I have already dined out on purple and the way it was discovered by William Henry Perkins in 1856. Then, the way in which every lady in London, Paris and New York who could afford it was wearing mauve.
Without, his discovery industrial dyers would have continued blending indigo with madder or using lichens. Nothing compared to the dye created by Perkins from coal tar, which is an organic substance that comes from ancient fossilised trees. Perkins’ invention went on to inspire other chemists to find other petrochemical dyes and paints.
There is no doubt that Perkins’ discoveries did have many beneficial medical effects and would lead to other scientists to the discovery of cholera and tuberculosis bacilli , to chemotherapy, immunology and saccharine.
Some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies such as BASF, Ciba and Bayer began as small dye works, trying to extract more and more colours from coal or fossil fuels.
I have as I hoped returned to the Sign of the tree; meditations in images & words by Meinrad Craighead. I came across the book by accident and bought a copy soon after; I had really good intentions to read it more fully and I did. However; soon, I and the book got taken over by events and it got shelved.
However, this weekend after doing a wood engraving course I remembered Meinrad’s lovely images and I wondered if I could perhaps be inspired.
She doesn’t do wood engraving rather more wood cutting, or scraping on a board, mainly in black and white. However, her approach to this medium is as original and innovative as the images themselves. Meinrad’s work is at first glance is ‘black and white; but she brings in an infinite range of mysterious greys and subtle textures … and enviable feat; which I may not achieve in this life time!
Reading is my adopted home town; I like it and wouldn’t live anywhere else at the moment! Its no great shakes but to quote a dear friend ‘it ain’t so sin city either’
It is a very close to London so many people commute there daily; while by the same token many people come here to service the shopping centre, hospital, university and the huge computer industry.
In a broad sense Reading is a monument to that!
It is hive of industry doing what it needs to …
I am back now from my wood ‘engraving’ week end … where I was reminded more than once it was not wood cutting! Furthermore it bore no resemblance to my previous attempts at pencil rubber cutting and more recently lino cutting. So there were some hard lessons to earn.
I was as usual the dunce of the class; all the other students had years of experience as artists and or teachers. Me, despite my wizened appearance was the new girl and green! Noting that I thought I was on a woodcutting course.
I was like a fish out of water; caring more about the temperature of the water for my green tea at break time!
I was already feeling a little vulnerable ; batting off remarks like ‘mmmm I like your style, its ummm unique’
I was fast running out of jovial retorts.
I was in awe of the other students who began and continued to produce delicate delights like feathers and leaves in filigree designs. Brown, spotted trout gliding down stream, a tiny mouse peeking from a lacework of leaves … a dolphin leaping from the ocean depths in a shower of tiny droplets of water.
The weekend went on, we began to print our works and experiment with depth of colour and shade etc.
It was at this stage I began to wonder whether me and wood engraving were ready for each other … the jury is out.
Today I go to Bishops Waltham, where I am attending a weekend wood engraving workshop. I have been looking forward to it; for lots of reasons apart from the obvious, learning something new is my passion. However; a day or two from the the routine is welcome; especially now as it seems since the ‘happenings’ of the New Year home has become a little too comfortable and tedious. I need a break!
So being away, learning a new skill will be good. Meeting new people will be positive.
There is one thing that I do find difficult when not at home. It is the tea making experience. I drink Chinese tea at regular intervals throughout the day; starting with white, then green and black as the day progresses. Sometimes I have a blend depending on the mood. I have different pots, cups and methods and a touch of madness verging on the obsessional! A pleasantry I am loathed to give up, even for the above mentioned fine attributes of leaving home!
Tea and all that it involves is not easy to plan; while I can pack a bag with clothes, toiletries, and workshop needs in a few minutes, I have agonised over the logistics of taking the tea making equipment for weeks (give or take)
I don’t have to worry about weight or space; it is an overnight stay, in a car 40 minutes down the motorway … not Timbuktu!
There is much to consider, will there be a kettle and water; do they have such things in Hampshire? And 80 degrees? Cup? Mug? Both? Which pot? Now theres a question. The tea; which? And how much? The questions go on.
So now I have decided …
One little pot without a lid, and a cup with more than its fair share of chips to be healthy (a representation of me I think) However, a pretty pair, a gift from a friend who had grown tired of its lid-lessness and chips. But they are a little piece of home (his or mine?) that fits snuggly with a few twirls of my favourite in a little bag!
I am not a librarian, my grade is that of a non-academic while I do not catalogue books. I do assist the cataloguers and get to handle the books as much and sometimes more. So I have the joys and not so much of the responsibility. It is a role I enjoy and reluctant to give up.
This week and for the last few years we (me and a cataloguer) have been working on a small collection of books we call the Parish Collection; They are books from the 16th and 17th century and from the libraries of three parish churches not far from Reading.
There are as you can imagine religious books and mighty tomes some too big for me to pick up let alone carry far.
Some although some are 500 years old they are mostly in good repair even though most of them would have been inconstant use in their day by the clergy men and parishioners.
This one I noticed as it is not in such good shape. it has been partially restored and is well protected now; it will last another 500 years or more!
It was the illustrations I enjoyed as I prepare for a wood engraving workshop this weekend I marveled at these delights.