30 May 2006

Craftily subversive

The Guardian had an article yesterday on the resurgence of craft activities, focussing on subversive activities by The Young (http://arts.guardian.co.uk/features/story/0,,1785059,00.html#article_continue) -- is sewing coming out the the closet at last? So when we'd finished reading the paper I folded it up, page by page, and made it into a basket, as commemoration of this historic event. It'll be useful for storing those knitted hand grenades (make mine hot pink).

Bank Holiday Weekend

Lots of rain, so Esmerelda (the armless) got a new dress -- my first time sewing jersey. A belt in the making...
... and lamb kebabs, skewered onto twigs of rosemary.

25 May 2006

Another city garden

Behind Vicky's garden is a railway cutting, hence the many trees. In a week the "meadow" will be full of those tall weedy daisies; at the moment the lilac and forget-me-nots are just finishing.

23 May 2006

Just another day?

Spring garden

An urban back garden, not too small. Apple and lilac blossoming at the rear. The wallflowers were splendid this year.
Aquilegia, myosotis; freesia in the windowbox; and potato plants rampant in the compost heap--

Take two yards of linen...

... buy a wraparound skirt and decide you like the style but not the fabric; take a pattern, wonder how to make it out of the fabric you have on hand -- and have a friend suggest that a stripey border would be interesting. Rise to the challenge ... ... and find there's just enough fabric. The stripey areas are self-faced; perhaps the solid areas should have been lined?
Here's the finished skirt, already crumpled. A button inside the waistband helps hold it on.
Beige, though ... not sure about beige ...

20 May 2006

Windy and wet

Late-spring storms have ripped blossom and seeds from the trees --

The air has been filled with "snow" from the plane trees in the square across from the office. People are saying it's impossible to wear contact lenses.Even the tree outside my window looks tired and bedraggled, like it's been turned inside out by the wind.

13 May 2006

Small problem

All of a sudden the sewing machine thread is catching on a little bar. I've taken the bobbin area apart as much as possible, and taken all the dust out, and that's what the problem seems to be. There's a tiny pin that extends the end of the bar, and the thread seems to be piling up there. Maybe I bent it slightly when cutting the threads free when it jammed?
Time to find some soothing handwork!

A moment in time

10 May 2006

Good morning

This is what I see when I open my eyes in the morning -- isn't it glorious! The pearly light of dawn flickers through the breeze-blown leaves .... etc ....

Alas there is a (slight) downside -- this marvellous, huge tree eats up the light that could be reaching the workroom, which is underneath my back bedroom.


Hoping to make the workroom feel lighter and more spacious, I turned round the little table that holds the machine so it's a right angles to the window, and moved the ironing board into the corner -- which means every time I want to access the cupboard holding batting and, um, what else? (time to clean it out, maybe!) the ironing board has to be moved. But most of the fabric I'm currently working with is lying on the bed, so that's not a big problem!
The bed is conveniently out of sight underneath the "creativity wall", which has been building up over the 12 years I've lived here. The large drawing on the left is a plangent reminder that out of bad moods comes progress in process.The other two walls of the room are essentially storage walls - one for books, and the other for art supplies. More than a person can use in a lifetime. Riches!

09 May 2006


Time to take down the Rachel Whiteread sculpture that filled the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. It doesn't go into cold storage -- it gets shredded, packed into bags (and then what?)
But before the shredding, the artistically random stacks have to be piled up neatly...

Bill Jacklin

Invested £2 in a little book of Bill Jacklin's work (up to 1992), with the intention of ripping out these pages and putting them in little frames -- love these images. 1992 must have been the start of his "skaters" images. Previous work was very crowded with figures -- letting the light in was an inspired move.
And don't they move! But it's the spaciousness that appeals to me, not just the movement.

The book came from an art bookshop right beside Tate Modern - as well as these sorts of remainders, they have lots of magazines (Art in America, Modern Painters, Art Forum) and exhibition catalogues for £1.

Department of Chinese

These books have accumulated over the four years I've been going to Mandarin class (at the City Lit). They sit right above the computer, so I can reach up and refresh my memory on something-anything while Blogger is taking its sweet time to upload the photos.

The memory constantly needs refreshing. Rote learning doesn't stick with me any more -- but the latest acquisition, "The Most Common Chinese Radicals", aims to have you understanding how the characters are built up. It starts with the easiest radical - the one horizontal stroke - and gradually gets more complex. I need to work through this book, then get back to its companion and follow-on, "Rapid Literacy in Chinese", which is made up of 25 lessons, each introducing 30 characters; it has readings and exercises containing the characters you've already learned, so doing the reading is very encouraging.

Much as I like the unexpectedness of the class, I've always loved working through a book -- at the end you feel you have achieved something. The class makes you flexible and alert -- the book gives a different kind of satisfaction.

05 May 2006

Dyeing excitement continues

Did some more with the Procion MX deep black 609 (got it from Dharma Trading, in California, last year). The two larger pieces came out "too brown" -- I'd poured concentrated dye on them, then water over that. Obviously some scientific experimentation and recording of results was needed. What would happen if the soda ash soaked pieces went in dry rather than wet? I prepared both kinds, then scrunkled them into small containers, and added dye.

Wet fabric. Concentrate plus water on the left, just concentrate on the right. It comes out rather blue and diffuse.Dry fabric. Concentrate on the left, concentrate plus water on the right. (The brown is is stain that was already in the fabric.) Stronger colours, better definition. And here's what happens when you sprinkle the powder on the fabric -- wet at left, dry at right. Poured a bit of water onto the dry fabric, of course - a couple of tablespoons for about a square foot of fabric.

But I don't know what happens when you dye "properly" -- with the dye diluted in a big bucket. Trying that now. I started out wanting some grey cloudy stuff, might actually get it sometime somehow?