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Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Straight Debate.

Here's the first of the pieces I talked about yesterday, waiting to be worked on ;

And here it is, finished ;
I think it's rather fun.  The cat button was part of a set by Button Mad, which my sister gave me for Christmas, while the boat and duck buttons were left over from clothes I made for my son when he was wee.  A family piece...I think it'll end up with Cara, my granddaughter.  Unless someone makes me an offer I can't refuse...

I showed it to Robin who said, it's nice...but the edges aren't right.  To me, the edges are Just Fine.  Most people, he said, would want them to be straight.   Now, I can get them to do flat, which is important, I think...but I'm not so sure about straight.  I like the country, primitive, sketchy feel that the frayed edges if this piece was a fragment of a larger piece.  It adds texture and visual interest.  What do you think?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Negative Thinking...

affects us all, whether we admit it or not, whether we're depressed or not (though depression does make it rather worse...).  One of my favourites is that I'm lazy, that I don't work hard enough.  And then, as I did today, I go to tidy the studio and realise that it's not strictly speaking true... I just get diverted a lot.  There is, however, a lot of work around...  I picked up these five pieces that had been kicking around the studio (out of a Rather Substantial Pile), waiting for something... In this case, I think they had been waiting for me to get back into hand sewing.

Clockwise from top left is a piece of silk, with yarns and other pieces of silk needlefelted onto it.  Then there is a piece of Evolon which has been printed using one of my hand cut lino blocks, then transfer dyed, then stitched.  Below that, there is a piece of transfer dyed lutradur, fused onto crinkled paper (I think that one is probably upside down in this image).  Fourth, is a piece of shibori painted nylon beneath a piece of transfer dyed lutradur, with a lot of stitch, and finally, a transfer dyed monoprint. All of these pieces need more stitch, except the fourth one, which needs embellishment, I think with tiny lutradur flowers, and maybe some three dimensional leaves... we'll see.

I like all of these pieces, but have a sneaky preference for the first one...though I'm fond of the monoprint, too.  Guess that's my Easter weekend sorted out....what with warping up the peg loom, and starting the rug, and possibly buying a couple of plants (well, it's traditional, right?).  If you celebrate it, have a very Happy Easter.  And don't worry; a girl (or boy) really can't have too much chocolate!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Helpful Cat

...always knows when  a job is boring, and tries to help.  Mollie being who she is, meant a lot of leaping up and down, trying to catch the warp pieces as I cut them.  Given that they are twice the length of a large, three seater sofa, and there were, at the end of it, twenty six of them, she had a very happy time catching and attempting to chew them.  Sigh.

Now, all I have to do is thread each one of the twenty six onto a peg, ready for the fabric strips I tore up earlier.

This afternoon, though, I'll be out in the garden, collecting these fellows (no, not the insect, the flower). They are scattered through the grass; a better gardener than me would dig them up, but I want the flowers for dyeing.  You can use the roots, too, so doubtless a bit of digging will be done later.

I've got a list of plants I'd like to add to the garden this year, purely for dyeing purposes, starting with a eucalyptus.  Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, will know that at one point, there were several full sized trees in the garden, but high winds brought them down.  My intention this time, though, would be to keep chopping bits off, to dye with the leaves.  I'd like some St John's Wort, mainly because I like it as a plant, but it is useful too... not that I'm obsessed... yet... or much...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My New Toy... proving to be great fun, and incredibly easy to use.  Several years ago at a craft fair, I tried out a peg loom, but did nothing about it.  Now, I am the proud possessor of one of these wee beauties, and I'm having great fun with it, as I expected.  Just goes to show that procrastination gets in the way of fun, right?

This is one evening's weaving, about an hour's worth.  I watched a couple of YouTube tutorials, and they both suggested starting with a scarf, so here it is.  It's remarkably easy to use a peg loom.  This is worked with sari yarn, and it's really very firm; I think I should have used the other set of holes, which are slightly wider spaced, and made something less stiff...but you learn every time you do something.  I worked it with all the yarn I had on the ball, and produced a collar sized piece which I'm quite pleased with.

Given that I'm a texture fiend, I love the textures this loom produces, and am already thinking about how to use it with all kinds of things.

Part of the reason I'm doing this now is that I want to use these at the Hub.  For those of you who don't already know, I volunteer two mornings a week with adults with learning difficulties.  It has been a real learning experience for me, both as a giver of workshops and as an artist.  Some of the people in my group have issues with manual dexterity, so I'm always looking for things that would be easy for them to do.  The premises we work from aren't the best decorated, so the plan is to make rugs using this loom to cover the worst bits of the carpets, and to cheer the place up a bit.  If anyone locally (or not so locally) has any fabric scrap they would like to donate to a really good cause, this is your chance...please leave a message or email me for more information.  We would all be really, really grateful.

And maybe now I'll get the other loom set up, the floor loom in the studio... procrastination is the thief of fun, right...?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Being Away From Home...

can be wonderful, but also a pain... the latter, when you forget your sketch book.  I had gone to the bus station to meet my friends Alison and Michael off the Inverness bus, had some time on my hands and...aaargh... no sketchbook.  Usually I have two or three in my bag.  Fortunately, I did find a card blank in there (no, I have no idea what it was doing there either).  That, a pen, courtesy of WH Smith, and fifteen spare minutes on a bench, produced this;

I've been mulling about shapes like these ever since I got back to painting.  Working in this format, though, made me wonder about making a book.  And some quilts.  So, an idea was born.  Notice that I write all over my sketches, just to remind myself of what the thinking was at the has moved on a bit from there, now.

I love the simplicity of sketches, and would like to make some stitched sketches in a similar vein... watch this space.  The series seems to have a title; 'Linescapes'.  These ones clearly tie up to landscape, but I think that overt marks like these will not last long; they come from one of my quilts, Norfolk Fields.

Although there is definitely a connection between the two, I think Linescapes is really about space, not about landscape per se.  It might be argued that there is no difference...but it feels like there is.Now to clear the decks so I can Get On With It.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Step Back, Part Three.

Flowers, all the way...

I became interested in macro photography.  I'm fortunate enough to own Big Bertha, a large scale Epson printer, which allows me to print things out, either small, in duplicate or large scale. This lets me focus on abstract work, rather than flowers themselves.  It's not a new idea...Georgia O'Keefe made wonderful flower images (click here for her museum).  I wanted to explore these things in textile, with stitch...and can often be seen crawling around other peoples' gardens, taking photographs of their flowers.  I have even gone as far as tidying up my own garden, and growing my own.

Most of the images are manipulated in PSP, printed out and stitched, like this one.

A tulip, it was printed out more than once; since I don't like to do the same thing twice, the stitching is different between the two.

More complex images followed ;
I like the idea of being able to repeat a print, but differentiating each one by the amount and design of the stitch.

Mark making, of course, had to get in there somewhere, rather than just as stitch.  I have large numbers of photographs of walls, wooden beams, pavements, all waiting to be worked on.  This one I think is one of the best things I've made.  It is an image of a wall in Norwich, and I have made it several times.  This one has intensive stitching in the dark areas.

Here is a detail shot;
Click on the image for a closer look.  This one is in Evolon, and so is hugely tactile.  My favourite version, however, doesn't have a stitch in it.  It was made from Lutradur XL, and has the darker areas carved out, and is framed with a light behind it.  That is spectacular, but I'm yet to get a decent photograph.

And that about covers it.  What have I learned?  Firstly, that it all holds together.  I've felt overwhelmed, recently, by all the things I do, but in fact, they all have similarities.  My passion for mark making and texture run through the work, and a passion for landscapes, both observed and internal, as well as the natural world.  

I can also see how the work has changed.  I worry less about what people might think about me and the work, and make what I need to make, without hiding anything.  I can also see that the colours I use are changing, from intense darkness early on, to increasingly bright palettes more recently.  

Now that it's coherent, clear in my mind, I feel I can move forward.  That, I think, will involve lots more mark making, lots more exploration and lots more hand stitch.  That feels right.  I'm glad I paused, and took stock.    If you have read all three posts...thank you for keeping me company!  If you have any comments, I'd be glad to hear them.  Perhaps you, too, might benefit from looking at what you have achieved in your work so far.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Step Back, part two

I've always been interested in meaning, the creation of meaning, and in particular, how the brain interprets marks, whether man made or natural, to try to fit them into some sort of structure of meaning, to reach an understanding of them.  The Texture Of Memory has work in it that relates to that mark making/mark interpreting interest, but there are a number of quilts that fit very nicely into the 'mark making' theme, such as this one.

It's called 'Unrequited', and has three abstract figures in it, the eternal triangle, each looking at a different 'other' with unrequited affection.  At least, that's what's going on in my head, when I look at it.  Some of my stitched photographic work fits into this category too, like this piece ;

It is an image taken of a section of wall in Ely Cathedral...and there are all sorts of things happening in it.  I struggle to reach any kind of true understanding of it, other than that I think that it is beautiful.

Markmaking with fabric, also, as in this piece ;
Lutradur base, with fabric felted into it.  To me, this reads as a landscape, and leads very nicely into the fourth category, that of landscape, or landscape inspired work.  There are a number of landscape pieces, and landscape references pop up in titles all over the place in my work.  Landscape was what drew me to art in the first place (no pun intended...).  I wanted to be able to record what I saw...and then realised that actually, I wanted to record what I felt, about what I saw, and that rarely meant reproducing 'real life'.

The first of the landscape quilts were 'Flying Dreams' (if you search on that title, you'll come across several images and some writing about the work).  This was the first of several, including one in the shape of a flying body, which now lives with Thelma Smith.
I think this has to be one of my personal favourites, it has such a feeling of space and joy in it, at least for me.

While this, Norfolk Landscape, is the most recent, a dye painted and stitched piece.  I want to make more in this vein, it feels 'right' to me, somehow.

Some of hte landscape quilts included quite a bit of mark making; I made a series of them for the Evolon book.  I find myself still playing with that idea in Norfolk Landscape, though it moved from a horizon based image, to a view from the air (in part at least).

Enough eye candy for one day, methinks... more next time.