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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Friday Update

At last, after two months, an entire, wearable garment made on the tamed overlocker. I learned a lot making this. Now I can sew a balanced seam and do a rolled hem (though next time I might make the rolled hem wider. It isn't perfect (it's a nightshirt for George, so perfection is not exactly necessary). I made the stupid and elementary mistake of not trimming the hemline straight before I did it, so it dips slightly - that isn't just the way it's hung in the picture. I made a total hash of the neckband and had to recut a new one from scraps and redo it. It is still wonky on the inside seam, which I overlocked. Not a good move. I should have used the sewing machine for that. I did use the sewing machine to sew the band to the neckline, which worked well. I should have thought through that I have never been very good at V necklines and that doing it on an overlocker for the first time could be disasterous. Funnily enough I managed to apply it with the sewing machine perfectly, better than I have ever put in a v neckline before!

All in all I feel very happy with my effort. I learnt a lot about the overlocker and feel very confident about using it again and again. It has now become a proper member of the arsenal of tools I use for various tasks. Pity it took me two months, but I did set myself eleven challenges because I thought the wheels would fall off at some point - just not quite so quickly! And I said I would not stress over completing them, and I am not.

I also finished the two-page spread for my visual diary thing. Again I am not showing this month's. Off to work on next month.

I am still deciding which challenge to pick for March. And, in tune with my changeable nature and inability to make decisions, I may be changing some of the items on the list anyway!
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8 Things Thursday

8 Favorite Fictional Detectives

Lord Peter Whimsey (books only)
Inspector Morse (books and TV)
Inspector Montalbano (TV, have never read the books)
Kurt Wallander (books and Danish TV, though Kenneth Branagh is pretty good too)
Dr Temperence Brennan (books only)
Sherlock Holmes (in most incarnations)
Tom Barnaby (TV, never read the books)
Dalziell and Pascoe (TV, never read the books)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday Artist - Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko is another of my favorite artists. Please click on links where provided and they will take you to the source of the material used.

His life was long (September 25, 1903–February 25, 1970) and complicated and I will only use a little of it here. He was born in Latvia and grew up in Portland, Oregon, winning a scholarship to Yale but leaving because it was too rarified for him. He worked in the garment district of New York after that, and started going to art classes. His first important teacher and influence was Max Weber, another Russian Jew (although Rothko was born in what we now call Latvia, it was part of Russia at the time of his birth).

The 1920s in New York were a time of many exciting exhibitions of 'new' art and Rothko was exposed to the, for their time, startling works of Paul Klee and the German Expressionists. He had his first one-man show in Portland in 1932, shortly after marrying Edith Sachar, a jewllery designer who would appear in many of his drawings and paintings for many years.

After the breakup of his marriage in 1943, Rothko returned to his family in Portland, and then travelled to Berkley, where he met the artist Clyfford Still, an abstract artist whose friendship and worth dramatically affected Rothko's life and work from that time on.

To cut a long story short, Rothko remarried in 1945 to a 23 year old childrens' book illustrator, Mary Alice Beistle, and enjoyed a happier and more stable life for some time after this. The paintings that most people actually think of as 'Rothkos' started in 1948, exhibited for the first time early the following year. He used oils on huge canvases, often painted vertically, to produce very large abstracts which were designed to 'envelope' the viewer. In fact he prefered them to be viewed very close up. This results in an appreciate of the wonderful shadings and textures that are then apparent in what otherwise may seem to be large blocks of flat colour. Because the canvases were so big he often painted half, then turned them upside down to finish them. This has resulted in a number of famous 'upside down' paintings, were paint drips can be seen running in the wrong direction to the way the paintings are hung. They are not actually hung upside down (though argument still apparently rages on this point) as either end has the paint drips.

His most significant later works include two mural commissions, for the Four Seasons restaurant in the head office of the drinks company Joseph Seagram and Sons, and the Rothko Chapel at the University of St Thomas in Houston, Texas. He committed suicide before these last works were installed. The murals for the Four Seasons restaurant were spilt into three collections, to be seen in the Tate Modern in London, the Kawamura Memorial Museum in Japan, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Rothko's paintings are held in major galleries all over the world. My first exposure to him came when the National Gallery of Victoria purchased No 37 (Red), painted in 1956, and I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I have subsequently seen Rothkos all over the world, including at the amazing Tate Gallery in St Ives, Cornwall , which has one of the best settings of any art gallery I have ever seen. I was delighted to discover recently, after reading more about Rothko than I had in the past, that the one in the National Gallery of Victoria is an upside- down one!
Mark ROTHKO no. 37 (Red) (1956)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Quote

Once you begin being naughty, it is easier to go and on and on, and sooner or later something dreadful happens.
Laura Ingalls Wilder

I've decided to scrap the Saturday and Sunday regular blogs as I rarely get near the computer at the weekend. So no actual daily blogging, but five days a week is pretty good for me, IF I can keep it up!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Update

Where I post an update on my challenges for the year.

Two page spread for visual journal thingie is coming along nicely. IT will definitely be done by the end of the month.

Taming the Beast - the new official title for my challenge with the overlocker. I have spent a fair bit of this week fiddling with it, practicing, getting George to examine it - he diagnosed the major problem, which was that the upper blade was binding and not engaging properly. Now I can happily say that I have pretty much mastered threading it and doing a four stitch overlock that is the right tension, etc, and I have started on the nightshirt that was the project (for January, admittedly!) I haven't done much yet, having been interrupted in full flow yesterday afternoon by a school crisis with Wombat (hopefully solved now), but at least the seams sewn so far are straight and look quite good. That will now definitely be done by the end of the month. So I am a month behind schedule but had promised myself not to stress about it, so I am not. Pictures will be posted when it is finished

Thursday, February 18, 2010

8 Things Thursday

8 Films I Have Seen Most Recently

Avatar 3D
Toy Story 1 and 2 3D
Sherlock Holmes
Planet 51
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 3D
Coraline 3D
Transformers 2

Mostly with Wombat!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday Artist - Bridget Riley

, pictured here in the mid 1960s, was (and still is) a major artist in the Op Art (short for Optical Art) movement, fond of optical illusions and pictures that you should not jump up and down in front of unless you want to get a migraine. I fell in love with her work at an exhibition in London in the 1990s, and further so at an exhibition in the old sewers of Exeter (strange but true. Actually the exhibition itself was in a gallery, but it was connected to the old sewers, which are no longer in use, and down which one can take a guided tour, which we did) some years later.
This is High Sky, 1992, currently in the Nues Museum in Nuremberg.
This is Blaze 1. Most of her early work is in black and white, though she did experiment with colour from quite early on. I admit to preferring the later, coloured works, which are vibrant and exciting rather than cerebral and a bit too smart for their own good, which is how I perceive the black and white ones. However, the colour ones reproduce really well, but the black and white ones don't, and their true power is only apparent (to me) in the flesh, so to speak.

I won't go into her full story, or the whole history of Op Art, as both are easy to find online.

She is enormously inspiration to me in her use of colour and shape. The very first time I saw her work I immediately thought of how it could be used to inspire textile work - at that time I was thinking in terms of intarsia knitting and canvas work. I didn't follow through with any of that at the time, being bogged down with very small children and not having any real design skills to speak of. Now I want to use her to inform beaded embroideries, and this time, having older children and a three year course in textile art and design, maybe it will actually come off!

P.S. Thanks to 'Anonymous' for your comment. If you clicked through my links you would have seen that I had linked to your page and I found it very interesting!
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Can I manage Daily Blogging?

Of course not. I can't do anything remotely optional daily. But I really love the posts on Bear Chick's blog, so much that I have shamelessly pinched her ideas and changed them. I will be attempting to do:

Monday Quote
Tuesday Artist
Wordless Wednesday
8 Things Thursday
Update Friday (update on my 'cunning plan')
Saturday Book Review
Creative Sunday.

And with no further ado - Favorite quote Monday - 'I once bit a man who didn't like Spinoza', Joyce Carey, The Horses's Mouth.

Follow-up on overlocker - getting there, getting there. George worked out that the upper knife wasn't engaging and has sorted that out. I;ve bought new needles today (between us we broke all the ones that came with it!) and will have another go after a restorative cup of tea.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A sad and sorry dog

Sirius had to have surgery recently to remove some lumps. Three were benign, one was a soft tissue sarcoma. Having visited a vetenary oncologist, we are pleased to hear that she has an excellent prognosis and at the moment requires no treatment at all. If it grows back within six months she will need more surgery and radiation treatment, if it does not, then the chances of it growing back at all are infinitesimal. She does need to have some more lumps biopsied, however. She looks vert sad and sorry in this picture, taken a few hours after surgery - she could not keep her third eyelids in their proper places all day! She has healed beautifully, the fur is growing back, and she is a happy bouncy dog again.
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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Baldrick Speaking

As far as cunning plans go, call me Baldrick.

On December 30 I posted a list of things that I was going to try to do, one per month, to keep myself a bit more organised as far as creating stuff went.

I had chosen to try the overlocking one for January. Well, it is still cut out and waiting to be sewn. Or overlocked. However today I have spent an hour learning to thread the overlocker from scratch and now hope to get it done before the end of February!

On the other hand, I did get the first two page spread of my creative journalling done. I;'m not showing them at the moment, though I might at a later stage.

I did at least knit a pair of socks. For George. Deliberately non-matching because in the first ball of the Grignasco Strong Print yarn that I used (an Italian sock yarn I bought in Clegs) there were three knots, breaking the pattern up irretrievably. However the colours are fantastic and George loves them.

I might still try to do my February planned task - I had hoped to play with fusing glass. Or melting it. Or whatever I have the stuff to do with the microwave kiln. Both mastering the overlocker and playing with molten glass were things I really wanted to do when I had the house to myself. Well, the first two weeks of the new school year were not unlike most of the last school year - not one single day of having theplace to myself for one whole day. I only have the chance now because George has taken the kids down to Moe for some Nana time till tomorrow morning. If I can feel confident with using the overlocker by the time they come back, I should be able to make his nightshirt quite quickly.
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