30 July 2010

Off to another summer school

In today's one-day course at City Lit we'll be making a book out of contemporary materials such as electric cabling, car tire or other found materials, using a range of medieval sewing techniques in a sculptural approach to bookbinding.

Tomorrow I'm off to West Dean for a whole week of book making - getting some skills and ideas. The course description says: "By using a range of interesting book structures combined with imaginative mark-making technquies, this course is designed to enable you to develop your ideas through the structure of the book, culminating in a unique hand made book or small edition." It includes experimenting with monoprint, rubber stamp, embossing and cut throughs and "will give you the opportunity to explore the relationship of the book structure to its contents".

Right up my street!

This book is by Carol Barton.

29 July 2010

Tool roll

Seeing how people carry their bookbinding tools to class neatly rolled up, I decided to make a tool roll to hold bone folder, glue brush, ruler, needles, scalpel, etc etc.
The square of pieced fabric is a UFO from the River exhibition, five years ago. It has an elegant secret - shibori wadding -All it needed was quilting, pockets, and ties -
Unrolled -
and unwrapped -A place fr everything, and everything in its place!

What's more, it's contagious - my son has been reorganising his tool box...

27 July 2010

Are we getting enough?

This is what happens when you buy the own-brand - more air than substance?

On the way home

One of the "tiny houses" on Charteris Road ... the owners love their little garden, and there's always something blooming. Not to mention the lions keeping guard.

26 July 2010


South Kensington tube station

Off the shelf

Some of my "studio time" recently has been used to revisit past sketchbooks and scrapbooks. This one was made out of A3 photocopy paper; the wallpaper cover folds out. I used it to collect images of "blue things" before, during, and after a bout of indigo dyeing.I was thinking about the sky, and buildings reflecting the sky
and clouds moving across the sky
and even skies that aren't blue -
In the back of the book, hidden in the folding cover that can be used for storing loose bits of paper, were the notes from several courses I'd all but forgotten about, including one of a series of drawing courses at the V&A about 10 years ago -
We drew faces (and feet) in the sculpture court; I wish I could remember the tutor's name....

25 July 2010


It's been dry and the trees have been dropping leaves. They get worn into the road surface and make it look rather wonderful -


A walk by a shady stream, and a bit of camera shake, led to dozens of pictures deliberately getting blur. These are some of them.
The camera was set to maximum zoom, focusing on reflected light.
Not just shake but considerable movement when pressing the shutter button was needed.
A fun thing to do with a digital camera.

24 July 2010

Inside The Vyne

Thanks to Celia for alerting me to the camera obscura at The Vyne - here it is on the landing, looking across the lawns towards the lake -And this is the view -
A portable camera obscura, useful perhaps on sketching expeditions -
And beyond, in the rooms, many interesting paintings and objects, collected by the Chute family who lived here for 350 years.
A room wallpapered with bright tapestries -
Wonderful carved panelling -
A Long Gallery, with rush mats on the floors as it would have been, way back when - these are woven with noticeably sweet-smelling grasses -
Beneath the gallery, the Stone Room, which as had various uses over the years -
Throughout the house, an exhibition of madly extravagant furniture by Mark Brazier-Jones - bling meets baroque -
Crystal-encrusted tea-tables - and a little railway for passing the sugar and biscuits -
More on the tea theme in the dining room -
Visitors were really enjoying the juxtaposition.

Coptic stitch binding

Last week I spent the evenings at bookbinding classes, learning how to do coptic stitch bindings. Here we are in the light, bright, orderly room, working away -These are the nipping presses - I love the shapes -
There are times when pressure really makes a difference - to get nice flat results with glue, for instance.

People throw amazing things in the bins - stuffed into a bag were mostly little bits of paper, but among them were some very usable bits of marbled paper -
The covers for my books had to be covered with paper from the bins, as I'd not read the course outline carefully and didn't bring the required two sheets of paper. However, having to improvise is Very Good For You -
Ready to roll -- the boards are covered, the signatures have been punched, and the written instructions are confusing to say the least. This is why it's good to go on a course, and see complicated things demonstrated.
But coptic stitch isn't all that complicated after all -
This book is sewn with one needle. Before class, I'd cobbled together the covers and cut up some cartridge paper to have a "practice" book.

The final evening we learned how to use paired needles - much easier, in many ways -
I'd saved the red-covered book to sew with red thread, and had time to do it in the final class with paired-needle sewing. It needed three pairs of needles -
Inside the cover is the map of art galleries that I happened to have with me the first night, and for the other book I used the table of contents from the City Lit course guide -
Here's how you can tell whether the coptic stitch has been made with paired needles (top) or a single needle (bottom) -
Much can be improved, but it's a decent start -

Jewellery from the Kalahari

Adornment seems to be a basic human need, whether it's painting the body with coloured juices and muds, or couture clothing. In the Kalahari, the San (Bushman) women make jewellery out of eggshells - ostrich egg shells - and what a laborious business it is. But it can be carried on communally, giving opportunities for socialising and childcare. And it brings in needed income in a community riddled by HIV, with many men turning to alcohol. Read about the process here, and watch a short video (including some cute kids dancing) here.
Jewellery designer Anna Haber has been working with the San women to develop a collection. See it in the article in Hand/Eye magazine, or on her blog (from which these images are borrowed).Browns (not a shop I've been in, yet) stocks it:

23 July 2010

Nature at The Vyne

Down by the lake -In the borders -

In the walled garden -
More planting -
Small lives carrying on -