Wednesday, 16 January 2013

January Joie de Vivre

I always seem to get bitten by a spring-cleaning bug in the early weeks of January. I think, it's the departure of the Christmas tree and other Christmas decorations which suddenly seems to create the illusion of uncovered space. And in that space I find piles of "stuff" that have quietly accumulated and grown unaccountably large in the soft twinkly shadows of the fairy lights and got away with it under the early December darkness and general distraction of Christmas bustle.

Piles that now have nowhere to hide, in the bleak, longer light of January afternoons, without the cover of Christmas fuzziness to distract attention. The rest of the household regards this annual bug of mine with some dismay, as one never knows quite what will be grist to my mill! So far, however, this year it's mostly been my own "stuff" that has been the target of my attentions - teetering piles of papers and books on the study floor, waiting to trip the unwary; ingredients in the larder bought "just in case I ran out over Christmas" that really need using up because I didn't run out; odd purchases made because they were "a bargain" that have lurked, unused, cluttering floor or shelf space since they arrived home with me months ago; piles of fabric and baskets of yarn for a variety of projects which I have been telling myself (fictitiously, it seems) are "works in progress", etc, etc

And there is something therapeutic and even joyful in clearing, tidying and cleaning at the beginning of the year I find - it helps me to find some clearance in my head and begin to navigate the seas of the New Year. While the demolition of most of my piles has resulted either in things such as books, papers, fabric, yarn etc being properly put away where they belong and the recycling box has been the recipient of quite a lot of paper, packaging and other recyclables, there have been one or two more creative phoenixes to rise from the Christmas ashes.

One is this:


Nearly two years ago I bought two sets of white-painted, wooden letters that were going for a song in a sale. I don't really know why I bought them but they "seemed a good idea at the time"! I think I imagined propping them up along a bookshelf or perhaps painting them and hanging them on a wall but never got round to it and so they sat for the next twenty months, wedged down the side of a small chest of drawers in my study gathering dust, cobwebs (and er spiders - eek!).

In the course of my post-Christmas spring-cleaning, they were unceremoniously hauled into the light of day and a critical eye turned on them. If they were not going to be put to use, I told myself sternly, they must go the way of the charity shop. One set of letters said "LOVE" and the other set said "HOME". One of the reasons they had never made it out of the packaging was that although I liked the idea of the letters, I wasn't quite convinced that the words themselves were right for my wall space. Pejorative remarks were made by H about the idea of "LOVE" appearing on the living room wall and I had got a great deal of scornful stick for picking up a little wire sign, for 50p from a bargain bucket in a garden centre, a few years ago that said "garden"  in curly letters. I sprayed it a soft green and was intending to hang it by the garden door but such scorn was heaped on it, as a statement of the obvious, that it never made it and the idea of hanging up letters in the house saying "HOME", I felt, might court the same derision.

Removing the letters from the packaging, because even if they were going to the charity shop I was still entitled to look at them properly(!), the idea occurred that I could make an anagram from the letters to say something that hit the spot more adroitly. But "LOVE" and "HOME" aren't that easy to make anagrams from, or not anagrams that say anything you particularly want to hang on your wall. Too many vowels for a start, although you might do better than I did on this. Any improvements on "LOOM", "MOVE", "MOLE,"VOLE", "HOLE"?! Not that easy is it?!


Would another language increase the options? This line of thought proved more hopeful and when D offered to increase the range of letters by sawing and adding to a couple with the judicious application of some Plastic Padding (smells noxious but seems capable of extraordinary miracles of mending and creation, that stuff) new possibilities opened up. Of course it was not quite open season on the alphabet - even model railway technowhizzes have their limitations but with D's considerable skill and ingenuity, the field increased significantly!  The "H" was sacrificed to provide two "I"s. It also supplied a bar to make the "V" into an "A". One of the "E"s was cannibalised to become a "J" and we were in business - or nearly. The snag was that "LA JOIE" on its own wasn't quite right. What it needed was another set of letters saying "LOVE" in order to make, along with the remaining letters, unused from the first packs: "VIVE" and I would be able to turn two floating words into an anchored phrase! As luck would have it, (for a bit more than a song, but not  much), I managed to track down a pack saying "LOVE" on Ebay. Now I had enough to make "VIVE" using the "M" from "HOME" chopped down, to make a second "V", the spare "I" from the "H" and the new "V" and "E" supplied by the second "LOVE".

But I didn't want just plain white letters; I got it into my head that I wanted the letters in my favourite flowery fabrics.


So armed with a sheet of Bondaweb and some scraps from my fabric stash box under the bed, I made some. I'd never used Bondaweb to apply appliqués to anything other than fabric but it worked like a dream.


You have to remember to reverse the letters before you trace them onto the paper of the Bondaweb


but otherwise it was a doddle and the adhesive works just as well when you iron the appliqués onto lightly sanded wood as on fabric. I love them and they make a joyful and encouraging textual reminder (acceptable to all!) to cherish the joy in life. The phrase is, of course, also a bit of a pun on the erstwhile acclamation used for French Kings and Queens, "Vive le roi! Vive la reine!" which adds a certain je ne sais quoi to its appeal somehow.

Only three letters remain unused - two "O"s and an "L" - dare I risk tempting fate and sticking these to the door of the smallest room in the house I wonder?! Possibly not, if I want to hear the last of it!

The other happy result from my January clear-out has been the making of some traditional Nürnberger Elisen Lebkuchen. More on these in due course, as also on the sad story of frogging my sea-ripple blanket back almost to the beginning : (

But despite this and despite the fact that the house has been stricken again by colds and 'flu - beginning to think I ought to mark the front door with a chalked cross as a sign of a house of plague - looking at my letters I can't help but feel cheery : )

VIVE LA JOIE indeed!






20 comments:

  1. That takes the biscuit for creative ingenuity!

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    1. Thank you! Lovely to see you this morning! E x

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  2. You have made a cheery start to the new year with your wood cuts..very innovative.

    I am in the midst of painting our guest bath and entry ways. Taking it a swipe at a time, no more than 2 hours of painting per day. Slow. But it is working.


    Glad you are getting organized.

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    1. Glad you think my letters are cheery - I do too! Good for you on the painting front - 2 hours at a time sounds a very sane way to proceed! E x

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  3. That's fabulous - a brilliant idea to change the wording (and language!) AND use up some of your lovely fabrics. I know exactly what you mean about bracing yourself against the storm of scorn you know is coming your way for daring to openly display a love of craftiness! Courage ma brave.
    x

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    1. Glad it's not just me! I will feel suitably emboldened! E x

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  4. Absolutely brilliant! I LOVE it!!

    Seriously is there anything you and your menfolk can't do?

    Glad to hear from you again, was beginning to worry the lurgy had got you

    Helen xx

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    1. So glad you like this! Thinking of you and hoping all going well with your impending arrival! E x

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  5. Genius creativity! Love the makeover you've done. They look fab! Hope you're having a good 2013 so far :) x

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    1. You are very kind, Sonia but I'm not sure whether I can quite go along with it as genius creativity but I must admit I am pretty pleased with how they turned out! Now what else can I Bondaweb?! E x

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  6. Hooray for Bondaweb, your letters are fabulous and I love the idea of covering them with pretty fabrics.............I think the word I may have used from your first set of letters would have to be MOVE, and it would be hung above my knitting nest to keep me motivated for the 13 sweaters marathon. x

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    1. What a good idea! I did wonder whether to make "HOOVE " as a subtle hint to get the vacuum cleaner out but the missing "R" was a problem! E x

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  7. So pleased that you too have to weigh up the scorn before undertaking a project. Your letters look good - very happy and joyful - and very inventive. I agree that January sparks a clearing up session. This year I decided I had to get rid of the broken sofa that everyone had squirmed on uncomfortably over Christmas, which meant moving a chair from another room,which made space for the sewing machine ... end result - total rearrangement of the furniture in two rooms. What's happened to your sea ripple blanket? It looked so promising.

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    1. Glad to know I'm not the only one on the scorn-battling! And yay for furniture moving! I often fancy a bit of furniture rearrangement - can give a whole new lift to a room! Not always popular with the hard labour especially when I decide it was actually better as it was before and it all has to go back though! The sea-ripple has, shall we say, had to go into intensive care for a while! It will be out again though (I hope!) E x

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  8. Oh I just LOVE this! I did chuckle a bit as I have four cardboard letters in a carrier bag in the understairs-cupboard-of-doom and every time I open the door to get something out they taunt me.

    It never occurred to me that you could use bondaweb on anything other than fabric but it works so well here, and those fabrics and joyfully colourful and happy.

    Gillian x

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    1. What do your letters say, Gillian?! I am sure Bondaweb would work a treat on cardboard - I think anything with a slightly absorbent surface that can take the heat of the iron briefly would probably be fine. Glad you find my letters joyful - so do I! E x

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  9. They're lovely, and very clever. The perfect words to make a home feel like home.

    Did you know there's a place in Russia called Melehovo? It could have been a talking point if on your wall ;)

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    1. Annie, that's brilliant! How clever of you to know that. It could indeed have been a talking point! E x

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  10. My daughter and I have to brave the scorners and eye-rollers too:) Your letters turned out perfect, and it's so nice that your husband helped you -- that gives me the idea that the scorners are secretly pleased that we are making an effort to make things 'homey';)

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  11. They look absolutely beautiful - I love that colour palette and using fabrics on wood is such an innovative idea. Well done and thanks for the inspiration. Judy.

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