Johnnyinthe56.

Johnnyinthe56 started painting again in 2016, after a break of 25 years, inspired by a painting session with his daughter.

Fusing his love of Pop-Art and graphic novels he creates ink and acrylic paintings inspired by his huge range of interests and passions – a conversation with modern life.

The conversation encompasses, but is not limited to: football – specifically Leeds United, sunrise, audiences, Kurosawa films, gaming, animals, extream weather, baseball, Japanese culture, space exploration, Hunter S Thompson, grafitti, film noir, true crime, Jaws, architecture, David Lapham comics, portraits, nature and cost of fame, music, tatoos, the sea and more.

The artwork of Johnnyinthe56 is for sale and can be purchased online here.

Thanks & Enjoy

Sarah x

A Digital-ish Bronte Trip…

For many Bronte fans & super-fans a trip to the Bronte Parsonage at Haworth is the trip of a life-time, but sadly, at present none of us can travel. So as I am really missing the Parsonage and love all things Bronte, I’ve created a kind of digital / book tour of the Bronte Parsonage & Haworth. I wanted to share with you some of the places, books, dvds and websites that are worth a visit and hold real history and importance within the lives and stories of the Bronte Sisters.

First off, lets take a look at The Parsonage Haworth – Yes, I’m starting with the obvious, but, when you visit the Bronte Parsonage, you can really take your time and absorb and notice all the wonderful little details that speak of who the Bronte family really were. As the legend of them grows, we can lose sight of them as real people, a little bit, so it is really incredible to be inside their home environment and so close to their personal belongings, that allow us to glimpse the real individuals behind the myths.

Please note that some of the links in my blog are affiliate links, this menas that if you make a purchase through themI receive a very small commison, which helps me pay my bills, so thank you for your support.

Like the Bronte Parsonage, the book – The Brontes is a fantastic insight into the Brontes and their lives, it’s written by Juliet Barker. She writes really well and was curator at the Parsonage for Six years and her book is based on first-hand research of the Bronte manuscripts and documents, it is a compelling read for any Bronte fan!

The exterior of the parsonage is really amazing, it is relatively unchanged, from when the Bronte Sisters lived there. From here we see the views and environment that the Brontes lived in and it’s really atmospheric creating a very solid impression of where their inspiration for their work came from. A visit to the church, St Michael’s that was so central to the lives of the Brontes is not to be missed and this is where the Bronte memorial can be found.

Next stop Haworth Village, not to be missed, it’s sits right on the Parsonage’s doorstep and most of the buildings that you can see and visit today were there when the Bronte Sisters lived. You can stay in the village or if you only have time for a day trip go for a quick pint or a meal at the Black Bull, it was one of Branwell Bronte’s favourite haunts, so a great place to get in touch with his character a bit. Take a quick stroll down main Street and enjoy some more of views that influenced Charlotte, Emily and Anne’s writing. Haworth History Tour and a great way to get a feel for Haworth.

The Moor & Top Withens – If you’re feeling energetic then a walk of the moors is a must. This is where all of the Brontes were at their most relaxed and they desparately loved the moor. Please be careful the moor is vast and it is remarkably easy to get lost up there, so please go with an organised tour or with an experienced guide, wear appropriate clothing and footware and take survival essentials, don’t just wander off up there. The Brontes At Haworth is a great book for planning walks and getting local history.

The Moor is a magnificent place and you can feel the sense of freedom the Bronte Sisters felt up there. If your heading to the moor, then Top Withens is a great destination to make for. It’s believed to be the inspiration for Wuthering Heights, written by Emily Bronte and it really feels like Wuthering Heights!

Finally, a shameless plug for my blog piece A Potted History of The Brontes and if you’d like some Bronte gifts then check out my Bronte inspired creations.

I know it’s no substitute for the real thing, but, I hope you enjoyed this little digital / virtual tour of The Bronte Parsonage and Haworth.

Stay home & stay safe.

Thanks & take care

Sarah x

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Whitby Jet.

I love Whitby Jet – it’s dark, gothic beauty has real character and stories to tell. Over the last 300 years, it has mainly been used for mourning jewellery, especially favoured by the Victorians. Whitby Jet was lightweight and easy to carve, so lent itself perfectly to making jewellery to memorialize lost loved ones. I often use recycled and reclaimed antique Whitby Jet beads for our vintage recycled bead earrings as Whitby Jet jewellery is a lovely thing to collect and wear. So, here’s a few things that are good to know if you want to do that…

What is Whitby Jet?

Whitby Jet is an organic material that is naturally formed from ancient fossilised wood such as the Monkey Puzzle & Chile Pine. Whitby Jet is also know as Black Amber and is 182 Million years old. It is formed when prehistoric wood gets washed up into a body of water and becomes covered by organic sediment. The pressure of the water and sediment over millions of years compacts the wood and slowly transforms it into what we know as Whitby Jet.

The layers of jet are usually trapped deep below the earth’s surface, in the layers of sedimentary rock, but, there are a few, rare places where those layers or seams of jet are found on or near the surface and Whitby is one of them. Jet is also found in small areas in Northern Spain, Poland, Ezurum in Turkey and in the USA in Utah, Colorada and New Mexico.

History of Whitby Jet

Whitby jet was discovered, mined and carved in Britain from the Neolithic period onwards and often appeared as beads and decorations, it was very popular with Romans in the Third centuary who felt it had magical protective & healing properties and used it for a variety of decorative objects, including hair pins.

Whitby Jet fell in and out of fashion, but it’s use continued, mainly as monks rosery beads. In 1808 a boat captain observed two men in Whitby hand carving beads and crosses from Whitby Jet. While the men, John Carter and Robert Jefferson, used files and handmade tools to work Whitby Jet, Captain Tremlett, had experience turning amber on a lathe to produce pieces, wondered if the same could be done with Whitby Jet.

With the help of a turner, Mathew Hill, they successfully lathed Whitby Jet, the Captain hired him as a jet turner and the first jet workshop in Whitby was started. The light-weight nature of Whitby jet and it’s sombre apperence combined with the sadly comon occurance of death meant that the production of mourning jewellery ensured that the industry grew. By 1850, there were more than 50 Jet workshops in Whitby, producing beads, mourning jewellery and other items & The Great Exhibition of 1851 presented Whitby Jet to the world.

In 1861 Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband died and she immersed herself in full, deep mourning, including Whitby Jet mourning jewellery. Immediately, Whitby jet became really fashionable, it was so popular that the demand for it rapidly out-stripped the limited supply that Whitby could produce.

At one point, Whitby Jet production meant work for over 1,400 people and produced an annual profit of over £100,000, which is approximately three million pounds by today’s standards.

As a result of the sky-rocketing demand, French Jet or Parisian Jet was developed to inexpensively re-produce the exclusive and expensive Whitby Jet, French Jet was Black glass and it allowed the mass-production of mourning jewllery. Whitby Jet & French Jet remained popular until the the 1920’s by which time it was mainly used as beads in flapper necklaces – the long waist-length necklaces worn by flapper girls during the roaring Twenties.

French jet jewellery coming onto the market, combined with cheaper imported Spanish jet, lead to the collapse of the industry by the mid-1900s.

Collecting & Identifying Whitby Jet.

In recent years Whitby Jet has enjoyed renewed interest and there are a number of Jet workshops in Whitby. There is also a strong interest in authentic antique Whitby Jet jewellery – and its substitutes.

When collecting jet it’s useful to know exactly what you’re buying, especially as antique Whitby Jet pieces can hold their value quite well, but, only if they are actually Whitby Jet. So the question is how do identify Whitby Jet.

Whitby Jet is a deep Black colour, it is light weight and warm-ish to the touch, it is shiney, glossy and smooth. The microstructure of Whitby Jet, resembles the original wood, and this can be seen under 120× or greater magnification. The detailing carved into the piece can help identify if it is genuine jet. Whitby Jet usually has shallow relief, simple carved details, such as straight carved lines, as it can shatter when the detailing is too fine. Whitby Jet will also either float or sink slowly when placed in water.

One great way to identify Whitby Jet is being to clearly identify when a piece is not Whitby Jet and what it might be.

Modern Plastic – will be very glossy, very light weight and it may have seams and creases from the pressing process. Pieces of imitation jet in plastic are often very intricate with very fine detailing – rarely seen in genuine Whitby Jet as it fractures when it is carved into very fine details.

Spanish (soft) Jet – quite a lot of soft jet was imported into the UK during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. However, as is was softer than Whitby Jet much of it has cracked and broken over the years and so it is rare to find it. Soft jet will have a cracked or crackled appearance.

Black glass – known as French Jet, Parisian Jet or Vauxhall Glass was commonly used as a Whitby Jet substitute during the peak of jet’s popularity. Glass feels heavy and cool to the touch and Whitby Jet is not, so if the piece is slightly weighty and cool to the touch it is French Jet (glass) not Whitby Jet. Also, if you carefully tap a piece of Whitby Jet against your teeth you’ll hear a soft tap, but if tap French jet or other glass beads against your teeth you’ll feel or hear a sharped, harder sound (please be very gentle).

Ebonite or Vulcanite (an early type of rubber) was also used as a Whitby Jet substitute and it looks and feels very similar to jet, but, it fades and loses its shine over time, so if you piece is not Jet Black and shiney (yes, this is where that phrase comes from) then it’s not Whitby Jet.

Anthracite (hard coal) is similar to Whitby Jet, and has been used to imitate it. When rubbed against unglazed porcelain, Anthracite will leave a Black mark and Whitby Jet will leave a chocolate Brown mark.

Bog Oak can be easily mistaken for Whitby Jet, but, Bog Oak has a visable wood grain when you look closely and the surface won’t be very polished, unlike the smooth, lustrous appearance of Whitby Jet.

Carved horn can be also look very similar in Whitby Jet. It also feels smooth and lightweight too. However, dyed horn, will appear slightly translucent along its edges when held up to the light.

Also, in some cases Whitby Jet off-cuts were mixed with glue and molded into jewellery but Whitby Jet is smooth and shiney, so if the piece is dulled, rough, mottled or fragmented in appearence, it is not solid Whitby jet.

Caring for Whitby Jet.

Whitby Jet is beautiful to collect and wear and keeping it looking lovely is easy. To clean Whitby Jet, simply wash carefully with warm water and a mild detergent, (don’t soak the piece in water), rinse with fresh water and pat dry with a soft towel and leave to air dry fully. Once it’s dry, give it a gentle wipe with a tiny amount baby oil on a piece of cotton wool, to bring back its high polish. Don’t forget to store your Whitby Jet jewellery separately from other items, so that it doesn’t get scratched or damaged.

Want to Know More About Whitby Jet?

I hope you find this information useful and it’s a good starting point for learning about Whitby Jet and if you’d like to find out more then this book is a great read.

Whitby Jet book.
Please note – this blog contains affiliate links and if you purchase through them, I receive a small commision, that helps me pay my bills, so thank you for your support!

Thank you, have a lovely day & enjoy!

Sarah x

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Handcrafted Eco-friendly Earrings and Things…

Besides being an avid fan of vintage literarture (Jane Austen, The Bronte Sisters, Wilkie Collins, Dickens, Sir Arther Colan-Doyle Agatha Christie and many more) I love creating things and recycling things. I believe that creating is vital to our wellbeing and so most days I try to make something (some days it’s just a sandwich!)

I also love the idea of recycling and consuming in a way that is responsible and environmentally friendly. Reclaiming old, unused things, upcycling and recycling to create something new that can be used and treasured and given an new life and purpose is a joyful & eco-friendly experience!

I really love beads and buttons and it’s always been a massive treat when my dad brought me a tin of old beads and buttons home from the carboot sale. I can lose hours rummaging and sorting through them and basking in their faded beauty!

My love of all things antique and vintage lead me to start Revive Vintage Design: making jewellery, accessories and homewares from reclaimed and recycled retro, vintage and antique materials.

At present there is a range of found objects jewellery and accessories. Keyrings or bag charms made from the ecelectic, pretty, vintage objets found in the bead and button tins over the years. Also, some sweet cushion covers made from recycled and reclaimed vintage and antique fabrics, hand-embroidered linens and patchwork pieces.

Finally, there’s an big range of earrings made from antique, vintage & retro reclaimed and recycled beads. I use loads of different types of beads, including: Antique Whitby Jet, 1920’s Jade, Art Deco glass, 1950’s Lucite & Bakelite, 1980’s & 1990’s ceramic & recycled paper.

The whole range is lovingly, hand made by my family & I, here in Yorkshire. I’ll add our new recycled vintage earrings to this page, so please come and take look.

Thanks & have a lovely day!

Sarah x

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My Top 5 Gift Picks for Book Lovers!

I love a good book and I also love giving books for gifts (or book related gifts)! Here are my top 5 book related gift ideas that are suitable for almost any age and budget.

Please note this blog contains affiliate links, so if you purchase through them I will recieve a very small commission , this helps pay my bills – so thank you for your support.

1. Book Vouchers. Easy-peasy, but still a really fantastic gift, for almost any age group. These can suit every budget and are very quick & easy to buy and for the recipient to use. Also, they are truely beloved by book lovers. A book token is a double gift, it offers the recipient a reason / excuse to spend many happy hours researching, browsing and sampling books, along with the pleasure of reading actual book purchased with the book token.

2. Book light – this is such a nifty little gadget, perfect for all those night time bookworms. I know you are thinking ‘well they read on kindle and don’t need a light’. But the research shows we should not be using screens near bedtime if we want a good nights rest. So get them a good book and a cute light & you’re even gifting them a good nights sleep – bonus!

3. A book bag. So if you buying for a book lover, they will need something to store and carry their book stash so a book bag is a sure fire winner!

4. A Book Lamp! What’s not to love? A lovely lamp (all book lovers need more of these in their homes) IN….THE….SHAPE….OF…..A…..BOOK – amazing!

5. A mug. All avid book lovers know that the best way to enjoy a good book is with a cup of tea, so a mug is a brilliant gift for a book lover!

As the festive season approaches; I hope these ideas help provide a little inspiration.

Thanks & enjoy!

Sarah

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