Weaving and Appliqué Books and DVD

Posted October 17, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Books

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One of the things about moving across the country is that when you reorganize and pare down the stuff, it clarifies what is really important to you.

I have missed using my rigid heddle weaving loom, and I never got the time to try to weave purse straps using tablet weaving, so I’d like to get back to that when my shoulder injury repairs itself.

I have Deborah Kemball’s previous book Beautiful Botanicals, and I liked this Euphoria Tapestry Quilts for some of the smaller projects she includes. I was thinking of maybe using some of these designs in a mixed embroidery/appliqué accent on the shawl collar of a dressing gown I am making myself.

euphoriatapestryquilts2

There are scant books on using a rigid heddle loom, but now and then a good one comes along. Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom by Syne Mitchell I liked because she discusses using two heddles for doubling the sett of your woven piece which is something I have planned to do for a couple of years for some new tea towels. I have the kit and extra heddles from Ashford, but never got them attached to the loom, it too was deferred for home renovations and selling and moving house.

inventiveweavingbook2

I thought I might find some classes in my new area on tablet or card weaving, but there don’t seem to be any. I had woven two nice pieces of cloth to make purses some years ago, one in a lovely houndstooth pattern, and I wanted to weave my own bands to use as purse straps. I have the crochet cotton and the cards and shuttle/beater, and the spouse made me a surfboard style loom, but I couldn’t figure the process out from the book I bought.

This video is supposed to be very helpful for the confused and although he uses an Inkle loom for demonstrations, they can be adapted for my handmade loom.

tabletweavingmadeeasy3

Tablet Weaving Made Easy by John Mullarkey is a 2-disc video class lasting 120 minutes that gets good reviews, particularly from people like me who find the whole process confusing when using the weaving cards.

Boy, these are quite inspiring!

 

Perle Cotton for Embroidered Nightgowns

Posted October 6, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Needlework, Sewing

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I’m having difficulty embroidering and sewing due to a shoulder impingement and attendant tendinitis and nerve pain, but I started embroidering the bodice of a nightie, and I’m chipping away at it as I can.

The fabric is a softly mottled aqua flannelette that I bought from Connecting Threads two years ago. I am using a variegated green Perle cotton #12 from Presencia to outline the motifs in chain stitch and then I’ll fill the shapes in. The motifs are a combination of the Kate & Rose embroidery patterns Faraway Garden and Bewitching Botanicals. I’m really getting some mileage out of those patterns. I hope to do a small motif on each sleeve as well as embroidering the bodice.

embroiderednightie1

I bought some more Presencia perle cotton #12 threads from Connecting Threads during a recent sale and I bought two colourways of variegated DMC and Anchor floss which you can see surrounding the bodice that is currently being worked. BUT, I’ve always wanted to try the hand-dyed perle cotton threads from Lorraine at Colour Complements, so I ordered two skeins of her beautiful hand-dyed DMC perle cotton #12, just to try it.

perle12_clrcomplements

One of the nighties I’m making is plain white flannelette, and I wanted a variegated thread that really popped. Lorraine’s gorgeous blue, yellow, red, and orange colourway will absolutely pop on white fabric. I think I’m going to hand draw my own pattern up for this one using some motifs from adult colouring books as inspiration. I tend to get bored following patterns so I want to do my own exuberant drawings for this second embroidered nightgown.

I also plan to sew myself a mid-length dressing gown from a navy flannelette, and I thought the second variegated colourway from Colour Complements would be a nice jumping-off point for embroidering motifs on the shawl collar of the dressing gown.

I hope my hand and arm settle down soon so I can get something done.

 

 

 

Books, Bugs, Birds, Textiles, and Pre-Raphaelite Muses and Music

Posted October 4, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Books, Needlework

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Assorted reflections from the past few months…

I read Shoe Dog, Phil Knight’s memoir of Nike and shoes and life which I found to be a page turner. It’s always interesting to hear the inside story of business.

shoedogbk

Generally I’ve been reading mysteries, but throughout the summer I have been rereading The Hare with Amber Eyes in an illustrated edition I purchased, and it was even better the second time. A family history as interesting and poignant as this will be something I revisit along the years.

harebk

A.S. Byatt has a new book called Peacock & Vine: On William Morris and Mariano Fortuny which is a small but delightful read. She often cites Fiona MacCarthy’s excellent biography of Morris which I read from the library in early 2015, but I wanted to get my own used copy so I could read it again.

byattbk

I also thought I needed to read a proper biography of John Ruskin. He often crops up in art history but he was rather strange in his personal life which I always found off-putting, so I’m giving him a chance. I ordered them both from used bookstores and will forward to reading them.

morris_ruskin

My library system had a book called Wives and Stunners:The Pre-Raphaelites and Their Muses by Henrietta Garnett, so I’ll try that for her information on Ruskin and the Brotherhood as well. One thing about these fellows, they often made fun of William Morris and drew caricatures of him, which has always disappointed me, since he had such a enormous work ethic. Rossetti of course had a long-term affair with Morris’s wife Jane which makes me think little of her, but perhaps this book will improve my opinion of her. I doubt it, but I’ll give her a chance.

wivesbk

I had a milestone birthday this summer, so bought myself used copies of two books I’ve had on my wish list for years. I love books on textiles, needlework, and quilting history, so it’s important to me to buy them when I find them as they are scarce.

I bought Toile De Jouy: Printed Textiles in the Classic French Style by Melanie Riffel and Sophie Rouard which is another gorgeous Thames & Hudson publication and contains huge amounts of fascinating information. I’ve only begun it but I am struck by the complicated process of making and printing cloth in pre-industrial times.

I became interested in the tools of needlework because of Gail Marsh’s excellent books on needlework history. I wanted more photographs and explanations of them so I bought a used copy of Antique Needlework Tools and Embroideries by Nerylla Taunton.

toile_needletools

You could spend years studying the history of such things and still not know everything. I find it all inspiring and exciting.

I finally decided after listening to a much-loved recording of an Etude by Chopin with bird sounds, that I had to track down which etude it is. After 21 years it’s starting to bother me every time I hear this exquisite piece, and there is no information in the notes on the recording. Naturally, there are several recordings of the complete etudes, 24 etudes all told, and the recordings get various reviews. I settled on a good, solid one from RCA by John Browning.

chopin_etudes

In Canada, Amazon.ca has raised their free shipping price to $35 CAD again after dropping it to $25 CAD when our dollar was stronger. So as well as Chopin, I got a good photographic reference on bugs from National Geographic and a book on drawing animals, birds, and insects. These books are: Ultimate Bugopedia: The Most Complete Bug Reference Ever by Darlyne Murawski and Nancy Honovich and Drawing And Painting Birds, Marine Creatures and Insects by Jonathan Truss.

bugs_birds_insectsbk

I haven’t been able to draw for about six weeks due to a very painful shoulder impingement and tendinitis, but I have plans, and drawing projects to get to, and I hope my hand comes around soon so I can hold a pencil and paint again.

There is something about Fall and Winter that seems perfect for Art Nouveau and pre-World War I biographies. A fire in the grate, a book in the hand and mind, hot cups of jasmine tea, and warm blankets on my lap. Perfect!

Oh, and maybe some etudes by Chopin burbling in the background? Yes, I think that works.

 

 

Quit Bugging Me Maplelea

Posted September 23, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Dolls

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I can’t believe it. After asking to be taken off their mailing list nearly three years ago after this happened, I received a catalogue in the mail, forwarded from my old address.

I was not selling anything, it wasn’t a cold call.

I have one Maplelea doll, Saila, whom I like. She is currently packed away while I look for a storage cabinet for her and some other dolls. I have not bought anything from Maplelea since e-mailing their dismissive employees to suggest it would be great for them to provide some sewing patterns that fit their dolls.

AND I still refuse to buy anything from them. Whoever is designing their clothes lately has no sense of colour and no imagination. Each doll has a set colour palette which they use to design clothes, but it gets boring after a while. No imagination.

saila_bye

Oh, and you know, no one has really offered a good sewing pattern for Maplelea dolls. I saw one for nightwear which looked nice, but the fabric of the body showed, which ruins the illusion for me. After all this time, sewing patterns for these dolls really don’t exist. It would be nice to have a decent wardrobe-builder of a dress, that you could change or embellish to make more styles.

Sewing patterns for humans usually feature different views and sleeve lengths. Most doll patterns don’t do that which is short-sighted. Instead of a $5 pattern, someone with pattern drafting skills could release a multi-pattern, priced accordingly. I have several doll books with patterns but they don’t fit these Maplelea dolls and require endless adjustment.

I’m telling you, someone could make some money offering properly fitted sewing patterns for clothes that are specifically sized for these Maplelea dolls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Postage Stamp History and Books

Posted June 22, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Books, History

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I never made it as a postage stamp collector when I was a child, I had no patience with the gummy hinges and trying to fill a book pre-printed with particular stamps that you were supposed to find. I do however love the art on postage stamps. People say mail is dying out and in many ways it has, but post offices keep designing and releasing wonderful stamps with wonderful art. I’ve recently been using these lovely hydrangea stamps from Canada Post on letters to people.

Mmmm, yummy super delish!

hydrangeastamps_sm

I bought a book years ago that is still in print is called Stamping Through Mathematics by Robin J. Wilson. It’s a history of mathematics, countries, and people through various postage stamps from around the world. It has beautiful large clear pictures of stamps and the text is more of an overview, just enough for those of us who aren’t stamp collectors, but full of meaty examples for people who do collect.

StampingThroughMathematics

Yesterday I decided to look up and see if there were any similar publications to this and found two books by Chris West. One was called A History of Britain in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps, and the second was called A History of America in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps. Very expensive to buy, but my local library has the one on British stamps so I’m going to hurtle in and borrow it.

I find the older monochromatic or duotone stamps kind of boring visually but a book like this will have the history and stories behind them so you can’t beat that. Expand my awareness why don’t you Chris.

HistBritainPostage

Up the library. Everybody sing.

I always like to mention a book about one of my heroes, science or otherwise, physicist Richard Feynman. He was a stamp collector when young and back in the 1930s desperately wanted some postage stamps from Tannu Tuva which is a country in Siberia just outside Mongolia. This ties in nicely to exploring stamps and being passionate about learning. One of my favourite quotes is this:

“The prize is the pleasure of finding the thing out, the kick in the discovery…” [Richard Feynman]

It’s rare to find people who feel that way. I’m like that, Richard Feynman was like that, there are others of us in the world, beavering away finding out about stamps and art, armillary spheres, the origins of words, what plastic is made of, insects, reptiles, poets and writers, and a tiny country named Tuva which has throat singers who sound eerily like the Inuit throat singers of Canada, leading one to speculate about ancient land bridges to North America from Siberia.

tuvaorbust

Tuva Or Bust: Richard Feynman’s Last Journey by Ralph Leighton is a sad book in many ways because Feynman’s life was winding down, but it pinpoints this thirst to know and explore that is the best part of being human.

Plus it has postage stamps, you can’t go wrong.

 

 

Watercolour Mixing Chart and More Handmade Envelopes Meet a Mantis

Posted June 3, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Artwork, Writing and Journalling

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I always do a colour chart of the paints and pencils I have here, but I have never done an actual mixing chart using the colours of the palette. Since I am not familiar with some of the Winsor & Newton peculiarities I thought I’d make a chart with the 24 colours I will have. I am still waiting for mail delivery of 7 but I made a start.

WNColourChart

I drew up my own rectangles for each colour or mix and they measure 10 x 14 mm, and this will be really full after I’m done. I find it tedious but I want to persevere as a chart like this is very helpful. Each colour ends up with 2 squares when you use this method but it looks pretty.

Last year I bought a pad of double-sided scrapbooking paper and meant to make some envelopes but we had to move and everything was packed away. So I hauled it out three days ago and started making business-sized envelopes. I eventually ended up with 14 because that was how many different patterns there were in the book of 42 pieces of paper. I love the subtle look of these coordinating colours.

Envy1_Front_Back

Envy2_Front_Back

A friend of mine saw me bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t find a mantis figure to go with some new animal decks that featured one. I have always liked mantids and at our old property, all the little babies would hatch out in the Fall and we’d see hundreds of them.

So she sent me this gloriously large plastic mantis (thank you Debra!!) who was a big help when gluing and weighting envelopes. Plastic figures save the day once more. I’ll have to hunt up some suitable cards for a comparison of artwork of this insect. (Which you can see: Comparison of Mantid Cards.)

Mmmm, the glory of colour.

 

 

Half Pans, Sketchbooks, Metric Weights for Paper, and Useful Apps

Posted June 2, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Artwork, Computers, Creativity, Writing and Journalling

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I try to think in centimeters and millimeters and meters, I also think in kilometers 90 percent of the time, but my stubborn mind will not grok the metric weight of paper. I am constantly looking up and converting online. Yes, yes it’s 240 gsm or 240 g/m² or about 100 lb. paper. The confusing thing is that that weight can vary when converted depending on the thickness of the paper and materials it is made from.

I still have to look it up because art paper is different from copy paper and on and on. Anyway, I was in the market for a new sketchbook that could take pen and ink, watercolour, and coloured pencils which are the materials I use most. I opted for a Canson 224 g or 138 lb “Mix Media” wirebound book. Now why if this is lighter in grams is it heavier in pounds than the 240 gsm? How the heck do you figure that out without feeling the paper? The Stillman & Birn Zeta series books are 270 gsm or 180 lb; I prefer Stillman & Birn sketchbooks but I can’t hunt any up out here. They are too heavy for mail order.

Canson_WatercolourTin

Beside it is the tin I bought last year to hold my Winsor & Newton half pans which I haven’t used yet because I just found them after moving house. However, I was always a bit iffy on the completeness of the colours. If you do computer graphics or printing at all you will be familiar with CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) for mixing colours. Basically that’s all you need for watercolour or any other paint or ink, but I found it tiresome to mix greens from these process colours, particularly greens, so I always buy a few extra colours for my palettes plus Payne’s Grey and Indigo which I love for darks.

Still, I decided to beef this little palette up, I’m turning 60 this year and I feel it’s my last kick at the nirvana of art supplies. I bought a few extras:

Cadmium orange
Quinacridone magenta
Winsor violet
French ultramarine
Quinacridone gold
Cobalt Violet
Permanent Sap Green

So I now have 24 colours in the half pans. Did I need these? No. Do they make life easier? Yes.

I bought two Gotrick cradled wood panels in the 18 x 24-inch size to create my diptych for the living room on. I don’t like working on canvas, it’s too bouncy for me, so these looked ideal and are nicely made. Now I need to save up for more acrylic paint. I have some small bottles of Golden Fluid Acrylic but I don’t think they’ll be enough. I’m supposed to seal this with Golden GAC 100 and then do 3 or 4 coats of gesso to prepare it for painting on. This means I need to clear the drafting table and unpack and put away some fabric first to make room.

Gotrick_web

I bought a rather interesting book on pen and ink. It IS simple as the title suggests, but he has some intuitive ideas here and encourages you to make your own marks (literally) in pen and ink rather than slavishly copying tutorials. Pen and Ink Drawing: A Simple Guide by Alphonso Dunn.

penandink_dunn

And lastly, another birthday gift. I am hoping the family sends me cash so I can pay for these things! Two bottles of fountain pen ink (Noodler’s Apache Sunset and Diamine Sherwood Green) and a violet-coloured Platinum Plaisir fountain pen. The nibs on these are coloured but I notice some people saying they receive ones that are plain steel, so I’m not sure which nib I am getting.

plaisir_violet

I don’t know if this counts as exciting for most people, but I used the Android for Dummies book to help me figure out how to use the smartphone I rarely use to hook up to my micro stereo and stream live radio using Bluetooth and wi-fi. There are few radio stations here and the two I listened to most for decades were unavailable and I didn’t feel right, all that empty air and no cheery music, as I am used to having the radio on for hours every day. Using the apps for CBC Radio Two and Jazz FM 91, I can hear the music I like and all the hosts and chatter I like too.

Streaming_Blutooth

Plus I got the nifty Marine Traffic app for the phone and can see what’s cruising by and identify the ships and what country they are from. What I like about this is that you can click on the arrow in the pop-up with the ship name, and pull up photographs that people have uploaded of it and statistics about where it came from, tonnage, measurements etc. I saw one image of a specific cruise ship taken in my area and then another of it in Sydney harbour by the opera house in Australia. Imagine, and it’s right outside my kitchen window!

MarineTraffic_Realtime2

I dislike using phones and avoided these smartphones for years but I had to find a way to make it useful for me, apart from carrying it for emergencies in the car, and so far this radio streaming and Marine Traffic app make it useful.

Not as useful as art supplies but close.