Archive for February, 2010

Teapots – All Things Alice

Posted in ALICE IN WONDERLAND, ART, DESIGN, TEAPOTS - A HOMAGE TO UNUSUAL TEAPOTS with tags , , , , on February 28, 2010 by echostains

 Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ film  is released March 5 this year and from  this clip,  it looks a lot of fun.  I’m not keen on Alice’s off the shoulder dress though – is there any need really?  The visual effects look very interesting though.  I found the floating Cheshire cats floating head on the trailer quite frightening.  But so it is in the book, as it fades away and only the grin is left.


Surprised to see Tweedle dum and Tweedle dee in the new film though as they are charaters  from Alice though the Looking Glass.   So it would seem that both books and characters have been lumped together.  But, back to the teapots.  It is easy to see why the teapot  serves as a vehicle to Alice. The teapot is central to the tea-party where we get to meet some interesting characters – especially the Mad Hatter.

I actually have this Tony Woods teapot

  I love the wild Mad Hatter teapot by Paul Cardew.  Cardew seems very fond of Alice – he’s done lots of teapots with using the Alice theme.

Paul Cardew MadHatter Teapot

Paul Cardew Alice teapot

I’ve cheated really with this image.  It’s actually a favor box and I think it’s lovely!  Available  HERE  

favor box


This unusual teapot has ‘Drink Me’ on the side – obvious really!  But I like the reference to the time on the lid and the hearts on the handle.

drink me teapot

My latest poem is ‘Her Facebook has it ‘ here

Lots of Alice porcelain HERE

White Drink me teapot link here

Teapots teapots website

More Bog Bodies – Ireland

Posted in BODIES IN PRESERVATION, HISTORY with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2010 by echostains

old croghan man cut in half

The peat bogs of Ireland hold many treasures and are a rich source of bog bodies.  The properties of the peat preserves these ancient peoples – even the contents of their last meal.

oldcroghan nipples cut, stabbed in ribs, later beheaded and dismembered

In 2006 two bog bodies of men were found and displayed in Dublin.  One, a giant of a man (6ft 6in) had manicured nails, he was called  Oldcroghan (after the place he was found).  The other,  (Clonycavan man) measured only 5ft 2 in and had a piled up hair style (just like me – and about the same height too!).  To hold this hairstyle together, he wore a kind of hair gel!  And they women are vain!

clonycavan man

Both men seem to have been part of  elite, not manual labourers: both were murdered.  the whole article about them, which makes interesting reading.

the peat has looked after his hair

But it isn’t only men who are found in bogs.  There is  Meenybradden woman.  She was found in 1978 in a peat bog.  Her body was wrapped in a woollen cloak and does not appear to have met a grisly end.  Her age is estimated to be between 25 and 30.  She was at one time the best preserved body – until the body got damaged in the deep freeze!  Unfortunately I can’t get a decent image of what is left of the woman.

The Bog Bodies by P V Glob, my first encounter with bog bodies

Bog bodies are fascinating, they can tell us so much about ourselves and how we lived.  A lot have been destroyed (unintentionally)  by peat cutting machinery, but there must be lots lying silently, more just waiting to be discovered.

I have other posts about bodies found in bogs here and here

It looks like these bodies are still on display at the Dublin National Museum of Ireland

More bog bodies here

Happy Birthday Renoir!

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, ARTISTS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , , on February 26, 2010 by echostains

Pierre Auguste Renoir

Today is the birthday of French Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir  (b. 1841- 1919).  He originally started his artistic career as an artist in a porcelain factory.  His first exhibition was in 1864 at the Paris Salon and his early work portray scenes from life.  But real recognition came 1874 where he exhibited 6 paintings in Paris at the first Impressionist exhibition, and two paintings in London.  His famous fellow Impressionists include of course Monet, Bazille and Sisley and Pissarro.

The work of art must seize upon you, wrap you up in itself and carry you away. It is the means by which the artist conveys his passion. It is the current which he puts forth, which sweeps you along in his passion”

Luncheon at the Boating party

Impressionism not only embraced art, it also encompassed music.   It was a massive movement established 1867 – 1886 and tried to capture the effect of light and colour.  Renoir admired Delacroix use of colour and his early paintings reflect this.

La Moulin de la Galette

He   also admired Courbet and Manet – and especially Boucher.  Renoir’s use of colour and light are his trademark.  He loved to paint outdoor scenes en plein air.    He did return to Classicism in later years and concentrated more on his drawings.  But after 1890, his style changed again, he concentrated more on the domestic theme and nudes.

The Bathers 1887 Renoir

Although crippled with arthritis in later years, which restricted his movements, he adopted to this by having a brush strapped to his stiffened paralysed fingers.  It was in this period of his life that he began sculpting with Richard Guino.

renoir two sisters on a terrace

His paintings – of which there are several thousand, are very much-loved by most people and have been reproduced continuously.

Excellent gallery and information about this artist HERE

Short biography here


On with the Motley

Posted in ART, HOME, POETRY, WORDS AND COMMUNICATIONS, WRITING AND BLOGGING with tags , , , on February 25, 2010 by echostains

I’ve been very busy at the moment doing all sorts of things.  Some of it  involves getting my house straightened, which is boring, boring, coconut flooring.  Still blogging on Bookstains  (not as much as here) and have written quite a few poems lately (my Arachne rising seems to have arisen again after all these years!).  It may be fun (for me) to get some very early work out and look back on the airy fairy stuff I did in my teens (here’s a post about an early influence) and contrast them with some not very pretty punk lyrics…er ‘The Life of Charlotte Bronte’ springs to mind and would not win me many Bronte fans lol! another one was ‘I Trouble’ and ‘Voodoo dancing’.  I wonder what happened to them?  I might actually come across them in the sort out.  If I do, I’ll put them on Bookstains for a bit of fun . I’m experimenting with different types poems at the moment and enjoying it – which is the whole point of my blogging! 

   The latest one is HERE and very different in style than the other

Jester by William Merritt Chase


It’s good to stand back from time to time and summarise your thoughts and these types of posts help me do just that.  I really need to neaten this site up too – there’s lots of niggling things I can see, not to mention the erratic formatting that STILL goes haywire from time to time.  I keep telling myself that I should change my theme – but I like it too much, so I must persevere.   Blogging  is taking up quite a bit of my time (well, the way I’m doing it),  I must admit I have spent rather a lot of time on some  excellent blogs as I love reading (and seeing) and commenting on what others do.  I fullly  intend to keep  my daily blogging up: I have promised myself that I will post every day this year and I want to keep to this.  I  want to concentrate on my Bookstains blog too, continue to write a bit of poetry, carry on my book reviews and challenges.  And I’m still  working on a separate place for my personal art  which shall be launched this year.  So  on with the motley ….lots to do eh!



Poetry of the past and present

Posted in POETRY, WORDS AND COMMUNICATIONS with tags , , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by echostains

vanitas by Edwart Collier

I’ve read rather a lot of poetry lately.  Mostly off some excellent blogs that I have discovered.  I used to write quite a bit myself.  I still do occasionally (usually if I’m a bit squiffy).  Unfortunately, when I come to read it the writing is very scrawling and almost ilegible.  This seems to be a quirk peculiar to my handwriting in general.  I start, nice and neat, then the more carried away I get, the more erratic the writing gets.

The pied Piper of Hamlin by Robert Browning illustrated by Kate Greenaway

But I digress, as usual.   I won’t bore you with my latest poem here (you can go over to my Bookstains blog for that lol).  Since the poem here on Bookstains, I’ve since written another one in a humourous vain (at least I hope its humourous…).  One of the proper poems we had to learn in school was ‘The Pied Piper of Hamlin’ by Robert Browning.  How I love that poem with all it’s mystical fantastic imagery!  I love the rat a tat tat of the metre:-


They fought the dogs and killed the cats,

And bit the babies in the cradles

And ate the cheeses out of the vats,

And licked the soup from the Cook’s own ladles,

Split open the kegs of salted sprats

Made nests inside mens Sunday hats

And even spoilt the women’s chats

By drowning their speaking

With shrieking and squeaking

In fifty different sharps and flats……..

The piper who was promised a thousand guilders, rid the town of the rats.  But the Mayor reneigned on the deal and offered a mere fifty.  Of course, this did not go down well with the piper who got his revenge in luring all the children (except one) away into a magical mountain – never to return.  I think the moral of this story is to keep your promise or the piper, sooner or later must be paid.  If not, he will take payment in kind…

Read the whole poem here

Walter de la mare a wonderful childrens writer and poet

Another rat poem which we had to learn in school was ‘Five Eyes’ by Walter De La Mare.  This time cats are featured:-

Five Eyes

In Hans’ old Mill his three black cats
Watch the bins for the thieving rats.
Whisker and claw, they crouch in the night,
Their five eyes smouldering green and bright:
Squeaks from the flour sacks, squeaks from where
The cold wind stirs on the empty stair,
Squeaking and scampering, everywhere.
Then down they pounce, now in, now out,
At whisking tail, and sniffing snout;
While lean old Hans he snores away
Till peep of light at break of day;
Then up he climbs to his creaking mill,
Out come his cats all grey with meal —
Jekkel, and Jessup, and one-eyed Jill

Read the whole poem here

Pre Raphaelite Holman Hunt Lady of Shalott

Besides the famous ‘Daffodils by Ullswater’ by Wordsworth, I also had quite a liking for the romantic poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson ‘The Lady of Shalott’  I had a tiny leather-bound book of this poem.  The illustrations were beautiful.  I was very much into the tales of King Arthur and his knights of the round table (Lancelot being my favorite knight)

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell’d shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn’d like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
As often thro’ the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
Moves over still Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash’d into the crystal mirror,
“Tirra lirra,” by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces thro’ the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look’d down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
“The curse is come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shalott…………….


The-lady-of-shalott by fellow Pre Raphaelite waterhouse

‘Out flew the web and floated wide; The mirror crack’d from side to side;  The curse is come upon me’ cried the Lady of Shalott….  What evocative words eh.   The quality of this poetry is stunning. It does come from another age though –  a lost romantic age……

The whole beautiful poem here


Weird and wacky design: Walk a mile in these shoes?

Posted in DESIGN, WEIRD AND WACKY DESIGN with tags , , , , , on February 23, 2010 by echostains

Yes Sir I could boogie (but not for all night long)

I’ve not put any ‘Weird and Wacky designs’ on here for a while – so I shall address that now.  I love strange shoes, though it takes me all my time to wear high heels these days (though I just will not be told and do try to persevere).  I rather like these shoes. I like the shape of them, and I think that they would probably be comfortable – the hydraulics of them giving at least a bit of support. (link to an interesting shoe blog which featured them)

heavy boots of lead - fills her victims full of dread

Now I really like these metal shoes!  They would look fantastic – but I should think that they would be pretty uncomfortable to wear.  They are the sort of thing the H.R. Giger would design (must do a post on that artist).

alien surrealist work of H R Giger

  He did the visual effects on the film Alien for which he won an Academy Award.  Ideal for a female alien perhaps?  Do they have real feet?  If so – how many?

walk this way - if you dare

These of course are by the late Alexander McQueen – a tragic loss to the fashion world.  His designs were sometimes  outrageous  and very impractical – but what an imagination!  I love the twisty meanderings of these shoes.  they remind me of the nursery rhyme:-

There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse
And they all lived together in a crooked little house.
I don’t think you would be walking very far at all in the last shoes.  the nursery rhyme, by the way has its foundation in Kings Charles 1st – the crooked man being the Scottish General Alexander Leslie.

the crooked man

Metal shoe link here
H R Giger website here
McQueen shoe from this blog
Nursery rhymes here

Melt in the mouth sculpture

Posted in ART, DESIGN, SCULPTURE with tags , , , on February 22, 2010 by echostains


Yak Butter sculpture inside Labrang monastery


Sculptures come in all forms of media, not just stone wood and metal.  In Thailand, sculpting edible foodstuffs is an art form and enhances the table.  Butter sculpture is an ancient Tibetan Buddhist tradition, used to celebrate  religious ceremonies and  the Tibetan New Year.  In North america it goes back to the 19th century and  is mostly used at agricultural fairs.    Lots of further information HERE

Farm Life sculpture by Jim Victor


Sculptor Jim Victor for example, as well as sculpting with traditional materials, has used  butter to create ‘Farm Life’.  He seems to like dairy because he has also used cheese and even chocolate for his sculptures – see the result HERE

farmlife butter sculpture by Jim Victor


It must be hard to work with the soft consistency of butter or cheese.   A certain temperature must have to be obtained surely?  Also, I would conditions would have to be right to display these delicate objects.

Shawn Bowman butter Marilyn


Sarah Kaufmann, known as the Cheese lady can use several thousand pounds of cheese when she is doing one of her gigantic pieces!  Lots of her work HERE

pfister artistc celebrations by Sarah Kaufmann


WatchTroy Landwehr create the Statue of Liberty from cheese!  It took him four days and a LOT of cheese – incredible!   See it being made HERE (sorry, but all I could get was the video link)

Oarmesan cheese with pizza dough for sails, roasted red peppers for the crosses and spaghetti


But what about the waste?  Well here’s a film about what they can do with sculpture once it’s outlived its use – make  sustainable fuel!  What a great idea eh  Everyone can enjoy the sculpture and it can be recycled!

Labsanf Monestry pic courtesy of here

Parmesan cheese ship HERE

Watched: Of Mice and Men (but no rabbits)

Posted in period drama, WATCHED with tags , , , , , on February 21, 2010 by echostains

Of Mice and Men

Probably because I had been recently writing about  regionalism (Wood, Stueart Curry and Hart-Benton) and about the Great Depression, I watched a DVD   I hadn’t watched in quite a while the other night.  ‘Of Mice and Men’ is a novel by John Steinbeck, set in the Great Depression.  It tells the sad story of two wanderers Lennie Small and George Milton who are travelling around California looking for work.

George Milton played by Gary Sinise

“Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place. . . . With us it ain’t like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don’t have to sit in no bar room blowin’ in our jack jus’ because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us.”
– John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men, Ch. 1

Steinbeck wrote the book in 1937.   The DVD I watched was first shown on film in 1992 and starred John Malkovich as Lennie Small and  Gary Sinise as George Milton.  In the film it is known that these two are cousins, but I thought they were brothers in the book.  It’s so long ago since I read it, that I can’t remember.  When the two finally obtain work (after being manhunted out of their last job due to an unfortunate incident involving Lennie and a girl) all seems rosy.  George has to look after the huge Lennie who has the  mental abilities of a child and he is tough, but compassionate  and played very well by Gary Sinise – the part of Lennie is a hard act to follow, but Sinise is admirable.

Lennie played by John Malkovich

Lennie played by Malkovich magnificently, just wants to touch things – rabbits especially.  he just want to stroke them and cuddle them.  But he doesn’t know his own strength and always ends up killing the poor animals that come his way.  George tries to protect him, especially from the ranch owners son – who keeps picking on him.

Curley (the rancher’s son) has a wife – known only as Curley’s wife.  She is young and bored and desperate for attention, and Curley is jealous of anyone she speaks to.

A lot of the plot features Lennie and Georges dream.  When they have enough money, they plan to settle down on their very own ranch.  The main attraction for Lennie of owning a ranch of their own is all the rabbits they will have.  This dream keeps Lennie going and he is always requesting this same story from George.  Another ranch hand hears about it and he also wants to throw his money and his lot in with the men.

One of the saddest scenes in the film is when the old ranch hand’s dog gets shot.  One of the other men convinces him that the dog is too old and decrepid and needs putting down.  This ultimately is what happens in the end with poor Lennie.  Up to his neck  in trouble once again (this time murder), George shoots him in the back of the head rather than let the lynch mob deal with  him.

I really must read this book again – and soon!  the other book I have read by Steinbeck is ‘Cannery Row’ . The Great Depression seems such an interesting time, though it brought sorrow and hardship.  Steinbeck lived through a lot of it and this shows in some of his novels – which do have that ring of truth.