Monday, 15 September 2014

A Weekend In Edinburgh

 A quick trip to Edinburgh  in interesting times ( tourists and TV film crews in equal measure! ).  I wonder  what  my dad would have thought of  the referendum , he always called Glasgow 'Home' despite living in England from his 20's and the family tree going back to the 1760's is very firmly rooted  around Lanarkshire.
I got a very early train on Friday  arriving just after midday and had a free afternoon  so I caught the 'Gallery Bus' from the Scottish National Gallery to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, concentrating  on the extensive range of work by artists as part of 'Generation'. The grounds of 'Modern 1' include this amazing earthwork and the grounds were scattered with sculpture. I downloaded  the ' arthunter' app as I had my tablet with me and  picked up copies of the 4 trails which highlighted different pieces. Alison Watt's portrayal of  fabric started giving me ideas.
Friday evening and all of Saturday I was involved with meetings associated with the British Bryological Society, great to catch up with people and some very interesting presentations. We were at the 'Botanics' and we had a few  minutes at lunch time to dash out and admire the gardens , especially the magnificent trees. 

 My final morning on Sunday before I headed off to the train ( I was  able to leave my bags at the excellent 'Ashlyn' guest house  where I stayed) , I caught up with the rest of the Generation exhibition at the SNG on the Mound .  I  spent ages looking at the paintings by Callum Innes ( I first came across his works on paper at the Tate Watercolour exhibition a few years ago. In his 'Exposed ' series, he applies oil paint to canvas then removes areas of paint with turpentine. Through the art of unveiling, he likens  the process to alchemy, turning ordinary substances into gold (I always think of indigo dyeing as alchemy). The result remind me of chromatography - I  still remember the chemistry classes where the colours contained in black ink were revealed    
  My 'find' of the trip though was the  new acquisition from the Art Fund of the 'chalk cutting' by Arthur Melville , one of the 'Glasgow Boys'
 I didn't leave myself enough time to the  National Museum of Scotland justice ,  just enough to grab lunch and I only saw the new part (including this massive tapestry from the Dovecot studios) on my way out. Will just have to come back - I  only ever seem to go to Edinburgh on work-related trips.     
 Return train journeys are always more tedious than the outward journey but at least the sun was shining  as we followed the coast

Even a snapped view of a castle in the distance!  

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Lost for Words

If  it's seemed a little quiet here, that's partly because I've been writing a series of posts on painting with acrylics on the 'And Then We Set it on Fire' blog.
Mainly though it's because I've been attempting to absorb the implications of the proposed new structure for science at Kew announced last Thursday. It's far more radical than we ever imagined and although there will a few weeks of consultation, there is no job for me. Meanwhile have to attempt to carry on as usual, to deliver the conservation projects I'm involved with.
We're  also numb with shock by the tragic loss of our colleague Nigel Veitch. I  didn't work directly with him  but  knew him through  being  a member of the Kew staff choir  he directed with such patience (photo here of happier times in rehearsal). So  sad.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Indigo Gloat - quilt sections old and new

 Dipping sections of old quilt into the indigo vat was hard work - heavy once soaked and difficult to manoeuvre and to ensure no air got in (I left them until last). So worth it though! This very tatty quilt with remnants of red baskets was my favourite.
 Closely followed by this section of a log cabin coverlet with a lace-like holey backing

 It wasn't all old quilts though - I also included a strip I'd cut off a quilt I made myself several years ago, one of my first experiments in machine quilting. It has quite a lot of different  cream and red fabrics, some silk, some cotton and I was interested to see how differently these took the dye.

 I wrestled with a rather boring thin Durham quilt ( not the best stitching), wrapping it around a pole. I love the difference in the marks on the front and back and some quilted circles have become more prominent - an interesting piece to work with I think.
 And lastly the 'snake' wrapped around a vacuum  hose - lovely variety of marks both front and back.
Now  time for them to marinade on my design wall and work out how to make the most of their charms , making them my own.

Indigo Gloat- Overdyeing

 Over-dying some fabrics for my 'mudflat' series  was also one of my indigo aims: both special fabrics such as the kola dyed stripe from Magie Relph( above) and cheap and cheerful purchases from Sandown , below ( they were rather gaudy before their indigo dip )

 Also  the opportunity to try some larger unwieldy pieces such as this linen canvas .

Indigo Gloat - colour catchers and organzas

 I was chuffed to bits with the colour catchers I put in the indigo vat - I just scrunched them in a fruit net but there's some lovely marks and I love the intensity of the dye. I think they'll work very well with the large piece of stitched indigo I bought from Magie Relph at FoQ
 At the other extreme, I did a few more arashi sheers : silk chiffon , silk organza and cotton organza. I was keen to produce quite large pieces like the one I used for 'Dislocation' Challenge

I apologize for the white marks on my photos - the sun was streaming in the conservatory and I was in a rush to record my indigo stash before I went to work! 

Monday, 25 August 2014

Bank Holiday Blues - Playing With Indigo

 Ignore the jungle  behind ( the plants are meeting together in the middle )  and admire the outcome of my first indigo vat at home! Rather than tackling the garden , I made the most of the good weather forecast for Sunday  (it's currently pouring with rain) Ever since doing CQ Winter school with Janice Gunner and a day last year at Art Van Go  I've been plotting  doing some  dyeing with indigo in our garden . Earlier in the year  I acquired a surplus  chemical drum from work; bought some large trugs for rinsing ( already have a convenient outside tap next to a drain); the relevant chemicals from Kemtex;  a  balcony airer. All set to go just waiting for when time and weather co-incided!
  I had a good system  going  with fabrics at different stages : soaking in warm water; in the vat; oxidising on a tray ; unpacked/unpicked and oxidising on the balcony airer. Ian was fascinated by the process having only seen the results before so  happy to take lots of photos of the alchemy when fabric turns from yellow to green to blue in front of your eyes.

 I was keen to experiment with  dyeing large  sections of the antique cutter quilts I've accumulated - they've produced some lovely 'boro' effects.
The most interesting marks were produced on a piece of  off white quilt wrapped around a piece of vacuum hose (thanks Sue!)  and tied with string . Quite an unwieldy  snake to wrap because of the weight of fabric but that's where quilt husbands come in handy!
All rinsed and washed  just waiting for everything to dry now. Then I'll be sharing some of my favourites! Learnt a lot in the process - it's a very different experience from doing it  in a class. While the  chemical drum worked well,  I would probably just use a bucket another time unless I was sharing with friends. I would definitely dip more than once - the paler blue resulting from just one dip suits the old quilts but was a bit disappointing on some of the other fabrics.  Used colour catchers were amazing , definitely more of that and perhaps some experiments on paper. More preparation in advance (including stitching ) - although I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do (organzas, old quilts and 'mudflat' fabrics,) I was a bit rushed on Saturday afternoon and too involved in the dyeing process on Sunday  to make changes. Doing it earlier in the season and keeping the vat going are definitely on the agenda for next year!  

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Cure for Post-FoQ Blues

 It's always a bit difficult getting started again after being so overwhelmed with beautiful  work at Festival of Quilts. But the  deadline looming for submission of JQ's for CQ challenge by end of August focuses the mind! At least I've been posting mine monthly this time rather than having to submit 4 in one go ( which rather defeats the object of a journal quilt  in my mind). Augusts offering 'Door scraps I' is made from the offcuts of the sample below which I mounted on a canvas for Cwilt Cmyru 'meet the artist'.  
 It was made with photos of doors and acrylic paint applied over masking tape stencils rather then the paper lamination of 'Peeling Portals' below ( which I've just posted off for Harrogate quilt show , cross fingers!) . This technique does have potential, far simpler than paper lamination but it doesn't yield such complex results

 While my offcut basket was out ( just some of the trimmings from finished quilts...) I had fun composing some more 'door' pieces - so September is sorted out !

This   door JQ (scraps of African indigo fabrics) has been on the go since February, a nice size to hand stitch on  train journeys, it might get finished for October. I initially thought the 8inch size would be too small for my liking but this years challenge has proved a delight, permission  to play and see what happens.
Another little quick project was making a present for  intern Ebrailon  who has been such a help in the lab, particularly chopping up slices of orchid roots we've collected to see if they have any fungi in.  He goes back to Brazil next week  and we'll miss him.  I printed some photos of root samples on Jacquard cotton sheets and ironed them onto  a cotton bag with bondaweb