Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Craft of Comedy

This week I went to see Josie Long.

The first time I went to see her was before she started winning awards left, right and centre. I remember her from then - way back in 2004 or 2005 because of the hand drawn picture of people on a bus that she brought along to illustrate her comedy, and the handmade badges she made and gave out at the end of the gig.  I still have mine:

Six (or seven) years on, and some awards later, she still has the same exuberant personality that I vaguely recall her sharing with the audience as she pointed out the detail on her childlike drawing of some people on a bus.

It turns out that she's still making people laugh, and still making stuff to give out to the audience.  On this occasion, it was the programme:

I don't remember any of Josie Long's jokes (I can't say I really remember any comedians' jokes) but I do remember her. Part of that is because she made things which once upon a time made me laugh and now I own some things that she made which I can attach to my clothes or read to remind me to care a bit more about politics and stuff.  I might throw some programmes away after they've cluttered up the junk drawer for a while - but I think this one will survive many-a-spring clean.  After all, it contains the power of the hand made...

Friday, 20 January 2012

My New Shoes

When I was taking this picture of my shoe bags, I made a startling discovery:  I don't have enough dance shoes to go inside them.  Fair enough, I don't intend to keep all those shoe bags for myself, but I thought I had more than 4 pairs of shoes...

That meant it was time to spend my Christmas money on a pair of these snakey beauties.

I've been wanting a pair of stiletto heels for tango for ages - although these aren't 'proper' tango shoes, the slim heel makes them look a bit more like they are and they are much more affordable than the made-for-tango shoes you see all over Ebay.  These were a bargain at £31.99 from a newish Ebay shop called globalcolourshop.  For TPS shoe fans, it looks like the shops are run by the same people.

TPS recommends that you check your foot measurements before you buy the Global Colour ones as the sizing is different. I went for a size 7 rather than my usual 6.5 - but I think I could have got away with the smaller size after all.  My 7s are a fraction too long.

In spite of the 3 week estimated delivery date, these arrived in a week.  Hooray!

Amy from Salsafeet recently told me about her impossible 3.5 inchers, so the first thing I did with my new purchase was check that there is a finger space underneath the heel when the sole is flat on the ground.  With dance shoes, I think it's harder to do this - the soles are so flexible, so they just bend to whatever shape you make with them (within reason) - but I could make the finger thing work, so I'm happy enough!

At tango they went down well - I can dance in them with no difficulty (apart from the usual - 'you want me to make my body do what?!' moments) and had a fair few compliments ("They were the first thing I noticed when I walked in the room!" said one tanguera).

I changed into my flats when it came to my beginner leaders' class, because leading in heels makes my bum stick out... but more on how that's going another time.

Monday, 16 January 2012

The Art of Craft Photography

At the moment I'm working on ideas for how to sell these:

This mainly consists of leaving them on the kitchen table, hoping my boyfriend will get the hint to take some nice photos of them. Leaving them out on the bed in the spare room for three months didn't work.

I did spend an hour the other week taking photos within the limitations of my point and shoot camera (which is how the shoe bag line-up photo came into existence) but they weren't quite as good as I wanted them to be.

This is my boyfriend*:

As you can see, he's got quite a good camera, with an expensive lens so his photos are bound to be better.  

*(the crocheted version I made him for Christmas.)

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A Mysterious Package

In my gap year, when all my friends went off to University for the first time, it was just in the time before email became big and so we wrote a lot of letters.  In those days I never knew when I'd be getting a message in a bottle through the post, or a letter written on a streamer, rolled up and posted in a match box...

These days communication between friends has changed beyond all recognition.  I always know if I'm getting anything other than junk mail in the post because someone will Facebook me, or text me and ask me for my address - then I know to expect that wedding invite in the next few weeks.  That's why I was particularly confused this evening to arrive home to find a card through the door saying that there was a package waiting for me at the neighbour's house.

Surely the pretty shoes I ordered off ebay at 8pm last night couldn't be here already?  Of course not.  

The only thing I could do is walk across the road to knock on the neighbour's door.  He handed me a cardboard package which was branded with the Open University logo.  It turned out that I was expecting that package after all - it contained the course materials for the Design Thinking module I'm due to start next month.

Still, inside that innocuous looking cardboard package was something very exciting.  This:

To think I was worried about how much work I'm going to have to do.  This is going to be fun...

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Tango Time

It was lovely to be back on the dance floor again last night, starting with a good old tango* (and a slightly more challenging lesson that I was expecting). I love being challenged though, so the paradas and colgadas were pitched just right to help put my mind to achieving much more for my tango this year.

Now I've got my head around the hundreds of little things you have to remember to do to take one perfectly executed step, I decided it was probably time to revisit basic technique again. The idea is that I can pick up on the thousands of little things I missed the first time round. This time, I'm going in as a beginner leader as there are often more followers than leaders in class.

I actually had fun being a beginner again, after shedding my initial self consciousness. Fun was kind of unexpected - I was only in it for the education and now I'm looking forward to leading in my next beginners' class. Next time I'll aim to relax a bit so I don't end up with aching muscles in my arms like I have today.

Later, during the milonga , I actually broke a sweat for the first time whilst dancing tango.  I like to think it's because I'm more capable of following faster and achieving more difficult moves.  I'll pretend it's nothing to to with being unfit after a Christmas of eating and drinking...

*By which I mean new tango - or tango nuevo as it's known in more exotic places.

Monday, 2 January 2012

New Year Delight

Last year I accidentally sold 9 handmade shoe bags to friends from my local salsa community.  Before then, I'd only ever made them for myself, or to give as birthday presents.  At the moment, a Facebook page with 26 followers, and a little used Twitter account (@MamboDelight ) is as far as I've gone in my efforts to establish my slowly emerging business.

This year I'm adding a blog to the family, on which you will find posts about:
  • Creating pretty new homes for beautiful sparkly shoes 
  • Creating manly new homes for manly dance shoes 
  • Sparkly new dance shoes that can be found on the end of my feet
  • Dancing
  • Sewing
  • Crocheting
  • Things what I have learned /I am learning about making a craft-based business.
I'm also starting the year off by reading this:

I'll let you know how I get on.