23 August 2017

Extreme thrift

So there I was, piecing together some bits of polyester wadding to go inside journal quilts! Daft or what ...

The remaining bits got smaller and smaller ... and three "innards" came out of something that could, or even should, have been thrown away -
I even used up odd bits of thread that were to hand, which wasn't about thrift but about making it more interesting to myself, during the doing. And hey, no-one would be seeing this!

As I was about to add the innards to the pile of materials for possible JQs, I saw the results in terms of shapes and compositions, and liked what I saw. 

Randomness has yielded inspiration - a design source. The middle on particularly pleases me, the way the long strips fit into the angle, and the shorter strip, itself angled, into the other angle. I couldn't have made that up ... it had to "just happen". And now that it has ... how to take it further? 

For now - I need to use this wadding and make some JQs, the deadline is approaching - I've traced the shapes. What happens when they're layered up, in various orientations?

Tracing the design, to make it more complex, which lines would you leave in and which would you take out?

Later I'll scale the original shapes down to fit many-on-a-sketchbook-page and play with colours and arrangements, juxtaposition and composition, balance and tonal value, contrast and highlight.

22 August 2017

Drawing Tuesday - Horniman Museum

The heavens smiled and some of us spent the morning in the garden -

 I was intrigued by the bees on the solidago (golden rod) and on the nearby rudbekia -
 with this result, "from life", looking and looking -
 Sue untangled the relation between a yarn "intervention" and a huge plant -
 Jo found alpacas, or were they llamas -
 Carol's patient pumpkins -
 Najlaa was in the museum, finding seaweed in the galleries -
 and patterns on pots from the Pani display (till 26 November)
Mags too was drawing "things that live under the sea" -
 Judith turned from flowers to the Bengal tiger (on display till 17 May 2019)-
Snap! city views by Jo and Judith -

Extracurricular activities

Among Carol's many drawings done on holiday is this view of Brixham -
 And Mags, along with winning the Fine Art Quilt Masters at Festival of Quilts, had been to an eco-dyeing workshop

 Sue showed us how a section of a photograph can be abstracted in various ways; this was done in a course at City Lit -

A grisly note - I was surprised and rather horrified by the dogs' heads in this display in the "evolution" section of the museum's natural history gallery. The museum was opened in 1901 and these displays date back to a long time ago -
To counteract that, a nice bit of geometry! -

21 August 2017

Studio Monday

Lunch is late today because I've been immersed in the studio all morning. Which is unusual, these days, but hopefully will be less so now...

It was the arrival of not just the carpet but of The Sheep that made the difference.
Obviously The Sheep is nothing more than a fleecy skin (£4 of cosiness, found in a charity shop in Salisbury) over a solid wooden stepstool, but it's starting to feel like a friend. It's nice to spend time with it, and a coffee, and podcasts, and some sewing (on the chair is a little bag that badly needed some "boro" attention - sorted!).

Also I needed to get together some fabric for a quilty day later this week, so out came the box of scraps -
which led to this'n'that and even involved getting the iron out!
(Unironed) "muted/desaturated" scraps

A maelstorm of tiny scraps to add to the journal quilts currently under construction

One such use for a tiny scrap

Lovely big scrap, and some smaller ones

Frottage on organza

... and some "what next" thoughts
 The frottage is derived from "the pink bit" -
Samples of couching that had found their way into the
scrap box; the backgrounds have been tinted with ink

20 August 2017

Housing then and now

Fascinating local walk today, about the way the Tollington/Archway area was dairy farms and then built on in the 19th century, not good quality housing, and soon it was a poor ghetto, many workhouses ... postwar, lots of housing was pulled down, estates built, until the 1970s when tenants/owners got organised and the council changed policy and repaired existing houses.

At least some green space came out of the pulling-down; Islington is very short on green space and public parks. Elthorne Park was created, and now is slightly sinister because the trees have grown so large and dense, and much drinking takes place at all hours. Nor is the Peace Garden looking at its best - the ponds were having some work done -
 A while back this mound received archaeological attention - the mounds were formed by the rubble from the demolished houses -
 Nearby, Sunnyside (community) Gardens have been going for 40 years -
 This is what's left of an enormous workhouse that housed 1300 of the poorest poor -
 Tucked in among the newer estates are some of the older "saved" houses -
 Caxton House was part of a "settlement", a middle-class attempt to provide education and life-skills in the 19th century; obviously the building is newer than that -
 Up the hill lived the better-off, and the Whitehall Park estate was privately developed in the late 1880s and 90s by a series of builders -

 A few of the houses show inventive animal carving -
More estates along the Archway Road, some spared by eventual decision not to further widen it - but the Tollgate was lost early on, 1864 in fact -
Also nearby, the Whittington almshouses had been knocked down -
 The Whittington Stone (topped by a cat since the 1960s) has been replaced several times, and was originally a place to leave donations to the leper hospital nearly; it dates back to 1473 -
 In the grounds of what is now the Whittington Hospital is the Small Pox and Vaccination Hospital, dating to the 1830s -
 and near it are two of the three workhouse infirmaries of the area -
 1880 is writ large (top left) in the brickwork  of this Victorian school, built in the early days of mandated education -
In the sunshine, and seeing how some things had improved for many people over the years, this walk was hardly depressing. I wish the same could be said of the current housing crisis, as "luxury flat" developments and the lack of affordable rentals and social housing drive the poorest and most vulnerable from pillar to post and shatter communities. Grenfell has crystallised this for many people, as was evident in the film "Dispossession" and the discussion afterwards -
It left me feeling appalled and impotent, and full of admiration for the articulate and dedicated people who give up free time to "do battle". Sometimes good things do happen; good luck to them.

19 August 2017

Saturday roundup

This week it was great to reconnect with Hilary via her wonderfully thoughtful blog - about fashion! - just when I felt a bit of garment sewing and bold wardrobe revitalisation coming on. The most immediate benefit is the (re)discovery of Laurie Anderson - here is her "Sharkey's Day".

Some vignettes and vistas from last Saturday's visit to the mega-garden centre -

This walnut tree was planted a few years before I moved to Sparsholt Road, my first north London home, in 1983, where housemate and friend Vicky still lives. The little tree is quite sizeable now, but I have no idea whether any walnuts have been harvested from it. In the meantime "the railway" put up a fence and we don't have access to it -

A Crouch End charity shop was offering a set of 12 linocuts for £399 -

Also in Crouch End, twilight walks back from The Garden In Progress revealed some lovely doors -

Here's a situation (reflections at Horniman Museum) that I fantasize is called "Mr and Mrs Gorilla go to the Zoo" -

And here's where N4 and N7 meet - other side of Finsbury Park station - there may be other such coincidences as well -

Strolling in the City, I found inspiration for my "Gridded" journal quilts -
 and couldn't resist snapping these creatures on Holborn Viaduct -
 In west London, Kew yielded this bike shed which is just a roof with a bit of tasteful planting -
 ... must get some of this ...
 Sadly, another pair of abandoned shoes, in Kew -
I was in Kew not for the gardens this time, but for a talk at the National Archives. In this Summer Series, documents relating to the talk have been laid out, with explanatory labels - some go back to the 1200s and this week's back "merely" to the 16th century. Click on the photos to see the lovely handwriting -

What an amazing resource.

A short walk with Living Streets had us noticing the environment in a different way.

Hedges planted near the road to block noise - and sight of traffic

Different types of paving ... which is for the pedestrians?

A street without activity - does it feel safe?

Are railings actually functional?
Seen in the Hampstead Heath area -
Summer weather

Window washer

Safebreaker 1, locksmith's window display

Safebreaker 2

Locks and keys