english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England

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The Little Tramp

Hand Screen Printed Plush Chaplin as The Little Tramp

I love silent movies and the movies of Charlie Chaplin so decided to have a go at creating a plush Chaplin or two. Here is my first, a solid plush with an image of Chaplin – screen printed by hand – on the front. For the reverse I couldn’t decide on a suitable fabric from my stash so printed my own, carving lino cut stamps of a bowler hat and cane and using these to hand print some plain cotton.

Note the lovely flowers I treated myself to in the first shot below:)

Hand Screen Printed Plush Chaplin as The Little Tramp
Hand Screen Printed Plush Chaplin as The Little Tramp
Hand Screen Printed Plush Chaplin as The Little Tramp

These Chaplins are available to buy from my Etsy store.


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What (Not) to Watch While Crafting

I tend to do quite a bit of making with the TV on. It actually makes me a lot slower, but it does allow me to feel as if I’m multi-tasking (sort-of) and allows me to work through a few things I’ve recorded before the Sky box gets full!

However, there are certain types of movies/TV shows which don’t allow multi-tasking. You have to give them 100% concentration if you want to enjoy them. When deciding what to watch while crafting I follow the following simple rules:

What Not to Watch

  • Slapstick comedies (you’ll miss all the best jokes looking down to thread a needle)
  • Silent movies (you’ll have no idea what is going on)
  • Foreign-language movies/TV shows (you’ll drive your partner mad asking them to read you the subtitles while you finish a tricky section)
  • Natural history (you won’t appreciate the amazing photography)
  • Animation (this one is borderline as it can be done but you’re not really getting the full benefit if you’re only looking at the screen 50% of the time)

Chaplin painting

What to Watch

Anything else is acceptable, however the following are particularly recommended:

  • Crafty shows (good for inspiration. In particular I’d recommend Next Great Artist, but at the moment I’m enjoying Great British Sewing Bee)
  • Shows your partner loves but you think are only so-so (only deserving of 50% concentration anyway, plus you’ll win some brownie points)
  • Wordy shows with less than amazing visuals (e.g. history shows, some documentaries)

And of course you could always just listen to the radio…

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My beautiful Alien Corset (print)

Me and Phil are big fans of Alien Corset’s film posters for the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. Last month we treated ourselves to one of his latest batch of prints, a lovely red and gold Metropolis poster, which arrived in the post this week.

Alien Corset Metropolis Castro Theatre Poster

Alien Corset Metropolis Castro Theatre Poster

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Tatsumi and Great Silent Films

On Monday we went to see the film Tatsumi based on Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s memoir A Drifting Life and five of his short stories. This is the fabulous poster for the film (here in postcard format):

Tatsumi Movie Advertising Poster

The animation style of the film is beautiful and very close to Tatsumi’s original manga. If you’re not familiar with Tatsumi’s manga (or gekiga) it’s brilliant but unutterably sad, since the characters featured in it are always entirely without hope or chance of salvation.

Me and Phil have found the time to watch a few films this week, including the silent films Wings and Murnau’s Sunrise, both of which are commonly credited with having won best picture awards at the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929 – they actually won awards for ‘Outstanding Picture, Production’ and ‘Unique and Artistic Production’ respectively. Both films have very traditional plots but are technically innovative, Sunrise in particular. I’m always amazed by just how innovative the early film makers were willing to be.

I also received a very exciting delivery this week – linocut printing supplies! I’m going to be putting these into action asap:) I think a Clara Bow print may be in order.

Linocut Printing Supplies

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Chinese shorts

For Chinese New Year Kino10, a local organisation who specialise in short film screenings, organised a programme of Chinese short film screenings at the Barber Institute. Unfortunately we already had plans so couldn’t get there, but a number of the films screened are available online. Here are a couple of  my favourites:

Hua Yang De Nian Hua, Wong Kar-Wai, 2001

Wong Kar-Wai is one of my favourite directors (Happy Together is my favourite of his films). This short, originally screened at the 2001 Berlin Film Festival, is a montage of clips from films thought to be lost, but rediscovered during the 1990s. After the rediscovery of the lost scenes from Metropolis, something I never imagined would happen, I personally have high hopes for many, many more lost films to be rediscovered.



G.U.4, Nixon Leung, 2009

As a gamer I love this love song to retro gaming. It makes me regret I don’t manage to get more time for gaming. I used to set aside Sunday evening as dedicated gaming time, but don’t even seem to manage that now….


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The Artist – a rambling kind of film review

I’ve finally been to see The Artist at the cinema this evening. I read about it months ago in a copy of Empire at the hairdressers’ (the hairdresser being my brother). I am very thorough in working my way through the magazines when I go to the hairdressers’, I start with the film magazines, then travel, then fashion, and if I’m really quick off the mark I manage to get to the cooking magazines before Phil’s hair is cut and it’s time to leave. I’ll have to convince Phil he really needs to grow his hair long and have it dyed to give me more reading time, but I can’t see it happening…

Anyway, having awaited the release of the movie  in the UK for months (due to the intriguing premise of a new b&w, silent movie), I then had to wait to see which cinemas in Birmingham would actually be screening it. We do have a couple of cinemas which screen films which don’t get a mainstream release (the MAC and the Electric, which also happens to be the oldest working cinema in the UK), however as it happened one of the chain cinemas was showing it first & I couldn’t wait so decided to go there. The trip to the cinema was supposed to be a bit of a family outing, however, my brother was involved in a car accident this evening (no damage done to him, quite a bit to the car) so it was just me, Phil and my Nan in the end.

It was like watching a lovely old film you’d never discovered before. Except, of course, it wasn’t quite like any old film, more a homage to it – a little bit of the silent era, and the early talkies and the musicals, and totally aware of it too. For a (almost) silent movie it made brilliant use of sound & it looked stunning. Plus it’s surely the best silent movie since Mel Brooks’ Silent Movie!

With the Prime Minister today making the meaningless comment that UK film makers should produce more blockbusters, it was satisfying to watch a movie which is both brilliant and a commercial success which no one would ever have commissioned (silent, b&W) if their only intention was to make money at the box office.