23 June 2018

Studio Saturday

This past week I've settled in to the ceramics studio, a bit. Brought my clay and lots of "bits", ready to get going on Monday - but every day I find there's something I desperately need, and it's at home. So it becomes a matter of improvising: "Do what you can with what you have..."
Things to bring from home
How nice to have people around, chatting away. I'm having to concentrate on getting back to knowing how to rig up the pots for dipping and drying, so I'm as quiet as a mouse at the moment.

The kiln is being loaded and there's space for some of my little pots, so I'm cracking on with getting as many ready as possible. Drying time and drying speed is an issue - the first lot have lots of cracks, possibly because they dried too fast. Possibly this can be remedied with a paste of paper clay and a little gum arabic - I've tried it out on the larger cracks -

At this point I need to see which of the various "gold" threads found in the thread drawers are actually metal, ie will leave a dark mark. Plastic will be no good at all, just give off fumes when fired. The test pieces went into the kiln in sagars, "just in case" -
Three possibilities for showing their metal
Most of the pots already dipped show the texture of the sinamay - and I don't particularly like it. It will make a thin, fragile pot - thin is good, but having it crumble when you pick it up is not good.

Thinking about ways forward with both the texture and the fragility... Certainly the pots made with sinamay keep their shape and "stand on their own two feet" immediately after dipping, whereas those made with floppy fabric, even double layers cut on the bias, need support till they're dry.

First day's dipping done
 Every pot is still an experiment, often because of the type of stitching -
Vertical stitching leaves holes in the fabric -
well, let's see what happens....
Another batch ready. The wheels (sprockets?) help the pots keep their shape during dipping, not so crucial with the sinamay but very important with floppy fabric -
Second day's candidates ready to dip

... and dry pots still needing their bases trimming
 This lot is being dried more slowly -

"Floppy fabric" needing support
Nine little pots are in the kiln ... now I can stitch thoughtfully rather than hurriedly, and even draw out a few ideas. For instance I recently saw these (large!) pots by Dan Kelly at Contemporary Applied Arts, and started thinking about the "dark decoration" in a different way -

As I gather tools etc, my table is becoming more of a comfortable place to work. Some shelves would be useful, perhaps cubbyholes at the back of the table -- the table can't be put flush against the wall because of a big pipe just above the floor. 
A little notebook acts as my "external brain" - but already I'm slipping into evil ways, forgetting to write down a summary of the session at the end of the day. Will try harder next week...

22 June 2018


Strange, isn't it, what catches your eye; and strange too, how you start seeing them elsewhere ....
Now that I'm actively looking for vents and grilles and shadows, though, none have appeared. Strange.

21 June 2018

Poetry Thursday - two little poems about birds

A lovely little book I found on the shelf -  celebrating "100 years of books in the Saison Poetry Library" (2012). Mary Kuper took a quotation by Joseph Brodsky as a starting point:

"Poetry is a dame with a huge pedigree, and every word comes practically  barnacled with allusions and associations."

She followed his resonant words "back to their origins and sideways to the stories they tell and that are told about them" ... and into the hands of poets, where they "accrete yet more layers, creating hybrid images as complex as the medieval barnacle" - so that "the illustrations, linked to the etymological excavations, suggest the play - conscious or unconscious - between the words poets use and the meaning buried in their forgotten roots and histories."


On guard and at rest at the same time,
the right claw planted in the earth, a rock
in its left that falls if it sleeps. A stone
in its bill to keep it from singing its dreams.

The wherewithal of a crane, its own sentry,
pinning the land to the land with its foot,
A crane, lifting the lid of the town, pulling the plug.
The city centre swinging from a crane's hook.

-- Simon Armitage


A crow in fancy dress
tricked out in pink and russet
with blue and black and white accessories
lurks in a tree, managing not to squawk
his confession: 'I am not a nice bird.'

-- Fleur Adcock

20 June 2018

Out of the closet - or rather, the wardrobe

Since my art school days, round about 2010, I've been wearing jeans, black jeans, on a rotational basis - one pair on the body, the other in the wash. It's been a liberation to be freed of "the tyranny of the closet", never being able to find the "right" thing to wear. So much easier to put on the jeans, add a teeshirt and other layer, and it's all done, you're set for the day.

And, in theory, it reduces the number of garments in one's wardrobe.

But recently I bought a dress, and then another, "just for a change". In the past few years, dresses have been flooding onto the market. Goodness, I even made one last winter.

Also recently, I became aware that the dresses, and much else, are simply languishing in the closet, probably picking up that unwelcome whiff of oldness that starts to inhabit clothes that rarely see the light of day.

As a result of these actions and thoughts, I came up with a personal project: 

Jeans-Free July

Can a jeans addict wear other garments for an entire month? Are YOU a jeans addict - would you like to try??

Excited by the idea, I had a little rummage in the closet and put a few outfits together in readiness. (Only 10 days to go!)

Dresses -
Latest acquisition - I felt the need of some COLOUR

"Just a long loose teeshirt" - but the golden colour
is so wonderful!

The smocky dress is bit short, needs leggings...

Without the teeshirt, this is perfect in the heat

Oldies but goodies - in fabulous fabrics. I whipped up
the jacket back in the 80s from a remnant, as one did
in those good old days
 Skirts -

That's probably enough* to be starting with, whatever the weather -

Just in case the weather turns chilly, as it can and has done, a number of LBJs (little black jackets) are ready for action. I do love an LBJ...

Leggings, if I dare, "at my age" - and why not! -
With other teeshirts, other shoes....

Love those long loose linen shirts!
Various non-jean trousers emerged, along with some other beloved linen shirts -
Candidates for studio-wear
... and a drawerful of teeshirts -
Too many stripes? No! You can never have too many stripes!!

*A while back I purged my wardrobe, with the help of a friend, in a couple of days of "japanese tidying". This involves gathering everything and going through it piece by piece. In our so-rich western culture, when we gather everything together, it becomes plain that we (I use "we" loosely, there are exceptions...) have SO much and often too much in our fortunate lives ... but that's another story.

At the risk of becoming a little old lady who is still wearing the clothes she bought during her working life - clothes that are now looking a little tired, emitting a gentle whiff and hanging loosely on her gaunt frame - I probably need buy nothing more for the next two decades, just rotate what's already there.

But goodness, isn't it nice to have something new to wear!! 

19 June 2018

Drawing Tuesday - domestic interlude

Not a museum this week, an "at home" - Janet K gave us free run of her workroom and art collection, and nearby were green spaces - so we all had a wonderful time. She also provided coffee and lunch!

Sitting at the table with my coffee I spotted some jolly cups
and remained there as they took shape on the page -

Jo was sitting at the other end of the table, copying part of a Paula Rego print on the wall -
This led to some homework - the assignment is simply to "copy something".

Up in the workroom, Janet's puppet collection (Ernie, Kermit, ?, Flat Eric) got a fair bit of attention, for instance from Michelle -
 Carol didn't quite have time to to add all the colours -
Janet K had drawn them some time ago -
 The sock monkey, by Janet B -

... and earlier, by Janet K - 

Out in the landscape (New River Walk) were Judith -
 Najlaa -
willow, cedar/cypress, and unknown
 and Mags -
...while Janet K found a tiny moment between fixing coffees and lunch to draw a corner of her container garden -

Extracurricular activities -

Janet B had been to another drawing session at the Royal Veterinary College -

Tool of the week -

Mags used brass rubbing crayons for the bark etc rubbings she found in the park
and then showed us her travelling painting kit - small watercolour box, big brushes, and a screwtop bottle for water -
Michelle later sent round this video about another "travelling kit" for sketchers - how to fit all the essentials into a not-very-large bag.

18 June 2018

Monday miscellany

Vintage fairground rides -

 Colour, on the streets -

 A simple but effective book cover -
 Bits of metal I saved for some reason -