30 June 2007

Golden ratio

Test yourself - which of these rectangles is most pleasing? Did you choose the one with proportions nearest to the golden ratio? This article debunks the "fact" that the golden ratio is the most pleasing proportion. A company is using the golden ratio in its campaign to sell blue jeans - whatever next! (The relevant rectangle is second right, bottom row.)

Morning drawings

The idea is to spend 10 minutes first thing, with a cup of coffee in hand, filling a sketchbook.At the moment the eyedropper is my favourite drawing tool. These use photos torn from magazines. A bamboo pen adds the fine lines in the cabbage, using the ink on the page.
For these mushrooms I used a brush and water to fill in the dark areas - the ink flooded in. The pale blobs are done with the leftover ink on the brush.

An aside - while writing this, I heard the announcer-chappie on Radio 3 saying of a singer taking on an opera role somewhere, "and she is a girl, she's still in her 20s". Which clarifies something I've always wondered about -- why teenaged young women are so often referred to as "young girls". Who are the "young boys", then?

28 June 2007

To Kew

With Sue, in search of succulents. But on the way we were seduced by lilies
and poppies
and nigella, mostly no longer in flower but gorgeous none the less
and the daisies, taking advantage of a rare bit of sunshine
We did find cactuses and succulents, and spent a couple of hours drawing

The Princess of Wales conservatory was heaving with groups of schoolchildren. About 2.30 they'd gone but by then it was time for us to go too.
We took a detour to go see the water lily house and were glad we did -- some of the giants had been taken out and left to dry outside
Here they are in situ, along with some "normal" water lilies
and close up - it's instructive to see the structure underneath that gives the leaf rigidity

Cactus drawings

My aim was to experiment with brush-pen and the expensive felt-tip (to actually use that before it dried up!). And I took along a bottle of ink with one of those eyedropper tops. The heavy lines here are done with the eyedropper, the thin lines with my usual fountain pen, trying to disperse the eyedropper ink, which was thick and very wet. This took a long time to dry.The square tip gave a variety of widths. Those dots cry out to be french knots ... one of these drawings will (surely?) become a journal quilt...
Using the brush-pen was very freeing -
Later, meeting son Thomas at the Royal College of Art degree show, I took some quick notes in a book made from a sheet of paper - here it is laid out flat, along with some of the students' postcards. The wooden jewellery and multi-weight yarns devore woven fabric were stunning, as was the jewellery made out of bits of rubber gloves - so many "crazy" ideas, beautifully realised.Didn't have time to go see the painting and photography this time - we went shopping, unsuccessfully, for extra-long trousers and a formal shirt with extra-long sleeves.

27 June 2007

Vicky's garden

From 1983 till 1994 I lived in a shared house, not five minutes' walk from here, that backed onto the little railway (just 4 trains an hour), with a view of mostly greenery - "you could almost be in the countryside". Vicky lives there still, owns the whole house now, with a Buddha under the apple tree and, in June, daisies galore -as well as a variety of other flowers -

Before my time there, the garden was a muddy chicken run and the house was being cobbled together by its ex(?)-hippy inhabitants. Vicky is making it new and beautiful.

Stormy weather

When will we see the summer sun? People in my office were wearing their coats at their desks yesterday.

26 June 2007

Memories of Barcelona

Art (Chillida and Miro)and life (fashion and cafes)

Spooky forest

A detail showing the use of poppy petals (pressed between two sheets of bondaweb, then covered with tulle and stitched round the edge of the petal). The uncurling ferns are printed with metal type with paint brushed on. I think the lutradur takes the paint in a way appropriate to this theme - it wouldn't work so well in fabric.
And those angled leaves are suitably spooky too...

25 June 2007


From the "River" exhibition, a while ago now (November 2003). These combine painting of fabric with piecing, and quite a lot of quilting in straightish lines flowing across the piece. They're about 18" (45cm) long. Other pieces in the show can be seen here - they include a 6m (17') long piece that went around the curve in the gallery and was finished at the last moment. Because of its site-specific shape, it's lying curled up, neglected somewhere.
If you're reading this on www.planet.textilethreads.com, apologies for the repeat. I decided to do a bit of editing and before I could do so, the spider grabbed this post for the textilethreads web. So here's some more about the River exhibition.
Usually the quilter's work incorporates or is inspired by the work of the photographer, but it worked both ways in this exhibition. Tony and I made work for it independently, and a couple of weeks before hanging the show we decided what pieces to put in. It was October and the gallery was near the canal, and on a walk there Tony saw some reflections that, he says, had he not seen "Blown Away", he wouldn't have noticed. He went back with his camera and the result is "Autumn1" and "Autumn2", a couple of the most commented-on images in the show.
"Underwater 3" has become my favourite of his photos from the show.

23 June 2007

Apples and pears

More stairsgoing up, going down
accessing public transport.
This is Swiss Cottage station, one of the old-style (1920s?) stations. With the inevitable CCTV camera. UK is the nation with the most surveillance. Once you start noticing these cameras, you see them everywhere.

Mend and make do

Handbag-rub is wearing out the top left of my favourite skirt, the one in a useful neutral - taupe. Instead of using an applique patch, I flirted with the idea of colourful (but muted) embroidery, then decided to do as subtle a mend as possible, with an iron-on patch underneath and some protective embroidery to cover the thinning area. Trying to match the colour of the fabric was surprising - it needed a much darker colour than I thought, and grey was better than any of the muted purples I had on hand. (Beige of any tone doesn't figure largely in my thread stock.) Mid-grey cotton stem stitch, and an ad-hoc shape ... the repair took about half an hour in total and saved me from the horrors of going shopping (just joking!) (or am I?).

Inspired by...

This is an annual exhibition at the V&A, giving students in adult education a showcase for their projects based on items in the museum.A dress becomes a flower brick - why not? both are very 18th-century... (For the curious, information on mantua makers is here; flower bricks started out as a way of displaying individual tulips.)
Interesting how one thing metamorphoses into another....
This sinuous spoon won an award for Outstanding Commitment.
The kimono has echoes of the "rail fence" quilting pattern.

21 June 2007


Our office outing, to the English seaside -- here seen through the "donut" sculpture on the (shingle) beach.
The intrepid swimmers are female colleagues (seems most of the fellas went to the pub...)
The seaside jollity can feel a bit alienating
But after lunch I got a chance to build stonecastles with young Aidan while his mother was swimming -
It was windy all day (which makes for crashing waves) and in the afternoon it clouded over - typical English seaside weather.
Here's another view of the burnt-out pier, in the evening light.


This week's Book of the Week, aired at 9.45 am (I listen before I leave for work), is Wildwood by Richard Deakin. On Wednesday he talked about meetings with two artists who work with wood, David Nash and Margaret Mellis. Your can hear this for 7 days on the BBC website.This is one of Mellis's driftwood collages. She also paints "ordinary" pictures. I first came across her work at the Redfern gallery in 1994 - they had a show of her paintings of flowers, done on the insides of envelopes.


I do most of my sewing in the mornings before going to work at 10.00. The past few mornings I've been paving the road to hell with good intentions - or trying to -That was too shiny. The holes don't really work. Try again -
Hmm.... this idea needs to percolate through the subconscious for a while. What do good intentions look like, in cloth?

The "road" is meant to be just one element in a bigger picture. I was planning to bring in the idea that "hell is other people" and although it's getting away from the original idea, it's starting to look scary:That trial piece is about 12" high. Enlarging those figures could be interesting ....


...to heaven?