Tuesday 29 April 2014

The Last of the African Trees

The last two African trees have been finished and that's that. All six of them have all been based on photos of real trees but they do not always look likely. The one on the left I can live with but not the one on the right - but it did really have that branch structure.

Today I went into Worcester and took a long walk along the Worcester and Birmingham canal. Walking is more important than anything else at the moment. A minimum of 2 hours a day. Tomorrow I will walk over to the other side of town.

The top photo is a white trillium which has managed to have two flowers. This is a first for me. My trilliums have never before made it through the first three months with me never mind actually flower!!

The lower one is a species tree peony which I grew from seed. It just gets better every year. The flowers are about four inches across.

Off now to work on the Kennet Valley Guild project. I need to do some more towards assembly - and I need to make a cotton shirt before Saturday. So I will be up late tonight.

Monday 28 April 2014

The End of the Exhibition

The exhibition at Nature in Art is over and mostly stripped down. I have to return today sometime to collect items to be stored for other people. We had lots of visitors  who were happy to talk and occasionally I would find myself listening to memories of textiles from someone's childhood. I would say that the people who came were mostly practicioners who were interested in the techniques used. I did find doing six days as Artist in Residence hard work. It was not helped by my own stupidity in  deciding about  looms. The first two days were spent weaving two more African trees. Then I decided to take in a loom which I was warping up for huck lace. That did not take well to being interrupted and I brought it back unfinished. I am sure it is full of errors. It is not going to get checked any time soon as I am off to Spain next Sunday to walk the Camino de Compostela and I must walk at least two hours every day from today on.

On Saturday morning I drove my usual route to Nature in Art and south of Tewkesbury at a round about came across two enormous cranes, two earth movers and a very large number of men in yellow hard hats. My attention was fixed on negotiating this lot but it did seem that they were putting something actually on the roundabout. The next morning I stopped down the road and took photos.
From the cars, you can see these two statues are very large. They commemorate the Battle of Tewkesbury which was one of the deciding battles in the Civil War. I have got one photo with no cars but used this photos a) to show the scale and b) to record the red and black car behind the knight - which is a very ancient Rolls. Not often seen on the road.

The auriculas are massed outside the front door and still very cheering. Now off to sort out the money taken at the exhibition.

Friday 25 April 2014

More on the Exhibition

I have been getting to Nature in Art just after 10 and staying until 1700. I get home tired! Last night I wound a warp for the Voyager (8 shafts) to do huck lace using some brown fine handspun wool and took it and the Voyager to the exhibition. The idea was that the public would like to watch me warping up. Me too! It was all very un satisfactory. Being me, the threading is quite complex and I found it difficult to keep my place in the threading plan!! I have got it not quite 50% threaded up. Because I have four slightly different colours of brown, I thought it best to wind four warps and put them on front-to-back. I have rearranged everything so it ought to work better tomorrow.

The Museum has a lovely exhibition  of Bookbinding on until May 18th. It is a number of books with highly decorated binding. Very nice - and very informative.

There were lots of visitors and they all wanted to talk. One in particular was a gentleman who started his conversation with 'Explain to me about Textile Art'. He is a watercolour artist (I suspect he may be rather good). The conversation then moved on to artists vs craftsmen. And he very shrewdly said, You are not very sure about that, are you? He never actually said the exhibition was rubbish but I suspect he was being polite. He did say he did not visit many textile exhibitions but he would in future. Oh well!

More auriculas have come into flower. There is only one so far which is heading for the compost head.
Here is Erythronium  Japonicum whose claim to fame here is that it is impossible to buy and these were raised from seed got from the RHS. It is about ten  years since the seed was sown and they can be deemed a success.

Thursday 24 April 2014


That's me, artist in residence at Nature in  Art. I took along two looms. One is the 12 shaft Meyer on which I am doing yet more African trees in Theo Moorman technique and the other has been borrowed from Kennet Valley Guild for the public to have a go on. I have to say that I am not getting a lot of weaving done - because we are incredibly busy! And all the visitors are very chatty. They want to know about everything. How it's made, who did it, what's next. Lots of people ,especially the men, interested in having a go on the loom. So very worth while. It's a long day. I leave here at 0930 and get home at 1800 and work hard in between. I don't do much else but then  I did not expect to. Evenings are spent in front of the TV with eyes glazed. No exhibition I have stewarded has ever been remotely like this. The space is never empty and often very full.

I have been reading Tien Chiu's blog and amazed at the varieties of citrus fruit she has access to. I never realised that there could be varieties of lemons and oranges. Then I realised that this is because they grow these commercially in California and she might at sea here in buying plums. Actually, the rest of the UK is pretty ignorant about plums too. I have no time for the UK staple- Victorias but look for Early Orleans or Marjorie Seedlings. I know my Pershore Eggs from my Svetchen.

There are more auriculas in flower and I have photos but have left the camera at Nature in Art so will load photos this evening.

Monday 21 April 2014

Lots of Happenings

Sometimes you work very hard to a specific end but you are not very hopeful of success. And sometimes to your astonishment, it all does happen as you hoped.
I have always loved auriculas and am very envious of Victorian Auricula Theatres. But they are expensive and anyway I thought it might be cruelty to auriculas to have them in my care. Three years ago, I was given 30 tiny auricular seedlings and was told that they were a mixed bunch and there was no guarantee that any would be any good. After three years in my care (this means checking the soil for dampness frequently and going out in the snow in my pyjamas to carry them all into my small cold frame), a lot of them are thinking of flowering. There are four out at the moment. The one above is best, two are dreadful and one is so-so. However there is a promising dark red one which will be in flower by tomorrow. I have just counted - there are 19 plants left out of 30. 14 are going to flowering and I think 4 will be worth keeping. Do you think it is too early to order up an Auricula Theatre?

The above are three samples of Burmese acheik. This is done by pick up and my Burmese friend who visited the factory said it was very slow!
This is the reverse of the centre sample above.
These are two other pieces from Burma. The woven bag on the right held the achiek samples whereas the one on the right contains three bags, one behind each embroidered elephant, and the device hangs up. I am told that this style is much used by the Burmese. It hangs by the front door and keys, letters etc are popped into the three bags. It is about 28 inches overall in  height.

 The above is the only colour piece we made at the Pop-up engineering class. The front section is floating in front of the background.
And just to show the card was thought through, here is the front. All based on photos taken at the Suzhou garden we visited last year. I suppose the most interesting thing I learnt was how Pop-op engineers make books - because the technique can be extended to concertina books which I have trouble in getting to stand up. I must try making on the tutor's way.

Tomorrow I start being Artist-in-Residence at Nature in Art and must load the car with two looms and all the attendant paraphernalia.

Saturday 19 April 2014

Pop-up Engineering

That is what I am doing for four days over Easter. I have made seven or eight different mechanisms and have spent today making five in a set to bind into a book tomorrow. So far everything has been done in white card but tomorrow we make a real card with artwork of our own choice. I spent sometime at home printing out a set of photos to use here and I have something suitable. I do have lots of photos but they are white on white so not easy to see.

Here is one which has some tissue paper involved. This was an intermediate version. The final version has another layering front with a small pot growing a caladium plant. Didn't you recognise them? Tut tut. This one, by the way, folds into a flat card.

This is one of the five examples to be put in the book tomorrow. It does not show up as a static photo. I suppose I could take videos. Again it folds into a card.

Ruth is making great progress with her garden design and is sitting beside me at this moment, trawling the web for suitable plants to furnish her grand design. We have been walking for an hour or more each morning before breakfast, still in training for the Camino de Santiago. That start in only two weeks so I have been reading a guide book on Madrid to find out what we should be seeing in the one and a half days we have there before setting out.

And there is far too much provided.


Wednesday 16 April 2014

Adventures with Velcro

Kennet Valley Guild has been working hard on a major project and all the entries rae in. So on Monday four of us gathered to assemble everything. I am not showing photos or indeed relating what it is about. It is enough to say that my job was to put strips of black Velcro loops onto a black felt background, about 45 inches square. But first fusible black interlining was ironed on to the back of the felt and a sleeve made at the top. So we attached the Velcro stripes and I took the two pieces home to finish off the lower hem. The next day, the Velcro stripes were no longer attached to the felt. I should have realised that the felt would be too hairy. So nothing for it but to machine stitch the Velcro to the felt. This caused havoc. I tried using a hefty (denim) needle. The machine still stopped after creating an appalling tangle on the back of the felt. So I investigated more carefully and found that the glue which stuck the Velcro down was being picked up by the needle which picked up bits of fluff which stuck into a lump on the needle which - - -. You can guess the rest. Chris Fletcher (thank you Chris) pointed out that I might do just as well to sew several lines of stitching across all the Velcro strips. My excuse for not seeing that solution was that I was panicking. Anyway that worked, although after each row of stitching, I had to clean the needle. This morning was spent sawing up bamboo into the right lengths and everything is fine and dandy. I do have another four to do but they are very much smaller. One problem with the two I have done is that a piece of reinforced felt 45 inches square is very unwieldy on a sewing machine.

While I was fighting with black felt, the others were dealing with the pieces of weaving, spinning, knitting, crocheting, dyeing (well we are talented bunch) and they had trouble with the Velcro glue as well.

The weather is glorious and the garden is full of flowers. I even did a bit of gardening this morning. I have finished tying on the handspun blanket but I am off tomorrow to West Dean College to do a weekend on Pop-Up Engineering. I am looking forward to it.

Sunday 13 April 2014

Hidcote and Kiftsgate

Sometime ago, my daughter, Anne, decided she wanted to look at flowering trees. Eventually we settled on Hidcote and Kiftsgate in the Cotswolds and met up in Hidcote Carpark this morning - on a glorious English spring day. With everyone else thinking the same. Fortunately we had agreed on a 1030 meet. By midday there was an unhappy queue down the access road waiting for some car to leave so that they could get in. We had a picnic lunch then went down the road to Kiftsgate which is built on top of the Cotswold escarpment so the views are terrific.
 What you see in the background is the Vale =Severn Valley or the Vale of Evesham depending on who you are. Since I am local, it is the Vale.

Lots of trilliums, including these lovely red ones. And Magnolia campbellii just going over with later magnolias in full flower. And all the time the sun blazed from a cloudless sky.
This clutch bag was made yesterday for the National Exhibition. The outer material is silk donsu in a pattern of triangles. The clutch strap is made from the lining material and it has a divider inside. BUT - - it will not be sent to the Exhibition because it is full of flaws. They mostly stem from trying to use this pattern. The zip is eight inches long and the bag must not have any dimension greater than 8 inches and it was impossible to sew a decent seam round the ends of the zip and maintain a dimension of 8 inches or less. I do not like is the use of the lining for the strap. It should have been done in the exterior material.  The pattern came from Threads November 2013 issue and there is nothing wrong with it. It is my fault completely for trying to get it into 8 inches. My local shop had six inch zips as well eight but six is too small. A seven inch would have been best.  I would certainly use the pattern again but not with a dimensional limit!! The Threads pattern did suffer from one defect. It did not list all the items you need any where in the instructions. However I did manage the swivel clip fixings without any trouble.

Saturday 12 April 2014

Peace and Quiet

I admit to buzzing around recently, in fact , for the last four or five weeks. With the Guild AGM over and the exhibition at Nature in Art hung, I have returned to doing things for my pleasure. I have finished putting the ghost warp on the Megado and have tied on the handspun warp.
The yarn is quite variable in thickness and I hope it will be okay. Note the variable colours in the ghost warp. I decided to use up the loaded bobbins which seem to be left over from every project. I just dump them in a plastic basket and hope I can find a use for them. This was rather a good use.

I have also sorted out and  tied on the multi-coloured warp on the 12 shaft Meyer. I have woven four African trees, three of which are on display at Nature in Art and there is enough warp left for another two. I will take that loom to Nature In Art just after Easter (April 22nd to 27th ) when I am demoing weaving. I have borrowed a Guild loom to let visitors have a go. I believe we have school groups that week.

A lot of tidying up has happened and two clear shelves have appeared in the office! Unheard of. I could do with getting to that stage in the studio but it will not happen until the handspun blanket is done and the fabric for the small Newbury Coat is completed.

There has been a lot of gardening, planting vegetable plants and sowing seeds. The garden, in fact everyone's garden, is fantastic at the moment. Tomorrow I am going to Hidcote with the family to see how that is making out.

Tuesday 8 April 2014

The final of the Great British Sewing Bee

Chinelo should have won!!

An interesting fact which I realised this evening. I would not dream of entering for the sewing or the baking challenge but I would have no hesitance in tackling many of the recipes in the Bake-Off but would not even think of tackling any project from the Sewing Bee. A silk tie! an evening dress! Not to mention yoga outfits in stretch material. Ah well what shall I do on Tuesday evenings until the Bake-Off starts up again?

Lots of things happening

I have successfully published a trial post from my laptop, still cannot do it from my desktop. Well what have I not done recently? I have been preparing for the exhibition at Nature in Art. This is a Midlands Textile Forum do.

And I have lots of things in the exhibition.

This is a net full of (knitted) fishes in the grounds of the Museum.
And one of the spider's webs with a very large turquoise and white spider on a bungee cord (Spider by Sarah Cage)
Here are three African Trees.

Yesterday was spent hanging the exhibition -well helping, getting in the way, whatever you care to call it. I find hanging a difficult exercise. I find it easier if each artist hangs her work together but I admit it is nicer if the pieces are mixed up and there is a theme. My problem is that I cannot see what to do.

Today was a day off and I paid bills, filed bits of paper, tidied up and went for a very long walk. Now to see if google will deign to publish my blog input


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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.