Thursday 31 May 2012

Infostatical Cuff-links

At the Waltz on the Wye event I was able to briefly catch up with Andy as he rushed between ‘here’ and ‘there’. He handed me a little box “here you go, an engagement gift” he said. To my surprise and delight it was a pair of Jarkman’s QR sterling silver cufflinks!

For those not in the know, QR codes were invented in 1994 and unlike regular bar codes the QR code can carry up to several hundred times more data. Apps for scanning codes on smartphones have made QR Codes more common place in recent years making them a fantastic promotional aid. So now thanks to these beauties I can send any owner of a smartphone directly to my home page with a flick of my wrist!  I love these and I thank Andy, Rachel and Jarkman for my wonderful gift. I urge you to check out Jarkman’s web site see the amazing way these were created and order some for yourself. You will not be disappointed!

© Arfon Jones 2012. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Waltz on the Wye 2012: (1of2) The Mechanised Market

A week has passed since our trip to Chepstow and I still haven’t documented my account of it! Let’s set that right shall we?  We have a lot to get through… Right, Having attended last year’s annual Waltz on the Wye weekender, (as I am sure you know by now this is Wales’s No 1 Steampunk/ Neo Victorian festival event). It promised to deliver even more entertainment for its second run and they certainly made good on their promise. However, this year it was (mostly) business not pleasure for Beth and myself as we had a stall at the Mechanised Market! 
 Friday: We made good time arriving in time for the Friday night entertainment Morgan & West, the time travelling Victorian magic act. Like many others I first discovered this duo on ITV’s 'Penn and Teller's 'Fool Us'. (The only Saturday night variety show I might add that I actually enjoy… although I am biased as I like magic and Penn & Teller). What was marvellous about their act was that aside from the fact that they did actually ‘Fool’ Penn & Teller the act was reminiscent of a Victorian conjuring act and I like that as well. A wonderful blend of magic and humour they wowed the audience, they also (albeit unknowingly) made reference to one of the pieces I intended to display the very next day (second blog entry). After the show we managed catch up with some familiar faces, One quick drink later and it was back to the B&B we had an early start in the morning!

Saturday: All the stallholders where let in to the Drill Hall to set up their tables, ready for the Mechanised Market so what did we bring? On the official site I promised “Wonderments and Atrocities” Id like to think I kept true to my word as our table consisted of;

Glow in the Dark Marie Curie Portraits (each one hand drawn, painted and numbered) 
Atomic Tie Pins (Genuine Russian Uranium Mine Tie Pins) 
Cretaceous Cutting (Lady Fern felix-femina cuttings taken from my fernarium) 
Silurian/ Sea Devil Embryonic phase prints 
Jarkman’s QR cufflinks brain logo fairy cakes (prepared by Beth)
Wilf Lunn Science Spotlight Postcards 
Ultimate Greeting cards   (a simplified greeting card simply tick the appropriate special occasion) 
The anatomy of the Air Kraken prints
Penny Dreadful Air Kraken prints

(left to right) Glow in the Dark Marie Curie Portraits stand and demonstrational Radioactive Hatbox
Marie Curie portrait (before) and (after) as seen via demonstrational Radioactive Hatbox

Not only that but the table was right next to the table of my arch-enemy  James Richardson- Brown who along with his own creations and patches made by the delightful Manda Rin he also had copies of our newly published joint venture Brajj’s Guides Present The Life of the Air Kraken’.  The book made its debut at the Waltz on the Wye, allowing anyone that hadn’t already pre-ordered his or her copy the chance to check it out before buying.
Once the table had been laid out, I adjusted my cravat (I wore my trademark black suit, waistcoat and lab coat) as the doors opened to let the eager and friendly public in to have a look around the various splendid stalls on offer.  Beth (dressed as a Pre-Raphaelite model) and I gave countless Glow in the Dark Marie Curie Portrait demonstrations. We kept a lamp light on the demonstration portrait, removed it from the easel and placed it in the demonstration radioactive hatbox complete with slit so the viewer could see the full effect of the glow in the dark paint. Everyone was amazed at the effect and I even had it on good authority from several children that it was “cool”. I was doubly pleased when photographic supremo and onsite photographer PP Gettins successfully photographed the glow in the dark effect! (Although I never doubted him!) So between the demonstrations of glow in the dark portraits and the signing copies of ‘The Life of the Air Kraken’ there was barely any time for lunch! But we somehow managed it and remembering how delicious the tea was last year (provided by wonderful Strumpets with Crumpets) we realised that it lacked only one thing, so we brought our own china down with us to experience the full potential of a refreshing cuppa...

One of the great things about having a stall is that its practically everyone convened at the market place allowing me ample opportunity to chat with all manner of well-dressed ladies and gents (to name them all would require a separate blog entry!). Sadly my plan to photograph everyone that came up to say hello fell flat with my only taking a handful of photographs, but trust me they all looked amazing!

(left to right) Mr. Mat McCall and Mr. Gremlyn Bridge. The Ambling Band
Miss. Nikki Price. Mr. Kelly Knight and Miss. Lucy Rees

I often experience ‘waistcoat envy’ at these events and this weekend was no exception it happened on two occasions first to Martin Kingston wearing a delightful kingfisher waistcoat and the second time was with Jarkman who sported an amazing custom made Ernst Haeckel waistcoat (featuring octopi and jellyfish).  I can’t recall ever experiencing ‘watch envy’ before but I did this time round when Jarkman showed me his beautiful Zlatoust Diver's Watch that actually made me question my objection to wearing wristwatches! I was able to chat with my fellow stallholders as well, the likes of Prof. T Bottom the man behind Trolls Bottom alcoholic elixirs and unctions (Keen to restock on mead Beth very kindly treated me to a bottle!). Kelly Knight and Lucy Rees of Dr and Knight's Curiosity Emporium also had a table that featured many wonderful creations (The EggShips being my particular favourite). I said that this event also allowed me the opportunity to make new acquaintances this was also the case with stallholders as I met the Almighty Bobbu!
As late afternoon drew closer it became more than apparent that everyone was having a superb time, being so close to the door I was always aware of what was going on outside the hall. On two occasions curiosity had the better of me and I simply had to go out and investigate further this was due to…
Three clockwork ladies riding a pedal-powered gramophone tandem tricycle and Meg Kingston’s mobility scooter customised into a time machine that filled me with full on nerdy excitement (one of my all time favourite movies!) which was rightly awarded the Spirit of Steampunk award!

(Left to right) Three clockwork ladies with a pedal-powered gramophone tandem tricycle and Mrs. Meg Kingston’s time machine mobility scooter (with a rather fetching waistcoat reflected on the front of the device)

The positive vibe continued into the second half of the day, the evening’s Cabaret and Ball. Beth and I returned dressed in our eveningwear (I sported a newly discovered species of plant in my buttonhole called an Audrey 2…)
We settled down with a glass of Pimms as the beautiful Lily Belle compèred for the evening, linking a vast array of acts that lead through to Chap-hop MC - Professor Elemental. Having now heard Mr. B the gentleman rhymer on two separate occasions it was rather nice to hear the other half of this gentleman rivalry! We then decided to call it a night as we had another day on the stall. At the risk of sounding repetitive I shall fob you off by merely saying that Sunday was similar to Saturday only with everyone even more happy/ talking about the evenings entertainment. Rounded off with a huge raffle, and Mr James Richardson-Brown and myself awarding a prize to the winner of our Air Kraken competition (congratulations again Heike Harding-Reyland!) finished off with huge rounds of cheers and applause for Rachel and Andy for organising such a marvellous event.
The event was generously garnished with friendly smiling people having a good time, as a stallholder and a spectator at the evenings events I thought it was truly Fantastic. As side note I would like to thank everyone that came to the event and came up to the stall to say “hello” and listen to my ramblings about glow in the dark portraits, greeting cards and atomic tie pins! (Double thank you(s) if you bought something!) Your support it greatly appreciated I sincerely hope to see you all very soon.
Now, for part 2 of 2!

Additional photographs provided by Mr PP Gettins and Mr David S Tails
© Arfon Jones 2012. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday 30 May 2012

33 Million year old pocket watch charm

Over the last few years I have been on a mission to customise my pocket watch, make it personal and precious to me. I wanted to have something attached to the T-bar itself but I just couldn’t find anything that I liked, so I decided to create something that represented several factors that interest me… One of my “all time” favourite movies is Jurassic Park, a life long fan of dinosaurs I was easily swept along with the ‘dino-mania’ that struck the United Kingdom in the summer of 1993. One of the enduring images of that film (for me) was that of a fossilised insect in amber. The insect that once fed off the blood of dinosaur was the vital component needed by the scientist of Jurassic Park in acquiring “Dino DNA”.  With that in mind, along with my continued interest in natural science and history I decided that I would like a piece of amber that contained a fossilised insect attached to my pocket watch… At first glance it might seem to be a piece Citrine but it would in fact be much more!   Now, a piece of amber containing a perfectly preserved culicidae insect from around 65 million years ago would be extremely costly and not an ideal/practical item to have hanging on a watch chain that is in every day use… So I opted instead for a piece of amber dating from Eocene/ Oligocene era (around 33 million years ago) Admittedly there where no dinosaurs around at that time, however an insect that lived amongst early ‘prototypes’ of the animals we now know was still equally exciting!    Realising that locating a genuine piece of fossilised amber on the Internet could be tricky I contacted someone I trusted, Ian Barrett at Jurassic Jewellery who was only too happy to help me with my request. So much so that he tracked down several examples for me to choose from. Once I (finally) settled on one I liked he attached a link to it and had it posted out to me the very next day.  It’s now on my watch and I adore it. Being a small piece of amber I was concerned that the insect might not be entirely visible but this is not the case. Hold it to the light and you see a beautify-complete fungus gnat that once existed in a time of 8-ft flightless birds and horses that averaged 14-inches!

Check out Jurassic Jewellery’s web site and tell them Arfon sent you! 
© Arfon Jones 2012. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday 29 May 2012

The Parrots of East Molesey

Having been down Southeast England/London on a more regular basis I was pleased to finally be able to tick the ‘Ring-Necked Parakeet’ off my bird spotter list last Sunday! I was in Molesey, Surrey sitting in the shade on what was a warm evening when suddenly I heard a parrot squawk, I dismissed it as perhaps a neighbour with a parrot and an open window but NO there it was a Psittacula Krameri perched in the tree! Having read about these feral birds for many years I was delighted to see one for myself! Although I can understand why they are unpopular with some residents I thought it was delightful to see these birds swooping over head as we sat by the Thames on a hot day with Hampton Court in the distance.

© Arfon Jones 2012. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday 24 May 2012

New Hellbound Media Project

I thought it was about time I revealed my current project with Hellbound Media with you.
Slaughter House Farm is the latest offering from this fine publishing company and it will be available later in the year. Naturally I can’t give too much away but permit me to try and reel you in with these concept drawings!

 © Arfon Jones 2012. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Robin Hood's Oak/ the Major‘s Oak

This is the Major Oak a large English Oak (Quercus robur) located in the heart of the Sherwood Forest Country Park in Nottingham. This tree is thought to be between 800 and 1,000 years old and according to lore Robin Hood and his Merry Men used its hollow trunk as a hideout. I paid a visit to Sherwood Forest to see it for myself and I am pleased that I did. In the mid 18th century, it was actually known as the Cockpen Tree because of the hollow interior that was said to have been used to pen cockerels for cock fighting. It later became known as the Queen Oak before Major Hayman Rooke (1723 –1806) included the tree in his book about the ancient oaks of Sherwood in 1790 and it then became known as The Major‘s Oak, and subsequently the Major Oak. It became a tourist attraction in the Victorian times and has brought flocks of tourist in ever since. In a 2002 it was listed as one of fifty Great British Trees and voted “Britain’s favourite tree” and quite right too! I believe the first time that I heard about it was during the 1980’s watching Blue Peter in a segment that involved its conservation. I have a vague memory of them discussing the possibility of preserving the tree under a dome. The image of an entire tree (and Robin Hood’s tree no less!) being preserved under a dome instantly fired up my imagination! The dome never happened, but attempts to preserve it are still ongoing, a fence was installed to protect the roots and as you can see from the photo steel pole struts have been placed all around to support its heavy branches. Although collecting the Major Oak’s acorns is forbidden some have, and descendants of the tree exist (The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry has one on campus) back in 2003, 260 saplings grown from the Major Oak’s acorns were transplanted onto seven acres of land in Dorset in the hope of creating an Oak Forest for the future. Find out more about it here and if you are ever in Nottingham take the time to visit Sherwood Forest and see this legendary tree for yourself!

2015 Update: I visited again in December 2014 with a better camera…

© Arfon Jones 2012. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Wonderments and Atrocities: The Finger of Paul Daniels

The latest addition to my collection of wonderments and atrocities is The Finger of Paul Daniels.
This idea was the result of reading a shocking news report back in January that claimed “Magician Paul Daniels cuts off finger with circular saw”. Like many reading this heading I was very concerned but thankfully it wasn’t quite as bad as they had made out! Much like the time he had supposedly been blinded by Sooty it was just another example of the press exaggerating the facts…Thankfully the man himself was able to give an accurate account of what happened on his blog… “True, the saw did rip through the top knuckle area of my left forefinger but it never came right off and it is already healing up. The little finger of the left hand has a tiny bit missing from the tip but it never touched the nail. The middle finger is untouched. The worst bit is that I have lost the top section, the part that had the nail on it, of my ring finger.” Relieved and reassured my mind started racing! what magical powers would the forefinger of the great Paul Daniels weald?! I was reminded of Galileo's finger displayed in Florence and started to put some ideas to paper, playing on the notion of what if the finger had been cut, retrieved and put on display? So here it is the Finger of Paul Daniels for all to marvel at!

 ©Arfon Jones 2012. All images are copyrighted throughout the world

Monday 21 May 2012

Wonderments and Atrocities: Mus Digitatus

Getting to grips with this new look Blogger has caused a slight Blogger Blockage! I’m getting the hang of it now so hold on to your hats you are about to witness a deluge of threads!
Right, You will recall that last year I had a Womble (Womblus Wimbledon Vulgaris) stuffed, mounted and displayed. Not long after, I added another creature to my collection of wonderments and atrocities Mus Digitatus more commonly known as the FingerMouse.  Another creature I remember fondly from my childhood that I simply had to have in my possession!  Still trying to retain that Victorian taxidermy look he stands in a glass case along with some plants and a butterfly. Clues as to how this animal came to occupy the glass case can be better explained when observed through the right side of the case…

Additional: I have had this specimen in my collection for several months but decided to keep it under wraps until he could be unveiled at this year’s Waltz on the Wye event. I was packing him for transporting to said event and discovered that a money spider had also inhabited the case all this time! He was carefully removed and placed in a more suited location but his delicate web was left undisturbed.

*UPDATE* 03/01/2013 - "Yoffy" himself Mr. Rick Jones approves! He sent me a delightfully encouraging e-mail and then shared with his Twitter followers.   

© Arfon Jones 2012. All images are copyrighted throughout the world

Wednesday 9 May 2012

RIP Maurice Sendak

I was saddened to hear of the death of Maurice Sendak yesterday. I like a great many others around the world I grew up reading Where the Wild Things Are his work was a wondrous source of inspiration. I’m fairly confident that it was one of the very first books I ever read, I remember how it used to poke out of the line of books on the classroom’s books shelf and draw you in by those magnificent illustrations. 25 years later I was able to enjoy the book again by sharing it with my daughter who found it equally enthralling!
Thank you Mr. Sendak.

© Arfon Jones 2012. All images are copyrighted throughout the world


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