Recently I got involved in the Discworld swap.
My partner said she had a special interest in Nanny Ogg and I kind-of got inspired. It turned into a huge parcel, thank goodness for inland postage!
this is the bag and most of it's contents.
I don't have any before pictures, to show how much it's changed, nor any more detail pictures, sadly.
It started off as a tan, pristine briefcase, lined and pocketed, neat and tidy. I got it from the thrift store, but I suspect it was an unwanted gift. It had a a great clasp and I decided that if nothing else worked, I could salvage that for the bag I wanted to send. Nanny Ogg is a witch who gets most of her things by hand-me-down, a pristine tan briefcase would really be nothing of hers. and besides there wasn't the space for any of the bits and pieces she'd need.
The first thing I did was to polish it with black shoe polish, to darken it, well, it sort of worked, but was nowhere near enough. So then I worked on the shape so I took out the lining, and removed the dividers which gave a lot more space and made it look a lot more like a doctor's bag, so I was much happier with that, but it looked brand new still and still dark tan. Sigh.
So I took some sandpaper to it, rubbed it down all over to give a better key for the polish and polished again. Better, much better, but still not quite dark enough. And still looking new.
I took the sandpaper to it again and concentrated on the edges, corners and likely wear places. Much better, beginning to look as if it's seen a little life. But now all the bits I've been really aggressive with are far to pale. Polish it again. Yes, I like that, the colour looked a lot better and it didn't look so new.
But Nanny Ogg has a cat, a really mean and viscious cat, It had to have some claw marks. I took a scalpel to it: it pretty much healed immediately. Hmm, I took a nail to it, that made good scratch marks, but I had real difficulty making them parallel, like claws. Aha! I went into the kitchen and found the carving fork: perfect (but it did take alot of washing up afterwards). Time for another polish. Good, but it looked too nice still.
Time for a rethink. It needed repairs, after all it had been used for a long time. I bound the handle with string as if it had split and been repaired, I stitched over the original stitching in several places as if it had burst & been repaired and I decided I had to do some real damage to it: I pried off one of the corner re-inforcements, so I made sure that the re-stitching there was actually functional as well as show-y. I also decided that the fastening would probably have broken, after all, it is a midwifery bag, things would probably have grabbed out of there in a hurry. But I didn't really want to actually break to fastener: it is supposed to be useful after all this! I tied a bit of string to the clasp and wound it round the bag and used it to close the bag. The string prevented the lock from closing which was great: just untie the string and the bag would be fine, leave the string on and it looks old & battered: win, win.
The outside and the shape were just what I wanted now. However the inside, despite having the lining ripped out looked very tidy. Also there was nothing to say it was Nanny's bag. It needed a label, so I put together a gummed label that seemed appropriate and stuck it inside. It still looked a bit pristine in there. So I mixed up some of my acrylic paints to get a really revolting brown, diluted it down with pva glue and smeared it over the inside with my hands for a really uneven coating. Lovely, like it had been used, and used, and used.
So next I had to consider what went in a midwifery bag that was full of "things you hope you never need". I could have gone down the gruesome route, but my partner had specified she wanted useful things. So, I decided that you never wanted to see a home that poor.
- an old towel
- unpaper towels
- dried frog (calming) pills for nervous husbands
- needle & thread in an old tobacco tin
- candle & matches
- spirits and a glass for sterilising, the bottle was filled with a brown bubble-bath to simulate whisky, the label says Bearhuggers Whisky aged 8 minutes! and the drawing is the University tower (a landmark in the fictional city it comes from)
- some pages from an old copy of Grey's Anatomy
- oh, and in the back I put a few thank you letters and Greebo the cat had put a mouse in there