I blame it all on Rita, a fellow PDSA volunteer
with whom I exchange emails. Generally speaking, a moderate by
nature, or so I like to think, my weakness is what I call "Blue
Petering". (To those not living in the UK, "Blue Peter"
is a children's television programme famous for its items on how
to make useless objects from empty washing up liquid containers
and the insides of loo rolls.) The only thing is, once I start,
I find it very hard to stop.
Rita happened to mention in one email that
some time ago she'd enjoyed stencilling plant pots. "That
sounds fun", I thought. 6 plantpots, a cat stencil
, some black acrylic paint and a rummage
around for left over emulsion later, I thought, "I could
get into this,." and promptly bought up the local Asda's
stock of 4½" pots.
One of the advantages of being a PDSA volunteer
is that it gives me an outlet for the inevitable surplus I produce
when I start "Blue Petering". It would certainly have
been useful the summer I embroidered 200 lavender bags. By the
time I registered as a volunteer I'd found homes for most of them
and had moved onto lavender bags made from pieces of net curtain.
(You had to see them.) I knew that particular hobby was getting
out of hand when, instead of settling down with a cup of tea at
friends' houses I found myself eyeing their net curtains for lavender
bag potential. Jen even brought hers round for me when she replaced
them. She also sold about 70 of the lavender bags for me.
But I digress. Like I said, now I have
PDSA fundraising as an outlet, I wasn't unduly daunted by the
thought of ending up with large numbers of stencilled pots. I
speculated about selling them onto a local Garden Centre. One
thing the Catsup project has taught me however, is that good presentation
is all important. We may all complain about the extra cost nice
packaging adds, but we're still influenced by it. I spent an afternoon
phoning around box manufacturers. The cheapest available were
£1.23 each. More expensive than the contents. This prompted
Jen to suggest that I tried advertising along the lines of, "Buy
a box and get a free plant pot!"
The following day I was out with a family
friend. We stopped for lunch in Seaham and had a wander round
the shops there. Outside one were large blocks of thick A3 card.
65 sheets of it in every block for £1.99. My eyes narrowed.
"I could make my own boxes", I thought.
Letting me loose with 65 sheets of A3 card
is akin to giving a chocoholic the free run of a sweet shop. Boxes
duly made, there was still plenty of card left. "Greetings
cards" sprang to mind. A few experiments later and cards
using the same stencils as the plant pots begain to appear. "Not
everyone likes black cats", I thought. "I need a bit
of variety". I have absolutely no artistic talent whatsover,
so I wasn't chancing my luck with tabbies or tortoiseshells. What
I'd manage to produce is anyone's guess, but certainly nothing
resembling a cat. My eyes lit on the drawings of Méia that
Ro in Brazil kindly lets me use. They work extremely well as you
can see from the pictures below. Then, playing around on Photoshop,
I found I could change photos of the boys into "paintings".
Guillotining card to the right size, left
me with lots of thin strips of card. "I'm sure they'll come
in handy sooner or later", I thought, squirrelling them away
in a corner. Sooner has inevitably proved to be more accurate.
Gift tags to match the greetings cards are now being produced
at an alarming rate. "How about bookmarks?" suggested
Julie. No sooner said than done.
I know I'm in the grip of an obsession
when I stop making one article at a time and start employing production
line methods. My dining room table cannot now be seen under the
stack of pots, cards, paper etc. Friends who call round find themselves
clearing a space and making a few cards whilst we talk. "Quite
compulsive isn't it?" commented both Nora and Ann from Winlaton
after their sessions.
So as a direct result of one small paragraph
in an email, I have now stencilled 30 pots, made 50 boxes, dozens
of cards and gift tags and numerous bookmarks. I've also hired
a stall at a Cat Show in Edinburgh on 1st December, to see if
I can sell some of them
Rita, you don't know what you started!
PS Since I started to write this, I've
moved onto small gift boxes with lavender bags inside.
Birthday, Best Wishes, Blank
Cards and Notelets using Ro's drawings.
Spock and Dracs make sure
they're included in everything!
There's also a selection of gift tags
Cards made by scanning images of stencilled
into the computer
Small gift boxes with lavender bags
(The items won't be going into the Catsup
shop as the compulsion to continue making them will burn itself
out in due course, so stocks are unlikely to be high enough for
comfort. If you're tempted to buy however, email
me and, whilst stocks last, we'll work something out. As
ever, all profits will go to PDSA.)