Wednesday, 26 September 2012

After Summer's stitchy end...Autumn's stitchy beginning.

Monday morning....9.55am...the faint smell of cheese scones drifting up the corridor...can you guess where we are yet?
The Wednesday Group will be on red alert now - there can only be one place!

A couple of our group decided to return to South Worcester College for a new course for past City and Guilds textile students. We were lured by the promise of space to work in, arty vibes, tutor and group support to cheer us on and of course, cheese scones freshly baked on the premises every morning.

We can do our own thing. Some wanted the chance to finish off  C & G work. Many of us are taking the suggested starting point which was the work of Michael Brennand -Wood (new exhibition at Ruthin now!) and seeing where it led. After 10 minutes my head was buzzing with ideas. So exciting to be back!

Any way, next week we are promised a short workshop on weaving without looms with the new textile technician who specializes in weaving.She sounds a very interesting person with very up to date skills. It all ties in very nicely with our starting point.

How ever, we have to take in  examples of work which illustrate our style and that is what I'm doing now...deciding what I do!

Caroline remembered I made jewelry from vintage denim.

Over the summer,I've made large flowers. can be worn as hats (See previous blog-Anni's spectacular flower) or statement brooches or necklaces.

Sometimes I sew jokes, like my furry cake here.  This is one of a hamper full of stitchy button mushrooms you could really stitch on.

Oh, yes. This was when I saved the world. I stitched up the tectonic plates so there would be no more earthquakes. Seems to have worked so far, as long as the thread doesn't snap.

I caught three little birds I made trying to find out what they were in a reference book. I'm looking for a decorative birdcage to put them in, Shh, don't tell.

I'm going to think about it for a bit. I'm finding it hard to decide what I do. I suppose I like variety and I like making people smile. The answer's there somewhere.

I'll let you know how we get on with the weaving without looms and how 'going back' is progressing.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Summer comes to a stitchy end.

At last a few days came when I could finish that summer school project! I've got several unfinished pieces hanging around at the moment.......sometimes it's hard to finish things, sometimes it's hard to start. It was good to have the opportunity of working with Angie Hughes again so I felt I must finish off this one and take some of the ideas forward into my own work.

After day 1 of the workshop, we were sent home to look at the overall shape of flowers. So going back to the hazy days of summer, I remember staring out of the window through the rain drops to my garden beyond and thinking O.K. I'll do my homework from here! I spied a clump of Astilbe whose flowers start off as large spears above a froth of leaves. At that point they were all standing to attention and as dusk came on the seemed to glow against the dark hedge.

I worked with three flowers in my sketch book (see my initial stitchy blog) and felt they looked striking against the black but as time moved on, the wind and rain blew the clump of flowers around a bit and the flowers were pointing in every direction. This made me rethink the original idea and put more plumes in, bursting out of the frame.

As Astilbe flowers mature,tiny,frothy flowers burst out from the bottom and change colour so after a while the plume looks as if it's been dip dyed. I tried to get this effect with french knots and beads.

Angie fans will recognize her touch in the stems. They are made of painted and ribbled paper! I'm smiling as I write this as it takes me back to that afternoon. As soon as it was mentioned, ladies delved into copious bags under the table and brought out these little machines like fairy mangles. You feed in strips of paper and turn a handle and the strip is magically ribbled. Is that the right word? You know, like corrugated cardboard. I was entranced! How do you know if you want a ribbling machine at a work shop? Or do you take it everywhere just in case. Anyway, ladies on courses will always share their magic machines and they enjoyed my delight as I ribbled away happily on their machines.

This work has made more sense to me since I related some of the more abstract ideas to my garden. For instance, Angie suggested filling spaces with tiny shapes and stitches. I thought of how the sunlight picks out tiny drops on the grass and fills them with sparkle and colour and so I filled the foreground to suggest this with little squares and sequins but keeping the colours quite dark so that the Astilbe flowers still dominate.

So I did arrive at the stitchy bit...(well into Autumn!) At one point I had to use an awl to help me stitch through those plumes. Maybe like the ladies who carry round ribbling machines, I should always carry round an awl for when the going gets tough.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Getting down to the stitchy bit!

So- now- I'm working in the manner of Angie. ( See previous post.)

One of the ideas she wanted us to include was a repeated pattern. She suggested leaves which you can see in the photo in the previous post. One of the repeated patterns in my garden over the summer  has been me planting out seedlings and slugs/snails eating them! (I do love snail shells but not the squidgy bit that eats my plants.)

I dug out my secret sketch book to find some shell drawings done last year and from the observations I made a string print block.The method I used is quite quick.

1) Cover a printing surface in double sided tape. I used the cap of my hairspray but something rigid like wood is best.            
2) Remove the paper protection and firmly press in the fine string in your design.
3) Paint all over the string and the sticky surface in gesso or white acrylic paint. Leave to dry.
4) To print use a stamping pad or paint.

Then I printed the shells on some white fabric which I bonded to pelmet vilene.
I made a few samples as shown to see which looked effective. The ones I chose were sewn in small running stitches to enhance the swirly pattern and the one which had been coloured in water colour pencils.

These are now ready to fix on a narrow black hessian strip printed with gesso stripes.

Chance for a touch of humour here.
Glad to have started this project again.
I'm going to tackle the flower element next. Will let you know how it progresses.(That's if the snails don't get there first.)