Thursday 31 May 2012

Coles Funny Picture Book

Coles Funny Picture Book is at last repaired. You can just see the new red  spine on the left. The spine was sewn, onto four tapes, glued, stiffened with mull and kraft paper, then had the inside of the covers PVA'd to the text block. When all was  dry, I prepared a spine with red bookcloth, tucked both sides into a slit in the edge of the two covers, glued it all down and prayed. When it was all dry, I pasted thin paper over the mull and tapes left showing on the outer pages of the textblock. I had cut this so that it only occupied the margin of the text block. It all looks fine. It needs a good press and that's that. Next to make a box for it. Nothing is ever going to be possible with corners of the covers and protection is needed.

I had a great time at Nottingham Museum on Tuesday. The Living in Silk exhibition is great but I have written a review for the WSD Journal. There was also another exhibition on by Fashion students from the local Art College. Their brief was to design and make something of silk. Not only are they are really good (and very wearable) but the Museum printed the photos out lifesize and hung them all the way up the staircase. Quite stunning.

 I have been catching up with Bourneville as I have missed a lot of classes and have turned out two cushions and am about to make a box. I also need to get ready for the weekend course, a  three day Creative Development course run by Samantha Field and  I need to think about things, not to mention deciding what I want out of the course. Watch this space for agonising in a few days!

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Decorated Paper for Bookbinding

Last Saturday afternoon there was a demonstration of 'Patterning Leather and Paper' in Malvern organised by the local branch of the Society of Bookbinders. This was run by Stephen Conway who is a Designer Bookbinder from Halifax. The organiser had sent a note round saying this was a demo and lecture but bring a plastic apron and gloves just in case. What happened was that Stephen Conway (demo-ed for 45 minutes and then said 'Now you have a go'. So the next few hours saw 13 people getting very messy with acrylic paint, leather dyes, varnish and - - - . Not to mention using crumpled paper and bubble wrap. The above photo shows what I came home with! Each sheet is bigger than A3 so there is quite a lot of paper to work with. There are two sheets of red with curved white lines. I rather liked the first one so did a second sheet. I had thought of the paper as being end-papers but the tutor said (re the two red/white sheets) that he would use them as a book cover with a black spine. Now there's a good idea.

Some weeks ago I was at a Gardening Show locally and saw the work of a local furniture maker. Since then I have commissioned a plan chest to hold my paper stash. I did not want a very large one and it had to go on top of a bench upstairs. So it is four drawers high and will hold A2 paper. I am looking forward to reducing the paper stash to order! It will be in sycamore with a black walnut carcase.

The 12 shaft loom arrived on Monday but I was so exhausted by  the morning's goings-on that I have not unwrapped it yet. The exhibition which was in St Martins, the Bullring, Birmingham had to be taken down and removed. I arranged that I would also take down someone else's stuff and take it home with me as she is on holiday. The Bullring is a pedestrian precinct. So I spent some time on the web finding the nearest carpark to St Martin's. I put the postcode into the SatNav and I was delivered to the carpark entry. At 10am it was empty so I placed the car as near to the lifts as possible and walked round to St Martin's - four minutes. I took down my stuff then Sarah's and discovered that several of her pieces were glassed and framed, that she had a full-size mannequin, wearing a jacket and that there was a head piece of tulle mounted on a full-size bronze head. Panic. I walked round to the car park with one load (not easy), returned and was considering all this stuff on the floor when someone else volunteered to help carry. Was I grateful!!  By careful planning, we did all the rest in one trip. On reflection, I should taken my sack trolley.

So today (Tuesday) I am off to Nottingham to see an exhibition on silk as reported by Cally Booker recently.

Monday 28 May 2012

Busy Busy!

Last Thursday I went to London, first to Handweavers Studio. They have a very good exhibition of weaving on at the moment. Collapse weave, double weaves, twisted weaves, weaving from metal thread. They also had the 12 shaft loom I was interested in - which I have bought but it is really too heavy to lug round the City of London so it has been shipped . It should be here tomorrow. Then off to one of the Guildhalls for a very good party, lots of people I have known for years, lots of lovely food. Some speeches but all concise and funny. We were celebrating the host's Company being awarded a Queen's Award, I think, for Exports.  Then home by train to Leamington Spa (You try getting from London to Malvern after 1830 hours). 

 Before I was struck down with flu, I had started an online course with the Quilt University on 'Thick and Thin'. This is about using Manutex with Procion MX dyes. I tried Manutex several years ago and got nowhere so I thought the course would be worth a try.  The tutor is extremely good and we get a new assignment every week.  Well, I did the first lesson and then retired to bed. So on Saturday I set about Lesson 3 (I skipped Lesson 2) which was all about stamping and stencilling. I find the stencilling works a treat but the stamping tends to be blobby. The bamboos are stencilled as are the pink labyrinths below. The brown tulips are stamped and are not at all clear.
 The handle of the cotton is unchanged when Manutex is applied which is the reason for wanting to use this method.

 And on Sunday, I did Lesson 4 which was painting using Manutex. I was quite taken with my caladium leaves so cut a piece of cotton to fit an A4 book and painted a second lot of caladium leaves to fit a book cover. I also brightened up the pink to a red which looks better. I might add some machine embroidery to the stems and leaf veins. This will be a cased-in book that is, a cover for back and front with the spine integrated
I did do various other things over the week end but will report on them tomorrow. It is going to be hot again today so I must get out and water the garden pots.  Dyeing uses up lots of water and I was very economical over the weekend. When I had a basin of water after washing up, I put it on the garden.

Thursday 24 May 2012

A Few More Books

Yesterday we had a great clean up in the studio, lots of dusting and polishing and putting things back in place. The lights are very good and I finished off these two books with Japanese style bindings in the evening. Both are A5 landscape and are covered back and front with silk paper. I am not at all sure how robust these covers will be.
This one will be robust however. It is A4 landscape. I have had this piece of printed cotton for some time and intended to cover a book with it. So I got round to pasting it to paper last Tuesday and here it is. Not sewn together yet, just waiting to dry.

At the bookbinding class yesterday, I sewed the children's book together. I rather hope it might be finished next week. Then after the half-term holiday, I will start making its box.

I decided not to put yarn on the shelves in the studio because it will all be re-arranged when the window-seats (which contain storage) are installed. The builder says about the third week of June.  I am looking forward to getting rid of the current shambles which involves a huge pile of fabric/yarn/ribbon and paper on the floor upstairs.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

The 'Studio'

The Megado in its new position with the new windows behind. The window seat and curtains have yet to be installed. You can see the trees outside better in the photo below.
Through the trees and over the house below, the Vale of Evesham is very obvious. A bonus as I had not realised that it would be visible. The Vale of Evesham is 'my' part of the Severn Valley and is very rich land. It is said that the top soil is 20 foot deep. Anyway the crops are apples, pears, plums and asparagus. Freshly cut asparagus is nothing like supermarket stuff. I could happily live on it. Plums are a real speciality round here as you can tell from the names Pershore Egg, Pershore Yellow and so on. The locals have no time for Victorias but argue about the relative merits of Marjorie Seedling against Orleans Early. I can't see the point in arguing myself because Orleans Early is very early and Marjorie Seedlings are very late so you can gorge on both. 

The other fruit that is popular is Worcester Pearmain which is a very early (end of August) apple. The trouble is that it needs to be eaten within 24 hours of picking. What appears in supermarkets is woolly instead of crisp. The local greengrocer puts  a notice out saying 'Picked this morning'.
I have been using the studio to do a bit of bookbinding and the new lights work well. No photos as they are not finished but will be tonight. Off to do more bookbinding in the studio and tidy up.

Monday 21 May 2012

Japanese Bookbinding

The photos above show the results of a one-day class in Japanese-style Bookbinding. There were nine students and each made 2 books. Most people completed these but a couple took home their last book to finish off the sewing on the spine. Most people covered one book in paper and one in fabric. One is very interesting because it is covered in woven shibori (Top photo top left book) by Marie FitzSimmons. All in all, a happy day. Memo to self. I really should have taken more colours of plain paper.

I finished off the weaving in 120/2 silk on Saturday. Above is a long length which I shall apply to a silk scarf. The photo on the left is just a close-up showing the network draft in more detail. The loom I used has gone back to its owner (Chris Wright. Thank you, Chris!) all warped up so that she can have a try at weaving the same pattern.
Now I must devote this week to catching up and the first thing to do is get the Shuttle (the Kennet Valley Guild newsletter) ready for publication. It should have gone to the printer today but I hope he will be kind to me and wait till Wednesday. Other than that, I am visiting a furniture maker today. I saw his work at the Spring Gardening Show locally and want a map chest made for all my paper. Why buy something when for a bit more you can have something beautiful? I hope it will keep the paper stash under control. I am very annoyed with myself because I have lost a whole bundle of Japanese paper and had to buy some more. I am hoping it surfaces when the chest arrives and is put into use.

Thursday 17 May 2012

Back to Bookbinding

This children's book has been in our family since 1946 when it was a present from an Australian. It was said to date from 1912 but no date is given anywhere in the book that I can find. The first edition was issued in 1879 and this one is the 61st edition. It was worn when we got it and has got steadily worse. So I decided a few weeks ago to repair it. I was a bit dismayed when I inspected it closely. It has printed board covers  back and front so no substantial repairs are feasible. I removed the red cloth spine and the boards, made good the cover corners with paste and separated out the sheets of the text block removing all the glue. Several pages had been repaired with sellotape - a disastrous action as I am left with a dark brown stain and a slightly tacky surface. And some sheets had become two pages.

 So yesterday I inspected/repaired every single sheet using Japanese tissue paper pasted on. Here they are laid out, signature by signature, drying off. You can see that  the  original paper is a bit yellow and also the signature on the right shows a sellotape stain. I shall press them tomorrow. It was originally stitched  but had no tapes and the spine cover seemed very flimsy. I will sew it with four tapes and put on a decent piece of bookcloth as the spine. Then I will make a box for it, Probably with a copy of the front cover on it.

One important point is that it is very far from politically correct!!!

The studio is suddenly looking human. The plumber installed the new radiator, the outside of the house has been rendered with pebble dash and the internal painting will be completed today. We could do with electrician coming. Also the plumber has installed hot water in the garage. Hurrah!! I was getting fed-up with washing my hands in cold water in the winter. It discouraged me from doing any dyeing in the wintertime.

 Postscript Later

I asked a valuer if he knew the date of the 61st edition but the best he could offer was mid 1930s. After a few hours, I actually Googled the title of the book plus 61st edition and the National Library of Australia has that very edition - published in 1945. So it must have been bought new. The state it is in, we children must have mis-used it!!

Wednesday 16 May 2012

More or Less Vertical Again

At the Weaving Exhibition last autumn I was very taken with a cushion woven by Lesley Dunn and eventually got up courage to ask if I could buy it. Well she would not sell but volunteered to weave one if I would provide the indigo dyed yarn so I did and here are 'MY' cushions. Aren't they lovely? They will be placed on my new window seat - when the builder gets round to it!!  The newly named studio is coming on nicely. The walls have all been plastered and the plumber is now in residence replacing a radiator. The electrician is due today as well. It looks as though it might all be finished in less than a week.

I am past the worst of the illness. All that is left is exhaustion. So I potter about, not very vigorously, for an hour and then read a book for an hour. I have managed to finish another square of 120/2 silk weaving. I resleyed and changed the draft to something more dramatic. 

Last Saturday I looked out a length of silk kumihimo braid in two shades of blue which was intended to support this square of silk in its six-inch ring. And can I find it now? NO. I am annoyed. I could use narrow velvet ribbon but it would look nothing like so nice. Bah!

There are lots of things I ought to be doing but I have decided it would be wiser to take it easy for another day or two. I am teaching Japanese bookbinding on Sunday and it was be a good idea to be fit then.

Thursday 10 May 2012

Conscious Again

I was tucked up in bed at Anne's (my daughter) and allowed to sleep. There is something very comforting about distant noises in a house, a child's voice, laughter, the sound of a hoover. Anyway I have got over the horrid thing and am now back at home. But since I did not eat for five days, I feel a bit weak and have resolved not to do anything energetic for the next ten days. Which is just as well as I have the Shuttle to get ready for the printer. The Shuttle is the Guild's Newsletter.

The new windows have been installed and made the room look much bigger and the view over the garden is magnificent. I thought I would need to buy the new curtain rail pronto but it turns out that pronto means the week after next. There is plastering, plumbing and electrics to be done first.

This is my first sample of  the network draft in 120/2 silk. It is 2.25 by 3 inches. I put in a floating selvedge halfway up and the selvedge does improve. But it is very unbalanced, I suspect, because the piece is only 2.25 inches wide. I have resleyed it to make it balanced (before I was ill) and intend to start in on it this evening. I have also changed the draft to be more striking.

This is a section of the yardage I intend to submit to the Association's Exhibition. 

And this is a photo of part of the yardage - there is 4 yards of it. The trouble is the creases. You would not believe that I spent hours with a damp cloth pressing it and yet still - - - -. So I have asked an expert to have a go at it and see if she can straighten it out. The fabric is unsuitable for a jacket as it is too thick. A short coat? A cape? It wants the minimum of cutting - and the whole length would have to be fused to interlining before I would dare to cut it.

It was a good idea and it took months to complete as I dyed most of the yarn myself. The dark lines of green and brown are commercial yarns. All the rest is dyed by me to a complicated brief. The pattern which comes and goes, I like. And I am thinking of doing the piece again only with a pure silk yarn about 2/20. 

The other option is to cut it in half, sew the two pieces together, bind the edges and use it as a blanket. 

I really have to use it. I already have several lengths of yardage upstairs looking for a purpose in life. And now I must go and weave a few more postage stamps.

Oh and one last thought, Wendy Morris, of Handweaver's Studio tells me that she has little 12 shaft looms in. I saw an 8 shaft version  2 or 3 months ago and was very taken with it. It has a 30 cm weaving width  and is eminently portable. I have arranged (I hope) to see it in 2 weeks time. I have to go to London anyway as a great friend of mine has had his Company given a Queen's Award for Enterprise and the Company is having a 'do' in one of Guildhalls in the City. I wonder what they will make of Doctor Foster turning up dressed in her best outfit  and with a new loom tucked in a holdall!!! Well the workers always thought I was nuts. But they never said anything because I was too good a customer. The relationship was that the Company made 95% of all the antennas I sold.

Tuesday 8 May 2012


I see that I have not blogged for a long time blame the virus that struck me down and left me with five days of high temperature, soaking sheets and semi delirious words and images swirling round my brain. I did not tell my daughter for some days that I waILifell. When she found out, I was driven over to Leamington Spa and. Installed in the spare room with drinks et cetera. I am now on the mend though just about everything has been is on hold. No photos although there are some but I am working on Anne's iPad. Last Tuesday, I went to St Martins in the Bullring, Birmingham where the Midlands Textile Forum has an ongoing exhibition.The Visitors Book makes interesting reading because it is in a variety of languages. I coul identify French and Spain okay but there was some cursive writing Hindi perhaps. The point of my visit was to run an afternoon of Meet the Artist and demo to the public. I decided not to take a loom but take a lot of braid and take my well used kumihimo square. You can imagine my horror when I realised that I was expected to run a class of braiding. Well, I managed to teach those who turned up, five of them. I slept all th way home on the train. What else. I have used Chris Wright's loom to warp up with white 120/2 silk. I have created a network draft on 8 shafts. And wove a a first sample which is not balanced so I resleyed from 70 epi to 60 epi. The piece has to fit into a six inch ring. It is for the UK Association of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. exhibition later this summer. On the house front, the windows are progressing well and the work should be finished next week. There is a lot of decorating and making good to be done


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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.