Thursday, 4 March 2010

Amulet #32 - Head Above Water

I had an email from my friend Itta who said she had stumbled across my blog and empathized strongly with Amulet #30, saying "I wonder what I am looking for, and if it really matters what I am looking for or what I will find, but I will find it, have to find it, so if I keep going it should appear somewhere, pop it's head out and say hello." Itta said that she would probably make her own version of the amulet to put in the pot plant on her desk to encourage herself to "keep looking".

I am really glad that these sentiments make sense to other people and this amulet is now winging its way to Itta, to help her keep her head above water and (as she puts it) to protect her from "the drowning effect of the too many questions my tutors will throw at me!"

I'm also very glad to report that Itta did create her own, very fine amulet and here is a picture of it...

Amulet #31 - Anti-rage device

Ok, so there are absolutely no excuses I could make that could justify the month-long hiatus I have had on this project. The MA deadlines just got too much for me, then I was away quite a lot, then I fell out of the habit slightly, then it was a month later... It is a shame really, as while I was doing my MA presentation in Celra, the amulets I just happened to have attached to various items of clothing had been attracting quite a lot of attention. I think there is something particularly 'useful' about the space created by these amulets - the excuse they provide for conversation and discussion of things to do with feeling protected.

Anyway, here is a long overdue and slightly out-of-focus photo of a special anti-rage device for my some-time fancyman, who needed something to signal his disapproval with others' behaviour on a hard day's park-rangering.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Amulet #30 - Don't give up just yet... part 2

My daily struggle with self-discipline continues! After staring at the blind that covers my shelves for far too long this morning in an attempt to delay getting out of bed, I though I might as well do something productive with the experience. Today's amulet is part of the "not giving up" theme that I am trying to think about this week and is also inspired by one of the 'encouraging banners' made as part of the Learning To Love You More project by Miranda July & Harrell Fletcher.

When I first saw a picture of the banner that said "You Will Find It", I didn't really respond to it but over the last few months it seems to be making a lot more sense. I think it has got something to do with not knowing exactly what you are looking for but knowing that it is out there somewhere, if you just keep looking.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Amulet #29 - Orchestrating Good Luck

I met with my friend Guy for coffee this afternoon and heard his fantastically positive retelling of his last few months, how he ended up going to Baltimore and will be co-presenting a paper with some kind of scientific expert in his field of research in Prague in a few months. He has obviously been doing a very good job of getting in touch with 'the right people' and telling them about what he is doing.

And what is his secret? He just writes to them or rings them up and tells them how interested he is in what they do and suggests that they should meet to discuss their mutual interests - good eh? So, I thought I would make this particular amulet as a reminder of the phrase he says he always keeps in the back of his mind (some words of wisdom from his Dad) - "Shy Bairns Get Nowt". I like it...

Now, there's just the simple matter of acting on it - I'll see what I can do!

Amulet #28 - Anti-hibernation

After two full days of not leaving the house (apart from a trip to the Co-op at the end of my road to get milk, cake and biscuits), I thought it was about time to make an amulet to remind me to "go outside", to leave the house more regularly and generally resist the temptation to hibernate! This is a very cute felt cuff I made while giving Amy's friend Julia some refresher knitting lessons yesterday evening.

All this computer-based stuff (preparing presentations, reading writing up etc) leads me to be far too sedentary and I'm sure I can't be alone in needing protection from this very specific type of harm.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Amulet #27 - Missing in action

This is an empty space where an amulet should be. I haven't made this amulet yet, due to sheer laziness (there is no excuse). Instead, I defrosted my freezer and watched 2 entire series of the mediocre (and yet, very watchable and quite addictive) TV series "The Book Club" on 4OD.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Amulet #26 - To combat crochet frustration

After yesterday's excellent CROCHET CLUB at Hannah's house, I was determined to make an anti-frustration amulet for my friend Maddy, who found herself a little susceptible to crochet rage! I think this also heralds the start of a self imposed 'not giving up' week in relation to this 100 Days project - it can be quite tough going making one of these everyday, but it is really satisfying when I manage it. I think the discipline of doing it is a very important part of my motivation for starting but I really need to work harder to not fall behind so regularly!

I also don't quite know how I am going to keep up when I head off again next weekend for 10 days away - maybe a series of travel related amulets? Or working with one specific format? Hmmm - all this thinking out loud could be bad for one...

Friday, 29 January 2010

Amulet #25 - To combat apathy

This amulet was a direct reaction to the Tory junk mail that came through my door this morning (you know, the one where a slightly botoxed 'Dave' Cameron is pretending to be a doctor and making hospital-bound ladies laugh). The only political leaflets that seem to come through my door are from the Conservatives and the BNP and this worries me - A LOT! Over the last week or so I have also been surprised by the number of people I have spoken to who are not registered to vote. So, today's amulet is a step towards combating political apathy. I'm not making a plea for you to vote for a specific party (but, obviously, it would be worth finding out what the different candidates stand for first...), just simply to get out and vote.

If you live in the UK and are not registered to vote, you can do so by going to - seriously, no excuses!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Amulet #24 - Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Now, I'm not renowned for being much of a fan of the 'earnest ice cream singing cornet La Roux' (thanks Mr Brooker) but I do find the lyrics to Bulletproof quite heartfelt and since finding an acoustic session version on youtube last week, I can't quite get the sentiment of the song out of my head! So, I thought I'd dedicate this amulet to the idea of being cautious about being swept off your feet.
(yes, sing along if you know the words)

And it has to be better than "I Will Survive"? Surely?

Although, having said all that, 'the red-haired one' does do a good job of wearing top notch accessories - have a look at to see where some of them came from...

Amulet #23 - Anti-Mouse

Sorry to interrupt the run of love-related amulets but today's amulet needed to take on quite a practical purpose. The mice are back - this is Mousehunt 3D - much like playing Mousehunt on Facebook (I can imagine), but with real mice and in my actual house.

In the picture you can see the devastating discovery Amy made in her cupboard - a perfectly channeled void in her digestives (it's quite sculptural and impressive actually but, you know, made by mice!). Here you also see her modeling the new anti-mouse amulet that can be worn by whoever needs a bit of extra bravery when setting the traps. Fingers crossed that they will be full in a few hours.

Amulet #22 - He loves me, he loves me not

Number 2 in the challenge to make this 'love-week' - this amulet is to protect the wearer against getting wrapped up in second-guessing what is going on in the other person's head and playing this on-going version of the daisy game "S/He Loves Me, S/He Loves Me Not". Could be easier said than done though?

***SIDE NOTE*** Supplies for this weeks amulets are mainly drawn from stuff Woolworths was selling off excessively cheap before its sad demise.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Amulet #21 - Prevention from broked-heartedness

In honour of the challenge issued by Josie Long to make this week "Love Week" on the 100 Days Project, here is the first of my responses. This fine advice features in the fabulous lyrical stylings of Dan Le Sac VS Scroobius Pip's epic Thou Shalt Always Kill, alongside such equally important commandments as Thou Shalt Not Watch Holloyaks, Thou Shalt Not Quote Me Happy and Thou Shalt Spell The Word "Pheonix" P-H-E-O-N-I-X not P-H-O-E-N-I-X, Regardless Of What The Oxford English Dictionary Tells You.

Search for it on youtube, turn your speakers up and put a smile on your face!

(Or press play on the video I have kindly embedded here... you know, which ever is easier)

PS - as you may notice, a number of the 'love-themed' amulets may be a little bittersweet, but they are, after all, meant to protect you from harm...

Amulet #20 - To assist in not falling behind

OK, so I have had to do quite a bit of catching up over the last few days (missing out a day or two of this lark really throws you!). Today's amulet (a padded felt ring) is inspired by the only 'catch-up' joke I know, lifted from Pulp Fiction... apologies in advance for the quality of my delivery...

Three tomatoes are walking down the road, Mommy Tomato, Poppa Tomato and Little Baby Tomato. Baby Tomato starts lagging behind. Poppa Tomato gets angry, goes over to the baby tomato, and smooshes him... and says, "Catch Up!" (ketchup)

Mmmm, yes - anyway, there's more on its way!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Amulet #19 - Don't give up just yet....

Sweatband #2 and request #4 - This is a special amulet for my friend Tim who needs something to remind him not to give up just yet when he is out running! Hopefully, you can just about see that it says KEEP GOING. This is part of the giant catchup after the weekend (the extreme duration did get to me in the end...). More on its way.

Mary (my amulet assistant on Friday) has also set me the challenge of making an amulet that can remind her of reasons that she should keep telling her children that it is better to be good that bad. As she put it - I'm paraphrasing here - "It is often difficult to believe what you are saying to them when you can see 'badness' being rewarded almost everywhere in the world around you". This is a really tricky one... any help would be appreciated!!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Amulet #18 - To protect against excessive duration

I managed to whip this amulet up during the opening speaker's presentation at The Pigs of Today Are The Hams Of Tomorrow, while watching Marina Abramovic give a 15 minute presentation from her sickbed via Skype. Thank you to my lovely friend Mary who acted as my glamourous assistant/surgery nurse, passing me pins, thread etc as I worked! On a weekend that demanded a lot from its audience (3 days of speakers, durational performances, interventions, debates and conversations - 7:30am starts and very late bedtimes!), this miniature sleeping bag was my little reminder to take a break every so often and embrace whatever cosiness is possible in freezing cold warehouses!

***NEWS FLASH*** - yesterday's amulet has now been immortalized as part of a very beautiful photograph by performance-superstar-photographer Hugo Glendinning and the quite fantastic Performance Re-Enactment Society. Hopefully I'll be able to get a copy of the image soon...

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Amulet #17 - To prevent forgetting the important details

So, I'm on a bit of a roll with the requests! Today's amulet was made specially for Cara who has been staying at mine while she is working on the "The Pigs Of Today Are The Hams Of Tomorrow" event here in Plymouth. As part of the weekend's activities, Cara is taking part in The Performance Re-enactment Society's UNTITLED PERFORMANCE STILLS project. She was a little bit scared that she might forget some of the important details of the performance she wanted to describe, so I rustled up this fine amulet to make it impossible to make mistakes.

I think this is also a bit of a hang-over from the 'snow-wars' truce amulet - I don't think I got that one quite right! It is a shame that I'm not in a place full of snow anymore really... Maybe I will just have to work out more situations where truces/surrender would be useful...

Amulet #16 - A reminder that other people need more time

Request number two - this amulet is crafted especially for my friend Avi who expressed his need for something to prevent him rushing other people or getting frustrated when people go too slowly. The wristband has the letters S P N M T stitched onto it, standing for Some People Need More Time. Seeing as Avi doesn't wear a watch, this should probably be worn on the left wrist (in place of the missing watch).

When we were talking about the project and this idea of making amulets (a practice that Avi reckons is still relatively common in Israel where he comes from), we were talking about the importance of the 'consultation' between the person who needs the amulet and the person who is making it. I suppose it works a little like a placebo - that by having some kind of treatment for the problem, by simply 'taking something for it' you would immediately start to feel better.

I have to say, it is also feels pretty good to make things especially 'for' other people - who knows, by the end of the 100 days I might have actually be a better person after all!

Amulet #15 - MA Research Touchpiece

After identifying my need for an amulet to aid in focusing on important tasks and a semi-successful day of trying to get my brain back into thinking clearly about the direction of my research for my MA, I decided to make this amulet. This is a kind of adaptation of a Hipster PDA (a trend I have always quite liked for its tongue-in-cheek response to technology fetishists). I intend to keep filling this up with key-phrases that I'm using in my research. It should also operate as kind of a 'touchpiece' that can be worn by pinning it onto clothing.

So, it's not quite blinkers, but maybe the next best thing at the moment!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Amulet #14 - Stop The Wasp

I had to make this WASP badge, as this piece of anti-exam stress advice I found last night was just far too good! This is the first of the amulets to come with instructions and an overly complicated mnemonic - something that may well appear as a recurring theme. I really like the idea of sitting there, blank-mindedly, in the exam, trying to remember what 'Stop The Wasp' actually stands for...

You can see the original text in full at

I am hoping that this week I will actually get round to making the amulet to aid in focusing on important tasks, as my procrastination tactics seem to be reaching new depths. I caught myself earlier making notes about my fondness for wasting time by reading blogs about productivity techniques - surely I can not be alone in this compulsion?

I definitely need some kind of physical restraint to remind me of what I should be doing and not getting wildly sidetracked - some kind of blinkers maybe?

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Amulet #13 - To combat pre-exam nerves

This amulet is the first of the requests... My housemate Amy is feeling a little bit nervous about her exam tomorrow, so I have left this out on the table waiting for her in the morning. Seeing as everyone knows that tea is the favoured currency of those who share close proximity, the mug (avec amulet attachment) has a fine fruit teabag ready and waiting inside for the 8am brew.

In other tea/100 Days related news, why not have a look at the (sometimes tea-induced) smiles collected by Dominic McKenna or photos on flickr of 100 days of tea by Mr Dudders - nice, nice, nice!

Amulet #12 - No Cancellations (due to extreme weather conditions)

I have had my fingers crossed for a few days that "The Big Freeze" in the UK would have finished by the time I was flying, and I am happy to report that I got home safe and sound, without even a hint of snow! This amulet is the first one that hasn't taken some kind of object form but when I was playing around with ideas for something that could protect me from flight cancellations due to snow, this kind of graphic form seemed to work best. I think it would also make an excellent repeat pattern for a jumper design (old-fashioned Christmas jumper style), or perhaps a fetching ski-headband but, alas, one day just wouldn't be long enough for me to get it knitted!!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Amulet #11 - Never can say goodbye...

After three and a half excellent months here, the time has come to say goodbye to Berlin and return to England. Today's amulet is designed to help me actually "say goodbye" - I am really not very good at endings... at all. So, I'm hoping that by combining two of my favourite pass-times - pilfering lines from pop-songs and wearing homemade badges - I can get a little bit better at it. It's 9:28 now and I have already done my first proper "goodbye" and a slightly awkward shaking-of-hands-rather-than-hug manoevure with my flatmate. Surely I can only get better at this as the day goes on?

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Amulet #10 - To protect goods in transit

Great, I seem to have caught up with myself!! Today's amulet has quite a practical function - to guard some of my possessions as they are shipped back to the UK. After reading the fantastically named article "In One Piece (Wrapping & Packaging Advice)" on Royal Mail's website (it's not the first time - it appeals to my love of excessive advice and regulations!), I thought it would be a good idea to include the postal address *inside* the package, as well as on the outside. So, I made this special "In Transit" amulet.

The design is a bit of a call-back to the beautifully unintelligible Pioneer plaque or Voyager's Golden Record - two great attempts to communicate with beings that (would most likely) share none of our cultural reference points, visual signification codes or languages! The card features a block of text (below) translated into binary, the geographical co-ordinates of Berlin and Plymouth, and the distance between the two places in kilometers. If you are very bored, you can see what the translated message says by cutting and pasting the text below into this binary translator.

01010000-01101100-01100101-01100001 -01110011-01100101-00100000-01101100-01101111 -01101111-01101011-00100000-01100001 -01100110-01110100-01100101-01110010-00100000 -01101101-01111001-00100000-01110011 -01110100-01110101-01100110-01100110-00101110-
00100000-00001101-00001010-00001101 -00001010-01010100-01101000-01100001 -01101110-01101011-00100000-01111001 -01101111-01110101-00101110-

Amulet #9 - Always looking for your pencil sharpener?

Wednesday's amulet is very simple - I have wanted to make this ever since I bought this particular pencil sharpener (which has a cute little "R" for Rachel, oh yes, and "Right-handed" on that curved bit under the blade), so today was the day it was finally realized. My pencil sharpener is now wearable and therefore significantly less losable.

I was talking with Avi on Tuesday about how much 'red' is going on in my amulets and generally in the jewelery I choose and wear. I think I might have to find out more about red as a colour of good fortune and integrity - giving Chinese Red Pockets for good luck and the fashionable adoption of Kabbalah-style red string to ward off the evil eye are just two examples that spring to mind.

Good to see that the red string is linked to everyone's favourite biblical character too!

" Sometimes, the string has been wound in large quantities around the tomb of the Hebrew Biblical matriarch Rachel, near Bethlehem. It is considered to have great powers of "good fortune" and grant added divine protection to those who wear it." (Red String: Wikipedia)

Amulet #8 - Anti Mind Manipulation

So, Tuesday was busy... and this has meant a bit of catching up on the 100 Days project! This addition to the ever growing collection is inspired (dually) by a conversation I was having with my friend Ollie about how to talk to strangers you quite fancy and Neil Rose's frankly bizarre research paper (in a good way!) from his new RESIDUUM project/exhibition. Ok, so, I know that the Zenner Cards are really more to do with ESP than those who might use Neuro-Linguistic Programming Methods to seduce women, but maybe they could also ward off the kind of man you will see in this video and his "Blissnosis" technique - it is genuinely quite scary!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Amulet #7 - Snowball Truce

After an increase in the number of snowball wars over the last 10 days, (not least the Kreuzberg vs Neuk├Âlln spectacular yesterday) I have been trying to find a good way of signaling the desire to reach a truce. Today's amulet is a kind of prototype armband (due, mainly to lack of useful materials!), that could be used to 'wave the white flag'.

"The white flag is an internationally recognized protective sign of truce or ceasefire, and request for negotiation. It is also used to symbolize surrender, since it is often the weaker military party which requests negotiation. A white flag signifies to all that an approaching negotiator is unarmed, with an intent to surrender or a desire to communicate. Persons carrying or waving a white flag are not to be fired upon, nor are they allowed to open fire." (White Flag: Wikipedia)

Other shortlisted ideas:
  • gloves with "Don't Throw" printed/sewn onto the palms of the hands
  • a white flag on the end of a flexi tent pole you can wear on the back of your coat or backpack
  • a little pocket in the palm of a glove that could be unzipped and unfurl a white flag, waved by waving your hand
Hmmm, I think there may be a backlog of sewing-based amulets I'll need to make when I get back to my sewing supplies in Plymouth!

Amulet #6 - Burn-out Prevention

It was Sunday - what else could I have possibly suggested?

Amulet #5 - To Ward Off Excessive Drunkenness

Well, after waking up feeling very sorry for myself on Saturday morning, I thought that it might be time to adopt some magical thinking. This amulet (which is, in fact, a full sized real-life edible pizza) required spending a decent amount of time preparing my tea, which, in turn, meant that I felt quite well looked after before starting out on another late night.

I have also been thinking for the last few days about that stuff from Wikipedia about inscriptions in food and how the amulets themselves could be used as a prompt or way to coerce the body into a particular type of action or movement. I'm sure these things will be cropping up again in the next few days...

Amulet #4 - Last Train Home

This amulet was 'cooked up' (ha ha, groan - terrible puns!) over brunch at Will, Anne and Ulysses' house, thanks mainly to an idea Will came up with. The ring is made from a folded U-Bahn ticket (in all its holographic glory) with the times of the last U-Bahn trains home written carefully on the inside. Hopefully, you can get a close up look at it to see the exquisite detail of the DB logo (the train company). I think I'll stop before this gets all a bit too QVC...

By the way, I have very much been enjoying wearing the "When the dog bites..." amulet over the last few days - it's getting a good bit of attention and is a great excuse to introduce this project to the real-world.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Amulet #3 - Combat Lack Of Sleep

I think this is my favourite so far. As usual, somehow, I frittered away a lot of my time today, but determined to actually complete my task before going to bed, I came up with this idea while brushing my teeth. What can I say, I love a deadline! I've really got to get better at this very quickly if I am going to last out one hundred days...

I was reading something really nice earlier about making inscriptions in food -

"Talismans used by these peoples can be broken down into three main categories. The first are the types carried or worn on the body. The second version of a talisman is one which is hung upon or above the bed of an infirm person. The last classification of talisman is one with medicinal qualities. This latter category of item can be further divided into external and internal. In the former, one could, for example, place an amulet in a bath. The power of the amulet would be understood to be transmitted to the water, and thus to the bather. In the latter, inscriptions would be written or inscribed onto food, which was then boiled. The resulting broth, when consumed, was assumed to transfer the healing qualities engraved on the food into the consumer." (Amulet: Wikipedia)

Maybe I can start incorporating this amulet-making more into my daily routines, or my meals, or something?

Amulet #2 - When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad...

Well, I am a day late posting this as I ended up staying up late with my friend Lukas to make things for our newly formed FLIRT SCHOOL on Saturday night, but as with all things, better late than never! Today's amulet takes its inspiration from Julie Andrews' rendition of the song "My Favourite Things" from The Sound of Music and some of the things I saw at the Stasi Museum at the weekend. There was a display of tiny folded and wrapped pieces of paper with bible verses written on them, smuggled into the DDR inside something that looked like dates.

So, like she suggests, in an attempt to not feel so bad, I'm going to be remembering snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes (you can see where this came from, it is still snowing everyday here!), brown paper packages tied up with string, and of course, raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

And if it is all too saccharine for you, maybe you'd like Negativland's cut and paste version or a bit of Outkast doing it as drum'n'a'bass jazz - smooth!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Amulet #1 - Anti-Hangover

With a short time limit (30 minutes before I had to get on to skype for LOW PROFILE presentation for agents working on Control Point in Plymouth) and limited supplies gleaned from the contents of my bedroom, I have manufactured this beauty! I couldn't decide which design I liked the best, so made both. I will now be wearing the more pictorial version (left) to the pub...

100 days

Ok, so this is it! For the next 100 days I will be making one amulet (like wikipedia says, "an object that protects a person from trouble") each day, photographing it, and posting it on here. As I'm coming a little late to the project (only saw it last night!), I'll just have to do my best to catch up... You can see what it is all about on

Now, I had best get off and make the first one - fingers crossed!