Justice & Sacrifice

First published on the blog of Northern Lights Metropolitan Community Church.

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On the 21st October, 1854, a young woman named Florence Nightingale left England for Crimea, where a war was raging that was claiming lives on both sides in astonishing numbers and where the care for wounded and dying was almost non-existent. Her cohort of nurses included fifteen nuns, and a number of other women from different classes and backgrounds who shared Nightingale’s conviction that nursing was call from God on their lives. Her contemporaries included the extraordinary Mary Seacole, who set up a recuperation post behind the lines in Crimea, because she was refused the right to travel to a British field hospital because of her Jamaican heritage.

Women behind the lines found themselves working in desperately under-resources field hospitals offering what help they could to the men who were injured. Over 4,000 still died in the first winter they were posted, but Florence Nightingale’s position of some influence (as the daughter of a prominent and wealthy family) allowed her to make recommendations and resource training on her return to England that has gone on to save countless hundreds of thousands of lives since.

Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole stand as part of those in the course of human history who have heeded God’s call to care for humanity above and beyond their own needs. We could name the martyred British nurse Edith Cavell (who was shot for saving the lives of soldiers without reference to nationality or uniform), or Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. We could think of families like the ten Boom family who found themselves in concentration camps for hiding Jewish people. We could think of David Kato, who died speaking out for LGBT rights in Uganda.

In their tradition and honour, MCC set up the Global Justice Institute, which has been working for human rights around the world for ten years. They have small budget, and a big heart. They can be found around the world fighting in some of the most dangerous places for LGBT+ people and our allies. Their goal is not to impose their structures and ideas on local people, but to empower them to work for themselves. Please join us in prayer for them, and give what you can in this week’s offering. If you would like to give online, or set up a regular offering to the GJI, you can do so here.

God is a God of forgiveness, who pardons our injustices to one another. Let us be a part of bringing God’s new realm of justice and peace by seeking to correct what injustices we can see.

Being Princess Bubblegum

So, with my dress, crown and butler in place, I finally put my Princess Bubblegum costume into action today!

I decided to dye my hair, because wigs are expensive and hard to store. I used a Stargazer magenta dye that I’ve used before, my experience is that it washes out within a week. Don’t forget, if you use a dye, to do a strand test. Everyone’s hair is different, it may take more washes for you to get rid of it if that worries you.

The nail polish is a metallic pink by Jess, which I bought at Poundland. The shoes are from New Look, I bought them back in 2008. The purple petticoat is from Vivien of Holloway.

Princess Bubblegum
Princess Bubblegum costume, May 2014

Adventure Time: Princess Bubblegum’s Crown

A princess isn’t a princess without a princess gem, and Bubblegum’s is in her tall, golden crown. Having made the dress, and my very own butler, the crown was the final piece of the puzzle. It took me about two hours in total, mostly because I find drawing freehand really fiddly.

There are many other fabulous tutorials on the internet, but they are more time- and resource-intensive. If you have time, or are serious about your cosplay, check out: The Stylish Geek, or the amazing metalwork of Boo Science.

I used thin, gold card (A4) from Hobbycraft, PVA glue, a pipe cleaner for strength, and a metallic blue pen.

First, I measured my head. I wanted the crown itself to cover my forehead, and assumed that was about 1/3 of the total (n). I then cut two strips of card, 1″ wide, measuring n+2″ (for overlap allowance). I marked out a rectangle n*1″ on the bottom of the card I was using for the two crown pieces, and drew the crown freehand, then cut two pieces. I added the gem to the top with metallic blue pen. (If you don’t have a pipe cleaner, you could use extra card instead, just made extra crown pieces from your template. Other tutorials use lolly sticks, they would work, too.)

Crown
The crown before being assembled

After that, it was just a matter of putting the crown together. I glued the band strips to back of the top crown piece (the one with the gem drawn on it). At this point, I glued the pipe cleaner behind the stem of the crown, to stiffen it. I placed the other crown piece on the back, making sure the gold is showing both sides, the crown will be visible from behind.

Finally, mark the points on each side of the band where the crown sits comfortably on your head. Cut 1/2″ notches at each point, one from the bottom up, and one from the top up, so that the pieces slot into one another and the crown closes.

Wear with pride, Princess!

Adventure Time: Princess Bubblegum’s Dress

Continuing with my Princess Bubblegum costume, once I’d made the Peppermint Butler (a girl’s best candy-friend), I moved on to creating the dress. It took me about an hour, including the sewing.

I already owned a lovely pink jive dress from Lindy Bop, so all I had to do was add the collar and belt. I bought two small squares of purple felt (50p each in my local haberdashery), and made a template for the collar by marking out the neckline on a piece of greaseproof paper and drawing the collar shape freehand. I then cut two, and reversed one to make the collar symmetrical.

collar
Drafting a collar template with greaseproof paper

I cut out strips of felt about 1″ wide from the remainder of the felt to make the belt. I only made the belt wide enough for the front of the dress. If you’re more inclined to detail or are going to keep and reuse the costume, you may wish to do it all the way around. I tacked my details on very loosely, so I can recover the dress after the party.

Voila! One pink dress with purple detailing, quick and easy.

The collar, attached
The collar, attached

 

Adventure Time: Making the Peppermint Butler

Some of you may not be familiar with the cartoon and comic sensation that is Adventure Time. Congratulations, you almost certainly have a life and no children. Set in the post-apocalyptic land of Ooo, Finn and Jake troll around having adventures and generally being awesome. By far my favourite of the princesses they regularly hang out with is Princess Bubblegum, for the following reasons:

  1. She rules the Candy Kingdom without a regent, or a prince, or anyone else telling her what to do (she also created the Candy Kingdom and its people)
  2. She is a scientist and inventor, who is drawn to smart people who relate to her as an intelligent woman
  3. She is as often rescuer as rescued
(I should say at this point that I’m really only familiar with vol.1 of the comics and series 1 of the show, my knowledge is probably out of date for the hardcore fans out there.)
So, like the Princess herself, I set out to create myself a Peppermint Butler.

Materials:
White foamboard (5mm thick, A3)
Daler Rowney Canford Card in 007 (Bright Red) and 049 (Navy Blue)

From the craft kit:
A large plate
A craft knife
PVA glue
White paper
Black marker
Responsible adult (or equivalent if this is not available where you live)

I started by drawing around the plate on the foamboard. I folded the navy card in half and used the bottom 1/3 of the plate against the pre-cut edge to create his tux. I then added the tails, without rubbing out the shape of the plate. I cut both pieces out, then cut the tails off the one with pencil marks, along the curved line. I also drew the outline of the plate on the red card and marked where the tux would sit.

Using a responsible adult (My Girl), I cut the foam board with a craft knife, and then tidied the edges with scissors. I positioned the two tuxedo pieces against one edge and glued down

I drew the markings freehand onto the red cardboard, in the right positions on the circle I drew earlier, and cut out two of each. I placed them onto the foamboard based, and glued into place.

I drew the arms, legs, hands and feet freehand on card and cut them out (again, two of each piece), and one bow tie. I glued these together and placed them onto the body. The cuffs I made from plain white paper and wrapped around the wrist. I added the black lines in marker pen, and drew on his face.

That’s it, a Peppermint Butler to call your own.

 

Free Comic Book (Craft) Day

The first Saturday in May is Free Comic Book Day. I made sure to go out and celebrate with my fellow Bucks-based-nerds at Dead Universe Comics in Friar’s Square (Facebook), then I came home and started planning for my fiancée’s epic Heroes and Villains barbecue birthday party.

I’m something of a magpie for craft materials; I buy things when I see them and find a use for them later! Rummaging in my craft box, I came across some coloured twine I bought from The Works, and two 1.5m samples of Marvel wallpaper from B&Q. The project that presented itself was obvious: bunting.

The height of the flag is also 105mm

I started with working out how widely-spaced the holes on my hole-punch are. Then – aiming for five flags on each width – I settled on 105mm width and height, and laid it out. I didn’t refer to where the design is in relation to the flags, because it would have been too much of a headache, and I wanted to reduce wastage. If you wanted to, you could obviously draw the triangles out on the front to get the ideal images.

 

 
 

I cut all the flags out, and punched holes in the top, then strung them along the twine and secured with tape on the back. My bunting is one-sided; to make it double-sided, cut the same number of flags again but don’t put holes in. Then glue the un-punched triangles onto the back. The length of twine on the reel wasn’t labeled, but I think I had 4.5-5m. With about 20cm left at each end and 6-7cm between flags I had 30 flags on my bunting. It’s not an exact science, of course, I decided not to be over-accurate.

I think it took me an hour (about half of my Bob-Hoskins-tribute viewing of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) and looks better than I expected. Hurrah!

 
 
 

A footnote: The cross stitch in the picture is this kit, which we bought from Hobbycraft. It was The Girl’s first embroidery but she’s very good at the detail and – unlike me – always gets projects finished.

Grandpa’s Gardening

“Grandpa’s Gardening” is a term my mum coined to describe sitting (or sleeping) in the garden and calling it gardening. I had an excellent time “gardening” today, whilst Emily along with the lovely Peta Evans of Living Image Gardens, transformed our garden.

Before: patio
Peta repositioned the patio stones
over sand and plum slate

Our garden is long and narrow, and mostly in shade. The patio end is never in direct sunlight. Peta helped Emily to choose alpines and other plans that would thrive without much light. The plan was to create a rockery on the right of this image, and a barbecue space on the left. We don’t own the house, so couldn’t go for a full garden redesign, but these changes have turned what we have from just a neat garden a really special place to be.

The materials and plants came from B&Q. The slate is “plum slate” in two sizes (small and large), laid over sharp sand to form the barbecue pit (the sand was also added to our chalky soil to help out the alpines). The barbecue is Longley by Blooma.

The completed barbecue pit

To create the rockery, Peta used timber to frame the bed, and filled it with a mix of the soil that was taken away from the barbecue pit, compost, and sand. Three larger stones created a space for a raised bed at the back. There were some large cobbles in the garden that they used to add interest around the plants.

The rockery is framed and raised with timber beams; large stones add another level
The final touches were three lamps for citronella candles (Blooma at B&Q) and the gorgeous reconditioned, cast iron bench Emily found at the South Bucks Hospice shop at Aston Clinton. We also have some lovely solar dragonfly lamps and post lamps to bring some colour to the garden at night.
I am really looking forward to summer in our gorgeous garden. One of the things I really love is sitting in the garden and working or reading outside with the cat. When I had the choice as a child I would always work outside. I haven’t done any gardening myself for over ten years, but the sight and smell of summer flowers relaxes me. When I am having difficulties with my mental health, I find that sunshine is good for me, but hard to force myself into. Having a lovely setting, and somewhere to sit, makes even the worst of days that little bit brighter. 

The completed rockery and reconditioned bench