Monday, 1 February 2016

My not a New Year's Resolution: Daily drawing

25 January

23 January
I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions – they tend to get broken and then I get down at my inability to be superwoman or even normal woman and just keep my resolutions.  So much as I would like to get fitter, lose weight and be a better person, i don’t make resolutions.  
January
This year, though I want to try and make a daily drawing.  It’s not a resolution, but something I would like to do and this gives me ‘permission’ to myself to make space to do it, something I enjoy.
January
So I started, a bit rockily on 1 January – perhaps a busy day with a mild hangover was not the best time to start and failed to do any on 4&5 January as we were away.  Just as well I didn’t make this a resolution, failed after 4 days!  
January
However, I decided this was okay as long as I made up the drawings.  So I have over 31 drawings from January and am really enjoying developing my sketches and trying out different media.  The hardest thing is knowing when to stop!
January

So these are some of the 31 drawings.  I thought 31 was too many to share, but you can see the quality of the drawings is variable ( I didn't just choose my favourites).  Obviously, I’m more pleased with some than others.  I had had the idea of the circle drawings floating around my head for ages before the 1st January, but when I started, they didn’t turn out anything like I was hoping for.  
11 January
I was relieved when the stand stones starting developing better!  
12 January
Some of the photos aren’t great as I have been drawing first thing, generally before the sun is up and so my shadow is in some of them. 
28 January
 And I’m pleased that I’ve already made my drawing for today, 1 February!
29 January

19 & 20 January

31 January

30 January

26 January

24 January



17 January

13 January

14 January








Monday, 25 January 2016

How to: Use Markal or Shiva Paintstiks on Fabric

Markal and stitch over a Gelli Plate Print
One of my favourite colouring tools for fabric is Markal paintstiks.  They are oil based and are very opaque, so can be used over any colour, unlike dye or Inktense.  They come in both matte and iridescent which is a bit pearlised or slightly metallic.  Now I don’t do glitz, but for some reason, I love the iridescent Markal – they just bring a bit of a lift to the work.  Note: Markal and Shiva are the exact same things.
Some of my Markals and short stencil brushes
I recently wrote a how to use Markals with stencils, which is in the current edition of Popular Patchwork.  This is an abbreviated version of what is in the magazine.
Markals in Popular Patchwork
You will need fabric, stencil, Markals and a short stencil brush (a toothbrush is perfect).
My Markal Equipment
How to:
1.   Make sure that you have your table covered as Markals are very permanent!
2.   You need your fabric to stay put, so tape in place or use some spray baste, like 505.  You also need to hold your stencil in place over the fabric the same way.
3.   As the paintstik is oil paint, it will form a skin, which you have to remove to get to the paint, either by rubbing with a cloth or cut off with a knife.
4.   Load your brush with paint and apply to the fabric in circular motions.
Adding the Markal through a paper stencil
5.   The colours blend really well and I often add several colours in a piece.  Some people will blend the colours before apply to the fabric, I prefer to mix on the fabric so the blend is not too perfect.
6.   Leave to dry – be patient it takes a long time, like several days.  Once dried, iron the fabric between two layers of baking parchment to make the paint totally permanent.
Hand cut paper stencil
You can use bought stencils or cut your own.  I use both – I like the bought ones when it is something I couldn’t cut myself and The Crafter's Workshop ones have generous use policies, so I don’t need to worry about breaking copyright.  My own, I cut from heavy photocopy paper with a scalpel, normally through two layers so I have a spare version.  I have used freezer paper as it is good for positioning as you can iron it on to the fabric.  However, to my cost, I discovered that it does not peel off wet Markal paint – only use on bare fabric!
Markal on top of hand dyed and pieced silk

There are lots of different ways of using Markals, some more subtle than others, perhaps that will be for another blogpost.  
Stencilling through some sequins waste

Monday, 18 January 2016

Things to do with Gelli Plate Prints - 2 Make Books

Folded Book with pockets and cover
Following on from last month’s post of making sketchbook covers from gelli plate prints (see here), how about making actual books from them? 
I tend to make lots of prints in one go and to be honest, for every print I see potential as an artwork, there are at least two others which, if I can put it politely, are only suitable as backgrounds or to be printed over again.  Many of these are on paper as you need less ink to print on paper compared with fabric, so often my second print is on paper.  Also, if I am demonstrating quickly, the results may be less impressive and on paper.  For how to gelli plate print, see here.
Prints
So as you can see, I have a large pile of paper prints to be used.  Making little books is a great way of using them up.  And it doesn’t need to be difficult.   A sheet of paper cut in two, joined to make a long strip, then concertina folded can be really effective.  
Concertina book
All the books I’ve made are blank so far, but at some point, I will use some as sketchbooks, others may have photos added as special photo albums and some of the simple ones may be turned into fancy birthday cards.
Japanese Stab Bound Book
This one has pages made from prints on copier paper, but the outside is made from slightly thicker card.  I’ve then bound it together using a Japanese stab binding and put little beads on the end of the binding threads.
Inside of Japanese Stab Bound Book
You can make traditional books in sections, like this one.  
Traditional Bound Book
It is four sections (or signatures), each with four sheets folded in half and then stitched together.  At some point, I will add a cover.
No Stitch Book from one sheet of paper
These little ones are made from one sheet, with no stitching required, folding the paper into 8, cutting in the middle and then folding up again.  I’ve also folded up the bottom of the page to make a little pocket-like structure.

Lots of ideas, but this still leaves me with a huge pile of prints – more makes coming soon!
Long Narrow Book on top of Japanese Stab Bound Book















Monday, 11 January 2016

Inspiring London Visit

Egyptian figurines at the British Museum
Happy 2016 everyone!  I’ve had a lovely, long break and am finally getting back into the swing of things.  The kids are now back at school, I had the Diploma Group over the weekend and now everything is back to normal, or as close to normality as they will ever get.
The London Eye
Normally after Christmas, I go comatose for several days.  All my plans to do something useful go out the window and I slump.  It’s probably my only way of relaxing!  This year, though, we did something different and on the 27th, we caught a train down to London, spending 4 days exploring the capital.  Although R and I lived there for many years and, indeed, the eldest was born there, the kids are definitely village children as we discovered!  It probably wasn’t helped by staying near Angel and using the tube station with the longest escalators in London.  However, we all had a magnificent time, concentrating on our favourite things: galleries, food, books and friends. 
Fabric of India catalogue
I got to go to the Fabric of India exhibition at the V&A, which was amazing.  You couldn’t take photos, but I’ve just checked and there is a fabulous website supporting the exhibition, which has now finished, including some really interesting 2 minute videos, which were running in the galleries.  The V&A was also the kids’ favourite museum, perhaps because they didn’t spend the two hours I did with Indian fabric, rather R took them round lots of different galleries whilst I absorbed the special show on my own.  
Inside the Fabric of India catalogue
Of course the catalogue made it back into my suitcase and I’m enjoying slowly making my way through the essays while looking at the glorious photos. 
Some of the books bought at the British Museum
We also went to the British Museum, where we went to the Greek and Egyptian Rooms.  I saw even more beautiful inspiring figures, which just had to be photographed and the kids liked the mummies more than the marbles.  Here’s an admission: I was definitely in my 30s before I realised the Elgin Marbles were the Friezes on the wall rather than a pile of balls...). 
Some of the books bought at the Tate Modern
I had less luck convincing them about modern art at the Tate Modern, but they enjoyed the views, while I appreciated some art.  In both places I also spent lots of time in the fabulous bookshops – so many amazing books in two venues.  Unfortunately, given that I had to carry everything home, the number of books was restricted slightly, but maybe on my next visit...
The roof of the Great Court at the British Museum
We also saw some tourist sites, ate fabulous food, trying out lots of different types (Mexican at Wahaca the winner, closely followed by the Thalis at the Masala Zone) and met up with some old friends and their kids.  And although part of me misses living in London (the buzz, galleries, bookshops, speed of life), I am sure we are in the right place for us now.  Just got to make sure I get my fix of the bright lights every so often!
Tower Bridge

It was also dry and sunny in London, unlike home, where we have had unremitting rain for weeks, but we are very fortunate here in that we are not at risk from flooding.  Now to get on with getting back into a routine and getting on with some work.

Egyptian fertility figurines at the British Museum

Roman Mosaic at the British Museum
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament




Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Photo Inspiration in the long dark days of winter


It’s Christmas week and to be perfectly honest, I’m ready for a lovely family break (only need to find the lovely family now!).  The kids are seriously over excited about Christmas and I’m just enjoying their enthusiasm.  Their sole disappointment is the lack of snow.  All the songs and photos of crisp white Christmases look so beautiful and they want to go sledging.  Instead, here in Scotland, it has been non-stop rain for what feels like weeks. It’s very grey and damp.

So to cheer me up, and as I haven’t got much work to show you this week, as wrapped presents and homemade fudge doesn’t really count – here are some hopefully inspiring photos of our gorgeous world, chosen totally at random, but all taken on days that were not, to use the Scottish expression, dreich!


A Merry Christmas to those of you who are celebrating it and a wonderful 2016 to you all.  See you in the New Year!
















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