Planet Textile Threads

February 17, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Unabashedly floral

Returning home yesterday, I found it warm enough to spend, door keys in hand, a few minutes in the garden, doing a little (one-handed) tidying. The bulbs are shooting up, and the miniature irises are actually in flower, so they needed the weeds clearing around them so that they can be seen. 

My keys were in the non-weeding hand and no hands were free for taking photos ... but I do have lots of other floral pix available from the past few weeks of walking around and looking around -
Hellebores etc at Estorick Collection

Old tiles on pub at Highbury Barn

Outside a florist on Highbury Park

Semi-floral - hanging baskets at Sable d'Or, Crouch End

Gorgeous (huge) Chinese plate in V&A ceramics gallery, 6th floor

Victorian tiles, Green Lanes

Flowers of light! Through a steamy bus window

Sad sight, a ghost bike, Seven Sisters Road

Japanese textile design seen at Works on Paper fair

Floral table decoration ...

... and the real thing, at Works on Paper fair

Floral portrait inside the envelope, one of a series by Margaret Mellis

Drifts of snowdrops and aconites, Hyde Park (on a raw day)

Spring flowers at 136A earlier this month

And this? ... it's one of those photos the camera takes when you're
not looking - my floral quilt

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 17, 2018 08:23 AM

February 16, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Then and now, etc

Getting my library books ready to return, I weighed up "Hornsey Past" and after a quick flip through, decided to keep it a while longer. This photo, from the top of the hill with Alexandra Palace mistily on the horizon, is a road I know well, and nowadays the W3 bus goes along it. Also in November we watched the Guy Fawkes fireworks at Ally Pally from this spot.
 The postbox is still there; the trees are not. People don't seem to be standing around quite as they did 113 years ago, but the hedges are still flourishing, here and there. I do wonder about the changed rooflines...
Some of the library books, to dip into at the coffee shop - 
and then, walking home the long way, past the recreation ground, at dusk -
Still a few weeks to enjoy the silhouettes of the bare trees.

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 16, 2018 08:01 AM

February 15, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - an astronomy poem by Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn'd astronomer

When I heard the learn’d astronomer, 
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me, 
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them, 
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, 
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick, 
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself, 
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, 
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

- Walt Whitman

Found via the discussions in the excellent online astronomy course "In the night sky: Orion", which has been a source of insight and of astonishing information - did you know that there are 170 billion galaxies (or maybe a trillion) - each containing millions or billions of stars, and their moons and planets, incomprehensibly many; some are millions of light years away, incomprehensibly far.  From the dust between them, some flung out by stellar collisions in the 13.7 or 13.8 billion years of the universe's existence and the rest a remnant of the Big Bang, more stars continue to be made as the dust particles, tiny as they are, are attracted to each other by gravity.

Other great sources highlighted by participants are this tool to see the Milky Way in light of different wave lengths - - and a series of videos from the Hubble Telescope: the one on the Horsehead Nebula is so good -, and the 3D technique explained in that video has been applied to the Orion Nebula -
Of course in the still, you miss the 3D effect - have a look at the video, it's spectacular!

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 15, 2018 08:25 AM

February 14, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Starting and stopping

It being half term at Morley College as well as at schools throughout the land, instead of printing woodblocks I am stuck at home with The Footballers. The piece has been lying on the floor for a week, and six scenes are still to be painted, plus there's the tricky matter of laying out the fabric in between the scenes, after which it will be quilted in parallel, narrowly-spaced straight lines, avoiding the figures. So, it's a long way from being finished, at the moment.

The quilting will lead to a lot of loose threads on the back, like in this sample -
I intend to darn them all in. And I'll keep checking that the backing fabrics behave themselves. Adding the backing as a facing, with just a bit of stitch to hold it in place, is getting to be an ever more attractive possibility, though.

As the morning slides past and lunchtime approaches, everything is ready for the painting - but here I am at the computer, pursuing other objectives: booking tickets for talks, answering overdue emails, doing a few "lessons" in the current online courses (music notation has been started, palaeography awaits). I wonder why I'm so avidly "filling the time" - to have an interesting life, right! - and am concerned that still, in the wisdom of age, I'm not able to do the important things until they become urgent. Deadline? oh, it's more than a week away ... no need to panic just yet - even though one of the delights of not having a day job is that tasks can take as long as they need ... panic is supposed to be a thing of the past. (As for emotional panic, that's another matter, and mentioned only in passing.)
So there it all is - several tubes of useful new paint, and lots of brushes, and three images off to a good start. 

The great insight that hit me is this - having it lying there is a disincentive. The ritual of getting the materials out, and putting them away after the session, is so important. Going into the studio to collect the paints, brushes, palette-plate, etc takes only a minute - and that action is the start of the actual work, it's like starting the flywheel turning. One thing will lead to another - the paint will be squeezed out, the brush will be chosen, the first mark will be made, and another and another.

Then there's the difficulty of stopping. I like to have a time in mind, even though this harks back to the day job and subverts the dream of having allllll dayyy in the studio. "Little and often"? And the putting away of materials - good studio practice! - is part of the stopping; time has to be allowed for cleanup. 

Stopping in the middle of a sentence, as it were, has its advocates - it's easy to pick up the thread, they say. Tidy people, though, might want to finish the task, and have in mind what needs doing next.

These are on my list for today. You can see from the pixelation, and the rough cutting, that they are quite small - about 2" high, if that. 

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 14, 2018 12:03 PM

February 13, 2018

Dijanne Cevaal

Traveller's Blanket/Plaid Nomad

Have been stitching steadily most days on this traveller's blanket  entitled "walk in the Shadow of Pic St Loup". It measures 57 cm x 85 cm and is very densely stitched. I  realised when I was about three quarters of the way through attaching the vignettes that I had not made a print of Nesta the dog. She was such an integral part of those morning walks, I could not possibly leave her out. Her exhubarence was part of the joy of those morning walks, I guess that is why it came out so bright.

On the image of the whole piece you will see that one oval has been placed horizontally, so that I could make sure to include Nesta's tail which was always up and wagging.

I have a lot of work to do before I leave for Europe on 6 March ( and I am housesitting  the Gembrook menagerie this week; dogs, cats, chooks, birds, ducks and sheep). Once I arrive I am once again exhibiting at ChARTres, so I am trying to make as much new work as possible. The website now lists all the events that are part of this  event. I love being a part of this event and it is so much more than an exhibition. It includes lectures and music and of course art as well as small essays  from each of the artists addressing the quote "la Sagesse..un chemin vers le bonheur".

I have had quite a number of requests asking if I am teaching my on-line linocutting class again, so I have decided to run it again. I take you through many steps and exercises to hone your linocutting skills as well as your design skills for making linocuts. I also take you through the printing process of printing on fabric and how to get really good prints on fabric- it involves a bottle of wine! The cost of the class is $75AUS and is delivered with PDF files and I set up a private Facebook group for discussion and sharing and questions. I love lino-cutting and have been itching to make some new ones- especially after watching the women at Boneca de Atauro have such fun with the designs and resulting prints.  It is such a fabulous way to make distinctive fabric that is a good ground for embroidery or can be worked into larger pieces and machine stitched, and I will be adding a new lesson on how to stitch and work with your resulting prints. of course linocuts can also be used to print on paper and is great for making your own cards and other paper arts.If you are interested please email me and I shall send you an information sheet. Class will start on 1 March 2018

I will also be teaching in West Flanders in De Panne/Adinkerke, Belgium, right near the french border on 26 , 27 , 28 March 2018. I will be teaching the Traveller's Blanket  for 2 days ( which is all hand work) and machine/tifaifai applique for one day. There are still some places left so if you are interested in joining us please email me.

by Dijanne Cevaal ( at February 13, 2018 06:33 PM

February 12, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - Petrie Museum

In the Petrie Museum is a large table with various books, and also baskets of drawing materials. One of the books was about the Fayum portraits found by Flinders Petrie and held by the museum; after my latest brush with "faces" in the painting course, this seemed like a good subject, or a good way to try to get a likeness. In the end I did seven - this is my favourite -
Some of the portraits were in a somewhat damaged state - after all, they're about 2000 years old. This lady with the pearl earrings is also wearing a hairpiece. Looking at it after some time has passed, I can see where my proportions are wrong, but couldn't see it at the time -
All in all, my renditions are rather grotesque! Overworked? ("She meant well"...) -
 Jo's bold pots -
 Sue's bronze aegis of Isis, from Saqqara
 Carol's colourful pottery shards -
 ... and her complete pot, which she quickly made into shards -
 An array of pots by Mags -
 who brought along her extracurricular work - photos of the "train stitching" piece, now finished and hanging in wonderful swooping loops -
 and an altered book, from a collage course at City Lit -

Subtitle: Mainly for the non-racing man

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 12, 2018 11:37 PM

Walking in London N8

Another day, another walk round the neighbourhood, starting with crossing Finsbury Park and noticing how the branches on some trees are very, very long -
(and other branches are both long and bent at strange angles).

The watercourse running through the park is the New River - which is neither new nor a river -
Then down the residential streets of "the ladder". Ah the wonderful things that people leave in their gardens -
 And the old tiles remaining on some of the shops, or were these added when the building (on Green Lanes) became a restaurant -
 Not to forget the strange things people put in their windows -
I walked, for the first time (having lived in this part of town for three decades), up Harringay Passage, which connects Harringay South school (near the south end) -
and Harringay North school towards the north end.

The area was developed between 1880 and 1900 as two housing estates, Hornsey Station estate at the north and Haringey Park estate in the south.

Travel the entire length of the passage in a mere three minutes here.

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 12, 2018 10:41 PM

Olga Norris

In life and online

When we were away on our trip recently we visited the Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries.  There we saw a couple of exhibitions full of delightful works.  I was particularly taken by a small Robin Philipson: Whisper II, and now back home wanted to see if I could find it online.
Robin Philipson: Whisper II (image from here)
The gallery does have an online presence of its own, as well as on ArtUk, and indeed I found the image I wanted to revisit.  I decided to have a stroll through the online gallery, and was pleased to encounter an artist previously unkown to me: Dorothy Black.  In trying to find out more, I stumbled across one picture which appealed to the juggler obsessive in me. It is good to see that I am not alone!
Dorothy Black: Me and the sea (image from here)

by Olga Norris ( at February 12, 2018 04:34 PM

February 11, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Art market in Stokie

We headed off to the DIY Art Market (in Stoke Newington/Dalston/Hackney), which was nicely crowded, and had various quirky things on offer -

 ... including a rather intimidating bit of minimalism -
 More lookers than sellers, that's a good sign -
Then the walk back to the car -

Baskets for balconies!

And a brick roof?

and a drive past the shops -

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 11, 2018 07:53 PM

Painting, and walking

The "empty" Friday filled itself up with rather less painting than hoped for (result: two footballers) and quite a lot of experimentation, exploration, and laying things out and changing them again.

At least there is a final(?) layout, and only 10 more sections to paint -
The 10" sample tries out various threads for the quilting. It's a test for shrinkage (1/8" in 10" = negligible) and also of the effect of adding a bit of green to enliven the piece -
I used the most poorly-painted snippets, including the first one painted on silk. Once the silk is quilted, its sheen is knocked back and it looks ok. It has the advantage of holding the paint solidly, unlike with the gauze, which gives rather a faint look -
Perhaps the quilting will work miracles on the gauze too? The stitching will stop at the edges of the figures - even though that leaves hundreds of thread-ends to be buried in the back. (Think of it as practice in mindfulness...)

The yellow of the heroic goalie stands out quite well with a dark background, but I don't want to mess around with underlayers and such subtleties. There's enough going on as it is -
This morning, before heading for Highgate to go on a led walk, I put in the dark areas on a couple more footballers -
 On return, I tried out the "sketch" without the colours of the uniforms etc -
I like that look and am tempted to make a drastic change in the developing piece - discard what's already done, and revert to black and white. It would take a different approach and give a very different "feel" - it would be harder to distinguish the opposing teams, and that would make it less dramatic.

The quilting would outline the figures (sort of...) but to go this route would probably require doing a whole-cloth quilt - ie, facing the dangers and risks of doing All That Painting, and then All That Quilting (the lines are about 1/4" apart, and there are a lot of thread-ends to bury!).

That's a project "for another time" - I would probably make the figures larger, and darker, and add a touch or two of red...

But first, back to reality! The paintings on gauze are rather blotchy - I'll revisit them in the clear light of morning. Perhaps they need more, better paint in some areas; perhaps they'll be ok - or, dreadful thought, perhaps the whole thing is misguided and it'll be a quick switch to Plan B after all?
As for the walk, it was short and local - and muddy - and ended in steady rain and Abney Park Cemetery, which contains the oldest non-denominational chapel in Europe -
We encountered two floral memorials, in Clissold Park and on Seven Sisters Road -

Following a section of the Capital Ring, the walk took us through Woodberry Down wetlands -
 and through Finsbury Park, its boats laid up for the winter -
 Walkers are colourful people! -
Did I mention the mud?

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 11, 2018 07:02 PM

February 09, 2018

Margaret Cooter

The whole day stretches ahead

Today, after a busy week with three mornings "doing art" and a lot of satisfying socialising,  I "have all day". Nowhere to be, no meals to prepare. Bliss.

"Having all day" feels luxurious, but it can bite you in the backside, have you noticed? You start the day with great plans, but still in your pyjamas, and linger over coffee. First mistake... it goes downhill from there: even as you try to convince yourself that is is what a Day Off should be, there's a nagging feeling that a Free Day means you're free to do what gives you the most pleasure, and that you won't get any pleasure from "wasting" the day. Hmm.

So, let's think about that pleasure - what do we hope to gain by spending the day alone at home? Sometimes, the sofa and a good book make an irresistible combination, and who among us doesn't have a pile of books we want, need, or intend to read "someday"? Reading a book from start to finish in one go is, imho, A Good Thing.
eg, "Miss Pettrigrew Lives for a Day" - lovely little story
Often, there's a deadline for a project driving us on - but goodness, isn't it difficult to get down to it? Breakfast must be had, and somehow a little housework suddenly needs to be done, and of course the emails all need replying to...

Last night I got the paints etc out - it's ready to go. (I wrote this blog post last night, too. And replied to quite a few emails, the new ones will have to wait.)
No impediments to starting, first thing!
One "problem" with a whole, entire day is that at the outset there seems to be so much time available. And I tend to find it fritters itself away... what saves the day from being squandered is getting on immediately with whatever needs doing, even as the kettle first boils and before the coffee is made. The rest follows from that. (I hope.)

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 09, 2018 08:38 AM

February 08, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - a little something by Dorothy Parker

A quick poem ... lest Thursday pass unnoticed yet again ...

Type "Thursday poem" into the search engine, and what comes up? This (1925)-
Image result for thursday poem

Ah, Dorothy Parker, woman of wit and source of so many quotable quotes ...

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 08, 2018 08:32 PM

Painting, and...

Final week of the very short "Painting: surface and gesture" course. I brought along the week's output of footballers (on various fabric surfaces) and painted two more during the class, at the end of which we had a quick show'n'tell.

The instructional bit at the start was about finishing a painting - Matthew had some tips:
1. Look at it in a mirror
2. To make corrections, use thin layers of titanium white; blur edges
3. Working quickly can help; so can putting it away for a while
4. Should the final layer be matte or glossy....

A tip for watercolours - as they will be framed under glass, look at them under glass when deciding if they're finished.

And some principles:
1. Leave some problems in it
2. Look at tonal relationships
3. Stop yourself from "just tinkering"
4. "When you stat undoing (wiping off) what you have just painted, you're probably finished

The quick tour round the room showed lots of interesting work -

I did put out one of the life studies - painted with
a twig - along with the footballers

Looking at the figurative studies again at home, these are the ones I'm least unhappy with -
Two include twig drawing ... so any faults are solely those of the twig!. Mr. 5-o'clock-shadow sums up, in his sorry ineptitude, how I feel about "faces", and as for the yellow nude, she's not what I had in mind but the grey areas kinda pull it together.

The stripes are "for relaxation".

Instead of rushing home to continue with footballers, I walked up hill and down dale, taking a wrong turning just short of the Holloway Road that took me near to Rolls 'n' Rems, and a chance to get some white felt for backing the footballers piece. (Even though some was on order online.) 

While paying, I saw something lovely lying on a corner of the counter - a box?
Image result for canticle of the birds attar
No, it was the cover of a book, still wrapped in cellophane ...
which its new owner was pleased to show me, even pausing in leafing quickly through to let me take a photo -
He has quite a few books, about 4000 he reckons, and this one was a bit of an extravagance... but how beautiful, what a treasure! I'm very tempted to search it out online...

This is the kind of surprise that can happen in a local shop. 

When I got home, the online felt had arrived - and was thinner and ultrawhite; I much prefer the personally purchased fabric. 

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 08, 2018 07:59 PM

Neki Rivera

and the beat goes on and on

this morning. the park was glorious.lots of people strolling under the snow and having a childhood time.

came back to finish my sewing. have to hem it
and source the buttons.haven't seen anything
appealing so far.the trade offs of leaving a big city.

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at February 08, 2018 09:00 AM

February 07, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Woodblock printing progress

Enlivening the plain circles are these blocks -
 A variety of combinations are possible -
 Rolled up, they harmonise -
And most recently - new colours
and some intense overprinting, with unexpected embossing of the elements that weren't inked -
I'm still thinking about putting the prints together in pairs - here are some combinations -

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 07, 2018 10:31 PM

Neki Rivera

such wonderful invention

sewing patterns that is. tried this gifted kasuri fabric with instructions on how to make a kosode with fabric rectangles.
japanese women look fantastic because they are petite and their bodies are in scale with the traditional japanese fabric widths.i looked like a frumpy potato sack. however, not all was lost since i just cut the panels in length i was able to use an old pattern  with a minor adjustment.
inside time is making me very productive!

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at February 07, 2018 09:00 AM

February 06, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - Museum of London

In the Medieval London gallery was an eel spear, and behind it a basketwork fish trap -
 Nearby was a selection of distilling equipment and other medical artefacts -
Some of them made it onto my pages, though the eel spear was manageable only at smaller scale -
...along with a silver pomador and, to confuse the scale of things even further, the kinds of tiny trinkets that are so easily lost, to reappear at the riverside centuries later.

 Sue fit some lovely nail-soled boots onto her page -
 Janet K tackled Mithras -
Having drawn some cooking implements, Joyce thought they looked rather stark, so she filled in the page in grey to subtly set the scene -
Carol found a comb and bucket, both about 1000 years old - the gaming piece is possibly a little younger -
 Judith re-created the Fire of London -
 Extracurricular activities
Joyce had spent a few days doing interesting things with paper - such as embossing -
 and wrapping and crinkling Lokta paper -
and making interesting book structures -
Carol brought along a collection of small objects and told us how she uses them as a way of starting stories -

Tool of the week is a pencil case, made by Janet's friend -
Those are tiny squares, and they are sewn with french seams - which makes sense, because you don't want fraying fabric inside a pencil case -

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 06, 2018 10:06 PM

Neki Rivera

under the influence

been busy chasing the snow. quite the excitement for someone born in the tropics and who has lived in the med all her adult life. keep checking the range and the surrounding mountains. it has gone from a dusting of confectioner's sugar to something more substantial. apparently between today and tomorrow it's going to be the big days. hope the low clouds disperse and i can take photos.
have spent   nice and cosy  inside studio time. it snowed on this WIP as i covered it with acrylic. it's interesting what a thin  layer of snow can do to the landscape.

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at February 06, 2018 12:21 PM

February 04, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Works on Paper Fair - some favourites

Of course the best things have always been sold, isn't that how we think when we try to restrain ourselves from desperately wanting to buy something? At this annual fair of prints and drawings, works are taken off the wall and wrapped up and the new owner takes them home. This one, the boats, was still on the wall and I got a quick photo -
A bit of online research discovers that it's part of Robert Taverner's "Sussex boats and nets" series - see other boats and nets, as well as his other Sussex subjects, here.
Lady in the Snow - indigo print, c.1830 by Utigawa Kunisada
A drawing from the 1970s by Mary Fedden, "graphite and mixed media", the mixed media being the pale pink of one flower, and perhaps the frottage qualifies as mixed media too -

Detail of marks
It was priced at £4,500...

Back to Japanese prints - this "diptych" format (by Watanabe Seitei) appeals to me, and were it not for the tiny pleat in the paper on the left I would have smashed open my piggy bank to buy it -
 Another such -
 Part of Peter Blake's Venice Suite, which incorporates collage -
 A vivid work by Alan Davie -
 Finally, this long narrow format, glued onto card ... odd, but so appealing; priced at £950 ...
(Apologies for the reflections and the dull coloration.) The artist is Kitano Tsunetomi, who made his name in the early 20th century as a "painter of beautiful women" - see them here.

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 04, 2018 05:13 PM