Sunday, 25 October 2009

Halloween window display, lavender, Nicola

Well, we have finally done our window to celebrate Halloween! Alanna had brought in a Pumpkin and carved it into a lantern during her lunchbreak. It now takes pride of place in the window that faces out onto Walmgate. The next day she had put a headband complete with small witches hat on top of it - very fetching! It has been causing a bit of stir and just the other day a tourist was took a photograph of it (with Sophie quickly moving out of the way as she didn't want to be in the picture). The Pumpkin is not the only bit of Halloween decoration, as well as a big black spider's web that Barbara purchased from 'Wild Hart' on Stonegate, is the wonderful 'Bobbie Bones'. He is a skeleton (anatomically correct) that stands about two foot tall with complete movable joints and a skull case that can be opened. I mention the skull case because some wit in the studio has put a walnut inside it, so Bobbie really does have a brain the size of Walnut. Nobody will admit to doing this so maybe he can walk about on his own when we have left for the night?

In the last blog I mentioned the arrival of a new sack of Lavender (ten kilos), well we have been busy making Lavender bags and the fragrance is unbelievably strong. It is fortunate that we all love the smell, as when I open up the Studio first thing in the morning the fragrance is so prominent that you could cut it with a knife. The other businesses in Barleycorn Yard have mentioned that during the Summer when we have the doors open the whole Yard can smell it - which is quite impressive considering that the boys and girls in the other businesses generally go outside so that they can smoke...

The Sumptuosity Fairies had a nice email from Nicola a textile student who has previously done a placement at Sumptuosity Towers. She is busy with her course but has been branching out designing and selling her own wares. I especially love her sheep drawings which have been screen printed onto her tea towels and peg bags - once her website is up and running we will include a link so that you can all see her fab work. We wish her good luck and hope to see her soon at Sumptuosity Towers and not simply because she make yummy cakes!

3 B.T.'s

1: The Minster bells strike eight o'clock and the chimes make the Rooks noisily take off from the main tower into the morning sky.
2: John and I came out of the Supermarket as dusk fell and the sky towards the West was a beautiful purple/blue.
3: While on the Cross-Trainer I have managed to teach myself to read while exercising and am currently reading 'Reading Matters' a wonderful book about the book collections of people (e.g. Bess of Hardwick and Samuel Pepys), what they read and where they purchased/borrowed them from. It keeps my mind off the minutes on the counter...

Bye for now
love Ruth xx

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

sewing, drinking tea, lavender, embroidery

A day full of sewing, drinking tea and listening to Radio Four. We are really busy with the Christmas orders and the galleries requiring stock for their Christmas exhibitions - so there is definitely no rest for the wicked at Sumptuosity Towers.

Sophie came into the studio yesterday with a bag of goodies (not anything for us to eat) but wonderful textiles that had belonged to her Grandmother. It is a sad but necessary fact that when someone dies you simply cannot keep everything and so Sophie has been helping her Granddad to find new homes for lots of stuff. - She is such a lovely young woman! Anyway, she had brought in a number of 1930s/40s embroidered tea tray cloths and table clothes. One that she had particularly saved for me is embroidered with Budgies! It is really lovely and I am delighted to add it to my personal textile collection. I also had a tea tray cloth that was embroidered with the 'Crinoline Lady' (one of my favourite designs) and another table cloth that had beautiful spring flowers embroidered on it. Please note these will NOT be cut up by me for the business but will be used when we have tea in the courtyard next summer. Sophie also gave me a box of seashells that her Grandmother had collected, these are now in a glass jar in my library. So I have got lots of lovely things this week and I haven't had to spend any money - John will be pleased!

3 B.T.'s

1: As I walk past a hair-dressers I overhear a conversation between a young female apprentice and an older male hairdresser. She had obviously been trying to sweep up the Autumn leaves that were outside their premises and complaining that the brush was inadequate for the job - I passed just as the man took the brush from her and heard him utter the immortal phrase "it just requires a bit of elbow grease" and he proceeded to do the job.
2: Jimmy our friendly Fastway Courier arrived at Sumptuosity Towers this afternoon with a huge sack of lavender slung over his shoulder - Hello (I said) it is Santa come early! That is if you can picture a very cheeky Santa with the broadest Scottish accent and who travels in a white van.
3: Later as we walk home we overhear a woman on her mobile phone singing nursery rhymes presumably to her child.

Bye for now,
Love Ruth xx

Monday, 19 October 2009

"We don't do duverts" or alterations...

The time is flying here at Sumptuosity Towers. It seems that one minute Sophie and Alanna are arriving at the studio and the next minute it is lunchtime and then it is five o'clock and time for them to go home again. I know that Mumsie has always told me that time speeds up as you get older but this is getting ridiculous!

Orders continue to keep us busy, although the studio shop has quietened down a little at the moment - with the exception of people (mostly men) who come into the shop and ask about alterations for clothing... Now Fossgate and Walmgate have at least three businesses that all advertise that they do alterations, we do not and yet people still keep coming in with bags of clothes. It is as if they look through the window see women (Sumptuosity Fairies) and sewing machines and QED assume that we must alter clothes. I am reminded of a children's programme from long ago where there was a long running comedy sketch and the catch-line was "We Don't Do Duverts". Occasionally, when I politely inform the person that we don't actually alter clothes, they look at me in disbelieve and say "Well, what is that you actually do in here??". The sewing of lavender bags, bookmarks, badges etc is presumably not a proper occupation for a sensible person... which is fortunate as I have never had much sense! (Whenever I have been accused of having no common sense I tend to reply that I don't have anything that is common! - thank you Kenneth Williams).

Anyway enough of alterations and on to more exciting news - Sumptuosity Fairy Sophie has been accepted for next year's York Open Studios. She will be converting John's office space into a gallery for the event and is very excited discussing her work, although a little nervous as well! We are all really proud of her and know that it will be brilliant.

I am also really proud of my husband as he has just take the plunge and signed up to do an O.U. degree. He is now officially a student. We went to a couple of bookshops on Sunday afternoon so that he could start to buy his set books and I have even cleared another shelf in my beloved library so that he has a place where he can start to put all his University stuff together (he now has two whole shelves to himself - I know I just spoil that man!). I hope that you are sitting down as you read this when I tell you that I didn't buy any books for myself (no honestly I didn't). I have made a note of a few for my letter to Santa...

3 B.T.'s

1: One the way to the Studio and on our way home I keep hearing Robins singing - beautiful!
2: Mumsie made a batch of iced buns for the Sumptuosity Fairies using the 'Barbie' sprinkles that I bought for her. Some of the buns has bright pink sparkly sugar crystals - nice.
3: Barbara had a postcard from her friend Marilyn who had been on holiday in Cumbria - it was a Sumptuosity postcard and she had picked it up in a shop in Gosforth to send it to the studio. This shop is owned and run by my friend Jo (a mate from Staffordshire University). It is amazing how people are connected!

Bye for now

Love Ruth xx

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Alanna Banana's Cakes

Alanna came into the Studio this morning with even more of a smile on her face than usual. Hello she said I've got a surprise for you! She had baked some gorgeous fairy cakes for all the Sumptuosity Fairies and John. Each cake had lots of butter icing and some pink sprinkles. She is such a sweetheart, she said that she felt guilty about giving Barbara (and to a lesser extent me) the Cold that she had last week - which she in turn had got from her brother's girlfriend... Anyway, I think that the cakes must have had some magic properties as not only were they absolutely delicious but we all felt much happier and were raring to go after our elevenses. I asked Alanna if she was like 'Tabitha' from the television programme 'Bewitched' and then we all got into a silly conversation about how it would be good to be able to wiggle the end of your nose... So another busy and fabulously silly day at Sumptuosity Towers.

John and I have stayed late at the Studio tonight because we are going straight to the cinema.

We are going to see 'The Vanishing of the Bees', which is a documentary film about the huge decline in Bee populations and possible reasons that might be causing it. I am a real bug fan as many of you know and I especially love Bees. I had a great time in July when I went on my Bee-Keeping weekend and am looking forward to the day when I can have my own hive.

3 B.T.'s

1: I saw a Bat flitting in the sky above the river Foss as we walked home - I was surprised as I thought they would be hibinating by now? But I still liked to see it.

2: It was misty at the weekend and the sun appeared as a faint silver orb in the morning sky.

3: John and I have been looking at the phases of the Moon (John now has it on his Google homepage) and we have been discussing the wonderful terms 'Waxing' and 'Waning'.

Time to go the Cinema,

Bye for now

love Ruth x

Monday, 5 October 2009

Mumsie, Brown parcels and a walk through York

On Sunday we had a drive down to Nottingham to see my Mum (a.k.a. Mumsie - named after a character in Richard O'Brian's Crystal Maze). All the Sumptuosity Fairies had been worried because Mumsie had had a fall in her Bathroom and wanted to know that she was alright. I can report that the bruise on her arm had nearly gone (she heals so quickly) and she was more than excited about going out for lunch to The Bottlekiln. She is keeping busy knitting a cardigan for Charlotte (Sumptuosity Fairy Barbara's daughter) for Christmas and said that it was good because it helped her stay awake. I said that we would be more than happy to have her come up to Sumptuosity Towers where we could definitely keep her busy and she said that if she was 20 years younger she would be up there like a shot. Mumsie by the way is 86!

Meanwhile we are all busy busy busy here at Sumptuosity Towers. Business really is bonkers at the moment - to say the least. We are also getting more visitors to Sumptuosity Towers and I am beginning to think that we are almost becoming one of York's tourist attractions! A number of times in the last few weeks people have visited our studio as part of their break/holiday in York, they had purchased our wares at galleries and shops were they live (e.g. Cambridge) and made a point of seeing where their goodies were made. It is so nice to meet people who really like our wares.

3 B.T's
1: The cheerful postman arrives at the studio this morning and as well as all the usual pile of letters for all of us in Barleycorn Yard, he has a large brown parcel for me - yes, I have been spending on abebooks.
2: We see a 'squadron' of Grey Lag Geese fly noisily over the bridge and along the river Foss. We hear them do this at least twice a day but this is the first time that I have seen them in motion.
3: Later, John and I walk through the York on our way to the lecture at YPS and the trees in the main square are all light up with pretty light blue bulbs that shine through the leaves and look lovely.

Bye for now

Love Ruth x

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Lots of visitors and a Halloween Window display to be done.

Lots of people have been into the studio today, including a York family who first purchased our wares in Cambridge and were surprised to find out that their purchases were designed and made in their home town!

It is always lovely to have people visit us in Sumptuosity Towers and our door is always open (a bit like Arkwright's shop in 'Open All Hours'!) but today we had problems keeping the door to our studio shut. This has been because it so very windy here in York today - I almost thought that we had an invisible friend coming in to see us. I am not sure what we shall do when Winter hits us but I'll keep you all posted.

We need to redo our windows at Sumptuosity Towers as it is now October and so we are now able to decorate for Halloween. It is something that all the Sumptuosity Fairies (Me, Barbara, Sophie and Alanna) have been looking forward to - especially as we will be making Pumpkin lanterns for display in the window; as well as lots of sewing Pumpkin brooches. John in case any of you are wondering is NOT a 'Sumptuosity Fairy' although he does work here. He is not the least bothered about window displays, that is as long as it doesn't take too much time away from our sewing and as long as it brings lots of people in to the studio. Barbara has found a Witch's hat that was once used by her daughter Charlotte as fancy dress and we will eventually incorporate it into a window display although first I have been able to do my impression of the Wicked Witch of the West " I'll get you my pretty and your little dog too..". Sad, I know, what those poor women have to out up with!

I am still mourning the loss of my computer and am writing this blog on John's beloved Mac - I had to bribe him with dark chocolate in order to let me use his 'precious'. However, to be fair to him he did let me go on Librarything this morning (my addiction) and has even put a map on my site so that I can see who has been looking at my book collections.

3 B.T.'s
1: On the walk to the Studio yesterday morning we heard the choir in York Minster singing - it sounded like the women's choir and it was wonderful.
2: John and I go for a walk at lunchtime and fins ourselves in the Merchant Adventurer's Hall Garden, from here we have a good view of the river Foss and are surprised and delighted to see lots of fish in there.
3: Tonight we see a pale but huge full moon in the evening sky as day turns to dusk. Absolutely beautiful.

Bye for now

Love Ruth xx