Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Art week -Day 2 and pictures from my morning walk

Things got a little hectic yesterday so I will post yesterday's finished object for my self-imposed design challenge today. I actually worked on two things, but I think that one is still a work in progress. However, with the caveat that I do not think that it is finished I will post a picture of it too. 

Also for those of you who are hear only to see pictures of Madrid. I took a series of photos on my morning walk today. These are not tourist photos, they are photos of the "true Madrid", a working class neighborhood.

First the walk:

I crossed the M30 for my walk today and is a photo looking back over it. One thing I love about Madrid is that most of the highways have lots of greenery. There is a layer of vegetation which is not only beautiful but probably helps with noise and pollution as well. 

Across the road is Las Ventas, the bull fighting rink.

Now with Las Ventas to my right I am going to cross a road that goes over the highway.

Down a typical backstreet...

And I come to the park that was my destination.

Here I am crossing another, this time pedestrian only, bridge over the highway.

Walking back along this pleasantly tree lined street I found.

OK, Art Challenge, day two: 
I worked for a long time yesterday on this little guy. I am still not happy with the shape, and frankly I am thinking of changing the color as well.

I think that longer legs and a bigger hump on the back would help. I mean, I do not mind that he looks cartoon-eske, there is just something I am not happy about. What do you think that needs fixing?

And here is a piece that was almost finished, and I decided to call it done.

It was part of my monster series.

The goal was to make something unusual and unexpected.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Art Week - Self-Challenge

Hello everyone.
I have been having some rough times with a family member, of the feline persuasion, who is really ill. It is a roller coaster of emotions. As an effort to make myself think of something else for at least a couple  of hours everyday, I have issued myself a challenge: A finished piece of art everyday.

I have a LOT of un-finished needle felting projects, so today I finished two. Both are tree themed. 

The first one is part of my Sunset series. I wanted to capture that kind of sunset where the pink-orange-yellows seem to alternate with the blue-purple-turquoises. When I was done with this, I felt that there was something missing. So I mixed some natural dark brown fleece with black and created a tree silhouette. This piece still needs finishing, but I am very happy with how it turned out. What do you think? 

The second project was something I started to do one day as a free-form exercise. The object was to start making something something with no end vision in mind, and see what starts to form. 

I must have been thinking "tree people" that day because that it what came out. This project was stalled for a very long time because I had no idea how to do leaves.

I tried to leave it bare, but that did not look right either. For the leaves I ended up experimenting with two different techniques, resulting in a rater primitive looking tree. I think it works, and who is to say what tree people look like? Maybe they were alive with the dinosaurs when the trees looked like this. ;)

For the lighter green flat leaves I made them like this: I took some wool of several different colors and mixed them by hand, pulling the mass of wool apart from the center to really mix the colors. (I could do this as the end result was going to be wet felted anyway. It is not how I would generally recommend mixing colors.) Then I took a bit of the wool and a couple of drops of water, and rubbed it in between my palms. Kind of like how you would make a snake out of clay as a kid. I left an end fuzzy so that it could be easily attached to the branches. After about 20 seconds of this wet felting I took opposite sides of the tube and pulled in several places to give it a more of an undulating shape. 

For the dark green leaves I wrapped a thin piece of green wool around a toothpick over and over to form a tube around the toothpick. Even after all the wool is wrapped on go around a couple more times with your fingers to really smooth down the wool. Then I added some water to further smooth down the outside wool before pulling it off the toothpick.

Finally, because the bottom looked unfinished, I added a base using different shades of green to help anchor the tree onto the thick piece of felt.

I am really surprised that I made this tree person, and that I had to finish it, as it s not my style. However, that is the real beauty of free form creating. You get to make things that you never would have thought of before.

Have you made free form things before? How did they turn out?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Museo Etnologico de Chinchón/ ethnological museum of Chinchón

There is a nice little folk museum in Chinchón, and it is the main reason for us going there. We knew that there was a textile section. So how do you find this museum on an out-of-the-way side street? If you are in the plaza mayor and facing the church you will make out that there is a pedestrian archway up and to the left.

Hay un pequeño museo etnológico en Chinchón, y es la razón principal por la que fuimos allí. Sabíamos que había una sección textil. Así que, ¿cómo encontrar este museo en una pequeña y apartada calle? Si estás en la Plaza Mayor y encarando la iglesia verás que hay una arcada peatonal arriba y hacia la izquierda.

Here is a close up of the archway. I should probably take this opportunity to mention it is a very small museum, and the information signs are only in Spanish.

Aquí podéis ver un primer plano de la arcada. Probablemente debería aprovechar esta oportunidad para mencionar que es un pequeño museo, y que toda la información está sólo en español.

You go through and  will see this sign to your left, then you know that you are on the right track. It is just up this road about 100 meters to your left.

Cuando cruces verás esta señal a la izquierda, entonces sabrás que estás en el camino correcto. Está a unos 100 metros a la izquierda.

Technically I was not allowed to take these pictures. However, I took these without flash and for educational purposes. The main textile section is up on the 2nd (for the US the 3rd) floor. There is a selection of traditional clothing that you can see as you enter the museum, but up here you can see the tools used for making the textiles.

Técnicamente no se me permitió tomar estas fotos. Sin embargo, las tomé sin flash y con propósitos educativos. La sección textil principal está arriba en el segundo piso. Hay una selección de ropa tradicional que se puede ver al entrar en el museo, pero en el segundo piso puedes ver las herramientas que se utilizan para la fabricación de los textiles.

There were hanks of wool hanging from the rafters and the walls. There were really no signs about the wool, other than who donated it, but they remind me of the skeins at the Royal Tapestry Museum in Madrid. The skeins at the Tapestry museum were from Spanish Merino and spun and dyed somewhere in Toledo. Since there were also no signs saying not to touch, I did, and it certainly felt like 100% wool that could have been Spanish merino.

Había madejas de lana colgando de las vigas y las paredes. No había señales sobre la lana, excepto quien la donó, pero me recuerdan a las madejas en la Real Fabrica de Tapices en Madrid. Los ovillos en el museo de tapices eran de merino Español, hilados y teñidos en Toledo. No había señales diciendo que no tocara, así que lo hice, y ciertamente parecía 100% lana que podría haber sido merino Español.

They look like could have been dyed with natural dyes too.

También parecían haber sido teñidos con tintes naturales.

Here are the two informational signs located to the side of a huge rug loom.

Estos son los dos carteles informativos situados al lado de un enorme telar de alfombras.

My translation of the sign below:
"In the 1950s there were many grand mansions that were converted into workshops for making Spanish knotted rugs. The female pioneers that started this activity and gave jobs to around 200 local women were 14 young women that learned in the a foundation called Fundación Generalísimo.
At full capacity they worked (in this city) on around 50 looms until 1967, at this time this type of work practically disappeared.
Each woman had her own space of 120 rows to knot, which measured about half a meter and they received 8 pesetas (0.048€) for every 100 knots. She was only paid when the rug was finished. The weavers that wanted to receive a reasonable salary would have had to do 12,500 knots each day.
A rug that was 3.5meters long and 2.5 meters wide would have been woven by 5 women and made in 15 days. It would have been sold for 15,000 pesetas (less than 100 Euros).
It was very hard work, because of the tightness of the warp and the continuous use of scissors caused various deformities to the woman's hands; added to this was the fact that the wool gave off a noxious dust that the workers continually breathed in.
Something particular about the "Spanish knot" technique is that you don´t use any type of machine: all of the process is done by hand, every thread is a knot, and knot by knot you weave the rug to completion. The peculiarity that there are neither shuttles nor any other type of mechanism has situated our rugs among the best in the world. If you examine the back of the rug you can see the same design that you see on the front."

Arriba está la traducción en inglés de este cartel; pulsa para ampliar y leer el cartel original en Español.

This next sign reads:
"Antique loom of Chinchón, 
for rugs using Spanish knot
(first part of the 20th century)
Recovered by this museum, and actually put to work to make rugs again.
The loom and all of the skeins of wool were donated by Mr. Pedro Del Nero."
So here is the loom. Hand knotted rug means that instead of weaving, each point of color is knotted around the warp and the ends are snipped off with a pair of scissors. So the knots are at the base of the rug and the yarn ends serve as the carpet pile. Every couple of rows of knots there is a line of jute fiber put in between the warp and packed down. The jute fiber adds stability and longevity to the rug. What I know about the "Spanish knot" that remember from my tour of the Royal tapestry museum, is that it is a different and more complicated knot than regular hand knotted rug.

Así que aquí está el telar. Una alfombra de nudos implica que, en lugar de tejer, cada punto de color se anuda alrededor de la urdimbre y los extremos se cortan con unas tijeras. Así que los nudos están en la base de la alfombra y los hilos terminales son como el pelo de la alfombra. Cada par de filas de nudos hay una línea de fibra de yute que se pone entre la urdimbre y se compacta. La fibra de yute añade estabilidad y longevidad a la alfombra. Lo que sé sobre el "nudo español" de lo que me acuerdo de mi recorrido por la Real Fabrica de Tapices, es que es un nudo diferente y más complicado que otros nudos.

Do you see the drawing behind and in front of the weft? (Click to enlarge.) That is called a cartoon and is kind of a colored graft that allows the rug makers to follow the pattern. 

¿Ves el dibujo detrás y delante de la urdimbre? (Haz clic para ampliar.) Eso se llama un cartón y permite a los fabricantes de alfombras seguir el patrón.

A side view of the loom, where you can see that you can raise or lower the loom to get the right tension on the warp.

Una vista lateral del telar, donde puedes ver que se puede subir o bajar el telar para obtener la tensión correcta en la urdimbre.

This is a warping board. The zig-zag pegs at either end make it possible to measure a very long warp in a small space.

Esto se usa para medir el urdido. Las clavijas en los dos lados hacen que sea posible medir un urdido muy largo en un espacio pequeño.

A finished Spanish knotted rug hung up on the wall.

Una alfombra de nudo español acabada y colgada en la pared.

A close up of the rug that was hanging on the loom. Just imagine how plush it would be for tired feet, especially in winter. If this post has made you want your own Spanish knotted rug I believe that the Royal tapestry museum still makes them to order, but I have to warn you they do pay their laborers fair wages and these take hours to make, so it will be an investment.

Un primer plano de la alfombra que colgaba en el telar. Imaginaos la sensación para los pies cansados​​, especialmente en el invierno. Si este post te ha hecho querer tu propia alfombra de nudo español, creo que en la Real Fabrica de Tapices todavía los hacen de encargo, pero tengo que advertirte que pagan a sus trabajadores salarios justos y se tardan muchas horas para hacer una alfombra, por lo que será una inversión.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chinchón - the town

Chinchón is a very old and small town located in the SouthEast of providence of Madrid. It is one of the lesser known day trips from Madrid. If you are going from Madrid there is a bus, the 337 that you catch near the Conde de Casal (line 6) metro stop. Just a word of warning (because I wish someone had told me.) you catch the bus on the side of the street. There is no bus station as you might expect for catching a long range bus. The ride takes about an hour winding through little towns and scenic countryside.

You arrive just down the street from this church.

And as you walk up the road towards the heart of the town, plaza mayor, you see this quaint plaza on your right. I think that it was used to gather, the bulls before the fights. Most plaza mayors were used for bull fights here. Maybe this one still is.

See the stone with the square hole? That was used to flatten the fields during sowing season.

That red fence is probably the chute that they used to drive the bulls down and into the plaza. There is only a portion of it left, it does not go all the way to the plaza.

Here I want to the say that the architecture is so very Californian, but I know that the reverse is true.

Small side streets in the sun baked town.

There is a saying that most Spaniards seems to know when you mention Chinchón:
"Chinchón tiene una torre sin iglesia y una iglesia sin torre "
Which means "Chinchón has a tower without a church and a church without a tower"

Here is a quote I stole from the Wikipedia in Spanish and then translated.

"This tower was part of the ancient parish church of Our Lady of Grace, built in the fifteenth century. The tower was restored long after the French destroyed the whole (in 1808), but not the church, which has been completely buried over time. So there is the saying that Chinchon has a tower without a church and a church without a tower as the next and present church of the Assumption lacks it."

I think that is next photo is the church without the tower. The area in front is the plaza.

And here is a view of the famous tower.

Another view from this medieval Plaza above the tents of a small market selling clothes and fruit.

After we left the museum, which will have a post of it's own next, we left the plaza and walked up the hill to see the castle. As you exit the plaza to the South there is a street that goes up the hill, and then to your left you will see steps that will lead to a park with spectacular views of the town and the surrounding countryside.

Then as you turn, you will see the castle.

The castle is, sadly, not open to the public. I am not sure that they are using it for anything. But it IS still a castle, and you can walk around it wondering what life was like back then.

And whether there was once a moat.

Here are views as we walked around the the town. It was a 100F (38C) degree day so the sun was baking the city.

If you go to a small town in Spain, do not forget to look over the doors, there are often images of various saints above them. This one seems to be showing a sore to a dog that doesn't care. (Click to enlarge.)

We wandered down to the plaza, found a restaurant that was not charging too much for lunch ate and then left. There is nothing to do except eat and walk during lunch time (3-5pm) in Chinchón. everything is closed.

Here is one of the reasons Chinchón is famous. It is a anise flavored liquor and you can get either dry, semi, dry or sweet. I have only tried the sweet, and boy is it, but it is good. Try some over ice one warm summers day. 

Next post will be the museum, and all of it's textile history.