'If you make happiness your goal, then you're not going to get to it… The goal should be an interesting life."

Dorothy Rowe

Monday, 27 February 2012

Finished at last.


The piece formerly known as ‘Compass’ – or possibly ‘No Direction Home’ – but now known as ‘Road Atlas’.

I haven't decided yet if I like it.

Finishing Road Atlas – and college starting again on Wednesday – concentrated the mind and I started exploring a new idea for a large network of tubes arranged in diamonds and equilateral triangles – and when I say large, I mean large, a couple of metres across, at least. image




This was a good example of why it is always a good idea to make a sample. Working out the thread path was difficult – I ended up either with knots, or going round almost every section at least twice. And although I think a larger piece might have behaved more the way I was expecting, the small piece lost its shape and wouldn’t hang flat. I could have persevered but I decided I didn't have the time to spend weeks making lots of tubes only to find it didn’t work.

It was time for Plan B – which at Cheese Acres is thinking of Plan C. Plan C is either making tubes for some other ideas [3D pieces] or getting back imageto the prayer flags.

But I needed a bit of instant gratification, so I made a book – a pipe cleaner bound notebook, adapted to international paper sizes, and some odd leftovers of paper.

I think it would be a great thing to make with children, as intended – however I wish I’d made it A5 instead of A4, and I shall replace the pipe cleaners with thread. But instantly gratifying it was.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Better late than never…


Today I finally got down to finishing off Compass/No Direction Home [still haven’t made up my mind]. Yes, nearly a week has passed since I wrote that I had started it, but one or two things got in the way. Good things, like exhibitions, trips and watching exciting cycling - middling things lie taking another hourly series of photos of ‘Mirror’ [slide show here] – and less good things, like visits to the dental hygienist. Plus the piece itself took longer than expected.

You may notice a slight discrepancy between this – my sketch…






and this – my prepared materials.  Unfortunately I didn’t, until I came to assemble the piece. I needed 18 tubes and I had only made 9 [couldn’t even count the 8 I thought I was making properly…]

So I had to make another lot – and as that involved three coats of wax on each, it took a while.

Then life intervened, and it was only today that I got down to the final assembly – or so I thought.






Mmm – think that outer ring needs to be black, not cream.

I was despairingly thinking of taking the scissors to the whole thing when W. suggested I over-wrapped the cream yarn with the black yarn. Told you he was wonderful.

Now I just need some interesting TV which I don’t actually have to watch, and I can get it done. [Wrapping yarn round a lampshade ring is not the most exciting activity I have ever tried.]




Our trip out was yesterday: it dawned on me that because it was exam board at college I had a day off. We decided to gimageo to Corfe Castle, which is one of those places we kept saying we should go to. without actually doing so.

W. described the weather as ‘atmospheric’ – by which he meant it was cold, windy and wet. As you can see. So we scuttled round, indulged in a little retail therapy at the National Trust shop, and came home via Walford Mill, where there was an interesting exhibition of Brazilian jewellery made from recycled materials. Very inspirational, although some of the recycling was a bit out of my league.

The tea and toasted teacakes were pretty good too.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

A chapter of accidents

I really didn’t feel like getting down to any college work this month this week today, but I decided I had to do something, so I forced myself into the work room to roll some tubes. That went OK, apart from slightly dodgy cutting of the paper.

  1. Then I remembered that I wanted to wax the tubes, got the liming wax out of the basket where it lives – and trapped my thumb pushing the basket back into the shelf unit. 
  2. When I levered the lid off the wax with a screwdriver, the screw driver slipped and I cut my palm.
  3. When I started painting on the wax the [admittedly cheap] brush fell apart.
  4. When I was climbing back on to my stool with a new brush, I fell off it and landed on the floor. I suspect I now have a rather interesting bruise which I will not revealing to anyone except W. [No,I hadn’t been drinking!]
  5. When I resumed waxing the second brush fell apart.image

All the pain [literal and metaphorical] has been worth it as I am pleased with the results. The wax has made the tubes smooth and shiny, and it glued down the loose edges which even super Pritt refused to do. So I have assembled the ingredients to complete the piece tomorrow. I spent last night wrapping yarn round the ex-lampshade ring, which is not the most exciting activity, but fortunately there was lots of excitement in the cycling on the telly.

Though this piece is currently called ‘Compass’, the phrase ‘No Direction Home’ keeps running through my head, and I am thinking of renaming it. I find naming work difficult – as you may have realised, most of my tube pieces are named after the materials they are made of. Even ‘Chronicle’, which is made from our local paper – although it seems a good name anyway. W. is responsible for both ‘Postage of Time’ and ‘Storm  Cones’, which otherwise might have been ‘Envelopes’ and ‘Brown Paper’, which are rather less exciting. Obviously ‘Compass’ doesn’t follow my usual pattern anyway – but why does it want to be named after the chorus of a nearly 50 year old Bob Dylan song? – although it’s the Stones’ version I remember best.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

My muse.

Since it’s Valentine’s day, it’s a good day to celebrate the man who this morning delivered a card, a single red rose [‘One wed wose? How womantic’] – and a good idea.

Not the pimageostman. He hasn’t delivered anything today – and if he did it would probably be for someone else.


The plan says ‘mock-ups and models’ so I’ve been pootling around with ideas for tubes, including this one – which I liked the look of, but it didn’t say anything to me. The armature inside is newspaper on, as you can see, a junk CD base, but the non-recycled black paper didn’t seem to be relevant to anything.image

I’ve been calling it a prayer flag – and this morning W. suggested that, as I always say bits of plastic bags caught in trees remind me of prayer flags, why not replace the black paper with a plastic bag?

The man’s a genius.

OK, the armature needs more paint, and it’s not as elegant as the black one, but it’s saying more – and reminds me of these. Just imagine lots of them outside. So now I'm after as many junk CDs   I can scrounge. [I’ve got plenty of plastic bags.]


Other ideas, more or less successful.



Mock-ups for small framed indoor pieces. They will look better as tubes but I need to find a suitable background.







An idea for another outdoor piece – amazing what ideas come when you find a bit of old lampshade you forgot you had.



And an idea inspired by a photo of a fence in Mali.





Not only does W. deliver roses and ideas – he also puts up with a completely loopy wife.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Sometimes I stick to the plan.


More or less.

Today’s plan was to get up at dawn and photograph ‘Mirror’ in the wild, at hourly intervals.

Unfortunately he who can hear the alarm clock had a different idea as to what constituted ‘dawn’ than I did – so it was 7.30 when I started – and the the hourly intervals got a bit fluid. But I have 11 more or less evenly spaced photos. Until mid-afternoon it was uniformly grey and overcast, so there isn’t much difference in the photos, and I think I may have to do it again. 

I have persuaded Picasa to make a slide show which is on Google+ and with any luck it is visible here, but as a confirmed Luddite I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it didn't work.


Popping out into the [literally] freezing garden every hour meant that I couldn’t settle to anything too engrossing, so not much else was achieved, apart from the usual Thursday photos and a few more samples – the plastic wrapping I forgot, and a couple of shaped wraps, All a bit so-so.

I think that’s it for tube samples – I haven’t experimented with colouring them, because I prefer the ‘natural’ colours – or the bleached versions. Of course I used Brusho on several of the bits which are out in the garden now, but I don’t think I will do it again. The most successful were the globs of black acrylic on Storm Cones, which I might repeat.

I do want to sample some painted/collaged paper for making books [yes, back to that again] but as the temperature of the painting studio conservatory is only slightly above that of the garden, I don’t see myself doing that any time soon.



Earlier in the week, feeling a bit  housebound, we braved the cold to go and look at snowdrops at Kingston Lacey – and very pretty they were. The soup and chocolate cake in the restaurant were pretty good too.









But I liked these best. According to a member of staff we spoke to, one of the gardeners has a degree in sculpture, and she had been let loose with her shears on some of the shrubs. Definitely the best topiary I've ever seen!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Going a bit over the top?

Yesterday I spent a pleasant afternoon with Babybel and the VHC, while their dad and granddad tried to sort out some plumbing, and their mum sorted out her paperwork. [I can’t help feeling I got the best of the bargain there.] There was a lot of cuddling, tickling, story reading, giggling, and playing – and a certain amount of eating.

Today I got back on track. When I was battling with Wordpress, I checked the paperwork for the last modules [always a good idea to read the assessment criteria, preferably sooner rather than later] and discovered that one of the requirements was to make a plan of work/timeline. So I decided I’d better make one, which given that it's a few weeks since we got the module handbook, is ever so slightly retrospective.

It is carefully planned – sampling up till half term, then making models, and no proper pieces before Easter.

‘Mirror’, therefore, was definitimageely not in the plan  – think we’ll draw a veil over that…

Today was sampling, as per plan. I've been thinking for a while that it might be interesting to try adding additional layers to the tubes, so I tried out a few ideas.

Paper to begin with – some didn’t work as well as I'd hoped, but I like the brown paper on colour supplement and the colour supplement on brown paper, and the map.

Then I tried other sorts of wrappings – and that’s when things started to go a bit OTT.




I don’t think many of these are practical– they would add a lot of work to the basic tube – but I do like the thread-wrapped one. I like the lace barber’s pole as well, but it would need an awful lot of lace of make a 20-40 tube hanging!

Of course, I've just remembered I as going to try plastic as well – good job there is more sampling time in my plan!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Of bibs, blogs and broken promises.


Two more bibs for the VHC, of the over-the-shoulder type his mummy prefers, especially when his big sister feeds him…

Not, perhaps, typical fabric for bibs, but it was in the stash, it is  bright and cheerful, and a few blobs of puréed whatever will only add to the patterns!



Making bibs, although they are a bit fiddly, was a blessed relief from wrestling with Wordpress. I kept saying to myself that Blogger is so much easier, but then I remembered the tears and tantrums before I started using Windows Livewriter, and that I've never tried to do such complicated things with Blogger as I am trying with Wordpress, so perhaps I am being unfair.

However, progress has been made on my website, and I have [probably stupidly], started an associated blog, which will give more details of my college work than I write here. If you are interested you can find the links in the column at the right.They are still works in progress, especially the blog, so bear with me while I beat Wordpress into submission. And if anyone out there considers themselves a Wordpress expert, I have questions. Many, many questions…

And the broken promises? Well, I may have mentioned one or twice that I was trying to complete this course without buying anything apart from thread, glue etc. ‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’ I keep pontificating.

I have slipped.

While I was contextualising the personal cloths, I came across the beautiful work of Joakim Kaminsky and Maria Poll. So I bought – bought! some mirror fabric, admired it – and moved on.

Then,  wandering round B&Q last Wednesday I succumbed to some neon string. Well, it was ‘10% off for geriatrics’ day.

And about 2 a.m. on Thursday morning, I had a bright idea. I know from past experience that what seems like a good idea at 2 a.m can seem like a very stupid one at 2 p.m. but I persisted with this one, and that afternoon I cut my mirror fabric into pieces, rolled them up, glued them with glue dots and went off for my tea.

The next morning 39 of the 40 rolls had come unrolled. Sigh.

I detached each one from its siblings [they had, of course, stuck firmly to each other], and rerolled them, masterfully, They still unrolled. So I searched through my supply of glues and came across something called ‘Letratac Super Strength Adhesive Dots’. When I opened it it turned out to be adhesive tape, but I’m glad to say it did the trick. I rerolled all 40 tubes and went to lie down in a darkened room.image

This morning, they were still rolled – so I tied them down before they could escape.







Here’s a close up for Karen. This is a more accurate picture of the colour of the string, except it isn’t quite bright enough. The string was a bit of a problem, because it didn’t want to stay knotted, but W. came up with some suitable glue [at least I didn’t have to  buy that]. I was going to put it in the garden, but then it dawned on me that it is effectively a giant bird scarer – and having just bought a rather expensive ‘squirrel proof’ bird feeder, I didn’t want to scare the little tweeters off.

So I decided to put it out for a day and photograph it hourly from dawn to dusk. But to be effective, that means having the camera in exactly the same place  each time.

I ordered a tripod from Amazon.

Mmm – I reckon this piece is going to cost me about £40. So much for ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. The next piece is going to be made out of sawn up windfall branches from the garden and already bought string – I can’t afford anything else – and I think it will make an interesting contrast.

Speaking of broken promises – the BBC weather service promised me it wasn't going to snow here.

They lied. Outdoor photography may be postponed for a while. Anyway, the tripod hasn’t arrived yet.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


As part of module 13 [!?!] of my course, ‘Professional Practice’, I have to set up a website – although we have been strongly encouraged to use Wordpress in lieu of a ‘proper’ website host.

So I have.


If you go over there you will find that it is pretty empty – and it’s taken me a couple of hours to get that far. I did briefly have a Wordpress blog – because I use Windows Live, I got  a Live blog, which I used for private rantings. When Live decided not to offer blogs any more I ended up with a Wordpress one, which I found so complicated I closed it.

But like elephants, Wordpress never forgets, and persuading it that I wanted a brand-new, squeaky clean blog, untainted by its predecessor, choosing a theme in line with my rants in college about legibility, and working out how to get images into the side bar, has taxed my befuddled brain.

Now I have decided to carry out a little market research. When you visit an artist’s website, what do you like to see/read? What sort of information do you like? Any suggestions for ‘must includes’ any criticisms of what I’ve done so far? [Be gentle with me, please!] i will be adding some photos of work – I may even have done so by the time you get over there.

Thanks in advance.

No help needed with the second part of this post. Last night W. and I went out [Cheeses go out at night, shock horror!] to the Cathedral Open Evening. Busy, but interesting.


In January all the chairs are removed from the Nave, and you can get an impression of how it might have looked before such modern concessions to comfort were introduced. Rather wonderful – and probably even better by candlelightP1030646 .






Some of the Cathedral craftsmen were showing their skills.


And there were textiles – I bet the whole of Winchester could hear W’s groan…


This is a 19th C altar frontal I had the pleasure of seeing under repair some years ago. I lost the multitude of photos I took then, in a Picasa crash, so it was lovely to see it again, albeit rather unsympathetically displayed. I did know who made it – a vicar’s wife in Hampshire – and if anyone is interested in her name I can have a look in my magnum opus, where the information is recorded. I think.

P1030668This is not a 19th C altarpiece: I'd be happy to take a fairly large bet that it is by Jane Lemon and the Sarum group, but of course the labels were few and uninformative.


These are the vestments on display – the red one was designed  by Ninian Comper and made by the Sisters of Bethany, and the multicoloured one was made by Lucy Goffin, but memory fails me on the others.P1030698

Then we lit a candle – we always light a candle -






and came home.