Category: Wiggly Pets

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](] part of the [Cuddly Science's)( 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 🙂

May’s Challenges 2017 (by )

May is about my picture and children's books - there is a write a book/script a day challenge for the first week of the month. It's called NaPiBoWriWee and is actually more insane than the nanowrimo writing challenges 🙂

I have plenty of ideas for my picture books and zines so this is kind of a great way of actualising some of them 🙂

I am being slightly boring in that I am focusing on stories I kind of need finished for festival, workshops and my activity booklets anyway... but the plan is to kind of continue the challenge and actually spend this month working on my children's stories and picture books (and yes there is actually a distinction between the two groups - they heavily over lap but not completely - so I have kids books with no pictures and picture books that are not aimed at kids!).

So for those who want to know this means I am working on:

1) The Origami Story Box - this is a series so as long as I get number one done I will then work on it until I get bored 🙂

2) Scripts for the Paper Pals Theatre - same as above really only these are scripts for making the puppets act!

3) Folded Friends - again another series and yes it involves the origami and paper craft creations but this one involves humans too 🙂

4) The Little Books - there is lots of finishing up to do for The Little Book of Spoogy Poetry like finally putting it on Amazon and making sure the audio is out, same with The Little Book of Festive Poetry, then The Little Book of Easter Poetry needs to be put together and zined and The Little Book of Baby Poetry needs recording and zining. There are also many many more that are written but not edited or illustrated so probably going to get bored before completion here as well 🙂

5) City Scum (might be Scum City I can never remember!) - this is Alaric's role playing game and I need to finish the illustrations for it!

6) Activity Booklets - these are booklets I create to accompany workshops, they contain stories, games, facts and stuff to make and do. Main focus is Cuddly Science 2, Salaric's Arty Activity Booklet, Funky Folding, Spring Time Activities and Summer Activities.

7) Colouring Books - finishing off my Myths colouring book, sorting some sort of year thing for Love: A Stranger Dream, finish the Autumn Colouring In Booklet and make a Spring and Summer version.

8) Admin stuff - sort out Orange Monster which is my illustrations and kids books blog and in general sort out my art work and writing into easier archives for searching, sort more places to sell products etc...

9) Graphic Novels - I have unfinished The Punk Universe comics so getting them finished and planning out the other story lines 🙂

10) Zines and things - there is stuff waiting to be scanned, edited, printed, folded, stapled, and the Wiggly Pets blog needs some work on it.

This is obviously a lot of stuff which I doubt I'll get through but it gives me clear goals and shows me exactly what there is to do 🙂

My only concern is that there is no room for random creation - but then that does have a tendency to just happen anyway so maybe that's not a bad thing?

And that is just the writing side of things... so apparent from that little lot I am also having a finishing things off month again. So the aim is to try and finish one started project or work on a larger already started project each day - at the moment this is mainly things like candle making and knitting

Suppose I'd better get on with it all then 🙂

The Jan Recap… (by )

It's the end of January so what has gone on in the household snell-pym in the first month of 2017?

For a start there was the end of Christmas, I am still making the last few Advent vids ready for Christmas next year. We delivered presents though sadly not all the presents so we still have a back log!

Also mine and Mary's birthdays - mine involved a coffee, meal and shopping with Al before hospital stuff but we have only just done the proper celebration with kids and friends this weekend just gone which was also Mary's birthday. There was also posh vegan/Gluten Free brunch. Mary has so far played in the Waterstones cafe with her friend Lilly as her party is going to be in two weeks time. We've planned the party and got stuff ready for it.

This includes me working out how to make upcycled unicorn head bands and tail belts and little roll and pop up horses for the kids to make.

My mother was hospitalised so there was a trip to Essex and the adventures of getting home on the train which were unexpected.

DIY wise we have fixed several toys, remounted a coat rack which had pulled off the wall, dealt with networking and upgrading Jean's computer.

We got a telescope - an amazing thing which was a pool of Christmas money instead of presents for Al and Jean and part of mine and Mary's birthdays. We've seen binary stars so far. It was an undertaking to assemble and we now need to build a storage/transport box but it is assembled and being looked through though we've only had like three clear nights!

I've had three lots of testing at the hospital which took it's toll and norovirus hit the household. I missed a theatre meeting about performing a monologue and a poetry recording evening but I am being given second chances at those so that's all good.

I also missed my Krav self defence one off class and a poetry book launch which made me sad but on the other hand I was live streamed reading poetry at Food For Thought.

Talking of poetry I have also been typing up and editing poems from the BOOKCASE (Not shelf) of notebooks I have. The shear number is insane obv. not all of it is usable but a lot is so I have been organising Turquoise Monster and have even started submitting work again (as in 2 poems so far). I've written three poems this month predictable all about Trump. Of course I am doing my poetry writing challenges so I've drafted a good few more mostly not about Trump.

Jan has also been me gearing up for the poetry writing challenge that I host over at Wopo.

I have also designed, refined and created mini poetry scrolls, story scrolls, made bookwallets etc... for blank scrolls for others to write poetry on, personalised pencils and made write your own poem kits, made and put together 100 mini zine surprise pouches, story boarded two more zines, drafted half a short story, edited a couple of flash fictions, tried to write daily on this blog and started on the mammoth task of trying to sort out the Salaric Craft blog.

Also Storystorm - what used to be Picture Book Idea Month has rebranded and moved to Jan. so I have been idea generating and expanding on those ideas for kids books.

Alaric has been making a cufflink holder for the cufflinks I made him for Advent, the girls have been making invites and decorations for Mary's party and we have all been working on the cosplay outfits for True Believers Comic Festival which is this weekend coming. This has involved sewing, sticking, painting, metal twisting, papier mache and buying new wellys.

I had to get a third print run of my colouring book Love: A Stranger Dream made and in general have been trying to sort out The WigglyPets Press.

I have been teaching myself origami and have folded lit. hundreds of things from geometric modules to make bigger things from to little stand up foxes to pretty little boxes.

We've organised things for getting back down the allotment, so just sorting out containers for soil etc...

I've knitted four hats, made an Ironman craft kit, taken the kids to two (not us) birthday parties. Three projects are still currently being designed and refined including mending a rocking horse that is older than me. I accidently made a pair of slippers from an old coat whilst trying to make a portal gun (please tell me this happens to other people!).

Alaric made my laptop usable again (for now) and we had a chicken fatality 🙁 and we had to fix the chicken run and stuff and general animal stuff to sort out. We've got our new electric car and there was pie making!

NB pie was not chicken Al is veggi!

Jean is still at Scouts, Jujitsu, and Drama and Mary is doing her Ballet, both girls are missing climbing but for one of the parties we did get to go "caving". Alaric is still doing Krav and Hackspace each week. Oh and of course we had to do my tax (sobs!).

There were also visits from and too various family.

So that was January - it snowed and it rained and there was scary fog.

Making and Creating (by )

So today has been a making things only day - when I got up I knew writing was going to be a no go as I am still recovering from the cognative tests at the hospital yesterday. This is what I made:

Upcycled book made with graze boxes and old colouring books

An upcycled book-wallet from graze boxes and colouring in books.

Flip note-let booklet with customised pencil

A little flip notelet holder also made from graze boxes and colouring in book (ie off cuts from the one upbove). Including a half pencil I have customised.

Origami boxes for story and poetry scrolls

Origami boxes made from special card Al bought me yesterday, for the large illustrated scrolls both story and poetry. Decorated with patterned tissue paper and stickers of my art work.

These are all still in the concepts phase as I need to see how they hold together etc... Also I have seen the colouring I did after the head injury and it is not pretty but mostly salvagable by help of black marker round the edges.

Here is more of the same from different angles:

WigglyPets Press mini pencil

I ended up using a cheese knife to remove a section of the vanished wood so that I could ink onto the pencil. Very pleased with how they came out though.

Book-wallet for blank poetry scrolls

The book-wallets are for blank poetry scrolls which can be used as note-lets. I am so so pleased with how this came out!

hand made book-wallet

It is lit. some card cut out from a graze box with colouring in sheets stuck to it.

Book wallet pouch with blank poetry scrolls or mini notepaper in

Using origami skills I then folded a double pouch which I stuck on the inside. I folded it out of an off cut from the uncoloured colouring in sheet I used from the inside.

Inside of upcyled book cover

I put the blank poetry scrolls which are little pieces of paper with my art work on that I have printed and cut to size. I hope they will help people get writing 🙂

Story Scrolls and box folds

These boxes came out lovely but the reason one has stickers on it is that it is actually very easy to buckle the cardboard, I ended up using a cheese knife to score lines where I wanted to fold and I added in a fold to make popping the boxes together nicer and avoid the ripping that occured with the first box. p.s. if anyone has seen my craft knives and metal ruler I would be most pleased to have them back but to be honest I don't think I've seen them since we moved from Essex!!!

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