31 May 2019

Shop local!

Having seen this bowl in the window of Louis Farouk while walking along Blackstock Road the previous evening, I went back to bring it home, taking a couple of friends with me -
The painted creature is an Egyptian cow, not a horse as the tail led me to believe!

We went on to Ink@84 and noted some books to add to our ever-growing heap/list of "must read" volumes -

 ... and spotted some lovely cards -
 Then to Mountgrove Road for Alterier
 I bought a tiny thing and it was wrapped so beautifully that instead of keeping it for myself, I'll send it overseas as a birthday present -
 The shop includes a workshop downstairs with some interesting garments. If you happen to need a zipper, there's a rainbow of them available -
Shopping done, I succumbed to taking the bus to my next meeting, sitting upstairs. It stopped for the traffic light in this perfect place and I couldn't get my camera out fast enough - or rather, I managed to get it out in time to snap the view (how confusing the language can be!)
Walking back in the warmth of the afternoon, a little rest was needed, on the pretext of making a little drawing -
I'd recently seen #walktosee on Instagram, which is about catching the things we see daily as we walk around - hmm, that's what I do, but I don't often stop to draw them ("just start somewhere") but now I will, a bit more often. My mantra for this is the one I use for housework: "you can do anything for 15 minutes".

Also of local note on the shopping front is the relocation of my favourite greengrocer to a spacious shop near the crowded old premises -
 There are 18 different kinds of tomatoes (some are now in my "gnu" bowl) -
 all sorts of peppers and chilis -
 big bunches of herbs, not wrapped in plastic -
 and interesting things such as smoked garlic and "solo garlic" -
Many kinds of apples etc etc etc too.

Across the street is a nice little coffee shop (it sells my fave sourdough bread), and a useful cash point.
When I moved to this area all those years ago, it was very very different - sweatshops and other small businesses, small Caribbean and Asian grocery stores, only a few restaurants (no pizzeria!) ... and we had a library that has since been closed and a block of flats built in its place.

30 May 2019

Poetry Thursday - Twickenham Garden by John Donne

The Crying Spider by Odilon Redon (1881)

This week's poem comes via the Guardian's books e-bulletin. "Have Donne with me!" it taunted ... so, here it is (Carol Rumens deciphers it here)

Twickenham Garden

Blasted with sighs, and surrounded with tears,
Hither I come to seek the spring,
And at mine eyes, and at mine ears,
Receive such balms as else cure every thing.
But O! self-traitor, I do bring
The spider Love, which transubstantiates all,
And can convert manna to gall;
And that this place may thoroughly be thought
True paradise, I have the serpent brought.

’Twere wholesomer for me that winter did
Benight the glory of this place,
And that a grave frost did forbid
These trees to laugh and mock me to my face ;
But that I may not this disgrace
Endure, nor yet leave loving, Love, let me
Some senseless piece of this place be;
Make me a mandrake, so I may grow here,
Or a stone fountain weeping out my year.

Hither with crystal phials, lovers, come,
And take my tears, which are love’s wine,
And try your mistress’ tears at home,
For all are false, that taste not just like mine.
Alas! hearts do not in eyes shine,
Nor can you more judge women’s thoughts by tears,
Than by her shadow what she wears.
O perverse sex, where none is true but she,
Who’s therefore true, because her truth kills me.

John Donne (1572-1631)

In his lifetime Donne was best known for his sermons - he was Dean of St Paul's Cathedral. He studied law but never worked as a lawyer. A scandalous marriage led to a brief imprisonment. After a long search for public office he was ordained in the Church of England and became chaplain to James I. During his lifetime his poetry circulated in manuscript among his friends and patrons; he considered print publication as beneath his dignity as a gentleman.

29 May 2019

Woodblock Wednesday - been cutting a bigger block

As it's half-term at college, we were on our own. I had lots of cutting to do for the print-into-book course as we'll be printing from those (big! 15x23cm) blocks on Monday.

Not on my own, though - one of the class members lives locally and came over for woodcutting+chat. In the end we spent four hours putting the knife to the block, with the help of intermittent refreshments -
 A close-up of the texture that will be the background of the print. The "ribbons" are yet to be cut. You might notice a resemblance of the curls on the block and the curls of wood cut away from the block....
I had already done a "trial texture" on the other side of the block. I'll print it, for the record, and then cut the texture away, leaving the islands, which won't be inked in the "proper" printing -
The ribbons for this version have been cut out, leaving a solid background ... I'm considering double bokashi but haven't thought of what colours to use. In the print-into-book class we don't have much time to dither, it's all go as time is so short!
 The other side has the design in reverse, and will have a textured background.
Everything needs the gutters and kento cut, but that shouldn't take long. It's so lovely to put on a podcast and get cosy with the knife and the wood. I've been catching up with 5 Live Science and some Gresham lectures.

The rubbing gives some idea of what the texture will be like -

28 May 2019

Drawing Tuesday - Wallace Collection

I set out to focus on the majolica, and first gathered some putti from plates, but it was this one that caught my eye -
 After nearly an hour I was ready to quit -
 but instead changed from a mechanical pencil to a 2B, and enhanced it with some colour -
 Which left 10 minutes to have a quick go at those putti (from my photos) -
 Mags -
 and Michelle -
drew from the collection; everyone else went to the special exhibition, Henry Moore's Helmet Heads (till 23 June). During and after WW2 his studio was damaged, so instead of sculpture he turned to drawing, and went often to the Wallace Collection.





Janet K
Tool of the week is an embosser with 4 sizes of points, used by Mags for the detail on the medieval bell -

Extra-curricular activities -

Mags had brought some of her drawing-a-day books

 and Judith has been filling a sketchbook at a weekly music event she attends -

25 May 2019

Marbling, day 1

The first day of a three-Saturday course at City Lit focused on suminagashi - "ink floating on water". Some historical examples on which poems have been written -

 ... and some bits that the tutor brought -
We were each given a book with a beautiful, delightful, inspirational, unique cover for our notes -
 My first attempts - the lines of ink aren't supposed to break up like that -
My handful of small samples when dry -
For larger and more delicate papers, a dowel is used to lift the paper out of the bath -
 Making ink -
 I wasn't getting the balance of wetting agent and ink right, so my results were, um, suboptimal ... but as the ink sank to the bottom of the tray, there were some nice ephemeral effects -

Skimming the remnants of ink from the surface in between prints didn't work terribly well, but fresh water and a bit of perseverance finally got a bit of a pattern -
I'll be trying this at home.