Thursday, June 29, 2006

School trip to the big "smoke"

You may remember me saying a little while ago I was planning a school trip to London. Although why it is fondly called the big smoke is not really relevant on a sunny day like today. We left school at about 9am and the traffic on the mortorway was fairly heavy. I had prepared a booklet for the students to read on the coach about the visit and they all had taken their sketchbooks too. It was a fairly quiet journey, the students were tuned into their ipods and other earpieces. The weather was clear and sunny, very pleasant

Suddenly realised we were on the Western Avenue in London when we passed the Hoover building and travelling past Northholt airport a plane went over us and we could have reached out of the coach and touched the undercarriage. Students loved that. It was a light aircraft not a jumbo, but exciting all the same. Did you know the Hoover building has a preservation order? Also very strange it is owned by Tesco, and out of shot in this photo the signage states the fact.

There are some wonderful sights from the coach, for instance the Princes canal that runs through North London and Regents Park. Can just see the canal barge in the photo.

There are some colourful murals on buildings in this part of London too.

The windows of this building were mirror glass, catch those reflections. It was at this point, the students were really loving the buildings and the scenery and were asking the driver if he could show them the sights of London. One bright spark claimed " It is art Miss - all these buildings". I do love to see familiar sights through the eyes of students, it opens up a whole new world. We arrived at the British Museum in Russel Square just after 11 am. I will continue blogging tomorrow. Its getting late now and I am feeling tired and have a full day at work tomorrow and 2 exhibitions to go to tomorrow evening. Its that time of year..

Monday, June 26, 2006

The luxury of "me time"

Hectic week again, as you have probably gathered, not a spare moment to blog. Had a lovely weekend away at Urchfont Manor, which has revived me. Arrived on Friday evening, and was really too tired to function. after a good nights sleep, I spent Saturday sorting out many of my UFO's ( unfinished objects). On Saturday afternoon I had to complete a load of paperwork for work -it took four hours - but it meant I could then do my work for the rest of the time. We did not have a tutor this weekend, and I managed to get lots of bits of my own work sorted out, in my head, in my sketchbook and in my stash, that always feels good. Here is a little glimpse of work in action.

This was completed on the embellisher machine , I am really starting to enjoy working with it. I need to become a little more adventurous, but am happy. Have a lot more stitching to do to both pieces, but I am growing a nice little pile of pieces.

Nothing too exciting to look at, but it is work in progress. On Sunday, the traders Winefrid Cottage came and needless to say I could not resist parting with some of my hard earned cash.

A few handstitching threads, some quilting wool and a machine bobbin ring holder. I also bought a book.

Its a lovely book, but what really caught my eye was this:-

Thought this would make a good project for me over the summer holidays, the practise at dying all those different colours would be good for me, and then I can hang the quilt in my new classroom in September. The whole school is moving to a new building and a new site.......but that's another story!!! You probably understand why I am a bit busy. Just to let you know, if you live within travelling distance of Urchfont in Wiltshire, it is the Textile Exhibitions weekend next sunday, look here for details

Monday, June 19, 2006

Just for .....

Grumpy Shopkeeper. As promised......

And another view...under construction....

Don't you just love......

Students work? I do hope you like to see it..............
Here are a few more snippets of work from my 16 year olds.

The exam moderators have been in over the last 10 days, checking on all the marking and exam work I have been doing with the 14 to 18 year olds.

We have to put up displays like mini exhbitions for the moderators. Its quite a complex process and very time consuming for me and my team. I have a bumper bundle of exams this year 7 different ones, all with different criteria and marking systems.

Recognise the clay tiles inspired by Van Gogh? There is also a snippet of the sketchbook that accompanies the tile.

However if it means my students can go on to work in their chosen careers, I am well pleased. Wish you could see the surface of the above painting, the squares are cut from 2 different grades of sandpaper, pasted down like a mosaic and then painted with acyrlic paints. thsi is one of those times the photo does not do it justice.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

How I feel

Think this piece of work (by one of my 6th form) says it all for me, at the moment. Trapped!

Sorry to all my regular readers and friends that I have not posted for a few days.
Sometimes the paid work takes over my whole life. As many of you realise I have exam commitments all over the South and West country, as well as my teaching, parents evenings and report writing. This week I have forgotten what my own creativity is!!

I think some of my family see me more like this at the moment!

There has certainly not been any thing in term of hands on pieces of work that I can claim as my own.......but I have been creative in other ways. I think we sometimes forget this, when there is nothing to see on our own workroom table. It is true to say I have been using my creative energies for others, and my colleagues and friends. So I am happy in that.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Have been on my travels again today on exam business in the depths of the English countryside. The day started in the West Country with some wonderful thunderstorms, I was lucky enough to miss them.

The weather was hot,overcast and humid though, and I was grateful for the air conditioning in the car, which allowed me to arrive at my destination as cool as a cucumber.

As you can see in this photo of a wonderful spiral staitrcase, the weather cleared at my destination, and became hot and sunny, 28C.

Had a good day and then a slow journey home as the traffic was heavy and the weather became humid again.

Strange building this, it has a clock tower high up on the building overhanging the road, and it seems to be made of wood. Perhaps it is an old school.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Have spent most of the afternoon planning a school trip to the British Museum. We are going at the end of the month. I visited the museum over the Easter holidays to help me decide exactly what I wanted the students to focus on. Originally I had wanted to go to the V & A with them, unfortunately many of the galleries I wanted to use there are shut there. So we shall visit the British Museum in London instead. I was very impressed and inspired by the African Galleries. In fact the web pictures on this link do not do it justice.

There is a whole wall of these plaques in the African Galleries, I couldn't stop looking at them. When I returned home I played with the images and ideas in my sketchbook.

Here I am thinking about changing your head as you would change your clothes - according to you mood.

I then experiemented on the sewing machine and used a variety of fabrics and water soluable to try and create a raised effect like the plaques I has seen at the British Museum

The final images were embroidered on fabric and tissue paper and covered with acrylic wax. Then polished. I loved the effect. I did make one final piece of work and framed it. Having finished the piece at midnight on the Friday, it went in the exhibition on the Saturday morning, sold on the Saturday afternoon and I never saw it again! Still think the design work has a lot of mileage left in it. So this school trip may spark me off again. I really hope it sparks the students as well. We'll see at the end of the month. Meanwhile at the V & A I see they have a 60's exhibiton.......another trip maybe?

Hot Garden

Maybe I should rephrase the title to "Hot in the garden". I am not a gardener so my garden is not hot -as in good design - I will however share some of my summer blooms with you. I was going to post this last night, but found it too uncomfortably warm to sit at the computer.
I rarely have time for gardening , so my flowers are in pots. My friends know this, I hide them round the side of the house out of view when they die.

This was the temperature here in the UK yesterday-31.1C outside in the shade at 3.26pm. A bit warm! I spent the whole day writing school reports, on the computer, so I was steaming ( in more ways than one). So to break up the tedium, I went out in the midday sun ( mad dogs and Englishman style) and took some photos of the flowers. Just wish I had more time to enjoy them.

This is for AnnieB - she gave me this as a small cutting - sorry forgotten what it is called-but this proves it is still alive and well!

This I know is a clematis, the trellis callapsed under the weight of it, so its hanging around a bit.

This was my mothers pride and joy, it is very old, and I do everything I can to keep it going. We do not have the right soil for Azaelias, so it has to be in a pot.

Amazing that these have such lovely flowers...I use the green stalks instead of onions in my home made potato salad -chives Ithink they are- also keep them well away from the dog and his leg lifts!

Last but not least, I bought a few bedding plants last weekend and my goodness they have grown quickly. the name of these begins with an E....but I cannot remember the rest. It would be easy to decieve you on this blog......these are my only flowers, my garden is not full of them. Others are in waiting , sweet peas etc. I do not claim to really know what I am doing in the garden. I plant things for their shape, texture, fragrence and colour. Then I hope I can keep them going.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Hot Clay and Hot Dog

At last am able to blog. I know many of you have had the same problems. Well what a scorcher today, weather wise. Here is one very hot dog........who did not want to be disturbed......after finding a cool sanctuary under the settee, and who can blame him?

So why did this heat happen on the day I had promised my Year 10 class, we would be making our clay tiles?? From 1.30 - 3 pm we made clay tiles in very hot conditions. The students have been working on Landscapes and using Van Gogh as an inspiration for making marks in the clay. It is a really fun project, they love it.

The results were absolutely fantastic, the students had to work fast, we kept a lot of water and sponges on hand......We did achieved our aim, all 25 students finished their clay tile.
At the end we were very pleased with the results, but felt we had run a mini marathon. They (the tiles not the students !) are now residing under plastic bags, to try and slow down the drying process, we do not want them to crack. The tiles will be fired next Friday, over the weekend, then they will be glazed and fired again. I think it would be great to make mini quilts, but unfortunately I do not have enough time on the timetable to teach them the many skills required to achieve the result, shame really.

The photos I have posted are from last years selection to give you an idea, there was not time to photo today's work and in raw clay state it is quite difficult to see the textures of the surface.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Sunday Day trip

Had a lovely day out yesterday. Went up to London to see some relatives, very pleasant and relaxing. On the journey to London, we saw a very strange sight on the M4, we had noticed it before, but it was working yesterday. The smell of hops was very strong in the air, yes you have guessed, we saw this by the brewery outside Reading. A wind turbine is the sort of thing I expect to see in the middle of the countryside or in teletubbie land!.

I wasn't driving so I managed to finish my stitching. Its great to be a passenger. I will now need to decide what to do with the edges, which is one of the reasons I had looked at my work from years ago. I managed to finish the edges quite well for those. Not sure yet what to do , so will leave that for another day.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Inspiring Invitation

Recieved an invitation to share the presentation I gave to the local Arts Community recently referencing the Abstract Art work, the local Art Gallery and students work.

The organisers wish to have a copy of my presentation to put on their "new" website, as part of the minutes of the meeting.

As you can see the reports at the moment are very "static " and wordy. Thought I might agree, it would help the organisers to liven up the minutes of the meetings and make them look more in keeping with an Art ethos. Besides these students are the artists of the future and need all the support they can's tough out there. I feel sure you would agree?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Influences of India

Some years ago I went to an exhibition at the V & A. It was on the top floor up a long flight of stairs, but worth the effort as it was a fantastic special exhibition of Indian embroideries and fabrics. I found it very inspirational.

The same year I also had the good fortune to see an Exhibition of Sheila Paine's in Woodstock Oxfordshire. This exhibition was also about the embroideries that she had discovered in her search for the truth about amulets. Her new book at the time was "The Golden Horde." Rivoting reading, as are her more recent publications.That year I also saw Sheila Paines' collection again at the Knitting and Stitchning show in London. I was very lucky at the K & S show as I managed to have a lengthy conversation with her about her journeys in search of the Amulet.

These two exhibitions gave me the inspiration to study some Indian embroideries including shisha and other traditional stitches and then I tried out the techniques for myself. This is tea dyed calico and just 2 colours of embroidery thread white and rust.

I also tried the Kantha style stitching for the first time at the end of the nineties. Easy to guess I had a thing about elephants at the same time. This is turquoise turban cotton, and sewing thread for the Kantha, and a yellow varigated embroidery thread as well as a rust coloured thread.

I had also found some articles in an old copy of the Embroiderers' Guild magazine about decorating elephants, and so I decided to try and use them as a design source, great fun. Unfortunately the magazine copy of the decorated elephants is not available online. Its a fascinating world out there as long as we are prepared to look and discover.