Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Allotkment Inauguration Day

We took over the allotment a month ago but have not even visited it since the first photo.

I am realistic enough to know that, if I cleaned up the grass and prepared the soil for planting, I would be very slow and would probably do damage to me> So We got the gardeners to come in for the day and I met them there at 0800 hours this morning. It was bitterly cold. I drove in stakes to mark things out , explained it all and left for a warmer spot. When I return at 1100, the grass was gone, only as far as an immense heap at the end of the allotment.

Taken from much the same spot as the first photo. You can see the heap of turf in front of the Scout hut at the top left. They rotated it several times then added a trailer full of mushroom compost and incorporated that.
You can see how dark the soil is with the mushroom compost included. When I left, they had laid down some of the central path. We found we had 35 paving slabs looking for a good home since we had the whole of the front paved. So these have been used. Any plant is going to be happy to reside there. I have ordered cordons of pears, apples, one greengage and one cherry and several soft fruit bushes. I have the raspberries already, carefully put into very large pots so they can be easily transported. I will plant them next week. I gloat.

And while all this was going on, we had someone in my studio, ripping out walls, taking off doors and then making good. It is all ready for next week when they come to install the new storage.  It is very awkward having everything wrapped in plastic, limits what I can do.

Monday, 27 November 2017

The Studio is wrapped in Plastic

This morning we stripped out my studio. Well a bit extravagant, we took out everything we had to, and shoved everything else into a corner. Then wrapped that corner in plastic sheets and spare cloths. It all took time , in fact till lunch time. Then I started in on the bookbinding stuff. The book I made over the weekend has worked out well. In fact it is probably the best book technically I have ever made. The design of the cover is based on graphitti I saw from the train coming into Paddington.  Just chuffed in fact.

Other things I have done? Well I brought home all the prints of my latest Lino cut. Lino ink takes some days to dry so the technique is to print on Friday and leave them in a drier in the print room. This one is good and I decided to use it for my Christmas card. So today I scanned it in and printed it out on various sorts of paper (i.e., weights, finish, colour) until I found perfection. In my eyes at least. Tomorrow I will try to make another book like last weekend's. I have copious notes and, when I had spare time in London, I transcribed the notes onto my iPad. First thing tomorrow, I will add the drawings and then start in on a new book.

Sunday, 26 November 2017


I know there has been discussion about my romping about the world. Well this weekend I am in London for a bookbinding course with Mark Cochran. He is one of the UK's prime designer Bookbinders. For example, he did the author's presentation copy of The Booker Prize winner which was Lincoln in the Bardo. He has a good blog. I was in fear about attending this course but I am holding my end up.  The course is about decoration on the cover but along the way, we are being taught some very good bookbinding techniques. I am pleased with progress so far.

I stayed up overnight on account of the difficulties with trains early on Sunday morning. So stayed in the Strand Palace which I have not done for years. At breakfast,I did not hear any English spoken at all. And on account of being in London for an evening, I organised myself a ticket to Covent Garden to see Seramide by Rossini. It is a tragedy and I agree with Mr Beethoven who said 'Mr Rossini,you do comic opera very well. You should stick to that'. Rossini's problem is that he has written a tragedy with comic opera music and it is glorious music. The opera house must have felt they had to pull the stops out to justify putting it on because I have not seen anything so lavish in London for a very long time. Munich yes, New York yes, London no. And the house was packed. By the way, the plot was bonkers. But the heroine was Joyce diDonato who I admire.

I have to admit to not being happy about my seat. By the time I realised I had a free evening, it was nearly sold out and I had a seat in something called the upper amphitheatre. Well I suppose you cannot really have signs saying 'The Gods' but that is what it was and nearly at the back as well. I have not sat in the Gods for forty years or more. Normally I sit in the middle stalls, never the circle, too far from the stage. Anyway you could easily get vertigo where I was sitting. But it was nice to walk back to the hotel at the end and it took about five minutes. I did think the music was wonderful and I am glad I went but I doubt if I would go out of my way to see it again.

At the course venue,the Designer Bookbinders are holding an exhibition on binding a set book Emily Dickindon's poems. So here are two nice examples.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

No Weaving

The studio is stripped out, the Kombo is sold, I managed to find the loom instructions for the Kombo and I am wondering how to survive until the middle of January when the Schacht arrives. Oh well.

At West Dean, I had a blanket on my bed which was worthy of attention. Front and back shown.

I can see 10 blocks in this and, although it does not look like it, it is in fact reversible. I am quite taken with this. Woven in wool but distinctly harsh. This is not a merino blanket!

Yesterday we started with workmen although he was not starting on the studio. There is now nice water proof flooring in the green house and outside pipes are lagged and Dorothy has some floor to ceiling shelves. Next week, they start on my studio. In the meantime I have been throwing things out or giving them away. This afternoon, I start on bookbinding in earnest and will try to catch up. I have four books to bind.

And having created a Christmas card from a lino cut, but not, fortunately, printed them, I have decided that my most recent linocut is much nicer/better. It is twice as big but I have decided to put the picture on the inside. So a certain amount of cheer - - - but I am missing my looms.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Drawing Course

For years I have trying to draw and failing. I buy another book on How to draw and stop after two days. So I am attending a course at West Dean on a Drawing for the terrified. There are 12 students and they are all in the same situation as me. Our tutor, John Freeman, is very good. No nonsense about shading in the shadows cast by an apple. And we have done perspective too. As an example see below

 We have drawn groups of chairs round a table and all sorts of other difficult things and not one of us has failed to produce a recognisable image. I wonder what we will do tomorrow, he promises portraits!

I have been reading an interesting book, The Culture of Craft. It contains a load of essays about crafts and some bits are very interesting indeed. Several of the writers are taken up in the argument of craft vs art. One of them does point out that Art Quilts are regarded as art in the USA and they are collected. Galleries and museums show exhibitions of them routinely. But no respectable museum in the U.K would consider doing such a thing. And there is a lengthy discussion about reviews of craft exhibitions in everyday papers and magazines. I mean the Times and the monthly magazine such as Interiors. 

Another writer talks about venues where crafts can be bought. There are three types, the artist studio where collectors and other crafts people would go and talk to the artist, galleries which are few in number and would sell things similar to the studio and lastly  gift exhibitions. These last are dismissed as garbage. 

I am not at all sure about this book. A unified viewpoint is not presented and I was left feeling they had no better ideas for the future of crafts than I had.  It was no surprise to me that painters look down on crafts people and do not regard them, even the best, as artists. From my own experience at Berkshire Open Studios, this is simply not justified. I stewarded the exhibition associated with the Open Studios and noted that practically all visitors walked straight past the ceramics and the sculpture to look at the painting and yet the ceramics and sculpture were very high class while the paintings varied from the really quite good to the truly awful. But the prices on the paintings were very high, several hundred pounds minimum. Oddly enough the prints were firstly very good and secondly much cheaper. Yet they did not sell.  Oh well. I do not see any way to get people to appreciate crafts and this book does not help. Sounds mostly like a pair of cats squabbling in a dark cellar.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Athens Wednesday

Today was Museum day, as if yesterday was not. We walked through the National Gardens to the Byzantine Museum which was excellent. Carvings, icons, frescos, were all there although I was disappointed that there was NO woven silk of 8th century and no Treasure Bindings either. Oh well cannot have everything.

Oranges in the garden of the Byzantine Museum. Then to the Cycladic Museum. Lots of black and red vases and gold and silver, all very beautiful. The shop was startling. Full of reproductions (expensive) and each with a certificate saying it had been made according to the same techniques as the original. So I went Christmas shopping. Now I am wondering whether to go and buy something for me! By the way lots of images of ancient ladies using spindles.

No photos possible but below is one of their famous cafe ceiling!

Then walk home by the gardens and collapsed in a heap. Later we walked round to see Hadrian's temple but it closed at 1500! So we walked round the block and I took loads of photos including the one below.

Tonight we are trying an Indian place next door. Tomorrow we have to cram a lot in  but as we have walked six miles each day, we should be okay. Dorothy feels a quilt coming on and I have ideas about a weave based on some stuff in the Acropolis Museum.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017


It seems some time since I blogged. I have done a lot. Stripped out my studio - and found all sorts of things. The oddest are lengths of wood with holes drilled in them and screw eyes inserted with lengths of TexSolv attached - and carefully labelled  'for warping up on the Kombo' or a larger version labelled for the Megado. I cannot work out how I used these! The Kombo no longer matters as it is going to a good new home. It was on the Loom Exchange for all of 2.5 hours before being sold and off the website that day.  And I am quite happy using the ceiling valet for the Megado. So all these bits of wood plus a lot of lengths of dowelling are sitting in the garage waiting on my return in a few days. Anyway all is prepared for demolition next Monday.

Dorothy and I are in Athens because I was here for one day in April. I raved about it and we are on a very short cheap package. Today we walked for miles and did the Acropolis, the Museum and Hadrian's Arch and temple. It was a gorgeous day until 4 o'clock when it came down in torrents but by that time we had had enough walking. Dorothy has mentally designed a quilt and I found that the Museum. Had printed the book I thought they ought to have when I was here last. It is all about the painted clothes on the maidens. And on inspection, I reckon they can be woven in Biederwand although it will probably need all the shafts I have. 

Taken at 0730 am from our hotel.

The Acropolis as building yard. They even have a railway line to shift blocks of marble about.

You can see the Acropolis through the Hadrian's Arch. Sorry about the angle but I cannot remove it through the blog.

Sunday, 5 November 2017


On Saturday morning (early) I finished weaving the space dyed Tencel. No errors that I could see so I took it to the Kennet Valley Guild Show and Tell. Also spent a long time in the garden taking pictures, both in the sunshine and in the shadow. The colours are quite different in the two cases and this is not the camera but iridescence in the fabric.

The lower photo was taken in sunshine.

Today (Sunday) was devoted to stripping out my studio and shifting as much stuff as possible out into the spare room. Cally Booker is about to visit us and I hope she has been warned about the spare room. You can reach the bed but the room is very crammed - and cramped.

I have some furniture yet to move which will be done tomorrow. One problem is that I do not want to hid things away too well in case I want something out to use. I will not get the room back until December 9th and will get no weaving done in that time. But I have lots of bookbinding and lino cut projects to complete, not to mention framing a load of pictures.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Indigo Day

I have had complaints about no blogs being written. I am not at all sure where the time has gone but I have frantically been trying to catch up. The space dyed Tencel piece is within sight of the end. I reckon I can only get another 8 inches out of that. And then tomorrow I have to strip the studio down ready for the workmen to wreck the room, then rebuild it. Gardening has been done but I am behind hand, in particular, with potting up auriculas but I have started on them. I have all sorts of ideas for projects but where to find time to carry them out?

I did spend a day with an indigo vat and had a few people round to help use up the vat. I dyed a whole lot of yarn including one silk warp, a thick skein of very fine wool and 4 balls of linen and cotton which were half dunked in the vat giving a nice short repeat of about 6 inches. I think this will look good.

The drying rack is in the garage along with all our other junk so the photo is not up to scratch. One result of this photography course is that I am getting fussy about all photos and a lot of the fabric/yarn ones are for the record only!

Now off to finish the Tencel fabric. I will have 4.5 metres and it is 27 inches wide which should be enough to get a shirt out of.


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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.