Monday, 22 June 2015

Books I Have Read - The Family from One End Street

The book 'The Family from One End Street' by Eve Garnett was first published in 1937 by Fredrick Muller. It was published by Puffin Books in 1942 then re-printed in 1945, 1949, 1951, 1954, 1958, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971 (twice), 1972, 1974, 1975 (twice), 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, (I have been unable to find info on any other reprinting dates for the 22 years until 2004 but as it has been reprinted in the following dates  2003- audio cassette, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2014 I would assume that it was still being reprinted in those 22 years. If you find some dates could you please let me know so I can add them to this blog.

I found a  website that mentions that 'this book is perhaps most notable for beating J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit for the Carnegie Medal of 1937.' Amazing!

I have been fortunate to pick up a 1981 edition of this little book from the Life Line Bookfest that was held in Brisbane (2015).

I always like to read books at night, it gives my brain something else to think about before I go to sleep. When I picked this book up I didn't really think that I would like it and granted I nearly put it down as the beginning of the book was not something I would normally like but I decided to read more than the first page before I would cancel it out and I am glad I did.

I found this story delightful first because every story has a happy ending. Second the characters especially the mother Rosie. She has such a fierce love for her family and even though her five children test her patients she loves them dearly. She is a Washerwoman, her husband (Jo) is a Dustman and they have six children, Lily Rose (12 1/2), Kate, the twins - James (called Jim) and John, Jo (junior), Margaret Rosie (nickname Peggy to Peg), William

I love the down to earthyness of this story. They are poor but do not let that get them down, they just get on with life and not look to what other people have and regret the life they have.

Another thing I like about this story is the writing. There is soo much back information. The thoughts and think processes about why something is happening, why it is not wanted to happen, what happens if it does. These days authors are told to delete, delete, delete. Make the story short, compact and in doing so a lot of the back info that has been told to the reader in this story, I think would not be available if it was written today. It makes me wonder when I look at how many times this book has been re-printed since 1935!

I am very pleased that I have read this book and would recommend it to anyone.

I have found a few remarks other people have written about the story and thought you might be interested.
A remarkable series of three books showing the lives and aspirations of an urban working class family, children (Lily Rose, Peg, Jo and Kate) of a refuse collector (Mr Ruddles) and his wife. We are introduced to the Black Hand Gang (innocent by today's standards). The first title was published before WW2. The second, Further Adventures... takes the three youngest children into the country where they experience village life and farming, staying at the Dew Drop Inn. This book was written shortly after the first, but the manuscript was damaged, presumed destroyed, in a Blitz fire but was recovered and reconstructed in 1956. The children return to the Dew Drop on holiday in the third book of the series, Holiday at Dew Drop Inn. These books are not in print, which is a shame, since the writing is of good quality. The most common versions are by Puffin, the second and third made expensive by rarity. The writer (middle class) shows this working class family in a good light, hardworking, anxious to be clean and to better themselves whilst clearly being proud of their roles in life. The story is told with humour, to some extent laughing at most of the characters.

The Family from One End Street marked a series of firsts for me. Perhaps most importantly, it was the first book to break the stranglehold of Enid Blyton. Much as I loved the 826 billion volumes of Famous Five et al, the day eventually dawned when I started running a speculative eye over library and shop shelves for stories about something other than the spy-catching quintet. And there, suddenly, were the Ruggles family — two parents, seven children — all rendered equally lively and interesting but all utterly different from each other, and all utterly real.
Episodically structured, it became therefore the first book I loved for its characters rather than its plot. And it was the first book not only for me, but for all of its readers when it was first published in 1937, to make urban, working-class children its heroes. Some critics detected a patronising tone towards Garnett's characters, but others praised her for avoiding both sentimentality and condescension and replacing them with what one called "a careful truthfulness" instead.
Not that I knew or cared about any of this at the time, of course. I just knew it was a relief to spend time with book-children who, like me, had more experience of a world bounded by building sites, patches of grubby parkland and knackered working parents than they did of one strewn with rolling moors, private islands and spies.
It was also the first book I owned that had been written and illustrated by the author. Garnett had been an art student and the book grew out of her walks through the back streets of London as she searched for subjects to sketch. Incidentally, the drawings are lovely — sweet, strong and deceptively simple, like the book itself.
But better even than the book was this: it had a sequel. Two, in fact: The Further Adventures of the Family from One End Street, and Holiday at the Dew Drop Inn, which were, if you can believe it, even better. This gave me a wholly misguided sense of life as a process of cumulative improvement, which would take several painful years of experience to dispel, but on the plus side, Holiday at the Dew Drop Inn gave me my first understanding of just how deep the pleasures of reading could run.
It was as if, with the story of Kate Ruggles' summer-long stay at the eponymous hostelry and enthusiastic embrace of village life, Eve Garnett had peered into my mind and written down exactly what she knew would delight me most. That seemed to me magic of the highest order and I raced off to other shelves to find it again.
The book is a wonderful, crammed-full, meandering affair, exactly like the prose you just read. Each chapter follows the adventure of one of the children (if adventure it can really be called; it’s more like day-in-the-life, but life is very full in a large family at One End Street.) Lily Rose tries to help her mother with the ironing, but the iron is too hot, and the artificial-silk petticoat shrinks to doll’s size. The calamity is enormous: how will they pay to replace it? But in this, as in every other chapter, disaster is averted, and Lily Rose goes home with nothing worse than her mother’s scolding and a slice of cake. And so it goes: Kate takes a scholarship but loses her school hat, and demonstrates intelligence and resourcefulness getting another; the twins James and John have day-long adventures for a secret society; the whole family has a Day Out to London. Every moment is both suspenseful and gloriously ordinary.
I have a colleague who is writing an article about the representation of poverty in children’s books. This is a perfect example. This family is living on the very edge of respectability, keeping everyone fed and clothed. Sixpences matter dreadfully. When Kate gets her scholarship, and it pays for tuition but not the uniform, it’s clear she won’t be able to go to school at all, because she’s required to have things like a tennis-racket and shoe bags. But there’s no misery here. Frustration, sometimes; longing for a trip to see family, certainly; sharp reminders of necessity, in almost every chapter. Mr. Ruggles has dreams of finding as much as five pounds in the trash he picks up! But the tone of this book overall is from a child’s point of view: there’s much more interest in adventure and exploration than in the ordinary world of getting enough to eat. Garnett’s skill is that we see a little of both in this book.
Several episodes in the life of the Ruggles, a large working class family in a small English town. Mr. Ruggles is a dustman and Mrs. Ruggles takes in washing, and their seven children are well-meaning but occasionally disobedient, resulting in many adventures and mishaps.
The Ruggles family is quite poor but morally upstanding, hardworking, loyal and supportive of each other. A little rough around the edges, but fun-loving and lively. The book is a series of separate episodes loosely strung together: Lily Rose’s desire to do a good deed results in an ironing mishap, Kate wins a coveted scholarship but must scramble to afford the uniform, the twins James and John fall in with a gang of older boys and in an effort to impress them have two wildly different adventures, Jo schemes to sneak into the cinema to see the new colour Mickey Mouse cartoon, and baby William wins first prize at the fair. In the final chapters father Jo finds lost money in a dustbin and the reward for returning it allows him to take the whole family to London for a grand holiday.
In the 1930s in Britain it was very unusual for a children’s book to have working class characters. Eve Garnett provided ordinary children from the poorer areas of England stories which reflected their reality. And the Ruggles’ poverty is not underplayed – in every chapter the cost of things is a continual worry, and every penny scraped together is done so with great effort (and sometimes, luck).
Today the book is still charming but quite old-fashioned. Children will be amazed by the freedom which the Ruggles children enjoy, as they wander about town and countryside without adult supervision. Nothing terrible transpires, as their fellow villagers and all the strangers they meet are kindly and help them out of difficulties. In particular the rich folk they encounter are without exception generous and giving – a gentler outlook on society than later books about class warfare in Britain.
This book was, and still is, a sentimental favourite in the U.K., as it appeared in the top ten favourites of all the Carnegie winners on the 70th anniversary of the awards. Relatively unknown outside of Britain, this book is perhaps most notable for beating J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit for the Carnegie Medal of 1937.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Stage 12 - Shadow House - Window Panes

I apologise for taking so long to post more information about the Shadow House. Life gets in the way but finally I have been able to spend some time making windows. I have decided to have a go at making them out of sequins. 

This is the finished window. I have added a brown stain over the 'glass'. I have added 'moss' and placed a double layer of rope around the edge.

First I laid plastic cling film on a solid
base then spread a circle of glue.  I then
stuck sequins on top. Most are transparent.

I allowed the sequins to dry overnight
 because I found that if I tried to spread
glue on them before they were glued
together, they came apart and it was
almost impossible to glue them
 back together. When dry I then spread
 glue over the top of them and covered
them with very fine white microbeads.

I have just placed (not glued) the 'window
pane' into position. Because I am doing a
dark Shadow House I felt that the
 'window pane' was too white and not
suited to this house. It is suited to other types
of houses and I will certainly use them again.

The left image is the final look when the microbeads have dried. I then very carefully pulled the plastic cling film off the back. I then turned them over. On the back of the 'window pane' I found the glue still tacky but needing just a bit extra glue. I then covered the back with the microbeads and allowed to dry overnight.
The RIGHT image is what the 'window pane' looks like with light behind it. Notice the one tiny solid sequin that sneaked in.

I have just placed (not glued) the 'window
pane' into position. Because I am doing a
dark Shadow House I felt that the
 'window pane' was too white and not
suited to this house. It is suited to other types
of houses and I will certainly use them again.

To solve the problem of them being too
 white I have used alcohol ink to colour
 the microbeads. I have used Isocol
rubbing alcohol as the base and Daler
 Rowney Sky Blue Pearlescent Liquid
Acrylic. I am pleased with the colour.
The black card is the template of the hole for the
 'window pane'. I have three different size windows to make.

Just to show you the window, the
template and 'window pane'.

This is what the lights look like in place.
 Please note that this image on it side. I will
change it when I can. You will notice that
 the wires are sealed with clear heat shrink
plastic tubing. This is so I know if I have
 added a resistor or not.
I thought you might like to know how
I have suspended the lights (white
Christmas lights). I always (in
closed rooms) put lights in by attaching
 them to a bar of balsa wood. I used wire
 but you can use string. I then glue the
balsa wood in place, just under the windows.

I like the look of them but they need work because they look like big eyes.

A lace 'stainglass' effect using rubber bands
Glued the rubber band lace in place and then will trim it up.

This is how the stain-glass looks like all cleaned up and the right hand image shows how some purple alcohol ink has been put on the left and right and painted onto the rubber bands as the windows still look to new.

This is the finished window. I have added a brown stain over the 'glass'. I have added 'moss' and placed a double layer of rope around the edge.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Glow in the Dark Paint

Using glow in the dark paint is easy once you have all the right materials. It's sorting that part out that's the tricky bit.

      After looking for months on the Internet and You Tube I decided to purchase a 'starter pack' from Glow Paint Industries here in Queensland.
      The starter pack came with eight 50gram packets of the following colours in powder form:-
Aqua- night colour - day colour is lemon, Pink, Green- night colour - day colour is lemon, Blue -night colour - day colour is lemon, Orange, Purple -night colour - day colour is white, Blue & Peach.

     Using the image below I will explain a few things about the powders.

When I can I will supply a photo of what this looks like in the dark.
  First, next to the splotches of colour is a pile of powder. This is to show you what the difference is in the colour from day colour and a night colour. The colour of the powder is the day colour. This can change slightly depending on the product you use to mix it with.

     When it comes to the blue, pink, peach and yellow I mixed it with some Polyurethane from Jo Sonja's Opal Dust as it was all I had at the time and I'm an impatient person and wanted to try it now, today, yesterday type of thing. 
     As you can see the powder (when mixed has darkened.) When I mixed it with Cabot's Cabothane Clear I was most disappointed. This is because the product has a grey/brown tinge to it. I used this product because I was attempting to save money and didn't know at the time that it had this tinge. It NEVER works. I've just cost me more money as I shall be going (as soon as I finish this blog) to purchase some crystal clear Polyurethane as I should have done in the first place and see how that goes. 

(I'm back. I could not get what I wanted but have purchased Derivan Matisse Polyurethane Satin Varnish which is white but dries clear and flexible. I have also purchased Winsor & Newton Artists' Acrylic Gloss UV Varnish. This is because I was told the polyurethane (if left in the sun) would eventually yellow and this is suppose to stop that from happening. I will need to experiment to see how it goes with the Glow in the Dark Paint.)

      These two images show you some gumnuts I am colouring at the moment. The bottom image shows white painted gumnuts. (I'm considering changing to Gesso as the white paint of choice, needs experimenting with. This is because I have found that using a house paint is to thin and needed two coats of paint. I also found that when I put the Glow In the Dark paint on (using the polyurethane that the very rim of the gumnut has bled some brown into the paint. It looks effective and I will enhancing the effect for the day light colouring of the fungi.) This is just a base colour I always paint over my gumnuts before I colour them with some other colour in this case green moss from Jo Sonja paints..

As it turns out the company supplying the powder recommends that it should be painted onto a white back ground and that you paint two coats of the powder. They also recommend not mixing the powders together as they say it gives the colour a muddy look.
      If you look at the inside of some of the green painted gumnuts you can see (in the image to the left) a pale yellow. Look to the top image and you will see that that is the 'green glow in the dark paint'. These gumnuts (for the sake of taking a photo of them) had a torch light held up to them for about a minute or two. Also this green powder glows in shadows where others (like puple, which is more like a pale white, only glows in pitch darkness.)
     Glow in the Dark Paints 'glow' because some source of light has been shining on them for a while. The company recommends that this should be done for 30mins to ensure that the paint glows for a long time, hours I'm told.
     One interesting thing I will be looking into is a UV LED. I am hoping that it does not shine a light that I can see. (This shows how much I DON'T know about them as the LED light is purple!) I really am hoping that I can hide the UV LED in amongst the shrubbery of my models and have the light shine down on a large patch of fungi painted with glow in the dark paint.  This is so that when my models are somewhere where there is very little light source it will not mater. Can you imagine a patch of purple or blue fungi. Yummy!!!
 (NO! It only shines a spot light onto a very small section of the mushrooms. The rest don't shine.)

    I will put up more images once I have finished painting them. Also just to let you know I'm very dissapointed in the purple and the orange. The purple is being very tricky. I thought I had it glowing but now I've lost it. The orange doesn't glow at all. Need experimenting with. P.S. The trick with the purple is to have it thick and place it in the sun.

Visited Silkwood School - Nerang - 2015

I am very proud to tell you that I had been asked to show my models to some children of Silkwood School at Nerang.

The children loved seeing my work and asked soo many questions. It was brilliant. I took three models - see below.
Archibald's General Store
The Pink Flowered Hanging House

The Shadow House. The photos do not do this justice as it is a lot darker than it looks here. This is how I took the model as I wanted the children to see a model in work.

Stage 11 - Shadow House - Creatures

I have only put a few creatures amongst the vegetation but as I get more I will add the images.
This is a photo if a trout fly used as an insect and a snail (in the top left corner)

Another trout fly. I have used many varieties of flies. I won't show them all as there are too many.
I will see if I can get a better photo of this little guy. He is made from a Christmas ball, seed beads, fishing line, a bead, metallic foil and plastic flower parts. See the two snails on the right. They are made from a bead covered in metallic foil with a sea shell on its back. Then I have used fishing line for the antennae with one coloured microbeads on the top.

Stage 10 - Shadow House - Balance and Colour

Balance and Colour
I thought you be interested to see where I am up to, balancing the 'look' of the model.

In the first image you can see I have located a fern on the right side of the house. On the left of this house I have place the brown knobbly plant to 'balance' the model. The knobbly plant is brown at the moment but will be changed to fit in with the rest of the plants. It has a long way to go until I am happy with it.


When it comes to the colour I believe I have mentioned it before but I thought if you would like to see close ups of the colour scheme I have chosen then please click here.
The colours range through dark blue, black, gold, a splash of dark red and a selection of purples,browns and greens.
A good selection of colours.

Stage 9 - Shadow House - Using Smaller Plants

Using Smaller Plants
Once the basic large plants have been attached to the house it is necessary to start filling in the gaps. While doing this it is necessary to remember that there will still be insects and other creatures added so leave space for them.
I love making this type of moss. I use a variety of coloured fishing line and seed beads. I then stick them in a bright green moss that is made from synthetic grass. I have used Selleys Glass Sealant that is suitable for aquariums to glue all of this stuff down. You will see on some of my other blogs images of other colour combinations of moss. To me, they really add something special to the look of the whole house.

Now some aquarium plants are brilliant for my type of models. I have stuck these ones on with the Selleys Sealant onto the top of a vine.

This image shows you (to the left) three cones that are made from zips. In the middle and to the right are three plastic purple flowers with black petals as their base. On the left, above the two 'plants' are some tiny lavender coloured plastic plants. Above them are some brown 'fungi' that I have made out of fishing line and gum nut flower caps.

These red 'fungi' are made from a combination of materials. Yates flower caps, white plastic caps of window blind toggles, microspheres and red nail polish. When I first made them I thought,"Crumbs that will never do." but I was wrong. In this house they look really good.

The knobbly looking plant is plastic and was bright green. To colour plastic does really need the right type of paint. As I don't have that I made a combination of black paint and glue. This did the job reasonably well. You may not be able to see it on this small image but not all of the plant is covered. Tiny sections have been left to show through the bright green. It adds a different dimension to it.

I do love tiny things and these brown seed pods, which I have placed three read microspheres inside, look brilliant all in a row like this.
This image is just here to show you the combination of five different plants. I'm very pleased with the look.
New Images
These jelly like green plants are from a plastic plant that has had its covering taken off of it.
What I am showing you here is the handing down of the moss. It is made from lines of glue covered in moss which (when dry) then is glued in place individually.
I love these. They are made from gumnuts covered in sand. The inside is paint with metallic paint and a shiny bead placed in the middle.
These little red and white plants are made from stamens, plastic flower parts, fishing line and micro beads.

When placing all of these 'plants and fungi' on to the house it is important to consider the colour scheme, the 'look' of that section and how it plays with the rest of the look of the house.

I will probably end up putting more and more tiny and even tinier plants in as I go until something in my head says that is that and then THAT IT THAT. DO NOT FIDDLE.

Stage 8 - Shadow House - Decorating the Outside

There are soo many ways to decorate a house it would be impossible to list them all. Over the years I have decorated many houses attempting to ensure that each one is as different from the other as can be and yet the problem I have, for my project, is that all the houses have to look the same when put together. As I am aiming at building 70 odd houses I feel I have the time and space (within the village) to build enough houses to accomplish this.

My thought is to build one house, such as the Shadow House, and have other houses that are similar (depending on the amount of 'light' hitting each house thereby altering the look of it and the number and type of plants placed over the roof etc) that would then radiate out from the Shadow House like the spokes on the wheel of a push bike.

I thought of putting up photos of the other houses but they are on other posts and as I am concentrating on the Shadow House I thought I should stick to those images for this post.

The images below are of just a few of the plants I have added. This is only the beginning. The base if you will. There is a lot more to do. Each layer of plant life will get smaller and smaller.
These plants are made from lotus pods, yates pods, plastic flowers and zips

These two flowers are made from Christmas bells, blue beads, fishing line and seed beads.

This flower is made from silk flowers, wire and microspheres
I have started, of course with the vines - please note that you can add as many vines and lights as you like. I then choose some leaves from silk flowers and a large fern which I painted darker. I then placed two different types of silk flowers on the roof. It is not normal for me to use anything just as I receive it but in this case I loved the large gold flowers - they just have such texture to them I couldn't resist. I then used a number of dark purple silk flowers. The rest I have made.
I spend nearly every night making 'something' whether that be moss, fungi, flowers, creatures etc; then I put them away and use them later, sometimes years later.

This is how the Shadow House looks at the moment
I will now start to put on smaller and smaller plants until I end up putting on creatures, you know bugs, spiders, caterpillars, snails that sort of thing.