Friday, 31 January 2014

Retro Camera

The other day I was feeling very peeved with my camera. It's a cheapo automatic which is easy to use and takes ok pictures except on zoom and in dim light (and at the moment everything is dim light because it is Always Raining.)

I pondered buying a super digi camera but then the urge came to me that I really wanted an old film camera, with dials and tech you can understand and work yourself.

So when I went down to see my Dad for Chinese New Year he lent me this wonder camera. It is a 1960s Leica, made of real metal and glass and leather and weighs a ton and is just about the most exciting piece of technology I've seen.

I bought a light meter and some black and white film and I'm reading up on f-stops and apertures and film speeds. I might even produce some photos sometime, if things go well.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Japanese Sewing

My friend Lola lent me a wonderful book of Japanese dressmaking. Sadly, I cannot offer any information on it, as it is all in Japanese.

From it, I made this nightie, which was a dress pattern. I like a loose cotton nightie as I get very clammy at night. The print is actually a William Morris type leaves and blue flowers, which i could not reproduce here, but gives it a rather groovy 70s feel.

While British/American/German etc sewing patterns seem to be mainly for classic or retro garments, the Japanese ones favour loose shapes with gathers or wrap-arounds and neutrally coloured, natural fabrics. These make lovely comfortable clothes, but I suspect they are more flattering on the smaller Japanese woman than on large Europeans like me.I think there are probably cultural aspects to fabric and colour choice, shape, fit, pattern and the like also. Think of kimonos as opposed to a formal dress. Anyway, a great book!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

52 Weeks of Baking

One of my 2014 projects is a weekly bake, themed for each month.

January is allocated to tarts. So far, lemon and almond tart, treacle tart and apricot tart. Next week I have my eye on an interesting recipe for a walnut and honey tart.

I think February's theme might be classic French biscuits. Other possibilities for the future include cakes, pies, pastries, breads...any suggestions? The aim is to increase my baking skills and range.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Burgage Building

This house always catches my eye when I am in town. It seems to face the wrong way, in a rather anarchic way, which appeals to me.

No 42 Upperkirkgate is an early C18th building which faces gable end on to the street. This is because of the medieval 'burgage' system, where houses were built narrow end on with a long plot of ground for growing fruit and vegetables behind. The house would originally have been entered by a 'pend' (alley) or by its former garden at the side.

Interestingly, you can often spot older buildings or previous ground plans by buildings that don't line up with the rest, are the wrong size or seem to have the wrong side facing you.

This drawing is also my first experiment with conte pencil, which I rather like.

Conté pencils are a drawing medium composed of compressed powdered graphite or charcoal mixed with a wax or clay base. They were invented in 1795 by Nicolas-Jacques Conté, who created the combination of clay and graphite in response to the shortage of graphite caused by the Napoleonic Wars (the British naval blockade of France prevented imports). (info from Wikipedia)

Saturday, 11 January 2014

January biography

January's biography is Kiki de Montparnasse by Catel and Bocquet. This is a graphic novel style book translated from the French.

The book tells the true story of the very full life of Kiki, an artist's model, muse, dancer and free spirit in Paris.

Kiki comes across as a great character, feisty, bawdy, independent and creative. Also a great insight into the artists and art movements in 1920s Paris.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Growing Things

Happy New Year everyone!

I particularly liked this watercolour. Here, unglamorous carrot tops grow a lovely ferny plant. Over Christmas, many veggies start to grow as I can't fit them all in the fridge. I felt sorry for the carrot tops and put them in water.

Any suggestions for other things to grow from offcuts? I would love to grow an avocado from seed but have never had any luck. Apparently they make wonderful, exotic plants.