Friday, 20 November 2009

The birthday boy came home yesterday, in time for morning
coffee and birthday cake .The operation was a complete
success, thank goodness. Fabulous service by good
old NHS. Now to keep him occupied and off the
computer for a few days.

Some beach art, which seems appropriate.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Just another day, or not

Yesterday afternoon I felt the November Journal Quilt coming on.
Torn paper stencils, screened with discharge paste.

Ghost Leaves

With sensible head on I mixed the discharge
paste wearing full respirator mast, and set about
the process. I noticed our window cleaner, next
door. He noticed me looking like an alien (no place
to hide in the conservatory) and almost fell of his
ladder. I am not sure whether he knows exactly
what I do, except every time he calls he must
wonder why my room is a 'creative' mess and
the dyeing area outside is a bit colourful.

This morning, up early, I started quilting Ghost
Leaves. Everything going well - too well?
Keith had been complaining about a spot in
his vision - he managed to get an emergency
appointment at the Eye Hospital this morning.
The quilting was finished conveniently for me
to take it along and tie the ends in. Well, now
I'm home again, Keith is awaiting an op for a
detached retina. He'll be home tomorrow morning.
It's his birthday - hope he can manage some cake.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Endings and beginnings

My summer indigo slow cloth is finished. I feel quite lost not having
a piece to pick up and stitch. Guess there might be a winter slow
cloth gathering itself quietly.

The last patch to be stitched - kantha fish swimming in a sea of blue.
Can you see them? Very subtle.

The wrinkled elephant

Yesterday was a Lentil Winter Warmer soup day . Out came the
new soup spoons brought back from Marrakech. Carved out of
orange wood, simple and beautiful. Very satisfying to use.
I like wooden spoons, especially for eating porridge.

Today I am preparing ingredients for a screen printing session.
There is a slight window in the stormy weather we have been
enjoying. The sun is shinning in the conservatory, so it's on with
lots of warm clothing for a couple of creative days. It seems ages
since I have had a chance to dust off the silk screens.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Magic Paint

Souk Sebbaghine - the Dyers Souk
Cotton, wool and silk yarn

A look in vats, the finished woven products,
mainly scarves - the silk is 'vegetarian' produced
from the cactus plant. Very light and airy cloth,
with a strange 'hand' akin to polyester.

Then the sales talk, Magic paints are used to dye
cloth, they are fast not fugitive like chemical dyes.
Sample scarf dampened, and, sure enough, the
water is coloured. Perhaps not rinsed enough?

This led me to thinking of experiences with 'magic
paint' in India. Powder is placed on paper - you
you have to guess the resulting colour when water
is applied. Result amazingly different and magic.

Sometimes the brain is the last thing out of the bag.
Plus there is always a fair bit of showmanship.
How could fabric be dyed with magic paint?

Last year I bought this simply lovely tray of mineral
pigment as used in Indian Miniature painting.

Magic paint - can you see what colour it will be?
The top left is a green metallic powder, top right dark green,
and the bottom very dark blue.

Indigo chunks and terracotta dish with cochineal - Burber lipstick

Ah, a chink of light - we are definitely dealing with mineral
pigments not only for painting, but also dyeing.

No time for in depth investigations right now, will have to
save that for a rainy day. So far, I believe the pigments are
mix with egg tempera, 'glues' and even acrylic paints, for
painting various surfaces. For painting fabric, use alum as
a mordant. Then there is the soy milk option described
by John Marshall - an excellent website for all things

The blue vases in Jardin Marjorelle were a bit of a clue.
My Indigo chunks are, of course, cobolt blue pigment.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Souks and other itineraries

Crazy places, crazy people. So easy to get lost for hours,
retracing your steps many times.... Scissors from the
Metal Souk. Had to have them. They measure 20 x 10 cm.
Monster scissors, they cut well too. Surely I can't loose
these at workshops?!!

Tassels in so many shapes and sizes

Beautiful perfume bottles

Aladdin's lamps

And finally, the Tanneries

We couldn't decided whether or no to visit. We were
armed with a map and compass (Top Tip No.1, this is
essential, or at least a great help). Within two minutes
of leaving our riad we made a 'friend' who was "not a
guide", apparently. We wandered through a maze of
alleyways, eventually ending up - yes, you have
guessed - at the Tanneries. At the gate a group were
still grasping the handfuls of mint to their noses.

On entry we were also given fresh mint leaves, or as the
locals refer to them, a gas mask. Not a good omen.
Here I offer Top Tip No. 2 - if you feel the need to visit,
go in the early morning. I have a very good sense of
smell, and didn't find it unpleasant, although perhaps
I have become immune to 'unusual' aromas from visits
to India. The scene was grim, certainly not colourful.
The picture shows the lime bath, which removes hair
and other 'things' from the leather. Next up the pigeon
poo bath to soften hide, and then the dye baths.
These were all a bit brown and black.

Conclusion - good to tick off list, curiosity satisfied.
The local do not like their photos taken, except for
money. 'Friends', gatekeepers, et all. also require
cash, as did the man watching us take a photo of
a donkey. Clearly he had nothing to do with said
donkey, but it was another earning opportunity.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Storks and Sneezes

Marrakech was great. Enjoyed the warmth of 35+, blue skies and
total madness. On Sunday, our wedding anniversary, we had lunch
at a rooftop restaurant overlooking storks' nests, thinking of one
flying off to Will and Juliet.

At dinner we had a text to say that Benjamin had been born.

Home on Monday, we went to the hospital with Will to see
Juliet and meet young Benjamin.

On the flight home I was brewing a cold, so had to keep my
distance. Right now I still feel awful (but getting better).
I have done absolutely nothing except sleep and blow
my nose. I did manage to upload pix this morning, so
leave you with a collage of images from Jardin Majorelle