jump to navigation

On painting and passion May 26, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Art, Family, Photos.
Tags: , , , , ,
Peony Painting

Been paintin'

My mum has always said that I need a creative outlet. I need some form of self-expression that gets the gremlins out of my head, that pauses the whirring thoughts and ever-twisting cogs, letting me calm down, relax, stay as the me I know and love.

You see, I’m naturally quite a creative person, and yet at the same time I have a rather large side to my personality that is built on logic. The stubborn side, the realistic side, the part of me that doesn’t like getting carried away with my whimsical Piscean ways! The two sides, although obviously both pretty large components of my personality, can clash, and when that happens I can mentally work myself to the bone, with neither time to breathe nor recharge.

The only was to fix this fragile frame of mind is to make sure I give myself a release. I can do lots of exercise, I can write a story, or as was the case last night, I can sit up late into the night and paint until my heart’s content. Hence the painting above, a peony, for a particular someone in my life (who I doubt will mind it ending up on my blog first). And you know what? After sitting and painting until way past my bed time, I had the best nights sleep I have had in months.

It just goes to show – mothers are always right.

A little bit of painting… January 23, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Art, Photos.
Tags: , , , ,
1 comment so far


My painting of waves and sky

Been doodling..

The clouds

The clouds

I’ve been painting this week. I actually sat down to attempt to come up with a tattoo design for my second tattoo, which I hope will be a beautiful way to incorporate my favourite Bell X 1 lyrics onto my body so that they will always remind me that life is worth living. However, as always happens when I sit down to paint something specific, I found my paintbrush wandering, and before I knew it strange blue/green waves were creeping across the canvas. After a little blinking at it I realised it seemed to want to be an ocean, and so soon enough that was what it became. An angry ocean deserved an angry sky, and I am particularly pleased with my tempestuous clouds marching across the horizon.

On another note, I have booked a session for my tattoo, two Saturdays from now. I am terrified, of course, but really excited too. Bring on the inking!


Money & Secondhand Shopping (a rant about Kirstie’s Homemade Home) November 3, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Crafting, Rants, Thrifting.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

People know that I am no stranger to a spot of secondhand shopping. I actively enjoy picking my way through an antique fair, and most of my Saturdays are dedicated to trawling the charity shops in hope of a bargain. I grew up going to car boot sales, and finding a great item of exceptional deal makes me very happy indeed. As such, it was with some anticipation that I settled down in front of the TV last night to watch the new series of Kirstie’s Homemade Home. Last season I pretty much enjoyed it, although Kirstie’s right-wing politics and mind-numbing poshness did get to me a little. Oh, and the fact that despite having amazing azure blue tiles around hern orignal fireplace, and going on and on about original features, she still gutted it and threw them away!

This series, however, I was inflamed. There was this lovely couple in this beautiful house, whom it was easy to tell from the first few minutes weren’t exactly rolling in cash. They were sensible with their money, and rather being applauded for their sensible nature and quest for a good deal, Kirstie proceeded to mock them continually about how tight their purse strings are. Yes Kirstie, because we all know that we are as rich as you are. You know how I can tell that you are rich? Because you pay ridiculous sums of money for absolute crap. Yes, crap.

The thing is, more than anything else, that Kirstie’s unshakeable belief in her own secondhand shopping skills involves watching an entire hour of her buying average quality goods for above the asking prices, and then waxing lyrical about her ensuing brilliance. As someone who knows her stuff, I was watching the lack of haggling and the automatic acceptance of pretty much every item she came across with something that rapidly reached anger. I was incensed! Incensed, inflamed – I’ll be running out of ranty keywords soon!

In essence, my problem with the programme is thus: not everyone has money, and that is nothing to be ashamed of.

Oh, and as for including the snobby woman who will only give deals to those who ask in “the right way” (i.e. not those who offer her a price) – well, I don’t have enough words to express my annoyance. Suffice to say that if you choose to work in an industry like that, it is your responsibility to price you items in a way that ensures you can barter and haggle. It is part of the joy of it, and snobbish idiots who have an attitude about it should really just learn to suck it up and deal.


Sorry guys, I think this programme really annoyed me…

What a long weekend! August 23, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Crafting, Life, Chatter & Politics.
add a comment

Well, that was a long weekend. Some emotional hell went down on Friday, so that set the whole thing off on the wrong foot. Luckily I have lovely friends for the most part, and they all rallied round to look after me. I consequently had a nice night at the pub on Friday, and had a lovely evening chatting with all my friends at my housewarming on the Saturday. It was even sunny yesterday, and these are all the things I am trying to focus on right now! Having thought long and hard about the situation, I am not going to blog about it. It doesn’t seem fair to anyone involved, and just draws out something that was nasty, but which is now done with and should probably be gotten over.

How were your weekends?

Some things to look forward to this week:

  • Exercising lots (who would have ever thought that would make a list like this?!)
  • Making a button necklace
  • Seeing Nommi (it has been soo long, and I can’t wait!)
  • Seeing The Expendables!
  • Foraging and making as much Sloe Gin as I can!
  • Planning for my Berlin trip.
  • Getting excited about Malta!
  • PAYDAY!!!! Finally!

As a political child… August 4, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Art, Life, Chatter & Politics, Rants.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

I was quite a political child. I knew what I thought was right and wrong, and whilst those bright shades of black and white have been filtered through into a number of greys now I am older I like to think that those days of believing in good and bad as separate entities have in many ways shaped me into the politically minded person that I am today.

I remember, for example, waking up to find that my favourite spot for adventuring, at the top of the wall in my garden, had been obliterated by the council. My beautiful trees, which I spent so much of my childhood falling out of climbing, had all been chopped to allow a nicer view over the valley for the cycle path. We hadn’t been informed of this, and were quite surprised to see this bald patch of mud and grit where our verdant forest had once stood. Angry about this assault on my childhood, what did I do? I wrote a passionate letter to my local newspaper, request vehemently to know “Where have all the trees gone?”.

The Tate Street Art Exhibition

The Tate Street Art Exhibition

One area I have always been passionate about, for as long as I can remember, is graffiti. I don’t mean tags and scribbles and other unintelligible nonsense, but the type of graffiti that involves serious talent, beautiful artwork, and transforming dull concrete urban spaces into different worlds. I remember strolling around Plymouth, captivated by the floor to ceiling street art in the otherwise awful bus station. I wrote regular letters to my local supermarket, begging them to run a graffiti competition in their multi-storey, to turn the dusty white walls into a riot of colour and meaning. More recently artists like Banksy and Ben Eine have started redefining how the art world sees street art, and it has become a much more acceptable form of self-expression.

What I am slightly disturbed about, therefore, is how my passion for street art and my political leanings have recently clashed. You see, David-Bloody-Cameron recently chose a large Ben Eine print as his gift to Obama. Yes, a Conservative leader chose a form of an illegal street art as a gift for the President of the USA.

The thing is, of course, that I have a deep and passionate hatred (and I never use that word lightly) for David Cameron. He is a little shiny faced Thatcherite, and I am worried for my family and the country (in particular education and NHS) under his rule. For me, street art like that of Ben Eine is generally an expression of the feelings of an underpriviledged section of society, a creative outlet for the downtrodden and politically ignored. Graffiti as art, to me, fits more with a working class Labour form of politics, rather than a Conservative outlet.

Of course, such a well-publicised purchase of a piece of art like this is bound to do wonders for the world of street art, and the acceptance of it. And that, of course, is brilliant. However, I can’t help but wish that it hadn’t been instigated by someone whose politics so neatly contrast with the art itself, whose restrictive views would, realistically, be more comfortable with repressing rather than encouraging street art. It just doesn’t seem right.

Crafting In London February 14, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Crafting, Inspiration, Life, Chatter & Politics.
Tags: , , , , ,

This saturday, my 3 year anniversary with Ben, was spent on a crafty trip dow to London with Cie, Kate and Alysa, my girls from Sew Make Believe. The trip was an inspiration cum shopping day, and we followed a strict itinerary to make sure we went around all the place we wanted to. Stops on the trip included Cath Kidson, which was a little overpowering but full of great ideas and wonderful staff, The Button Queen, Make Lounge and more. I really enjoyed it, and treated myself to three cute little Jemima Puddleduck button – I am definitely the last of the big spenders. I also got a present for someone – but I can’t give that away on here!

We had lunch at Paul Rothe and Son in London Marylebone. This is worth mention because it was a little gem of a find, and is a good idea for anyone who is looking for an affordable yet quality café in the Marylebone area. This is half delicatessen, half english teashop and half American diner. Yup, it was made of three halves! They were friendly and well-priced inside (about £3 for a sandwich, which definitely isn’t steep by London standards), and they made me the perfect bacon sarnie. A bacon sarnie is a work of art, and this one hit the nail on the head – crispy juicy bacon, a decent slathering of butter, and really tasty fluffy white bread. Wonderful!

Our shopping was followed by my anniversary present – a wonderful afternoon tea for two at Harrods! Having ogled the expensive kittens in the pet area, and wandered around looking at the peculiar costumes that they have for pampered pooches, we retreated to the Georgian Restaurant for our hour of indulgence! Cute sandwiches were followed by delicious featherweight scones, and then a round of teeny little cakes – all whilst a pianist plinked and plonked in the background. It was lovely!

I wasn’t organised enough to take any pictures of the goodies, but you will have to talk my word for it that it was lovely!

Ben also got me these roses for Valentines day – which was very naughty as I thought we weren’t doing anything, what with out anniversary being yesterday!

Little Ratties February 11, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Crafting, Photos.
Tags: , , ,

I had a lovely time last night at the Sew Make Believe Chinese New Year party. We all got together to be taught by Cie how to make yummy pork and turkey dumplings (which us girls devoured like they were going out of fashion…) and to sit around and chat. There were some new members which was nice, and for some reason all of us were hysterical giggling school girls by about half 9! Honestly, it was like someone had put something in our food (Cie?!), as we laughed raucously at every joke – we were rather like a cackling coven! 

Anyway, I thought I would share with you a cute little photo of how I came home to find the rats the other day. They are soo adorable! For about 5 minutes I was really worried as I couldn’t for the life of me find Buffy – but then I saw her little nose poking out! She was completely hidden by the others lying on her! 

My little rats

My little rats

Getting Crafty – Dress Making February 7, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Crafting, Fashion, Thrifting.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

Whilst there are certain patterns that I love, I don’t really ever make clothes from patterns. The main reason for this is that fabric is very expensive now, and I find it easier and more affordable to buy ready-made items from shops and stalls. What I do like to do, however, is take any opportunity I can find to convert an item of clothing that is old, unloved and out of date into something modern and spectacular. This is cheap, generally, as well as saving things from ending up on a rubbish dump.

Today I decided I was going to turn a horribly shaped 80’s dress into something that suited my body shape a lot more. To begin, off came the baggy loose top, and I hemmed it up. The skirt, which is gorgeous and pleated, was then converted into a dress by carefully stitching on a ribbon, and then adding a flat panel into the back. As I thought, the pleats mean the top section expands and thus bunches, so next week I will probably replace it with a white bust.

Anyway, what do you think?

Hand made pleated dress

Hand made Pleated Dress

Look Look! I Made Something! January 21, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Crafting.
Tags: , , , ,

Looky here guys! I made something! At SMB, little clumsy and incompetent me actually made a little brooch from felt and net and other pretty crafty substances. The process was reasonably straightforward, but I was pleased with how pretty the end result was! Look at the flower in the centre, I cut that out from lace and sewed it on using tiny silver stitches! Lovely!

Handmade felt and lace brooch

Handmade felt and lace brooch

Close Up Of The Crafty Brooch

 What do you think?

Handmade, Vintage and Preloved: My problems with Etsy November 15, 2009

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Advice, Crafting, Inspiration, Life, Chatter & Politics, Rants, Vintage.
Tags: , , , , , ,

You have probably gathered just how much I love vintage fashion. The quirky, the wierd, the classic and the wonderful – I am happier in my preloved belongings than in brand new items. It would make sense, therefore, for me to love Etsy. After all, unlike eBay (my usual haunt), you don’t have to compete and bid against other buyers, and the prices are fixed and obvious. Along the same lines, vintage clothes tend to be cheaper on Etsy than they are on online stores, and even often cheaper than they are on eBay.

Etsy Logo

Etsy Logo

With all these advantages, however, come a number of disadvantages that mean I only buy on Etsy if it really is a case of needs must. These little things make the overall buying experience a bit of a disappointment, and really are simple little things. I simply fail to understand why such a big and successful website won’t put in the effort to make their site that bit more user-friendly.

So why do I have problems with Etsy?

Firstly, they will piss a lot of people off by not having multiple currencies. I don’t mind this too much (I can roughly translate dollars to pounds in my head), but for those who don’t have it programmed into their brains this can be a right hassle. People will find that heading to a site such as XE.com in order to find out the cost is often time-consuming, and can persuade people away from buying at all.

Etsy Local Search - No Keywords Anywhere!

Etsy Local Search - No Keywords!

Next the search local tool. This is great if you don’t have something specific in mind. If you are just browsing, this tool allows you to enter a location, and see the first 100 shops that match those parameters. Of course, a brilliant shop may not have updated recently and will only come much further down the list than that initial 100, and there is no facility to extend the search and see the next bunch. Even worse, you can EITHER search by keyword, or by location, never by both. The closest you can get to this is to see who delivers to the UK, but if you are trying to keep postage costs down and only buy local this is quite a major pain in the ass.

Finally, I have an issue with the feedback method for Etsy. Like its more professional competitor, eBay, people are rated on selling accuracy – but unlike eBay, people don’t have to fill this in. That pressure to be a good and trustworthy seller isnt there, and whilst most people are good guys, there will always be scammers out there.  

The thing is, there is still a recession on. We should be encouraging people to buy vintage, and experience the quality and brilliance of a real quality item. Similarly, people are becoming more and more creative, and for the first time in years a real handmade force is out there, crafting and sewing away. eBay doesn’t care about these creatives, concentrating more on the big corporate brands – and Etsy is fatally flawed. There are few outlets for such wonderful talent, and I just wish the website would get off its lazy bottom and sort it out!! 

All that said, Etsy is home to the most wonderful and beautiful items. Definitely give it a visit, I am not trying to persuade you away from it! I just think that if they fixed these flaws, their website would be better than ever before, and so many more people would use it!