Wednesday, 29 August 2012


I'm having a problem uploading photos - it's been going on for a few days now and I gather I'm not the only one judging by the number of frustrated posts on various forums.  Rather than wait until the problem has been resolved (or throw my laptop at the wall) I thought I would do a quick post today and then, hopefully, post photos of latest work as soon as I can upload again...

The internet, as we all know, is a forum for people to share their opinions which, not infrequently, are bigoted and small minded.  On the other hand, sometimes we get an opportunity to witness people at their absolute courageous or heart warming best. Occasionally something comes along that does both.

What possessed Bic, the French manufacturer of pens, to market a 'Bic for Her' is beyond me.  The product description from Amazon reads like a page from the anti-feminist manifesto:

Product Features

  • Elegant design - just for her!
  • Thin barrel to fit a women's hand

I mean, seriously! They even have a YouTube video . I'm not convinced that this video isn't actually a parody.  For a mum of a teenage girl it's bad enough that I have to fight the tidal wave of misogynistic crap in magazines and on TV. But now pens ...!!

That's the bad, now for the good.  Bic's misguided marketing campaign has prompted a completely brilliant retaliatory back-lash as evidenced by the hilariously sarcastic and tongue in cheek product user 'reviews' for the pens on both the UK and US Amazon sites.  So, if you feel like you need some cheering up - hop on over to Amazon and search 'Bic for her'. It started with one extremely funny review but now there are now hundreds of them.   I love the fact that people are protesting against Bic's idiocy using humor and I don't think it lessens the impact of the protest one bit. The only downside is that all this publicity will probably end up being good for Bic...

Here are  couple of my fave 'reviews'.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Girly Pens August 28, 2012

OMG!!!!!! I luv these pens!!!!! They R so gurly and sweet! But they would be better if they made everything look like a rainbow or a pony. PONIES!!!! Or maybe a vacuum. If they could make like a pony or rainbow pen, I would buy all of them. Or a fairy. I like fairies.
I would give these pens more stars if they made sparkles. Cause sparkles R the BEST!!!!!! But they only make lines. : (


4.0 out of 5 stars My life has been changed! 20 Aug 2012

I never did very well at school. I wanted to learn and it felt like all the words I needed were right there in my head, but I just couldn't get them onto the paper in front of me. If I really pushed myself, I could sometimes manage to draw pretty flowers in the margins but this didn't please Sir and I was soon in all the bottom sets. What really confused me is that I had no problems in cookery or textiles. At the time I didn't understand why I could grip and use a wooden spoon or sewing needle but couldn't properly hold my black-coloured pen for more than 45 seconds without dropping it on the floor and weeping.

Things were a bit better when I left school to go and work sweeping up hair at the local salon - yet again, the broom seemed to just fit into my grip as if it was meant to be there - and I saved up to buy a pink laptop. I still had trouble writing for a long time because, although the case was pink, the keys weren't designed for female eyes which, as we all know, struggle to discern between shades of black and grey. I could write for about 4 minutes at a time, though, and that's how I found out about these wonderful pens for girls like me.

As soon as they arrived, I was soothed by the pink packaging - I'd been feeling stressed after driving back from work because my hands just won't stay on the black, leather-effect steering wheel in my cute mini. Anyway, I quickly found a piece of notepaper with pictures of kittens round the edges and had a go at writing my name. It was amazing! The pen just stayed in place between my fingers, just like it always had for the boys in my class at school. Well, in no time I'd filled a whole notepad and had to go and get another one!

Now I've gone back to night school and hope to realise my ambition of enrolling on a childcare course next year. I'm also halfway through writing an erotic novel set in Victorian times - but with vampires!

My only criticism of these wonderful pens is that I get a bit bored with all 12 looking the same. I get around this my customising each pack. At the moment, the pen I have in use is covered in stripes of glitter and I glued a pink pompom and one of those diamanté charms you get on mobile phones (I couldn't fit any more on my phone) onto the top. I think BIC should start adding pens like this to their range because some women find it difficult to hold tubes of superglue properly - I asked the 6 year old boy who lives next door to help me.


5.0 out of 5 stars Revolutionary article - must buy! 20 Aug 2012
This pen is great. I bought it for all my female friends and relatives. It enabled them, finally, to write things (although they may not yet know to do so on paper; but you can only expect so much, really). I thought they were just a bit slow.

My mother, a hard-working woman who raised twelve kids single-handedly whilst doing all the ironing (as nature intended), was furtively abashed by her illiteracy. Long would she gaze upon her husband and sons' scrawlings and would dedicate five minutes a day (which she really should have spent making sandwiches) to pray that one day she would be granted the ability to create such scribbles of her own. She's still a little slow on the uptake, but this product has definitely helped start the ball rolling. We tried to give her men's pens but she used to rip the cartridges out and drink the ink. Typical woman.

Anyway, it's good that BIC are finally doing something to aid the plight of women. Hopefully a range of 'for her' paperclips is on the horizon - my wife has an awful time keeping her recipes together.

...til nex time'

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Fairy-tales and shopping

I've been a little preoccupied this week and haven't had a chance to get too much work done other than this piece:

I wanted to weave a narrative around the focal and swans always make me think of fairy-tales.  I searched and searched for inspiration but couldn't find anything quite right (and there was no way I was going with an ugly duckling metaphor!!).  I did discover that transformation or metamorphosis is a dominant theme for many of the folk/fairy stories involving swans (including the ugly duckling one I suppose) and, given this focal started out as shiny brass, I thought it appropriate to come up with my own adaptation reprinted below.  I've borrowed bits and pieces from other fairy-tales and, whilst it's a love story, I wanted my swan to have a bit more free will than she does in most. Of course, it's entirely possible I've been watching way too many episodes of Grimm and am now a living example of how TV really does have a detrimental effect, so I'll also take this opportunity to show you a couple of thrift shop finds first:

The beads on this necklace are absolutely beautiful - not sure if they are bone or stone. It also has a wonderful carved hook.  The weird looking things in the top photo are Chinese lucky key chains - I bought them because I really like the bells.

And now .... Once upon a time...

..a young man, hunting by a stream in the woods, spied a swan.  As he reached for his bow the hunter was amazed to see the elegant creature transform into the most beautiful woman the hunter had ever seen.  Every day for a month the hunter crept back to same spot to witness the transformation, and each day his love for the swan maiden grew ever stronger.  Finally, he could wait no longer and as she swam in the stream, he crept out of his hiding place and, before she could transform herself back, professed his love and begged her to stay as a human so they might be together.  Now whilst the swan maiden, who had seen the hunter watching these many weeks past, was flattered she explained to him that for her to remain as a girl was impossible.  Even though she sometimes appeared as human, she explained, she was always a swan on the inside and, to remain human, would mean giving up her swan self completely.   For many months the hunter searched the land for a way he and the swan maiden could be together.  He began to despair of ever finding a solution until one day he met a wise woman who, on hearing his story, said she would help him.    The very next day the hunter returned to the stream and presented the swan maiden with an amulet necklace fashioned by the wise woman.  He explained to the swan maiden that as long as she wore the necklace she could keep her swan self safe inside but remain human on the outside.   The swan maiden put on the necklace that very day and returned with the hunter to his village where they lived happily together, the swan maiden remaining unchanged, but the hunter growing older and frailer as the decades passed.  On the day that the hunter died the swan maiden took off her necklace and transformed herself back into swan and was never again seen as a human woman.

'til next time.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Small Things Take Time

Small Things Take Time
By Susan Wallbank

Small things take time
they twist into fragments
which hang like strands of DNA
impossible uncoded strips that thread the days
between the cut glass black jet nights
to form a kind of necklace

Small things take time
they scatter it with actions
the deed-compacted seconds lie
like long-gone moss and little flies defy decay
suspended in warm amber hours
to make a kind of bracelet

Small things take time
they grind it into powder 
and from the dust create a paste 
that glues the wasteful hours between each deep decade
compression-packed, dull-glimmering
to forge a kind of ring

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Horses and cushions ...

 I've been working on a couple of pieces that I wanted to share.

I remember my father taking me to see the white horse of Uffington when I was quite little. Carved into the side of a hill and visible from miles away it is an experience that has stayed with me ever since. One of the most ancient of the hill figures found in England, the white horse probably dates back some 3,000 years. Nobody really knows what it stands for (or indeed if it is really a horse at all and not some other animal). This not-knowing regarding its purpose does not detract in any way from its beauty and grandeur.   I remember being completely awe struck when I understood the scale of it and I also remember wondering what motivated the people who came together to create it. Was it fear, an appeasement or gesture of faith?  

Without careful maintenance the white horse of Uffington quickly disappears from view as nature reasserts itself and this is the narrative behind this piece.  

The brass horse of my necklace, and its accompanying cluster of bits and pieces, are not as they were - once bright and shiny they are now aged and flaking but still I think beautiful.  Caught between new and old the items are preserved. But, left to the ravages of time they would have disappeared completely.

I've noticed that my pieces seem to have lots of colour or no color. And so to this:

I am still completely obsessed with using little textile cushions as a base for embellishments.  This one uses a vintage sari scrap and some gold trim.  I like the fact that the fabric is a little bit tatty and frayed (bit like me really).

Lastly, judging by your comments quite a few of you are not, stating it mildly, fans of Facebook.  Far be it from me to defend this bastion of bad grammar and mundane status updates I do think Facebook's powers can be used for good rather than evil!!  An example to illustrate - Facebook is an excellent way to link people who would otherwise be socially isolated for mutual/peer support and friendship.  Facebook's relatively straightforward interface makes it a better option for those that are not quite so computer literate or who may be intimidated by other online options or who, for one reason or another, are unable to get out and about and, if not for the internet, would be rather disconnected.  Also individual pages are a little different than pages for organisations/businesses. The latter tend to be much less ...well, teenage.    And I have to say Quisnam's Facebook page has connected me with some really really lovely people.  It's definitely different than blogging but, as I said in my last post, horses for courses.

'til next time.