Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Coleus Weaving

The Coleus weaving from Sandra Rude has arrived!. It has a very nifty hanger of transparent plastic looking like an over-sized knitting needle with a knob at each end. The only problem is that the colours in the photo are not good. The light purple should be much redder. I have tried everything on the camera but don't get much change in colour balance out of it.  When we have a really sunny day, I will try again. At the moment the sky is grey and overcast.

The bookbinding classes started up again today and I had a happy afternoon. Here is Coptic book III with its enamelled covers and the paper folded ready for stitching. The paper is Lokta from the Papershed and is heavily textured on one side. Rather nice. I have become a fiend about handmade paper and buy up anything I have not tried before.

As well as the Coptic book, I folded all the sheets for Alice in Wonderland and pressed them. The templates for the sewing holes for both books are made and I might even do some of the stitching at home.

Monday, 26 April 2010

I cannot understand my state of health. It is better today than it has been for months. Maybe this new diet is doing some good. Certainly I felt much better yesterday as well. Today I have had more energy than I am accustomed to!! So I got lots of things done.

This is the warp for Margaret Roach Wheeler's class on 'Designing the Mahotan Way'. It is being held at Reading in ten days time. Today I have threaded up completely, wound on, tied on, checked it, corrected the sleying (missed a dent) and done a header of tabby. The warp is 2/12 cotton and is a mixture of four colours, two shades of red, black and sort of blue-green. I have put on 5 metres of warp 14 inches wide as I want to make a top from the fabric when I have finished.

Today I have finished the covers for a new Coptic book. These are Michael's larger enamel samples. I have mounted them on high-class sycamore, stolen from Michael's musical instrument selection of woods. The wood was sanded down which was not difficult and cut apart with a knife which was tedious but I did not fancy sawing the wood into sections for fear of splintering the edges. The enamels were glued down with Araldite and clamped over night, then polished with beeswax, after a final sanding. The top two are to be used as covers. The lower one was done as a trial. Now I have to see if I can sew the paper and these covers together.

Interesting that, when I opened the tin of beeswax polish, a very familiar smell rose from the contents. It has bothered me for a day or so as to what it reminded me of. It is the polish my mother used for the floors when we lived in Gillespie Crescent in Edinburgh in the early 50s!! How strange. Suddenly I can remember the layout of that house and where the linoleum was.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Midlands Textile Forum (2)

Today I went to a meeting of the Midlands Textile Forum. It was notable for a talk given by Annette Lucas who is currently completing a City and Guilds Level 2 certificate in Couture Millinery. Yes, the hats were wonderful, straws and felts and fascinators which are all the rage with teenagers going to their proms. But her sketch books were stunning. I have never seen such carefully done, totally apposite sketch books. They were A3 spiral bound with thick sketch paper - I am guessing 150 gsm. The pages had a record of how she selected the motifs and the colours and how she carried out the decorative bits. Several flowers were made to the same design but done in very different fabrics, weights and types and all mounted in the sketch book. Examples of different methods of binding the brim of a straw hat were mounted on the same page. Records of suitable colours put at the top of a page. Subsequent pages had apertures cut through so that the colours could be compared with drawings/photos on following pages. The amount of work was amazing. And the examiner will have no difficulty is seeing exactly what she tried and what she decided on.

All this beautifully laid out and a work of art in its self. I feel this is what a sketch book is about. I am almost inspired to try recording my weaving that way - but I bet I wouldn't keep it up for long.

I have completed weaving the colour samples on the Fan Reed and hemmed each end on the loom. I need to have a careful inspection of the samples with a magnifying glass to look for any further errors and then I shall cut off the samples and start off on a length of fabric.  But I need to do my inspection in good daylight and hope to get it done first thing tomorrow morning.

I have gone back to the Coptic book with enamels on the cover. A test piece has been glued on to sycamore, the wood has just been treated with beeswax and is drying now before being given a final polish. It looks good to me and I am just about to cut the two real pieces of wood out of my sanded length of sycamore.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Fan Reed (4)

These are weft colour samples on the fan reed silk fabric (60/2 silk). The three warp colours are light orange, dark orange and red-brown. Each 'fan' is one solid warp colour and each section is separated from its neighbours by four dark blue threads. In the centre of the reed (vertically), the width is two inches for each warp stripe. I have set  the reed down towards one end so that the strip widths are about 2.5 and 1.5 inches. This is so I can see the colour changes. The weft colours used are (from the bottom) light orange, white, red-brown, dark orange. If you examine the colour appearance of each stripe, you will see that the colours are different depending on whether the stripe is weft-faced (2.5 inches wide) or warp-faced (1.5 inches wide). The narrower stripes are nearer the self-colour of the warp. Looking at the colour effects, I prefer the light orange as weft.

I will weave a bit more dark orange and then do some light yellow and any other colour which I can find in the stash that takes my fancy. It would be better to use the light orange as I have have quite a bit of that yarn! Have I said that I dyed the two shades of orange myself? The red-brown is from Fibrecrafts and the dark blue from Handweavers Studio.

Added 2 hours later
The yellow weft is not as good as the light orange so light orange it is.

You will all be wondering why the blue stripes move sideways as the red-brown weft starts. Nothing to do with the yarn but something I had forgotten about weaving with a fan reed. I freely admit to being lazy and this means winding on as few times as possible which means I wind on several inches, maybe five. Well that won't do with a fan reed. When the fell-line is nearest to the breast beam, the reed slants forwards at the fell-line and a different part of  the fan reed beats the fell-line. This does not matter with an ordinary reed which is straight. With a fan reed, the length you wind on is restricted to less than 3 inches.  This applies to the Louet Kombo which has an overslung beater, rotating about a point higher than the shafts. It would not necessarily be true of another make of loom although there you would have the problem of getting the fan reed and its vertical movement installed.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Japanese Purse

A Malvern friend has just been to Japan for four weeks to see the cherry blossom. She brought me back this purse of silk brocade from the Nishijin Textile Centre. Look at the wrapping paper! It is printed with a drawloom. And the box it came in has a very delicate design on it.

I spent a morning last week showing my collection of textiles to her grand-daughter who is doing GCSE in Textiles.  I am still not sure it helped her apart from telling er which local museums to go to. Interesting that she took at least one photo of everything I showed her.

I have nearly finished the threading up of the fan reed project. Should be wound on and tied up today. Then I have check which colour of weft I prefer.

Apart from that, the Common thinks it is spring time. The lime trees and white beams are starting to leaf. The chestnuts are practically out  and the grass is starting to grow.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Interesting Book

Last Wednesday afternoon was spent in Ledbury which is about 10 miles away from Malvern and in Herefordshire.  Very agricultural and quite different from Malvern. It is much smaller than Malvern but it has five high class butchers on the  main street not to mention several green grocers and some good delis. Count in a shop selling a huge range of linen by the metre, a Scandavian shop, several high class dress shops and you have a bustling main street dominated by a 16th century black-and-white market hall. They even have a gunsmith and a shop selling models like radio-operated helicopters three foot long.

There is a secondhand bookshop which has a very large range of books on crafts. I acquired two books there last Wednesday. One is volume 2 of a series on textile museums in the UK - published in 1976. Very useful and interesting. The other is  'A Fashion for Extravagance', by Sara Bowman (ISBN 0 7135 2559 2) and published in 1985 which was just as colour photos in books had become good  and cheap to print. It deals with Art Deco fashion and  is stunning. I have several books on Art Deco and you tend to see the same items photographed again and again. Not with this book. I have never seen any of the photos before. It is mostly concerned with embellishment, embroidery and so on. There are double page spreads where the original design notebooks are shown along side sample embroideries and the final dress. Inspirational! I have already done a draft of a possible silk fabric based on black diamonds with silver centres. And there is a design of pink and silver feathers which I can see as a draft.

The problem that I have is that I can think of workable projects faster than I can carry them out! I can see at least three projects out of this book. I once designed an Art Deco fabric to use as curtains. It was rectangles of different greens and silver all done with double weave and warp and weft interchange. But that never got beyond a draft. I did decide I would have to dye all the yarn and curtains use a lot of yarn so I got discouraged

Warping up the fan reed is slow and I need to do it in the day time in order to have a really good light. The current weaving project list reads

- weave fan reed piece
- warp up Voyager with yarn for Margaret Roach Wheeler's course in May. She says 2 or 3 yards. I intend to put on 5 yards and get a top out of it.
- warp up Megado with tencel and weave.
- dye 2-ply wool in yellow/ochre to use as weft for devore scarf. This cannot be done until I have completed Margaret's course and finished off that weaving on the Voyager.

This will take me 2 months so when do I do the Art Deco stuff not to mention my caladium leaves.  I am still working on the draft for these. But if I get it to work to my liking, I can see it going straight to the top of the project list!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Paper from Kuala Lumpur

Ruth has brought three of the papers she bought for me in KL - five sheets of each  design. They are very heavy because each sheet is thick printed cotton mounted on heavy-duty paper. I have been careful with the scale in the photo and the designs are correct relative to each other. The yellow/orange one has a large repeat and will have to be used carefully. They are all intended for book covers.

I spent the morning sitting around in Worcester Royal Infirmary (WRI) and thought about a draft for caladium leaves. I think I can see how to do to  but have yet to try it out. The only thing I have done towards anything today is  to sand down the piece of sycamore I am going to use with Michael's larger enamels. Just needs a bit more of the finest grade sand paper tomorrow.  I don't fancy sawing the piece up but Michael says we ought to be able to cut it with a knife. It is only 2 mm thick.

Ruth is supposed to be leaving for KL tomorrow night but the volcanic ash might put a stop to that. We won't know until tomorrow morning.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Fancy Drafts

So here is a draft using Bonnie Inouye's methods on Fibreworks. I might add a branch for them all to sit on. I can't think what I would use the fabric for. Decoration on the ends of a scarf? Lining for a jacket? I suppose a waistcoat.

The same question of usage applies to a draft of caladium leaves though I would be happy to use that as a jacket lining.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Dorothy's Japanese Style Book

This is a book of handmade paper bound by my sister, Dorothy, in Japanese style. I was inspecting it today and realised I had no idea what the material of the cover is. It is vilene painted with silk paints. The decorative leaves are of Vilene coloured with Markal. One leaf is metallic foil.

I have had this for six years. It contains a record for the whole of 2005 of our garden, kept quite faithfully with drawings, photos and text. It makes interesting reading.

Exasperated Then, Happy Now

Sandra Rude's blog is one of those I read regularly. She has a Jacquard and her designs are foliage - trees, leaves, flowers. For the last few, I have been mesmerised by one of her pieces based on coleus leaves. (I love caladium leaves more but these are very special). Anyway one of her recent blogs mentioned that she had sold a lot of weavings at CNCH but not the coleus one. It was too much for me so I asked how much and am about to pay for it!! 

All I have to do now is decided where to hang it!! I wonder if she has ever thought of doing caladium leaves?

I got some documents from Bonnie Inouye on using Fibreworks  for complicated drafts. The notes  are wonderfully clear and useful. I got the hang of the procedure quickly and have produced a caladium leaf draft myself!! But I am sure that I can do better and will show a draft when I have played with it a bit more, especially the colours.

I have read and re-read all the paperwork for submitting my yardage to Convergence. I need to work out whether they will tolerate a strip of nylon organza to back up the top hem.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Convergence Yardage Accepted

Most important my niece, Cally Booker, has had her entry for the yardage competition, 'Enchantment', accepted for Convergence 2010. And so have I!!! So the family can be pleased with itself this week what with Cally's acquiring a Megado as well.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Violets on Malvern Common

Fan Reed (3)

Peach blossom. The tree is covered this year. It is six to eight weeks late but there are lots of insects so I won't have to go out and use a paint brush to pollinate.

The whole garden is in flower, very early daffs and very late daffs together. The magnolia, all the camellias, the heathers, which should be going over but at not quite at their peak yet. Not to mention the thug, clematis armandii, which has put on 6 foot of growth in the last two weeks.
The fan reed is re-assembled on the Louet Kombo. The warp has lease sticks in and tied on to the sides for security. We are ready to go. You will note that I am warping  up front to back. I don't think I have done this before on the Kombo but I have sets of four dark blue threads to enter and it seems better to do it this way.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Fan Reed (2)

I originally intended to have brown, red and white in the warp but changed my mind to brown, red and orange/yellow. The above comes from Fibreworks and shows the warp colours including the two half-sections at the ends. At the moment, the weft will be white but I might change my mind on that. In addition and not shown above, there will be 4 threads of dark blue at every colour change. I have nearly completed the warp winding and might just start on warping up later today.

We (Michael and I) have reconsidered the enamel covers for the next Coptic book. I had not realised that each enamel is enamelled on front and back. This means that drilling through is likely to take off a circle of the enamelled surface on the back and that would show. However in Michael's stash, there are some high class pieces of sycamore  which is a few millimetres thick., So the current plan is for me to sand these down, drill the binding holes in the wood and glue the enamel plate down with Araldite. After that worked, I would then wax polish the wood. Fortunately there is enough wood and spare enamel plates to do a trial piece.

Went to Guild meeting yesterday and wrestled with the problems of our residential weekend in early May. Spent some more time on it this morning. I am left with two problems. One person has paid some money and gone to ground. The other has never paid anything.  So messages left on answering machines.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Coptic Book 2

I am having a rest from weaving and decided to stitch Coptic book No 2, This went better than the first one possibly because I used a curved needle throughout, possibly because I used the instructions in my new  book by Keith Smith from the USA. I used a silk thread in shades of gold/brown from Oliver Twists which is thicker and more prominent than the linen thread used last time. I am quite pleased with this one. The paper is cream cartridge paper and has been trimmed square at the three non-stitched edges. The protective part-sheet, round each signature, is handmade paper. It means the book will be very suitable for gluing pictures into

While sewing the binding, I had a GOOD IDEA. All Michael's small sample enamel plates (70 by 70 mm) have been incorporated in the weaving but there are another five plates which are 100 by 80 mm. I could use two of these as covers for a small Coptic book. When examined carefully, not all are flat but there are two good plates (artistically)  which are flat. First problem then is to drill the holes for the binding and, since enamel is glass, this means a diamond bit which has been ordered. (Very expensive) Michael warns me that a) the enamel may shatter when drilled and b) the copper will probably want drilling with a standard drill. Anyway I am not folding paper until we have the holes drilled.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Michael's Enamels (4)

I had a thought in the middle of the night. Would the enamels have shown off better if the weaving had been one colour only, say black - or red or yellow? So I used Photoshop on the final photo. Black is the best of them but it is pretty lifeless - turns it nearly monochrome. One problem is that the grey silk pockets do tone down the appearance of the enamels. 

So yes multicolour was the way to go.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Malvern Common

The chestnut trees on Malvern Common are bursting into life. The willows by the stream are green-grey from a distance and fluffy strokeable bunny tails close up. No sign of the bracken fronds uncurling. Lots of dogs taking their families for a Sunday afternoon run. A couple of horses with little girl riders picking their way down the steepest part of the hill. Malvern is coming to life again after the winter. Here it is April and my peach tree has come into flower - two months late! The biggest camellias are still thinking about flowering. I cut some Donation flower buds in the  hope they will come out.

The edge of the Common has been planted up with groups of trees all the way down the road. Each clump has four trees and they are alternately lime and chestnut. Under one clump only are hordes of blue and white scillas like stars. It seems odd. The photo is of one of the many many such clumps under those four trees.

I cut off the enamels weaving last night and dealt with stray ends this morning. I hemmed it differently from the two methods I discussed with the practice piece. I applied one inch bias binding to the front cloth (khaki), having used Fraystop on the edge. I cut the back cloth down to one inch wide and Fraystopped that edge, then folded the bias binding over the back cloth and machined stitched through both cloths close to the junction with the enamels.  This avoids any thick doubling of either cloth. It is now hung in the sitting room. The first Michael has ever suggested a textile be hung there!
The colour of both ends is more like the lower edge in the photo. There are irregularities in the bottom edges of the squares which is due to the weight of the enamel squares. And I can see one enamel trying to escape in the photo. Excuse me while I capture it. 

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Michael - Enamels and Alice

Here is the final version on the Megado with most of the enamel squares inserted. I have one more row to do. The lower photo shows the ends which are black warp and yellow weft. I wanted to use one of the yarn colours in the main weaving as weft and yellow is the lightest - gives a sort of khaki effect at a distance. I am stuck with having a black warp because I want the same colour throughout the ends.

Alice Schlein mentioned a firm called Volcano Arts in her blog and I bought an unbound copy of Alice in Wonderland from them so that I could bind it.  I asked Michael if he would do a front and back cover for it and the pictures on the left show the current versions (back at the top, front below). He is thinking about end-papers now. I would like the tree incorporated but he is not convinced that is a good idea. This will not be Japanese style or Coptic binding but a plain ordinary cased-in binding, probably with book-cloth on the spine and part way over the covers and the rest of the cover with Michael's paper .

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Michael's Enamels (2)

Our house has a long corridor with a blank wall at the end and I have a padded board there. I pin textiles to it and leave them there to get ideas from. Did it work or not? Should I change the colours, the spacing?

This is the completed sample with painted mount board pieces. The black stripes at top and bottom are double weave with the raw edges turned and machine stitched to form a tube for a hanger.

1) I do not like so much black at the ends. Maybe the weft could be a light colour? Sample before starting on the final piece
2) I do not  like the seams on the black sections. The top edge has the back cloth folded forward and the front cloth folded over it so that the top edge is bound to be black. I have 2 rows of machine stitching - don't like. The other end has both front and back cloth folded inwards and machine stitched. You can see the back cloth a little bit - don't like. Maybe use bias binding but, while I have some one-inch black bias binding, that is not going to be much good if the weft is not black.
3) I did think, while weaving the piece, that I did not like so much red in the squares but the black swamps the red. Although I could shuffle the colours about, I don't see that any scheme is an improvement.

Now to tie on the warp again

A Grand Day Out

The bookbinding class is on holiday for four weeks. When I attend that, Michael has to have a carer in to look after him and he (Michael) persuaded me that I should not discontinue this Wednesday afternoon out practise. So the question was `What to do with my first afternoon out?' There is nothing on at my usual round of local museums and galleries and I only had three hours so could not go as far as (say) Oxford. Michael suggested going shopping in Cheltenham but I was not keen on that. I decided to visit the Courtyard at Hereford where they held the Six Structured exhibition before Christmas. 

Hence the Aberystwyth Printmakers - who were astonishingly good. How on earth Aberystwyth manages to have 50 printmakers nearby I cannot imagine but they own a workshop with lots of equipment. They are going to hold an exhbiiton in Banchory and Tarland from 4th November to 9th December this year. Take note, all of you Scots.

All sorts of methods were used including 'cork print' which I assume is like linocuts but has the texture of cork showing. That's what it looked like. I was taken with the linocuts. I don't think I have seen so many together ever. The artist I liked was Ali Greeley who printed in black. Very strong pictures of making marmalade and paint brushes in pots. Ian Phillips , Stuart Evans and Christine Clinch were other linocut artists, printing in colour. Every artist had two or more pictures on show so there was a lot to see.  If you get the chance, see them. This exhibition is on at the Courtyard until 24 April.

The Courtyard is a very modern theatre in Hereford. Very light and airy with plenty of natural light. The exhibition was hung on the first and second floor foyers. And a good cafe!


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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.