Monday, June 23, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

Earlier this year, my husband, sculptor Alan Lees, completed a group of four wildlife woodcarvings for a woodland walk. It was the official opening today - after which we all - visiting dignitaries, plus a group of children from one of the local primary schools, who had been involved with the project from the outset, plus assorted villagers and dogs, all tramped through the glen (beautiful at any time of year, but stunning just now) to admire the carvings and the scenery. Nice to see a wee group of kids so involved and interested. Alan is trying desperately to stop carving at the moment . The work is so heavy and dirty that his health suffers. Every time he undertakes a big commission like this, he seems to be floored with arthritis and breathing problems for a few weeks after. He is now making a determined effort to divide his time between painting and willow sculpture. He keeps being offered carving work but now tries to persuade likely customers that a willow sculpture might be a better option. They don't last as long as solid oak, for sure, but if they are treated they will keep going for many years - they can be very beautiful, like drawings in the air that work with line and light - they aren't half as heavy and dirty to make, they are cheaper and they are made with sustainable locally grown willow - so they are good for the environment as well! What more could you ask for?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Lovely Old Printed Paisley Shawl

I'm currently listing a very beautiful old printed paisley shawl here on eBay. These are usually deemed to be less collectable than the woven variety and they were certainly a cheaper option, but these days they are still rare - they were quite a delicate item, and it isn't often that one survives in this condition. A closer examination of this particular piece illustrates why it has survived. Possibly dating from as early as 1850 (it has a large cream centre, with long 'boteh' or ferns at each end, and the pattern intrudes prettily into the middle) it has obviously been cherished. The colours are as bright and clear as the day it was made, and the few holes - a couple in the middle, and a little patch of wear in the coloured border - have been very carefully darned. I like to imagine that this might once have been a wedding gift from a young husband to his wife. These fine wool shawls, printed in lovely clear colours, would have been used as a lighter option in spring and summer. Nowadays people use them as throws and wall hangings. So long as you keep them out of direct sunlight and away from moths, they could last for another hundred and fifty years - although I doubt if many people nowadays could do this wonderful subtle neat darning! I certainly couldn't.