31 August 2016

Are you stitching comfortably?

As an attempt to break the tyranny of the computer, I'm trying to get into the habit of starting the "workday" with a bit of meditative stitching on the shorter "The Daily Round" scroll. There are plenty of inked-up colour catchers to hand, and its storage box contains a variety ofembroidery cottons and precut newspaper strips.

What was harder to come by was the old skills. After several years away from the piece, I found it very awkward to get into a "natural" position for stitching, and had to work out all over again how to make those cute little points at the edges and how to manipulate the folded strips so that the interesting side was up when it went round to the other side. Not to mention the way the strips didn't stay quite straight, and then the even more difficult job of attaching a new inky piece of background.

Here's the kit - storage box with six-stranded threads (mostly from friends' mothers' stashes); cut and folded newspaper (renewable ad infinitum); scissors (not sewing scissors?); and the quilting ruler for getting the lines back to the straight and narrow -
The awkwardness of the sewing is in large part due to not yet being able to sit comfortably. There needs to be space for the elbows - a clear table. There needs to be something pleasant, relaxing, or interesting to listen to. The pre-breakfast cup of coffee is a useful stitching aid, too. But for this piece, it's mostly about having the space to move it around and turn it over.

I usually sit with elbows on the table and hold the work up while stitching (four stitches on the needle leaves enough of the needle free for pulling through), but am also trying laying it flat and bouncing the needle off the tabletop as an alternative technique -

30 August 2016

Drawing Tuesday - Olympic Park

We met near the "big red thing", near the maze of lively fountains -
Some of the group looked settled in for the duration -
Off we went, to find shady spots. This was my view -

with these results - first the struggle with shifting shadows, then a quick geometry -

A big red complicated thing, captured by Janet K -
 The BRT lurking in the background, by Carol -
 Najlaa's bench -
 and her compilation of patterns seen on tee-shirts -
 Jo's pedal-boats -
and echinaceas -
 and further renditions by Jo and Najlaa -
It was a short walk to John Lewis for coffee/lunch, in air-conditioned comfort. The temperature rose and rose, and the rhythmic slapping of the dancing fountains was drowned out by the delighted shrieks of many excited children.

I had come from Hackney Wick, retracing some of route to the velodrome (in cycling days of yore) - much had changed in a year, these new buildings-

but the green fence was still there, though the summer planting had quite gone over -
The good news is that now there are racks of "Boris bikes" for hire all over the park . I hope to be back to use them before long.

29 August 2016

Notting Hill Carnival

In 20 years of living nearby, I've never been to the carnival, so now was the time. Went early, wandered round, waited for the parade, was astonished by the volume of the music, saw lots of people enjoying themselves. Took lots of photos, too many. 

Kids, costumes, colour -

People having fun -

Entrepreneurship -
Queues at official loos were loooong

Whistles (colourful plastic) are essential
 An enigma (seen early in the day) -

Discovery - the "pano" photo on the ipad -

(Interesting to see what happens when people walk past with or against the photo being taken.)

Looking back down Ladbroke Grove to some of the sound trucks and all those people -
And a little story -
The girl was part of an Italian-speaking family standing nearby watching the parade. There were often long gaps between the sound trucks and their group of dancers, so even if you didn't chat with people near you, you sort of got to know them. The little girls were as good as gold, and this one - age 6 (no front teeth!) was sitting on the curb when she was spotted by two dancers, friendly young women, who pulled her up to dance. She was loving being part of the dancing, of the parade, but a bit overwhelmed, and her mother was taking lots of photos. At one point one of the dancers crouched down and showed the girl that she should be smiling, and I think she took that on board, because when the two dancers turned around, with her between them, for a special photo, all three had lovely big grins.

At another quiet point the younger girl (18 months?) walked across the road with sister and father in tow, to where a little boy who had started walking not long since was practising his new skill. Kids find each other and just start interacting, lovely to see.
The little boys' parents were swaying to the music and encouraging him to dance, and by gum, within a few hours he was definitely lifting his feet in time. He's got rhythm ... so did these guys -
A final crowd shot -

28 August 2016

Batch of JQs done!

May's JQ


These are all untitled. No words come to mind - they are purely visual. Maybe because they were done in such a hurry.

All are 8"x10", and all include the required colour, can't remember which of the three it is for this batch. All colours are in all batches, and that solves that.

Sometimes the colours are laid behind a cut-out window - reverse applique? - and sometimes they're on top.

All are made on paper - found or recycled paper - stitched to a cloth backing. Sometimes the stitches are the conventional quilting stitch (running stitch) and sometimes it gets more interesting -

27 August 2016

A batch of JQs, almost ready

The deadline for submission of (photos of) journal quilts to the CQ yahoo site is fast approaching, so I settled down in the garden with snippets of the requisite colours, and threads, and the pieces of paper that replace the cloth top layer in my series. But there's still cloth, black with torn edges, for the backing. All hand stitched -
When it got dark, I moved indoors, and snacked and listened to the Proms (Mozart's Requiem) while stitching -
One more to go ... and I have two ideas. Trying to keep the making time to under two hours.

The paper is "found" or recycled - for instance, the lettering is a printout of a photo of a piece made in response to one of the modules of the Extended Drawing course, and the others are enlarged photocopies of non-digital photos of trees taken in February 2000 in Epping Forest. Somehow these came from a contact sheet ... I can't remember how we did that. It's good to be able to use them and remember that day in the forest, a walk led by Peter Cattrell when Tony was doing a photo course at Central St Martins; I was allowed to tag along and took some photos of "rivers of sky" between the lacy trees ... where are they now....

26 August 2016

Submitting work online - the second scroll

Last month I came up with a little project to help keep me going creatively - namely, submitting old work to new shows. The point is to be creative with the old work, and the first submission involved reformulating what the work was about.

This month I'm using much the same statement to support the submission of "the second scroll".
It was started while the first was being exhibited somewhere, I forget where ... I loved that way of working, and how it slowly but surely grew. At the time I was using this stitching as a way to start my studio-time, trying to focus on what I was planning to work on that day.

No.2 is shorter, 206cm rather than 370cm (they are 26cm wide). I photographed the siblings together -
The box in which No.2 is kept also contained the colour-catchers onto which the strips of newspaper are stitched - but they haven't been inked. It's a beautiful day and I'm determined to get away from the computer and do some sewing while in the garden. So some colour-catchers have been inked up and are drying. They are very absorbent, and I experimented with how to extend the ink - how far could it be diluted? Haven't finally answered that question; my experiment involved spraying the fabric and loading the brush with neat (chinese) ink
 On the left, the right side was sprayed before ink was applied; on the right is the back of the piece, with the left side sprayed after ink was applied. So, the ink spread nicely but didn't soak right through, the water got there first. Whereas, once the back had been sprayed with water, the ink came through and spread.

While getting the sheets nice and dark, I messed about with a little mark-making - nice dark, soft marks scribbled with the end of a paintbrush -

Next experiment, dilute the ink and apply liberally.
 Top, 50%; middle, 25%, bottom, sheet folded and 25% added liberally. Applied with sponge brush.

These are the "monoprints" (footprints?) of the three -
 And then I piled up the sheets on top of a fresh one, to see how much ink might be forced onto it -
The marks aren't as black as "spilt ink" would be, but it's certainly an easy way of filling a dauntingly white page!
The proof will be in the pudding - how dark will the diluted sheets be? Did it actually save ink to do that - a teaspoon of ink stretched to three sheets. It was certainly quick to do ... if you don't get sidetracked into markmaking.