Look what came home from Nottingham

Starbucks Shrine

Starbucks Shrine

I had been wondering what had happened to this piece which I found at my mother’s last weekend.  I have looked for it a number of times when I do talks about my work as it’s one of my favourites and is an early example of something I went on to make quite a lot of: fabric shrines.  I made this one several years ago after I went to the American Academy of Management Conference in Seattle which is the site of the first Starbucks shop.

I was really interested that there was an assumption that as a management academic you would want to go down to that first shop and do some sort of obeisance.  I resisted until almost the end of the conference but eventually cracked and sure enough there was a bunch of academics all taking pictures for their scrapbooks or their teaching – who knows?

Starbucks Original Store, Pike Place, Seattle

Starbucks Original Store, Pike Place, Seattle

I became quite interested in this phenomenon.  This first shop has become a tourist site.  What is it about this company and this product that produces such loyalty in the US at least?  There seemed to be some devotion to it which we don’t quite understand in the UK.  I read a satirical piece in The Onion, which sadly I lost, about the need to be near a Starbucks at all times leading Starbucks to put branches of Starbucks in their restrooms.  So I thought a small portable shrine would be a nice thing for a real fan to have.  Inside is the original company logo taken from the photo I took in Seattle:

Starbucks Shrine - detail

Starbucks Shrine - detail

This highly ornate style is also characteristic of the work I went on to do.  It has a lot of beading and a lot of machine embroidery.  The outside of the shrine is made with layers of synthetic fabric which is burned back with a soldering iron and the interior is a nice metallic fabric bondawebbed onto vilene.  The design of the piece is not great, though.  It has never really stood up and there isn’t a way to weight it which doesn’t require sewing it shut which defeats the object a bit.  My later shrines are free standing, but can look more like tea cosies than shrines, so if I ever make any more it will be a design problem I will need to solve.

Incidentally, the mug is my charming husband’s satirical anti-Royalist Royal Wedding mug designed by the cartoonist, Steve Bell.  I put it in to give the scale.

Bristol Artists' Book Event (BABE)

Lace Artists Book - Holly Cooper - detail

Lace Artists Book - Holly Cooper - detail

On Saturday I went down to the Arnolfini Contemporary Arts Centre in Bristol with my trusty companion, Mike, to have a look at the Bristol Artists’ Book Event (BABE).  It is a really big event with two floors of exhibitors showing all sorts of beautiful books, from artists’ books with illustrations or stunning forms (or both) to notebooks with beautiful bindings.  It really is a place for bibliophiles.  The only problem is that it is overwhelming.  There is too much to see as so many of the things on display are very detailed and intricate and after a while I got sensory overload.  One thing I saw and instantly fell in love with, though, was this book by Holly Cooper which was all about lace edgings – everything from actual pieces of lace to pin prick paper lace, to burned lace, to lace drawn on and cut out from tracing paper.  I love lace and feel a certain affinity with it coming from Nottingham with its tradition of machine made lace.  I also wish that I was better at doing adventurous edgings in my hand-made books, so I had to buy this.

Lace Artists Book - Holly Cooper

Lace Artists Book - Holly Cooper

Lace Artists Book - Holly Cooper - detail

Lace Artists Book - Holly Cooper - detail

The book was a bit pricey as it just has a very simple stitched pamphlet construction, but the amount of work that had gone into constructing the pages meant that I am quite sure she made less than the minimum wage had she priced it.  It has gone to a good home!

The other thing I bought was a beautifully bound hardback notebook which has a lovely handprinted cover inspired by William Morris, printed by the binder.  The reason I bought it was that it has pomegranate design and I love pomegranates. But also because the young woman who made it really sold it to me.  So many of the artists were real ‘artists’ and it clearly killed them to make eye contact (which is endearing and lovely) but some completely ignored us and chatted to their mates (mistake, learn to pick out the people with disposable income and at least smile at them).  Anyway, the two young women on the Owl and Lion stall from Edinburgh were engaging, enthusiastic, warm, grinning and came out from behind the stand to make Mike sniff the leather bindings he was admittedly hanging his nose over.  I wanted them to succeed and so bought something I might not have done.  (see www.owlandliongallery.com).  I bought some nice little prints, particularly of pens, and Mike got the undoubted bargain of the day, five exquisite little prints mounted on cards on very fine paper for a pound each and an extra one thrown in for buying five!

All in all, an impressive event which is well worth looking out for next time. (www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/events/details/951)