Friday 29 February 2008

Seeing the light

White details around Mr P's house, clearly I am having a bigger influence than I realised, but he seems to be enjoying the way it bounces light into the darker parts of the house.

Thursday 28 February 2008

Golden tones

Morning: Detail of a drawer Liz decorated for me a few years ago.

Afternoon: Textile sculpture by a fellow graduate, 1994.
It always looks best when I open it in sunlight.

Evening: Sunset through the birch trees last week (click to enlarge).

Wednesday 27 February 2008

Nasty Virus

Top: Honesty on a morning sky
Bottom: Lichen & frost on the water butt

The sun is shining!
The wind still blows but it is a nice fresh wind, one direction, no big gusts. I think it must still be gusty higher in the sky because all the tracks from the aeroplanes are wiggly, no straight lines, suggesting the wind keeps blowing them off course a little.

Today feels like a fresh start after a very disturbed week. Mr P caught the vomiting virus that has been going round the UK this winter. No-one likes being unwell, but he particularly hates it, more than anyone I know. Being laid so low it fell to me to do the looking after, which presented many logistical difficulties given my own ill health. I had my first trip to a supermarket in 3 months. He had to drive me (with a bucket at his feet!) and then had to wait an interminably long time while I did the tiny shopping that should have only taken 10mins. I think I took 1hr, clinging to the trolley like my life depended on it.

Thankfully he was off food so I was only buying herbal teas, some basics for myself and tins of chicken soup for when he felt able. I never knew there were so many kinds of tinned chicken soup! Ironically he'd decided to give up his favourite Covent Garden Chicken Soup (which was all gone, hence trip to the tins aisle), after watching the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Chicken Run series. Visit the Chicken Out website for more details. I liked that Mr P was planning to be more organic about his occasional chicken consumption (I'm vegetarian), but I couldn't find any organic chicken soup that day and neither of us were in any fit state to go searching the city. Sorry chickens.

The worst of the virus has passed and by some miracle (and obscene consumption of echinacea and vits) I managed to not catch it! It was touch and go, Mr P and I have always had very sympathetic guts. Every time his guts churned I would burp and my tummy would turn over. So much so that I couldn't sleep last night and feared the virus was upon me. But no. I find that whole thing so strange. He used to get problems with his belly when I had my really severe cramps.

Tuesday 26 February 2008

In the garden


We're having a lot of blustery weather here, severe winds knocked both fences down the other day so the garden suddenly feels really exposed. In the brief calm, dry moments I'm making more effort to use my camera again.

Friday 22 February 2008

Nic Bladen - jewellery

Nic Bladen: Necklace with single Heuningblom or honey flower

Delicate cast flower neck pieces from Nic Bladen's Botanical Jewellery collection thanks to a link from Four Walls Design.

Thursday 21 February 2008

No scary news

Close up of some tubs that hold sewing things

I've been so sore and so distracted that I missed my own 2yr blog anniversary yesterday. I got a bit overwhelmed there and forgot about blogging, I was amazed to see so many comments when I returned tonight, thank you all!

Thanks especially to Liz who's text today that made me realise I'd not been back on the computer so people were wondering what news I had from the Doctor. After all that worry he told me nothing new, which was a big relief. In fact, he didn't even know why I was there! I had to tell him they'd called me to see him. He repeated what I'd been told on the day, looks like polyps, so on with the biopsy and possibly other unpleasantness. I don't like the sound of '
scraping the womb' eeugh, that makes my legs go wobbly.

One good thing about all this. As many of you know, Doctors like things they can see. Mine seemed so happy about having something visible to focus on that he reacted very well to my telling him I'd not been taking his pills. He accepted they'd done more harm than good and agreed to give up drug treatments. This is a HUGE relief!!! It was stressing me enormously.

Tuesday 19 February 2008

Grow your own Goji berries

Images from my sewing room

When my reproductive organs dominate my thoughts I get all feminine and start liking pink. After all my worrying last night I found myself very aware of some pink things in my sewing room which looked nice sitting on my turquoise suitcase (my fancy dress accessories case (false eyelashes, hair extensions, tiaras, elf ears etc). To see why the sewing room is unusable see the chaos here. That was the table, the floor is equally piled with bags of fabric and decades of textile work, lighting sculptures and general vintage haberdashery. It is high on my list of things I'll sort when I'm well again. I love sorting my sewing room, especially sorting my fabrics by colour and tone/type.

One of my thread drawers

I love my clear button boxes

I store some of my buttons in old ferrero rocher boxes, the kind that hold four chocolates. Can't seem to find anyone who eats them regularly so I've run out and have jars and drawers for the most of the collection.

I'm feeling calmer today, the sun is gloriously bright and is making the frost sparkle, it's nicely distracting. I've got an appointment to get my results tomorrow. Fingers crossed a biopsy won't be urgent. I want time to keep getting better so I can enjoy the trip with my brother in March. I'm already feeling more positive
from taking all the herbs and supplements instead of the Doc's nasty pills.

I'm also trying some new things that I didn't know about around when I last beat M.E. like Coconut Oil, it is so tasty and is energy boosting. Goji berries too. I'd never even heard of them till last year but was scared off by the price but they are so packed with goodness I'm taking them to get well enough for the March trip. I was trying to find organic ones with no success, then I found
Detox Your World which said the 2007 harvest was contaminated with pesticides.

Their Goji Berry page was full of interesting information, like the fact that they grow in UK hedgerows! Not that I've noticed any in Scotland, but they have been naturalised in the UK for 300 years. I'll be planting some of my berries this year, I'll let you know if I have success. Apparently you mustn't pick them by hand, if you touch them they oxidise and go black, so you harvest them by shaking them off and drying them in the shade. One bush can yield 2kg of berries each year.

Colder than usual

Old lace in my sewing room

Got freaked out today, the Doctor's Surgery rang and told me to make an appointment to discuss my ultrasound results (they then refused to actually give me an appointment on account of their new system, have to ring at 8.30am and hope my call beats all the others that ring at the exact same time. But what freaked me was them calling. They never call, no matter how many tests I've had done they always give me the results when I am in for my normal appointment, which was happening next week anyway. Why have they called? Does this mean it's bad? During the scan the woman said it looked like polyps, and some can be cancerous, so naturally my mind has had a mini freakout about that. Hopefully that's not it, but I know a biopsy is likely and that alone is a stress I could do without thanks very much.

paint pot on my desk (rest of the desk is a mess!)

The other ongoing drama is that Mr P and I have become time travellers. With night-time temperatures dropping every night since Friday very worrying when his boiler broke last week. At first we were a bit freaked that now there wasn't even one of us with a warm house, but then we kind of got into the groove of it feeling like the 1970's when houses were cold and people stayed warm by wearing seasonally appropriate clothing. If nothing else it's eco friendly and at least the days have mostly been sunny. Rain is due Thursday onwards but presumably will bring with it milder night time temperatures.

Old fabric from my collection

Not that either of us bask in hot temps at home when we both have working heating. 16ºc is our average with 18º as a treat and 20º for Christmas and guests. Mr P has a wee oil filled radiator so we've been running that at 12º to stop the pipes bursting near the kitchen at night, but in the daytime it's off. It feels like camping, sleeping in thermals and wearing a woolly hat in bed. The cat, not having lived in the 70's, or even the 80's, is less impressed by the sudden chill and despite never having been keen on sleeping on people is now permanently attached to my hip of belly when I sleep and my lap if I'm sitting in the day.

Monday 18 February 2008

White wallpieces with shadows

Still have lots of white work that never got shown in January, but just not got the focus for blogging much just now. Lisa, these ones are here with you in mind (Lisa and I love to work with shadows in our artwork).

*Update* Lisa is in a book! Read more here. Congratulations Lisa.
Also read an interview with her at
Crafty Synergy.

Sarah Rebekah Byrd Mizer: thesis show, detail, glass and pins
Sarah created a wall covered in glass writing for her thesis exhibition. Absolutely amazing.

Guy Michael Davis: Branches detail

Gina Tibbott: Untitled, porcelain, 2007 via Project 4 Gallery

Friday 15 February 2008

Tina Rose, the Acting Project Manager for Craftscotland at Collect has sent me these images and text on the work of Dierdre Nelson (thanks Tina). Dierdre is one of 13 Scottish artists who exhibited at Collect in January. I fist became aware of her work on her 2006 residency blog, and her later 2007 blog ( I collect thimbles so there was lots to like there).

During a residency in Australia textile artist Deirdre Nelson used the idea of a convict's love tokens, pierced coins left behind with loved ones, and pierced other objects, such as spoons, one of the few belongings convicts were allowed.

Deirdre Nelson: Liberty Spoons, plastic

'It is said that Blackwork embroidery was employed in order to disguise dirty fabrics and the bad hygiene of the Elizabethans.'

Inspired by this quote textile artist Dierdre Nelson created a hygiene kit for an Elizabethan for her exhibition ' The Dangers of Sewing and Knitting'.

Deirdre Nelson: Elizabethan hygiene kit and Elizabethan Nit Comb
found objects, linen stitched with silk and dental floss

Wednesday 13 February 2008

Today is better...

Today is better than yesterday. (more detail in my comments section)
Today I have dealt with the sadness of seeing ALL the cherry trees cut down in Nicholson Square. Apparently the Council complained that they only flowered once a year! Hello - most city trees don't even flower once, these were a joy to behold every May and I always took some photo's, even when they turned the area into a building site...

Falling on a car bonnet, May '06

1 corner of Nicholson Square's Cherry trees May '07
stealing the show despite skips and port-a-loos

Today I woke after having 4 hours solid sleep (that's good).
Today I got the last bottle that was missing from my ethical wonder pills collection (Viridian Multi Phytonutrient Complex).
Today... I rode my bike!

On a still, calm, dry day it is much less painful than walking. We just haven't had any days like that
since September, maybe even August. It's been such a wet and windy winter. But today was a true Spring day. It was pure joy to take Lucy to her favourite fields once more. They are only 10mins walk from home when I'm well, but just now it would take me 30mins to get there. On the bike it was about 7mins.

One of Lucy's favourite fields, June '07
we went to the flatter one behind the trees today

We had a few 'incidents' but on the whole she was pretty good at staying by my side and not toppling me over. When we got to the field it was so flat I was able to go fast with very little effort so she could really run run run beside me. A very beautiful sight. I was gasping for air after 5mins but so was Lucy so I felt no guilt about collapsing in the dry grassy hummocks to rest. She lay beside me and soaked in the hot sun, it was lovely! I've really needed a day like this. For 20 minutes, in that dry grass, away from cars and people, I felt like my old self. My natural states of being are either making things, or being out in the countryside with dogs. I have missed both but it's good to know that when there are more calm days I can go there again. Here is a taste of what's to come later in the year...

Elderflower buds, June '07

A vase of hedgerow flowers, June '07

Hedgerow flowers (detail), June '07

Tuesday 12 February 2008

Nek Chand: The Rock Garden, Chandigarh

Camel ride at The Rock Garden, Chandigarh
originally uploaded by
Velachery Balu

I don't mean to give the impression that I watch TV all day, but did you see the Indian episode of Around The World in 80 Gardens? I was besotted by Nek Chand's Rock Garden in Chandigarh. The unique garden is a perfect marriage of passion, obsession, recycling, sculpture, gardening and bloody hard work created in secret (and what is better than a secret garden) over decades.

Nek gathered all the waste remnants on his bicycle to bring back and transform in the 25 acre garden on land he didn't even own. The garden was threatened with demolition several times and one of those times was saved by people forming a human shield to stop the bulldozers. A great story, a magical place.

originally uploaded by jratcliffe (a great flickr set of the garden)
also a wider shot with more of the people was taken by Matthew Winterburn.

originally uploaded by Bailoo

These photo's are from flickr, but to see it at it's best you should watch the program because this place is full of movement and life. There are 5 days left to watch online though I now realise some of you are denied access if you live in other countries, not fair. The filming shows best how the areas interlink, how the people connect with the spaces and how stunning the waterfall areas are as they flow. I'd love to spend a whole day there walking the "more than a kilometre of long meandering pathways, full of natural and handmade wonders' with all the birds and animals that are said to fill the garden.

originally uploaded by Iharkness

originally uploaded by krazykrayons

originally uploaded by Chris Walker

originally uploaded by

originally uploaded by Koshyk

originally uploaded by ToreaJade

Update July 2011: I was concerned to see that the Nek Chand website hadn't been updated since I originally wrote this post so I did a check to be sure it hadn't been demolished and happily, it's still going strong. Earth Drifter visited it last month and talks about how the people were as much a part of the experience as the place. I'm so pleased it's still there and going strong. If you'd like to visit
Travel Tips has information on transport.

There is a website called Friends of Rock Garden which has photo's, videos and blogs from people who have volunteered. Here is a link to the Nek Chand Foundation Student and Volunteer program . The website has a lot of backround to the garden and includes a page listing books featuring the garden. As someone who has done a lot of volunteer work I've learned that it doesn't always turn out as you'd expect and I've often had to be very proactive in creating work to do. The same may be true of volunteering at the rock garden. I
read a link from a design student Katie who's 2009 volunteer group left half way through the program because they weren't being given any volunteer work to do. Hopefully the program is more organised now and this isn't an issue, but it's always better to be prepared for things to be different from your expectations so that you can find a way to still make the most of the experience.

And for those of us who may never get to visit the gardens in person here is a link listing places to see Nek Chand's work internationally, which shows he's finally getting the recognition he deserves.

Monday 11 February 2008

paper, pills and pests

A page from my papercut sketchbook 1991

You know on films when they have those machines that shoot tennis balls at, and they always go crazy and start shooting 100's of balls really fast? Well that's what February has been like so far. I'm trying to avoid getting hit too much, but it doesn't leave much time for blogging.

Not sure if I said but my brother is taking me on a trip for my birthday next month (details to follow) so I've been trying to get myself well enough to sustain some walking, though he is renting a car. I'm eating frech herbs from teh garden every day (mostly Thyme, I love thyme). I've splashed out on Mega-doses of all manner of supplements, vitamins, herbs, minerals, and all the weird and wonderful things in between.

I finally bought some new essential oils (I still have some from 1990!, though they are only used to make the vacuum smell nice now). I'd stopped taking Nelson's homoeopathic remedies because of the lactose but several sites say the amount is so small and so little reaches the stomach, that I'm probably ok to take them in short term bursts. The
alcohol in the liquid form is often made from wheat grain and though you can get water based ones online the postage makes them too costly for me.

Another detail from my papercut sketchbook 1991

And now a change of subject, garden pests. This is an alert to UK gardeners, check your plants!
I noticed my chives from last year put on a growth spurt in those 3 mild days. But then they started to collapse so yesterday I went to investigate... Greenfly!!! The wee buggers are at least 2 or 3 months early. The price we pay for not having a real winter anymore. 50% of the chives had them nestling in hard to see places. So you have been warned, if you have known hot spots for Aphids then it's worth checking now so they don't get out of hand before Spring has even arrived.

Saturday 9 February 2008

Early 80's memories

Did anyone watch Ashes to Ashes (the follow-up to Life on Mars)? You can watch Ashes to Ashes online (within the next 5 days) on BBC iPlayer. As time passes your mind muddles and merges events and years, so it's nice to have them placed in order again. I chuckled when the girl came in with a can of TAB, I'd totally forgotten about that vile drink. I felt so grown up then, but I was only 9.

My life that year was totally centred around tree climbing, having adventures in the hills, making rafts to go on the River Tweed. I had no idea that one year later I'd be living in L.A. whizzing around in the hot sun in these skates, my love of red and white has lasted for decades.

I remember how amazed I was that the 1st girl I made friends with, once we settled in an apartment in Venice, was originally from Scotland. Her parents had moved to L.A. from Paisley when she and her sister were young. One of my Christmas presents this year was a copy of some of our old American photo's on CD. T
his one shows me with said friend, both standing on the right. The rest of the kids are my brother's classmates (which means this is probably 1983), my brother being the cross legged cutie at the front, look at that smile...

I just realised that I've been missing Around the World in 80 Gardens, also on BBC iPlayer for one week after each broadcast. I'd watch it now but I'm all caught up in Pride and Prejudice on BBC4, even though I already own it on DVD. You know how I love a good period drama, and this version is in my top 5.

Friday 8 February 2008

White magnetic curtain

Tough week, too tired to blog. Roll on the weekend.
I like magnets, so I'm intrigued by this curtain that can be shaped any way you like, I like when practicality is also playful...

Florian Krautli: Magnetic Curtain (via ffffound)

Monday 4 February 2008

And the winner is...

Mr P picked the names from folded papers at random. Congratulations
Karin. I thought you might like this one as your prize since you like colour. I did it in my first year of art college when I was still mainly using bright colours (before I started to use lots of white and neutrals. I don't have it here to measure it, but I think each page is about 10 x 7cm. When I find it I'll make a cover for it (because I never was good at finishing things). Click image to see more detail...

'Flourishing' : watercolour and ink on paper, 1990
6 page concertina fold book from a design for wrapping paper and bedlinen

It was inspired by jellyfish, radiolarians and similar minute sea creatures, so much inspiration in the ocean. It wasn't until the next year when my health got much worse, that I started to see these shapes and forms as being also like the cells in our bodies. I never realised this before, but perhaps that's why I moved to neutral, earthy colours and white on white? Maybe it signified life taking a serious turn. Not that I abandoned colour, but I used it 50% less.

But wait, more winners because I like things in 3's... I asked Mr P to pick two more names to each receive a black and white copy of a mini book developed from pages of the 4 day sketchbook (click on 'the 4 day sketchbook' label at the end of the post to see more pages). Karin, you'll get a copy of this as well as the other book. The names he picked out were Heather and Deedeen, well done ladies! I will contact you all by email to get your addresses. Here are a few more shots of the original 4 day sketchbook with some of the pages that will be in your printed copies...

a few more pages from the 4 day sketchbook, 1991

A love of words

Breath: ceramic tablet (intentionally broken) 1993

I was visiting Francesca's blog and lo and behold, we both share an unusual collecting habit... word and phrases from books. Read her post here.and you can see how she keeps her sentences in book form. Here's how I keep mine...

a little packet of words about animals

my packets of words (they usually hang on a pin board)

I was typing up a comment to her and realised I should get double value by using it here also...

Hi Francesca, I love your book of words and sentences. I do this too but mine are in little hand made packets each with with a themes like nature, interiors, animals, thoughts. I't's obsessive stuff isn't it. If I can't cut them up I write them down, but there's something about having the actual page that feels extra special. I have some great one's from a cheesy crime thriller where they described the scenes of the crimes brilliantly describing chandeliers, echoing rooms with faded curtains... so beautiful out of context.

I agree, weather related snippets can be really lovely. I especially like ones set in countries where the winds have beautiful names like Levanter, Mistral and Simoon (Levanter was on my list of loved words in '06). It's all I can do to keep the scissors away from Mr P's Patrick O'Brian books, they have lots of weather references many of which are nautical which adds to the appeal, and all said in lovely early 19th century language.

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