Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The story that ended in a bird box.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to have a winter break in the fabulous village of Portmeirion, North Wales.

The whole place is inspirational,delight after delight. As often as we could, we walked up in the enchanted woods above the village.

I think there is spell on the place because the birds there are so tame. They would take crumbs from your hand  and fly along your walk with you.

I expect, like you, I always return from holiday with bits and pieces that I find, and this  break was no exception.The major trophy this time were some wonderfully huge leaves discovered under trees in that enchanted place. I knew I would use them one day!

They've remained as I found them just like a piece of suede, waiting for their time. Their chance came a few months later when I enrolled on a course at South Worcester College, introducing me to the delights of dyeing and printing fabric.
I did have a wonderful time that year although I missed stitching. It seemed alien to be working with cloth and not sewing it! However by the end of that year I had produced piles of stuff which  could use in further
That  big leaf became inspiration for a print block. I hand dyed some washed linen and dip dyed parts of  it to add visual interest. Then I printed the leaf in two ways, once as a leaf shape and once as a skeleton using fine string for the veins. The colours I chose were partly to match the interior of my garden room with a nod to the muted colours of Portmeirion.

This piece of linen has been waiting and waiting......I had intended it for a screen,,,but the moment passed.
So, now, the perfect thing...a bird box! ( I'm thinking of those tame birds in the enchanted wood.)
I've made the structure... ( I say 'I', you know I mean the resident architect ...yes, I know it's cheating)..out of foam board.

Now I'm stitching the sides, using the simplest of stitches so as to let the fabric tell it's story.

It's funny how the leaf has now taken on the role of tree of that enchanted wood to tell it's story on my bird box.
Haven't finished it yet, too busy blogging, but will update soon I hope.

( This story has been updated... see 'Bird 'des res' ready for Spring'. March 20th 2013.)

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Blobs for the stairwell

I am making a large piece for our long thin and otherwise useless stairwell wall.  Part of this will be the bobbin lace on plank....perhaps some smocked sail (lots of traditional embroidery/needlework techniques being employed) and circles of freestanding colour.  This idea is based on the course I did with Caroline Parks at the college in Malvern, and the textile artist Michael Brennand-Wood.  He often creates his pieces using three dimensional blobs made from a variety of materials.

In addition I wanted to have a lively piece that looked different from different directions.  The constraints of the stairwell are both in size but also in safety.  I needed to avoid tripping hazards, and if anyone fell against the work it needed to be non- hazardous.  I tried a variety of materials to hold the blobs in place, and chose aluminium wire which gives a lot of control on the position of the blob but bends easily if compressed.

I bought some tennis ball fabric from the artist scrapstore a while ago and this forms the body of the blob.  I tested some hand-felted pieces which were lovely and very easy to work with, but I would have needed to acquire more materials.  This tennis ball fabric sheds fluorescent yellow fibres and requires a needle to make a hole for the wire to be inserted, but will be adequate.

The facing material is old silk ties that I painted over the last three decades - now that Rod is retired he doesn't need them.  I have been cutting circles a little larger than the felt and hand stitching a gathering stitch around the edge.  Suffolk Puffs!  Not neat, but work fine.  This produces a very varied set of coloured blobs that I can position on a supporting grid when I assemble the work.  The grid itself has not been finalised, though I have a variety of wires to test.

I intend to have this piece ready for the group show in Ledbury in September- stating an objective in public as well as writing it down makes it more likely to be achieved.