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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...