Creating Balance with Anglepoise

I’ve never had a particular fascination with lamps. Yes, they can look nice and I appreciate there are various different designs to suit different tastes, but essentially they’re a rather practical thing. You switch it on so you can see better. So when I heard (rather later than everyone else in Portsmouth, it seems) that Anglepoise was teaming up with Strong Island and the University of Portsmouth (UoP) for a creative project called Creating Balance, I must admit I didn’t jump in the air with excitement.

Creating Balance 5

An iconic British brand, Anglepoise is famous for its instantly recognisable lamps. Think of a traditional desk lamp, and you’re most likely thinking of the shape of an Anglepoise lamp. They’re practical yet pleasing in an aesthetic way, as well as energy efficient.

When I first met with Paul Gonella of Strong Island back in the Autumn to discuss joining their team of local writers for the website, I noticed a pile of brochures showcasing the Creating Balance Project, and thus my interest was piqued.

They had taken a simple, everyday object – the lamp – and captured it in a whole new light. If you’re in Portsmouth then do look out for one of these A5 booklets, as they’re full of awesome photography and a lot of lamp action! Just flicking through the pages makes you realise how many creative spirits there are on our little island (Portsmouth’s on an island, don’t you know!), and how much talent this creative community has.

The Creating Balance project, organised by photographer and UoP lecturer Claire Sambrook, twinned 10 artists with 10 local photographers and gave them an Anglepoise lamp (or several) to play with. According to the brochure, “the aim was to explore the true meaning of balance at work and in life and to document its significance in the creative process”.

I work at the University of Portsmouth, where the new part of Eldon Building, which houses the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, has just opened. It includes a ground-floor exhibition space, which is currently home to several art installations, including a seemingly uniform cluster of Anglepoise lamps.

I say seemingly, because as you get closer to the display, you start to notice all the little discrepancies and variations in positioning – a little lower here, a fraction higher there. Portsmouth people can wander down to Eldon Building and take a look, and I believe the newly-opened coffee shop there is also open to the public. If you’re in the area and want to see more of the exhibition, pop down to the Aspex Gallery in Gunwharf Quays from now until 2nd March.

I took a few shots of the installation in the Eldon Building (see above), called Changing Faces, which complements and connects to the Creating Balance project. I tried to give a sense of the almost mesmerizing quality of it. However, please bear in mind I’m no photographer, and was using an iPhone 4S! I’d like to say they’re in circles because I thought it would be in keeping with the circular heads of the lamps, but in reality I’ve just discovered how to make an image gallery in WordPress and am working my way through the different display options with far too much enthusiasm.

Getting crafty and creative

There’s a creative streak running in my family. My grandad on dad’s side painted, grandma on mum’s side is always cross-stitching or making cards to sell, my mum keeps beautiful scrapbook diaries, and then there’s my little sister, perhaps the most creative of us all.

Amie and I were always making things as kids, not necessarily functional things, more pretty and crafty things. We also both loved to write, me scribbling stories and Amie penning poems. In recent years, I’ve sadly had less time to get out the glue, fabric, needle and thread, but where my craft projects have been neglected Amie has become a prolific maker of beautiful things.

Papercraft butterfly

"We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it's forever." Carl Sagan

“We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it’s forever.” Carl Sagan

One of my favourites is this lovely papercraft butterfly. To make it Amie downloaded an outline from the internet, fastened it over the top of her chosen coloured card, then cut out the shape.

For the butterfly mount she glued some coloured card or paper over a chocolate box divider for height. For the quote mount she used an old box and glued the card to that. Then she attached both mounts to the backing card, which she’d measured out using the frame size of the box frame.

The butterfly was attached by the body with a foam glue dot. The final touch was added by bending the wings to give the butterfly lift.

Crochet hook travel case

Something I’ve always wanted to try my hand at is crocheting. Amie made this little item to hold her crochet hooks from leftover scraps just the other day.

Here are her instructions on how to make one:

Crochet travel hook holder

Crochet hook travel case

You will need:

size 9mm hook

chunky wool

elastic strip

piece of material

needle and thread


Slip knot onto hook.

Chain 30 stitches ( I just measured chain against hook, with at least a couple stitches either side).

Chain 2 more ( from your initial chain). This will count as the first double crochet.

Row 1: dc into bottom of each chain.

Row 2: chain 1, dc into each chain (at this point, you’ll be able to see the hole between each dc – this is where you dc into).

Continue until desired length, depending on how many hooks you have/plan to have.

sl st (slip stitch) and pull thread through the loop (last chain) and cut, leaving a bit of wool left dangling.

Choose a button.

Fold your crochet rectangle in thirds and see where button needs to be placed.

To create chain loop for button, measure where you want your loop so that it corresponds with your button.

Then tie your wool through the selected chain (on the outer edge of your crochet piece).

Chain however many you need to fit your button (7 for mine) and sl st and tie off as before with your main piece.

(You can always test that the loop fits your button after sl st, as this can be undone).

Sew button in place.

Measure out material against crocheted rectangle. Allow for 1/2 inch/1cm seam allowance.

Fold over material and tack to secure if you wish.

Iron folds flat.

Measure out elastic strip.

Secure elastic to material (this will be what holds your hooks in place).

Allow for gaps between hooks.

Pin elastic to ensure that it doesn’t slip about whilst stitching.

Use hooks to space stitches or just gestimate 🙂

I just used vertical stitches, at the correct intervals, to secure my elastic.

Tuck ends of elastic under material and make sure loose ends of wool are also tucked between the crochet layer and the material layer.


Simply use a small running stitch to secure.

There’s a lot of trial and error with this sort of experiment!

For crocheting tips and patterns plus other creative ideas, Amie suggests checking out