Month: July 2019

Making Week 1: Cross-over Aprons

I’ve worked out there are twenty-five weeks left of this year so the plan is that I’ll post twenty-five weeks of Making.

I’m writing the Hatchards Christmas Catalogue this week – 207 different ways of saying ‘This book is good, buy it’. The problem is that the books are good and I keep getting too engrossed; the idea is that I skim them to get the feel rather than read the whole thing from cover to cover but that doesn’t work in practice. The upshot is that I’m doing very little making at the moment but I have made a wonderful discovery: cross-over aprons.

I’m quite messy so I tend to wear pinnies for gardening, cooking, painting etc. My friend Louy has lovely ones with cross-over straps at the back rather than a halter neck but I’ve never been able to find nice ones and an internet search of the labels in hers came to nothing. Then, last week, I went to Parsons Green Summer Fair: merry-go-round, smattering of farm animals, home-made cakes galore and a linen stall, with perfect pinnies. I was all set to buy at least two but Sarah, the voice of reason, said ‘one’ and then if I really liked it I could buy, or make, more.

It’s perfect; no bows to come undone and it hangs beautifully. Rather than making or buying more I altered the ones I already have. A very long, very hot wash and they are even almost clean.  As a late-comer to smart phones I haven’t mastered selfies and I think selfies of one’s back view are impossible anyway, but you get the general idea.


The Hundred Day Project Day 100: Three Patchworks and Sixteen Boats

This may not seem a massive output for my fifty days of our joint project but what the project has achieved for me is a change of mindset. Before we did it I was always ‘just about’ to make boats, or finish quilts or draw or paint or sew but something else always got in the way. I have now unearthed my paints, tidied the fabric cabinet, given the sewing machine pride of place and moved ‘making’ up my list of priorities. I still intend to produce one hundred boats and, with this aim in mind, I am going to put up a Making post each week, probably on a Friday. I’d be the first to admit that the project has sometimes been a struggle but I’m so pleased to have done it and I don’t want to lose the discipline I’ve gained. 


The Hundred Day Project Day 99: Patchwork and Buses

Anyone who has lived in London knows that buses travel in packs (or whatever the collective noun for red buses is – perhaps an Entourage). It seems the same is true of patchworks (an Assembly of Patchworks?). Without intending to I finished three patchworks last week and am now quilting and backing them.

This is the part I normally hate: quilting the three layers (patchwork, wadding and backing) together. Having sat on the garden bench briefly yesterday and rediscovered how unforgivingly solid it is, I cannot finish this quickly enough. Padding for the inner of a quilt has never been more aptly named.


The Hundred Day Project Day 98: A Bit Better But Not Good Enough

It would have been nice to have gone out on a high point but no such luck. The shape of poor Cezanne’s skull has subtly morphed as if he had been subjected to some strange oriental binding operation as a baby. The charcoal marked  up changes have upset the balance of the picture and it looks frankly squashed. His ear is now roughly in the right place although a bit big and not very ear like, while his left eye isn’t the same colour as his right one and isn’t looking in quite the same direction as the other. It can all be mended but I’m out of time and this is my last post! 

So the question is, why persist with this when I can turn out much better landscapes and still lives? Stubbornness apart, I think the answer is that I need to be taught; there are many good and reasonably priced courses around and if I haven’t done some practise first then there won’t be a basis for any teaching.

Although many of the images I’ve posted have been unsatisfactory nonetheless completing my half of the project (Jane takes over for the last two posts tomorrow) has been a worthwhile project and a discipline in itself. From time to time, when the results justify it, I may still post further images in the Making section in the hopes I’ll be able to look back and see some progress in say a year’s time. 


Masterpiece 2019.

Masterpiece, which closed yesterday, is probably one of the great shopping fairs in the UK. Over 150 exhibitors, from all sorts of disciplines and covering any period from prehistory to the current era, are gathered together in a huge and very upmarket tent in the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. There are two ways of looking at it.

The first, which the organisers naturally wish to promote, is that it is “the unmissable art fair at which visitors can view and buy the finest works of art, design, furniture and jewellery – from antiquity to the present day.”

The other is that this is what you get in a world of negative real interest rates, a lack of transparency in ownership and regulation in this asset class, largely unrestricted global capital flows and an excess of disposable capital and income amongst the international very rich. Both views are true.

Certainly the event doesn’t lack bling! There are champagne bars (£19 for a glass of Laurent-Perrier), restaurants, private rooms for select clients and a general focus on display and spending. Even with the sponsorship of the Royal Bank of Canada, it must be very expensive to exhibit. Indeed if you don’t get free tickets from a friendly exhibitor (I was lucky and thank you David Franses: have a look at our LAW post yesterday for a review of their discoveries) it’s £38 a head to get in.

For some of the smaller and newer exhibitors attendance must be quite a gamble and many looked very tired and slightly concerned by Monday. Some certainly did well and the general quality of the exhibits was very high. That said, there was a slightly Gatsbyesque air to the whole thing and it might well not survive a global downturn or anything like a Corbyn government that might not be totally sympathetic to such rather conspicuous displays of luxury.

No-one however could doubt the quality of the best exhibits. I have chosen to illustrate two I particularly liked. The first, with Ronald Phillips, was an early 18th century lacquer bureau bookcase: everything on this firm’s stand is superb and much really aspires to the condition of sculpture. The second, with Stair Sainty, was a little and very covetable oil sketch of a lion with a goat by Delacroix showing a remarkably free handling of paint, a beautiful sense of light and energy, and great control of tone and colour.

There were many, many other things of equal quality. I’m not absolutely sure that I would have called Masterpiece totally enjoyable; and certainly my preference was for London Art Week. It’s very tiring and ever so slightly over the top, but if it didn’t exist you would have to invent it.



The Hundred Day Project Day 93: Cezanne (sort of)

The results of trying to copy the Cezanne self portrait have not been brilliant, and obviously don’t look anything like his work but are just worth posting. This is the preliminary charcoal drawing that was the first stage of the work.From here on sometimes it got better and sometimes worse but I’ll follow through with it for the next few days before returning to the dancers.