Saturday, 27 February 2010

7 Aesthetic Themes

This post is part of a tagging game in which participants are asked to reveal seven things about themselves. I was tagged by Sandra from the beautiful and thoughtful blog Pass the Parcel (whose own post on the theme was gorgeous). Thanks Sandra! I have decided to show seven aesthetic themes that are consistently important to me. They are in no particular order.
Above: bright French provincial motifs like this tablecloth from a 1997 Les Olivades catalogue sing of summer with their combination of intense colour and pattern.
Above: food packaging, old and new, western and eastern. I have an obsession with idealised pastoral landscapes in particular, but I am yet to find the definitive one. When I do I will post it. For now saturated coloured fruit and pretty ladies in costumes will do. (Thanks to Cousin who sent me this back in 1991 with a note on the back saying : "see I told you you can get it off the can!" which is very pleasing.
Above: red and white. Knitting. Fair Isle. This boy/girl motif which my mother knitted into little sweaters for us when we were children.
(Detail from a scarf I made for myself last winter, shown in progress here.)

Above: the wonders of the human body, especially its depiction in times past. Here a beautiful fold-out lithograph from the early 1900's which I was lucky to score on etsy.

Above: cabinets of curiosities like the fantastic insects under glass still thoughtfully on display at the new Melbourne Museum. (This photo is by Inky Squid, who did a much better job than I did when I tried to photograph it).

Above: all things vintage nautical. This one ticks a few boxes: I have a thing for old printed scarves, and I love funny little depictions of clothing and anchors too.
(Image from Bird and Banner)
Last but not least, mid twentieth century British illustration. A balance between skill and naivete, the use of detailed line against simple colour and an appreciation of the everyday. You can see more here.
(Illustration above by David Gentleman)
Now I've arrived at the best part of this game, my chance to tag some highly varied and extra special talented women: writer Kate Constable, composer Chris McCombe , maker of incredible shoes Emma Greenwood, architect and jewellery maker Olivia Munroe, glass artist and maker Elaine Prunty and last but never least: artist, writer and designer Anna Parry. I can't wait to see what they come up with, but at the same time I hope that they don't feel pressured to come up with anything!
Thanks again, Sandra.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Different takes on tradition

Alot of my own work is about the re-interpretation of various craft traditions, so it always interests me to see other people's takes, especially with the flavours of decades past. A few things from my library that have caught my eye today: Above Playful early 70's crochet "paisleys can create a dramatic afghan or a unique evening top." Or just look gorgeous as they are. The Art of Sewing/Exotic Styling, series editor Carlotta Kerwin, Time/Life Books, London, 1975. A bit Cathy of California too, I reckon.
Reinterpretation (or misinterpretation?) of traditional Aran knit on a prize catch, above from Mehr Freude mit Handarbeiten, Munchen, 1979. I have the Serbo-Croatian edition which was translated as Sve o Rucnim Radovima and must have been sadly demode by the time it was ready for the shop shelves of Yugoslavia in 1983.
NOTE: At a previous workplace we had this picture up on the wall and it was the source of endless mirth. Try it.
"It's 80's, but in a good way!" I say to myself when I occasionally find treasures like this knitted tartan from Mon Tricot - 1500 Patterns, ed. Evelyne Prouvost, Paris, 1984. (Thanks Mum.) Except that come to think of it, it looks exactly like the winter skirt I would have been wearing to school at around the same time.
Funny that.
Despite that hitch, I still like the idea of a knitted tartan and might tackle it one day in a rival school's colours. The book advises that the vertical lines be completed after knitting in darning stitch. Surely they just mean those single yellow and red lines going up the sides?! Otherwise it might be a bit too confusing. For me.
By the way, Gracia and Louise's new zines are too cool for words, do take a peek here.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Ceramics class homework

I have played with clay from time to time, but I can't remember ever being given homework for a ceramics class. I like it. Somehow I imagined that you had to be in a special room in order to make things out of clay, so I've been pleased to discover that I can build little things in my own studio. Obviously getting them fired is another matter but I believe that my school offers an ongoing service. I must admit that I am a bit excited by the prospect -- it opens a creative door which had been shut for a while.
Above: the homework was to build a mask. Mine started off as a female but somehow had a gender re-assignment half way through and became a boy gendarme (he has since lost that shoddily built collar). Clay is stubborn like that, especially in the hands of someone who has barely touched it since 1994. I will paint it with one or two colours of glaze after it comes out of its first firing. Ceramics, colour and I have had a tenuous friendship, but that's a story for another time when I am in a darker mood.
For those in Melbourne: Northcote Pottery just off Lygon St in East Brunswick is highly recommended for all sorts of ceramics classes. Good value too.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Knitted Bag No 2: finished!

The second knitted bag for my shop is finished. A relatively painless job I am pleased to say and made even easier by the encouraging comments I received both online and at home. Thanks!
Things I learned the hard way after knitting the first bag:
1. A ball of wool might say '8 ply' but there's a lot of variation within that. Do not ever knit an intarsia motif (e.g. the house above) in a yarn that knits even slightly thicker than the background yarn. Two different colours of the same yarn is the safest bet.
2. Blocking can be your best friend after knitting two different pieces that are to be joined together, as above. (Blocking: steam ironing a finished piece of knitting, usually with a cloth or thin towel in between. )
The next bag is in the planning. I like to complete the Fair Isle side first, which I generally design on the computer. Coming up with ideas will be a cinch with this incredible Latvian mitten-o-rama link from the ever cool Kindra is here. And for the other side, my old favourite Helmuth Bossert's Folk Art of Europe might be the go.
ATTENTION FELLOW KNITTERS! I have been informed by the awesome Pencil and Pipette that Save the Children is seeking 20cm knitted squares to sew into lovely blankets to send to regions of Asia which have been hit by an unusually cold winter. Click here for more details. Shouldn't take long at all in front of your favourite TV show.

Friday, 12 February 2010

New Paumes Title: Paris Family Style

I bought the latest release by the francophile Japanese publishing house Paumes last week, for serious work purposes of course. My colleagues and I had already obsessed over every detail of the respective Children's Rooms titles and I thought it was about time we had something new to pore over. Paris Family Style doesn't disappoint. Above, the pattern on pattern on pattern bedroom of Esther Barbotin, age 4. Above still visitng the Barbotins. Below: Too much patchwork is never, ever enough.

Above and below: work in the home of Frederique Reboul, which might be by her, seeing as there's alot of it, and she is listed as an illustratrice in the introduction. As you might already know, Paumes' books are mostly in Japanese. It's about the pictures anyway, but at the same time it would be nice to know more. [ February 15: news is a link to her blog Lili Scratchy -- thanks so much to super Jaboopee!]

Above: this clever soft toy in the home of Patricia Rindlisbacher and her two boys Sid and Larsen is definitely her work. I figured that out by myself. See more clever things inspired by her two sons here. Incidentally, her's looks to be the only non-nuclear family in the whole book. Interesting.
Incidentally II, I bought the Copenhagen Children's Rooms title as well. Unsurprisingly perhaps, it's quite similar to the Stockholm title, but unfortunately it's not as interesting.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

A second knitted bag in progress

I decided that my etsy shop needs more than one knitted bag in it. So here is another in progress, in a very different palette to the first. I had my doubts just after I started because I wasn't changing colours at my usual frenzied rate (as you can see from the hanging threads, post-knit finishing is alot of fun for me), but now I am coming to like it. I often have that feeling of doubt when I am about one quarter to half way through something, then as it starts to come together the feeling usually dissipates. Anyone else know that feeling?

Friday, 5 February 2010

Perpetual First Date Man

Perpetual First Date Man.
The sum of today's endeavours: a single hour in the studio, and about five staring into the screen in Photoshop at home.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Dance-Holland & us

These drawings are among my favourites in the beautiful travelling exhibition catalogue The Stage of Drawing: Gesture and Act published in 2003 by The Tate in London. The book says little other than that they are from Album of Drawings, Mainly by Nathaniel Dance-Holland, date unknown.
I decided to investigate further, and Google instantly rewarded me with this picture (highly familiar to anyone from the colonies):
James Cook, by Nathaniel Dance-Holland, c.1775. It got me thinking: those of us who work in so-called creative industries but actually find release by doing our own creative thing outside of work might be part of a long history.