Sunday, 6 October 2013

Reap What You Sow

This morning my tube was delayed. I had until recently been having quite a good run on the old tubes... managing to dodge engineering works and signal failures but it seems this morning was my turn to experience a delay. Luckily I had packed my sewing and had a seat, so not all was lost. As a consequence of the delay I ended up walking into work a bit later which meant I bumped into all the little school children on their way in. It was a wonderful sight for today was Harvest Festival day. An array of baskets, Jute bags and boxes (notably decorated with sprigs of fresh thyme) all made their way into the school gates this morning via a pair a spindly legs with navy woolen tights and still rather squeaky new patent leather shoes. How delightful!

This was to mark the start of a rather magical day, for later on I managed to harvest something myself. Two wonderful lasses called Sam and Christabel gifted something very, very special, to me - a piece of their father's vellum. Dumbfounded I did not know what to say - I really did not. My heart swelled and I burst into tears. This was a tad embarressing as all my work colleagues were there, including Kew's constabularly and a few visitors, but this could not be helped.

So now, as I write this, I have a small piece of A5 vellum sitting on my desk staring at me and screaming for attention. I have never painted on vellum before, but I am sure as hell going to learn how to now! So the plan is to get another piece to practice on once I have finished Cos. I can't wait. I hope that the medium will suit my style as I do like to use a dry brush more than a wet one. I had been experimenting with a wet on wet technique, but it really doesn't suit me at all, so I have been slowly reverting back to the original technique since completing Monstera problema.

Knowing full well that vellum is an absolute pain to hang and store because of it's sensitivity to humidity I am going to invest in some Artsorb. Here in the gallery, when framing vellum ourselves, we tend to put a piece of this in to help limit the amount of movement and to reduce the chances of cockling. Artsorb is very clever - it absorbs moisture when it's damp and releases it when it's too dry. Dianne Sutherland has referred to the storing of vellum in her blog and highlights rather well why it can be a bit of a nightmare:

"A word of warning about storage
Despite the fact that vellum is one of the most robust surfaces to preserve it does have it’s limits and requires a relatively stable environment. Care should be taken when storing it, it should be kept in fairly constant temperature 20° C (± 1.5° C) and 30% (± 5%) relative humidity. An environment with less than 11% relative humidity can cause vellum to become fragile and brittle. Conditions where relative humidity is greater than 40%, may cause vellum to become susceptible to mould and fungal growth." Nicely said - I couldn't have put it better myself (hence quote).

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