February 24, 2008

The Alphabet of Trees

Filed under: Art and Drawings,Events — sarah @ 3:16 pm

This week I went to the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum, Clarence Street, Cheltenham. In gallery 13 they always have special exhibits which at the moment is the Alphabet of Trees.

This was quite an interesting exhibition with what I thought of as quite dark monochrome pictures with suggestive shapes lurking within them. Each print corresponds to a short poem, each of which represents a word to do with plants and trees starting with a different letter of the alphabet. The poems, to my mind, were also dark.

The poems belong to Philip Sharpe and the pictures were a visualisation of these, created by Andrew Judd. I think it was thought-provoking in itself but I also liked the explanation of how the pictures were created.

From the information available about the prints at the museum they were created by relief printing using two blocks – a main or key block, which I assume provided the main body of each picture, and a second tonal block. The main block was cut into lino (linoleum) whilst the secondary blocks used a variety of media such as:

  • Wood cuts

  • An etching technique involving marking the surface of a lino block with caustic soda – at the museum it said the surface was ‘bitten’ with the soda

  • Sand or salt stuck to a block which creates a texture when used with some sort of acrylics

The prints were based on charcoal landscapes that were turned into mono-images from which the printing blocks were cut.

If you happen to be around Cheltenham then it’s worth a look – the museum’s free. Unfortunately this display finishes on the 8th of March. There is apparently a book for sale containing the pictures so once I have sorted out my Amazon account I will add it to this post! Along with more info on printing.

February 17, 2008

Abstract Heart Cards

Filed under: My Drawings/Paintings,Paper Craft,Valentines Day — sarah @ 6:47 pm

heart abstract

This was my first card I made for my husband (then boyfriend) for our first Valentine’s as I had no money for a card but had a lot of card about for making posters. I was surprised to find he still had it as it has been through two house moves and a flood!

I used one sheet of black card, pale lavender card and shocking pink card; I also used pritt stick and a pair of scissors.

I folded the black card in four and then decided I was going to use the resulting blank card in ‘portrait’ orientation rather than ‘landscape’. I then cut the heart out of the lavender card. I did, however, draw it out first before doing this, hence this heart is a bit more symmetrical than a lot of my hearts! I then decided that it would look far too girly to put the heart straight onto the card (I was worried about how I could make the card a Valentine’s card without it being very frilly and feminine). I then glued the heart on the shocking pink card and freehand cut out an explosive abstract border made up of irregular zigzags.

I then stuck this onto the black card and was very happy with the effect.

February 10, 2008

Iridescent Heart Card

Filed under: Paper Craft,Presents and Wedding Favours,Valentines Day — sarah @ 4:09 pm

finished hearts

I made this card for my friend’s wedding but it would make a good engagment or Valentine’s card or possibly a birthday card for a girlfriend or some such.

stuff for wedding card

For this card I used a sheet of pale blue card, magenta/purple card, pale pink card, eight iridescent leaf sequins, PVA white craft glue, pritt stick glue and scissors.

big heart

I started by folding the pale blue card into four, I then cut out a heart about 7cm in height from the magenta/purple card. I stuck this onto the centre of the card using the pritt stick.

big heart small hearts

I then glued on the iridescent leaves in pairs as they make nice little hearts like this. I had to use blobs of PVA to glue them onto the card. I then had to leave it to dry lying flat on the table top. I made four of these little hearts which irregularly border the large heart in the middle of the card. It was at this point I decided something needed to be in the middle of the large heart. I did initially try another iridescent heart but decided it didn’t look good.

finished hearts

Instead I cut out a small pink heart from the baby pink card. I then stuck this onto the card using the pritt stick.

February 3, 2008

Medieval Loom

Filed under: Events,Science and Art,Sewing — sarah @ 10:04 am

At the moment the Museum and Art Gallery in Cheltenham has an exhibite called Medieval Machines which I took my two year old to. Whilst there I became intreged by this loom.

medieval loom

The long threads attatched to the frame are called the wrap – these are the ones running along the leanth of the loom that you weave the wool in and out of. The way this loom is set up there is a treddle which appears to be the treadle bar at the bottom though I wouldn’t swear to that and a heddle which I think was the flate panel of wood in the middle that had the string running though it, alternatively in slots or wholes. When the peadle was pressed down it raised this panel so that the strings going through the wholes where raised whilst those in the slots stayed in the same place. This ment that instead of weaving in and out, over and under each alternate thread you could just pushed the thread though the middle and then either put your foot on or off of the pedle and repeat the process.

peddle down

The presance of the heddle is too allow both hands to be free for moving the thread backwards and forwards.

the resultsThe resulting weave though some ones obviously not followed the instructions here!

There was also a piece of wood with rounded ‘teeth’ cut out of it along one side – this was the comb. This was used to push the threads down into place so that they sat flush against the previous row. The would make the fabric far neater I think.

The wool its self was wrapped around a wooden plank with two longer slightly curved pieces of wood either side that looked like runners on a sled. This is called the shuttle and makes moving the thread through alot easier. The wall that was rapped around the shuttle I think is called the weft.

There was also some information about the general history of weaving and looms. He is what I learned:

Apparently weaving begain with farming in the Neolithic which was about 10, 000 years ago. Origonally looms where upright with the long threads known as the wrap hanging down weighted by stones to keep them tuaght.

The clever teddle/heddle thing appeared to be a middle ages thing and allowed better efficiency with both hands being used to move the shuttle (wooden block with the thread, wool etc… rapped around it). Later on several heddle rods – the middle panel thing with the slots and wholes in (I think) where used to make complecated patterns.

This next bit is sort of about textile history in general but I thought it was quiet interesting in a handicraft sort of way!

Textiles it turns out were the most important industry apart from agriculture in medieval times. This was especially the case in places like Northern History and Flanders (which I think might have been part of Spain).

England origonally was just a wool merchant but then we got interested and started making our own stuff. I personally wonder about the rest of the UK did they develope their own textile industries around this time too?

To my suprise the spinning wheel did not reach Europe until about 1300 years ago. It migrated from the Middle East and helped the textile industries emmensly by increasing thread production.

Obviously I have parraphrased alot of this from stuff I read at the museum and from other things I have read since going to the exhibition.

Unfortunatly it is only there until the 8th of MArch 2008 but if you can catch the exhibite then it is lots of fun 🙂 I have also made some scetches that I hope to add to this post at some future date.

Wiki links that are interesting reguarding this: