29 December 2007

Happy New Year

This year I'm a bit slow with getting the New Year cards mailed out. If your smailmail isn't in my address book and you don't get one of these little "origami" books in the post, you may want to fill in your answers under the headings - and perhaps act on them -

Reasons to leap out of bed

Books to read and films to see

Fun things to do without a screen or monitor

Unusual places to go

Nice things to think about

Habits to make, or to break

Interesting people to get in touch with

The folded books are based on Paul Johnson's creative book-making projects for children, and can be found on page 6 here. Some more folded books are shown here - have fun!

28 December 2007

"Takes a little effort"

This "yule log" looked good in the magazine! I did read the whole recipe before starting, but the bit about it taking 10 minutes of beating to get the eggs and sugar trebled in volume didn't sink in. I don't have an electric beater, so it took rather longer - had to stop and rest quite often. After the eggs are voluminous, you carefully fold in a very little flour, some cocoa, and ground almonds. And the filling is made with mascarpone, melted chocolate, icing sugar, and liqueur. "Serves 12" - it's very rich and sweet.

O Tannenbaum

Xmas trees for sale at my local greengrocer -The big tree set up in Queens Park -
And the little one at home, with traditional candles burning briefly -

20 December 2007

Fabric houses

"Red mailbox " is part of Jeanelle McCall's First Street Series. You can see the rest of the street here.It sent me hunting for more fabric houses.

This one is by Jane LaFazio - it includes lemon rind buttons and punched tin.
Tonya has done a Hallowe'en quilt with various imaginative wonky houses; you can see the whole quilt on her website:
And there are all the quilt block patterns showing houses. If you google "house quilt" you'll see a huge variety; I do prefer the non-standard layouts, rather than repetitions of a block. This one by Kristin Pollen is made of Japanese fabrics:
Or how about a block of the month house sampler? Several are available here:
Schoolhouses are popular; the history of this historical "quilt of the month" is given on the Quilt Study Centre website:
Judi Gunter teaches a workshop on how to make this miniature schoolhouse quilt:
Even bird houses can be represented in fabric:
This birdhouse quilt is a jolly variation of log cabin:

Seasonal greenery

The xmas trees appear early in December. Here on Stroud Green Road, N4, both the florist and the greengrocer are in the xmas tree business. It's a little forest -- but alas, doesn't smell anything like a forest.When the trees first arrived, there was a heap of discarded branches waiting for the binmen - I took some home and put them on the landing
Sue said that, as the branches were salvaged and recyled, the decorations should be salvaged and recycled too. These fabric knots are made from scraps too small to use in patchwork - less than 1/2" wide - but even they have their uses!

Golden soup

I always think of Rita when I make Golden Soup - we made this a lot when we were in library school, while our preschool boys played "police brothers" and other games.Peel and chop the onion, potatoes, and carrots. Melt the butter in a big pan, and add the chopped veg - let it get a bit soft, giving it the occasional stir. Add the thyme (use a bit more than shown here - this was all that my windowbox could come up with!) and water to cover. Simmer till veg are cooked. Whizz it all up with a stick thing, or put it into the blender. Reheat, adding salt and pepper to taste, and enough milk to make it the consistency you like.

13 December 2007

Dinner Party

November's journal quilt represents a gathering of the "senoritas" - Julia did a yummy mushroom starter, the main was a vegetable gratin, Mary brought baklava and other goodies (on those fancy plastic plates the bakeries use for packing them) for dessert, and Linda brought the flowers (alstromeria that lasted for weeks). Wine and conversation flowed freely.
I pinned it up in my work space, next to the Klimt landscape torn from a calendar and a changing display of Winifred Nicholson postcards. The beloved mug came from Fenny Lodge Gallery, which is right on the canal (near Milton Keynes), and the chinese fruit bowl came to me via Rita's mother-in-law, in Halifax, NS. Everything has a story - even the stapler.

08 December 2007

Drawing sounds

It's a small class - perhaps the title is off-putting - but what fun to use charcoal and big sheets of paper on easels, to music. Different people obviously get different results with the same music, Miles Davis in this case.
My response to marimbas (Steve Reich?)In the second week, more and different music, trying to get textures:
I simply can't remember what the music for these was.
At the end of the class, Gershwin's "Rhapsody in blue"
One more session to come. This is so much fun!

04 December 2007

01 December 2007

Quiltlet du jour

This 12" square is called Be Like That Then! and is made from African fabric that Karol-Ann sent along a few months ago. It just fell together -- but the binding, which is floppy satiny fabric, took ages. However I did manage to figure out how to do those "perfect" mitred corners -- getting to actual perfection may take a bit of practice, but in theory....

30 November 2007


City Lit had a two-Sunday workshop on monoprinting, led by Sharon Finmark. What fun to be in the print room with the presses and drying racks:
Working away with our palettes and plates and brayers:
On the second day, most people were using colour:Tony used leaves picked up in the street as a resist: The brayer leaves marks of varying weight:I used black ink both days - and came up with a lot of "rain" prints, on paper:and on fabric:In the week between sessions, I stitched a little piece to be used for printing, first with ordinary thread and then with thread almost too thick to fit through the needle and found the back went all loopyBoth sides were useful for printing - especially on tissue paper.The oil in the ink will eventually rot fabric, but I printed some fabric anyway -Overall, these are my favourites -


Quilt In Progress, that is. The brown, orange and gold strip was a raffle prize at November's meeting of London Quilters - lucky number 515. London Quilters is having an exhibition at Swiss Cottage Library in May, so this is the start of my entry for that exhibition.

Fortunately there was a trader at the meeting- I was sure I had nothing at home that would go with this - so I could buy the brown-and-turquoise fabrics to get started. The rest are from the stash, and include silks as well as some transparent synthetics. This will be a wall quilt, of course. The swirly goldish fabrics on the left started out with a white background and responded well to a bit of fabric paint.Here's the first layout, with brownish organza overlaying some of the more glittering stuff. It'll have an "oriental scroll" format:
The ginkgo leaves will be added once the squares are sewn together, as will some "confetti" of some sort:
But first, some smaller ones will be appliqued onto individual squares. The line round the edge of the leaf will be part of the quilting:
It's been lying on the floor, ready to roll, for a week now!

24 November 2007

In barcode mode

This is the work of Betty Woodman, an american ceramicist - see more here.

Know thyself

At www.barcodeart.com/you can barcode yourself:

Enter personal information about yourself to be bar coded. All of the calculations in Barcode Yourself are based on real world facts, gathered from the Internet. Data like the Gross Domestic Product of each country. Lichtenstein is #1, USA #2, and Sierra Leone is last. From the Center for Disease control, [the site owner] used the Body Mass Index to figure out how healthy a person is based on height and weight. And from the Institute for Women's Policy Research [he] discovered the "Gender Gap" which states that "Women Average 72 Cents For Each $1 Earned By A Man."

I found this via Dee Brien's work, a winner in the V&A's "inspired by" competition last year.

20 November 2007

Jun Kaneko

This book was sitting quietly in the Oxfam bookstore; yet who could resist that cover? I flipped through and got very excited at the contents, but yikes the price.... It took a while to realise this was the work of a potter. This room might be a textile work -So might these pieces, at a quick glance:But these are undeniably pots:
And what pots! Enormous! Kaneko graduated from art college in 1971 and is still making huge work in ceramics. The caption to this photo says his pots are among the highest-priced pieces of ceramic art in the world.
I had to go back and buy the book, and am delighted with it, and to make the acquaintance of this artist. After completing graduate school in the USA 1971, he went back to Japan for a sojourn, and opened an exhibition in a friend's gallery, "underpinned by the idea of expanding his knowledge of the Japanese people. On the first day, he went to his exhibition of blank walls with a 35mm camera, an 8mm movie camera, and a tape recorder, to make a documentary, "in case anything happened." He had sent out invitations which were printed in white ink on white paper, crumpled almost beyond recognition, and stuffed into envelopes. It is difficult to read matt, colorless ink on a white background, so Kaneko knew that everyone who arrived at the exhibition had really tried hard to do so.

"Kaneko remembers that, in the first couple of days, very few people came, but as word spread, a larger audience showed up. Some stayed for hours and many the whole day, drinking tea, talking, sharing thoughts with one another. From the countless bars in the center of Osaka, scores of inebriated visitors dropped into the gallery. Kaneko was fascinated by their behaviour and took photographs of them. On one occasion, he handed out cameras and rolls of film, asking the public to take pictures of anything they liked and to return the film. Before long, he had collected numerous images, created in this unconventional manner. In retrospect, he feels that the vision of this peculiar audience, uneducated in matters of art, was the one from which he learnt the most. He spliced the rolls together unedited, and showed the film continuously in the gallery for a week."

He used the proceeds of his lecture tour to set up a two-week "clay festival" in a rented sewer-pipe factory near Nagoya, to give people a chance to experience working with clay. 700 people took part, and four went on to become ceramic artists - and "people all over Japan still speak of this exciting occasion".

Ah, those were the wild days -- "happenings" and wild hope.