A Fresh Round of Embroidery and Quilting Books

Posted May 5, 2017 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Books, Needlework, Quilting

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I saw a couple of embroidery and sewing books that seemed to have a fresh approach so bought three of them for my collection.

EmbBooks

1) Modern Folk Embroidery: 30 Contemporary Projects for Folk Art Inspired Designs by Nancy Nicholson

I have often admired Nancy’s patterns on Etsy, but thought I’d get more patterns in her book so was pleased to finally buy it when it was published. It’s so nice to see books on hand embroidery coming out for new generations who want to pick up the craft.

2) Tilda Homemade & Happy by Tone Finnanger

She is quite prolific and I’ve seen lots of her designs around, but I liked some of her reindeer and pigs and sheep in this.

3) Zakka Embroidery: Simple One- and Two-Color Embroidery Motifs and Small Crafts by Yumiko Higuchi

These are tiny motifs and I was interested in her ideas for small purses using purse frames and embroidery. I have several purse frames on hand so want to use them up. There are lots of small cross-stitch motifs around but not many for hand embroidery, so this looked good for my library.

I was able to buy a new sewing machine, the Janome 9400, and I’m hoping it will enable me to quilt about 12 to 14 quilt tops that are languishing here. I took all the quilts and quilt tops out of the Rubbermaid trunk they’d been stored in for two years while we were selling our old house and moving and they reeked of plastic.

I spent some weeks washing and airing them and bought a nice wooden blanket box to store them. As I was confronted with the old tops, some dating back to the 1980s and 1990s, I felt the imperative to finish them. I cleaned up and reorganized my sewing area and now I have the fabric cupboard to deal with.

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There is another Rubbermaid container in there, so I’ll have another round of airing fabric, but I particularly wanted to get my fabrics and scraps organized by colour and sew up some simpler quilt patterns. I have been quilting since 1984 so I have many magazines and books on the subject, and I’ve given away many more but I liked the fresh look of these publications and many of the designs.

QuiltBooks

1) Sunday Morning Quilts: 16 Modern Scrap Projects – Sort, Store, and Use Every Last Bit of Your Treasured Fabrics by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison

2) No Scrap Left Behind: 16 Quilt Projects That Celebrate Scraps of All Sizes by Amanda Jean Nyberg

3) Scraps, Inc. Vol. 1: 15 Block-Based Designs for the Modern Quilter Compiled by Susanne Woods

4) Scraps, Inc. Vol. 2: 15 Block-Based Designs for the Modern Quilter Compiled by Susanne Woods

I am not in good health but things are improving, so I want ideas and projects and happier creative endeavours to look forward to. That should sort me out (pun)!

I Buy a Kindle Paperwhite

Posted February 17, 2017 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Books

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I was never that fussed about eReaders and eBooks, but I tried the FBReader app on a tablet and found I enjoyed reading the odd public domain book. My reading chair is right by a window and the tablet screen has a lot of glare and I was constantly turning the screen sideways to avoid glare, so I bought a Kindle Paperwhite and cover during a recent sale.

kindlepaperwhite

I also downloaded and installed the free Calibre open source software for managing eBooks and sideloading books from my laptop to the Kindle. The programmer Kovid Goyal had a great idea in this program, the only fault I find with it is that to add a website to the drop-down list of archives to search in the Get Books function, someone has to write a script. You can write and ask someone to do it, but I don’t want the fuss.

I tend to like thumbnails of book covers on the Kindle and if Calibre can’t find a cover when it downloads metadata, it’s easy enough to browse online manually for one or to make my own up in Photoshop. Here are a few covers I made, Number 17 is a rather lame ghost story and didn’t really need a cover as I deleted it after reading, but I needed a bit of fun on a slow day.

bookcovers

Skookum Chuck is a classic featuring the coast and sea of British Columbia, and is from Project Gutenberg Canada. I have really enjoyed reading it. The author, Stewart Edward White, is known for novels that feature landscape and nature and the outdoors. Strangely, this book is not mentioned on the list of his works on Wikipedia. Of course, it’s set in Canada, why would anyone mention it?

As well, I’ve got about 15 classic mysteries all downloaded and ready to read on the Kindle. I love that I can use Calibre to add metadata to downloaded books, and I particularly like to get a cover and cover blurb for each book. The ePub and mobi formats for eBooks are based on HTML, and I can convert all formats in Calibre to the native mobi format for the Kindle very easily and then add or edit fields and tags as I wish. It’s also very easy to plug the Kindle into my laptop and open Calibre to transfer files and I can remove the device from within Calibre.

The files on Project Gutenberg Canada are in HTML or text-only, so converting them is necessary and I have found a few gems on there that aren’t available anywhere else. I discovered that it’s often because of our copyright length regulations. With some exceptions Canadian copyright is Life +50 and in some other countries, including the United States, it is Life +70, so 50 years after the death of an author the copyright reverts to public domain in Canada. Generally, but copyright is always a bit tricky, so you have to check.

Some browbeating fink on a forum started badgering me about why I was using Calibre and why I needed metadata and how I “should” do what she wanted etc. There’s one jerk like this on every list or forum. I enjoy the program and find it useful. I put the fink on Ignore and have been blessedly peaceful ever since, puttering away downloading free eBooks and metadata, converting books, sideloading books, making covers, all the top experiences of metajoy.

As yet, I haven’t actually bought a book from Amazon for the Kindle although I’ve downloaded two reading samples of biographies. I’m still a bit iffy on purchasing eBooks from Amazon as I like to have non-fiction/reference books in hand and I usually refer to them frequently or reread them. I don’t find fiction books to be a good price on Amazon and prefer to buy them on the secondary market or order them from the public library.

I was very surprised at how easy it is to read on the Kindle. I have it set to Landscape mode for reading as I find that emulates a page in a real paperback best and is easiest on my eyes; my brain tends to flow better through the words. The little cover I bought is the Midnight Fish design by Fintie and apart from a slight plastic smell it’s very good and works well for protection and automatically puts the Kindle to sleep when I close the cover.

kindlecover_fintie

A good experience all around.

 

 

Books on Owls and Colour Mixing Recipes

Posted January 23, 2017 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Books

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I placed an order at an art supply shop to beef up my collection of Faber-Castell Polychromos coloured pencils. Although I have 60 colours, I was short on the warm and cool grey selections which are good for animal fur and feathers. I ended up getting 18 colours, so I’ll be up to 78 colours in total with this set. I initially bought a set of 24 pencils and then this will be my third order over several years to get the particular colours I find useful.

I was going to try the Caran d’Ache Luminance or Pablo coloured pencils but the cost is way too much. Besides, I like the oil-based Polychromos and want to stick with them. Then I was looking at the Caran d’Ache Neocolor II water-soluble pastel crayons and I realized I was just looking for the sake of looking. Back to reality.

I thought I’d also order a drafting template for small lettering. I got the Alvin Standard Lettering Guide TD112 that uses size: 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″, which is pretty small, but makes neat and tidy text.

alvintd112lettering_sm

I threw in a couple of Faber-Castell PITT pens because no one here sells them. I bought a back-up Sepia Superfine pen and a new-to-me Sanguine colour in the Fine size. I love their sepia colour and I think Sanguine might look good for buildings and lettering.

I occasionally buy photographic books for drawing references. I have used my reptiles book so much I thought I’d get one on owls, and I liked the photos in this and the huge amount of information on global species of owls.

Owls of the World: A Photographic Guide by Heimo Mikeola looks terrific and it gets great reviews. He is originally from Finland and has spent 40 years researching and photographing owls; a noted expert who obviously knows his stuff judging by the sample pages I saw of this book.

owlsoftheworld

I dithered over this book because it’s better that people learn to mix their own colours when painting. I’m not too bad when mixing watercolour but in planning a large acrylic piece I wanted a reference for mixing particular colours, so I ordered the book 1500 Color Mixing Recipes by William F. Powell. This is one of those handy Walter Foster publications that have such good information.

colourmixingguide

I saw an excellent tutorial on YouTube for drawing rabbit fur with Polychromos coloured pencils so it got me all fired up. I still have a shoulder injury and tendinitis bothering me but I’m going to try doing small pictures at least. I’m sure a suitable owl with appear in the new book.

I also want to draw a sandpiper because of a story about a sandpiper from my Dad’s childhood, and due to his recent death I’ve been thinking about that. It’s a bit harder to find a large photo of a suitable bird but I’ll keep watch for one. I have some scraps of grey or cream Stonehenge paper that would do well for this.

 

 

Biographies and Art Technique Books

Posted January 17, 2017 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Books

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I bought 4 new books and 2 used books that looked interesting for biography art techniques.

1) How to Draw & Paint Animals: Learn to Draw with Colored Pencil Step by Step by Debra Kauffman Yaun – another excellent Walter Foster publication, and a large format with few pages like their older publications. Many good steps and tips in this without the usual interminable pages of supplies that many publishers use to pad out their books.

drawinganimals_cp

2) No Excuses Watercolor Animals: A Field Guide to Painting by Gina Rossi Armfield – I rather like Gina’s exuberant, loose style which is accurate but so different from the precious approach to painting tedious art that looks like a photograph. Again, no 21 pages of supply discussion padding out the substance of the book.

noexcuses

3) Colored Pencil Cats & Dogs: Art & Instruction from 80 Colored Pencil Artists by Ann Kullberg – Each artist has a picture and a page of remarks and tips. I love this kind of book where you can get inspiration without copying a tutorial.

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4) John James Audubon: The Making of an American by Richard Rhodes – A recent biography recommended by several newspapers. The print is a bit small but I’m enjoying it as I knew nothing of his life.

audubonbio

These two I bought used on ABE so it will take a while to get them. I have read two other biographies by Mary S. Lovell, so was interested in the one that she did on the Churchill family. She doesn’t include everyone but some of the well-known Churchills and family history.

5) The Churchills by Mary S. Lovell – I bought an older edition paperback and it’s not as fancy as the newer and larger books with photos of the family on the cover. Winston Churchill wrote his own biography of his famous ancestor, the first Duke of Marlborough, but I wanted something lighter.

thechurchills

6) Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family’s Feuds by Lyndall Gordon – I wanted to re-read the biography of Dickinson My Wars Are Laid Away in Books by Alfred Habegger, but it was tedious to read I thought I’d try another approach and bought this for $1.

emdickbio

I joined a new book group for this year where you keep track of what you read each month (something I always forget to do), and they also read a book together each month. I recently got an app for our tablet for reading eBooks, and it wasn’t as hard on the eyes as I expected so I am enjoying reading the first two classic books.

Years ago I used to be on several book groups on Yahoo Groups, but they changed the format on Yahoo which made it more difficult to read and reply to messages, so I gave up and left them all. I miss talking to people about books though, and part of the fun is checking other people’s lists of books and finding new authors of fiction and new non-fiction reads on fascinating subjects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fashion History Books

Posted December 26, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Books

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I got a notice of a price drop on a book on my wish list. While there another interesting book appeared on a similar subject so I bought these two books:

Art Nouveau Fashion by Clare Rose

Glasgow Museums Seventeenth Century Costume by Rebecca Quinton

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Apparently Glasgow Museums are publishing a series of books on their various collections, much like the Victoria & Albert Museum did a range of books on their collections. This one also discusses embellishment and accessories as well as the main costume, which are two of my favourite topics regarding fashion.

I have a number of books on historical collections of fashion or textile design which I enjoy. Here is a list of titles from my collection:

Purse Masterpieces by Lynnell Schwartz

Textiles and Clothing 1150-1450 (Museum of London; Medieval Finds from Excavations in London: 4)

Costume and Fashion: A Concise History by James Laver; 4th ed., (Thames & Hudson World of Art series)

Medieval Dress and Fashion by Margaret Scott

Textile Designs: Two-Hundred Years Of European and American Patterns Organized by Motif, Style, Color, Layout and Period by Susan Meller and Joost Elffers

Textiles of the Arts and Crafts Movement by Linda Parry

Embroidered Textiles: A World Guide to Traditional Patterns by Sheila Paine

Silk Designs of the Eighteenth Century (V & A Museum); Claire Browne, ed.

Toile de Jouy: Printed Textiles in the Classic French Style by Melanie Riffel et al.

The Book of Silk by Philippa Scott

Dress in Detail from Around the World (V & A Museum)

A Separate Sphere: Dressmaker’s in Cincinnati’s Golden Age by Cynthia Amneus

Style and Splendor: The Wardrobe of Queen Maud of Norway 1896-1938 by Anne Kjellberg

Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style, DK/Smithsonian

100 Dresses, The Costume Institute/The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century, The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute

Many of these are large books; the Kyoto Costume Institute books are huge and slipcased in a double set. They were on sale so I was lucky to find them. The Victoria & Albert Museum have many books on specific centuries and fashion that I missed out on before they went out of print.

Still, I am rather pleased that over the years I’ve gathered some really wonderful books on the subject, with two more coming to read and browse through and learn.

 

 

 

Don’t Struggle With Cheap Gouache!

Posted December 16, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Artwork

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Over the last 15 years or so, I’ve been struggling now and then to use my set of Reeves gouache. It’s great for beginner’s having a fiddle with a medium they aren’t sure about, but they are quite chalky and the colour quality isn’t that great.

gouachemontage_reeves

Gouache is strange to work with because it dries so fast, but also enticing because of its opaque qualities and coverage. It has a creamy consistency that is interesting and a matte finish which looks and feels good.

So this week I hauled out my tube of white gouache to use on a graphite picture for highlights, and the tube is almost empty, and I said to myself “Why are you still struggling with this little set?” I like gouache, I have plans to use it in my new sketchbook project, and try it out more on darker colours of Canson Mi-Teintes paper which I love, but this grade of gouache is something that’s pointless when I need a better quality of paint that will help me improve my art.

I gave up the struggle and bought a set of ten artist quality gouache tubes from Winsor & Newton. Oh man, I could have picked out 20 individual tubes and got just the right colours, but the cost would have been close to $200, whereas the set was $73 and I bought an extra tube of Permanent White which uses titanium in the mix rather than the Zinc White that comes in the set.

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Chemicals in paint: Zinc White mixes well with other colours, Titanium White likes to be on its own, creating highlights and drawing things on Mi-Teintes paper, alone, alone, alone. Who am I to argue?

I hadn’t planned to buy any art supplies for Christmas, but it happened. I’m excited after several months of pain from a shoulder impingement, to gear up a bit and start drawing and painting again. I still have pain but can manage 30 minutes a day as long as I wear a tendon cuff and don’t overdo it.

Sally Warner, in her book Making Room for Making Art, describes herself and others grabbing 10 to 15 minutes of art creation time a day as their lives allow, and creating wonderful art.

I’m with Sally.

makeroom

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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!