Tuesday 24 July 2012

Huntley Woods

TheAddedI take Jake, a collie cross, for a walk in Huntley Woods twice a day. Yesterday I saw a hare - sitting up. A lovely sight. And both yesterday and today I saw a doe. (red deer). Very quiet and not too bothered by us. Jake is well trained. He freezes when he sees stray animals so this morning we just stood and watched the doe until she got bored watching us and moved off. It is mixed open woodland with large oaks, birch, some conifers and a large number of large beeches. The undergrowth is bracken and foxgloves at this time of year. There are mushrooms and fungi on the rotting tree trunks and there are orchids in flower as well. The paths are very rough with lots of tree roots and, after all the rain, puddles and muddy swamps. So Dorothy cannot go there until she is much fitter. Today we are going out to another wood where the paths are concrete and she will come too.

I have examined the Google situation and I could connect myself to Dorothy's line but the problem is that I have to reconnect the line to her computer every time and I don't want to upset her connection so I have decided to write the blog as though I was including photos but put them in later. I might be able to do this at Cally Booker's house so will keep a loaded USB by me!!

I have completed the second Coptic book and will go and finish the last Japanese book when I have finished here. I seem to have done a lot of reading. A book on Art Deco and one on Command and Generalship by Keegan. It is difficult to believe that a year ago I could not read a book and here I am demolishing them at my old (five years ago) speed.

Monday 23 July 2012

Bookbinding and Hawks

Last Sunday, I went with my grandson, Alex, to Newent Falconry Centre where he had a halfday training on handling birds of prey. This included a Harris Hawk, a lanner falcon, and several owls. Alex is devoted to owls and so he was very happy. I have got a good photo but Dorothy's computer is refusing to play ball this morning.

I have finished two Japanese books and one Coptic book. Again I have photos but - - - . I have prepared a second Coptic book and a Japanese book out of all the oddments of paper I had. I should be finished these today and tomorrow I start warping up for Barbara Walker's course. In case any reader wonders about this. She is coming over to teach at the Braiding Society big thrash in Manchester and then coming on to Kennet Valley to teach a 3 day course on 'Stripes with Attitude'. (Last weekend in August Saturday to Monday). There is still a place or two available. I brought my Voyager with me as I thought warping up would be a good idea.

Added later as was the above photo of Alex and a hawk considering each other

Two Japanese style books. The covers are fabric painted with Procion MX plus Manutex and highlighted with gold powder mixed with textile medium. Como silk from Handweavers Studio was used for the sewing thread. The text block is of multicoloured lokta paper which you can just see peeking out on the right.

Here are the two Coptic books. The fabric covers were made at Rayna Gillman's class a year or so ago. Paper is white lokta paper.

 This is a Japanese style book with the text block made out of remnants of paper. It is only four inches square. The sewing is with a space dyed silk thread from Oliver Twist.

Friday 20 July 2012

Running Someone Else's House

The problem with running someone else's house is that you (I) don't know where things are kept. Where would she keep the cheese grater? The Flour? And, more to the point, where does Riverside Tesco's keep the tea bags. I did a major shop on Tuesday and came home minus several important things. I was back there this morning and managed to get everything on the list and some okra too. Why does Waitrose charge so much for its okra? When I can get three times as much as Tesco for the same money. Mind you the Indian  supermarket at Small brook (South Birmingham) does much better than Tescos.

In the gaps I have been book binding. So far I have made two Japanese books and prepared three Coptic books. I will post photos tomorrow. I have also helped Dorothy sort out space dyed fabrics which she is going to sell at her 'Open Studio' in September. So rather a lot of ironing.

The most interesting thing I have done is to read a book - on my Kindle. It is 'On Poetry' by Glyn Maxwell and if you have the remotest interest in poetry, you must rush out and buy this. It was ectastically reviewed in the Guardian so I bought it and read it overnight. It asks the question 'What is poetry'. Obviously the book is his answer to the question but it is backed up by such examples that the head reels.. I shall read it again next week. .

Sunday 15 July 2012

Getting Ready

Tomorrow I am going north to Dundee to look after my sister who has just had a major operation and the last few days have been spent clearing off deadlines. I think I have done everything except prune the pear trees which I shall do this afternoon. So I finished off the Coptic book I started on Friday, Ironed some silk/cotton stencilled by my grand daughter, Madi, some weeks ago. After heat setting it, I folded it in half, machined the sides, turned it inside out and ladder-stitched the opening and Voila! a silk scarf which will be delivered today. Other jobs were emptying the in-tray and writing loads of letters and emails.

Since I don't expect to get out sight seeing much, I am taking a lot of things to do with me. This includes a lot of fabric applied to paper ready for book covers, loads of fancy paper for inside the book. I discovered this stash while clearing out a box. Also the Voyager and all the yarn needed to warp up for Barabar Walker's course in August. We are all looking forward to this. She has been to our Guild before and ran a course on yarn and colour which the students still talk about.

The other thing I am taking is a new venture. Michael left a large number of paintings and drawings. Indeed he was working on a new book with me when he died and I just shoved everything into a large box and put it away. However I have since heard of a website called blurb where you can design your own book and have it printed off. I have seen a friend's book which was full of photos of embroideries. So I decided to do this with Michael's paintings. I have downloaded the software and it is on the laptop. What is also on the laptop are lots of scanned pictures. In fact lots and lots and I have many more to do. I have found sketches of the girls when they were in their teens, dated 1973.  One big problem I have is that a lot of the paintings are bigger than A4 which is the size of my scanner. I have a feeling that Dorothy has an A3 scanner in which case I will take the box with me.  Below are one or two of his paintings.

Saturday 14 July 2012

Birmingham Visit

I thought I had written up Thursday but it seems I have not. Four of us from Kennet valley Guild went to Birmingham to see a Kente weaver at work in Birmingham Art Gallery. It is part of the Style Africa exhibition which I have written about before.   

Talking to the curator, apparently turned up on Tuesday and built the loom from bits of wood. That's what it looks like too!! He had a 240 ft warp which was wound in Ghana which is done by stretching it between two posts in a straight line (a lot of walking involved there). The warp was coiled up neatly in a yellow plastic crate which was weighted. It sat on the floor and teh warp went up to a horizontal beam about 4 foot off the floor then down at 45 degrees to a breast beam in his lap. The woven cloth was wound round this breast beam. I rather like the set up because you can see much more easily what is happening. There were two shafts connected by a pulley and then two ropes hanging down which were foot operated. He wove very fast. All very interesting. Then we looked at the exhibition and admired all the fabric. Did I say this was all mixed up with the Queen visiting round the corner at the Town Hall. When we left BMAG, she had gone and in her place were new graduates and their families clutching certificates, wearing gowns and mortar boards with beaming families in tow taking photos.

We adjourned to the Rag Market which the others had never visited. I rather think it won't be the last visit either. Lunch at Yo Sushi which I love then back to the indoor Rag Market and home on the train.

Yesterday I was at the Bournville class and decided I had to deal with one of Annette's brown paper bags. Every now and then, she gives everyone a bag of stuff and we all have to make something from it. We also got a  word. this time. Mine was RICH. Keeping to my plan of not making another wall-hanging, I decided on a Coptic bound book. Since I had fabric, I used FAST2FUSE which is like heavy Vilene with glue on both sides. I cut, stamped and embroidered the covers, then ironed the fabric on to the FAST2FUSE - a total failure. The stuff is over five years old so I suppose it was to be expected. Anyway I had to stitch it on. It is okay but the top and bottom edges are fray-ey so I need to blanket stitch it or PVA it or bind it or something. Below is a view of the spine. I have used guard papers of different colours and kinds of paper. The ribbon will be secured with a magnetic clasp - when I get one!!
The cover is not a great success because it is not stiff enough and pulling the thread tight pulls on the covers too much.

Thursday 12 July 2012

London visit

On Tuesday  I went to London with Rosie Price. The objective was the Bauhaus exhibition at the Barbican. We spent over two hours inspecting it. There was quite a lot of weaving and it was shown so that you could get your nose up to the glass. One was shown at an angle and you can imagine two weavers on their knees, nose to the glass saying 'Look there are three colours in  the warp. It has got to be triple weave.' After that we went in search of a button coverer somewhere off Berwick Street in a basement. Very business-like. Not a shop but a workshop full of machinery. Then on to Tate Britain to see the Picasso exhibition. The theme was Picasso's influence on British artists. I had not recognised that Wyndham Lewis was influenced by Picasso. I should have done. I also realised that I do not much care for Duncan Grant. And that I do like Wyndham Lewis. There was a wonderful portrait in the Walker Art Gallery.

After that there was nothing for it but go and sleep in the train home!

I am getting ready to go north to Dundee next week and must finish off a fair few jobs before I go. So yesterday the ladies who come weekly to turn the house out, found themselves in the garden picking fruit. It took me two hours in the evening to clean it all, bag it and put it in the freezer. We have had a glut of gooseberries this year. I also had some sawing up of hardboard done.  I have never got round to framing the Malaysian songket and must take one north with me. So I made three frames and will get them glassed today or tomorrow. I got up early this morning, checked the frames and pinned them.

Today expedition is to Birmingham to see the kente weaver with some members of Kennet Valley Guild. And to introduce them to the Rag Market. I am looking forward to seeing their reactions,

Monday 9 July 2012


This piece was made up for the 6 inch ring section of the Association's Exhibition but I did not think it was good enough and did not submit it. The problem is that the photo shows it lying down but when it is hung up, the centre pulls upwards and the centre of woven section is all distorted. You can see that the four arms  are not the same length. To cure it, I would have had to unpick the piece of braid and try again with no guarantee that I would get it any better second time around. Anyway by this time I had no time left!
This, on the other hand, is okay. It is made  up of pieces of ribbon from my stash mounted on a piece of spaced dyed cotton and with lots of machine embroidery on it. It is about 40 inches long and is going to made into a cushion cover. Some things do work!!

Tomorrow Rosie Price and I are going to the Bauhaus exhibition in the Barbican, London. Said to be the biggest exhibition of its kind for decades.

A Party Weekend

My son-in-law was 60 last week and Anne organised a party for him. It started at 6 pm on Friday and continued until 8pm on Sunday. For which purpose she rented a mini-stately home which slept 30 in 5 star comfort. One problem was that the first and second floors were completely carpeted in white (!!!!) so we all had to take ourt shoes off in the hall and put on slippers - which the owners did supply.
This bit of plaster work gives the flavour of the house which had three diningrooms and more sittingrooms than we were quite sure of. Not to mention a heated swimming pool, a billiard room and a cinema. There was reputed to be a croquet lawn but it was raining too hard to go and find it.

There were more 30 people present for the whole weekend and few extras for the Saturday night party itself. 

Ruth and I contributed all the food for the actual party - and cooked it. The piece of resistance was (were)? two suckling pigs. Here is one being inspected. My butcher is a master butcher and prepared them for us. And kept giving me advice on what to do and how to cook them. They were delicious. We did all the trimmings plus an incredible number of puddings, trifles, Raymond Blanc's fruit salad, cheesecakes. I overdid the sherry in the trifles but everyone praised them so it was okay. Funny how everyone at a party wants to sample every pudding on offer.

Last night I took the grandchildren home to Leamington Spa as they have to go to school while the parents and some helpers stayed behind to clean the house up on Monday morning. 

I went to Kennet Valley Guild on Saturday for  the morning and  a bit of the afternoon. And I have a long list of jobs to do. So I will go away and decide what to do next. I have got some nice textile photos but will keep them for the next blog.


Wednesday 4 July 2012

Back Home

We spent the last three days in Liverpool, including at the Albert Docks where we managed to escape the tour and go to the Tate Liverpool which is at the right hand end in the above photo. The Monet, Turner, Twombly exhibition is on and we did enjoy that. Some very nice Turners and the Monets were pretty good too. There are two other Museums on the site but  we had no time to see them. I would have liked to see the Maritime Museum.
This piece of gold work is in the great hall at Liverpool. It says SPQL not SQPR (Senatus Populusque Romana) with Liverpool substituted for Rome!!!!

Shows what Victorian Liverpool thought of itself.

This hydrangea was outside one of the many Anglo-Catholic churches we viewed. I have never been in so many High churches in my life and my Church of Scotland upbringing took over at the end. Hence photos of flowers outside as I could not stand the inside any longer.

We saw too many Pre-Raphaelites which I can't stand but the breaking point came in the Lady Leverhulme Gallery in Port Sunlight when the lecturer started to discourse on Leyton and Tadema. No, definitely not Pat. Port Sunlight itself is very nice. Built for the workers around 1900, it is quite varied in style and has masses of green space. Definitely worth seeing. There is a tiny Museum with a first rate video show.

I got home on Monday in the late evening and set to to catch up on post and hysterical phone calls. I managed to do that all yesterday. Today I will have to assembly the ring and piece of silk for the Association Exhibition.  Last night I prepared all the drafts for the Barbara Walker course at the end of August. I am going to hand out the drafts and paperwork at the Guild meeting this Saturday.

So it is back to normal. I have the new curtains to make but I must do some urgent picture framing which is half done. The idea is to finish what has been started!!


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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.