Monday, 27 May 2013

The Caterpillar Club

My father was born in 1945. This tiny thing represents the lives of myself and my sister and all of my aunts, uncles and cousins on that side.

Silkworm brooch with ruby eyes

My grandfather was a professional airman before, during, and after the Second World War. These brooches were presented by parachute manufacturers. If your life was saved by a parachute, you could write to them and they would send you one of these, with a letter welcoming you to the "Caterpillar Club". It's a minuscule gold silkworm, the caterpillar of a silk moth, with ruby eyes.

The ones I can find online that look like this one were issued by Irving Air Chute of Great Britain, Ltd., but various designs seem to have been used. To my taste, this is the nicest. We no longer have my grandfather's membership certificate or the presentation box, but the brooch has stayed in my Dad's possession, in a little cellophane wrapper inside my grandfather's portable writing box, along with leftover invitations to my parents' wedding reception and other odds and ends that nobody knows what to do with. It's possible that this brooch is a replacement - family legend is that he bailed out more than once, and the first one was lost, but I have no evidence.

I knew him, briefly, the only one of my grandparents I ever met. 

It always seemed a little wrong to me that a thing with so much meaning should be totally hidden away. But no one can reasonably wear it, and such a tiny object is tricky to display.

So I got a box frame from Atlantis Art Supplies, a bit of mount board, a bit of velvety black wool cloth from my stash, and some soft glossy mercerised cotton, and I've crocheted it a little picture to be in. Parachutes at that time were dome-shaped rather than rectangular as they are these days.

Display picture for the Caterpillar Club brooch
It has a curious clasp, a sort of two-part spring thing I have never seen before. I had to borrow my mother's reading glasses to attach it to the picture.

Ready to hang

Can you see what it is yet?

Probably not - but it's representational rather than functional, in this case. And it will be on a black background, just not my knee. This is actually a soft but glossy mercerised cotton.

Work in progress
This was Saturday, and it's finished now ... I'll post that later, as it will take a while to write.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Death to typecasting

In the last few weeks I've had some fantastic Pugliese tandas with people who I don't usually think of as dancing Pugliese.

Different people get on better with different music. You don't really want to dance something with someone who doesn't really relate to it or doesn't have confidence with it. But you can't assume that because someone is a lot of fun with one thing, they won't be just as much at something else completely different.

It changes, too. I danced Canaro, twice, with a lyrical 'salonster' who never normally dances it. The first time was odd, experimental, it felt like he was pretending to be someone else, I wondered who. It didn't quite make sense, but I wanted to try it again. The second time he abandoned his prejudices, and danced it his own way; it still felt exploratory, but interesting and original, and totally individual, and it made perfect sense.

It makes me happy if someone is willing to experiment with me.

If you are very responsive as a follower, you can get typecast into fast rhythmic music and people can just not think of looking at you for the slow stuff where you can really engage emotionally, even though you can wait just as well. Or the opposite can happen.

It's good to know which way to look. But I try not to typecast too much.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Space Oddity on the ISS

Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield), the Canadian Astronaut, ends his mission on the International Space Station with an adaptation of Bowie's Space Oddity:

Music video. Shot in space. At the time of writing it's still got the "301+" view count, and Chris Hadfield is, I think, in a Soyuz on his way home ...[Edit: I'm wrong - departure is scheduled 24 hours later]

He says: