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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Trying It Out.

Well, we did have fun yesterday... three women, two machines; one an embellisher, the other a sewing machine. We tried out different types of backing fabric, of fibres, of cloth. We stitched into what we'd made. We laughed a lot. We eventually ate crumpets and drank coffee. Did we have a good time? Oh, yes. The image is one of my trial pieces, a piece of curtain fabric (the image was of a camel, believe it or not), with wool tops and some mohair yarn worked in using the embellisher. I think it has great potential, and I'd really like one. My problem is that I think I may not use it very often. Perhaps I just need to stick to borrowing Jill's every now and again...

I will have all sorts of good intentions, and a list of things to do this year. A Plan, if you will. In amongst it all, though, there will be plenty of days like yesterday. Good friends, good work, a little hilarity and good food...preferably cake. Hey, it works for me!

This evening, of course, is Hogmanay, or New Year's Eve to everywhere in the world that isn't Scotland. May your new year be a joyful, productive and healthy one.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Out To Lunch?

Not quite, but out for the afternoon to help my friend Jill to try out her new embellisher...hey, it's dirty work, but somebody has to do it, right? She lives not far from me, and has an entire extension on her house dedicated to textiles...sigh...want one!

Meanwhile, the paint dries on two new paintings. The first is 'Three Blue Moons'; the second, 'Blue Moon Rising'. The first may not be finished, but the second is...I like simple. It is much underrated.

There is a blue moon textile piece, too, somewhere, also small and simple. These paintings are, in a way, a return to a style I had when I began painting. I set it aside when I discovered impasto; texture is really important to me, and of course, impasto is nothing but texture in paint... I'm not abandoning that, just remembering that it is possible to paint in other ways. Any way you like, really... any way that fits the theme.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Organic Development

I've been tiptoeing around Nefertiti. I had stitched the obvious stuff, the details, but I knew I had a lot of background to cover; just didn't know quite how to do it. When I sat down to quilt today, I decided to bite the bullet. For some reason or other, I decided to make squares and rectangles in the quilting. They have turned out to be very wall-like, in the way that old castles and palaces were built here in England, nothing like the precision of the pyramids in Egypt.

I'm not very good at representational stuff. Making a quilt 'about' Nefertiti was difficult for me. As I quilted more of the walls, I realised that the quilt isn't really 'about' her at all. It is 'about' the sisterhood of royalty. Royal women are perhaps the most highly visible of all of us. Yet we rarely, if ever, catch glimpses of the real women behind the pomp and circumstance, the glamour and protocols. Here in the UK, we see the Queen every year on television, giving a speech to the nation. We know more about her than probably any monarch in UK history. And yet, we know nothing much at all. That, for me, is the story behind the Nefertiti quilt. Of course, it took the quilt to tell me what it was that I wanted to say, exactly. And that's what I love about making art. The quilt would stand by itself as a representation of Nefertiti. What makes it interesting and special for me, though, are those added thoughts, layers of meaning, that make us think a little further, a little differently, a little deeper.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Getting Back To Normal.

It takes a while to get over the holidays and back into a routine... but Robin was out in Norwich today, so I sneaked up to the studio and painted for a little while. I haven't been painting much, so it was good to go upstairs and play with the paint.

I have to say, though, I'm not Mrs Popular with the cats. All had to go to the vets to get their annual checkups and booster jabs today. All protested vociferously all the way there, and all the way back...sigh. Not to mention singing to the waiting room while we were there. Opinionated felines.

Tomorrow, though, I sew; back to Nefertiti. Over Christmas, I took Sandy up to my cloth studio to see her. I had a few nasty moments as I looked around and yes, you guessed it...couldn't find her. Until I realised that she was pinned up on the design wall. Phew. At least I didn't have to look all over the house for her!

I spotted the spiders' web in the photo just before Christmas. Isn't it beautiful? The house next door is a converted chapel, built in the traditional Norfolk manner. It, too, is beautiful.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

What Happens...

when you put two artists in the same house for longer than 24 hours? Why, they make art, don't they! In this case, since the block cutting tools were downstairs, we cut lino blocks, or in Sandy's case, an eraser block. It hasn't been all drinking and eating and opening presents, you know!! Of course we did do all that, not to mention a rousing walk (okay, stroll) on Christmas Day.,,, all went well, Santa was kind to us all, and we're now finishing off the leftover cake (which was in the shape of a Christmas tree) and introducing Sandy to the delights of Lorne Sausage. For some reason, you can't get this delicacy in England...definitely a Scottish only treat... I think she was suitably impressed.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


at least, in one sense of the word. It's cold. Freezing fog has led to the airport being closed for days, and Robin's mother stuck in Edinburgh. But she has managed to get on a flight tomorrow, so she will be here for Christmas. So I'm still doing the last minute stuff, zooming up and down... but I did read June's comment on the blog from yesterday, and thought I'd take a photograph of the landscape painting. Looking at it through the lens, it's not what I thought...but it has opened a door to something else. I didn't get a good photograph of it...for that I need to rearrange the studio, and I haven't got time for that right now. But I was drawn to the leftover paint on the palette...and ended up making this little piece. Yes, it's a dreadful photo, and I'm sorry, but I wanted you to see it because I got excited about it. It was painted very quickly, without intention, without thinking...and I think it works. It's very small, about 12"by 9", or maybe a bit bigger, but not huge. It thinks it is, though...that's what I like about it.

I get all caught up in Big Ideas and Concepts, in Themes For Exhibitions and The Like. I say I paint because I want to create meaning. I think I forgot that it's perfectly possible to create meaning without overthinking, conceptualising and all the big words... it's just as possible when you allow the paint to talk to you, and off you go. Now, back to tidying up the upstairs, vacuuming and generally getting Tidy. I'd intended to cook today, but there won't be time, so that will need to wait til tomorrow. Who called this the holiday season??? I'll need a holiday afterwards, to recover.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Breaking Out.

Well, maybe only for the morning. Enough is enough....I decided to paint this morning. I have had a photograph torn from the local paper for several months now, lying about on the kitchen table (where else...). It showed an ariel view of the A11 (one of the major roads in East Anglia), and I was struck by the shapes it made. So I decided to paint it, or at least paint something based on it. And that is how I spent my morning. I'm not sure if you'd call it a landscape or not. I'm not even sure if it's finished. But I did have a good time!

This afternoon, though, things are getting tidier. You know you have a clutter problem when you find a piece of work you don't remember making, lying behind the computer monitor. It's definitely made by me... I'm just not sure when! Another lutradur piece, this one with foil added. Eyeful, it's called, at present at least. See what you think.
note to self: really really MUST start keeping a record of what I make, when I make it. I started it, I failed to continue it (well, actually, I lost it. Ahem.). Must Buy Large Book.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


to those of you who are expecting work from me. I meant to send it last week, and didn't get there (all that housework...sigh...). So I'll hold off until after the holidays, rather than have envelopes sit with Royal Mail during the holidays; they're known for their ability to make small parcels vanish as if by magic . If you responded to my offer of a small piece of work, please send me your snailmail privately, so that I can pop it on the envelope, all ready to go.

Nefertiti continues, as does the housework. There's a stew in the crockpot, it smells wonderful, wish Robin would come home so I could eat it! Otherwise, things are slow and boring...the holiday season seems to be starting early here (you can tell it's my favourite time of year...not).
Meanwhile, Andrew sent us an interesting image. He must have been scrabbling around in his grandmother's photo albums...this is a photo of Robin as most of us have never seen him (and I include myself in that; long hair didn't feature when I started going out with him). Sadly, I can't show it due to technical difficulties (I know, that's what they all say). Andrew went through a long hair phase also...wonder if it's genetic?
Anyway, you'll just have to make do with this image, instead. Reaching Out was intended for the 'Doing Small Things' exhibit, but life rather got in the way...which can be the way of these things. If I'm not careful, the same will happen to 'She Made Her Mark', for which Nefertiti is destined . The closing date for entries is very early in January, so I'll have to get my skates on...wish me luck!

Monday, December 18, 2006

House Cleaning...

goes on, and on...but so does the stitching on Nefertiti, despite breaking several needles, one of which caught me sweetly on the cheek on its way past... a scratch and smart, no damage done. Fortunately. Yesterday, though, we went out to buy a new suit for Robin. Losing a large amount of weight (something Advo is never likely to do, you're right, Terri...) means, in Robin's case, that two new suits no longer fit him. So I wandered round the shop, picking shirts and a tie to go with the newly svelte figure and the seriously lovely suit he picked out.

Other work goes on this small piece that I use as a warm up before working on Nefertiti. It's nowhere near finished, but I think it'll be interesting with more stitch, perhaps some foiling, and maybe even some paint... Not the greatest picture in the world, I admit it freely...the cloth is a small piece of dyepainted vintage linen.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


you have turned over the whole of the upstairs house looking for a quilt top, and it's nowhere to be found, you can do either of two things. You can either give up, or you can go back to where you started. In my case, that was the conservatory. Usually by this time of year the conservatory is too cool to work in, but this winter is so incredibly mild that I went to sit there with a cup of coffee on Friday morning. There I was on the sofa, looking at a pile of books on top of a see through plastic box. In the box was a piece of fabric that looked remarkably like, nay, was Nefertiti. Hurrah!!!

So, it was straight up to the bedroom to iron her, and her backing, and fuse them together. As you can see, Millie and Advo will take any opportunity to get in on the act. As befits an Egyptian Queen, Nefertiti is guarded by Millie. Advo, though, is no respecter of persons, queenly or not. When I popped the backing down, on he got. Millie, disgusted, ran away...just in case. Egyptian royalty was divine, dontcha know... Today, though, Nefertiti is being stitched. I'm really quite excited by the results, but you'll have to wait to see if we're selected before I share the full picture.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Important Announcement for Euro Quilters!

Peg Keeney approached me a while ago, with the idea of putting together a show of European quilts for the Mancuso shows in the US next year. I thought it was a great idea, volunteered to help, and am now pleased to announce the call for entries for 'From The Heart'. For a full copy of the prospectus, or for further information, drop me an email here : to keep you going, though, here's the scoop. Or go to Peg's website (click on her name, above) to download all the details. Please do circulate this information as widely as you can within Europe, we'd love to get as wide an entry as possible. I, of course, am wondering if a jaunt to the US next year is in order...but that's another story altogether.
From The Heart : A Special Exhibit of European Art Quilts
In Association with Mancuso Quilt shows
August –November 2007
Art Quilters in the United States have long been aware of the unique qualities of quilting making in Europe. This juried exhibit is an opportunity for all art quilters in Europe to showcase those unique qualities in a special exhibit which will tour four Mancuso venues. Show us the things that are close to your heart; your country, your environment, your beliefs, your values, your art…
30 quilts will be selected to be part of the exhibition with the Mancuso Shows INC. It is a unique opportunity for European art quilters work to be seen by literally thousands of people.

Eligibility and Guidelines:• Entry is by digital image only (directions below). Each artist may submit a maximum of three works for consideration. Submitted works must have been completed after 31 Dec 2004•Due to shipping issues, no 3-D works will be accepted.
• Artwork must meet the following definition of an art quilt: a contemporary artwork exploring and expressing aesthetic concerns common to the whole range of visual arts: painting, printmaking, photography, graphic design, assemblage and sculpture, but which retains, through materials or technique, a clear relationship to the folk art quilt from which it descends. • Accepted artwork will travel as a Special Exhibit for the Mancuso World Quilt and Textile on Tour XI beginning Aug 16, 2007 in Manchester, NH, then on to PA National Quilt Festival, Harrisburg, PA September 6-9, Pacific International Quilt Festival, Santa Clara, CA October 11-14 and Greater Chicago Quilt Festival, Chicago , IL November 2007.• Artists are responsible for shipping and insurance to and from a collection point in the United States.
• Artwork will be for exhibition only, and must be available to travel the entire circuit.

Size: Artworks may vary in size within the following parameters:
smallest side 1 metre/40 inches - largest 1.5metres/ 60 inches.
Each work must have a standard 8 cm/ 3 inch sleeve

Curators: Marion Barnett and Peg Keeney
Fee: If your work is accepted, there will be a $10.00 fee to cover packing costs.

Calendar: 2007
March 10: Deadline for entries to ARRIVE
April 5: Notification of acceptance.July 25: Artwork due to collection point in United States
December: work returned to artistGuidelines for Submissions• Submit one overall image and one detail image for each piece of artwork you are entering in this exhibit, to a maximum of three works.• Save your digital images at 300 DPI with a maximum of 6” width or height as JPEGS or TIFF. Save to a CD disk – DVD disks will not be accepted.• Title each digital image with your artwork title and the size of your artwork in inches. Example – Last name MyTitle36Hx36W.• Create a Word document with the entry information below and save that to the disk as well.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lost And Found

Given that I've got visitors for Christmas, and that I've lost at least one piece of work, I thought that perhaps a good clear out was in order. I started with the cloth studio. My, I do have a lot of lutradur to play with... Then it was the paint studio's turn. Now it was pretty tidy...well, relatively speaking, anyway. Then the music room, then the spare room. That just leaves our bedroom for today, and downstairs tomorrow.

Nefertiti is, of course, still lost. However, I found my inhaler under the spare bed...quite how it got there, I'm not sure. Probably Andrew helped himself when he was up last, but didn't put it back in the cupboard... Why did I think that the music room was a good place for print blocks? Why am I keeping those four paintings, when I really don't think they're worth it? (answer, they were under the bed. They aren't, now. Painting, anyone ?). Do I want to refill my giant sized Filofax (answer, is a bit busy at present...). Who knows what I'll find tomorrow!

And I found this encaustic. Which makes me want to play with wax. Perhaps next week... Meanwhile, Robin is away on business for a couple of days. He rang me at lunchtime. You'd love it here, he said. Near the sea. Nice hotel. Hmm, I thought. Might be a holiday in there somewhere...

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Funny Thing Happened...

on the way to the Well admin meeting. There I was, minding my own business, driving round a sharp corner when I realise that in the road in front of me is...a waddle of ducks. About eight of them, heading away from the pond in the park, and towards the Big City (well, okay, Dereham. Not quite Big City unless you're a duck...) They looked around at the car, and at each other, then speeded up a bit. Oh, quck, they said. And obligingly got onto the pavement. Actually, I think some of them went into a handy garden. Either way, I didn't knock any of them to quackdom come, so my duck culling record remains at zero. (And what is the collective name for a group of ducks...if you get a gaggle of geese, surely you should have a waddle of ducks??)

The Well admin meeting went...well, well, as you might expect. Budget agreed, we have A Cunning Plan for taking things forward, we seem to have come a long way since we started in June. Plans for another group, or even several... and for A Studio Of Our Own...or at least, somewhere to meet regularly, work sometimes and serve as a base.

And then, driving home, I had An Idea. I went yesterday to look for the piece I had intended to enter into 'She Made Her Mark', 'Nefertiti'. I found...nothing. Well, I found plenty, actually, but none of it looked like Nefertiti. Sigh. But this New Idea lets me start from scratch. So if Nefertiti turns up, I'll quilt her (as it were...), but otherwise, I'm going for a completely different theme. Wish me luck...I need to find somewhere to work where low flying paint isn't an issue...sigh...

And thank you to everyone for the good wishes. The blues, and the flu, haven't gone entirely, but I'm holding my own. Normal service will be resumed...eventually....meanwhile, I need to mount this lutradur piece, 'Forgotten Paths', before I frame it. Or perhaps more stitch...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Back To Basics

Over a week, and the virus is winning, though I feel well enough to get up today (an improvement over the rest of the week). Whether it's post viral blues, or the demons warming up for the Festive Season (I'm not good at Christmas), I find myself in a slump of self pity. My work is poor. Nobody likes it. I could go on whining for an eternity. Instead, I'm going back to sleep. Nothing like a good nap to get rid of the blues. And then I'm going to get out my sketchbook and draw. Nothing like starting from scratch to cheer you up. Or that's what I hope, anyway. And then, when I'm cheered up suitably, I'm going to plan my year. I have enough work committed here and there to keep me out of mischief for the next couple of years, books, exhibits, this and that... all I need to do now is to convince my sad self that it's time to get on with it, or at least to organise it while I'm not well enough to get anything done. And to remember that these periods come and go. It may be the annual pre-Christmas depression; it may not. Either way, whatever it is, it'll pass and I'll survive. My mantra for bad days is from Julian of Norwich; 'All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing shall be well'. She was a smart cookie. And she was right. Hold that thought!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Poor Me...

Andrew gave it to Sarah. Who gave it to Robin. Who gave it to me. The family that has flu together, has flu together. Even when they live hundreds of miles apart. In our case, it has been spread over a number of weeks, and I, being last, seem to have it with bells on, or rather, laryngitis. Yes, that's right, I can't speak. Not audibly, anyway (stop laughing in the back, there). And I feel awful. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible, including sending things to people...but right now, I'm going back to bed.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Double Glazing

No, I haven't been breaking windows! Rather, I went into the studio day before yesterday and glazed a couple of paintings that have been sitting waiting to be finished for Rather A Long Time. To such an extent that I was avoiding the studio, rather than deal with them. But I poddled around in there on Monday and just Got On With It. This is one of them, another 'In More Than One Language' painting, 'Outburst'.

Now, of course, there are empty canvasses waiting to be painted, and I find myself thinking about What To Paint. I'm reading 'Bird By Bird', Anne Lamott's excellent book on writing. She, and other such writers, like Natalie Goldberg, exhorts us to 'write what we know'. That made me wonder, am I painting what I know? I don't know that I am. I think I'm painting what I think. The Nosuchi paintings are developing from a mental construct, an invented tribe of 'neo-Celtic' people; IMTOL, from thinking about the process of reading mark, of reading painting style or school, of creating meaning. Nothing wrong with this, I think. Just... I wonder what painting what I know would be like? What would the difference be?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Little Light Shopping

...these lovely yarns, found in a wonderful shop in Nairn that smelled as good as it looked, full of candles, herbs, incense, as well as this lovely wool. I really must stop feeding my yarn addiction, it's not good for the cupboard space...but I've got a couple of dolls ready to make, and this particular yarn looks good for hair. And possibly wrapping...and a mobile, too, maybe... Besides, you've got to do a little bit of shopping on holiday. Did I buy books? Did I go to Leakie's in Inverness? Of course I did....

Got together with my friend Jill this morning. The intention was to Get Something Done; in fact, we talked, looked at books, drank coffee, drank more coffee, had lunch.... it was good to catch up, though, and, in our defence, we did plan a two person quilt for next year's FOQ. Well, sort of. Vaguely. I think we're more likely to improvise on the day. But we do have an idea, and that's a start, isn't it? I'm still pretty much enjoying the post holiday solitude, though. I like my own company, and am planning to have more of it next week, too.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Wanna Share?

I quote directly from Julie, who said in her blog...

I saw this on Deirdre's Sloppy Studio Studies blog, she saw it on Emmy Schoonbeek's blog (and she saw it on Arlee's... who saw it on Skybell's ...)So if you want to play along, read this and you wil get a piece of art from me , but you must follow the instructions.The first five people to respond to this in the comments section will receive a piece of artwork from me.BUT, in addition to the comments you have to post this same blurb to your blog too and continue sharing the art with people who respond to you.

Well, yes, I did. I emailed Julie. I was one of those five. You know what's coming, now, don't you? The first five people to respond to this in the comments section WILL receive a piece of art from me. It may not be earthshattering, it may not be large; but it will be mine. Same deal applies, of course...

Who's going to play, then?

Of course, there's always the chance that nobody which case, I'll just go cry in a corner...loudly.......lengthily.....and then you'll be sorry!!

Clooties All Over

You don't need to be interested in textiles to appreciate the Clootie Well. A cloot is a cloth, simply, but the Clootie Well is a place where the waters are believed to have healing properties, and a cloth, often a piece of clothing, but not necessarily, dipped in the water and left on a tree near the well, is thought to bring healing to whoever needs it. There are a few folk who need it, as you can see from the photograph. Interestingly, I've never thought to add a cloot myself, though I've always said I need all the healing I can get...

What intruigues me is the biodegradable nature of this particular offering. Over time, the cloth rots and returns to the earth. I like going there, it feels like an optimistic place in a world that can be overly pessimistic. I had thought of making a piece based on the well, but so far, inspiration hasn't arrived. My friend Lynn Bunis did, though, and made a great job of it, as I recall... so maybe there's hope for me yet.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Return To Rosemarkie.

Everyone has their favourite places. Rosemarkie, on the Black Isle, is one of mine, my favourite place to walk beside the sea. The day we were there looked just as this photo does, taken as we arrived, but the skies turned grey and dark, as befits a November morning with snow on the way. But that didn't stop me feeling still and calm, as I always do when I go there. As you can see, we pretty much had the beach to ourselves, though in the summer, it is always busy with holidaymakers and sunworshippers alike. So, I gathered some stones and shells, breathed the scent of sea and snow, and went for a brief walk.

I'm working on an altered book today. I thought I would add a good deal of text to it...but in fact, I think it is beginning to pull itself together as it is, text free, so I may paint in it some more, but leave the text alone. Perhaps there is a series, here, or perhaps not. It doesn't really matter. If the idea is good, the rest will come, one way or another, as books, as textiles, as paintings...if not, then one will be enough. We'll see.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Back Home.

I had forgotten what a holiday was like. It has been quite a while since we took a holiday at all, for one reason or another, and I didn't know how much I needed a break, until I was in the middle of it. First, up to Croy, near Inverness, to stay with friends, and to visit others; then down to Edinburgh to meet Andrew's prospective in-laws, and catch up with other folks, too. We had a wonderful time. It's not that we did much, other than hug people, eat, laugh, talk and generally have fun. It's just that we were doing it with people we know well, and seemed to slot back into everyday life in Scotland as if we'd never been away.

Back to a cold (me), a flu (Robin), a pile of correspondence (both) and four enthusiastic cats, all of whom have been turning up regularly for cuddles, just in case I take it into my mind to go away again. Well, I do have to go into Norwich tomorrow...but I will be coming straight back! There's plenty work to do, and I admit to having sneaked up to the cloth studio to play this morning. It's great to be back. And it was great to be there. Hurrah for friendship, laughter and fun! And a fuller report over the next week or so...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Another Day...

another postcard...another visitor or two to the blog. Actually, there's been over twenty thousand of you since January, and I feel very honoured. Thank you for reading.

I was meant to be going out this afternoon, but I seem to have been stood up (you know who you are...), so I've prepped an altered book for working on when I get home from Scotland, I cleaned out the fridge (necessary, believe me), tidied the kitchen and made another drypoint plate which printed fairly well on paper, but refused to talk to silk organza... no, I'm not going to whine about presses, or the lack of them...sigh...

I'm going to Ipswich tomorrow, to take part in a self development workshop with my friend Terry, who happens to be visiting one of the facilitators. At the very least, I'm told she'll have my Christmas present with her, given that she's going to India for Christmas...sigh... I'm told it came from Fortnum and Mason; I'm not sure if I'm meant to eat it (here's hoping it's chocolate...) or worship it. Perhaps I can eat the food and worship the plastic bag???

And then, on Monday, we're off to Scotland. I'll be away for a couple of weeks, but I'll post if I can. And if Blogger lets me, of course. I'll be thinking about you...well, maybe...well, a bit...

Friday, November 10, 2006


Doesn't look like much, does it? This is a very small, very tentative drypoint, printed without a press on very thin paper. Surprisingly, the paper didn't tear, but I did learn that the paper really doesn't want to be too wet (or things runnnn....). And I really do have to have clean hands before I touch anything! I consider it a small personal triumph, considering I don't have an etching press, and haven't had time to go out and get myself a pasta maker. Robin has pointed out firmly that I don't have room for an etching press. Sadly, I think he may be right...but it doesn't stop me wanting one. I love the marks that this technique makes, and I'd like to do more with it.

I do have a book press, but it isn't the same animal by any means. At present, though, it does have a book in it. I'm contemplating submitting an altered book to an exhibition in Birmingham, so perhaps it will come in handy after all...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

It Ain't Finished....

'til you put some sort of hanging device on it. So I spent an interesting time crawling about the floor with four (sigh) large canvasses and a lot of wire. I hate picture wire. It tangles very prettily at entirely the wrong moments; usually when there's a cat waiting to pounce. I hope nobody looks too closely at the backs of the paintings...all four cats at one point sat on each painting, wondering what on earth I was doing, and why I was bothering to do it...they may have had a point. However, once they got to Blickling, and were hung in their places, it was worth the blister on the palm and the muttered curses...they look good!

They are roughly 2m by 1m in dimension, and I live in a relatively small house. Not only that, but I have a relatively small car, too, so my neighbours Mike and Moira conducted the paintings to Blickling Hall. Had they had to brake sharply, there was always the possibility of being decapitated by a low flying oil painting...but we didn't dwell on that unduly. Well, I didn't anyway, I took my own car!!

From large to small in one short post. The picture is of an ATC I made today. I swore I'd never make an ATC. Cough. What did please me, though, was the chance to use these metallic butterflies. They were on sale in the pharmacy at Strathpeffer for 50p a packet, intended to decorate one's hair. I thought, cloth...and they've been lying around waiting for an opportunity to shine. And now they have one! You do find embellishments in the most unlikely places...

And talking about embellishers...I cancelled the order. I had bought on line, and had expected delivery very quickly, or to be told otherwise immediately, just like it said in the online information...after a week of waiting, I was told the earliest I could hope for delivery was December. I think if I do want an embellisher, and I'm not really convinced that I do, I will go to one of the local shops and buy it might cost a bit more, but at least I can take it home with me.

Monday, November 06, 2006

On The Other Hand...

sometimes only stitch will do. This is another postcard sized piece, but it asked for stitch as soon as I looked at it. I'm not convinced that this is the right way up for it...but doubtless that will make itself clear over time. I'm about to make a set of small pieces to take to a Christmas Fair in Norwich in early December, along with the rest of The Well. I think I'll mount them, rather than sell them as postcards. I see them as small paintings, rather than as ephemera.

I was intruigued by Kari's comment yesterday. She said that ; 'As a confused drawer, painter, printer textile artist, I too feel I have to combine EVERYTHING in order to "prove" that I can, but as you point out, sometimes less is more.' I too, am all these things, but I took a different approach to them; I tried to keep them all separate. This was Very Hard. And then, gradually, over time, I discovered that they were all just boxes of techniques, no more, no less. If I took the labels off, I could take any tool from any box and combine them, and not have to worry about what I was doing. But I do rejoice when I manage not to overegg the pudding...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Knowing When To Stop

This post should perhaps have been titled "Look, Mom...No Stitch!". I spent yesterday afternoon dyeing lutradur and other non woven polyesters, and a little part of the evening making it up ready to stitch. And then I looked at these two pieces and though...perhaps not.
They are, in my view, well balanced, and really don't need stitch for any reason.

As textile artists, I think we stitch every piece automatically. It's not finished if it doesn't have a stitch or two...or ten...or fifty... Sometimes, though, it's just not right. Sometimes the cloth really just wants to sit by itself. I think we often don't consider that as an option. I have, though, today. These two postcard sized pieces get no further work. I'll mount them as if they were prints on paper, and we'll see. Clicking on the images should produce a larger version, if you're interested.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The More You Do...

the more you learn. This afternoon has been spent with the heat press, working out just how long you need to press different types of polyesters, including lutradur...okay, especially get a good print. The answer varies....but I'm glad I made the purchase, and the trials, so I'll include the information in the book I'm writing on Lutradur with Dijanne. If you haven't already got it, you can have a free information sheet by emailing me here . The picture is not a carefully constructed transfer dyed piece. No, indeed. I wanted to protect the bottom of the heat press, given that I'm likely to use it to press dyed cloth, particularly if I decide to start selling the cloth again, as I may well do, so I popped a piece of pelmet Vilene beneath the lutradur, and got this effect. It's the functional equivalent of the mopping up cloth in cold water dyeing...and I'm going to cut it up for postcards.

I spent yesterday at a Well meeting, and left tired, but having learned several things. One seems to be that perhaps my intuition was right. I'm not good at attending groups, being part of groups. I prefer to work alone, and to deal with people one to one, or in threes or fours. Six months on after the group's formation is perhaps a bit slow for me to come to this realisation, but then I've always been slow on the uptake with certain things. And I don't want to leave The Well, having conceived of it and started it along with Helen Simpson...but I do need to find a compromise that suits everyone.

A week to go before I go on holiday, a visit to my son and future daughter in law in Edinburgh, and one to my friends Alison and Michael in Inverness. It'll be good to see them all...we talk on the phone, but it's not the same as being able to hug a friend on impulse... People talk of cats as being either people cats, or place cats, drawn to one or the other, but not both. Despite what I've just said about not liking big groups, I do see myself as a people cat, or should that be person... rather than a place person. I'll be glad to see the mountains, but I'd much rather hug the people...they are very special to me.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

My New Toy...

is a steam press, intended for domestic ironing, but which is great for transfer dyeing. No more endlessly moving the iron over a bit of lutradur, muttering under my breath when the edge of the iron transfers, or the holes in the iron give me unintended, albeit interesting, white circles in the image. And the depth of colour I'm getting is definitely better than I got with an ordinary iron (though that is possibly down to my lack of, actually, probably down to said lack of patience...).

That said, there's a steep learning curve. How long does one keep the lutradur in the press before it melts? Which combination of time and heat is the right one? I'm not entirely sure, yet. I've made a couple of unexpected holes already... So, I guess I'll just have to go back upstairs and see what's what, do a bit more practicing...take a CD or two up, and a player, and listen to some Joni Mitchell... sounds like a good plan to me! Meanwhile, here's one I pressed earlier, in true Blue Peter fashion; see what you think.

I'm awaiting another new toy; I ordered an embellisher on Friday, under the influence of That Woman Sandy (told you I'd blame you!!). It should have arrived by now, but no such luck, perhaps next week. Or then again, maybe better next week; I've got a Well meeting tomorrow, a dolly to make and a portrait, too... as well as a couple of projects for a book to write up...
Busy, busy... but I went for a Reiki treatment with my friend Melanie in Norwich last night, so I'm feeling balanced and energetic. Thank goodness for that!

Monday, October 30, 2006

More Printing...

this time, the woodcut I mentioned a couple of days ago. I have a lot to learn about this method of printmaking, but I'm intruigued enough to want to try some more. But I think I'll wait til my finger heals, first.

The Totem Dolls are going up to Blickling Hall on Wednesday, possibly to be shown there prior to the exhibition they're part of in November. I'll be happy to return there, it's a beautiful place, with camera in tow (I can't forget it this time, surely...), for a coffee and conversation with curators. And an opening that evening, too, in Norwich. Last week was quiet, but this week seems to be hotting up already. Now if I could just get my hair cut...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Giving Myself A Break?

You always learn lots when you listen to other artists. I went to visit my friend Rob today; he makes wonderful drawings and prints. I have one of his pieces hanging in my hallway, and pause every time I go through there to see what I can see; there's always something new. He hangs things in his living space that have meaning for him; I tend to hang pieces in my own living space that I'm trying to get to know. Usually that means that I'm not happy with something or other, and the pieces need to go back upstairs to be worked on. I thought that was true of every place I hang things in the house, but actually, it's only true of the space opposite where I sit in the living room. Perhaps it's time I changed that policy, and hung something there that I am happy with, that would give me a gift each time I look at it, that would relax me, calm me and tell me stories of success, of good markmaking, of balance. And then, I could think about the problem children another time...and give myself a break, literally and metaphorically.

Dyers say that they get the best results from the cloth they used to mop up the spills; this is the print equivalent, used to take ink out of a few monoprints, and to clean the brayer. Perhaps I could call it the Wipe Method of printmaking? I'm sure I can use it for something...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Unexpected Visitors...

There I was, in my pajamas, reading my email, minding my own business at about half past nine yesterday morning when the phone rings. Hi there, says an unfamiliar voice with a foreign's Dianne here....

Hello, Dianne, I say, calmly. I've never actually met Dianne, you understand, her living in Canada and all, but I know her sister Sandy, with whom I went to France this year, and I'd seen Dianne's Blog. Are you busy, she enquires. Err...not particularly, says I. So the upshot was that she, her friend Susie and Sandy all arrived at my house, just in time for lunch.

We ate pasta, drank tea, nibbled at Stollen (with marzipan, my favourite...) and then... we patted fabric. What else do three artists do? I don't think Dianne left with any sparkly bits...but you never know... I also gave my 'how to felt from start to finish in five minutes' talk and demonstration, which either impressed them mightily or shut them up completely, I'm not sure which. And, when Robin came home, we all went to the pub for a meal, and very nice it was too. A good time was had by all concerned.

I did, however, manage to get a bit of printing done. I cut a wood block, inspired by Karen's note on my last blog, pinching a bit of scrap wood to do so...must find someone with scraps of interesting softwoods so that I can do some more...thanks, Karen! Today's picture is of a postcard piece that I wasn't satisfied with, so I added a linocut print on top of the stitching. Works for me...see what you think.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


The things we do for art. For me, today has involved carving bits out of my fingers...unintentionally, of course. The printmaking course has moved on to linocuts and other relief printing methods. I have blood on the keyboard, on the print table and on the floor...but none on the cloth. There's nothing like keeping one's priorities right, is there?

I'm really pleased with the work I've managed so far. I've carved lino blocks before, but have never really been happy with what I've created. This time, though, I seem to have produced reasonable results...the print today is another made on that tea dyed linen tablecloth. Just as well I didn't stitch into it yesterday, or it would have been upstairs, and I'd have had to find another piece of cloth for the print. The distortion is just the lie of the cloth on the scanner bed.

Rats, I'm bleeding again...guess it doesn't like me typing...poor fingers...something less risky tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Taking Stock

I didn't appreciate how busy my life is, until I sat on the train going to my friend's house on Saturday, and wrote everything down. I seem to have enough commitments in the medium to long term, to keep me busy for the next three years. So trying to fit in this printing course has been...err...challenging. Two weeks have gone, already, and we're just finishing off monoprinting, and moving on into carving blocks.

Still, I'm trying to get a handle on the workflow. The lutradur book is, in theory at least, to be ready in draft form for March 1, and hopefully then published in June next year. And there are exhibits and the like to be factored in, too. So I've got myself a wallchart, and I'm beginning to see what has to be done, when. It'll be interesting to see how it pans out. I haven't been as structured as this about my work since I had a 'proper' job. But I think I'll feel better when I've got a handle on it. At the moment, it just feels as if there's a lot to do, and not enough time to do it in, which is nonsense.

Today's picture is a monoprint, done on a scrap of linen tablecloth which had been teadyed in patches. It's not a perfect print, but I'm looking forward to adding stitch...might do it this afternoon, in feels like an eternity since I did any stitching. Must be all of oh, a week? Two? Sigh. What it must be like to be always makes me laugh when people commend my patience. I don't have any...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Close Encounters...

...of the avian kind. I went to visit a friend at the weekend, forgetting that she had added a parrot to her menagerie. Meet Monty. Frankly, who could miss him. He wails like a dervish, leaps upon unsuspecting artists, sits on their shoulders, and occasionally their heads, pecks them willy nilly (and occasionally draws blood), shrieks in their ears... Sigh. He is very, very beautiful, however, so I guess I forgive him. And it was pointed out to me that the beak that was nipping me, can crack a brazil nut in seconds. Gulp. Love you, Monty!!!!!!! Honest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 23, 2006

New Friends

There I was, week before last, in the artists' supplies shop, minding my own business...and got chatting to another shopper, artist and writer Kate O'Halloran. She showed me some of the beautiful little boxes she paints and gilds. I've never really tried gilding. She, on the other hand, had never tried altering books. So on Friday, we got together for the day, and did both! It was great fun, I had a lovely time, and Kate kindly left me some flakes of gilding to play watch this space!

She very kindly brought me a handmade book, made in collaboration with photographer Richard Palser, filled with her beautiful poetry and his lovely photographs. Isn't it beautiful? It's going to live on the shelf beside my bed, next to the other small books that I hoard. We're going to get together again soon, to explore some more techniques. Me, I'm looking forward to it already. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Unexpected Outing.

I thought I'd renewed my library books online. I was wrong. When I checked when they were due back, I discovered they were overdue. So, I went into Norwich yesterday afternoon on the spur of the moment to return them, and met up with Barbara Knowles, who makes wonderful handmade boxes, not to mention a good cup of tea... we went to collect her cat, who had been at the vet that morning, dropped off the library books, drifted through Borders (where I did, finally, spend my book token) and took the cat back home.

I had met Barbara's grandson a couple of times, a two year old whose real name has to be Charm On Legs. Yesterday, though, I met his father, who is a boatbuilder to trade, and a fund of completely useful information, as carpenters can be. He described to me the way that a boat is built, and I was fascinated. There is as much art in boatbuilding as there is in any other art form; it's a question of balance, of precision, of understanding one's media and environment, and working accordingly. I might not have been so intruigued, but the call to artists for next year's Salthouse exhibition came out that morning, and I had been musing about a site specific piece. The art process of boatbuilding seems altogether right for a venue by the sea. Now to do some research...

If you combine this with an unexpected invitation earlier in the day to show some paintings at the Hobart Gallery at Blickling Hall, then you can be sure that I had a very happy time yesterday! The image is the third of the Sunworshippers paintings. I'd intended to do some dyeing today, but the phone has been ringing, and coffee has been drunk... and now the people are here to dismantle and remove the greenhouse. I'm intending to have a shed to work in in the summer, with a print table for textiles. That way, I could keep the dyes and such outside, less mess...that's the theory, anyway...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

If Yesterday Was Duh...

...then today has to be AAAARRGGHH!!

Why? Because I can't find my woodcarving tools. I need them for the lino I bought to use in the printmaking course I'm doing, and I can't find them anywhere. I found myself wandering around like Spot The Dog (a UK children's book character) it in with the paints? No. Is it in with the dyes? No. Is it anywhere to be found? No. Sadly, this particular story doesn't have the usual happy ending... I'm still looking, and that scream you heard was probably mine... so if you hear it again, don't fret, it's only me, still looking....

I rarely lose anything quite so comprehensively. Usually I can remember roughly the last time I used whatever it is, and can trace it back that way. Or it will be in a pile of stuff waiting to be put away. But of course, we've had visitors recently, and I've been doing more than my fair share of tidying. When I'm untidy, I know where everything is. When I put things away in a sensible, logical place, I'm doomed to hunt for it for weeks. In this case, I may even find myself going out and buying more. Just don't tell Robin!!

The image is a painting, Sunworshipper II, one of three so far. I is much bigger, III the same size as II; who knows what, if anything, will appear as the idea takes shape.

Monday, October 16, 2006

...and the second. Oh if only Blogger did photos well...

The first of the two screenprinted pieces mentioned below...


Everyone makes silly mistakes, and I am not immune by any manner of means. So, yesterday, when I went upstairs to get some printing inks, I seized on the bottle of green on the floor beside the box where the oil paints are kept. I remembered putting it there when I bought it, along with some oils, in a sale, and thought I'd put it away 'later'. Anyway, downstairs we go, and do some screen printing.

Now, I've never felt 100% confident about my screen printing abilities. But yesterday's lot was really Not Very Good, and I couldn't understand it. The green was really hard to pull through the screen, and all in all, the marks were, well, okay, but not great. Eventually, though, I got a couple of prints I wasn't too unhappy with, though they were far from perfect, so I cleaned up the screen etc and left them to dry.

This morning, still shaking my head over how difficult the work had been yesterday, I picked up the bottle of green. And read the label. Acrylic Paint, it said. Ahem. So I looked out the bottle of green ink which I bought on Friday, and played with that...and the results were a little bit better. Did I feel silly? Ohhhhhhh yesssssssss!! But hey...

The first print is the acrylic print, on vintage linen, the second, the ink, on cotton. See what you think. Myself, I think it's fun...but I'll thicken up some dye tomorrow, and do some more. Much easier to work with...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Greased Lightning?

No, I'm not indulging in nostalgia, Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta have no place in my life... I'm wondering, instead, about the 'Greased Lightning' that Speedball recommends for cleaning out screen filler. I've never used the stuff before, I've mostly used photo emulsion for screens, or else used a stencil. I think it might be like Cif...but who knows?

I'm constantly surprised by companies like this, who supply to an international market, but behave as if only people in the US actually *use* their products. No, I can't think of another one, right this minute, but I'm sure if you gave me a moment, I'd manage it fine. I've demystified the chemicals in dyeing long since; but Greased Lightning is a new one on me. Mind you, what I'd really like is a bleach pen... but that's entirely another bundle of dye related moans!!

The image today is Trio, a small square painting. These circles and lines keep appearing in my work at the moment. People? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. Who am I to say. Probably, though. My fascination with the human form continues unabated, has done ever since I discovered life drawing. Wish I could find a good class here...sigh...

My, what a whingey morning! Robin has an acute earache, and he's grouchy; I'm just setting up the print table for some work, and the utility room for some dyeing; it's going to be a good and quiet week. Really, it is. Oh, stop sniggering behind your hand in the back there, I'm really going to have a good quiet week, full of textiles and paint. What more could a girl want? (whaddya mean, chocolate?)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Back To Normality...

whatever that is! I've spent the last couple of days painting and generally recovering from the excitements of street fairs, visitors and the rest. Now, though, I need to get back to work. I haven't done any dyeing for a while, and I bought some screen printing bits and bobs to play with, so perhaps that will be next week's excitement, particularly as I've got a couple of big screens to work with. Francoise has been playing with soya wax to great effect; she told us about it on ArtTextileContemporain, a list for French speaking art quilters. Okay, I'm not a native speaker, but I'm going back to Carrefour with Dijanne and Sandy next year, so I need to practice!!

Today's pictures, though, are of 'Face On', the first of the rust dyed pieces to be quilted. Click on the pictures for a bigger version (I think...)
I'm finding working with rust dyes quite difficult, to be honest. Making them is straightforward. Problem is, though, I like them as they are; adding stitch somehow doesn't seem to add much to the equation at all. Nor does adding layer. 'Face On' needs more stitch, I think, but it seems difficult to make the stitching have an equivalent strength to the marks on the cloth. Perhaps couching with heavier yarns might be more appropriate... or simply letting the cloth do its own thing.

I had a fun day out on Friday with my textile artist friend Jill Arnold; we visited Blickling Hall near Aylsham, to see the gallery space there, which is great. There happened to be a quilt show on when we visited, which made it even more interesting, of course. Some good examples of Boutis, including an enchanting Christmas Tree which, sadly, wasn't for sale. I can't see myself actually making something like that, but it would have been very nice for decoration...with no children in the house, and usually no visitors, we don't do the whole Christmas 'thing', but I do make an occasional nod towards the festivities.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

At The Fair.

Isn't this postcard fabulous? It was made by my friend Juliet, or little-black-cat designs as she is formally known... and I bought it at the street fair on Sunday. I didn't sell a thing (not that that was the point...), but I did manage to buy one or two bits and pieces, including a wonderful painting by my friend Jon, and some old linen teacloths, which will look wonderful dyed. And talked to lots of people, drank tea, ate cream scones and chocolate raspberries (thanks, Rob!), and generally Had A Good Time.

I'm still 'en famille'; Andrew and Sarah are staying another night. But I did sneak upstairs to play with my sewing machine and a piece of the rust dyed cloth I finished yesterday. Pictures to follow. It's funny, you know, other than Sally, I rarely talk to anyone on the phone...but since Andrew and Sarah arrived, I've been deluged by phonecalls, and all of them for wee me! Next week, though, I'll get back into some semblance of a routine. I've got ideas for projects for a book I'm writing, and they need to be written up... and there's lots of cloth to play with... It's officially Autumn, and I'm preparing to hibernate.

Whilst I do so, I'll be taking part in an online course on printing techniques with Kristi. Some of them I know already, but a refresher never hurt anyone. And some I've read about, but never done, so it will hopefully be a good discipline to follow the course. I've never done any online learning before. I enjoy teaching, though, and think that the idea of online courses is a great one. Maybe I should bite the bullet, and offer some courses...what do you think?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Rust Again

There I was, minding my own business...when I remembered that I had more silk rusting, wrapped around a plethora of interesting rusty items. I had intended to unwrap it a couple of days ago, but it rained, and I was busy and, and.... well, I never got there. Today, though, I did, and here is one of the results. This was wrapped round a rusty old fashioned door knocker, and I'm pleased with the results. There are about six interesting pieces to work with, none perhaps as complex as the print I took from the gate in early September, but still... Next door's gate is still rusty...I might be able to sneak another print from it before they clean it up and hang's hoping. I think Moira would notice if I stole it altogether, though...and she'd surely know it was me (who else would it be!).

Sarah and Andrew leave for Edinburgh tomorrow, and Robin will be in the Netherlands at a meeting til late in the evening, so I may well be back at the sewing machine tomorrow, that is, if I can fight off the sneaky cold that I seem to have picked up yesterday. Despite a Reiki taster session in the church where we were exhibiting, it seems to have got a grip of my nose and throat. Grr. Haven't got time for a cold. Got things to do, people to feed, all that jazz. And now the kitchen beckons, home made pizza for tea.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Red Dragon

So, today, I thought I'd finish the piece I started yesterday. I find that it is called Red Dragon, and that it is nothing like the piece I thought I was making. It's smaller, for a start; 12" by 17". It is no longer a gentle landscape. But that happens, if you stick with your own process. Mine seems to be, make a mark, make another, keep responding until you understand at least some of what you have...then give it a name. I respect those artists who keep detailed sketchbooks, work their way up to a piece, make little samples... I just can't seem to do that. And that's okay.

Sarah and Andrew arrive this evening. There's not a lot planned, so I hope to sneak some time to do a little work, and blog a little, too. If I don't manage it, though, you know I meant to!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

There Is A Limit...

to how much housework one girl can do, and I've hit my limit this afternoon. So, in the guise of taking stuff up to the studio, I went to sit with some cloth...and ended up almost finishing a piece, another one from the queue that featured last week. It has ended up quite unlike what I expected (or indeed intended), but that's not a bad thing. It needs some foiling, though, and a little more stitch, and hopefully that will get done tomorrow. And you might get a look at it, too...

Meanwhile, the totem dolls are going on an outing on Sunday, a Mental Health Fair in Norwich, at which The Well have booked a spot. Lets hope it doesn't rain at all, or that, if it does, it is just a smidgin, and not the monsoon like rains we've been having recently. Otherwise, the dolls and I may just drown...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Up The Pole...

or should that be, Round The Bend...? Either way, Arashi Shibori, here I come!! I've been looking for a while for a piece of thick pipe to use for shibori, and yesterday, I found two waste bins that are perfect for the job, cheap too; and what's more, they can store stuff while they're not being used (or possibly while...but that remains to be seen). So, whilst next week is pretty much a write off for working, with visitors coming, and meetings to go to, the following week is likely to be colourful!

I said at some point recently that I'd made a piece I was truly happy with; well, this is it. See what you think. I think it fits into the 'Before The Angels' theme I have been working with, and may well inspire more pieces. Lutradur again, of course...not that I'm obsessed, or anything...

Saturday, September 30, 2006

I Was Just Passing...

the sewing machine, as I put away some bits and pieces that had come upstairs from the spare room (see, I do tidy up sometimes!), and I thought, hmm...well...and before I knew it, this little piece was finished. It's called 'Tropic', and it's back to the very small...all of 8" by 10"....but I think it's fun. See what you think.