Thursday, December 11, 2008

A winter evening celebration

Nice evening yesterday celebrating my birthday (don't ask, don't ask!) I decided that I really didn't want an expensive slick restaurant but did very much want a leisurely evening walk over Charles Bridge, through the Clementinum and into the Old Town Christmas Market. The market is actually quite small this year, and much less crowded than it used to be. In a way that was nice.

Developing bags

A fairly typically tasteful and "arty" Czech crib.

Developing bags

The folk dancers were a bit, er, restrained or half-hearted or something. But the kids seemed to enjoy it.

Developing bags

Trdelik is a Czech Christmas institution. Click on the picture if you want to read more about this cinnamon doughy ring.

Developing bags

That's me. I post very few pictures of myself but this one made me laugh when Alex looked at it and exclaimed, "You look like Eskimosa!" It's true, it's true.
Developing bags

Oh, I nearly forgot the ham. It smelled wonderful and I was tempted. But we went to really quite a good Italian instead. Lovely evening, calm and relaxed and fun. We finished it off at home with cake and mince pies and a video of "Smoke". I LOVE Paul Auster's writing - good little film.

Friday, November 28, 2008

And, a new version of the Undine messenger

Undine the Mermaid messenger bag
We realised that some people had problems with the (not very)naked mermaid on the right-hand panel in the original version. So we have done this new version. It's also a little more intensely coloured.

I like it. But then, I liked the original one too - which we will still have for those of you who are not afraid to carry a nekkid mermaid on your shoulder.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Newsletter is out! With special offers.

I have finally given up with trying to get our server host, Dreamhost, to stop blocking our mailings (I honestly do suspect there is a bit of prejudice here - they seem more suspicious because we're in Central Europe) so now we are using one of the dedicated mail services. At least I know the mailings will arrive - and it's honestly a very modest cost and worth it for the sheer stress relief as they have lots of online help and templates etc (plus nice support staff).

So - if you aren't on the list and want to be, please click here to sign up.

By the way, right now, our shop leads to the old sign-up but I am keeping an eye on that and have transferred everyone over by hand. With any luck tomorrow the shop support team will be back at work and will show me how to redirect the sign-up (it's a bit fiddly as CS-Cart does everything with databases and templates). And I am changing all the sign-ups on our sites. So - we will have a reliable mailing list that can actually get past servers and arrive intact at google-mail addresses. AT LAST.
Er, have I said that before? Well, I really think we are there this time.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New samples

This is something quite new for us - and like all new things, it's taking time to develop. I wanted this combination of a very flat top (under the frame) and a flouncy/puffy bottom. But being a slightly three-dimensionally challenged designer I didn't realise that the result is that you can't open the bag all that widely - so getting things in and out is slightly awkward (not very, but enough to be irritating). Sigh, back to the drawing board.So - meantime I need to buy some hooks that match the frame (hooks shown are steel, frame is brass) and make a couple of handles so that at least this doesn't end up thrown away - the pure-silk embroidered fabric is far too good for that. I think I'll keep one and gift one.It's quite a large bag by the way, which Alex thinks spectacular. I think I like the size - I'm beginning to come around to the huge bags that are fashionable right now. Well, no, in fact I don't like the huge ones - the thought of lugging around that much stuff makes me feel faint - but a BIG bag like this seems suddenly quite appealing.Bohemian clutch bag in embroidered silkclutch bag in embroidered silk____________The-blog-that-was-about-textiles-and-politics seems about to revert back to textiles. A lot less drama on the whole (hmm, although maybe not - these clutch bags are providing a fair bit of drama as I try out different approaches).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Okay, last one of the Dark Lord

This is a close-up so you can see more of the detail:
Dark Lord

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A small group of friends

Aren't these costumes fabulous? The monsters are made from goat hair and the masks are wooden and, Alex told me, weigh 5 kilos.
Elf

Monday, October 20, 2008

This weekend Alex met an elderly elf at a Bohemian Castle

He was at the Fx-Con Festival that a friend of ours, Vlad Taupesh organises.He came back with lots of photos including some hysterical ones of him applying body glitter to the woman he had to make up himself. Not sure if I will post all of those :OFor now, here is the first taste. One problem with a blog about life here is that almost every week we end up with more photos of amazing things and I never get a fraction posted. But here goes with two. I really like this costume.
Grey elf costume
Grey elf costume

Friday, October 17, 2008

Making Dreams Work


I'm gradually feeling that the new businessy blog is getting properly underway. It took a while to move material over. But also just to play with the layout (which still needs some work), add links and so on.

But I think I will start to promote it a bit now. It feels like the right time. Assuming that people are thinking about their businesses, and not simply out in the garden burying pots of cash (a nod to a friend here!)

I think we'll all survive, and carry on, though perhaps there will be big changes from the way it was over the last ten years or so. That might even settle down to being a good thing.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Vicuna! - maybe

My "vicuna" yarn just arrived from the dealer in the UK that I really love. If you want really special yarn at reasonable prices I would recommend them. So far I have been pleased with everything.

Those of you reading this may not know I am a crochet-holic - I seriously do not feel happy unless I have at least three or four crochet projects on the go. Right now I'm doing an alpaca lace jacket in grey, a perhaps-scarf in hand-woven silk combined with a very fine silver lurex thread (this is "perhaps" because having made it I think the yarn is too thick to look good in crochet so the whole thing may have to be made into something else) and the very beginnings of a top in blue and grey silks - bought as an ebay bargain and so I need to think how to make it all work together.

Anyway, the dealer had some vicuna that I stumbled across (the site is very hard to search and there is all sorts of stuff tucked away). It was, er $2 a skein instead of the normal vicuna $300. Now this tells me something, and the site DID say that it might not be vicuna but was believed to be - this dealer is honest about yarn content and says outright when he's not sure. But at $2 who cares? So I bought enough for a small scarf (as Alex says, "How many small crocheted scarves do you need?") and today it arrived.

It smells as though it's been lurking at the back of an Afghan bizarre for many years. Minnie, who likes to sniff all packages, was truly amazed by it. But I have washed and washed and washed it - and lo and behold, it's fluffed up. Lots of long, white hairs also fell out of it, so it does seem to be from some kind of antelope-type animal.

I suspect it isn't real vicuna. It might be anything - ibex crossed with camel? - but it will make an interesting project. I'll photograph it later in the winter once it's done and you can tell me what you think. Right now the skein is hanging out on the terrace and infusing the flat with the smell of wet goat. Lovely.
_________

Oh - and I meant to add that vicuna is endangered (which I only realised when I looked it up). But I think this yarn is pretty old - and probably something else in any case.

I did once eat an endangered species - by accident. I'll tell the story one day if I dare.
 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

THE most beautiful bags. Though I did have to sacrifice a shawl.

I bought a Liberty's varuna wool vintage shawl in "Hera" pattern some time back and then - typically - fell in love with it. However, it had some quite bad moth damage in one part when we bought it so I finally accepted that it really should be cut. I'm actually really glad as the bags turned out to be just drop-dead gorgeous. One had a moth hole (Romana spotted it too late once it was sewn) so I grabbed that one. It's become my new small bag for carrying things in my messenger.

It's hard to do these bags justice in a photo, They are just luscious. You know, some things just work out SO well.









They are only on Etsy for now as I need to upload a whole heap of things to the main shop. By the way, they're a little more expensive than our usual bags as the fabric in itself is quite pricey and collectible now.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Barack Obama is IRISH!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EADUQWKoVek
I LOVE it. Sent to me by Shay Black, who I knew way back in my late teens, early twenties. Great guy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A new "medieval" print bag. The Lady and the Unicorn

The Lady and the Unicorn. Silk and print tarot bag based on a medieval tapestry.

I asked for input about bags on Aeclectic Forum some months back. One thing that came out strongly is that people want Pre-Raphaelite and Medieval options. We like those images too, so we've been working on them. Here are a couple of examples.

It's really hard to find either type of imagery in high quality copyright-free form so Alex had to do a lot of work on both of these. I do think they look good:
Sorry - our sites just went down as I was putting these in (the host has an announcement up so at least they know). So here is just a small upload of one image for now.






Monday, September 15, 2008

A new bag

We actually did take this one from a CD collection. We hardly ever use CDs because the quality tends to be awful, but this one just needed a bit of work - and it's so beautiful that it was worth it.

It's a picture by Warwick Goble - I just LOVE the colour combinations. Nautilus, art deco silk tarot bag, drawstring pouch Nautilus silk tarot bag, drawstring pouch

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dreams Can Work, a small blog about small creative businesses

Well, it's sort of in a fit state to see now, though it needs a whole lot more work (and ouch, I cannot change some of the colours that I want to - oh well, that'll have to wait). I am enjoying this but actually finding it quite demanding. But it's good, it's making me read and think and - quite honestly - this blog is as much about pushing that side of myself as anything else. http://www.dreamscanwork.com (this is a redirect and I've only just set it up, so it may not work for another 24 hours) It's been quite a summer. Sometime I will post about my boring (but for me incredibly stressful) struggle with trying to put right a mistake that my solicitors made about ten years ago - entirely their fault and a bad mistake with huge consequences for me. It's been nightmarish at times and it's not what I needed this year, but oh well, shit happens and all that. Anyway, I am getting it sorted, and it's been great while it's all going on to just focus on indulging some of my own textile desires (no-one does a decent Alice cushion, so now I have - and I have two for myself) and on the issues around getting a creative business off the ground in current times. This is the third time I've got a studio going and interestingly, it's the most successful. Certainly not in monetary terms, but very much so in terms of enjoyment, satisfaction and a feeling that I'm finally doing what I really want to. I work very long hours, but I'm not very stressed. In fact, I am so much more laid back and calm than I used to be that it's almost a joke. I also suspect that Baba Studio is actually more stable than any studio I've run before - I think this time we built the foundations much more slowly and in a considered way. It feels solid. Every so often Alex says to me, "Do you ever think what I might be doing if I hadn't met you?" and I say, "Well, what about me if I hadn't met you?" and he always says, "Well, you would be running your own studio, but I might well not be." We're lucky - our skills and interests are very complementary. But he says that in the end, I am the one that knows how to begin a business (though I strongly suspect that he is the one who knows how to keep it running efficiently) and in a way, yes, it's true. So it's nice to pass on some thoughts and things I've learned - even though I shudder a bit at actually encouraging anyone else to follow my ways of doing things which often verge on being driven by a strange mix of passion, fear and desire, rather than organised and planned in any clean, clear way. Anyhow, the blog is begun. Though I make no claims for it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The new bags - there are about eight more new prints as well

Again, these are my colour adjustments on the photos so not as good as Alex's. But they give an idea. We are switching mostly to new Thai silk for the bags (it's pure silk, but smoother than dupion and as iridescent as the Indian silk) AND - ta DA! - silk lining (again pure silk and yes, we even tested it to make sure).I'm very happy. Alex says that it's like my cooking, I never do anything twice exactly the same way. He says I always have to try new things - but I think he likes it. Anyway, I am really very pleased with these.This is Harry Clarke's "Thumbelina" - much worked on by Alex as sadly the original prints (we have a first edition) are very faded now. We have it in a bronze shot with green or a lilac. Neither is really quite right on these images - the bronze looks a bit brown (it's actually a real "shot" colour) and the lilac a bit blue. Actually, if you look at the picture of Minnie below this bag is on the far right - and that's more the real colour. I am just in love with this lilac silk - which is funny as it was Alex who wanted it and I initially wasn't sure. But it's marvelous.Harry Clarke, Thumbelina tarot bag or drawstring pouchHarry Clarke, Thumbelina lavender silk tarot bag or drawstring pouch

Happiness is a cat with bags, lots and lots of brand new bags

I have been stringing cord through tarot bags the last couple of days - it's not usually my job but it's actually been nice to do something so manual - hate to say it, but sometimes I just love this kind of mindless work with pretty fabrics.Anyway, I am also trying to list the new bags on the shop, so I sorted them on a clean white sheet on the floor to see what we have of which colours. Mistake! Or was it? It made one large tabby very happy. She LOVES to help with things. Fortunately most of them are already bagged in plastic but er, I would not normally encourage her to do this.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Alice cushions - mark two. With hand embroidery, beautiful, beautiful embroidery

So, our new Alice in Wonderland cushions are at sample number two stage.We've changed the fabric from linen to silk (a really good quality silk with cotton interfacing, nice and crisp) as we like the sheen - though we may do some linen also eventually.We've changed the design so that the cushions work well on their own as well as in pairs. Though the original "paired" design will probably be done, in slightly modified form, too - as I love it.The cushion now comes with a pad - a rather ingenious pad of which more later.Oh - and by the way - we now have hand embroidery on the design. I actually want to jump up and down and shout that very loudly, but I will be quiet and restrained. DMC threads too - I LOVE how this looks.These are just snapshots for now, and done in bad light but they still look good, don't they? Actually, I am very, very pleased with how these are turning out. It's been worth the work. Though I do need to redo some photos in sunlight.A few more tweaks and a few more designs, and we'll be there I hope.alice in wonderland cushion
alice in wonderland cushion
alice in wonderland cushionalice in wonderland pillow
alice in wonderland pillow

Alice cushions - mark two. With hand embroidery, beautiful, beautiful embroidery

So, our new Alice cushions are at sample number two stage.We've changed the fabric from linen to silk (a really good quality silk with cotton interfacing, nice and crisp) as we like the sheen - though we may do some linen also eventually.We've changed the design so that the cushions work well on their own as well as in pairs. Though the original "paired" design will probably be done, in slightly modified form, too - as I love it.The cushion now comes with a pad - a rather ingenious pad of which more later.Oh - and by the way - we now have hand embroidery on the design. I actually want to jump up and down and shout that very loudly, but I will be quiet and restrained. DMC threads too - I LOVE how this looks.These are just snapshots for now, and done in bad light but they still look good, don't they? Actually, I am very, very pleased with how these are turning out. It's been worth the work. Though I do need to redo some photos in sunlight.A few more tweaks and a few more designs, and we'll be there I hope.

Alice cushions - mark two. With hand embroidery, beautiful, beautiful embroidery

So, our new Alice cushions are at sample number two stage.We've changed the fabric from linen to silk (a really good quality silk with cotton interfacing, nice and crisp) as we like the sheen - though we may do some linen also eventually.We've changed the design so that the cushions work well on their own as well as in pairs. Though the original "paired" design will probably be done, in slightly modified form, too - as I love it.The cushion now comes with a pad - a rather ingenious pad of which more later.Oh - and by the way - we now have hand embroidery on the design. I actually want to jump up and down and shout that very loudly, but I will be quiet and restrained. DMC threads too - I LOVE how this looks.These are just snapshots for now, and done in bad light but they still look good, don't they? Actually, I am very, very pleased with how these are turning out. It's been worth the work. Though I do need to redo some photos in sunlight.A few more tweaks and a few more designs, and we'll be there I hope.Alice in Wonderland, white rabbit silk cushion or pillow.Alice in Wonderland, white rabbit silk cushion or pillow.Alice in Wonderland, white rabbit silk cushion or pillow.

Alice cushions - mark two. With hand embroidery, beautiful, beautiful embroidery

So, our new Alice cushions are at sample number two stage.We've changed the fabric from linen to silk (a really good quality silk with cotton interfacing, nice and crisp) as we like the sheen - though we may do some linen also eventually.We've changed the design so that the cushions work well on their own as well as in pairs. Though the original "paired" design will probably be done, in slightly modified form, too - as I love it. The cushion now comes with a pad - a rather ingenious pad of which more later.Oh - and by the way - we now have hand embroidery on the design. I actually want to jump up and down and shout that very loudly, but I will be quiet and restrained. DMC threads too - I LOVE how this looks.These are just snapshots for now, and done in bad light but they still look good, don't they? Actually, I am very, very pleased with how these are turning out. It's been worth the work. Though I do need to redo some photos in sunlight.A few more tweaks and a few more designs, and we'll be there I hope.Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, silk cushion or pillow.Alice in Wonderland, white rabbit, silk cushion or pillow.Alice in Wonderland, silk cushion or pillow with hand embroidery.Alice in Wonderland, silk cushion or pillow.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Master and Margarita - Blood Dance

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJsHuXXukjw
Or if you don't want to watch the whole thing, but just go straight to the dance -it's here. (warning, nudity, weirdness and a lot of feathers)

The Master and Margarita (English subtitles). Part 7 (4 / 5)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8X8mFWG1syY
Because autumn has begun here and I am beginning to get into a Gothic/Halloween type of mood. Plus anyone who does not know Master and Margarita needs to.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

New prints

We are doing a whole heap of new prints right now - based in part on all the feedback we got on Aeclectic Forum at the beginning of the year about the kinds of things people want. They are all old images that we have cleaned and altered to make them suitable for fabric printing.So far we have ONE of each - we did these as a try-out. But we're making more now and should have plenty in stock in a week or so.


Fairy tale satin and pure silk tarot bag or drawstring pouch. Arthur Rackham illustration.


Fairy tale satin and pure silk tarot bag or drawstring pouch. Arthur Rackham illustration.



Fairy tale satin and pure silk tarot bag or drawstring pouch. Arthur Rackham illustration.


All - and some other new ones that I'll save for the next post - are only on Etsy for now. Until we have the more standard colours ready it doesn't make sense to put them on baba-store.We're also working on some of our own images, but these may not see the light of day for some months. Basically we have a large project to do over the autumn - it all sort of arose and grew and suddenly became quite a big task. It's on commission from a publisher and should be extremely interesting. So - we thought we would put some time into really getting a nice, big selection of bags (and - cushions - more of that in a week or two) ready for autumn, and then we can settle down and do our own illustrations. A nice balance I think.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

On "pseudo modernism" - or the places that venture capital blogs can take you

I'm still putting my "how to make a creative business work" blog together - bit by bit. It's taking a while because I feel that I need to work out the focus and form I want. I'm like this when I write books too - it takes me ages to get the structure all mapped out and then filling in the details of content is quite fast. I also can't get the banner right - true pathos yes? Anyway, I was considering whether to put a sidebar link to this New York venture capital blog by Fred Wilson: http://avc.blogs.com/ It's good stuff, although ironically one of the things I want to say myself is that the assumption that investment from outsiders is a good thing is very questionable. It became fashionable in the dot-com era and now it's far too often taken for granted and the desire - if not the actuality - of "big investment" probably wrecks more businesses than it helps. More on that in the new blog. Reading the avc blog, I found a discussion of the new "psuedo modernism" - now who would have thought it? Anyway, as you know, I totally bore anyone reading this blog from time to time by going off on a monologue about where design is headed. I that context, this is worth a read, though it is awfully self-consciously academic in a way that reminds me of why I left academia. It's not that I don't respect this way of writing - just that I found it a bit stifling myself and when I took to putting flip-book corners on my thesis I realised that maybe I was more cut-out for something else. This article would benefit from flip-book corners I think. As would my blog of course - if I could work out how to do them. ____________ What’s Post Postmodernism? I believe there is more to this shift than a simple change in cultural fashion. The terms by which authority, knowledge, selfhood, reality and time are conceived have been altered, suddenly and forever. There is now a gulf between most lecturers and their students akin to the one which appeared in the late 1960s, but not for the same kind of reason. The shift from modernism to postmodernism did not stem from any profound reformulation in the conditions of cultural production and reception; all that happened, to rhetorically exaggerate, was that the kind of people who had once written Ulysses and To the Lighthouse wrote Pale Fire and The Bloody Chamber instead. But somewhere in the late 1990s or early 2000s, the emergence of new technologies re-structured, violently and forever, the nature of the author, the reader and the text, and the relationships between them. http://www.philosophynow.org/issue58/58kirby.htm

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Walk in Prague - part two

I think we stopped at the Frank Gehry building yesterday? But I left out one more facade: Sorry, not very clear - it was a high facade and the light was going - but you get the idea. There is lots more behind the cut. In fact, there is still a lot that I haven't at all posted yet. But enough is enough for one day maybe? There are evenings in Prague when there is something around every corner that visually and emotionally rocks you. You can get drunk on it. Just over the road we came across a large wedding on a boat. Russian and pretty over the top. As we got in front of the boat, "Hava Nagila" was in full swing. I liked the lady with what seemed to be her grandson, dancing away. If you'd like a bit of soundtrack with that - and I recommend it to get the flavour - here is a particularly perky version: Some of the style on show. Sort of - well, Russian businessman's woman. A distinctive look but fun on a beautiful evening Okay, so, having got the distinct feeling from the bouncers that too much photography would not be welcome, on we went. This building is a large art gallery - city run. They have a new exhibition about 1968 which I think I will try to get to: You just HAVE to have the Prague Castle shot really. I know it's a cliche, but almost every time I see it against the river like this I am grateful I live here. Deep breath. Okay, I will squeeze in one or two more. As we headed into Mala Strana I remembered we had no bread, so we stopped into Cafe Savoy: Where I took a really bad and shaky picture of a corner of the famous ceiling - well, I didn't want to use flash and piss off all the people having their dinner - that's my excuse. One day soon I'll take a decent picture of the whole thing and post it. Meantime you can see it here - http://praguespoon.blogspot.com/2008/05/restaurant-review-caf-savoy.html In Prague, you can have a visual feast just buying a loaf of bread. Ridiculous really.