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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Some Days, You Run Out...

of steam. That's okay, it's forgiveable, understandable, really. What I hate, is the days when you run out of thread. This is called 'Does It Mean', and it's clearly Not Finished. I ran out of thread...aaargh.... having already changed my mind about what to use because (yes, you guessed it...) I didn't think I had enough. Well, it turns out I didn't have enough of this lovely blue, either, a there's a good deal of muttering under my breath, and a need to go out to Get Some More. It snowed here yesterday in the evening, today is pretty, just a sprinkling of snow in the bright sunlight, but it's cold enough for me to feel that going out today is Not A Good Idea... so perhaps some internet shopping for wee me. Meanwhile, click on the image for a closer look at the design and silk embellished onto black polyester stretch velvet.

I've broken a couple of needles on the embellisher, tut...but when I went to change them, I couldn't get the needle head off the machine. I know, or I've heard, that there are others out there who have had similar problems; any advice? Meantime, I'll wait for Robin to get home, see if his manly strength (stop sniggering, over there) is all that's needed. It is alarming, though, when you try to use the tool provided and you worry that it's going to break under the strain of the task it was designed to perform...sigh... or perhaps it's just me; I do seem to be having a Bad Day...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Doesn't Time Fly...

when you're having fun. Or, as in this case, when you're sitting with an exhibition for three days on the trot. The gallery is gorgeous, but a bit on the chilly side, so I have been adding more and more layers as the days go on...I hate to think what I'll look like next Saturday, which is my last stint looking after the exhibit. Mrs Michelin, perhaps?

Saturday was handwork day, and here's the proof, a snippet of a long, thin piece of rust dyed silk which has been stitched with some cotton yarn that I hand dyed myself. Next time I mutter about handwork, please feel free to remind me that I enjoyed working on this, and have promised myself some more... Sandy arrived to keep me company, and took a photo or two to boot. She stayed for the weekend, and before the (truly delicious) curry that Robin went out for (well, a girl can't cook and exhibition sit at the same time, you know), she played with the Embellisher. I think I'm going to have to ask for commission...every time someone sees and plays with the embellisher, someone says, 'got to have one'...

Sunday, though, we decided to take the embellisher with us to the gallery, and got some interesting stuff done, including a freeform felted bowl (of which I'm Rather Pleased). As mentioned above, I'll be there again on Saturday, complete with embellisher, and if I can fight of the students in the textile workshop that's on in the room behind the gallery, I'll be demonstrating its use to anyone interested.

Last week was really very busy. The tree count, in the end, was three; two conifers lost in the back garden as well as the eucalyptus. On Friday, though, I visited my GP. It turns out that I'm anaemic. As you may have noticed, I've been talking about feeling low since about November; the anaemia explains quite a bit of that. The problem is that depression and anaemia feel exactly the same, so when you have a chronic problem with depression, it's hard to tell about the anaemia. So, it's back to taking vatloads of iron pills, and eating liver (yum...), and Hoping It Goes Away Soon. I have to confess to having a day in bed yesterday, to make up for all the stress, activity and lost sleep of the previous week. It seems to have done me some good. At least, I'm up today...and dressed!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

We Are Not Alone...

in having problems with wind and weather today; here's a picture of my friend Sally Bramald's back garden. No, that isn't a giant Frisbee, it is indeed a trampoline. Just as well her daughter has pretty much outgrown such things... Come to think of it, I don't think that fence will ever be the same again...

At least neither of us is in Scotland, where I believe the weather is Much Worse...

Well, Blow Me Down...

it has been a stressful day, and it's only 2.30pm. First, an initial visit to a new psychotherapist, which was always going to be tearful and interesting, and proved to be exactly that. Robin kindly drove me there and back, concerned that I'd be too upset to drive, particularly in the weather conditions that were forecast; gale force winds, heavy rain, for most of the day.

There and back I went. After an early lunch, I thought I'd go have a nap, and was just dozing off when the phone rang. 'Are you all right?', said an anxious voice. Err, yes...I said... 'It's just that your eucalyptus is down, didn't you see it?' Err, no...I said. Going downstairs, I realised that Mike next door was absolutely right. As you can see from the photo, the eucalyptus is down, and it ain't goin' up again...that's it leaning against the front of our house. As far as we can see, there's no damage, it's just propped up against the house, and Mike took a couple of branches off to make sure that they didn't wave around and break the windows. So, there's a man coming to 'deal with it' tomorrow, when the winds have abated somewhat. I've been meaning to have someone come and do exactly that before now, but somehow never got round to it. I'm not good at telephoning people and asking them to do things...but once he's here, I'll get him to quote for tidying up the hedges, too. Who knows, he might be a good source for sticks for the totem dolls...

And just to show what good neighbours I have, Moira came through to drag me round to her house to be sure I was okay, and Mike gave me a large bar of chocolate covered marzipan (my favourite, his too...),apparently 'for the shock'. Thanks, guys...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Before And After

Barbara, one of the Well members, her son Shed and I spent yesterday doing the final hang for the Blickling show which opens tomorrow (yes, tomorrow...doesn't time fly when you're having fun!). I'm going to start a blog specifically for The Well, but for now, I thought I'd show you part of the textile bit of the exhibit. The first photo is of the pieces resting where I thought they would go; the second, shows them as we finally hung them.

The quilts here range across a longish period of time, but they aren't hung chronologically. Which do you think is the oldest, and which the newest? And which the collaboration (you should know the answer to that last question if you were reading last year!).

Hanging an exhibition is an intruiguing thing to do. It teaches you things about your art that you didn't know before. I have a number of paintings exhibiting here, in another room. Most of them talk to each other. Three of them didn't, however. It turned out, when I thought about it, that the three that didn't, were made in Inverness. The rest had been made in the two years since I came here to Norfolk. A shift of palette, a slight change in approach made a big difference. Perhaps it's the light here, or the different landscape, or a change in my head...who knows? I was conscious of leaving very new work at home; I didn't think it fitted with the work I was taking. Perhaps that's another new stage? Who knows.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Today, we began the interesting task of hanging a group of diverse work in the beautiful space that is the Hobart Gallery in Blickling Hall. After a shaky start, George and I distributed paintings and textiles around the space, considering the way pieces looked together, the dialogue between them, and gradually came up with an arrangement that pleased us both. Hopefully, it will please other people, too... I go to collect more work from members tomorrow morning, and will then hang all the pieces in the space, rearranging if necessary to get the best effect. And maybe tomorrow I'll actually remember to take my camera, and give you a sneak preview of what things look like.

Meantime, another example of the work I did yesterday with the embellisher. This is a really simple piece, made using a small rectangle of kimono silk that someone gave me years ago, embellished onto a piece of blue wool, with some yarns added on top. I like simple. I can see, though, that I'm going to have to concentrate on straight, too...but it was only a trial piece (she said consolingly to herself...). Better next time...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Forget Smitten...

...I feel a new obsession coming on!! This afternoon, whilst Robin was busy making hanging rods for the quilts I'm taking to Blickling tomorrow, I disappeared upstairs to play with the embellisher. Now, I did offer help, you understand. But my offer to go to Homebase with him was turned down. Apparently, he can get round a DIY store three times faster without me. Can you imagine??? Anyway, I made out that I was huffed by all of that, and appalled, and went off upstairs to play, instead. (Robin made the lunch, too, do you think his conscience was bothering him??). I began about half a dozen new pieces, mostly just experimenting with different types of cloth. I love the spontaneity of working with the embellisher; sometimes a cloth will move as the needles push it down into the cloth, so very few straight edges, just how I like it.

I spent the morning going through my quilts. Because the show at Blickling was at very short notice, I'm taking more work than I usually would, with the aim of filling any gaps there might be. It's a bit like having a small retrospective within the show...and I was pleasantly surprised. The work seems better than I remember it, somehow...or some individual pieces do. Perhaps it's just my attitude towards them that has changed with the passing of time. Now, lets just hope that people come to look at them!

I feel rather the same way about 'From The Heart', the exhibit I'm co-curating with Peggy Keeney, with the aim of showing European quilts in the US this year. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, the prospectus is here. We think it's a great opportunity for European artist to have their work shown in three good US quilt venues for a very low cost. Check it out! Apply! Even if it's only to save me from my third nervous breakdown in as many weeks!!

Today's images are the first two embellished pieces I made this afternoon. Both came from the same piece of red wool felt that turned up in my box of wools. I have a lot of wool cloth; you might expect that of a Scot, especially one who lived near a good mill for several years. I like working with wool, but rarely do it, other than a few landscapes, one of which was a housewarming gift for my lute teacher and his wife...they've moved several times by now, wonder if they still have it? The first is ABC, though the marks were not intentional. The second is Ditsy, because it's tiny, somewhere between an ATC and a postcard. ABC isn't all that big, either...but I had great fun working them. Watch this space for more pictures!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Did I Say Smitten?

I did, didn't I? Well, I now have my very own embellisher, a Babylock, and it is happily sitting on my dining room table as I play with silks, satins and wools to put it through its paces. I'll show you what I'm up to over the course of next week; give you something interesting to look at whilst I'm moaning about Hanging Shows and What I've Forgotten. Come to think of it, I need to decide what I'm taking with me. The three large paintings that were up there originally are still there, but there's enough space to show some more, and probably some textiles to boot.

Meanwhile...we were going through old boxes of computer 'stuff', which seems to accumulate like magic (or like dust...), and I came across some jpegs of earlier work that I thought I'd share with you. Pleasures Are Like Poppies Spread was one of the first art quilts I made...the title is a line from ''Tam O'Shanter', an epic poem by the Scots poet Robert Burns; 'But pleasures are like poppies spread, you seize the flower, the bloom is shed'. It reminded me of flowers or leaves flowing along a river. The second, 'Tiger, Tiger', is a fierce, albeit small quilt, that talks about the good things that you can find in the darkness.
On a personal level, the doctors and I have come to the conclusion that not all is well in the state of Denmark, in this case, my I'm going to see a therapist, and doubtless will pop in to see my GP with more frequency than either of us would like...sigh... I'm trying to look at this as an opportunity. It's not every day you get to spend an hour talking solely about yourself, looking at what you want to change and being helped to do so. So, we'll see... Last time I had psychotherapy, I produced some interesting work. Perhaps the same thing will happen this time...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Blatant Advertising...

but in a good cause. I've spent much of today, when not on the phone, wrestling with the computer and some Rather Thick textured card which kept jamming in the printer. Grrr. Still, tis done, now. Roll up, Roll up!!




Open : 11am-4pm each day


Ring, Ring...

Another admin day, really, much of it spent on the phone, making alternative arrangements for the exhibit. Someone who can't submit work after all, someone (me) who needs to arrange for a stand in (thanks, George!)... all sorts of issues to be resolved. But I did manage to spend a little time in the cloth studio. Yesterday's piece has been trimmed down, the feather removed, a spiral put in its place and some stitching added. I'm not yet happy with it, though; needs a bit more stitch. Or maybe it should have been less stitch...I don't know. Either way, we should know tomorrow.

I also painted some sheets of paper with transfer dye, and managed to transfer the dye I'd painted the day before onto some lutradur, so I have more inspiration to work with. I enjoy working with the lighter weight lutradur, but I have a piece of the heavier weight that I made today, which I'm really delighted with. Hopefully, I'll have time to work on that tomorrow, too.

Meanwhile, though, a trip to the doctor to talk about anaemia, depression and medication, not necessarily in that order! All three are related, I'm sure. Hopefully, the doctor will have some light to shed on that. Meanwhile, a small, pieceful image to reflect upon on what has been a busy day for me. Hope you enjoy it, too.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Behind The Scenes...

of an artist's life, there's always a lot of running around, meetings, admin, lots of things to be done that have nothing to do with paint or cloth or anything interesting. Over the past couple of days, I've been in a couple of meetings, and then spent some time doing something a little more interesting. Yes, you guessed it, I've ordered an embellisher. A Babylock embellisher, to be precise. I'm quite excited. It will arrive on Friday, all being well, and it's anyones guess how I'll be spending my weekend...and yes, Jill, if you want to come over, you're welcome, but I'm not going anywhere!

The piece in the picture is a quick scan of another of the embellished pieces I made at the weekend. This is some dyed linen, with some beautiful figured silk organza added to it, plus a little smidgen of yarns and a peacock feather. I'll take a decent photo when I have more time. For now, though, it's back to doing some work for the Well. It's great to have an exhibition at short notice, but it does focus the mind wonderfully the week before; so much work, so little time!

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Did I have a happy time yesterday? Oh, yes. Gill made a traditional block for a class she's teaching this week, I got to play on her embellisher. And loook what I made!! Actually, I went there in a spirit of experimentation, with three large bags full of stuff to play with. This particular picture is a lutradur print with silk embellished onto it. I suspect I'll stitch it, next, as I will with the other four pieces I managed to put together. And I'm smitten. Waaaaant one. Now! Well, okay, this week, then.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Checking Things Out.

The Well met yesterday, and we reviewed the last six months, just to check that we were going in the right direction, ie the direction we agreed when we met at first. Everyone seems to be reasonably happy, and we're about to invite new people to join. So, more change, more interesting people, a larger group and the need to find premises (anyone in Norwich got studio space we could use???). We'll continue to review our progress like this in the years to come. And as we go along, of course; next month's meeting will include a review of the exhibit at Blickling that happens later this month.

Today, though, I'm going to play with the Embellisher again. I've looked out all sorts of excitements, such as scraps of silk, silk fibres and wool tops, not to mention some velvets, and I'm going to see what I can come up with. Should be fun!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Overdyeing Again...

This is where it gets a bit more interesting... I'd dye painted some cloth, but decided that it was distinctly boring. So, I cut it up into sections, and overdyed each one seperately. Instant interest! I'm now contemplating whether to do some more surface design work on these, or whether to work with them as they are. That isn't the only choice, of course...I could add surface design at any point in the process... but right now, I think I'll just keep walking past them on the landing, trying to discover what to do with them. A trypich, perhaps...but hung in the round, rather than on the wall... that idea appeals, certainly.

Now what? There's dye left; I could do some more dyeing. I think, though, I'm more likely to thicken it up and do some screenprinting. I have a couple of big screens, which I haven't used yet, though I'd need a hand with them (Jill, you listening?? Or Sandy??) One thing I do want to do today is to mix up some more transfer dyes, and do some printing for a project for the lutradur book, which is coming on reasonably well... but today, I really do want to sit down and write these goals and intentions for the year ahead. No, I didn't do it when I said I would, I'm bad... but opportunities are making themselves known, and I'm not sure if I have time to take them on or some Serious Thinking needs to be done.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


is usually a very inexact science. You never really know what you're going to get. But I cheated with this piece! It is two small prints, made with the Print Gocco, using green acrylic paint on white cotton. They looked...okay...but boring. So I overdyed them in reds and oranges, and the result is here for you to see. The design is part of a labyrinth.

I'm fascinated by labyrinths and mazes, and often use them as part of designs. Recently, though, I'm interested in working with parts of labyrinths, rather than the whole thing; scaling it up, looking at one small piece in focus. Not sure what will come of that exercise, which has been restricted to drawing so far.
More dyeing tomorrow, doubtless. Or maybe even later today...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Moving Forwards...

The demon depression has been lurking for a month or so now, but this morning, when I got up, he didn't. I think in part that's because things are now back to normal; Robin is back to work, the routine is reestablishing itself, and I can play in the studio without feeling I Really Ought to be doing Something Else... And partly, I think, it's because I finally stopped pretending I was Just Fine, and admitted to everyone that I was struggling a bit. Sometimes, just being honest with oneself is enough.

So, to prove I'm back to work with a vengeance...the new painting is finished but as yet untitled, whilst the textile piece is in progress; lutradur over velvet, with the former cut back to show the cloth below. Sorry to those of you who want to see Nefertiti; she's bound for 'She Made Her Mark', and I can't show a full photo at this point. As soon as I can, I will, I promise. Remember, you can see a larger image by clicking on the images here.

I've spent the afternoon ringing round the Well members, to say that we have unexpectedly been offered a show at the Hobart Gallery at Blickling Hall. It will open on the 18 January and run til the 28th. Which is very exciting, of course, the first time we'll show together as a group, rather than simply having a stall at a craft fair. Wish us luck, won't you? Better still, come along and support us if you can...we'd love to see you!
I talked to Sally on the phone this morning. I'm going to dye tomorrow, I said. Why, she said, what are you going to do? An interesting variation of the old 'Mum's in the kitchen, dyeing' joke...
And now, given that I can't put it off any longer, I'm going to go work out my goals for this new year. If you haven't already done so, off you go and do it, know you want to.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Nefertiti Changes Her Mind

Like all strong minded women, Nefertiti has decided that she doesn't want to share the top billing with Other Royalty... Make A Series, she declared, this morning. Talk about Invisible Women. Just leave me as I am, show me as I might have been. When I looked her up, I discovered that the name 'Nefertiti' means 'the beautiful (or perfect) one has come'. And that Nefertiti is one of the images of beauty that we hold in our minds when we consider such things.

Ironic, really. Given that we don't really know what she looked like... given that we're not sure of all sorts of things about her... Still. What do we know, really, about anyone? About ourselves, even? So I make a quilt about the mystery of beauty that is Nefertiti, and strengthen, and challenge, the beliefs that surround her.

Oh, did I say, it is finished? Well, it is. Not entirely sure what I'm going back to, but I'm going back to something...maybe a painting or two...maybe not. Though, come to think of it, the soldering iron is ready to use...must go and use it on some stitched lutradur. Robin wouldn't be too pleased if I set the house alight by forgetting it! And there are always new totem dolls to make. And maybe today, as the first day of January, is the best time to sort out my muddled mind, and plan out the year ahead. There's a lot to do; too much, perhaps. I suspect some pruning of plans is in order. But I'll keep blogging; the first full year is complete. I've written less than I'd hoped, but learned lots about writing in the process. Thank you to those of you who share my (almost) daily's good to know you are out there.