Saturday, 18 November 2017

Drawing Course

For years I have trying to draw and failing. I buy another book on How to draw and stop after two days. So I am attending a course at West Dean on a Drawing for the terrified. There are 12 students and they are all in the same situation as me. Our tutor, John Freeman, is very good. No nonsense about shading in the shadows cast by an apple. And we have done perspective too. As an example see below

 We have drawn groups of chairs round a table and all sorts of other difficult things and not one of us has failed to produce a recognisable image. I wonder what we will do tomorrow, he promises portraits!

I have been reading an interesting book, The Culture of Craft. It contains a load of essays about crafts and some bits are very interesting indeed. Several of the writers are taken up in the argument of craft vs art. One of them does point out that Art Quilts are regarded as art in the USA and they are collected. Galleries and museums show exhibitions of them routinely. But no respectable museum in the U.K would consider doing such a thing. And there is a lengthy discussion about reviews of craft exhibitions in everyday papers and magazines. I mean the Times and the monthly magazine such as Interiors. 

Another writer talks about venues where crafts can be bought. There are three types, the artist studio where collectors and other crafts people would go and talk to the artist, galleries which are few in number and would sell things similar to the studio and lastly  gift exhibitions. These last are dismissed as garbage. 

I am not at all sure about this book. A unified viewpoint is not presented and I was left feeling they had no better ideas for the future of crafts than I had.  It was no surprise to me that painters look down on crafts people and do not regard them, even the best, as artists. From my own experience at Berkshire Open Studios, this is simply not justified. I stewarded the exhibition associated with the Open Studios and noted that practically all visitors walked straight past the ceramics and the sculpture to look at the painting and yet the ceramics and sculpture were very high class while the paintings varied from the really quite good to the truly awful. But the prices on the paintings were very high, several hundred pounds minimum. Oddly enough the prints were firstly very good and secondly much cheaper. Yet they did not sell.  Oh well. I do not see any way to get people to appreciate crafts and this book does not help. Sounds mostly like a pair of cats squabbling in a dark cellar.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Athens Wednesday

Today was Museum day, as if yesterday was not. We walked through the National Gardens to the Byzantine Museum which was excellent. Carvings, icons, frescos, were all there although I was disappointed that there was NO woven silk of 8th century and no Treasure Bindings either. Oh well cannot have everything.

Oranges in the garden of the Byzantine Museum. Then to the Cycladic Museum. Lots of black and red vases and gold and silver, all very beautiful. The shop was startling. Full of reproductions (expensive) and each with a certificate saying it had been made according to the same techniques as the original. So I went Christmas shopping. Now I am wondering whether to go and buy something for me! By the way lots of images of ancient ladies using spindles.

No photos possible but below is one of their famous cafe ceiling!

Then walk home by the gardens and collapsed in a heap. Later we walked round to see Hadrian's temple but it closed at 1500! So we walked round the block and I took loads of photos including the one below.

Tonight we are trying an Indian place next door. Tomorrow we have to cram a lot in  but as we have walked six miles each day, we should be okay. Dorothy feels a quilt coming on and I have ideas about a weave based on some stuff in the Acropolis Museum.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017


It seems some time since I blogged. I have done a lot. Stripped out my studio - and found all sorts of things. The oddest are lengths of wood with holes drilled in them and screw eyes inserted with lengths of TexSolv attached - and carefully labelled  'for warping up on the Kombo' or a larger version labelled for the Megado. I cannot work out how I used these! The Kombo no longer matters as it is going to a good new home. It was on the Loom Exchange for all of 2.5 hours before being sold and off the website that day.  And I am quite happy using the ceiling valet for the Megado. So all these bits of wood plus a lot of lengths of dowelling are sitting in the garage waiting on my return in a few days. Anyway all is prepared for demolition next Monday.

Dorothy and I are in Athens because I was here for one day in April. I raved about it and we are on a very short cheap package. Today we walked for miles and did the Acropolis, the Museum and Hadrian's Arch and temple. It was a gorgeous day until 4 o'clock when it came down in torrents but by that time we had had enough walking. Dorothy has mentally designed a quilt and I found that the Museum. Had printed the book I thought they ought to have when I was here last. It is all about the painted clothes on the maidens. And on inspection, I reckon they can be woven in Biederwand although it will probably need all the shafts I have. 

Taken at 0730 am from our hotel.

The Acropolis as building yard. They even have a railway line to shift blocks of marble about.

You can see the Acropolis through the Hadrian's Arch. Sorry about the angle but I cannot remove it through the blog.

Sunday, 5 November 2017


On Saturday morning (early) I finished weaving the space dyed Tencel. No errors that I could see so I took it to the Kennet Valley Guild Show and Tell. Also spent a long time in the garden taking pictures, both in the sunshine and in the shadow. The colours are quite different in the two cases and this is not the camera but iridescence in the fabric.

The lower photo was taken in sunshine.

Today (Sunday) was devoted to stripping out my studio and shifting as much stuff as possible out into the spare room. Cally Booker is about to visit us and I hope she has been warned about the spare room. You can reach the bed but the room is very crammed - and cramped.

I have some furniture yet to move which will be done tomorrow. One problem is that I do not want to hid things away too well in case I want something out to use. I will not get the room back until December 9th and will get no weaving done in that time. But I have lots of bookbinding and lino cut projects to complete, not to mention framing a load of pictures.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Indigo Day

I have had complaints about no blogs being written. I am not at all sure where the time has gone but I have frantically been trying to catch up. The space dyed Tencel piece is within sight of the end. I reckon I can only get another 8 inches out of that. And then tomorrow I have to strip the studio down ready for the workmen to wreck the room, then rebuild it. Gardening has been done but I am behind hand, in particular, with potting up auriculas but I have started on them. I have all sorts of ideas for projects but where to find time to carry them out?

I did spend a day with an indigo vat and had a few people round to help use up the vat. I dyed a whole lot of yarn including one silk warp, a thick skein of very fine wool and 4 balls of linen and cotton which were half dunked in the vat giving a nice short repeat of about 6 inches. I think this will look good.

The drying rack is in the garage along with all our other junk so the photo is not up to scratch. One result of this photography course is that I am getting fussy about all photos and a lot of the fabric/yarn ones are for the record only!

Now off to finish the Tencel fabric. I will have 4.5 metres and it is 27 inches wide which should be enough to get a shirt out of.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Throwing Plates

I realise that my blog is a bit boring at the moment. I cannot weave on the Megado - I am waiting for yarn to arrive and I must weave on the Kombo which you know about. I must because I must take it apart and move it at the end of November, actually by 20th November. So I dare not do anything on the Meyer. I will reserve that for the three weeks when I cannot get into the studio!! It is not that the work will take that long but that we need to have two lots of workmen in and that is what their calendars allow.

So I will cheer you all up by retailing the story of yesterday. On my photography course, there was an exercise to take freeze frame photos of something breakable. So I visited the Theale charity shop and bought a dozen plates. At first Dorothy threw them out of an upstairs window but that was too violent. So she stood on a chair on the patio and threw them while I took multiple photos. Here is one.
I got four sets of photos before running out of plates. And now have a bucket full of shards for the bottoms of pots. My one regret is that I did not take a photo of Doro6thy standing on a chair and throwing a plate on the ground with all her might!!!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Go back to sleep!!

This photo below is of Iris Unguicularis.

and it did not ought to be in flower now!! It is supposed to flower in February/March. I brought five plants from Malvern with me. (The description in the Sales notice said 'The seller reserves the right to take any or all of the irises in the garden'). Three went into a tiny border, fully exposed, at the front of the house and two in the back. This iris takes a long time settle down and you cannot bank on any flowers for 2 or 3 years after planting. They had been in place in Malvern for many years and they usually managed two or three flowers each plant per year. Here last winter (their second) all the plants flowered with a lot of blooms. And here they are showing as many flowers at once as I had altogether in some winters in Malvern. I might add that the other two plants have flowered just as well. Each flower is about three inches across. I gloat. But they do look nicer in February when there is snow.

I decided that the Tencel warp was not well enough wound on and cut off the two metres I have woven, pulled out the warp and rewound it very carefully. I am having trouble with the shafts which seem to move up and down relative to each other quite a lot -  enough to cause missed warp threads. Well back to weaving.


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About Me

I am weaver and - -. I dye my yarns with acid dyes, I paint my warps, put fabric collages and stencils on my weaving. I have three looms, a 12 inch wide, 12 shaft Meyer for demos and courses, a 30 inch Louet Kombo which is nominally portable but has a stand, two extra beams and a home-made device containing a fan reed. And last a 32 shaft Louet Megado which is computer controlled, has a sectional warp and a second warp beam and I am the proud owner of an AVL warping wheel which I love to bits and started by drilling holes in. I inserted a device for putting a cross in. I have just acquired an inkle loom and had a lesson from an expert so I can watch TV and weave at the same time. I am interested in weaving with silk mostly 60/2 although I do quite a bit with 90/2 silk. I also count myself as a bookbinder with a special interest in Coptic binding.