Little Cut-out Poems Under Glass

Browsing folksy websites (sounds like a Cocteau Twins song), I was moved to commit this week’s Creatively Different Wednesday to the business of pendant making. Like babies and ASMR devotees, I am dribbling-lulled by ‘how to’ videos on You Tube; thence sleepwalking into Hobbycraft with the back-up pretence of buying a frame, where I blow a spectacular £14 on the circles, ovals, cabochons and glue – starter-kit for my new project: aware there are prices much lower online, but for kick-off I so need to handle these things – plus, I like the staff in Hobbycraft; they’re nicely attuned to their audience, and their ‘have a good day’s always sound so… meant. And then later to the next town down, with its pinball-machine-like riot of charity shops – counter-culturally not such a symbol of rental gloom; last year this town was awarded Britain’s Best High Street. There to buy the new old material for the cut-outs to make up my jewels.

I need backgrounds, bases, stages for the briefest cut-out poems. It’s a pleasure to thumb through bookshelves knowing what I’m looking for, and quickly I’ve amassed a bounty of the etched and rococo (actually a Cocteau Twins song) and washed-out blue-greens of early offset printing. And another dated map of Wales. £4.25 in total, but this includes a book I’ll send on elsewhere, and a really fab find in The Dairy Book of Household Management (1980), general editor one Neil Tennant – yes, later of Pet Shop Boys – which I figure (providing I leave it intact) will be worth billions at some point, and its pictures of orange kitchens are superb.

I am pretty rubbish with glue. And worse still at waiting, or following tips; and when my scissors drift off course I’m more inclined to observe that than to stop. None of which madness troubles me much anymore. After a mere half-hour the bench I’m working at resembles the inside of the motorhome in Breaking Bad. I laugh and I hunker back down. These are my cut-out moments; reunions with the act of making those poems: and though I know the needs are different here, the soft-eyed hunt for the words is the beautiful same, as are the texts where the chase takes place, and I feel as connected as I ever did.

  1. Extravagantly Happy, But


My first understanding of my new limited space. Words battle over prettily selected screens and I have to relinquish something; but the mooning lens fixed over the top somehow rescues the perilous edges, and the piece is a not-so-bad beginning. Until, that is, the glue; applied too freely and brushed about too slowly, means in a certain light there won’t be any great ‘drying clear’ to boast of. The window to my left is not my friend, and through pound-shop magnifying spectacles I’m at a loss exactly what I’m looking at. Already, it’s too much fun.

  1. As Far As Home


Oval. Fancy. Bronze. I have a book of the sea and there are maps in amber and navy; place-name lettering in something like an inky hand. The trick is getting places in the frame; which hour of trying results in defeat – New Hampshire down to Connecticut and Massachusetts; New York curving to New Jersey, will not stand, and so eventually Lake Ontario heads up the top, with a lower M of Maryland near-lost beneath a glue bubble colony: not uneffective, but how to know this will happen?

  1. Sundays Under the Buffalo


Birds appear in the books I have bought; birds coaxed from filigree’d cages. Words again smother them: I may have to consider finding smaller point type, but remind myself this is all an experiment. Something happens with the glue and the print on the pages of this book – sky-blue blooms spread at the edges, and a therefore faster fixing of the cabochon creates more inky school-bag Quinkiness; which effect I don’t mind at all.

  1. 1989


At last I am making more mistakes; lazy cuttings and ill-fitting text and the time is against me. So I just go for anything – something new. Old sketches, doodles, even a rummage through discarded Post-Its – and then reach for a well-dated collection of notes nearby. A studiously spiral-bound gathering of things I used to write: an audacious pitch to an early Film4; a record of madly hitchhiking; character studies, and clippings from Viz. I cut out the date-stamping and the glue on top I squish uncaringly so it would bubble… anyhow. Crystaling and lacing happen acid-like and icy. And I think the piece as it works overall, and how it comes about, makes this my favourite one of these first four.

Well, now I’ve ordered more – and slightly larger – trays and cabochons, to come by next Wednesday; and I’ve found some better stuff online about applying glue. Which I shall no doubt ignore. So… let’s cook.

About Stevie Mitchell

I come from a long line of cartoons and beer. I was once peed on by a tiger. Hoping the resultant super-powers are yet to come, cos if these are they, then, grrrr....
This entry was posted in craft, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Little Cut-out Poems Under Glass

  1. Lovely. And strangely, they remind me of my Great Aunt Hilda, who, if I may glue, stick and magnify in this wonderful cliché, “Lived to a ripe old age”. I hope to live to an Under Ripe Old Age and have a small cache of ‘cabochons’ (word of the week) when I go.

  2. weebluebirdie says:

    Loving the talk through 🙂 I don’t suppose many of the non-artys get just how much effort it takes to get to the essence of what is needed!

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