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Making a Frank Sidebottom head

This may be the weirdest thing I have ever blogged. And I have talked about my arsehole being sewn up. But I made a Frank Sidebottom style head for my husband’s birthday and I have had a few requests to share how I did that. And why…

Birthday gifts during lockdown are tough! Yes, you can order online but not all shops are offering delivery and there was a worry of whether things would turn up on time. So I decided to make a Frank Sidebottom style head that looked like my husband. As you do.

Who is Frank Sidebottom?

Frank Sidebottom, for those who don’t know, was a character in the 80s and 90s and beyond created by Chris Sievey known for his large spherical head. Singer, musician and comedian, Frank became well known through his own TV shows and appearances on other shows.

In 2014, the movie Frank was released and was inspired by the life of Frank Sidebottom. For a more real life look, the documentary Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story “explores the extraordinary secret life of artist Chris Sievey, best known as his alter ego Frank Sidebottom, the maverick Northern comedian in a fake head.”

Frank Sidebottom

So I decided to make a Frank head that looked (a bit) like my husband as what more would a 48 year old man want for his birthday??

how to make a Frank sidebottom head

I started with a beach ball, a stack of old newspaper torn into strips and a tub of PVA glue. I blew up the beach ball and propped it on a bowl to make it steady. For the paper mâché paste, I used two parts PVA glue to one part water and mixed in a bowl. I tore newspaper into strips about 1.5-2cm wide and started sticking them over the beach ball. You need to let it dry between each layer. I laid the strips in opposite directions for each layer and did 5 layers.

paper mâché frank Sidebottom head

Once it was all completely dry, I undid the valve on the beach ball to let the air out and eased my hand down the sides to release it and squeeze the air out until it was empty and I could pull it out of the hole at the bottom. I then trimmed the bottom neck hole to the size of an average head to get it on and off. Then using some cardboard, I shaped ears and a nose and stuck them to the head with masking tape and then added more layers of paper mâché over the top of these to form into proper shapes.

paper mâché frank Sidebottom head

Then it was painting time, as we are in lockdown, I had to use the paint that we had around the house. The kids had some acrylic paints from an art set and I had some tester paint pots from when we painted our hallway in cream colours. I added a bit of pink to the cream and used this as the skin colour. The hair is acrylic paint in brown.

paper mâché frank Sidebottom head

I drew around a pot to get a template for the eyes and then painted them in and used browns and reds for the eyebrows and lips.

paper mâché frank Sidebottom head home made

The Frank Sidebottom eyes are what makes Frank Frank and so I copied them in pencil and painted in. If I was just making a Frank, I could leave it there. But next I had to add the beard to make it look like my husband.

sam and Timm Cleasby

beard time

I painted in the beard and used a hole punch to pierce one ear. I made a hoop earring out of tin foil and then let it all dry. And voila!

DIY paper mâché frank Sidebottom head

OK, it may look a bit more like George Michael than Timm Cleasby but hey, I tried!! All in all, it took about 5 days to make, but the majority of that is the drying time between layers. If you took out the drying time, it was a few hours work. It was great fun to make and I knew it would be a birthday present that he wouldn’t forget.

what to get for the man who has everything

So what do you get the man who has everything? Well you make him a Frank Sidebottom style head that looks like him! (Disclaimer: this gift may only be appreciated by childish fools who giggle at farts)

unique home made gifts paper mâché frank Sidebottom head

Peace and love

Sam xx

Happy 5th Birthday SoBadAss!!

I can’t believe it has been five whole years since my little blog came to life and I am so proud of all I have been able to do in this time.  I began the blog as a diary for myself, a cathartic space for me to blurt out all that was going on in my life, I thought that perhaps my sister and friends may read it, but I never thought I would be sat here with over 3 million views!!

In 2013, I started with a flare up that just wouldn’t shift and for the first time, the options of surgery were mentioned. I started to google and though I found lots of medical information, I couldn’t find any UK based bloggers who were talking about Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Ulcerative Colitis or life with an ostomy bag.  There was one amazing American blogger called Inflamed and Untamed and her blog normalised this brand new life that I was facing, but there was a lot that didn’t feel very relevant to me as a Brit.

sam cleasby ileostomy colostomy bag blogger body positive so bad ass

And so So Bad Ass came to life.  A place for people to read about my experiences in the hope that they wouldn’t feel quite so alone if they were in a similar situation.

Five years, over 3 million views, TV appearances, magazine and newspaper articles, radio shows and talks all over the world, I can’t believe that I have been honoured enough to take the mantle and to become the poo lady!! I am so happy to have had such amazing opportunities and all of them came from this little part of the internet.

My first ever post on here was this picture… I am really pleased that my first message is still my strongest message, that kindness is at the root of all good things and that we all need to look after each other a lot more.

ibd ulcerative colitis and crohns

My first proper personal post was called Why Im choosing to have my bowel removed, a post about the options I was facing and my (probably somewhat naive) feelings about it all. Little did I know that this planned conversation with my consultant would never happen as within weeks, my flare up landed me in hospital for a week on IV steroids trying to relieve the symptoms and then I would face emergency surgery to remove my colon and get my first stoma, spend time in the HDU and then come to terms with the reality of life with an ostomy!

Five years and seven operations later, I have shared my story with you all, the highs and lows, the good times and the terribly shitty ones and I want to thank every one of you who reads, shares, likes and comments on this blog and my social media.  I can’t explain how much it means.

I get hundreds of messages every month and I do my best to reply to each and every one, to know that people trust me with their stories and want to share with me means everything.  To know that people all over the world think of me and send me their love brings me strength every time.  I just can’t thank you all enough.

sam cleasby ulcerative colitis ibd ileostomy surgery

From then…

Sam Cleasby surgery blogger

To now…

Life has changed so much in this time, highlights have been going on This Morning with Holly and Phil, going viral with the open letter, going on BBC breakfast, TWICE, going to the houses of parliament, doing talks in Edinburgh, Barcelona and many other places and co hosting an event with Ian Harding! It led me to work for the Metro and to so many unbelievable opportunities and experiences including my job at Scope and it developed my absolute joy and love of radio.

But more than any of those things, I just feel so honoured that I have been able to talk to so many people, to help and support, to give strength, honesty and hope. Every single message means the world, I don’t take this role lightly, I feel blessed to have this space and to have a voice and I hope I will always use it to help others and spread a bit of kindness.

Sam Cleasby Timm Cleasby

Thank you to Timm, who always believed in me and helps me so much with the blog, he takes care of all the techy side of things, takes photos and is always there to bounce ideas off.  He also doesn’t mind that I share so much of our life with the whole world! He is my rock and I don’t think I would have managed five years without him.

And so today I just want to celebrate this blog that came from such humble beginnings and has grown more than I ever thought possible.  As I said, five years ago I couldn’t find one single UK based IBD blog and so I started my own, now there are hundreds if not thousands and I am chuffed that someone heading into ostomy surgery in 2018 won’t face the isolation and feelings of being totally alone as I did in 2013.  They will be able to find so many stories to inspire them, bring them hope and answer their questions.

And that’s all I ever wanted, to bring some understanding around this disease and strip away the fears and taboos around ostomy bags and IBD.  I wanted to be able to hold out a hand to someone and say ‘yes, I understand’, I wanted to share this journey I have been on to give it meaning and a reason! I wanted to help, and I hope I have.

happy birthday blog

 

Happy Birthday So Bad Ass – here’s to the next five years!!!

 

Love Sam xx

It’s my birthday!

Today I turn 35… A day for celebrations. So why have I been up since 4am with anxiety crushing my chest?

I don’t know, I feel like the trauma of the past few years is catching up with me. I wake with my heart pounding, my hand on my bag, sweating, dry mouthed.  Panic and anxiety flood my mind and body. 

I get up and check on the kids, I check on the husband and the dogs. I check that phone chargers are switched off and unplugged (I have a fear of fires starting from chargers). I check my bag for leaks and try and settle back down. 

This happens often and then I wonder why I’m so exhausted in the day. I had blood tests recently to check my levels to see why I’m quite so tired.  Perhaps it’s less a physical thing and more a mental one. 

Sometimes I sit in awe of everything that’s happened in the past few years, it often all feels like a bad dream. Perhaps I’ll wake up and not be ill, not have a bag.  It catches me off guard when I think about just how broken my body is, when did this sneak up on me? 

  
I think it’s the permenance of it, this is it forever. There’s no ‘getting better’ from this, it’s my life now and the treatment that’s saved me is the cross I have to bear. Mixed emotions swamp me, I know I should be grateful for all the wonderful treatment I’ve received on the NHS, grateful that I’m alive and still standing! Yet sometimes I just feel sorry for myself.  

Why me? 

As I’ve said before, I’m pretty rubbish at sharing my feeling in real life.  I have awesome friends around me but I just done have the words to share my pain.  I mean, I do, because I write them here but they really stick in my throat when I try and speak out loud. 

I need to accept that it’s ok for me to feel bad about things.  I struggle massively with not being ok. I want everything to be peachy keen, rainbows, sparkles and mega lols and I feel guilty if I don’t feel positive. 

I’ve been thinking about counselling. Perhaps I need to talk to someone about what I’ve been through.  Perhaps my 35th year will be the one that sorts my head out as well as my body. 

Till then I’ll celebrate the things I’m lucky with. My amazing friends, my wonderful husband and the best kids ever. The fact that I’m reaching 35 when it all could have ended so badly. The fact that my bag saved my life. 

Happy Birthday me. 
Sam xx 

Happy Birthday Timm

It’s my boy’s birthday today and I just wanted to tell my amazing husband that he is awesome.

Happy happy birthday to the best bloke in the world, he is my hero and I just couldn’t have got through the last 2 years without him.

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Timm supports this blog and all my campaigns wholeheartedly with advice, help and of course his amazing photography.

He is just so inspiring, he is the hardest working person I know, he is a bloody wonderful dad and Charlie, Ellie, Thom and I couldn’t love him more.

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Happy Birthday Timm!

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Love Sam x

I have a (preliminary) surgery date!

I had my pre op appointment at the hospital this morning, I was nervous about what they would do but it was a really simple process of a few different health checks.

I had bloods taken, they are doing FBC, checking markers etc but also need to do a check on blood type as apparently if you have had a blood transfusion your antibodies can be very different.

They did swabs for MRSA and gave me a pack of swabs to do it again at home before the op.  This is because Im classed as a ‘regular visitor’ to the hospital… No shit Sherlock!!

They took my height and weight measurements, Im pleased to say I have lost just over a stone in the past three months.  Im aiming to try and lose a little more by the surgery date as the consultant says higher weight increases the risk of complications.

They then just asked A LOT of questions about my health and talked through my stay in hospital.

They also talked to me about having a high protein diet which apparently increases recovery rates and gave me these pre op drinks, it is a clear, lemon-flavoured, carbohydrate drink given as part of treatment before surgery.  “Undergoing surgery will put stress on the body. Research has shown having a carbohydrate drink reduces stress on the body. It has also been shown that it may reduce loss of muscle following surgery, which aids faster rehabilitation, and shortens hospital stay.”  Clever stuff!

My appointment took about an hour and a half and everyone was very nice, but had no idea on dates.

So I called my consultant’s secretary who let me know that a preliminary date of 30th April had been put in for me, they need to check all my pre op tests are ok and will be confirming it asap.

So I could have just 3 weeks left of being an ostomate!!!

Ill update as soon as there is any more news.

In the meantime, can I just take this time to say a very Happy Birthday to my most favourite bloke in the world, my awesome husband Timm.  Im sorry bubs that you had to spend your birthday morning in hospital with me!! We spent the rest of the day shopping, having lunch and then had a walk with the kids to our friends house for a gorgeous birthday tea.

Timm is just amazing, he takes everything to do with my illness and surgeries in his stride and just makes life better.  He is my absolute rock and I couldn’t live without him.

Happy Birthday Timm xxxx

timm and sam cleasby

timm and sam cleasby