Sunday, September 02, 2007

Stinks and Smells

For the first time in I forget how long, Tinseltroos and I had a whole weekend to ourselves, to do with as we pleased. In order to maximise the pleasure we started yesterday comparatively early by wandering into Soho at about 9.45 for breakfast at Balans, a great cafe/restaurant on Old Compton Street. They do a great blueberry pancake with bacon and maple syrup, a dish I developed a real taste for in New York having sworn to all and sundry beforehand that I thought the idea of mixing bacon and syrup disgusting. Shows how much I know.

After a leisurely breakfast we jumped on a bus to just beyond Buckingham Palace. There, on Elizabeth Street, is a fantastic perfume shop called Les Senteurs. Its stock is amazing, the staff knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. In fact it's one of those places that is a true pleasure to buy things from. Tinseltroos and I both bought a couple of bottles. I needed to replenish my Green Irish Tweed and I was persuaded to buy Parfums d'Empire's "Cuir Ottoman" which I am currently wearing and is making me smell wonderfully leathery and a touch talcum powdery. Look out for a post on this on Tinseltroos' new blog, Smellbound to which I will be the (thus far) only male contributor. We walked back from Mayfair through Covent Garden to pick up the last items we needed for our stencil bleaching experiment. En route I was accosted by one of the staff of the legendary Neal's Yard Dairy who proffered a small piece of Stilton to try. It was sensational and so I was lured by their lactic tractor beam into the shop. It is a well known fact about me that I cannot enter a deli or cheese shop and come out with less than three cheeses. And so it was yesterday. In addition to the Stilton I got a slice of old favourite Montgomery's Cheddar of which I am apparently not the only fan and also a chunk of Cheshire Cheese made in Whitchurch, a village about 5 miles from where I was born. We ate big chunks of these along with English apples and sourdough bread upon our return to Schossadlerflug.

And then the real fun began. As I wrote at the arse end of last week we had planned to do some stencil bleach printing and I'd come up with a Green Man design that I liked and planned to use.

Main Stencil Design

It was however an absolute bastard to cut out and use because of the filigree detail and I was nervous that I'd make a mistake cutting the stencil and ruin it, that the bleach wouldn't resolve the detail very well and that I'd tear the damn thing the first time I lifted it of the fabric. Tinseltroos, being more sensible, opted for simpler designs and she cut three different patterns in the time it took me to swear and grump my way through one. Still I was pretty damn pleased with how it turned out.

Finished Cutting the Main Stencil

And so we got on with the bleaching itself. We made sure every window was open and that we'd covered all the surfaces in bin liner to avoid flat-deposit-voiding accidents and stuck our stencils onto our newly acquired garments. We mixed up some cheap household bleach with water (about 50/50 mostly) and, using a small atomiser, sprayed bleach onto the cloth. Most of our designs had two stencils, one for detail and one for an outer "glow" so once one layer had been done we pulled the first stencil, then dropped the second in place and applied more bleach. We stuck the stencils down with Spraymount which made them a lot trickier to get off the cloth once finished but did mean that we got quite crisp lines on the designs because the bleach didn't bleed under the edges. It was a very magical experience to watch the bleach do its chemistry on the cloth and for the image to appear in its new colour gave me exactly the same thrill that I used to get when I printed my own black and white photographs. Once the bleaching was done we put each item in the tumble drier for a few minutes before really soaking them in the bath.

Washing Our Shirts

As one batch soaked we sprayed the next. Needless to say we got better the more we experimented so my second batch was better than my first. After the last batch had soaked for a while we put the whole lot into the washing machine and gave them a gentle wash on the 30 degree delicates cycle before hanging them up to dry and going to bed. Here's a selection of what we did:

Green Man Shirt 3

Green Man Shirt 2

Tove Jansson's Stinky Vest

Tinseltroos' Octopus Skirt

And here's me wearing one of my creations today:

Me in Green Man Shirt 2

I'm so pleased with how these turned out and it was so much fun to do (apart from the hours of stencil cutting, but that's my own stupid fault for coming up with such a convoluted design).

Today we went round the British Museum and plotted what we are going to put in the fruit crumble we're going to prepare for supper. It's been a perfect weekend and with crumble to round it off it'll end as well as it began.

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Blogger Churlita said...

Those shirts are amazing. You two seem so perfect for each other.

1:38 am  
Blogger Mr Atrocity said...

Thanks Churlita, Tinseltroos and I do seem to be peas from a very similar pod.

5:46 pm  
Blogger Beverly Sutphin said...

Pfff! I'm not from a pod.

I don't know what you're on about.

(Thank you, Churlita!)

3:08 pm  

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