With just one week to go before the day of the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, one particular manufacturer of wedding memorabilia is finding it hard to keep up with demand.
Lydia Leith is an artist based in Carlisle in northwest England, and has been producing sick bags for people to own by April 29.
However, they’re not ordinary sick bags: they’re a limited-edition, screen-printed item the 24-year-old graphic artist hopes will be kept as a genuine souvenir of the royal wedding.
If anyone does actually throw up into one of her masterpieces, though, they may rue the day.
“I think they will. But I don’t really like the idea of that!” she told me. However, she added: “I think it will be inevitable. I think there’ll be some horrible videos on YouTube afterwards. But the idea is that they’re kept as a piece of artwork. They’re all individually signed by me, so I think you’d be a bit silly to be sick in them, because they may go up in price as a collectible.”
Leith says the bags have been selling every day since Valentine’s Day in February, when the story first got onto the Web and onto the BBC website and the corporation’s 24-hour news channel.
After that, it took “about a week” for Leith and her helpful parents to catch up with the manufacture and dispatch, such was the demand.
“Every day we get a good few pages of orders, and, well, my mum and dad are helping me out, and we all sit at the dining room table packing envelopes. We tried to work out a rough guess about how many we’ve sold, and we think it may be about seven or eight thousand, but we won’t really know till May, when we’ve got time to see what’s happened, because at the moment it’s a bit of a panic. We’ll do the maths later.”
But this last week before the wedding is a time that may prove demanding. “I think it’s going to get a bit crazy during this last week, and then I don’t know what’ll happen after that.”
She said it came as a surprise to many people that the artist behind what may be seen as a cynical idea was (a) young and (b) female. “I think
Lydia Leith (www.lydialeith.com)
The hand of the artist: Royal Wedding sick bags in the making
when people see that I’m just a young girl, it makes them think differently, because people expect someone who’s making sick bags to be, like, a grumpy old man,” she said.
How did the idea come to her in the first place?
“I had an idea to make Valentine’s Day sick bags and then I’d heard people saying around Christmas time that they were sick of hearing about the royal wedding, because it was on the news all the time, even back then,” she said. “I thought, ‘Well, this is going to go on for a long time, so maybe I should not do Valentine’s Day sick bags but do royal wedding sick bags.’
“I didn’t know the whole world was going to be interested. I just thought I’d make a few.”
Often, she said, she would make things and nothing much would happen. “I just thought it was going to be another one of them. But I sent it to Creative Review, which is one of my favourite graphic-design magazines, and they put it on their blog, and I was over the moon, because it’s always been one of my aims. I usually send whatever I’ve made to them and hope it goes on. I’ve only had two other bits of work on there.”
Creative Reviewsays on its site: “As they [the bags] say on the front, non-royalists may want to keep them handy on April 29.”
Bags, says Leith, had been sold to “some very posh addresses in the most expensive, exclusive, serious parts of London. A few orders have come from from Japan, too.”
And even someone travelling the Queen Mary II from the USA to the UK, whose journey takes in April 29, had bought one.
So where does she go from here? Any more ideas for sick bags?
“Well, from a design point of view it might be best to stay clear of any more sick bags, and think of new ideas,” says Leith with a laugh.