Monday, 16 December 2013

Sixteen Shades of Blue.

It was October when we hatched up plans for this particular project. (Fewer group members than normal met ......and twice as many decisions were made...funny that! ) Fresh in my mind was something I had read in 'Connected Cloth' by Anne Kelly and Cas Holmes. I'm sure this is the same for every creative group but we are always amazed at the diverse results from the same starting point.We then wondered what would happen if we restricted the starting point even further and used exactly the same materials. So, sixteen shades of blue was born. Everyone was to take a piece of blue fabric and a blue accessory for embellishment to share at the next meeting.

                                          First things first...... eat the cake then clear the decks.

Ginger cake and autumn fruit excellent start to the meeting. Now let's get down to business.                                                                            What have we got?

A sea of blue.

Divide into eight.

Everything sorted.
Oh help, who thought of this idea?

All packed and ready to go.
Don't lose all those little bits!
No cheating!
The Wednesday Group police will check you've used every last one.

I spread mine out when I got home.
Using some of those accessories will be tricky.
(The revenge of those not at the October meeting.)

The rule is that you must use all the materials provided but the let-out clause is that how much you use of each is up to you! Phew! I kept looking at my pile and rearranging the pieces. This is not going to be easy. birds ...jumped into my mind. I'm still slightly obsessed with birds, I know. Yes, blue birds.
I'm going to go with blue birds.

 Then what do you know? Lois, who ran away to play with the artists in St Ives all Autumn, posted a picture of her finished work! Some people had barely got home!

Hopefully, Lois will post her 16 shades of blue here...........she is,as I write, moving house and it's Christmas! She may be a little distracted.........

However, I can give you a verbal preview. The work shows choppy seas around the harbour at St Ives. I did wonder if she had included the press studs. (See last photo.) I am assured that they are part of the flotsam on the beach!

Now, back to the blue birds. I decided to make another book telling a story. I won't give the story line away just yet, but I will show Page 1. Spot the press studs. (No prizes.)

So far I have used six of the sixteen shades of blue...but I'm only on page one. Everyone else is being very cagey about what they are doing. 'It's a mystery' was a phrase being bandied about...which if you're anything like me will interpret as 'I haven't a clue!' Someone else was talking about a useful household object. Another was thinking along the lines of 'feeling blue and may stay under the duvet', but I wasn't sure whether she meant she was cold and staying in bed or she was sewing in bed. We'll have to wait and see.Also I think someone was thinking along the lines of a Japanese garment. This sounds promising. Again the press studs could be tricky!.....and the glass pebble!

Obviously I didn't do too well as a journalist finding the 'info' for this blog so I'll leave you on a cliff hanger. Tune in again to find out who 'dun' what, with what and how the press studs fitted in.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Back to the drawing board.

Another year is well under way at Textiles Alumni Course at South Worcester College. (Two of The Wednesday Group are attending this time.)
Some of you will remember how our tutor suspected that our pencils were gathering dust and sketchbooks were put aside for lighting fires when winter set in. ( picture the unease, the shuffling about and nervous giggles when this was suggested!) However the lady knows us well and ignoring the raised eyebrows and someone asking the time of coffee break, launched us on our first design exercise of the year which turned out to be fun!

We had to pair up with someone we didn't usually work with and one of the pair sat down with pencil poised. The other person, facing the opposite direction, was given an object and had to describe it so that her partner could draw it.Then we swapped places.I have to say that the results were uncannily accurate bearing in mind we didn't have any idea what we were drawing. Apparently this means that we are good communicators........ (which probably means we are better at talking than drawing.)
Sorry, I didn't get any shots of these works- they were whisked away.

By this time our pencils were nicely limbered up and we had to use them in various ways....just as we did when we first started.( Yes and using all the grades of graphite that never usually see the light of day.) I'll let you see my ten minute scribble to break up the prose!

We had to tie our pencils to a metre long cane for the next exercise and draw from afar. You certainly have to pit your wits against it to bring it under control.

Did I say 'control'?
Well, I do need to loosen up a bit, my usual work is too controlled and tidy. I will sneak in a page of my secret sketch book here - to show you what I mean.

Another way of getting rather uncontrollable results was to fold over a piece of paper and on the bottom half  cover it over in chalk. Over the top of the chalk, scribble blocks of wax crayons.

Fold back the other side to cover this and draw on top of it with a biro.

When you open up the folded paper the imprint of the biro shows as coloured lines.

People who had drawn patterns had much more effective  results in this exercise. Maybe with practise you could make this work for you as a design tool but I felt it was a bit of a gimmick.
A suggestion was to advance our embryo designs, we should use use a media that we don't normally use. I settled on collage using paper torn from magazines.

My subject was trying to reflect the ever changing profile of the Malvern Hills.
Oh for my needle and thread!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

The party's over but we stitch on!

Our preferred gallery is a wonderfully quirky, little place off an ancient cobbled street in Ledbury.(In deepest Herefordshire.) One approaches it straight off the street through an old wooden door and up a flight of stairs. To make this a little more enticing, we decided to cover the walls in birds as if they were swooping up to glimpse the exhibition themselves.

Well, most of them...a few remembered they had a prior engagement and turned to go. 
As you  have probably gathered by now, the exhibition had a distinctly birdie feel and the birds mingled with the 'serious stuff'....( serious ?)...effortlessly. To add to the general ambiance, we played birdsong quietly throughout. One visitor remarked that even the local birds were joining in!

To add to the open air feel, the exhibition title was put on a signpost, so a few of the birds perched on it obligingly. We had to put Fire bird in a cage though as we didn't want him spreading like wild fire(ha ha) amongst the local bird population and cause a problem like the green parakeets in London!

Little groups of them congregated in corners, putting a smile on visitors faces. All had their own charm even causing a minor disturbance when two ladies fell in love with the same bird. Quite a few of these birdie creations have flown off now to lead a new life where I hope they will continue to generate the same amount of fun. My grand daughter was heartbroken that I should even consider selling mine and apparently is saving up to buy them herself.

At first glance, this corner seems a rather strange collection..with apologies to the two members whose work on the wall I cut off unintentionally. This all came about after a visitor to one of our previous exhibitions donated a suitcase of bits and pieces (later known as the suitcase of treasure.) We had a lovely afternoon diving in and choosing the bits that caught our eye.Then someone came up with the idea that we should make something using just those bits  to test our ingenuity....and we ended up with this collection which is quite a departure from our usual work.The patchwork cushion at the back was not for sale but had there been twelve, they would have all sold.

This project caused the most angst ....with the result that some are still W.I.P. We started with a photo of the bridge over the Severn at Worcester and made of it what we would! Yes, a couple of us managed to include birds too...though we didn't get any brownie points for this. The green work on the table is a contribution in glass inspired by the same photo...that is the 'so forth' bit... the rest of course the 'sew on'. (This explains the title of our exhibition.We included work in other media by members of our group.)

I haven't shown you all the work, just bits that maybe haven't starred before.It was a fantastic week and we have a book full of lovely comments about people leaving feeling inspired The one I liked best was from a lady who could no longer sew but spent ages looking round. She wrote that she hoped everyone would take the time to look properly !
 Our college tutor (that was) managed to get to see it this time and declared us to be professional with work of a diverse and high glad we didn't let her down. 

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Sew On and So Forth

Two years have gone swiftly and it is time for another exhibition - we wonder why we agree to do these as the day approaches for hanging a new show, but by the end of day one we can see how amazing our work looks presented together.

The Weavers Gallery in Ledbury is a quirky space, and it can be a challenge to position things well.  This year a flight of birds are scattered around, perching on beams and in amongst other exhibits.  We started making these little birds at our Summerhouse at Blue Ginger Gallery, and have continued making them since. Some of them needed encouragement to stay in their new perches.

getting birds to perch

There were lots of bags of materials scattered around as the display was organised, forming impromptu sculptures wherever we looked.

vivid sundries

taking a rest
 We followed completion of the hang with an excellent meal at the The Talbot Hotel, where two hours of laughter renenergised the tired crew.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Show Ready Plumage

"It's all a bit quiet in here. Where is everyone? 
Ahh, busy getting ready for next week's, 'Sew On & So Forth' exhibition at The Weavers Gallery in Ledbury. 
I'd better go and plump the old feathers up as well I suppose!" 

Monday, 19 August 2013

Our birds are all of a twitter!

There was a bit of a twitter going on last week...... all The Wednesday Group birds were summoned to a photo shoot for the local press. (Advance publicity for our exhibition next month.) A bit of feather fluffing went on, preening of french knots and punking up of raw edges, before jostling for position to get noticed.

Some of the confusion was caused by the lovely photographer calling out 'Watch the birdie'. I remember she did this once before...they don't know which birdie to watch.Anyway, after calling 'Cake crumbs later!' they finally lined up and the shot was taken!

Some of our brood didn't make it sadly. Minor migrations have taken place. For instance a little Scandi bird has gone off to the land where it's always Christmas.

                                This little beauty was loath to leave his toning accommodation!

Bird box bird, featured in a previous blog, is doing a summer season in Worcestershire but has promised to be back for the Autumn.

Sadly the little Wimblechick is no longer with us. He was cleverly created from tennis ball fabric which caused his downfall. You've guessed it! He migrated to Wimbledon and during a particularly long rally, flew up to check the score and was volleyed to oblivion by this year's winner. But what a way to go!

Newly hatched this week is the colourful firebird. He's been promised a swing for his gilded cage....but he can hardly stand up never mind cling on to a perch.

We've all got a bit addicted to making birds...especially me! But there will be lots of other stuff in the exhibition ,all the challenges we have set ourselves over the past couple of years for a start. But I will tell you all about those soon.
Best go and get a few things finished then.

Monday, 15 July 2013

The Sparrow and I.

A few weeks ago, I challenged myself to work in a different way producing a series of hand stitch sketches of the humble sparrow, in response to Anne Kelly's request for sparrow art.
(See 'Stitches for Twitchers' blog-April)

Choosing an appropriate finale for a project is an important decision....otherwise work gets confined to the 'what on earth can I do with this'  box from which there is seldom escape!

Well, hand stitch sketches deserve a hand stitch sketch book, so the decision was made.

Although I wanted to keep the book simple using calico and sparrow colours, I felt a little text would give added interest. But what?
For a few days I watched sparrows, read about sparrows and listened to sparrows. Noisy chirpers! That phrase played over and over in my mind until a little poem was born....half about sparrows, half about me.'The Sparrow and I'.


Lines of the poem appear opposite each sketch thus encouraging the reader to turn the pages and read a little more.

The final page where I achieved my aim of stitching in a freer way, using larger and fewer stitches, a hand stitch sketch!

Any way, enough teasing you,here is the whole poem, dedicated to all sparrows and textile artists.

The Sparrow and I.

Straw collector, grain hopper,
Textile hoarder, crafty shopper.
Cowboy builder,puddle splasher,
Thimble rigger, needle flasher.

Feather duster! Feather stitcher!

Clever clinger, crumb picker,
Bonda webber, finger pricker.
Speedy pecker, crocus ripper,
Quick unpicker, nifty snipper.

Noisy chirper, insect finder,
French knotter, bias binder.

Social grouper!  Stitch in a hooper!

So, this little project has an appropriate end. When I reached this stage, I thought of the way people bring valuable old books out of store and lay them carefully on a cushion to be perused with reverence.
So now 'The Sparrow and I' has it's own cushion to lend it gravitas!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Sizzling Stitches

Stitch Camp 2013....Final Day!

The Wednesday Group are dedicated to their art. Nothing stops their stitching! Last year clad in raincoats, several layers of woollies and wellies, they stitched on. This year, wearing rather less....I won't specify...and with fingers less numb, their needles flashed to a frantic finale.

First thing, dew still on the grass, saw the early birds pulling out their day's work in the gazebo outside the summer house and planning breakfast.

Chocolate brownies are a good choice. We stitchers know that the iron in cocoa fortifies and therefore gives the ability to stitch longer. ( Free health tip.)

Now to down to work. One of our group, Kathleen, carries round a little suitcase containing a glorious confusion of threads in a loose bundle. Hence when one of the clan short of a specific colour ask 'Have you got...' the answer is 'Yes' before the question is finished. Actually this is not quite true, we just want an excuse to handle this most wonderfully thready concoction!

All week, we have been aware of wafts of a most haunting perfume drifting our way. It wasn't until Friday when we were busy with our installation art ( See last Friday's blog...soon to be animated!!!) that we discovered it's surprising source. Lois found it necessary, for the sake of art,to be face down on the lawn and declared it to be the white clover. None of us realised that the humble little flower had such a lovely scent. To be honest, we have it in our lawn and mow the heads off weekly. We should leave it as it's a good source of nectar for the bees. ( Free nature tip.)

Sorry- it looks a boring photo......but I include it for it's scent alone.
As the sun got higher in the sky and the rest of GB headed for their TV sets to watch Wimbledon, we decamped to a shady cherry tree for lunch.

As you can see, a blackbird had already started his, and in a fit of pique continued to bombard us with half eaten fruit for the rest of the day.

Look carefully at the delicious meal here. A favourite choice of Savoury Muffin and salad and this is the reason why Kathleen worked so hard all day. ( No, she wasn't baking...more about the muffins later.)
Reading thus far in this particular blog may suggest that we are food obsessed....... but take a look on the left, someone can resist lunch on the table in order to complete her work! I told you we were dedicated.

Actually, the reason why there's more food than stitches is that many of my 'work in progress' shots were out of focus. I'm hoping someone else has a few to fill in.

Although I managed to capture the next stage in Alison's beautiful faded rose picture.

On the final day, Ann was working in the style of Kathleen and making a badge for herself. This bore the legend 'Wild at Heart'!

Ann hopes to finish this gorgeous little scrap soon, ( as her fingers couldn't keep up with her Guru's that particular day.) We hope she will wear it always. ( Lois added 'but not in the bath.')

Kathleen is renowned for her beautifully worked badges bearing pithy statements. It's hard to believe that the writing is stitched! All day she worked  until the very final moment of our stay producing a badge as a thank you gift for Sue Lim, the owner of the gallery and cafe where we have had the pleasure of working all week.

This badge was a real work of art and I'm sure if Sue wears it as she promised, everyone in search of delicious morsels at 'Blue Ginger'  will be encouraged to try those magical muffins.

Hurrah! Our hundredth blog. The celebrations are about to begin........

Friday, 5 July 2013

Phew what a scorcher and the March of the Blobs

Today at Blue Ginger we were a sedate group of three.  Anni stitched a jolly bird, Alison worked on a rose collage of fabric and text, I finished my blobs.  Blobs?  Yes, last autumn I started a piece which required my making lots of round blobs on metal stalks, covered with shower-caps made from chopped up silk ties.  Ok, so maybe that doesn't make much sense, but if you come to the show in September you can see the finished piece.

The weather was lovely, sunny and a light breeze.  It actually got a bit too hot, and we moved around the garden to catch the coolness.

When I finished the blobs Anni suggested setting them on the flowery lawn, and then moved them around while I photographed them (first day when I didn't have camera and tripod!) so that I can make an animation.  More later.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Laughing with Lindsay

Today was group challenge day- stitch an applique panel the way Lindsay makes her comic images of friends.

 We were provided with neat A5 pieces of calico backed with pelmet vilene, and set off to draw images, trace them, cut the traced image ( having first labelled pieces so that purpose and right side up were known), and then cut out coloured cloth, back with bondaweb, attach to calico base and stitch in place then embellish. Those of you who know me will not be surprised that I stopped paying attention part way through the list of instructions. I also got distracted by the wind blowing my scraps of coloured fabric off the table into the grass. I was chopping up old silk ties I had painted, so the fabric was very light....even those working in felt had a problem with gusts of wind.  I made a swift and inelegant work which will have to count as a learning piece - could do better if tried.  I have been provided with a spare calico/vilene base, bondaweb and tracing paper for a second attempt.

I amused myself working on my blobs for my stairwell piece, making more wire legs for birds, and continuing to learn how to draw on the iPad. Blogging on the iPad is continuing to escape me, so no instant reporting.

Kathleen had kindly let her hair do its wild thing, helped by the wind, which made her fun to draw,

and Katie worked merrily on a piece commemorating a significant event in her little daughter's development.