Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Massive Thanks (Cushion) to (the delightful) Tom Rosenthal


meaning 'thank you' in Bulgarian. It's the name of the divine Tom Rosenthal's show from Edinburgh last year and presumably some more in 2014...? Anyway  I saw a pre-Edinburgh version of it. He was really funny - I laughed a lot and you should take the chance to see him if you get it. I did get distracted by shoes so neat that I wondered if he hovered about without ever touching the floor, his distractingly, amazing, envy-inducing perfect teeth, oh also there was some interaction which left both of us feeling weird and guilty for the other - and there was a hug. I'm not going into more detail - I was mortified.

Not long afterwards I made I made a massive 'Thanks' cushion. He asked me to. I didn't just take it upon myself. I mean I loved Plebs and Friday night dinner but I'm not a nutcase.  I am fairly certain that this was Tom finding a way to do something nice for me after the awkwardness of the gig thing. I was certainly chuffed to be commissioned with it but I took this also as a penitential opportunity. Foisting sewn goods, food and drink are the kindnesses I choose in place of awkward conversations ordinarily anyway!

Now this was in the heatwave of the summer and I know a lot of time has passed but meh... I've been studying and making! 

I did ask for a scribbled sketch of it - and that's this
We went into more detail than this but the basic specifications were
'... Am looking for the Bulgarian flag with the title stitched into it in yellow / gold (the title is in Cyrillic).'
Sure - I thought - I can do that. How hard can it be?

'Is it possible to maybe have a golden border to make it feel a little ornate? I dunno, whatever you think will look best'
So then - cushion piping.
Right so... best relinquish my objection to piping - and learn how to do it... or find some truly gigantic ric rac!

'Also, the bigger the better! It will be on stage and would be great if it was legible to all.'
That's going to be a damned big cushion.

I asked for a scribbled drawing and then worked up the scale and such from there. I created strips of each colour for both flags - that is in Bulgarian on the front and English on the back. I attached the letters on, pieced it together, created piping... melted under it - got up super early to start when the light was good but the heat was low...

 I also hand couched (embroidery stitch anchoring yarn laid on the surface) DMC floss all the way around each letter to make it totally lovely, tactile and make it feel more luxurious or 'ornate' - then tidied it up.

Perfectionist? Me?

Things I learned from this project:

1) When it comes to appliqueing lettering - bondaweb is the only way.

2) Tracing of lettering from print onto bondaweb/ fabric (without a lightbox) involves standing up against the window and
 a) looking as though you're being held captive and are making a plea for rescue - especially when using non English words and/ or characters.
 b) melting in the heat like an ant under a magnifying glass (if you choose to do this in the peak of summer).

3) Couching big floss around the edges of flat letters/ images really makes them pop.

4) Factor in for the misery of ironing in a heatwave. Do any ironing very early in the morning.

5) In a heatwave my computer will refuse to work, much in the way I'd like to when it's sweltering. It will burn my wrists if I come to close to using it. This makes the promise to send photographs feel like a curse.

6) I need a proper foot to enable me to do piping by machine, since I will choose hours of aching hand sewing over the chance of it not being quite right.

7) Explain dimensions as early on as possible in a project, with metric and imperial and a comparison object. Not everyone understands either or both systems.

8) Interacting with comedians is not always mortifying... though I should probably learn to keep my big mouth shut, learn to stop my face from showing what I'm thinking all the time, and oh yes - NEVER SIT AT THE FRONT OF A COMEDY GIG... sometimes good things come out of it.

9) Tom Rosenthal is proper lovely.

10) Loving the challenge of this project was one of the things that forced my decision to quit the day jobs and go to study Art & Design... and I created a portfolio sheet of this project which also impressed at my university interview!


  1. Fabulous! It's a fantastic work indeed. I visited Bulgaria last year, and I can claim that it's a perfect country to make friends. The people there are so communicative and friendly. They made me laugh every time I was in the shop or at the market:) One of my colleagues from visited his friends this year and he's still staying there:)

  2. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work. heather grey melange yarn