Planet Textile Threads

April 18, 2017

Olga Norris

Beauty in a hard place

When we visited the Centre of Ceramic Art at York Art Gallery last year I picked up a leaflet for the Ceramic Art York 2016 event (as seen on the desk in the photo above).  I did so mostly because of the design on the cover.  As so often happens, the leaflet was lost from my view and life intervened, until today when tidying a certain corner.
Before disposing of the leaflet in the recycling I decided to pursue that initial attraction and look up the artist: Rebecca Appleby.  In her ceramic sculptures I find that she has captured those brutish elements of urban detritus which so many of us find beautiful. 
I am attracted by her sculptures,
but am even more drawn to her collages/drawings
and especially to her paper maquettes.  All images are from Rebecca Appleby's website.

by Olga Norris ( at April 18, 2017 07:20 PM

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - RAF Museum

There's something for everyone at the RAF Museum -

 Even Spitfire biscuits -
I'm fascinated by the Lancaster bomber - 

and started at the tail end, from which the four giant engines looked very tiny, and the vertical stabilisers at each end of the tail looked very large indeed. They hid the ends of the wings. The back wheel had been lifted up on a plinth, which made the view even stranger - but at least the four rear guns are visible -
Then it was on to look closely at some parts of the plane, and finally a tiny sketch of the wing in relation to the tail -
And now the rest -
Janet K's Messerschmidt BF109E

Sue's Spitfire propellor and Fiat CR42 Falco

Judith used a toned ground first, then went on to use watersoluble pencil on cartridge paper

Jo's view of the Lancaster bomber, and the big bomb displayed underneath it

From a banner about which there was no information, Najlaa added the hedgehogs
and eagle in gold pen - clearly visible at certain angles, but not to my camera
Coloured pencils, specifically Inktense pencils, have been much in evidence lately. Janet K took inspiration from Carol's case and made this lovely pencil roll -
Puzzle of the week - same watersoluble pencil, different papers - 
Judith found that the "watercolour effect" that worked so well on the shoe she'd drawn at home was quite different in the larger sketchbook. We thought that it must be due to the paper, and not all cartridge papers are the same.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 18, 2017 10:24 AM

April 17, 2017

Dijanne Cevaal

Coburg and then Nantes

It has been a hectic few weeks with a quick trip ( well actually it was slow- like an eleven hour drive , more with stops) to Coburg and the studio of Regina Klaus where she has several longarms for people to work with. Linzi Upton had been there the previous two days ( and i am sorry to have missed her classes ). Always lovely to get together with other teachers- and we had lots of commonalities including fountain pens, paper and typewriters! I arrived a day early as Regina had offered to show us around Coburg, a delightful small city  about a two and a half hour drive from Frankfurt. We visited the Schloss Veste Coburg, with wonderful views over the city and with some wonderful smaller treasures. The collection of Lucas Cranach the elders paintings simply gorgeous!

Unfortunately I had left my good camera at the house, but there was one room, the hunting room where the wood panelling was simply  divine- hard to believe it was all inlaid wood. All were hunting scenes.

I am looking forward to going back and remembering the good camera so I can take some good photos! And we will be. If you follow the link for Regina's website there is a report of what we did and what is to come in the future!. I am only sorry I did not get a good photo of Linzi's wonderful fish drawing/extrapolation- but there is one on her blog ( just follow the link on her name and you can also see what Linzi taught whilst we were there)

 We coined a new phrase longarm drawing and we put the machines through their paces using 30 weight thread. I like to see the line and 30 weight thread does that and really gives great texture as well as colour ( thankfully Aurfil makes this thread and I love their colours!)
.Some of the work done:

And then it was straight back to Le Triadou as I have a mountain of work to do and  there is a lot more to do still! Today I am packing today  to drive to Nantes to demonstrate for Bernina France at Pour l'Amour du Fil. Another long drive, but then I will be up there for close on two weeks  teaching mostly.

Then I intend to go to Italy and camp and do a stage at Opificio della Rosa for 2.5 days on shadow theatre- thinking of exploring Colombina from the Commedia dell'Arte- just wish I had brought the Colombina I made with me. Anyone want to come?

by Dijanne Cevaal ( at April 17, 2017 05:51 PM

Margaret Cooter

From the Ajanta Caves

A plate painted with geese round the rim, each one different, in the V&A's Lockwood Kipling exhibition (museum number 15.2855.1883; photo not available) that sent me looking for its inspiration - perhaps it was inspired by these geese in a ceiling panel -

The ceiling paintings (via) in the Ajanta Caves are amazing, but good photos of them are hard to find -

The caves, east of Mumbai, were chiselled out of the rock, starting as early as the 2nd century BC; they were abandoned by about 500AD, and rediscovered by English officers during a tiger hunt in 1819. They are over 60 miles from the nearest towns, and it wasn't until 1983 that Unesco declared them a world heritage site. A brief introduction to the painting is here.

And the wall sculptures are amazing. A good selection is here

This one caught my eye -
Conjoined quadruplets?
The stamp was issued in 1949 -

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 17, 2017 10:19 AM

April 16, 2017

Margaret Cooter

At last

Last weekend, waiting for "imminent completion" of the house sale and for the last of the furniture to be collected via Freecycle, Tom and I sat in the sunshine enjoying a final coffee from one of the many local cafes - 

 In the back, the garden has been blooming in its usual way, but there was no time to cut the grass -

I still can't believe it's actually, finally, sold. Tony lived there for 39 years, and I spent quite a lot of the past 22 years there.

The keys were dropped off late Thursday afternoon.

One door closes -

And another door opens -

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 16, 2017 04:47 PM

Olga Norris

I have never worn an Easter Bonnet

But quite a few folks seem to enjoy extraordinary creations:
image from here
image from here

each link leads to many more examples.

by Olga Norris ( at April 16, 2017 03:56 PM

April 15, 2017

Olga Norris

Still on the journey

Over my shoulders full sixties passed,
Now wiser, turn sadder and wider
To stumble forward knowing
Over unknown ground.
Hope springs;
Spring hopes.

by Olga Norris ( at April 15, 2017 10:58 PM

Margaret Cooter

Left to my own devices?

The new computer arrived in a lovely box, nearly two weeks ago.

The new phone was a mothers' day present - it has "dash charging" (very fast!)
and the camera can be turned on quickly: you draw a circle on the dark screen and hey presto, it's a camera -
On the phone, I'm having issues with the "improved" keyboard, especially the autocorrect, and with minor things like being able to answer the phone before it cuts over to voicemail, but that's a matter of getting the In-House Tech Trainer to please patiently explain it again, slowly ... and having a chance to practice.

A major change is the way that photos taken on the phone appear, without downloading, in google photos, on my old computer as well as the new one.

Hurrah no cord needed for downloading: select a photo and use Shift+D to download - it takes a while to open in Photoshop, individually. Downloading a group puts them in a zip file and how to deal with that will take some investigating. Mr Google, when asked in words of few syllables, did not find a comprehensible answer to what I thought I was asking; perhaps the In-House Tech Trainer will be easier to communicate with, if I choose my words carefully and the moment of asking equally carefully.

My new computer is remarkably similar to the one the IHTT has had for some months, and is happy with. My new phone is identical to his. Strange, that? No: "if it works, do it some more" - my thinking is "it's going to be easier to get an explanation from someone who's used the product than to try to look it up and fluff about all the time"; his thinking might well be is along the lines of "this is an easy device to use, she'll be able to figure it out herself". In fact he said, "This is exactly like your old phone, Mum, except this button is on the other side and that button is here and the one that was there is a slider here"; and he also said, "what's really good is you draw a circle and that opens the camera right away" - which makes all the difference to me. Then we were into setting up fingerprint identification (which works about 33.3% of the time for me) and instructions like "just play with it, there's nothing you can break".

But I'm still using the old computer almost entirely - because it has Photoshop and because I still use the camera most of the time, rather than the phone; because I have a routine with downloading and processing the photos; because I have files set up (by month, and for a couple of dozen subjects) for organising the photos. Because the old computer still works (despite fears to the contrary) and it's still sitting on the desk, and I like the feel of the keyboard, and it's my friend ... whereas the new one is an interloper, to be dealt with warily, even though it aims to please and lets you stroke its [smooth, shiny, and rather repulsive] screen. The pen that you point and click, instead of the nice fat red mouse that's on the desk, attaches itself magnetically so as not to get lost. The new computer weighs about the same as my ipad and thus could travel easily ... and fits into my/our not-large backpack -
Hers ... and his ... "if it works, do it some more"
It's "just" a matter of getting used to doing the same old things in a slightly different way on a new device. It hurts at first! In a little while I hope to be wondering why there was a problem. But not just yet.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 15, 2017 12:57 PM

April 14, 2017

Laura Cater-Woods

What day is it?

It is Spring on the edge of the Rockies! We get a little snow or rain overnight and next day, new green colors! Grape Hyacinth blooming, bees on dandilions, shrubs and trees beginning to leaf out. The blue birds are gathering their nesting materials, several mystery birds are here on a regular basis now, the honey bees are active. The Sandhill Cranes are nesting, Eagles sitting on eggs.

(7 )10 day old chicks are happily chirping away in a brooder pen in the dining room, just under my seedling table. They will eat from my hand now. Zooey took the “leave it” quite seriously and will not let Stella (the cat) near the chick pen! We’ll see what happens later, but it’s our intention that Zooey, a herding breed, regard them as “Hers”. (We will also have appropriate predator proof penning outside when it’s time.) I still fantasize about having a pair of geese for her but that’s a long shot .

On a different note: What a beginning to this year! One of my sisters died New Year’s Day (expected, difficult anyway).
Jeff and I both had the Flu in January. He recovered quickly, I spent an additional 2 weeks on antibiotics. February was a blur but we did get the hardwood floor installed. Hooray!

First week of March we got the call that Jeff’s mom was in ICU: Off to Colorado within the hour. We were with her and the entire family when she passed, at peace and aglow with love and loving.
Came home, went back the next week for her services.
Came home again and two days later, we were both ill as was the entire Colorado branch of the family. Flu B.
Jeff was out of commission for several days. I ended up in the hospital with flu, pneumonia and several domino effects. I am still “flat”. It is not easy or fun. It’s been a few weeks now: lots of meds, lots of tests, regular blood work: there is no magic bullet. It’s getting difficult to maintain a sense of humor, although anything that concludes with the statement “pretty good for a woman your age” makes me laugh. . The chickies were/are my mental health fix

All of this is giving me cause to reflect on relationships, on community, on the balances I work toward in my life. Since I’ve been ill, social contact has been minimal – I have not been contagious for a while but have zero energy and no desire to pick up a bug and I miss my peeps!

This has made me realize how out of touch I have become with long term, deeply valued friendships and professional cohorts. I am so sorry! We take these things for granted and maybe think Social Media stands in.
It really does not. Fair to note however that many of us were so disheartened by the after effects of the elections that our energies have been elsewhere???

To you all, my apologies for not keeping properly in touch. Life changes, sometimes it is challenging, but you know who you are, friends of my heart. Be well. Do your work in the world. Know you are loved and appreciated.

drop a note or two and let me know how YOU are!!!

by Laura at April 14, 2017 10:36 PM

Margaret Cooter

Blast from the past - 1993, 1994, 2009

Just before moving a stack of books in front of the mule chest (thereby preventing access to its drawer), so that Carpentry and Painting of nascent bookshelves can happen in situ, I wondered what might be in the drawer.

Oh! -
The small sketchbooks (they soon mount up)
I started keeping sketchbooks in 1987, so there are rather a lot of them, of various sizes (the larger ones live elsewhere). Picking a small one at random, I found memories from September 2009 -
Train journey to Scotland ...

...with a quick sketch at every stop

Drawn while in Huntley, north of Aberdeen

"Travel lines" on the return journey
 Other pages that speak to me across the years -
Saul Steinberg's drawings of shoes, from the exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery

On the left, a view from a pub ... on the right, something rather mysterious
Of course it was tempting to look at a few more of the notebooks ...
This was a most enjoyable, most informative course

As well as taking a few notes, I did a quick sketch from almost every slide

Towards the end of the course - figures from the murals
I had no idea that in June 1994 I would find myself in Greece with my sister-in-law: Athens, Nauplio, Poros - with excursions to Olympia and, oh bliss, to Mycenae by taxi, early in the freshness and quiet of the morning, before the tourist buses arrived. It was wonderful,  the Lion Gate and the view down to Argos and the sea, and the Bronze Age ruins, and the mystery of the disappearance of the civilisation ... my best bit was sloping off to the Treasury of Atreus, a beehive-shaped tomb (tholos) with a side chamber that was SO dark, so veryvery dark; and I was alone in it to take my time adjusting to the lack of light and "soaking up the atmosphere".

On that trip I had forgotten to pack my sketchbook and all I could find in the airport before our midnight flight was a book of blank postcards, which I filled during the week we were there.
Statues from Mycenaean times (1400-1250 BC)

The view from our room in Poros, on a fresh morning after it rained mightily

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 14, 2017 04:37 PM

Drawing Tuesday - Museum of Childhood

The Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood has, until 23 April, an exhibition on board games, among which I found Halma ... like Muhle (nine men's morris), a game not played enough in childhood, as my Oma said Halma needed four players, and it was hard to find the fourth, beyond me and her and my little brother - the parents were too busy, and when their friends came, they were all too busy talking. Nor did I ever manage to teach any of my friends (yet).
Among the traditional games, the chess sets were interesting -
Indian chess set

Lego "pirates" chess set
I filled a page with various game boards and spent some time reading about the history of games old and new - Scrabble, invented in the 1930s, was originally called Lexico ... it was the change of name (and a bit of marketing) that made it into a favourite, and now it's a classic. 

And now the rest: 
Janet K's luscious lady, riding a lion

Carol's domestic details - the toy irons had a "plug" that stuck onto the wall
Joyce's 19th-century boy's clothing

Judith's "fairy tale house"

Najlaa's passion for pattern

Sue's wooden animals (and their wonderful shadows)
Extra-curricular activities:
Janet K used a postcard to examine how drapery can model the figure
Responding to  Lethaby's drawing of the Ziggurat of Belus,
Najlaa found a modern photo of it; it's near her home town, Babylon
Joyce had been using traditional Indian embroidery techniques

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 14, 2017 10:38 AM

April 13, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - revisiting a sonnet

Five years ago, April 2012, I was making work in the book arts course on the theme of memory. One thread was a series of sonnets, written and over-written as part of the memorisation process. Today when looking through the "101 Sonnets" book, which had emerged from one of the book towers beside the desk, I found a familiar sonnet by Michael Drayton, published in the 17th century, and I remembered having memorised it (and could foretell the next line, here and there - but not word perfect, oh no, not after five years!). 

Was it like meeting an old friend, this encounter with the memorised poem? No, it was more like an encounter at a train station, the friend on the opposite platform, and being about to wave and shout Hello ... then their train comes in, and you're left with the memory of the circumstances of other meetings.

What follows is the post from five years ago.

The first in what is intended to be a book of well-known sonnets is "Since there's no help, come let us kiss and part",written by Michael Drayton (1563-1631). It was published in 1619 and is reckoned to be the only great sonnet among the 150 that Drayton wrote. 

The format of my page manifests a method of memorising poetry - start at the end and work forward. So I wrote the last line, then over it the penultimate and, on the line below, the last line again; then the last three, and then four, and on from that ... which makes the top line very dense, because it consists of the entire poem, layered so that the first line is on top (not that you'd notice!). I'm quite familiar with the end of the poem by now, but cannot confidently recite the entire thing.

Since there's no help, come let us kiss and part,
Nay I have done, you get no more of me,
And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart,
That thus so cleanly I myself can free;
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows,
And when we meet at any time again,
Be it not seen in either of our brows
That we one jot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of love's latest breath,
When his pulse failing, passion speechless lies,
When faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And innocence is closing up his eyes,
  Now if thou would'st, when all have given him over,
  From death to life thou mightst him yet recover.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 13, 2017 11:31 AM

Rayna Gillman

haha - I have just inspired myself.

We got home Sunday night, and on Monday I started emptying out a storage closet in the basement.  I will tell you that I have been shredding papers for two straight days -- many of them dating back to the last century.  My garage is full of shredded and unshredded paper.

A little while ago I walked into my sewing room for the first time since I got home and was delighted to be greeted by this little unit on the design wall.  What a nice surprise!  I made it when I was teaching in Switzerland and wanted to illurstrate somehing (but what??). Now I am inspired to do more of these!

I happen to have a plastic baggie with more of the brown,black,and white units and I will have to take a creativity break and play a bit.  Enough with the shredding!  But right now,
 I am bleary-eyed.  It will take me a year to clean out this house - believe me! 

Tomorrow is bulk pickup, so the mouldy deck chairs are going, along with whatever else I can foist on the garbage men. In fact, I had better take them out tonight.  Off I go...

by (Rayna) at April 13, 2017 03:18 AM

April 12, 2017

Virginia A. Spiegel

Art Quilt Collector mag – Cover and 3 new artwork revealed!



I’m thrilled to join Nancy Bardach, Lisa Call and Dan Olfe as the “Artists to Watch” in Issue No. 7 of Art Quilt Collector magazine. It’s even more exciting to have a detail of a new artwork, Boundary Waters 85, featured on the cover.


All the info you need to subscribe to Art Quilt Collector or buy the single issue is here on the Studio Art Quilt Associates’ website.

BWaters82400Boundary Waters 82 

I wanted to offer something new for the article so AQC is the premiere of Boundary Waters 82, 84, and 85.  All these new artworks with all their details are up on my website now.

by Virginia at April 12, 2017 10:27 AM

Rayna Gillman

Color, Pattern, & Inspiration

There are infinite sources of visual inspiration for those of us who are artists; it's just a matter of seeing. Where do your inspirations come from?

Mine come from everywhere because I see pattern in almost everything.  Oddly enough, somewhere along the line I started collecting/taking photos of carpets and upholstery fabrics, thinking I might use them someday as inspiration for my own work.  In all this time, I have used only one as a jumping-off point.

Somehow, these images...

morphed into this idea, which never actually went anywhere.  

I'm particularly fascinated with hotel carpets, which run the gamut.  Since I frequently stay in hotels, I take pictures of the ones that interest me for one reason or another.  This past weekend, I hit the jackpot with these two inspirations for modern quilts.

this was in the hallway
 this was in our room.
Here is another hotel hallway carpet I have seen several times.

But remember - inspiration, not iimitation.  Put the images aside and forget about them for a while.  Somewhere along the line, they might surface in a different way.

by (Rayna) at April 12, 2017 03:14 AM

April 11, 2017

April 10, 2017

Olga Norris

Three threads (part 3)

I have not thought about Sidney Nolan's work for a long time.  My first interest in him was drawn by Leda and the swan (image above from here).  I was a teenager and somehow had acquired a postcard of the work.  I knew about his Ned Kelly paintings, and other divers works; but I still do not know much at all about him and his work.
Sidney Nolan: In the cave (image from here)
I was fortunate while living in the USA to meet and make the acquaintance of his stepdaughter Jinx Nolan.  This was while I was still working in publishing, but she encouraged me to think seriously about coming to art later in life, and I found her and her work inspirational.  I was also inspired to seek out and read her mother, Cynthia Nolan's travel books.

Sidney Nolan: Woman and Billabong (image from here)
The exhibition at the Pallant Gallery was an opportunity to see my first display of several of Sidney Nolan's paintings.  Well, both my friend and I were wowed.
Sidney Nolan: Kelly, Spring (image from here)
All the emotion I had been lacking in the Pasmore exhibition was here, and how!   I love all this mythology, gesture, drama!  I was wondering how I could have lived this long and missed this much great art.  But maybe it's good to know that there are still artists out there whose work and working I still have to discover to my greater nourishment.
Articles here, here, and here, and a review on radio here.  I bought the catalogue where I shall start my researches.

by Olga Norris ( at April 10, 2017 08:26 PM

Natalya Aikens

a conversation

As I prepare to share some of my art with you, please enjoy this interview recently recorded with Nathalie Kalbach. It's really more of a conversation than an interview, Nat is lovely to talk to! And you'll love her new book Artful Adventures in Mixed Media! So grab your favorite beverage and settle in...

click for the interview!

by Natalya Aikens ( at April 10, 2017 12:20 PM

Margaret Cooter

A major change at home

My Domestic Carpenter, who runs a carpentry and decorating business, has an amazing collection of tools, and it was the need to store them that got the "home renovation" project going, which has a few items yet to be finished (Bookshelves!!). In his top-floor bedroom, which has a dormer window, he was able to make storage space under the eaves either side of the window, and has been keeping his special boxes of organised tools there. The saw table and such large items are stored flat under the bed, into which he incorporated a hydraulic system. 

But the top-floor bedroom is up a lot of stairs, and tools are heavy to lug up and down between taking them to job sites, so Tom had the sensible idea of using my studio - which had already become a store room - to store his tool boxes between jobs. Then the under-eaves space in his room would be free for storing what's piled up in the (former) studio, and the process of organising it to fit efficiently into the new storage would give me a chance to see what's there and let that information percolate in my subconscious until I can act on deciding what needs keeping and what can GO. 

We spent three Saturday hours on the reorganisation. At the outset, the studio was crowded and chaotic, and the portfolio stand was always in the way  -
The portfolio stand is now for sale on ebay. Smaller items have been consolidated into boxes (mostly labelled) and are efficiently packed onto rolling pallets for easier access. And there's still room for more!
The floor emerged, and also some clear counter space -
It made a big difference to empty "the Halifax trunk" of paint pots and unnecessary objects and lift it, and the spare microwave, onto the counter (the microwave will be moved into its proper position later) -
Out went the grotty carpet, revealing a vast expanse of grotty lino -
As tool boxes started appearing, the counter started disappearing -
Keep your eye on the poles, they're part of the painting booth; the paint sprayer is on the floor behind them -
 The booth is set up, ready for use ...
 ... and by late afternoon various boards had been sprayed and laid out to dry -
Behind the plastic is the sewing machine ... having it less accessible makes me want to use it more! The booth can be dismantled easily and won't be in use all the time.

Another interesting consequence of this conversion of hell hole into paint booth is that, to minimise the smell of paint throughout the flat, the door of the studio can now be closed. 

I hope that soon the bookshelves will be painted ....

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 10, 2017 11:45 AM

April 09, 2017

Olga Norris

Three threads (part 2)

Victor Pasmore: The Quiet River:The Thames at Chiswick (image from here)
Before the actual visit, the first of the three exhibitions at Pallant House which drew my interest was the Victor Pasmore, especially as it focuses particularly on his development into abstraction.  I first encountered The Quiet River in the Tate gallery in 1968, and bought a postcard which I have still.  It had a profound effect on me, both emotional and intellectual.  I enjoyed..., enjoy that abstracting of elements within sight, such as is also seen in The Gardens of Hammersmith 2 (below, image from here).
I also enjoy his much later wholly abstract work, which I have always believed was a progression from the kind of works pictured above.  Despite Pasmore's claim that his abstract work is purely abstract and not an abstraction of something, I still find visual connections.
Quiet is the Island (not in the exhibition; image from here)
Development in Green and Indigo 2 (image from here)
The exception is in his three dimensional work, the sculptural pieces with wood and Perspex - which excite interest but not pleasure for me. 
Abstract in White, Black, Brown, and Lilac (image from here - where there is a review of the exhibition)
Those I do see as a kind of intellectual exercise in composition, placement, shape, shadow, form, etc. - which could be said of the work like the two pieces pictured here immediately above the abstract if they were seen without any knowledge of the earlier paintings, I suppose.  But with that knowledge, that acquaintance informs and engages a more personal relationship, I find.
The time I spent scrutinising and pondering Pasmore's approach to his abstract pieces had led me to see them increasingly reaching for a kind of graphic purity - distancing them from emotion.
I found it a fascinating, thought-provoking exhibition, but I found myself needing to revisit The Quiet Thames before I left, and immediately on exiting the temporary exhibition space into part of the permanent collection was drawn by the emotional pull of a huge Michael Andrews painting - coincidentally also of the Thames.
Michael Andrews: Thames Painting, The Estuary (image from here, the recent exhibition at the Gagosian gallery in London from which it had just that day been returned and rehung)

by Olga Norris ( at April 09, 2017 10:19 PM

Terry Grant

Birthday week

I've had so many birthdays now (71 of them) that you'd think there would be no reason to celebrate it again, but I did anyway. My thoughtful daughter brought grandchildren and flowers and gift card to my favorite art supply store over and Ray told me I had to wait for the weekend for his gift. I thought about my mother and how much I loved her and how I miss her, because birthdays are really about the person who brought you into the world.

And maybe because it was my birthday, it seemed like a good day to finally get a weight off my shoulders that has been sitting there for a couple years. I took on the job of gathering the photos and text to self-publish a small book for the Twelve by Twelve group as a document of our second project—the one that came after our first book was published. It has been a hard project—many hours laying it out, proof-reading, tweaking, making changes, interrupted by long periods when it went on the back burner while I worked on other things. It was finally finished months ago, but I kept having second thoughts and the longer I procrastinated, the harder it became to just make the decision to send it to print. But I did, this week, on my birthday, and then I sent an email to the other eleven and they all got excited and happy and we all ordered books! It is available on Amazon. You can get the details here.

This birthday week then handed us a crazy storm Friday morning with strong winds that blew down power lines and uprooted trees and left the city littered with debris and dangerous roads. We had no damage and didn't lose our power, but near the path where Beth and I walk, at least 5 trees were uprooted and scattered like twigs.

Whew. I was more than ready for my birthday surprise, which was an overnight trip down the road to Forest Grove and the McMenamin's Grand Lodge, where we spent the night. The McMenamin brothers are famous around this area for turning historic old building—schools, theaters, the old county poor farm, and such—into delightfully artsy and interesting pubs and hotels. The Grand Lodge in Forest Grove was an historic (and grand!) Masonic Lodge, now hotel/restaurant/theater. We enjoyed a good bottle of wine, a nice dinner, followed by a dip in the soaking pool. We strolled the grounds, explored a bit of the charming little town and enjoyed the quirky Grand Lodge ambiance. The McMenamins employ a number of artists to produce the very distinctive decor and artwork in all their establishments, always incorporating elements of the lore and history of the properties they inhabit. It's always a treat!

This morning we drove home through farmland and vineyards and stopped at Farmington Gardens where we bought a few plants for the garden.

I think that orange coleus was a great find—and the perfect ending for my eventful birthday week.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

by Terry Grant ( at April 09, 2017 07:31 PM

Margaret Cooter

Domestic progress and art concerns

It's been a tumultuous 48 hours as I ricocheted between 136A and Wrentham, seeing furniture etc move out of the house, and anticipating handing over the keys - but confirmation of Monday's completion date is still to come. Yet more items have arrived at 136A, but that's old news, more exciting things have happened ... well, exciting to me, because they might be the precursor of some sort of calm and "space" for getting on with making "work" (never mind that I still have no idea of what that work will be ... but that's the interesting part, finding out and seeing the idea develop).

Friday's spring cleaning -
The outset

The starting corner

"The horror, the horror!"

The safe stowing

The cosiness of a fabric capsule, the joy of a clear floor
Saturday's major rearrangement will be revealed later - computer problems beset me at the moment....

Thinking about The Big Art Project To Come ... the theme of Home is still very much in my mind. Looking back through my 2010 posts to find info about the art foundation degree show in 2010, I came across this intimation of themes to come -

At that time, looking to write a proposal for my MA application, I was thinking of "safety and danger" and that's still in the back of my mind ... and very much related to the safety we expect, or seek, at home, and how our body is a home in itself, and yet it's a dangerous place that can turn against us by developing diseases, or be broached by infections. 

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 09, 2017 10:45 AM

Rayna Gillman

Heading north

It has been a busy, hectic, somewhat stressful - but lively, Palm Beach winter. I had both ancient/ugly bathrooms renovated, which took twice as long (of course) as I had hoped.  We finally have a modern master bath and guest bath.  We took out the tub in the master; the peeling ceilings have been fixed, clear shower doors installed, the tile replaced, linen cupboard installed in master bath...etc.  Still have to deal with the window, add artwork and mirrors to both bathrooms, but basically, they are done. And the showers are delicious!

The last 3 days before we left, the painters were here and covered up the ugly, 30 year old peach paint in the whole apartment with a lovely light gray. All the stress, mess, and aggro were worth it.

So here we are, heading north again with the other snowbirds and a plethora of vehicles that should have their own road! This does not include horse trailers or humungous RVs dragging cars, motorcycles, bikes, and boats; or the truck fire that tied up traffic for 10 miles. Never a dull moment on I-95. 

We are in Durham, getting ready to go to dinner with our friend Marni.  To be continued.

by (Rayna) at April 09, 2017 01:11 AM

April 08, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Wrapping up

Final weekend of visits to the house ... just a few bits left to clear. More furniture has been sent to a new life via Freecycle, and the final bagfuls of books and stuff are going to the charity shop later today.

Empty rooms and forlorn garden -

Final lot of things left "on the wall" -
Yes, I feel very sad.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 08, 2017 11:27 AM

April 07, 2017

Olga Norris

Joyous Spring outing

Not a breath of wind, no clouds, full sun, birds singing, and hardly another person around: our outing to Heale House garden was blissful.  We had been there twice before, but many years ago, and had kept meaning to go back.  A friend reminded me of this when she told me of her recent delight there, and so we chose to go today.  And what luck with our timing!  Not only was the weather wondrous, but the blossoms on the trees were out and pristine. 
The house and garden are in a fantastic situation, in the curve of a branch of the river Avon, which creates views and opportunities for naturalistic design around the more formal gardens.  Surrounding hills create a delightful wide valley which (apart from the occasional fighter plane! from the nearby air force station) was soothingly restoratively peaceful.  With hardly anyone else in the gardens, and with so little other intrusion from the outside world it felt like we had sidestepped the everyday. 
Even Heale Cottage (the large house with the thatched roof and the only visible neighbour) looked like an illustration from an 18th century novel.
Bright sunshine is not the best condition for taking good snaps, but everywhere I looked - vistas and details - demanded to be captured, to be savoured later.
In one corner there is a Japanese bridge leading to a now rather dilapidated tea house.  But it all looks fitting with the magnificent surrounding blossoms.

So many shades and shapes of green - so much beauty, and promise of beauty to come.
This outing was both restful and stimulating in so many ways!  We won't leave it so long to return again - although we should not count on being as lucky as we were today.

by Olga Norris ( at April 07, 2017 04:18 PM

Sarah Ann Smith

She persisted (ocean quilt) at IQF Chicago

So if you’re going to International Quilt Festival in Chicago this weekend (2017), please do see my quilts!   Thank you SO MUCH to Becky Navarro, Special Exhibits coordinator for Quilts, Inc. (who put on the shows) for sending me these two photos of “She persisted in her quest to reach the shore and sing the anthem of the sea.”

On the right is my newest work, She persisted in her quest to reach the shore and sing the anthem of the sea, on display at International Quilt Festival Chicago 2017.

The 45th (!!!) Anniversary of the Quilt Festival is coming up and they will be celebrating with the Sapphire Celebration  from 2019 (45th year) to 2022 (sheesh that sounds almost impossible as a year!).  To learn more about entering, go here and scroll down.  They want traditional, art and modern quilts, size 50 x 50 or larger.  The size is a challenge for art quilters who tend not to work so large, but I was thrilled to have the chance to work so large.  And REALLY glad I have a Bernina Q20 sit-down machine now–the LONG, tall harp makes such a difference in working on such a large piece.

Another view of the two quilts promoting and encouraging entries in the new exhibit.  On the right is my newest work, She persisted in her quest to reach the shore and sing the anthem of the sea (c) SarahAnnSmith 2017.   

Quilts Inc. is giving you plenty of notice so put on your creative hats and get to work!

Umbelliferous:  Queen Anne’s Lace No. 1 is also on display in the Patterns exhibit curated by Dinner@8, then will go to her new home with a private collector (I am still stunned and thrilled–thank you!).

Umbelliferous: Queen Anne’s Lace No. 1 by Sarah Ann Smith (c) 2016

Now, I need to go to the studio to work on my next piece!

by Sarah Ann Smith at April 07, 2017 02:18 PM

Neki Rivera

ain't this cute!

no excuses for not weaving.
will be back at the end of april.
be well and be good.

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at April 07, 2017 02:00 PM

Margaret Cooter

Spring cl****ng

After a lovely day yesterday, both weatherwise and in terms of arty activities - a talk at the British Museum on Hockney's 1967 prints based on Cavafy's poems (on till 14 May), followed by the Paolozzi exhibition at the Whitechapel (on till 25 May)
Paolozzi's pattern book, 1952
- and with a finale of an impromptu and late family meal at our favourite local vietnamese -
AND with today being another day of blue skies and springly delight, such as the rampant forget-me-nots in my little garden, and look at the spreading pillow of phlox, and the tuft of geraniums starting to flower (ignore the bags) -
the bags hold compost made at Wrentham Avenue
Well, with all this going on, one's thoughts naturally turn to ... Spring Cleaning. Though it was reading an article about the way moths are taking over our dusty homes - and seeing a couple of moths lately - that has spurred me on. Three free hours lie ahead, and my tools are to hand -
the feather duster, the yellow dust cloth; the rechargeable Dyson is looking fully powerful in the broom cupboard ... but can you spot the invisible tool? Of course not: it's "readiness". The part of the room that you see is as clean and tidy as it's likely to get (though I see how the counter could be improved!); my backpack has been cleaned out, ready for an excursion this afternoon; and the hidden part of the kitchen counter, and the cooker, are somewhat pristine. I feel ready to "work the magic" elsewhere, and will start in the Shoe Corner of my bedroom and see how far it can go in three hours.

A bit of background to my concept of "readiness". Do you remember feng shui? It was a hot topic quite a few years ago, and there are lots of pix of the bagua on the internet. Not exactly scientific, but useful - you take from it what you want.
This one names the areas somewhat differently from the usual - for instance, Completion instead of Creativity [my sink area], New Beginnings instead of Family [my Dan Hays print on the fireplace wall], Path in Life instead of Career [the place where our bags get dumped]. My desk is in the Abundance area - I'm here a lot. Relationships is the cooker, which my son hates to clean (hmm...). Benefactors is the broom cupboard, what does that mean?!

You take from it what you want. Some people do the alignment with their front door - I like to do it room by room. What brought this up again was a comment about keeping the loo lid down if the toilet is in the Wealth area, so that your money doesn't go down the pan. And sure enough, if every time you lower the lid you think about how to hang onto your money, or increase your wealth, that awareness should eventually translate into action.

So when I clear up the counter and wash the dishes, as part of getting ready to do Something Important, I'm usually thinking about what I'll be doing next (eg going into the studio, or garden). When I clean my cooker I always think of my mother, who liked a tidy kitchen and had made me a bit of embroidery: Mein Herd, Mein Stolz - she also worked quietly on relationships with family and friends throughout her life.

And I look over at that the Knowledge corner, where the bookshelf situation is unchanged...

But a little spring cleaning will change a lot in the bedroom, so I'm off upstairs to Make It Happen. Making hay while the sun shines!

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 07, 2017 10:57 AM

Olga Norris

Three threads (part 1)

Hughie O'Donoghue: Three Studies for a Crucifixion II (image from here)
This week I was fortunate to see three exhibitions in one venue: the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester.  I had arranged to meet a friend there to see two exhibitions - the Pasmore and the Nolan - but the bonus for me was the display of woodcut prints which I had time to visit before my friend arrived. 
Vanessa Bell: String Quartet (image from here)
The display covered quite a range of styles which I enjoyed perusing.  Durer's work is always a delight, and it was interesting seeing Vanessa Bell's illustration work, as I was not so familiar with her prints.
Ben Nicholson: Five Circles (image from here)
Of the abstracts, two artists' work was intriguing: Ben Nicholson I did not expect to see at all, and indeed it turns out that this is most likely the only woodcut he executed.  I love the way that the grain of the wood fits his minimal style so well.  What a pity he did not do more.
Salter's work also fascinates me - it always strikes me that she is trying to make pieces which look as much unlike woodcut as possible.  The two on show here are like fine woven cloth.
Emma Stibbon: Hverir, Iceland (image from here)
Such a contrast with the work of Emma Stibbon which is pure drama in landscape.
Utagawa Hiroshige: Travellers surprised by sudden rain (image from here)
John Buckland-Wright: Figure (after Stanley Hayter) (image from here)
I was pleased to see a couple of 'usual suspects': Hiroshige and a homage to Stanley Hayter by John Buckland-Wright.  But was thoroughly delighted finally to see Nana Shiomi's work close to - having previously admired it online only.  Of the prints from 100 views of Mitate, it was No88 Great Buddha which appealed to me - shown below.
But the work which inspired me most was not a woodcut at all.  It was in the gallery/café space outside the print room: Hughie O'Donoghue's Three Studies for a Crucifixion II - magnificent carborundum prints, illustrated at the top of this post. 

by Olga Norris ( at April 07, 2017 09:54 AM

April 06, 2017

Dijanne Cevaal

New prints

I have been stitching samples for my classes in Germany next Monday and Tuesday at Bernina Longarm DE owned by Regina Klaus. It will be a long drive but fortunately I have a friend with whom I can stop for a night on the way to Doerfles-Esbach. The week after it is to Nantes for Pour l'Amour du Fil and demonstrating for Bernina and then after that workshops in Caen.

Extra Workshops
I will also be doing workshops  in a gallery just outside Chartres on 2- 3 May 2017  at the studio of Cardamome Gallery. On the 2nd of May 2017 we will be doing transfer printing ( and working with lutradur ) and stitching and on the 3rd of May 2017 we will be making a linocut for printing on paper and fabric and doing some embellishing with stitch of the linocut. If you are interested in joining please email me

When I was up north  recently I picked up a bag of my things that I had stored in the garage of a friend. I had forgotten about half of the things that were in there, but was pleasantly surprised to find a large linocut of a boabab tree which I made quite some time ago and which I had put aside because I thought it needed more work. So I finally got around to doing the little extra work and printed off some panels this morning. I can't wait to stitch some of these up!  They measure 34 cm x 49 cm and have been hand printed on hand dyed fabric. They are for sale for $25 AUS plus $3 postage. At present I only have these colours available as I have to dye more fabric which is on the to do list for when I return. I have created a Paypal button for your convenience- just tell me which colour you would like.

I also printed up some of the Travellers' Blanket linocut which are also for sale. This print measures 34 cm x 39 cm and is also priced at $25 Plus $3 postage.

by Dijanne Cevaal ( at April 06, 2017 11:06 PM

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - Field Guide by Tony Hoagland

... cue the dragonfly ...

Field Guide

Once, in the cool blue middle of a lake,
up to my neck in that most precious 
element of all,

I found a pale-gray, curled-upwards 
pigeon feather
floating on the tension of the water,

at the very instant when a dragonfly,
like a blue-green iridescent bobby pin,

hovered over it, then lit, and rested,
That’s all.

I mention this in the same way
that I fold the corner of a page

in certain library books,
so that the next reader will know

where to look for the good parts.

Tony Hoagland was born in 1953 in North Carolina and grew up on various military bases (his father was an Army doctor). "Hoagland’s poetry is known for its acerbic, witty take on contemporary life and 'straight talk' ", says this site. On his twitter account he describes himself as "poet, teacher, sarcasm enthusiast".

I found the poem in Nick Laird's article in an old copy of the Guardian review. It appears in Laird and Don Paterson's anthology, The Zoo of the New, in which a ragbag of poems [ragbags are wonderful things, as sewing friends will know] is arranged alphabetically by title of poem. 

The image is adapted from one on Beautiful Now, a site with lovely colourful photos and many closeups of Nature.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 06, 2017 11:29 AM