Planet Textile Threads

April 24, 2018

Dijanne Cevaal


Our National day of rememberance along with New Zealand- Anzac day  25 April 1915,the beginning of the attempt to  take the peninsuala at Gallipoli in World War I- often said to be the birthing of our nation- when we lost thousands of young men at Anzac cove at Gallipoli and where the "enemy" lost many thousands more. When I was a teenager I was asked to read a poem on an Anzac day commemoration ceremony held at my school. I was allowed to choose the poem and I remember my teacher asking if I was sure? But I think I had just read All Quiet on the Western Front and then discovered this poem by Wilfred Owen Dulce et Decorum Est. I wasn't  attempting to denegrate the sacrifice  that had been made but just trying to show the awfulness of war and the awful loss of bright shining lives ( we were in the midst of the Vietnam war at that stage) .  I know I got a letter of great indignation from the local RSL, needless to say it was not well received .So i share the poem because  along with remebering those that died and the sacrifice they made we must never ever forget the bloody awfulness of war and the havoc and misery and pain that it wreaks.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

It has been a busy few weeks since my exhibition at Chartres. I taught in West Flanders for a couple of days and then went on to Prague to meet Jane Rollason the curator of Crossing Oceans, an international exhibiting group to drop of my quilts. As it was easter it was easier to take the quilts in person than to courier them. Then back to Holland and  teaching at the Lapjesgaard and then a day with my aunt at the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse. It was beautiful but it was the beginning of the season so it was only partially in bloom.

Tulips at the Keukenhof gardens. We got there early so it was not packed with tourisst yet and we parked almost at the front door.

A photo with Ira Labordus ( one of my online Traveller's Blanket students) and my unfinished waste not want not indigo travellers blanket at the Lapjesgaard. I was lucky enough to find accommodation on a houseboat in Almere- believe it or not it was amongst the cheapest accommodation I could find and there was a bar and restaurant there so i could have my meal there. It was actually wonderfully relaxing had I not been so busy. Watching the birds and their spring time antics was quite amusing. I discovered that male water coots are very sneaky in trying to get female attention- they dive underwater and then try and pop up behind the female- but  the female water coots were up to this game!

  Then I gave Els Mommers a lift to Bienale International d'Art Textil in Villefranche sur Saone where I discovered to my surprise not only was I showcasing the Aussie Bush Project but also my own work ( just as well I had all my quilts from Chartres in my suitcase, as I had thought it was only the Aussie Bush Project) I am sorry for the lack of photos for the Aussie Bush project ( I forgot my battery charger for my good camera in Australia and my phone camera was not up to take a decent photo in the prevailing lighting)- but people loved them and all the wonderful interpretations. The Aussie Bush Project will have its last public outing at the Berry Quilting Retreat in Berry in August of this year ( I will also be teaching there at the same time) I don't have very many potos to share, as I was there on my own, and whilst friends  were willing to give me a toilet break I can't expect them to man exhibitions.

 Then it was two days in the Alps before teaching in Lyon  at brin da Talent with a group of enthusiastic ladies to make their own linocuts and embellish them with hand stitch

And then it was onto Moux to try and get some serious stitching and writing done on the Waste Not Want Not indigo traveller's blanket for a series of articles I am writing for Downunder quilts. Tonight it is on to Spain for some teaching of linocut carving, printing and embellishing and then later this week by overnight bus to Austria for more teaching- the risk of strikes was too great to take the train. Hopefully I will get some stitching done on the bus. To say it has been busy is an understatement, though quietly stitching at moux has  helped me to breathe! The view from teh terrace of my friends house is rather lovely!

 I also caught up with my le Triadou friends briefly and  found waiting for me a book which included an article I did for Edi de Saxe last year on machine quilting ( yes I do stitch by machine sometimes and can't wait to get back to the machine after this marathon of hand stitching is over)

Inspired by roadside weeds I was trying to show what great effects you can create with simply using hand dyed cloth and coloured machine threads ( I use Aurifil cotton  28 weight threads)- how you can even create borders with thread work.

by Dijanne Cevaal ( at April 24, 2018 02:15 PM

Marion Barnett

Taking A Break...

from sorting a box of feathers.  Although I'm sitting at the table, my arms get very tired, very quickly, and there's quite a lot of stretching involved in this exercise.  I didn't appreciate how many feathers I've accumulated...when I go for something, I really go for it, as it were.  Here's where I've got to...the remains of the box...
...and the sorted feathers...
Could really have done with another drawer...think I'll combine the red and the purple.  No, these aren't the only feathers in the collection; there's another large box and a couple of unopened bags (cough).  I have nothing to say in my defense...other than they take up a lot less room than fabric does... snigger...

As a child, I was profoundly allergic to feathers; no feather pillows, and the budgie my mother bought me for a birthday (who knows what she was thinking... maybe she got it for free...that was a recurring theme with her 'presents'...) had to go and live with my great aunt, as it made me really ill.  Just as well I grew out of it, really, or I'd have no cats, as well as no hat making.  I'm surprised by the number of orange feathers in this little lot...not sure that I have much orange sinamay...but hey.  I'm sure I'll think of something to do with them.  I usually do.

I guess I need to go through that other box, see what's in there.  And making a few hats might be in order too...with stitch, of course.

by marion barnett ( at April 24, 2018 09:43 AM

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - British Museum

Many or most of use were in the "Early Europe" section. 

My object of focus was this pendant with its emeralds, sapphires and pearls - it led to a couple of good conversations with passers-by - 
 Enough of us were BM members that we could use the members' room, and by great good luck the big table was (almost) free -
 Out came the sketchbooks and...
 Jo's Staffordshire (pottery) dovecote -
Janet K's cat, or rather John Craxton's, from the "three friends in greece" exhibition -
 Carol's collection of small objects -
 Janet B's head of Claudius (or Nero), with the asymmetrical ears -
  My bits of jewellery made between 400 and 700 AD -
 Sue's bronze headdress from the Stony Stratford hoard, 3rd-4th century AD
 Michelle's graphite portraits of sculpted portraits -
 Joyce's Roman glass -
 Mags' exploration of "Town & Country" earthenware, American, 1945 -
 Najlaa's Spanish tiles -

 On the extra-curricular front, Mags has been reworking sketches based on the Wellcome's Electricity exhibition for the latest Sketchbook Project -

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 24, 2018 08:30 AM

April 23, 2018

Margaret Cooter

A green time of year

Once the greening of the year gets going, it's in a hurry to do its job properly. And not just leaves and blossoms, there are swathes of flowering beside the path and quite a lot of green underfoot -

Photos taken in Highbury Fields, Islington's largest open space (29 acres).

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 23, 2018 06:06 PM

April 22, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Running in the sun

Today was the London Marathon. We watched from Waterloo Bridge, a couple of miles from the finish. It was the hottest on record - and apparently water ran out at several points.

The view towards our view, at the other end of the bridge in front of Somerset House -
The crowd - and runners - stretched all along the riverside
(click photo to enlarge)
We got there just as "the fast guys" were passing -
The first of the elite men goes by, with cameras
on motorbikes and the roar of the crowd

A louder roar for Mo Farah, third in the race but breaking
the British record with a time of 2:06:22
With a background of cheering and clapping, thousands of runners passed through the dappled shade of the new-leaved trees and threw their shadows onto the hot, glaring pavement. There were bright colours, and there were costumes - including lots of tutus, some vegetables, a caveman, and Big Ben; sorry no photo of that one, but it must have been hell to run in ...

 and an endless stream of runners, some of them walking for a while -
We walked along the South Bank and over Tower Bridge to find that the barriers were being packed up -
But "runners" - now walking - were still en route - the people with less training, perhaps, but lots of determination -
Quite a few costumes...
... including these guys from Gotham City

 There comes a time when the route has to be closed and the signage taken down -
 Time for all the rhinos to head home ...

There's a lot of cleaning up to be getting on with ...
Of the 40,000 runners, more than 38,000 finished, 386,050 had applied for the race, a third up on last year.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 22, 2018 09:53 PM

Marion Barnett


Well... the studio is nearly finished (hurrah).  What I couldn't find, however, were my hat blocks.  Yes, the lovely wooden, heavy, expensive things.  Funny how the easy to replace, cheap stuff never goes missing, huh?  So Robin very kindly went out into the garage...and couldn't find them anywhere.  Until we looked inside the Baby Belling boiler... hurrah.  Gotcha.  This is an old image, from the Little Green Shed... wonder what happened to that painting, come to think of it.  Probably given away in The Great Purge.  Shame, really, it would have fitted in here really nicely....sigh. 

I've found a couple of hats as I go along, including the little fascinator that I needlefelted with yellow yarn to look like a miniature cake; all it needs is a cherry to sit on the top, must try to find something appropriate.  I do have a red glass bead in the shape of a heart, which isn't quite what I had in mind, but in all else fails...  I really do want to get back to making hats, so watch this space.  Now that the room is nearly complete, I don't have much of an excuse.  It's been a while since I did make a hat, so it'll be interesting to see how well I remember the process.  Fortunately, I have a book or two...or six... to refer to.

The other thing Robin found was...yes, you've guessed it, my felting needles.  I now have enough felting needles to have a party with, anyone want to come round and felt...? 

by marion barnett ( at April 22, 2018 10:44 AM

April 21, 2018

Olga Norris

An outing to the land

On Wednesday, the first day of what now seems to be Summer (sunshine, blue skies, mid 20s temperature), we drove a couple of counties west to Somerset and the Hauser and Wirth gallery in a former farmyard to see their current exhibition The Land we live in, the Land we left behind.  We drive through quite a lot of landscape to get there; some intricately folded topography, sweeping views, solar parks, ploughed fields, rape in bloom, pigs, Stonehenge, petrol stations, traffic, warehouse parks, hotels and guesthouses, a 17th century wedding venue, wild cherry trees in bloom ... indeed our present and past landscape all laid out in glorious sunshine.
The description of the exhibition is intriguing, the curator - as director of Grizedale Arts, someone admirably appropriate, the theme also appropriate for a gallery in a former farmyard, as well as providing a topical theme of universal importance, not to mention the promise of goats.  When coupled with the anticipation of a delicious brunch all promised a great day out.
Goat mountain - without goats
Well, after the initial disappointment that there did not seem to be any goats, the brunch was certainly delicious.  The trip to the loo as quirky as ever, and then we started on the exhibition.  
The unisex loo - with cattle trough sink
The layout is such that coming from the loo the first room is in fact the last room.  However, as this is not a chronological show really, we persisted in our unravelling.
So much stuff.  Too much?  (Of course, because we had not started at the beginning, we did not have the room guide, and as nothing much was specifically labelled we let the pieces speak for themselves.)
I heard the room guide tell one visitor that it is really a two visit exhibition, but in my mind that room alone warranted longterm thought.  Exhibitions on a theme are usually rather like a book: the curator has considered the theme, thought about the possible range of content and edited it in order to present an internally coherent whole - perhaps with a point of view.  In this case it looked as if not much editing had taken place.  Everything that you could think of is included.  Perhaps the book that best represents this show is the Whole Earth Catalog (of which there was a copy for visitors to read): The Whole Way We Look at the Land Exhibition -?  For me the exhibition is best summed up in Adrian Searle's review for the Guardian.
The empty apple costume, and painted yellow tree stumps.
Certainly I must congratulate the exhibition on being thoroughly thought-provoking.  I have not stopped mulling over various aspects of the land and how we view/represent it since seeing the show, and I cannot see myself stopping that mulling any time soon.  The exhibition is successful for me because I came away with questions which had been raised but not answered by the content.  I suppose I suspect that the evidence laid out throughout these galleries leans rather heavily towards the romantic; but is that because that is the more general view anyway?  After all, some years ago when so much of the land was quarantined because of foot and mouth disease, I remember being shocked at the comparative statistics of the value to the nation of farming versus tourism: something like 2% to 16% respectively (specific figures from my unreliable memory).

There is a lot to read about the show as well as films on the Hauser and Wirth Somerset website, and there are meaty descriptions and/or reviews with illustrations here, and here, and here, and here, and here (as well as the review mentioned a couple of paragraphs above).
The goats we didn't see (image from here)

by Olga Norris ( at April 21, 2018 09:49 PM

Margaret Cooter

Then and now - a year ago, in photos

The magic of modern technology means that Google puts a message on your phone, if you have a year's worth of pictures stored, something like "Revisit your life a year ago" and you can cyberjump to April 21, 2017 and see what you were up to. And perhaps remember where that was, or what that was....

I seem to have been up to much the same things!

(1) Swooning over frilly tulips in my little garden -

(2) Lusting about books I might start reading, but never finish - 
Daunt Books, Hampstead Heath, 2018

A tasty selection, 2017
(3) Working at my desk - 
Desk (in alcove) hides books waiting for bookshelves, 2017

Improvised "standing desk", 2018
(lovely bookshelves either side!)

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 21, 2018 09:40 PM

Marion Barnett


One of my favourite flowers.  A couple of years ago, I wrote this haiku :

Vaseful of colour
An elegance of tulips

Brightens up the room

Those particular tulips exist only in the poem, of course, but these were on my kitchen windowsill last month... enjoy.

by marion barnett ( at April 21, 2018 10:19 AM

April 20, 2018

Margaret Cooter

An exhibition in The City

As the offices spilled out their workers and the pavements outside the pubs filled up with people enjoying an after-work drink in the sunshine, the very warm sunshine, I made my way to Guildhall Library for Mary Pritchard's "Under the Microscope" exhibition, which is a homage to her mother, Olive Aykroyd. Mary was inspired by her 1930s brass microscope and biological slides to investigate her early life and scientific research at Trinity College Dublin, from where she obtained a PhD in 1938.

 A couple of public sculptures provided momentary distraction and a chance to linger in the sun -

In the library, Mary had added substantially to the material she showed in an exhibition of the same name in 2014, not just the work on the wall but the layout of objects associated with her mother's scientific career, and photos from that time -

Mary has researched not only her mother's career at Trinity College Dublin but also the status of women students there in the 1920s and 30s, which was presented in a theatrical performance composed and performed 
by Peter Cutts, who played the lab technician in the Zoology Department where Olive Aykroyd did her research.

Waiting for the performance
The exhibition runs till 16 May, during library hours, and is free.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 20, 2018 09:52 PM

Olga Norris

For those in South East England

There is going to be an exhibition and sale of small pieces by the late Tadek Beutlich in Eastbourne this weekend.  More information about this and the Fibre Fest here.  More information about Tadek Beutlich here.

by Olga Norris ( at April 20, 2018 03:22 PM

Marion Barnett

Oh, Wow!

It was just a plain brown envelope.  And then I opened it, and look what was inside...

Threads from Stef Francis...thank you, Stef, they're wonderful.  I really did look at them and say, 'oh wow'.  I bought them really to go with one of the pieces I showed you earlier, Borderlines, the piece with the textured paper.  That wasn't to hand, but these were.  Firstly, the piece I showed you yesterday:
The brown is really strong against that print, and I'll use it on the marks.  The orange, not so much...but it is a gorgeous thread.  And then there's this, which I wrote about here:
Now, I wasn't intending to put much in the way of stitch on here, but looking at the way that thread sits on this piece, I'm now not so sure... perhaps a stitched border round the very edges of the piece...perhaps more... I don't know, but I'll be having a good think about it.  I rather wish I had more of that coloured evolon; it would be interesting to make a pieced top from repetitions of this 'block'.  Life isn't like that, of course, but I may well follow through on this idea once the workroom has settled down a bit. 

And talking of the workroom...the shelves are now where they're meant to be, though I'm still working out what to keep, where.  I promised you a sneaky peek, and here we are...

Thread and fabric mostly along the long wall; paint, drawing materials, feathers and other embellishments tucked away in the corner.  The painting will go up in front of my sewing machine; it's a calming image called 'Goddess'.  My rulers will go up on the walls, too, and doubtless a couple of framed textiles, eventually.  What I don't have, is a design wall.  I had one in Norfolk, and rarely used it.  I did contemplate a blind on the front of one of the bookcases, but the boxes stick out too far.  Besides which, most of the work I'm likely to be doing in the future will be small scale, not much bigger than a napkin.  So I'll be doing what I advise my students to do:  stick it on the floor, and stand up...if you're careful, stand on a chair...just don't fall off.  Or, more likely, I'll take a photograph, and contemplate that.  Works every time: it's the distance that's important.

Things are coming together, finally, both with the work and the room.  If only I could find a new body...

by marion barnett ( at April 20, 2018 10:19 AM

April 19, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - two views of April

April showers bring May flowers, isn't that how the saying goes? This year April has been cold and dreary - not a lot of that suddenly changing, showery weather - until along comes a heatwave! So the flowers are rushing into bloom and the tender blossoms are falling rapidly off the trees.

Contrasting views of April are offered by Chaucer and TS Eliot.

Let's start with the gloomy one, ie Eliot - from The Wasteland -
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

Chaucer's view, from the Prologue of the Canterbury Tales, is much more cheerful -
When April the sweet showers fall
And pierce the drought of March to the root, and all
The veins are bathed in liquor of such power
As brings about the engendering of the flower ….
He "goes on to write of sun and nature awakening and the mood changing so you feel jaunty and spry and ready to go on pilgrimage to thank the Saint for your survival over the winter, the crusades or the sickbed. A positive move to action to prepare yourself for the journey you are about to take (also the reader) and the excitement of meeting new folk along the way, all with a story to tell." (via)

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 19, 2018 10:26 PM

Olga Norris


I am at a complete loss to know - and perhaps even to guess where my ideas come from.  But at least they give me a kind of peculiar pleasure!
Design in progress: Persistent pursuit of pelican

by Olga Norris ( at April 19, 2018 01:59 PM

Marion Barnett

Minor Adjustments...

...can make a big difference.  I love working with transparency, but sometimes it just feels a wee bit wishy washy...   I'm still working through those scraps, and came across this lino cut on bandage muslin, which had been rust dyed before I printed it.  I've frayed the edges a little, to add a bit of texture and visual interest, though it's not obvious in the image.
It fits a small piece of evolon like a dream...even if I have positioned it the wrong way round, sigh.  But you get the drift.  There's a piece of yarn running across the top and bottom of the piece, which I'll couch on with some hand dyed thread I found yesterday, while tidying up (handy, huh?).  But... I want to beef up the rust colour just a bit... so...I'm going to double up the muslin... clearly didn't print on all of it, fortunately. 

Not sure that it's showing up well in the image, but again, you probably get my drift.  It's a good way of working with lutradur and other patterned fabrics; the combinations can be really interesting.  Meanwhile, I need to think about stitching this...but that will have to wait until the arrival of the brown hand dyed perle I've ordered on line.  I'm just not set up for dyeing at present, unsurprisingly, though work on the studio is progressing; might show you that tomorrow.  The shelves are full, all except the one set that needs to be repositioned.  I've moved the cutting table to its proper place...just need to remove the empty boxes, shift and fill the shelves and move the work table.  Then I can get the machines out and we'll be pretty much good to go...hurrah!

by marion barnett ( at April 19, 2018 10:35 AM

April 18, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Wednesday is woodblock day

In the quest to make some of the current prints into some sort of book, I spent quite a good chunk of time looking at my bookmaking books - call it research, why not - and rather less time physically doing anything. 

From the handful of ideas I started with a very simple one - a long folded strip, ending up as a little square book. Making samples brought up new possibilities.

What if, instead of cutting the print into three (to get the square) it was cut in half and the bottom folded up to make a pocket on the back? Yes, that would work - but the area above the fold would need some sort of printing, if only a plain colour - well, why not add a few "holes" - ah yes, constellations ...

Here they are ready to cut - and then to be printed on some of the "spare" sheets of last week's "ikat" - 
The non-spare sheets, at bottom right, will be bound together and have a Khadi cover, onto which I'll glue or sew some ikat fabric. Which means I need to find the red ikat that I know is here somewhere.... 

An hour of searching found some interesting items, and a few that went into the bin unrecorded, but not a scrap of ikat. Plan B is to print "something" onto the cover. Meanwhile I can get on with the little folded books, which require a printing session and some hard covers (5cm square) into which the books will be glued. This fabric, shibori on silk organza, made maybe 15 years ago, might be just the thing, in the absence of ikat -
I'll make a sort of book cloth by backing it with iron-on interfacing. Another possibility is to attach cloth to paper by using fusible web.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 18, 2018 05:24 PM

Marion Barnett

Going To Pieces.

So...what do you do when you're too physically tired to do anything, much, but your mind is turning cartwheels?  Well... there's drawing, of course, and hand stitch...but I really like a jigsaw.  With two cats, however, that's really not advisable; they bat the pieces all over the floor, attempt to eat them... you get the picture (or rather, you don't, because at least one piece gets lost as a result).  Reader, I discovered online jigsaws, and I am hooked.  I've had a wonderful time on Jigsaw Planet reconstructing other peoples' paintings and photographs.  And then I thought.... maybe I could do this with my photographs... so I did.... and that was great fun, too.

So what's that got to do with the price of cheese?  Well... I've talked about it elsewhere on this blog, quite recently (not that I'm obsessed).  It gets more interesting when it's your own image, though.  I realised a number of things.... firstly, that I don't really think about my photography as being an end in itself.  I tend to take pictures either for reference, or to stitch into (see an example of my stitched work here, one of my personal favourites).  So it's useful to look at these images  as potential jigsaws, look at their construction, decide if they're interesting enough to use in this way. 

Secondly, I already knew that I'm mostly interested in detail, so most of my photos are macro.  I try to find details that might otherwise be missed.  The image at the top of the post is a Norfolk flint wall (I think, if I remember rightly, it was a church in Wymondham),  It makes a truly evil jigsaw; all those little stones... you have to observe carefully to fit the pieces together.  The jigsaw format helps you to look at each piece separately, to consider how it fits into the whole, to see even more of those tiny details that make up what I hope is a good image, at least for reference might want cropping if I were to print it out for stitch.  Flaubert said that 'God is in the detail' (or the devil, depending on which of these similar sayings you ascribe to).  Looking at an image this way seems to take me past detail, and into nuance, which usually would be picked up by my unconscious mind, but I don't think it does me any harm to contemplate them in a more overt fashion.  Most of the nuances here are about texture and light; the direction of light, the way it hits a particular section of the flint, the way that flint responds.

Thirdly, I hadn't noticed until I made a couple of jigsaws that my colour palette in my photographs is very narrow, almost monochromatic.  The same cannot be said for most of my work, although the ME piece I wrote about here is moving in that direction; I now have a small bag of fabric in these subdued tones and colours to make more pieces in what I suspect will be a series.  I hadn't realised, though, that my photographs were leading me in that direction, probably long before I consciously chose to explore it.

Finally, the act of jigsaw assembly is not unlike the creative process.  Artists and writers both talk about the blank page... jigsaws, at least, give you a jumping off point, encourage you to look for the edge pieces and assemble them to create a framework.  I think we all need that in some way; my equivalent of edge pieces, in textile, is usually the creation of a small piece using whatever I have to hand (usually, up until now, from the bits lying on the floor).  In paint, it comes from the process of selecting colours for my palette, which I do intuitively.  I think that creating a starting ritual, and using it consistently,  is comforting, but it's also a springboard into creativity.

And then there's the point where you've got the edges more or less assembled (there's always one or two that I don't find til the end, but I don't let that get in the way of assembling the rest of the image).  And then I'm face to face with my own doubts; this is hard.  How will I ever manage?  Well... partly through intuition... that piece looks as if it should fit there... no... but it does fit two pieces along... and on I plod.  Emphasis on the plod; building jigsaws seem to go in fits and starts, depending on how easy it is to group colours together, to assemble little, but obvious, details so that they can then be fitted into the whole.  And there's something about perseverance, too, just keeping going, pushing through the problems (most of which are in my head) to create the image. 

Yes, it's harder for artists; they don't always have a clear idea of what the end goal is, making deciding what the end product actually is, quite challenging.  Fortunately, we don't have to limit ourselves to Just One Ending or Just One Process; that's what working in series is about.

If you'd like to do the stone jigsaw, here's the link; if that doesn't work, look for artmixter...I only have three images up, this one and a couple of floral ones.  There are a surprising number of quilt images available as jigsaws, but I'm not sure that my work would lend itself to that kind of treatment.  Above all, in jigsaws as in art, have fun.,,that's a significant part of the process.

by marion barnett ( at April 18, 2018 08:51 AM

April 17, 2018

Olga Norris

Sunny view

From my sewing room I can see the wealth of fritillaries in the grass, the blossom on the spiraea bridal wreath, the fresh green leaves just opened on the philadelphus, and  the mass of hellebore, pulmonaria, and other blooms under my window all in this afternoon's warming sun.

by Olga Norris ( at April 17, 2018 02:08 PM

Marion Barnett

Overturning Those Decisions.

You might remember this post, where I talked about using a wee bit of linen that I'd found in the scrap.  Well...I sat down to work with it this morning, while waiting for the mannie to arrive to service my mobility scooter (he's still not here, so much for 'late morning'; it's 12.30pm and not a peep out of him...

I decided that the brown bit was altogether too brown... so I added some frothy white plastic netting, and some stitch to hold it down;

And then more stitch to hold it on the Lutradur XL:
And then, it all went to hell in a handcart.  Putting the lutradur in front of it Just Didn't work.  So I tried other bits of lutradur; worse.  Then I took the long vertical stitches out, removed the brown bit, put the coloured lutradur underneath... nope.  And just as I was about to give up, I tried this:
Yes.  I thought.  Right balance, right texture (it's evolon, coloured with Brusho); could do with being a bit bigger, but hey...  So I tried it against some white evolon:
So what I want to find now, is a piece of textured linen to mount this piece on.  I know I don't have such a thing, so I may settle for cotton, but it does need to be a woven fabric, just to add a bit more texture.  Natural coloured, rather than white, might be better, but it'll all depend on what I find.  Come to think of it, I need to trim the blue; those lines aren't straight, or parallel, for that matter...but it has the distinct feeling of a well conceived piece.  Finally. 

PS The scooter mannie says my scooter is immaculate... so I must be doing something right... or maybe it's just that I don't go out much...sigh.

by marion barnett ( at April 17, 2018 01:18 PM

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - Chelsea Pensioners Museum

Chelsea Pensioners are "those old guys in the red coats" - retired from the army, living at Royal Hospital Chelsea since 1692, and surrendering their pension for the privilege. In 2009 women were included. The Hospital remained responsible for distributing Army pensions until 1955.
Accommodation is in "berths" in long wards. Since modernisation, completed in the 1990s, each measures 9 feet square (formerly 6 feet square) -
 and accommodates mod cons - but the berths had no lighting till electricity was installed in the early 1900s.
 Click on the image to read more.
The museum has many cases of medals that belonged to former residents, and an array of cap badges -
some of which depicted noble animals -
 I also found "Black Jack", a leather jug used to bring beer up from the cellar to the Great Hall, where the pensioners ate - it's huge -
 Najlaa went hunting for keys -
In the Army Museum next door, Sue found an officer's drab-coat, used for desert camouflage -
 ... and Janet K found 17th century fighting garb -
Back with the pensioners, Carol was take by the inter-department document trolley -
 ... and, having missed her train into town, had drawn some other passengers waiting at the station -
 Strange object of the week - Najlaa found it in a charity shop -
We concluded these must be rub-off transfers - but when or where (or why!) would you use them?

More useful is this souvenir from the shop -
It illustrates the major medals, and at the bottom is a key to some of the ribbons, which are an at-a-glance guide (to those in the know!) to the wearer's service history. To the rest of us, they are a secret, stripey code...

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 17, 2018 08:57 AM

April 16, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Parliament Hill Mansions

These - built 1889-1906 - are near Gospel Oak overground station, to the south of Hampstead Heath. I had just missed a train so took a little walk and was struck by the different tiles in the doorways -

Flats 11-90
 ...and some former inhabitants -
Alice Zimmern, 1885-1939, pioneering advocate for women's education and suffrage

Haydn Wood, composer (1882-1959; 2nd floor) and RH Tawney, economic historian (1880-1962; 1st floor)

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 16, 2018 03:52 PM

Marion Barnett

The Road To Hell... supposedly paved with good intentions; in my case, and maybe yours, too, it's also littered with random materials that we hoarded, thinking, 'I could do something with that'...and then never actually getting round to doing anything at all.  Most of that sort of material got given away during The Great Purge; it is truly interesting to see what I kept.  Working my way through the odds and sods I've been talking about over the past week or so, I came across some hand made paper.  I vaguely remember buying it in Norfolk, quite early on in our residence there, which makes it about ten years old, anyway... good grief...   It's highly textured; I have no idea what it is made from, but it feels fairly fragile.  It appealed, yesterday, so I took it as a starting point...
It's teamed, here, with a piece of transfer dyed lutradur 30, secured with large stitches using hand dyed perle.  It feels like a field, to me... I combined it with another piece of paper, this time a scrunched-up piece of brown paper.  I started working with brown paper (or rather, thinking about working with brown paper) when we were in the Highlands, but it took a workshop in Norfolk, roughly twelve or thirteen years later, to get me to Actually Do It. 

Again, these are stitched together using the same perle thread, in random stitches that reflect the construction of the light-coloured paper.  So far, so good.  It feels like a strong motif; but what to do with it?  Well... I have the habit of buying vintage napkins whenever I see them in charity shops; they tend to be very reasonably priced, and are an ideal size for me to work with.  So, I went for a rake about in my box and found several, but only one that was large enough to work with these bits. 

Hmm.  Needs an iron.  But it has potential...needs something else...

No, not Merlin's tail...but the circle, also from crunched up brown paper, seems to be the right way to go.  Now, where's that iron... ?

And here it is, ready for stitch.  I've pinned the napkin to some white felt, to stabilise it, and give the stitch a bit of depth when I eventually work out what to do with it.  I don't often use pins, preferring to work with fusible, but ironing is exhausting, while pinning requires minimal effort.  ME has forced me to adapt my practice to work round my lack of energy.  Things will be easier, I hope, when my studio is properly set up, but I haven't been well enough to do anything with it yet, other than put a couple of boxes on the new shelves.  Sofa sewing is all I can manage at the moment.

I'm going to let this piece sit for a while, to see what it needs in the way of stitch.  I'd like to add some machine stitch to that circle, nice clear dark line.  Well, ok, curves. There again, more of that random stitch by hand, in a darker colour, might well be better.  We'll see.  Meantime...I found a couple of small, identical napkins while looking for something suitable; wonder if there's anything in the paper stash that would work on them...or the rust stash...or both...   hmmm.  Yes, I did purge dramatically, but I still have choices, albeit on a much smaller scale than before...and that's proving to be A Good Thing.

by marion barnett ( at April 16, 2018 11:52 AM

April 15, 2018

Margaret Cooter

"All Too Human"

... an exhibition subtitled "Bacon, Freud and a century of painting life" - at Tate Britain until 27 August.

Wandering through, I didn't pay solid attention but was pleased to find a roomful of work by an artist new to me - F.N. Souza (1924-2002), who came to the UK from Bombay/Mumbai in 1949, working initially as a journalist. After various exhibitions and increasing success in London, in 1967 he moved to New York. "His style was deliberately eclectic: essentially Expressionist in character, but also drawing on the post-war Art Brut movement and elements of British Neo-romanticism. His work was often highly erotic." (via)

Crucifixion, 1959

Souza's signature, and the other "asemic" writing marks,
are intriguing
Most of the work by Paula Rego (b.1935) shown in this exhibition - a room full - was new to me -
Watercolour and ink - but title not known, I forgot to
photograph the label


Detail of Bride, 1994 - a large-scale pastel,
wonderful use of the medium
Among the younger artists, this work by Lynette Yiadom-Boayake - though not the largest in the room - leapt out, perhaps because of those tiny but telling areas of light -

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 15, 2018 09:03 PM

Marion Barnett

Oops, I Did It Again....

I jumped to a conclusion, too quickly.  Or rather, I was lazy.  I thought there was something not quite right about the spear/tree piece, but I ignored myself.  And then my friend, writer and fellow textile peep Ann Rawson piped up on FB... 'not so sure about the bottom leaf shape, she said.  Damn.  So...
being lazy, again, I didn't want to detach the leaf, because I'd never get that stitching again...but I did want to have some sort of extra space in that, reader, I cut into the leaf.  And not happy with just that, I cut into the rectangle, too...
On reflection, should have left that rectangle alone....but the leaf is right.  And it's finished now.
Unless I stitch into that rectangle, where I cut it... but I might not.  And no, I'm not doing *another* blog post if I do... so you may never know.  Ann's a crime writer; I'm sure she'll appreciate the suspense.  And thank you, Ann, for the gentle nudge.  I needed it today.

by marion barnett ( at April 15, 2018 04:43 PM

Changing My Mind, or Stitch Changes Everything.

So... remember that red velvet piece?  Yes, this one...

Remember I said that this was it?  Reader, I was wrong.  And why was that?  Well... it was stitch.  Stitch changes everything.  I started to assemble the piece, as you do, with that top left lutradur element.  It said, I want irregular stitches....and that's what it got...
And what's more, I liked it.  Most of the other elements, however, Just Didn't Fit.  Sigh.  So... I came up with this. 
I'm still using some of the elements from the last version, but somewhat adjusted, with that leaf or blade type motif added at the top of the long vertical, one of the shorter verticals removed, and a second, larger blade or leaf on the bottom left.  It now has a completely different feel.  And then I added stitch, which was the point at which I contemplated giving up...
...more random stitch, including a couple of renegade French Knots.  I always struggle with them, and whilst I think they add something, I'm not sure why I bothered, given the fuss and the time it took to do what really ought to be a totally simple stitch.  I'm contemplating some beads in that upper section, but that may continue to be a contemplation...not sure if I know where my beads actually are at present...sigh.

This looks better in real life, I have to say, but I'm still not convinced that it's anything more than a sketch.  Not a bad sketch, you understand; I feel that the tree/spear thing (I'm pretty sure it's a tree, in my head, but there is a definite reference to spears going on in there somewhere) is worth developing further.  I've always had a thing about trees...but that's another conversation entirely. 

So...what do you think?  Was it worth the effort? 

by marion barnett ( at April 15, 2018 12:38 PM

April 14, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Book du jour - The Art of Medieval Spain

Current reading is a weighty tome, the catalogue of a 1994 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I found the book in a charity shop, if memory serves -
and bought it because of the Visigothic objects, including this spectacular crown
which I'd seen in the archaeology museum in Madrid a few years before - in fact that was the first time I'd heard of the Visigoths, who settled in the Iberian peninsula after disturbing the Roman empire.

A book sits on your shelves for years and then its moment comes. As with this one. Its essays are a good source for the history of northern Spain, and for the medieval art and architecture of the area.

The plan is to go to Spain and walk along some of the Camino de Santiago, the stretch between Burgos and Leon. So I'm looking for what delights might be visible along the way...
Late 7th century, in a church near Burgos

Fresco in San Isidoro, Leon -  it'll be nice to see this in colour
 It's little, simple, old churches like this I'm looking forward to seeing -
Santullano, Oviedo ... I fantasise a side-trip to Oviedo...
Leon's churches look to have much sculptural interest - these portals are part of San Isidoro, named after the sainted 7th century bishop of Seville and dedicated in 1063 -
 he exhibition catalogue includes many items from various museums, among them metalwork and books -
Adam and Eve, from about 1000 (Logrono)

Cross of the Angels, Oviedo, 808

Initial S in the form of a juggler, 980
The church of San Salvador is the only building remaining of the country estate, near Oviedo, of King Alfonso III (reigned 866-910). It was consecrated in 893 in the presence of seven bishops -

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 14, 2018 08:04 PM

Olga Norris


(image from here)
At last today is sunny and warm, and it really feels that Spring is (perhaps) finally here, especially as bumble bees are busy bumping into our windows.

by Olga Norris ( at April 14, 2018 03:29 PM

April 13, 2018

Marion Barnett

Decisions, Decisions...

Back to the bags of scrap; one bag, in particular, offering two options for elements I have paired.  Sadly, the images don't do this justice...but bear with me.

I've got a lovely rectangle of hand dyed linen, which is frayed on all four sides.  Firstly, I've paired it with a roughly postcard sized piece of Lutradur XL:
I love the texture of the frayed edges, but it looks pretty boring by itself.  What I wanted was something that made the eye travel across the piece, and I came across this piece of lutradur 30, which I think fits the bill...
I think it has been the last of several prints; I like the eye to the far right.  It doesn't show well, here, but there is also pale green in the mix.  Combining the two gives this...

This isn't working at all... I wanted to show you that positioning in this kind of work is everything.... if you move the print across, though, you get this :
This suggests that the dark brown of the cloth is travelling across via the lutradur.  I rather like it, but I do want to be sure.  So I tried it on a larger square of Evolon :
That changes the balance of the piece, but not my intentions; I still want that idea of brown travelling across to the other side of the piece, so that lutradur needs to come into play again.
This time, you see much more of the lutradur and that elusive eye print... and it's decision time.
For me, though, it's a no brainer; the first one wins.  Why?  Because of what I said my original intention was; to have the brown travel into the right hand side of the cloth.  Yes, it does do that in both pieces, but in the second piece, I feel that what ought to be a detail, a suggestion, is in fact dominating the piece. 

So, we're back to this :
I quite like this: it's a sketch, admittedly, not an important piece, but it will be interesting to see what happens when I add stitch to it.  Looking at the image again, I think that the very long bits of thread hanging from it are a distraction, so they will go.   Then a lot will depend on the choice of thread and the type of stitching.  I'm not going to stitch through the XL, however, as I'm likely to use hand stitch, rather than machine, and stitching through a heavy backing is I'll use a lighter lutradur, and fuse it to the backing later.  Given that the stitching is likely to be intense, I'll probably make it a bit bigger than the backing, to allow for shrinkage. 

So...what would you have chosen? 

by marion barnett ( at April 13, 2018 12:08 PM

Margaret Cooter

Woodblock Wednesday

Continuing on the ikat theme, I cut another block to complement the first ikat block, this time using the wide U-gouge (the first was done with the narrow gouge). Which doesn't seem to make much difference!

Combining red and black -

Close-up ... the registration wasn't exact and the effect is good
 Various effects through simple placement - and slightly different blocks -
 The aim is to make "visual" books, with a sequence of gradually changing pages. The format could be "japanese binding" or it could be a concertina.

Before the next Wednesday session I'll research ways of joining the pages already made, and think about whether they need additional elements, and what to use as covers.
Once these are books, with just two prints showing at each page spread, they will "read" quite differently.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 13, 2018 08:54 AM

April 12, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - object poems by Juan Brossa

Joan Brossa, Eina Morta [Dead Tool]
Eina Morta [Dead Tool], 1988

Although he is known primarily as an artist, Juan Brossa’s object poems are only one branch of his wide conception of poetry. He believed that the idea rather than the medium was of central importance. Brossa began making object-poems in 1943, and they are typically perverse, ironic and humorous, either made by combining two unusual objects, or transforming an everyday item so that its function is removed. Here, a pair of scissors literally became a ‘dead tool,’ unable to be put to their intended use. Brossa’s love of magic and conjuring tricks can be connected to his playful object-poems. He explained that "Poetry and magic are the same thing. Art is a metamorphosis, basically, and magic too." (via)

Juan Brossa (1919-1998) was born in Barcelona. He began to write poetry while fighting in the Spanish Civil War in 1938, and later became interested in the power of the unconscious. This led to his association with the Surrealist movement.  A key figure in the Catalan avant-garde, Brossa was one of the founders of the art and literature review ‘Dau al Set’ and was a friend of Joan Miró and Antoni Tàpies. Brossa regarded himself primarily as a poet, although his definition of poetry was broad, encompassing theatrical work, cinema, visual poetry, automatic writing, installations and object-poetry. His object-poems use everyday objects in a surprising manner, in the tradition of Dada and Surrealism.

After the Civil War Brossa supported himself by selling banned books - mostly imported illegally from Argentina - and doing magic tricks. It was through the books that he met the painter Joan Miro. When Miro died in 1983, they were working on a third book together - Brossa said that meeting him was "almost a justification for being in the world".

He first showed the visual poems in 1951. He also created more than 150 works for the theatre, many presented in private houses and others disastrously disfigured by the censor.


More images are here; see what you make of them.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 12, 2018 02:13 PM

April 11, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Objects in the British Museum

It's gold - in the rare form of votive plaques - seven of them (one removed temporarily), dating to the 3rd or 4th century, when Britain was a Roman province -

 A closer view -
 ... and a better explanation -
 "The hoard" - gold and silver - was found in 2002 in Hertfordshire. They were probably taken from a temple and buried -

 Elsewhere in Europe, a thousand years later ...

 And some carved ivory -

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 11, 2018 09:15 PM