Just a very quick post to share a link to the Midlands Rat Club 16th Birthday Show photos taken last weekend. Enjoy.
A few things that I need to talk about. First of all, I’ve decided that it’s time to quit breeding rats. It’s been fun, but I’ve been keeping ratties for almost sixteen years now, breeding for eight, and we really could do with a holiday. My lines will continue through Lovecraft and Black Lupin Studs, plus others via third parties, so it’s not a total dead end.
My dad is going into a nursing home soon, which will be a great relief to my mum who is struggling with the full time carer role at 81 years old. Dad is not going to be happy – it’s like sending a three year old away from everything he’s ever known. 55 years of marriage and total dependency on my mum. But despite both myself and sister in law spending a good chunk of our time with them, and over £100 of care agency a day, we aren’t managing the level of care that he needs and my mum is visibly losing strength. Dad is so dependent and trying so hard, and he’s always been such a good man and a good husband and father, and now we’re planning to send him away. Incredible guilt trips all round that we aren’t coping. Buggrit. I don’t often swear, but just buggrit. So very scary what dementia can do.
So, I’ve enrolled on the pottery course I’ve been coveting, alongside my daughter who actually volunteered to accompany me. Although I’ve played with polymer clay and air drying clay, I haven’t touched the real thing since school. Am currently obsessing over pottery videos and websites. I’ve discovered that my stash of Super Sculpey is completely unusable after ten years of storage, although the Fimo isn’t too bad and just needs a lot of working. I would love to be able to produce some of my drawings as relief pictures in clay. I just love this video and maybe I could do something similar with animal drawings. Then there’s the potential for pots with animals on. Pots in animal shapes. Rat head shaped ocarinas? So many ideas in my head! Bwah!
The pottery course doesn’t actually begin until 25th April, but I’ve got a pile of air-drying clay so time to play. Here are last weekend’s and this weekend’s attempts. Usual topic. Just playing with pinch pots so far and I need so much more practice. The ears aren’t right yet.
Take care folks. xx
I took eight of my rats to help with a rat promotion stand at the National Exhibition Centre last Saturday. We saw an incredible number of people, many of whom had had rats in the past or were considering them as pets. The idea was to offer people the opportunity to stroke or even hold a rat, so we all took as many rats along as possible because they do get very tired at these events. Six of my rats took it fairly well, they allowed the visitors to stroke or hold them, but they were glad to return to their cage. Hickory didn’t get taken out much because he was determined to get onto the floor, which I didn’t feel was such a great idea. The big surprise was my one year old blue agouti boy, Grundy. He decided it was his mission to visit every shoulder in the building. People only had to put their arm out to stroke him and he was suddenly sitting on their shoulder. Several times he shoulder surfed from person to person, making it hard to keep track of him. Somehow he must have known which people to trust, because not once did he cross to someone who panicked at his presence. He even made a couple of fairly long jumps to reach his targets. It was a complete revelation to me to see this side of his character and he spend most of the day out meeting people, hiding in the rat pouch when he had had enough but then emerging again when he realised I was talking to someone new that needed to be ratified. I’m so glad I chose his group to take along.
I’ve been keeping rats as pets since 2001 and breeding rats under the name of ‘Brandywine Stud’ since 2008. The name was chosen because of its link with the Brandywine Bridge in The Hobbit, as my little ratty friends always seem like little hobbit people to me and they certainly have the requisite hairy feet. I think, though, that my breeding phase is coming to a close. I’m not going to say that I will never breed another litter, but there are more demands on my time at the moment and, dare I say it, I feel it’s time to give myself the option of going on holiday once in a while. My standards of record keeping and updating have been slipping for a while now, and although I still make time for each cage of rats to come out to play every day, it’s increasingly difficult to fit my parents, adult children, other family, book creation, crochet, crafts, reading, computer, housework and my job around them. Time to ease off for a while. I never want to be without ratties in my life, but maybe just a couple of cages.
And more sleep.
The Fanciful Rats colouring book went live late last Sunday and is selling better than I anticipated, although presumably mostly to people I know. I’m really pleased with the way it turned out, albeit a little nervous that it won’t be to everyone’s taste. There are only so many ways you can draw a rat to colour in without drawing patterns all over him or her.
This is my sample image from the book. There are a lot of different styles in this book, so it was hard to choose which image to represent them all. If you know of any groups or forums that would like this, I would appreciate it very much if you would share it.
It looks as if the theme of the next colouring book will be…
Wait for it…
It’s probably not going to be the most profitable of subjects, as the market will presumably the subset of people who both like rats and enjoy colouring. But the rat community have been so supportive of the butterflies book that I’ve put the intended next topic on hold and switched to ratties. I have a good collection of rat drawings to start things off, and it’s beginning to looks as if it’s not as hard to decorate ratties as I thought it would be.
That’s the title of my new book. The phrase is something of a family joke, because many years ago, whilst running a ratabilia stall at a local rat show, there was a small girl with an enormous pet rat who repeatedly came up to us to say ‘I love rats, I do’. Ever since then, whenever the rats have done something particularly cute, silly or gross, we’ve come out with the phrase.
I knew that this book should be a children’s book, but it’s taken me a very long time to put it together. First of all, it needed pictures, so I bought some graphics software and a graphics tablet to plug into my pc, and set about learning to draw. Well as I’ve said on here before, it turns out that the best way around my colour-blindness is to draw directly onto the photographs. Smudge painting. Even cheating like that, it’s taken me several months to gather the right photos and turn them into images that work with the book and that feel good enough to inflict on the public. Then there was the text. It took a couple of false starts to begin moulding it into something I felt right about. Somehow I hit upon a look and a style that suited the topic, and off I went. It felt as if the images were taking forever to produce, and then suddenly they were all finished and it was just the text that needed a final polish. The typeface was a particularly happy find. It’s opendyslexic alta, which is very easy to read and suited the style of the book beautifully.
So now I’m watching the first few purchases and waiting to see how the reviews go, if any come along.
Time to start work on the next book, I guess.
We went to our local rat show last Sunday. It was the club’s 14th birthday, and I’ve been going to the shows almost from the beginning. The Midlands Rat Club is a very pet oriented and family friendly club, but we do enjoy showing our rats as well.
It’s taken me a few days to arrange all the photos for the club website, but I think they’re all in now. I’ve also put together a video of the show.