Category: Art and Craft

Spoogy Woogy Oooogy! (by )

Monday night I inflicted my childrens poetry on an audience in the Waterstones Cheltenham as part of the Villanelles series run by The Gloucester Poetry Society.

Sarah reading The Little Book of Spoogy Poetry at Waterstones Cheltenham

This beautiful photo of the reading was taken by Kurt Schroeder Photography which is a challenge as I can't really do flash photography and the light levels were poor!

The Little Book of Spoogy Poetry

The The Little Book of Spoogy Poetry has been getting out and about again - Last weekend saw me take the baby yeti (Alaric) to Cheltenham Library along with El Nosy Rat for the Fun Palaces Event.

Sarah Snell-Pym reading from The Little Book of Spoogy Poetry at Cheltenham Library

It's interesting to note that the outfit Alaric is wearing is the reason there is a poem with the line "One Daddy dressed as a Yeti" in it and now he puts the outfit on for the poetry readings! It was originally made for a Yeti Hunt when we first started up the Cranham Scouting sections 🙂

A Hiding Baby Yeti at the Cheltenham Library Fun Palace Event 2017

At the poetry readings he is a naughty baby yeti who is also very shy and has a habit of hiding until the children call him to come out! This time the baby yeti stole Jean's shoes! When I took him to the climbing wall he kept hanging upside down! That baby YETI!

El Nosy Rat entertaining small child at the Cheltenham Libraries Fun Palace 2017

El Nosy Rat also features in one of the poems which he is a bit disgruntled about as it feels it gives rats a bad name! He is a relatively new member of the performance team and is also known as Ratty The Plague Rat/Black Death Rat when he comes out on Cuddly Science outings 🙂

El Nosy Rat and Mummy Eating Cherry Pie Cloth Patch

He is a big hit with the kids and talks with a bit of an Eastend twang. In the photo above he his holding on of the lovely cloth patches of the Mummy Eating Cherry Pie (one of the poems and illustrations from the book). I had these made last year and they are in some of my surprise pouches! These were made by White Wizard Purple Elf who also made Jean's beautiful dark fairy hoody. Talking of surprise pouches I did kind of forget I they were also glitter bombs so covered the Children's Library in glitter 0.o

Halloween and Autumn Colouring In sheets by Sarah Snell-Pym

Last year I also spent ages tracing some of the pictures from the book so that I could turn them into black and white colouring sheets. The idea is that eventually all the illustrations will be up for free down load and maybe even as an actual colouring book. I tend to be a bit slow going with this as I do a little bit every September and October. But it did mean that this year I had lots of pictures ready for digital clean up and conversion to colouring in sheets 🙂

I am steadily popping them all on WigglyPets Press - including the older ones I made which have some colour traits like the pumpkin outlines being orange 🙂

There are still quiet a few to be traced and scanned still but that along with new audio files will have to await my new computer!

And talking of audio files don't forget you can listen to the poems on my bandcamp though it is still missing it's story and song to be a proper collection 🙂

Or you can watch a much younger Jeany reading the poems and a baby Mary trying to join in 🙂

I only have about 20 of my original print run left, after they have gone the book will be a more expensive print on demand thing on Amazon. And a second volume is also wending it's way to completion 🙂

But that will be a tale for another year!

But before I leave you I shall explain why it is the Spoogy book and not a Spooky book - when she was 4 yrs old Jean asked me if we could make a poetry book for halloween and so we did about topics she picked... that book was all hand drawn and written and did not contain all ten poems that later appeared in The Little Book it also got a cup of water knocked over on it shortly after it's creation as Jean has it in her tray table next to her bed - the tray table where she was allowed her night time water as if it was spilt it would all stay in the tray!

The 4 yr old Jean could not say Spooky - 4 yr old Jean said Spoogy and the book was for her, I've been asked to change it for "proper" publication but the poems are what they are - first and for most for my kids and the Spoogy bit is an essential part of that. If you are interested here is the blog post from when I made the book back in 2009.

Fun Palace Coming to Cheltenham Library 2017 :) (by )

Cuddly Science Poster for Cheltenham Library

Last year we went to a grass root community event in a disused shop in Gloucester organised by Nickie Wildin. It was part of a national movement of Fun Palaces, to fight austerity and bring arts, science and culture to... well... EVERYONE - this is one of the centre tenants to both Cuddly Science and Salaric Craft - me and Alaric believe that science and art are for everyone.

You can read and see photos of last years event here.

This year we are at Cheltenham Library on Saturday the 7th of October 2017 organised by Stephanie Organ and boy do we have a line up! There is poetry by Angela France, robots with Oh Bot who we met at the Cheltenham Science Festival, there are language sessions, crafting, Cheltenham Hackspace... and so on - just check out the posters!

I am there as both Cuddly Science and Salaric Craft complete with puppets, Alaric dressed as a yeti and surprise poetry pouches!

I am just a little bit excited about this!!!

Fun Palace Event Poster Cheltenham Library

Upcycled Table Centres and Jewellery (by )

paper flowers

Tomorrow I am running two of my Sustainability Series of workshops as Salaric Craft at Gloucester Cathedral as part of their Sustainability and Harvest Festival - it marks the 1st yr anniversary of the solar panels going live and is part of an on going development process to make the Cathedral green and sustainable.

Upcycled Flowers

One of the workshops is making paper flowers from old magazines and books and turning them into table centres and displays, this includes making the "vases", basket making, and weaving paper and is adaptable to all skill levels.

Jean weaving paper

The other workshop is creating jewellery from reclaimed materials, this is another upcycling workshop - some of the materials are "rubbish" like old paper, card, bottle tops and some things that were surplus to requirements and were saved from becoming needless landfill like half used bottle of nail vanish and metal washers.

Paper beads

The Sustainability Series of workshops and talks that I have designed as part of Salaric is very important to me as I believe it a) helps people learn skills that maybe life changers or even life savers and b) it helps people become more aware of the waste and issues surrounding the environment and hopefully will help curb things like global warming c) it gives people ideas of cheap ways to fix, repair and make things which in these times of austerity is something that many people need (p.s. these workshops are free tomorrow 🙂 )

Upcycled Tag Bracelet

Poetry Without Pretention – Kick Starter (by )

The Gloucester Poetry Society are in their inaugural year - from a little seed idea it has gone from strength to strength. With a growing and inclusive members list, and it has organised the first poetry and spoken word festival that Gloucester has seen, which will be happening at the end of October 2017 🙂

This has been an amazing endeavour, growing from the local community and gaining steadily with national and international recognition. Already the society has been involved in fund raisers and community workshops, giving back to the society and landscape that has fostered it's development. It has even been on tour!

As part of the festival and to mark our First Year Anniversary there is to be a book - a lovely book full of the richness and diversity of the Society. It is a book that needs to be, it is a book that will be going out digitally but it should also have a physical incarnation - a beautiful locally printed but globally available book.

It is to be published by my small press The Wiggly Pets Press but we need some help. There needs to be a cash injection to get the process rolling, this is not a vanity press, the poets are not paying to be published nor would I ever ask such a thing! And to be honest the poetry speaks for itself - they don't need a vanity press but the world does need their poetry and I want to be able to give it to the world.

So we have a kick starter where you can help us raise the capital and get some delicious rewards in return (not least of which is the poetry itself!).

Rewards range from origami made by members of the society, to fine art prints by the wonderful Jason Conway to... Wiggly Pets! Themed bespoke wiggly pets made by me... for you - if that's the option you choose 🙂

Looky at examples of Wiggly Pets:

Well what is it?

Wiggly Pets Mummy!

Ballet WigglyPet and WigglyWoo

One of my life mantras is that Science and Art are for everybody not just the privileged elite and I have focused huge chunks of my life on making these areas accessible to people - accessible to as many people as possible. Sometimes this takes place on a global stage sometimes it is in a pub or school or community centre with 2-30 people. Sometimes it is just passing on some craft materials to someone so they can try something.

This means when I was approached by Zack at a poetry event in Cheltenham and asked if I was interested in starting a Gloucester Poetry Society, I jumped on board without hesitation. The society runs on volunteers, membership is free unlike most poetry societies and it does as many events and workshops as it can for free. We rely on venues being kind and the odd donation and so far the generosity has been amazing!

We have even taken ourselves on the road and do regular events in the surrounds like Cheltenham and Stroud - this is a wonderful turn over of the "culture" structure that was in place when I first moved to Gloucestershire. It is considered that Cheltenham has the culture and Gloucester doesn't but more and more I was meeting people from Gloucester at events elsewhere and finding little hidden art gems around Gloucester. It has culture - a wide, rich and varied range - it just doesn't tend to shout about it!

The book is us shouting about it, of course this is just what the book and Gloucester Poetry Society mean to me - they will have different meanings for the other members!

So back to me... or rather The Wiggly Pet's Press. What is it, what's it doing and why?

When I was little my dad worked at the Pheonix Docks in Rainham Essex (also known as the Mulberry from the WW2 legacy), and he would walk along the River Thames made flanks and find bits of victorian rubbish: clay pipes, glass jars with marbles in, bits of ceramic dolls. He'd collect these and had the idea of reconstructing the dolls and so found that there was some stuff called puppen fimo which could be used to mould dolls and baked in the oven at a low temperature i.e. unlike clays and ceramics, no kiln was required, it could be done in the home with normal kitchen equipment.

Off he went to the local craft supplies shop and bought some fimo. Fimo is a polymer clay, basically it is plastic with a solvent in it that makes it malleable, until the oven's heat drives off the solvent. You can form it just like clay and unknown to us at the time - it comes in a huge range of colours and as it turns out three different hardnesses.

Initially he picked up Fimo Hard, it was stark white and quiet hard to actually use and form into shapes. There were some little bits left after his experiments so I had a play. At the time I was in my mid teens and was still playing with coughs plasticine - I had some idea of making animations but had no camera but I was story boarding and making up characters all ready for when I did.

The first thing I made was a bear with little hat and flower - mothers day was coming and I needed a present!

Then I started making little creatures - I was obsessed with the idea of animation still and I love the plasticine stop motions such as trap door and morph - I'd grown up with Tony Hart on the TV. I also used to draw comics for my family on a Sunday afternoon after Sunday School whilst watching Time Tunnel and 40, 000 Leagues Under the Sea and I had this notion of little helpful creatures who always got things slightly wrong.

The first wiggly pets were made sans arms and had to be painted afterwards. I'd planned to drill holes through and add bendy pipe cleaner arms for easier animating (I still had no camera).

And that was kind of where they stayed for a few years - until my Dad found that the craft shop had a new and different type of fimo in... Fimo Soft! And it was in so so so many colours!

This coincided with me being laid up on crutches whilst three people I knew ran the London Marathon - I sat and watched it on telly and made little wiggly pets in their favourite colours, holding trainers and with post run wraps around their shoulders announcing it was the London Marathon (I can't actually remember if it was the year 2000 or 2001 :/).

These wigglypets had arms - the fimo soft was much easier to use and to get to stick to itself and I nicked a few of my mothers seed beads to be the middle of the eyes.

I then spent the next few years making everyone wigglypets - there were 21st Birthday wigglypets presented in wine, pint and shot glasses, ones in rowing boats, with wizard staffs, holding pot noodles, playing guitar, on little base boards with "you're 50" cakes (I discovered a lot about the limits of the clay - like if you make something to thick the clay cracks and it's not good if you forget to tell people they are cooling in the oven and they pre heat the oven on heat temperature for pizza! cough cough bark).

Then I met Alaric who thought they were so cute that he helped me buy the fimo soft in bulk - people commissioned wigglypets and then finally I got a camera! Well I say me but it was actually a wedding present to me and Alaric and it was digital and unlike the other cameras I'd had these were not just point and click - I could focus the damn thing!

The wigglypets began to go on outings and have adventures and I took lots of photos with the idea of turning them into a comic book. Stop motion I realised pretty quickly was still out as I had no way to run the photos together and I needed to build back grounds and have it set up in a corner and we lived in a flat and only had one camera and the little tripod Al got me for the purpose was just too flimsy and moved the framing around too much.

By 2006 I was working on the idea of the webcomic with them again except... I was really into blogging so I decided to set it up as a community blog (the community being the wiggly pets) and do photo stories. These were much easier for me to put together with the tech I had than a comic was and I could share it. This was the Wiggly Pet Blog - which should have been better than it was but our house was flooded in 2007 and we were out of it for about a year.

However I kept writing and making and trying and slowly other creatures and story forms added to the mix such as the WigglyPet's arch nemesis the Snobberlinks and the Muse Monsters... and then I started printing little booklets of the stories and stapling them together because the people kept asking, and then I made colouring sheets and poetry ebooks for download and then... suddenly it was The WigglyPet Press and then there were actual print books and....

That leads us to now and the next phase of The WigglyPet Press - Poetry and works by others - either published by the press or in association (i.e. Indie publishing collaborations). It has been a long and twisty journey but I hope that there will be some support out there for this next part of the adventure!

Oh and I might also now be working on cuddly versions of the WigglyPets but more on that later! 🙂

Septembers Events – 2017 (by )

Fri 1st Sept 11 am - 3 pm Gloucester: Community Craft Day at Gloucester Cathedral - upcycled accessories a Salaric Craft workshop.

Fri 1st-2nd Sept Cheltenham: Jean's performance as Joe in the Young Gloucester Opera and Dramatics Society's production of Fame at the Parabola Arts Centre.

Sun 3rd Sept Oxford: ICFP-International Conference on Functional Programming where Alaric will be speaking about the programming language Scheme part of Kitten Technologies.

Tues 5th 6:30 Stroud: Villanelles Poetry Evening with the Gloucester Poetry Society. Performance as part of The Wiggly Pets Press.

EDIT2: Talk is Wednesday lunchtime at the Museum of Gloucester.

EDIT: there is some confusion currently as to weather this talk is on Tues or Weds as the History Fest have it down as Tues and the Museum for Weds - Currently trying to sort it out 🙂

1pm Gloucester: The Start of Art general interest talk on cave and rock art at the [Museum of Gloucester](http://venues.gloucester.gov.uk/Freetime/Museums/events/Talks.aspx] part of the [Cuddly Science's)(http://www.salaric.co.uk/cuddly-science/) Histories.

Sat 9th 3-5pm Gloucester: Food For Thoughts at the Cafe Rene, poetry performance as part of The Wiggly Pets Press.

At three things to be confirmed later in the month 🙂

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