Solstice.

The charity Christmas trees in the cloisters of Worcester Cathedral were looking wonderful when I visited with a good old pal last week. Here they are, in all there photographic glory, eat your heart out Rankin, yes, I know Christmas trees aren’t his speciality either.

Have a good winter solstice, and a very good Christmas!

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Wild wool.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing Black Sheep: The Darker Side of Felt for some time, and went to it last week to Bilston Craft Gallery, here in the West Midlands. It is a show that has been at the Knitting and Stitching shows, so many people will have seen it, which is good, as it is as impressive as I hoped it would be; it’s a pity it wasn’t larger.

There were also lots of things to handle, which is always instructive, especially with a medium such as this, which is not always as it first seems.

An interesting and indeed at times interestingly spelt history of felt making opens the show, outlining the long and fascinating history of the textile. Here are a few images.

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Horst Couture.

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Horst Couture and Marjolein Dallinga. On wall, Maria Friese. .

 

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Above and below, things to handle and read.

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A felt bulb, growing inside the box with the flowing locks at the end of the table in the image above.

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Foreground, vessels by Maria Friese.

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Gladys Paulus.

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Above and below, Stephanie Metz.

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Barbara Keal.

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After Bilston the show goes to Oldham and Clitheroe.

I’ve been busy this week finishing a commission in time for Christmas, working on the computer and dealing with domestic occurrences.

During the evenings I’ve enjoyed the nice soft stitching of pages for a small textile book; this is a rare thing for me, as I frequently seem to make work that requires a bradawl and pliers as well as a needle to be hand stitched, together with much grunting and swearing.

The pages are all done now and are waiting to be edged and bound. There will be some text to integrate into the piece too, which I think I may print onto acetate.

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Most of the pages. They are about 25 cm square.

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The pages and some Bondawebbed fabrics I will be using to edge them, and some text printed onto Khadi paper for the borders.

And below, a couple of close ups.

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Leaf, print block and paracetamol packet Gelli print, beads and hand stitch.

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And a jolly bird. It’s a thermofax print, with added appliqué, stitch and beads.

Off to Worcester Cathedral tomorrow to see the trees in the cloisters, so expect some dodgy badly lit but enthusiastic photographs in my next post, deep joy.

On the cusp, or not as it happens.

Well it was my birthday yesterday, and I’m on the cusp, as next year it will be free bus pass time, not that I’m at all fond of buses, they keep stopping, which is a nightmare for an impatient person. Actually it’s a good job I hate them, since I’ve just learned that the free pass won’t arrive until I am 91. Oh well.

I’m not quite sure how this has happened, me getting to 59 I mean, but there we are, carpe diem and all that. We went on a short but jolly outing to Baddesley Clinton, where what seemed to be the dullest day of the year so far, in terms of light, or lack of it, that is, was enlivened by the lovely house having been decorated for Christmas, and by the jolly stewards we chatted to who love the house so much. So, a few images. The courtyard shown below is a lovely little garden, surrounded by the moat. IMG_2298 IMG_2300 IMG_2304 IMG_2302 IMG_2290 IMG_2307 Not the best of images, above,  but I always love the tree by the fire in the main hall And below, my favourite ever Christmas decorations. I seem to post gourds of some kind fairly frequently on my blog. In the restaurant most tables were decorated with tasteful Christmas arrangements or early narcissi, but one or two tables were graced with various curcubits wrapped with a bow; I mean, what more do you need? That’s my plan for our Christmas decorations this year then, various veggies decked out with bows. IMG_2313 Sunday was spent in London with members of Art Textiles: Made in Britain, where we had our first meeting since the Festival of Quilts. It was fun and productive, and afterwards Edwina and I went to the British Museum for a stroll around ancient Egypt, Assyria, Greece and Rome. We both enjoyed the detail in the Assyrian low relief carvings, which actually almost without exception depict some punch up or other, but interspersed with the scenes of battle and killing of animals are gorgeous little motifs of various flora and fauna, and fantastic areas of texture. Back soon with some new work to show, it’s been an in front of the computer sort of week, no, not buying stuff, honestly, just working…

Two interesting exhibitions, some finished work, and some work in progress.

Not a very snappy title for this post, but there we are.

There are two shows on at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery at the moment, worth a look if you are in the area, both free. The West Midlands Open, which is of course selected from an open entry, has a strong mix of work, and is rather an elegant show, if a little restrained. It’s in the Gas Hall, beautifully displayed.

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The other show, in the Water Hall, is of a selection of still life pieces from the Museum’s collection, which is also worth seeing. Some of my favourite pieces are below; it’s good to see some of the collection exhibited rather than squirrelled away in storage.

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One of my favourite artists, Mary Fedden. This is Basket of Fruit, and below is The Weighing Machine.

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William Scott, Still Life; Flowers and Jug.

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Raoul Dufy, sorry, didn’t note title.

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Winifred Nicholson, Flowers at a Window.

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Howard Hodgkin, Room with Chair.

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Henry Moore, Elephant Skull XXVI.

I’ve just, this very morning, finished my scroll book, which is as yet untitled.

Here it is, under the needle. After this it had hand stitch and beads added.

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I printed and dyed some fabric to back the three pieces.

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And here are the scrolls, all tied up and ready to go on the back of a camel, or any animal of your choice.

Below, some details.

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My latest and possibly last project for the artist books book I am writing is a fabric book. I started to make a fabric book a few months ago, but it got out of hand; the pages were intent on being quite large so it became a hanging book, The Rainforest Pages.

This one is smaller, each page being around 28 x 28 cm. The printed fabrics are the main feature, with stitch, and probably some text will be included in some way.

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I should call it a day after this but another book has sneaked into my consciousness, and may well be made; but it must be the last for this project…

I’ve been to see Mr.Turner, the Mike Leigh film, recently. It was wonderful, if a little grunty. I’m still thinking about it; all artists should see it. Likewise The Imitation Game; everyone who uses a computer should see that one.

A scroll book, a concertina book, and some etcs.

A mixed bag this week, almost a magazine, albeit a very slim one. Two pieces of work didn’t make it into the hanging book I have recently finished, the jungle one called the Rainforest Pages, so I have completed them and mounted them as individual pieces. DSC_0296Morning Flight 60 x 40 cm. DSC_0307 Bright Flight, a little bit smaller than the piece above. I have also started and finished a concertina book this week. Don’t ask me how or why but I seem to have been very efficient over the last few days. The only thing I can think of is the fact that I started to do Tai Chi in September, and now do a little daily practice, so of course I would like to think it’s my dedication to that that has bumped up my productivity. It’s great to do but I still do it far too fast when I am alone, the Tai Chi that is. DSC_0059 It’s quite a large chap, the concertina or zig zag book, each panel being a touch larger than A4. It’s for my artist books book so I won’t go into how I have made it here, but below is a close up of one of the pages and the book folded up, showing part of its back.

DSC_0032DSC_0063   I’ve also started to make a scroll book for the book book too. It’s very influenced by Japanese scroll books; don’t you just love that word scroll, I do. My book reads from left to right though, rather than right to left as a Japanese scroll would, because that’s the way I read. I have used some of my older texts and a new one too. DSC_0001 DSC_0005 DSC_0008 Here are the three sections of the scroll, each one is over a metre long, ready to be stitched. I may join them together, I haven’t decided yet. They are made on a lovely purple felt, a mix of wool and viscose, that I bought from the Bramble Patch when I last taught there. The felt actually inspired me to make this book. DSC_0066 And this is what I have been up to today, after planting a few bulbs for my Mum, and until it got too dingy and dull to work. The felt is wonderful to stitch. I’ve machine stitched one part that will now serve as evening stitching entertainment. And, finally, a few misty autumnal, or in fact wintery images from an outing yesterday to the Packwood and Baddesley Clinton National Trust properties in Warwickshire. I do like a vegetable garden at all times of year, as long as I don’t have to do the digging. IMG_2252 IMG_2246 IMG_2249     IMG_2250 IMG_2251 No messing with this boy. IMG_2254 A piece of work waiting to happen. IMG_2255 IMG_2257 IMG_2259   Back soon if the Tai Chi keeps working.

At last, finished fossils, well mostly.

It’s been a strange week, I seem to have been busy but don’t seem to have done a satisfying amount of work. Perhaps that’s because it’s been fiddly sort of work, involving glue, which seems to slow everything down. Useful as it undoubtedly is, I don’t enjoy glue. The Found boxed book is finished, almost, which doesn’t make proper sense as things are either finished or not, but, but for a coat of acrylic wax and for the purposes of blogging let’s call it done. DSC_0217 Here’s the box with the books open, in front. The box looks tiny, due to the over enthusiastic nature of the perspective, but it’s about 40 x 30 cm. DSC_0222 The inside of the lid and the books in place. The box is a flat pack box I’ve had for ages.It was bright green, which I rather liked but wasn’t a fossily shade, so I painted it with Payne’s grey acrylic and added print marks from some fairly sophisticated print blocks, as you can see below. The pages of the books are loosely bound using little chains, and the box is further decorated with applied painted and printed Khadi paper, with added beads. DSC_0214 You can’t get a better print block in an emergency than a potato. I taught at the Bramble Patch last week and left my print blocks there ready for the next class, of course secure in the knowledge I wouldn’t be needing them for a while. Two days later, what do I need but a nice fossil like print block, so scraping away at a potato seemed ideal. DSC_0228 The shaped books in their box, with some real fossil additions and a sea urchin. A thank you to the students on last week’s afore mentioned class, I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. Please send me some images of your finished work, it was looking marvellous. I’ll be there again in February, teaching ‘Floating Pattern’, so I’ll be starting some new pattern work soon for exhibitions next year and to bring to the course.

Fat fossil books.

The Lapworth Museum of Geology within the University of Birmingham is a great little museum that is free and open to the public. I’ve been intending to go there for ages, and as I am just starting my fossil books project it seemed a good idea to go. It’s quite an old fashioned sort of place, which I particularly like, as I love a museum that shows lots and lots of specimens in glass cases, rather than three poised objects with a  button to push, instead of lots of things to see. It’s just about to start a major refurbishment which will change it somewhat. I got a good fossil fix though, and took far too many photographs. Here are just a few. IMG_2174 IMG_2192 IMG_2209 IMG_2160 - Version 2A couple of days later I went to Winterbourne house and gardens, which also belongs to the university, to meet up with some friends. These are the university botanical gardens, and there is a sweet little gallery on site where the friends and I, as the Quatrefoil group of artists, will be exhibiting in 2016. I can remember the days when I thought that was too far away to even think about, but time moves faster these days. In the gallery at the moment is an exhibition celebrating, guess what, the Lapworth Museum, with even more fossils and bones to look at, so I had a double fix this week. The gardens are always lovely too. IMG_2226 IMG_2230 IMG_2240 I’ve started my fossil books in a box, or to give it it’s advanced title, a Multi Media Boxed Book, for my Artist Books book. Unfortunately, although the box started life as a big enough box for the project, it is no longer. This is due to unforeseen circumstances, honestly. The two fossil shaped books were measured so that they would fit nicely into the box ,[yes, I even measured them, after a fashion] as shown below. These are just the two covers, with a large image in the lid that I was going to use to line the box, along with some other prints. The ammonite is obviously an ammonite shape, but the other shape is the actual shape of a piece of rock with fern fossils, which I photographed in the museum. The whole project is based on digitally printed images of my photographs, and some relevant materials from my collage box. I have had a lot of fun with Photoshop changing some of them to my requirements, and printing on a range of papers and acetate. DSC_0180There are lots of pages in each book, and as I have added many chunky gemstone beads to the first finished book, it has grown too fat for the box, so the lid won’t shut. Well, I didn’t see that one coming, well actually I sort of did, but chose to ignore the obvious.  I’m not about to discard any pages though am I, I just need another box, as the second book will be equally chubby. I could make  a box, but feel a certain lack of interest, due to laziness but also because the idea was  to use a found object, to complement the representations of the found objects it is/was holding. So now I’m searching for a suitable box, which may mean a trawl through a few charity shops, which is dangerous. Here are some of the finished pages. They are about 16-17 cm long. DSC_0026 And here is the first fat book, 8cm or so thick, looking like a stack of papery pancakes. DSC_0027