Concept Sketches (by )

Character development for Punku

I have started on the character design and concept sketches for The Punk Universe stuff - comic book, novels et al. Here is one of Punku - remember she is only half human - this is also her in her hardship state ie lack of food and haggered. It was a quick sketch and there are issues with it, like it looked better before I put the shading in and she now looks a bit old but it is a start.

Concept sketch of The Punk

(dear me! The ears!)

Punku's eye

More about this project can be found on Purple Monster.

Ada Lovelace Puppet Mk 2 (by )

Ada Lovelace puppet head mk2

After the story telling festival in Bristol I decided to refashion Ada's head (or rather get my mum to do it). The first head had multiple problems - like being a bit bumpy and narrow and not quiet having enough room for my hand. Then the new head came up far too fat and wide!

Needing a bit of a re-make, it also seems a bit too stark for me.

I think there will need to be a mk 3 at some point but kids have loved both puppet heads so I am not too worried and my mum has really had to go to town helping me with the puppets. I am currently at the point of saying I have a working puppet. I am still working on the drawings and colouring sheets to go with it and have only very basic game pieces and I need to sort that out.

Ada Lovelace was the first computer programmer (before there were actual computers!) and so I have chosen her to show computing in a fun and interactive way - not actually using computers to do it either! There are more puppets to come but I am going to need some funding to fully realise the vision - it is very much part of my mission statement of science/+art for all.

Ada Lovelace puppet

Screnzy, Poetry, Comics and Science (by )

A new month has snuck up and begun on me - this sadly means I missed a couple of deadlines for poems and stories and that, that I wanted to submit. But it also means I am in a month of exciting challenges.

Number one is Screnzy or Script Frenzy which is a spin off of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), the idea is that you write a 100 page script in a month. I have been focusing on comic book or graphic novel scripts and so that is what I will be focusing on again this year. You can follow the progress more closely on Purple Monster. I will also be doing the script for my puppet show, which is part of my course work - I basically plan to spend 30 hours working on these types of project - priority has to go to my Ada Lovelace script as I have a deadline at the end of the month. (Ada is the science part! and has drawings to go with! Though I may also be running some science camp activities over Easter).

Number two is NaPoWrimo, this is another poetry writing challenge - again the idea is that you write a poem a day but I plan to spend 30 hours on poetry stuff in general this month. You can follow the progress of this on Turquoise Monster.

Number three is that I hope to release The Little Book of Easter Poetry audio for download - I will probably rope this in with the NaPo stuff. I also want to do some work on my game design stuff but I will have to see how things go especially as I am starting the month off event managing and comparing at the Jordans Cheltenham Poetry Festival 🙂

Identifying, Identity and stuff (by )

(found amongst "drafts" and backblogged to the date last edited)

Due to stuff I have been studying, to help with inclusion and the broader reach of say Science Communication, I have been thinking. Who do I identify with?

This is interesting for me as during a debate with a poetry friend I discovered that other people have these groups they feel part of and those groups give them a sense of identity. I do not have this; there are groups I dip in and out of, that if I really tried I suppose I could become properly a part of. But often that seems to be a trade off, i.e. losing the other parts or ignoring them or pretending they don't exist.

I am a mishmash, there is no culture or identity for me, other than that that I make my own. I can pass for white middle class but, in honesty, not very well. I have the resources of the middle class and am sort of shell shocked to find myself in such a position, but attitude and behaviour can be vastly different.

When I left school I thought I'd left pettiness behind, such as people cutting your clothes with scissors as they are 'pikey' cloths, or setting your hair on fire as you've obviously stolen it from someone with darker skin, or having stones thrown at you for being a witch and a bible basher, or having your school bag nicked repeatedly so people could copy your homework and get better marks than you because they can spell and on and on. But it doesn't actually go away, as an adult I have had comments about my diction, my clothing, my hair, my childrens' hair (one incident 'do you not brush that child's hair? She looks like a ghost golliwog' (Jean's toddler curls are now gone - something she is sad about)).

I am 'white' for those who don't read the blog lots, I am in fact PALE as a pallid thing, I do however increasingly have a problem with my skin pigment trying to change and patches of skin are dark, they are mostly hidden and are the reason that I stopped wearing bikinis as a teen. It would be fine if all of me was that colour but I am not, so they look like dirty patches or like I haven't washed - I remember this being a real issue with my neck which is a slightly darker pigment, people would scrub it for me but it would never get 'clean'. Just to confuse things further I also have a skin condition/infection that acts up when I'm stressed that leaves red/brown/white brown patches on my skin and some of them are more visible especially on my arms - the difference is marked as they go scaly and itchy.

Of course if I had the figure I had as a teenager I so would wear a bikini, I don't now as I am Miss Mummy Tummy and that is a whole new identity crisis for me (or not that new as it's pretty much been the case since I had Jeany at the age of 24 and am now 33).

Interestingly I realised the reason I wasn't getting the anger over micro-aggression and stuff was because I myself had filtered it out. It just is the way things are... I still think that the correction/adaption/change is being gone about in the wrong way and being aggressive back rather than leading by example or reasonable debate and talking (What I call opening the dialogue) - obviously open aggression is another issue. There is also the thing of people getting offended on other people's behalf, there is standing up for people and then there is a patronising them in assuming they can't deal with it themselves but on the other hand calling insidious stuff out is important too. It is a huge minefield and, my policy is to treat every one like human beings.

I am in danger of derailing the post into other matters!

What I am really wondering is if other people feel this way, I have always got the impression that other people seem to feel like they're part of one group or another.

As a child people would always comment and play with my hair, even within my own family it is unusual though it is on both sides - the genetics of curly hair is still a bit confused, it is supposed to be dominant with straight hair as the recessive but people with wavy hair can have a child with full blown curls etc...and they haven't actually isolated the genes that cause it yet! Also populations with curly hair range from 'celts' to 'afro' to 'hawaiian' etc... I remember my mum's friend having to show her how to sort my hair out as brushing it was becoming a nightmare, mainly the solution was me nicking my Nan's special comb and getting leave in conditioner and not actually 'brushing' the hair except with the conditioner in etc. It is not the tight tight curl/frizz though bits of it are and if put in micro braids/dreads it stays there with now hair bands etc...

I brush it out most of the time and still get comments on my curly hair 🙂 I love my hair by the way even if it is a pain. I get called pre-raphaelite, get asked if I'm from Hawaii, get people approach me and on one occasion shouting at me for denying my heritage (what ever that is supposed to be), I had an old man in Bruge cry and say (via his curly haired daughter) that the Nazi's took all the curly haired people away when he was young. Is curly hair actually that unusual?

I find the reception differs drastically on the colour I dye it as well, so:

red = celtic
black = gypsy, Italian, Jewish and in one case arab
blonde = assumed perm? or celtic or Hawaiian (though I was asked why I had bleached my hair)
brown (natural colour though it has obvious other colours in it (all of the above) - I don't like the mash up hence the dying) = South African, Hawaiian, Australian, celtic, pre-raphaelite
Multi coloured pink, blue, purple = hippy, artist, druggy, scrounger

I have used the words that were used to me.

Do other curly haired people suffer from this? I know my accent gets confused too - it is ESSEX! Ok so I am social chameleon and accidentaly pick up inflections so there is a bit of South Ken (BBC English) and some words apparently now have a Gloucestershire twang to them especially if they are directed to the children, I also say some things with an Australian accent - blame my Dad, he was always saying stuff he'd picked up there in an accent. Also my spine is a dynamic spine (afro-carribean) and not the European (static) spine so maybe I just look odd?

I spent a lot of last night thinking about this which is stupid as it doesn't really matter, or rather shouldn't matter, mainly due to comments yesterday as I hadn't bothered to straighten my hair. They were complimentary and lovely, it just struck me as a thing after some of the accessibility lectures and debates I've seen going on recently.

There are silly things as well, like I never realised I wasn't a 'typical English Beauty' until several of the girls where marked as such on our undergraduate course. I remember feeling left out as everyone else was classified as various types (including dusky and pale etc...). And that is really stupid! But this post is about identity and indentifying and really a matter of belonging. I didn't belong to any of those groups - not that I really wanted to, but we are back to the school playground exclusion and being picked last for PE, aren't we? (To be fair I was later classified as 'natural, wild and classical' but sort when it was realised I'd been left out - this was girls talking about girls by the way.

So then I got on to thinking - well who do I identify with then?

Being a story writer and performer myself I of course turn to fiction and it has been a long time coming but of course there is Merida from Brave with her lovely curly red hair (I have waited so long for a curly haired animation!) and her tomboyish nature, then there is Diana Troy from Star Trek the Next Generation who is empathic and gentle, there is Saffy from Ab Fab who is the geeky science girl (and my nick name/twitter handle) and then there is Kaylee from Firefly - she is the only one without curly hair I note.

The others are male characters - mainly Sherlock and Sheldon (from The Big Bang Theory). I like Hermione but more in the books, her hair just was not frizzy enough in the films 😉

A lot of this stuff does come down to respecting people and not assuming stuff about them due to their looks etc...

Still wondering how rare curly hair is and what reactions others get. I asked Al and a couple of others if they had people randomly ask them in the street about their origin or ancestry and for Al it is only ever an issue if he is introduced as Alaric.

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