Sunday, April 17, 2016

Bakelite - Mr Shoestring's Enduring Passion

Mr Shoestring has always had a fondness (some might describe it as almost unhealthy) for bakelite, the early type of plastic which usually looks like a kind of imitation of tortoiseshell, brownish/black in colour.  He was thrilled to his fingertips when a friend of his donated this most peculiar looking heater, which he believes probably dates back to the 1940s.  Its top is that lovely washed out green shade so beloved by designers at that time (and presumably by the consumers as well as there is still so much of it to be seen).  It wasn't in working order but he eventually prevailed and got it to work again, and this weekend we tested it out.  (Things weren't as straightforward as that might sound, because in the process of repairs there was a very nasty incident which involved the power being shorted out by Mr Shoestring's actions but you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.) The lovely thing about the heater (one of many lovely things, Mr Shoestring would insist) is that it glows orange when operating, and has a fan spinning around which makes an orange flickering light probably supposed to represent flames, very endearing.)

It looks like the shape of a spacecraft, or what people in those times might have imagined a spacecraft to look like. 

This is my favourite piece of his bakelite collection, a Michelin man ashtray which I think must have been a promotional giveaway, but he has all kinds of other pieces including pen trays, cuff link boxes and so on.

 Mr Shoestring's favourites would include this mysterious thing - we can only guess what it was for, but maybe it was off an old gas stove and "Pilot" refers to a pilot light.  

He also loves this little piece designed for holding pieces of memo paper, helpfully labelled in case the users forget what they are dealing with here.  

This weekend I found these two beautifully cut yet still sturdy crystal glasses at our local op shop (for which read treasure trove), and when I showed them to Mr Shoestring and commented that they would be ideal to use in the crystal sculptures we have been so much taken up with he declared that they were far too good for that and would be excellent whisky glasses (he is a whisky drinker, whereas I am not).  We had a little discussion about this and after I agreed we could keep them and not use them in the sculptures I decided I had better take up whisky drinking.  Progress on more garden sculptures is ongoing but I suspect Mr Shoestring is losing interest so I had better use up all the pieces in my stock before he abandons the project altogether.

I made good progress on decorating the old bottle green woolen jacket this weekend.  (The photo doesn't do justice the shade of the wool, actually.  My camera and I are at odds about the desirability of bottle green and I had to admit defeat in the end.)  This bird still needs to have its legs added and I am a bit uncertain as how to do that best (it may end up sitting on a nest if I can't figure out how to give it some realistic looking legs, or perhaps it could wear gumboots).  The twig in its beak is going to have cherry red berries once I can locate my red wool.  The wool which has been dyed using old blankets has been great fun to work with, and dyeing is half the fun because you are never quite sure what shade you will end up with and if you put in pieces of several different coloured blankets there are some very interesting results.  Sadly though, I'm not the only person scouring op shops for old woolen blankets and they are more difficult to come by now.  Only last weekend I missed out on a couple at a market because I was too slow off the mark, dithering around wondering whether I really needed any more.  

It has been such a beautiful warm autumn that the brugmansia is still laden with flowers, which surely isn't usual for this time of year.  (Note very attractive lace effect on the leaves from some unidentified chewing pest.)

There are still monarch butterfly caterpillars on the swan plant and if they don't get a wriggle on and make their chrysalises soon they may be overtaken by an early frost,

The camelias are out already though.  This is my favourite one (I must start keeping plant labels because I would love to know its name).  The petals are like tissue paper and the stamens are a most intense golden shade.

It was sitting in this lovely saucer; the saucer is hidden by the cup usually but how pretty to have even the inside of the cup and saucer decorated, it would make tea more special.

Once again it's quince season so soon we can make some quince vodka for next summer.  The quinces are very attractive in a way, furry and oddly shaped, with fur on them.
And also sadly Jerusalem artichoke season.  Yesterday when I was wrestling with the weeds I was astonished to find so many of them and felt compelled to locate and remove as many as possible - not just to eat them, but to prevent the garden from being overtaken with them next season.  This week we will have to try to discover some different ways of eating them, as it has proved impossible to give them away.  

One last thing I must share (before it passes out of my mind forever, as things tend to do) is that I recently discovered that the wonderful herb basil grows from cutting,  This was quite by accident, as I took pieces back to town and put them in water to use later in the week.  Having gone away for a few days I was surprised to see that they had taken root, so now I am taking cuttings of the last of the crop in the hopes that if I pot them up and put them on a sunny windowsill we may have fresh basil to use in the depths of gloomy winter, what a luxury.  

Here you can see the roots forming on the plants in the left hand side of the picture.  Who knew?