The World Turns To Ice

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Thoughts and pleasures of the morning

I have just made porridge.
Oats a gift from the earth
Water a gift from the clouds
Milk a gift from the cows
Honey a gift from the bees
It is warm in my big ceramic bowl a gift from Rosie the potter
Thanks and good wishes, a message with love from me.x

Monday, 29 August 2011

Searching for Faeries

To make contact with the faerie kingdom: 'On the first day after a full moon, bury six white rose petals under an apple tree'
( from 'Faery Tale' by Signe Pike, Hay House Books, 2010)

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Lost words

I miss it, writing.  It was going to be a daily practice and yet I haven't written for months.  I have been waylaid by the visual; enticed by colour, composition and form. Words have been locked in dusty books upon heaving shelves behind impenetrable library doors.  Words are lost.  They lie in long forgotten trunks in dark attics. Once a poem tried to creep along old gnarled floorboards. It slithered between the cracks but it was discovered, found out, banished into solitary confinement in a grey world of persistent fog with a promise of rain.

The Zen of Pottery

Earlier in the summer I did a pottery summer school at Wobage Farm Workshops ( near my home. I am so lucky to have such a prestigious pottery on my doorstep. Last year I attended a weekly evening class on a Friday night and made it most weeks despite heavy snow and freezing temperatures. Inside the studio there was a wood burning stove, tea and cake and good company. I am still amazed that our tutor Josh (Redman) has taught me to throw a pot as it was something that I never thought that I would be able to do.  In the two hour session I was trying to make as many pots as possible as time was short but I wasn't really progressing beyond the occasional basic small pot and an awful lot of oddities.
  The difference that the three day summer school made was that I slowed down. I had plenty of time to watch demonstrations and to observe the throwing techniques of others.  I became aware that my own throwing was making an improvement and I had a 'Zen' moment. I realized that in order to make a good pot I had to get the foundations right and to do that I had to slow down and concentrate on each stage as I did it. My usual slap dash and hope for the best technique was what had been holding me back.
  What I am most surprised about is how this revelation has stayed with me and is changing how I approach everything that I do. I am carrying this idea forward into all my work and I am making a progressive leap. In the way that a building is only made strong and stable if it has firm and sure foundations my designs are only going to reach the standard that I expect of myself if I take the planning and construction stages seriously. All too often I have made a dive towards the end product whilst cutting as many corners as possible and then being disappointed with the results. At last I am putting all my years of design training into practice and working hard at each stage as I should.
  Yesterday I made a base for the textile 'pot' that I have been working on which can be seen on earlier posts.  I had no idea how I was going to do this successfully as it had an irregular base and it needed something that would make the cylinder into a round shape.  Instead of jumping straight in and making do with whatever result was achieved I thought it through, planned it properly and made paper templates before I constructed a card and textile base upon a frame of jewellery wire.  It worked first time and produced a strong base with no gaps which has also moved the vessel into the rounder shape that I wanted.
  So thank you to all my mentors at Wobage.  You have taught me much more than how to throw a pot and I can't wait for the new term to begin.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Summer-Colt

William Marshall reported in his 'Rural Economy of Yorkshire' in 1796 that on a calm day when the air is seen to undulate near the surface of the ground it can appear to rise 'as from hot embers'. The phenomenon is expressed by saying, 'the summer-colt rides'.

This conjures up all sorts of visions of a horse in Summer galloping across the landscape. It makes me think of the work of Hannah Willow -see especially her painting of 'The Uffington Mare'.

I'm inspired to get my sketch book out and play with ideas for 'the summer-colt rides'. It has a magic and a mystery to it.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

16th of August: 'Garland Coursing'

A race used to be run up a hill called Garland Pasture on this day at Askrigg in Yoredale, England.  The prize was a specially woven garland which I assume could be found at the top of the hill and the race was known as 'garland coursing'.

This event was sponsored by a woman who had been jilted centuries before.  A stipulation of her will was that the annual proceeds from her pasture should fund the race and it would serve as a perpetual reminder and punishment to the men of Wenslydale.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Carnival Day

Today in Ross-on-Wye is Carnival Day. Ours is not a grand affair in comparison with many around the world but it is an event where the town comes out and gathers together. However, this year you could hardly say that there were throngs of people on the streets. Our big day in Summer does not seem to be quite such an event as it used to be.  Maybe it is because of the weather today, quite dull with showers, or perhaps because there are not as many floats as there have been in years gone by.  It is all the more credit to those who do make the effort to take part in the display and to those who come out to support it.
The last I saw of the floats they were heading down towards the river with the crowd following along behind. There will be a fun fair ,stalls, demonstrations and a duck race on the river bank but I hurried home as the rain had started to come down and I was carrying a brand new sketch book which I was trying to protect.

As I arrived home wet and dishevelled the sun came out! Hey ho, at least those river revellers will have fun as they wave their balloons and eat their ice creams.

The Poetry Vessel makes progress

Way back in the month of May I started my new venture, three dimensional textile vessels (see blog post 'The Poetry Vessel'. I have been working on adding colour and stitching the piece together - which believe me with five layers of gesso and several layers of acrylic paint and ink was not an easy task. I am nearly ready to go on to the next phase after I have done a few tweaks.  Here are the before colouring and after pictures:



Now I can get to the interesting bit which involves wire, tyvek, burning, calligraphy...............and probably other techniques/materials that I haven't even thought of yet. Already my head is full of thoughts for other vessels too. Its good to feel inspired.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Wally/Waldo look-a-likes

A friend asked me to make these for him and, as I didn't have a pattern I found the prospect pretty daunting especially as I was busy .  If he and his wife hadn't been two of my best pals I would have tried to wriggle out of it with much more force. So I decided to give it a go.  I had never designed any knitted toys from scratch before and I had many failures before I managed to find a workable design. Now that I have finished them I am really glad that I had a go, not because I think that they are great as I can see all their failings. I am glad that I tried because my friends asked me and , if they are happy with them then I haven't let them down. Here are the little rascals. I don't know what they are going to be used for but I am guessing that they might be school props. I shall soon be wrapping, packing and wishing them goodbye so I am presenting them here for posterity.

The Road Home, thoughts of Rumi

The Road Home
An ant hurries along a threshing floor
with its wheat grain, moving between huge stacks
of wheat, not knowing the abundance
all around. It thinks its one grain
is all there is to love.

So we choose a tiny seed to be devoted to.
This body, one path or one teacher.
Look wider and farther.

The essence of every human being can see,
and what the essence-eye takes in,
the being becomes. Saturn. Solomon!

The ocean pours through a jar,
and you might say it swims inside
the fish! This mystery gives peace to
your longing and makes the road home home.


Wednesday, 3 August 2011

A Feast Day for stitchers

Today is the feast day of Saint Lydia who is a patroness of those who make fabric and garments. Lydia 'Purpuraria' was born in the town of Thyatira in Asia Minor in the first century.  It was a town famous for its dye works, hence her name which means 'purple seller'.

A worthy patron for textile artists who can often be found waiting impatiently to see the results from the contents of a dye bath. I haven't done any dyeing for a while but there is nothing like unravelling brightly coloured lengths of space-dyed cloth fresh from the washing machine and hanging it on the line to dry.  I love to see the effects that are created upon different types of cloth within the same dye bath. I use cold water dyes in a bath of no more than three colours in a single shallow dye bath.  I use natural fibres such as cottons, silks and velvet and the results are very different on each piece. Also, the cloth at the top of the bath will be softer and more muted in colour than the jewelled  effects of those at the bottom. My favourites are always the delicate muslins which I can pull apart and distress for fabric collages.

For me the wait to see the results can only be compared to that feeling of never ending time that you felt as a child on Christmas Eve or the long night before you set off on holiday to the seaside.  The thrill of each unique piece blowing on the line is maybe something that only stitchers can really appreciate.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Lammastide: How to keep hired reapers on their feet during the harvest.

'For the lethargy, or extreme drowsiness provoked by heat, you shall by all violent means, either by noise or other violent disturbances...keep the party from sleeping; and whensoever he calleth for drink, you shall give him white wine and hyssop water, of each a little quantity mixed together, and not suffer him to sleep above four hours in twenty-four, till he come to his usual wakefulness.  Which as soon as he hath received, you shall then forthwith purge his head with the juice of beets squirted up into his nostrils.'

from 'The English Housewife', Markham, 1683