25 September 2018

Drawing Tuesday - Horniman Museum

We happily spent time in the refurbished "World" gallery - a treasure-trove of amazing objects -

 and an interactive floor! -
Upstairs, this case had interesting things too - I was amazed by the Serpent Pipe - was it actually used for smoking? -
 ... and downstairs found a harpoon and traditional Inuit clothing -
Jo and Janet K also "visited the cold north" -
Waterproof gut parka, with mask, by Jo
Dolls, 12" high, by Janet K
whereas Judith headed for the desert -
 and Sue found a tribal mask -
 Carol collected "small things" from here and there -
 Najlaa collected patterns -
 Janet B found various birds -

Extra-curricular activities -

Sue took her sketchbook on holiday to Corsica -
 Judith brought along a giant, knitted cockroach -

24 September 2018

Table top museums

A wonderful visit, as part of Open House London, to the Art Workers Guild yesterday. The building is amazing, especially the light fittings -

Even more wonderful was the Table Top Museum show in the big hall. So much to wonder at, in these displays put on by dedicated collectors!

Mandy talked me through some highlights from her selection of interesting objects from car boot sales and elsewhere -

A graphite sculpture, showing some signs of having been used for drawing

In the stapler box ... "my daughter's arm"

Clay whistles in the shape of animals - you can play a tune on them

Tins for needles, and an ashtray with the shipping forecast areas
 Going round the room, wonder after wonder met the eye....
A rainbow of disposable ice cream spoons
[were those stickers on the light switches always there?]

The Rough Sea Postcard and Associated Ephemera Museum

Things made of wood, including a mysterious object
"designed and made by Kay Bojesen, originally
designed in 1932; Denmark"


In the cabinet of tiny things, a knitted grub!



Cows (I covet the pencil box on the right)

"My consumption diaries: a glimpse into trough and basket"
complete with evaluation and price paid

Wonderful things collected on travels around the world

I do hope this wonderful museum of museums will pop up again!

23 September 2018

Home-made pesto

A basil plant has been sitting by the window for, hmm, a couple of months, getting pinched back every time there's a tomato-mozarella salad on the menu. It has suddenly put on a growth spurt, which could signal that it's about to flower, in which case the flavour of the leaves would change.

Time to make it into pesto. There should be enough basil for a decent amount of fresh yumminess.
Now that I have a "whizzy" tool with a rudimentary food processor, it takes just a few minutes. Back in their kitchens in Provence, cooks would whip up some pistou with a pestle and mortar and/or sharp knife in the time it took the soup to come to the boil. They'd use whatever was on hand - some herbs, some sort of nut, the garlic, some cheese, and quite a lot of olive oil.
Basil pesto

In a blender or food processor, place
   2 cups fresh basil leaves
   3 tablespoons pine nuts, pistachios, or walnuts
   2 large cloves garlic, smashed
Whirl until finely minced. Add
   3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
   4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Process till blended. Transfer to small bowl, cover, chill.

Covering the pesto with a layer of olive oil protects it from oxidation (the unsightly muddy look) - or press clingfilm onto the surface.

The book was published in 1994 and is still available. I bought, and hold on to it, because of the illustrations - but its recipes have proved useful over the years.

Open House weekend

We queued in the rain to see 18 Folgate, the house that Dennis Severs made famous, then went via the cafe at Town House - which continues the Old Spitalfields them - to Bishopsgate Institute.
The front of the (long) queue at Dennis Severs' house
It's interesting to see it, and the owner who set up this "living museum", at the start of this 1985 BBC programme (complete with Brian Cook-style topographical title sequence); a more recent video, with the same presenter, is here -
We ambled through Spitalfields ...
The basement cafe at Townhouse gallery and antique shop
(I recommend the Bakewell cake)

The 1720s facades of Fournier Street
 ... and took in a tour of the Bishopsgate Institute, set up in the mid-19th century for the education of working men and still offering courses, concerts, and talks -
1890s tiles - when some needed restoring, the original
manufacturer still had the template on file

Reference library and twice-restored dome 
The diorama of Spitalfields was commissioned in 1972 and has been housed in the library since 2012 -

22 September 2018

Studio Saturday

This week consisted of quite a lot of dipping, involving more experiments and feats of dering-do - such as the clip holding up a very saggy pot till it dries -
 These were next for dipping, kitted out in their strings and hoops -

 But when this lovely lacy one got into the clay......
 .........it was a stretch too far! I washed it off and will take it home and do something "exciting" to help it keep a rounded, open shape (it was so narrow that the sides were sticking together) -
Typical mid-flow workstation situation - photography and note-taking as each individual pot is dealt with -
 Two dipped and one ready for shape-shifting -
 Two days later (Monday), some have dried and are ready for cleaning up -
 and others are ready for dipping (and note-taking) -
 Oops more sagging -
That's the lot, blasted with the hairdryer to experiment with the effect of drying time on the appearance of small cracks -
The fine cracking is currently my main focus. It could be due to all sorts of things - substrate fabric, type of texture, type of thread used for embellishment, consistency of dip, drying time/humidity....

This was the scene in the "home workshop" on Wednesday morning - three fabric pots were quickly put together on the sewing machine, and various crochet pots are waiting to be made "interesting" with a bit of metal thread -

Ready to dip -
 Left to dry....
By Friday, more fabric pots were ready to take to the studio
... including one that had been gathered, steamed, and stitched with thin gold thread -
Before the dipping, a grand sort-out of dried-out pots, making notes, attaching photos, measuring, and giving them numbers for easy identification -
 These were ready to dip - each has metallic thread used somehow -

 And these are ready for the next firing -
They'll give information on the consistency of the slip and also about the receptiveness or retentiveness of various fabrics - another factor in how sturdy they'll be,

The small kiln has been ordered and will take about a month to be delivered.