Planet Textile Threads

November 22, 2014

Margaret Cooter

Large sketchbook development

The little John Piper picture in my new large sketchbook has been joined by another image I simply couldn't throw away (for reasons not yet known to me), a vignette of a carving of an Indian(?) musician -
After cutting out its shape through several pages and glueing it on the last one, I started adding colour (the paint was used as glue too). On the last page of this set has been rolled with block printing ink ... which, being water soluble, easily mixes into any paint subsequently added to it.
The ovals are the cutouts, also inked up, for use elsewhere ... cut into filigree perhaps? Thinking about this as I write, the next step with the musician will be to draw him, or others like him*, behind the cut-outs and on other parts of the pages. Also, I'm seeing faces on the left-hand page - amazing how we tend to see faces whether we look for them consciously or not. John Updike said something about abstract art aspiring to remove anything that could be seen as a face...

And coincidentally to faces - from a review of James Hall's recent book on the self-portrait, this photo from the review in World of Interiors -
It's a self-portrait of Sofonisba Anguissola "holding a medallion". Hall says that the medallion is actually the back of a mirror bearing her father's initials and a marginal inscription: "Painted from a mirror with her own hand by the Cremonese virgin Sofonisba Anguissola". Perhaps this was fresh in my mind when the Indian musician, with his "medallion", came to hand?

Elsewhere in the large sketchbook, more scrapes and blobs of colour get added whenever the paints or pastels are handy -

*Similar musicians are surprisingly hard to find on the internet, but this one is certainly appealing -
Apsaras as a musician, 6th century Chinese, V&A (via)

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 22, 2014 11:36 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Row By Row Details

 I love all these bright colors and bold patterns mixed with the black and white graphic prints!  So glad I finally got this one put together!

by Cynthia St Charles ( at November 22, 2014 05:00 AM

November 21, 2014

Margaret Cooter

Photo download organising tip

A very simple thing is saving me lots of frustration. It's one of those "why didn't I think of this sooner" things....

When I (and perhaps you) download pix from camera or phone, the "natural" way they are organised is by date taken, oldest to most recent ... so you have to scroll down to the bottom to find the photos you took only yesterday.

It's so much easier when the most recent photos are at the top of the screen.

At the top left of the screen is an icon called "Change your view" - click on the arrow to get options -
Near the bottom of the list is "Details" and it's here that you can re-order the way you see your files -
Clicking on the column heading changes the "Date Picture Taken" column to show the most recent photos first -
Change the view back to "Large icons" so as to actually see what the photo is. (Take a moment to delete the duplicates!)

Now the latest photos are shown at the top, saving you the effort of having to scroll down. OK, that scrolling only takes a little time, perhaps less than changing the view - but this new way of looking at the files has a knock-on effect -- to the other folders in which you have photos.

My downloaded photos are saved into monthly files, named "2014 05may", for example, so they are listed in sequence and are easy to identify. The photos within these files are listed in reverse order, so that the newest are at the top - and that means that the photos downloaded today are most easily accessible. (The rest are out of sight, off the screen, not cluttering my field of vision - that helps!)
"Image Size" is found under Image in the Photoshop menu
My downloaded photos arrive on the computer at 180 pixels/inch resolution - rather useless, as it's neither 72 pixels/inch to use on screen, nor 300 pixels/inch to use for printing. It's a camera default, and I have a workaround, a little routine for preparing the photos for use on screen -- open, crop, deal with colour balance, save for web.

The "organisational" part of that routine has taken care of itself, now that I have a monthly file for the on-screen photos ... and that's the "why didn't I think of this earlier" part of this story. Previously, the selected, edited, resized photos went into the main folder, and once I'd used them they went into "archive" folders - sometimes....
Not the best way to keep on top of things
Sometimes that step was forgotten, making for a clumsy, inert backlog, some of which hadn't been used on the blog but had been sent in emails. (What a mess; I've not yet steeled myself to deal with it.)
So much better - monthly folder with most recent photos at the top! 
In their monthly folders, current photos at the top, the older ones can simply be disregarded. How simple, how obvious, is that? ... once you think of it.

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 21, 2014 10:18 AM

Neki Rivera

mono no aware

have a good weekend!

neki desu
Creative Commons License 

by (neki desu) at November 21, 2014 09:00 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Bright Row By Row

 I pulled these bright fun pieced rows from a UFO drawer in my studio.  This is from a quilt guild "Row by Row" exchange.  I made the first row (actually two rows of houses) and put them in a bag along with a collection of bright fabrics mixed in with some graphic black and white prints.  This bag was passed along from one to another in our "Row by Row" group.  It was probably started around year 2000.  Not sure.  One of the rows was made by a member who is now deceased.  As long as I am cleaning out space, I felt I may as well finish this one up.  I remember being flummoxed by it when I got these rows back all those years ago.  I did not hesitate at all this time.
It is all finished now and measures 50 x 61".

by Cynthia St Charles ( at November 21, 2014 05:00 AM

November 20, 2014

Margaret Cooter

"We would like to sincerely apologise"

Spotters of split infinitives may well think this is going to be another rant about editing (lack of) - but no ... split infinitives are small beer in the word-misusage pantheon. More on that another time, perhaps?

This is a story with a nicely surprising outcome. It started when my son found a bit of wood in his packet of crisps - and let the manufacturer know. 

Back came this box of goodies -
with an apologetic letter -
which details how they are improving their manufacturing process. Hopefully no other bits of wood  found their way into crisps packets ... if you find one, let them know!

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 20, 2014 12:21 PM

Poetry Thursday - Fine Knacks for Ladies, by Anon

Sing along (via)
Fine Knacks for Ladies

Fine knacks for ladies, cheap choice, brave and new
Good penniworthes, but money cannot woo;
I keep a fair, but for the fair to view;
A beggar may be liberal of love.
Tho' all my wares be trash, the heart is true,
the heart is true, the heart is true.

Great gifts are guiles and look for gifts again,
My trifles come, as treasures from my mind,
It is a precious jewel to be plain,
Sometimes in shell, the orient pearls we find.
All others take a sheaf, of me a grain,
of me a grain, of me a grain.

Within the pack, pins, points, laces, and gloves
And diverse toys, fitting a country fair
But in my heart, where duty serves and loves,
Turtles and twins, courts brood, a heavenly pair.
Happy the heart that thinks, of no removes,
of no removes, of no removes.

Borrowed from "An Elizabethan Song Book."
John Dowland, Second Book of Songs or Ayres, 1600. (via)

Carol Rumens' analysis of the poem will deepen your understanding of it - there is a little mystery about the author - it's given as "an old peddler's song", but could it have been Dowland himself, or perhaps Thomas Campion? And what of those "removes" in the last line - a removal of clothing, perhaps?

Plenty of renditions of the song can be found on youtube - by Sting, a 1984 BBC clip from the King's Singers "Madrigal History Tour" (with a young Antony Rooley on lute), by tenor Tyler Ray, from German television sung by the Singphoniker (with a good strong countertenor), by Alfred Deller, an inspiration to the early music revival ... pages and pages of versions ...
Traditionally rendered (via)

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 20, 2014 12:12 PM

Neki Rivera

a useful exercise

from very little collapse to maximum.the wide white is doupioni silk in a very slubby texture.

weaves are plain and han
damask light and tight beat.

then merino wool weaves:han damask and plain weave light beat.
the collapse came in the  wet finish so it's  fulling

after these:
wool steel and crepe wool light beat,
plain weave. the weave close to
the magenta yarn is all
wool stainless by itself, with a firmer beat

48/2 merino and crepe wool, very light beat. plain weave and han damask.the warp kinks out.

end game: wool crepe same as warp

han damask light and firm beat.

 plain weave, very light beat.

neki desu
Creative Commons License 

by (neki desu) at November 20, 2014 09:53 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Scrappy Quilt Back for the Stripe Scrap Quilt

I forgot to mention this one measures 43 x 70".  Here is the back for the Scrappy Stripe Quilt I posted yesterday.
Here is a detail of the quilting on the backside.
My pile of finished scrap quilts is getting higher!  (they are piling up awaiting labels!)

by Cynthia St Charles ( at November 20, 2014 05:00 AM

November 19, 2014

Olga Norris

Not rust, but salt

I am learning about salt in the FutureLearn course on Exploring our Oceans this week, and we were provided with this link to fantastic photographs of volcanoes, such as the one below -
Like in a coral reef, yellow ridges of salt rise to the surface of the blue lake (Dallol, Ethiopia).

by Olga Norris ( at November 19, 2014 02:40 PM

Margaret Cooter

Poking around in and around the Barbican

The Barbican was planned in the heady days when "everyone" travelled by car, so getting there on foot is a labyrinthine trek. Either you go up narrow stairs, along a windswept plain, down shallow steps - and up yet more steps, internal this time, to the art gallery ... or you dodge between temporary fences along the  upper levels - as we did, and on passing the Conservatory found that it was open.
It was built to camouflage the fly tower of the theatre, once and possibly still the highest in Europe, or at least the UK or perhaps London. It's a nice addition for events held in the adjacent halls, and is open to the public on Sundays, 12-5.

Our destination was the Constructing Worlds exhibition - photography dealing with architecture. You can see some photos on the website, and read the exhibition wall texts. This image (found here)
appears with the Audioguide on the website - it's by Lucien Herve, taken at Chandringar, Le Corbusier's designed city in India - I did try to draw it in order to make sense of it. (Look how important that one little person in it is...)

While I was writing down the name of the photographers and extracting "one little fact" from the wall text, not once but twice a member of staff came over and mentioned that the texts could be found on the website. Which was nice.
I'd been interested to see this show because of having to wait for a train and having a chance to draw the interesting structure on the poster for the show, which also appears on the cover of the book -
It's the Monument to Progress and Prosperity on the banks of the Yangtze River, photographed by Nadav Kandar.

Coming out of an exhibition like this, you see your familiar surroundings in a new way -
Outside the Barbican Art Gallery
While in the building we had a quick look at a little exhibition about the architects of the Barbican itself - these are the "old fashioned" tools of Geoffry Powell -
Another visual delight was the lighting in the cafe -
And then we went to The Curve - wow - 12,000 cyantopes! -

The artist, Walead Beshty, photographed the front and back of each piece as it was made (over more than a year) and the photos are being assembled at half size in chronological order in huge books. Two are on display ("don't touch!") and there will be 41 eventually. The words stamina and endurance come to mind.... Not only in the making, but in the week or more it took four people to install it all. It's on till February ... read more about it here.

Walking back to the tube, we saw this sign, amid others pointing what used to be where now modern buildings stand ("Thanet House was on this site, demolished 1878" etc). (Ironmongers Hall in the background is a survival from the 1920s, though Pepys mentioned the previous Hall, on a different site, scorched but not burnt in the Great Fire) -
"The probably site, where, on May 24, 1738 John Wesley "felt his heart strangely warmed." This experience of grace was the beginning of Methodism. This Tablet is gratefully placed here by the Drew Theological Seminary of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Madison, New Jersey, U.S.A. August 1926"

What a mixup and layering of history London is, not just in grand places but on ordinary streets.

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 19, 2014 08:50 AM

Gerrie Congdon

A Bit of a Rant


But, first, a peek at the High Fiber Diet exhibit at the Portland Airport. It is titled, “What’s Blue to You”.  A friend, who was flying out on a trip took some photos and sent them to me. Here is my Blue Picasso Woman. The piece next to her is by Linda Christiansen from Eugene.

gerrieand Terryat PDX

Here is another view:


It is really a fantastic exhibit. All the pieces are the same size.

Now, for a little rant. I mentioned a while ago that I had been asked to submit ideas for a rather large art quilt for the narthex of a church in a town south of here. I met with them and came up with some ideas, dyed some fabric samples, did some drawings and went back down to make my presentation. In both meetings, I was treated as if I was the artist they were going to work with. I had a good time with the women on the committee and thought we had a great rapport. After my second meeting, I told them I would send them a contract to look at. I ordered fabric to dye and a large roll of graph paper to draft the design. Then, I got an e-mail from them saying, oh, we forgot to tell you there is another artist and we will be presenting  both concepts to the church board for approval.

So, OK, I can live with that. Then, I found out that a good friend was the other artist. I e-mailed her and she was shocked to find out that she wasn’t the only artist working with them. She too had made two trips and spent time putting together a design for them.

A couple of weeks ago, they asked if I had any finished work that they could see. I sent them my XXOO quilt because it was made from hand-dyed silk which is what I was planning to use for the piece for them. Yesterday, I got the quilt back with all my drawings and fabric samples and a formal letter saying the board had decided to go with another artist.

It gets better (I am being ironic), I e-mailed Mary and congratulated her. She said she has not heard a peep from them. So, we think there must be a third artist who was in the running.

I was so mad. I thought they owed me at least a personal phone call. I sent them an e-mail and told them I thought they  had acted very unprofessionally with us. If I ever get the opportunity to work on a commission again, you will be darn sure that I will ask right away – how many artists are you interviewing???

The good side is that I really do not have time for this. I felt quite relieved. I have a solo show at Trinity at the end of April and I am scheming with my critique group to do an out of the box fiber art exhibit during the SAQA conference at the same time.

by Gerrie at November 19, 2014 05:32 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Stripe Scrap Quilt

Horray!  I have made a lot of good progress with this series of scrappy random quilts.  There are so many other life events in my world right now - these have been like a breath of fresh air.  Therapy, actually.  I was happy with the way the spiral quilting turned out on this one.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at November 19, 2014 05:00 AM

November 18, 2014

Neki Rivera

the frugal weaver strikes again

left over crepe wool that could not possibly be cut and thrown away. since the tough part was already done which was the warping, it was only a matter of re tightening and re sleying. note the stylish printed cloth on the table serving as a threading eye-saving number   ^_^

it came out narrow, no choice. here's han damask
with a light beat and some more tightly beaten using the same wool crepe as weft. 
other wefts will follow and i am hoping this albeit narrow, will be a useful sample.

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at November 18, 2014 09:00 AM

Margaret Cooter

Tuesday is drawing day - Horniman Museum

The Horniman currently (till Sept 2015) has a display of Romanian textiles - and this poster from its 1985 exhibition is one of my earliest London "souvenirs" -
so in front of the textiles is where I settled down, choosing first of all the vivid patterning on a coat that also showed signs of moth ravages (a subject close to my heart) -
As you can see, the black background to the border gave me some problems, using water-soluble pastels. How I longed to have had some black tissue in my bag ... but you can't carry everything, it's a matter of making do with what you have - and there's always the possibility of doing more once you get home.

On the other side of the display case were "my three guys" and other icons, flanked by colourful cloths, as they would have been displayed in traditional homes -
 This is St Elijah, driving his chariot across the sky to bring rain for the farmers -
Copying "primitive art" allows for a variety of sins ... accuracy isn't part of the spirit of the thing. First I put down some areas of colour -
The line-work made it come to life -
The blue and "beige" backgrounds await a decision on how to add them - watercolour? acrylic paint? pencil crayon?

The icons on display were painted on glass, so the lines would have been put on first, then the colours, with the background last.

One of the glories of the museum is an enormous walrus, first exhibited in 1886, though the museum has had it only a century. The "souvenir" biscuits are a nice touch -
After lunch we decided to continue drawing. Jo went to work on several versions of the walrus, and I settled down in front of one of the bird displays -
My drawings are linked to an ongoing photo project -

Candidates for "Close encounters of the bird kind"
After drawing the birds (from a distance) I went up close to add their names, and to get a closer look. For several, it wasn't all that easy to find the right bird ... which rather mirrors a story told by the scientist Richard Feynman. His father had pointed out to him that it wasn't useful to know what the name of a bird was - that told you nothing about the bird, it just told you about humans: "Let's look at the bird, and what it's doing."

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 18, 2014 08:13 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Quilt Back for Pink and Green

 I thought this one may as well have a pieced scrap back, since that is what I am doing these days.  I balk at the idea of buying more fabric!  These backing fabrics are quite old.  Some of these fabrics are from the 80's!  I think it makes for an interesting quilt!

by Cynthia St Charles ( at November 18, 2014 05:00 AM

November 17, 2014

Margaret Cooter

A quick visit to the British Museum

Two forces propelled me to the BM on Saturday afternoon: finding out about sketching stools, and the Germany exhibition. (Timed tickets for the latter, unless you are a "friend" of the museum.)

Also I wanted to do a quick rekky of the Korean Gallery, in preparation for drawing day tomorrow - and found it was closed for renovation! This required a reconsideration, a search for quiet rooms. Room 95, Chinese ceramics, is usually quiet, hidden away off the north staircase, and has such lovely things, beautifully displayed -

Also on the north stairs are the Print gallery, and above that, the Japanese gallery -
Below, the Chinese and Indian galleries, in a long room with gold leaf on the walls; the bays lend themselves to being out of the full flow of the traffic -
Then right near the back door - the north entrance - is the Islamic gallery -
fascinating and usually not too busy, not as busy as the Egyptian galleries at least! So that's the destination of choice.

Sketching stools are available on racks to your right as you enter the Great Court from the front entrance, and as you enter the Living and Dying gallery from the north entrance. Others are said to be in or near Room 56 on Level 3, but that is dangerously near the ever-popular Egyptian galleries.

In the Print room, on level 4, I found a small display put together by 6th form students from a local school, who also wrote the labels -
The prints they chose ranged from the 16th century to these modern prints by two of my favourite artists, Chris Drury and David Nash -

As for the Germany exhibition - I've started listening to the "Memories of a Nation" podcasts, all 30 of which are available on the BBC website - and got curious about the actual objects. No photography in the exhibition (and it was fairly crowded and dim), but the objects discussed are pictured on the BBC website, as well as highlights on the BM website. The exhibition runs till 25 January.

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 17, 2014 01:51 PM

Virginia A. Spiegel

New Artwork – Between 5


Continuing on the theme of transitions, this is Between 5.

Nonwoven fabric, acrylic paint, rayon thread on stretched canvas.

by Virginia at November 17, 2014 01:40 PM

Margaret Cooter

Not a "nice" subject

Today is World Toilet Day - something we in the Western world are spared having to think about, yet elsewhere to have a proper toilet is a dream. 

"2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation" says the World Toilet Day website. One billion people around the world do not have access to a toilet and must defecate in the open. Even travelling from their home to a public toilet can be dangerous and frightening for women and girls. 
"Inadequate sanitation remains one of the world’s most pressing development issues, often hitting women and girls the hardest." (via)
"My Toilet: global stories from women and girls" is a photo exhibition at the Royal Opera Arcade, Covent Garden, 10-5, till 22 November. "The images and stories show that, although the type of toilet changes from country to country, the impacts show recurring themes. Having a toilet can mean dignity, safety, education, employment, status and more wherever you are in the world. A toilet equals far more than just a toilet."

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 17, 2014 11:09 AM

Pamela Allen

Chicken clucking

Just so people understand that I am a chicken lover from way back despite what I said on quiltart this morning.

by pamelala ( at November 17, 2014 10:38 AM

Neki Rivera

the importance of small things

a little over the height of a penny was causing

this total jam havoc going from left to right with the lace carriage. live and learn.

neki desu
Creative Commons License 

by (neki desu) at November 17, 2014 09:00 AM

Margaret Cooter

Moan on Monday - ruthlessness

In response to my post about the moth damage to a little sweater knit for a toddler some thirty years ago  came an outcry and a clamour to save it, preserve it, mount it as a museum object.

Although I understand this preservation instinct, I have been ruthless and have discarded the now-useless, un-beautiful object - but not without preserving its memory as both useful and beautiful; made with love and joy.

There comes a time, I've come round to thinking, when you have to let go. Let go of the thing - not of all its associations.

In general it's hard to let go of things that have good associations ... in fact it can feel like you're throwing away all the good memories that are embedded in the object. But you aren't.

Yet some objects that hold less-good memories can be hard to let go of - what about those unwanted presents from "important" relatives? - most frighteningly, family furniture that "must" be fitted among your own things.
Someone's inheritance (via)
Another category is the things you have several of, "just in case" - and who among us isn't "guilty" of this?

A subcategory of "just in case" could be called "wishful thinking" - it includes those clothes you keep because you might lose (or gain) weight sometime soon.

It's a widely-held belief that the moment you throw out something, you'll "need" it ... or rather, there will come a moment when it would have been useful. Poppycock! If the thing had been languishing in a forgotten cupboard, would you have been able to use it? It's likely that you're only noticing this "need to have the object" because you've seen or handled it recently - what about all the many other objects that are quite happily and uneventfully discarded?

Ruthlessness in regard to discarding things can go too far - how sad to hear "my mother threw out my teddy bear and didn't tell me". (We hear a lot about hoarding disorder, but is there a "fear of clutter" disorder too?)

Artists have built reputations on acts of destruction, and gained much publicity from getting rid of all their possessions ... only to build up a new collection. There are so many things in our environment, we all have so many belongings, thanks to machine manufacture and lifestyle aspirations and consumerist pressures. These days, second-best beds are rarely mentioned in wills and legacies. Easy come, easy go...

While having this series of fleeting thoughts, I've unearthed another topic to cogitate on - "What is valuable?" It would seem that being ruthless (in discarding things) means having a clear line between what has value and what doesn't. That clear dichotomy rather frightens me, but some people are quite sure in their own minds about this distinction. They know what they don't like, and never give it another thought, except for telling you about it!

The sad little sweater was valuable to me, but I didn't look after it and the moths damaged it. Its intact memory is now what I value about it. Objects come and go, but are more than their physical, tangible embodiment; isn't that why we have photographs, descriptions, and mental pictures?

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 17, 2014 08:59 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Pink and Green Scrap Quilt

 I am on a big mission to clean out the studio.  I have been working at this slowly over the past year.  Many things have gone to the second hand store, trash, and a few things are being resurrected and finished.  This UFO (pieced top) has been in a drawer for many years.  Probably 8 years or perhaps longer.  I thought I could finish it off as I have been doing a rather extensive series of scrap quilts.  This one is a good nap size - 45 x 72". 
 Here is a little detail picture of the quilting.  Working these larger utility quilts on my domestic machine are a challenge.  Nothing to brag about here, except for the fact that it is now finished and no longer a UFO stuck in a drawer.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at November 17, 2014 05:00 AM

November 16, 2014

Rayna Gillman

end of the week

Packed and ready to leave for home, with a stop on the way.  This has been a delightful
week -- nonstop Mexican food, great company, and a class of SAQA members that didn't even know how talented they were.

A key part of this workshop was the  voluntary critique of works in process; what I call 'groupthink."  Looking at someone else's work-in-progress is the best way to develop an eye for design you can take back to your own work, and the class members came up with some alternative solutions to some design problems others were stuck on.made were insightful and helpful.ifyou...?"

Julie is putting together her quilt, which captures the essence of a field of wildflowers.  
Following the group's suggestion that she try it without the blue and white sky, she removed that section and decided the piece was better without it. She set it aside and the blue and white units can be the starting point for another piece of work.  A design solution!

Kathy made this art quilt, which started as pieced strips she couldn't imagine would turn into anything cohesive.  But here it is, partially put together and ready to be completed at home.  I look forward to seeing the photo of the finished piece! It is both energetic and serene.

Elise's piece ended up to be a dynamic piece that made her feel really good.  Admittedly, it was a challenge to put together all those different sized pieces -- but it was worth it.  And the group's suggestions as she worked on it really helped with her color choices and placement.  She's happy, as she should be.

 I'm at the Tucson airport and have a long day ahead of me.  As always, I envy the class participants for having days to just play.  I have a break from teaching now for several months and am eager to get back to my own design wall and sewing machine.

by (Rayna) at November 16, 2014 03:45 PM

Olga Norris

The rust age

Natural dyeing is so popular these days, and particularly the use of rust - just put the words rusted textile into Google and look at all the divers images that pop up.  I have written a short post about this in Ragged Cloth Café, but encountered so many more examples that I've continued here.
I particularly was interested to see what folks made of their rustings, and was struck by the following:
I really like the combination of indigo and rust in this piece by Jenny Bullen.  The image came from here.
And I very much like the combination of colours in this piece by Constance Rose.
Mixing the rust element with colour gives it another dimension, it is more than an end in itself -
although having said that, I do like this photo of rusted cloths hanging out to dry (from here).
I also like this checkerboard weaving of rusted cloth with batik by LuAnn Kessi.

by Olga Norris ( at November 16, 2014 10:03 AM

Margaret Cooter

Yet another opportunity for drawing

Recently I joined the local art society, not sure of what to expect, apart from the chance to exhibit work twice a year. Turns out it has a sketching group, which met recently at Sutton House in Hackney.

In its garden is a strange contraption -
which turns out to be a rather magical place, a sort of compressed classical interior - go up the narrow staircase to the gallery, or go past the grand fireplace to the lower area, which is the right height for a child or a seated adult -
On a warmer day it would have been a good subject for a pastiche on Piranesi?

Inside the house, the cellar was a bit chilly but had a convenient table, and some enticing baskets in the corner -
 My drawing is a (lurid!) concatenation of the two areas -
A possibility for another drawing was this staircase-window view, with its gamut of reds and a convenient step to sit on -
But the Georgian Parlour offered a windowseat with radiator underneath, so I edited a few things out of this crowded corner (what a glorious chair...) -
Too much editing-out, perhaps - the drawing looks  sadly empty, but maybe that's because the perspective has gone a bit wonky here and there -
Never mind, I'm really enjoying using the neopastels and the waterbrush, and am getting bolder about mixing colours. Anyway, it's all about looking.... and I've just now seen that any shadow from the table is missing, as well as any indication of a skirting board.

Elsewhere in the house is a cafe with second-hand books to browse -
And these chairs in the garden rather called to me -

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 16, 2014 08:51 AM

November 15, 2014

Margaret Cooter

Contemporary art sketchbook walk continuation (2)

Our agenda was to visit four galleries: Beers Contemporary, Parasol Unit, Victoria Miro, and Cubitt, which made for a nice walk from Old St tube towards the coffee bars of Islington. We visited all four but didn't draw in Victoria Miro ... the lure of coffee was too great!

First stop, portraits by Andrew Salgado - huge canvases, each with a tiny red dot on the label. Many included elements of collage and vivid mark-making. As the exhibition information puts it: "brazenly expanding upon a number of his trademark flourishes, including wild colours, bold themes, and off-kilter compositions ... his distinctive - but evolving - technique."
Our aim is to quickly settle down to drawing ... it doesn't really matter what you choose, or whether you "understand" it. The work I chose to draw was hardly my favourite, but it was instructive to look closely at the blocks of "flesh" colour and at the variety of extraneous marks, especially in comparison with those in John Piper's work. (My sketchbook is A-4 size.)

Shinro Ohtake's work was heavily collaged and constructed: his "oeuvre includes drawing, pasted works, painting, sculpture and photography, as well as experimental music and videos, but the activity of cutting and pasting is clearly his most powerful form of expression. Much of his work utilises found images and scraps discarded from urban culture".

Photography wasn't allowed in the gallery, but you can see a slide show of some of the pieces here. At the gallery's convenient table we had a quick look at our sketchbooks and at some books about the artist - this one is open at some "Frost" paintings, and on the table are thumbnails of pages in the big book in the exhibition -
He started the "Scrapbooks" in 1977 and has completed more than 60 now.
He used books in other ways too - this postcard is of a smallish piece, about 80cm high -

Yet more collage elements at Wangetchi Mutu's exhibition. Born in Kenya, she lives and works in New York; check out her website -

Coffee was at Candid Arts Cafe - up the narrow stairs to the welcoming room on the 2nd floor -
Then as darkness drew in, down a back alley to Cubitt to see woodcuts, sculpture, film by Sidsel Meineche Hansen ... the theme is mutation and self-destruction, "extending her ongoing work on nervousness, approaching psychopharmaceuticals as an internalised, institutional structure."
After Hansen;  after Ohtake
Inking the background was a learning curve - wetting the paper first works best - ink is another medium that needs "playing with", but not something you'd take along to a work with on the spot.
Shinro Ohtake's pieces were often richly black, or used many materials - for example, "Kasbah" at lower right, a black, layered piece with dangling tags framed with now-brown newspaper, contains "Persimmon tannin, cotton thread, staple, iron rivet, photograph, Japanese paper, newspaper, printed matter, thin paper, cardboard, wrapping paper, hemp cloth, wooden panel". That show runs till 12 December.

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 15, 2014 03:49 PM

Cynthia St. Charles

Neutral Scrap Quilt Back

 Here is the back of the Neutral / Black Scrap Twin Size Quilt I showed on yesterday's post.  Below is a detail image of the front, showing the quilting (which is not very even).  I learned some things while quilting this one.  Basically - it is really hard to control free motion with a domestic sewing machine when making long runs.  There is a lot of unevenness in the quilting on this one.  No matter - I am sure it will be loved, anyway.  I don't plan on giving it to anyone who would care about the quality of the quilting!

by Cynthia St Charles ( at November 15, 2014 05:00 AM

Rayna Gillman

class, class, class

Sigh...I am so lucky.

Teaching in Tucson for a wonderful group of SAQA members. Day 3 of 4, some people are ready to stitch their pieces, others are still working on the wall, and still others have started a second piece.
I tell them it is not a contest.  Anita and Kathy are hard at work.
Kathy's pieces are below and she'll probably start quilting one of them on Saturday.

Saralee came in with a specific idea for a triptych and finished the first of the three pieces.

Julie is contemplating the piece on her wall, which will look different by the time she has finished it.

Dureen's piece began as a monochromatic horizontal and ended as a vertical with more color.

Barbara is auditioning backgrounds for her piece.  It's great that the classroom is in a fabric store and we can go shopping for just the right fabrics to add to our pieces!
I can't wait to see how Kathy K's piece will end up.  It is still a work in progress, as are several other pieces in the class. Here, I've taken a picture in black and whilte so we could see the variation in value as she worked.

I am getting my fill of Mexican food while I am here!  Tonight's dinner at El Charro was especially delicious and the company of several class members added to the pleasure.  We had fun!
More tomorrow, after we wrap up.

by (Rayna) at November 15, 2014 03:50 AM

November 14, 2014

Olga Norris

Mellow yellow

November certainly rings the changes.  We awoke to steady rain, and it took a long time for the light to dawn this morning, yet here we are in glorious sunshine with not a cloud in the sky!  I dashed out without pausing even to put on a cardigan - though I suspect it will be chill once the sun goes down.
The grasses have developed highlights of yellow through buff to almost white.
A lovely contrast between the yellowed leaves and the darkening red sedum flowers.
More grass, with one of the cemetery oaks in the background.
As some plants are fading, so the mahonia is developing its buds.  By January it will be covered in sweet scented flowers and accompanying feasting blue tits.
A young hazel, planted by one of neighbourly grey squirrels.
One end of the beech hedge, allowed to grow taller to help disguise the electricity pole.
The other end of the beech hedge with some willows still with their leaves.  Without their leaves after some windy days are our black poplar to the left, and the cemetery sibling at the right back.
The dogwood on the edge of the wetland,
and across the wetland the yellow leaves still on willows in front of the Lombardy poplar, which was shaken leafless.  Note the blue sky!
The wisteria leaves are only just beginning to turn yellow, above the winter jasmine
which is blooming in the warm sun.

by Olga Norris ( at November 14, 2014 02:22 PM

Margaret Cooter

Postal pleasures

Many thanks to Peter, who saw my posts on orange wrappers and contacted me to ask if I'd like his collection, which includes some leftovers from those his mother gave to the V&A. I knew the V&A had a collection of orange wrappers, but have never seen them - and am thrilled to be connected with it in this direct way!

Here are some of the paper treasures ...


Two versions of Katiuska

Citrus from Greece, Italy, Cyprus
One day ... soon? ... I will photograph more of my collection ...

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 14, 2014 10:07 AM

Neki Rivera

the art of flying

cloth, what else.
enjoy your fall weekend

neki desu
Creative Commons License 

by (neki desu) at November 14, 2014 09:00 AM

November 13, 2014

Olga Norris

Reviving a memory

Anselm Kiefer The Rhine (Melancholia) image from here
Spurred by Eirene's post on Sigmar Polke I started remembering German artists whose work I admire - but I do not think of artists by nationality normally, and so it was only when I was thinking further about Kiefer's wondrous woodcuts in the Royal Academy exhibition (see some above) that the image of Matthias Mansen' Das Haus prompted me to explore more about both him and Kiefer's woodcuts.
Matthias Mansen About the house  image from here

Image above, and more information about woodcut illustrations here.

German woodcuts were attractive to me as an illustrative medium first, always striking me a having the drama which so many other illustrations lacked.  And I mean woodcuts rather than wood engravings.  I admired the latter, but they lacked joy for me. 
Woodcuts in the British Museum collection (images from here)

As a child early religious illustrations in woodcut such as these always struck me like stills from animations of icons.  My admiration of woodcuts continued as part of my general interest in art, not becoming separately specifically interested until I became drawn to the image by Matthias Mansen above.
A young friend who was at art college at the time saw an exhibition of the woodcuts at the Alan Cristea Gallery in London in 1998.  I am sorry to say that I have never actually seen any of Mansen's work other than in reproduction.  The friend gave me a gatefold card of About the house, and I was smitten - I have had the card up on my pin board ever since.  However, it would be several years, not until 2011 before I explored printmaking for myself.
Matthias Mansen: Gehen 1994 (image from here)

In this recent exploration of Mansen's work I am delighted to find that he too is interested in combining, as is Kiefer, though in different ways.  Anyone with sufficient interest, and a bit of time can read a fascinating article here.  And there is a quick introduction to the About the house exhibition here

by Olga Norris ( at November 13, 2014 04:34 PM

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - I saw a man pursuing the horizon by Stephen Crane

"I saw a man pursuing the horizon"

I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;   
I accosted the man.
“It is futile,” I said,
“You can never —”

“You lie,” he cried,   
And ran on.

What a disturbing picture this poem paints - more so for some people than others, for we are asked to "co-create", to bring our own experiences to the reading. As well as the ignorance of the running man, his denial is a technique that keeps him from realising he is wrong, to give him a sense of security, however false. Nor is it only in chasing an unattainable horizon that time and effort is wasted - we can apply this to any pursuit that makes us unable to take in new or possibly challenging information. In a mere 36 words, the poem brings out the defensive and defiant nature of the human race.
Its writer, Stephen Crane (1871-1900) died of tuberculosis at the age of 28, having produced a vast number of newspaper articles, more than 100 stories and sketches, two volumes of poetry, and six novels "The Red Badge of Courage" is the best known. He pioneered in psychological realism, often exploring thoughts of fictional characters facing death. His cynical poems anticipate the free verse style of the 1900s.

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 13, 2014 12:48 PM

Another editing grumble

This article (in World of Interiors, Oct 2014) is blatantly about weaving, But just look at its title....

Does no-one know anything any more?!

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 13, 2014 08:54 AM

Comet science

Amazing that scientists could send a lander on a 10-year journey across space to find - and actually land on - a teeny, tiny bit of rock.

Amazing in a quite different way that journalists can't make up their minds about how to report the simple things about the mission - the caption reads:

"This picture ... was taken ... during its descent from a distance of approximately 3 km from 2.5-mile-wide 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet."

3km = 1.86 miles; 2.5 miles = 4 km. Metric measurements are part of the language of science; and in this case their consistent use would arguably help the size comparison. And, hmm, this is a European Space Agency project, and metric is part of the language of all European nations, even (somewhat reluctantly) the UK.

This picture, from the same story, has a slightly different measurement -

Another pic has the caption "The comet pictured from a distance of about 4.8 miles (7.8km)." Hurrah, both measurements ... but generally speaking, if you're being so vague as to say "about", why use the spurious precision of decimal points, why not "about 5 miles (8 km)"?

Does it matter? Does anyone, apart from grumpy ex-editors with too much time on their hands, notice? Is there a bigger picture?

The BBC's story gives some "Mission facts" -

Philae lander
  • Travelled 6.4 billion km (four billion miles) to reach the comet
  • Journey took 10 years
  • Planning for the journey began 25 years ago
Comet 67P
  • More than four billion years old
  • Mass of 10 billion tonnes
  • Hurtling through space at 18km/s (40,000mph)
  • Shaped like a rubber duck
Radio signals take half an hour to reach Earth, and after a glitch in the touchdown, the lander is out of radio visibility for the moment,

Why is the information from this mission important? As the BBC says:

"Scientists are hoping 67P's surface materials will hold fresh insights into the origins of our Solar System more than 4.5 billion years ago.
One theory holds that comets were responsible for delivering water to the planets. Another idea is that they could have "seeded" the Earth with the chemistry needed to help kick-start life. Philae will test some of this thinking."

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 13, 2014 08:33 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Scrap Quilt Back in Green

Here is the back of the green scrap quilt I shared yesterday.  Still using up scraps on the back......
 Detail of the back. 

by Cynthia St Charles ( at November 13, 2014 05:00 AM

November 12, 2014

Terry Grant

I've been on the road...


Columbia Gorge
It was a road trip to connect with family—to laugh, and cry just a little, with people we love. To cook and eat and play the favorite family card game and see how much the kids have grown and meet the newest kid and marvel over how fast time flies and remember good times and bad, and travel the western roads through the land that claims our hearts, from the Columbia Gorge of Oregon to the Bitterroot Valley of Montana. We covered a lot of ground, both literal and figurative.


One of many small, western towns. They run together in my mind. This might have been Dixie...

Lolo Pass, on the Montana-Idaho border

Camas Prairie, Idaho
In Montana I got to enjoy an exhibit of art quilts made by my creative sister-in-law, Jamie, and her friends in the Montana Bricolage Artists group. If you're in the area, you can see it at the Higher Ground brewery in Hamilton, Montana. The beer is good too!

Jamie and her two daughters. I love these women. That's one of Jamie's pieces on the left behind them.

We got home tonight, coming back through the Gorge, just ahead of a predicted ice and snow storm. Winter is on its way and we feel it in our bones tonight. So glad we went—so glad to be home with good memories to keep us warm.




by Terry Grant ( at November 12, 2014 11:15 PM

Cynthia St. Charles

Sue Reno's New DVD: Surface Design Essentials for the Printed Quilt

 I have always been captivated by Sue Reno's striking prints, and so I was very happy to have an opportunity to view her newly released DVD.  Printmaking is one of my favorite artistic approaches and it is so interesting seeing how Sue uses various printmaking processes in her art.  She explains and demonstrates each of her fabric processes carefully and thoroughly. 

Cyanotype prints - I so love that Prussian blue and white contrast!  I have never used cyanotype and have always been a bit intimidated by the idea of using those photo sensitive chemicals.  Sue has completely de-mystified this process for us all!  

Find Sues' DVD here:
Tomorrow, check out what Natalya Aikens has to say about Sue Reno's new DVD:

by Cynthia St Charles ( at November 12, 2014 09:16 AM

Neki Rivera

taken to the bottle

and doing cheap alcohol
and if you think moving, adding or taking out heddles is awful try removing 200 needles from the  knitting machine's needle bed. that was the option that did not include taking the machine apart and sending it to the uk for repairs.

needles were cleaned in alcohol, the inside of the bed was vacuumed and if you have ever dyed you know how much 5grams is. the lint, which had stopped being fluffy, as lint tends to be, had matted almost to felting stage added by years of lubricating oils. so gross that i am going to spare you the sight. 
it would not squeeze through the vents in the needle bed and had to be fished with an assortment of diy tools.
i think all that gunk prevented the sponge bar from acting properly in returning the needles to their  correct position hence jamming the lace carriage.

the task continued by salvaging already
used ribbons putting them in alcohol
and scraping the glue off. their lives have thus been extended and i feel virtuous. it would be easier to buy new ones, but easy is a relative concept as i'd have to change clothes
and go out to buy new ones.

here's the other ribbon being glued and pinned in place on top of the sponge. the sponge bar aka needle retainer bar helps keep needles bouncing back to place after being selected to form the stitch pattern.
 hopefully now the lace carriage will operate properly as lace carriages are notoriously finicky

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at November 12, 2014 09:15 AM

Natalya Aikens

play time

I honestly don't remember the last time I did any surface design. I don't consider Photoshop manipulation surface design, my hands don't get dirty and that's just a whole other world...

But the other day, lo and behold, I was actually inspired to do some surface design! And it's all Sue's fault. Sue Reno that is. And her Quilting Arts Workshop Video Surface Design Essentials for the Printed Quilt. She asked me to review and participate in the blog hop, and I thought - I'll be happy to, I'll just watch the video, write the review and post. Easy peasy! Nope. Not so easy peasy.... I watched the video and my hands started itching. Itching to do some surface design. I wanted to play with it all!
I wanted to play with the cyanotype process, the heliographic sun printing, the thermofax screens and the collagraph techinique. I wanted to do it all and I wanted to do it now.  The sunny days were not in my favor for the cyanotype or the heliographic.... and much too windy outside lately too. The collagraph was thoroughly intriguing, but the prep time issue was a factor, as I wanted instant gratification. And then I remembered that long ago, in a galaxy far away, a friend made me some thermofax screens during a playdate. Shamefully I have never used those screens. But they don't have an expiration date and here was my chance to try some instant surface design NOW!

So I rummaged around for a substrate in my recyclables box and came up with a bunch of color catcher sheets. A quick iron to smooth them out, flip over my portable ironing board to the hard side for an instant printing surface and I was ready to go! Here are pics of my instant gratification surface design session:
pinned down used color catcher sheets
first thermofax prints in gold (oh the torture of waiting for it to dry!)
second layer in silver
the finished product
now to find a way to use it in my artwork!
I highly recommend Sue's DVD, every technique is clearly explained, the samples are perfectly illustrating the process and her finished artworks are lovely and are great example of how to combine the techniques, the free-motion quilting and sharp design sense.

Tomorrow’s blogger is Lyric Kinard

Blog tour schedule
11/5/14: Sue Reno
11/6/14: Susan Brubaker Knapp
11/7/14: Allie Aller
11/8/14: Diane Doran
11/9/14: Vivien Zepf
11/10/14: Virginia Spiegel
11/11/14: Cynthia St. Charles
11/12/14: Natalya Aikens
11/13/14: Lyric Kinard

by Natalya Aikens ( at November 12, 2014 09:08 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Scrappy Quilt in Greens

 I am on a roll with these scrap quilts.  Clearing out space in the studio while also making something to give as a gift or for my own comfort.  I love doing these random patterns because one never really knows how it will all end up!  This one measures 48 x 70".  I quilted it with an overall leaf pattern, which was easy to manage and I think looks good with the colors.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at November 12, 2014 05:00 AM