Bath Upchuck 2011

Bath Upchuck

Bath Upchuck

The Bath Upchuck is an annual one day circus convention organised by Bath University’s juggling club Gravity Vomit and is almost upon us, next Saturday 25th February 2017. It is held in the university’s large sports hall, which provides a great space to practise. Naturally the high ceiling provides jugglers with perfect opportunity to perfect their siteswaps with larger numbers of clubs, balls or rings.  There is also plenty of room for hoopers, poi and staff spinners too.

The event is split into a day session that is reserved for general practise, workshops and socialising with others who have a common interest.  And of course, like any good circus meet up the day ends with the much loved games, such as gladiators and endurance. Whereas the evening is a real treat with the nighttime  performances.  Top performers in their field showcase their acts.  This must be a daunting prospect for the performers because they are showing their skills to people who understand the techniques and theory behind them.

Our First Upchuck

So this was us in 2011, enjoying our first Bath Upchuck experience, with our local circus group The Boscombe Spinners.

Circus Conventions

I would thoroughly recommend to anyone who has not experienced a circus convention to give it a go. Vaudeville Hippie has enjoyed being a part of the circus community for several years now and many of our friends are through our shared love of practising object manipulation.

Vaudeville Hippie at Southern Lights Circus Festival 2010

Southern Lights Festival 2010

We have been to several gatherings of circus skills enthusiasts and  I must say that they are the friendliest events I have ever experienced.  Southern Lights Festival, that ran from 2007-2011  in Dorset, was an excellent example of this.  This is because conventions and festivals provide a space for experienced professionals and newcomers to practise side by and share ideas about the props and tricks they feel most passionate about. Or simply to pick up tips and advice about the technical issues they are struggling with. The sharing continues through the many workshops that are on offer at these events and nothing beats the thrill and satisfaction of learning a new trick.

One Big Family

It only takes a couple of visits to these circus events before you realise it is made up of a close knit community people. After a while faces become familiar from one festival to the next convention. We made friends with the people we camped next to at our first Play Festival and the following year camped next to them again and continued the fun where we left off from the previous year.

Vaudeville Hippie at Play Circus Festival

Play Festival 2013

The evening shows and end games really help to consolidate this family feel with friendly banter using well known circus heckles, but also admiration and support for the performances.

So this year why not get yourself a set of juggling balls, poi or hula hoop and join in the fun!


Bath Upchuck 2017

Play Festival 2017

British Juggling Convention 2017

European Juggling Convention 2017

VaudevilleHippie Etsy Shop


#30dayjournal - Day 27

#30dayjournal Challenge Week 4

I finally completed the #30dayjournal Challenge set by Lisa Sonora.  And although I didn’t quite manage to journal everyday, I still found this process enjoyable and hugely beneficial to my artistic practise.  I have rediscovered some of the ideas and techniques I used to play around with on my textiles degree (oh so many years ago now!) and I feel that I have most certainly reconnected with a type of art that I used to create and feel most at home producing.

30dayjournal - Day 22

#30dayjournal – Day 22: ‘Love the Moment (Right Now)

#30dayjournal - Day 23

#30dayjournal – Day 23: Accessing Your Genius

#30dayjournal - Day 24

#30dayjournal – Day 24: Is Your Life shrinking or Expanding?

#30dayjournal - Day 25

#30dayjournal – Day 25: Dare to be Powerful

#30dayjournal - Day 26

#30dayjournal – Day 26: Focus on What Excites You

#30dayjournal - Day 27

#30dayjournal – Day 27: Make Your Own Mantra

#30dayjournal - Day 28

#30dayjournal – Day 28: Warrior Training: Focus to See the Light

#30dayjournal - Day 29

#30dayjournal – Day 29: Passing the Torch

#30dayjournal - Day 30

#30dayjournal – Day 30: Remember How the Sun Does it

Upcycled Crochet

Sunny Day Crochet

We were walking through Bournemouth Upper Gardens today and happened to walk past a lady sitting on a bench doing a bit of sunny day crochet.  However, as we got nearer I realised this was crochet with a difference because she was using strips of cut up carrier bags instead of wool.

I have only ever dabbled with crochet a couple of times, which was quite a few years ago, so I am not really up to speed with contemporary crochet practice and therefore I have never seen this before.

Recycled Crochet

Out of interest, I did a quick google search for ‘recycled carrier bags crochet‘ and it turns out that this quite a popular idea.  With the rise of eco design and the trend of up-cycling I am not surprised, but really pleased that crafters and makers have shown that the issue of surplus plastic carrier bags can be re-used in a purposeful and creative way.

Reducing Plastic

Recently Steve and I made a decision to try and reduce some of the plastic in our home.  Now there is a big debate about this and surprisingly, research suggests that plastic production has a lower carbon footprint than paper and card.  Our reason for reducing plastic is the simple fact that some parts of our oceans have become areas of a ‘plastic soup‘ meaning that tiny particles of plastic are being mistaken for plankton by marine life who consume this, which is likely to enter the food chain.

After looking at a few ideas on Pinterest I am now keen to give this a go.  Lets hope this trend continues as designers and makers continue to lead the way in repurposing materials that would otherwise end up in landfill sites to create the very best in contemporary eco design.

Useful links:

organising my craft room

Organising My Craft Room

“This is the place of creative incubation. At first, you may find nothing happens there. But, if you have a sacred place and use it, take advantage of it, something will happen”. (Joseph Campbell)

My Craft Room

The challenge is on this summer to organise my craft room.  As you can see it is a small space approximately 3m x 3m so it only takes one or two craft sessions before chaos descends, and I am rather ashamed that I have let it get to this stage.  Not a fit for purpose space at all!

my craft room

Space and storage

Since starting making my cloth dolls the time has come to take action.  Fortunately constructing the dolls does not require a lot of space.  However, the frustration sets in when I have to hunt for a particular tool that has become buried or that perfect piece of fabric for one of my cloth doll’s clothing.

My disorganised craft desk space

Despite having a lot of shelves, storage is still a problem.  Like a magpie, I hold onto everything that may potentially become useful and I should really just be brutal one day and simply get rid of those items  that are very unlikely to ever be used in a craft project.

My disorganised craft shelves


Despite my best efforts to group the tools and equipment I need, the organisation has fallen apart.  This is purely because I start a project and stop mid way with the intention to continue, lets say after dinner, but then its several days or weeks before I return.  During the organising process I will have to train myself to tidy as I go.

My disorganised craft resources

Craft Room Style and decor

The inspiration behind giving my craft room a complete overhaul has come from reading the beautifully produced ‘Craft, Sell & Show’ by Torie Jayne.

Craft, Show & Sell by Torie Jayne

The very first chapter introduces the idea of creating a workspace that reflects your personal style, which in the long run with help to establish your craft brand and creating a visual style and cohesion to everything you do.  This chapter then leads nicely into the second chapter, which gives practical ideas in how to explore and create a handmade craft brand.

Torie’s Pinterest board and Facebook page gives you s sneak peak into her tips and advice.  However, the book shares imagery of several makers gorgeous spaces and is well worth a look.

in conclusion

As you can see, my craft room is very much lacking any clear visual cohesion and lets face it, is a cluttered mess!  Since reading Torie’s chapter I have created a couple of Pinterest boards to get me started.  My first idea was to look at Vaudeville inspired interiors and then I widen my criteria to include my theme and chosen name of vaudeville hippie and what this means to me.  Craftseller magazine have also produced a crafty spaces board containing really inspirational craft room ideas.

I am excited, yet a little bit daunted by this process and look forward to sharing my craft room make over as it happens.  I would love to hear about your creative spaces and how they have developed and transformed over time.

2015 The Year of Transformations


January seemed to come and go without even noticing and as we are stepped well and truly into February I have taken an opportunity to reflect how the first month and a half of 2015 has gone compared to how I imagined it.

Now I am not one for massively making resolutions, however, at the turn of the new year Steve and I really got into yoga and started a 30 day challenge set by Adriene on YouTube. Sadly, once I returned to work after the Christmas period, life got in the way and I only managed a couple of weeks. But I will return to it, because I would be crazy not to.

Whilst practising yoga on daily basis, I noticed an increased level of motivation to return to my art and craft (as an art teacher I am normally so worn out nurturing other people’s creativity, that I have nothing left for myself!).  Yoga is beneficial for both mind and body and I think you have to maintain a regular practise to really feel the long term benefits because I could also feel changes happening on the inside.  On several occasions I envisaged myself transforming and therefore I decided that 2015 would be the year of personal transformation.  Yoga to transform the mind (and hopefully tone up the body) and a new lease of life when comes to creating my own work.

Despite easing off the yoga, which was definitely doing me good on so many levels.  I have maintained enthusiasm to work on my own creative projects.  For a long time, I thought that designing and making various bags was the one thing that I wanted to peruse and sell at craft stalls and online.  This notion has drastically changed since buying a couple of books about making cloth OOAK dolls with some Christmas money I had.

I plan to blog about the process I have gone through so far.  But I am addicted and have thoroughly enjoyed what I have created so far.  Making these dolls has already got me thinking about how I can develop them into my own style using drawings I have created over the last couple of years.

So thank you yoga and here’s to the year of transformation!

I would love to hear about any transformations you have experienced.

The Journey of Discovery: From Hoop Dance to Rockabilly

This week I have been working our blog, tweaking the pages, links and about page. I was trying to summarise what it is that truly inspires us here at Vaudeville Hippie.

This got me thinking about how I have discovered different styles and genres by pursuing random tangents. I realised this is a little bit like the six degrees of separation (from a creative inspiration perspective) and thought it was worth while exploring in my next post.

Hoop Dance

Ok, so I have previously mentioned that the discovery of hoop dance became a massive turning point in my life. This image dates back to 2008 when I first discovered the joy and addiction of hula hooping.  It is also the first hoop I ever made.

From Hoop Dance to Rockabilly (The Journey of a Tangent!)

My first ever hoop

Hooping has led me to discover so many other sub genres and this post aims to track the meandering tangents I have followed over the last five years, which has now culminated into the creation of Vaudeville Hippie.

Hoop Dance Aesthetic

Like many newbie hoopers I became obsessed with all things hoop related from learning tricks, making hoops, visiting forums and the hoop dance style that seemed to be emerging. At the time I would not have known how to describe this style but now I would say that the hoopers fused styles from cyberpunk, tribal fusion belly dance and hippie faerie festival wear, amongst other influences. This is probably most notable in ‘The Good Vibe Hoop Tribe’s‘ video, which is the first hoop dance video I fell in love with, despite the low quality I still enjoy watching this from time to time.

I kept watching these hoop videos on YouTube, which left me desperately trying to find information about this style and in particular a style of trousers that many of the hoopers were wearing.


Melodia style tribal fusion belly dance pants

After a lot of searching on google images, and even eBay using terms like ‘hoop trousers’ or ‘split flared trousers’ I discovered that this style of trouser originated from tribal fusion belly dance and they are called Melodia Pants.  This style is also worn for yoga.

Tribal Fusion Belly Dance


Belly dance performance at Play Festival 2013 wearing a more cabaret style costume

Up until this point I was only aware of Cabaret Belly Dance so the discovery of Tribal Fusion was really exciting. I became interested with this style of belly dance, not just for it’s aesthetic but also for new ways of moving with the hoop. There are differences in dance moves and technique too.  When compared with each other, visually they are very different.  Tribal Fusion and Gothic Belly Dance  are much darker in colour using heavier fabrics and embellishment.  Whilst reading up on the Tribal Fusion style the phrases ‘earthy’ and ‘grounded’ kept cropping up and it took me a while to fully understand what that actually meant.



Illustration inspired by the East Coast Tribal DVD cover

During my quest for comprehensive belly dance instructional DVD I came across the World Dance New York series who specialise in all genres of belly dance, as well as other forms of dance. Here I discovered Sera Solstice and her East Coast Tribal Belly Dance DVD.

Rachel Brice Portrait

Drawn Portrait of Rachel Brice

I must admit that for a time I became a little bit obsessed with belly dance and felt compelled to dig a little further, which led me to the discovery of Rachel Brice.  I love Rachel’s style, she has collected and combined a range of accessories from around the world, which has allowed her to achieve her unique tribal fusion costume style.  I later discovered that Rachel also dresses and dances in a vaudeville style.

Tribal Fusion Belly Dance Screen Printed Tote Bag

Vaudeville Hippie Tribal Fusion Belly Dance Screen Printed Tote Bag

Pin Up and Rockabilly

I loved the diverse selection that World Dance New York  had to offer, and as a subscriber to their YouTube channel I was instantly intrigued by the release of their ‘How to be a Pin Up Model’ DVD.

Although I was aware of the ‘vintage look’ it had never occurred to me to explore the style visually.  I love the elegance, but also the bright red hair and lips.  Whilst delving into the world of pin up I stumbled across rockabilly.


A modern take on Pin Up/Rockabilly shoes

The styles are similar in terms of hair, make-up and choice of 1950s fashion, however pin up is more glamourous ad more focused on modelling whereas rockabilly grew out of a style of music and has a bit more attitude with the girls having tattoos and piercings.

So there you have it, my creative journey from hoop dance to rockabilly.

What interesting tangents have you recently followed?



So today I am going to focus on a page I read today from Dennis Cardiff’s blog ‘Gotta Find a Home’ titled ‘How it all Began‘.  This is not really related to the overall theme of my blog, but it struck such a chord, I chose to write a post about it for this task.

Dennis describes how on a very cold, uninspiring walk to work one morning he noticed a homeless woman sitting in the cold and snow.  Despite the cold, he was struck by her smile and drew upon a time in his own life where money was tight and prospect were bad.  At this point Dennis did something different.  Rather than walking past with the stereotypical mindset that homeless people spend any begging money on alcohol he offered to buy her breakfast.  Naturally the woman took Dennis up on his offer.

The story does not end here and this is what I particularly liked.  Dennis repeated this every day, so that a couple of years down the line he is still offering the lady breakfast and a friendship how grown out of what is otherwise less than fortunate circumstance.

By reading this post it has reminded me of the times I have walked past a homeless person, but not really sure what to do to help.  I have sometimes thought about offering food, but have not had the courage to see it through, which sounds so silly because if it was me in that situation I would appreciate being noticed.  This act of kindness has inspired me to think again about how we view homelessness.

Without wanting to sound too cliched we get so caught up in our own day to day circumstances that we forget that other people deserve a bit of kindness in their lives, if anything to give a little bit of hope.  I am sure there are other people out there like Dennis supporting people through difficult times, it just got me thinking the effect it could have if more of us took a moment out of our busy day to help someone out.

Dennis says ‘I can’t do much for these people except to show them love, compassion, an ear to listen, perhaps a breakfast sandwich and a coffee. I would like to do more. To know them is to love them. What has been seen cannot be unseen. I have started to write an account of their daily lives. I intend to turn this into a book and have it published. That is my goal.’  I think he is doing a great job.  If you get a moment to check out the rest of his blog please do and help spread the word.


I must admit, I was beginning to struggle with this one.  After two days back at work with full teaching days on both I am starting to have what has been described before as a ‘brain fart’.  I am not very good at being put on the spot at the best of times so when I read that today’s task was to upload a ‘new element’ like an image or video my mind did its usual thing of going blank straight away.

After an uninspiring trawl through my iPhoto collection I decided to head over to Youtube where I was initially going to look back through some of my old hooping videos for inspiration.

Then I had a brainwave!  I suddenly remembered my drive to work this morning.  Now it has probably not escaped your attention that we are experiencing some dire weather here in the UK at the moment.  And for the second day running, at about the same time and point in my journey, Christchurch, the town I work in, has been hit by the most torrential downpour I think I have ever been in.  So there I was in pouring rain, stuck in traffic whilst listening to The Doors ‘L.A. Woman’ album not going very far because up ahead the town’s main roundabout was blocked with traffic.  I could only conclude that must have been an accident somewhere else causing the traffic to back up. This happens a lot.

Now prior to the heavens opening and becoming stuck in traffic, I had been up until that point happily driving along the coast road from Bournemouth, through Southbourne as I do every morning.   Now I must add here that I am not really a Doors fan, however, when their song ‘Riders on the Storm’ came on it just seemed so appropriate for the mood of my journey this morning.

The song also gave me a little bit of a nostalgic moment because it reminded me a of holiday I had with my mum, auntie and cousins one summer holiday.  We ere travelling up to see my grandparents in Sunderland.  My Auntie and cousins loved this song and I just remember it being in played in the car quite a lot and seemingly cruising around town in their old Rover on a hot sunny day with the windows down and the breeze coming in.  I had not thought about holiday for ages but it  put a smile on my face because this song always reminds me of that particular moment in time.  It was also my first introduction to The Doors.

I am sure ‘Riders on the Storm’ means many different things to many different people.  I would love to hear what you connection with the song is.

So here it is, The Doors with ‘Riders on the Storm’ accompanied by a video compilation by Youtube user Zaradur.