricky part of a commission is finding a suitable base unit, however I managed to locate a perfect one in an antiques shop in Sheffield. The lampshade was fabric and in good condition (a necessary requirement!), and attached to a solid white marble base.  A good start.

The lampshade recipient has a sophisticated taste and a penchant for 1920's style so I selected the fabrics and design with this in mind.  I spray painted the fringe a neutral grey to which enables an even finish.  As metallic embellishment is part of my signature, gold fragments provided the finishing touches. I think that it has a touch of Persian style to it.

I've included a picture below, however, unfortunately I forgot to take the 'before' picture until after I'd gone a bit crazy with the spray paint!

Monday 3 February 2014

I Can Now Fix (some) of My Bike

I love a bit of DIY, but the main challenge is having the know-how in the first place.  And yes, of course there is tried and tested method of 'trial and error', but that error bit can be a bit frustrating and not to mention time consuming.

So, on a slightly different but related note, I'm a member of Economy of Hours (ECHO) which is a skills swap site in East London.  I had spotted the offer of the use of London Bike Kitchen, so decided to cash in some hours.   Having had a enough of my gears causing me grief (with all those potholes - a fully functioning bike is a necessity!), last week, my bike and I made our way down.

Incase you don't know the concept:

LBK is an a DIY workshop where you work on your own bike which has the the aim of:
 - promoting self reliance and confidence through education
 - making cycling more accessible
 - getting more people from all backgrounds on bikes

I was a little apprehensive about turning up because bike shops can be a little intimidating - maybe a man having a go at you when your bike has been stolen, or generally looking at you in disregard because you don't/do have a xxx, and not to mention the blond hair.

But, all was well, as I was welcomed by Jenny, the Director.  It was mid-afternoon before the after work rush so luckily I was provided with a stand straight away and a friendly bike expert and off I went.

I learnt:
- how to stop my gears from slipping
- how to fit the new brake pads I had at home in my cupboard
- what I need to clean and oil to keep the bike in good condition (not as obvious as you might think)
- not all bike places are scary
- empowerment!

They do a variety of courses, some gender specific which I might try out.  If you want to pop in and fix your bike you tend to pay by the hour for the space, then parts on top. Oh, and they give you tea.

Friday 31 January 2014

Cybersalon: Cyborg’s New Clothes – Wearable Computing, Interactive Fashion - Review

Cybersalon's The Cyborg’s New Clothes – Wearable Computing, Interactive Fashion and Skin 2.0 held at DigitasLBi offices.

Described as a 'special feature on wearables and interactive fashion beyond celebratory reviews of the latest gadget bling'.

This was quite possibly the most bizarre evening with speakers I've ever attended - from the sublime eccentric, to the damned right brilliant to the 'What The ?'

It got off to a slightly chaotic start, whilst the Chair, Stefan Lutschinger (game designer, curator, artist & lecturer of Media, Culture and Communications at Middlesex University)  fumbled with his notes and tried to locate his ‘cathedral’, whilst 'co-host’ Adriana Smentek (student of previously mentioned University Course) hovered glamorously by his side.  

Now, I have to say that this was the most incongruous aspect of the evening.  An evening dedicated to technology and futuristic type things, but with the presentation style of a game show from the 80s or 90s.  I mean, Adriana was very beautiful, but her role aside from this was less than clear . Aside from introducing herself she didn’t say a word all night.  It seemed to be slightly out of sorts with the theme of the night, and in fact any respectable event this decade!

But anyway, let's leave that to one side. First we were treated to a live dance installation (Theia’s Aura by Simon Sarginson).  It took me a little while to work out that the colourful bubbles on the projector were following the dancers movements, but once I did, it made much more sense and was actually rather enchanting.  If you want a more artistic description 'the technology, rather than inviting us to succumb to its abstract inhuman interface and getting more intimate with it, hides itself from the viewer and produces a reactive cloud using the body as a language to create a fantastical spectacle manifesting the imagination of the performer'.

Next up was Prof. Johannes Grenzfurthner (founder of Monochrom an international art-technology-philosophy group, based in Austria), who is most definitely an eccentric sort.  He came to the stage dressed in a bright orange astronauts suit.  

His topics encapsulated various types of robotics interlinked with clothing and sex. He talked about some of the events that Monochrome are involved in which includes Festival Roboexotica where people create robots to mix cocktail,  which was kinda cool. See below image for Truth or Dare Shot Dress

Monochrom also hold a conference about sex and technology called Arse Elektronika about how sex influences the development of technology - especially with the advent of wearables   - I’m sure you've seen some of the potential apps designed for Google Glass?.  

Hard to beat

But actually I think Jesse Darling actually did. (she is as her biog says 'an artist, curator and occasional essayist, researching the deep links between technology, power and experience').  She had been asked to have a critical look at – and through – Google Glass (or Google ass as she calls it). There was no ambiguity in her introduction regarding her dislike of some forms of technology breakthroughs, namely Google+ and Google Glass, which was pretty awesome considering she was in a room full of predominantly techie types. She offered a cynical yet humorous insight into her perception of world of Google Glass.  

She highlighted that the advert for GG features an ethnic minority female wearing unisex apparel, however when researching which market the product was given to for testing, it didn’t exactly didn't exactly reflect the all quotas ticked poster girl.    Ah, instead white, men, generally looking oh so cool.   I have since discovered that there is actually a whole blog dedicated to this entire theme

She made numerous interesting yet defamatory comments about Google Glass which when taking into account the actual viewing functionality of the device concluded that it is pretty much objectifying (too much to go into here).  And I agree.  It was refreshing to hear someone speak so eloquently yet without pretension whilst defying the opinions of 'le cool'.

Next up was Dr. Phoebe Moore, (Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Middlesex University).  I have to be honest, I have absolutely no idea what the Doctor was talking about for the majority of her presentation (neither did my friend), I didn’t find it to be well structured or engaging.   Towards the end I picked up some interesting comments around how companies are 'quantifying life' all in the name of increasing productivity which really interesting and it would be great to hear about this in more detail. 

A last minute fill in from Ilicco Elia  (Head of Mobile at LBi)  who spoke about how technologies might evolve. It would have been good to hear more from him, as perspectives from key people at leading agencies can be interesting. Unfortunately though, his time was rushed, as he had to make way for the next and final speaker....

Krõõt Juurak  (choreographer, performer and member of Chicks on Speed). This was about Pets. Right?  I used to listen to Chicks On Speed at after parties back in the day so I had high hopes. Unfortunately my hopes were not realised. I don't want to be mean so I think I will stop there. 

I will be going to the next one.

Thursday 2 January 2014

Upcycling Sewing Table - The Transformation Process

Cotton Creates offers a Bespoke Service and this post gives an insight into how it happens.

This particular item hasn't undergone the full Cotton Creates Transformation Process, because it is infact going to reside in my home, and therefore, the first couple of stages have been omitted (one would hope I know what im looking for!)

Source a small table that could be used as a key table in my home.  Luckily I was home in Sheffield for Christmas which is a haven for antique goods, definitely preferable to the over-scoured London town.

And here is the pretty little item I found. A Victorian sewing table, perfect to turn into a key table.  As you can see, it still contained the original interior, however it was in very poor condition so sadly needed to be removed.


A chisel, hammer and file later and this was it's current state. As you can see, the interior lining was well and truly stuck down with copious resin. Which, so my dad informs me, back in the day would have been made from melted down horse hooves and bones.  I discovered that the table had a number of scuff marks, at which point my mum disappeared off into the kitchen and appeared with this bottle of Topps stainer and polish, from the depths of the cupboard with a price sticker of 19p on it....


Then, fabric, ribbon, glue and staples later here is the finished item.  Ready for it's new home.


Friday 27 December 2013

My First Foray as a Start-Up into The World of Networking

Oh networking, the lovely world of networking. Some people’s passion many people’s nightmare. For me, it is most definitely, the latter.But, as every entrepreneur, coach and mentor tells me it is a necessity when trying to build a business. Especially when you’re a start-up like me. I went all out there and attended four events in two weeks!

So, I made EventBrite my friend and as a result discovered a Networking Start-up event held at at the aptly named Cotton's Rhum Shack within Box Park (no coincidence that they have a shop there). Perfect, as it’s on my cycle home from my consultancy day job that currently pays the bills, and therefore, I really had no excuse not to drop by. My feet tried very hard to pedal past but no, the will to show my face stopped them in their tracks. It was a nice atmosphere, and since I arrived early, I managed to avoid the ‘it looks like everyone has known themselves for years’ scenario. I left having had real conversations with four people, which if it doesn’t sound like a lot to you, it sounds like loads me! (me who sometimes likes to make friends with the sofa in the corner at parties). The whole experience was made easier by it being Moo’s first event so everyone was in the same boat – i.e. a little nervous, but with a passion. 

Note to self, get there early.

My second event was hosted by S. E. Alley, and I’m very glad this wasn’t my first event as it may well have been my last! I have no doubt that there were copious, interesting and inspiring people at this event, however I certainly wasn’t able to verify this assumption. The venue was very small, cramped and hot, I had no idea who was who, and despite going with a friend who was familiar with such events we left as quickly as we arrived - we looked around to see if we could see an organiser but without much success. Yes of course I could have introduced myself to all the many groups in deep conversation….but I didn’t…. 

I also came to a realization that different rules apply to parties than to networking. Parties = arrive late, Networking = arrive early (if a shy person wants to stand a chance of making connections, that is). That is one strange concept to get your head around!

Note to self, get there early. 

And to event number three. This was a paid event (£9) called ‘How to Become A Social Entrepreneur’ which provided three inspiring presenters: Oli Barratt who invented Make Your Mark With A Tenner, Ben Ramsden who developed the Pantrepreneurship Challenge and Lily Lapenna who developed Enterprise in a Box, and the evening was chaired by Alistair Wilson who runs the School for Social Entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a huge turnout for this event which is a shame as the speakers were excellent. It was held at Lime Wharf in Hackney, which describes itself as a ‘cultural innovation hub and artistic laboratory’ and holds a number of events which, from what I can gather are normally well received so it must just have been an off night, and I certainly plan to go back if something catches my eye.

And the final event which was perhaps the most nerve racking of the lot. ECHO (Economy of Hours, a skills swap organisation), were having a little get together at a bar called Curio Cabal on Kingsland Road. Im no stranger to ECHO, having been a member since when it was originally called Hackney Shares and have benefitted from a couple of members' skills. So I thought this would be a great opportunity to meet like minded people. The trouble was, when I arrived (which was a little late – yes know!), the bar was almost full, and most probably 80% male so I felt a little out of sorts already. Anyway, I was keen to run a mile, but stayed strong and headed to drop my bag off in the corner. Just by luck there were a couple of approachable looking women so we had a chat, and I found out that they work in one of the studios above the bar and are trend forecasters which sounds like a pretty awesome job. Also, one of the women, Jane writes the successful blog called The Women’s Room. It turns out that many of the people were from the studios above and did actually already know each other so getting there early on this occasion wouldn’t actually have made a difference! I spoke to Sarah Henderson, one of the organizers who inspired me to offer my Marketing Procurement Consultancy skills which are now added to ECHO, and I left feeling like I had achieved something (I hadn’t really considered that I have something to offer creative people . However, now it seems obvious that they may wish to benefit from understanding the pitch process and fee structures from a client perspective!) 

Onwards and upward to events in 2014. I already have three booked: Clearly so - Teatime (sold out), Publicity Shy – An evening of creative inspiration from ad man Mark Denton and Cybersalon Digital Futures - The Cyborg’s New Clothes.

Thursday 26 December 2013