Cord for macrame

I am learning macrame and I’ve been looking for cord that would work well for a macrame plant holder project. It needs to be fairly thick, flexible and not too resistant to being knotted and flexed, and strong enough to hold a pot of earth which may be watered.

A plant holder project requires eight strands of 3 metres of cord.

In a DIY store in a retail park in Newhaven, I measured out 30 metres of red rope in an aisle of B&Q and then searched for an assistant who had a pair of scissors. I’ll go back another time for some lengths of the other types of rope, but I am trying to force myself to finish one project before buying materials for the next.

This large scale rope (in the photo below) is tethering a passenger ferry to the quayside at Dieppe. The port of Dieppe is a four hour crossing directly from Newhaven.

At the ferry dock, there is a cluster of concrete shapes. They look like letter press glyphs, rubber stamps inked up with a green seaweed colour or lengths of extruded clay.

Worm holes

I can’t think of much else but building worm towers.

I can’t think of much else but building worm towers.

I began by listening to Audible’s The Earth Moved by Amy Stewart. It’s an appreciation of earth and composting worms, and explains the huge impact they have on our lives. Like bees, who pollinate our food, we can’t live with out worms, who condition our soil. Evidence of their importance includes the interest of  Charles Darwin who chose them as one of his major subjects of study, other than Natural Selection.

We have a raised bed where the earth has no life at all so I have been trying to bring it back to life. It needs organic matter, minerals and compost. To make the finest compost, I was going to ask for a Wormery for my birthday, like the one Amy Stewart has on her veranda. A wormery  kit can cost about £70.00.

I also saw a clever planting system at Firle Garden show, a structure like a giant strawberry pot, with a vertical pipe running down the centre. In this pipe live the compost worms, and, as you feed them your kitchen scraps, they fertilise the soil around and the plants grow from this rich soil through the holes in the pot.

I often find myself thinking – I can make that! And it could be an inexpensive option.

A permaculture video, with Geoff Lawton, showed me how to build my own worm tower using a drain pipe. I dug as far as I could in to the soil, hitting a hard layer of chalk, using a post hole digger. B. cut the drain pipe (left over from a guttering project) and drilled holes in the lower half. Once it was in the ground, I stocked it up with food that worms ‘like’- damp shredded newspaper, manure, egg shells, damp cardboard and plant scraps from the kitchen. But they are not keen on wet grass clippings, garlic and onion.

B. could not find many compost worms in the compost heap – not such a nice job! We were looking for red wrigglers or tiger worms. Not having the 50 worms recommended by the video tutorial, I ordered two types from Yorkshire Worms on Humberside, Tiger worms and Dendrobaena. The arrived in the post, via Royal Mail, and looked fine in their small bags of compost. B. shared them out between the two worm towers (by now I had made two) and we covered the top with a upside down plant saucer.

Two plastic bags containing live worms  compost worms in a hand

I have kept the towers cool and damp. The worms seem to be moving around in the kitchen scraps. I am learning how much to feed them and how much they can eat in a week.

One website suggested ‘you can overthink what food you give to worms’. On my art piece for Empty Space’s art project, Common Sense publication called Love and Hate, I had made a reference to WORM TREATS.

Now when I see an old newspaper, tea bags, coffee grains, egg shells and leafy scraps, I think ‘good worm food.’ This is one element of permaculture that amazes me; turning waste into nourishment, of one kind or another.

Buildings, cities and Utopia by Bodys Isek Kingelez

Bodys Isek Kingelez designs and creates maquettes for fantastic buildings.

Bodys Isek Kingelez designs and creates maquettes for fantastic buildings. The sculptures are made from recycled materials. They are full of vision and energy, expressed in  bright colours and variety of shapes. They are very carefully made. There stations, pavilions, pagodas, skyscrapers, airports lagoons and outdoor swimming pools. There’s lots of pattern. The commercial packaging (uhu, soft drink cans) is redefined as a structure for its shape, colour and decorative letter forms. Its like a colourful postcard of 1970s city architecture.

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His work is in the show at the Hayward Gallery called  Alternative Guide to the Universe.This is what the  curators at Hayward Gallery have written about him.

b. 1948, Kimbembele Ihunga, Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire); lives in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
Bodys Isek Kingelez dreams of a better world, where there would be lasting peace, justice and universal freedom. Since the late 1970s, he has been creating vibrantly ornate models of futuristic buildings and cityscapes. Made from waste materials from the packaging industry, his scale models of exotic hotels, sports stadiums, and civic buildings envision exuberant urban utopias for ‘the modern society of the third millennium.


I have used this white rocky substance recently in the making of two things; home made base cream and silver jewellery. Here it is on display in the Natural History Museum.


For the cosmetic, a teaspoon of powdered borax, dissolved in water, turns a melted mixture of cocoa butter, bees wax, almond oil and wheat germ oil in to a white cream.

In silver smithing, a hard stick of borax is ground down in a dish at the same time being mixed with water. We painted this milky liquid on to the small areas of silver that would be stuck together. A tiny piece of solder was balanced on joint and we torched it with a heat gun until the silver glowed rose and the solder ran liquid.

The face cream recipe was from a Neals Yard book and the silver smithing taught by Lara Mathers at The Papered Parlour


One point perspective

A Victorian ropery, Singing in the Rain and Stanley Kubrick.

It’s not often that you can see the vanishing point of one point perspective inside a building. This Victorian ropery at Chatham Historic Dockyard is so long a structure that it goes back as far as the eye can see. The ropemakers travelled up and down on bicycles and the ropes are laid out to their full lengths.

Here is a visual joke as seen in Singing in the Rain. The corridor is painted by the set builders  using one point perspective to give the illusion of space on film. Donald O’Connor is about run up the wall and back flip off the fake corridor. He then does the same on a real wall and goes straight through feet first.

This scene is from Make ’em Laugh!

And here is a video montage showing Stanley Kubrick’s use of one point perspective to a variety of  emotional effects.

Kubrick // One-Point Perspective from kogonada on Vimeo.

My Olympic Bid

A retro souvenir tea towel

This is my starter image for the Olympics games. It’s appropriate! Great Britain is uniquely fond of decorative and souvenir tea towels. I haven’t yet seen them in such abundance in gift shops abroad. The lion is a heraldic image (though, of course, not a animal associated with roaming the countryside) and is sporting a Royal crown as if for the Jubilee. The tea towel is retro, perhaps a 1970s number, and retro is is theme anticipated in the Opening Ceremony and certainly to be seen all around the high street. The lion with a splendid maine wears a branded sports top, he holds the union jack shield, and is rather amusing.