Friday, September 07, 2007
We're off to a family reunion in Newcastle this week, and after a problem with the original accommodation we'd booked we're now staying at the looovely new Crowne Plaza in the Hunter Valley. My third weekend in a row in the Hunter - and no, I don't have a problem with wine consumption...
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
But there's nothing like weaving your way through deserted corridors, through several changes in interior design and very bad lighting to make you appreciate the treasure trove of the study rooms even more.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Sometimes quilt design ideas jump out at you from the strangest places. I loved the design of this black and white litter bin in Greenwich (South East London).
Take out the words printed on the litter bin, substitute in your own text and you have a lovely geometric outline for a modern quilt.
The tile floors are of course an area where we all look for inspiration, and these (in the chapel) did not disappoint.
But there was also no shortage of colour with the glowing frescoes and golden accents that should be in every great European building.
The sky outside was a brilliant blue - could be aptly described as 'sky blue' in fact, but sitting inside was made bearable by the ornate ceiling design.
But the biggest treat of the day was stepping back outside into the bright sunshine and appreciating the touch of summer that had finally arrived.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
We visited a silk carpet factory in Samarkand, Uzbekistan to see how the silk was dyed and then woven into the stunning carpets.
A lot of the carpets they sell are special orders from people that have visited the factory and specified the colours, pattern and size they wanted. However the design and colours of the other carpets are decided by the weavers. This makes them all unique, as they're not working to a recipe. Some weavers like to repeat the same pattern each time, with different colours, others prefer to look at a new pattern after months of knotting one design. Others just mix it up everytime. There's a lot of freedom of expression in this line of work.
Another thing that was immediately noticeable - these women loved their jobs. It wasn't a 'lets smile for the tourist moment' as it is not really a commercial tour, more a genuine enjoyment and pride in their work.
The factory has been established by an Afghani doctor, and there are strict rules about who can work there. The girls must have been enrolled in school until at least the age of 16, and most of the workers are over 18. Abdullah's family works there - it was his daughter that took us around, and they have a design that is their family design, and are rightly proud of this.
The natural silk thread is soft and well, silky, and the natural ingredients they use to dye the silk sound so romantic - madder root, pomegranate, walnut shells, etc. Madder root is particularly amazing - so many different red, orange and brown shades can be created from this one plant.
One day I will have a house filled with, among other lovely textiles, an Uzbek silk carpet or two. The quality was incredible - must be felt to be believed to use a cliche - and the chance to customise the design and colours (and the relatively reasonable price) almost justifies an excursion back to Uzbekistan.
And there's a few nice buildings to see in Samarkand while you are there...
PS If you want to read more about the Samarkand Bukhara Silk Carpets Factory they have a pretty extensive website at www.silkcarpets.net
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
This week is the Melbourne Craft and Quilt Show once again. Melbourne is always a fun show, the only one with late night shopping in fact.
So, if you're in Victoria, you're probably already headed there. And if you're not, click on the craft and quilt show link on the right sidebar to find out when the show is coming to you.
I hear that Nicole Kidman was wandering the aisles of the Sydney show. Wonder who'll pop up in Melbourne?
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Saturday, July 21, 2007
This could become a Victoria and Albert Museum blog (if I let it), but no, this will be the last V&A post for a little while. At least until my next visit.
Several of the textile galleries are closed for refurbishment until April 2008, but there is plenty to see anyway. The patterns in the Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art could keep a quilter busy sketching for days. This fragment of a vintage textile was so delicate, encased under glass, but you could imagine the almost papery texture. I wish I'd noted when this was from. I know it was old.
Speaking of sketching, most of the museums here lend free creativity kits to kids and adults with all of the necessary tools - to get sketching, or even to spark some creative writing. So on a rainy day, on the spur of the moment you can pop in and get creative.
The low light of the gallery means that these photos can't really do justice to the rich colours and textures of the textiles. But until we all get to go there, this will have to do. (But really, if you have the chance - go).
Friday, July 20, 2007
The V&A cast collection (2 rooms) encompasses plaster casts of all sorts of big and small monuments. The room itself is crowded, colourful and dark. There is such detail in each of the pieces on display, but it's easy to become overwhelmed.
In what is a high vaulted room, it's nice to focus right in on a piece. The artists that get to colour the casts to simulate the original statues, gates, tombs etc. must enjoy their jobs. Very satisfying.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
If you're in London, the Victoria and Albert Museum should be the number 1 museum on your list.
This place has incredible textiles, a mindblowing cast collection (more on that later) and lots of other unexpected gems. One of them is the wrought iron gallery, not usually the first place I would head to in a museum.
These wrought iron - sculptures (for want of a better word) - are incredible. Incredible.
So delicate, yet sturdy, black yet somehow feminine. I couldn't stop taking photographs, but will spare you the thouands, and just leave you with this one.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Keeping up the international theme of the week on the Just Patchwork blog, the cactus silk bedspreads in the souqs in Marrakech were stunning.
I'm not entirely sure what cactus silk is - all I know is that I bought one, and wish I'd come home with many, many more (especially when I see the prices they ask for them in London).
Next time I travel to Morocco a whole suitcase of these stripey silks are coming home with me.
Monday, July 16, 2007
There's a new look for the Just Patchwork blog!
More out of necessity than anything else - the changes with Blogger moving to google (you know what I mean if you are a blogspot blogger) - have meant that there is some work to be done here.
And it is still a work in progress. So drop in over the next week or two to see if you spot the changes as they are being made...
In the meantime, enjoy the Iznik tiles from Topkapi Palace in Istanbul - a must for quilters to see the most mindblowing tile and textile patterns.