Sunday, 30 April 2017

Its a Disney kind of day

I've really been missing Disneyland Paris recently and longing to go back, when I suddenly remembered I hadn't gotten my film photos developed from my last trip! I shot all of these photos using my Holga TIM 135 camera. I've had this camera for years, but I often forget about it and this was only my second roll of film using it. Usually if I shoot film I just use disposable cameras, so I expected the Holga to work similarly as it's almost like a toy. It's definitely a trial and error camera, I hope I'll get the hang of it eventually, but not many of my photos came out very well!

The biggest issue I had was blurriness, which is frustrating as I can't figure out why. I understand the parade photos being blurry as it's photographing movement, but some of the blurring just feels random and I can't work out the cause. Also this camera absolutely sucks in any low lighting, if it's not sunny don't bother. If it's indoors, don't bother.

I think the worst thing about this camera is because it's dual lens, you have to cover one lens up when you take a picture, then switch them for the next. This becomes really confusing very quickly as there's no way of knowing if you've already used both sides or are going to roll ahead leaving half of your image blank. Saying all of this though, I do really like the camera, it's definitely fun!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

I'd like to be under the sea

What do you think of the new look?

I still have a tab open with my old blog design and I’m not gonna lie, I kind of miss it. But I also really love this new one. My blog feels less cluttered, and like my posts have room to breathe. I made myself a separate art blog while I was at it, which you can view here: I’m not going to stop posting my art over here, but I figure I should have a more ‘professional’ separate space. I was at odds as to whether I ought to make separate Instagram/Twitter/etc accounts for my art, or just ‘rebrand’ myself towards more arty stuff. I always feel a bit torn with the concept of online identity, ever more since studying illustration and having it pressed on me by tutors. But honestly I hate the whole concept! I am not a ‘brand’, I am me, a multifaceted human being with varying interests. I don’t want to segregate my life up and filter myself into more consumable, PR friendly chunks. The main thing I’ve learnt hardest from my many years on social media is that when I’m forced into a box, I get bored of it in no time at all. And when I think to my favourite artists, bloggers, and internet people in general, they’re my favourites because they don’t filter themselves and they share a mixture of different aspects to themselves which allows me to connect them them as people. And that’s the kind of online presence I’d rather have, regardless of how ‘unprofessional’ it may be.

Anyhoo, I wanted to show you a few things, beginning with the bits I picked up when I visited the antiques centre. I managed to find two things that I've been after for the longest time: a '60s satellite chair and a Gladys Goose lamp.

Gladys is huge, probably the same size as a real adult goose. I got so many funny looks carrying her around that day! I've wanted a Gladys Goose lamp for many years, since I first saw one in the background of a film in a girls bedroom. I thought it such a quirky, fun thing and immediately researched. They were first in production in 1983, and although the original design is no longer in production, modern reproductions can be bought. Because the originals are so collectible they can sell for an awful lot of money, but the seller of mine obviously didn't realise as I got her for an absolute bargain. I couldn't be happier! She has a few age spots in her plastic, but she's getting on a bit so I can't blame her.

And my satellite chair. They had a couple, but the one I liked best just so happened to also be the cheapest. There was a blue one, but I felt red suited my decor better (you can't see it from here, but a lot of my things are orange or red). I almost missed it; I'd told my mum before going that I was on the look out for a satellite chair and to help me keep an eye out. In one of the stores I turned around to speak to her and saw she was standing right next to one unbeknownst to her. It was completely stacked up under a ton of tins and various kitchen equipment and filthy dirty. But I knew it was perfect! I took it into the garden with the hose and a scrubbing brush and got it back to being as good as new.

I also had to make a few things for a recent uni project, I don't usually share my academic work but I was pleased with how these came out. My theme was sea life, in case that wasn't obvious, and I drew the designs and had them screen printed onto fabric. I made a few cushions and a tote bag with the fabric. I added iridescent sequins to the strap of the tote bag as I thought it looked like fish scales. I made a few extras to keep behind for myself I liked them so much!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

An Introduction to Vinyl

I've been collecting vinyl for many years now. Being in my late 20s, vinyl was already on it's way out when I was a small child so before I began collecting it for myself I had no prior introduction to the format. I first began collecting vinyl around 7/8 years ago, and back then secondhand was the only way to go as modern repressings didn't exist which I'm incredibly grateful for as it's a trap I never fell in to. However I fully appreciate how intimidating collecting second hand vinyl can feel, so as I've transitioned from hobbyist to serious collector and have had to learn everything myself the hard way, I thought I'd share some tips for any new collectors or people wanting to get more serious about the hobby!

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I really want to point out that record collecting should be fun first and foremost! It should be a hobby you enjoy and not something you feel intimidated by all the "rules" for. Some people (particularly middle aged men in my experience) will act like gatekeepers to the hobby and act quite aggressively towards younger members of the community for "doing it wrong" and presume all younger people are automatically hipster posers. Pay them no mind and you do you, as long as you're practicing basic care of your records then there's no right or wrong, and remember that everyone had to start from somewhere! There's a difference between teaching someone how something's done, and trying act like the hobby is something "exclusive" that others are unwelcome to, and it's really unfortunate how prevalent that attitude is. Just because you weren't born in time to experience something the first time round doesn't mean you can't enjoy it now!

First up, a pet peeve of mine I just want to put out there immediately: the plural of vinyl is vinyl. Not vinyls. You don't go shopping for vinyls, you don't have a collection of vinyls, it's always vinyl whether you're referring to one or twenty.

When you first begin looking at vinyl you'll see that they come in a variety of sizes and play at different speeds. Your standard records and most of what you buy will most likely be 12 inch LPs (albums) which play at speed 33.3 RPM (Revolutions Per Minute). Most records will state which speed they're supposed to be played at, but not all will and unfortunately you can't always tell by the size alone. Most singles and EPs are 7 inches and play at 45 RPM (which is why they get called 45s), but you can also buy 12 inch singles which usually also play at 45 RPM. You can also buy 10 inch records but they're much less common. Some records play at 78 RPM but these are pre-1950s, and shellac not vinyl, so probably not something you'll ever have to worry about.

Most vinyl is black, but it can come in just about any colour imaginable and some even have pictures on the disc. They can also come in all different shapes, but these are usually singles only as the shape will make it difficult to fit on your turntable otherwise. Colour and picture vinyl is very pretty, but the standard black is what actually sounds best which is why it remains the most common and some people can be a bit snobby about coloured vinyl.

Sometimes when you buy 7 inch records you'll see that they have a massive hole in the middle and might wonder how the hell you're supposed to play that. This is something that really perplexed me when I was starting out, and didn't understand why they differed as some of my 7 inches were normal sized. It's to do with the different record companies originally wanting you to use their machine to play it, and you'll also see jukeboxes require records with the larger hole, but the bottom line is it isn't something you have to worry about at all - you just use a 45 adapter which looks like this:

Just pop it into the centre of your record and it'll fit on a regular spindle!

Speaking of which, lets get on to the basics of record players. If you've looked around the internet you'll of no doubt seen that there's a lot of hate for Crosley record players, and I'm sorry to say that this hate is entirely valid. Crosleys can genuinely cause your records damage. You can't change the weight of the tone arm, and because it's too heavy it will gradually wear away at the grooves of your vinyl. Also, please believe me when I say that they do not sound good. I know, I used to have one! On many of my vintage stereo records the stylus (needle) couldn't pick up both channels of sound. So for example, when listening to A Day In The Life by The Beatles, I'd only be able to hear John's vocals and the drum beat, I couldn't hear Paul's vocals or any guitar...and that sucked! What's the point in even listening to vinyl if you can't hear it properly?

There's a myth that buying a Crosley is the cheap, affordable option and the usual defense of them is "but it's all I can afford!" They're really not that cheap though, the cheapest model is around £60-£70. For a little over £100 you could get a good vintage turntable, receiver and speakers for second hand and it won't sound tinny and will pick up all stereo channels. If you're going to do something, it's worth saving up that little bit more and doing it properly.

Please don't pick your record player on how "aesthetic" it is, it just isn't worth it and you'll really regret paying so much for it when you're listening to only half a song! Scout out car boot sales, your older relatives attics, eBay, and secondhand electrical stores (I bought my receiver from one of these stores for only £10!) You can still purchase brand new stylus' from places like Amazon. If you want to buy a brand new record player Audio Technica are the best brand to look at and cover a wide variety of budgets.

When it comes to storing your records, you've probably seen that most people store them on their side. It's really important never to store them stacked on top of each other, as the weight of the records on top of each other will put pressure on them and bend them out of shape, and if they're out of shape then your turntable won't be able to play them. Warping doesn't have to be drastic for it to seriously damage your record, so it's best to do all you can to avoid it.

Another care tip is to clean your records - even if it's a brand new one, it still needs cleaning! Even if it looks clean it still needs cleaning! Dust is the devil, and if you play a dirty record the pressure of the needle can embed the dirt into the grooves which will affect the sound. It's also important to never touch the grooves for similar reasons - your skin has natural oils, and you really don't want to spread that all over your record. Hold your record either by the centre label, or around the very outer edges where the grooves haven't started yet.

Cleaning records is really simple. It's best to use an actual cleaning solution - I use and recommend this stuff. It lasts for ages as you don't need to use much - just spray directly onto your disc a couple of times, and use a soft microfibre cloth to wipe around the disc. It's really important to go around the disc in the same direction as the grooves than across which can be damaging. There's all kinds of fancy tools you can get for cleaning records, but this is really the basics of all you need to do, anything else is optional. I also have a special little brush that I use to keep dust at bay, and I also have a little brush (which is actually a clean makeup brush) which I use to clean the stylus, but the cleaning solution and cloth are the most vital.

I'm going to create a Part 2 to this post which will be all about actually collecting records; what to look for, how to get started, where to buy it, how cheap it can be, matrix numbers decoded, and all of that good stuff. I didn't want to overwhelm and confuse this initial post with too much information, and I feel it's a broad enough topic worthy of a blog series.

If you have any questions about vinyl or record players/turntables, if something I've said isn't clear and you'd like me to expand on it, or if there's anything you'd like to see covered in a future post on vinyl, please feel free to ask! This can sometimes be a bit of a dry topic and I want it to be as accessible as possible. Vinyl is my absolute passion, and I love getting to share it with as many people as possible! ♥

(And happy Record Store Day!)

Friday, 14 April 2017

A day in the life

Back in the day on my old blog I used to occasionally do photo-an-hour posts, and it's something I've wanted to bring back for a while. I always love reading these kinds of posts from others, mostly because I'm nosy and love seeing what people get up to on the day to day, and also because it feels so intimate and personal. Blogging can feel very superficial sometimes, and I always enjoy any opportunity to get to know the person behind the blog better. I also enjoy creating these posts as it's a really fun way to document the little things of your day and try and see the beauty in the mundane.

8.30 - I always begin my day by getting ready first. I'm slow to wake up, and I just find the process of putting on my makeup and selecting an outfit a great bit of 'me' time before I feel awake enough to face the world.

9.45 - My mum and I headed out to a huge antiques centre for the day, and jumped in the car early to make the most of the day. (Disclaimer: my mum took this photo. Don't drive and snap kids!)

10.30 - We arrived, and first port of call was to admire the blossoming cherry trees edging the car park. I used to see these trees all of the time when I lived in London but I don't really see them up North so it felt a bit nostalgic.

11.30 - Still antiquing! We spent a good chunk of the day here. We were at Hemswell Antiques which I'm really lucky to live not too far from. There's about 7 huge sprawling antique centres all housed right next to each other, and it's absolute bliss! Some of it is a bit more expensive, but honestly it's fun just to look round.

12.30 -

1.30 -

2.30 -

3.30 - With my car boot fully loaded, we finally left for home. I'll show you the goodies in another post!

4.15 - Got home to see my Amazon order had arrived. I'd been meaning to purchase this on vinyl for absolutely years, but buying brand new vinyl never appeals to me much and is so overpriced I always put it off.

5.00 - Went for a walk through the fields before dinner. It's such an idyllic spot, it's one of my favourite things to do. I appreciate it all the more since moving away.

I got quite ill in the evening (that spoonie life) so stopped taking photographs and just chilled on the sofa. But there you have it! My days look pretty different when I'm in my student flat so that'll be a fun comparison. I'm looking forward to creating more of these posts from time to time.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Lying on an eiderdown

I'm currently back home for Easter, and my usual favourite haunts haven't let me down! I'm heading out to a massive antiques centre next week, so with luck I may have more wonderful things to show you soon. Vintage is so scarce where I study, it's difficult to even find records (beyond the usual Perry Como and the like in charity shops anyway) so it's always a treat to be able to come home where everything I love is so plentiful.

Here we have the very first thing I found in the Cancer Research shop, a 1970s maxi dress by Richard Shops. It was hidden away amongst the most drab selection and I'd definitely of missed it had I not been looking through every item on the rail. It looked a bit sorry for itself and I wasn't sure if I'd keep it at first, but with a good clean and bit of TLC I think it's come up just lovely! I love how the sleeves puff out just above the elbow, and I'm pleased that it still has it's original ribbon belt. It's a nice gauzy cotton so will be perfect for the upcoming summer.

The patterned eiderdown in the background of most of these pictures was another find, it fits a double bed and was still in it's original plastic packaging. I've wanted an eiderdown for the longest time, but they're usually terribly overpriced. This one was found in my favourite junk shop, right at the very bottom of a massive pile I don't usually make the effort to dig through as it's mostly overpriced curtains. It was marked down cheap "for a quick sale" yet it must have been there years! I hung it out on the washing line for a freshen up and it's as good as new.

I found a few lengths of patterned crimplene, as seen in the background, as well as the patterns. The Women's Realm pattern in the centre features patterns for a dress, a tunic, a maxi waistcoat, and trousers so you could have a full wardrobe with that alone! I love the illustraion of the girl in the yellow dress on the Style pattern and want to try and recreate it.

This picnic kit was a rather incredible find, it cost barely anything and has all of it's original pieces intact. It has a waterproof vinyl mat, a checked orange cloth, two napkins, two cups and saucers, two tea plates, a metal sandwich box, a condiment pot, full cutlery, and a thermos. It was in quite grimey condition, but I spent hours yesterday deep cleaning and sterilizing everything and it's the most adorable little set. I noticed after it was cleaned that the outer case is made from the exact same patterned vinyl as my 7" record box.

This coffee percolator has all of it's original parts, and I got my stepdad who's a professional electrician to fix the plug so it's back in working order. I love drinking coffee and usually use my Tassimo, so I'm interested in giving this a whirl! My mum said that she received a percolator exactly like this one as a wedding gift in the '70s which makes me love it all the more.

The tray I'd been eyeing in an antiques store, but it was priced at £6.50 which isn't a lot but felt a bit too much for what it was just the same. So I was chuffed to find this identical one in the charity shop a few days later for £1! I love how well it matches the percolator, they look almost like a deliberate set.

I'd been looking at these little plastic and Pyrex cups in another shop, but they only had 3 which felt an odd amount so I left them. The next shop I went in I found this set of 6 with a tea tray still in it's original packaging for less than the previous shop had been charging for just the 3! I can't wait to unwrap it all, but I need to travel with them so I thought they'd be safer left in their wrapping for now. The '70s conserve pot was just a fun little addition for next to nothing. It has an orange peel design so was obviously for marmalade. I'm not a fan of marmalade so I might use it as a sugar pot.

And all of the records I've picked up! The Donovan ones were found in a record shop in Lincoln so cost a little extra at £5 each. I'm very close to completing my Donovan collection now! I'd never seen the Minstrel Boy compilation before but I don't own any 10" records so I picked it up more for the novelty. I'm glad the prices haven't increased for Bowie records around here like they have online, that's another collection I'm close to completing. I was thinking of Melanie Safka just the other week and thinking I needed to make more effort to look for some of her LPs, and just like that I found two including the one I wanted most. What luck!

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