Sunday, September 23, 2012

More table ware and some recreational activities

In a bid to keep my blog (concurrently) updated with my facebook page.. here are a couple of items from the second firing of one-off, hand-painted table ware items. The fact that I cannot wait until I start afresh on a new lot is very reassuring to me! Here's the link for the whole album:

This is a damask pattern which my mum really likes

This, a favourite Maltese tile pattern re-interpreted in primary colours

Detailed portraits of birds, a favourite pass-time of young-Mario

Triangles are my current favourite shapes

Perfect side plate to go with your bowl of Ramen .. if the chillies get too hot you can fish them out onto the plate, then rest your chopsticks on top of them

I still wish I was born with red hair

I am hoping this is self explanatory

The pattern is lifted off Nanna's curtains; curtains which I now use to cover my stall

I <3 Isabella Blow

Shadow games from years ago

And after long hours of bad posture, clay-caked fingers and eye squinting into the early hours I, along with some other hard-working friends, decided to treat ourselves to high tea. Here's Sarah's timely blogpost for some pretty pictures that are already making me want to go back!

<<Spot of tea, dear?>>

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Babette's table ware saga

And I say saga because it's been ages since I first thought about making something of the sort.. and by ages I mean a year and a half on average. I have used clay many times before (courtesy of dad, his skill, his studio.. erm.. and his patience of course), namely for themed pendants to incorporate into my re-cycled/re-purposed/totally-handmade jewellery and other small items I would have dreamt about as gifts. I literally grew up in the 'safety' of knowing I had easy and unlimited access to the haven that is a pottery studio, should I ever wish it. My only regret is that I realized only too late that I had been wishing it all along.. so a couple of schedule checks later I found myself back at my parents' home discussing the perfect water to plaster powder ratio and diluting engobes in preparation. I learnt how to make the right moulds for every shape, I learnt how to paint on tapering/dusty/textured/curved/indented/concave/convex surfaces, I also learnt (the hard way) that no caffeine/alcohol ought to be consumed during the hours and hours of painting. If you're dying for a coffee/corona then do yourself a favour and wrap up for the day! 

So basically, I wanted to bring to the table (yes, literally) something with a story to it, much like I seek to do with everything else marginally related to Babettopolis, so the pressure to choose shapes and designs wisely was up. I wanted to make useful objects that present a case for themselves; each one-off item, I hope, has the power to stand alone since it is simply and sharply designed and yet, every item had to have enough personality so as to be taken up by and included in several existing 'china' collections we already own. I wanted each item to act as a little canvas for a random thought. 

Following are 3 photo collages from the studio. Please excuse the picture quality, but to be quite honest, after (and during) 10 hour painting sessions, doubled up on a low stool with glasses sliding down the nose in the sweltering heat, there remains little energy and enthusiasm in one to devote to photo taking. the first shows the bone-dried lot of items waiting in a wooden box, an unfired side-plate on which I tried to age the colours by texturing the surfaces further (very good stress relief) and the 'geisha bowl' which was the very last thing I finished! (*yay for random cataloguing). 

These are 3 photos of some freshly decorated items which I must have been very happy about since I actually stopped to take a photo of them during my 'glass of water' break.

The second photo is of me, taken by my dad, at around 10:30pm, during the last sitting. I carry my laptop with me everywhere so I can catch up on some of the less demanding comedy shows (*yay for multitasking). 

And the following are a few of the many photos taken this very morning by Mr. Nigel who really likes bolognese pasta sauce and who was kind enough to help me understand that I have purchased a very good camera an that all that remains is for me to learn how to use it (*touche!). We opted for a clean yet warm setup  for the detailed shots and I just love how they turned out! (click here for the whole album)

~ photo by Nigel Baldacchino ~

~ photo by Nigel Baldacchino ~

~ photo by Nigel Baldacchino ~

~ photo by Nigel Baldacchino ~

~ photo by Nigel Baldacchino ~

~ photo by Nigel Baldacchino ~
what did I tell you about my obsession with Islamic art? 

~ photo by Nigel Baldacchino ~

~ photo by Nigel Baldacchino ~

~ photo by Nigel Baldacchino ~
I do not see me halting this process any time soon. In fact, I just received some new colours so I'm itching to start afresh! .. but the next logical step is 'good protective packaging'.. or perhaps 'a nap' and then 'good protective packaging' ...

... oh just forget the nap!

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Grace-ful weekend

Yes, grace-ful and gift ridden! The windfall started on Friday when graceful Gaby (unexpectedly and for that, even more sweeet) passed on to me this lovely 1930s/40s clutch bag. I fear I am unable to put my admiration for the intricate beading into words. I especially love how that strip of sky blue sequins on the inside of the flap has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the colour-scheme and yet makes so much sense in the context. I have reserved this very morning to sorting through some cupboards and so I was able to make space for this bag, now residing, I hope happily, in the 'intricate and occasion-y' section of my top wardrobe shelf. Until next time!

Saturday morning brought with it a whole new level of grace... I met up with an ex-workmate: Rita, a lovely woman and a seamstress herself, is most dedicated to her vocation as a teacher and care-giver to kids who really need her and people like her. I'm all admiration for the work she, and others in her team, carry out on a day to day basis.. work which would drain the life out of anyone else so, really and truly, Bless them!! Rita, ever so kindly, passed on to me several bags full of raw and salvaged material for me to use in my sewing projects. Amongst which, were two bags full (to the brim) with buttons in their original boxes.. all sorts of shapes, colours and patterns. The box above is the fanciest of the lot and I cannot wait to put my needle and thread to it. 

And just when I thought that my day had reached its peak, I quickly realized that, this was simply going to be a full-on, no-dip, gifted day! 

I was lucky enough to make the acquaintance of Margot and one of her sisters, who in good spirits, not only welcomed me in their mother's home, but also flattered me by complimenting my work no-end! I cannot thank these ladies enough for entrusting me with so many items which until recently, belonged to their mother Emma. So much sentimental value and such good taste! The mother too, I believe, was a seamstress and this, for some reason, fills me with a kind of pride.. these are ladies I fear I was born too late to meet!

Here are a few of the many gems!

Shawls and bags and ... 

yep bloomers! 

These dresses reminded me of the Delphos cut and that, in my books, is a success!

Scarves, and delicate gloves and skirts to put apart and sew anew...

Some pretty blouses and sparkly knitwear

And the piece de resistance, a red feathery hat piece from an enviable past where wearing such hats was the order of the day (*or rather 'eve'). It needs a lot of care .. and I'm ever so willing!

As for the rest of the weekend .. we were graced by the first rain after a cruelly dry summer, and with a vengeance. The first shower yesterday evening simply shocked, but now, after raining all night and well into this morning the air is yielding that lovely smell we expect of the first showers in September, and so, we are being compensated, somehow! Can't wait for greener landscapes round about where I live.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Islamic Reflection

Look at this wonderful thing and ponder upon the wonder that is M.C. Escher. This is a drawing based on the artist's direct sketch of tile designs in the Alahambra Palace in Spain. It is reflected (flip) repetition and basically encompasses all that I've had in mind for the past months (or has it been years now?)

This, on the other hand, is a picture of a repetitive and traditional interlinking Iznik tile mural in the Rustem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul which I haven't yet visited, much to my dismay. See how the stylized vegetal forms flow, and yet it's a very disciplined and controlled flow.

Bear with me a while. I am here trying my utmost to synthesize, linguistically, a personal obsession and all-encompassing love for what appears before me as a hint of the divine. It's a difficult task. The photo below is  of tiles for sale in Marrakech, tiles I did not purchase due to being generally over whelmed by a city I had long dreamt of visiting; and when the said city turns out to be even more beautiful than expected to be, this tends to have the general effect of 'stunning' one into a state of reverential gawping and irrational decision taking (ie. preferring 'a photo of' to an actual tile).


This is the central fountain surrounded by painstakingly laid 'zellij' mosaic tiles in the roofed courtyard of the Islamic Art Museum (Dar Menebhi Palace) of Marrakech ...

... and this is a beautiful combination of tile work and stone work in the Ben Youssef Medersa, (Islamic College) also in Marrakech

These photos, I hope, give a clearer indication of the build-up and the extent of my obsession with the geometry and symmetry of Islamic art and craft. I admire how the practical tile, which keeps a building cool and relatively dust free in hot and dry climes, is elevated to such an extent that within its four corners it becomes a metaphorical representation of the infinite. The intricate geometry, calligraphic ornamentation and 'arabesque' interlacing of stylized florals come together to serve the human and the divine in one fell swoop. This time-tested synthesis, ultimately, reflects the cultural preoccupation of a nation with the covering of surfaces. The structure of a building is emphasized through its covering much like the structure of a dress, or more generally 'dress', both covers yet complements the human form.

In any case, I made these hats out of stiff felt to: cover, flatter and complement. They are practical, foldable and carefully studied so as to cast some very dramatic shadows across the face. I will be making more in different colours in the coming weeks.

As a parting note, my new ceramic collection also bears a similar inspirational origin.. but more on that later when I manage to take some good photos of the glazed lot.