Planet Textile Threads

July 26, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Getting out the pots

The surfaces in my (reclaimed) studio are overrun by ceramics made over the past three or four years -
These are the ones that interest me more -
The idea is to make groupings of them - families perhaps, or "conversations" - and the sticking-point, in terms of exhibiting them at all, is how to display them. (Answers on a postcard, please!)

A chance to exhibit a group arose and I spent quite a lot of time finding The Group. Yes it was fun -
Singletons, and backgrounds

Groups, and angles
The shortlist -
Porcelain books

With metal threads

Made with sinamay scraps - see the fabric version here
I chose the "splash" group, and it will be in the Readymade show at City Lit until 29 August. The PV is 5.30-7 on Thursday 3rd August, do come along if you can - there will be work from students in all sorts of media.

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 26, 2017 11:10 AM

Neki Rivera

hem and topstitch

and this is done. re-purposing a well beloved dress for the top part. the bottom is wool nun's veil. those nuns really know their fabric.
seems that it never gets really hot here i am going to keep sewing this kind of jumper but changing the skirt.long sleeves underneath and i'm set for summer nights. hope this is not in the category of famous last words.
i am still going around the silk fabric i wove ; not too sure of the patterns because it is such a short length and i'd really have to piece it.doubts,doubts.

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at July 26, 2017 08:00 AM

July 25, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - Southwark Cathedral

The weather was good, so some of us stayed outside. I found an unappealing view of largely unappealing buildings and decided to have a go anyway -
Cheesegrater and Walkietalkie take centre stage

Bamboo pen and india ink on top; felt pen beneath
 The bronze lettering ran along the parapet, attached to the stone - but the colon had fallen off. I looked carefully at the letter forms and their spacing, but looking is quite a different thing to freehand drawing! The numbers come from memorials inside the cathedral.
 The real thing -

Sue's statue -
There's not information about the piece nearby. An image search finds that it could be a Roman - or Greek - warrior, or Minerva - indeed Minerva it is, by Alan Collins - he also has work at Guildford Cathedral.

Carol found several items of interest, including the shoes of Edward Stuart Talbot (bishop of Southward 1905-11) -
Judith's courtyard scene -
Jo's door, carefully fitted to match the masonry -
Najlaa found intriguing "trail marks" in the garden - they represent paths travelled through life -
They are part of the memorial to Mahomet Weyonomon, a chief of the Mohegan tribe in Conneticut who had come to London in the 18th century to achieve justice for his people but died of smallpox and was buried in unconsecrated ground. This "domed medallion" (or sculpture; drawn by Sue) is linked with him - it symbolises the spiritual force that flows through all things.
Janet captures the interior of the church -
Joyce's stained glass window, from afar -

Extracurricular activities

Sections of a monoprint - the ones with "bird shapes" and other nature - selected and sewn together by Joyce -
Another piece Joyce made in a Pauline Burbidge workshop - quilting first and printing after -
Sue's Norwegian clouds -
Judith has been making intriguing stackable sculptures -

Carol is continuing with stories of the adventures of Duck, Tiger and Giraffe, based on events in the life of her grandsone -
Najlaa has been wrestling with bargello patchwork -
And Janet has been quilting, but it's a bit of a secret just yet -


some of us went to Intaglio Printmakers, in Playhouse Court off Southwark Bridge Road
Its basement premises is filled with desirable, enticing supplies -
On the way to the tube we saw some of the minor wonders in the area, including the Hop Exchange and, across the street from it, this wonderful facade -
Southwark was the epicentre of the hop trade in the 1860s.

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 25, 2017 09:43 AM

July 24, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Diarising - and why things go wrong

Is "diarising" a real word? I mean it to mean "keeping a diary"; documenting the days as they whizz past. Is this something you do? Does it take you away from living in the moment? And does it capture the moments you want to remember? These are questions that might concern us as we get older and our brains fill up (well, it feels like the brain is completely full up, sometimes).

My diarising is via the camera. I still carry the little notebook and try not to be lazy, to get it out at odd moments and write odd things down, but the camera - now smaller than ever, in my phone - gets the action. And from the phone the photos are magically sent to the computer and stored without any effort on my part ... though I really do miss "being in control" - I still haven't figured out how to get to certain older photos quickly, or how to transfer a selection of photos to the computer's storage. (it's on my list.) Possibly making Albums would help with this.

So let's look at some photos from yesterday. After a lazy morning I had a two-hour journey to Ham, thanks to believing that the Overground wasn't running. Duh, and double-duh - I'd seen on Saturday that the Gospel Oak-Barking line wasn't running, and when Citymapper, the getting-around-london app, didn't show the Overground on its selection of routes, I put 2 and 2 together and got 55. The "full" brain became a downright silly brain. Note to self: Think, and Check.

Never mind, plenty to do while on the move, thanks to the wonderful phone - here's the podcast I was listening to, on the future of artificial intelligence (AI) -
("We begin with a love story--from a man who unwittingly fell in love with a chatbot on an online dating site. Then, we encounter a robot therapist whose inventor became so unnerved by its success that he pulled the plug. And we talk to the man who coded Cleverbot, a software program that learns from every new line of conversation it receives...and that's chatting with more than 3 million humans each month. Then, five intrepid kids help us test a hypothesis about a toy designed to push our buttons, and play on our human empathy. And we meet a robot built to be so sentient that its creators hope it will one day have a consciousness, and a life, all its own.")

What my little brainstorm meant, though, was finding a way back home that would be quicker, and again it was Duh and Double-Duh - taking the train to Victoria - from the station that the Overground uses ... did I think to check its platform? No, I was fixated on catching the 16.27 and in was 16.23 and, well, I just never thought of it, I'd ruled out the Overground on the basis of my own false assumptions. Note to self: Keep questioning those assumptions!! 

On the bus on the way to the train station, I saw the river glinting in the distance and of course had to get a photo or two while the bus stopped -
The day promised - and delivered - rain

Ah, that mirror - let's get a photo and think about the perspective
 it shows; could that be something to use later...

Terrible photo (reflective bus window, for one thing) but how
homely and sentimental is that fantasy of the family bike ride...
My final example of how we can lead ourselves astray by false, or inadequate, thinking, concerns the train back to Victoria. It stopped at Vauxhall, the station before Victoria, which has an interchange with the Victoria line, which gets me home. So off I jumped - only to find something I should have known, as I'd used the Vic line on Saturday: the stations south of Victoria were closed this weekend. 

Every cloud has a silver lining. It wasn't raining yet, and I needed another 6,000 steps to hit my daily target, so I walked, doesn't take long - especially if you don't stop to take photos! But along the grimness of Vauxhall Bridge Road I couldn't resist these -
"Former premises" of "makers and sellers of paint"

"A job carefully done"

"A rural idyll"
The quotes are from this site, a delightful discovery - it details overlooked English buildings, " breweries, prefabs, power stations, corrugated-iron barns and the occasional parish church ". Definitely a blog to bookmark.

And the upshot of this tale of travel-gone-wrong, and making the best of it, and reflecting on why things go wrong, is the chance to take new opportunities and find new things. Of course the downside of finding new things is that they need to fight for brain-space, which is already in short supply. Note to self: Investigate current thinking on ageing brains.

At the end of the day, from my desk, a final photo of the sun streaming straight down the street before it dips over Crouch Hill -
Capture the moment

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 24, 2017 09:42 AM

Neki Rivera

now you see them

sampling to get the correct diameter in monofilament. the upper one too thick,50 mms. and the blue cast bothers me as i find it counter intuitive.the middle one is still too stiff at 40mms.  the bottom is 35mms, somewhat better, but still thick.

now you dont! 25mms and i think i can go down to 20. nice and supple and best of all
invisible.working at tension 7.

tension 9 proved to be too loose and ended up in a big loopy mess. yes, sample,sample,sample. i ended up with a big supply of monofilament. fishing anyone?

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at July 24, 2017 08:00 AM

July 23, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Sunday morning

An early start to the planned tidying of bedroom and closet - with a diversion outdoors to clip some lavender to put among the clothes - and scarves, especially - that don't get used quite so often.
 Once the morning dew has dried, I'll run up some sachets (now that the sewing machine is accessible!).

Then a leisurely breakfast with leftover cake, lots of fruit, greek yogurt, and lots&lots of coffee (decaffienated) -
And now, off to socialise with lovely people. Never mind the impending rain...

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 23, 2017 11:26 AM

July 22, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Japanese woodcut printing, part 2

Friday was all about printing, but at 6am my fourth block was still to be cut. I decided to use the lines - perhaps in nostalgia for my "travel lines".

At class, there was still much to be done before any printing could start. Registration lines to be added, edges of non-printing areas to be beveled, the blocks checked and generally tidied up, at which point I discovered an entire uncut corner of one of them ... hmm, how did that happen!

After an hour we were ready to run the block under the tap (right) and wrap it (left) in a damp teatowel and then plastic - it would have a couple of hours for the water to soak into the wood fibres -
Having folded sheets of newsprint into a book, we wet alternate pages (starting at the back) and wrapped them in plastic - this would be the damp pack for the printing paper -
The paper was cut to size to fit the area marked out on the blocks. Because it had deckle edges, one edge needed cutting off to give a basis for measuring our little sheets -
The sheets went into the damp pack, to be taken out as needed and returned between printings.

The nori (rice starch) paste needed thinning down, stirring with a chopstick as water was added little by little. The desired consistency is reached when it drops off the end of  the chopstick. Containers with lids keep the nori from drying and thickening -
Dabbing the nori onto the areas to be printed, after which a soft brush is used to smooth it out -
Then it's the turn of the pigment -
again with the brush -
Several applications of pigment may be needed, until the printing surface is properly covered.

The paper, lifted from the damp pack, is placed into the registration marks -
Being thin, it was covered with a sheet of baking paper to stop the baren rubbing loose the fibres -
Note the position for holding the baren.

Pigments: ordinary watercolours. First I wanted a pale grey for the background, the block with lines. A tube of Paynes Grey was available, and I also mixed up burnt umber with ultramarine (bottom), and viridian with alizarin crimson (top), but at the dilution I was using, you couldn't see much difference -

It was rather thrilling to see the layers building up, and to play with the colours -

A further step is to stretch the print - it dries, then is briefly dampened again, and placed on a surface (eg perspex) and taped round (in one direction, eg clockwise) with sellotape, which is rubbed onto the paper to hold it firm. When the tape is removed, it takes just a few of the fibres of the paper with it -

To my right, Mags was well away with beaches and groynes and beach huts -
An important thing is knowing how to sharpen the different tools. We were given a basic set of tools to use and keep, but even these work better if kept in good condition. So, find the bevel and first use the coarse stone
then remove the burr and finish off on the finer stone -
Here's a lovely bit of cutting - look at those thin lines! The block is a work of art in itself -
Samples of the finished prints
After class I went along to Intaglio to get a few things (brushes paper, sharpening stone) so that I could finish up my set, and perhaps play with the blocks in different ways -
 When I took the prints out of my plastic folder, 24 hours after the class, they were still damp, hence the buckling. Back in a damp pack before further printing, they'll straighten out, and after printing there's the stretching process for the ones worth keeping.

The one at top right is the most complete, it has all four layers, but unfortunately it has unwanted inking -
 Perhaps I used too much nori and made the block too wet? After seeing that, I used a scrap of the absorbent paper to mop between the motifs, and that helped a bit -
The yellow and violet print over the grey areas quite well, but the green is wildly misregistered on the right side -
Possibly the paper was badly placed, but it's also likely that my tracing for the grey layer was inaccurate. There's a lot needs looking out for! It's a bit like learning how to drive - you have to practice and practice till things become automatic.

Next step, making more blocks, based on a photo I took on the way to Intaglio, as a result of an idea I'd had on the way to class. Something caught my eye that just seemed right - but I must reconsdier it away from the heat of the moment. I quite like it when things happen quickly, so that you're swept up with the enthusiasm and urgency of it all.

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 22, 2017 07:55 PM

July 21, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Japanese woodblock printing, part 1

A two-day course at Morley College. Monday to learn how to cut the woodblocks, Friday to learn how to print them. In between we take wood and cutting tools home and finish the cutting. 

My first thoughts were to do "something based on Munakata" but looking at the books of traditional woodcuts as we waited for class to start both confused and excited me.
Two days, for beginners, obviously wasn't going to produce something resembling a Hokusai or Hiroshige - and besides, those prints were produced by a team of publisher, artist, carver, printer. (If you'd like to see how The Great Wave can be produced by one person, have a look at David Bull's series of videos, which has illuminating comparisons of the print in different museums, shows processes and technicalities - and his new workbench - and also the area around his shop in Tokyo.)

Our tutor, Carol, had had a residency learning traditional techniques in the shadow of Mount Fuji. Here are some prints made with watercolour inks built up from blocks of quite simple shapes -

 The blocks can look quite beautiful in themselves -
 I looked in my drawing-tuesday sketchbook and found some simple shapes which, rotated slightly and overlapped, filled the area
 Others had more pictorial, more traditional ideas -
 Carol demonstrated the tools, starting with kentoh, the chisel that makes the registration marks
 Other tools are hangi-toh, a knife with a bevel edge; maru-toh, a rounded gouge used to clear areas; hira-toh, a flat knife used to smooth ridges.

Coloured up, the design could be traced (with carbon paper) onto three sections of the wood, two on each side (finished size 15x10.5cm, with 1cm gutter and 1cm more for registration marks -
 The dispersal of the shapes meant that some "islands" could be added between them that wouldn't need cutting and would support the paper -
 We took our blocks (and the non-slip mats) home to finish the cutting before Friday's class.

As it happened, Drawing Tuesday was near Intaglio Printmakers, off Southwark Bridge Street, so some of us went to investigate
 I took rubbings to check what the block might look like. Seeing the lines in the background made me think about those big empty areas, especially centre bottom ... perhaps some sort of background pattern ...?
 I did some trial cutting on a scrap, then frottage, and couldn't decide which to use. The shapes are traced onto a bit of acetate (I like the results) -
 Yet more cutting and frottage - this could have other possibilities -
 To try to get a "real picture" of what might happen, I traced the darned thing again and yet again, and then went at it with a scalpel, opening windows of various sizes where the shapes overlapped, and then cutting out the background so it could be placed over various types of frottage to see what background design to cut in the fourth block, which would be printed first, and the others on top (well that's the plan) -

At the point of tracing the bottom image that I realised I'd made the classic beginner's mistake - forgetting to reverse the design before tracing it onto the block. Duh. Well, we'll see what it looks like, wrong way round...

More pressing was the choice of background - calming lines, or lively (and quicker to cut!) randomness? I decided to sleep on it, and get up early ... it's hard to imagine the result if you've not done the process yet! But by 9am Friday, that fourth block had to be cut...

Stay tuned for Part 2.

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 21, 2017 09:40 PM

Neki Rivera


somewhat late for tanabata, but it has that atmosphere.
have a good weekend.17ºc here,please do not hate me!

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at July 21, 2017 08:00 AM

July 20, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - Nine Triangles (for Breon O'Casey) by Christopher Reid

Eyelight thrown
on a dark question
to darken it further,

Time to take in
the view, the entire
daily tablescape.

Earthenmost shades -
and yet the effect
is of airy redemption.

That pledge of mud
the soul needs
to make its abstract journey.

Shapes huddle
in improvised families
out of the storm of seeing.

Wedges, half-moons,
rough squares: a simple
bag of tricks.

But everything
is accounted for
by these economies.

The epicurean
saint attends
to his plot of paint.

The world beyond
staying just the same,
only more so.
Found via an obituary of Breon O'Casey: "Moving out of St Ives to the village of Paul in 1978, O’Casey developed his vocabulary of geometric forms, the world seen through a collection of circles, triangles and squares rather than fields, trees and skies. This unique pictorial language is celebrated in Christopher Reid’s poem, Nine Triangles (for Breon O’Casey)."

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 20, 2017 05:17 PM

July 19, 2017

Sarah Ann Smith

I’m on Quilting Arts Series 2000!

Long time no see, eh? Don’t faint–it’s a new blogpost!  It has been crazier busier than usual in my life, which is saying something.  Lots of quilt made, shows entered,  accepted in more than half, taped 3 segments for QA TV in March, went to a dyeing fabric workshop in Massachusetts, son’s wedding came and went (three days ago), it was perfect.  It was a DIY (do it yourself) affair with daughter-in-law and me planning, and me absolutely delightedly doing a LOT of the prep.  I’m so happy it came off without a hitch, was perfect (will try to share pics before too long).   So now I get to SHARE all this good stuff I’ve been doing.  First is that I am on Quilting Arts again, episodes 2001, 2007  and 2012.  The series will air on PBS this fall but you can purchase the series at Interweave now; this link is to the download, but a DVD of the series is also available here.

On the 2001 show, the first of the season, host Susan Brubaker Knapp and I talk about how to get from where you are to being a professional, our own journeys on that path, and things we’ve learned about ourselves and how we each found our own “thing” in the industry.  You can see a recap of episode 2001 here.  Since I’ve known Susan for years, it is so relaxing to be around her, and she is such a professional and skilled at guiding those not used to being on camera all the time.   Thank you so much to Susan, Quilting Arts Editor Vivika Hansen deNegre and all at QA TV for inviting  me to be on again and making the process so wonderful.

On Quilting Arts TV Series 2000, episode 2001 with host Susan Brubaker Knapp

If you go to the page link for Episode 2001 and click on the photo (seen above) you’ll even get a download link to my hints and tips about finding your own path to being a quilting professional.


by Sarah Ann Smith at July 19, 2017 08:06 PM

Olga Norris


I have been seeking a folk song.  Several years ago, while I was my mother's sole carer and thus not my usual otherwise alert self, I happened across a television programme of a folksong gathering.  A woman described the folk tale behind the song she was about to sing - perhaps in Gaelic (Irish, or Scottish, I cannot remember).
It was the story which gripped my mind.  I do not remember it at all clearly except the bare bones:
There were two sisters; one - let's call her Catriona - had a lover that the other - let's call her Fiona - coveted.  So while Catriona fell asleep at the low tide edge, Fiona tied her hair to the rocks.  The tide inevitably came in, and Fiona walked off with the lover.
I cannot remember enough details to google effectively, so have not been able to track down the folk song, or the tale.  I keep trying at odd moments, but meanwhile the worm has been at work in my mind.  The seaweed on the shores of the Outer Hebrides provided the hair.
It is not a literal illustration of a mis-remembered story, but what hearing the story generated within my well-established relationship with the sea.  After my return from holiday I have been working on the idea above. 

by Olga Norris ( at July 19, 2017 10:57 AM

Margaret Cooter

Feminist textiles and embroidered hankies

The Cut Cloth exhibition, and its associated events, were what spurred my recent trip to Manchester. I got there on the last day of the exhibition, which was held in the amazing Portico Library, with its delightful "original features" dating back 200 years - the library was opened in 1806. The central exhibition space , which also functions as a cafe - is a modern intervention -
The "Polite Literature" category would include the literature that was read in the Polite Society of the Georgian era, the sort of literature deemed sufficiently suitable for a wife or servant. But these shelves also hold some risque novels and a few books on witchcraft and philosophical and theological arguments. (Read more about it here.)

We had a simple lunch on tablecloths rumoured to be by Alice Kettle (and indeed she and ceramicist Stephen Dixon are leaders of the Crafts Research Group, year-long artists in residence) -
In the vitrines, historic documents - The Subversive Stitch by Roszika Parker was published in 1984, and the Art Textiles exhibition, curated by Jennifer Harris  was held at the Whitworth in 2015
Textile art and contemporary feminism
(click on the image to enlarge,  for reading the text)
 A few of my favourite pieces -

 In one vitrine, historical textile production in Manchester, which in 1853 had over 100 cotton mills and until early this century produced "wax cloth" for export to Ghana, and also Shweshwe indigo fabric, "German print", which was exported to South Africa -
Some days later, "the hanky workshop", led by Sarah Corbett of the Craftivist Collective. She supplied a kit with hanky, thread, needle, instructions, a lovely woven label ... and there are other stitching-for-action kits on the Craftivist website -

Sarah's Little Book of Craftivism contains thoughtful, do-able projects that bring the political a bit closer to the personal -
I was also taken by the follow-the-dots stitching cards - Stitchable Changemakers
And being an embroiderer, I not only had to turn it over to see the back, but photograph it -
 Here we are, stitching away in the Portico Library - changing the world one stitch at a time!
The hanky, explained Sarah, is a way of gently confronting and connecting to "a powerholder" - onto which can be stitched not only your concerns about their actions and policies, but also encouragement for doing a better job in future ... with the added dimension that you'll be thinking about these topics and issues as you stitch. To me, that is much more sane than yelling angry slogans. But to whom, about what, would I write or give such an object?  When we said a few words about ourselves at the start of the workshop, I said I'd come because this was an area that I'd not been involved with yet in my life. And indeed, I felt very much out of my depth and hadn't thought who for, or about what, such a handkerchief missive might be.

At the end of the session I hadn't got very far ... and Sarah gave us an "extra length of encouragement" to take away - "little by little, we travel far"

Little by little I sorted out what to say, how to say it, and to whom. While I educate myself about "issues" that I might want to try to change, I'll focus on what I know: "the personal is political". Family politics; who holds what powers? So, first, the nearest and dearest ... what could I say to my son? His birthday was only a week away, so the text urgently needed writing, no time for dithering. It got done. The words had to be fitted into the space available, and the writing had to be a good size. That got sorted, and then I traced it onto the cloth with a black biro. 

After that bit of agony came the joy of stitching - with two strands of anchor cotton, or rather one strand doubled over through the needle, so the needle wouldn't get lost during stitching on public transport (the sturdy, reclosable envelope of the kit was very useful for carrying it around) -

 Finished -

 And the back .....

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 19, 2017 10:52 AM

July 18, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - King's Place

Looking ahead to the Japanese woodblock course next week, and knowing that King's Place has tables at which one can sit and ... draw ... or whatever ... I brought along a book of Japanese woodblock prints by one of my art heroes, Shiko Munakata, thinking to get a feel for how the technique might affect the depiction.

The book is quite old and quite heavy but is full of inspiring things, these among them -

I tried using ink for some birds ... it soaked through the flimsy brown bag (later I added white pastel). I also tried inktense pencil, and on adding water managed to add a huge blog, which soaked right through the flimsy brown bag. Yet another case of inappropriate materials!
 However, drawing the shape gave some inkling not only of how different drawing in is from cutting out, but also of how much easier it is to get dark areas with the one-step process of using ink than with the two-step process of water-soluble pencils.

My next bright idea was to cut out the shapes -
 and then a bit of tracing, which really makes you pay attention to the details of the lines, and again to the difference between delineation with pen or pencil and creating a form with a gouging tool.
 I started using the shapes as stencils and as frottage -
 Hope to develop this further before the course.

In the self-portrait exhibition currently showing, Joyce looked at the different ways painters depicted themselves -
 Judith worked outside, finding a sculpture and an urban landscape -
 Carol was outside, near the canal, until it started raining -
 Janet B was sitting comfortably but said she was out of her comfort zone with the architectural subject - "every time I looked, there were more and more lines" -
 Najlaa found sculptures by John Beck -
 Mags tackled "the big red thing" with biros of different colours -
 Tool of the week - biros of different colours - these are "ink joy" -
 Extracurricular activities

Mags had been making little sketchbooks (from a sheet of A4) and filling them in odd moments -
 and she was also going great guns on her train stitching -
 Carol started a new (larger) sketchbook with an iconic motif -
 Janet B has done a series of drawings of her other hand -

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 18, 2017 08:02 AM

Neki Rivera

of widths

                                                                  sleeve pattern                                                 

one thing is clear: if i want to continue making cloth for apparel either a new wider loom or dress japanese style. their looms are narrower than mine and their system is minimum  cloth waste.
researching the net for kosode history and patterns i spent a good morning finding all kinds of information.
from there i developed my take, a short top with the  length  of fabric i have.

making a muslin first to avoid hand tremor as i cut the fabric.the pattern is extremely straightforward however.
i can even use the length of fabric i have folded over and opened in the front, as it has a separate piece that conforms the collar.
let's see how this fits i'll be sewing the toile tomorrow. sewing used to be summer activity as my studio was an oven.
still haven't get used to having a cooler temperature. although i have to say temps are expected to go to the high twenties or even 30. poor people here,they are not used to these temps. still much,much better than barcelona because nights are cool.

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at July 18, 2017 08:00 AM

July 17, 2017

Margaret Cooter

The wild and the tamed

A sunny summer morning is a gift and not to be ignored. I have a (self-imposed) daily walking goal, in the absence of longer walks, and got out early on the Parkland Walk - convenient, peaceful, green, what's not to like?

One of the joys of walking is noticing things, and now that I'm using the phone camera for all my snaps, it is always to hand. Nor can I resist documenting ....
"Weeds" beautifully backlit by low-slanting morning sunlight 

Ingenious storage of supplies for the wood-burner (but...London is a smoke free zone?)

Prolific blooms, what are they?

I'm almost convinced these slow-down signs are on some
sort of random timer, rather than related to traffic

"Back home" in BC these fuzzy pink things (what are they?)
grow prolifically in slightly-wild places 
Recently repainted, this proud sign is on Stapleton Hall Road

...and round the corner on Stroud Green Road
(heading into the home stretch)
the cafes are open at 7am but shop shutters are still down

The local off-licence, Jacks, has recently had a face-lift - boy oh boy,
 has this area changed since I moved here (to Sparsholt Rd) in 1983!

New carvings have been added to this collection,
but the bamboo now obscures those in the other windows

More damage to the diseased chestnut trees ... how much
longer till they have to be cut down? I dread the day

From the corner of my block - it too is much improved in recent years;
I moved here in 1994

"Here" is the top two floors, a maisonette rather than a flat;
there are 33 stairs inside and another dozen outside

The garden, my expensive toy, belongs to the "basement" flat,
which now belongs to my empire-building son, thanks to inheritance
and my pension contributions. It was two years in the renovation
and is now rented out, but even so, that
was one expensive bike shed!

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 17, 2017 08:38 AM

Neki Rivera

as a friend says

it all takes 10 years.redoing the blog from the photobucket issue found a post from 05 where there were talks of moving to oviedo.the good news is that it finally happened, never mind the rest.

my sectional set up with some more hacks.husband san gets frantic with my hacking mentality. the ever architect.

this puppy's domesticated.resting for a while because i want/need to sew .

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at July 17, 2017 08:00 AM

July 16, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Art I Like - Breon O'Casey

Looking for a birthday card in my collection, I found this -
Summer Garden by Breon O'Casey, 1996
Simple and satisfying, as is so much of Breon O'Casey's work. And that lovely orange colour really adds the heat of summer. The perfect card, I thought, for someone born in the summer, with a garden in the making. 

And yet, I can hardly bear to give it away... So let's look at some other works by this artist.

Most popular - what google images puts at the top of the page
O'Casey turned his back on fashion, says this blogger. "Throughout the 60s and early 70s he was part of the complicated jigsaw puzzle picture that was the St Ives school, but then he cut himself off, getting out in 1975 just as the dealers and art historians were beginning on the forensic process of cataloging, pricing and documenting the scene there."
O'Casey's studio; more views here
Living midway between Penzance and St Ives, " his painting became more assured with certain motifs recurring – the single form on a divided ground and a distinctive double ended anvil shape."

I'm particularly fond of his birds, both painted and sculpted, of which his gallery says:
"Breon’s archetypal birds owe an amused and open debt to the birds in Braque’s paintings. Birds in flight are ideal companions in the spatial explorations that have preoccupied them both. Breon has learnt from Braque’s tactile space – the way in which the space around an object becomes as palpable as the object itself. The dark backgrounds of many of Breon’s new paintings contribute intense luminosity and depth. Their surfaces are sensuous. Breon’s colours have a special richness and harmony, with many different browns, ochres, rusts, reds and greys in particular. Bright accents accompany the more muted and subtle earth colours – including some surprising pinks."

Winged bird, bronze, 18x23 cm (via)

He used bird motifs in jewellery as well:

O'Casey was born in 1928, the son of playwright Sean O'Casey. He died in 2011; a website of his work is at

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 16, 2017 12:40 PM

July 15, 2017

Terry Grant

Guiding Principles revisited

Today my Facebook "Memories" brought up a blog post I made four years ago and in rereading it, I found I still like the advice I gave myself back then. I had been struggling with this piece.

Actually it doesn't look that bad to me now, but back then the blue house in the foreground was just not working for me and I had overworked it to the point of having lost any sense of freshness and spontaneity. After all that and some anxious anticipation, I did what I knew had to be done.

I have not regretted that decision, and the real value was in defining for myself, my artistic values. They still work for me. So I am glad to share them once again, and again, reiterate that you may disagree, but perhaps in agreeing or disagreeing you will discover what your personal guides are.

So—the post from 2013....

Guiding Principles

I am cutting it off. The only logical solution, really.

Thanks for all the input and comments. Some of you got what I was after, some did not. The more I looked at it, the more I realized the basic flaw in the blue house part of the composition was that the blue house was just too dominant, too big and too much of a distraction from what were my favorite parts of the piece. Suggestions for adding things like vines and paint and layers of stuff were well-intentioned, but those things would not solve the underlying problem, and would probably only make it worse. I appreciate those of you who said to cut it off. I knew that was the best route to take and it was nice to hear support for that. The suggestion to put it aside and deal with it later was sound. I had already done that. This was the "later."

Less is more. Really it is. I keep forgetting, I guess. So I am making myself a list of rules—no, I won't call them rules. They are "guiding principles." You can ignore them in your own work, or argue with them if you like, but I think defining my own principles is a good way to remember what I already really knew.

1. Composition is the first and most important element. Once you are well into a piece it is hard to change the composition. Spend the time at the beginning to work it out and save yourself some grief later. Composition, composition, composition.

2. Color is important, value is even more important. Exciting art has deep darks and sparkling lights. Too often we are bogged down in the middle tones and that is the way to boring work.

3. Be true to your materials. Fabric art should look like fabric. Paint should look like paint. Paper should look like paper, etc. etc. Fabric cannot do all that paint can do. Paint cannot do what fabric does. Let the materials speak and listen.

4. Doing more is usually not the answer. Less is more. Simple is good. No amount of paint, glitz, buttons, beads, embroidery will fix a bad design. Embellishment should be part of a plan, not a band-aid.

5. Know your strengths and work with them. Just because other people love to make grand, immense work, doesn't mean I have to. Smaller and more focused is my place of greater strength. Large is not my best way of working.

6. Be authentic. Let your own style evolve by paying attention to what works best for you, what feels most honest and the feedback you get from trusted colleagues. Being inspired by the work of others helps you define yourself, but copying others just masks your own voice. Know the difference.

7. Filter what you hear from others. Advice is nice, but consider the source. Praise is lovely, but realize that most of your friends tell you what you want to hear. Questions are often more illuminating than answers.

8. Don't let the work become too precious. Always be willing to throw something away that isn't working. Or cut it up. Or give to the cat to sleep on. Some things are just practice. Not everything needs to see the light of day. But before you do any of these things analyze it and learn from it.

9. Base your analysis in sound practice. Go back to the elements and principles of design and ignore the theories of the proponents of "winging it."

10. Don't be lazy. "Good enough" is lazy if you can work a little harder and actually make it better. Do it right.

This is a start. I'm sure I will remember or discover others. Maybe I need to print them and post them in my studio. Do you have rules or guiding principles you try to incorporate into your work? I'd love to hear about them.

Posted by Terry Grant at 3:23 PM, July 14, 2013

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

by Terry Grant ( at July 15, 2017 11:22 AM

Margaret Cooter

Wimbledon and Wellcome

Tennis? what tennis? 
 Delivering some drawings, hopeful entrants for the Jerwood drawing prize - not my own drawings, though (maybe next year?) -
 Then back to town for what turned out to be a challenging event -
 It wasn't just a matter of sitting and hearing about the project, oh no, it was participatory - the audience split into two groups and did some movement and some painting, similar to the activities for the dementia patients. I am a bit reluctant about dance/movement, so those 15 minutes of what was obviously very pleasurable for most people have given me food for thought.

The painting consisted of each person making a straight line, and then "whatever you want", with one dip into the paint pot each time -
 Watching the making of the long diagonals, uniting the works, was very satisfying ... wish I'd thought of that!! Using the gloopyness of paint with a big brush, not to mention the joy of yellow, was a terrific release after the baffling complexity of the movement session. All told, the event was informative in ways I hadn't expected.

One of the items on display in the Wellcome Collection is a printout of the human genome - some genes occupy several thick volumes -
In the bookshop/gift shop, two young women (art students? they were dressed in black and one was carrying a UAL bag) were having a great time with the souvenir body parts -
Holding hands
 Down the road, the church that I passed every morning on my way to work still has hollyhocks -
 and some legs have appeared, a giant sculpture -

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 15, 2017 10:28 AM

Crowdfunding May Morris

The William Morris Gallery, just up the road in Walthamstow, is trying to raise £15K to put on an exhibition about the work of May, the talented, skilled, and productive daughter of William Morris.

In 2015, the V&A blogged about her as an "unsung artist" (here).
Embroidery design, c.1885, by May Morris (via)
It's difficult, no doubt, to be the child of a famous parent when you follow in their footsteps. And to be the daughter... well, she could do with a little help to get a little recognition, even a century later.

As is usual in crowdfunding, there are rewards for various amounts of support. Donate £15 and get postcards, £25 a totebag, £45 the totebag and afternoon tea for two, £100 for a silk scarf in her honeysuckle design ... and for £995, a personal tour of Hand & Lock embroidery studios!
Of course if they don't make the target, your pledge will be useless, and no money is taken from your account.

There's an interesting wrinkle: £5000 has been pledged by a single donor, contingent on the first £10K being raised.

At time of writing, just 12 days remain, and it's about a third funded. If you're a fan of the Arts & Crafts movement and have a bit of cash to spare, have a look

The museum says:
"May Morris was one of the most important figures of the Arts and Crafts movement. A successful designer of wallpaper, jewellery and woven textiles, she was most influential as a pioneer of art embroidery – her work and expertise were in demand across the world. But her achievements have for too long been overshadowed by her more famous father, William Morris. 
We think it’s time May was recognised for her own talents. That’s why we’re asking for your help in raising £15,000 to create May Morris: Art & Life, a major new exhibition of May’s work. If our campaign is successful we can bring together rarely seen embroideries, costumes, jewellery, works on paper and personal items from collections across the country – and display them side by side for the first time."
May Morris in 1909 (aged 47) (via)

Update: The project reached £15,000 funding on 14 July.

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 15, 2017 09:10 AM

July 14, 2017

Olga Norris

Holiday stitching

I am still working my way through Soliloquy, a panel at a time - only eight panels to go before I stitch them together.  I did not want to risk them on holiday, however, so I took Classic viola to finish, and Quiet work.
The latter was my main occupation, with the leaves taking up the time.  I finished the rest once I returned home, and before resuming Soliloquy.
I have written in more detail about the development of Quiet work on my work blog.

by Olga Norris ( at July 14, 2017 12:47 PM

Margaret Cooter

Rediscovering my dipped ceramics

Looking through cupboards and in boxes, unwrapping ...
Seeing these objects of labour afresh - and yet I still don't know what to think about them. So I'm taking yet more photos, singly and in groups (families, definitely families). 
It all started with the idea of "the ceramic book"

Gathered fabric, so fragile 
Stitching and strips of metallic fabric

Variations on a theme

More and more variations

Unpredictable effects

"A bigger splash" ! (or: "She said what?)

Trio #1
Trying out some "travel lines" as background

Nuclear family


Trio #2

The dipped ceramics have gone through various names/descriptions - chimneypots, vessels, fabric-ceramic pots, transformed pots, metamorphosed ceramics, and as yet there's not really a short wording for them. 

It's about the switch between opposites, soft fabric into hard pottery, woven into baked ("baked wovens"?), ephemeral into durable, lifespan into eternity, colourful into monochrome, penetrable into solid - they cross over some sort of threshold and move from one end of the dichotomy to another. Dichotomised ceramics? no, you have to know the whole story before that makes sense. The search goes on ...

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 14, 2017 11:26 AM

Neki Rivera


what else?
have a great weekend.

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at July 14, 2017 08:00 AM