Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I got a book in the post this morning which contains all of the 'New Era' baseball hats me and a gang of other people decorated for their 90th anniversary.

I never thought I'd be able to say this, but pale scrawny pen-flinger from Hinckley and LUDACRIS - ridiculous southern-raised rapper responsible for some of the most banging tunes in our hip-hop section - are in the book together. What? Along with designers, assorted semi-luminaries and New Era staff, turns out he drew on a hat as well. Who'da thunk it?

Now he seems to be looking a bit calmer and more grown-up these days (and less interesting - look how Busta Rhymes metamorphosised), but I like to think of him looking like this:

See, we were in the 'Beat Street' record shop in Brooklyn (now closed) when this tune emerged from the monster speakers at either end of the store. The two stunned pasty-faced English people with bleeding ears approached the counter and announced (quietly) 'we need this'. And in exchange for some $$$ it was handed directly unto them, and life was good.

Anyway. Here's my hat that I drew on, in the book:

Here's the hat Ludacris drew on (it's all hardcore embroidery):

and here's the cover:
Honestly, how funny.

See the whole collection of hats here.
My blurb (slightly edited by New Era).
More Ludacris.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Setting up for Shavasana.

In 2007 I found two things that I wish I'd discovered twenty years ago. One I talk about a lot, because I've used it to fund-raise and I have mates who do it both here and in Facebook-land - running - the other I tend not to waffle on about much.


It's hard to describe to someone who isn't doing it what it does for your mind, your body and your day. A full Thursday class with Anna, my teacher, leaves me full of energy, calm and refocussed. I know, I know - these sound like terms from an advert. Come to think of it, twenty years ago my teenage self would probably have scoffed. But that's really what it does. I have clarity, I can laugh at myself again (I lose my sense of humour and perspective easily when I'm getting transatlantic stress for four jobs all due in at once) and my body feels like it's been tenderised like a piece of meat pummelled for cooking - in a good way. And I am convinced I'm more sore the next day than when I do a full weights session in the gym.

I've always been bendy, but it's about such a lot more than that. Neither is it 'a nice relaxing thing'. It can be, if you want, but it can also be extremely challenging and athletic. Anna's style is robust with a heavy emphasis on technical accuracy, which appeals to my geek nature and parallels my love of creative software and my job's need for accuracy and neatness.

And there's nothing like ten minutes standing on your head before you start work.

(OK, look, I can't do this, but I'm SO impressed).

Anna teaches at Triyoga - Soho and Primrose Hill - Saturday through to Tuesday, and in Barwell, Leicestershire, on Thursdays:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I bought these for our friend Kev a couple of weeks back, from Kinokuniya - the famed Japanese pen supplier - in New York city.

They're cardboard tubes you fold into robots, and these ones were constructed by Tom and Alex, Kev's twin boys.

Here they are before (top two far left):

According to Kev, the one on the left, Mantis Hurry, is saying 'aw shucks', the one on the right - Muscle Jaw - is reaching for a biscuit.



Watchful creatures in the woods: Andy Kehoe.

We had cause to visit Jonathan LeVine's Gallery on West 20th Street in New York a couple of weeks ago, and few days before our appointment we went to the opening of Andy Kehoe's show 'Strange Wanderings' (a twin show with Gary Baseman's 'Walking Through Walls'.)

There isn't a lot to say about them other than...they had us spellbound for the entire evening. They actually did. We wandered from painting to painting staring into the mesmeric watchful eyes of the cat-like woodland dwelling creatures, at wolfish silhouettes and delicate skeletal trees, and hundreds of tiny leaves rendered painstakingly one-by-one in varnished oil on board. They nearly made my eyes leak, a little. Andy himself was a humble young fellow, with a sparkling excitement in his face which outshone the brush-induced tiredness that everyone who's ever put on a show will recognise. We've made a purchase since, and can't wait to get those comforting eyeballs onto our walls.

Feast yours on these:

'Dark Drifter'

'Onward Again My Friend'

'Chance Meeting of Forest Dragons'

'Lost In The Void'

Andy Kehoe: http://www.andykehoe.net
Jonathan LeVine: http://jonathanlevinegallery.com
Andy's print shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/andykehoe

Monday, March 21, 2011

Home-made skin.

In 2005 I started making my own skin creams and lotions, for a couple of reasons. First, money was tight around that time, and second, my skin is very sensitive and reacts negatively to most commercial preparations. And I mean 'most' - not for me a casual trip to Boots for some hand cream!

You see, Mum drilled into all three of us girls the two most important laws of skin care: 1) Never go to bed in your make-up, no matter how tired, and 2) Cleanse, tone and moisturise every single day. At 13 I started buying from The Body Shop, a habit which lasted for twenty years until it became clear their ingredients were far from vegan, and included some unsavoury chemical elements, a decision compounded years later by their purchase by L'Oreal. The Body Shop was supplanted by Neal's Yard, whose products are not only vegan (with the exception of beeswax, so I avoid those particular creams) but are virtually 100% organic, and made in Dorset. It ticks, as we say around here, all the boxes.

Then Leigh bought me a book one day from the charity shop, 'Neal's Yard Remedies Health & Body Care', full of recipes to make your own, with all the raw ingredients available from NYR. I think it was a fiver, and it's saved me a hundred times that in skincare orders.

So. Here's what I made this morning. I'm sharing it in case anyone else wants to try it out (my favourite personalised recipe at the bottom). it can be adjusted to suit (thicker, creamier, less oily) but I fulsomely recommend the book.

The ingredients, including 100% organic Vanilla Absolute - at £16 a bottle, not cheap, but the smell is the sort only a genuine extract can yield, and as such lasts all day.

Stir it up in a main-marie or steel bowl like mine. Don't boil! See how the oils are still, at this point, separated from the watery ingredients.

Cooling in a basin of cold water - it thickens nicely depending on how much water is in the mix. Keep stirring.

Ready for smearing all over!

3tsp organic almond oil
1 tsp coconut oil
3tsp cocoa butter
2 x tbsp boiled water (or use an infusion such as a tea or raspberry leaf, chamomile etc.)
2 tsp emulsifying wax
One or two drops of your favourite essential oil

- Heat the oils gently over a bain-marie (or metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water) - do not boil.
- Keep stirring and add the emulsifying wax and water/infusion. Add it slowly so the to fully combine - keep stirring!
- Allow the mixture to cool in a basin of hot water (stir frequently) and add any essential oil drops right at the end when it's completely cold (do it before and the heat will damage their power, so be patient!)

Remember this is a fresh product without preservatives, so don't keep it in a steamy hot bathroom - the fridge will make it last longest, bit a cool shelf will do. Or just use it up with gusto!

Pro bono

I'm forever telling students there is often merit in doing work for free. They look on in horror as the words leave my mouth, till I go on to expand on the many positives that can come from such a thing.

Here's probably the best example in the world. In 1977, William S. Doyle, Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Commerce hired advertising agency Wells Rich Greene to develop a marketing campaign for New York State. Doyle hired graphic designer Milton Glaser to work on it, who in turn expected the campaign to last only a couple months and thus did the work pro bono. It became one of the most recognised and imitated logos in the known universe, copied and reprinted billions of times, and becoming completely synonymous with the city.

The Museum of Modern Art in NYC has Milton's original sketch on a bit of paper, together with the pre-Photoshop-era artwork. It's about 3" wide. Who would have known the enduring power, so many decades on, of these four crayonned characters.

Calligraphic Exquisiteness 1

While in New York recently I stayed across the road from, and next door to, the Cooper Union School of Design. They were having an architectural show so I popped in, and was ludicrously excited to find this greeting all visitors to the 1858 Great Hall. This is the original artwork, in all of its delicious detail.

I have lots of favourite bits, such as 'overshadowing fortunes', 'advancement' and the roses above 'president'. All done on paper, one take, no digital correcting of course. But it's all deeply impressive and enough to encourage more serious practice with the nibs.

Read it and weep. I did.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I want these in every room.

I've always disliked the appearance of low-energy bulbs, save for a couple of the very stubby ones. I'm usually a bit frustrated with the light they give off too. But check these. Beautiful, yes? Plumen, from 'Plume' + 'Lumen'.

Read about them here.

and read about their creator, Sam Williamson.


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