Monday, 22 July 2013

The Lonely Ice Cream Van

This is the lonely ice cream van that inspired me to make a range of fun, summery brooches.

We saw it whilst visiting Robin Hood's Bay beach on a grey and blustery morning. Robin Hood’s Bay is a stunning fishing village on the North Yorkshire coast. The village has an abundance of idyllic cottages packed into rabbit warren style streets that wind their way down to the beach. As it was low tide, the van was parked on the beach with an occasional holiday maker walking by. It looked so out of place on such a grey day. I was amused and impressed by the ice cream man’s determination to sell frosty delights in all weathers!
Once I returned home I decided to create a cheerier version of the ice cream van taking inspiration from older, vintage models. I've always loved ice cream vans as they are such an iconic symbol of British summer time and they bring back childhood memories of happy days spent on the beach.
An ice cream van adorned with pattern and colour could cheer up any dull day!
If you have a moment, you might like to take a peek at my Etsy and Folksy shops where you can find three different colourways of the brooch for sale.
My 9 year old self enjoying the British seaside!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Goodbye Baby Chip

A personal account of a miscarriage that I have written to help me come to terms with my loss and also to act as a record of a fleeting life.
On Friday 26th April, we discovered that I was five weeks pregnant. We were overjoyed and a little awed at the prospect of welcoming a new member into our little family. All the signs over the next few weeks were of a normal healthy pregnancy and it was becoming increasingly tricky to disguise my growing bump. Little did we know that seven weeks later I would start to miscarry when a scan revealed that the baby did not have a heartbeat. I always knew that a miscarriage was a terrible experience but I had no idea that it would be so painful, prolonged and frightening or end in emergency surgery after two failed attempts at medical management.

Whilst recovering back at home, I struggled to come to terms with the loss. Not only was I in physical pain but I also felt bereft and heartbroken. As the time passed I knew that I needed something tangible to mark the event and acknowledge a life that was never meant to last for long. I began to think about western ways of dealing with death but none of them seemed to be appropriate. Then I remembered the ceremonies that I have witnessed in Japan and Hong Kong. I have always felt an affinity with Buddhist teachings and found their religious ceremonies and temples to be calming.  I realise that religion is not to be dipped in and out of but I really needed a way of acknowledging the fact that I would never get to hold or meet my lost baby.

These thoughts led me to think about the use of paper votives, street shrines (which I have posted about before) and Jizo statues. I first came across Jizo statues in temples and at roadsides when I lived in Japan. I was intrigued to know why certain small statues were adorned with hats and bibs. I later learnt from my Japanese friends that they were used to represent the souls of dead children.
Jizo Statues photo by Al McDermid
Jizo is a Bodhisattva who looks after women, children (including the souls of unborn children) and travellers. Jizo statues are a physical marker of a loss of a child and a protector. They are used in Mizuko Kuyo, which is a Japanese ceremony held in Buddhist temples for those who have had a miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion. Mizuko beautifully translates as "water child” which for me seems a really fitting description of a lost baby. 

After thinking about these traditions, I decided that I wanted to create a paper offering that could be released as a simple farewell. I settled on the idea of an origami boat which would be set free by the action of it floating down a gentle stream at Dunham Massey, one of our favourite places. I printed off my favourite wedding photo (that has myself, my husband and son on it) and wrote a letter to baby Chip from all of us before folding it up into a paper boat. I later added 4x sails to symbolise each one of us, with the largest sail representing baby Chip. We floated the boat away the other evening and as time is passing I feel physically better and now hope that the act of saying goodbye will help my emotional healing.
Goodbye baby Chip.