Sunday 29 June 2014

Lino Cuts

As I was leaving for Cirencester, I was called to ask if I could provide four linocuts for the College exhibition. The sting was they were needed by Monday lunchtime. So I said maybe and left. This morning I rose early and went to investigate. Over the last two days, I have made several decisions. These linocuts are to illustrate a book containing the Border ballad, Sir Patrick Spens. So I wanted to put the appropriate text and linocut on the same page which is designed to be A5 in size. Two are printed on the same A4 sheet. This meant laying out the text. By 1030, that was done. (Bodoni font). The final book will be a modified concertina. 

I cut a template out of stiff card which is exactly A5 in size but has a 3 inch square hole cut in it so that each lino cut would fit in snugly. I then ran into terrible trouble with ink and left it all to go out to lunch.
When I cam back, I decided that everything I had in the way  of inks would not do except for some vermilion red. So I tried and the first one was horrible. But the next four were fine.
The above photo shows the setup for pressing. It is a sandwich consisting of a wooden board, an old coverboard, the template with the lino cut inserted, an A5 piece of Bockingford inkjet paper (like highclass watercolour paper). These are on the right. On the left is the other half of the sandwich. At the bottom,  a wooden board, then a coverboard then a pad of four layers of thick felt.
Above is the paper moved from right to left showing the linocut in its template.

Above are four samples with their linocuts.

The final four sheets. The final version will probably be black but I may mix the colours. One important change will be in the wording. It does not ring true in places. I have checked on the web and all the versions are the same. Well tough. They do not sound right. I have already changed some wording but there are more serious errors of language and I am going to try and get a Lallans dictionary. Oh and yes. The moon is upside down.


Saturday 28 June 2014


This two day event is called Seminars. Basically someone talk/demonstrates for 75 minutes with a live video camera relay. The operator is very good and zooms at the interesting bits. And do you know what a 'leafcaster' is? It is a large piece of machinery for repairing pages which have holes in them. The pages she demonstrated on had been a good meal for something! But I am unlikely to ever want one of these. Another session was on binding a Lever Arch file in leather to look like an old leather book. Cannot think why I would ever want to do that but apparently the National Trust does.

The third one was much more useful, about repairing the corners of books when they have disintegrated. Five methods, very useful. The rest of the day was spent spending too much money. There is a Vendors Hall here full of lovely stuff. So what did I get?

- Two sheets of high class marbled paper for using on my two volumes of Mallory

- Several small tools

- Some handmade paper

- some treated cotton fabric for using with an Inkjet printer!! I asked a lot of questions about this. The stall holders were adamant that you could print out a coloured photo on it and it would look great. So I bought ten sheets of A3 for £12.50 which is much cheaper than ArtvanGo and I do not have to iron it.

- Some spray waterproofing for book covers. I have always wondered about finding something like this.

- A textblock of Donne's poems illustrated. This is rather special and from a private press. For me to bind and gloat over. Expensive.

If that were not enough, there was an auction in the evening at which I acquired a book I have on my Amazon Wishlist but could not afford, more handmade paper and a roll of ten sheets of endpapers from modern German designers.

There is a Silent Auction today which I have contributed to but do not intend to buy. But I will go and inspect!

In the Vendors Hall, the most prominent thing is three suppliers selling leather skins and lots of people poring over the tables.

Friday 27 June 2014

Bookbinders Galore

I have never been to a conference of bookbinders. Not very different from weavers in one way. The bar is heavily patronised. The College is built of Cotswold stone and its heart is a collection of farm buildings which must be not later than 1700 looking at the size of the roof timbers. Last night was an AGM and then 7 or 8 people demonstrating in the foyer. Some were really interesting, how to do leather inlay, how to make an Islamic book.

Of greater interest to me was the exhibition of Sweet Thames books. I could have submitted my book. It would not have been the worst. But, on the other hand, there were some stunners. There were 3 or 4 embroidered covers but all the rest were leather and many were boxed to match. There were 33 entries in all.

River and landscape

And again.

A box to match the endpapers. I noticed that quite a few had no title anywhere on the outside. And a few had only a title on the spine.

I am bothered by putting titles on fabric covered books. JetFx worked nicely provided that the fabric was a closely woven cotton and that the pattern was light enough. It only really worked with black lettering. Thermofaxes have this problem with not doing fine lines and in any case, I think the ink is inclined to wick a bit. I will carry put some experiments with this replacement for JetFx that I have at home which does not wick. The moral is really that I need to do a sample with the chosen method on exactly the same fabric as the final cover.

I looked at the next bit of binding which is two volumes of Mallory - Morte d'Arthur. They have been sewn. With string not tape. And are very thick. My tutor says this is for leather and a quarter binding would be nice. So I will put this off till autumn, take a deep breathe and set about binding in leather. I need to look out some marbled paper, in particular, have I got enough to do matching endpapers on two books.


Wednesday 25 June 2014

The Garden in June

The blanket weaving on the Megado is proceeding and I should get to the halfway mark today. I spent the morning revamping the studio with the help of two friends. Trouble was that the floor was getting to be a parking place and I tripped over one of the many piles of yarn on Monday. So today everything is on a shelf that can be on a shelf. It looks really good. It is one way of discovering what you have. When and for what reason did I buy 2.5 metres of green and gold cotton? The gold is definitely metallic. It does not look like anything I would make a shirt from and I do not usually line jackets with cotton.
I have pruned the pear stepovers and picked the first gooseberries too. The garden is looking great and so here are some photos.
By the patio, cistus, fuschia, convolvus Maritanicus.

One of the Bourbon roses.

This is one of David Austin's New English roses. They have a lot of Bourbon blood in them but they are less prone to nodding their heads and are much healthier.

 The large white flowered thing in the right background is the climbing rose Pleine de Grace. It was pruned back last year. What you see is one season's growth! When it gets twice as high, in three years, we will prune it back again. It is already 20 years old and has a really thick stem. The forest just to the left of Pleine de Grace is four hollyhock plants from last year. The dark pink and white ones are out and the black one is on its way. I have nine seedling plants from the black hollyhock of last year. I don't suppose they will be black, genetics being what it is, but I can hope.
Tomorrow I am off for two days with the Society of Bookbinders who are having a residential meet at the Agricultural College in Circencester. Lots of first rate demonstrations of how to do bookbinding and a vendor's exhibition.  

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Convergence Entry

Yesterday was spent battling with problems associated with sending a Convergence entry of yardage off to the States. First problem was that my Bernina was having a problem with the buttonholer and was at the service centre. They claimed yesterday that I had not given them the buttonholer so I fetched it back. I do not need the buttonholer for a few straight seams. I found the buttonholer in the carrying case in 30 seconds back at home. I was displeased.
Then to check the yardage for errors - there were none!! Just a few ends to cut off and to iron it carefully. But I could not find the email which told me exactly how to prepare the yardage for hanging. It is quite different this time. So I consulted with Cally Booker who has sent her yardage off. Poor Cally is unwell and on holiday somewhere within 10 miles of Cape Wrath. But a relayed message through her husband, Stuart, told me what I needed to know. I managed to get an email from the States confirming  the details. So it is done, wrapped up in black tissue paper (all neatly ironed too!) and on two rollers. All that remains is to get DHL to come and fetch this morning.
While rooting in the pile of unfinished projects looking for the Convergence piece, I came across this.

It was woven as two pieces, the lower one is seaweed on the wet sand and the upper one is sunset on wet sands. You can just see a darker thread which separates them.  Everyone who has seen it, says it should be left as opne piece. I would have done it differently if I had intended that and woven 3 or 4 inches fewer around the break. I have hemmed it and ironed it and hung it up at the end of the corridor so I see it often.
In between times I have been steadily weaving on the Megado. It is slow work and not helped by the fact that a lot of the handspun is Jacob and so is mottled. I had labelled all the weft yarns carefully but the colour matches are not good. Since this blanket is to be all of John Shailes' handspun, I cannot add in other yarn. Oh well.
I suppose basically it all looks mottled. The white warp on the right is at the centre. The other half is a mirror image of what is shown here.
The weather continues fine as they say and I have pruned the pear cordons and the apple cordons. I still have the pear stepovers to do - today's gardening job, and the peachtree. I have never seen so much fruit on the pears and apples. They have formed in clusters of 2 or 3 on the pears and up to 5 on the apple trees. All now thinned down to one in each cluster. What with going on a long trip in 2013, they did not get the pruning they need and so there was a lot to do this time. I only have 10 pears and 8 apples, all cordons, but it has taken me 6 hours work.

Saturday 21 June 2014

Nonsense Poems

I finished off the Nonsense Poems of Edward Lear yesterday. I am definitely getting better. What flaws there are, I defy anyone else to spot.

I ran into trouble with the title. First I tried using JetFx but the linen cloth I had selected for the cover was too textured and the results were patchy. Then I tried ironing the text on  to bookcloth which I have done successfully with JetFx before and did not envisage any problems. But there were. ArtVanGo has stopped selling JetFx and that was my last sheet. I have two packs of a replacement from ArtVanGo so used a sheet of that. Well, this requires a much hotter iron for the transfer and I ended up with a nice text but a badly scorched piece of bookcloth. Hence just the title because I had printed off four spares for the spine on JetFX. The major problem for bookbinding with a fabric cover is the titling. It is okay is you are binding a blank book and do not need any text but, if a printed book is being bound, it is quite different. If you are using a tightly woven cotton such as is used for quilting, then a method like JetFx works well. Otherwise you are in for trouble.

I chose dragonflies for the endpapers as being mainly white (to match the white linen covers) and light and airy like Edward Lear. I have also to report that the purple smudges on the cyano printed cotton have faded considerably and are now pale grey smudges. If I were doing this again, I would consider very carefully how the fabric was dried.

Friday 20 June 2014


Yesterday I prepared the cotton for cyano printing. This morning it had some marks where it was crumpled up. I could not lay it out flat without light reaching it. I think it would have to be done after dark and put to dry inside the house with all lights off and curtains drawn. I started working on it at 0830 because the forecast is rain later. It worked but - - . Because the sun moves, the shorter a time it is exposed the better. This means about 10 minutes. I used stencils and the first trials did not work for two reasons. I left them for 30 minutes and the sun moved so the edges were blurred and secondly the stencils were not pressed down hard against the cloth. The second lot worked much better because I taped the stencils to a sheet of Perspex first and laid that on the cloth. But it was marred by marks from not drying the cloth laid flat in the dark. And the last one worked best of all.

It is still wet and unironed. You can see purple marks from the crumpled areas at the bottom.
In the meantime, I have started on rebinding a paperback of Edward Lear's Nonsense poems and have selected the cover (from a 1920s linen tablecloth) and prepared a sheet of JetFx with the title and spine on it. These I created in Photoshop.

Thursday 19 June 2014

The Secret Garden

For a long time. like a year or two, I have had a textblock of 'The Secret Garden' waiting to be bound. The first major  delay was caused by one sheet of the textblock being overprinted. But the supplier, Volcano Arts, in the States sent me a replacement. By then I had gone on to something else. Yesterday, I got out the textblock and started work. In my opinion, it is too fat for its page dimensions which are 11.5 by 14.8 cm whereas it is 3.5 cm thick. This is a bit awkward to deal with.
I covered it with a cotton fernprint.
The endpapers are handmade paper with flowers and leaves embedded. With the book being so small, I di not want to overwhelm the book with a fussy endpaper and I thought there was enough pattern on the covers. I am serious about binding a book a week. I am going onto the complete Nonsense Rhymes of Edward Lear. For some reason, I acquired this. It has clearly been a paperback but the covers have been torn off. The first thing to do is to remove the glue and then set about turning it into a hardback. I have four or five more books awaiting bindings.

I also started on the Megado weaving. This is a double width handspun blanket. After trouble with folding to the left instead of the right, I discovered that the fell-line was up at the edges and consulted with the oracle (Peggy Osterkamp's books). I have, for the first time in my life, weighted the edges and it works. Not enough to show a photo of yet but it is slower than I hoped.

Since the weather is hot and sunny, I sought out my kit for Cyano printing. The instructions told me I had to prepare the cloth first so that has been done. It is all a bit difficult because it should be hung up to dry in a dark place - I can see why but I don't have a place like that. So it is drying under a table in the garage with a cloth over the table. It will be ready tomorrow and I have hunted out things to try. I have prepared a one square meter piece of cotton. I will use a stencil or two but I want to use ferns and leaves and these will need holding in place. I have just located a sheet of Perspex and must go and wash it ready for tomorrow.


Wednesday 18 June 2014

PS The Garden

My black eye got more and more spectacular during the morning but is now fading. That did not stop me gardening and I planted out, potted up and inspected. A really big disappointment is that none of my calladiums came up. On today's inspection, they were all rotten. However the garden is flourishing.
This is a herbaceous paeony, Beauty of Bath, very definitely blousy and opulent and the blooms will not last long.

Please note the change of font to Georgia. I borrowed a book, Just My Type, from my son-in -law, Robin, to read in the USA and made lots of notes. I dislike Arial and Courier intensely. People say they are easy to read. My view is that elegance is equally important and anyway who says they are easiest to read - the software manufacturers who want an easy (=cheap) life. There is no point in arguing with me about this. Actually I like TRAJAN best but it has no lower case which is a pity. But Robin's book says there is a font based on TRAJAN which does have lower case. I have a note in Outlook listing all the fonts I think are worth looking at. I note that the author approves of the specials I use at the moment, Old Caslon and Plantin. If I had another life, I would devote it to letterpress.

Returning to the reason for using Georgia, Google blogger only offers seven fonts


Photoshop, on the other hand, offers lots and I have loaded in more. Experiments are needed.

A Black Eye

I am not feeling too good and do not look too good either. I managed to hit myself on the garage door last night and have a spectacular black eye today. I have very little enthusiasm for doing much.
I did manage to warp up a scarf on Monday which was based on some yarn which was injected dyed at the Hampshire Guild meeting. I finished weaving it yesterday, mended it, fringed it and washed it.

I have put the injection acid dyed yarn (red and purple) in the three central stripes and used up other bits and pieces of dyed handspun to make the other stripes. The weft is all handspun in natural dyed colours, sludge green, brown and yellow. Though to be honest, when woven and washed, I cannot see any colour difference in the weft! It is lovely and soft.
I also set about the warp yarn for the small Newbury Coat. I have dyed a lot of the warp yarn and decided the only way of checking whether I had enough was to wind the warp. So I did that and I have exactly enough when I include the three skeins I have not yet dyed.  So I have asked the spinners for another 150 to 200 gms - just in case.
I ought to start weaving on the Megado but I don 't feel like it and may put that off till tomorrow.

Monday 16 June 2014

Antwerp and Back

I have returned from Antwerp. This trip with Anne was organised months ago, before there was any thought of the Frank Lloyd Wright trip. My feet which emerged undamaged from the Camino and the USA have been seriously damaged by Antwerp because I wore smart shoes. Covered with blisters and definitely out of action for a few days. We did have a good time. Two marvellous museums, several high class meals and rather a lot of shopping.

The Fashion Museum had a special exhibition on about the use of feathers in fashion. This is one of the more extreme examples. There was Marlene Dietrich's coat of swans down which used 300 swans. I don't think I approve of that. I would not wear any of the clothes myself but they are beautiful. The one garment I did covet was
a silk coat printed with feathers, designed and made by Hermes. The exhibition is well worth seeing.

 as was this display of a chocolatier's art in honour of the World Cup. Anne bought a box of weird flavours for her husband. Examples were chocolates flavoured with fried onions, Havana cigars, and curry (not all at the same time).

The other great treat was the Plantin-Moretus museum which is the printworks of the great Antwerp printers, started in the 15th century. I could stayed for hours.
A famous printed bible, very early. It is printed in five parallel languages, Latin, Greek, Hebrew being three.
This was great interest to me. It is Clusius's great work on botany. He was the first of the modern botanists and described many plants for the first time.
And here is the oldest working printing press in the world. They have two of them, 16th century. I found the place awe-inspiring. So many famous books came from this building. So much influenced the world's development. UNESCO have it high on their list and the City is very proud of it.

Antwerp is not very touristy and restaurants have a hard time remembering where they put the only menu in English they own! A really nice place. There was a music museum which we walked round and an Art Gallery which is full of Rubens. Which reminds me, the Moretus who founded the printers went to school with Rubens and had portraits painted by him of all his family. They still have these in the works which is a mixture of house and works. One comment by the guide was that the works were always inherited by the most competent child, not by the eldest son which, he thought, accounted for the fact that it was still a family firm in 1980.

So I am back home for a few weeks with loads of things to do and emails bleating about other things I need to do. I have better write a list and order my priorities. There will not be any walking for a couple of days!

Saturday 14 June 2014


Yes, I am in Antwerp. Anne and I organised this weekend long ago, before there was any thought of Chicago and FLW. We are staying in an apartment not far from the railway station and high up above a street full of cafés and bars. Which is important because they were dancing in the street last night. The Netherlands beat Spain 5-1 in the World Cup and there was rejoicing throughout the city. We noticed that there were large numbers of orange T-shirts around yesterday afternoon.

The main square in Antwerp.

The display in a chocolate shop.we are returning there on Sunday to buy presents. Anne thinks her husband would appreciate a box of chocolates flavoured with Havana tobacco or curry. Actually Anne is clearly in shopping mode. We went round some designer shops and Anne tried on a suit. I find it difficult to contemplate paying £700 for a pair of black trousers, nice though they were. But Anne did buy two dresses and a jacket from another designer boutique where the prices were more reasonable.

Dinner in an Indonesian place round the corner from our apartment, shown above.

I do have some weaving to report. I decided the next item would use up the handspun I inject dyed a few weeks ago as well as lots of my stash. I have wound about half the warp which will be striped but the weft will be plain beige as only natural dyeing can achieve. I have been asked how much more yarn I need for the small Newbury Coat and decided that I would do better to wind the warp with what I have. So that will be Monday's job.

It is another gorgeous day and we are off out soon. Neither of us have brought hot weather clothes so there may be some T-shirt purchases.


Thursday 12 June 2014

Back to Weaving

Some weeks ago I talked to Hampshire Guild about acid dyeing and had taken a series of photos showing the procedure. I ended up with a chained skein of Hampshire handspun. I finished weaving the yarn this morning and have done the small of mending needed as well as dealing with the fringes.
I am not sure I like the end effect but it does make both sides look the same. This was it finished but unwashed. It has now been washed and is hanging up. I must have been lazy about rinsing after dyeing because a lot of dye came out in the washing. I will keep this scarf as a sample as I am rather fed up with my current dyeing samples but, just in case I give it away, I have rinsed until the water ran clear. Next I am going to do another scarf out of the same dyeing session.

I decluttered the sitting room this morning. All that means is that the studio is even worse than before and a major visit to McMillan's charity shop is looming for next week. 

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Last Day in Chicago

It is definitely the case that skimming the provided literature ensures that you miss something. On our last day, we had the morning to ourselves and I walked a long way to a Borders only to find it was a Station bookstall. Bah! In the afternoon, we were bussed to the airport with a detour to the Farnsworth house. Oh yes, the Farnsworth House. Wait a minute, you mean the Mies van der Rohe glass house? Yes I do.

I knew about this in the sixties. It was built in 1957. It has always been my idea of the perfect house though I could never bring myself to live in a house where anyone could watch you going to bed.

The inside is furnished with Barcelona chairs. Oddly enough the kitchen is very sizeable unlike Wright who clearly thought a lettuce leaf would do and he need only make the kitchen 5 foot square.

This last house was the icing on the cake as far as I was concerned. So what have I learnt? That Wright's houses look good but I would not live in one. The furniture is built in and an owner could never move anything. Also if you put family clutter into a Wright house, it wrecks the appearance. I admit they look great from the outside and his carpets and glass are high class. Everyone seems to agree that his chairs were very uncomfortable. Mies van der Rohe is clinically clean but the houses look great and his chairs are very comfortable. I really like them.

I still think the Meier house (see here) was best. It would be lovely to live in although the owners have managed to make the house theirs while not spoiling the lines of the house.

I have returned determined to clear the house of clutter and have started. All I have really done is realise that the only room I can declutter is the sitting room. Still it's a start. Michael believed in rotating things every six months which h is a good idea.

And I nearly forgot. I like Chicago.

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Day 10 of Wright Tour

This is our last full day and it was spent at Oak Park where Wright had his studio until he was about 40. He designed several houses in the neighbourhood which we walked round.



And so on. And then to the Unitarian Temple in Oak Park.

And back to the hotel where I set out to find a fabric shop I had found on the web. I walked twice as far as I need have done because the street was not labelled with whether it was north or south. When I found it, it was very definitely pile them high and sell them cheap. But it was worth rooting around and I bought two lengths of cotton. The shop owner was very chatty when he heard my accent. Wanted to know when I saw the Queen last.

So now it is packing up time and getting ready for our last dinner together. We have tomorrow morning off but are visiting a last house in the afternoon. Then to the airport. And back to reality. I need to think about what I need to do when I get home.


Monday 9 June 2014

Day 9 A Boat Trip

Today we visited an FLW house, the Robie house, which is a prairie house and was built in 1910.

Then to the Illinois Institute of Technology which is full of modern buildings including lots of Mies van der Rohe. In the afternoon we had a boat trip round Chicago and I seem to have lots of photos of one skyscraper in another.

Finished about five pm very cold. Sunday is not a good day for Chicago. Most restaurants and cafés are closed.


Sunday 8 June 2014

Chicago Skyscrapers

Yesterday we spent all day walking. All morning looking at Chicago skyscrapers and the afternoon in the Art Gallery.

An early department store

Decorated thus!

Everywhere glass buildings with reflections of other buildings

Mies van der Rohe

No idea which one this is.

Inside one skyscraper, the central courtyard


Art Deco light fixture

The Gehry pavilion on the lake front

After 100 photos of buildings, I took a few in the Art Gallery. I looked at the Asian art and contemporary art. The textile galleries were all closed for renovation. Going by the other galleries, they would have been interesting. Nothing but the very best for Chicago. This is a lacquer Chinese box.



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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.