Guerilla matchbox art!

redheads matchbox project“Each week, a decorated matchbox with a tiny present hidden inside is left by a girl (and sometimes willing friends) somewhere in her travels. It’s a random act of semi-artistic kindness aimed at disrupting someone’s day in a tiny but positive way. That’s if they dare to pick it up…”

I came across the site for The Matchbox Project yesterday, & it has set me thinking about what cool things might be left in a matchbox, to be randomly left behind & randomly found by total strangers.     Of course, it might be the perfect ‘shell’ for a zinebomb – just reduce templates to just under 1/4 original size & they will fit into a 32ct matchbox!

Nigel Peake

Peake MapsOn Sunday, I was very decadent and bought myself a new book.  It is only 24 pages long and cost £8.95, but it is so beautiful and enticing that it is absolutely, definitely worth every penny.  It’s not a craft book, or even fiction: it’s a book called ‘Maps’ by Nigel Peake.  It’s full of, well, maps; but not your ordinary, everyday atlas-type maps: these are out-of-the-ordinary, everyday, stylised, hand-drawn to the tiniest minutiae maps, filled with colour and pattern, and – well, they’re just awesome. Peake Maps 2See left for a couple of pages from inside this book.  There aren’t many pages in the book, but it’s not something you can just flip quickly through: you need to really study the pictures, to see which details have been picked up.

Peake Map 3I just stumbled upon this book as I was browsing the shelves – it’s very thin and there is not even any wording on the spine, so could easily have been missed, but that’s probably actually what made me notice it.  I was just mesmerised, as soon as I opened it.  The example to the right, here, is more representative of what I love about the amazing use of line, and pattern.  (The image shown is a print, but it does also appear in the book, ‘Sheds’ – I just didn’t want to break the spine of my book, to scan it!).  Slightly off-topic, but something to think about, I can totally imagine this kind of image converted into blackwork embroidery.  Hmm…

If you check out Nigel Peake’s blog, it’s obvious how the detail of the ordinary things we often just walk past without really seeing is being plucked from obscurity in his work.  It’s not that it is enlarged or prettified, but itjust makes you actually look at the detail, makes you aware, instead of being blind to it.  I love the photos on his blog.

There is also a website where you can actually flip through his publications, and see even more of his wonderful illustrations; then when you can’t take it any more, you can also buy prints and zines online.  Go and do it now.  I insist.

I found more poetry

craft of weavingFrom ‘The Craft of Weaving’ by Irene Waller (c) 1976

we are astoundingly blind
and really do not look at
and see properly
the world around us
which is the source of
everything

The next step on from finding poetry within fiction was to start flicking through  my ‘archive’ of vintage  weaving books.  I felt sure there must be poetry in descriptions of this wonderfully repetetive and meditative craft.  I wasn’t wrong, but what I found still surprised me, erring towards the philosophical and the abstract, rather than a simple appreciation of craft and colour.

Anyone who has read Telaic Fantasy 1 will already know about my dichotomous feelings towards Irene Waller – on the one hand so creative, on the other, with such a frightfully upper-class, scarily no-nonsense attitude (can’t you just see the attitude oozing out, even just in that cover photo above?).  If there was one author I didn’t expect to find poetry in, it was Irene Waller, yet there it was, all the same.

I also wanted to share another idea I found in the above book.  It’s possibly not entirely original (although you must remember it was written several decades before the likes of Keri Smith’s fantastic ‘How to be an Explorer of the World’), but I really like it:

A marvellous way to break down any inhibitions you may have about colour is to have several large glass jars on your shelving and to drop into them fragments of anything, colourwise, which you find pleasing – beads, glass, paper, yarns, fabrics.  Have a jar for blues, another for greens and so on.

This is just supposed to be an exercise in developing a greater understanding of colour, but I think a jar crammed with miscellaneously textured colour would make a fantastic ornament, or if not ornament exactly, source of inspiration, in my workroom.  I don’t think I could put yarns inside, though, as I would just have to fish them out again, when inspiration struck.  Could get messy.

I really need to overcome my resistance and look out Irene Waller’s other books…

Weaving frustration!

With a house-move looming on the horizon, I am really reluctant to begin any new projects.  This is just asking for trouble, of course.  I keep seeing things that inspire me!  I already have more ideas than I have time to put into practise, and putting projects on hold for a month or more just means that I’m going to accumulate even more of a backlog!

I posted a while back about a woven book cover which has given me various ideas that I’ve not had chance to explore yet.  I also recently ragrugbagdiscovered this cool project at Dollar Store Crafts for turning a rag rug into a bag.  I check this site regularly, as it frequently suggests original & unusual ways for re-purposing everyday stuff.  I have to say, I have not yet found a pound shop in the UK that sells these woven rag rugs, but I have seen them relatively cheap in the past.  Anyway, I would feel like I was cheating if I made one of these, because – well, I’m a weaver, aren’t I?!  So finding this project has inspired me to get weaving myself.  I actually have a mousematcombboardloom loom (yes, just as it sounds: a mousemat with a comb glued along the top) warped and ready to weave, but I’m trying to be good, because I know it will take longer than I anticipate, and I really need to motivate myself to get packing, rather than allow more distractions… 😦  But there’s a cunning idea I’ve thought of but not tried out yet, so it’s definitely high on my list for getting around to, after the move…

I’m really itching to get weaving again.  Oh, it’s frustrating!  Maybe if I’m really good & get everything packed up within a couple of weeks I will allow myself a little project  break regardless…

In the meantime, I recently treated myself to the complete set of back issues of Croq Zine.   The political slant of craftivism scares me slightly, but I’ve not been scared by what I’ve read so far.  Well, of course, it has just given me even more ideas to store up…  But at least it only involves writing down some notes (for now) rather than getting stuck in immediately.  It would be kind of nice to just sit down for a couple of hours and read through the stack of zines in one go; but that would defeat my you’re-not-allowed-to-spend-time-on-stuff-when-you-should-be-packing rule.  Instead, I have a half hour lunch break, which is actually just right for reading through a few features; and it is also kind of nice to be able to savour it a little, and make my treat last a little longer.

Please help me not have to pack so much by checking out my Re-Housing Clearance…!

Gorgeous, creative needlepoint to inspire

I came across this design whilst browsing. I don’t think it’s especially new, but I think it is gorgeous, with a really innovative use of different canvaswork stitches for texture, and wonderfully vivid depth of colour.  I beieve the designer is Rose Swalwell of Derwentwater Designs, who (if I’m correct) studied at the Royal School of Needlework.

Red Poppy Canvas Work Kit by Derwentwater Designs
Red Poppy Canvas Work Kit by Derwentwater Designs

At only £13.50 for a complete kit it’s an absolute bargain, and a wonderful way to get started with more creative needlepoint.  (You can buy online here & probably lots of other places, too!)

Freeform Bargello – ideas & inspiration

Thanks to Janet Perry & her blog for alerting me to this very cool concept in freeform bargello, designed and stitched by Terry Dryden: Pear design.

Lots of bargello patterns create a 3D optical illusion, but it had never occurred to me until seeing this WIP to use freeform bargello in terms of shading for a pictorial design.  It would work for 3 dimensions in less fluid, geometric patterns, too, if you wanted to stick with a more formal bargello filling.

I really love this idea.  I feel some experimentation coming on…!