Saturday 29 August 2015

Sketching Ceramics at the V&A

 I thought I knew the V&A pretty well having been a regular visitor since the 1980's when I was at  university just round the corner.  But I  haven't been  up to the ceramics  on the 6th floor before  which was the destination for Sketching Tuesday  earlier this week.  With excellent light , sketching stools readily available  and a vast  collection,  it was a fantastic if overwhelming choice.  So many shapes, textures and colours, where to start? I spent  almost an hour wandering around,  gazing into cabinets. 
My preference is for early, relatively  plain  wares : when I did pottery evening classes in Shepherds Bush years ago  with Marta  Donaghey, my inspiration was prehistoric/ Neolithic pottery  and  I made masses of thumb pots incised with different marks.  When I go on holiday  I'm actually  really interested in seeing  all those broken bit of pots in  dusty museums!

I loved all the examples of oil lamps  ( above) it looks like the curators had fun arranging them - all  similar shapes yet unique , handmade.

  The colours of the stacks of bowls  in the  Middle Eastern section with their lovely glazes   and the subtlety  of the  Korean? dishes really appealed  but as  I  only had  graphite and ink as drawing media   I sought out some interesting shaped  vessels  to draw

 Some of these early  Chinese ceramics  caught my eye

 In the end I settled  for this pert   Chinese  ewer  with 3 feet from about 2500BC  - made from the same clay as porcelain  but before the high temperature kilns had been invented , it remained as porous earthenware ( but more resistant to heat than other clays) . This and it's distinctive shape  suggests it was placed over a fire for boiling water. I'd intended to  draw it with the  amazing coiled structure behind but ran out of time.

From my viewpoint I could only see 2 of it's  feet ( with the shadow of the third in the glass)  and  found it far more difficult to draw than I'd anticipated . Huge amounts of rubbing out and correcting were involved - get one part right and then another would be incorrect !   Over coffee and custard tart later , I was trying to explain to the others  the frustration  of capturing  something that is irregular and imperfect   - between eyes and pencil , your mind tries to correct it, drawing what you think ought to be there rather than what you actually observe.   I  was pleased with the handle though!

Sunday 23 August 2015

Sketching European Armoury at the Wallace Collection

 Ian couldn't quite believe it when I said I was going  drawing armour at the Wallace Collection  on latest 'Sketching  Tuesday' with Margaret Cooter and co - he usually only gets me to go to military museums on special occasions - like his 50th birthday.    While all the ornate  furniture and old masters there don't appeal, it was a  quiet location for a museum in school holidays and  there was a lot to enjoy in the  incredible craftsmanship  of the rapiers ( and the interesting patterns of their shadows)
I started off with a blind drawing ( not looking at the paper ) , then  observing the negative shapes, before attempting to draw in greater detail in pen and graphite. It took a while to work out what was going on. As relief from all those curves, I tried to capture the qualities of the different blades ( though I think from reading the detailed book describing the case contents, they were for ceremonial rather than practical use). Some of the terminology was rather interesting too, 'quillons' was my new word of the day. 

Saturday 22 August 2015

May to August Journal Quilts

 After months of  preparing house for sale and then maintaining it  in 'show house'  viewings condition, I'm FINALLY  regaining studio time and space and actually using my sewing machines and 'sew-ezi' table finishing my CQ  Journal Quilts before deadline of end of August. It's been a bit frustrating  tracking down where threads and equipment  are as my studio was set up to look tidy rather than for practical use but it's proving useful in thinking about planning  layout for new studio space in Faversham.
After worrying whether I'd  complete 4 quilts in time , I've actually made 6, all based on the 'mark-making' from my 2 City Lit courses  ( Printmaking and Develop your Drawing) and CQ Summer School  which took place during this period of time.
  Photo of Collagraph of  feather printed on fabric and applied to monoprint of threads
 Photo of A1  drawing in graphite  of pewter pot from multiple viewpoints, heavily machine quilted with variegated threads
 ' Landscape' of layered lines  achieved through fabric collage on wool constructed on CQ Summer School
 Another fabric collage using fabrics with marks ( 1 commercial, 1  discharge  fabric from Dorothy Caldwell masterclass). Quilted with fancy machine embroidery  stitches ( hearts and stars)  with connecting threads left.  Needs more practice but this technique has possibilities in producing a different set of marks to my hand stitching and usual machine quilting.

 My favourite drawings from CQ Summer School of positive and negative circles built up of tiny pencil marks interpreted in black stitches on boiled wool fabric purchased in Shrewsbury. Edge finished with blanket stitch. Mainly sewn on train journeys! This fabric is lovely to sew even though it stretches, I'll be doing more stitching experiments  with it.  
Photos  from CQ  Summer School drawings printed on hand dyed grey cotton : spiral in ink; circle of fine pencil marks ( as above); graphite stick filling  square with tiny white circle left.  Quilted with spiral lines

My next set of 4 ( or more) journal quilts will be based on  my eco dyed/ printed  fabrics

Sunday 16 August 2015

Quilts I liked at FoQ

 After  3 days ecodyeing at Festival of Quilts, I seemed to spend most of the  remaining  2 days talking to people I met  and   took surprisingly few photos. The quilt I wished I'd made/  would like to have taken home  was La Houle Bleue  by Ann Worringer  in the ' Diversity in Europe' Gallery. I nearly missed it as  most of the other quilts around it did not entice me in.
The   2 gallery's  I enjoyed most   were  Christine Chester's ' Fragility of memory' with it's excellent poignant use of the disintegrating surfaces of paper lamination and the varied  and original work in the 'Through Your Hands'   Maker-Making-Made. I was too absorbed in the work to take photos in either gallery   apart from the keys of Susan Lenz  (  who gave very interesting lecture - nice to meet her again) 

For the rest of the galleries and the competition quilts, looking through my photos it's obvious that the eco-dying  and  thinking how I might use them for my Cwilt Cmyru 'Cynefin'  pieces influenced my choices. They all seem to be  either about marks (particularly breakdown printing)  or green/plant related!

 In Fine Art Quilt Masters, I liked the pieces by Audrey Critchley and Leah Higgins ( above) and in CQ 'Elements' the colours of Liesbeth Williams ( below)
 The  Crossing Oceans 'Nature' gallery was a bit  tucked way but a rewarding find  - the   several variations of printed and stitched olive trees by Dijanne Cevaal  glowed.

   Competition quilt favrourites:  green quilts by Kate Dowty ( above) and Uta Lenk (below)

 Interpretations of grasslands by Pia Puonti ( above) and Sandra  Grusd ( below)

    Vibrant  monoprints  by Paula Rafferty ( above) and  Sinead Smith ( below)
I didn't have anything in the show this year  -  if I'd had a piece in the Art Quilt  section as usual I would have been gutted by how they were displayed, it was so dark.

Monday 10 August 2015

FoQ purchases

I seemed to spend most of Friday and Saturday at FoQ talking!! Lovely to catch up with so many people, friends old and new.  I did manage to squeeze in seeing a  few quilts ( subject of another post)  and a bit of shopping. Beautiful  basket and 7 FQ's of green batiks  from the African Fabric Shop; large piece of green fabric from Jo Lovelock and 2 scrap bags from Lesley Morgan; books , cotton organdie and inkjet cotton sheets from Art Van Go; threads from Wonderfil and Mulberry silks; old linen tablecloths from Margaret Fox;  yet another kantha scarf from Pappu Mama  and a very old disintegrating  bit of  stitching from John  Gillow (  with 1/2 hour putting the world to rights!)

Yesterday was spent catching up with washing of clothes and a bit of scrumping of apples before the parakeets get them all ( v nice apple crumble last night). Today I've been rinsing and washing my ecoprinted treasures , taking photos beforehand to  check how much colour they loose - looks like surprisingly little so far.

Thursday 6 August 2015

Ecodying at FoQ:Day 3

 Wool bundles dyed in cochineal overnight included  my fat dumpy tube: a piece of old blanket,
 Also steamed overnight was my larger version of the wool etamine/eucalyptus, shown here in front of larger eucalyptus and cochineal scarves,
 First day of the show, the traffic outside the virtual studio increased exponentially, later in the day it was packed and people were leaning against the glass. Tomorrow, this too will be open to the public, with demonstrations of a variety of techniques

 In todays session , I mainly concentrated on using old linens like the onion skins and pomegranate on this section of damask tablecloth using iron and copper mordant

Loved the marks of oak, maple, brambles and roses on this old beige embroidered tablecloth soaked in iron.
Some of my pieces including some silk chiffon and cotton gauze were still wet at the end of the session so are currently drying in my hotel bathroom - smells quite herbal in there.
Tomorrow I might even see some quilts!