Pottery at last

There wasn’t a class last week because the tutor was ill – we will get an extra to make up . In the meantime my glazed pot was finally fired :

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Apparently I don’t have to pay for it – unusual since everywhere else I’ve had to pay a firing charge including at school !

I also glazed my one wheel made bowl –


after grinding off some of the blue slip which seeped under the paper stencils .  And I completed the arabesques on the double spouted effort . It now awaits its first firing .

IMG_20150512_191455I went home early because the 2 wheels were occupied again and I thought if I started another coiled pot I would have to work on it next week and might miss a wheel opportunity yet again . I love handbuilding  but I came to this class to learn wheel technique ! Besides I’d rather build with my own choice of clay , using my own coloured slip and glaze recipes .


Posted in ceramics, Vessels | 4 Comments

University of Leeds International Textiles Archive – Indian embroidery

I like ULITA very much . It is housed in St Wilfred’s Church which is entered from the Business School next door . I haven’t been for a while and now the first thing you see is Alison Mitchell’s 1978 5 panelled tapestry hung in Bodington Hall until 2013 .


Apparently it was inspired by trips to Ghana & Mexico where she learned strip weaving .

The Indian embroidered textiles were no earlier than the 19th century , partly because textiles never last as long as works in other traditional media and partly because the collection consists of individual collections from various donors who were largely commercially interested . Which is why there are many samples for the export market . I haven’t got much detail on the pictures I took because there is as yet no leaflet available and I was assured that all the information would be on the website . I could not find all the examples there however .

Punjabi boy's jacket

Punjabi boy’s jacket

I loved this – remembering what it felt like making a child’s clothes . The style is like that of Moghul court tunics I have seen at the V&A , including the suspended pocket on the left . On the right , at the bottom , is a carved wooden block used for printing an all over design on fabric as a guide for the embroiderer .

'Suf' counted thread work

‘Suf’ counted thread work

‘Suf’ counted thread embroidery apparently tends to patterns made up of triangles . This piece also has some small mirrors – ‘shisha’ . I don’t care for sewn on mirrors partly because they come off easily and are then dangerous .

20C 'Chikan' whitework

20C ‘Chikan’ whitework

19C/early 20C 'Chikan'

19C/early 20C ‘Chikan’

On the left are cotton kamiz embroidered in white on  muslin , the pastels with some shadow work . I have 2 similar but  shorter & mine are Fairtrade whereas those pictured are from an Indian organization which started in the 1950s to do something similar . The other example is from a border sample of a Kashmiri shawl , probably silk on wool .


I can’t remember what this kind of pictorial embroidery is called – and it isn’t a very good picture with the windows reflected in the glass – but I like this imitating the Moghul painting style .

Detail of machined all over chainstitch

Detail of machined all over chainstitch

Chainstitch covers a lot of ground fairly quickly even by hand with a needle , more so with a tambour whose working I finally understand (or ‘ari’ – I don’t know in which language) . This was my favourite example there and is actually done by machine – I used to have a toy sewing machine that only did chainstitch .

Metal thread embroidery

Metal thread embroidery

getimage.asp getimage.asp-2

I was thrilled to find these handbags in the metallic embroidery section (my favourite) because my mother used to have a black velvet one embroidered with silver which matched a sari belt she wore when younger . I know it was real silver because it tarnished .

Embroidered Kashmiri shawl sample

Embroidered Kashmiri shawl sample

Finally there was a section on Kashmiri shawls embroidered to look like the woven kind . They began to be commissioned by British merchants at the beginning of the 19th century in order to evade the import duties on the woven ones and subsequently became popular . Surely they must have required much more work ?

The exhibition is on until the 9th of July ; open Tues-Thurs 9.30-4.30 , Fridays by appointment (ring 0113 343 3919)



Posted in other artists, Textiles | 2 Comments

Memory cloths and other unfinished business

I first came across memory cloths last year in Helen Klebesadel’s blogpost here about Leslee Nelson’s work itself inspired by a 2005 exhibition of South African women’s textile pieces ; and finally got round to starting work on machine embroidering some of my mother’s handkerchiefs this week , more than 2 years after her death . I chose 3 with recognisably Spanish touristic-type scenes hand embroidered on them and arranged them with 3 plain ones like this : –

6 handkerchiefs

6 handkerchiefs

She loved Spain and admired the superb counted thread work found on so many Spanish sewn pieces , even (then) souvenirs .

I planned to machine embroider because I am better at that – and maybe I wanted to avoid trying to write on them . Leslee Nelson refers to a Hawaiian family healing mantra – “I love you , I’m sorry , I forgive you , Thank you” – which she stitched on one of her pieces . I had it at the back of my mind this week (not so clearly) as well as Oscar Wilde’s “Children begin by loving their parents ; after a time they judge them ; rarely , if ever , do they forgive them .” The problem is it seems the most colossal cheek for me to be forgiving my mother . And so I can’t help feeling I won’t be forgiven myself . Well when words fail me I do some work with my hands and sometimes that clarifies things .

White and 2 reds

White and 2 reds

  White and 2 reds (detail)

White and 2 reds (detail)

This is as far as I have gone – I was planning 2 shades of gold thread further . The machine stitching has puckered the very fine fabric , maybe particularly because I was doing loops ? I’m not sure what I will do with it when it is finished . I couldn’t sell it – not least because I didn’t do the fine cross-stitch ! – and can’t imagine hanging it up . Anyway I will have to do the 2nd piece I have planned which involves 4 handkerchiefs of different sizes – 3 featuring blue and 2 with her initial . She hated her name Khadija , although like most of us Muslim women she admired the 1st one . I think it was because English speakers could never pronounce it . She also disliked the colour blue but late in her life told me it was because her mother had said it was only for white people with blue eyes and blonde hair .

As to the pottery I have nothing new to show ; it seems to take a long time for stuff to be fired and I am still carving the arabesques into the double spouted pot . One of the other students asked me if I had copied the idea from someone I had not heard of which underlined for me how very old and unsuccessful I am ! He must be after my time and yet well-known . In 28 years as an artist I’ve just become nameless history .

Posted in ceramics, other artists, Textiles | 4 Comments

Work in progress – both kinds

I’ve got this far with one textile piece ,

Plaited synthetics

Plaited synthetics

but am unsure how to hang it . I was pleased with the net remnant I found – both for the colour and the effect of layering it which is not unlike tissue paper – however any loop or ring I put on the back is going to show up quite clearly . Thinks…..

Pottery classes at Leeds College of Art started again this week . My 1st wheel made pot had still not been fired ,

Bowl with birds on

Bowl with birds 

but my handbuilt one had so I was able to glaze it .

Pot with curls

Pot with curls

Maybe it will be ready to take home next week . There are less students signed up for the summer but 2 of them were ensconced on the wheels by the time I was sorting out what to do next so I went back to the double spouted pot I had left wrapped in plastic over Easter . I had mislaid my tools at home again so did not spend much time improving the shape but painted it with slip and started scratching through , a technique called sgraffito .

Double spout one side

Double spout one side

Double spout -other side

Double spout -other side


I didn’t get very far in covering the whole thing with my trademark arabesque as you can see . The mauve colour of the slip is from cobalt carbonate which will fire blue and the sgraffito should then be white with a clear or white glaze . I tried to get this effect with copper green here –

White stoneware vase 1987

White stoneware vase 1987

but the colour burnt out , you can just see where the cream colour is a bit more grey . Cobalt is very reliable , too much so some would say .

Posted in ceramics, Textiles, Vessels | 7 Comments

“A Study of Modern Japanese Sculpture” – Henry Moore Institute , Leeds


'About the Stone' - wood 1928 Heihachi Hashimoto

‘About the Stone’ – wood 1928 Heihachi Hashimoto

Original model for 'About the Stone'

Original model for ‘About the Stone’

Unfortunately this exhibition’s last day is tomorrow . It hasn’t been widely advertised and is almost invisible within the Institute being in the tiny Gallery 4  . Also the leaflets outside refer to the major exhibition ! However if you can get to it it is lovely . Historically ‘modern’ refers to the time after the Meiji restoration (1868) when Japan was opened up to the West by force . This had interesting effects on European painting and the blurb for this exhibition suggests a reciprocal effect on Japanese sculpture . I don’t know – to my eye the work looks very much like netsuke (I hope I have remembered correctly)  but a bit bigger . 8 out of the 9 pieces are carved in wood and 7 of the 8 are painted . I would have thought that was all pretty traditional , particularly with the skill and resulting beauty . The piece shown above ( one of two which are obviously modern/Western influenced )  is both clever in its idea and brilliant in execution – the stone and it’s carved wooden copy are displayed together . More favourites –

"A Couple of White Paddy Birds" 1931- Kotaro Takamura

“A Couple of White Paddy – birds” 1931 – Kotaro Takamura

Detail of 'A Couple of White Paddy-birds

Detail of ‘A Couple of White Paddy-birds

The stand is also so beautifully made !

"Hibernation" 1928 - Chozan Sato

“Hibernation” 1928 – Chozan Sato

This is of a toad hibernating . The bottom of the case reflects the base of the piece .

"Spiny Lobster" 1926 - Tetsuya Mizunoya

“Spiny Lobster” 1926 – Tetsuya Mizunoya

Good enough to eat ! (Supposing you like and are permitted to eat seafood , of course .)

Posted in non-figurative scupture, other artists, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Calligraphy exhibition

This was in Leeds Central Library’s Artspace where the exhibitors are usually local artists or groups . This time it was –


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I love calligraphy , in any language and once took a course in it – thinking I might do some later…. So I could have been in this group . A good piece must be readable within the rules of the script , look good and be well placed in terms of anything else on the page/the meaning of the words . By ‘looking good’ I mean on general principles of colour , line and composition e.g.

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These 2 are my favourites ; however the left hand one is quite a bit harder to read in fact – the right hand one was partly behind a pillar but still clearer .


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Here is another ‘pillared’ one – a pity since the map drawing and old prints incorporated made it an unusual example .




There was even a calligram – not so usual in the Latin script as the Arabic .



I would have liked it better if it hadn’t said black cats were unlucky – you have to consider the words as well as the skill in the execution of them .


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This was a really fun piece about calligraphy itself and the problems even the most skilled have – jogged elbows , cats walking on wet ink , inattention leading to misspelling and repeated words . Apparently we calligraphers have no patron saint but a specialised devil called Titivus . ( I had thought there was a photograph of the right hand side as well but ) .

All the illustrations done by one of my new shiny toys – the smartphone . I will improve I hope , so far I must thank Habib for his patient explanations .

As to categories labelling the post – do you think calligraphy is closer to drawing or painting ?






Posted in Drawings, other artists, paintings, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Last pottery class before Easter

Well , I couldn’t glaze anything because one piece was still in the kiln and the other was yet to go in . Instead I worked on the 2nd coiled pot I had started while waiting for the wheel last week .dblespout

This is a sketch – the top is an idealized version , the bottom shows the lines of scraping with a hacksaw blade . It’s another irregular pot inspired by pre-Columbian work which I used to do so much of about 20 years ago . Like this –


stgrdrgn86– or this stirrup pot . Actually it was going to be another stirrup pot but the proportions were wrong particularly once I had started the necks . So it will be another multiple necker like

whseacr050                or         stbrsea86

Since the clay is like the left hand one I was trying to get the shape as refined – hence the hacksaw blade . It is still a bit heavy but I will be decorating it differently , probably sgraffito through slip . Anyway I will see at the next class after Easter .

Posted in ceramics, Drawings, Vessels | 3 Comments