Saturday 30 June 2012

Next Stop Liverpool

Yesterday we had a tour of Leeds Town Hall. This is the splendid tiled entrance hall. Not the original as that got worn out but they went back to the original makers and got a complete replacement. Since the Town Halll was built in the 1850s, it is nice to think the original tile manufacturers are still around. We saw the Assize courts and the cells under neath the hall.  Later we took in the Art Gallery which had a good exhibition of 20th century art. Wyndham Lewis, Nevinson, Brockhurst.

In the afternoon we visited Armley Mills where they were just starting out on an afternoon's demostration of some of the weaving machinery - spinning mules. The brusher to raise the knap of the woven cloth is kitted out with teazles!! I have only ever seen a hand one before containing 12 or so teazles.

This hotel was built in the 1930s and has a lot of the original Art Deco features in it. There is a fine carpet in the bar which I was taken with and here is a draft in Diversified Plain Weave based on that carpet. I will try this out on my current Megado warp next week.

We are off to Liverpool today and I hope to get to Tate Liverpool. Dorothy and I discussed the holiday last night. Not sure about it. I was definitely bored yesterday morning but perked up at the Mills. If I am taken to see another Pre-Raphaelite painting, I shall SCWEAM as Violette Anne used to say.

Thursday 28 June 2012

Now in Leeds

 We took in Saltaire on our way to Leeds yesterday. A fine example of social housing. Titus Salt built a new vast mill and built a little town beside it for the workers. Given the awful conditions of housing in the city, this must have been a welcome change. Thre is a mix of house sizes but all had facilities for getting rid of sewage.

Before we left Manchester, we visited the John Rylands Library, a truly mediaeval-style palace - built around 1890! Here is a lovely press, one of several on show, and all clearly still in use. The big bonus for me was that the Designer Bookbinder Show was set up. It does not start until next Friday and I assumed that I would miss it but there it was, a real bonus. When I inquired I was even able to buy an illustratedcatalogue which I have not had time to read yet.

And here is a rather proud piece of plumbing out in the open.

Today we start on walking round Leeds  and this afternoon we 'do' Bradford. Quite rude to Bradford, i think, only allowing 3 hours.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Still in Manchester

 Apart from inspecting looms and associated cotton weaving equipment in the Museum (wonderful), we had a conducted tour of Manchester Town Hall which is an extraordinary building. Gothic/mediaeval with Victorian central heating and a set of frescos in the main hall by Ford Madox Brown.  The first photo is about the invention of the flying shuttle  which , as you can see, has flown.
The second one is about the observation of the transit of Venus in the 17th century - very topical. 

The main rooms are very richly decorated and still much in use. Of all things, the main hall with the frescos was being decorated for a regular event - a tea dance!!! I wish I had seen it.

Our guide was a Manchester girl and she clearly loved Manchester and the Town Hall. Actually that does come across quite strongly - pride in Manchester.
In the afternoon we were bussed out to Pendlebury where there is a Victorian parish church which is one of the biggest in the country - very high Anglo-Catholic but still in the C of E. Again richly decorated.

Even to the doors to the vestry.

Dinner at the Midlands Hotel was just about as richly decorated.

Today we are off to Leeds by way of Saltaire.

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Victorian Achievement

I am on a week's holiday course doing 'The Victorian Achievement' which is about the great Victorian manufacturing cities,  Manchester, Liverpool, Bradford and Leeds with Saltaire and Port Sunlight thrown in!! The group has 11 students from all over the world, including Tasmania, Canada and USA. I was worried that I might not be fit enough but find that my sister, Dorothy, and I are definitely in the fittest 25%.  We have an expert guide who walked us round Manchester yesterday. This is Memorial Hall built in 1862, based on a Venetian palazzo a la Ruskin's Stones of Venice. Apparently Italian Renaissance (Florentine) was thought suitable for banks while Gothic and Venteian were suitable for civic architecture!
 Today we are going to the Science Museum and I hope to see some looms. We also have a conducted tour of the Town Hall laid on. This afternoon we are going out of twon to see a church.

In the morning, before the course started, we visited the Whitworth Art Gallery and saw another Africa Textile collection which was good because it means what I learned at Birmingham has been reinforced.
We visited the Manchester Art Gallery to view the Pre-Raphaelites (the guide is a expert on them) and some Leytons. If there is anything I like less than the Pre-Raphaelites, it's Leytons. Sentimental twaddle. Bah!! There is a family story about the first time we all went to Birmingham to see the Pre-Raphaelites   and got to the door of the great exhibition room. At which point Michael and Ruth said OOHH and rushed inside while Anne and I said Yuck, turned away and found a nice exhibition of silver to view. Anyway they had two display cases of William de Morgan - whom I love and here's a tile to cheer you up.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Artistic Whatsits

I have had so many comments about my comments on artistic matters that I feel I should summarise. Some comments came in through the blog where everyone can see them but others came in in private emails.

Several people have commented that, for them, the important factor in what they do is the local availability of a group to share/socialise with. So you might end up spinning when you would rather do braiding. The answer might be to join an online group of which there are many these days. But this does not deal with my own problems which is the feeling that I am spreading efforts too thinly and am becoming hostile to wall hangings (at least those made by me). Someone said 'Do what makes you happy' (Thank you, Yvo). This week I went to bookbinding all day as I shall be away next week and came home very happy and then realised the truth of Yvo's words. The other truth is that I like my bookbinding and am happy to give the results away as presents whereas I would not dream of giving away a textile wall hanging. If I won't hang it on my wall, why should anyone else? So my thoughts have crystallised. No more  wall hangings. Make cushions, bags, things of use at the Bournville class. Or use the fabric created to cover books. And weave of course.

The Midlands Textile Forum is holding a big exhibition at the end of this year and the rules of the exhibition space are that everything has to be hung so they will get yardage. The title is 'Festival and Celebration' and I will have a length of Diversified Plain Weave shortly for it - with fireworks all over it! And there will be some hana-ori and some donsu.

So thank you all  for responding to my rambling. And I have decided that I am artisan, not an artist.

Style Africa

 I did intend to blog further on artistic matters but I visited a first-rate exhibition yesterday and must tell you about that. I had to attend a meeting of the Midlands Textile Forum which is held in Birmingham Museum and decided I would take in an exhibition called 'Style Africa'. This is great fun - apart from being educational. And they let me take photos freely!!

The textiles come from West Africa, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Gambia and are mostly cotton although there are one or two   pieces of silk. The first two photos are of kente cloth which is woven in very narrow strips and then placed side by side and sewn together. The second photo has the warp vertical and the typical displacement of side by side strips can be seen.
The colours are the typical African colours and that is what is so striking about the exhibition - the exuberance of the designs makes one smile.

 The third photo shows a wax print in various stages with the resist print in the lower right hand corner. This bears a close relationship to Indonesian batik from which the technique is derived. The top cloth shows the final fabric.

The blurb says that the Chinese tried to sell the Indonesian a cheaper form of batik but the Indonesians refused to accept it as the registration for multiple colours was poor but the Africans loved the cloth and took it up with great enthusiasm.
  1. This piece is very restrained! It is woven striped cotton with very heavy embroidery which mostly consists of thick cord oversewn heavily so the enbroidery is very heavy and stands proud of the cloth. It would have been worn by an important person.

See what I mean by exuberant! These fabrics for dresses!1 The patterns are often very large and I said to another visitor that I could not imagine the top right hand one of large chickens being worn in the UK. And blow me if there wasn't a dress in a very similar fabric further on!!! No photo of that one unfortunately.

There is a very good video. It is not a large exhibition and is contained in a single room but it si definitely ' vaux le visite' as the Michelin guides say.

It is on until September 2nd in Birmingham Art Gallery and they are running craft classes in conjunction with it. Adinkra printing is running daily from 30 June to 21 July and there will be a Kente Master Weaver present using his own loom from 10th to 15th July. I will certainly be there for that.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Window Seats

Here are the window seats installed on Monday. They are oak and very heavy. Look at the lovely yarn storage which stretches right across the room! The yarn to be stored will be brought down from upstairs tomorrow along with the cushions to pad the wooden seat. The carpet still needs fixing.

Today I finished the slipcase for Coles book. I scanned in the front cover and tidied up the edges and corners in Photoshop, then printed it out and pasted it to the front of the slipcase. I have started on the next project which is to bind Jules Verne's 20,000 leagues under the Sea. One volume is folded and sewn. The second is folded. It will not take long to finish but the cover and matching slipcase are a different matter!

I went to a friend's house yesterday and did some binding there.  We wanted to bind a small book so that the stitching on the spine showed. We also had a smashing lunch of smoked salmon and prawns in her garden - under a gazebo no less! A great day out. Thanks Chris. She has an even bigger stash of paper than I have!

Monday 18 June 2012

Brighton Weekend

Some of the family went to Brighton to stay with my eldest grandson, Tom, over Saturday night and this is us dressed up to go the opera at Glyndebourne on Saturday night. L to R, Anne, Alex, Anne's son, me and Ruth. The opera and the setting were great as was the picnic we had in the grounds in the nterval. The only thing wrong was that it was very cold so we were wearing a lot of strange clothes from the back of Anne's car!!

The opera was Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen. Very well sung but oddly staged.

 On Sunday morning we were at Brighton Pavilion by 0930 and walked round. It has been much restored since I saw it last which must been 30 years ago. Probably the best place to visit in the UK.

After that we walked round the lanes, not buying expensive jewellery and clothes but I did find a first-rate paper shop and bought some 1930s style wrapping paper to use as end-papers or even covers.
Of all things. we had lunch in an Indonesian dumpling shop - which was very good and I introduced Anne to Dan-dan noodles.

And in a crafty cafe, a knitted model of the Pavilion!

This is Brighton Station in all its wrought iron glory - neatly painted in blue and gold. This gives a totally false impression as the Station was heaving at 0915 on Sunday morning. People were pouring out to spend the day in Brighton. I am not surprised. It's a very attractive place. Anne and I were trying to work out how easy it would be to live here.

I intend to pursue the topic of where to put one's artistic efforts but that will be tomorrow.

Friday 15 June 2012

View from the Megado

The top photo is the view from where I sit weaving at the Megado, looking out over part of the garden. In the background, all green and tree-y are the Malvern Hills. And the second photo is what I see if I look straight ahead over the Megado. The Hills are very obvious. Where there are houses on the skyline is the Wyche Cutting which is part of the old salt road. As far back as Roman times, pack horses carried salt from Droitwich over the Hills by way of that cutting and on into Wales.

Lots of people have responded to my recent emails and someone pointed out that how you approached this problem, depended on whether you were trying to make a living out of your craft. Now I would hate to be a production weaver. The way I look at it, you have to economise on effort and one way is to put on very long warps but, if you do not alter the threading, you are in for a very boring time. And changing the threading takes time. I know of people who put on warps of upwards of 40 yards using a sectional warp beam so you would get something like 25 scarves - or 50 tea towels out of that. My worry is that unless you manage to change the weave between items somehow, you cannot claim that yours is an unique product when a potential customer asks why she should pay so much when she can get a cheap one in M&S.  One way is to space dye the warp which is extra effort.

In addition, you have to weave something which is either very simple or something you are very familiar with - which leads me back to the dilettante approach to weaving- which I freely confess is my approach.' That would be really interesting to try. I wonder if it would work.'

On another tack, not that different, I have been thinking about pricing. The Midlands Textile Forum has just finished an exhibition in the Birmingham Bullring and there were many lovely comments in the visitors book and from the visitors themselves when I talked to them. But very little was sold. The wrong venue? No people around with surplus cash in their pockets? Where would you have to go to find such an audience?

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Creative Development (3)

There have been some comments on my diatribe (?) and some  personal emails too from some of my favorite people, all being very supportive. I don't know that it got me anywhere. I am even more certain that my mixed media/textile wall pieces are rubbish. Though they do make acceptable cushions. One thing I have done over the last few days is to transfer my bookbinding notes to a new book. I have serious trouble trying to track down which book my notes referred to. So I have rewritten 3 years of notes into a new, much larger, book (made by me, of course) and photos are now  pasted in next to the relevant notes. This is a great improvement. The other thing I have done is to tie on the Megado's warp. I last wove on the Megado in late March!! And I have to report that the computer system is all working and that the lack of cables snaking across the floor is a great improvement and the lighting is great. I was weaving using only daylight until 7 pm last night. And I am enjoying the weaving.

This is the current state of the Megado - the basis of the 2012 Christmas cards. After I have finished them, I am going to weave some fireworks!!! I should have another 6 yards of warp.

I have been reading Edward Bawden's London which the V and A have just published. I have always liked Bawden and to have a whole thick book of his work is inspiring. I have also bought The High Street which has illustrations by Eric Ravilious. This too has been republished by the V and A. I own 5 or 6 of the original 1930s illustrations. I also own some Wedgwood china in Ravilious designs. I have to say that these pieces were bought some years ago before he caught the public's eye again. I doubt I could afford to buy a whole tea set now!!! And I love it too much to use!!

And although these books are very cheering, a certain amount of gloom has descended as I try to sort last year's accounts out for the Inland Revenue. Why is it that there are always bits of paper missing? Only three this year but each will take a while to find out who to phone, phone them, get through (remembering to dig out any passwords, and/or memorable numbers they might want) and explain what I want. An annual statement ought to be  legally obligatory from anyone who holds my money.

To set against that, I made a slipcase for the repaired children's book this afternoon. I will cover it in book cloth tomorrow. This morning I found a rather splendid piece of paper  to use as lining. It has cupcakes and iced buns all over it. I also found a piece of paper with fishes on it - I have been hunting for this!! Hurrah.  This is for endpapers for teh 20,000 Leagues under the Sea which is the next bookbinding project.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Creative Development (2)

This is all a bit personal - skip it if you are after technicalities. I am mostly talking to myself.

The course on Creative Development had five students on it, four of whom were diploma Myers-Briggs people. In other words, professional people watchers/helpers. On the MBTI scale, three were Extraverts and two (including me) were Intraverts. I am an ISTJ/P if you want to know. One thing was interesting which was that the I people liked projects and the E people liked techniques.  The three Es all set to painting, drawing and generally developing a skill whereas the others did something more specific. That just says I am a problem-solver but it does not solve my over-arching problem which is that I think I should be concentrating on a narrower field.

I started out weaving about 40 years ago and yes I freely admit that I am always trying out new techniques. Like trying to recreate hana-ori or donsu (see yesterday's blog). I have always been interested in bookbinding. I remember staring in amazement at modern fine bindings in the British Museum when the book display was on the right hand side of the front door. About 10 years ago, I discovered that West Dean College did bookbinding short courses and so attended there several times. Needless to say I worked at right angles to everyone else who were all interested in repairing antique leather books whereas I wanted to explore new ways of binding. I took along some of my woven cloth and bound books in it. When Michael became ill, I had to give up regular attendance at West Dean but then found that the local Tech ran bookbinding classes and never looked back. I bind blank notebooks ( and give them away) and text blocks (Pinocchio and so on) and occasionally repair books. Lately I have concentrated on Coptic binding. It gives great scope for individuality. 

And then there are textiles. I got into this  when I started treating (dyeing, embellishing) my weavings. I remember a nice set of cushions which my eldest daughter seized with cries of joy and removed them to Kuala Lumpur. Some how I got mixed up with the Midlands Textile Forum (MTF) and then started on textile classes at Bourneville . Over the last year or so I have been producing textile works which are to be hung on the wall.  

After this long preamble, I will come to the points. 
Point 1
I don't like the so-called works of art I make which hang on the wall. I wouldn't hang them on my wall - well maybe one of them. Each work takes nothing like the time for completing a piece of weaving or binding a complex book but all the same I am getting to the stage when I grudge the time taken organise these very inferior pieces for an exhibition. 
Point 2
I feel I am spreading my time too thinly over too many crafts but I do not want to give up going to Bourneville because of the social side. 

And now to what the course tutor said. I took along some samples of work in all three categories. She looked at everything very carefully and then said that I should ditch the textiles and the weaving and concentrate on book binding. (She has done a 10-week bookbinding course - I wish). That is going a step too far but I am going to enter only weaving and books for MTF exhibitions. And I will go on  attending Bourneville classes but try to concentrate on making covers for books.

This should give me more time. But there is another question. Should I be concentrating on one type of weaving and get good at it? I have spent a lot of time on Diversified Plain Weave in the last two years. This was done as part of a Complex Weavers Study Group. I was thinking of giving up next year but I think I will do one more year.

Anyone out there got any thoughts?

Monday 11 June 2012

Back from Cornwall

We went down to Cornwall for a week over half term. A National Trust 'cottage' which was actually one wing of a very large house on the South Coast of Cornwall with a spectacular view of Helston creek. But it rained rather a lot - and there was no mobile signal or internet. Anne, my daughter, and I were very distraught!! But I did some useful work.

I intend to make some slipcases, starting with one for Coles Funny Picture Book and then one for 20,000 leagues under the Sea. So I took all four books on bookbinding I own and read the sections on slipcases and boxes. Two of them were useless, one was so-so and one was excellent - now I know what to do.

The other jobs were weaving drafts. I have long intended to see if I could recreate some Japanese weaving, namely hana-ori from Okinawa and donsu.
This is a photo of the piece of hana-ori I bought in Okinawa. I did see hana-ori being woven on a two shaft loom with a drawloom-like structure (rather crude). But I have seen photos of hana-ori being woven on a lot of shafts so I settled down to see if I could do the same patterns on the Megado with 32 shafts. I have to report that it can be done!

Here is a draft of one section from the original. I have created the other section too.  One slight problem is that I am not at sure what yarn has been used. It might be a hemp warp and a cotton (much thicker) weft. So I will count epi and use a fine linen as the warp. 

The next project was donsu. This is based on satin and the photo shows three samples from Japan. 

I chose an 8 end satin on 32 shafts and this was as good as I could get. The originals, I suspect, are either woven on a drawloom or on a Jacquard loom. I have another design which is of a flaming pearl, a traditional Japanese motif. I can use the same warp for both designs and will use gold paper yarn as the weft. The repeat will be only half an inch.

So the Megado is going to be busy and I still have several yards of Diversified Plan Weave on it to weave!!

I still have to discourse on the course on Creative Development but I thought a few pictures would brighten the day.

Monday 4 June 2012

Creative Development Course

I have spent the last two days at a Creative Development Course. and will spend today there as well. Apart from deciding that I should cut back on mixed media and textile work and concentrate on weaving and bookbinding, I have actually reviewed my life and decided that some jobs are really urgent, like dealing with leftovers from Michael's life. This includes all the wine I have in the cellar which I will never drink and all the musicaL stuff which iIknow nothing about. The last consists are a pile several feet high of sheet music, a load of books, recorders, music stands and a flute, not to mention one lute and two treble viols. So I have written to Christies Auction House about the more valuable items and will ring up one of Michael's friends to come and take the rest away.  Quite why I should end up doing this while on the Creative Development course I don't truly understand. But every one in the class said 'Do it now'. So I have.

Samantha the tutor said we were to bring photos of things we liked. I took along my photos from the Japan  trip last autumn and thought about the many photos of bamboo fences I have taken, including this one.  Then wondered if I could turn it into a draft.

So I did. 32 shafts are needed. It will be in 90/2 silk and each bamboo will be one inch wide. A jacket? A blouse? And I bet I have the silk in my stash.

I also thought about binding '20,000 leagues under the Sea' by Jules Verne. I have just bought a text block from the States and I can see there may be problems. Anyway here is a first pass at the cover. It is printed in two volumes and I will fit them into a slipcase when 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.