Friday, 18 November 2016

Cluny cartoons

I am in Paris,

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with my lovely husband, visiting our son who is working here.  Much needed by both of us. We spent today walking, walking and walking in the autumn sunshine, ending up at the Cluny Museum, home of the famous Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. The tapestries are really as beautiful and enigmatic as I expected, although I think my husband found my explanation of how tapestries are woven, a little convoluted. The layout, lighting and labelling of many of the of exhibits however seemed very dated in comparison to museums such as the V and A.

The museum is being refurbished, so hopefully this will be addressed. Perhaps it is just a difference between UK and continental museum-keeping and curating. In contrast to the ponderous approach inside, the panelling outside the museum, hiding the building works, has some witty cartoons showing the exhibits being carted off for storage.

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Sunday, 13 November 2016

Returning to normal life with a lap quilt

My relative’s suffering post-stroke has now ceased and we had her funeral on Friday. Very proud of my son, who even though very distressed,  was able to get up and speak about her positive impact on his life.

Shuffling through some old hand-dyes, ( in the same colour palette as here ) and discovering some leftover hearts from the Alice quilt, led to an urge to get them stitched together.

Appliquéing the hearts on the tray-dyed cloth

Composing the  7 inch blocks on he temporary design wall.

There was not enough of the variegated solid ( a contradiction in terms?) so I had to fudge the edges a bit and lose some corners, therefore not one for the perfectionists I think.

Not bad for a sunny afternoon.  Five years since the cloth was dyed, so hopefully the quilting will be faster than that.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Drawing and domesticity

The art tutor took us to see a free exhibition of work, mostly drawings, by Maggi Hambling at the British Museum, called ‘Touch’. Maggi Hambling divides opinion, but I like a lot of her work particularly the Scallop sculpture. The exhibition is on until 29 January 2017.
Photography is allowed.  The intent of the visit was for us to study Hambling’s mark making and to study, through copying, those marks. As some of the work was mono printing, that was difficult to do, however just looking at the range of marks on the print of this figure was inspiring.
There are some very touching drawings of her friends and family close to death.
My own attempt at that figure, head and hand. Nowhere near, but closer than I was 2 years ago.
The next week, a replacement tutor catapulted us in to portraiture -aaarrrggghhh!. After I calmed myself down, I’m pleased with this ( A2 size, charcoal and chalk on a coloured paper), as it is recognisable as the sitter, though he said I had made him look much younger.
Stitching for the past few weeks has been very domestic.
Replacement curtains and cushions for the bedroom to replace the “temporary” curtains and cushions that had been put in 22 years ago. After 21 years of family life, including the dog choosing one of the cushions as his favoured favoured window-viewing spot, they finally had to go.
The pattern matching along the front of the past of cushions took much measuring and swearing to get correct.
Inherited Ercol chairs have arrive in our house ( let’s say that ours have more of the patina of age about them). Their cushions were also in a sorry state, so while my piping skills were honed by the 30 degree corners on the bedroom cushions, I could tackle four replacements for these. Not in the original style, but a lot more comfortable.
The swan has also been finished. Faced rather than bound and waiting for the right wall space to show it to advantage.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Seven year stitch?

UFO clearing is a good thing to do when creative energy is in short supply, but is going back to a project that was started 7 years ago a good idea in this situation?  The answer was yes, when it is this swan, started 7 years ago, in a workshop with Ferret.

I got stuck on this as I was going to appliqué some leaves into the corner, but couldn’t get the scale of the leaves to my liking.

A cycle along the river ( the only benefit of visiting my relative with the stroke) gave inspiration of just stitching on lines of stitch to suggest the winter threads of willow branches.

A greenish, variegated thread from the stand looked like a good mix of colours.

Trying to apply some of my new knowledge about tone, I also added some darker stitch down one side of the variegated thread and some lighter stitch down the other side. The Bernina edge-stitch foot is a great tool for precision stitching.

I need to stitch more lines and to decide whether to stitch in the thread ends or sew them in.


Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Scarf, silk, stitch

Several months ago, I dyed some silk that had been a gift from Lorraine Pugh. Supposedly offcuts - these were superb lengths.  I never posted the results of the dyeing, so here they are, as I have finally got round to using them


I have a much loved wool / cashmere shawl, but it is grey. Trying to introduce a bit more colour, at the same time as simplifying my wardrobe, is proving a challenge, so the grey had to be brightened up.

Quilting some of the silk on the wool

Next stage is to stitch some rouleaux loops and fabric buttons to make it a more individual version of one of these. Inspired a bit by the beautiful scarves made by Ekta Kaul, that I saw in Edinburgh, earlier in the year.


Sunday, 2 October 2016

Creative energy returns, at last

Younger son went to university yesterday. Elder son is having the time of his life on an internship in Paris. We have all come to terms with the reality of my mother-in-law’s condition post-stroke, so life can proceed, with a new rhythm, and time to be creative.

Messing about with charcoal, after inspiration from the charcoal drawings of Georgia O’Keeffe ( still on at the Tate until 30 October).


Picking up a piece of postcard-sized, rust dyeing that had been languishing on the laughingly -called, “inspiration board”. Stitched with vintage Perivale Regal Twist thread ( read about Perivale Mills, here) and mounted in the sketch book. I love the serendipity of rust dyeing.


Seeing the paint bleeding on to the piece led to some experiments with watercolour pencil and acrylic paint. The areas that are heavily rusted act as a resist to the watercolour and to the paint. I shouldn’t be surprised, as it is difficult to get a needle through those sections.


Creative inspiration was stimulated by a visit to the Jerwood Drawing Prize exhibition, on until 23 October. So many questions by the work of the artists on display, mostly as to hoe some of them are classed as drawing. The winner is a mesmerising video of “drawing” using white ink suspended in gelatine.

Blue skies today and an opportunity to get outside and look for reflections, and there was a great one from a convex mirror at a concealed entrance.


 Onward and upward, but usually  sideways, as an ex-colleague used to say.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Stormy skies

No time to stitch or draw as our family comes to terms with the long term consequences of a stroke on an elderly parent. Much turbulence for everyone.