Thursday, July 19, 2012


I'm a very lucky lady because I get to share my life with a lovely fellow who is not only very funny and very clever, but also manages to be thoroughly dashing and impressively dapper. He recently bought some vintage button braces that had never been used and were generally in a good condition, however the button tabs had become brittle - they were made of some sort of vinyl-coated cardboard and they ripped the moment Mr B attempted to attach them to his trousers. So I switched the old cardboard-y ones for some nice new leather ones.

I cut off one of the old tabs and used it as a template to make the new ones. When cutting out the new leather tabs I made sure that I cut them in the direction of least stretch. Leather tends to be less stretchy along the animal's back from head to tail, and more stretchy sideways around its body. I knew that there would be pressure on these tabs and I didn't want them stretching out of shape. I used a small hole punch to make the holes for the rivets and a buttonhole punch to make the buttonholes.

I used gum tragacanth to slick the edges with my fingers - you can see the tab behind still has its fuzzy raw edge, the one in front is nice and slick. (more about gum tragacanth here)

Then it is just a matter of folding the tab over the D-ring, inserting a rivet and bashing it flat.

And ta da! New leather tabs for vintage button braces.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lantern slides old and new

I have a few lantern slides which I found ages ago at The Junk Shop in Greenwich, south-east London. There were loads of them in the shop - photos of landscapes around the world, illustrations of Bible stories,  but I chose a few interesting scientific-y ones...

Hand-written label on slide reads: 'Sponge - Caualo.'
I love the little arrows.

Label on edge of slide reads: 'Miliolina, life appearance.'

'Group of, on dark ground.'
'Flatters & Garnett, Ltd., 32, Dover St., Manchester, S.E.'

'X15. Suckers on foreleg [male symbol] Dytiscus.'

'Gasterosteus spinachia'

Hand-written label reads: 'Centropus sinensis'
Label pictured in slide reads: 'Common Coucal, Centropus sinensis, Adult Male, Island of Ceylon'

I have a more recent addition to my little family of slides...
it is a lovely lino cut print of some old pewter charms made by Jo Waterhouse from the blog Toot as in Foot.

Have you seen Jo's blog? It is amazing, one of my absolute favourites in the whole of the internets. She has an excellent eye for unusual and beautiful objects (which she sells at Spitalfields Market), takes lovely photographs and has a very funny take on the world. She also makes videos of things going from one side to the other. You should make yourself a cup of tea and have a trawl through her archives. 

A couple of months ago she was generous enough to give away three of these beautiful slides and lucky old me was one of the happy recipients! Hooray!
She very swiftly sent it off to Botterman Empire HQ, and I am a bit embarrassed to admit that it took me until last weekend to gather the necessary bits and bobs to fashion a new display system for my little collection.

Rather than keeping them on the window sill as I had in our last flat, I wanted to add them to the growing gallery wall in the living room. I found a  suitably sized frame at the junk market in Deptford, pulled it apart and cut the angled edges off the two shorter sides using my nifty piercing saw. I then attached these two frame pieces to the wall and lined up the lantern slides on the bits of frame. The little lipped edge of the frame stops them from sliding off.

The 'Common Coucal' and the 'Gasterosteus spinachia' are checking out the new arrival.

The growing gallery.

Thanks again Jo!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

a lovely award...

I'm sure I'm not the only one to be feeling a bit jilted by summer. The rain is endless, and even though it is making everything nice and green and is quite nice to listen to in the evenings, I would really like some summer now please now. I would like to walk in the breezy sunshine without a cardigan and umbrella. I would like to enjoy the long evenings out and about while we still have long evenings. I would like my hair not to be frizzy all the time. Sigh. 

I haven't been making much at home. We have been really busy at work (working on some really great projects - more on that as and when it's appropriate...) and I have pretty much just been flopping when I get home. I have made a couple of bits and pieces but they've been presents and I haven't wanted to post about them until they have made their way to their new homes, all of which means things have been a bit quiet on the blog front.

In the middle of all this un-inspired-ness, how lovely to be nominated for a Lovely Blogger award by Snippa! Thank you so much! It's funny, I think of myself as such a newbie blogger and I find it amazing that anyone has even found my blog is such a vast digital ocean, and that people take the time to stop by and comment. It's really great. So thank you Snippa for the lovely boost! (If you haven't seen her blog you should have a look. This is one multi-talented lady - sewing, sock knitting, she also dabbles in a bit of silversmithing making beautiful pendants using semi-precious stones.)

There are rules attached to this award. They are as follows...
- Thank the blogger who nominated you
- Post the badge
- Share seven random facts about yourself
- Pass the award on to ten more bloggers

Some random facts about myself are as follows...
- I made my first pair of shoes when I was 16. I was doing a week's work experience with the excellent Eugenia Neave and I made a pair of sandals. They were black leather, a solid panel on the inside of the foot and dividing into straps on the outside, and I cut out little star shapes on the inside sections and stuck silver leather beneath that shone through. They were very wonky BUT I HAD MADE SOME SHOES!!!

- My second toes are longer than my big toes. I believe this is called 'Morton's Toe'. Apparently this means I will never become a prima ballerina (which is ok with me) and also means that a certain husband who shall remain nameless refers to them as my "weird long finger-toes".

- I can be oddly OCD about certain things, for example, when I do the washing up I always wash in this order - glasses, cups, bowls, small plates, big plates, cutlery, pots and pans.

- The Muppets Take Manhattan is one of my all-time favourite movies.

- I can do pretty legible mirror writing. 

- I once had a brush with death when a tree I was sheltering under during a sudden storm got blown over.

- There was a time during primary school when loads of chain letters were doing the rounds, all with the don't-break-the-chain-send-this-letter-on-to-seven-people-or-something-terrible-will-happen-to-you warnings. I found this to be a great worry in my young life until my mum told me it was ok to break the chain, I wasn't going to be beset by calamity. Ever since then I have been a bit adverse to chain-style letters, even those harmless and probably quite useful recipe chain emails.

(It is for this reason that I will not be passing this Lovely Blog Award on to ten other bloggers. I greatly appreciate being included on Snippa's lovely blog list and I shall take her up on her don't-feel-obligated-to-pass-this-on disclaimer.)

Gosh, what a lot of words! To balance things out, here is a picture of a miraculous face that once appeared on my finger whilst eating chocolate cake...

And for you nature lovers, here's a picture of a baby ladybird...

Monday, July 02, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

**This is an example of some of the work I was involved with when I worked for a company called Theatrical Shoemakers. We made costume shoes for film, theatre, television etc**

We at Theatrical Shoemakers had a great time making some really interesting boots for Snow White and the Huntsman from designs by the amazing Colleen Atwood.

We made multiple pairs of boots for the actors playing the Dwarf characters, as well as pairs for the little people stand-ins for each Dwarf character. We also made pairs for stunt doubles as well as little stunt doubles. 

Ray Winstone as "Gort"
Brown leather and suede with pleated/pulled together lacing detail.

Johnny Harris as "Quert"
Brown suede boot with leather strap.
Boot on the left is for Johnny Harris, boot on the right for little person stand-in.

Toby Jones as "Coll"
Black suede boot with red leather fold down cuff and thonging detail.

Midway through making "Coll" boots for Toby Jones, little stunt double, little stand-in.

Midway through making "Duir" boots for Eddie Marsan, little stunt double, little stand-in
Brown and yellow suede with inside and outside lacing.

"Muir" boots for Bob Hoskins and little stand-in.
Grey suede inside laced boot with blue suede fold down topline.

 Brian Gleeson as "Gus"
Brown and blue suede boot with orange leather fold down cuff

Iain McShane as "Beith"
Brown suede boots with buckle detail, pink leather fold down cuff with stitch detail.

Nick Frost as "Nion"
Brown suede boot with grey leather fold down cuff and outside leather and lacing detail.

"Nion" boots for Nick Frost and little stand-in.

"Young Prince William"
Brown suede inside laced boot with blue leather fold down cuff.

I think these are for Sam Spruell as "Finn" (or I may have gotten confused and included some boots from another film entirely!)
Black leather boot with centre seam piping detail and false lacing detail at back (inside zip)

terrible photo of "Finn" (?) boots, but I wanted to show the nice topline of this boot. This can cover the knee or be folded down as a cuff.

Vincent Regan as "Duke Hammond" 
Brown suede boot with bound edges, false outside lacing detail (inside zip).

We also made boots for Dave Legano as "Broch" as well as boots for Sam Cafflin as "Prince William" in brown suede with buckles and black suede with buckles, but I now realise I managed to not photograph them. Sorry all.

So there you go, lots to keep an eye out for when watching Snow White and the Huntsman. (I just wish we'd had a chance to make shoes for Charlize Theron's evil queen...)