Category Archives: I made this

make something every day – craft #1

[late publishing from yesterday’s activity – another two-post day today then (I hope) ]

“Craft” today. What does that mean? I can see that in the set of cards I made, I’ve distinguished it from craft that is mostly about reusing waste (like the origami boxes made out of Caffè Nero bags.) but it wasn’t immediately obvious to me what I’d been thinking of, preferring as I do to leave definition to emerge from what it actually is, rather than making a detailed plan.

Is it knitting? I don’t think I was imagining a day of engaging with knitting. Perhaps something papier-mâché? Nah.

At this point I was already late for work, so I trotted off to church and got on with emails and writing promotional materials for lunch, as you do.

Then my colleague, Andrew the caretaker sent me a text asking whether I’d like this box of candles.

WhatsApp Image 2021-08-20 at 14.35.34.jpeg

Yes! Of course. Not just another example of ways to build community out of stuff you have lying around, but also a craft activity. So now some time today will go on washing and chipping away at some lumps of old wax. Yes, there’ll be some recycling into new candles, but I’m also going to try some whittling like I did with this carrot a while back.


make something everyday – music 001

OK, so the answer to the question of whether I work on Sunday was “yes, kinda”.

There’s a reason for the sabbath. At a practical level it’s about unwinding and connecting with people we care about. Today was my son’s birthday and I’m glad I had a good long chat with him.

But I did pull a card and it was “Music” and so I was thinking about it most of the day even if I didn’t make anything that I can share here. Obviously this can’t be about me making a totally finished product every day and it won’t even be something small and unpolished. Today’s one of those days. I didn’t make anything new that I’m willing to share, but I am willing to share what I went through.

Firstly I wrote something to my friend Steve Lawson. He’d posted something about people who sing and accompany themselves needing to put effort into both the singing and the instrument they play rather than just letting one carry the other.

This is how I feel about my music. I’ve put hours into both singing and ukulele playing, but ultimately I see myself as a singer who accompanies himself rather than a ukulele player who sings (and the latter is how I think I’m mostly perceived).

I subscribed to Steve’s music on bandcamp last year and that got me his whole back catalogue and regular new music that he makes that he doesn’t release more widely. Steve’s stuff is very experimental – he plays solo bass and pushes in all sorts of directions what playing solo bass might mean.

Anyway, I said:

“I feel at the moment like I’m on the edge of something new. I’m getting a lot from listening to your subscription releases and thinking about how to make new music. And it’s something about using my voice as an instrument for experimentation in the same way you use your bass, rather than only trying to refine the voice and uke. I still work on making my strumming and fills more interesting, but I also need to do something that stretches the dominant instrument without being held back by my lack of technique in the accompaniment… I think.”

I’m not sure what this means. I’m not going to be suddenly making free jazz dooby-dooby biddly-bop experimental electronica stuff, but I am experimenting with what is possible, both in terms of recording and performance. And I made a start on that today – my time included playing uke and banjo, singing solo and singing with uke and recording bits of all of them, exploring some ideas – it’s sketchbook stuff, which is an important building block, I now have a bit more of an idea of what I’m aiming for and a process for getting there.


You get two posts today as I catch up. Can’t find a catchy enough title for this project, but this is only Day 2, we’ll see. Do I work on Sundays (tomorrow)? Dunno, we’ll see. If you missed it, the beginning of the previous post has an explanation.

Today I pulled “My Archive”.

Already, I can’t remember what I was thinking when I wrote these out. But there’s a lot to be done with “My Archive”, that’s for sure, whatever it is. I’m not certain quite where the line is between my archive and family history at the moment, I suppose it’s things that I made or things that are about me – but who cares? So there’s a bit of the process emerging which is that I have to have a bit of a think and a bit of a write first before I settle on what it is that I’m going to make. The writing, thinking and doing might not all get represented in the blog post.

I got a bit distracted by the perennial blogging software/where to publish/how to publish bullshit and that’s the last time I’m going to mention it. But when I’d calmed down and thought about it, I realised that actually scanning some negatives that I shot in about 1980 or ’81 and putting them on Flickr with some tags and a bit of a description was a worthwhile enough thing to do, it does get me engaged with organising the massive cloud of stuff that’s on digital platforms and in cardboard boxes, the only real index of which is my brain. Just writing stuff down instead of thinking about it is really useful, if only because it helps me to stop thinking about it.

R01-S23 Gig 1980/81
1 of 23 in the first roll

I’m not entirely happy with how the album got embedded from Flickr in WordPress, so I’ve replaced it with just one image. You can jump to Flickr if you want to see the whole thing and maybe like and comment and stuff. Maybe you recognise some of the people I don’t. Or the venue. Or know when it was. None of which I have much of a clue about – some archivist.

It was shot on HP5, and these are straight from the scanner, no cropping or colour correction yet.

I was using a flash, so wasn’t at the stage where I was experimenting with pushing the film speed to extremes. I know that I got my first SLR for my 15th birthday, so this is most likely to be 1980. Tony joined the Zenith Hot Stompers in October 1981 and so this will be before then. If I didn’t fear contradiction, I would say it was a configuration of the New Delta Jazzmen – Tony Davis, trumpet; Mick Jones, trombone; Clive Millward, drums; Pete Barnard, banjo; I don’t know the clarinet or bass players. And I’d also say it was upstairs at the Booth Hall at Hereford, but I have no evidence for that other than forty-year-old memories that are very unreliable.

This was just the first 24-exposure roll, there’s another 36-exp one to do, which might yield more clues.

It’s very odd looking at pictures I made forty years ago and trying to think about what I thought I was doing. I can see that I was experimenting and getting my eye in. But it was hard then, not having near infinite storage or the ability to check what you just shot. Experimentation with shooting live events was risky when you wouldn’t get anything back till you’d had some time in the dark room. There are plenty of rookie composition mistakes and bits where the person I was shooting turned their head at the last minute, but again, you just don’t know that until you develop the film.

So how does that add to my archive? Well it’s a bit more action research, I suppose. I’ve done something, thought about it, recorded some data and written about it. It’s not nearly as organised as I want it to be, but it’s an improvement. Progress.

learning how to work out loud again – ANIMation 001

I lost the knack. And I started a job where I found it hard to do it consistently, so didn’t do it at all. And I got diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 56, which explained an awful lot.

And after the raging and choruses of “no wonder!” I’m now settling into being able to do a day job and do other stuff too, trying to work with my brain’s constant search for novelty and variety rather than against it.

But I’ve not been writing here or very much anywhere online. Posting to Facebook feels like it just creates an obligation to respond and engage. There’s fewer folk here and hopefully not as needy.

So I came up with a scheme. I made 15 little cards with “genres” on them “forms of expression” if you like, definitely not “content types”. They’re things I like making, don’t worry about it – oh and I’m not going to say what they all are until I’ve got at least one set of 15.

I’m pulling one out of the pile every day and making that the focus for today. And then writing a little bit about it. So it’s the old schtick of “do cool stuff and write about it on the internet” but maybe not as cool and definitely not with anything else in mind but a desire to ship something everyday. WordPress isn’t the perfect blogging tool (and the block editor hurts to use), but it’s what I’ve got. There’ll be a day for playing with blogging software, but it isn’t today.

Yesterday’s was “Animation”. So I made a couple of things. One was while I was having lunch, I made a little time-lapse loop of people going in and out of TK Maxx. I put it on instagram because that seems the easiest place to host things like that. Not ideal, but again not today’s battle.

Then after having a bit of a think, I spotted a picture I took in the woods a while ago of a tree trunk that someone had drawn a bear’s face on.


So when I came back I imported it to GIMP and made some blank layers on top. I faffed with pencil width for a bit to try to match the marker that the original was done with. And then I traced the bits I wanted to keep in this piece onto the first transparent layer. I do this in some contrasting colour so that it’s easy to tell which is the drawing and which is the original – for this I used a bright red.

When I was fairly happy with it and knew that the lines kind of joined up well enough, I got rid of the transparency and started filling in blocks of colour based very loosely on the original (I also made the “inner” of the ears bigger and the eyes bigger and solid black). That’s the point I’d got to when I sat back and thought I should write it up a bit.

It looked like this:


Next I copied this, freehand and quite sloppily another three times so that I had four frames that look the same but are very slightly different. When turned into an animated GIF, the looping makes it look a bit more lively (it’s what I remember as the Roobarb & Custard effect, because I’m old). I’ve done some of this here before, but can’t be bothered to search back.

Anyway, now, shrunk down a little, it looks like this:

and that pleased me enough to let it be for another day.

(yes, I did write about it yesterday, but didn’t post here – progress not perfection) – stop moaning you’ll get another one in a minute and then you’ll be sorry.