Sunday 31 January 2010

Starting Shibori Slow Cloth

Ian and I are heading up to Llangollen tomorrow for 'Quiltfest' for his birthday ( in return , I get to go to a military museum for mine - only fair I suppose). I've been tacking together the beginnings of a 'slow cloth' to stitch on the train , a piece of indigo dyed silk, the idea being to follow the KISS principle outlined by Dijanne.
Somehow, with painting on quilts, I've been lured away from hand stitching by wanting to complete a top quickly by machine in order to get the painting stage ( or by using old quilts that are already densely stitched) but I love hand stitching, particularly with the old silk buttonhole threads I inherited. I think it's also to do with working more now on larger pieces - the 'blue- green algae' piece above based on diatoms is less than a metre in size as is the sand ripples of 'Erg Chebbi' (detail below)

I've still got my 'travel project' silk stole to complete but I liked the idea of getting back to indigo
One of the joys of working on 'Serifos Storm' above (apart from bringing back memories of sketching in Greece) was finding shapes and patterns in the fabric to emphasise with stitch.
I can already see fish shapes and sea creatures emerging from this shibori but I'm still debating what colour to stitch in. Having tacked with orange thread I'm drawn to the idea of stitching in reds and oranges ( also wouldn't have the blue hands I experienced sewing with indigo thread) .
What do you think? Red Sea?

Saturday 30 January 2010

More Rhythmic Lines

This weeks explorations in my drawing class continued on from last weeks look at rhythmic lines and patterns but this time with colour. We had a selection of vegetables to chose from ( who could guess at the beauty of a cross section of a leek in all its yellowy green glory ) but predictably I went for the purple!
Tried a number of different techniques - with watercolour pencil and watercolour above.

My favourites tho' involved using a wax candle to draw with and then laying watercolour over the top. Drawing with the candle over coloured washes (below) was particularly effective.

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Mosaics: Bulla Regia

What is so special about the mosaics at Bulla Regia is that instead of being on a wall in a museum, they are still on the floor, in situ. This large bear was in the theatre. As it was raining there was no need to sprinkle water on to bring the colours to life!

Threequarters of the site is underground and these are where the most spectacular mosaics are found: like this portrait in the House of fishing

And Venus and Cupid riding dolphins in the House of Amphitrite. Stunning!

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Mosaics: El Djem Archeological Museum

The colosseum at El Djem is spectacular but also not to be missed is the archeological museum on the outskirts of the town. The mosaics are extremely fine - superior to those even at the Bardo and they also had a very interesting reconstruction of a Roman villa. Among my favourites mosaics was this fragment of pears (or gourds?) - I could happily have taken it home
There was a whole room of peacock mosaics, many with brightly coloured shiny glass in the 'eyes'
The tesserae used were very small and the makers skilled in graduation of colour. Ian's favourite was one of a boar being brought down by 2 lions ( detail) above ) the blood was very realistic . I admired less gory examples!

Monday 25 January 2010

Mosaics: Bardo Museum

The Bardo Museum in Tunis is rightly acclaimed for its impressive collection of Roman mosaics. Probably the most famous is the one depicting Odyseuss and the sirens (there was even a copy of it at Tunis Airport!) The story goes that Circe warns Odysseus about the dangers he will face at sea including the Sirens. In the adventure of the Argonauts, Jason and his men faced the danger of the Sirens with the help of the singing of Orpheus. Odysseus has no Orpheus to drown out the lovely voices, so he orders his men to stuff their ears with wax and tie him to a mast so he can't escape, but can still hear them singing. What I loved about many of the mosaics was their domesticity - depictions of houses , gardens, foods and pets( or is that food?!) abound
Among the purely decorative , there were lots of peacocks and feathers (more of those in another post)

On a corridor floo r , I was rather taken with this abstract wavy pattern.

Thursday 21 January 2010

Line as pictorial element: rhythm,pattern &structure

I missed the first drawing evening class of the year with a chest infection ( and the last 2 of last term for other reasons) so I arrived really early this evening in anticipation. Some familiar faces, some new , it was great to get stuck in to some line drawing with pen. In the first exercise ( above) we were drawing a curvy line then drawing lines very close together following it, even closer in the inner curves ( a good tip was to make small guide marks in the curves -it was so easy to lose the plot!) Interesting patterns soon began to emerge - very sixties!
The second exercise was to draw around obstructions. As I was using the thicker end of a double-ended permanent marker, the back looked even more interesting because of the variation in pressure.

For the final hour we were doing observational drawings of shells or bark using the techniques we'd practiced. Yes it's that shell again - I could have chosen a different one but there's something about the familiarity of drawing the same subject repeatedly but using varied materials and methods. Or am I just getting set in my ways....

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Troglodyte Dwellings

You can't go to Tunisia and not hear about Star Wars! We gave the 4wd trip to the film sets a miss but enjoyed a Celtia beer at the Sidi Driss Hotel in Matmata which was used as the location of Luke Skywalkers home!

We had a tour of a traditional Berber troglodyte pit dwelling (offered tea and bread) . I tried to ask about the embroidery on this lady's sleeve (it looked similar to a piece I bought in Yazd) but apart from establishing it was old and pretty didn't get very far.

We spent the night in our very own cave at Hotel Marhala and despite the beds being slabs of stone with a mattress on top had the best nights sleep of the trip

Mosque of the Barber, Kairouan

A different feel to the Zaouia of Sidi Sahab (Mosque of The Barber) with its Andalucian style tiles.

Great Mosque, Kairouan

The Great Mosque of Kairouan is Islam's fourth most holy centre ( after Mecca , Medina and Jerusalem). A beautiful, simple place (if on a grand scale) made of recycled Roman columns and carved stone, fitted together ingeniously into a harmonious whole.

Saturday 16 January 2010

Honesty Revisited

With the arrival of a wonderful book on the paintings of Ian McKeever, time to limber up with a few watercolour sketches of honesty seedheads, thinking of the next quilt.
I've already got one layer of it, printed on 16 sheets of silk organza, which I'd decided not to use for my last honesty quilt.
What I'm aiming for this time is on the lines of this journal quilt where the stitched shapes of seedheads below add texture to the surface painting.
So 2 experiments of printed organza ( with different scale images ) stitched to gessoed old Durham quilt, background organza removed and then floating seedheads painted with acrylics.
This is a piece of more heavily quilted sateen Durham quilt
I wasn't sure whether to leave the white or paint the background so as it's experimental , decided to go for it. Well at least I now know what NOT to do!
This is on the very old tatty durham quilt I used to have as a door curtain

Much better results although in my rush to attach the organza I didn't rinse it and the excess ink was released on painting. Lesson learnt. Again, I'm not sure about leaving the white, I think it might distract from the large ovals which I want to be the focal point. Although I don't think the pale grey I tried in one area is quite right either. Suggestions?

I'm glad I tried 2 different pieces of Durham Quilt - I thought I would prefer the 'newer' one but it's too densely quilted and a more open weave for this project. Time to gesso a large piece of quilt and get stuck in!