Bonitocrafts on Facebook

I am something of a heavy facebook user, however as I teach it is not appropriate for me to ‘friend’ my students on there. I have been thinking of setting up a ‘page’ for a while now and have finally taken the plunge and done it. You can find my page at www.facebook.com/Bonitocraftscreations to see more real time glimpses of what I have been up to in my crafty and creative adventures.

Come and have a look if you are a facebooker, like my page if you like what you see and I hope you enjoy looking at my crafty shares.

I shall be back this week sometime with my next catch up post. Am getting there, slowly.

Thanks for reading

Morris Dancing – Blog catch up 7

No. Not me. This body is not built for such things. However, my son, now 15, at 14 and a half decided that he wanted to join a local Morris side. Not exactly the most mainstream hobby for a modern teenager to take up, but then my boy is not your typical modern teenager.

Actually, to be honest, this story starts rather earlier. Back in August 2011 when William was 13, he was given a little single row melodeon by my Dad, that he had knocking around, with the now immortal words “See what you can do with that.” Well. What he could do was nothing short of genius, and not just in the biased eyes of a proud and doting mother. In minutes ‘the boy’ had picked out a recognisable tune. We were most impressed.

William had been dabbling musically for some time, mainly playing flutes from India, China or Japan and since the previous January he had also been playing the tabla (Indian tuned drums) which he had picked up incredibly quickly and showed a real talent for. I did say he was not your typical teenager didn’t I?

Anyway, I digress. Very soon the little melodeon was not enough and the boy started dreaming of a second row of buttons on his melodeon. So, for Christmas 2011 family and friends clubbed together and bought him a lovely Scarlatti 2 row melodeon. He has been playing almost continually ever since to the amazement of everyone that sees him perform.

Melodeon, Bouzouki and Mandolin

Melodeon, Bouzouki and Mandolin

During the first few months his musical skills went from strength to strength and he also taught himself to play the mandolin, bouzouki and the five string banjo. Playing alone is all well and good but William wanted the opportunity to play with other musicians. His main musical interest is in folk and traditional music styles and my boy decided that he would like to play for a Morris side. Now, if you are in the UK you probably now have an image in your head of men in cricket whites sporting bells and sticks and waving hankies in the air. Ah. Not so for this unconventional lad of mine. He wanted to join a local Border Morris side. I think of Border Morris as Morris dancing with attitude and in my humble opinion is way cooler than the Cotswold Morris that many people think of. Look here for more on Border Morris and the side that William has joined.

William approached Motley Morris in May at the Rochester Sweeps Festival asking if they had an opening for a new musician, The lovely group welcomed him with open arms and William starting joining them at their weekly dance outs throughout the summer. They loaned him a rag coat and we got him a top hat while Motley agreed what ‘colour’ he should be to maintain the ‘Motley’ ness of the side. Once they had settled on Lime Green it was time to get William his rag coat.

Funnily enough, brightly coloured rag coats are not readily available in the shops. Indeed this kind of garment is even too niche for the wonderful world wide web. So, what to do? If you read my blog and I know that someone out there does, you will by now know that I always try to rise to a creative challenge when one is put before me. So, after seeking some advice from the lovely Lisa of Motley I set to work. I purchased a large quantity (approx 10 metres) of polycotton sheeting and a large men’s shirt. Splitting open the side seams and sleeves I then cut wide strips of the fabric on the bias from the sheeting fabric. These strips were then machine stitched onto the shirt in overlapping rows until the shirt was covered. The collar was removed and covered as were shoulder panels to cover the raw ends of the sewn on strips. The side and sleeve seams were then re sewn.

base shirt

base shirt

split seams

split seams

Once covered in panels these were then cut into rag strips to finish off the tatters. I added press stud closures to the front where strips were sewn to cover the raw edges at the shirt front. His outfit is completed with a top hat bedecked in badges and pheasant feathers and a long scarf to match his rag coat. Black trousers, heavy boots and a neckerchief complete the kit. (He is currently borrowing knee bells) Once his face is blacked in the traditional style of disguise (face paint rather than soot these days) he cuts quite and imposing figure.

Full Kit

Full Kit

Motley in Action

Motley in Action

After the main summer season William started attending the weekly practice sessions and started learning to dance the dances leading up to his first dance out as dancer and musician on New Years day just days before his 15th birthday. I have posted some videos here, here and here if you want to have a look.

I really enjoyed this creative challenge and am most pleased with the finished coat. However I will be more than happy if I never have to make another one ever again.

My next challenge for him will be to make him his own set of knee bells. For this I shall need a couple of dog collars, large bells, plenty of ribbon to match his coat and leather to attach the bells to. AlthoughI am most proud of my creative achievements on this one. I am most proud of my talented son and his seemingly never ending abilities. Here’s an extra video of him playing a lovely Italian tune on his melodeon.

Me and my lad

Me and my lad

 

Look out for my next update for another folky make for our annual festival visit.

Needlefelting – Blog catch up 6

Oops. I started with good intentions to complete my blog catch up back in August but it didn’t quite happen. I still have some way to go. In fact as I have rediscovered my crafty mojo in recent  months I’m getting further away from being caught up.

Anyhow, I’m back. I have three posts written and ready to type up so far with a few more left till I am caught up so I am going to give it another attempt.

So. Needlefelting.

Last March I had a visit to Dorking with my dear crafty friend to investigate a shop we had heard of that sells all the necessary for the crafts of wet felting and needlefelting. Wet felting has never really appealed to me. It seems an awful lot of faff if I am perfectly honest. However, needlefelting does rather appeal to my crafting tendencies and I have had a hankering to have a go at it for some time.

The shop is rather grandly named Gillian Gladrag’s Fluffatorium, and the style of the shop front has a real feel of a Victorian Fairground about it. It’s a real stand out shop. On entering the emporium we found a whole host of lovely things to tempt us. Ranges of beautifully packaged kits for both needle and wet felting, stacks of wonderfully coloured fibre packs, a delicious range of knitting yarns along with a huge selection of related notions, accessories and books. I purchased a couple of small kits in order to try my hand at needlefelting.

Needlefelting Kit

Needlefelting Kit

Needlefelting is a technique where you use a barbed ‘needle’ to stab and shape the wool fibres into a flat or sculptural felt form. With my natural clumsiness this was an activity fraught with danger and I did manage to stab myself several times (very painful with a barbed needle I can tell you) . After much stabbing, shaping and building up layers of fibres I managed to produce a sweet little birdy.

Bird Body

Bird Body

Bird Body with decoration

Bird Body with decoration

Bird Body with decoration

Bird Body with decoration

Finished Birdy

Finished Birdy

Finished Birdy

Finished Birdy

I also used some of the leftover fibres from the kit and a cookie cutter as a template to make a simple flower.

Pink Flower

Pink Flower

I really enjoyed this simple craft and have now added yet another skill to my creative repertoire.

My next update will be a trip into the folky world of Morris Dancing in the company of my lovely son.