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Isolation ideas

Just to put this post into context, we are in the middle of a pandemic, caused by the coronavirus, or more officially, COVID19. Without going into all the details of ‘how come’ — you will find plenty of that sort of information here, there and everywhere — I just want to say a few words about what the restrictions are doing to us socially.

First and foremost, one at a time, countries around the world are locking down with severe regulations about the movement of their population — and with the almost total block of air traffic in and out of the country. The situation at the present time is absolutely horrendous — yet again you’ll find details elsewhere covering this point — but what essentially it means for just regular folks, is that we are obliged to stay indoors at all times apart from essential outings to buy food or medicines.

This situation has inevitably had a global effect on people’s habits. With few exceptions, people are unable to work and are confined to their homes in search of something to fill their time usefully and/or creatively. There has been a surge of generosity on the part of many creatives/teachers and the like, who are offering free courses in all manner of creative activities both for kids and adults.

Geisha bookmark


But it must not be forgotten that many of these creatives are suddenly without paid work, and so a balance has to be found. For my part, I have included a number of freebies and tutorials here at Boho Shack, but have also opened up a page for inexpensive cross-stitch patterns and charts for immediate purchase and download. I will be adding more to both sections in the near future for those who might be interested.

My thoughts are with all those who find themselves stopped in the tracks of life, having to deal with something that very few of us, even in our wildest dreams (or nightmares in this case) could have imagined happening in our life time. Here in Venice the sun is shining which makes it even harder to stay indoors — but it must be done and we will do it.
As they say here ‘Andrà tutto bene’, which basically means, ‘Everything will be alright’…

Inexpensive storage

Recycled textile industry tubes for improvised storage


For those of you who, like me, are often in a tizwoz about how and where to store all your crafting stuff, how about this storage idea for your knitting needles or paint brushes – or even rulers.

Purchase one of these rigid plastic (or carton) tubes – they are usually sold for storing and/or mailing documents and drawings. In my experience they are cheaper than many of the dedicated items sold for storing needles, and what’s more, they are long enough to store even the longest knitting needles.

Recycled textile industry tubes for improvised storage

If you are really into being eco-friendly, you will seek out discarded textile industry tubes for the same purpose. I have one about 130 cms long which I will be cutting into 2 or 3 sections to hold my long rulers. It has a wider diameter than the plastic tubes I mentioned previously – about 8 cms across. You don’t need to, but can of course decorate these tubes if you like.

Sew Pretty

Experimented with one of these sewing pouches yesterday, and I know I shouldn’t be the one to say it, but I will anyway – I love it! Shades of grey and red are high on my list of favourite colours anyway, so this combination of grey felt and red ribbon and buttons is a winner!The photograph doesn’t really do the colours justice as there is a bit of a colour cast. All the felt is made in Germany, so the piece is very much home-grown on a European level. I like the size of the little purse too which is big enough for some scissors, a couple of cotton reels and other small odds and ends for sewing. I have included a thick felt heart to stick a few pins and needles on, so all you have to do is ‘load’ the purse and take your sewing kit anywhere. Good for those crafters who do ‘craft-ins’ with like-minded crafters, or just for those who are not into sewing but like to know where to find the necessary for sewing on the occasional button or darning the odd sock. I might do a few more of these, maybe using other colours for the embellishments. I’ll check out what I have in the felt and button stash.

Check out the dustbins

Might seem a little bold and osé, but give careful consideration to a thorough rummage through the dustbins of your local clothing (and not only) chain stores.

It is common practice for them to change the store display quite frequently, and most of the old display will end up in the dustbins. It goes without saying that an awful lot of what they chuck out will be of very little ‘aesthetic’ interest, but just a small percentage bears giving a second thought – and in many cases, a second chance.

My hubby works very close to a well-known clothing store which has just changed its display and thrown out a couple of dozen large, cardboard based, photographic images. Each of them is about 70 x 50 cms. My daughter has already taken away a couple that she likes for the bare walls in her new apartment, and I am waiting to see what others hubby brings home from the collection to make a final decision about what goes up in the studio.

What’s left over I will offer to neighbours and some students across the way. I reckon quite a few people will be pleased that we went garbage picking!

NB. You would probably be wise to ask for permission to ‘rummage’ so as not to infringe any laws on privacy etc. Better still ask the manager to give you the stuff before they throw it in the bins!

Framed at last

I may have mentioned that for a number of reasons we have been downscaling our home. One reason was the need (albeit theoretical) to pack our 30 years of marriage into a barge. A more immediate reason has been my daughter’s 99% move away from home. By my calculation, the remaining 1% can be put down to her dirty washing which still finds its way into my washing machine all too often.

So sorting through her mountains of ‘must-keeps’ I came across this old scrap of cardboard dating back to her ‘Gothic period’, a very trying time for both of us. For her because she was going through that terrible adolescent stage of ‘I-hate-the-world-and-nobody-understands-me-least-of-all-that-idiot-of-a-mother’, whilst I, for my part, was suffering a similar sense of distress for my apparent incapacity to keep things on track.

But anyway, finding this declaration immortalised by her own hand, I somehow felt a duty to keep it within ‘eye-shot’ so to speak, just to remind me of what we had come through together.

She could hardly believe that I had actually paid to have her graffiti framed – and was gobsmacked that I had dared to hang it amongst all our other ‘art’ on our lounge walls!

Lest we forget …

Keeping the chocolate hot

Keep the hot chocolate hot

is what I said. There are all sorts of occasions for wanting to take a cup of hot tea or cocoa to someone outside – maybe it’s for the lads working under the car bonnet – or for the gang around the bonfire letting off fireworks – or even for the snowball fights when there’s too much fun going on to drop everything and go inside. Helps you to keep those dirty feet outside the door for a bit longer too!
So this is my solution – a thick felt holder for hot mugs so that you can take the hot drinks outside and be sure that they won’t go cold straight away. What do you think?

Back on Track

Probably a slight exagerration as far as titles go as I really am just dipping my feet back in here to let friends know that I’m still alive and kicking!

So briefly, arty stuff has been keeping me incredibly busy for the past 3 or so months…you can see some of what I have been up to on this site: www.festivaldelleartigiudecca.org  which I built up for a big local arts festival which all happened mid-September. It’s not really over yet as there are lots of loose ends to tie up and a lot of brainstorming with the organization on what needs changing…adding…plus building on a few new ideas whilst we are still in festival mode.

Great fun but sooooooooooo much hard work as most of us were not only organizers, but also performers in one way or another. I had some photographs on show and also ran a couple of trash art workshops…one in a local school and the other in a street location. We also tried to run here, there and everywhere recording the events with our cameras, videos, microphones and being an audience to the things we enjoyed.

Anyway…I hope everyone had a wonderful summer…I got to the UK briefly for some of your cool weather in September (15°C having left over 30°C here…bit of a shock to the system). I bought a few crafty bits form the wonderful chain store “Staples” which I am real pleased with. Nicked the metal hooks off some of my mum’s old coat hangers. Picked up a couple of useful crafty tools and bought lots of books from Waterstones. So a good trip in spite of the weather! Back home here managed a few trips out on the motorbike and signed myself up for a couple of Open University courses to keep me out of trouble this coming winter.

Be in touch if you have the time and let me know what you have all been doing with your arty selves!

Where to put it all

disimpegno-300x135Taking a look around the various crafters’ (and not only) blogs, I see that one of the biggest problems a lot of us face is the storage. I am no different – having a small home with no built in storage such as cupboards and so on, I have had to invent ways to store our mountain of stuff. Amazing what you collect after almost 30 years of marriage – along with the stuff our daughter collects too.

So this is the solution I found for the tiny little area between our bedrooms and the bathrooms. The space must be about 140 x 150 cms…small by anyone’s calculations. Not only that, there are 4 doors (3 of which slide and disappear into the walls — thank goodness)…one on each wall of the space which meant that the only way to exploit the area was by going upwards.

As usual Ikea came to the rescue, and here you can see a combination of Stolmen free standing storage, and Applad hanging kitchen units. We chose white to visually expand the space. Admittedly I have either to get out a kitchen ladder thing or chair to go up to the top units, or else use the services of the very tall man I married to cope with these situations. But whatever, I have managed to neatly store all my bed linen up there, dividing it all between summer/winter and single/double. The hanging space is great for the coats and jackets we use most, and there is also room for a skinny shoe storage cabinet with mirror. More space up top for lots of Ikea boxes for shoes.

Well that was a gran ‘finale’ I must say!

jess2012Well if ever rain stopped play, I can say with confidence that is exactly what happened today to put a stop to our last craft market of the year. Gale force winds, lashing rain and a particularly bad bout of high water just put us out of the game! Even if there had been no wind or rain, the high water stopped us getting our little boat out to transport the stuff over to the market zone would you believe. We are moored in a small inner city canal, and at both ends there is a very low bridge. Sounds like a joke, but unfortunately – there is no laughing going on here today!

So frustrating when we have both put in so much work to prepare all sorts of stuff for the event. The one good thing that came out of the bad weather is that I made a careful inventory of all our stuff which always gets put away in a rather haphazard fashion after the markets. Just glad that daughter wasn’t around as she would surely have had something to say about how I organized everything!

ps. Mustn’t complain – the Venice Marathon was on today and those poor souls really had problems to deal with!

Craft therapy

Yesterday morning started off just fine with a business meeting here at my desk to discuss a web site for a well known local restaurant. Looks like it is going to be fun, and will probably also give me the opportunity to get out the camera for a few pics for the graphics.

Lunch was uneventful and then just as the afternoon got going…wham…a phone call from ma-in-law who sounded as if she was in a terrible state…complained about pains in her chest and left arm. Fairly obvious what immediately leapt to mind, so hubby called the ambulance and rushed over to her place. Inevitably here…rushing basically means walking/running which is often faster than waiting for public transport to go anywhere.

And the rest of the day was then taken up with phone calls to in-laws, to hubby, to hospital, from/to daughter and on and on and anxiety and silence and…finally, at about 2am hubby came in the door. A few minutes later daughter came in too as she hadn’t felt to sleep out as she was worried about me being alone and her Dad who is still recovering from his motorbike accident and can’t walk properly and her Nan…….
Oh my giddy aunt.

The best part of all this is that Nan was released after a whole wagonload of tests and exams…she was given a few pills and medication to get her up and going again, though I really would have liked her to have been kept in for overnight observation in consideration of her 85 years of age. But the health system doesn’t work that way nowadays.

So a little crafting therapy was in order and I spent those anxious hours making lots of these little envelopes recycled/upcycled out of a gorgeous glossy art magazine pages – all hand cut/assembled/glued! No fancy cutting machines here apart from my pretty scissors but I don’t think they count…

Made by Hand

When you buy something from an artist, you are buying more than an object. You are buying hundreds of hours of failures and experiments. You are buying days, weeks and months of frustration and moments of pure joy. You are not only buying a thing, but a piece of heart, a part of the soul, a moment in the life of someone.

by Giacomo Cinque
'La Sartoria Antica'
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