A longer than usual gap between blogs, and the clouds have finally seen fit to leave gaps too and allow the sun to do its proper job. It’s hard to want to toil in the heat – so get the sun to do the work – sunprinting with cyanotype inks. Make a light-blocking image with a stencil, or a coil of string, or grains of rice or whatever takes your fancy, place on the prepared cloth, place the cloth in the sun, sit back and hey presto – let helios do its magic.
I made this bag years ago from a little pack of prepared cotton squares, sewing them together with other indigo and blue pieces. When it isn’t being a bag it pretends to be a cushion and looks good with these red fabrics. A similar kit can be bought from craft suppliers…great fun and a perfect summer holiday pastime.
If you can’t think what else to do with the children I recommend large laundry baskets…three grandsons spent hours ali-baba-ing in some of my new samples I happened to have at home.
In the heat you need a fan; they’re great for keeping cool in more ways than one – these three have come in very handy lately, and have been the cause of some social envy. The red and cream one is my current favourite for chilled eye-brow dancing.
So many fans of the two-legged variety assembled at the opening of Zandra Rhodes: Unseen that the FTM was hot and heaving – a grand turn-out for an exciting exhibition and a celebration of the museum’s 10th birthday. The museum goes from strength to strength, not only with the exhibitions but its great education programmes and courses too – another thing to check out for the summer break.
A different evening crush came at The Dalston Victoria, at the launch of About Group‘s new album ‘Between the Walls’; I particularly like the track ‘ I never lock that door’. It’s the second time they’ve used one of our fabrics on their cover – very flattering – and it looks good, though I say so myself.
Last Friday was definitely a book day: I spent much of the day signing. Each one of the 200 in the beautiful special edition of our book is covered uniquely with a vintage fabric from our archive, and each book has a plate with the fabric named, described and numbered and now signed too. There will be one special special book – more of that, and the dedicated website, later…
From that job I hurried to hear Evie Wyld at The Bookseller Crow in conversation with Karen McLeod about her new book All the Birds, Singing which won her the Granta nomination as a best young British novelist. Quite a lot of the talk consisted of sentences started but not continued lest the twists and turns of the plot should be untimely revealed – a very intriguing carry-on. Then she signed a copy for me and went off to prepare for rather an important rendezvous in the woods next day. Did she get her nail-varnish in time I wonder?
On a break from my signing a wander in the pretty garden was refreshing; I found some beautiful rose petals fallen on the earth, flopped from a soft full flower. Their pink edges carried the colour, which seemed to have developed in the sun like a photograph, while the bodies, protected by other petals, remained white. The traditional idea that the sun bleaches out colour is reversed, as in the cyanotype printing.
The daily heat certainly makes watering the allotment a real necessity; finally those long days of cold wet windiness have puffed away, sweet fat strawberries have ripened in a rush and the clary sage flowers in cobalt profusion. Early mornings are peaceful and still – the water pressure’s great first thing but beware the hungry ankle-biting varmints looking for a fresh breakfast!
The berries are delicious on their own and even more so with meringues; I’ve just had a phase of whisking them up for Sunday lunches with friends. If you use golden caster sugar they have the most delightful soft yellowy hue. And I love my new yellow table – which came just in time for an overflow of meringue-eaters to sit around at the weekend. A squeeze of lime into the creme fraiche adds a welcome piquance.
The red dots of fruit remind me of a field recently spotted – those unremitting yellow rape-flowers were overtaken by a huge flush of red poppies spreading across the soft curve of the hill.
And talking of red dots – there are still some July days left at the Livingstone Studio sale – beautiful cloth and garments and a few paintings still available too.
The yellowness of summer is evident on my studio wall too at the moment; I’ve had a lot of fun with textures lately – soaking the paper with colour, pleating and folding it wet and then when opened out and dry, ironing it before applying the final patterns . Paper is remarkably resilient.
To end on a cool note, this little painting came home with me from Kitty Garland‘s Cotswold show and sits very happily exchanging contemplations on the nature of chair-ness with a tiny bronze lady.