Table Runners

17 July 2015


A 2-year break.  Almost forgot the site existed.  Mary has an Ashford 8-shaft table loom.  After work, as a diversion, you can sit for half an hour and throw the shuttle through some more of the warp.  The latest experiment has been two ‘weft-dominant’ designs to create table runners.  By keeping the warp taut and deliberately slackening the weft you force the weft threads to hide the warp and to create a bold tapestry pattern.  These are for the Hangjik tables.


21 March 2013

hangjik tile

This is the ‘Hangjik Tile’ designed by Lois based on a book of traditional Albanian textile designs. Lois has made four ceramic tiles and they are installed as part of the indoor windowsills of the pleme.


19 March 2013


The arke is an old bridal chest. Albanian brides are special.

“Gold, white light and beauty were all present in the room. The gold circled the girl’s thin wrists. The weight of gold tugged at her ear lobes and hung as a medallion around her neck. She stood before the window and the sun lit her veil, caught the satin formed around her figure and drew sharp contrasts in the appliquéd flowers, leaves and ribs that made their shape around her; the girl become woman. Her hair was timelessly curled, fixed, her eyes etched, her lips reddened, straight. The broad fan of her skirt filled space. But, beyond all this was her presence, her being; the statue with the power to move, the servant dominating, the submissive spectacle conquering the inquisitors. She did move. The princess stepped forward. Her still hands took the hands of a guest, lifted them slowly to her forehead, the body bowed, the guest hands blessed in the service were returned. The bride passed on to the next guest, hands touched, raised, blessed, returned. The ‘nusa’, for that is the name of a bride, glided to the next, hands brought to the forehead, the frame obsequious but controlled, disciplined, generous, afraid, servant, actor, ordered, in the dilemma of choice, obedient. Silence.”

Embroidery Stamp

18 March 2013

Embroidery Stamp

Our little B&B experiment is at the decorating stage. Some time ago in Kruja, Albanian, Lois and I bought this stamp – thinking it might work to pattern the wall.

During out last trip to Kruja – and fluent enought to discuss decorating, hand crafts, and old skills, we learnt that the carving was used to stamp tablecloths prior to embroidery stiching around the pattern.

Still I am thinking to try it on the walls.


17 March 2013


Do you know that feeling that everything you touch has multiple layers of richness underlying the first impression?

Mary introduced me to Hellebore during a walk years ago in Dragash. Here is one on the hill directly behind the house in Runjeva.

The Greeks wrote of them and used their poison. The Victorians collected them and bred light with light and selected the lightest, dark with dark and selected the darkest – to make colours and variety. Somehow I like the plain natural green.

They have a role in medicine. They spread around the world. Their cells know how to flatten in the cold and go rigid in the warmth. They are a sign of spring.

Hangjik in Winter

16 March 2013


I have been away from Runjeva for a year or more.  Why?  Well the real answer is: come and see!

The old house has been loved and mended.  Craftsmen with skills in stone and mud and lime came to visit – almost constantly – and now it is the end of winter.

One more month of work and our little experiment in rural tourism should be open!

Website in constrution at

Luboten from Runjeva by Doreen Price

1 January 2012

Doreen worked from a winter scene to imagine the blossoming of early summer.  Her first use of impasto technique.  I love it.  A wonderful gift to start the year.  Thank you!


21 October 2011

I’ve not developed a fetish in relation to bugs and beasties but with my family away I have to turn to other animals (hee hee).  However, this specimen found dead in the bathroom, it was probably eating the washing powder!  What does amaze me is… how did it get there?  A new house, the bathroom window closed, and the outside ground 6 or 7 meters below!  Sabrije said that there are not so many in Kaçanik – so don’t be put off… however, I might be checking my shoes from now on!

Kaçanik Palms

8 October 2011

There has been a lot of debate recently about the ‘Kaçanik Palm Project’.  For a week or two a digger has been digging out the rough earth and rubble of the grass strip between the Kaçanik cafe road and the River Nerodime, preparing the ground for something.  Speculation in the newspaper teased the Mayor, about the palms, what was the plan, how will they survive?  Then they appeared: a fine row of 22 palm trees 2 metres high spaced along the riverside.  I like them, but I am worried!  It would not be the first ‘greening of Kosovo’ project that ended in dead sticks because of the lack of care and maintenance.

On Friday I trundled into work with Mentor as a travel companion.  He explained that the Skenderbeu Gymnasium students had started the project.  Seeking to improve the Kaçanik environment what would they propose?  The riverside is THE place in the evening and all the town promenade or pause for a coffee… the avenue could take some trees….  then there was research, what place in Italy, for example, would have a similar climate and also palm trees?  The type of palm was chosen on this basis and with the opinion that they will survive winters down to minus minus, even -40C.   Others express scepticism as to whether the 550m altitude of Kaçanik and severe winters (certainly to -20C) will permit the survival of palm.

From my little research the palm looks like the Trachycarpus species, a native of China but now spread widely across Europe and North America.  If they can be kept above minus 10C for a few years until they mature then they have a chance.  Ironically they may find the summer tougher going than the winter.   Mentor told me that an underground watering system has been included in the project so that should really help.  Plus I suppose the river creates a slighter-warmer-than-everywhere-else micro-climate.  I am hopeful of their survival.


No longer for cows!

4 October 2011

After a few short days at home to meet baby Evangeline I was transported back to Kosovo.

With this a leap back into the developing world of Han-Gjik and the wonder of stone, lime mortar and wood.  The mjeshter is delighting in the opportunity to build again in the old style.

The materials for the ‘house based on the old cowshed’ have not been easy to find.  Nazmi had a break-through when he was offered the stone of a ruin in the village of Krivenjeva high in the hills.  Examination proved this to be a rich find.  However, the lorry man trundled once up the hill and once down and then phoned Nazmi (stranded in the hills) and said ‘I’m not doing that again’!  He got 4 cubic meters of stone down to Runjeva but decided the risk to his truck was not worth any gain.  Next, a neighbour in the village offered another ruin.  Examination proved this to be a rich find, and so it has proved.  However, the tractor man jump started his tractor with a full load of stone behind and the momentum drove the pistons round too hard before the ignition kicked in.  However, he has come back… ( a costly repair later).

Next wood, we need around 15 beams five meters long and 5 six meters long… the old pleme (cowshed) and the village ruin had some, but not enough, too much damage on most from years of open exposure… so Nazmi and Ylber and the cutter-man wandered up into Nazmi’s forest looking for suitable trees.  Nazmi has not been cutting his forest (although bits of it get stolen) and after 3 hours of searching he concluded that all his trees were too fat.  Well, good for the trees and the forest, but not so good for the building project.  This unsolved and with autumn closing in further progress looks doubtful this year.

Finding adobe bricks is also difficult… they don’t survive if unprotected.  There is a guy in the village making adobe bricks using a compression mold and he brought us some samples.  He mixes mud and packs it into a box and then uses a compressor arm to squeeze out water whilst compacting the brick.  This is the technique that has brought a revival to adobe in America and Australia.  Unfortunately his bricks are larger than traditional adobe (qerpiq) and they look wrong.  So, we are in discussion.  I would love to use locally made adobe.  However, now this year it is also late… they dry in the sun… and although today hit 24C the days are shortening and cold and rain may come.