Planet Textile Threads

July 28, 2015

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - Reading Room at the Wellcome Collection

Looking around the Reading Room, one of the first things I saw was the collection of Georgie Meadows' textile work, her "stitched drawings" in jars ... rather high up, therefore hard to see the details -
I found a chair with a good view of another cabinet (also rather high up, on top of a bookshelf) and eventually tackled the anatomical wax moulages (waxes showing injuries or pathological changes in the body; these are c.1930) and Jane Jackson's plaster and wax models, also from the 1930s (another of her models is here) -
Too high up and too far away for comfortable drawing, but after the "medical drawing" course I found these depictions of pathology interesting, and am still searching for what to use, and how, for depicting undulations in smooth surfaces. This attempt used compressed charcoal. The three "people", faintly done with pencil, are a boy with rickets, a woman with Cushing's syndrome, and an elderly woman (is old age a disease??).

This wonderful machine with its unknown components allowed for drawing from a distance and then getting closer. That's a sort of scientific approach: from the distance you formulate the hypothesis, sketch it out; then you test it by looking carefully and closely and readjusting the parameters -
The intriguing contraption is the Pohl Omniskop x-ray machine from Germany, 1925-35. The chatty attendant showed me the features of the machine - the patient was positioned on the board, which could be moved (with counterweights and a motor) into a variety of positions. The screen and the cathode ray tube behind it could be moved along the body, and also around the body. It hardly looks comfortable, and doses of radiation were high, but this was cutting-edge technology at the time.
Ernst Pohl, inventor of the machine, was a technical autodidact. In 1902 he founded a firm making medical and surgical instruments, with an early focus on x-ray technology. By the 1930s he had filed 150 patents in various areas, and his colleagues and students went on to found other medical instrument firms. The Omniskop was developed in the 1920s and came to be used internationally. In 1947 Pohl received an honorary doctorate from Christian Albrects University in Kiel, where he had been taken by his mentor in 1899.

I went on to look at the levers etc that were used for adjustments -
Other objects of interest were this gas-driven prosthesis for a thalidomide child in the 1960s - the irony being that when it was being worn, the child couldn't use its own hands -
 and this blown-glass model of the ebola virus -
which is displayed along with other models from Luke Jerram's glass microbiology series -
It was the jars and mortars that caught Mags' eye -
She drew the glass with hard and soft pencil, as light-on-dark and dark-on-light -
 and the wooden mortars to show their woodenness -
The chair under the stair appealed to Janet (drawn while she was sitting in its twin) -

and later she drew the chair I was sitting in, near the x-ray machine -
Sue started with some appealing objects from the amulets cabinet -
 and moved on to these -
 straightjackets and their shadows -

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 28, 2015 10:01 AM

Neki Rivera

the great blogging debate

Unexpected abstraction

lately there has been some questioning about blogging, whether it's dead or not, whether it still holds a purpose given the myriad of other on line communities.

i am somewhat old fashioned in this respect; to me blogging is an essential part of my doing. although sometimes there's little text, for me, it is a more in depth recording than any other on line platform. it also functions as a knowledge transfer platform as there are lots of tutorials about every thinkable topic.
it is a place where one can ramble and distill thoughts. and if someone is kind enough to leave a comment it can also mean a way of conversing.i have made great friends through blogs and some i have even met in person.
plus there's something about a first,let's say love, that is difficult to replace.

instagram for me is mainly about photos and photo experiments; quick glances from my walks and open to the viewer's interpretation. hardly ever i add text.

facebook is in my opinion repetitious and superficial. from all the posts in my feed maybe 1/4 is interesting and or's mostly about cats, disasters that can happen to you or your pets,pseudo inspiring schmaltzy thoughts and gods of every kind. it is time consumed passively and i am slowly limiting my presence there.

pinterest poses copyright ethic questions, it is also rather passive, but at least it is inspiring. mind you i am just half guilty; i don't pin, but i follow some boards because they are full of information. like a graphic google at your fingertips unlike present google which is more interested in selling ads and promoting places. have you noticed that one has to go to the 7th-8th page to really start finding information.

perhaps all of the above describes me as a non millenial, which definitely i am not. but then again that's not my niche and i don't think they'd be interested in something so time consuming and slow as weaving.

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at July 28, 2015 08:00 AM

July 27, 2015

Margaret Cooter

Fab floor

Is it inlaid linoleum? It's at the ICA, on the way to the upper galleries.

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 27, 2015 09:30 AM

Neki Rivera

sometimes two is bigger than four

especially when talking fractions ie:1/2 vs 1/4.not only did the other day i read on line that a person was heatedly arguing that on forth was bigger than one half because four was a higher number than two,but later on the week i wanted to draft a skirt block and the instructions called for drafting one fourth of the pattern as then you would place it on a folded cloth to make the whole pattern.
DUH???ಠ ಠ  ಠಠ
1/4 +1/4= 2/4=1/2. and i'm not good at math!

here is the evil one fourth of the pattern, wish there were classes that taught giving instructions.
the right pattern block + ease added as per these instructions, something quite uncommon.
from the basic block i am aiming to develop this number. nothing like a challenge to keep your mind focused.
and if you're interested in unusual pattern developments the blog and facebook page are absolute musts. warning: not for wimps.!

neki desu 
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by (neki desu) at July 27, 2015 08:00 AM

July 26, 2015

Margaret Cooter

Street art, Hackney Wick


Clever use of "holes in the wall"

It goes round the corner

More birds

"Strongly graphic"

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 26, 2015 09:43 AM

July 25, 2015

Margaret Cooter

A morning at King's Place

Meeting up with Art in the Park (Islington Art Society) to do some drawing ... but first I had to have a big cup of coffee ... and a long sit&think ...

... time for noticing things, like the colour schemes within the building, reflections, the patterns made by shapes and by the movements of people ...

and for a look around the Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize exhibition (till 9 October). All works are online here. The first picture I saw used textile, which was surprising and passed my "why textile" text -
Emily Tull, Fragility #1, 2009; Needle painting
Nearby was this oil pastel, which intrigued me through its conjectural story telling (and passed my "are those words really necessary" test) -

Another that gave rise to possible stories - and the use of figures on the jacket linked up nicely with a jacket in the Alexander McQueen exhibition with strategically placed faces from a medieval painting -
Peter Laraze, Self-Portrait as Saint Prince, 2004
A few paintings depicted groups of figures - which is the "self" being portrayed here? The one reflected in the glass covering the picture on the back wall, perhaps?
George Lloyd-Jones, During Canasta, 2015
One of the winners of a purchase prize - a linocut, hurrah -

Mostly the "just my head" works appealed to me less than the iconographic ones with all their included objects, but this one was painted on an antique linen sheet with known associations -
Liz Rideal, Marie Elisabeth Rideal (1954-)/Marthe Callet (Nee Bailleul,1897-1993), 2015
 My photo of this large conte and ink work loses the wonderful details -
Freya Pocklington, After Frida, 2014
 Finally, out into the air - before the arrival of lunch crowds - to join the other sketchers

 My subject: some of the narrowboats. Medium: water-soluble neopastel -
 Plenty of materials were in use. Most people seem to be painters, doing preparatory work for a "proper" painting -
On the way home, a quick look at "Sculptor's Drawings" at Pangolin Gallery (till 15 August; all works are online here) -
 And the discovery of a farmer's market at King's Cross station forecourt. Brilliant.
The big cheese!

Wonderful breads ... and more

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 25, 2015 09:20 AM

July 24, 2015

Sarah Ann Smith

Foto Friday, July 24th, 2015

The week’s challenge was footwear.  I’m not big on still lifes, but most of my ideas had already been done by other students in the class, so I set up a still life of Eli’s wrestling shoes.  The other part of the lesson was on dominance.   The shoes are clearly more dominant in the second photo, but I felt the first one was a better photo, so I submitted that for my week’s challenge.

Here's the photo I submitted for the Footwear/dominance challenge.

Here’s the photo I submitted for the Footwear/dominance challenge.

The usual smart sharpen, slight adjustments to levels, dodged a bit on the red knee-pad on the left as it was too distracting.  I like the tight focus on the well-worn wrestling shoes.  The kid came in second at the State Wrestling Tournament (Class B), and fourth overall in the State in his weightclass, including competing against the big schools in southern Maine.  Proud mama!

The usual smart sharpen, slight adjustments to levels, dodged a bit on the red knee-pad on the left as it was too distracting. I like the tight focus on the well-worn wrestling shoes. The kid came in second at the State Wrestling Tournament (Class B), and fourth overall in the State in his weightclass, including competing against the big schools in southern Maine. Proud mama!

by Sarah Ann Smith at July 24, 2015 09:53 AM

Margaret Cooter

Friday miscellany

The wardrobe doors open to reveal clothes on hangers, then the whole thing folds into a card

Jolly beach umbrellas, part of a Bond Street jewellery display
Exhibition "curated by Tony Cragg" at BlainSouthern -
Matthias Lanfer  manipulates industrial materials using cutting edge processes

Gereon Lepper, Der Apparat fast unbewegt
The fans switch on every 8 minutes, and the wire cage trembles, but nothing else moves

Andreas Schmitten, Basic Distinct
Minimalist forms, colours derived from Pop Art, fluoresent lighting, dull or reflective surfaces
The fabric in Schmitten's work brought up the "why fabric" question - what qualities of cloth make it the right medium to choose. Later the question came up again, or perhaps partly answered itself, in this shrouding of a shop being renovated -
Back at home, the zinnias in my garden continue to delight -

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 24, 2015 10:33 AM

Ceramics, day 1 (of 3)

Three Sundays to indulge in slip-dipping ... as long as I can make enough textile tubes during the week.

Out of nowhere came the idea for a bias tube - would the springyness of the fabric hold up against the weight of the slip? These were ready for the first session, some quite tiny, the largest about 7" high -
Most have metallic thread or fabric stitched on. Another factor to get right is the balance of dark areas against the white of the porcelain.

The "before" photos - once they are fired, I intend to do a "before and after" sequence -
Left, the bias is double-wrapped; right, sewn together to make a simpler tube

Metal threads woven into springy silk

Synthetic organza with machine-sewn tucks

Right, "plastic" metal threads woven into the fabric - the grid is useful for nice neat patterns

Stitching on the wild side - and the threads to hold the tubes during dipping are in place
And now for the "during" photos - the process - should you wish to try this at home.

Dipping - the larger tubes tend to crinkle up around the top -
 Dripping, suspended from sticks -
 and from a tripod made of chopsticks -
 The wire contraption is to hold the top open during dipping and dripping. It sort of worked.

The double layer will be interesting ... will the slip permeate all layers of fabric, or will it form thin sheets that crumble? Until I know, I won't be making more like this -
 The day's dippings, set onto bases (most of them) and resting on molochite for eventual firing -
 These few need to dry out properly before going into the kiln -
The task for the week is to make at least a dozen more of the bias tubes, and some heat-set organza ones. Fingers crossed that the ones in the tray actually do get fired, so that I can see what works and what doesn't, in terms of making more textile tubes for the final session in this (very!) short course. 

(This post is linked to Off the Wall Fridays.)

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 24, 2015 09:43 AM

Neki Rivera

hanabi season

have a cool weekend.

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at July 24, 2015 08:00 AM

Gerrie Congdon

Some Time Out


After getting 3 quilts done and photographed, sewing facings, making labels and travel bags, I had to take some time to breath.  Here is the travel bag that I made for the finished Glacier National Park piece which is 24 inches square. It would not roll easily so this is a great way to send out into the world. The plastic sleeve has a photo and identification information.

GNP travel bag

Yesterday, I cleaned up the sewing room which was a bit of a disaster. Lisa and Clay called and wanted to come and hang out and have dinner with us. I love to have them stop by.

Today, I headed to the studio to get some work done. I got the July Printed Fabric Piece done – the theme is insects. I will post photos at the end of the month.

I am behind on my Master Class homework for this month. The theme is rhythm. I need to do a little work on my sketch. I want to do some layering with silk organza and silk charmeuse so I painted some organza to use. Here it is still wet.


It has been nice to have a few days without looming deadlines.

by Gerrie at July 24, 2015 04:55 AM

July 23, 2015

Olga Norris

Experiments (printmaking)

I have been experimenting with a couple of images printed from two sides of a block of vinyl.  The first is Scary story - here is the block before I decided to carve away the hair.
I have been experimenting with printing on different papers, mostly tissue, either altered by me, or pre-printed, as in gift wrappings.
Below I've printed on this last: a white and silver unobtrusive floral pattern, which I think worked rather well.  I have used this tissue before, and like the way it takes the ink.  I also pasted the tissue onto black khadi paper so that the silver shines - unfortunately not visible in scanned reproduction.
I have also been experimenting with using digitally printed patterns which I have designed.  I made the background the wrong size in the one below, but went ahead with the trial anyway - not only because I wanted to see how the ink sat on the paper (I used printable lokta paper), but I liked the idea of her hair extending beyond the background.
I also like to try out different papers - such as scrunched up and then ironed brown wrapping paper.  Although it does not work with this print, I do like the effect of the ink on the scrunch edges, and would consider using it with a larger scale shape.
On the other side of the Scary story plate is that for Jazz flute.  First I tried a textured tissue - a coarse-ish fibrous tissue with bits in it.  I like the result, and am now thinking about what paper I might mount it on.  By the way, creases such as the one bottom left will smooth out in the pasting.
The digitally printed paper has also pleased me, and despite the rather faint inking on this print I do think that the dark-ish background will work.  I have also designed some lighter coloured versions to use.

by Olga Norris ( at July 23, 2015 10:38 AM

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - The Right Word by Imtiaz Dharker


The right word

Outside the door,
lurking in the shadows,
is a terrorist.
Is that the wrong description?
Outside that door,
taking shelter in the shadows,
is a freedom fighter.
I haven't got this right .
Outside, waiting in the shadows,
is a hostile militant.
Are words no more
than waving, wavering flags?
Outside your door,
watchful in the shadows,
is a guerrilla warrior.
God help me.
Outside, defying every shadow,
stands a martyr.
I saw his face.
No words can help me now.
Just outside the door,
lost in shadows,
is a child who looks like mine.
One word for you.
Outside my door,
his hand too steady,
his eyes too hard
is a boy who looks like your son, too.
I open the door.
Come in, I say.
Come in and eat with us.
The child steps in
and carefully, at my door,
takes off his shoes.
       - Imtiaz Dharker
(via the poet's website)

See the poem being performed at

For those with access to BBC iplayer, Imtiaz chooses her desert island disks and talks about her life here. She grew up in a Lahori household in Glasgow and now divides her time between India, Wales and London.

"When I start making a line on a piece of paper, I don't know if it will become a drawing or a poem" - see some of her drawings here.

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 23, 2015 09:03 AM

July 22, 2015

Olga Norris

Both blue and pink

Our hydrangea is looking really good this year, flowering all over, and covered with hover flies.  I find it extraordinary that one plant has both pink and blue florets.  It is delightful.
The various clematis plants are also looking good at present as we have not had enough rain to damage the flowers.
The hollyhocks are also benefiting from not being battered by heavy rain.  We are having humidity rather than a proper downpour, and the ground is really dry.

by Olga Norris ( at July 22, 2015 02:44 PM

Sarah Ann Smith

Descended from the Stars, Part 3

Good news:  it looks like there will be an article on this quilt!  Bad news:  that means I won’t be sharing quite as much here out of respect for the magazine.   But here is a lot, and I’ll tell you when the article is out!


The sun in the center of Descended From the Stars

The sun in the center of Descended From the Stars

When I left on in my last post about this quilt, I had shared the dyeing process and the stones and lettering.   Next, I fused trees in the four seasons into the corners.  I distorted the shape so the tree canopy served as a frame.  I had thought initially I might need an inner border, perhaps couched yarn or stitching of some sort, but the shape of the tree worked so well I didn’t need anything extra.

Detail, upper left corner, Spring Tree of Life.

Detail, upper left corner, Spring Tree of Life.  Each of the leaves is free-motion stitched with several rounds of thread on each leaf.  The nice part about doing this at the top stage is that I could use the scissors on my Janome 15000.  I didn’t have to bury thread tails!

Detail, top right, Summer Tree of Life.

Detail, top right, Summer Tree of Life.

Detail of the lower right corner, showing the autumn tree of life.

Detail of the lower right corner, showing the autumn tree of life.

Detail of the lower left corner, with the winter tree kissed by snow.

Detail of the lower left corner, with the winter tree kissed by snow.

You can see my work (on a glorious Janome 15000) as I am quilting around on the stones and leaves.


Here I have begun quilting.  You can see the custom-dyed cotton duck on the back.



Superior Threads (Thank you Bob and Heather Purcell!) has come out with some tone-on-tone variegated threads.   I have been pestering Bob for YEARS to make threads like these as I prefer blendy to contrasty.  I ordered up all of the new earth-tone blendy variegateds in the Fantastico line and used them.

At last, it was nearly DONE!  Time for facings, sleeve and label.

The back side of the quilt.  By dyeing the back to correspond with the front, the quilting design shows up on the back as it does on the front.

The back side of the quilt. By dyeing the back to correspond with the front, the quilting design shows up on the back as it does on the front.

And I couldn’t resist the temptation to place a moon behind the sun as my label.  One more time with the dip pen!

The End--the label is on, the sleeve is done, the facings are stitched!

The End–the label is on, the sleeve is done, the facings are stitched!

(c)Sarah Ann Smith 2015; quote (c) Mirza Khan, used with permission

(c)Sarah Ann Smith 2015; quote (c) Mirza Khan, used with permission

This quilt will be for sale–another reason I opted to not include a lot of personal details in the quilt.   As I said before, I am happy!



by Sarah Ann Smith at July 22, 2015 09:28 AM

July 21, 2015

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - African gallery, British Museum

It wasn't my plan to draw all these masquerade head dresses - just one or two, with their shadows. It became a matter of getting a clear sightline.

At this point most of the struggle was over, and it only remained to make a few adjustments and fill in the details.
"The Bijogo [of Guinea-Bissau] divide males into different age-grades, each with masks appropriate to its character. Young boys may dress as calves and fish but older uninitiated youths assume the form of dangerous and uncontrolled beasts such as sharks, wild bulls, and - as here - sawfish. Their dances are exuberant and aggressive and are expressive of their own undomesticated nature."

To fill in a few minutes, blind drawings of other head-dresses -
 Objects that other people were looking at -

... and some of the drawings -
Michelle's sculptural pot, Woyo people, Congo

Janet's terracotta head, Benin

Pat's  colourful carving

Cathy's  wooden figures, Azande people, Sudan

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 21, 2015 09:52 AM

Neki Rivera

aizome cuts it too

the very best vat ever. i think all my problems were due to the quality of the indigo i was using.this ai is a dream. this will become a dress

here's the bottom part.

first dip, 5-7 minutes.                                                                      second dip, 5 minutes.
the silk remained lustrous.

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at July 21, 2015 08:00 AM

July 20, 2015

Olga Norris

From Panda to Polar bear

This morning I encountered a snippet in the Guardian newspaper.  Art critic Jonathan Jones wrote about Jeann-Marie Donat's collection of old photographs showing at the Arles photography festival this year.  I would not normally have been interested in the article, except that I have a picture taken of me, my mother, a toy polar bear cub, and a man dressed in a polar bear costume (looking I must say more authentic than the one in the German photographs!).  We were in a park in Aberdeen in 1951 when I was three years old.
More of the German photos like the one above here

by Olga Norris ( at July 20, 2015 07:19 PM

Margaret Cooter

Cycling again

Not in the Velodrome itself, that would be an entirely different kettle of fish. Still getting my confidence up in a traffic-free zone. Going round the Olympic Park, it's wonderful to see how the floral landscape has changed between sessions. Two weeks ago, the gladioli weren't even in bud and now their brief span is almost done. And lilies (are they lilies?) have appeared on the other side of the grass swathe.
 Off the main paths are hidden nooks -
 Most of the dense planting is near the water-fountain area; love those cone flowers -
"The monstrosity" keeps an eye on it all -

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 20, 2015 04:11 PM

Sarah Ann Smith

Foto Friday on Monday, because I forgot LOL!

So I forgot to post a photo on my Foto Friday (and just my second week of doing this…erk!).  Except I just checked and I skipped an extra week.  SHRIEK!  OK…so today you get TWO fotos!

This past week's challenge was Macro/Flowers.  I don't have a Macro lens, so I just did flowers.  I deliberately focused on the one flower, blurring out the rest to create a focal point. Adjustment to levels, highlight.  That’s all folks!

This past week’s challenge was Macro/Flowers. I don’t have a Macro lens, so I just did flowers. I deliberately focused on the one flower, blurring out the rest to create a focal point. Adjustment to levels, highlight. That’s all folks!

And from the previous week, the theme was Celebration.   We had a lovely quiet Fourth of July, and I was touched that Joshua and Ashley wanted to come spend time with us.  And I gotta get Joshua to teach me how he got a burger that is both well done and juicy!

As soon as the theme was announced, I knew I would celebrate family when the few of us (just five!) gathered on the Fourth.  I like the triangular composition and the fact that three of my four family members (well, of the humans) are in this shot, even if hubby’s slipper is barely in the lower right corner!  Used dodge to darken corners, lasso and content aware fill to eliminate the white tag on the chair behind the firepit, a distracting glint of light on the chair leg, and a streak from a rising ember that just looked off.   Given how dark it was and that this was hand-held, I’m glad it turned out so well.

As soon as the theme was announced, I knew I would celebrate family when the few of us (just five!) gathered on the Fourth. I like the triangular composition and the fact that three of my four family members (well, of the humans) are in this shot, even if hubby’s slipper is barely in the lower right corner!
Used dodge to darken corners, lasso and content aware fill to eliminate the white tag on the chair behind the firepit, a distracting glint of light on the chair leg, and a streak from a rising ember that just looked off. Given how dark it was and that this was hand-held, I’m glad it turned out so well.

I am just too dang busy, but I’m sure having fun and learning!  My yard and house are a mess, but so what.  As the saying goes, I’ll be buried under 6 feet of dust, I’ll deal with it then!

by Sarah Ann Smith at July 20, 2015 02:52 PM

Margaret Cooter

Memories of lavender

Harvesting lavender near Chichester (via). Seeing this brought back memories of Hvar, which I visited while it was part of Yugoslavia. The island has long had a lavender industry and, as this photo from 2010 indicates, the harvesting methods there must be very different -
Lavender fields of Hvar (via)
Our tour guide (that was in 1987) told us that young people were leaving the island, looking for work in the cities, and we could see that the lavender farms were being abandonned, the plants sprawling untended. This is how I remember it -
I was in Hvar for a conference  - the Society of Indexers - and have been travelling down memory lane via the pages of its journal, which I was deputy editor of around then. We had some rather charming articles, for instance this one on indexes to clerihews, this one on indexers in Penelope Lively's novels, and this one on Barbara Pym as an indexer. And quietly mind-boggling fillers like this -
Back issues of The Indexer, since 1958, are available free online, with links to specific articles, via Curl up with a cup of cocoa...
Here's one I compiled earlier!

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 20, 2015 09:01 AM

Neki Rivera

busy hands


in progress

this one's a disciplined sampler
and it feels good to have some structure.

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at July 20, 2015 08:00 AM

Gerrie Congdon

Making a Mark


I know that I have been missing from the blogisphere, but I have had a lot going on. I lost two days earlier in the week because I had a colonoscopy on Thursday and Wednesday was prep day – stayed close to home. The good news is that it was all clear and I don’t have to go back for another, ever.

And, I have been working to get three quilts finished and ready to photograph tomorrow. One, I can’t show you, as it is for a special project and I have been asked to keep it under wraps.

The other two are for the annual High Fiber Diet show. This year, our theme is Making Our Mark, done in neutral colors, with minimal other colors.

The mark that needs to be on or part of every piece is that little square up there. I want to submit this quilt:


I made it in one of the sizes that the committee asked for, but what to do about that mark. Up above, you can see that I stitched the mark down in the lower left corner so that it sort of looks like a chop mark.

The piece I have been working on all week is photographs of our trip to Glacier National Park. I played with them in photoship and printed them on Jacquard Extravorganza. I fused them to grey cotton and then to gray felt and I have been obsessively stitching on them all week.



Here they are organized for stitching together. you can see that each segment is a different part of the square so that together, they make the mark.



We also had my daughter’s chihuahua for a week while she was in San Francisco taping an illustration workshop for Creative Bug. He is really not much trouble and is very loving. He spent the week on the sofa, behind me while I stitched and recovered from anesthesia.

wilfredodogwalkI still have to do facings on two of the quilts in the morning before I photograph them.

by Gerrie at July 20, 2015 04:43 AM

July 19, 2015

Olga Norris

Summer reading

I have been doing quite a bit of non-fiction reading recently, and needed some fiction which would whisk me off somewhere other, both geographically and in mood.  When reading the Summer Reading article in last weekend's paper I encountered this sentence by John Banville:
 Also in my bag will be Pascal Garnier’s Boxes (Gallic Books £7.99), which is sure to freeze the cockles of my heart nicely. For those unacquainted with Garnier’s work, think Simenon and Patricia Highsmith mixed, with jokes added to the black brew.
These two authors are enormous favourites of mine, and so it was a no-brainer to look up Pascal Garnier - of whom I must admit I had not previously heard.  Perverse as ever, I decided to start not with the newest title, but to go back to the first - or the first translated at least.  So I acquired The Panda Theory for my Kindle.
Last night I finished it: Brilliant!  I have already acquired Moon in a Dead Eye (I hope that the new translator will be as good) to establish  that this will be a summer binge! 

And I reiterate my delight at the qualities of James Robertson's 365 stories, which I anticipate missing next year.

by Olga Norris ( at July 19, 2015 01:35 PM

Margaret Cooter

Set for growth

Having just repotted what felt like 1400 houseplants (but was only eight after all, with five dotted around the room still to do "sometime"), I welcome the idea of this expandable origami planter -
... especially for the cactuses. Intriguing ... how does it work?

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 19, 2015 09:09 AM

July 18, 2015

Sarah Ann Smith

A day off, sort of….

I think that the Coastal Quilters challenge has gotten a bit big for it's wallspace...literally.   My closet/design wall is 20 feet long.  It was not long enough--there is another 6 foot panel!  SHEESH!  BUT, the Coastal Quilter TOTALLY ROCK!

I think that the Coastal Quilters challenge has gotten a bit big for it’s wallspace…literally. My closet/design wall is 20 feet long. It was not long enough–there is another 6 foot panel! SHEESH! BUT, the Coastal Quilters TOTALLY ROCK!

Today began with finishing up chores:

1.  So yesterday I packed up my quilts and teaching supplies and whatnot for teaching at Maine Quilts this coming week (speaking of which, there are still some spots in my classes:  Birch Pond Seasons, Decorative Stitch Applique and Intro to Machine Quilting–go to for more info!). Sent pdf’s to Staples for the handouts, which I’ll pick up Monday.

2.  Started prepping The  Coastal Quilters (my local chapter of the Pine Tree Quilt Guild) Chapter Challenge yesterday.

  • Today I prepared the signage and finished pinning all 23 or 24 quilts,
  • got the signage pin,
  • lint-rollered the black drapes/panels for the bazillionth time (we have every color of cat and pug hair there is and it ALL floats–closed doors are not a barrier that work),
  • folded and padded and packed them up.

This takes HOURS.   HOURS.   Every year I swear I will NOT do it again.  And every year I do.  Thank heavens next year’s challenge the quilts are all to be 16″ square, cuz I’m not doing this with multiple sizes.  Ever.  Again.  Never.  (Don’t quote me on that in a couple years.  Sigh.)

3.  Prepared my quilts (entry and teacher quilt) for delivery on Wednesday.

4.  Found the quilt I entered in Houston and that got accepted.  (More in a future post.  Yes, I’m evil.  You have to wait.) Need to pack it up Monday and ship.

5.  Made more chocolate chip cookies for the child.  OK, so we could both eat batter, plus bake some cookies.  Slurp.

6.  Watched a video or two for my new online sketching class.

7.  Didn’t start the lesson for my photo class.  At least I have an idea or two.  Of course I’m leaving it to the last day, as usual.  Sigh.  But I love the class.  Anyway….I digress (what else is new?).

So I decided to reward myself by working on a small Hawaiian Block/quiltlet that will finish 26 1/2 square.  Yep, the size of a Euro Square pillow sham.   Number 1 of the pair was done in time to teach Hawaiian Applique in Florida this past March.

Nourish the Body, Nourish the Soul, (my pattern) Taro block

Nourish the Body, Nourish the Soul, (my pattern) Taro block–first of two matching pillow shams.

I was marking it to square up after quilting when Paul called me up to dinner.  These two will replace hand appliqued, hand quilted Hawiian style pillow shams (pattern by Elizabeth Root) that were the first hand applique I ever did.  I made them during the FIRST Gulf War.   They are now largely “formerly quilted” as most of the threads have broken and worked out, but the applique is still intact.  A few tears from critter claws, threadbare or tufting on the piping due to wear.   Those things, I realized tonight, are 25 YEARS OLD–yes, quarter century old pillow shams.  Yes indeedee, I think it is time to REPLACE THEM.  Still like them, but they look like they have (and they have) literally been around the world.  I’ll share more when done!

That’s it for tonight!  That’s all, Folks!

by Sarah Ann Smith at July 18, 2015 10:40 PM

Margaret Cooter

Fancy cannon

A photo collection of decoration on 16th and 17th century cannons from a quick look at what might be a military museum but functions more like a storage shed in the Zitadelle, Spandau.

During the Thirty Years War (1618-48; "a bloody maelstrom") the entire town was fortified, and many of these cannon might have been used then.

The ornamentation on the cannon barrels includes dates, coats of arms, mottos...

By the end of the 15th century, several technological advancements made cannons more mobile. Yet "the longer the barrel, the longer the range. Some cannon made during the 16th century had barrels exceeding 10 ft (3.0 m) in length, and could weigh up to 20,000 pounds (9,100 kg)."

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 18, 2015 09:25 AM

July 17, 2015

Terry Grant

Camas Prairie


Finished. The first of what may be many landscapes based on photos from our cross-country trip.

Things I was working to portray:

  • Color — not necessarily realistic color, but color with a kind of richness and sense of the memory of the place. I feel only partially successful with that goal. The sky doesn't entirely work for me. I think my digital sketch below works better. Why did I change it? I felt the sky in the sketch was overwhelming. Now I think the sky in the quilt is underwhelming and the color a little dull.
  • Simplicity — I have a tendency to get hung up on details. I wanted to reduce the scene down to a more essential study of lines and shapes. I am satisfied that I was able to do that and think I can push that further. I went back and forth about including the minor details of fence posts and windows. I'm glad I left them out.
  • Composition — I wanted to keep the out-the-car-window point of view of my photos, so placed the horizon line low, giving the sky a lot of attention. I like that, but I need to put some more thought into the sky I think.

This is my digital sketch, which was a really great way to work out color and composition. It really helped me in simplifying the forms and pull away from the photograph before moving to fabric. This was really a good challenge and now I'm looking forward to the next landscape!

Interesting to me I am noticing the landscapes around my own home territory with a different eye since we got home, especially the skies. It's good to shake things up every so often!



by Terry Grant ( at July 17, 2015 04:14 PM

Sarah Ann Smith

Out of the Blue at the Whistler House Museum of Art

Well that was FUN!  Got home yesterday from errands, gathered up the mail from the box, and found this in the pile!

Publicity card for the Out of the Blue exhibit at the Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, Mass.  Yep, that's MY quilt!  SQUEEE!

Publicity card for the Out of the Blue exhibit at the Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, Mass. Yep, that’s MY quilt! SQUEEE!

I just checked, and apparently I forgot to announce here (as opposed to over on Facebook) that TWO of my works have been accepted into the Out of the Blue art quilt exhibit this summer at the Whistler House Museum of Art.  (If you click on that link you’ll see a thumbnail of my quilt; click on that for more information.) Yes, that Whistler, James McNeill Whistler, the one who painted Arrangement in Gray and Black, No. 1, better known as “Whistler’s Mother.”  Can you say GIDDY!   When I first moved to Maine, I learned about the Lowell Quilt Festival and the exhibits in town at the Whistler and the Brush Gallery.  So I went and thought:  I’ll know I’m making it if I can ever get in there.   Well, early this summer (I had signed up eons ago to be on the email list) I received a call for entry.  I thought:  why not!   All I can do is send the entry fee, and it will support art quilts no matter what.  Imagine my delight when I got in!

Yep, my art quilt Koi is the publicity image for a museum show!  My self-portrait “Clothed in Color” is also in the exhibit.  Here’s the back side of the card (minus my home address because this is the internet):

The exhibit will be open Aug. 12 to Sept. 19th of this year.  The Reception is Saturday, Aug. 15th from 2-4.

The exhibit will be open Aug. 12 to Sept. 19th of this year. The Reception is Saturday, Aug. 15th from 2-4. I love that they included the materials, including MistyFuse! 

And here is Clothed in Color:

A self-portrait --hmm.... just occurs to me there is some symmetry of a sort here, as Whistler is famous for his portraits--

A self-portrait –hmm…. just occurs to me there is some symmetry of a sort here, as Whistler is famous for his portraits– anyway, a self-portrait in no natural colors (well, other than the blue of my eyes, but my eyes are a bit more blue gray than blue….)

That weekend is also the Mancuso show in Manchester, NH.  It will be a VERY LONG day, but I’m thinking I will try to drive to Manchester (several hours away), spend a couple hours at the Mancuso show, then about 1 pm get on the road to Lowell to arrive shortly after 2 for the reception, then begin the trek home (about 4 1/2 – 5 hours).

Congratulations to the other artists in the ehxibit–I hope to see  some of you there!  And thank you to the jurors for accepting my works and to all those involved in the decision to select the publicity image!

And to round things up, here is the back side of Koi!

Koi is actually a two-sided quilt.  This photo was taken before adding the hanging sleeve to the top of the back (imagine lying on the bottom of the koi pond looking up at the fish bellies and the trees above)

Koi is actually a two-sided quilt. This photo was taken before adding the hanging sleeve to the top of the back (imagine lying on the bottom of the koi pond looking up at the fish bellies and the trees above).  I made the top facing so that if anyone were to purchase it and wanted to hang it so you could see both sides, you can insert a metal slat and have it hidden.  Then I had to add the requisite 4″ hanging sleeve for standard display.


by Sarah Ann Smith at July 17, 2015 02:23 PM

Margaret Cooter

Rumbling round the west end

The main purpose of the expedition was to see Gordon Baldwin's pots at Erskine, Hall & Coe (till 31 July). There's an online catalogue, and we took our sketchbooks, to "get to know the pots better" -
Of course you lose the sense of scale - so here's the real(?) thing -
 What you don't see so well are the sumptuous bumps and bulges, the entire three-dimensionality.

I particularly liked the "big eggshells" with their bold marks inside and out, and the tall shape with its subtle patterning -

The other two shows on our list were Boetti ("Order and Disorder") at Mazzoleni (till 31 July)
Biro on paper on canvas

Embroidered in Afghanistan

A self-relfective system

Downstairs, small pieces in groupings

Biro on paper on (small) canvas
and "Burning Cutting Nailing" (Klein, Fontana, Uecker) at Skarstedt (till 31 July) -
Nail pieces by Guenther Uecker

Pierced metal by Lucio Fontana, with reflections
Along the way...
Open windows at the Royal Institution

This got strangers talking to each other; absolutely every man who passed by
stopped to look and most took photos

Part of a jewellery display on Bond St - the abstract "crystal balls" much preferable to
 those with realistic elements (and to the blingey schmuck)

Printed textile by Mariano Fortuny, based on Italian renaissance designs
(price tag: £12,000)

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 17, 2015 09:08 AM

July 16, 2015

Rayna Gillman

South African inspirations

South Africa is a visual feast, from the crafts


and the fabrics...


to the people

to everything else you see.


 Tip of the iceberg, but enough for now.

by (Rayna) at July 16, 2015 01:21 PM

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - Tell all the truth but tell it slant by Emily Dickinson

Art by Alice Sampson (via)

Tell all the truth but tell it slant 

Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —


A recent post on Alisa Golden's blog talked about an exhibition at the NIAD Art Center in Richmond, California. The title of the exhibition, "Telling It Slant", is taken from Emily Dickinson's poem. The center has been nurturing artists with disabilities for more than thirty years, and the work shown on Alisa's blog implicitly shows what a difference this makes to the artists lives. As in the eye-opening Souzou exhibition, this "outsider art" (created without tuition and without an audience in mind) is a Truth that dazzles gradually.
So too with Emily Dickinson's work - she " experimented with expression in order to free it from conventional restraints ... The speakers in Dickinson’s poetry, like those in Brontë’s and Browning’s works, are sharp-sighted observers who see the inescapable limitations of their societies as well as their imagined and imaginable escapes. To make the abstract tangible, to define meaning without confining it, to inhabit a house that never became a prison, Dickinson created in her writing a distinctively elliptical language for expressing what was possible but not yet realized." 
The biography here tells of her interest in science, particularly botany, at school, and of the role of schooling in the development of girls in the 1840s: "The students looked to each other for their discussions, grew accustomed to thinking in terms of their identity as scholars, and faced a marked change when they left school.  ... Upon their return [from formal schooling], unmarried daughters were indeed expected to demonstrate their dutiful nature by setting aside their own interests in order to meet the needs of the home.  ...  [Emily] baked bread and tended the garden, but she would neither dust nor visit."
Fewer than a dozen of Emily Dickinson's 1,800 poems were published during her lifetime (1830-1886). A heavily edited collection of her poems was published in 1890; it wasn't until 1955 that an unaltered version became available.

by Margaret Cooter ( at July 16, 2015 11:22 AM

July 15, 2015