30 November 2007


City Lit had a two-Sunday workshop on monoprinting, led by Sharon Finmark. What fun to be in the print room with the presses and drying racks:
Working away with our palettes and plates and brayers:
On the second day, most people were using colour:Tony used leaves picked up in the street as a resist: The brayer leaves marks of varying weight:I used black ink both days - and came up with a lot of "rain" prints, on paper:and on fabric:In the week between sessions, I stitched a little piece to be used for printing, first with ordinary thread and then with thread almost too thick to fit through the needle and found the back went all loopyBoth sides were useful for printing - especially on tissue paper.The oil in the ink will eventually rot fabric, but I printed some fabric anyway -Overall, these are my favourites -


Quilt In Progress, that is. The brown, orange and gold strip was a raffle prize at November's meeting of London Quilters - lucky number 515. London Quilters is having an exhibition at Swiss Cottage Library in May, so this is the start of my entry for that exhibition.

Fortunately there was a trader at the meeting- I was sure I had nothing at home that would go with this - so I could buy the brown-and-turquoise fabrics to get started. The rest are from the stash, and include silks as well as some transparent synthetics. This will be a wall quilt, of course. The swirly goldish fabrics on the left started out with a white background and responded well to a bit of fabric paint.Here's the first layout, with brownish organza overlaying some of the more glittering stuff. It'll have an "oriental scroll" format:
The ginkgo leaves will be added once the squares are sewn together, as will some "confetti" of some sort:
But first, some smaller ones will be appliqued onto individual squares. The line round the edge of the leaf will be part of the quilting:
It's been lying on the floor, ready to roll, for a week now!

24 November 2007

In barcode mode

This is the work of Betty Woodman, an american ceramicist - see more here.

Know thyself

At www.barcodeart.com/you can barcode yourself:

Enter personal information about yourself to be bar coded. All of the calculations in Barcode Yourself are based on real world facts, gathered from the Internet. Data like the Gross Domestic Product of each country. Lichtenstein is #1, USA #2, and Sierra Leone is last. From the Center for Disease control, [the site owner] used the Body Mass Index to figure out how healthy a person is based on height and weight. And from the Institute for Women's Policy Research [he] discovered the "Gender Gap" which states that "Women Average 72 Cents For Each $1 Earned By A Man."

I found this via Dee Brien's work, a winner in the V&A's "inspired by" competition last year.

20 November 2007

Jun Kaneko

This book was sitting quietly in the Oxfam bookstore; yet who could resist that cover? I flipped through and got very excited at the contents, but yikes the price.... It took a while to realise this was the work of a potter. This room might be a textile work -So might these pieces, at a quick glance:But these are undeniably pots:
And what pots! Enormous! Kaneko graduated from art college in 1971 and is still making huge work in ceramics. The caption to this photo says his pots are among the highest-priced pieces of ceramic art in the world.
I had to go back and buy the book, and am delighted with it, and to make the acquaintance of this artist. After completing graduate school in the USA 1971, he went back to Japan for a sojourn, and opened an exhibition in a friend's gallery, "underpinned by the idea of expanding his knowledge of the Japanese people. On the first day, he went to his exhibition of blank walls with a 35mm camera, an 8mm movie camera, and a tape recorder, to make a documentary, "in case anything happened." He had sent out invitations which were printed in white ink on white paper, crumpled almost beyond recognition, and stuffed into envelopes. It is difficult to read matt, colorless ink on a white background, so Kaneko knew that everyone who arrived at the exhibition had really tried hard to do so.

"Kaneko remembers that, in the first couple of days, very few people came, but as word spread, a larger audience showed up. Some stayed for hours and many the whole day, drinking tea, talking, sharing thoughts with one another. From the countless bars in the center of Osaka, scores of inebriated visitors dropped into the gallery. Kaneko was fascinated by their behaviour and took photographs of them. On one occasion, he handed out cameras and rolls of film, asking the public to take pictures of anything they liked and to return the film. Before long, he had collected numerous images, created in this unconventional manner. In retrospect, he feels that the vision of this peculiar audience, uneducated in matters of art, was the one from which he learnt the most. He spliced the rolls together unedited, and showed the film continuously in the gallery for a week."

He used the proceeds of his lecture tour to set up a two-week "clay festival" in a rented sewer-pipe factory near Nagoya, to give people a chance to experience working with clay. 700 people took part, and four went on to become ceramic artists - and "people all over Japan still speak of this exciting occasion".

Ah, those were the wild days -- "happenings" and wild hope.

16 November 2007


Caught the Camouflage exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in its last week (it closes Sunday 18th). Very interesting, had to read all the labels. Above is a 1936 poster for the museum, incorporating a 1918 print by Edward Wadsworth, who was involved in designing dazzle patterns for ships. You can't hide a ship on the ocean, but the patterns make it difficult to judge its speed and direction. And what a lot of different dazzle patterns there were --
Students from the Royal College of Art were involved in devising the patterns and scaling them up to be painted onto ships.In the second world war, fake tanks were made flat, to be seen from the air - complete with their shadow.

Since then, camouflage patterns first were counterculture icons and street fashion and now have infiltrated into high fashion. Here's a chilling juxtaposition:In the shop, evening bags in camouflage fabric with velvet ribbons and echoes of those badge-wearing 1960s:

10 November 2007

Another week, another quiltlet

Last week's lesson in Jane's course had us all thinking about what we wanted more of in our lives. I came up with a long list
and various ideas of how to put these into a "shrine" , one of which was to have them as "windows" in houses; another was to have lots of dangly squares (and note the bit of fabric with Chinese characters on it -- one day I'll get back to learning Chinese!) but when I got out the felt to start making the squares, one piece cried out to be used as is. Paris, and buying shoes there (a bad habit I picked up a few years ago) have been on my mind. So with the help of whatever was lying on the worktable, I roughed out something simpler:
The circles are leftovers from the Moon Quilts series; those at the bottom represent the place for the new shoes, which would be shiny fabric in shoe shapes. Or maybe in felt, because that can be made into 3D shoes quite easily - and the inside can be a different colour - but what colour? I was looking for gold or silver to bond onto the felt, but found that peeling off some of the additions left a lovely lime green - perfect for magic shoes -
Meanwhile the Eiffel Tower needed to happen. My memory needed a jog - none of the quickly-made examples seemed quite right somehow... thank goodness for my big book collection: even though most rarely get opened, they're there when you need them
This shape looks a bit more like the real thing. And the magic shoes - winged slippers - are taking shape.
The "trees" (in the Tuileries gardens, so formally set out) are getting their leaves, but what to use for the treetrunks? And why is one of the trees recognisable as Canary Wharf - that's in London, not Paris! It took a bit of searching to find where that tiny scrap of "railroad yarn" got to, but it was perfect - I love leaving London behind and travelling to Paris by Eurostar.
The finished shoes, with wings on their heels (Geminis have mercurial personalities) -
After much anguish about what colour to use for the "Bon voyage" in the upper left, the limey green overtwisted rayon hardly shows at all - even though it took at least an hour to couch down the lettering.
This piece incorporates my wish for more order, and serenity (via the formal planting of trees), more nature (the leaves on the trees), colour and touch (the felt), depth (the layering of the felt, with unseen colours), connection (the intertwining of the strands of wool in the felt), aspiration (the top of the tower reaches above the background), a bit of glamour (the shiny magazine pages used for the trees), a bit of bright lights and hazy mystery, both (the images on the trees), surprise (that little red tassel on its gold thread, at the bottom, which cried out to be added - it might be something to do with learning more Chinese), comfort (felt slippers), oomph (the wings), and enjoyable travel, looking forward to what's around the next corner and feeling able to cope with it. And, taking all the elements together, a wish for developing my unique vision.

07 November 2007


This wrapping cloth seems to be related to Japan's war in Manchuria, China (1931-40) - note the tanks and airplanes (and the birds). Placenames are written in the language of their own country, said the sign in the Art of Wrapping exhibition, in the excellent Brighton museum.
More birds, this time a pavement in Brighton. Complete with chewing gum, unfortunately. (Don't get me started on Those People That Chew Gum...)

Recent knitting

The hats couldn't be easier - you start in a corner and increase each side till it's 12" long, then decrease one side and keep increasing on the other till the longest side is 17" long, then decrease both sides till you have 3 stitches, then pick up stitches on a long side and do three rows, knitting 2 together, and pull the yarn through the remaining stitches and sew up the short sides.

The leftovers of the blue mohair (from a 210m ball of Kidsilk Spray, wonderfully light and hopefully warm) made a narrow scarfy-thing with a hole in one end to pull the other through, also on the diagonal.

The painted yarn made a long scarf in garter stitch and a shorter one in rib, out of a 100g hank from Touch Yarns. Getting the colours to line up called for some creative tensioning!

05 November 2007

Sumac magic

Standing en-tranced under the glowing leaves looking up at the blue, blue sky. I couldn't tear myself away. The workday world seemed an impossibility, until neckpain took over.

New hen in the henhouse

Or battery barn - courtesy of Barbara's cousin. She will keep the keyboard warm.

03 November 2007

Some tips for photographers, found on the back of an envelope. They date back to pre-digital days, but could still be useful -

Taking a portrait? have the subject hold white paper below their chin, to reflect light upward. And/or put them in the shade, eg under a tree.

For a quickly made temporary camera bag, tape together some bubble wrap.

Stretch tights over the lens to get soft focus.

To soften the effect of the flash, put cigarette paper over it.

An easily made reflector consists of kitchen foil, scrunched and flattened, over cardboard.

Shoot from the hip. (For unobtrusive pix?)

And here are some cryptic ones, as written:
-tension on lens - string & foot
-sticky tape on kids hand
-metal polish wadding to remove marks
Make of those what you will. Now I can throw that bit of paper away.
The tree pix, apropos of nothing, are from the Jardin Botanique in Paris in spring and from Kew Gardens, London, in winter.