Wednesday 30 November 2011

Japanese Things

It was the second strike over pensions for public sector workers today. I should really have gone into town and rallied, but I was too tired really, so had a quiet day at home. I had to do some work, which is not really in the spirit of the stirke, but it is in the spirit of having little other time to do it. After that I went to the shops for tissue paper, string and felt. All sorts of crafting is going on at the moment-crochet wash cloths with ribbon hangers to be wrapped around lovely French soaps, another attempt at double crochet-more successful, and one at a Granny square (big failure!), and a little crochet dress of my own pattern, shakey eggs -egg shells, filled with rice, covered in tissue paper and varnished, and soon to be made felt pictures/needle books inspired by the Japanese craft book below. Some are for presents and some are not.
I took a few photos around the house in the sunny morning-a treat to be here in the sunny morning as normally at this time of year I am not here in daylight, apart from at the weekend.
I like the picture below so that is the one I am sharing. A little old Kokeshi doll from Rye and his surroundings.

This is the craft book. It is so sweet and whimsical. There is a girl dressed up as Red Riding Hood in some of the pictures-sometimes she is normal sized but accompanied by giant felted animals, sometimes small-sitting amongst a miniature scene.

There is so much in it, and the fact that I can't read it is ok, as the pictures are inspiration enough. Fairy tales seem to be the main theme and there are lots of animal inspired objects. I love these silhouette fairy tale pictures and am attempting one of those. Hence the felt.

I have cut out the shape and think I will glue it rather than sew it as I don't want the stitiches to show on the back.

Monday 28 November 2011

Pretty Lights and a Giveaway

This photo was the result of an unintended long exposure.

I love the gold, green and turquoise colours. I spent a lot of time on Saturday producing these little books. I am not sure if they qualify as a Zine or not but they are certainly little books. The time was spent in working out how to translate a little altered children's board book into a photocopiable and double sided book. Various methods were tried and failed, before I came up with this one. It may not look very complicated-and it is not-but the way of getting there was!

Anyway, this is the thing I am giving away-four copies of my little book. It has been a long time in the making. I gessoed the board book at least six months ago. It sat around until about Halloween time, when I used white gesso to paint ghost shapes on each of the pages. It sat around again until I drew faces on the first four ghosts. After more sitting around an idea finally came to me. I finished it, scanned it, arranged it, and printed it. I watched 'Angels and Demons' for most of the time I was printing and assembling which was good as it is a very long film!

The ghosts have advice to give. It is very simple advice, but good I think. I will put the rest of the books in my Etsy shop-the first thing to have gone in there for a long time!

If you would like to be put in a hat (not literally of course) for a little book, then please leave a comment here over the next week. Thanks!

So pretty! I saw this light when at the shops on Saturday morning. So warm and inviting.

Have a good week!

Saturday 26 November 2011

Books, Art and Collections

I spent an interesting hour or so yesterday reading some of 'Archaeology', a book about American Artist Mark Dion. I happened across his name in 'Nomad' by Sibella Court. I loved 'Etc' by her and found the amazing 'Colour' by Victoria Finlay, because she mentions it.

(Aside one-these two books are gorgeous-as much as the look and content of the beautiful photos, and the evocative tales of her travels, I love the way the pages smell-whatever ink they are using smells great, and the variation in paper, and even the way it is sometimes difficult to read all the words as they are printed onto a dark background)

The Internet is so great for facilitating this kind of thing (as I am sure you don't need me to tell you!) so after about half an hour of searching, I couldn't find the book she mentions, but I chose 'Archaeology' as a likely good choice. Dion is very interesting indeed. (And I realise I have seen one of his works in Tate Modern before, but had not remembered and looked into him)

I think I have understood the main points of what his work is about but the thing that grabs me first is that it is full of the kind of stuff I love-basically old and lost things dug up, dredged up, beach combed and variously found. Things from the shore of the Thames like the things I find. These objects are then displayed in a museum like way and are fascinating to look at.

(Aside two-I love to do this, have made pieces of work in the past which were intended to be museum like-using found things. They are in a drawer somewhere. I curate my own things all the time and our flat is a constantly changing museum of my whims.(Cluttered but I love it!)

Dion assumes the role of archaeologist, explorer, ornithologist-whatever is necessary in the process of making his work. He genuinely does the work. He and a team of workers, sort, clean and catalogue things, before they are displayed. In one of the articles it talks about how the process is important and the participation of onlookers is a part of that. Richard Long was mentioned as another artist where process is the main focus, with a record being made for the later viewer.

The objects are then displayed in an art gallery-and this is the departure from science or the other roles and purposes-the objects are made to be art rather than just, say, an historical piece of evidence. The viewer is made to question what constitutes art (Duchamp is mentioned here) (that old chestnut!-and the art/craft debate too-as in how some things may be displayed in an Ethnographic museum, which later may be displayed as art in a gallery, so changing the judgement made of them)

(Aside three-it just came to me the other night as clear as anything-my crocheting straightforward things such as bags or washcloths is craft-as I know how to do it, there are not any surprises and it is just a case of getting on and finishing it. A felty head uses craft -a simple building block, but the decisions I make about how it will be make it into art. But then, do the decisions a skilled crocheter make about colour, pattern and shape make their work art or craft? It was suddenly not clear again. Really I think most things are a mixture of things-which in a way is what Mark Dion is all about)

Two interesting bits from the book-how the Thames has been dredged consistently to keep it clear and a lot of the ballast ended up in Newcastle. Consequently, there have been significant archaeological finds up there, that are thought to have originated on the bed of the Thames.

The other tale that I loved was about Dion's work for the Venice Biennale where he dredged a section of a Venetian canal, and displayed these finds. The Venetian authorities were ready to throw him in jail for stealing precious historical artifacts, until a deal was struck whereby he 'donated' one of his works to them!

Art rant over!

Shadowy Tea

Last weekend there was sun. My tea looked beautiful steaming away in the light.

For more shadows from around the world, visit Hey Harriet here.

Friday 25 November 2011

Smile...'s the weekend. I will be crocheting string, making a big house for school demonstration purposes, and finishing a book-hopefully! Also making playdough scented with christmas spices and orange essence. Tiger is feeling under represented on here at the moment so here she is looking sweet last weekend.
I hope you have a good weekend, whatever you are up to.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Sadie Paintings

Lovely Sadie. I was talking to my Dad the other night and said I had been thinking of trying to paint her. Here are my attempts tonight.

Tuesday 22 November 2011


This is Manimal. He is looking up in case of predators. There are none in here, so he agreed to a photoshoot. He relaxed after a while, and enjoyed meeting up with the rest of the felty heads. Manimal has a crocheted base, as a change to a felted one.

Much quicker to construct and easy to felt him onto.

It is filled with poly fill which you can felt into.


Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

I saw this on Autumn Watch the other night. I have only seen small versions of starlings doing this-down at the local shopping centre, and would love to see a large group like this-amazing!
I found some proposed plans to turn my old school into nine dwellings-which includes keeping the stone buildings which is good. It did not sound like a finalised plan at all, just a proposal. Harrietsham has a new primary school with about 100 children, so that at least is good for the village.
Thanks Leenie for the Vimeo link!

Sunday 20 November 2011


When I was on the way back from my Dad's a couple of weeks ago, I stopped to take pictures of my Primary school in the next village. It has been empty for some years now, and I don't know what will happen to it in the future. The main buildings are lovely. Made from Kentish ragstone, they are very solid, and would make a great conversion project for someone with lots of cash-and who doesn't mind living on a main road.

I can remember a lot of things about this place-unusually for me as I have a terrible memory. This area is the site of the swimming pool which must have been demolished at some point. It was a pool which came up to the chest or neck of a small child and waist of a bigger one. I once feel I nearly drowned in it-I slipped and was under the water for what seemed like ages trying to get my footing. When I did and came up nobody had noticed!

It is also the site of some metal bars, which I managed to fall off of, and get a massive lump on my head-big enough to be sent home. There were also metal gates here-I hurt myself on those too-catching my finger between them and the frame. I still have a strangely shaped right forefinger because of this! It seems I was a little accident prone,
Over by those wooden railings was where the milk was left in crates. Lovely in the winter, revolting in the summer. It is also the entrance to some classrooms which back onto the railway. My friends and I were convinced there were railway worker's ghosts haunting this part of the school. (As well as the usual ones in the toilets!)This door has a little cloakroom behind it, and leads onto the hall. I remember assemblies in there, sitting on the parquet floor listening to Mr Chaston. There was a lovely cloth picture of the village which I used to spend a lot of time staring at. All the little houses were a different seventies type fabric-really beautiful! I also remember a play that we watched in there, where old fashioned leather suitcases flew across the space above our heads. To this day it feels like real magic, and at the time it certainly was.

Behind there, in the left hand side of the picture is the entrance to more classrooms and to the dinner hall and kitchen. I remember one maths lesson where we were taken into the kitchen and shown the giant red recipe book. The lesson was to convert one of the recipes which fed many, into one that would feed a few. Maths was not my strong point so although the visit to the kitchen was interesting, the conversion exercise was not!

The school office and the Head's office were in here. The murals are after my time.

Part of the playground where games of 'chain he', marbles, horses, and chase were played. 'Chain he' was terrifying-ending with a long line of children linked by their arms, bombing around the playground after those not in the chain. I think you had to grab onto the end to be safe-and to make the chain longer and harder to avoid.

This last view looks across to the garden of the house next door to the school-I think the vicarage-but may be wrong. We were allowed to play in this garden in the summer. The best thing about it was the enclosed space made at the end by trees-yew I think they may have been as they were very dark. Thrilling to hide in anyway!

Saturday 19 November 2011

Shadow Shot Sunday

Woolwich has some beautiful buildings. This is the Royal Military Academy, photographed last Sunday.

We went to photograph the Olympics gun site-which looks more or less finished now. This is the other side of the road to the site.

I have worked out how they make the white covering taut-the coloured circles push it out and voila-not a giant shrink wrapping process as I formally thought!

For other shadows from around the world, visit Hey Harriet here.

Thursday 17 November 2011

No Theme

No theme, apart from small things in the day I liked. The first is Matilda's drawing of her family. I just love the way she has used different colours on her simple figures. It makes a really pleasing picture.
This is more of a big thing. I got over the fence this morning-behind the gate you can see here. Caroline got me her long loppers, and I managed to cut back a lot of the prickly plant to increase our view. When I came back later in the morning to have a look, I found that a huge mud mound had appeared-right in our view line! It is exactly where base camp was.

The last thing is a video of Lily purring. It came out small again-though I have found out why, and changed the settings again. It is the sound I like the most though-such a soothing sound. I don't know how cats produce their purr. I must find out.

Wednesday 16 November 2011


It is so lovely to have a lake next to a supermarket and it looked very calm and lovely in the early evening light.

The sun glinting on the block of flats that overlooks the school is what made me take this picture. I have been to the nineteenth floor of these flats on a home visit and the view was amazing. I would be a terrible nosey neighbour if I lived in one of these places.

This is the sun that glinted on the building. It was behind drifting clouds and looked like the moon in the day. This afternoon I did a fairy tale activity-hacking through a very dense and thorny plant so that we can have a view of the diggers. (the similarity did stop there-no princess) I am nearly there and we could catch glimpses of the action. One of the boys in my class spent about an hour this afternoon watching and giving me updates-'It's going! It's not going! It's going round.' I need to climb over the fence in the morning to just do the last bit.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Digging and Sawing

Some people have so much fun doing their work. I cannot imagine that the man operating this digger is not enjoying it! I really would love a go. As I watched, the digger encountered what looked like half a building ten feet down. Amazing to think what has been under our feet all these years. It is hard to see in this photo, but this is a very big hole in the ground.

It is basically a hole where there used to be a hill.

Looking across towards Forest School.
A digger on the other side of the fence that we can see in Nursery.

Looking down into the hole again, and across to the tree chipper machine.

Explanation of my visit at the end of the post.

I have done something strange to my school camera settings so this is very poor quality-but viewable small. This is what is happening the other side of the fence. I was most upset today to hear the sound of a chain saw-which you can hear in this video. C. works in the nursery and is married to the premises manager, so she went to find out what was happening-as I thought no trees would be destroyed. She came back and got me and S.-a boy absolutely fascinated with the diggers, to go for a visit. I found out that they had to cut the tree down as it was within 3 metres of the building. They are going to save me some lovely big pieces of tree. So, a happy ending to my mini drama!