Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Maggie Ayres, Textile Artist from Scotland

Just when I really convinced myself that I needed to focus myself on photography and 3D modelling and let my interest in texiles just rest for a while, I stumbled across the videoos on YouTube from Scottish textile artist Maggie Ayres.
And thus spend most of my afternoon browsing her gallery and viewing her YouTube videoos.

She creates intricate, but in my opinion, delicate texile pieces that speak volumes. She has no problems with showing her emotions in the work - which makes it a very personal encounter as a viewer.
What I also like is that despite the complexities of textures and the variety of tones and colours there is a sense of openness and lightness in some of her pieces.
But you really have to see for yourself!

Anyone interested should check out her website:
there is also an option to subscribe for her newsletter on this site.

On YouTube you will find several videoos by Maggie about her work. You will find an overview on this page:

Here is a small overview of one of her shows:

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Little Bit More of Scotland

This is one of the landscape shots that I took in the Scottish Highlands. The mountain is called Bauchaille Etive Mor, or also known as the Black Sheperd. Depending on the weather, this waterfall is a small stream, or is a strong force of water.
On this particular day, the snow on the Bauchaille looked like powder sugar, the mountains far back in the background were completely covered in snow. The sky was often just gray, but because the weather changes so quickly up here, one can always wait (in the car) to see if the weather turns around. And it did! The rain was mostly gone and suddenly we had even an empty space in the sky where the blue came poking through. A magical moment!

I had found a spot, a bit lower, and balanced on a small rock which stuck out from the side. It was hardly enough space for my feet ánd tripod. But it gave me a good view on the waterfall itself and hopefully the viewers a sense of the power of the waterfall, the wideness of the scenery and the roughness of that piece of country.
It was only later when I climbed back that I realise that the rock I stood on was not very stable. Don't think that I will ever try to repeat that!

Getting lost in Scotland happens to us more often than any other country I have been too! But it has the advantage of taking you to places that you would otherwise not have found! This shot of horses as taken on one of our 'little detours' thanks to the Scottish way of using roadsigns...
We drove a while into a very deserted place and spotted these horses. At that moment is was so cold that I could not even keep the camera steady - I was trembling of the cold.
With an iso of 800, and placing the camera on a wooden post, I was able to get some shots - but because of the amount of noise, I processed the image into Black & White and added a soft tone too.
I just loved the way they were interacting with each other - so playful, even jumping around so now and then. Too bad that they became a bit shy in front of the camera!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Altered Book: Truth, Secrets and Lies

The new Round Robin has been organised on the Altered Book Europe Group on Yahoo. It took a while for me to get to work on it. I intended not to sign up for this Round Robin since I still have loads of work to do, untill I saw the first pictures being uploaded by group members...
The books they had altered were so beautiful that I wanted to join anyway! Luckily I had already a book prepared for altering and a list of themes I would like to work with.

The cover is very textured. It first started out as a painted cover with 3D letters glued to it. But I felt that it was not good enough - so I started glueing down all kinds of threads and yarns. Very messy work since the glue sticks more to the fingers than to the yarns and covers of course.
To keep everything together, I added pieces of tissuepaper to cover everything and added again some layers of paint.
As usual the picture does not bring out the textures that well...
I choose the theme Truth, Secrets and Lies. My intend was to write down little truths, secrets and lies down and cover them with layers of paint and collage - leaving bits to be readable and let the viewer decide what was a truth, a secret or a lie.
Guess I am not ready yet to do that - instead I started with some quotes about Lies and Truth.
The book will be send to Germany, and then travel through Europe to France, Danmark and the United Kingdom for other artists to work in.
When the book gets home, there will still be some pages left for me to write down my truths, secrets and little lies... For my eyes only... :-)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Just back from Scotland...

Just got back from an EPZ ( Meet in Scotland. Fifty photographers sharing one hostel at the shores of Loch Lomond! Literally chasing the light in the Highlands because of the rain, sleet and snow.
A lot of fun in the evenings, but quite exhausted after the meet... We made some new friends, met old friends again and met people in person that we only knew before from the website, often just the avatar name!

For the first time I tried my new Sigma 10-20 mm wide angle lens which is perfect to capture landscapes. But it also distorts the view which made it harder for me to compose good shots.
Back home reviewing the photographs that I took, I felt that I better also had used my old 18-55 mm lens...

Scotland is a great country to be in. I like the remoteness and the roughness of this country. Nature rules here and you simply have to adjust to it. I was so glad that I brought some waterproof boots, warm gloves (thin enough to fiddle with the dials on the camera), warm silly hat, waterproof pair of trousers and a windproof jacket lined with a fleece!
Otherwise I would have had to shelter in the car most of the time. Especially since we spent 2 days in Glencoe.
The weather changes there by the hour. Which gives one hope - is it raining, you can wait in the car untill it stops (maybe even for just 10 minutes or so).

This was the last EPZ Meet at Rowardennan that Davie organised. Still I hope that it is not the last time that hubbie and I visited Glencoe, Lomond and the Trossachs. There are so many beautiful places to capture!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Summer certainly has gone. It is not that I know this only by nature colouring the leaves and shedding them, but also because my agenda gets swamped again with appointments and paperwork is piling up again.
Luckily we managed to get away last week for an afternoon and spent some time in the woods. Not for walking of course, but photographing mushrooms!
It must have been quite a sight: both my partner and I, lying on the damp ground, looking through the camera with these large lenses to capture even the smallest mushroom. That alone might have been funny, but if you knew how much gear we had with us... Photobags, beanbag, reflector, tripod, different lenses (though I only used the macro lens). A jogger even stopped and asked if we were professionals - oh no, just some crazy people trying to get away from the pressures of our life and trying to relax! :-)
Well, not all pictures turned out so great in the end. But getting in touch, literally, with nature was a rewarding experience.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Blind Fool

I finally managed to work on the next digital collage. Blind Fool is the title of this collage.
I think everybody can relate to that title so now and then. Obviously this falcon has been blinded by his owner, but sometimes we blindfold ourselves hoping that some problems will solve themselves if we just don't look at them or don't think about it.
Ahhh, blind fools we are...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Digital Collage: "Empty"

One digital collage of the 'Journal' series. All the images used are my own photographs: landscape and sky from The Netherlands, seagull from Scotland, window and shutters from France, and the chair was shot in my backyard. The old 1830's paper was folded and scanned.

The weather has changed here in Holland: it is pretty warm, too hot to sit in front on the computer, too hot to do anything except sitting in the shadow and reading a good book!
The ideas for a next collage is already forming in my head, but I am heading for the garden now!

Jane T.: I make these collages in Photoshop. I have been using the program since version 3 so I feel that I know my way around this piece of software. For this collage I used Layers, Layer Modes and Layer Masks only. These features, as far as I know, are also available in Photoshop Elements and Corel PhotoPaint.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Digital Collage: Opening Up

When the weather is good, I like to eat my breakfast in the garden. On the garden table stood this plant, ready to be potted up in a larger pot. Every morning I could see the new buds appear and watch them growing. After a few days the buds would open up, unfolding their petals from the bud, ready to burst wide open and to soak in the light.
What an eagerness for life and light! I just love the stage when the bud has been opened, but the petals have not yet completely unfolded. This is one of the many shots that I took from that plant.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New Digital Collages

The last couple of weeks I have spent most of the time in the garden, enjoying the weather, the sound of birds and sometimes even fighting the weeds - a battle that I always loose...
Not much time is spent behind the PC during these quiet weeks. Still I wanted to do something with the photographs that I had taken over the last few months.
I wanted to work quickly, trying not to 'overthink' the piece. Just using a thought, a phrase or a mood for the collage.
This is the first one: Fly Away.
The seagull is one of many that I tried to capture while on holiday in St. Abbs, Scotland. The sky images ( I combined several) are from my own stock, and so are the textures.
It was relaxing, working this way, and I even liked the result!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Some felt experiments

Yesterday I spent the afternoon felting with yarns that I bought recently in Scotland (see my previous post). To bind the threads with each other, I used wool top. I first started with laying out vertical treads, added the wool top, then added the horizontal threads to make a grid pattern.
In my first experiment I also added some wool top above this last layer. But this piece did not turn out so well. I wanted a lacelike effect. So I tried again, using 3 layers: yarns, wool top and another layer of yarns. The wooltop was placed with open spaces so that I could have holes in the felt. This second picture - in white- is the result. I really liked it but felt that I needed to get rid of the praphic grid pattern.

So the red version (first picture) was next: just spiling out the yarn over the table, then adding the wool top and of course, adding an extra layer of yarn in loose loops.
This is the piece that I love best. This yarn also felted better with the wool top than the previous one.
I could do some handstitching on the white felt to bind the yarn better with the rest of the felt, but feel that it might ruin the loose and rough look of the feel.
Wishing for an embellisher right now.... Sigh...
Also tried some other things, like felting to organza. It did work, but the piece did not look good enough to post here but is a great piece to do some other techniques on.
Anyway, I enjoyed these experiments even though I am a bit limited in my movements - rolling the felt - because of some stitches in my shoulder (because of minor surgery). Looking forward to removal of these stitches and being able to move my arm freely again!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Yarns for felting

On our last one week holiday (they are always way too short), we discovered this little yarnshop called Woolfish near the nature reserve of St. Abbs Head (South Scotland, east coast).
One corner is filled with beautiful yarns in glorious colours.
I had decided that I would not buy more yarn - since I still have plenty of them - but these yarns were very different, I simply could not resist...

I ended up buying different balls of yarns for felting and thought that I really resisted the urge to buy new yarns for a complete garment.
But back in the car and droving off, I realised that I would never be able to buy these luxuriously yarns in the Netherlands.

So the next day, when the car was packed and we were ready to go to the ferry back to Holland, we stopped again and bought dark blue space dyed yarn for a sweater... So this autumn I do not have to get bored, but get knitting again - and probably by hand as well.

One of the skeins is already partly used in a piece of weaving that I did on a kids loom. I do own a regular loom, but it is in hiding on my mothers attic for more than 11 years now. I do not have enough space here in our house and weaving takes up so much time, especially the part of preparation. Also, once the threads are all tied up, you can't change your mind. And changing my mind is something I always like to do!
Anyway, the kids loom did work well enough and it is going to be felted anyway.
Another ball of yarn has been knitted up, it not only contains wool, but mohair as well. Am very curious how well that will turn out.

The third picture is of another ball of yarn, from Japan. As you can see, the colours are quite contrasting and I am looking forward to felt it. Still have to make up my mind whether I want to knit it up, or cut up threads and felt these together with carded wool.

Here is the website of the shop:

And a blog as well:

Monday, May 26, 2008

Saying good bye

Can't believe that I just typed this title... But yes, I think that this is a bit special. After more than 15 years or so, I have replaced my old Wacom tablet for a super new one. What so special is about that? It is the only piece of hardware that survived so many years in a row!
It even travelled with me to all kinds of exhibitions when I still had my own company and sold textile design software.
And I should have been able to keep on using it, was it not for Wacom who thought there was no need for a new driver for this old tablet, they just assumed that this tablet would have died in 15 years. So no reason to update the drivers for Vista and now it does not support pressure sensitivity under Vista... It still works though as a normal pen!

So after using the old tablet this past year, I decided that it was time to save up and buy the new version of the tablet.
Instead of choosing the A4 oversized, I went for the normal A4 size - a wise decision since the tablet takes over even more space (in width) than the old one.
Remains the question - what do I do with this old tablet?

So now I have these stylish black items on my computer desk. Well, in reality, only the right half of the desk is 'stylish' - the left side is filled with CD's, DVD's, pens and pencils, memorycards, notes, magazines, books, papers and more notes...
No clean workspace for me, I guess!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More pages in altered books

While browsing through the folders on my hard drive, I discovered some pictures of altered book pages which I never uploaded in this blog. So here are some of them.
This page was in a book about 'Elements' from a French member of our group. The text says:

the currents
the warmth
your destiny
the strength

A year ago I took some photographs on a falconry demonstrations. Somehow I was attracted to this owl. For me they are the symbol of wisdom - something I would love to have more - but this fellow was also a very funny character. He was also so nice as to pose for me by turning his head and opening his beak.
Often this owl shows up on pages that I made for Round Robins. The picture above was for the book 'Bestiary' from an English member.
The owl in the picture below was used in an altered book for Maarit from Norway in a book about a little bear that starts his journey to find a place of his own.

It says: If you need advice, listen to the owl. A very wise piece of advice indeed, not just for little bears! So now and then we all need to find the wise one to guide us, don't we?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Barcelona, La Pedrera

One of the houses that Antoni Gaudi designed and built, is called Casa Mila, but the name that is more often used is 'La Predrera', which means stone quarry.
On the broad avenue this appartment building attracts all the attention. It looks so completely different than the other buildings in that same street - but what an impression it makes! If you have not seen any pictures of it before - you really are gobsmacked!

This almost white building is built with fluid lines, and although it might look a bit strange and fairytale like, it just feels good. I think that Gaudi understood that people need to live in houses with naturally, soft lines instead of sharp edged buildings. On the outside, nothing looks the same. There is the rhythm of repetition of the balconies, for instance. But all balconies are a bit different - just like the leaves on a tree all look the same but have different sizes.
Especially when you look up, you see the differences in the flowing lines. And I especially like the 'see-through' balconies, allowing light to pass through the floor to the appartment underneath.

We went inside the building - the detailing in the building is amazing! Everywhere you see the soft flowing lines, somehow it just feels so good. It must be a lovely place to live in.
One of the apartments is open to the public and you get a good feel of how it must have been when the building was finished. The light is shining so beautyful in these rooms, soft and warm.

Another surprise is the attic. Meant to be a place where the water reservoirs where placed and the maids hung the wash to dry - it is unbelievable that it was just used for that. Gaudi used soft shaped arches that were to carry the weight of the roof. He used a warm coloured stone and the craftmenship of the bricklaying is impressive. It has the appearance of a cathedral - but instead of creating a distance, it creates a connection because of the smaller scale.

And then up to the roof. Even there Gaudi managed to create undulating lines, you go up and down on little steps to go around the roof. He also created an oval and round courtyard, again different in appearance, in the building and the roof just follow these lines.
Since none of the chimneys and ventilation towers are all different, you just loose the sense of direction and keep going on and on. Everytime you turn around, the view changes and invites you to explore.
I love these chimneys. Some may find them look like skeletons - I thought they looked like charming bandits with masks around their nose and mouth, staring out over the city of Barcelona.
Again, none of these bandits look the same, and from every angle you get a completely different look of these sculptures.

And then there are these ventilation towers, each one looks different again, and they are covered in mosaics. Strange flowing lines make them look, to me at least, like giant chess pieces. Beautiful crafted - real pieces of art, placed on a roof...

Too bad that we did not have the time anymore to visit Casa Batilo, a house that is shaped like a dragon...
The next day we went to Girona, to discover the old medieval part of the city, completely different architecture, before we would have to pack our bags and fly back to Holland.
One thing is for sure - I will come back and visit Barcelona again - there is too much to see, too much to enjoy, so much to be inspired by.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Silk Road, an altered book

The Silk Road, another book in the Journey RR, seems to be traveling with bad karma... It was sent to me from the UK but the book did not arrive - only to turn up back in the UK (luckily)!
At least, the second time that it was sent, it did arrive safely here in Holland.
It is a beautiful book about the Silk Road, the historical journey of the silk that came from China into Europe. The members of the group were asked to choose one of the cities on that journey and make a spread about it.

I choosed Xi'an as a spread and found images of the terracotta army that were found in Xi'an. My plan was to turn them into gel decals. This involves putting several layers of gel medium on top of the printed picture and wait for every layer to dry. So that took 2 days at least. Then you have to wet the paper at the back and start rolling with your finger, removing the paper from the back carefully.

For some reason, the black ink came also off - too bad, but it was not such a problem, because it makes the image even more translucent which can give beautiful effects. But after wetting and rubbing of the paper, the layers of gel medium turned milky! Never seen that before - especially as the gel had been transparant when all the layers had been added.
I waited for the images to completely dry, but the gel medium just did not change to transparant anymore....! Why???

So time to change plans. I printed the images again, this time on a paper with a slight canvas texture and cut out the figures as good as possible. The pages were painted red in the mean time (very Chinese...), chinese papers were collaged and the pictures were added .

The plan was to make some silk paper - but even that went wrong! I had been doing this previously, and had good results with it, but just not this time...
I could only used a small part of the silk paper, and glued that at the bottom of the spread. You cannot see it well on the picture - but in real life it adds texture and shine to the pages - very, very soft to touch!

Luckily the book is now on its way to Pascale in France. Just hope that the bad karma will get lost while traveling (instead of the book itself).
Funny, if you know that the Chinese tried to keep the secret of silk in their own country - but monks were able to smuggle some silk worms in a hollow walking stick back to Europe. Maybe that is were the bad karma came from? :-)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Round Robin 'Journey' Altered Books group Europe

This is the first Round Robin that does not go so smoothly as we are used to! Books are even send back by the Dutch mail services in spite of the correct address (and all the other times that it did went well)!
So this is the third book I was supposed to work in - but is in fact the second book of the RR.
This book was made by Julie from the UK: In these hurrying times, take time to travel.
Just being back from Barcelona made the choice for the spreads very easy!
Printed a few of my pictures on a linen canvas kind of paper and wrote some of my impressions about Barcelona on painted paper. Some tags with detailed prints of the mosaics of Gaudi and little drawings of the shapes from the mosaic and the strange chimneys on the roof of La Pedrera. (The yellow clamp was used just temporarily so that the page would lie flatter to photograph.)
The book should be now in France for Pascale to work in!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Altering books or creating books?

Altering books is one of my favorite activities. Take an old book, take out the pages and start altering it according to my own theme or style. It is fun to do and I have notices that lately I like to work on this small scale.

But, making books which are adjusted to your own needs (size, thickness, paper etc) is very fulfilling too. Some years ago I did a bookmaking course and so now and then I like to make my own sketchbook or book to be collaged.
See these entries in my blog for some pictures from books that I have made:

These were the first books that I made:

This book was made with watercolour paper for the signatures, very stiff paper to fold. But I could work in it with watercolour without the paper wrinkling:
I designed all kind of symbols and painted these in this little book.

Of course I wanted to make some little books as well. All were made with a sewn binding and hard covers. The paper that I use for the signatures was pastepaper:

Another book that I made especially for a Round Robin was also made with pastepaper as signatures:

These are all books with sewn binding, but on YouTube I found at last a video that explains how to make a book with a coptic binding. Most instructions that I found on the internet were not always easy to understand. I think this is going to be one of my new projects!

Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Little creative pieces

Seems that this year I still get buried into paperwork.... To prevent boredom and compensate for the paperworks and appointments, I joined the Yahoo group Mixed Media ATC Europe.
So now and then I join a swap which forces me to get creative again, away from the computer screen and start playing with paint, ink, fabric and glue.
Working on a small scale is wonderful (no need to clean up an entire workspace, just a tiny empty space is needed for these little cards :-) ). The deadline helps to finish the cards, instead of becoming UFO's.
The card here was made for the Spring Swap.

If you are living in Europe, you can join the group and start trading too. Here is the link:

The group is limited to Europeans because of postagecosts and time.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Barcelona, city of Gaudi (part 1)

Winter is definetly not my season! Spring and autumn, early summermornings are the best times of the year for me. Back in September I already foresaw the long grey and dreary winter months of Holland and decided that we needed to break this winter up with a little trip to the south of Europe. It did not matter which country it was, as long as it was south!
I found a cheap flight on the internet - 2 tickets to Girona (near Barcelona) in Spain, two ways for 76 euroos. Just what I needed!

We did some research on the web about the city and bought a city guide and decided that we first wanted to see the works of Antoni Gaudi. Well, although I have seen images of his work before - seeing them in real life was quite another experience.

Spain did live up to its expectations: warm and sunny in February! What a difference with home.
On our first day we went to Park Güel, which is famous for the long winding benches filled with mosaics. We enjoyed the palms, sun and parrots up there. But the part I liked most was the space underneath the court.
Dozens of tall columns supporting the large space (including the benches) above it. With on the outer side, the columns placed a bit out of line, which fooled the eyes and created a strange illusion.
The ceiling was covered in mosaics and so here and there were large discs attached to it with swirly motives - big splashes of colour against the white broken tiles.

The sun was shining and the warm light created a beautiful atmosphere between the columns. Then add some guitar music, the sounds of little colourful parrots to it and the idyl is just perfect. I just wandered around these columns, and lost my sense of direction because I also kept looking up, admiring the ceiling.

The houses that stand next to the gate of the park look almost like houses from a fairy tale. Nothing on it is conventional - when you walk around them you are in for a surprise every time you turn a corner or look up.
Gaudi has been fascinated by the geometry of nature form an early age, and it definitly shows in his work. Also he was one of the first designers that saw architecture as a complete art form, and extended his creativity to all the elements of his work. Not just the walls and roofs, but the windows, doors, chimneys, up to the doorknobs got his attention.

Gaudi worked from 1878 till 1926, but his work is so modern, different, organic and most of all inspiring. It seems like he was years ahead in his approach to not just buildings, but also environments like Park Güel.
And instead of building impressive buildings, he designed them to invite you to come closer and discover the strange and funny details.
So after being in the Park, I could not wait to see 'La Pedrera'...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

House of Hope

Another digital collage from my own photography and 3D renders in the series Faith and Religion. I enjoy making these works, but still find it hard to get 'the message' across.
The third collage is already in the making, but needs still a lot of work. Hope to upload it this month though!

For this new year, I hope to focus on photography and my digital work. With pain in my heart I cleaned up my little artroom and took most of my textile supplies to the attic.
Even my subscription on Quilting Arts has not been renewed (don't know how long I can keep up with that decision- would be able to buy them again just for the inspiration that comes from the wonderful artwork)!
I am going to sign up for a model drawing course next week and considering a course in studio photography as well. That will keep me busy for a while!