A rotten day – can nature help? – can inspiration?

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inspiration / Nature

These last November days have been rotten – rotten in numerous ways – no time, no space, no resources…

For the first day in a while the sun was a little out yesterday so I went for a walk to get some air and some perspective on all the rotten stuff.

The sky is all over the place on days like this.

Makes the heart a little lighter, the perspective a little clearer;

And provides inspiration for mark-making – pastels perhaps ?

And low sun to comfort the heart πŸ™‚

A little less rotten day ?

Pastel mark making

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Mark making in general

Life is a little too busy right now, so time to reflect and write about my three chosen textiles is a very slow process. So whatever energy is left late at night after a long working day is used for mark making and testing various media.

I love pastels, especially soft pastels, love the intensity of pigment and the versatility, so here is few examples of mark making, both with inspiration from forms but also looking at line and colour.

This set was done on ordinary white drawing paper torn out of a pad. Quick sketches to also look at composition.

Unison pastels on Japan paper – tentative mark making, what kind of colours are these?

Colour and layers…

And finally my french tea cup in free style πŸ™‚

An apron – one of the chosen textiles for Project 1

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Part one - Project 1

So another one of my chosen textiles is an apron. And not any apron – a Marimekko apron, a design Company known for its bold prints.

Marimekko is founded in 1951 by a women, Armi Ratia, modern, chic and sophisticated design for women.

Marimekko actually means “Mary-dress”.

I bought the apron in Helsinki in the summer of 2011 while on a brief vacation. I have had various Marimekko items over the years, the bright colours and distinct design has always had an appeal to me.

The Company have a good focus on values and sustainability, in their own words here.

Their website is good and informative, here is a bit about their design philosophy.

Substance / description

The apron is rather short, having a length of 81 cm. It is made of cotton with print. It ties around the waist with a knot. According to Marimekko the printing of fabric takes place in Helsinki on their own factory.

The prints are bold circles in roughly the same sizes, a diameter of 16 cm, but very different in their composition and choices of colours. The circles have little handles attached to them, they remind me of either a dishcloth or oven mittens, something everyday hanging on a little hook close to the cooker.

The decoration uses circles of varying thicknesses and also half-moon lines like below. The design looks handdrawn and un-even, part of the intended charm.

The apron has no lining and is machine stitched in a normal fashion, square corners and a fold to hide the threads.

Use of colour

The background colour is a rich chestnut Brown. I ran it through the Pantone colour app on my phone with the following result;

This snapshot also shows the weaving close in. As always fotos are not the same as reality, the apron is more dark Brown in real life.

On this background is a mix of colours, both warm and cold, mainly bright and clear so the circles stand out from the background. Nothing subdued here…

The circles have colour combinations of both complementary and more analogue schemes.

An essential part of an apron is the pocket, often placed in the middle of the apron . A big oblong piece of cloth randomly placed on top of the printed fabric – gives a good break in the circular impression of the apron.

Final comment

A useful piece of textile in a classical design but with bold forms and colour choices – very good branding – you know it is Marimekko.

Quick visit to an Exhibition between meetings

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I had a little time in Copenhagen yesterday between appointments so quickly visited a small gallery with an exhibition entitled β€œWabi-Sabi!”, and as I both have a love of this concept and also get to work with it later in this course, I thought it would be a good thing to do. A very good friend of mine came along, and it was as always good to have someone to share the experience with.

Well, it was a good thing to do, and at the same time it was strange, odd, unpleasant with little glimpses of kindness. Let me explain.

The artist is Birgitte Christens, a ceramicist, currently residing in Japan. The artist is working with the unseen taboos in our society around diseases, like Crohns, cancer etc. There were metallic water hoses combined with ceramic lungs, separate body parts, few glazed tiles based on X-rays of lungs combined with a few wabi-sabi bowls.

I could not make myself take pictures of the disease, life is full enough of that already, but I respect the intention of wanting to shed light on these unseen parts of the human condition. So instead I took a few pictures of the wabi-sabi bowls, also to look more closely at the glazes used.

These bowls were for sale as were a little collection of ceramic snails.

These were found on the floor in a corner, symetrically assembled. There was not a lot of titles so the interpretation was left to the viewer, more lungs, experiments or more hidden aspects?

This sculptural piece was perhaps the most engaging object, looks a bit like a water sculpture with a hole in the top and a beautiful blue glaze that looks like water silently moving. It was completely different from the rest of the items.


So an interesting break – something to think about, but also a thankfullness as I went out into the grey and rainy day for being able to do just that.

Mark-making inspired by shawl

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Part one - Project 2

A closer look at the shawl has inspired the following sketches;

Materials used

  • Japan paper in off-white, 60 x 42 cm
  • Markers of various colours and sizes
  • Hard pastels in various nuances of neutral
  • Derwent Graphitint and water
  • Thick cardboard


To get an initial feeling of the shawls texture and structure.


A hard pastel sketch of a corner of the shawl – looked at the triangle shape and the tassels. I tried to capture the essence and the texture in monchrome.

Tusch sketches trying to look at the meeting of lines and the space in between. I supplemented with at few lines in Graphitint and water to see the difference. Exploration of lines, including thickness and distance.

Japan paper on cardboard backing, looking at exploring lines through the use of hard pastel, various angles and meeting of lines. Using all sides of the hard pastel to look at differences in mark making.

Japan paper cut into triangles of various sizes – the beginning of small sketches an mixed media. Would like to do a collage with the tusch meetings mentioned above.


The hard pastels were a good medium for trying to capture more subtle nuances in essence and texture. Would like to develop this more.

The tusch sketches provided some insight into the meeting of lines – though I find the mark and the colours a little harsh for this mark making exercise. Will try to use them in a collage. But the process of making lines meet in various ways was good.

So on to a collage.

A shawl – one of the chosen textiles for Project 1

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Part one - Project 1

This offwhite fluffy thing is a gift meant for cold days.

It originates in the High Andes, bought by a good friend of mine on a side street in Buenos Aires in Argentina a few years back. It is made of llama wool, or so the story goes and very soft.

I have chosen it as one of the archive items for the following reasons;

  1. It is made of wool, and I see it as a fine representative of shawls
  2. It makes perfect sense for more meeting of lines
  3. Gives a sense of peace and calm
  4. It is a gift
  5. And it tells the archetypal story of manual craft, no matter the origin


Substance – initial findings

The shawl is triangular, measuring 162 cm (top width) x 66 cm (top to bottom) ex tassles.

It is made by wool, probably handspun, the yarn looks irregular. My friend told me the wool was llama, more on that later.

The colour is off-white, looks like the original colour of the yarn.

It feels a little oily and is shiny in places.

It looks wowen, shows in a place, where there is a hole in the shawl.

The tassels are made of single strands of yarn and finished with a knot, leaving a bit of straight wool. Looks like a very loose fibre has been used.

The tassels are fastened to the shawl by another knot. The tassels measure from 15-20 cm in length.

The shawl is very light weight and warm at the same time, just covering my shoulders.

  • Substance – further research

On llama wool

My friend told me the shawl was made of llama wool from Argentina, so I have been investigating that on the Internet and an interesting detail has come to light. It seems llama wool has no lanolin in it, so is suitable for people with allergies, but this goes contrary to the way the shawl feels slightly oily.

I think the shawl is made out of sheeps wool and not llama wool for the following reasons;

  • The presence of lanolin in the wool
  • Looking at single strands of wool, they twist naturally like sheeps wool
  • The production of llama wool is a lot more complicated than for sheeps wool as the llama has two very different layers of hair
  • If the shawl has been produced by local peasants and sold in a side street in Buenos Aires it is a lot more likely to be made of sheeps wool – cheaper and more easy to produce
  • When looking at pictures of llama yarn contra sheeps wool, the shawl has a lot more resemblance to the sheeps wool than llama.

So I think my friend bought sheeps wool thinking it was llama wool. Does it make a difference? Not to me – can see a marketing advantage in promoting something more exotic and special to tourists. Do I know for sure, no, and that is fine. Good process to be a bit sceptical.

References, among others





Argentinian wool producers

The shawl – initial mark making

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Part one - Project 2

Canson recycled paper, thick markers for meetings of lines and Polychromos coloured pencils to try to work with the texture between the lines – work with the paper texture and the idea of opacity.

And a little detail – various pressure of the pencil, moving the paper around and looking at light and shadow.

And magic – this flower fits perfectly in with colour and largesse…

Autumn melancholy – mark making

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Ideas and experiments / Mark making in general

Autumn is here – a number of grey and quiet days has passed, and so I have been out to soak up the energy of quiet withdrawing and with this a sense of melancholy.


Have tried to convey the feelings and impressions on small pieces of textured Japan paper in sepia. I have used Sepia charcoal to make the studies – not too much contrast.


Here are a couple of pages from my sketchbook showing the variety in composition, lines and pressure.

It almost look like a chessboard when seen from above πŸ™‚


A few details

I like the ridge on this one – more scrumpled paper would be good.


Pages with notes:

Would the outcome have been different if I had used coloured pencils – put a few colours down with Supracolor to indicate the mood.


A little more detail from the sketches I would like to develop more – like the movement and composition and scrumpled effect.

I really like the close up possibility the IPad gives – it is like a whole new landscape appears, somewhere to dive into and perhaps explore more – will try that.

The creative process when life is rough – a reflection

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Process notes / Thoughts to ponder

Life is a little rough at the moment, so I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the impact on my creative process.


Without a doubt the creative outlet is drowned in trying to make the everyday work, and to handle the rough seas.

On the other hand the creative process can also be an outlet, a sacred space to play, rest and enjoy myself. But often it will feel like another task on a too long list of to-doΒ΄es.


Experiments are difficult to begin as the questioning mind is blank – it only wants comfort and beauty. Lack of sleep is not good either.

  • What to do?
  • Are my expectations of myself way out of proportion with life at the moment?
  • Can there be joy in small creative acts unrelated to the projects?
  • How to continue with my assignment?
  • Is it possible to break down the assignment into chunks of varying intensity?

and how do I work/create in these rough times?


Doing the dishes I contemplate the notion of repetition and its healing possibilities. Mark making in my sketchbook – perhaps.

Will sit in silence for a while…

The view from my window

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The seasons

In my current daily sketchbook I often draw a quick sketch with coloured pencils of the view – this happens with my morning coffee in front of me.

The seasons are changing from summer to autumn, and I want to follow the changes more closely, so here are a few examples of the always changing view:

Lines and planes showing up

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Mark making in general

One of the exercises in Atessa during the textile course was to use no more than 10 lines to describe the planes and lines of a mountain landscape. A good exercise for removing the overwhelm which such a landscape can convey.

It was tricky at first – not to get caught up in interesting colours, details etc, but after a while it gave a totally different way of looking – very fascinating.

An example is here;

And with a value sketch as next step:

And finally a value sketch with four chosen colours:


Being home again, I sat in the bus yesterday on my way to the station, looking out over the beautiful landscape around me and suddenly – wow – a lot of planes, angles and lines – where is my sketch book πŸ™‚ – will be good to work with!

Project 1 – Selecting and identifying – Part one – 3 chosen textiles

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Part one - Project 1

So here are my 3 chosen textiles for part one.

Due to my living in the country side, a fair bit away from any textile archive and also because I would like the opportunity to β€œlive” with the chosen textiles, I have decided to look for archive items in my own home.

I have chosen a golden silk pillow of unknown origin, a woolen scarf of known (well almost) origin and an apron of my own buying.

I have tried to make a selection as diverse and as interesting as possible, a few essentials reasons and words on the selection process;

  • Examples of wool, silk and cotton
  • Examples of heritage, gift and purchase
  • Examples of variations in texture, form, colour, line, age, materials etc
  • Examples of domestic use, use for decoration and a combi
  • Examples of textiles used by the man on the street, via the kitchen to a high-society living room
  • Examples of how diverse textiles can be, even when found in my own home


Looking forward to the process and the discoveries πŸ™‚

A definition of textiles and story telling

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Part one - Project 1

A textiles definition could be;

  • An object in 3 dimensions which tries to interpret/support/understand life on this planet.
      • Something you can touch with your body, strong tactile properties
      • Something you can look at
      • Something you can wear
      • Something useful
      • Something you can manipulate with your body in the broadest of sense
      • Something you can hear
      • Something you can survive with
      • Something carrying a story
      • Something that comments on society and the human condition in general
      • Something that has always been around


      I find that all textiles have a story, either through their inherent properties, like yarn with a certain ply, dye, origin etc or through a conscious manipulation, like a textile piece commenting on a political situation.

      So it can be a more “simple” story or a combination of many stories combined to a new story, and so it goes on. These textile stories tie in with the human story to support or to make visible the formless.

      More thoughts to come – it is a process