The pour the merrier.

I am still pouring porcelain, by tomorrow I’ll be into my second week of it.  I took a photograph of what I’d achieved the day before yesterday

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not very impressive is it?  The moulds waiting to be poured are at the front of the picture, the pourings are in the trays at the back.

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It doesn’t look like a lot of work for a week but it is. At the top of the picture are the horses, which I think I’m going to chuck.  I only remembered, after I had poured all of those, the method by which I’d planned to fasten the head to the rest of the horse, which, cleverly, requires two holes which I cannot make, now the castings have dried out

Making internally jointed, miniature, multi-part porcelain artefacts anyway, is a work of engineering as much as anything.  Although thirty-one years of experience is helpful, I still have to learn how to pour each mould, where the sticking places are, how fast to pour out and how soon I can demould the castings.  The last two are variable, depending on the temperature of the room and the dampness of the mould.  The mould absorbs water from the casting and gets wetter as you work, so the drying time varies.  Pouring in a heatwave is a different experience from pouring in the depths of winter.  In general, once you’ve worked out how to do it, you can only get four pours a day from a mould before it becomes too wet to use and has to dry out overnight.  In the tray at the bottom of the picture you can count three men’s torsos, and all the bits to go with them, which was all that could be done in a day.  I would love to say that I will get three men out of that tray, but with breakages in rubbing down, sometimes caused by thin bits, not apparent from the outside, sometimes caused by the tiredness of the rubber, one man and some spare legs are a more likely outcome. If you are good at counting you will notice that he has two heads.

At the pouring stage I also have to devise stringing hooks.  Here they are

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You can see the rolls of wire, a special type to withstand the heat in the kiln without melting or distorting.  You can see, in the space in the middle, a couple of loops I have made with a pair of pliers in either hand.  Long before I did porcelain, I made jewellery and got quite good, then, at working two-handed with pliers, which is a required skill for the job, that would never occur to anyone looking at a pretty dressed porcelain doll.  Quite a lot of the making is fairly industrial in nature.

There are two rolls of wire in the picture, but I have numerous sizes to use.

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Here you can see the loops for the twelfth scale man in the round jar lid and the loops for a twelfth scale child in the rectangular plastic box.  The twirly ends of the loops are plunged into the just demoulded, damp, feet or hands but the circular parts that carry the stringing elastic protrude and have to fit inside the fired hollow calf or lower arm and move, otherwise he can’t walk off doing a hand jive.

I haven’t even got into the twenty-fourth scale children yet, for which the moulds are awaiting.  I am also having a go at a twenty-fourth scale baby.  I have done one previously but it was visibly jointed with wire which had not been in the kiln, going through holes in the torso and upper limbs.  Now I’m going to see if I can do internal joints, which will require awfully small wire loops, at which point I will be getting into the area of miniature manufacture where unplanned sneezing can cost hours of work.

I actually enjoy this.

I’m a bit strange.

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Not raining, pouring.

Regular readers know exactly what I’m doing.

I’m pouring liquid clay to make dolls, sculptures, ornaments and all the rest of the things I have made for over thirty one years in porcelain.

There’s a lot to pour.  There are fifty four individual moulds to be poured.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA, here they are.

There are not fifty four individual items to come out of them.  Many of the items are made up of several pieces of porcelain, strung together.  The horse, for example, with which I have started because it is the most difficult and most likely to need tweeking, uses seven moulds, though each mould may have multiple pieces of porcelain in it.  One mould is for the lower limbs, four of them, and one for the upper limbs, four of them.  The smallest horse mould is for the ears, I don’t know if I’ve made them big enough.  I have thrown away three heads so far.

The horse is using vast amounts of porcelain slip, which is hard to come by and expensive, because it’s imported.  The brand I use comprises English China Clay dug up, shipped across the pond, enriched with a couple of teaspoons of chemicals that occur naturally in America.  Then vast quantities of tap water are added, the whole thing is mixed and put into gallon jars and then shipped across the pond to dealers who add a lot of money because they have large storage shelves.

The cost of a gallon is enough to make you think diamonds are cheap.  I will later, if any horses go all the way through all the processes, work out how much they should cost, allowing for the cost of the porcelain slip, the cost of firing an electric kiln for several hours, the cost of  wire to make the stringing hooks, stringing resin, manes and tails and a skilled craftsman working for £10 an hour.

If I did it properly I’d add the cost of the show table, transport to the show and the two cups of tea I will drink over the weekend.

Realistically the horses should cost about £150 each but they’re probably going to be £50 or less, depending on what they look like, supposing any get finished.

And you could say the same for many of the Miniatura artisans, who are a load of artists and not good at commercial stuff.  Over the fifteen years or so that I interviewed professional miniaturists for magazines, the only ones making money were importers and  people who had contacts in parts of the world where labour was cheaper than here and making miniatures was considered ladylike work compared to standing up to your knees in a paddy field.

But there are very few of them at Miniatura, which is by and small a hall full of original artists.  If it were in one scale it would be inundated with collectors from round the world.  At one point when it got up to three hundred stands, it was.

Happily the hobby shrunk again, which suits it much better.  There are still shows in very international venues with high prices and many dealers.

And there’s Miniatura, just over 100 stands of things miniaturists need and a load of artists.

And maybe, even a few articulated horses.

We shall see.

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Well, I’ll see first, in a couple of weeks and if they’re any good, I’ll show you.

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Gareth not Gareth.

I’ve been looking after the grandchildren while their parents were away on holiday.  They live in a lovely Edwardian semi with all the original fireplaces, halfway up a mountain in Wales.

Mountain is not an exaggeration.  The first day I crept down it to deliver the children to school but had to stop eight times on the almost vertical way back, for my heart rate to return to nearly normal.  I had stimulating conversations with breathless locals doing the same thing.  By the end of the week I was down to two stops and a lot fitter.

This got me thinking about sport, of which I know little and care less.  However the prevalence of the Euros (which are football matches, you may have known this, you may not have known this) has caused me to invent a game.

I am able to recognise Gareth Southgate, whom I believe to be the manager of the England football team (usually present in the midst of people shouting ‘IN ger LAND, IN ger LAND’ for some reason, though this may be a helpful aide memoire, footballers not being selected for geographical knowledge, at all.)  I can, without a crib sheet, recognise him by his face in most circumstances.  Yesterday I recognised him with his back to the camera, within about three seconds.

I can now identify people on television as ‘Gareth Southgate’ and ‘Not Gareth Southgate’ with great facility.  I have adapted this into a game which you may emulate, at no cost.  If I am able to speak my recognition within a couple of seconds of the man, or some other man, appearing on screen, I award myself a point.  We are now up to the semi finals and I have seven and a half points (he went off screen but I think it was him.)

I am mostly able to distinguish footballers from the rest of humanity.  Footballers are the ones who have paid their hairdressers too much money.

Identification of individual footballers is beyond me.  I might manage one or two if they stood still a bit longer.  There is one called Harry, I think, but that might be a pop star of some sort.

I did  quite a bit of gardening at the grandchildren’s house.  It needed it.  On the return of the parents I was able to warn them of several species of plant obscuring the paths or rooting into the brickwork, their habits, growing season, methods of self propagation, and ideal methods of extermination.

And now, as the rain has stopped temporarily, I shall get out into my own garden and do a bit of weeding, only stopping en route through the lounge to identify Gareth Southgate, or not, depending.  If he is out of mirrors, or in any way having an identity crisis, I’m his me.

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Finished! (for now).

Very occasionally I’m quite pleased with myself.  I was this afternoon, as I washed the kitchen floor having tidied up all the mess engendered by mould making.

It is not dainty.  I wore the same plaster encrusted trousers for a week and shoes which are revolting, because of gravity.  On some other planet you might have to clean the ceiling after a week of mould making, but on this one, when you have done: the sink, the worktops, the bowl, the bowl used for melting plasticene, all the tools, the broken knife, acres of kitchen roll, numerous hand towels, endless scrubbing brushes and all the rest, you clean the floor.

I was so exultant at having finished that I asked Alexa (who I normally never bother, even though she keeps reminding me, pathetically, that my shopping list is empty) to play Canon by Pachelbel and play it loud.  I had it twice, then quite a bit of baroque music and finished with another Canon in D, because that is the hip place for a Canon to be.

What’s it all about (Alfie?)

This

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Blimey!  Moulds as far as the eye can see (as long as the eye can only see as far as the end of the dining table, which would be further if the OH hadn’t cut the end off.)

Yes I am very pleased with  myself.

Will they all work?

Let’s not spoil it.  Let’s leave them for a fortnight and then, when they are drier than the Sahara (with touches of Vaseline) let’s have a pour and see what happens.  I might not be so pleased with myself then, but for now

p

  p

     p

        p                      p

           p            p

                d

etc.

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Nearly done.

Or, nearly done in.  Difficult to say which.

I think I’ve been standing in the kitchen for a week, my fingernails have been bent backwards and filled with bits of plaster so often, my hands would like to run away.

The dining table is covered in moulds.  It’s a big dining table, (though not as big as it was before the OH cut the end off.)

So far there’s been one disaster.  The Roman dolls’ doll was doing OK, I had done the first half of the mould, was all ready to pour when lo! Half a leg turned up missing.  It was there a moment ago.  I did search with my plaster going off rapidly.  The half limb, all three millimetres of it had gone through the vortex and was now in residence on planet IHADITAMINUTEAGO together with millions of odd socks, a cliff of credit cards, the broken dunked biscuit lake, Mount Contact Lens and the Flooredida Keys.

I had to make one out of plasticene in a rush, so that doll may not see the light of light.

But last night, pointing someone in the direction of the Dementia Diaries, I started reading this blog at eleven and carried on until two.  I was reading the bit where I broke my arm, was diagnosed with cancer and all the palaver that followed.  I had forgotten that I had been medically threatened with irradiation and warned that this would cause a list of awful side effects as long as your arm (with or without a long nail and five screws) ending with ‘and lifelong bleeding from the back passage.’

And a doctor said this to someone who had been the proxy to my mother’s Munchausen’s by proxy.  No wonder I refused the treatment.

As it is the longest day, in another half a year and a couple of months, I’ll find out if I have survived cancer by five years without the extra bits.  If all that they threatened me with, is what poor Kate, Princess of Wales, has gone through recently, no wonder she looks shattered.

But, and I may be a bit premature in saying this, how much better I am now.  Four and a half years ago there is no way I could have stood in the kitchen for a week.  Two years ago in July, after the major abdominal surgery, I couldn’t even sit in a chair for long.

All we ever have is today.  Today I made more moulds to make more dolls for my collectors and then, because it was still light when I stopped I did a bit of very zen watering of the garden.

Today was a good day.

If you are a regular reader and like to go back over the years or follow a theme on this blog, be cleverer than I was and get a cup of tea first, there are sixteen years of writing to read, which have inadvertently recorded the ups and downs of my life.

The doll moulds are nearly done but the writing not ever, please keep reading (it’s a dying art, you know.)

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Horses for courses.

Having finished the sculpting and modelling I found I have twenty one new things for the one hundredth Miniatura.  That’s a lot for any show

As each item has between one and six two-part moulds to produce the porcelain shape, that’s a lot of moulds.

Today I started on the horse.  Being a twelfth scale horse, as each porcelain item shrinks by about 14% the moulds to mould the correct sizes for shrinkage are huge.  There are six moulds, for the body, the neck, the head, the hollow upper legs, the solid lower legs and the ears. Making the moulds has taken all day and I am stopping now because I am absolutely done in.  The legs proved very difficult, I had to do one half twice as it broke on completion.

Some days I wish I had an apprentice because apprentices clear up at the end of the day.  An apprentice would pick all the plaster out of the Lego bricks, an apprentice would lift the unheftable bucket of plaster, an apprentice would have to clean the plaster out of his fingernails and then wash the floor at the end of the day.

Sadly I do not have an apprentice.

All day I have been thinking about the horses belonging to the terracotta warriors.  They are life size.  The official website shows the warrior parts being made from moulds in the way you’d expect, a mould for each leg and so on and then details carved in the leather hard demoulded clay and parts stuck together with clay slip.

Terracotta shrinks too, when fired.  The moulds to make life size horses must have been absolutely immense.  They were all hand made over the course of forty years, just over two thousand years ago.

How did they do it?

Over 700,000 workers did it and I bet a lot of them were apprentices.  If you had spent most of your working life picking the plaster out of your fingernails, I bet you got very good at it very quickly so you could progress to the master caster job and direct operations, on a better pay scale.

If they were paid at all.

Blimey, I wouldn’t do this for a handful of rice.

I would only do it for the one hundredth Miniatura (and I don’t even know if it will work yet, because everything I know about horses could be written on a postage stamp.)

How nee ma and whoa dobbin.

Early to hit the hay for me.

Brrrrogh!  Neeeee!  Clip clop.

(Don’t worry, I’ll be back to normal tomorrow doing a doll.)

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Having it off.

It all depends what you are having off and you may make your own joke here… and here.

I’m having the day off.

I’ve been sculpting for a good two weeks.  The thing about arty stuff is you do get better with practice and that applies to every session.  Almost certainly by the time you are ready to pack up after several days, you are just getting good at it.  The blade is turning nicely, the water colours are going swimmingly, the sewing machine is performing and then, when you’ve worked your way on to the last six inches of the dining table, inspiration strikes.

I think probably the time previously is warming up time.

After a fortnight you’d think I was warmed through, but, getting picky in my old age, I find another doll hiding in my head that just needs to pop out through my fingers.

Plus, of course the next show is the 100th Miniatura and I feel the need to celebrate with lots of new ness. And, of course, I had only had the idea for a couple of dolls’ dolls but once I got started there were so many ideas. I foolishly researched dolls in history in various places and found many that I would like myself.  I always think if you want something the best idea is to make it, so I have begun, whether the strangeness of some ancient dolls will translate well to porcelain, I may be about to find out.

I could have just done a couple of ideas and perfected them but if I did, I wouldn’t be me.

I am getting pickier as I go, so there are ten pieces of sculpture heading for the bin, except that two of them are very nice thighs, so I might make the rest of the doll to go with them.

But not today, apart from a bit of gardening I’m having the day off. I’m not even going to do a blog.

www.miniatura.co.uk

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More dolls.

It’s been a busy week, for a sculptor.

I have an excellent forgettory.  I forget, in between doing it, how tricky modelling and sculpting for dolls can be.  I think, as I age, that I get much pickier.  A shape that I would have been very happy to produce ten years ago is no longer satisfactory.  I am wrestling currently with a partial horse.  I did do a unicorn some years ago but no longer find it satisfactory or big enough, I don’t like the joints, the range of movement is not realistic and it will be in the bargain box come the autumn.

I have got all the parts for my new twelfth scale man ready to mould.  There’s also a new 24th scale articulated lady, which is a portrait doll.  There’s a new twelfth scale child and plenty of dolls’ dolls.

The dolls’ dolls have been very interesting.  So far there are two Bartholomew babies, a jointed early Roman doll, a Hellenistic doll, a matryoshka, a thirties doll and a frozen Charlotte. 

The Frozen Charlottes were one-piece porcelain dolls, popular in the Victorian era as dolls’ house residents and dolls in their own right.  They were usually glazed white or skin tone porcelain with moulded hair and china painted facial features.  To get the doll in the right attitude has proved tricky.  The old dolls have arms that are bent at the elbow but the upper arm is held close to the body.  I’d like to offer all my dolls’ dolls undressed and dressed; getting the arms in a realistic attitude but dressable has been quite tricky.  Some of the Victorian dolls have tiny feet in painted boots but there is no way they would stand up.  Tiny feet were a Victorian virtue.  I do often think I am physically a throwback, I have sloping shoulders, a waist, a substantial bust, weeny feet and straight dark hair.  I’m probably the nearest thing you’re going to get to Queen Victoria without the later  sour expression and the antimacassar draped on my head.

The story of poor frozen Charlotte was that she was invited to go on a sleigh ride but was so proud of her pretty dress she refused to put a shawl on and arrived at her destination frozen solid.

It was probably the precursor of everything your mother told you before you went out:  to make sure you were wearing clean underwear (in case you got run over) to put your coat on for going out but take it off in the house (other wise you wouldn’t feel the benefit) and make sure your shoes were shiny (because this was the era before upskirting, though the advice about the underwear still holds good, obviously.)

I think there are a few more dolls’ dolls to do.  There is also a shoulder head, which I am thinking of as a kit, which would make a twenty-fourth resident.  I’ve had a request for twenty-fourth children and babies which will be included.

If there is anything you fancy and you are coming to the show please let me know before next weekend.

In the last autumn show I had a request for blokes in a garage.  I have done some of them and also made a garage box for them to live in until they get rehomed.  There will be more men when I get to the dressing phase but for now

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all together…Grease is a word, have you heard…?

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Dolls’ dolls and dolls’ dolls’ dolls (and some dolls.)

In the last week I finally cleared the decks and got busy sculpting some dolls.  Sculpting is accurate as a term, also modelling.  All the masters from which I make the moulds are made in Milliput.  If you watch the Repair Shop on the BBC you will see ceramics restorer, Kirsten, making good, by filling losses in ceramic artefacts, sometimes with a two part epoxy putty.  This is Milliput.  On its own it has been used as a modelling compound for all sorts of modelling and repairs since 1968, you can read all about it at www.milliput.com .  You can model with Milliput, as you would with any mouldable compound, once it sets, rock hard in about four hours, you can then sculpt with it as you would a block of concrete or limestone.  The two actions, combined, give the opportunity to refine your original shapes.  In my case, when making the small articulated dolls, which are fourteen parts of porcelain which have to interact, revolving and moving round each other as joints, the ability to refine my original models to make smooth movement and ensure the joints hang together and the dolls does not come unstrung, is essential.

I have modelled a new twelfth scale man and most of a twelfth scale child, the parts for my Christmas card and some dolls’ dolls.

I always have a book on my show table in which visitors who would like me to have a go at an idea they’ve had, are encouraged to write the idea.  I have a good list this time, top of which is Tudor dolls’ dolls.

We certainly know that dolls and dolls’ houses have been around for thousands of years because we have the evidence.  If you ask your search engine for images of an ancient Roman doll, you will find plenty of examples that were buried with their owners, or surrendered as offerings to the gods upon marriage. They are made of wood or ivory, beautifully carved with very Roman hairstyles.  In the Ashmolean museum there are many examples of miniature peopled buildings made by expert ancient Egyptian model makers for the Pharaoh to take with him into the afterlife.  I think the Egyptian modellers, working in the villages that serviced the dead had got the most pleasant job.  I easily conjure them as ancient nerds, shouting ‘Hang on a minute, I’ve just got to paint this man’s eyebrows!’ to a departing funeral procession, though that may have much to do with days gone by with the S&H up at one end of the dining table with metal miniatures and me at the other end with a dolls’ house.

There were also ivory, bone and terracotta ancient Greek dolls, also with modelled complex hairstyles and paddle dolls, which, as the name suggests, were flat paddle shapes with a head, which are attributed to the middle Kingdom period of ancient Egypt.

There have, of course, also been rag dolls throughout history, most of which did not survive.  I had a rag doll, known as ‘blue doll’.  My grandfather made it to comfort the crying baby that I was, by rolling up a blanket and handing it to me with the words ‘Here’s a blue doll for you, now you can stop crying.’  I am quite sure something similar will have happened  as long as there have been adults who could not stand the sound of a crying baby and babies who were comforted by the doll made of whatever came to hand.

The Tudor dolls were not known as dolls but as Bartholomew babies.  They were turned wooden shapes sold at Bartholomew Fair in London.  Any fan of Tudor architecture or furniture knows of the facility that Tudor workmen had with turning.  At a time when much of England was still forested, pole lathes were very popular.  To make one of these, you dug a pit in the forest next to a nice springy sapling.  You then felled a tree that would lie across the pit with the ends supported, tied a bit of rope to one of the branches and the other end to the top of the sapling.  You wind the tree up and get your chisels on it as the sapling springs back, revolving the tree for you.  This is the basic principle of wood turning, the tree turns and you carve it by putting a cutting blade on it as it turns, making a smooth pole. Tudor carvers were lathe virtuosi, making many furniture parts from elaborate turnings.  Bed posts, for four posters, table legs, chair backs and legs, triangular chairs for Elizabethan ladies to perch on in huge farthingales and every other thing you could imagine from carved wood.

The Bartholomew babies were the left-over turned branches.  They had heads, shoulders and waists but not usually feet.  They were dressed in typical Tudor fashions and are depicted in various paintings of Tudor families, clutched by little girls.  Boys had hobby horses, cups and balls and no doubt, little bags or boxes full of treasures such as funny shaped pebbles, carved dice and what we, as children in the North East used to call ‘Chucks and Handies’ but which were known to Roman children as knucklebones.

Bartholomew babies, according to museum records, did not have arms.  However some of the paintings definitely show dolls with their hands clasped, it is likely that arms could be made by threading a suitable material through holes in the torso.  Tudor clothing, pre buttons, was tied on.  Sleeves were tied on under the shoulder frills known as Piccadills, which were sold in the area of London now known as Piccadilly.  In a time pre-deodorant, replaceable sleeves must have been an airy blessing; if you visit as many costume museums as I did in the early days of doll dressing, you will be very familiar with garments rotted at the under arms.  Strings of various materials were finished at the ends with metal tags called aiglets, unless they were made of an unravelling substance, such a leather.

So my Bartholomew Babies will be made of porcelain but will have threaded arms.  I have also modelled a nineteen thirties style dolls’ doll and a shoulder head doll, typical in Victorian times, which may or may not be a kit.  If you fancy having a go at a doll kit, please get in touch in the usual way.  It might be suitable to be a twenty fourth scale person but I might shrink it if anyone is keen.  It might just be a small doll for anyone wanting to have a go at making a Victorian type doll.

I also have, ready to shrink, a Seventeenth century prototype. I was obsessed with the seventeenth century for so long I had dolls of the era, which were originally carved wood, to live in my houses as residents.  I did offer them years ago but no one was keen, so the time has come to shrink them down to dolls’ dolls as see what anyone else thinks.

The one hundredth Miniatura is the place to see all these dolls’ dolls and the dolls that are usually there and the new dolls. Whatever else there is, there will be dolls (I will make them and bring them!)

www.miniatura.co.uk

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Back to round the bend.

We are all here to learn, some days I think I inadvertently picked the advanced course.  Of course, if you pick the easy course, the one with a perfect partner, two point five perfect children, a mortgage-free cottage with roses round the door and a fulfilling, well-paid, extremely pleasant job, surrendered in the fullness of time for the happy hobbies that can be enjoyed by the strong and healthy elderly, well, you’re not going to learn anything.  Sure you’ll be happy but who wants to be happy when you can instead learn about life the hard way?

There’s been a lot of pain in my life, which reached a crescendo mid week when I realised I couldn’t actually do anything.  Paralysed with pain with my mind going in circles, I just called a halt to everything to assess exactly what was going on.

Several things at once.  Simultaneously two things that would have been wonderful had the plug pulled at the last minute.  I should have been on holiday in Florence, right now I should have been coming back.  The DIL had arranged it for us, her mother, them and the children some months ago.  However when we met in late March, her mother, who had been in and out of hospital could not get travel insurance.  She is very poorly, waiting for a kidney transplant from her daughter who was very light-blue-touchpaper-and-retire about it.  To get the money back on the accommodation the decision had to be made.  I was very conscious that the S&H had thought of the holiday for his mother who has not had a holiday since 2008 and will not go away with her husband who is inclined to drink problems away.  Twenty five years ago on the silver wedding holiday he left me in the middle of the road with the suitcases because he suddenly needed a strong coffee.  Matters have not improved, he has twice been on holiday alone with a singles group, each has featured embarrassment or just avoided litigation, in a way that made me glad I was not there.

It’s just as well we weren’t away, the OH has started having diarrhoea very regularly.  It is my personal opinion that his liver has finally started breaking down.

But the real problems were when I realised that worry about all of this was making me ill. Another setback or two to plans added to it until I couldn’t sleep, work or do anything but watch my mind run in circles and my intestines seize up.

Even an hour on the exercise bike or a day in the garden was not helping.  Even the flipping horoscopes were eager to tell me that Jupiter the great benefic had left my sign and moved on to bestow blessings elsewhere.

So I stopped running and went to get help.

It’s a hard thing to do for the generation that thinks the snowflake generation ought to get over themselves and all the talk about looking after your mental health is just enough hot air to dry the dirty washing.

I went back to Al-Anon family groups.  This organisation is a help centre for anyone with a family member affected by mind-altering substances, whether alcohol or anything else.  There will be a meeting near you that you can find with a search engine.  The ethos in a nutshell is to detach from the alcoholic with love and look after yourself.

I realised that through the years of caring for my demented mother, who was so difficult probably because she was the daughter of an alcoholic, my mind was so completely taken over by her disease that I had been able to shelve problems generated by the other people in my life.  Then I was so ill myself that I had to focus on myself.

In one way the fact that I am able to take a long look at sick people in my life who are not me, might be proof that I am getting physically better.

There is always someone worse off than you, if you are a miniaturist you probably know several of them.  Wheel chair users are always given a head start at the opening of the show, miniaturists with windmills in their mind just have to hobble in when it’s their turn.

You can, of course, always miniaturise when reality, otherwise known as one-scale, gets a bit much.

But sometimes even a bit much gets to be so much you can’t remember what to do about it.

One of the good things about the Internet, is that there will be an online group for whatever ails you.  A trouble shared is a trouble halved and all that.

If you actually find a group to attend in person, you will find people much better off with less to complain about than you and people very much worse off not complaining very much at all.

And some will, additionally, have worse fashion sense than you and, if you are lucky, awful hairstyles too.  These will get you through the door into the room no matter how low your self-esteem. Some may have a face like the back of a bus, or even really bad shoes.  On the evening in question the one with the bad shoes was me, still wearing sandals and socks.  I’m a sculptor, I can do that if I want.

At the very least you can remind yourself that you have classmates.  You are not alone in having picked the life with three A star difficulty. The real and most important trick is to do the course work without losing yourself.  The aim is to go through the course, learning as you go and emerge at the other end not twisted and embittered but wiser.

Which is better: thick as two short planks with roses round the door, or the wiser, advanced version of yourself?

You 2.0 with upgrades, more plug-ins, faster operating speed, extra added value.  In a word Improved.

We are here to learn.

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