Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Horses in London

I saw people riding horses several times while I was in London.
I stayed near Hyde Park, near Bayswater Rd and walked along there every day.  I often saw groups of riders coming out of the park, across heavy traffic.  The leader just put up her hand and all the morning peak hour traffic stopped while the group rode across the road.

One day it was a solitary rider and she disappeared into one of the many mews in the area.  It was incredible to think that there were stables in some of the mews.  The whole area was being spruced up, presumably for the Olympic Games next year.

I also saw some soldiers (or police) riding through Sloan Square.  It was very different from here in Melbourne, I don't think I would ever see horses in the midst of normal traffic, except for the horse-drawn tourist carriages.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Who says it doesn't get sunny in London? Here are some pictures to prove that it can be summery. It started with a wander through Hyde Park, the sun comes up quite early but nothing much opens before 9.30 or 10.00. So I wandered through Hyde Park to Marble Arch. You would not have known that you were in one of the busiest cities in the world, it was peaceful and quiet.

I was within metres of busy traffic but could barely hear it, just birdsong and the occasional person walking by, often with a dog.
Apparently a lot of parks in Britain are letting the grass go to seed, something to do with preserving grass species, I think.  Someone explained it to me but I didn't quite get it - but we saw a lot of parks with the verge of the grass mowed but the main grass growing freely.

Monday, July 25, 2011

looking through my pictures

I'm still going over my photos from my trip - I have over 800 so it could take a while.  I have some of Hyde Park, the first few days I was there.  I arrived in London at about 5.30am and couldn't get my room till about 12.30pm, after a 24 hour trip (approximately).  I had managed to sleep a little on the plane but was keen to get out and about, be in the sunshine as much as possible and then get into my room and sleep.
As I got to my hotel at about 7 am and nothing seemed to be open till 10, I decided to go for a walk in Hyde Park, which was very near my bed and breakfast hotel.
I have never seen Hyde Park in summer, it was beautiful.  I walked around it on several days, all of them sunny and summery.  I couldn't get over the size of the trees, so many of them were huge.  Another lovely sight was the workers setting off through such a lovely space - what a great way to start your working day.

On another day I was filling in some time (I hadn't adjusted to the time difference and things aren't open early) and just happened to be passing when this publicity shot was being set up.  Magic.

I then turned around to walk on and came across a rider training his horse in some sort of dressage stepping - I can't remember what it is called, it is like the Lipizanner horses.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The use of cartoons - or not

One thing I was especially interested in with the Morley College class was the use of cartoons.  Some had cartoons behind their work and were following them quite closely but the majority were using small images to guide them.  These tended to be more textural or abstract pieces but not always.
The weaving was done in the way I am more used to, upright and from the front.
Using a cartoon, the larger cartoon seems to be different from the original, smaller image.

Small image as inspiration

Another small image, note that it is not in the same orientation as the weaving.

I found a reference on a blog to a William Jefferies' workshop and not using a cartoon at first. I find that I prefer to be organic in my weaving and am not that keen on cartoons behind the work.  However, I am not an experienced weaver so don't think that I will make any rash decisions about use of cartoons at this stage.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Morley College class with William Jefferies

As I said in the last post, we visited Morley College where William Jefferies was teaching a class that meets weekly.  They were not working towards a paper qualification but towards a show later in the year.
The people in the class were very friendly and open about their work and allowed us to take photos of works in progress.
Grafitti weaving using plastic bags

Plastic bags cut into strips, waiting to be woven.
I was especially interested in this textured work.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Beautiful Colours

Parlance commented on my blog about the beautiful colours we saw when visiting the dyer and I am inspired to post some more pictures from a different visit - to a yarn shop for weavers in London, The Handweavers Studio and Gallery.
It was not just wool that was available but synthetic and silk yarns, cottons and, of course, tapestry tools.
We visited the shop after a wonderful visit to Morley College where William Jefferies was teaching an adult education class that meets weekly.

The shop had some work by William and his students on show, you can just see a few at the ends of some of the shelves.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Visiting studios in Aubusson

Our time in Aubusson was very full.  We only visited the town on two days but we saw so much!  A lot of that was due to Susanne Bouret, a local lady who arranged our visits, took us to see her own studio and generally looked after us.
You will have seen Susanne in some of the photos I have already put up, she was a wonderful guide, translating for us and generally making the whole visit very enjoyable and informative.

Susanne is a conservator of textiles and she told us quite a bit about her work.  She also showed us a church banner that she is going to preserve.  It is from the 19th century and is only brought out for processions every 7 years.  The very heavy metal embroidery is pulling the silk and there have been some amateur mending done in the past.
She explained her plans to work on it.  It sounded very fine, detailed and painstaking, trying to stabilise the fabric without disturbing it any more.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Visiting the dyer

Most, if not all, of the wool we saw being used in Aubusson was dyed by Thierry Roger.  His expertise was astounding.  He was dyeing some wool to match a sample that had been sent to him - this is a common occurrence apparently, people send him samples of the colours they want and he dyes the wool for them rather than simply having people choose from his range.  He was dyeing a batch while we were there.  He would pull the wool out of the dyebath, check the colour, then add what seemed to be a few grains of dye and let it soak again.  He did not measure the dye, he just used his knowledge of what he wanted and his experience with the dyes.  He did this several times until he was happy with the sample.

Sometimes the artwork for a tapestry is sent to him and he dyes wool from that, ready for the weaver to use.

Of course, he does have skeins of wool that you can choose from.  I couldn't resist buying one skein as a souvenir.  I was a bit stingy with the amount I bought, mostly because I didn't want to fill my suitcase but also because I knew I was going to do some en plein air weaving after this and didn't know what colours I would be wanting (and I wouldn't need very much for an en plein air weaving).

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Visiting tapestry artists

As part of our tour in Aubusson, we visited several tapestry weavers in their studios.  One of the first was France-Odile Perrine-Criniere.  She graciously allowed us to ask her questions as she showed us her work in progress.
She also has a large low warp loom.  Once again, I was amazed to see the number of bobbins in use - all kept under great control.

You can see the image reproduced in various sizes lying on the warp.

France-Odile explained her design work to us.  For the above work, she painted a small image using gouache and then manipulated it in a computer program, enlarging it finally to the size she wanted to weave.  The cartoon is under the warp and she also uses mirrors to check the progress of the design.

The wool is tied together into the colours she will use and kept handy to the work.  We saw this method of organising the yarns in several studios.

Some of the work in her shopfront had unusual glass frames on her tapestries.  She also had some texture in some of her work.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tapestry weaving the traditional European way at Aubusson

We visited various studios during the trip to Aubusson, to see modern tapestry weaving.  All of the weavers we visited used the traditional method of weaving from the back, with the cartoon underneath the work and mirrors to check the progress of the work.
The weaver sits on the bar and leans against the loom.  Often they put a cushion between the loom and stomach to make it more comfortable.

The cartoon is laid under the warp and the weaving is checked with a mirror. 
Pedals separate the warps. Several weavers can work together on the one piece.

Lifting the warp and inserting the bobbin (called the flute).

The tapestries we saw were all large, often using a small warp per centimetre measurement.  Here you can see Francoise weaving very quickly, sometimes with a single warp being lifted, other times several warps.  It is quite different from the way we weave and requires a different way of moving the warps up and down.  Pedals are used to separate the shed and there are a large number of bobbins in use.

Friday, July 8, 2011

More photos of Le Manoir

I couldn't get more than two photos to load last time, so here are a few more (hopefully) of the Manoir.
The eating area

The tapestry in the eating area
This eating area is a step down from the kitchen and is not the dining room, we used the dining room for some of the weaving.

The dining room which we used for weaving.

Another tapestry, in the dining room.
There were parts of the house that we did not use, it is so huge. There is sleeping for 12 in the house, many tapestries around the place (which is one of the reasons it was chosen for this tapestry focussed tour), Louis XIV and XV furniture, paintings, porcelain, etc, in most rooms.  We kept noticing new little treasures all the time, even in rooms we used regularly. We rattled around in the space but had a wonderful time there.  A very special place.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Home but lacking in energy

As the header says, I am home.  I haven't adjusted to the time difference yet, or quite recovered from the long flight.  But I have put my photos onto disk, so now I will be able to bore you all silly with my photos. They are turning out to be really handy as they remind me of all the things we have done and seen.  We have been so busy, seen so many wonderful sights, it is hard to remember it all at once.
I am not going to do things in chronological order, I'll just do them as they occur to me.

The last week in France was wonderful, staying at the Manoir and visiting some very interesting studios as well as having time to do our own weaving.  There is so much to write about, just in the last week!  I'll start with some photos of the house - it was just amazing that we could stay in a house that is 250 years old and full of so many antiques, including tapestries.

Cupboard in my bedroom

Tapestry over my bed