Wednesday, 2 September 2015

A Beautiful Gift

The first of two posts today.

I am currently experiencing major problems publishing blogs from Windows LiveWriter into Blogger. According to a forum on the Microsoft website this is due to changes by Microsoft and Blogger and nobody seems to be doing anything about it. Until it is sorted, I am copying and pasting from WLW into Blogger's own (awful) "Compose New Blog" so if the layout comes out all wrong, I apologise. It appears to be impossible to get consistent paragraph layouts with this and it's a real pain. 

As this is the final week of my regular 3-weekly chemo cycle, I am feeling considerably better (just in time to feel horrible again after Friday!) so the timing of this was perfect: on Monday my hubby agreed to take me out for a bit – I have hardly left the house these past weeks and months, except to follow that well-worn path to the hospital and all its attendant joys!

One of the friends I gained while in hospital had contacted me to tell me that she had several pictures in an exhibition held in Dunsford Church over the weekend. Dunsford is a very picturesque village in the Teign Valley, and every two years they put on an art exhibition which is open to all comers, and my hubby and I are both keen to enter something next time! We spent the afternoon in the church having a good look around and meeting some interesting people, and we were very, very impressed with the standard of work, in all media. The bulk of the exhibition was pictures, but there was a large craft section with items laid out on trestle tables the entire length of the church on the further side. Wood carving, embroidery, quilting, stained glass, pottery, etc. etc. At the further end of the table there was a special section showing a collection of the most exquisite textile boxes, many of which featured cats in the design. They opened in the most intriguing way and I fell utterly in love with them! The lady who made them is called Suzanne Shave. She doesn't seem to have a website (yet) which is a shame because it would be great if you could see her other work.

My hubby was as taken with them as I was, and he offered to buy me one! I reminded him that he never did get around to buying me a birthday present this year (there being plenty of other things occupying our minds!), and he agreed to buy my favourite box from the collection, and it now graces our sitting room mantelpiece. Yesterday I took some photos of this beautiful object to share with you now.

The cats on the boxes are all inspired by cats belonging to the lady who made the boxes, either currently or in the past – or should I say, cats to whom she was enslaved? This particular box is in honour of two very handsome cats, Laurence and Leo.

Here is the side view of the box. Suzanne told me that she sources her materials from wherever she can find them – charity shops a lot of the time – she buys scarves and cuts them up. You can see the combination of hand and machine embroidery on this box, and the addition of clusters of small gold beads.

A view from the top, showing the fastening which keeps the box closed.

Underneath, the box has four dinky little stumpy feet! Not strictly necessary but they add such charm to the piece! You an see that they were constructed from rolled up fabric, like the toggles on the closure thread.

The box, open. For the purposes of the photo, I put a couple of small bottles underneath the sides to stop the box form opening fully. Normally the sides would rest on the table.

Looking inside the box, you can see what amazing attention to detail Suzanne shows, with the quality of her finish.

I told my hubby I thought it would be fun to make a few little textile cats to go inside this box, and he suggested taking a leaf out of Suzanne’s book and making representations of all our ktities, past and present! What a lovely idea.

It would be fun to open the box and find it full of cats! I attended several courses on fabric box making back in Plymouth days when I belonged to the Westcountry Embroiderers, and the amazing teacher always said that a box should contain a surprise.

Having had experience of making boxes, I know just how much work has gone into the construction and embellishment of this one. Suzanne said she was delighted it was going to such a good home – to someone who appreciated the work, and who was also a cat person!

Isn’t this a beautiful object? I love its construction, the unusual way it opens, its bold colours and the stylised cats which seem to fill both sides of the box. Happy cats!

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