Sketch Sunday 42

Last Monday we headed into Melbourne to see the Tim Burton and European Masters exhibitions, both which I enjoyed more than I expected. I was afraid the Tim Burton one would be all movie props and audio visuals. Not that I don’t like either, but I like to see more behind-the-scenes stuff and I get impatient waiting around for documentary style videos to get back to the start (and I figure it’ll be on YouTube anyway). The real treasure in the exhibition is the wealth of drawings and paintings by Tim, and how there is a sense of the development of a creative person and their career.

You can see both the European Masters and Tim Burton exhibitions with a discounted double ticket. The European masters was also arranged to show the development of art over a stretch of time. There is a great variety of styles and movements of art, so there’s something there for everyone. I found it useful to gauge where my likes and dislikes lie at the moment. The bits of history you get of the St├Ądel museum are also interesting and add another dimension.

Between the exhibition visits, we stopped at the wonderful Tea Room cafe at the NGV, where we ate macaroons and I did a sketch of the table setting. I drew it quickly in pencil, then on the train trip home I outlined it in pen and finished it off with some watercolour paint. It was the first time I’d done any sketching on the train, and it certainly made the journey go much faster. I’m not sure I’d have the courage to sketch people in the carriage with me, however. And the rocking of the train didn’t make for very accurate line work!

Brown Paper Sketchbook

Inspired by sketchbook artists like Pete Scully and Christian Tribastone, who do the most amazing drawings with white and black ink on brown paper, I made this sketchbook:

The cover is recycled ‘leather look’ card and with clear plastic on top, both from the cover of an A4 course handout booklet. I was going to use a different sort of binding, but there were little holes in the cover material that suggested coptic binding to me.

I used a corner cutter to round off the edges. I like how this, and the shiny cover, makes the book look a bit slick and iPod-ish, yet the insides are humble brown paper.

The paper is from the roll I bought at Reverse Art Truck. It didn’t use much of the roll!

Another Little Purchase

While we were in town on Monday, we popped into Seniors Art Supplies. This time it wasn’t me who wanted to shop, it was Paul. While he was buying himself a visual diary, I was trying not to look too closely at anything in case I found something to buy.

But at the counter, they had these:

Cute little portable paint boxes for sketchers – for only $19.95! With an adorable brush that slots into it’s own handle.

Of course, I had to have one. It might not be as small as my little homemade paint box, but there’s a bigger range of colours. I was intrigued to find that white is included. I don’t have white watercolour paint to add to the homemade paint box, and gouage dries solid. Since these little cakes of paint can be bought separately to replace a colour when it is used up, I should be able to buy a white one for it.

Looming at Last

It’s been a while since I’ve done any weaving. I’ve had the warp for another denim floor rug cut and ready for a while now. On the weekend I finally put it onto the loom:

I had to cut up another pair of jeans to add a little variety to the shades of denim strips I had:

And then I got weaving:

I’d forgotten how hard you need to beat when you’re weaving with rags – and especially denim. But I soon remembered, and that I have to brace the front of the loom against my stomach or else I’ll beat the loom right off the table!

I also remembered how soothing weaving was. Even warping the loom was relaxing. I think I’ll be glad I finally got this project going in the next couple of weeks, as I head toward the delivery date for my next book, then get through our kitchen renovation.

Sketch Sunday 41

Sometimes a new sketchbook is a little intimidating. You want to get off on the right foot, as if a bad first sketch will spoil the rest of the book. But it annoys me when I find I’m hesitating for such a silly reason, so the other night I picked it up and sketched what was right in front of me: my slippers.

Unfortunately the paper in this sketchbook isn’t as thick as the previous ones. You can just see the lines of writing on the next page through the paper. It’s much more obvious in person. I’ll still keep using it, though. It’s an old sketchbook inherited from Paul’s Dad, from which pages had been ripped, so there aren’t that many pages to fill.

Reverse Art Truck

This week Paul and I went to Reverse Art Truck in Ringwood. As always, we went there looking for one thing and didn’t find it, but came away with lots of other goodies:

I got some fabric samples, a book of wallpaper samples, and mount board cut outs from a framing shop. Most of these are for bookbinding projects. The mount board cut outs make great book cover card. The fabric would make great bookcloth, though I picked up the two samplers on the right and the two grey swatches at the top for possible sewing projects.

The wallpaper sampler has lots of potential. The wallpaper isn’t coated in glue, and could be useful as both the pages or cover of books. It could even be used to make greeting cards or gift tags.

Some is subtle.

Some is bolder.

Some has interesting patterning, like this one, which has marks like water droplets on watercolour paper. But the paper isn’t the only part that I can use. The book itself has potential.

Once the wallpaper sample pages are removed, there’ll be a handful of divider pages left. I’ll cut them off, leaving a strip, and onto that strip I’ll attach new pages. I’ll use heavy watercolour paper, or a thick card. It’ll either be a sketchbook, a photo album, or both.

As always, there was something that I nearly bought, but didn’t, then regretted it later. So the next day I went back and got it.

I keep seeing amazing work by sketchbook artists done with black and white pens on brown paper. It seemed a bit excessive to buy a whole roll of brown paper just to try this out, but heck, it was only $8. I also found some sheets of thin white plastic, which will be great to stick between pages to protect them from glue as it’s drying, or protect my table.

Masquerade Booked

Last week we bought tickets to a masquerade ball. I got to thinking of masks I could make. The quickest and easiest idea was to buying one of those blank masks and paint it, the most elaborate involved making the mask from scratch.

The only trouble with those ideas is, I wear glasses. So I decided the best way around this was one of those masks on a stick rather than one attached to my face. Since that meant it didn’t have to conform to the shape of my face, I knew exactly what I wanted to do:

The cover was really easy. Of course, I had to make it a real book, with pages:

Unfortunately, it’s proven difficult getting the pages to stay open and flat. I tried a couple of different things, but the most effective has been plain old paper clips.

I might see if I can get people to write things inside the book, to make it a memento of the night. It folds closed, so I’ll be able to pop it in my book bag once I’m tired of carrying it around. I’m also looking for an old ariel or some other kind of ‘stick’ that can collapse down small enough to go in the bag, too.

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Sketch Sunday 40

I love this teapot. It’s so bright and cheerful. However, it dribbles everywhere when I pour from it, so I keep it as decorative object. I’ve considered using it as a yarn ball holder when knitting, with the working end running through the spout, but when I knit I prefer to tuck the working ball down between my right leg and the chair arm.

This was the last empty page in my sketchbook, so it’s now full and I can start another. I started it in January 2007 during an unplanned holiday in Adelaide, after unseasonal rains forced us to abandon a camping trip (and our cars) for a week. The sketchbook I’d taken with me got wet when our tent flooded. Thankfully there were only two pastel drawings in it.

After that, I only used this sketchbook only on trips, until I filled my previous one late last year. Then this one became my main at home sketchbook. I filled the rest of it – about half – in a little under a year. Now I have a thinner one of the same type – spiral bound drawing paper with a black cover – to fill. After that I’m planning to use my own handbound sketchbooks.

The Knittin’ Mood is Swingin’

Lately I’ve been swinging from needing something more interesting to knit than 2×2 rib (on Slinky Ribs) and something relatively basic so I can zonk out in front of the tv of an evening. I’ve also swung from finishitis to startitis to wanting to use up leftovers in the stash to wanting to knit those special yarns I’ve been saving for the right project.

Yep, when it comes to knitting, I’ve had mood swings galore. One Sunday my back was very sore and I had to avoid sitting at the computer for long stretches or knitting, so I wound up going back and forth from the stash to trawling through Ravelry for patterns. I queued a whole lot of projects only to do a lot of starting and frogging, have a What Was I Thinking? moment the following Sunday and deleting many of them from the queue again.

So it’s no surprise, on reflection, that the one project that I did finish used a tried and tested pattern in a yarn I love:

Yep, another mobius scarf. And the yarn is some handspun by spinaddict on Rav. It’s a beautiful mix of subtle dark colours with a thread of silver.

I have to say, I prefer this pattern knit with moss stitch. I don’t like the way the alternating stocking stitch with reverse stocking stitch pulls in and makes the scarf bulkier. If I want bulk around my neck, I can loop this scarf around two or three times. If I don’t, I’d rather the scarf sat flat on the shoulders.

The next project I actually finished (as opposed to cast on, knit a bit then frogged) was toast. This pattern was deleted from my first queue then made it back in again. I deleted it out of embarrassment at wanting to knit such a simple pattern. But sometimes simple is what you need. And what the yarn needs. I kept trying to knit fancy cabled mitts out of this one – Cleckheaton Country Silk – and the detail was lost in the yarn texture. Toast was perfect. I put it back in the queue, then cast on:

Done in a evening. The next night I knit these, based on a Leafy Mitts, a fingerless mitten pattern:

I’m in love with wristwarmers at the moment, too. I like that I don’t have to worry about knitting a thumb. (I have large hands and small wrists, so most patterns have to be tweaked a lot anyway.) I can pull them down over my knuckles if I’m cold, and tug them back up if I need my fingers free to do something.

One thing I’m suddenly no longer in love with is berets. I think I’ll alway like them, but they’re everywhere now and I’m a bit tired of them. I’ve been searching Rav for nice hats that aren’t berets, trying to guess the next hat fashion and hoping like mad that I’ll like it. Lallans from the Twist Collective online mag caught my eye and I put aside some yarn for it. I’ve seen a couple of hat patterns crop up with a band of colour and pattern around them, and the crown and ribbing plain. I like that it involves a bit of interesting knitting, that you can customise, but the rest of the hat is easy.

I also knit a hat that I remember being really popular in the early years of the knitting revival: A Better Bucket Hat, except that it is copyright 2008. Clearly my memory is wrong. Another hat pattern that caught my eye has a collection of buttons on it, so I went through my button stash and selected a handful of black and white fancy single buttons:

At the same time as all this, I’ve had Lonnie sitting beside my computer, to knit during work breaks:

Looking at all these relatively simple and quick accessories, I think I may be subconsciously picking projects that will give me a feeling of completion, because I’m longing for that in my work life. After over a year writing the current book, I’m just want it DONE.

Russian Book Bag #2

On Saturday I took a day off and spent most of it making this:

It didn’t take as long as the first version, mainly because I knew what I needed to do. I wasn’t expecting to make it in a day, however. I started out by making the book cloth I needed, and figured it would take the rest of the day to dry. In the meantime I got some of the sewing done. But by lunchtime the book cloth was dry so I just kept on going. At the end of the day I glued the bag section to the cover and clamped it with bulldog clips to dry overnight.

The next morning I discovered this:

The clips had left rust stains on the white satin lining. Doh! I tried removing them with lemon juice, which was amazingly effective but didn’t get rid of them completely. Fortunately I had a strip of satin left, which I seamed then glued and stitched down.

I have one more copy of each of the two books, and a few ideas on other ways to make book bags. For these two I have the perfect events to wear them to coming up in a few weeks: two literary award ceremonies. The red and blue of the bags will also match the dresses I’m planning to wear.