Welcome to the Ex-Official Blog of Writer, Presenter & Crafts Expert Momtaz Begum-Hossain which stopped being active on 31st August 2016.

For more regular updates follow Momtaz on Twitter: @TheCraftCafe Instagram: @The_CraftCafe Vine: @TheCraftCafe Periscope: @TheCraftCafe Snapchat: Momtazbh

For workshop bookings, writing commissions, presenting jobs, craft project designs, or any kind of enquiry email contact@momtazbh.co.uk

Momtaz's NEW BLOG is www.craftandtravel.com

Friday, 25 January 2013

Parallel Horizons Exhibition at The Stephen Lawrence Gallery

I'm ashamed to say I've lived in Greenwich for nearly six years and had no idea The Stephen Lawrence Gallery existed...what makes this extra tragic is that I walk passed it every day! And here's me thinking I am (was?) an observant person. Dear Oh Dear. 
Located in the grounds of the picturesque* University of Greenwich (*I have not copied that from their brochure, it genuinely IS BEAUTIFUL.) That's why I walk through the campus instead of getting a bus to the DLR station in the mornings and even late at night, just because it is such an incredible image to behold.
Which is also how I would describe this 'bamboo stall' what I know in Bengali as a Moorah. Every Bangladeshi home has at least one. The best ones are made from bamboo, but some come in plastic too. 
Saif Osmani ordered four from Bangladesh for his new exhibition which opened at The Stephen Lawrence Gallery on Monday. It's a celebration/representation of how bamboo is appropriated in different ways around the world and is partially the result of a residency he did in Taiwan exploring it. He's now curated it into a bigger piece of work with contributions from over 20 other artists.
In the exhibition you get the chance to see, touch and listen to bamboo.
In fact, you don't need to be there to sample the sounds, have a listen on this link.
Saif recorded his Taiwanese trip through photographs, every single one of which features bamboo from pots to steam your dim sum in, to street furniture. 
The focal point of the gallery is a towering bamboo structure, created specifically for the site.
It took three days to construct, was partly improvised and also inspired by the four Bangladeshi Moorahs that sit within it.
And here are the gentlemen who made it, Lee Dalby and Pablo Cattermole.
Lee is a basket maker by trade and grows his own willow in his back garden in London. He offered some cuttings to me so I could grow my own too but sadly as I have no garden or window sill I couldn't take him up on the offer. Though at some point I will and must add willow weaving to my craftography.
And here is is. being enjoyed by guests.
I especially loved Rebecca Lucraft's Nepalese bamboo brooches.There was so much natural bamboo on display so it was great to see the possibilities of adding colour.
It's a small gallery but there's enough bamboo to get you thinking about the material in new ways. 
As well as every day objects like fans and pots there are short films and photo projections of bamboo projects from all over the world.
I've never had any connection with bamboo before, it's never really entered my mind, but after visiting the exhibition I think I'll probably get more excited when I next recognise its use somewhere.
Here I am sporting my latest 'indigo' streaks with the amazing Lipi Begum who is a lecturer at The London College of Fashion. She's posing with the brochure which is filled will lovely images from the exhibition.  
Don't forget to pick one up if you go!

Parallel Horizons curated by Saif Osmani is showing at The Stephen Lawrence Gallery in Greenwich until February 28th 2013.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

London Ice Sculpting Festival 2013

It wasn't just the ice that was frozen, I was chilled to the bone from the moment I arrived at The London Ice Sculpting Festival 2013 until I left! It's as if they planned the weather to add to the authenticity. Brrrrr!
Celebrating it's 5th year, the free family art event takes place in and around the towering backdrop of Canary Wharf, a large part of which was located on a small island called Wood Wharf that you had to queue up to set foot on and leave, but more about that later...
time to reveal some art!
Truth is, they looked a million times better in real life, though hopefully you can appreciate the beautiful way in which sections of them were lit up. 
Over 20 ice sculptors took part in the three day event that started on Friday and ran through the weekend. They came from all over the world including the US, Latvia and Spain to show off their sawing skills (Edward may not have been there but the crowd still got to witness the excitement of snow.) Some more than others...
 The Snow Pit was just for kids. Naturally this made me grumpy, but alas, happiness came in the form of sweet stuff. You know when you go to market stalls and there's always a French Patisserie? Well I always think they're overrated, the creations look amazing but the taste is often disappointing. Not here though. The cake stand was spectacular.
One of the main reasons I wanted to come to the London Ice Sculpting Festival was to try out some ice sculpting for myself. These masterclasses where you could sculpt a penguin or polar bear had to be booked in advance, mine was supposed to be at 5.40pm...but as fate would have it, I never made it there as I couldn't get back on the island. That queuing thing I mentioned, I left the island to warm up, came back and after 15 minutes was still attempting to get back on : (

Still, there was also the ice grafitti wall which was stationed back in central Canary Wharf. You still had to queue but it was a much shorter wait.

Each participant was given a tool to engrave into the wall of ice.
It would have been more addictive if there wasn't the stress of knowing you only had two minutes each. I call that stingy but hey, it meant more people had a go.
There was also ice chess, but I'm more of a Draughts kind of girl so I left that to the pros.
 At nightfall there was a light show, but by that point I was such an iceblock myself, I headed indoors to thaw where I stumbled across this very handsome snowman who was guarding the children's craft area.
Back at the Jubilee Line tube station I was amazed to discover a cinema screen, literally a huge projection at the far end of the station, which you can only access when you've passed the ticket barriers. Most people will head straight down the escalator, but those who follow the sights and sounds are in for a treat.
I watched two brilliant short films from the London Transport archives, including a charming look behind the Lost Property Office in Baker Street. Notably that someone actually left a tortoise on a bus and managed to get it back!
I love free days out in London like this. If you look for them, there's always fun activities going on, waiting to be discovered that you don't need any money to enjoy. 
I aim to report back on some more of these adventures in the capital soon!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

David Bowie Ziggi Stardust Earrings

What with all the love going around for David Bowie today, new song, new album...oh and his birthday, I had to draw your attention to the fact there are instructions for how to make your own Ziggi Stardust earrings in my book. 
You can just about see the glittery lightening bolt across his face! Amazing eh?
The project is designed by Ruth Crean who runs a fantastic website and company called Nice Day Designs, which is where I first came across her work.
I know what you're thinking, but how can you own this fine pair of jewels?
Well you're going to have to buy '101Things To Do With Glitter' turn to page 60 and follow the instructions! Enjoy xxx