Money, money, money.

Here are some interesting bits of toot that I have kept . . .Photobucket This big one isn't the top of a shovel. And this little one isn't a bracelet. PhotobucketThey're both forms of early African currency.
The top one is hoe currency, probably dating from 1800 and the bottom is a Manilla from around 1650. I like them because they are good looking but I'm also interested in money: in a theoretical way and in a greedy way. Differing ideas of worth is something I come up against all the time being out on the market. How one customer can say "Twenty pounds for that!? I'd give you two" (these customers are usually old men of the 'codger' variety) and then another customer strolls up and says "lovely, I'll take it".  Money and exchange and worth are things in such constant flux it can twist my brain around.
The manilla is made of some kind of copper alloy and I think the hoe currency is iron. At their time of use their value would be the same as the materials they're made of; meaning they might have been melted down and used. For this reason they're known as commodity money, they have an intrinsic worth, whereas my purse is crammed full of representative money (coppers mostly). Commodity money interests me, it seems quite instinctive and seems to spring up in times of need - like Prisoners of War using cigarettes as cash, I wonder whether we'll ever see any commodity currencies popping up round here (I bloody hope it's plant pots if we do).
The Manilla is also an amazing thing because it might not have been produced in Africa but exported there from here (Europe that is), it may also have played it's part in the slave trade, which feels a bit odd. I have them on my desk, something about their strong forms and history pleases me almost too much.
Top notch toot.

Goings on.

Toot has a place to be now: there's a photo of the new studio over on Facebook, I'll be upload more photos as it comes together. You can also look on Twitter.
How thoroughly modern.

Nice toot.

My favourite bits of toot this week, all in a pile. I like the kilim pillows a lot, they remind me of this nice blog.PhotobucketA Very heroic looking design on this frame . . . PhotobucketA good hat, made of bamboo that is split at one end then reed added around and around until it splays out - clever.PhotobucketJars with nice simple fixings. PhotobucketHandsome hooks. PhotobucketThat picture in a frame is a Chrisitian quote all carefully sewn onto what looks like tiny peg-board. PhotobucketAnd a very fine woven blanket. PhotobucketOff to market tomorrow, off to bed stupidly early tonight.

The Decorative Arts of Sweden

Reading this very nice book at the moment. PhotobucketOnly thing is: whilst the front cover is in tantalising multicolor . . . PhotobucketEverything inside is in black and white. Oh well. Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Last week.

The past week was a good one for culture. I went to the Chelsea BA show and walked about on a nice tour by Salt. I also snuck into the Chelsea library, which is incredible, I bloody love a good library.PhotobucketWent to the RA summer show (our clever friend Greg had a painting in it), I'd never been before - I liked it. I get bored of going to exhibitions where the whole idea seems to be - 'look at this very clever person, probably cleverer than you'll ever be, they wanted to be an artist in the womb and now they've spent ten years solid in a big expensive studio to make this, you should be impressed' . . . yawn. But the Summer Show seemed friendly really, despite all it's posturing - seemed a bit more 'look at this funny thing that a lot of people do' than anything grandiose.
PhotobucketJack and I got all arty in the courtyard. PhotobucketThen we went home and ate a lot of food (I snapped the soup being prepared, I really like that picture) and watched a lot of telly while lying on the sofa with sleeping bags. All this because we knew Saturday night would be entirely devoid of sleep.PhotobucketJack and I cycled through the night, on a tour called Velonet - it was part of Architecture Week. Not anything like the Dunwich Dynamo, it was a leisurely affair, we cycled slowly as a group around the East End and stopped to listen to clever people on Resonance FM talk about the places we were at. We got to see architectural oddities we'd never noticed and learn new things about places we had seen. We went to Hoxton Square and they talked about gentrification 'Or maybe we should call it drinkifaction' they said as we craned over our radios to hear them above the noise of the bars. PhotobucketHuddled under the A12 near Hackney Wick, we listened to an architects view of the Olympic buildings, about the amount of semi-permanent structures at the site and their thoughts on legacy. And as the night wore on we got a little tired and absolutely soaked with rain but I loved it. It's so nice to cycle in a group, I won't pretend we did much socialising but it was nice to share radios and smirk at each other as we stood listening, there was a sense of sleepy camaraderie. We ended up at Canary Wharf and at five in the morning a small orchestra played for us - it was surreal and incredible. Twenty minutes before we'd been huddled by our radios in an empty market in Poplar, then we were invited into an enormous glass concert hall with the most incredible marble floor (and a small man with a big fluffy mop wiping at all the puddles left by dripping cyclists). You can imagine how soporific the music was, the orchestra finished with Summertime by Gershwin and a few people just about managed a standing ovation before sitting down again.
 Photobucket. . . Then we had to cycle all the way home! It was amazing to see central London deserted . . . and it was amazing to make it home after nearly twenty four hours of awake time and fall into bed. PhotobucketThat's all. Hope your weekends were equally happy.

A special tour of Kew

This week just gone I took a very special trip to Kew: with Richard (who works there) and Brian (who knows a lot of botanish stuff). I've written about them before. It was proper nifty to peruse all the plants and be told all sorts of special things . . . and to get to sneak backstage.PhotobucketNice hat Mr Richard. PhotobucketI bloody love Kew, it's pretty close to perfect. PhotobucketThis peacock refused to face the camera, his backside is also quite fetching though. PhotobucketBrian was a much more cooperative model. PhotobucketThe baby coots reminded me of boat times, their little heads look like bare brains: quite ugly really. I learned the other day that pigeon milk isn't milk at all, it's that funny kind of vomit that pigeons hack into the mouths of their young. So I guess this coot is feeding it's babe a little bit of coot milk. Yummers.PhotobucketThe waterlily house was one of my favourite bits, it was built especially for the giant waterlily (named after Queen Victoria). The lily itself is grown from new each year so it doesn't get too big for it's pond. The leaves have really pronounced veins underneath that trap air, making it float real good - enough to support a baby.PhotobucketAnd Richard took us for a peep around the greenhouses, where things are being nurtured and propagated to go out into the gardens.
There's a whole section for plants that are sleeping. That have been taken out because they're not showing their best (though I thought these hooded ones were lovely). I was amazed to learn how much plants get moved around at Kew - like giant cacti being trundled around in wheelbarrows and wrestled into position for summer, a job I really don't envy.PhotobucketThis tree got in the way of a nice view so they moved it.
 PhotobucketEverything's done on such an enormous scale, pallets and pallets of pots for planting up. PhotobucketThey also use a lot of terracotta pots which I found encouraging. They lose moisture quicker than plastic pots which makes them ideal for succulents and alpines. (I don't know whether I told you but I've bought about four thousand Victorian terracotta plant pots - not a bad purchase eh?) PhotobucketRichard showed us plants that he'd bought back from the Falklands. PhotobucketI have grilled the two of them about their Falklands visit - so that's a whole other post for another day. PhotobucketWhilst snooping the greenhouses I also learnt of the devastating effect of BADGER DAMAGE. Can you imagine how rubbish BADGER DAMAGE could be? You've travelled half way around the world, carefully collected tiny seeds - probably using tweezers whilst hanging over a cliff - packaged them meticulously and sent them to a team of gardeners who grow a tiny plant, carefully mimicking the conditions of it's native environment. Then a badger comes and has a roll around on it. PhotobucketThen to the Herbarium. As you go in there's an impressive collection of wax flowers that were commissioned as teaching aids. PhotobucketThe Herbarium is an incredible building, crammed full of specimens - some dating back centuries - collected from all over the world, some collected by Darwin, some collected by Richard. It's obviously very well organised but also quite chaotic looking, once you get in the cupboards it's all stacks of crinkly paper with notes sticking out of them. PhotobucketThe specimens are stored according to country. When you take one off the shelf you have to carefully slide a piece of cardboard under it to minimise the risk of dropping it. PhotobucketThe plants inside are beautiful. The way they are laid out means you can see the shape of the leaves and the buds, wall-worthy.PhotobucketSmall plants are stored in folded envelopes. PhotobucketI was surprised to learn that specimens get sandwiched in newspaper - because it does the job very well and is readily available all over the world. PhotobucketWe went to Richard's office, where they're not allowed to have plants on their desks, because of the insects they might attract. PhotobucketSo all the foliage in the room is of the flat and crispy variety. PhotobucketIt was a splendid day, I'm so lucky: I almost overdosed on interesting information and beautiful things and went home feeling awfully jammy thanks to those lovely chaps.

A meagre amount of toot.

Only a little toot this week, a T.G. Green mug to start, nicely cylindrical.PhotobucketSome lattice-ish shelves. PhotobucketA nice spotty scarf in very fine soft wool. PhotobucketA mean little slingshot.PhotobucketSome plant pot holders. PhotobucketSome fifties drinking straws, nice packaging and inside they're all the stripy paper straws. I wouldn't drink through them: but I might make something a little bucky-ish in a retro style.PhotobucketTalking of retro - here's a special case for making a jam roly-poly. PhotobucketThe end.