Sunday, 31 July 2011

THE ISLAND


The island is called Pangkor Laut and the resort owns the whole island although only a fraction of it is used. The rest is beaches, steep hills and jungles, of which more later. The accomodation is out of this world and included a marble bath outside the suite about 7 ft square and 4 foot deep. Only Chris, my grandson,  used it and he turned on the taps  got fed-up waiting, went and had a meal and, when he got back, it was deep enough to use!! 


This is one of the public spaces.

There are some private villas on the island  and a helicopter pad. Pavarotti was very fond of the island and had one of the private villas. The resort is very proud that.









And there are lots of these. The terracotta pot is fitted with a shallow glass dish in which flowers are floated in water. Every design is different and the flowers are replaced every day. They are placed besides the paths and, at night, there is a light switched on in the base of pot.








There are lots of hornbills. These ones are about 20 inches high and there was a flock of 15 or so living in the gardens. Not at all frightened of humans and very interested in food. Cherry tomatoes and bananas. 

There are reputedly even bigger ones living on the other side of the island but they live in the tree tops of the jungle and are very shy of humans.

On Wednesday I opted for the 'Nature Walk'. This turned out to be an energetic trek through a very hilly jungle with a lot of other people. So many people that any wildlife kept well out of sight - except for beautiful red butterflies in the clearings where a tree had fallen down. It was very hot - about 30 degrees and airless in the jungle and a major exercise in climbing. When we reached the top, there was a rest house and some poor member of staff had brought up bottles of water plus ice. Going down the other side was even worse, like going down face outwards on a very steep ladder. When we reached the end, on the other side of the island, the family were all there drinking in the bar and I was drinking iced Tiger beer in seconds!! The beach there was wonderful. No-one lives over there. There is a bay with fine white sand and shells. The trees (some stewartias) grow right down to the beach and all the loungers were in the shade. There was a nice breeze. This beach faces away out to sea, away from the main land.

On Thursday most of us went to spa where we had a Japanese bath-house experience and a Malay massage.





























This is a banana boat which will take six people, in order from the left, Chris, Robin, Charlotte, Ruth, Laura and Tom. Apart from there not being room for seven, I refused to go and was appointed official photographer. So I got to go in the speed boat. Above we are just setting out from the island.

And here they are at speed, just before the speed boat swerved sharply




























Leaving them all in the water.




























Some people were better at getting back on to the banana boat than others. I haven't laughed so much for ages. Because their boat was going up and down and the speedboat was going down and up, I just kept taking pictures. Only two photos were hopeless.


























Seen on the way back to KL. You just can't get away from them.

Friday was spent packing and not getting everything in. I have bought too many books. I ended up borrowing a small case from Ruth. Air Asia has a baggage weight limit but  no limit on the number of suitcases. Got into Stansted at 0915 pm and was in a taxi going home by 1015. I slept well once home. But did not sleep well last night, and only got four hours sleep. But I reorganised the photos, wrote this blog, watched one of Design Matters TV programs and am about to go and finish off the weaving of the last shibori piece.


It was a good holiday and I don't know which bit I enjoyed most.

Friday, 29 July 2011

KUALA LUMPUR TEXTILE MUSEUM

The Textile Museum is housed in a Moorish style building built in 1896 to house the administration of the railways. Rather spectacular and very un-Malaysian or even British Raj.
The most important gallery is one called Technology which deals with 15 different types of Textile and displays the creation of these types extremely well. In addition there is an interactive system where the technique is described while craftsmen carry out the process. Not all the techniques are covered here. I have ignored all the embroidery and beading techniques except one which is rather spectacular and much used today. In this, a complex pattern is created and drawn on card. This is then carefully cut out and fastened with pins to a piece of heavy silk under tension (similar to an embroidery hoop). The card is then embroidered over with metallic gold thread in satin stitch. The result is that the embroidery stands off the silk. Photo of red velvet cushion above.
An ancient type of textile was created from bark which was soaked in water and beaten until softer. It can not be sewn into complex garments and the only examples I have seen are jackets which look very uncomfortable.















Similar styles of jacket are found in animal hide although these are often decorated and look more comfortable. Neither type is worn much these days except for ritual purposes.
















Two very good sections on batik are on show, one hand-drawn and the other stamped. The displays show the cloth at each stage- see left and below.

For example, in the stamping process, a tjag or chop is used to print an all over pattern in wax. The cloth is soaked in salt solution and then coloured. This process is repeated with another stamp. If a crackle finish is wanted, caustic soda is used. Note that the wax is not removed between dyeings. At the end, the cloth is boiled and rinsed which limits the technique to cotton. Most examples in the gallery and for sale in the markets have coloured backgrounds, red or black. The museum does show two pieces which have a white background and both pieces are from the 1930s.

Silk is used as with silk painting in the West,. The pattern is drawn on with a tjanting . Special dyes are used and can be heat fixed with an iron at the end.







































Tie dye or shibori is used in a standard way but the example shown was not a finished piece but a scrap of cotton with a few experiments on it. I have not seen anything like tie dye in the shops while all the other techniques are available.


Turning to weaving, there is a display on the ancient technique of weaving on a back-strap loom. This is done in cotton with a plain cotton warp which was been starched and a tie dyed weft of extranordinary complexity. As can be seen above,  the finished piece is highly decorated. This is ‘Pua Kumbu’ and the cloth is needed for religious purposes. The colours are black, red and white, achieved by using a natural dye for the red and then indigo to obtain black. This comes from Sarawak, not main land Malaysia.


Fine cotton, striped and checked is woven. This is very attractive and is made more so in some pieces by a special treatment. The woven cotton is starched and then polished with a cowrie shell. When the whole has been polished, it is stamped with glue in a pattern of motifs, say flowers. When stamping is completed, gold foil is applied and the excess brushed off. This produces a beautiful cloth but it is impossible to wash and the glued-on gold foil is very fragile.




Lastly songket. This is silk and gold thread woven on a type of draw loom. The silk warp is wound on a warping frame (above and left)  mounted horizontally with the bobbins mounted on rods above the warper's head and the wound warp has a cross at one end.









The warp is then wound on to the warp beam (4089) which is a plank of wood with two dowel rods mounted on either edge to avoid sharp corners. The warp is moved on by removing the warp beam from the slots in the wooden verticals which hold it,  rotating the warp beam through 180 degrees and replaing it in the slots. 









The loom has two shafts only and a reed. Although not shown on the displayed loom, the video demonstrated that the heddles were sometimes arranged in bundles according to the pattern required and these bundles were pulled up when required somewhat like a draw loom. I have seen several songket looms and none of them has used this method. They use a series of sticks instead. The weaving is done with a tabby silk weft and the pattern gold thread. This is a very labour-intensive process and songket is very expensive. There is a shop on the second floor of the Central Market which sells songket, Songket Sutera Asil, M53. He sells the woven cotton, as well as the form decorated with gold leaf.

This is the piece woven on the loom above. Three other pieces in the museum are shown below. I have not seen anything as complex as these for sale. Mostly the items for sale are stoles with a pattern at each end and a very simple pattern on the edges. But I am sure you could order a piece as complex as these because you see photos in the newspapers with politicians wearing a songket stole on grand occasions. 

The next three photos were taken in the general gallery and at an angle to avoid the light reflections from the glass cases.






















Decorative pieces of songket I bought. The seller had items like this framed with gold mountboard and a plain wood  frame on his wall and I intend to do the same when I get round to it.  Two are for presents.

A piece of cotton bought from the same shop in Central Market. Note that the pattern does not repeat. The length is intended to wrap round you and this different bit in the middle would be on display.


And a piece of stamped batik bought from the Textile Museum.

So that is the Textile Museum in KL. There is lots more to say about the last bit of the holiday spent on  a very grand island resort - but that can wait till I am home. I fly out of KL in six hours time and have yet to pack. I am dismayed to find that I have bought an awful lot of books which will  have to come over with Robin in two weeks time. I have bought  a wonderful weaving book in Japanese. One can admire the photos though which are quite informative.






Sunday, 24 July 2011

Back in KL

On Saturday, Robin and I got up really early and got to the National Palace Museum at 0815!! The objective was a scroll painting which is very famous and is on show there When we were there earlier in the week, it had been a 90 minute wait so we thought we might beat this by an early arrival. There was a large queue but the wait was only 15 minutes. Worth seeing. Then to see the one textile I had tracked down -  a piece of silk embroidery 6 ft high by 4 ft wide. It was very under-lit and impossible to see the top half but they had put up a lot of blown-up photos which were very good. Then to look at the book binding. At which point we decided that we really needed breakfast!!

Then, surprise, surprise, we went to a Mucha exhibition in an adjacent hall. This was well labelled and very informative and so very enjoyable. I resisted the temptation to buy a Mucha book in Chinese but bought some postcards.

After that it was lunch, taxi to the airport and  flight back to KL. The usual ennui-inducing process. We got back from Taiwan at 10 pm and all slept well!!!

Today (Sunday) was devoted to finding and buying tjaps for Dorothy which was very exciting. I started at the Kraft Komplex with the man from whom I had  previously (2.5 years ago) bought a  batik of hornbills as I thought he would be helpful. He was. I bought several tjangings.Then I asked about tjaps - and he knew about them and had four for sale. These are made of metal and intended for all over batik patterns. They are used as wood-blocks are. You dip them in the hot wax and stamp the wax on your cloth. They were all border patterns but very lovely although large. I have bought one which is about 8 inch long and four inches wide. In other words you get a border 4 inches wide. It has clearly been used before. He called them 'blocks' or 'chaps'. The advantage of buying from him is that he gave me careful instructions on how to use it.

Later in the day, after bartering for fake designer bags in China town market, Robin took me to an antique dealer in the Central Market with an incredibly crowded junk shop. But when I asked for 'blocks or chaps for batik', she said 'batik chops' and dived under the lowest shelf to produce some gorgeous individual patterns, not borders. I ended up with a bird about 12 inches by 8 and a lovely flower about 3 inches square. These are all copper. The border one is very dense and so is the flower but the bird is much more open. They are all of copper.


So as I said very exciting!! I only hope Dorothy likes them and can use them. The bird is still wrapped in plastic.



I have downloaded all my photos but decided to be very very selective.- see below.















This is about half the stock in the ribbon shop. I bought 5 different lots of 2 yards each for less than a fiver.


This is the Celestial Carp who sang, danced and did acrobatic. I don't know about the singing but the dancing and acrobatics were wonderful. Costumes were pretty good too.



















Last but not least, a typical cake shop. I forgot to say that the Taiwanese are crazy about bakeries. Their croissants are equal to French ones. Most bakeries sell several sorts of bread (european) and also sell hot and cold drinks so that at 0830 am, the bakeries are full of people going to their office and buying a hot drink and two croissants. As for cakes, they are everywhere. Danish pastries are popular and various developments of them with bacon and garlic instead of cinnoman and brown sugar. Very odd. 

Would I go back to Taiwan? Yes I love it. Next time I would go to the Northern coast where the rocky scenery is very fine - and the fish cooking is said to be something special!!


Tomorrow I am going  back to the Textile Museum to take detailed notes. On Tuesday we are off again!! This time to an island not far away where we are supposed to be resting - I'll believe that when I see it. I expect it includes a rapid trot round the island in the midday sun.

Friday, 22 July 2011

TAIWAN (2)

On Wednesday, we toured various monuments of Taipei including watching the changing of the guard at Chiang Kai-shek's monument. Much throwing about of rifles and stamping of feet. After which we went to Din Tai Fung' s original shop. This is a chain of dumpling cafes and we patronise one in KL. I have to say the food here was much better although it is good in KL. The place was three floors of humanity scoffing dumplings. In the evening we attended a Taiwanese Cultural Event which was 90 minutes of acrobatics done in gorgeous costumes and to very loud music - dominated by someone crashing pan lids together. I clearly did not appreciate this!

Thursday was much more fun. Ruth had organised a cookery class in dumplings for everyone so we went in two taxis to a four storey building perched on the side of a mountain. We were taught how to make the dumpling dough and the fillings and how to assemble and cook them. Then we ate them!  We also had some salads of which the most notable was fresh pineapple with a spicey sauce. I managed to get a recipe for this out of the teacher. So at 3 pm we were all full of food and it then turned out that the next item on Ruth's agenda was walking up to the top of the mountain!!! And the sun was blazing down and the temperature was 33 degrees.  But we made it on a path through really thick jungle with the kind of plants that cost a lot of money in Uk florists. When we  came out of the jungly bit, we walked down hill through the suburbs which are interesting. There are few houses for one family. Mostly the people of Taipei live in 3 to 5 storied blocks but they all love plants because everyone has a balcony  full of greenery. Our teacher grew some herbs and vegetables on her balcony which was the full width of the house.

The first thing everyone wanted back at the hotel was a shower and a rest. Later on some of us went out to a Taiwanese restaurant nearby. This was sensational - long-braised pigs trottters, ditto chicken and whole fish done in a salt-crust which Robin said was the best fish he had ever eaten. We were served tea at the very beginning of the meal. Perhaps because we were ordering the specialities, at the very end we were served a cup of something hot which the waitress called 'tea'. But it was very delicious. Her English was minimal although she had been very helpful about the dishes when ordering but my query about the tea defeated her and she commanded Wait! and disappeared. She brought back another waitress whose command of English was first rate and she explained that we were drinking 'plum tea' and described how it was made. I reckon that, living in a plum district, I can replicate that!! I can't recommend it too highly.

If it sounds as though we do nothing but eat, you are wrong. It is just that the most interesting thing about Taiwan is the food. And the people. They are so helpful.

And just to prove we do more than eat, we had a great time this morning - at some Hot Springs at Beitou which is on the  mountains. We took the Metro out to the mountains and then changed onto a small train which panted up a steep hill to XinBeitou. The whole complex is based on a one very hot spring which is at the top of the valley so we walked up there first. There was a small lake steaming and stinking and said to be at 100 degrees. It runs away down hill and various run-offs from the hill join it so the temperature gets lower. There are a number of hotels with private access to the water but Ruth took us to the public springs which were full of Taiwanese, who were all helpful and indicated with gestures what we should be doing. After a very cold shower, you get into the first pool which is at 40 degrees C, then after 15 minutes into the second which is at 45, then into the third which is even hotter, then you get into a cold pool and after that start all over. I never got beyond the first pool. My argument was that the first pool was full of elderly gossiping Taiwanese ladies who never went into a hotter pool so why should I?  What I mean about the people being helpful is that someone would give you  hand into and out of the pools (the steps were very slippery) and people would shift so that you could get a seat in the pools.

Now we are back at the hotel and I think everyone is in bed except me! Tonight we are going to a night market. Tomorrow we go home but until late afternoon, so Robin and I are going back to the Palace Museum to look at a few galleries more carefully. I do have a lot of photos and will download them tomorrow or Sunday and post a few.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

TAIWAN

So here I am somewhere else in the Far East - Taiwan. We flew here on Monday and I was not impressed at first sight. First of all, it was  a 45 minute taxi ride to the centre of Taipei, secondly they were trying to build a second motorway on top of the one we were stationary on  and thirdly they were trying to build something else on top of that. It turned out to be a high speed link to the airport, all of this crammed into a very steep-sided and narrow valley. And the buildings are uniformly dull and boring.  All of concrete. The city is squashed into a flat bit of land completely surrounded by mountains covered with trees. Oh and another thing, all drivers are maniacs. I thought KL was bad but they are quite harmless compared with Taiwan. 

Having said all that, we went out last night to look for a Szechuan restaurant which we knew was within 200 yards of our hotel. It took us 30 minutes. The saving grace was that it was fantastic, some of the best Chinese food I have ever eaten. And it cost 120 pounds for seven which was a bargain. Best dishes were fish-fragrant aubergine and pomfret with black beans. But the sweet and sour chicken was two streets ahead of any sweet and sour I have ever eaten and the oxtail was notable. 

Today we walked round an old part of the city, a Chinese temple, a street of Chinese herbalists, a market of fabric. The herbalists stocked dried herbs and roots, sharks fins, sea horses, sea dragons and other unidentifiable objects. The market (YongLe market) was three stories of fabric. I have never seen so many rolls of cloth of so many different kinds, from cheap cotton to expensive incised velvet and silk embroidered all over. Most of the stalls had a rather obvious sewing machine on which the stall-holder was working. Sometimes there would be a customer   getting measured up and having bolts of cloth unrolled for her to choose from. You note I say her. The men's tailors were in shops all clustered round the market and full of exquisite lightweight men's suiting. The whole family came with me on this expedition and were all impressed. I decided that I did not need any more fabric but that I have an urgent and pressing need for a few yards of lace ribbon  which we bought from a stall-holder who spoke no English but was clearly out to help. When I unload the camera on  my own computer (this is Ruth's), I will post a photo or two of the market.

We then viewed the river which has the view totally spoilt by having elevated motorways on both sides. Spoilt that is until we realised that the very solid supporting wall was a flood barrier and that even the foot traffic gates could be closed with very solid reinforced steel doors. They have a very serious flooding problem.

After that we went to a specialist tea seller, sampled teas and then bought lots. I hope I can remember everything we were told. One odd thing is that jasmine tea should never be made with water hotter than 85 degrees and 80 is better. By this time we were exhausted, had lunch and returned to collapse in the hotel. Only to be roused at 1400 to go the National Museum where we went on a guided tour in English for 90 minutes. The tour restricted itself to the very best things  and at least some of us are going back to investigate some  galleries a bit more. One interesting thing - not a textile in sight in the  Museum. There may be some embroidery in a side Museum. I must check up on that.

So that ended today.The rest of the family have gone off to a night market. I chickened out. I have done enough for one day.

From the above, you have probably gathered that I have revised my views on Taiwan. It's very interesting and I have only seen one shopping mall containing Gucci, Tiffany et al, and we did not even go into it!! 

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Creating Drafts

This morning was spent in a Japanese bookshop , Kinokinya, in the centre of Kl. It covers the whole floor of a multifloor shopping mall and is very good but not quite as good as its brother in Singapore. Although the KL onedoes have a coffee shop and seats where one can sit and read books.  I had made a list of books in Singapore but decided to buy them if I could in KL. Mostly achieved although 2 were out of stock. I have since checked on Amazon UK and they are available there.

We went shopping for barbeque ingredients for  this evening. It is  too hot to contemplate eating this afternoon. I have spent the afternoon reading, catching up with email and finally creating a few weaving drafts on Fibreworks. One is shown above. They are all 'Diversified Plain Weave' on 27 shafts and I am going to warp up on the Megado as soon as I can when home. I aim to turn these into cards for sale at our Exhibition in October/November this year. To be more exact, I am going to do the weaving and Chris Fletcher is going to turn them into cards with me helping. I have produced this flower, a 8-pointed Christmas star which will be woven in silver lurex and a Christmas tree.

If you look back at this blog, you will see that the motifs are much more obvious than above because the thick-to-thin ratio is 2:1 above whereas I was using 4:1 in th previous weaving. I think an even greater ratio would look better and am thinking of warping in 60/2 silk.

All very restful. The younger members of the family have all departed to the local swimming pool and peace reigns in the house. Tomorrow we fly to Taiwan.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Singapore Botanical Gardens

We got to the Botanical Gardens at 9 am but it was already busy. It opens at 5am. I think this must be for joggers and Tai Chi classes of which there were many in progress. There were also a number of school groups, either marching about or sitting round a teacher being taught about plants. The Gardens are quite large and we walked around for 2 hours and covered maybe 25% of it. There is a lot of garden apart from the orchid bit. 





Here is an example.

















And this is one of their named hybrids.













And a lovely palm.

Singapore

Ruth, Charlotte and I flew to Singapore on Tuesday morning and this was the sight that greeted us in the baggage hall!! Orchids and plants everywhere. And that was true of the roads to the city as well. They had great arching trees on either side of the road which met overhead. The central reservation was clipped bourgainvillas in full bloom, red, white and pink ones. The whole city has every available spare corner covered with trees, grass and flowering plants, all immaculately kept.



We did all the touristy things. This is a statue of Ganesh  from an Indian temple in China town.





















And this is one of many dragons in a Chinese temple in Chinatown - all gorgeous. It is a bit odd that the temples are so exuberant but the people are so drably dressed. I looked round the MRT carriage several times and we were the only splashs of colour. Everyone else was in shades of white, grey and black. The shops are full of vibrant colours and they must sell so is it weekend wear only? And while on the topic of shops, I have never seen so many shopping malls. It seems that Singaporeans use shopping as their only leisure activity.

This is the reception area of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel complex (Poshest in Singapore). We went there to have dinner one evening in the restaurant on the 57th floor. If you looked the other way, there was a long wide corridor lined with full-grown trees in plots and the most expensive shops any of us had ever seen. There was a jewellers with a necklace in the window using an  enormous diamond surrounded by lots of smller diamonds - and it had a price tag  S$29,000,000 - yes millions. That's about 15 millions in Pounds Sterling.   The other things in the window were cheaper - a ring for S$5,000,000. So we decided against going in and went up to the restaurant.

And this was the view from the top of the building.  On the opposite, we looked out to sea with ships everywhere. Singapore seems to be the container hub of the world.

The restaurant was first rate but the wine markup was at least a factor of 3 on French wines although it was less on Australian wines.

To me, used to posh French restaurants, it was a strange place, mainly because although it was very expensive, 75% of the eaters were not in any way dressed up.

We also went to Haw Par Villa (Once Tiger Balm Gardens). Full of statuary in concrete and painted. Very strange. Like Singapore.

So that's it. We came home on Thursday evening. Friday I went to a cookery class and Harry Potter Part 2. Today we went to the Market for fish and so on as we are going to do a great cook-up this evening.

I will devote a separate blog to the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Kuala Lumpur (2)

I have managed to download my recent photos. Here is a piece of pua kumbu with people in it.






























This is a piece of antique songket. The gold thread is inserted as weft by lifting specific weft threads. It is one of the older pieces on show and is for ceremonial use.

Kuala Lumpur (1)

So here I am in Kuala Lumpur and I think it's Monday. We watched Chris, my grandson, sing under the dome of St Paul's cathedral, starting with Byrd's Ave Verum (Michael would have so approved), then two pieces by Stanford and finally a piece by Biebl. The front rows were occupied exclusively by relatives and hangers-on of Alice Smith School in KL!! We talked to Chris for a bit and then the school was taken off to their hotel while we went to Covent Garden. They were supposed to sing there but that was cancelled at the last moment.  So we made our way to Stansted and hung around until the plane left at 1115 pm. We = my grand -daughter, Charlotte, and myself. We had very comfortable reclining seats on the plane and both slept very well.

On Sunday we went to a champagne brunch which did not finish until 430 pm. After that, I refused to do anything and pottered about.

Today my son-in-law, Robin, and myself, went to the new textile museum. I had not expected too much. I was wrong. It is very well done and beautifully laid out with first class exhibits. A whole gallery is devoted to 'technology' which really means how a specific process was carried out. For example, the Malaysians went in for a form of printed batik where they used large wood blocks, as in Indian printed textiles, to print an outline pattern over the whole of a fabric and then colours were applied by hand. I think of batik as individual pieces of silk  which are decorative but the early Malaysian pieces were actually lengths of cotton which were used as sashes round the waist.  I bought a length of batik fabric from the Museum shop. There were other galleries which displayed the textiles region by region. The Museum displays some old pieces but they have obviously gone out and commissioned example pieces. There is nothing obviously very old, frayed or tattered as there is in the Troppen Museum in Amsterdam. I think their brief was to present the very best of textiles in Malaysia.

There was a lot of songket which is woven. This has a silk or cotton warp and gold thread is used to  create pickup patterns in the weft. Gorgeous stuff. There were several looms, A backstrap loom was shown doing pua kumbu which is a patterned cotton done by tie-dyeing the warp,  and then weaving tabby with a thicker cotton weft. The warp is very close sett so you can hardly see the weft.  This is a sort of warp ikat.   The patterns are of religious significance and can contain stylized people and animals. There was a huge amount to see. I have taken photos but will have to see if I can do that later this week. I will go back there by myself and take notes.

Afterwards we went into the Central Market which is close by the Museum. This is on the edge of China town. I fear I lashed out and bought a woven cotton jacket from Sarawak. We also came across a very quiet rather restrained shop (unusual for the Central Market). We went in and had a lot of his wares laid out for us. He had a great deal of songket which his family has been weaving for a long time. When I asked, he also had some of the very nice woven cotton which they also use as sashes. It looks a bit like Madras cotton to me although the colours are different. I bought a length of very nice cotton. Then I bought some small pieces of songket- it is very expensive. After that we dived into Chinatown to buy Chinese paper for book binding. I have got through most of the roll I bought 2 years ago.

We turned home by a circuitous route involving the poshest hospital I have ever seen. Tomorrow Ruth, Charlotte and I are off to Sinapore for a few days.

So there we are. I hope to keep up the blog over the next few weeks, as much a record for me as anything else. So I must sort out the photos

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Silk Wrap

Here is the silk wrap - not with any grand clothes on with it. I just wanted Dorothy to photograph it before she left for home.

















And a side view. It is basically a tube made by sewing two lengths of silk together on both sides and leaving a gap in the centre of one seam.

















Yesterday in the afternoon Dorothy and I did batik on cotton in the garage. She brought all the right tools, proper wax pens and a device to keep the wax hot. Procion MX dyes were put on with a brush after the wax outline was completed.  This is my first attempt  and has lots of dribbles of wax is the wrong place but I got better as I went along. 

We used up all Procion dye left over on six pieces of cotton. I am not sure what I am going to do with all of these pieces of fabric. I am not a quilter like Dorothy and the stash is getting bigger and bigger.  

But this is not the day for thinking about that. Tomorrow I am off to Kuala Lumpur and points East (Singapore, Malacca, Taiwan). I am staying with my daughter in KL and travelling out with my grand-daughter, Charlotte. Tomorrow we have a strenous day. Train to London, meet Charlotte at Paddington, park luggage, go to St Paul's Cathedral, listen to my grandson, Chris and his choir sing there, move to Covent Garden and listen to him there, find something to eat, think about what to do next. When it is 5 pm, go back to Paddington, collect luggage, go to Liverpool Street station and take train to Stansted, collapse in heap until booking-in opens, catch plane at 1115pm. And sleep.

So today I have lots of odd jobs to do, including packing.  I hope to blog from the East.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Preparing for an Exhibition


The Midlands Textile Forum is having an Exhibition, 'Inspired by FLORA' in Leek Museum starting in September. Ages ago I cheerfully promised five items. I thought, now that the Newbury Coat is behind us', that I had better check the paperwork and  found the closing date is this Friday! This does not mean delivering the items but supplying dimensions, photos and an entry form and fee.

I had two pieces of woven fabric I wanted to use and a plan for what to do. On the left is one of the two pieces using  Diversified Plain Weave (DPW) fabric.





And here the second DPW one.

The other three were okay, in a sense, I had been asked to put the lengths of silk woven for Conference last year. I have since turned one length into a wrap (very nice too) and I did not think that they fitted the theme. So I withdrew them but did leave in 'Autumn Leaves', the devore merino and tencel scarf which you can see here.

So everything is done and the paperwork dealt with. I would show you me wearing the nice wrap but I have not taken a photo yet.



My sister, Dorothy, is staying with me and yesterday I took her to Claverton Manor, the American Museum in Bath. She was very taken with it and enjoyed looking at the period rooms. There is  special Exhibition about Marilyn Monroe with lots of her film dresses. The red sequinned one is there which she wore in 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes'. And a lot of others I recognised. She was tiny!! And had a very unhappy life.

In all this activity, I have pruned the apple and pear cordons and the redcurrant. I would like to do the peach tree today as I need to go up a ladder and I prefer to do that with someone else here.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Stacey Harvey-Brown

Saturday was Kennet Valley Guild day. The Committee kept saying 'It is too soon to have a post-mortem on the Newbury Coat' and then discoursing on the triumphs and problems of same. We had two cakes and champagne as a celebration. 

We also had Stacey Harvey-Brown to give a talk and run a course on Sunday. Her enthusiasm is for texture in weaving. And she talked about the strange yarns you can get these days, silver, metal plus other fibre and other things that go bump in the night.  She lectures without notes and without slides/Powerpoint. Just loads of hands-on samples.

The course on Sunday was based on taking photos and everyone discussing how it could be interpreted in their particular medium of textiles. There were weavers present but also spinners, knitters and felters. It was very interesting to hear what the non-weavers had to say. In many cases, it seemed to me that they would make a better job of the interpretation. Fascinating.

Came home and have not yet tidied up. I have finished off the Coptic book and it, plus Christmas Carol, are going into an exhibition at the College. They have to be delivered today. The pieces for the Midlands Textile Forum's Exhibition at Leek  Museum also have to be finished because MTF wants photos for the catalogue by next Friday. I finished off one piece on Friday night but have some experimentation to do on the other one. The third one is a devore scarf which is all ready.

Dorothy is here this week and we are hoping to do some dyeing. But tomorrow will be spent at the American Museum at Claverton Manor. It has a wonderful collection of American quilts which she has never seen. Then there is an exhibition at Ledbury to see.

Barclays Bank has admitted that I am alive and apologised 'for human error' but they left  to me the job of telling the pension providers whom they had misinformed. In two cases, they providers now owe me three month's income. I spent several hours on Thursday explaining everything to three different sets of people. One actually said of Barclays 'What did they do that for?' I wish I knew. Anyway I have hopes of getting back to normal in two weeks.

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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.