Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Ecodyeing at FoQ:Day 1

Day 1 with Brunhilde at FoQ got off to a slow start as we were kitted out with high vis vests and, read the h&s instructions( it's a building site at the moment) but we soon picked up speed. After she unrolled a piece she'd done earlier (and we oohed and aahed) we dug straight in with a piece of fabric prepared with mordant of copper and iron,wrapped it tightly around tube with silk thread , steamed for 15 mins then unrolled and admired

 I'd brought plants from our garden both fresh and dried in herbarium plant press. The last minute collection of bamboo worked particularly well

 But it was the yellow of the Maclaea (plume poppy) that  I liked best especially after an additional ' hocus pocus' dip in iron sulphate.
 Then after preparing wool with eucalyptus (to be revealed tomorrow) we prepared a roll using just iron mordanted fabric. Combination of Cotinus  (smoke bush) and onion skins was just magic.

I'm already hooked!!!

Sunday, 2 August 2015


 We usually do very well ' scrumping'  apples from neighbour Myra's tree where it  overhangs our garden. It's  a cider apple 'Katy' but works very well in crumbles and apple cakes. This year however we have competition from the ring-necked parakeets!
 Yesterday evening there were at least 7 of them scoffing  ( and their table manners  are atrocious!)

 The view from Ian's office is mainly of apple cores!   You do have to admire their acrobatics  and their  obviously happy chirpings  makes a change from  their raucous squawking .

Monday, 27 July 2015

Last Week: Tallis, Pangaea II and Alchemy

Ephrem Solomon
 Sunday lunchtime , listening  on  Radio 3  to the recording of the Thomas Tallis lunchtime concert  we went to last Monday at the Cadogan Hall.  While lovely to hear again, the live performance, especially of Spem in Alium,  was  spine tingling.
After the concert  and  a late lunch, while we were in Chelsea, we went to the Saatchi Gallery - some  interesting work in exhibition 'Pangaea II', my favourites the  woodcuts of Ephrem Solomon referencing Ethiopian society  and the isolation of the human figure
Eddy Ilinga Kamuanga
African fabrics: in Kamuanga's paintings  ( above) of the contemporary cultural diversity of Kinshasa  and traded old clothes from market sellers  stitched  by Mahama onto  old cocoa bean jute sacks (below) used to bag farm produce and charcoal. The catalogue refers to the importance of the personalised exchange and the meanings acquired by material over time - reminding me of  Boro  

Ibriham Mahama

Armound Boua
Powerful paintings  of forgotten children painted in acrylic and tar on cardboard boxes  then torn scratched, erased.
Alejandra Ospina
Paintings of calligraphic marks constructed  from layers of images found on internet, reconstructed into abstract associations, exploring ideas on how the internet has transformed our relationship to images, space, a networked world of information and consumption.  

Diega Mendoza  Imbachi
 Very large scale drawings in pencil and graphite, recording changes to the landscape in Columbia  with the impact of industrialisation 

 Upstairs  in a separate exhibition on death, the 'stars' of  Pangaea I, the ant forms of Rafael G√≥mezbarros, have been rehoused  in a small room. Very creepy (not referring to Ian)

 On Tuesday, I finally got round to another museum  sketching session in the company of Margaret Cooter and co , back at the Wellcome Collection. We were based in the reading Room, home of the amulets.  Many of the displays  were quite high up  in cases but  I found a good position at a table in the section on alchemy,  attempting to capture in graphite the differences in surface between the glass flasks  ( above) and wooden pestle and mortars ( below)   without getting a crick in my neck!
 Since then it's been dental appointments, a funeral, house hunting in Faversham  and keeping the house tidy for viewings.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Interviewed for Through Our Hands

 I don't know where the time goes - it's nearly time for the  next issue  of 'Through Our Hands' online magazine and I neglected to flag up that I'd been interviewed by Linda Seward for the current one ! She  did  a brilliant job  and  at a time when I haven't stitched for months, it's reassuring to  be reminded of  my work in print.  Looking forward to FoQ in just over a weeks time.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Reconnecting with Plants: inspiration for Cynefin

It's taken me a few days to recover from my  field course in Shropshire on 'Using A Flora' - enjoyable though it was, it was very intensive and  the bunk bed was not conducive to a good nights sleep. 

 I travelled up a day  early , staying overnight at the Premier Inn to avoid having to travel across London during the tube strike  so  I had a free day in Shrewsbury to  wander around and take a very leisurely boat cruise  on the River Severn( even the joggers went faster!)
 As I'd been in a bit of a rush leaving, I'd  had no time to  pick up my current stitching project - perfect excuse to visit Watson and Thornton, an absolute gem of a fabric shop.  Besides some muslin for my  'eco dyeing' course at FoQ in a few weeks, I got some lovely cream boiled wool fabric perfect for hand stitching a journal quilt  inspired by CQ Summer School - they even cut  a piece to size  off  the metre I'd bought.   Although I didn't get a chance to do any sewing until the train journey home.
 The course  was a mixture of classroom  tuition and exercises , putting it all into practice in 3 trips out to various   nature reserves in the area. Some of it was revision but a lot of it was new to me   ( like the differences in structures  between daisies, dandelions and thistles, below) and I feel far more confident using  the 'Stace' I  received as a leaving present, thanks to tutor Mark.
 The first site  at Colemere, I was very hot and bothered despite retreating to the woods  but it was pleasanter at Snailbeach  ( below) before  it started to drizzle and we headed back for cake.
This photo I have in mind  as the basis for my first Cwilt Cymru  ' Cynefin' piece  on being back in my habitat among grasslands - it was awash with the white of  ox-eye daisies and the purple of knapweed ( the photo at the top of  this post  with burnet moth was taken there)
But  my favourite by far was the final site on Sunday at Llanymynech. Half in Shropshire, half in Montgomeryshire, Wales, apart from the spectacular cliff faces, the variety of limestone plants  was just magic.

 I wonder about incorporating the shapes of these metal figures of miners  into my Cynefin piece?

There were large stands of Pyramidal, Common spotted and Fragrant orchids as well as the odd bee orchid in the longer grass and then spent a couple of  hours on the bench overlooking the panoramic view , keying out milkwort (a favourite from my survey days and one I spotted on Portland) ) and rockrose. 

 However  when it  came to the 2 hour test , part of the assessment  to gain credits for  University Certificate, I had a panic attack, not allowing enough time to  complete it properly. I also realised when I got home that I would be very hard pushed to  complete the 2nd assignment  in time ( collecting and identifying 10 plants and constructing dichotomous  key).
The combination of selling  our house, coming to terms with redundancy from Kew and  flare-up of arthritis  is taking its toll  in terms of stress levels  and being unable to give the time  and commitment  needed to complete assignments, I made the difficult decision to withdraw from the UCert  course.  Everyone concerned was very understanding.
Next year  once we've moved  I still intend to do some more field courses to add to my botanical knowledge/experience but without the  stress of exams and assignments.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Develop your drawing 9,Printmaking 10

I missed my art classes last week, so rather than attempting to complete a drawing project from my South Bank sketches in 3hours instead of 6, I decided to continue the still life and graphite theme, taking in a pewter pot and drawing it from several viewpoints. There was some terrific varied work from the other students, I'm sad to be finishing.
Meanwhile,in the printmaking class, I attempted to reduce the accidental marks on my etching/aquatint with some hard work with a burnisher. After the first proof, there was no difference, at least I made Anne-Marie laugh by saying it had done 'diddly squat', so I gave it up as a bad job.
My drypoint was rather more successful and I enjoyed experimenting with 'chine colle'.
Unlikely to be attempting these techniques again but gained such a lot from understanding the processes involved.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

7/7 Remembered

I've  been making Journal Quilts since 2003  and so  in talks to quilt groups on this subject , I can speak from experience  about all the ways they can be used, from  samples for larger quilts, trying out techniques, to more personal records of events important in my life.
This  small quilt from July 2005 falls in that category. It has at its centre a copy of my train ticket from  7/7 - I was travelling to a meeting in Peterborough and this was the last train out of Kings Cross  just  as the bombs went off. Our meeting was cut short as the horrific  news broke and we were all frantically trying to contact family and friends. The next problem was how to get home - all the trains were  terminating at Peterborough. In the end a  colleague travelling back to Newbury took several of us in his car and then got a train  to Ealing, arriving home very late. Ian also  had a long journey, walking right across London to get a train from Paddington. But we were  both home, safe. 
I'd been taking a lot of photos from trains  at speed using my  new digital camera  and  happened to be  travel the same train route just a week later so took photos of my journey, remembering the week before  and my lucky escape - others were less fortunate.
We had tickets for the first night of the proms that year - a more sombre occasion than usual. Willard White singing in Tippet's 'A Child of Our Time' was particularly poignant, referring to man's inhumanity to man,  and it still leaves a lump in my throat when I hear it.
In memory of  the victims and survivors of 7/7.