Thursday, 28 February 2008

I Didn't Save Energy on Energy-Saving Day!

Did you know that today was "E-Day" (energy-saving day) in the UK? No? Well, it's a campaign to raise people's awareness of the effect of wasting electricity and people are being asked to do simple actions such as turning off appliances instead of leaving them on standby. If you go to their website:, you'll see that here in the UK, we've used more electricity today than on an average day.

I find this result very sad, although i'm not surprised. I think it's a worthwhile campaign if its seen as an awareness-raising activity more than anything else. I think that we need to do a heck of a lot more to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels but I know that this is such a contentious issue that to talk about what really needs to be done, would just turn most people off any idea of changing habits.

So what did I do? Well, me and my partner used a lot of energy today and we're not one bit guilty about it! No, it's not what you're thinking, you saucy thing, you! We walked to Meadowhall Shopping Centre and back, rather than taking the tram, which is approximately a 6-mile round trip. Sorry, very boring... but good exercise!
A camera provides interest to the dullest of journeys, because you're looking out for any little thing that may make a good picture. My digital camera is one of my favourite things, and I use it just about every day. Here's a few snaps from the little trip:

The only thing that spoiled our walk was the constant roar of traffic, and nearly being run over by 4x4s about 20 times. I could say that we only had ourselves to blame for picking what must be the most pedestrian unfriendly part of Sheffield... but we don't live in the country! There are no completely quiet roads here. And I wanted to go shopping... well, there has to be some sort of bribe to get me to walk 6 miles along busy roads! I wondered why should this city be controlled by cars? I watched a great programme this week, "The Woman who Stops Cars", on Tues Channel 4 (UK). I thought it was so positive that I even wrote a letter to the Radio Times for the first time in about 20 years! I doubt that they'll ever publish it so here it is, in all its unabridged glory!

"Dear letters editor
Kris Mullin (The Woman Who Stops Traffic, Channel 4, Tuesday) was, literally, a real breath of fresh air. At last someone is being brave enough to ask motorists why they need to drive ridiculously short distances, at the inconvenience and discomfort of others. It was far from easy, and Kris was faced with ridicule and derision in her endeavours to rev-up drivers to recognise that each one of them is part of the problem. However, when the programme showed the result of her "Change Gear, no car day" in Marlow on 1st Feb, it was a wonderful and surreal experience to see empty roads, where the day before they were heaving with traffic. I am biased - I don't drive at all, and instead I walk to work every day which is around a mile each way - not far at all. I cannot see why more people do not choose to do this (and I believe that it is a choice for most people), and I would welcome and support a "no car day" in Sheffield. Please keep up the fantastic work Kris!

Joey Ramone (Ms)"

Saturday, 23 February 2008

The Saragossa Manuscript

Me and Mathew often go to our local independent cinema, Showroom, as it's only 20 mins walk away and they tend to show an interesting variety of new and old films. Tonight (i'm writing this in the early hours of Saturday morning) we saw a Polish film from 1965 called "The Saragossa Manuscript", which is currently enjoying a re-release due to a new print.

I don't want to give a synopsis of the film here because this has been done elsewhere on the Internet, and far more precisely than I could manage.

However, what I liked about the film was the other-worldly atmosphere and labyrinthine plot. We see the film's protagonist, Alfons, experience repeat encounters with two sisters (together they seduce him many times) and two hanged brothers. These are both scenarios which are "recorded" in the book of the title, and pop up again and again and again.

At 3 hours, this is a long film. You really need to be prepared for a moderate amount of subtitles to read (so no dozing!), and I found my eyes were a bit sore afterwards. It makes use of that length by creating lots of deja-vu moments and repeating themes. In the second half of the film, stories and flashbacks are told, in which more stories and flashbacks are layered. This creates a dream-like feeling - you recognise repeated scenarios, but the tales are so long and meandering that you often find yourself beconing lost in the maze and confused at being taken on yet another circular side-story. Mathew and me looked at each other during the film a few times to confirm that we were both confused - but also amused - by the complicated stream of events. But it gradually starts to make sense - well, sort of - and there's an interesting twist at the end which I won't spoil for you. The unhinged, minimal soundtrack enhances the unreal, unsettling feeling of the film and is also a nice contrast to the lighter, slightly comical moments.

I'm glad I saw this memorable, absorbing film with its many layers of events, real and imagined.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Nesting Time

We have an elder bush in our back garden (which is more like a tree these days... and it grows out of the concrete) which we can see from our kitchen window, and lots of little birds perch there, sharpen their beaks, have a sing, and at this time of year, boy birds chase girl birds around the branches... tee-hee-hee! So here is a lovely seasonal toy made by Tiddlywinks - a cute bird sat in her own nest, and she has even laid a little blue felted egg! So that's where fabric birds come from...

Take a look at Tiddlywinks Etsy shop here:

and her Flickr pages here:

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Too Cute!

I stumbled upon Fing's beautiful and just too cute things via one of the forums on Etsy. Her avatar is her felted recreation of Cheburashka, the Russian children's animated bear-like character who arrives in an orange box, and it was this lovely image which attracted me. And then, when I went to her shop, I found some super-cute felted cats, matryoshkas and insects, like the one here.

I think the main thing that I like about these are the big, round eyes with a white dot to suggest light being reflected off it. This and the bright colours, neatness and simple shapes... and they look so soft and fluffy!

check out her shop:

and Flickr pages:

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

J is for Joey's Dream Garden!

Fellow felt-botherer Cherrypips makes some damn fine things. We (me and Cherrypips) decided to do a swap, I made her Essie, the sparkling stars bunny, and Cherrypips (also known as Nicola Lambert) made me a flower filled letter J brooch. We both received our swaps yesterday at roughly the same time as we both live in the UK.

Little Tiger thinks it's his brooch.... please may I have it back now? No? Oh well...

Essie, the sparkling Stars bunny brooch, relaxing in the constellations.

This is a macro shot of the the letter J Bouquet brooch. I love the tiny, tiny stitches that make up each flower centre, and the assortment of colours and patterns of the flowers, like soft jewels! I love this because it's the first letter of my name, so a bit like a name badge, but it's happy and sunny and pretty and soft, nothing like a name badge!

Thank you Nicola Cherrypips!

Joey x

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Bee Happy, Spring Has Sprung!

I took a long stroll to Sheffield Botanical Gardens today, hoping to see a few snowdrops and crocuses... however, I was far from disappointed! I saw BEES! Yes, bees in February in Yorkshire?! Surely unheard of? Here's the proof:

I think the flower above is a Camellia, which according to my little book, is not meant to flower until April.... maybe i've got the date wrong and it's actually April and not February... ;)

Here are some more flowers, from left to right: snowdrops, winter aconite and crocuses.

Take a look at my Flickr set for lots more springtime pictures:

Friday, 15 February 2008

Hop in the Pop-Up Wonderland

This is my latest bunny brooch, he's called Hop, and he's hanging out with Alice and the mad hatter in Robert Sabuda's wonderful pop-up adaptation of Lewis Carrott's Alice in Wonderland (2003, Simon & Schuster). We've got so many wonderful picture books in our house, it would be a terrible shame not to use them as backgrounds for my handmade bunnies and other creatures.

Sabuda truly is a master of the art, which shows so clearly in all the small details he's included and the fact that the book is bulging to bursting point with pop-up upon pop-up. The way that three-dimensional forms, like the table above and the white rabbit's house below, slowly emerge from the pages as you carefully open the book, is fantastic.

Sabuda's pop-ups are not just lovely books for children but also beautiful objects which will be appreciated by people of any age. You could use one pop-up as an ornament one day, turn a page and it turns into something else, then the next day you need a bit more space so you can put it to bed on the bookshelf.

Now there's a space-saving idea that no-one has yet appeared on "Dragon's Den" with! Remember, I got there first. ;)

There's even a lovely Victorian peep-show, pictured on the left, at the bottom of which you can see Alice falling into the hole which she saw the white rabbit go...

Perhaps one day i'll make my own...

Please visit Hop in my Etsy shop:

Take a look at Robert Sabuda's official site:
there are even instructions for making your own pop-ups, if these pictures have inspired you!

Time for me to pop off now, byeeeeee!

Joey x

Monday, 11 February 2008

Boxes Made to Hold Nothing

Colonel's hard box, originally uploaded by Joey 7.

I made a whole load of boxes 11 years ago (yes, eleven years!) to sell at a craft fair, where I think I sold one or two... which annoyed me a little bit as I was quite pleased with them at the time.

In the box pictured above, I made the mottled paper from hand myself... pulped lots of Guardian on Saturday newspaper "Weekend" magazine (in the days when it was on newsprint and not glossy like it is now) in the same liquidizer that I also used for making soup in (yummy!), made a deckle and mould to form the sheets and stood on them in the back yard to squeeze the water out and then left them to dry in the sun. Making your own paper is a highly satisfying thing to do. What I liked best was seeing tiny parts of words in the new paper, which take on a dreamy, other-worldly feeling because they're taken out of context, literally. And the paper is made of words, some surfacing, others pulped out of existence, but you know they're still there.

From different types of paper, I cut little shapes which reminded me of natural shapes that you might find in sea-smoothed pebbles, leaves and other plant forms.

I also used bits of some lovely writing paper, which in turn had been made from obsolete nautical maps (why were they obsolete, I wonder? Had the places they mapped sunk below our notice?) which are very lovely things. I still have most of them, like a lot of arty-crafty people I can't stop myself from hoarding lovely things. The maps have wide expanses of colour (often indicating sea, as you'd expect) but then numbers every so often to tell you the depth of the water, and other "landmarks" that only sailors would be interested in, like rocks under the surface of the water or the edges of land and islands only big enough for a pair of puffins to balance on.

I liked this paper so much, I used bits of it to decorate these boxes. If you look closely at the box above, you'll see the words, "Colonel's hard". I have no idea what this means, and I like the fact that I don't know.

Please take a look at my Flickr set of these boxes if you'd like to see more:

If you've made similar boxes, or if you'd like to know exactly how I made these, please get in touch, i'm always happy to chat! :D

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Christmas Returns

Sheffield at Night, originally uploaded by Joey 7.

I got into "am-dram" (amateur dramatics) about a year ago, and for a few months I was in a small company and performed on stage. It was a fantastic experience and although i'm giving acting a rest at the moment (its damn hard work! and time-consuming...), it did pique my interest enough to see more plays. One of the many good groups in Sheffield, in my opinion, are the Tudor Players, and tonight I saw my third play of theirs, "Comfort and Joy" by Mike Harding. Although the play is set at Christmas it didn't seem strange to be watching it in February, and it was an enjoyable night out. There was plenty of gentle, slightly cheeky humour and silliness.
One of the highlights had to be when the character Crispin tried to act out "Coronation Street" in a game of charades by jumping up and down and maniacally flapping his arms like a demented hen! His explanation for this absurd behaviour was "I thought of coronation chicken..." hahaha!

Their next play will be "The Odd Couple" by Neil Simon, 13th to 17th May 2008, at 7.15 p.m. in the Library Theatre, Tudor Square, Sheffield city centre.

More of my photos from the play:

Tudor Players' website:

Friday, 8 February 2008


Is spring coming already? I saw my first daffodils today, maybe they don't know that it's still February. I went for a short walk in Clay Wood, which is really just a few paths running through a smallish clump 0f trees fairly near Sheffield city centre. I shouldn't really go there by myself, but I thought, "the sun's shining, it's Friday morning and I haven't a care in the world!" so risked it. Luckily, there were no flashers, murderers nor muggers, just a few birds... and daffodils! I always associate them with March, seems that they're blooming earlier every year.

Spring is Coming Already!

Where we live in Sheffield, we have a choice of three parks, and I think this one, in which the Cholera Monument is set, is the nicest for quietness and solitude, only the occasional elderly dog walker interrupts your reverie.

Cholera Monument through the trees

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Etsy Banner-o-rama!

I had an idea some weeks ago to offer to make a few banners for people on Etsy... just because you like to draw, sew, make jewellery etc doesn't necessarily mean that you want to sit for hours at your computer, trying to work out why you can't move the text around etc etc... If you have no idea of what a banner is, it's just a strip of graphics at the top of a web page, like a shop sign. It's an understatement to say that i'm no expert at fiddling with graphics, but I thought i'd improve my skills in using the impenetrable Gimp program (free software for editing photos and graphics) ... and here are the results!

This was the first... I used the photo from one of Babymoon's items for sale, and copied sections of it, rotated them and joined them together to form a long background. This was all my partner's idea! Then I added text, in roughly the same colour as the baby's head.

Babymoon Boutique - finished banner

I used a similar technique for the next banner, where I copied sections of a photo of the artist's work and montaged them together into a long image... I did this because if you want to combine images and text you have to get them to work together in the space you have, that what i think anyway! :)

Christian Rose - finished banner

Little Pods supplied the lovely picture for the banner below, I just added text. It was quite difficult to get just the right colours that would stand out from the fantastic pea-pods background!

Little Pods - finished banner

Alyssa supplied a fantastic close-up picture of jewellery, and she didn't want to hide it too much with the text. So, she asked for the centre to be faded-out so the text would show up better... I managed to muddle through and find a way as you can see, and I'll be including how I did it in a future tutorial, so watch this space!

Allies Adornments option 5

I really enjoyed doing the banner for Shellydelight's shop... I tinkered with a couple of images of things in her shop and used the layers function in the Gimp to compile an image, then added text. Oh, I should say that I also used Irfanview (another free photo-editing program) to resize the pictures... there may be an easier way using the Gimp, but I stuck to what I was familiar with... where there's a will, there's a way! :D

Shelly Delight finished

For The Pin Cushion's shop, I took the pictures! Two of the results are below. I laid a piece of green felt onto a cushion, then stuck pins in it and took the photos on an upstairs window-sill for maximum natural light.. which is what I always do when I take photos of the things I make to go in my Etsy shop. The picture I used for the banner immediately below was taken with the macro function on my camera... most digital cameras these days have this facility, so if you've never used it, read your camera's instruction manual! Or if you've lost the book, the macro function may be indicated with an icon of a flower.

The Pin Cushion banner 4

Again, I took the pictures for this banner, but you'll see that this 'panorama' is made up of 4 different photos (I used Irfanview's "panorama" function to do this... it's very useful!).

The Pin Cushion banner 1

I really enjoyed making these banners (and my own! check out my shop to see it), and making your own banner is not as difficult as you think... when you know what you're doing! I've used a few different tutorials, but me being me, not very technical but a bit of a perfectionist, I would like to see a tutorial which goes through every single step in a super-simple way, SO I will be posting a tutorial on how to make a simple Etsy banner using the Gimp free program soon, so keep watching! :D

Meanwhile, if you want to have a go yourself, here are the links to the programs I used:
The Gimp:

But if it starts to stress you out, wait for my tutorial!

Good night!


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