30 April 2011


Hyacinth season has been and gone, again ... these were drawn one year, over a period of about two weeks, as my domestic hyacinth opened, flowered, collapsed. You really get to know something by drawing it again and again.


A piece I made in, hmm, 1998 or so. It consists of many smallish sheets of hand-made paper containing flower petals. Sheets containing each type of flower were collected into a "flower" and sewn together (in a novel method that "just happened") with thread of an appropriate colour. The flowers rest on the floor, on a low platform covered by sheets of heavier handmade paper.

When it was shown in one of the Cloth&Stitch exhibitions, the "breeze" from the nearby open door didn't do it any favours. It's packed away in a box - I haven't wanted to look at its poor tattered remains.

Looking back, this work was about the process of making - and the surprise of it finally coming together. Somewhat similar to the current work with the screenprinted pages?

Book du jour - journey lines book 6

This book has five sections, each made from an A2 sheet folded into 5x7 squares. The sheets were chosen for their similarity of coloration on both sides, and a certain unity of coloration among the five.

While making this, I learned to fold very, very accurately! That part took nearly an hour.

They stack up nicely -
and it might well be as a stack that they go into their "cover" - current thought is that this will be a cloth-covered box with drop-down sides.

Working title is "Work Week" - the idea is that each section represents a day - with the lines (based on the "commute to work") representing, in small overlapping or interlocking sections, the various things that make up a day -- and the colours supplying an emotional component.

29 April 2011

Art I like - Patricia Mourtizen

One of the many fabulous pinch-pots by this South African ceramicist. See more here.
(Found via the artpropelled blog.)

In town today

Although I'm usually a media-free zone and hardly knew about The Wedding, somehow I watched a bit online and heard there was to be a fly-past of a Lancaster bomber, a Spitfire, etc, etc -- and there was just time to get to Green Park, just outside the tube station, and see it. While waiting to hear the rumble of the planes I took a few photos of people in their red-white-and-blue gear -No photos of the planes though - they were visible for only a few seconds. (How did the food photos, macaroons and ice cream, get in there... )

Closer to home, this small patriotic display on the way to the tube station -
Otherwise, business as usual!

Lily pollen disaster averted

Wonderful flower, the lily - but oh the pollen - it stains.
When Sarah noticed a lot of pollen on the sleeve of her sweater, I got the hoover - which took most of the pollen off - and then rather than clip the stamens from the lilies in her birthday bouquet, hoovered them too ... they ended up looking rather thinner ...
Thomas thought it was a hilarious way to do housework. Hmph.

Book du jour

It came to be time to bite the bullet and choose the pages (and their sequence) for "the big book" (A2 size). After turning all the prints over half a dozen times, discarding what didn't fit and rearranging - largely by colour - 16 pages made up the book. Its working title is "coffee table book" because it fits exactly on my coffee table. This is the first - or last? - page -and here are the rest -
Now for the binding - my ideas only extend to (a) perfect binding (glued spine) in which case the pages will lie flat; and (b) some sort of clamping of the spine, so the pages spring up and spill over, and if they were laid on a narrow enough table, would be a waterfall - and rather harder to turn.

Title - the decisions about format etc with these prints would be easier if I'd started out with a title/concept, rather than a system/process...

The "rejects" among the prints were mostly the busier pages. I made a viewing window and looked at one page in 4" and 3" square areas -
Some of these might become "tiles" to be kept in a box, perhaps with drop-down sides, perhaps lined with patterned paper, perhaps with plain.... One side of the tiles would be carefully chosen, but the reverse would be random (and possibly more interesting?) both in pattern and colour.

28 April 2011

Art I like - Park Seo Bo

In the 1970s "the father of Korean abstraction" painted a series he called Ecriture, consisting of pencil through wet paint on canvas. Click on the image to see the variety of these pencil marks -Modern, abstract calligraphy -
His focus is on gesture - extending himself onto the canvas and becoming one with his work.

The book from which these come has several essays on Park's work. One says: "The artist achieves a meditative state through the repetitive gestures of making this work. [The life force invested in the process of making] will, in turn, be conferred on viewers who invest in extended, contemplative consideration."

Subsequently Park has made paintings using layers of soaked Korean paper, through which he creates furrows, squeezes these into ridges, and then applies a range of colours. "The act of creating allows Park to empty his mind of all distractions, ideas and images. Through his art he achieves catharsis from the 'stresses and pains' of the world, and reaches a state where he is 'mindful' and 'present'. As he notes: 'Art is no longer the task of filling something, but a task of emptying something, and thus must involve throwing yourself away ... I want to reduce and reduce - to create pure emptiness. That is an 'Asian' idea, an approach to nature. nature and humans can connect in this way.' "

Making paper

My rough-and-ready method of making paper involves J-cloths instead of felts for couching and metal mesh instead of mold-and-deckle. It also involves patching with further pulp lifted via the mesh, where necessary. But as with "proper" papermaking, many variations are possible. Janet used spices for colour, and is adding another layer of pulp on top -
She and Karen took their wet bits of paper home with them, so I don't know how the spice-colours look when dry, but I'm sure she'll do something wild with them.
To the leftover pulp I added a page from a chinese book, chopped up with pinking sheers, and made a few sheets with threads laid between two layers of pulp. This is the wet-and-transparent version -
When dry, the paper definitely has two sides
Take a deep breath and pull out the strings -
Next steps and/or possibilities:
- put the bits of text only under the strings, so they are revealed when the strings are taken out
- dip strings in ink, so that the ink spreads through the wet paper
- make a long strip with long strings
- make these six sheets into a dos-a-dos book (this means deciding what to use for the cover)


When does a line become a stripe - and when is a stripe "just" a line?Of her 1995 book, Annie Cicale says: "With a short text by Paul Rand, this little book unfolds to show many kinds of stripes, from architecture and clothing to flags and zebras. A concertina with a piano hinged spine on dowels holds it together."
Suddenly, piano-hinged spines are on my to-do list...

27 April 2011

Magic mushroom-books

Imagine a wall full of these! - no, don't imagine, click here and see (S)edition, and more work by Melissa Jay Craig (among the paper book works, Ceded uses dock seeds for text; wonderful!) -Not only do I admire the imagination and skill involved in making these mushroom-books, there is a personal association. Spotty mushrooms are deeply ingrained in my childhood - appearing in the German children's books that were read to me (especially Die Haschenschule). A favourite aunt had a set of red and white spotted china, possibly pre-war, still in use when we visited her in the 1970s.

Yet Amanita muscaria, though beautiful, is poisonous and psychoactive (red for danger?). Unromantically, it is commonly known as fly agaric.

26 April 2011

London's spring glories

In the wonderful weather, we visited Hyde Park's rose garden -and, next day, Kew Gardens, especially the rhododendron dell and the bluebell woods -
The tulips are just about finished -
and the handkerchief tree is at its best -
This tree with huge bunches of blossom is a japanese rowan -
There's always something new to see in a garden!

Ceramics at the V&A

Glass cases give shadows and reflections - individual items get lost in the manyness of the shelves and cabinets of the display -Wonderful shapes and colours from China - brought from their own context into ours -
Individual items standing out from the busyness and manyness -

Book du jour

Starting with a potato print about 5cm square, on both sides of tracing paper -
augmented by lines of stitching and some segments of stitching without thread, to give three kinds of tactility, as well as the sensory input of the crackle of pages being turned -
A long string of separate sheets, with the stitching threaded together. The spine could be made more interesting, and the loops on the foredge also -
Publish PostThe large printed sheet is for another time, another structure.

Road rug

Some progress, thanks to a couple of evenings in front of the tv - but still only half done, thanks to adding the section at top and right.

24 April 2011

Quilts long gone

The zebras were started in about 1981 (in Halifax, NS) and were finished in 2001 for Ellen. The hand-dyed quilt on the left was made in 2002 for Carolyn.The pinwheels also date back to Halifax days - before giving the quilt to Sophie I added a little liveliness to the back.
The photos are from pre-digital days - before we could square up quilts after taking the picture (and now that angularity gives them a "period feel").

Book du jour - journey lines books 4 & 5

Both zigzag concentinas are made from two sheets of paper, chosen because colours were similar on both sheets. In making the first one (three sections cut lengthwise from A4), I realised the fold was against the grain, so made another cutting against the grain and folding with the grain - two sheets of A3 cut into three sections -Deciding how to do the glue flap wasn't as much of a Big Decision today - decisions get easier with practice! - it seemed to need to have the lines running the same way, even if the colour changed. The folds were meant to be random but I noticed myself checking to see whether it would look better if the fold went here, there, or even further along.

This shows both sides - except that in the larger one, the inside is mostly hidden ... inside -
The asymmetrical zigzags make for a lot of playful possibilities -
These would need a case or envelope for storage and identification.

Hoppy Easter!

23 April 2011

Things found in books

Found in a charity shop, this dictionary was published in Canada in 1948 -
It belonged to Christine Collins, who wrote below her name: "Most wonderful of all are words - and how they make friends one with another". (A quote from "Calloway's Code", a short story by the wonderful O.Henry.)

It's a dictionary with pictures, including maps.
On the page opened at random, as well as buttress, buzzard, and Byzantium, we find "butyraceous - of the nature of, resembling, or containing butter" and learn that one form (isomer) of butyric acid is the rancid liquid present in spoiled butter etc. "By-work" is a useful term - "work done in addition to one's regular work, as in intervals of leisure".

Beyond the dictionary

Since buying two old dictionaries to repurpose, I've been thinking about and looking for the kinds of books that might be most appropriate. These dominoes were made from a dictionary by Lynette Willoughby -Another book-object she made with dictionary pages was the little trees (see a close-up on her website) -

Book du jour

Sidetracked from the journey lines books ... My new square hole-punch (or is that square-hole punch...) and some old photos quickly led to this -The ends of the threads were used to catch the stitching at the spine. When you open the book and hold the pages loosely and gently tug down on one side, the pages turn themselves.

A by-product was this necklace - cheap'n'cheerful - something to do with those zillions of old photos. Shiny, double-sided ... rather byzantine ...
Now, what to do with what's left of the photos - each has six square holes punched out of it, and the plain sides make interesting patterns when they're overlapped ...

22 April 2011

Book du jour - journey lines book 3

Today's book used five sheets of A3, chosen because one side was quite dark - often, black printed on black.
After the choice of papers came more decisions... starting with, what size? Cut the sheets (25 x 38 cm) into halves, thirds, quarters, or some arbitrary measurement?
While cutting each into three strips and folding into four squares (8.3 cm), with a little flap left over for joining, I found some favourite areas -

After folding, the flaps were obviously too big - how much to cut off? And - glue them "around" or "under"? And, what order do the strips go in?
I liked the look of the "glue around" foredge -
but the "glue under" edge had more sparkle (and the joins were less noticeable on the dark side) -
No matter how careful you are with folding (well, no matter how careful I try to be with folding...) there can be considerable discrepancies! -
When the 15 strips were together, making 60 pages, I put the leporello through its paces (click to enlarge) -
My favourite thing to do with this book is to pour it from hand to hand. 8 or 9 cm is a good size for that.