13 November 2019

An unusual "woodblock Wednesday"

Thanks to the winter-illness season, I found myself doing emergency childcare so that The Poppet wouldn't have to spend waiting time at a walk-in clinic with her parents.

We had a lovely morning but she didn't spend much time on the play mat. Though she's not crawling just yet, she can roll and roll -
The mat started life as hand quilting (on beige, what was I thinking?!) in the '80s. So it's taken about 35 years to finish! The catalyst for the final push was finding some triangles and bias strips that had been cut from old shirts for some other project. I trimmed the ragged edges of the quilt, bound it, and appliqued the pinwheels to enliven the centre.

It seems to have a lot of mouth appeal -

But the bare floor had its attractions too. How is it that babies are interested in Every Little Thing?

To end the day,  a long coffee with a friend from afar, and then a film at the Francis Crick Institute - Hidden Figures, based on the true story of three African-American "computers" working for NASA in the early days of space flight, when IBM's computers were still under development and calculations were performed by people, usually bright women with maths degrees.

The film is set in 1961 - a time of entrenched segregation as well as American achievements in the space race -  but the women's  personal achievements had occurred earlier. There are also other discrepanicies in this heart-warming crowd pleaser, but hey, it's Hollywood!

So, all in all, I did nothing relating to the watery woodblocks. Next week is the last class.

12 November 2019

Drawing Tuesday - Wallace Collection

Judith and Janet K were in among the armour -
Swords, alone and in series, by Judith

Heavy metal, by Janet K
Janet B caught the action of Hercules wrestling a bull -
Joyce found dogs in paintings -

I went downstairs to see if there might be an exhibition, but no. However the plumage flanking the passage to the loo caught my eye...
The drawing -
 Looking closer.... they turned out to be 18th century Italian sculptures -
The goddess Diana

Figure representing Asia (the turban is the signifier) -
possibly part of a set of the four continents

Figure representing the Americas 

Feathers wrought in stone
A jumble of details - curls of hair (Diana and Asia), the feathers, the goldwork around the plinths - and a number added by the museum  -

09 November 2019

Studio Saturday - sewing a slippery slip and a cosy cover

The main event in the home studio this past week was a bit of garment sewing, thanks to a bit of slippery fabric found in the local charity shop. It suggested "bias cut slip" and I went along with that suggestion, first making the pattern from a slip on hand, then laying it out on the fabric... 
 ... and cutting bias strips to face the neck and armholes and extend into delicate little straps...
The slithery, limp, cheap, synthetic, floppy, slippery fabric was a nightmare to work with. Cutting with a rotary cutter was All Wrong. Sometimes, good old-fashioned SCISSORS are the right tool!

It took me a while to realise that visible pencil lines could be drawn on the back of the fabric (rather than invisibly on the front) for cutting the bias strips - and that delicate straps could be made by simply pulling on the strips, which obligingly rolled up, ready to pin and stitch. Of course an extra hand would have been useful for this manoevre -

 Sewing the french seams, on the (uncertain) bias, was another slippery-sloppy nightmare. Lots of pins, use lots of pins....
 Uh-oh, what happened to the hem??
Pinning it up to hang evenly was challenging. In the end I put it on over the dress and pinned it at an inch above hem length, which gave 1/4" at the shallowest part. Adding a bit of false hem (deeper hem would help it fall better?) did my head in - this was after about 10 hours of grappling with the whispy item, figuring out how to get the bias binding to lie flat and undoing and redoing those wobbly side seams even as they willfully frayed....
Instead of prolonging the hem agony, it was basted, cut to 1/4" all round, turned up again, stitched, and is DONE. Now to finish the top, simply attaching the straps at the right length and without too much lumpiness -

For a quick'n'easy project, I made a hot water bottle cover out of on old woolly jumper, first making the pattern out of two pieces of A4 paper, to be cut as one for the front, and to have a bit added as overlapping hems on the back.

The front is two layers (the hidden layer has lots of moth holes and has been in and out of the soapsuds and freezer to deal with any sneaky lurking moths). A bit of intact ribbing adds a jaunty look -
The back uses intact ribbing as the hems (any holes are hidden in the bit turned under) and decorative embroidery hides the unavoidable mothholes -
It was pronounced cosy and serviceable. Job done!

07 November 2019

Eye candy (and food for thought) from Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair

The fair is on till 10 November. An illustrated list of exhibitors is at http://www.woolwichprintfair.com/exhibitors-2019

Woolwich is a bit of a trek - well that depends on where you start - but when you're there, do have a look at the old buildings of the Arsenal, which was closed as a military depot in 1994 and is now a residential area; the 18th and 19th century buildings are interspersed with early 21st centurylow-rise apartments.

Cheers to Carol Justin, with her enormous woodblock print

Collage on pattern sheets from Burda Mode magazine
Hormazd Narielwalla

Reminds me of paper dolls... very cheery!
Adam Hemuss

Interesting way to display (or store) a print
Victoria Ahrens

A bag printed onto a bag - by inking up a bag??
Aliceson Carter

Yellow and grey, a favourite colour combination
Bee-Dwo Lin

Lovely use of woodgrain
Celia Scott

Lots and lots of lines
Johan Schoonvliet

Reduction print - so many colours!
He-Kun

Simple and subtle
Ann Kavanagh

A unity of contrast
Altea Grau Vidal

Printed on porcelain
Caroline Whitehead

Gorgeous ... that starry sky, the calm water...
Emma Stibbon

Huge pint of a piece of burnt toast!
Janet Milner

Based on a dream (?nightmare) - I can relate to this
Vaka Valo

So interesting, the imagined personalities, the group dynamics
Liora Tchiprout

Lovely, so caring
Ana Marie Pacheco

East London Printmakers

Thanks to Gillian Harding for bring me to the preview,
and for encouraging me to complete and submit work,
and at least frame it and display it at home!
A sculptural sort of landscape

06 November 2019

Woodblock Wednesday - printing water with water

First task was to finish the edit of the cutting on the second and third layers - I like the look of the block now, but with inking, all the white will disappear -
Out came the coloured pencils, to try rubbing different combinations for the different layers -
 First round - yellow, green, light blue. Surprises lay ahead...

In class, 3 hours dedicated to printing, results were disappointing at first -
needing much re-inking of faint areas (with paper in situ)
I'd been using yellow on the first layer but it got mixed with the blue from the previous prints still being "active". I wanted a more yellowy shade and tried to remove the colour not by washing/scrubbling, but by printing without colour or nori - through previous printing, the block was already soaked with both. The water-only prints are on the left, after which I printed with yellow, but a little blue/green was still left in the brush -
Lesson: When changing colours, wash everything!

With the second layer, the green mixed from lemon yellow and cerulean was contaminated by the blue already on the block -
One of those prints was printed with the third layer, cerulean on the dark blue block, but it's too much of a contrast.

On getting home I was able to print for another hour and concentrated on the second block. These used water to get out the excess pigment -
Fresh pigment on the block, over the first layer printed in the morning -
My registration system is a bit of plywood larger than the block, and masking tape. The block lines up with the right side of the plywood and fits between the "kento corners". The paper is lined up with the bottom edge of the ply, and with the masking tape to the right of the block. It's a bit tricky, but mostly works. I have to remember to check that the block is still in exactly the same place on the ply before laying down the paper, and that the paper hasn't shifted in those few moments before applying the baren. Attention to detail!
The colour is more even, but the registration of the second block was half a millimetre too high.
The ply needs to be U-shaped and to fit the block exactly, and to be removed for inking. And chiselled kento, perhaps? Using several layers of masking tape has been working quite well so far.