Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dyeing day

I followed the instructions from 'Dyeing in plastic bags' by Hazel Deighan. I don't usually bother with following instructions and when I did this batch I was convinced I wouldn't get nice fabric. There seemed to be far too much fluid in the bags. The duff pieces are definately due to my bad scrunching, the recipe worked just fine. I may even follow it again :)

Some of the pieces will need over dyeing or maybe printing over, but I don't mind that. They do look nice and bright drying on my washing line. The one story building in the background is my studio, now finished and a joy to work in. Having this super space hasn't made me a better artist though. Shame about that...

Monday, May 18, 2009


We had a couple of hours to wait for the Cathedral to open so walked across the square to the Alcazar Palace. Typical huge stone walls but as we walked through the entrance there was a hint of what was inside. I started to perk up a bit when I saw this.

The orange tree planted right up against the stone wall was lovely, loads of ripe oranges too. Hmm, but Seville oranges are used to make marmalade so they weren't for eating.

The detail on the stone wall in the garden was great too.

Then we went inside

There were many amazing archways like this one, check out the detail and the colours

The doors had texture and colour and pattern too.

This is a detail from the door on the right

Did I mention the floors and the ceilings

I turned 360 degrees, looked up at the ceiling and down at the floor and was sure I had died and gone to design heaven.

There was far too much to see in one visit, I want to go back for a week with a pile of sketchbooks and pens and paper and crayons to do rubbings and and

If anyone is inclined to look at more photos from the places I visited you can go to and while away an hour or two :)


We docked at Cadiz and had a coach drive to get to Seville, which wasn't the top of my list of places to go, after Rome I thought it might be a bit of a letdown. The guide gave us a map and information about a couple of places we could visit. Because it was sunday the Cathedral was closed until 2.30 but was pretty spectacular both outside and in and well worth the wait. This view is by the entrance, zoom in to see the amazing carved patterns.

I have to share a picture of the tomb of Christopher Columbus.

The Green Man image is reasonably common in Britain but I also saw similar carved images all over Europe.

The cathedral has a gazillion wondrous things, many carved angels and an amazing gold wall behind the main altar which hurt your eyes it shone so much. If you look closely though, you will see the heavy layer of dust on the tableau, I don't know how often this is cleaned but it must be due any time soon :)

Sometimes you have to look in unusual places to find the best stuff and look what I found hidden behind a locked iron gate. The arm of each seat had a different image.

I was so frustrated to not be able to close up to these, I would have loved to take a picture of each one. You have to love those artisans who carved these.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

If it is thursday we must be in Rome

Yep, we went to the colusseum. Outside men wearing gladiator outfits were available for photos, I think this one must have wandered off somewhere.

The Colusseum is awesome. Huge, bigger than even I anticipated, and so atmospheric. I could have spent all day wandering around letting my imagination run riot. In this photo you can see the area which would have been below the arena floor. Those were the rooms where the gladiators and the animals and the christians were kept before the big show. See the little arches at the outer rim, they were the entrances to the elevators (a bit like dumb waitors, using a pulley system). The animals would come out of these straight onto the floor of the arena, via the square entrances on the left of the pic. There were over 50 of these. Part of the arena floor has been re-constructed so that we can make sense of the space. Over 55,000 spectators would come to enjoy the entertainment. The tourists help to make sense of the sheer size of this place.

This isn't a view you often see of the building, it shows how it was built, there were 76 entrances to allow the excited hoardes in.

Stand with your back to the (back of the) colusseum and this is the view. Incredible columns and archways.

Another view taken with my back to the Colusseum. It is like a church chopped in half, see the dome?

I have to share a couple of pics I took of rather odd stone carvings.
This one was one of many in a typical Roman courtyard. I wouldn't want to meet him on a dark night :

This quartet were on a plynth in the Vatican.

We visited the Trevi Fountain and threw a couple of coins in, in the hope that we can go back again one day. The Vatican was amazing, with inspiration everywhere and the Sistine Chapel is everything that I expected it to be. I have few pics from inside the Vatican as our guide whisked us through and there were too many people around to get good pics.

Naples, Herculaneum and Vesuvius

Most people who go to Naples will head for Pompeii, but we went there a few years ago so this time we headed off to Herculaneum. Most of the inhabitants escaped but the city was buried under mud when Vesuvius exploded. The city was much smaller than Pompeii but there are lots of interesting buildings and some magnificent plaster work still exists.

This was the grandest doorway.

I loved the windows that had the mud still in place.

This was a shop which sold wine, the urns are where they were the day the mud covered them.

Would you look at this wall - zoom in to see the carved head, it looks at bit like my dh :)

The guide told us that the people who painted the frescos on the walls were often slaves who were hired out. This sort of work wasn't considered art, more like wallpapering would be today. I was really interested in the colours used, mostly red and blue with some aquamarine but no green.
I asked the guide why they didn't use green but she didn't know the answer, if anyone knows please tell me. I like the Romans colour scheme very much :)

I loved roaming around this site and soaking up the atmosphere. I am always amazed at places like this, over 2000 years ago we had these wonderful buildings and art with baths and sanitation and drains etc, but just a few years later we went back to living in caves and wooden huts. Why?

After lunch we drove to Mount Vesuvius. It was a sunny day but the mountain had a cloud covering the summit. Our guide told us that no matter how sunny it is, Mount Vesuvius always has a cloud on top of it. She also told us that the path to the top was an easy slope and 300 metres. She fibbed about that! I never knew I had muscles in my buttocks until I walked up that path. It was cold and blooming windy too, those wisps are not smoke, it is the cloud we walked through. The white dots at the bottom of the hill are buses, ours was 500 metres further down the mountain.

About halfway up I turned around and took this picture, I don't think I captured the amazing colours though.
I was oh so glad we had a bath in our room, my poor legs and bum needed a good soak that night.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dubrovnik part 2

As I walked through the gates into the old town this fountain was one of the first things I saw. Each segment had a spouting head which reminded me of the 'green man' carvings.

Everywhere I looked there was something interesting to see, and photograph to try to remember.


I have had this yearning to go to Dubrovnik for ages and it wasn't disapointing. It has old and newer history, fascinating stories and the most wonderful custard slice I have ever eaten along with the gloopiest chocolate drink. The old town wall is intact and around 1 1/2 miles long. And very very high, with low walls and my knees wobbled once or twice, especially as I walked along the bit in the photo with the long drop on the land side and scary moving sea on the other. I think I climbed a million stone steps!

You may have to squint a little to see the steps at the end of this alleyway. Lots of people lived up near to the top of the town walls, and they had to carry everything they need up those steps, one man was carrying bags of sand, what a job. Bet you don't pop down to the shops three times a day :)

This picture was take from the wall, looking down into the town. It was amazing to see the ruins so close to homes. The vast majority of the roofs in the town have been built within the last few years as most were destroyed during the bombardment of 1991/92, that is why they all look so red, no time for moss or lichen to grow on them.

Sometimes it was difficult to tell which was ruin and which wasn't.

Corfu Town

Next stop on our tour was Corfu Old Town. It has two rather splendid 16th Century Venetian Forts. Of course we had to climb to the top of the first one. Worth the effort for the views across the bay and the town but also for one or two interesting bits of rock. This tree had grown right through the wall of the fort, nature triumphing over man :)

Up a flight of steps and around a corner and
came across this amazing sight.

And at the very top, in the open air, there is still some painted plaster. This piece of wall fascinated me, was the wall initially red and then painted over with blue?

I turned around from taking the picture of the
plaster wall and took this photo to prove to my daughters that I really did climb to the top. If you zoom in, you will see tiny houses nestling against the city walls.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Beaded brooch

To be more precise it is a 'Treasured Lace Pin' made from a kit by 'Mill Hill Glass Beads'. The base is square stitch, three size 5 round beads wide by 11 rows. Once I got the first two rows in place it was pretty easy to do. Well, except that I made it back to front, the long fringe is supposed to be on the left.