Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Spreading the Word

Three Wednesday Groupers headed to Worcester this morning for a brush with the media!

Watch out in the Worcester News over the coming weeks to see if you can spot a little something all about our happy band of stitchers...

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Delicately Stained

A snapshot of progress on the pianola roll from The Applewood...
Preparing the base. Dying with a hot tea bath of Darjeeling resulted in the delicate dusky stain on the vintage tray cloth on the right, which makes up the base of the piece...

It also resulted in old stains (i.e. those which had been made to disappear with soap or Vanish) reappearing. This has been a rather lovely development. The stains add to the history of the fabric and will not be covered up. Also 1-2 laundry marks and a few teeny darns which are evident too. You can have fun searching for them when the piece goes on show!

Here are a couple of links to posts on this piece from

Monday, 22 August 2011

Foxtrot - Series 2

What is going on down Mathon way? Your wait with bated breath is over.
The story continues.
The fox looked round....his habitat trashed....whereto now? He thought he may as well move on. The next moonlit night he trotted into town. He sat for a while at the top end of town until his ears picked up the sound of a really cool tune wafting up on the breeze. He slid through the shadows determined to track it down. It came from french windows opening onto a terrace. ( Must have been Malvern Winter Gardens.) He crept nearer and nearer until he could see quite clearly. His eyes were quite beguiled. 'I fancy my chances here,' he thought,'one foxy lady!'
I may be drummed out of T.W.G. if I told you what happened next.... let's put it this way...she was led astray.
If you want to see the disarray for yourself, call in at the 'Sew to Speak' exhibition 20th September.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Portrait of the Artist, Sister

I've been working intermittently for ages on a portrait of my sister, the artist Joy Parker.  I have been embroidering copies of the letters she sent to me thirty years ago  on an old boiler suit she used for painting.  I have tried to replicate the style of the writing, following on a course I did with an artist, Rosalind Wyatt, at Waterperry Gardens who specialises in copying handwriting.  She did exquisite work; this piece has more of my usual rambunctious style, but as Joy changes her letter shapes alter and I have worked to reflect these.

I wasn't sure how to display this, and finally last week I asked Joy to have a drawing of her outline done and sent to me, so that I could cut out a plywood version.  I was going to stick the original letters on in a decoupage style and then hang the boiler suit on this.

However, yesterday I got an email from the Worcester Scrapstore saying they had two plaster casts of a woman available.  I had an appointment for the time the store opened so wrote a begging email immediately asking if I could bribe them to keep one for me for an hour.

The upshot is I now have a (rather too tall) plaster cast of a woman and if I (or rather Rod) can figure out how to get it to stand safely, I think I will use this.  It isn't Joy, but the peopleness of it appeals to me more than using either a shop dummy or a flat board.

Now I just need to finish copying the letters.  I started this exercise as a way of using these letters I have kept for so long, thinking it would be a good way of no longer feeling the need to keep the,.  I have gone from a slender flat file of letters to a large boiler suit and an enormous 3d woman.  Not quite what I originally intended in terms of managing my storage needs!

The day the music stopped.

This week was to be the week when everything came together......... The vintage map was in place, the fox was ready to trot, the paper music was unfurled. In fact ,that was the problem. The pianola roll just didn't want to lie down and be stitched. I tried ways of holding it down and sticking seemed to be the solution. I told myself 'just do it!' So I did.
The music died. It stopped being something with potential to create a dance. Now it lies flat and lifeless. How could I have been so insensitive? The pianola depended on movement and I stopped it.
Anyway,you can have a smile at me with my deceased pianola roll whilst I devise a plan for resurrection.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

W.I.P.The fox who wanted to belly dance.

Hot from the needle and caught on camera!

He had a bit of sulk over the weekend when he heard that Lindsay was doing a belly dancer on her pianola roll but was persuaded that doing the fox trot was vintage risque.

What's going to happen when he gets amongst those chickens?

Sunday, 14 August 2011

How Long?

There was much discussion & swapping of tales about progress on our pianola roll projects at last week's gathering. However, the award for creating the longest piece of work so far goes to Katie (eight feet maybe?). Here's a glimpse of work in progress:

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Embroidered Eyes

A few weeks ago we were artists in residence at the Blue Ginger Gallery, and one day we made collaborative creatures.  They were so varied that I thought it was worth showing the different ways in which we made the eyes as a separate blog.

Kathleen makes a lot of stuffed creatures, and set to making her creature eyes with pieces of felt held in place and embellished with long stitches.  The eyes are clearly a pair, though of different shapes and sizes.

Katie gave her creature a rather startled / dazed look with circular eyes cut from patterned fabric. Felt eyebrows completed the eye.

 Ann made the fish so that only one eye showed at a time, so here they are in separate images. Again they are not identical, with a flash of pink on one eye.  They are pieces of coloured felt with long stitch eyelashes.

Anni made a sultry face using eyes made from felt and stitch.  These were very realistic, with overlaid eyelids, lashes, and delicately stitched eyebrows.

Lindsay's creature started its existence with two very different eyes.  One is a button with added simple stitching on the face, and the second is a bulbous three dimensional eye with stitch detailing and knots towards the hairline.

My figure rapidly acquired a strange physique.  I used different sized and coloured buttons, wool, and stitch to give a blood shot effect (though the stitches were on the face rather than the eyeball - the liberties of invention).  

The smaller eye was given an added air by Ann who gave a piercing to this dissolute creature at the final embellishment stage.

Using the materials to hand and working to a tight timetable was liberating though daunting.   Instead of struggling to design and make a well considered piece with carefully selected materials we raced ahead to be sure to have something done.  This was easier for some than others - some of the group do exquisite work whilst others are happy to be haphazard.  This variation in  style helped generate creatures which were much more interesting than any of us would have done by ourselves.  

As we handed over our creatures to the next stage of creation we fretted about what the next person would do to 'our' creature, whilst at the same time being anxious not to spoil the previous work on the creature we had inherited.  This was a very interesting exercise and highly recommend for a group event.  Having the calico creatures pre-made meant that the three tasks, face, appendages and embellishments, could be completed in one day.

ooh! and ahh! and envy

Met at Kathleen's entrancing home in Ross on Wye and were allowed into Gez's cellar!  Kathleen and Gez are working on a calender with vintage cars and vintage inspired models - dressed with expertise from charity shop finds by Kathleen.  The tale of how the images are created would make a great book in itself.

The variety of responses to the Pianola roll continue to amaze and inspire us all.  The exhibition in September is going to look very good.  The choice of Darjeeling tea versus other varieties as a dye, use of old maps, how to attach wires so the fixings don't show...many and various are the craft and conceptual issues explored.

Katie bought one of Kathleen's scarves and I snuck a quick picture. 

I also started collecting material for a new series of portraits, which the team agreed to participate in provided they could remain anonymous.  Anonymous portraits?  I want to do a series based on varicose and other visible veins.  I plan to make them out of sumptuous materials and make them things of beauty...if I can get my craft skills to match my aspirations.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

W.I.P. Fox Trot

I came across this old map in 'The Old Bell' archives and thought it would be perfect to indicate the fox's territory. The Bell Inn just managed to squeeze itself in to the north! I've experimented printing this out on tissue paper and sticking it onto a background which worked really well.

My idea was to have ghostly foxes trotting over his territory looking for trouble! I made a print block from foam sheeting stuck to a wooden block and have been experimenting getting the right amount of transparency. Lots of prints later, I tried printing on a scrap of pianola roll. Next is to experiment with colour.... wether I want vintage brown to compliment the old paper or traditional ghostly wraiths.....

I'm also stitching a fox who is turning out to look rather cute..... and I wanted evil. More to come.

(Another step forward.... 2 photos today! Eventually got them in the right order! Hee, hee.)