31 December 2010


I wish everybody a happy 2011!

For me, 2010 ends with a very bad surprise from Italian Post, that has increased prices for mail sent abroad by 50 - 80 % (yes,  eighty percent!!), starting from the New Year... Our rates were already among the highest in Europe (and our service among the poorest), now Italy has probably the most expensive postal system in the world... Now sending a packet of less than a Kilo to the USA will cost 14 Euros (and 25 if the weight is between 1 and 2 Kilos).

That will be my worse problem in 2011, I can foresee!
(Obviously no media gave this information and the Post site reports the new rates without any comment, hoping nobody will notice the difference...)


Today's world is centered on immediate results..Everything one does should be done quickly and well.
Things should be learned quickly and easily, such as "speak Japanese without effort"or "learn to paint in 2 days"...
It doesn't work that way, and people who have actually learned things know that even if you can learn some basis of a craft (or a language!) rather quickly, it takes a lot of practice to master it.
"Masterpiece"... This was the name of the object that an apprentice had to produce -after many years of apprenticeship- in order to show that he was able to to become a "master", to stop being an apprentice and start working on his own. _Years_ , not weeks or months...

It's difficult not to lose sight of the importance of practice, in this this world that values only the "quick and easy".
And my wish for the new year, for myself and all the crafters, is never to forget that the time used for doing things again is not wasted time, but time we spend to learn our crafts better, to learn how materials work in a craft, what they can do and what they can't...

I especially like this quote by William Morris:
"(...)never forget the material you are working with, and try always to use it for doing what it can do best: if you feel yourself hampered by the material in which you are working, instead of being helped by it, you have so far not learned your business, any more than a would-be poet has, who complains of the hardship of writing in measure and rhyme. The special limitations of the material should be a pleasure to you, not a hindrance: a designer, therefore, should always thoroughly understand the processes of the special manufacture he is dealing with, or the result will be a mere tour de force. On the other hand, it is the pleasure in understanding the capabilities of a special material, and using them for suggesting (not imitating) natural beauty and incident, that gives the raison d'être of decorative art."
(William Morris,  Textiles, 1893)

29 December 2010

New scarf

This is the scarf I'm weaving at the moment
The wool yarn  is very thin and the photo is very enlarged, that's why the weaving looks so "open"... The risk when weaving is of beating too much and get a scarf that will be stiff and feel like cardboard! Leaving the weaving a bit loose when the wool is under tension will ensure that the scarf is soft and nice when finished and washed.
I've already used that pattern, it's a traditional and very ancient one (called "Batavia") that was already used in Middle Age, and probably even before then...It's very simple, but the loom preparation is long as it's rather easy to make mistakes! Unlike the previous time, now I used a different yarn for warp and weft, so that the pattern is more visible, and not just a matter of texture (although I love the all-white version I made of it).
Anyway this time things went rather well and I only havd to correct a couple of small mistakes... Sometimes it goes a lot worse!
I took this photo when the scarf was just begun, now it's at a good point and hopefully I'll finish it soon...

27 December 2010

The journey of the Three Kings

Like in most Italian homes, in addition to the Christmas tree there is a Nativity scene... Mine is in my living room (it's nothing special, but I'll add a photo here one of these days).
And no Nativity is complete without Three Kings coming to visit baby Jesus!  Mine start their journey quite far, at the beginning of the several-metres-long  bookcase in my corridor... They advance slowly (no doubt because one of them is always represented as kneeling down, which must make the march quite slow indeed) and today they were right in front of  some of my Tolkien books, so  had to take a photo :-)
The Sputnik model (a nice little object I bought for one Euro a few years ago on a flea market stall) is an addition that was decided by my daughter a couple of years ago... As the comet star passed close to it on the bookcase she started to move it along with the other components of the caravan (after all, it was  a "sky thing" too!), and soon it became  part of the convoy... And never lost its role ever since :-)

26 December 2010

Arts and crafts...

Well, sometimes different crafts and skills are necessary... My son's good headphones needed a new jack, so today I proceeded to change it.
Jacks are usually a part that breaks down quickly in headphones, but luckily they can be substituted  and they are cheap.. The only "difficult" thing is that they usually need soldering, and I'm not very good at it (basically as I rarely have to do it).
Anyway, first of all I had to cut the old jack and peel the threads for some length.... In this headphones set there are three wires sometimes they are 4. Colours may vary, here they were rather standard, that is red, green  and copper...Copper  is the ground, while red and green are the left and right channel  (not necessarily in this order..Actually I discovered that on my son's headphones they were the opposite than they should have been! There are many sites explaining how to connect the cables, but basically the right/left correspondnce is indicative. And of course you'll discover you soldered wrongly only _at the end_ of your work, as the tiny wires really make contact only after you've soldered them).

These wires have practically no insulation, that is the insulation is given by the thin coat of colour... One must be careful not to damage it  as it's very easy to burn it with the soldering iron.

 Here I burned the cable tips with the soldering iron and covered them with tin.. this way it will be easier to attach them to the jack

Here it is! not a perfect work, but it's done... Now I only have to pinch the cable with the metallic part  so that it won't be torn away if the cable is pulled. Then the plastic cover is put back in place, and the headphone is fixed!

22 December 2010


It's almost Christmas, once again... And I'm so happy to be here!
It's strange how things change when seen from a different perspective...

I felt it was a big misfortune to have to change my car when (one month after I had spent 1200 euros to have it repaired in France) it broke down again, exactly the same way ..And obviously I decided not to waste another 1200 Euros in a repair that probably wouldn't last. I decided (very reluctantly) to change it, as with what I had spent in repairs in 5 years I could have bought a nice new car anyway. I guess I was a most unhappy new-car buyer; usually people are happy when they buy a new car, but I wished so much I could have avoided it!

But I didn't know what would follow... A few weeks ago, I barely avoided a very serious accident, and that was only thanks to my new car. Without it (and its better lights, its better brakes, all its electronic things that did the right things at the right time) I wouldn't have been able to avoid the big load that was dropped (at night, on the highway, while driving at 120 km/h) by a truck right before me. I'm sure I'm alive just because I've changed my car right in time (it had arrived just two weeks before!), and what looked like a big misfortune was actually probably the best thing that could happen to me! Nobody was hurt (my daughter was with me, and that was surely the worst scare in her life, like it was in mine....) and the car wasn't even scratched... I couldn't believe it.

This year, while I was putting ornaments on our Christmas tree with my daughter, I was very aware that if it hadn't been for an unlikely (and unwelcomed) chain of events, I wouldn't have been there... (Which applies to all of us, I'm sure, but we usually tend not to think about it  unless Death passes very close...)
One looks at life from a different perspective after such kind of things..Even queuing at the post office becomes pleasant when you remember you could have been dead instead!

Well, my tree is finished! It's small, because it was bought for a smaller apartment, and it's not one of those fancy tres they sell in trendy shops, all in one colour, very beautiful and perfect... Most of the ornaments (and they are _a lot!!_) have a story, they were made by my children, or are gifts, or maybe are things that were not meant to be a Christmas tree ornament but we decided they would fit...I'm sure lots of the ornaments would look like rubbish to many people, but we get a lot of fun to take them out every year and comment on them! (Which is probably the point of making a Christmas tree, after all...).

30 November 2010

Winter is coming...

...So I wish to remember the summer with a colourful photo :-).

29 November 2010

Il Ricamo, 10 March 1907 added!

Today I managed to add photos of a new (that is old, very old) issue of "Il Ricamo" magazine... It's issue No 10, dating 10 March 1907. Unfortunately the issue was in almost desperate conditions and 4 pages were missing; well, actually only two of them would be interesting for embroiderers as the last two pages are of advertisement (that is funny and interestingin itself somethims, anyway it's not a great loss). Luckily the big sheet of additional patterns was there, as well as a nice page of cross-stitch monogram.
This issue can now be downloaded from this page of Italian Needlecrafts.

28 November 2010

Old and new photos

I don't like winter in Milano...The sky remains dark and grey for months, making it difficult to take  photos at home.
And as I'm rather busy with my mother's health problems, I haven't yet found the time to edit and upload the photos of some ancient issues of "Il Ricamo" that are quite interesting as they contain some lovely patterns, such as this collection of "M"s...
I took these photos a few days ago when there were a couple of hours of sunlight, but managed to upload them on my pc only today!
Now it seems we can't expect good weather for some time, but I hope I will catch up as  I would like to add issues more frequently than I'm doing now, I'm going on so slowly!

But today I also played with more modern images, that is photos I took last year while on holiday... An ancient wall in Pompei made of square bricks became with  little elaboration a sort of snake's skin, like this!

As in this period I have so little time to stitch or weave, I find it easier to work at images or smaller works! Things I can work on a few minutes at a time, and save them...(And put them on Etsy if the result is good, or delete them or leave on my computer when I don't like them).
I wish to start a new weaving soon, but warpingthe loom  requires a bit of uninterrupted time, and it's so difficult these days. Anyway I think that all the works on images  somehow will also be useful for weaving too, sooner or later...It's all about experience, I suppose; nothing goes lost!

22 November 2010

Medieval Tiles

I love geometric patterns. I'm always interested to see how they appear again and again through time and different cultures, and I find them a good source of inspiration for embroideries or crafts.

Medieval tiles are a good source of small and simple geometric patterns, and I have a couple of books about them. Unfortunately I'm not aware of anything about Italian tiles; I usually take photos wherever I go (I love to take photos of small details! Of architecture, indoor decorations, etc.) but I couldn't find any book about this subject.
The best book I found is a small booklet, "Medieval Tiles" by Hans van Lemmen, published by Shire Library.
It only has 40 pages, but it's really stuffed with information and very good colour photos.

It contains historical and technical explanations about tilemaking, and it's really surprising to see that some models are still manufactured now, many centuries after their invention.
The Table of Contents lists the following chapters:

-The medieval tile industry
-Relief and line-impressed tiles
-Mosaic tiles
-Two-colour tiles
-The legacy of medieval tiles
-Further reading
-Places to visit

Illustrations are in every page and the level of detail  and quality of print are very good; many drawings could be used for decorations and embroideries!

14 November 2010

Remembrance rose

The weather has been awful for weeks here in Milano (and in Italy in general); it's always grey and cloudy and I keep postponing the work I'm doing of ancient magazines digitizing, from day to day, as there is never enough light to take photos...
But  few days ago one of my roses produced a last bloom, right on Remebrance Day...And I don't know whether it's just a strange coincidence, but the rose is a Harkness Remembrance ! Maybe it's been selected to bloom until very late in the year, I don't know.
I took a photo of it, as I guess this will be my last rose for 2010!
True that my balcony offers conditions that are far from ideal for roses (just few hours of light and a lot of shade), but I have two Harkness roses and they both seem to live well with those poor conditions. On the contrary, I have two other  roses by David Austin, and they positively seem to frown at me... It's obvious that if they could talk, they would say "We shouldn't be here!" (in a very offended tone) . Oh, well...
Speaking of living in the wrong place, this is Minu, the cat who lives under my bed!
Children often believe that under their beds there are monsters, or nightmares, hiding.... Well, under my bed there lives a cat.

Minu was about six months old when my daughter chose her at a cat shelter, one year ago... She had been kept for some months in a small cage in the dark, and in spite of all our cares she hasn't yet got used to a normal life (and probably  never will). She spends practically all the day under my bed (where I took this photo; my undr-bed space was already very crowded ! ;-)) or if she can't go there, she stays under my children's wardrobe, which is an even narrower place.
My impression is that she's afraid of daylight and looks for dark spaces; she only comes out of her hiding place  in the evening and during the night...And she's  scared by people and other animals (even the small zebra finches we keep in another room); only my daughter and I  have managed to gain a bit of confidence from her; my son remains a scary presence for her...
I'm sorry for her, but I must say it's an advantage she isn't an intrusive cat, or it would be a big problems with my weavings and embroideries... And I guess she is happy too, although it's difficult to say (she's a cat, after all :-))

31 October 2010

Bought on Etsy: Angel decoration by Gufobardo

Gufobardo is the name of Stefania Morgante's shop on Etsy , she makes very original and colourful drawings with unusual characters, and I love her style! I bought this laminated angel decoration from her.. My intention was to keep it as a Christmas decoration, but it was so lovely that I decided to hang it near my pc, where I can look at it and shake it a little to the little jingle bell sound... The jingle bell itself is very peculiar, as it's original from Tibet, and looks very different from the light, cheap ones that can be found usually here or on the internet. This is heavier and makes a lovely sound...and it's said to bring joy and peace! At least for the moment, I can assure it works :-)

29 October 2010

Castles in the air SAL

I too am participating to the Castale in the Air SAL by Papillon Creations ! I discovered it when it was already advanced, and took forever to choose the colours (as part of the colours must be chosen by each stitcher! No two works will look the same), so I'm still in the beginning...But here is my version:

I'm still doing the central part, "The Formal Garden", and will post my progress here. (This photo is a bit blurred because it's not a photo, it's a scan... And the embroidery isn't flat enough to be scanned properly. I'll do better next time).
I chose the "specialty stitches" version (the alternative was cross-stitch only), which actually has _a lot_ of  different stitches in it! I decided to use an evenweave linen (Sotema 20L col. 38), that's a 38 count so stitches are tiny and I'm working with only one thread of floss...I hope I won't regret my choice in the future! Maybe it's too high-count, it isn't easy to stitch in the evening... But as I've started this way I can only go on :-), as I refuse to re--start it again.
Now I want to catch up with the SAL ...I'm still at part 1 and the No.16 has just been issued!

24 October 2010

Bought on Etsy: "Miss Birch" by Virginia Lee

A couple of days ago I received a lovely print I bought on Etsy from Virginia Lee ( http://www.etsy.com/shop/virginialeeart ).
I love prints because they are an affordable way to collect  works from many artists whose originals would be too expensive... In this case the original is a pencil drawing that must have required many hours of work!
The title is "Miss Birch" and it's easy to understand why: the drawing  shows a birch represented in human (female) form, with the peeling bark becoming a dress... A very graceful figure that is both human and vegetable. It's not "too" treeish, I mean arms are real arms and not boughs, only the way she keeps them is strangely angled and suggest boughs, and the fingers that slowly turn into twigs make one guess  that she is a tree...And also her hair composed by leaves gets mixes with foliage of the trees around. The result is very fascinating and almost "believable".
I love it! And from real it looks a lot better than on Etsy photos (which is not surprising, as  for obvious reasons prints are usually shown with low-definition photos). I just publish here (with permission) a small photo of Miss Birch's face as she is so beautiful...Now I must find a frame that can look as good as this work!

Virginia Lee has also illustrated several children  books... I already had on my (long) list-of-books-to-buy "The frog bride", but the business card I received along the print showed an image taken from "Persephone" and from what I saw (both on the card and on Virginia Lee's own site, http://www.virginialee.co.uk/ ) I decided to add that one too to my (now longer) list of future purchases!

19 October 2010

My latest item

It's this neckwarmer... I had woven two, and a longer scarf, with the same yarn! It's much better from real actually, as I couldn't manage to get the right sparkling of the metallic thread in my photos (I think it's camera's fault; probably they are  misinterpreted as "defects" of the image and the camera tries to correct them - too successfully!).

07 October 2010

Raphael: Cartoons and tapestries for the Sistine Chapel

It is the title of an exhibition currently going on at the V&A Museum in London.

Of course I wish I could visit it, but in this period it's really impossible for me to go to London...In addition the exhibition will end in a few weeks, so I have no hope to see it from real.
But at least I could buy the catalogue! It's available in most on-line bookstores, and definitely worth buying, so I ordered mine and received it a couple of days ago. (I'm publishing a couple of inside photos, small enough to ensure copyright protection, but large enough to see some example pages!)

The exhibition brings together the tapestry designs ( the Cartoons) that Raphael made in 1515-16 for Pope Leo X, with the actual woven tapestries.

The Cartoons  were never returned from Brussel after  tapestries were woven, as traditionally cartoons became property of the weavers' workshop that had woven tapestries from them. They have been on display at the V&A since 1865. The tapestries, instead were obviously sent to Rome, and although they were originally meant for the Sistine Chapel , they are now on display at the Vatican Museums.
I saw these tapestries last year, and again one  in June as it was hosted in a tapestry exhibiton in Mantua, but I've never seen all of them with their cartoons, and it must be  very interesting to see them in the same place!
Well, the book too is very interesting. It's packed full of images, and the text is the way one would expect from a V&A book, absolutely complete and very well documented (a long bibliography completes the last few pages).

The only improvement that could be suggested would be a bigger size, as the format is not large and some of the photos are really small. But a larger size would have meant also a higher price (which is very affordable  at £14.99 -even less, £10.0 when bought from the V&A site- which is very good for a hardback book with more than a hundred colour photos) so I understand the choice made by the publisher.
Anyway there are also many full-page photos, and  many details are shown large enough to appreciate the weaving. There are also photos showing the back (interesting to see how the original yarns were discoloured by light; on the back some colours are definitely different) and enlarged images of damaged threads.

For more information, visit the V&A page of this exhibition and the V&A bookshop

25 September 2010

A challenge from the past

Followers of this blog know that I'm digitizing some ancient embroidery magazines...In one of the last issues of "Il Ricamo" I took photos of, there was a beautiful floreal cross-stitch pattern with poppies.
The pattern is fine, the composition is very good and it isn't even perfectly symmetrical (a cheap modern way to save work ;-) made even easier by computers), here all the parts have been designed carefully... But the key is missing.
According to the pattern description in the issue, the key should be right under the image but it isn't there...Nor in any parte of the magazine. Somebody just forgot it! We can imagine that at the time some readers complained about it and the key was included in one of the later issues, but unfortunately I don't have them and I can't check.
Is this pattern useless therefore? I don't think so! There are not so many shades of colours in it...Back in 1905 there were not the intricate cross-stitch patterns with many dozens of colours (and maybe quarter stitches and blended needles) we find today. I think that an acceptable choice of threads could be made by any experienced stitcher.
Does anybody want to give a try and stitch it?
The pattern in full size is here ; I can also try to get better pictures if this isn't good enough (but I think it is).
I will do my try, but it would be nice to see what other people do!
And of course even if the flowers are poppies, nobody is obliged to stitch them red or very "poppy-colours-like"...Why not to try somethings completely different for example?
If you decide to try this, please send me a link to your blog or a photo of your work!

18 September 2010

Ending a scarf without fringes

I recently wove three scarves and decided, this time,  to make them without fringes. One is already finished, but the other twos were still attached and unfinished, so I thought I would take photos to show how I did.
Well, this was the end of one scarf, once cut from the loom...

I took a long needle, and wove it back for a few cms into the scarf. Any long needle can be used; I found that this Sashiko needle by Clover was perfect for this!
The tip is slightly curved and makes it easier to weave (actually it looks exactly like a weaving needle. Once the needle is woven back, I thread it with one of the warp ends and pull it through, so that the thread is woven back for a bit. This will be enough to stop it firmly.
I continue, doing the same with the other warp ends; here a couple of cms have already been finished this way (notice the thread ends coming out of the scarf a few centimeters from the end):
In the end, the whole side is done!
The hem is barely visible at the bottom of the photo... (colours are different because in the meanwhile I had to switch on the light, and haven't found how to change the light option on this camera!)
Here it is a photo of the finished scarf, after washing, trimming thread ends and sewing the label...
It is a slow work, anyway! it takes almost as much time to weave the ends back as to weave the whole scarf (and that's definitely less interesting!)...I don't know whether I'll adopt it many other times. But the result is neat, and the scarf end without fringe looks very well in my opinion.

14 September 2010

Election de Mister Nounours 2010

[This is an entry to participate to the Election of Mister Nounours 2010, a competition reserved to old Teddy Bears, promoted by the blog Le Jardin de la Brodeuse  ]

"Vous avez conservé votre vieil ours chéri dans une malle ou le fond d'un tiroir et vous avez envie de le sortir de l'ombre le temps d'une photo.

Pour rendre hommage à votre nounours, écrivez un article sur votre blog, photographiez-le sous 2 formes différentes. Indiquez le nom que vous lui donniez jadis et son âge.
Le 30 septembre, nous élirons le plus beau nounours dans le jardin de la brodeuse ."

Je vous présente donc, mon candidat:

Sutti , âgé d'environs 46 ans.
Taille : presque 30 cm
Poids : léger
Yeux: 2
Signes particuliers:  sourd d'une oreille, paille qui sort des mains et des pieds.
Lieu de vie: il a passé les dernier 30 ans dans une armoire au sous-sol. 

Meme s'il ne deviendra pas le Nounours de l'Année 2010, Sutti est très heureux car grâce à jjbrod du Jardin de la Brodeuse, il a pu laisser l'armoir où il  passé la plupart de sa vie, et il va aussi avoir des mains et des pieds neufs.

08 September 2010

Le Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval

Sometimes big things are born from  little nothings...

One day, while marking School Certificate papers,   J RR Tolkien scribbled on a blank paper "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit"....And The Hobbit was born.
In another place, at another time, a country postman stumbled in stone, and that changed his life.

Ferdinand Cheval was the postman at Hauterives, a village in the Drome region that counted about 1300 inhabitants at the time, the second half of  1800,  and isn't much bigger today. He was generally known as "Le Facteur Cheval", that is "Cheval  the Postman", as he probably was a familiar presence to all the villagers. His daily tour to deliver mail was 32 kms long, and he had to do it on foot.  Life at the time wasn't easy...
One day, during his usual delivery tour he stumbled, and nearly fell. He wanted to discover what had made him stumble, and saw it was a stone... A stone of such an unusual shape that he put it in his pocket in order to look at it better later. The day after he returned on the spot and collected other stones even more beautiful...
And he was inspired.
Many years before he had dreamed of building a palace, or a cave; something wonderful and unique...But he was no architect, he didn't know anything about art, or buildings, or masonry and had spoken to nobody about it because he felt it was an impossible dream and didn't want to be ridiculed. But this time something changed. He decided that "As Nature wants to make sculpture, I will do architecture and masonry"... And he started to build his Ideal Palace.
For the following 33 years he dedicated  very spare moment of his life to his Palace...  He added another 10-15 kms to his daily tour as postman in order to collect stones to use in his building; he worked at the Palace by night, at the light of oil lamps,  sleeping only 2 or 3 hours before having to resume is daily job...

And his palace was built.

Some things are built with a precise project in mind; this palace grew up almost like a natural thing, as Ferdinand Cheval had no notions of architecture, he just had his dream to follow and nobody else to help him. So every detail of the surface is the result of a sudden idea, of the decision to add something here or there...

At some points villages seem to grow on the façade....


...Or strange processions walk to the top the roof...


And trees and birds seem a natural presence in that landscape.


Giant human figures and statues are integrated in the building


Sentences by Cheval are written all over the Palace; his way to transmit his thoughts and considerations made during the building....


Death is a constant presence in these writings, as it was in Cheval's life... By the age of 19 he had lost both his parents. His first son died when he was only 1 year old, and his beloved daughter Alice died at the age of 15... And he was widowed twice.


He had planned to be buried in his Palais Idéal, but the law didn't allow that and made no exception....Therefore, when he finished building his Palace, even if he was 77 he started building a grave for himself at the local cemetery, in his peculiar style. The construction went on for 8 years and he died 2 years after it was finished, in 1924.

Ferdinand Cheval's grave

Like on his Palace, here too there is a  writing, by now almost deleted but still visible: "Le Tombeau du Silence et du Repos sans Fin"...The Grave of Silence and Endless Rest.


Le Palais Idéal was declared National Monument in 1969, and Fernand Cheval's life and work are today an inspiration for everybody.
The palace is there to show you that you don't have to be important, or cultured, or rich, or even have a lot ot time to make your dreams come true; things can be built a bit at a time, day after day.

If you pass in the region south of Lyon, north of Orange and Avignon, find the time to stop in Hauterives: you will see things in a different way.

Ce monument est l'oeuvre d'un paysan
                                                           (Fernand Cheval, written on his Palais Idéal, Eastern façade )

Le Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval - Official site

05 September 2010

New book on embroidery

I received from the publisher a brand-new book on embroidery, just printed (date inside is August 2010!).
It's "Il piacere del ricamo", by Silvana Fontanelli and it's mainly on Punto Perugino. Explanations are very easy to follow, both because it's a rather easy technique and because photos of each step make it clear how to proceed...It's a book very suitable also to beginners and stitchers who have only done cross-stitch, as it's a counted thread technique and the look isn't so much different from cross-stitch...Those who have never tried any other surface embroidery technique might find it an excellent starting point to do something different from cross-stitch, yet uncomplicated and easy to do.
The beautiful drawn thread work that appears on the cover is explained in the second half of the book, and allegedly is a variant of some existing stitch ...The effect is very decorative and in my opinion would be very beautiful inserted in some Hardanger work too.
The book is available in usual bookshops that store embroidery books (and of course in my shop  too).

01 September 2010

The Shores of Faery are still faraway...

... But at last I've started weaving at this tapestry again! I don't even know how many months I've left it aside, working at other things, feeling a bit guilty each time I saw it on the loom...
But a couple of das ago at last I decided I want to finish it...If only to take it off the loom and start a new work!  I have ideas for new tapestries, but I must keept them in  wait until this one is finished.
It is a slow work, but even few minutes a day are better than nothing! And two days of work showed  some progress! I reached the foam of the "green sea" , and soon the sky will become lighter as I approach the Moon...
31 August 2010
Will the sea be the right hue of green? I don't know... I can't judge it yet, and when it will become clear, it will be too late to change it...
Tapestry weaving is very different from painting. You can't correct a colour you've woven a few centimeters away: the only way would be  to undo completely everything and start again. If you don't,. your mistakes will remain and become part of the tapestry. But maybe this is the way should be. I'll finish weaving and decide that no, the green should have been a tone lighter...That's too late, ther's no "undoing" like in embroidery, where one can selectively undo a part and re-stitch it in a different colour.
Things change. If I started this tapestry today I wouldn't do it this way anymore (which is probably why I left it aside so long). I would use bolder contrasts, brighter colours... Maybe one day I'll remake it and weave a "The Shores of Faery II" that will have little in common with Tolkien's watercolour.

27 August 2010

Taking photos of ancient magazines

At last I took the big decision and bought a new camera. With the perspective of taking many hundreds photos of ancient magazines, I thought it was worth to buy one of my own rather that stealing constantly my daughter's one... So I took advantage of a special offer and I bought a Nikon Coolpix s570, 12.0 Megapixels. Not a professional model, but definitely better than my previous one! My previous camera was a Coolpix too, but an old model that was only 4.0 Megapixels, and the difference shows!
But taking photos is just a step of the process... Not the first and not the last, actually!
First there is the ironing. Yes! Old magazines have been kept folded for decades, and once unfolded look more or less like this:

Of course the lines around the folds are unreadable as the paper doesn't stay flat and they fall out of focus, and the whole page does not lay flat, making it difficult to take a good photo (this is also blurred because I was starting to learn how to use the camera :-) )
The problem is even more evident in the case of the large sheets with patterns such as this one, which should be lying flat:

The paper is very thin and more than a century old, and creases almost cut the paper in some points (light can be seen through!)
These sheets too must be ironed. Here is the same sheet; the part on the right  has been ironed a bit.


I used a medium temperature (I presume too hot will an iron damage the paper ... I suppose it isn't beneficial to paper fibres in any case, even just warm, but I'll do it only once, in order to take photos, and then keep sheets flat  so that they won't get creased again), pressing the iron rather that pushing it around as such old  paper is exceedingly delicate and the risk of tearing it is very high.
As I wrote, this is just the first step.
But then photos can be taken. I use a tripod, while placing the papers on the (just cleaned) floor. I use only the natural light, as I've never been able to make decent photos of the flash, and this is no exception...
Then I download photos on my pc, and I must edit them, Actually they don't need any important intervention, just (usually) a slight rotation as they are never perfectly horizontal (it would take more time to pay attention while taking photos than correcting this later!) , the discarding of all the unimportant details (my floor and some tripod legs that enter the image), and the balancing of the brightness/contrast (which is difficult because the paper is very yellowed by time and doesn't give a good contrast). I do all this on-line  with Picnik , which is free and very immediate for this kind of simple  interventions on images.
Then at last I can upload the final photos on Italian Needlecrafts! (I'll do it tonight)
This is the Pattern Sheet, after ironing...


Creases are still visible (ironing can't make miracles and delete century-old wrinkles...) but the patterns can be seen very well!