Friday, 27 April 2012

Toy Thunderbirds and an Elf

Today was not the best day I've ever had and I'm feeling a bit sad. Not really really sad, just a little bit like I want to go to bed and read my book under the covers while wearing socks and secretly eating pistachio and marzipan truffles.

To pep myself up I looked through my photos of last weekend when I went to stay with my sister in London. I love her house. I love the way she puts things together and how she displays all the odd treasures she's collected.

I thought she'd probably have something to make me feel better, and she did.

This is it...

"Sadly the Thunderbirds arrived too late to save the elf"

There's probably a better caption than that, so post it below and the person who invents the best one will receive the honour of knowing they're the best at making up captions for toy thunderbirds investigating bookmarks made of elves' feet.

PS. The bookmarks are made by Olena Mysnyk in Kiev and you can get your own book feet from her MyBookMark shop on Etsy.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Vote for Bumblewick!

Bumblewick Beesting is feeling very pleased today. His Magical Potion Kit has been nominated for the Handmade Olympics 2012. What an honour, Mr Beesting.

While it's rather marvellous even to be nominated (and we have the lovely Rosie and the Boys to thank ever so much for that), he'd be proud as punch if he got a spot on the medals table.

His potion kit is in the "Favourite Handmade Goodie That's Fun!" category.

So now he's counting on you to make his day and vote for him. As you can see, Heidi LaLarge has already cast her vote and is busy parading her "Vote for Bumblewick" flag around the circus.

To vote, all you have to do is...

1. Go to Event 6 on the Handmade Olympics Page
2. Scroll down and vote for 'magic potion kit'.

That's it.

While you're there you could also vote in the other categories, and browse around the amazing finds people have nominated.

☛   ☛   ☛   ☛    ☛   ☛    ☛   ☛   ☛   ☛   ☛    ☛   ☛   ☛   ☛

In case you're not familiar with Bumblewick's Magic Set. This is it...

Bumblewick's Magical Potion Kit

You can read more about it in my Etsy Shop. But in a nutshell, it's a very special box filled with all the ingredients and equipment you need to brew your own drinkable magic potions. It even comes with a mini pestle and mortar, as well as swirling sticks, a sieve, a glass conical flask and a glass beaker. The recipe cards tell you everything you need to be able to brew 'Courage Tonic', 'Shrinking Solution', 'Bouncing Liquid' and 'Blue Blood Oil' (which is particularly useful if you are a prince who finds himself in the unfortunate situation of having been transformed into a frog and is required to prove his royal credentials, or equally if you are a princess keen to avoid another night sleeping on a pea).

The competition closes this Friday (27th April), so you'll have to be quick. 

Friday, 20 April 2012

Escapee animals!

Watch out, two very small but feisty animals appear to have escaped from the circus' Magical Menagerie.

Could I just put in a little proviso here that "escaping" may not be exactly what happened, and could rather be Wilhelmina trying to infuse an element of adventure to events, since the Menagerie is never locked and the animals are entitled to roam anywhere and do howsoever they choose.

Nevertheless, she has requested that I make "Wanted" posters for the occasion, in order to assist with their capture.

So here is a little glimpse...

Wanted: Wild Wilhelmina and the Master
Reward: Jelly Beans

If you're eagle-eyed, you might just spot them this Saturday at Old Spitalfields Market (probably from about 11am until 5pm). Details here.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Swallows, Amazons and Squirrels

This week we went to see the Bristol Old Vic's touring production of Swallow and Amazons. The theatre show is based on the classic book by Arthur Ransome about four children who sail their ship called 'The Swallow' to an small island near the farm where they're staying. While camping on the island they encounter two fierce girl pirates, Nancy and Peggy, who call themselves 'The Amazons'. After a brief battle and a "Parlez", the Swallows and Amazons join forces to fight Captain Flint (really the girls' Uncle Jim, who lives on a houseboat). 

More than all of this though, it's about imagination, adventures and long summer days outside exploring and playing. 

Photographs by Simon Annand

The staging (by Robert Innes Hopkins who was also the designer on Goodnight Mister Tom) is brilliantly imaginative and atmsospheric, especially the Cormorant birds who seemed to be made from rusty garden shears with bin-bag wings. I'd love to have a photo of those, so I'll see if I they'll let me have one to share here.

The songs really got inside my head too (the score's written by Neil Hannon from the Divine Comedy), and I found myself singing "Swallows... and Amazon Pirates" all through the interval, which is never a good thing to hear, and understandably caused Kaspar (who's 11) much distress and shame.

I do feel a bit bade for saying this, but the Swallows were almost too Enid Blyton for me, slightly too full of saccharin goodness and dismay at the "beastly" Amazons, and I found myself rooting for the Amazons to pierce their goodie-two-shoe shoes with their arrows. Frankly, if it had been a whole show just with the Amazons, their feather-headdresses, Adam Ant face-paint and pirate songs, I would have been more than happy.

The Amazons were so brilliant I wanted to capture their spirit and bring it into the Butterscotch & Beesting Circus. I started to think about creating a new character who had their fearlessness and strength, and like the girl pirates, was totally undaunted by their size or age. 

So after going through various possible animals, and ruling out a meercat because the circus already has a 'Master'...

def. meercat, rabbit and rooster muddled together by monkey magic

... I decided on a squirrel - probably because we've got so many squirrels near us in the Botanical Gardens and they always strike me as being immensely agile and curiously unafraid of humans. And I knew the character definitely had to be a girl.

I had made some headdresses a while ago, so I used these as the starting point for the drawing...

Butterscotch & Beesting Feather Headdresses 

.. but to accentuate her fearlessness I extended the feathers like the ones the Amazons wore in the show. I think that also helps to heighten the drama a bit too. And, of course, she had to have their Adam Ant pirate stripes.

Tall feathers and pirate stripes

I find I can't draw a character until I know who they are, what they're like and, most importantly, their name. So before I put pencil to paper, I spent a while deciding on her name. As often tends to happen, her name was the first one that came to me: "Wild Wilhelmina".  Then I went round in circles for ages before realising I had it to start with. I really ought to learn. I think Wilhelmina suits her because it gives the nice alliteration with "wild", and it makes me think of a female version of "Buffalo Bill" (Bill →Will → William → Wilhelmina). Handily its origins also apparently lie in the German word for 'protector'.

I love the idea this squirrel with a big name and boundless bravery is actually really rather small, and lives in a world that's much bigger than her - one where she takes what she needs from it and isn't scared by anything it throws at her. To help illustrate this idea, I've given her an oversized spear, which she probably fashioned using an arrow head she won from an adversary.

Wild Wilhelmina

So here she is, feathers, stripes, arrows and attitude. Welcome to the circus, Wilhelmina.

And thanks to Swallows & Amazons for giving her to me ... and also for inspiring my children to spend yesterday dressed up as Amazons (even the 11 year old).

(Two of the three Butterscotch & Beesting Children against an 'Erie Basin' background seascape which I borrowed from

And for inspiring my two year old too.

PS. The Headdresses will be in my Etsy Shop in a snip of a pirate's eye, if you should want to recreate your own Amazon pirates or Wild Wilhelmina.

Butterscotch & Beesting Feathered Headdresses

Friday, 13 April 2012

New things

Moon Mirror in a paper cloud pouch.

Button Badge Sets

And two new 30cm square cushions

All now in the Butterscotch & Beesting Etsy Shop. There's more to come too...

Sunday, 8 April 2012

An Unusual Easter Bunny

Happy Easter from the Rinx!

Rinx noun A muddled animal created by magic with a rabbit's head, a flamingo's feathers and a fox's legs and tail. Usually resides in the Magical Menagerie of the Butterscotch & Beesting Circus.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Feeling Foxy... Part Three

Wow, it's been far too long since I last posted. It really wasn't meant to be this way. I had a whole big plan. But then my internet crashed and I was left web-less for a week. It almost hurt.

I believe the last time we spoke I was about to ship the circus down to Brixton for the Crafty Fox. And, oh, how fabulously crafty and foxy it was.

This was my stall.

I made some new purses from the fabric I designed for my cushions.

One side is printed and the other is made with a really nice jadey-turquoise linen, sewn with diagonal strips of my flag-print fabric. A few of them even have vintage buttons adorned upon them.

There's a review of the market on this brilliantly beardy blog 'Beard Today, Gone Tomorrow' by Annie, who bought one of my purses too.

Here's a close-up pic of some more, with a Betty purse at the front.

I'll be putting them up in my Etsy shop soon, along with a few brand-spanking new cushions.

I really loved being part of this event. It's one of the best markets I've been too, super well organised, with a real mix of makers and incredible talent. I hope I'll be back!

 Miwary's prize-winning stall.

I'll be posting about some of the other makers I met there in the next few days, because they're so good they each deserve their own page. In the meantime, this is the Crafty Fox Blog and the Crafty Fox Facebook Page.