new posts.. after some time

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I have been re-evaluating how I use my blogs, and have been neglecting this which used to be my main blog.  I also have a PhD blog and a wellness blog.. I am signed up to Bloglovin’ to find others (you can also follow me on Bloglovin’

Advent calendar of archive images

I have set myself a challenge to find lots of lovely open archive images this month, the ones which are freely useable for personal blogs and public domain.  The reason for this is that I love to explore archives, and it’s always nice to do a topical blog post or two, in this case (similar to the unconventional advent calender I did last year) I aim to post (and remix) images which I find online in archives such as Europeana and the British Library Flickr sites throughout december.

Archives are to be treasured, a great research tool in which one can easily while away hours.. start looking and you never know what you might find!

eyes looking!

eyes looking for treasures

Mozfest Makes- fox runs the world!

Today I learned how to make an animated gif, using Europeana public domain images in a great #mozfest workshop … my inspiration for this is obviously that Firefox rules the world 😉

I have never made an animated gif from scratch before, yet this makes it easy.  Would you like to make your own?

Here are the sourcefiles:


Enjoy playing!

Nextbike goes East- a day out on the Innertube

I am guest blogging for the Nextbike Glasgow unofficial Facebook fan site this month, keeping a blog of my Nextbike travels. Here was today’s adventure.

30 days of biking and more

This month I am guest blogging for the Nextbike unofficial Facebook page, as a big fan of the bikes I thought it would be fun to respond to a request for a Nextbike diary blog so for the month of September I am writing about my adventures.

Today (September 1st) I had a meeting in Edinburgh, and I thought I would take the WeegieWheels for a wee trip to the East. There is normally plenty space on the Scotrail Edinburgh Glasgow trains for bikes during non peak times, so getting the bike to have a little holiday for the day was easy. Picking up my bike at Queen Street station I headed in to buy my ticket and ponder the best route to the platform. I forgot there are wide gates for bikes and buggies! On Scotrail Glasgow- Edinburgh trains there are special areas for storing bikes, marked on the…

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An exciting project for the next two weeks…

Not that what I do isn’t normally exciting (it is!) but I am particularly excited to be part of a collaborative pop up media centre called Citizen 2014 over the next few weeks.

As you can see from the Citizen2014 website, a number of partners (Digital Commonwealth, University of the West of Scotland, Somewhereto_, Beyond the Finish Line, Mind Waves, The Media Trust, Third Sector Lab and the Big Lottery Fund) are all working together on this project to encourage citizen journalism during the two weeks of the Commonwealth Games activities.  It’s brilliant to be able to be part of a team of enthusiastic digital media ambassadors who want to bring out the stories of all the cultural and community activities around Glasgow 2014 and share their skills and show other people how to do this.

As well as my usual role as educational coordinator for Digital Commonwealth (where for the next few weeks I will be working with the Citizen 2014 team, where will all be planning and running our citizen reporting activities) I will also be running a series of free digital workshops (bookable online, or in person at Beyond the Finish Line) as part of the project:

  • Love postcards- make an animated postcard to send to someone you love, or tell the world what you love about Glasgow (using Mozilla Thimble)
  • Newspaper remix- find out about all the events ‘on this day in history’ in the Commonwealth, and tell people your news of what you have been up to by creating a digital newspaper using Mozilla Thimble
  • Commonwealth building sketching- Try your hand at some sketching of Glasgow architecture on paper, then experiment with making your sketches digital (using paper, pens and some apps)

I am so happy to be involved in all of these activities and hope to see you at 7 Trongate and taking part in the #citizen2014 conversations.  Perhaps I am being a bit ‘cheesy’ in my closing statement, but, to use the statement which I have seen all over the city recently, ‘Bring it On’!







Glasgbike- handy basket for curry delivery!

Glasbiking around- tourist in my own town

After a productive morning’s work I decided that I would take a little jaunt around town, trying out some new and old favourites… an experimental day.

I headed to Babu Bombay Street Kitchen, which is a delightful place full of special Indian street food (and Maaza, a wonderfully pungent mango flavoured drink, which goes down well with dhal and brings back happy memories of India).  I got a lovely take away selection, veg dish of the day and dhal of the day, with tamarind carrot and a roti.  I also used my Swipii card, which is a new Glasgow card which ‘redefines loyalty’ (you use it every time you go to the places which have signed up, and instead of 20 different cards for 20 different places, everything is stored on your little key fob (or your app on our phone), and it give you things you might actually want like ‘learn hindi words’, cookery lessons, free tea/ coffee and even starring in a film!)  I am a sucker for these things, I used to love my student snap fax, but this particular scheme seems both useful and friendly, given that I actually do use quite a few of the places on their list (I’m never going to get my nails done, or buy a comic book, but I do love my Indian food, and supporting local places).

Babu Swipii

Babu Swipii

I was taking this to my hard working husband, who was volunteering at the Glasgow Real Ale festival, and what is the best way to go from Blythswood to Briggait? Bike!  “But Alison, you didn’t bring your bike in today?” I may hear you say… well, that meant I did not have to cycle up the hill and also meant I could try out the new Glasbikes!  I don’t know what they are called, everyone I saw seemed to say a Glasgow Boris Bike, but I had registered for the scheme when I had chatted to the guys at the Glasgow bike show in April, and this was the first time I had got a chance to try one in real life.  

Glasgbike- handy basket for curry delivery!

Glasgbike- handy basket for curry delivery!

I saw 2 people cycling away from the stand in Wellington Street just as I got there, I was worried that there would be none left (but had I glanced at my app beforehand, I would have known the number of bikes available, no need to stress about that). After an initial fumble with the lock it was easy enough, all you do is hold your card against the reader (or use the app on your phone to scan the bike’s QR code), it then gives you the number to unlock the bike lock and away you go!

I am not used to 3 gear bikes, my own bike is a comfort hybrid with 15 gears, which I love to bits even though it is a little heavy.  These bikes are quite light and go with ease, the seats are easy to adjust if you need to, and they come with a stand (I have never got round to putting one on my own bike, so it was kind of a novelty for me when I stopped to be able to use that).  I was off to the Briggait which is pretty easy to get to from Wellington Street, so only a little ride to test it, but great fun.  It was only when I reached a more busy area that I realised that I did not have a helmet.  A mixture of panic and ‘oh, how European I am’ flew through my mind (I have been attuned to too many ‘bike helmet saved my life’ type articles on TV, yet have also spent time in cities like Ghent or Amsterdam where cycling is totally normal and everyone rides without a helmet).  I did feel like a tourist in my own town…especially as the bike bell and gears were so different from my own (turning wheel bike bell, and gears like I imagine are on a motorbike).

Glasgow bike bell

Glasgow bike bell

The bikes are quite new to the city, I actually felt like a little bit of a tourist attraction myself as when I was stopped at traffic lights I could hear people going “oh, there’s one of they new bikes” (sic), someone even took a photo of me at the lights.  Weird!

At the Briggait my lunch was warmly received; if you have free time this weekend, do go and visit Glasgow’s first real ale festival in 18 years, it is a dramatic architectural setting and a great range of beers, ciders and perry (soft drinks and food are also available).   It is called the giraffe (pronounced Gee-Raff, given the initials Glasgow Real Ale Festival– G: RAF).  The general verdict of the bikes ranged from curiosity to ‘yes I have signed up’.. several folk were quite fascinated by the concept of Glasgow’s latest form of transportation, and a few volunteers had even travelled in on the bikes earlier that day.  The fact that the basket did not move when you turned the wheel also seemed to be a source of amusement.

Bike basket

Bike basket

I sipped my Maaza and enjoyed my meal and lots of chat.. then headed to Queen Street to drop off my bike (same check out process, with the opportunity to leave a comment, should you wish).

Glasbike dock

Glasbike dock

After a whole 5 minutes of cycling I of course deserved a little refreshment (well, it was more to fuel my afternoon’s work actually, but I thought I would go to Tempo Tea Bar, another Swipii place, and try the seasonal special Copacababa- a mango and passion fruit tea with mango bubbles. mmmmmango!).

Fancy bubble tea

Fancy bubble tea

Happy holidays!  I loved the umbrella touch.  Back to work now… happily sipping a piece of tropical drink, after a nice few hours of tourism in my own town.

Drawing a roofscape in Letraset Tria pens

I have been experimenting with new art materials and very much enjoying the effects which one can achieve by using Letraset pens. I fondly remember the Letraset brand as something which involved lots of rubbing and transfers to make beautiful (if often wonky, given uncareful placement) words and phrases. I also remember trying to make a local plan diagram from rubbing patterned Letraset, it made trees and everything! You can still buy such goodies, but they are perhaps not such a prominent tool in many designer or technicians tools now that computers can do the same thing. One day I will make a “retro” plan illustration with these, just because it’s still possible. The town planner in me has always been creative, the creative in me has always sought out socially aware , useful and enjoyable outlets for my work!

The tria pens come in lovely boxes, there is an “architecture” set which I was kindly given a gift of time ago. I was almost scared to use them because they are so beautiful. Pens are, however, designed to be loved and used… And I have been experimenting with the older pens and some recent acquisitions.


The view from my studio has a particularly nice dome in sight, which as someone who revels in architectural drawing is a challenge begging to be explored. I usually go for black sketching pen and then a watercolour lining, but today the Letraset pens were beckoning.

Daler-Rowney smooth cartridge paper (at least 150 gsm)
Letraset Tria- G136, Y516, WG07 and C919

Start out with an outline drawing of the dome in the lift green colour. This may seem an unconventional choice for line drawing, but as the dome is constructed with copper, which has taken on a patina or age over time, the green reflects this tinge. Concentrate on the symmetrical appearance, but a little artistic licence won’t disturb the overall affect here and there (this is a freehand representation, drawn with love, not a “to scale” model after all).


Add the lines for the dome construction, forming the individual sections of the dome


Continuing to use the fine nib, press lightly to imply structure and form, adding short dashes of line to the dome.


Use the more blue coloured C919 marker to add tones of leadwork to the base of the dome, including the triangular pediment. Lead has different Material properties and is often laid in sheets; reflect this in the lines you use.


Having added more structure to the drawing, it is time to add shadow. Use the brush end of the same pen to add wider swoops of colour, implying shadow.


Continue adding colour, noticing the angle of the shadows. The next stage is to use an alternative colour, Y516, to add a more realistic colour and start to define each part of the structure. The copper is slightly curved on the dome; add lines with the fine tip to imply curved areas. The dome is a greener colour than the lead below, so the new colours reflect this. Occasional areas of brush can be used to add shadow.


Use the last pen (brush tip) to emphasise any areas of shadow and continue tinkering until you are happy.

That’s it!


Part 2 of this entry is ” make it digital”…

Fun at the festival of museums

This weekend it has been the Festival of Museums throughout Scotland (and Museums at Night throughout the UK). We had a great time yesterday (May 17th) on an architectural art bus tour organised by the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, and hosted by Dress for the Weather architects. There is currently an exhibition at GOMA by Nathan Coley, using the architectural form of places of worship in Edinburgh to form a dramatic model landscape, our tour was inspired by this and we visited two religious buildings in the South Side of Glasgow (Glasgow Gurdwara and Govan Old).

I have included a taster of some of the sketches and models in the video, but I am looking forward to seeing them all on display in GOMA together.