Saturday, 28 November 2015

Baubling along

Plum posted a really good tutorial about using decorative stitches on the sewing machine to make quick felt Christmas baubles.  As I had some red felt circles n my stash of stuff, I adapted that tutorial to go into production.


 White stitching on red


Red wool thread on top of foiled circles, and also used on the back, in the bobbin.  Sewed beautifully, but there was surprisingly little length of thread on the bobbin, requiring lots of bobbin rewinding.


Back of baubles, with design developing across 4 different batches.

Red baubles and paste printing

Front of baubles.

Red baubles and paste printing


Wednesday, 25 November 2015


I have a week’s leave to “ use or loose” so am combining a list of household management tasks with attendance at several exhibitions this week.  So far:

Chris Beetles Gallery, The Illustrators 2015, on until 9th January

What a treat to see so many original illustrations one place, all framed beautifully and consistently so that the eye was not distracted from the image.  There is a superb online catalogue that contains all 354 images, here, and if I had infinite funds, I would have bought Aubrey Beardsley and Quentin Blake - especially “On the Roof” featuring Mrs Armitage.

 White Cube Gallery, Mason’s Yard, “Losing the compass”, on until 9th January

Lots of textiles, but I really wasn’t sure about this one.  Some if it seemed more like “losing the plot” rather than ‘losing the compass”.  Acrylic paint on the top surface of a piece of carpet, then stuck in a frame, not for me.  Some interesting historical quilts, but displayed in a rather odd way, lying on top each other on the floor and hung from hooks on the wall such that the whole design couldn’t be seen.  I did like the embroidered maps and slogans by Alighiero e Boetti


Sims Reed Gallery, Bury Street, until 20 January.  Lovely drawings and painting by David Hockney and beautifully drawn pumpkins by Yayoi Kusama.

Joy of joys, using my Tate membership  - thank you mother in law, to see Alexander Calder  - Performing Sculpture. ( on until April 2016) I could have sat there all day, watching the shadows, and the gentle movements.  Despite the signs asking for no blowing on the sculptures, some people could not resist.  The 3D wire sculptures of heads and acrobats were a real revelation, and made me understand some of the comments from my drawing teacher about using the  weight of line to show ‘disappearing and appearing space’.

Then, thanks to a tip off from a friend who works in the art word, a visit to Omer Trioche Contemporary Art, where a small show of Calder tapestries and gouaches finishes this weekend.  It is a bit intimidating visiting these little galleries, as you have to ring the bell and request entrance but nothing ventured as they say.   Photography was allowed here.  

Vibrant reds and yellows lit up the gloomy day.  These are not tapestries in the conventional sense of weaving, but are rather braids of fibres placed on edge and then attached to a backing.  The scale is not apparent here, but this star was about a metre across the widest part.


The braided cords can be clearly seen here.




On my travels, interesting architectural details that caught my eye

Current turbine hall installation “Empty Lot” 


Cheesegrater, Walkie-Talkie, Gherkin, and Monument, just appearing in gold, now completely dwarfed by these monsters of commerce.


Worshipful companies’ signs, which due to the wonders of the internet, I can now research.  Glaziers here, Scientific Instrument Makers here and Launderers here.


British Museum of Food was new to me


and in the basement, Alcoholic Architecture, only open in the evening.

Shard partially concealed by a tree


Workers on the Millennium Bridge - love those sinuous lines - of the bridge that is, not of the workers


The old and the new - almshouses disappearing underneath recently-built towers


Colour and shine in a shaft of light coming through the gloom


Bollards, and what looks like a giant, upturned, steel mug supporting this building


London getting ready for Christmas, from a balcony at Tate Modern.


Home for dinner, and hopefully tomorrow, if my brain and feet hold out a trip to Goldsmith’s to see the work of Christine Risley, a contemporary and colleague of Constance Howard.






Thursday, 19 November 2015

Drawing progression

Back to charcoal, more still-life, but thankfully, no tissue this time.  Our task was to choose a portion of the very large still life that had been laid out in the studio on the reflective surface and to draw this using only the negative space.  I liked the juxtaposition of the antler with the terracotta pots and decided to focus on the junctions between of these object.


Outlining the negative spaces in charcoal, and a gradual realisation that I needed to hold the charcoal further down the stick, to get an initial, less -defined line.  Lots of rubbing out.


Those small pots were not in the correct position.


But, i liked what was happening with the curve of the antler so focussed on the details in that.  End of Week 1.


Week 2, still can’t get those reflections, but a better understanding of “strength of line”  along the whole antler, and of conveying something of the nature of the smaller pot through differences in tone in the reflection.


Details of tonal drawing - antler reflection


Antler spike





This year’s journal challenge has become a chore rather than a pleasure. I think this is because apart forth consistent size, I have not set myself a theme, but have just made any old thing that chimes with larger projects I have on the go.  A lesson to pay attention to I think for next year, if I take part.

September, corny

Corn journal

Inspired by a drawing of a corn cob.  Hand dyed cloth, highlighted with bronze fabric paint, appliqué, embroidery, machine quilting.  A bit squat for a corn cob, but with a squinted eye, could be interpreted as such.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Alice's leftovers

……trying to make sure that all leftovers are transformed in to something useful, I’ve been working on the scraps from the Alice in Wonderland quilt.  Triangles and strips,put together at random, quilted with close lines, and 4 appliqué hearts added.  Just needs blocking and binding.

Quilting progress on a gloomy Sunday afternoon

Backing, bought at the bric-a-brac stall at our exhibition

Border quilting experimenting with inverting programmed, decorative stitches on the machine

Quilting in the body of the quilt

Appliqued corners

and a little postcard, sent for a German birthday.


Thursday, 5 November 2015

Over a month since the last blog post.......

…...but lots has been happening.  Quilt exhibition, which was very successful with over 800 visitors and a hugely popular visitors’ choice.  I treated myself to a lovely pincushion , made out of a mustard pot.

Drawing continues, with one session in the gallery of the Islamic world at the British Museum.  What a treat to really immerse ourselves in the iconography of a different culture, and intriguingly to see that there are images of birds and animals in 16th century Islamic art.  I was fascinated by the use of script as a decorative finish on tiles.

Then for the past two weeks, working on a still life, in charcoal, with glass, tissue paper, reflective surfaces, hard and soft edges - so difficult, but I did enjoy the process.

Evolution of a drawing


Still life, charcoal Nov 2015

Still life 2, charcoal

Still life 3

Still life 4

Still life 5

Drawn from this, with two different levels of light between one week and the next.  I am happy with the result with the exception of the tissue paper , that needs lots of looking and practising in the sketchbook.

Still life

And in between, visits to Dorset

and inspiration from several exhibitions: Jerwood Drawing Prize


the thirteen textile group


Kara Walker at the Victoria Miro Gallery, and the usual challenging pieces at the Parasol Unit.  Always a pleasure to see the work in the courtyard at the Victoria Miro Gallery

Kusama spheres


Charles Avery, Tree, which was at Edinburgh when I was there in August.