Sunday, September 17, 2017

This Possibly New Thing

This is the new piece alongside the three false starts. It is straighter and the edges better than they look. I haven't pressed them because I wanted to see them "without makeup", as it were, and I cut off  tails when dry. And I'm surprisingly pleased with it. These are my thoughts:

* I wished I had more weft colors. I have an in-your-face pink, an orange-yellow, and three oranges; also a few achromatics, the lightest of which I plan to use with the lightest warp. And a bright red which I can use, if I have any leftovers after the upcoming big red piece. A couple of saturated blues, a purple, and a teal or a green would have been nice to "juj" up the picture but I'm not buying for now as I still have plenty, just not in 20/2. (By the way, have you ever googled "Juj something up" to check the spelling? Mindboggling.)

* I am right in thinking a foot loom is best for this technique so I don't have to think about the pattern/treadling as much as when weaving on handlooms. I have two foot looms, a 16-shafter, which is too hard on cashmere warps, and this 4-shaft Jack, on which I weave standing up. This has nothing to do with the height of the bench, but the shortness of me, especially the legs, and the desire to press the pedals from above and not in an angle, and to observe the fell from above and not from an angle. Over the years weavers have suggested gazillion things that does not apply to me, short of, (see what I did there?) cutting the vertical elements of the loom and lowering the entire mechanism, which destabilizes the loom unless done expertly, and I'm not willing to going there. I'm short.

The problem in this case is I like to get very close "down" and personal when I clasp the wefts, for the right tension and the position, and so I bent down every other pick, which slowed down the weaving and made me queasy every time I had to look for the other sweet spot on my glasses when I resurfaced. One possibility is to switch to a more complicated threading and easy lifting on the 8-shaft table loom and weave on the kitchen table, but I'm not crazy about the very short distance between the shafts and the front beam, and Klick's shed is too small for this sort of carry-on. Another, from a different perspective, is to use merino warp with cashmere weft on the 16-shaft.
* This warp was threaded in a pointed threading and woven in 2:2 twill, meaning, with the clasped weft there was going to be more than a few places where the pattern would be disrupted in the interest of clasping/holding. I saw this anomaly after I started the first false start and brought it up with Pat, and I decided to just go ahead. I tried to correct them by forcing the shuttles acrobatic moves, but in some cases, from memory, I found no fix. This is Issue One for further observation/investigation.

* I noticed sometimes the clasps came with a half loop created by the left weft. As I got used to the mechanism of clasping, I made a rule I'll weave the right weft first, then the middle if any, and the left one last, which seemed to have reduced the occurrences of these loops, but I couldn't eliminate them, sometimes even when I tugged on the weft while the shed was still open. I' not sure if I understand the problem correctly. This is Issue Two.
(I know I had this problem but after a wash, I can't see it except some clasps are looser than others. But I did find a naughty full loop and I hope I eliminated most of the.)

* I beat the heck out in the three false starts but this was remedied in the completed piece, or Start Four. The bleach bottle-weighted left selvedge is no worse than the right. The cloth in the finished piece, which worried me while weaving, is like any cashmere piece I've woven, and 16EPI worked fine, as will 15 or 18. I mixed two threadlings in one piece, which was fun.

Now for the important part:

* Using three colors in one shot may make the cloth look interesting, but not necessarily; it depends on the width of the piece in the first place, and the length of the piece and shapes in the second. In narrow pieces like this first one, it may not be as effective, or even overly fussy, especially when the piece is worn. In wider pieces the effort may be worth more.

* For expediency and the integrity of the cloth, I chose to weave the first piece with large patches of one color. And as a whole, I think it looks interesting enough, ergo being surprisingly pleased. I try to imagine a whole piece with more frequent color changes, (thank goodness I have samples of three false starts - those and the inbetween bits make up roughly one-third of a full piece in length,) and I can't see one look being better than the other, just different. I have the choice of learning the mechanism first, or focusing on the shapes/colors, but another one of these warps won't go on the loom until December so plenty of time.

* If a color appears/disappears anywhere but from either selvedge, the tail of the weft needs to be sewn in, and I felt uneasy doing this; the bottom sample in the top pic has rusty orange between the yellow and pink. The washed/dried cloth is soft and thinnish, and I can tell where the weft is doubled. I'll stick to introducing colors from the selvedge, but should a tail need sewing in, I'll do it most definitely on the loom, as it emerges.

* All in all, drawing/doodling shapes, and then possibly a template, may prevent future regrets. Although, y'know, it could preclude surprises, too.

Coming up this week: finish weaving the blue baby blanket; thread and sample, at the very least, the red warp; and for goodness sake, weed and put down at least the remaining too-big-for-seed-raising-mix hellebore babies. And help Mom upgrade Skype by phone if at all possible.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday

Insomnia, ugh. In terms of sleep, I had the most regular and satisfying sleep pattern since I became a teenager (!!) during the year I didn't weave. Why is that? Life returning towards normal has applied to sleep pattern, too, unfortunately, although in the last month I was able to finalize/select two drafts that troubled me during the day. I'm also getting used to projects progressing slowly, living on Weavers' Time.

I've had a few things on my mind since the last post, most of which I can tell you in this post; the last one, the "tapestry technique" experiment, will be in the next because I need good pics, clarifying thoughts, and it would help if the piece dries before I photograph it.  
The red warp. It's a red warp and we all know what that means in digital pics, so I tampered with the this one enough to make the different stripes of the color progression show up better. I decided on the wobbly squares in the previous post because I thought it'd suit the color progression better and it was a cinch to modify to match the number of warp ends.  From memory, the weft is in the red you see in the half-width stripes at both selvedges. Yes, both edges are in the same red.

Yup...

* * * * *

I received Tess' book in the somewhat-entangled (it's really knot; see what I did there?) LJ swap, and it's so beautiful I've been must marvelling at it's simple beauty and so far hesitated to work on it. Here are some pics. Actually I might scan every page before I work on it as every spread is sublime. 
 In this I see either a floating city in the sky or an EKG of a beautiful mind.
In this I see a musical score culminating in a dozen or more symbals at the end. 
She also glued the sections in a simpler way, which made the book easier to look at and to work in. Too much thinking for mine? Very possible. Because I had a preconceived notion this was a square book and always placed two sides parallel to the table's edge, and sampling told me a spread will open up or down, (and back or front), I mixed things up to even out the up/down element. Confused? Never mind. But if you ever want to experiment with these, try having all Corner As on top of each other in your first one; it makes life easier.

* * * * *

For some years our local cinema has shown Met Opera and National Theatre Live, (or should it be Lives?) I've always wanted to go and marked brochures every year but finally made it on Wednesday, and what a splendid experience it was.

I saw "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead", (trailer,) a play that intrigued and puzzled me for close to 40 years. So much so when I discovered a beautiful bookshop in St Paul days before I left Minnesota for good, (Jan 1981, near Macalester College,) I bought a collection of Stoppard's plays as my very last purchase. I tried reading the play several times, (plays are my second fav genre to read,) but found this play incredibly difficult to understand on the pages; I didn't bother reading the other plays but gave the book away.

It was indeed good to see it. I can never pick up all or even much of the lines in period plays, but this was a lovely production with strong actors, and lovely but not strictly period costumes. The stage set was minimalist but beautiful, but really, the acting was mesmerizing. Joshua McGuire and David Haig were masterful, but a couple of tragedians with no lines intrigued me more: I'll be on the lookout for Louisa Beadel and Alex Sawyer in the future.

Daniel Radcliffe was in it, too; though I have nothing against him, it was the stark contrast of his depth of theatre training with everybody else's that enabled me to deeply appreciate the others. (Ben and I've been talking about this, with increasing mixture of English and American actors in films we see, many English actors mixing theatre and film careers.) Radcliffe's diction was muffled; his facial expression, hidden behind a beard, nonexistent; and he had a tiny vocabulary of body language. It was only when the camera got closer that his inclusion was justified, somewhat. (Besides the international PR value.) And though this is hardly his fault, he has a markedly smaller head than McGuire and Haig, which made him peculiarly less visible, less noticeable, on the stage.

And one last thing. The fewer the lines, the less significant the roles, very generally speaking the actors were taller and slenderer. This made stunning visuals in the few scenes a whole lot of them were on stage. And I mean, jaw-dropping.

Now I want to read the play.

Alarm going off in quarter of an hour; I better try to catch some Z's.

Monday, September 11, 2017

I See Red

The remedy for yesterday's cashmere blunder was a no brainer; because the wefts were clasped, I unpicked, (rather than attempt a sexy maneuver with a needle,) wove another 40cm and finished the piece. Instead of starting the second piece, I cut off the first piece and began pulling the rest of the warp forward; I couldn't finish tonight, but tomorrow morning I hope to have shortened warp with more even tension that can go back on the loom later. Then I'm putting the red warp on so I can make the commission piece first, then this warp afterwards. I'll take a picture of the red warp when it's on the loom; it has three reds in BB-AB-AA-AC-CC-CB-BB progression, 24 inches, 18EPI. The weft, I think, is B, just one color.

I have two final candidate drafts and I like them both but I can't decide which suits the warp color changes better.
I love the way these squares look curvy in this advance twill; I've used it before but I think it suits this red-on-red combo.
This looks fancier but I haven't managed to modify the number of warp ends in a repeat with what I've already got in the warp chain. Working backwards, I know.

Maybe the first one.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Wait, What??

This morning I woke up and thought: Sept 10 already; 43 days before I leave for Japan and we're busy for a further fortnight after I come home, so that's 41 days after I leave. I wasted so much time with this cold, I better put on my big girl pants and got cracking.
I wrote out a work schedule, the kind I usually have in my head or scribble on the back of envelopes and receipts. I need to finish the baby blankets. I need to weave one red cashmere commission piece to hand-deliver in Japan, on the Jack loom, meaning I have to finish the current cashmere warp before I can get to it. These are minimum Must-Dos; another online sale if I can manage. Goodness, suddenly I'm so busy, and not a hibernating sloth any more. (I don't think real sloths hibernate...)

So instead of going outside to put down more hellebore seedlings into the ground, (which needed doing a couple of months ago, and I so want to make progress, but I'll get it done before I go,) downstairs I went.

The baby blanket with the blue weft went OK; the double-width weaving is a tad hard on the body, but I managed the two repeats I expected. One W crossed on the list. (I know, cryptic; it stands for "weave".) Then I moved onto the cashmere and things went well; I wove the expected 40cm; loosened the tension, went around the back to take off the bleach bottle, came around to the front, and, wait... WHAT??
The large S-hook from which the bleach bottle hung must have gotten stuck on the lease stick, or something much worse and unimaginable. I'm weaving this piece under super loose tension and in retrospect I may have detected the left side tightening but not enough to stop and check the back. And the audiobook was good.

Crikey.

I was by then tired and cold, so I'll think of remedy options overnight and rework it tomorrow. I'm wondering if I can keep the yellow in and only rework the orange. Probably not, but worth thinking.

Crikey.

While weaving, I did learn from yet another van Gogh biography that 1) on the day Vincent showed up in Paris in 1988 and sent Theo a note saying, "here I am!", Sigmund Freud, having completed his studies, left Paris for Vienna; 2) Gauguin fenced, and he took his foil/s to Arles, and he was the only "witness", (Gauguin claimed Vincent confronted him on the streets with razor in his hand earlier in the evening,) ergo the assumption Vincent sliced his ear off, (the latest is it was the whole ear, not just the lobe,) with his own razor, but 3) if Gauguin hurt Vincent but Vincent covered for him in Arles, it is possible René Secrétan shot Vincent in Auvers and Vincent covered for the boy as well. You know?

:-D

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Collection of Near-Inidenticals

On Tuesday when I posted about grids, (about which I have been almost giddy these last few days,) I thought I had more examples of "collections" instead of only the pebble drawing of yore. Today I remembered quick collages I did a week ago. The saturation and hue variations in real life are more varied, but you get the gist.
I have, dare I say, only 16 shafts. Minute differences in shapes and positions need accommodating, (let's face it, simplifying,) even with careful planning, which is disappointing. Unless I employ pick-up extensively. 

In these "collections", I also like each element to be slightly different, not too much. So, my favorites are top-middle, although preferably dots closer to each other,) and sections of bottom-right. Although I also like bottom-left quite a bit, that appears to me a completely different end-product, e.g. a real tapestry.

What do you think??

EDIT: Top-left is supposed to be dots of identical shape/size. They are not, only because of my tracing-the-shape-of-glue-stick skills, and cutting skills.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Gripping Grids

Staying with LJ and swaps with Tess, (by which I mean not gifts but collaborative work, usually two of us taking turns to work in two books three times each, so mine would be worked by me-Tess-me-Tess-me-Tess then returned to me to keep,) the latest has turned into a mind-boggling geometric gymnastics.
We took four pieces of paper 20cm*20cm, folded them three times, (horizontal, vertical, and one diagonal,) and glued them together to create a book of sorts. We both experimented with different sizes, number of sections, and especially orientation for gluing.

Had I been a forest person I might have had some inkling, but because I am so a tree person, I naively imagined working in, oh, eight 20cm*20cm squares. (I'm calling the outside center of the page Corner A just in case you feel compelled to experiment yourself and/or to fully understand my gibberish.)

Wrong!
For my book now travelling to Scotland, I glued the sections with Corner A positioned at top left, bottom left, top left and bottom left. Sampling told me this would give me the first page opening up, then down, then up, and down again. It turns out, (pun intended,) there is no real up and down because this depends on how I hold the book. And if you are confused, don't worry because this is not the important part.

If you glue the sections together with all Corner As on the left or the right side, regardless of top/bottom, the book has a spine/out-side and a fore-edge/in-side. And while the inside or the side towards me has as many independent square pages as the number of sections, (so, four in my swap book,) [Important Part Alert] all of the outside pages are interrelated.

(If you mix placing Corner As on left and right sides, you have pages opening on both outside and inside. If you can cope, you could potentially make two contents in one physical book. If you're like me, you would almost tear the sample/book trying to figure out how the pages open!)
I used pens on the outside pages and watercolor on the inside pages in my swap book.

If I draw one design in one whole outside page, a quarter or two diagonal quarters become/s part/s of another outside page. And that threw me. I first worked on the first outside page, or what most resembles a front cover in Western-language book. I doodled a grid in, (and here my English gets super dodgy,) rotational symmetry in quadrants, i.e. identical but turned 90 degrees. The whole page looks the same regardless of which side is on the left/top/right/bottom. Then I opened another outside page, and heck! (Sorry for the super low-res pics, I used them just to communicate with Tess, but you get the gist.)
From there on working on four outside pages was like picking a lint off your sweater only to realize you're unravelling the whole garment, only in this case it was piling up and cramming in lines in a way so not according to my plan.

This is probably not going to tie in with my weaving, but it's been gripping; I see a few mini books with lots of lines in my future.
I also found this photo in my camera; a different journal swap with Tess, it's an A2 sheet folded "zine" style in six sections, 12 pages. With the yellows and greens, I was looking for blue pieces of painted paper to unify it, when I saw oh-so-many "Fire and Fury" paper, and used one. Very unlikely color combination for me, but I do like it. This might show up in a weaving some day.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Griddy

This winter, Ben and I have had a couple of stints of knock-down-drag-out cold. And what's with the cheer in my voice, you ask? This is the kind of cold I know, the kind I had once a year most of my adult life, where there is no doubt I'm sick, not being lazy. I used to see my week of cold as an annual regrouping, and almost looked forward to it. Nothing like the icky underlying-ongoing-unreasonably-tireness.

A couple of times I went a-weeding to make imperceptible progress, too. I try not to feel overwhelmed or discouraged by the magnitude of the task; I am plenty ashamed of not having worked harder and more over the cooler season. Still, it's nice to put things into the ground and watch them perk up in the rain.

* * * * *

Pat helped me with the tapestry technique just before she went to the US; she was to come see me when she got back, and I was going to work like a machine to finish two warps, (six to eight pieces,) if not all three warps in that time. Pfffftttttt. I haven't finished even one piece, and she's been back a fortnight. But I finished the gray piece, and started a second, blue piece. The draft is similar but different.
The cashmere. I started for the fourth time. Although the colors and shapes are the main focus, I wasn't happy with the weaving, the cloth, so I decided to make the color areas bigger in this first piece. The treadling is the simplified 4-3-2-1-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-1-2-3, but I might mix it up a little. Or not.
Sorry about the bad colors and the wonky tension; it was late andd I took off the bleach bottle at the back weighting the left end. The right selvedge is crap; curiously, when I was using the trickier treadling and weaving slowly, selvedge was better.

* * * * *

Recently a thought came to me while weeding. One of the things I find visually pleasing is a row or grid of similar but unidentical things, like the pebbles I did a while back. This was the original doodle.
I've always been attracted to photographs of, say, five or seven hand-thrown teacups in a row, and how sad cup/s looked at home in comparison. I always put it down to something like the psychology of advertising or doubting I've selected the "right" cup/s, but only recently realized it's more about visual pleasure than greed. And how much less I'm interested in a row of identical items/motifs.

The grid drawing I've been doing for a year for mix media swap journals is another; to me these are the same as collections of motifs. I'm quite enamored by my grids, so I'll post a few, some of which you have seen before.
From September last year and  two of the first; I wanted something that look like maps or aerial urban shots; I had in mind post-war Japanese shanty towns.
In early October, hard to see, but I draw on top of all kinds of backgrounds, and the focus was for the grid to appear in and out of the backgrounds. I used metallic gel pens so depending on the angle I could always see my grid clearly.
By late October I was trying different size pens for different size grids. These are not drawn on the pages, but drawn elsewhere, scanned, printed onto transparent plastic, and rubbed on.
In November, I focused on extending a map.
In late January; I started out drawing my usual map but it/they morphed into building/s, making me think of the SIS building to be specific. This was the first time I saw my grid vertically, leading me to think of cityscapes and flat maps simultaneously.
I've done numerous grids since but this last weekend I most definitely had cityscapes in mind for these envelopes. And the closer the buildings to me, (bottom of the envelopes, which got cut off in the scanning but you get the gist,) the smaller and more crowded.
Backgrounds, (watercolor monoprint blotches for these,) enhanced the feel of cityscape; more generally they give another element/dimension, in some instances distractions, in others a focus. I did the right one first and you can see me undecided whether this is going to be a map or a cityscape whereas in the left there is no hesitation. I even left a wee gap at the top.
For a year I worked with limited variety of marks: vertical and horizontal lines or + signs in different density, and earlier on, coloring in. I started including vertical and horizontal within a grid, and somewhere I tried an x. On the right, I started exploring greater variety of grid, (i.e. building) sizes and leaving more blank.

Our coffee table is made of recycled wood which is not only not at all flat but has gaping holes. (Ergo visitors are asked to use coasters not to protect the surface but to prevent their cups/glasses toppling. Seriously!) At first crooked lines bothered me greatly but they give a different flavour to the more regimented look. Slanted horizontal lines in particular give the feel a building stands at an angle to others.

I draw grids, them sometimes cut/tear to use in collages, and even draw grids, waves, and other things on top of the collages in same and different colors/mediums. I'm playing with these for three reasons: first is I love drawing these in the evenings while the telly is on, or off, to unwind and concentrate simultaneously; secondly, I wonder if this is one way to reconcile my more predictable, plan/sample/weave work mode with a more relaxed/thrilling-but-hit-or-miss mode, combining meticulous drafting with hand-manipulated techniques, (which is most definitely easier said than done, I know); the third is I'd like to develop these so I can draw more refined/considered versions to make something I want to frame and hang on my wall, or as a 3D "architectural" model. (To me they are close enough to architectural drawings I've always liked, with Outsider/Naive/Deconstructionist/Abstract flavour, to make them unique and hide technical shortcomings.)

Life is full of wonder.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Random

Heyho! I've been doing a bit of weaving, a bit of mixed media, a bit of gardening, but because I'm all over, expect no finished anything.

The temps are so that if we light the fire it gets too hot; without it it's chilly-ish. But unlike my family in Japan, (all three grew up in the same house where some winter mornings we could see our breaths, which the parents thought was character-building,) I don't panic just because it's chilly-ish; they blame it on my having spent a decade in Minnesota, but houses in Minnesota are centrally heated, so no, they are wimps. As I get older 15C, which is all I needed in this house the first 18 years, started to feel slightly on the cold side but 16-17C I like during winter days. 

A mild cold robbed me of beautiful weeding weather last week. At first I noticed 17-18C inside didn't feel as comfortable as usual, and thought I was being lazy, again, or overdid it weeding in the cold. Unable to muster enough gumption to go out, and feeling slightly queasy, I started taking supermarket cold meds, which didn't work, so after a couple of days I got naughty and took another after two hours rather than the prescribed four and it finally kicked in.

I complained to Ben, and upon interrogation, it transpired I was supposed to take two capsules at a time, so the first couple of days I was on half dose. I probably knew previously but I take these so seldomly and most of my life I survived on half (or quarter) dose of most meds so I'm still miffed why it didn't work as usual. Do old bodies react less to medication, which to me sounds counterintuitive, or have some ingredients stopped working for me?

Yesterday I read some of the art/exhibition-related articles I've bookmarked in the last few months. There was no standouts, but I really enjoyed the reading, and was reminded how I struggled with art writing as a newbie 10-15 years ago. For me, the trick has been to read only what I like, and that turned out to be not necessarily about art I like, but the writing itself. I feel grownup having finally caught on to the fact there is "art writing", (as there are history, science, travel, food, book review, yaddah yaddah,) separate from art/artists, and some are to my taste, some are not.  
At long last, I saw the error of my ways with a not-as straight-forward treadling while mixing colors and considering composition on the cashmere warp, and started over, again, in 4-3-2-1-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-1-2-3. Not only can I weave faster, but the resultant cloth will be tider in theory. I wove as much in two hours, with a fever, as in two afternoons using the previous treadling. I'm also wondering if I should have all colors start from the side and not in the middle so as to avoid having to sew in weft ends in the middle of the piece and causing bumps in the cloth. (Pic above is not under tension but a couple of ends have weights on.)
Vague images of drawing/painting/collage pop up in my head but I don't understand them and can't pin them down. I set out to make a few colorful pieces to be used in collages, but what came out was more fire and fury. Four reds, two greens, one brown watercolor and gouache on drawing paper, but too many layers, especially gouache, obliterated the earlier nuances. Pity.

Usually at times like these, I start making warps; maybe tomorrow. I have a few ideas I want to work out on the loom, too, but much later.
Unidentified succulent given to me by Kathleen, my Bowen Technique specialist, keeps breaking and growing babies. I have three biggish, (20-30cm) pieces outside, and tons of babies inside and they still keep growing babies! (Sorry the pic is so out of focus.) At her place, some mature plants in the ground were 50cm or taller and from memory had bluish/purplish flowers I mistook for something else. Cornflower?? Which is why she gave me some.   

Ben's making almond flour cheesecake. Maybe that will get rid of my cold because we are both sick of me asking him if he's cold, too, every fifteen minutes.

EDIT: If you pay attention to the cashmere piece pic, where I change colors the over/under is sometimes disrupted. I haven't learned when that happens, but I hope to eventually because I've been able to see/fix some of the time.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Weaver Weaves

Life seems to be back on the old/default track, albeit much slower; I've been gardening a bit, weaving a bit, cooking a bit, and... wasting a lot of time dithering. The only thing that's different from before when it all went downhill is that somehow I'm keeping up with the drawing-every-day thing: I don't draw every day, but manage between 8 and 10 a week, so numberwise, I'm ahead, but then they have become super quick, (mostly blind,) line drawings. I think the goal this year is to stick with the plan, although I keep drawing the same faces by Matisse, Modigliani and van Gogh, so I'm learning a bit about a few.

This week's weaving has been the familiar twill, double width; the warp is Merino/Mohair, the weft is merino and I'm doubling it to make the width approximately the same as the warp, 20EPI/40DPI and slightly sticky. The weft repeat is short for me at 156 picks. I don't make very nice centers with double-width, but for the client, if she still wants these, this is sixth, and the seventh will be on the same warp, same threading, with mid-blue merino of the same size and a different draft.
 Seen from the side. 
The weft is a pale gray marl, which is why I wanted the Merino/Mohair, to better show the design. I'm always taken aback when I need one or even three whole days to finetune the draft because the basics don't take that long; it's the fine-tuning and fixing the long floats without destroying the overall look, (even though they may be indistinguishable in the end,) that takes up time. Perhaps if I spent longer in the earlier stage my twills will be more varied.

The reason why I moved on to this piece, why I had the gumption to find/fix two threading mistakes I marked almost a year ago, was because I got lost/fed up with the tapestry-technique piece.
If you remember, I got started; the treadling was tricky but I color-coded it in small segments; and Pat clarified the technique so I was good to go, in my head. (It took a longer to get the body used to it.) But the way I switched colors was the usual zigzag, (what I call "kasumi", or "mist/cloud", a Japanese visual device used when depicting bird's-eye view,) and I wanted a less fussy pattern so I started over. But they don't look all that different, just slightly less fussy, so I'll keep going, mixing things up a bit. I think.

By the time I started the second time, I had half the treadling memorized so the weaving went somewhat faster, but I need breaks every two repeats lest I get tired and cross-eyed.

I want to write more about this piece but I'll wait until I'm happier about it. Or at least have made more progress.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Envrion-mentaly Friendly Mixed Media

This is not a post introducing new/fav materials, but soliciting suggestions. I'm modifying a post I placed on the FB Letter Journal group on FB because frankly, although hardly my biggest problem, this has been doing my head in.

I've always been uncomfortable with the amount of acrylic-based material prevalent in contemporary mixed media and didn't buy much until I joined the LJ group. A couple of months ago I finished three newish pens in one night, and was appalled by the use I got out of them vs. the amount of plastic I was throwing away, and felt the need to draw a policy for myself. Although it would be nice to get rid of all petroleum-based products, this is 2017 and in some cases convenience wins, and I don't always understand names of chemicals/ingredients, but I assume that means baddies. I've started a tentative list of things I can/should not buy when I run out of them. Can you please help me add/change/update with material you know that would help me reduce petroleum consumption? Thank you.

Use:
*Pencils: lead, oily, water-color, ink/sumi
*Charcoal & conte & pastel- the powdery kind
*Crayons & pastel & sticks: oil, water, ink
*Paint/dyes in cake or metal tube; watercolor in half pan allowed for now to fill with tube paint later (Although are metal tubes environmentally better than plastic?)
*Ink/sumi/dye/pigments
*Brushes, sticks, feathers, fruits/veg, etc, etc.
*Pen nibs / fountain pens?
*Also buy individual colors not in ornate sets/packaging
*Also buy bigger sizes if in plastic and if I like the color??
*Glue in tubs - also test rice glue
*Paper/newspaper/natural fibers
*Worthwhile refills of items on "Avoid" list
*Eraser, eventually reusable soft kinds only.
*Sandpaper
*Ceramic/metal containers/palettes; recycled plastic containers/palettes

Avoid:
*Acrylic paint and associated products for textures, adhesive, sparkles/shine, and all the next best things. Gesoo??
*Most pens including ink/paint/gel/felt-tip unless good refills are available
*Washi tapes until I know more about commercial products because they don't feel like real washi.
*Paint in plastic tubes if possible
*Plastic tools, especially if I can make them
*Kitchen plastic wraps for effects.

OK for now but look for alternatives:
*Spray varnish; used to seal many of my preferred material, especially on envelopes; cf. liquid varnish - are they all acrylic? Are others better or worse? (I use spray because hubby uses it, too.)
*Glue stick when not home
*Possibly white/gold/silver/bronze gel pens, cuz... I like them.
*Probably oil-based felt-tip pens in black in a couple of widths, possibly blue and red
*Kitchen wax paper - look for very thin plastic table cloth?? Also, check "how to make" vids and see if I can make them thin. I put them between paper/pages and then stick them under weight to flatten the whole journal, or to post to the next person when unsure if the pages are completely dry.
* Disposable gloves - although the better ones Mom sent me can be used for at least half a dozen times before getting crusty with dry paint/glue, etc.

Questions:
*One of the things I'd like to try on Tess' suggestion is portable plastic brushes with a compartment for water, in conjunction with ink; has anyone tried this?
*I used to be able to buy gel pen refills in more colors than I found pens, Japan?, but haven't seen them here so I'll go online. Know a good site? I have 30 or so shells, and I sure hope they don't come in skinny plastic tubes!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Money, Travel, Pricing

Oh, dear. I knew tapestry technique would be slow to weave, but tt takes so long to unpick! I'll show some pictures when I make some progress, but the bigger, color-coded treadling plan print out helped. A little.

I wished I could tell you I got back to weaving after being struck by lightening, or Melbourne/Vincent/Matisse/[insert_almost_anything] did the trick, but my life rarely includes that kind of filmic moments. It's actually because: a) I wanted money to: i) replace what I spent during the April Auckland trip; ii) help pay for the Melbourne trip; ii) let me to go to Japan later this year or Feb next year; and iv) help pay for our Otago/Southland, (bottom of the South Island,) road trip in November; b) I got tired of being unproductive; and c) while exploring the various mixed-media techniques, I remembered how familiar loom-weaving is to me, albeit nowhere near as free or spontaneous, and I wanted to it back in my life. It's like returning to another van Gogh book every so often; I know the cast of characters and the basic plot, so I have room to appreciate the nuances and enjoy different authors' spin.

Earlier in the year Mom asked me when I'm coming home next, (a first,) and when I said Feb, she complained we couldn't travel in Feb. I was slightly taken aback, because she's never made demands on my trips and Feb is, if the trains keep running, the least crowded and nice. I was sure she'd forget the conversation and indeed she had. It was, however, on Ben's mind and after Melbourne he reminded me several times about Air New Zealand's Asia sale.

So, I'll be going home for a few weeks in Oct/Nov. (Coincidentally, in time for "van Gogh and Japan" at Tokyo Met Art Museum, who latet last year hosted "van Gogh and Gauguin" when I was keenly reading up on the subject. Just down the road National Western Art Museum will be showing "Hokusai and Japonism" at the same time. Don't you just love it when folks work collaboratively?) As regards going somewhere with Mom, I'm thinking of something different from her usual travels, like a few days in Osaka, best city in Japan for foodies. We shall see!

And this is why I'm having another look at my selling strategy, for want of a better word. Suter is the only outlet now, and it'd be nice to develop another, but I also enjoy the occasional online-sale, even though it's labor-intensive; practice does make it easier. Since April 1, I sold three during the cashmere sale, plus another at the Suter, income total almost reaching a quarter of Auckland flight/accom+Melbourne flight/accom+Japan flight.

Small cashmere scarves sell the best at the Suter; I think it's the price, size, and the fact over half of those who buy my things at the Suter are overseas visitors, and the tiny scarves make handy mementos of a trip to Nelson. Also in the new Suter shop, my wider pieces are folded so narrow they aren't shown to their best advantage.

The smaller scarves are fast to make, unless I insist on many weft colors in tapestry technique. And they are cost-effective. (I hope I'm using that term correctly.) Of all cashmere and cashmere-mix pieces, the small, 6-8 inch width scarves allow me make the most profit in relation to the cost of yarns, excluding taxes and shipping to bring the yarn over here, whereas some wider pieces allow me to recover less than 150% of the cost. I learned this by weighing the cashmere pieces in the last sale; all these years I imagined my endeavours were slightly more profitable. (But wider cashmere pieces are scrumptious.)

Merino yarns are less expensive but those I tend to put on the 16-shaft, making them more time-consuming and labor-intensive; I haven't looked into merino cost/price ratio but now I'm interested. Mixing silks and wool from Mom's stash sure help.

I've never took art-pricing flormulae seriously, as I'm so slow everything I make will end up ridiculously expensive. Very early on I wanted to generate enough income to pay for material/equipment/a few books and one or two workshops a year, (so optimistic!) but this side of 2008, (or 2009 when it really started to affect me,) I've only aimed to recover yarn cost and postage. Which I've been able to some years, because I stopped buying yarns and books for the most part, only augmenting the stash to help using them up nicely. But that felt a little... sad in that it's so unambitious, almost apologetic. So this year, belatedly, I dared to aim high, to make enough to cover a big part of my Auckland/Melbourne/Japan trips.

Grand ambition! I have a few commissions which will help me reach almost half of the goal. I'll have at least one more online sale, and a bunch of different-looking small pieces at the Suter, so maybe I can get over the halfway point? LOL. You can see why I quit filing income tax returns. The business side of my weaving is ridiculous; I think it takes the fun out of weaving sometimes.

So, to the loom!

Do tell me how you price your work, what you think about them, how you manage/combat the selling side of your weaving, please??

Monday, July 17, 2017

Weavering / Weaving

The weavering

I've been trying to read books about art, artists/artisans, textile, weaving, but I hadn't been able to stick to any for ages until I came across a Matisse book I bought in Brisbane. It's about Matisse and modernism, and the text is in that convoluted, old-style art writing, but for some reason I'm enjoying it, albeit in small doses. I've done marginally better gazing at pictures.

I have been talking to friends about how I could continue weaving, knowing my technique sucks; Finn, Lloyd, Thomas, and, oh, Stella again and again, and of course Ben. I know what I don't want to do now and that is to move into "textile art", however one defines it. I know what I don't understand and that is "to make a feature" of my bad technique. Otherwise we spoke of changing my POV, deconstruction, mending, ornamentation, and a few other things I should have written down but I didn't. I felt a little disingenuous at these times because I was speaking entirely from my head, as if it was all someone else's worry.

In fact, I find myself not as enthusiastic about anythings compared to how I have been all my life, not passionate, not even biased or partial the way I think I've been all my life. It's not all bad because I've long worked to becoming more composed and analytical, so if it's working that is good news, but it could be aging and not caring, and that's a harder one to take.

At this point I've got mixing colors, making fussy/unpredictable/irregular patterns, and using textures to obscure technical booboos to some degree.

While talking to Stella before Melbourne, I knew as we spoke I wasn't catching the full extent of her advice, and I told her as much. I wasn't taking notes and hoped with enough time to regurgitate I'll discover I understood more. When I came home I couldn't remember much of the important stuff, but I learned something I might have known for a while: when I listen to advice, especially when it involves something new to me, I visualize cloth that includes that new element, like my weaving USB stick. And I remember exactly when I started this, in the afternoon of the Art Expo ten years ago when I was bored out of my wits with no galleries/shops interested in my work. I knew I needed a way to hold visual information, which was new and foreign to me then; now I need another way to store conceptual/ephemeral information.

On Wednesday, I went to see a film on Matisse with Jean; she has the ticket stubs and I don't know the title or the production year, but it was in a doco-style, with no actors playing his or anyone's part. It showed places he lived/worked superimposed on his paintings or vice versa, fading in/out, and the narrative was a composite of his letters, almost all complaining about money. My word, he was as constant a whinger as Vincent or me on the subject, and the overall tone of the film was unnecessarily depressing.

Often we only saw details or portions of a painting, and there was nothing, for example, about the "movement" that were Impressionism or Fauvism, not much about his friendships, or the many deaths of loved ones. As far as films go, I give maybe 6 out of 10, but I had an experience I hadn't in ages, of my body recalling the motion/sensation/emotion of weaving on my big loom, in reaction to the visuals. That's another "normal" I'd forgotten for give or take a year; I used to get this rush whenever I saw certain kind of visually pleasing films, to the detriment of not being able to pay attention to the film itself and wanting to go home right away.  On Wednesday, I had a full afternoon of errands to run, so I couldn't. But I was pretty sure the weaver in me was back, at least for the moment.    

* * * * *

The weaving.

I threaded and started weaving this warp before Ben brought home the aforementioned workplace germs. It was meant to be the first of three quick cashmere warps for small pieces, to top up the Suter shop; the new shop space and new shop manager's style of displaying textiles suit smaller pieces best, and as of Wednesday there is only one left.
I started with one weft color per piece in mind, to whip up between nine to twelve quickly, then I got sidetracked and started mixing things a bit and needed Pat's help, (from which side to introduce a third color, and it turned out I cut and change the direction of the second color first!) feedback and reassurance, after I knew I was no longer contagious. And in spite of what I said about writing diluting ideas in the last post, writing/talking help me fine-tune my plans at the execution stage. I'm going to make a series with extremely bright, extroverted, "look at me" weft colors, although whether I'll mix weft colors in all nine-to-twelve will be known only when I finish the last.
Pat thought, well, I don't know what she thought, but in effect, "typical" of me to go for a not-straight-forward treadling. I've woven this before with one shuttle, which wasn't that hard, but then she left and I wove and half a dozen rows on I was lost. And it's 47 picks per repeat, (not 48+1) so I thought best to prepare a color-coded "you cannot miss it" treadling printout before I go unweave

The picture above is not under tension. I "made" all three warps with 130 ends, but while threading I discovered this one was missing 12 ends, so the light green end at the left requires a bottle of disinfectant hanging from an S hook while weaving.

At any rate, the weaver is weaving after nearly 11 months hiatus, although still rather inept.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Lighting, Writing, Weeding and Weavering

We've had a cold spell wreaking havoc up and down the country, except, again, Nelson has been chilly, the days starting at lower teens inside our house, in centigrade, and a few nights not quite getting to the cosy 18C in spite of a roaring fire, but you know I love it.

It's been an interesting winter, and in fact an interesting 18 months of changing climate. If I remember correctly, last summer wasn't as hot as the two before, with more rain, although not in regular doses but in all-or-nothing fashion. We didn't have spring/autumn gales, in fact compared to 2015 (??), nothing. We had a few hot summer days here and there, most notably the few days around the end of Daylight Savings, then winter chills came astonishing early, within weeks of the end of summer, and not gently but dropping down to Nelson's usual winter lows. Our deciduous trees dropped brown leaves all in one week. Then the warm (for me?) temps came daringly early around winter solstice and it's not sad enough our long evenings were going to get shorter, but usually we have cold until late July, so I was in despair! Then came this cold spell, so for me, yay.

I like cool summers, cold winters and rain in Nelson, and loathe the seasonal wind. But I discovered the down side of not having enough this year; our firewood is moist. We got a wood in early January which is later than usual but not late, and because we were both still going to regular acupuncture appointments for our various ailments we didn't stack them right away. But where we lave them is our second best wind tunnel where usually in spring/autumn the wind rises from the sea, rushes up the hill and blows and shakes my house. The best is around my kitchen and front door where we stack our wood below the eaves; that's against advise of our chimney guy who said the best spot is under the roof of the tiny patio outside the kitchen, but that's lightly off the tunnel and though it doesn't get rain, if left too long firewood grow green growth especially around the bottom layer touching the red brick.

When winter temps started, meaning theoretically there is no more gales, Ben stacked two-thirds or two truck loads, (and slightly higher than other years so I can't reach the top!) and we had a good amount of last year's, drier for starting fire, but I'll conclude this segment by saying they ain't as dry as other years and now I begrudgingly appreciate the seasonal gales.

* * * * *

For most of the last decade, since I started Unravelling, I felt I wasn't being productive, the Cartesian unthinker, unless I documented here what I did, which led to this weird compulsion to share for friendship of other weavers, but also because I was utterly clueless as to how to work for myself, to be a good administrator, beyond paying bills and taxes. Besides having always been talkative. Then this became a convenient chronicle, often the one place I check to see what I did on a particular month/year.

As I moved further inside my head, I've also become suspicious of loosing/diluting/deforming ephemeral ideas/images by turning them into texts. Sure, sometimes ideas become clearer and "actionable", ugh, by writing/explaining about them, but also often they became narrower, trivial, ordinary. I also felt shallow, or that I was cheapening my ideas, by the short idea-action-plan turnaround, as if I hadn't thought of all options, say.

But then I've always had horribly short memory which continues to shorten, so unless I somehow keep hints I lose ideas. Sketchbooks had the same, (worse?) constricting feeling, so I've been auditioning a bullet point list; when a point accumulates too many sub-points, sub-points come in paragraphs, or I have three or four levels of sub-points, it's may be time to hunker down and write a post, or scrap it altogether. Maintaining this list also provides logical and lovely paths to illustrate a point from different perspective, but then you know better, I don't always follow these lovely paths.

Oh, dear.

The point is, I have surprised myself last week to find I have been rather productive, or at least busy, in spite of not having chronicled anything here. And I don't know which way I prefer.

* * * * *

Other than that Ben works in a school, with some colleagues with small children, and every July/August he brings home icky sticky germs, this year in late June, I have been well. I have not had many debilitatingly-tired-for-no-reason days; although two to three months later than usual, I have been gardening in spurts, (it's so cold it's perfect for me); I have been reading books on paper; and I have even been weaving/weavering. I would say life is back to normal if I know what my normal is/was, but with it returned insomnia. LOL, the roughly 16 months when the mood was in low I had only a dozen sleepless night, but the last two weeks, three. As usual, I blame the over-stimulation in the garden.

This normal includes a few permanent changes, the biggest being our diet; aiming for as little carbohydrate as possible will last for the rest of our lives unless some new study overturns the benefits we've seen. We do indulge in an occasional pastry or emergency frozen dumplings, and we ate toast every morning in Melbourne, but it helps I get upset stomach from wheat telling us we've had too much and our baking with almond and chickpea flour have improved. In fact, we have become more sensitive to delicate tastes and smells, I spend a lot more time in the kitchen and although I don't record stuff I notice things, and I've become a better cook in a relatively short time compared to, oh, the last 43 years when I tried really hard, off and on, to be a good cook. That's not a bad thing.

And mixed media now has a place in my life. I want to spend more time in the garden and weaving so there'll be fewer days/hours spent on it, but I love the spontaneous, worry-free way of making something pleasing to my eyes, and it's such a easy way to experiment with colors.

* * * * *

Last week I excavated my purple/gray/claret hellebores from the tall weeds because they started a little while ago. The wood ash is fertilizer/bird-digging deterrent to a tiny degree, but most importantly markers for where the plants are after I've cut off all the old leaves, especially important for newer, tinier plants and the one dark purple, ugh, I didn't see and stepped on and hope I didn't kill. Sticks, rocks, and mussel shells are place makers, too. Not the pretty pics of two years ago, but, oh, I do so love them.
This is the most dense part and when warmer and the big leaves have grown the ground is covered. I hope to expand further to the left, and double the hellebore patch.
The second darkest, of which I have a couple. The darkest "grays" (very very dark, bluer purple,) stay smaller and don't self-seed, so they are the ones I pollinate most enthusiastically, although here are never too many seeds; at least not enough for me.
 Whereas clarets self-seed freely; I'll spread these out probably next autumn/winter.
The white patch was weeded a few weeks ago and now it's time to weed the new weeds which were too tiny back then, and remove the leftover rubbish. Two freakishly vigorous pink lividus suddenly dropped dead last summer. I have two or three more of them left but eventually this area will be covered with Orientalis  singles of unknown or not purple/gray/claret colors. Although I have a lot of whites, I don't have a Niger; it was unintentional as the patch started with a couple of greens and one yellow, but that's gardening tough-love style.
I found these babies in the white patch but sadly not their mama, which wasn't a small or weak plant. Oh, dear.
These were started from purchased seeds mostly from the northern hemisphere. (When I pollinate, I stick seeds near the parents directly in the ground.) In the foreground are Orientalis singles of unknown colors; hellebores are notoriously hard to predict even when (cross_ pollinated under strict control by professionals, so we see a lot of "various/unknown" seeds, but they germinate readily, too. All others are different varieties of purples/blues/grays, and possibly one or two named "black", purchased over the years. Seeds from the northern hemisphere take a minimum of 18 months to germinate at my house, but I've had two kinds come up after 30 months, so when I plant them, I dig biggish holes and entire content of a pot goes into the ground just in case there is a dominate late-bloomer hiding. I used to thinly spread grit over the seeds, too, but about 1 cm of crushed seashells have worked better so seeds purchased in the last two years are covered with that, which sure makes it easier to see new babies.

* * * * *

I don't know how much longer we can stay in this house, garden the slopes, (and the parts I'm working in are the easier parts,) but most worrying, carrying firewood across the driveway, up narrow steps, and across our patio, up a few more steps. Perhaps we should consider putting a one-switch heating system soon. But it is nice living and feeling the slight changes in our tiny corner of the planet. I'm hoping ten more years here, though.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Charmed by Melbourne

I'm glad I got the Melbourne pics posted; I had been sitting on this post's words for a fortnight thinking about the too-many photos I have to go through. Melbourne is ever so photogenic.

Melbourne is wonderfully civilized, by which I mean people are polite and kind, and the size of Downtown/CBD is big enough to contain oh-so-many places of interest and beautiful buildings but small enough to remain manageable on foot; public transport is plentiful, easy to use, and in case of their achingly lovely tram, free inside the central part of the city, and information readily available. It's an amazing place as regards food, where we never had a bad meal, everything was fresh, high quality and delicious, including back street takeaway joints. I was almost tempted to try a fast food joint just to see how well they performed, but with only five days I didn't dare waste one meal; coffee didn't disappoint, (the worst we had was "average",) we knew this beforehand, but for me, brewed with the soft Melbourne water, accom owner Neil's biggest, gentlest tea leaves this side of the... 1950's was a real treat.
We chose our accommodation well; we tried AirBnB after hearing so many great reports from well-traveled friends. We wanted an apartment with kitchen, not sharing a unit, because we intended to shop at the Queen Victoria Market and cook at home. As the main goals of this holiday were art, architecture and urban photography, with whatever else we came across, (maybe some sketching, flâneur-ing, food and coffee tasting, with side trips to coffee roasteries, bookshops and art supply shops,) we wanted something unshiny, yesteryear-y, sans pools and gyms. After a few days, we found something we couldn't not have imagined in our wildest dreams. The places looks exactly like the photos, filled with Neil's late brother's artwork, Regency furniture, high ceiling and an old-time grace; beds were comfortable, shower better than our own. It's in an old converted office building, very central, but surprisingly quiet except for the weekend merriment across the street at Ms Colllins, not the club itself but folks waiting to get in, or out for a cigarette, and the obligatory urban police car at 2 or 4AM. LOL. The kitchen was smaller than we expected so didn't cook but assembled a few meals. There was no Wifi in the room, no all day Al Jazeera, Ben read a whole lot, I managed a tiny bit of sketching.

As planned we walked a lot in Melbourne; Ben usually clocked 18k steps by early afternoon, one day, before noon. But I was more out of shape, and we'd forgotten how to walk in/against the crowd. I got tired by mid-afternoon while Ben still wanted to keep going. I might have liked the accommodation more than Ben, too, and my current life of having plenty of time to savor/digest experiences may have highlighted our different "schedules". We did have one morning when he went to his favorite roastery while I stuck around the accommodation sorting the tourist info, doodling just a little, and taking photographs of the accommodation. It took two days for us to learn the lay of the land, and five until I could walk against the flow without thinking about it.

Here's a funny story. Ben had researched coffee grinders and he had to go to Padre Coffee, 438-440 Lygon Street, Brunswick East, a suburb north of the CBD. So on Day One we went to the Information Center, picked up the tram map and bought the tram cards, and off we went. He got what he wanted, plus some beans, and the cafe treated us to coffee. Friends had recommended many eateries in the Italian Precinct, mainly around the 300 block on Lygon Street, Carlton, a suburb between Brunswick East and Melbourne, so we thought we'd walk back into town. And we did. For perhaps an hour? More??  And though we found a few eateries, Lygon St was more industrial-looking with nothing like a "precinct", Italian or otherwise. When we saw 22 Lygon Street, we took the tram back into town, feeling more than disappointed.

On Sunday, we told friends Anaru and Roz how about this illusive "Italian Precinct", and they were slightly puzzled, until a light bulb went inside Roz's head: house numbers on the same street change/revert/repeat when they crossed suburbs. After 22, Lygon Street would have entered (North) Carlton, numbers resuming around 1000 on one side, 600 on the other, and it's this set of 300 block we were after, and A&R even took us to Brunetti on a crowded Sunday afternoon and a fab independent bookshop.

While the episode of the Italia Precinct was funny, the Greek Precinct was another story. In 2000 when Ben and I met up with my parents in Melbourne, we walked up and down one street trying to decide which cake shop to go into, and deciding after long last on the most crowded one very early in the day. This time, however, we found one big cake shop, (and it was big, and I took one pic, which I've since lost,) and one casual eatery, even though this time we were on the street marked "Greek Precinct". The Chinese Precinct next to it was most definitely there, though we were there too late for lunch and too early for dinner, so we only took pics.

Melbourne publishes a bookshop map. Can you believe it? We hit a few, and my best was either Books for Cooks near Queen Victoria Market, or the museum shop in National Gallery Victoria Australia-Ian Potter Centre, Federation Square, not the NGV International where the van Gogh exhibition was held. I only bought the van Gogh exhibition catalogue because I didn't see an Australian cookbook I wanted in the first instance, and everything at the gallery shop was so darned heavy. With Anaru's help, we also found one art supply shop; it was an intimidatingly serious place, mostly oil, and when I couldn't find a 150-180gms sketch pad I didn't ask. We saw some fancy portable paint brush in metal cases, though, very elegant, very yesteryear-y, very expensive. I wished I took pics of them.

Independently-owned shops are still plentiful and thriving in Melbourne. As are mending/repair/alteration shops. (Leather good repairs, in the center of town, no less!) And ever-so-many barbers and hair salons. And within downtown/CBD, no big neon or ugly signs, no big box shops in look-at-me colors. One of the eye-openers was they had a normal-sized supermarket in Southern Cross train station. In Japan, there are supermarkets in the basements of, or right next to, train stations, but not often right in the station and if you get off at a smaller station, they could well have been closed a long time by the time you went home. Melbourone's setup, where you can see the trains coming and going, seemed much more customer-friendly. Although, in fairness, it is about population, too; Japan has many more people at the station, and many more trains departing all the time. On the other hand, the population of Melbourne and Yokohama are not so different, so instead of boutique clothes shops, I say, supermarkets nearest to the stations!!

We didn't see one-tenth of historic buildings/museum/art galleries we intended to we didn't go look at tweed jackets or hats which was on my list of things I wanted to buy Ben. Because of our diet we didn't need to eat much, which was cost effective but perhaps better research may enhance our experience. I regret I wasn't in shape, but we need to discuss our different ways of enjoying/experiencing things. Ben used to be the one who didn't want me to cram our days with To Go Lists for years, so this was a surprise reversal. I had a hard time coping with big city crowd; I had a hard time relaxing most of the time and I'd be interested to observe how I cope with crowd the next time I'm in Japan. I wished I sketched more, and next time, at least part of the tip, we'd like to stay in an accommodation with a regular kitchen so we can cook with ingredients from Queen Vic Market. Oh, seafood and butter!!

And if all goes well, if neither of us has a medical/dental emergency and we don't have to replace major appliances, (fridge is already on the list; we can hear it vibrate from the bedroom now,) we may go back within the year while our tourist visa is still valid. Ben wants to go back when the days are still longer so we can make more of our time.

Or Sydney, or Brisbane, or Adelaide.

Ben's are here.

Edit: a few more thoughts. Ben and I enjoy art exhibitions in a similar way, so whatever we do, however much time we spend, we can find each other at the museum shop. Every time we go to Wellington, I wonder if I want to move there, and the answer is always, yes, if we can afford to live in the CBD and still have some quiet, which we can't. The answer is the same for Melbourne; we heard the cost of living not only in the CBD but suburbs close by are prohibitive, but it is still a seductive idea. A month in the winter in an CBD apartment would be ideal for me; being able to travel there once in a while would be alright, too. Five days was always going to be much too short, but for our first holiday in 14 years not connected to family or workshops, it went well. We're just greedy for more.

Melbourne Pics - Part II

Before the trip, I resolved to take food, architecture/urban pics and a few selfies, as well as to sketch. I didn't do a whole lot of any of them, (two selfies??) but I am happy with  some of the urban pics I did get. Melbourne is so photogenic.   
Block Arcade entrance.  
I don't remember taking this, though. 
Chinatown. 
Almost filmic.
 
Amazing what stops me in my tracks. This day it was the pictures of
Mary in the Catholic Bookshop! 
Old and new. There were worryingly numerous holes in the city where presumably old buildings had been taken down to be replaced by the new.  
Money changers at the gates of the temple, or in this case a cafe in front of a Baptist Church that looks like a Greek not-quite-temple?? 
Brunetti on Sunday afternoon in the Italian Precinct; more on this later.  
Fish and Chippery, somewhere between the Italian Precinct and the CBD. 
A most pleasant afternoon with the Woods
After Round I at the van Gogh exhibition.
Our accommodation; more on this later, too.  
Our last morning came all too soon. We would love to go back, and sooner rather than later.