Another month seems to have disappeared in a whirl, leaving just a few stitches behind to prove it was there.
I went back to the grid formation for this month, which I like because it always feels like a more accurate representation of days: a few patches of time with no spaces between. I like the other layouts too, for different reasons.
Lots of flowering and new growth in the garden. Some days brought less happy news, but things seem to be looking a little brighter now.
Earlier in the month we found time to go and see the bluebells and wild garlic in the woods.
The front shows where you go, and the back shows how you got there. Two sides of the same story.
The stitch journal is becoming a book. I’ve stitched the first few completed pages into the spine of the cover. The music is Menuet from Bach’s Cello Suite no 1 in G major, expertly played by cellist Steven Isserlis.
Still a lot of the year still to go, and a few feet of linen waiting to unfold. June will be vertical stripes. Long days.
During a routine dental check-up some years ago, my Greek dentist once caused me some alarm by announcing that he was going to begin his autopsy. Noticing my rabbit-in-headlights expression, he calmly explained the etymology – the Greek translation of the word is something like ‘seen for myself’. I’m not the most relaxed dental patient and it was helpful to have this (slightly nervous) laugh at the time.
And of course, seeing for yourself is always the best way to learn. I drew some masking fluid on a page of my colour palettes sketchbook before adding watercolour. And – surprise – it doesn’t work.
You can see where it was, and it does act as a resist of sorts, but it doesn’t rub off in the normal way when the paint is dry. It lies underneath as a separate layer and sinks into the paper rather than sitting on the surface. I’ve added some pen marks over the top to enhance the effect here and there. I don’t know if it’s because this paper hasn’t been sized, or whether the surface is just too soft. The reason doesn’t really matter; the fact is it doesn’t work as I’d expected. But now I know, having seen for myself.
As always, I can see some of these designs working in textiles with stitch, but for now it’s just an exercise on paper. It’s been a hectic week, and paint on paper is one of my best ways to relax and recover some equilibrium.
I use a separate small square sketchbook for testing paint colours before committing to the thing in progress, and I really like the little abstract compositions that happen purely by accident:
Another long bank holiday weekend here in the UK – whatever your plans are, enjoy some time out.
One of those strange conundrums – the older I get, the slower I become, but the faster time passes. That makes a net loss multiplied by two, according to my flawed logic.
There is no rush, of course, and everything takes as long as it takes. There just never seems to be enough time to do all the things I want to do.
So I am still on paper and got distracted by noticing I was running low on collage paper, so had to stop and paint some more. Actually this is one of my favourite activities. I use inks, paints and mark-making tools of various kinds to liven up old book pages, envelopes, junk mail etc. Loosening up and splashing some colour around makes for a very happy (slightly messy) afternoon.
The sketchbooks I made for the shop last week disappeared in about an hour, so I’ve made a few more – these are the last of them, for now at least.
And finally, in what’s turning out to be more of a news roundup than any kind of meaningful post, I’m really happy to have had my work featured by My Modern Met. You can read the article here.
Sketchbook-making, obviously. I prefer to make my own because I like to vary the paper content and size of the pages. Readymade sketchbooks are usually variations on A4 and I don’t always like the proportions.
The little book with the wraparound cover below is for experimenting with various forms of ink. I have acrylic ink, ink/stamp pads, inktense blocks, and a few distress crayons, plus the more obvious drawing pens etc.
Just somewhere to try dripping, blotting, stamping, stencilling etc with various kinds of ink. My favourite thing so far is drawing with a little twig dipped in ink.
The spread below was made by sponging yellow/purple ink onto damp paper and then using the twig to draw in the green marks. A few random splatters is always very satisfying.
I also quite like the distress crayons, which you can smudge with a bit of water. This is the wrong kind of paper really (it’s very soft cotton rag), as it won’t stand up to too much rubbing. I’ll probably try this again on more robust paper.
I made more sketchbooks than I will use, so I’ve added a handful or so to the shop.
One of the best things about a daily stitch practice is that you can use up all the odd ends of thread and yarn that seem to accumulate from other projects. If you keep it simple, you only need a yard or two of thread per day so it’s a good opportunity to use up the last bit of thread in a particular colour.
I only had a yard or so left of this purple and white marl yarn, and it turned out to be almost exactly the right amount to fill the circle and outline the box. I’ve stitched it down with a vintage cotton thread – maybe Sylko or Coats, it’s lost its label.
It’s exactly like patchwork, but with thread instead of fabric.
…after the second bank holiday weekend in a row. It’s probably done me some good to take a couple of days out, though time off isn’t quite the same when you get to do what you love for a living.
The more industrious corner of my work table doesn’t know about time so it’s still exactly as it was when I downed tools on Friday. I see now it needs dusting. Thread and fabric shed their fibres all the time.
You can also see a couple of beautifully smooth pebbles from a recent trip to the seaside. I was lucky enough to find a hag stone, a pebble with holes in it, which you can just see hanging above. It’s sometimes said that they find you. I love to marvel at how old these things are, how many millions of years they’ve been around. How much time they hold.
Also on the table, appropriately enough, is Marking Time II (and thank you, Dawn, for naming it). This is another long cloth pieced from hand-dyed vintage fabrics and stitched with motifs from ancient rocks and prehistoric marks on the land.
The beautiful lightweight cotton fabric in the section below is eco-printed by Jane Hunter and makes the perfect ground for some couched cup and ring marks. I will add more stitch, of course.
Easing myself back into the working week, and hoping your week ahead is a good one.