Friday, 27 March 2015

Conundrum of the cobbler's children

Rock pool embroidery

How can I have the patience to take over 4h to stitch the above, incorporating a carefully selected piece of beach glass, bullion stitches of up to 25 needle wraps, pistil stitch, buttonhole bars, french knots, colonial knots, spider's web, woven wheel and yet not find 20 minutes to repair the hems on two pairs of trousers?  Classic case of cobbler's children.

I love this spring evening light that allows the texture to really show.  My own little Durdle Door on these detail photos.

Rock pool embroidery

Rock pool embroidery

Precious beach glass at right

Rock pool embroidery

Rock pool embroidery

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Intriguing, eclectic, bonkers and free

Although 2 Temple Place is only open to the public intermittently, it is worth making a special trip when it is.  I've blogged before about my first visit and that sense of wonder is still there from the moment of seeing the little cherubs with telephones. at the front door.  The current exhibition, " Cotton to Gold" focusses on collections gathered by industrialists who were prominent when the British cotton trade was at its peak.  As ever, the curators mush have had a lot of discussion about what to bring to London to showcase these collections.  The selection on display has put the Haworth Museum on my list of places to visit.  If you like Tiffany glass, beautiful beetles, stuffed birds, illuminated books, Japanese prints visit before 19th April.

peacock vase

Monday, 23 March 2015

Precision piecing - "finished is better than perfect"

The weekend's sewing had moments of frustration as precision piecing once again proved not to be my forte.  Still, with the mantra of "finished is better than perfect" I got on with it, despite NATS best efforts at destroying quality of life in west London.


Thursday, 19 March 2015

White on white

Two striking clothing contrasts at the V and A this week, both with white as the prominent colour.

Burqa from 1850


The tear-down of the wedding dress exhibition. 


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Alexander McQueen's birthday is today

When I booked my ticket on 4th April 2014 for the Savage Beauty exhibition, I did not realise that I had booked to go on the day that would have been Alexander McQueen's 46th birthday.  This is my 4th clothing-based exhibition at the V and A and it really does live up to the hype, and I am not surprised to see that the exhibition has already even extended until the 2nd August.

Suzy Menkes has written a very perceptive review, with excellent photographs, here.  As a devoted McQueen fan, I am familiar with his training in Savile Row, Angels and Bermans, Central St Martins and his work at Givenchy, but Menkes makes a fair point that none of this is really explained in the exhibition.  I think it is critical to understand McQueen's path into couture, to really appreciate his technical skill, his cultural context and his breathtaking artistry.  

I would have appreciated more indication of  which pieces he had the actual artisanal as well as the artistic hand, so I could revere even more those where he stitched, cut or slashed the fabric himself.  

The staging of the show is supremely theatrical, many of the garments are not under glass  and viewers can get close enough to see construction seams and embellishments, - the curved French dart was much in evidence as is McQueen's understanding of the properties of the fabrics with which he worked.  I've never seen bias-cut hessian look so elegant.


The V and A seem to have learned from the crush at the Golden Age of Couture  exhibition, and there was less crowding around the exhibits and the flow through the rooms seemed steady and gave everyone enough time to really examine each piece as they wished.  The book to accompany the exhibition, by Claire Wilcox ,is now on my wish list.  No photography in the exhibition, therefore images of my favourites are from the websites that you will find if you click each image, particularly the Met museum in New York.  

I do have an ambivalent relationship with couture, loving the artistry, the ingenuity and the incredible fabrics, but being very uneasy about the uber-luxury market to which it is now pitched.  That being said, I would still urge you to go, and then go again.




Tonal London and the dementia darnings

At the painting class today, we were going to be looking at the tonal still-lives of the Italian painter Morandi.   Before that I went to City Hall to see the Dementia Darnings by Jenni Dutton.  A grey day ,and the walk there, gave the opportunity for some tonal studies of my own concerning light and shape.


HMS Belfast 2




The Dementia Darnings are remarkable pieces of work and really  convey the fading of a life, not into obscurity, but into a different place.  There is a tremendous sense of pathos and surprisingly, calm, in the later pieces.  The exhibition is small, and on until 27th March, but so worth a visit.

Jenni Dutton darning dementia

An added bonus was a little display in the lower ground floor of City Hall, called "Second Skin" highlighting the work of four Irish textile designers.  I absolutely loved the work of Jennifer Rothwell, whose recent collection was inspired by stained glass.  The colours on the silk were a vibrant contrast to the rest of the sombre colour scheme of the day.


I wasn't so convinced by the wearability of the wooden shoulder pads by Lennon Courtney, but they were beautifully made.




Monday, 16 March 2015

Testing, testing….

The big project is at the stage where i need to decide on an appliqué method, so the weekend was spent sampling and testing.  At least these little pieces can be used to make more cards.  These are a combination of: hand-applique, middle right; blanket stitch appliqué, upper right an lower left; machine triple stitch, upper and middle left and lower right.  Surprisingly, the machine triple stitch is looking like the best option.

Hearts, tones and stitch