30 March 2013


What is a map?
If you're in New York, Lehman College Art Gallery has an exhibition till 11 May, including works by these artists: Kevin Van Aelst [the apple is his], Isabel Barbuzza, Doug Beube [who gouges books, among other things], Gail Biederman, Margaret CusackSage Dawson, Lisa Corinne Davis, Dahlia Elsayed, Charley Friedman, Wopo Holup ["River drawings"],Meridith McNeal, Steven Millar, Simonetta Moro, Paula Scher, Karen Shaw,and Dannielle Tegeder
Cusack Map
Margaret Cusack - "Wrangler Map"


Graveyard shift

The "Grave Rubbing" art quilts made by Susan Lenz are intriguing. They were written about in Hand/Eye magazine, and I suggest you go to the article to see the pix and read the article -
She also does installations - see them here - one is this collection of thread spools called "Ancestors" -
Susan uses the textile-ness of textiles in a rewarding way - not just the properties of the fabric, thread, etc, but also the societal ideas that are embedded in them. 

29 March 2013

Art I like - Jean M Judd's "Contaminated Water" quilts

This quilt is on show at the Museum of the Southwest, Midland, Texas, until 28 April.
Contaminated Water 4
Jean M Judd, Contaminated Water #4: Through the Fence, 2012
(image from the SAQA art quilt news e-bulletin)
This series  uses Jean's hand dyed fabrics, mostly in whole cloth format. Some use rust dyeing and overt imagery. The quilted concentric circles are, of course, the spreading ripples after something falls into the water and disappears beneath the surface. You can see elements of the wire fence in the quilting too. The title refers to water seeping out of a copper mine, unconstrained by mere fences.

See all the quilts - and read the stories behind them - here.

Art I like - Caroline Hall

Caroline Hall's work explores the different spaces occupied by video and painting; her studio is in Winchester. Her landscapes are oil paint on aluminium, derived from a moving image projected onto the surface in an endless loop. (The one above reminds me of my own photos taken in the moving tube train of the walls of the tunnels, the blur of the wiring that runs along the walls, which I used in a project a couple of years ago.)

"Every painting is an attempt to capture a landscape which is on the move, a time-based, transient space," she says. "It intrigues me that I can only ever really hope to blur the boundaries between video and painting because of course the permanence of paint means it can only ever represent time standing still."

Other work by Caroline Hall is her "Pixels Paused" series (pix from here) -

28 March 2013

Poetry Thursday - may i feel said he by e.e. cummings

may i feel said he

may i feel said he
(i'll squeal said she
just once said he)
it's fun said she

(may i touch said he
how much said she
a lot said he)
why not said she

(let's go said he
not too far said she
what's too far said he
where you are said she)

may i stay said he
(which way said she
like this said he
if you kiss said she

may i move said he
is it love said she)
if you're willing said he
(but you're killing said she

but it's life said he
but your wife said she
now said he)
ow said she

(tiptop said he
don't stop said she
oh no said he)
go slow said she

(cccome?said he
ummm said she)
you're divine! said he
(you are Mine said she)

e e cummings, he of the the omnipresent lower-case and eccentric grammar and punctuation, wrote about 2,900 poems, many of them sonnets. Born in 1894, he wrote poetry daily from the age of 8, and after going to Harvard he worked for a book dealer. Having spent time in Paris while waiting the join the Ambulance Corps in 1917, he returned there for longer periods later, and also visited Russia in 1931. He was thrice-married, the first two times rather briefly. He died in 1962 and is buried in Boston.

Whether to capitalise his name has bedevilled editors. Certainly he used capital letters in his signature.

27 March 2013

Wish list

Mittens to knit from hand-dyed wool - dyed with natural dyes, mushrooms in fact - available from riihivilla.com

Is there a book that has lots of images of these gorgeous Mbuti pygmy barkcloth? Until it comes my way, I'm printing out just one image to start from and refer back to (hoping to settle to a handstitching project) -
image from here
When I started this post, this sewing kit was high on my wanted list - since then, it's been the inspiration for my own version(s). Doesn't it look lovely in linen, with the handprinted fabric -
available via valerieknapp.com
Somewhere in my studio, or in a cupboard, or...?..., I have an old darning mushroom - it would be good to find it, various socks need darning -

A new wrinkle

Work by New York illustrator Tim Lahan.  The paper becomes part of the work, rather than merely a ground for a drawing - another instance of "the invisible support" being made visible -
Counterchange in the teeshirt design - but does it really need the words -

From http://kleidersachen.tumblr.com/post/26175950888/supersentido-un-seco-tim-lahan

Last year

Ah, nostalgia.... Coming out of college after the Wednesday afternoon lecture, into the early-spring sunset. I miss the regularity of it, going to that big old hall every week and enduring not just the uncomfortable chairs but also the terrible technicalities of the misfunctioning computer/projector ... hearing about art practices so many metaphorical miles away from what my own would, could ever be ... being provoked into unexpected thought ...

26 March 2013


The Morandi exhibition at the Estorick was instructive in the many different qualities of the hatching in his etchings. Here's a sample (please excuse the glare of the glass in some of them).

Lines, judiciously disposed - what could be simpler?

btw the exhibition is extended to 28 April.

Bookwraps update

The butted strips shown here have become, after much handstitch to cover the joins, this -
It fits an A6 hardback sketchbook, but another one, made only slightly smaller, doesn't accommodate the extra bulk of the cover, and fits an A6 softcover book -
The devil is in the details all right! Loops and buttons have to have enough stretch or play to allow unbuttoning, and yet be "tight" enough to hold the book and not undo themselves ... I'm wondering about using elastic as the loop.

Another possibility for closures is a long cord (does this get in the way of actually using the book?). It's easier to make, and if thin is best with a nice chunky bead at the end -
These two bookwraps were once unfinished samples. They have been cut down to size - which can be tricky if the fabric is just that teeny bit too small! - and given a "narrow binding" [instructions here] - which is rather tricky if the corners aren't right angles and the fabric isn't on the bias... I prefer using a binding, rather than satin stitch, because it holds the inside pocket better, and because satin stitch on the machine is so very, very, very boring.

Art I like - Michele Walker

In the 1990s Michele Walker made innovative, subversive quilts with resonant sociopolitical messages, using plastic and other non-standard materials, like this comment on homelessness -
House Block (1999) is part of The Quilters' Guild of the British Isles' Nineties Collection of commissioned quilts. (Search the entire 20th century collection here.)

I've written about Michele's work before (here and here) - about ten years ago she did research into sashiko and it's taken quite another direction.

Her book, The Passionate Quilter (1992), is still among my favourite quilt books -

25 March 2013

Binders' Keepers*

A development of the sewing kits, the Binders' Keepers hold bookbinding tools - bone folder, scalpel, needles, linen thread, pencil, etc. They differ from the sewing kits in having less pincushion space (just the one wool pocket), a longer stretch of small pockets, and a fabric flap that holds tools in place. Also. to accommodate scissors and a 6" metal ruler, they are 7" high.

Here is Mark One under development - getting the spacing for the pockets -
This is Mark Two -
Choosing the fabrics is the fun part, so I just kept going - here's the total output so far (they still need fasteners) -

The thing that still needs refining is the pocket for the scissors - so that the points don't jab through the cloth. I've tried leather and a heavy nylon mesh, and realised that although scissors are quite a big tool, the pointed bit is narrow, so the pocket could be narrow too. (Except that the handles might overlap other tools then.)

It will take another few attempts before all the little design wrinkles are ironed out. My plan is to use only fabrics I have on hand ... though I did succumb to a wool coat in a charity shop for fabric for the red pockets, and the red buttons came from that coat too.

*Thanks to Tony for the name.

Writing on walls

"A storm of broken syntax" by Jose Parla (2008; 30x44 inches) - see more of his work here.

"Historically, walls have exhibited the voice of the people. My earliest paintings were made on walls at night. My thought and impulse behind the gesture was as primitive as that of cavemen marking and drawing in their dwellings to assert their existence in a place and time," he says. His paintings " are time capsules, mixed documents of memory and research; part performance, as I impersonate the characters that leave their marks on walls. Time is a part of these paintings as their creative process simulates the passing of time on city walls and their layers of history with layers of paint, posters, writing, and re-construction."

24 March 2013

Life skills - seed planting

Learn how to make toilet paper rolls into seed planters here. It's high time for indoor spring planting, and/or these might be handy for rooting the cuttings taken from houseplants.

Basically, you cut the toilet roll in half, cut four slits in one end and fold those tabs in to make the bottom, fill them with soil and set them in a tray. When the sprout or cutting is ready for transplanting, carefully tear the cardboard away, or just undo the tabs on the bottom, and put it in the ground (or a bigger pot).

Ghost brushes

Now back on the job and no longer hanging round the studio.

Travelling collection

... of a white van man.

23 March 2013

Being tourists

A day out, or rather, on the way home from a visit to Stratford. We were ready to leave at 8am, and Charlecote, which we wanted to visit, didn't open till 12, so what to do in the meantime? Looking at the guidebook, we set ourselves five "munros" -
The quaint village of Welford-on-Avon boasts the tallest maypole in England -

Its stripes match the butcher shop nearby (or vice versa) -
Second, the 15th-century bridge at Bidford-on-Avon -

Indeed the water was deep an flowing fast, and we saw many signs on the back roads warning of Flood! and fields with standing water. Bad times for farmers, and bad times for anyone wanting to drive around. And to think that last year at this time we were under a drought warning.

Hunting for an obelisk near the site of the battle of Edghill (1265, it said on the map, but that should be 1642) we were unsuccessful (it might have been this obelisk) so drove up Fladbury Hill and needed to drive back to photograph this on Hill Furze Road -
On the other side of the hill, a view - with primroses -
We reached The Fleece Inn just as it was opening, but first had a quick look round the village of Bretforton before having coffee -
updating an old barn
the traditionally painted circles (in the Fleece Inn) keep witches from coming down the chimney
The warmth of the fire was very welcome after the biting wind. Then on to another National Trust property, a huge medieval tithe barn - with bellringing practice coming across the fields -
It wasn't open, but you could stick your arm and camera through the square holes and get a view of the interior. The narrow slits widen on the inside to give a surprising amount of light -
A tenth of farmers' produce was paid to the church, and stored in these barns. A fair number survive, even if the tradition doesn't.

Those were the "munros" done and it was off to the final stop of the day, the Elizabethan manor of Charlecote House -

A spot of lunch and another chance to get out of the cold wind. Though it was hardly warm inside - very historically appropriate!