Saturday 31 August 2013

John Browning Kites

I have been a member of the National Trust for years, first with my Mum and now with 'im outdoors.  I'm always meaning to visit more properties than I actually do, but on Monday we manage to visit one - Mottisfont in Hampshire.  
It had been recommenced by a friend because of its lovely gardens and its small art gallery in the house and I thoroughly enjoyed the walk by the river and round the walled garden, even if we were a bit late for the roses.
But it was the art gallery that really got my interest.  They have a selection of Winnie-the-Pooh illustration on display at the moment which are great, and in the next room they have a selection of mechanical art from the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre which were really fun to watch but it was the kites in the stairwell that got all my attention.
Kites by John Browning, made from handmade paper and leaves in very none kite shapes but which apparently fly beautifully.  They were all works of art in themselves and I spent ages fascinated by the near translucent leaves.
My big question - How did he do it?!  My only thought - I want to do that!

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Writers Group - August meeting

This months writers group was a pretty small affair as many people were on holiday.  This meant we got to listen to everyones pieces and do a quick writing exercise.  For our exercise I gave the line ‘I told you I’ve not got anything for you, so why are you following me?’ she asked, her voice trembling as a starting point and then gave everyone 10 minutes to write something.  As always the variety if ideas amazed me.

Homework: While reading our local paper a couple of weeks ago I came across the headline ‘Thieves and saboteurs sought’.  I was most disappointed to find this wasn’t a request for people to join a local theatre group, but a story of a real robbery.  Look in your local newspaper and see if you can find a headline which could be read in several different ways and use this as the inspiration for your story.  Do not use the original story as your inspiration.

Friday 16 August 2013

Papermaking - day 5

Plain kozo paper

Purple and green layered kozo
Today was the last day of the Papermaking for Artists and Designers at Central Saint Martin's.  I've had a fab week and learnt tons!  But even with everything we covered I know there is still so much that I don't know.  I look forward to experimenting and maybe finding a more advanced class in the future.
Today we were free to concentrate on what interested us, so I spent my time playing with more kozo.  I dyed two separate groups of the fibre - one purple and one green and layered them to see what would happen.  I was very please with the end result (above).
And then it was time to go home with a bag full of damp towels and damp paper samples.
And the question on everyone's lips 'what are you going to do with it?'  My intention all along was to incorporate the papermaking with my book making.  I'm not 100% sure how yet, but I've got a few ideas brewing.  Keep an eye on the blog to see what happens next...

Thursday 15 August 2013

Papermaking - day 4

Beating it to a pulp
Today we started using kozo to make japanese paper.  You might know this as mulberry paper - very fine with the fibres showing.  To use kozo it has to be soaked and cooked which Mandy did last night, then it has to be cleaned of any little bits of left over bark and then beaten with a wooden mallet or rock.  This took all morning.
However Mandy was right - it was worth it.  It is the most amazing paper and by adding tororo-aoi to the pulp suddenly we could dip our moulds and deckles more than once to make thicker paper or to add more colour.
I can totally understand why we started with the western style paper.  While we are pulling the japanese paper in the same way, it is much harder to pull a good sheet straight away and the previous three days of pulling sisal, cotton and abaca sheets have at least given us all a reasonable technique.
One of the best parts of each day is when I first arrive and I can see how yesterdays papers have dried.  Often the colours are quite different and you can really feel the texture of the paper.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how my kozo paper has turned out tomorrow.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Papermaking - day 3

Onion paper
Back to London today for day 3 of the Papermaking course.  This is my kind of holiday.  I might be exhausted by the end of each day but my sense of achievement and excitement with what I have learnt makes it all worth while.
Over the last month or so I have been collecting the skins from the onions I cook with.  Last night I boiled them with washing soda for a couple of hours and this morning I mashed them up in a blender and made beautiful paper with them.  As everyone had used a different plant fibre I got to try out all sorts including green tea and rushes.
Layering colours
The whole day was spent playing with textures and colour.  I love the combination of purple and green layered above.
I also made my first A4 sheets using my own mould and deckle.  Sadly its too big to fit in my vats (washing up bowls) so I will have to get bigger vats and smaller mould and deckles. I feel a list coming on.
Tomorrow we start to look at Japanese papers, so learn a new technique.  I can't wait.

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Papernaking - day 2

Cotton with bits of postage stamp
Day 2 of the Papermaking for artists course and wow my feet hurt now.  Not only am I walking to and from the college every day but we are also on our feet all day and it starts to take its toll when you are used to sitting at a desk all day.  
But who cares when I am creating my own paper!  Above are my new favourite items - a round mould and deckle which makes round paper.  I probably hogged this more than I should have today and 'im outdoors is going to have an order for one and several different sizes of normal rectangular mould and deckle when this is over.  I am in love.
It probably helps that along with a really great tutor we've got a lovely group of 8 who are happy to share materials and help each other out as we go along.  Of course working in a group of any sizes does mean that sometimes the pulp gets contaminated, but as we are learning and playing its not a big deal.
Not only did we make round paper but we also played with pigments too, making coloured paper with little hints of other colours in.  I can't wait to see the dried papers tomorrow.
The other thing I leant today is the need to use hand cream.  Spending all day with your hands in water really drys them out.
Now I am boiling onion skins that I have been collecting for the past month ready for tomorrow.  I wonder what onion skin paper looks like?  Guess I'll have to wait till tomorrow to find out.

Monday 12 August 2013

Papermaking - day 1

This morning I got an early train into London with a huge bag of stuff for the Papermaking for artists and designers, but I made it to the Bank Hill campus of Central Saint Martins in good time without loosing anything and had a brilliant day making paper pulp and turning this into small sheets of paper.
I have wanted to make my own paper for a long as I can remember, my first attempt was using algae from the garden pond when I was small, so to be doing it for real was amazing.
We used cotton and sisal as our base and then added other papers to them, the above are a green and purple version.  The fact that by the end of day one I had 8 different A5 sheets to take home (once dry) made me very happy.
Our tutor Mandy Brannan obviously knew her stuff and it was a great first day.  I can't wait to go back tomorrow.

Friday 9 August 2013

Life's little challenges

I've been rather quiet over the last month.  
A wedding to organise, a new computer to purchase and get used to and finally something even more life changing to get our heads round; 'im outdoors has been diagnosed as a coeliac.  This means he can't eat any forms of gluten and requires a huge change to our diets.  
No bread, cake, pastry, sausages, pasta or OXO cubes for us.  Of course there are gluten free versions of these and many foods, but now before anything can be eaten we must be sure of its content, which at home is easy with a little concentration, but more difficult out and about.
So now that these three things have all been worked on, venues nearly booked, computer very happily working, and kitchen cleared out and new gluten free products in their place I can start to think about other things, the most exciting of which starts on Monday.
Papermaking for artists and designers at Central Saint Martins starts on Monday and although I have the usual nerves about being able to find the place and have I got everything I'll need, I'm really exciting about learning a new skill, something I've been wanting to try for a very long time.  Fingers crossed that next week will be a relaxing change from the rest of life's challenges.