Thursday, 11 July 2019

(not) black & white

'a sign'
 a friend of my mother's owns a jewelry shop and she advised me to ditch the leather ribbons and make proper necklaces with the clay pendants; here's the first batch worn on the almost naked body
I'm trying not to be too critical of self in bikini and reading glasses, which I must wear otherwise I can't see what I'm photographing

 I suddenly get the love for black&white Jude


 this has got to have been the weirdest year in my life so far; first I collapsed August 2018 (if you are interested read more about my burn out here) within that same month my then 87 year old dad had a heart attack, was in hospital and nursing home for almost 2 months; came back home where my then 84 year old mother took it upon herself to look after them both, with a lot of help from my younger sister and brother and myself! None of us lives close to them, as they live 'down south' in Maastricht, we've settled in Heukelum, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, that's at least 2,5 hours in the midst of my personal crash, trying to heal I found self travelling back and forth dealing with the parents (every visit was an exercise in placing buckets under proverbial roof leaks, mini-crisis management, as well as patiently deflecting personal frustration at their stubborn resistance to 'outside' help) 
We siblings each faced the task of juggling two households relying on our spouses/girl friend to hold our own forts in our absence; fortunately, we get on really well together and make a great team!
Still it was a lot to deal with. We celebrated our dad's 88th birthday in April of this year and things seemed stable, albeit a very fragile balance. Unfortunately our dad tripped on the street, fell on his face (arghhh!) lost several teeth, having managed to keep most of them for 88 years....that was yet another crack in the foundation, but still we all marched on. Our mother was determined to celebrate her 85th birthday in June and she did, the 5 of us and 35 of her girlfriends, yes she has many friends and despite everything the two of them were pretty active in many ways (theatre/museum visits, book clubs, bridge, the 5 of us being together an enjoying that!, at the same time the seemingly endless bickering, nagging, guilt trips, forgetfulness, anger, frustration, sadness, tears, stress about everything and anything, growing old isn't easy, having aging parents isn't either)
But, then a couple of days after her birthday party she finally crashed full stop, ending up in hospital, where she spent almost 2 weeks.....Suddenly our dad had to be the brains again, ha! And of course, we kids were there full-time, one after the other, but this time we said: enough's enough! now we are going to get more professional folks involved in keeping things going; you want to remain living in the house you've lived in for 48 years, something's gotta give.
They agreed. Of course they did. We are finding our footing, getting used to a the new circumstances.
The reason I have been so absent here and elsewhere online is due to the above, my mind has literally been too pre-occupied..........
hopefully there will now be more time, space and peace for me to get better and be here and in my studio once more 



Friday, 21 June 2019

June in bloom

clay necklaces

I have a confession to make. During my darkest days towards the end of 2018 whilst I was reorganizing my studio, yet again, and sorting through my fabric stash, again: giving away, sending away and, dare I admit it, even throwing away, the fabric I felt no connection with, I was in fact making up my mind to stop working with cloth, at least for the foreseeable future. Who knows, maybe I thought I was preparing self for never holding needle and thread ever again.
I had saved my favourite bits of cloth and decided I would go out with a bang: a full-sized completely hand-sewn, patchwork quilt, thinking it would last me months and I'ld manage to work out what it was I wanted to be doing and/or making. Why I thought a life without cloth would be good for me, I cannot for the life of me remember....Anyhow I boldly began the quilt at the end of January, see post, and a month later, not only had I finished the quilt I had fallen completely, madly and utterly in love with cloth again! Ha, life has a habit of playing funny tricks on one.....I have since received beautiful fabric from 2 kind ladies and feel most fortunate to remain involved in the cloth world and will continue joining in in Jude's latest - and alas last - class over at Spirit Cloth.
am even attempting to sew a pair of polka dot trousers, from a pattern, although I am struggling with the pattern part, as I'm not very good at being precise when it comes to measuring, so I will have to try at least 9 times I guess

After several botched attempts at making a present for Catharina-of-the-linen-cloth, after having learned a few things about sewing with linen and linen/cotton mix I finally found a way to make it work, for me.
Couple of things I hadn’t noticed before working with linen and/or cotton-linen mix: it frays easily. I realized I would need the chintz cotton (or maybe it's really sateen/satin) fabrics for the edges, to prevent fraying.
It’s very soft and easy to stitch through, like a hot knife through butter.
It’s very light.
It smells nice.
the colours are amazing.....

The first linen patchwork I made, I backed with a bit of an old cotton sheet, as I thought this would give it ‘support’; this was a mistake: the supple, soft linen became rigid, which okay if that’s what you want but I didn’t, so I learned something there.
With the next square patchwork I used a more loosely woven cotton backing; this was slightly better but still not ideal for what I had in mind: I wanted to keep the subtle quality of linen looseness, especially as I intended on making a Small Pillow, for fondling and holding.
So I had my two halves for the pillow cover, which I wasn’t happy with and still I stubbornly plod on and sewed the two parts together into a pillow cover. I had also made a separate small cotton pillow stuffed with the usual fabrics bits. Thank goodness for that, it’s what I started doing after the first series of Small Pillows: make separate pillows and loose covers.
There was something else that irked: the fabrics, beautiful as they are, just didn’t quite feel like me. I wasn’t happy with the result, it didn’t feel like a Small Pillow made by me.
I started afresh with different strips sewn together and I can’t quite remember why or how it happened but I said to self: use one of your lino’s to print on the fabric (with fabric paint of course!) and then it all started to make sense for me. Suddenly there was another layer and with the running stitch yet another layer was added. This time I chose a very loosely woven thin cotton fabric as backing and it feels and looks so much better now.

the white/silvery leaves on the left are part of a lino cut by my dad, many many years ago!

the two sides are connected by thin strips of cotton, in the 2 images above there are 2 strips with the 'wrong' side showing, which have both been lino-printed; below you can just see a strip with the 'right' side showing

I sent it off 2 days ago to Catharina

birthday present for my mum, who turned 85 last Saturday
she loves it and wore it with pride, showing it off to her 35 birthday guests, she's rather brilliant like that

addendum 8 July:
what the fabrics looked like before my special treatment 

Sunday, 2 June 2019

a heartfelt connection

 behold, for 'tis the OBK in his formal Summer Cloak!
I had started out making him something light to wear in warmer weather, however once the three layers were all stitched together with tiny running stitches, it felt too stiff for casual wear. 
So it was decided he would wear it on more formal occasions; birds, butterflies, checkered fabric from the boys old cot-sheets, home-dyed/printed squares, pink bits from Nancy, polka dots from Jennifer, colourful stripes from Julie and a bit of magic thread for the heart and binding from Jude

thank you all
for your generous offerings
we love using them!
on behalf of the OldBirdKing

Saturday, 25 May 2019


Today I wanted to share my latest cloth exploits (and some slightly older ones to boot), however as I cannot detect my most recent photo's which are on my phone, whilst blogging on my laptop, it's as if they haven't been synchronized - whatever that means, really - modern times ugh! I decided to share what is available.....with the added bonus of making a post which isn't too long.
So, I am showing you my first batch of clay brooches.
They are for sale, although I'm still making up my mind about prices, any suggestions?

Sunday, 5 May 2019

so much to be grateful for, Part 2

what the settee looked like before
and then, below

on the far right is Django's sofa

collected even more yesterday....

first batch of Catharina swatches dangling above work counter top
sorted from left to right: 100% cotton, 50/50% mix linen/cotton, 70/30% mix linen/cotton, one batch 70/30% linen/wool mix, one batch 100% wool, on the right 100% linen
all so very gorgeous light scrumptious in fact and easy to sew, I imagine

Leiner Leinen

Toubab Paris
be sure to check out this site!

  It all truly started 5 years ago when Django arrived in our lives as a puppy. When we were away he would chew up whatever he came across. Sometimes a shoe, other times the pillows on the settee, resulting in a slightly-worse-for-wear settee: one cushion left intact, one 80% left over, still usable though....two completely ruined cushions and lots of tears in the rest of the cover. I used an old woolen blanket to hide the worst and in Winter sprinkled several outdoor cushions all over indoors. It is always a moveable feast in our household. This is how we managed for a couple of years.
Fast forward to a couple of weekends ago, when Joke, a neighbour further down the road let her house be transformed into a 2 day pop-up store 'Luxury Delights', organized by Catharina, who runs her business Interior Help  and Chantal Osmosis Interior.I went not intending to buy anything (how little do I know myself)
First I fell in love with a linen tea towel, which I bought with my husband in mind, not that he does a lot of washing up, but he does shoot and many of the animals depicted on the tea towel are well known to him and have at one time or another ended up on our dinner the buying had begun! I got to talking to the lady who was selling various of the items on display, soft furnishings, designer lamps and also jewelry designed by an African designer based in Paris; all the jewelry is hand stitched by women in Parisian sewing workshops where they still have the skills for haute couture stitching. I noticed the broche and also it's price, a mere 30 euro's, and decided I would buy it for myself: a unique hand made piece! It came in the beautiful blue bag. I was so very happy and as I mentioned had gotten to talking with Catharina, who when I told her I work with fabrics asked if I also worked with linen and if so, would I be interested in her stash of linen swatches? Well, you can guess my answer.
And so, a day later she returned with a bag full of goodies and I have given them a place in the studio. I have so many ideas: dresses, tablecloths, pillow covers, small pillows....

On the second day the pop up store was open I got to talking with my husband about the carpet in the living room, which had also seen better times (thanks to Django too) and wasn't it time we bought a new one? To my amazement he agreed at once and of course I had a card up my sleeve: the antique rug you see in the photo's was also for sale at Catharina's! At a price we could afford and so the rug entered our house and inspired me to at last get round to fixing the settee: I ordered a mattress for the seating area and have been hand stitching the rainbow cover for the past couple of weeks, the fabrics are from fabric swatches I found on the street, I kid you not! They have been waiting patiently in a basket in the studio for years now. I washed the settee covers and dyed some parts (using a commercial dye: Dylon navy blue) together with several cushion covers, two were tie-dyed and turned a bright indigo blue, others were cotton/polyester mix and became a faded jeans blue, the original settee is green, the one whole original cushion has been transformed into two back cushions with the dyed blue/green covers..... the ottoman and the red chair came from my mother-in-law's house. The ottoman has a new hand-sewn cover, the thick cotton fabric came from several swatches from the same road find. 

I have not yet started sewing with the new fabrics.....but once I do, I will keep you posted