Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Time to cut

Been cutting out fabric today, having dyed it all yesterday - terrifying - align fabric on cutting mat, or was that with ruler? - measure four  times, reposition ruler, grasp rotary cutter, check cutting plan, check fabric type key, check graph of design, re-count squares on graph and multiply by two, add half an inch for seams, measure twice again just to be sure, check cutting list, hold plan upside down to gain perspective, measure again, retract safety shield on rotary cutter, hold breath - aaand CUT!!

I was very grateful for Christine's advice, encouragement and timely reminder that half of eight inches plus half an inch for the seam isn't four and three quarters!


Monday, 30 July 2012

oh boy!

Harry and Connie
Have I been having fun today. I've been to be tutored by Christine Chester at Studio 11 in Eastbourne. I had the privilege, due to the sickness of the other course attendee, to have a one to one all day with Christine. I brought along some cotton; torn up sheets, (one of which had a woven label from Harvey Nichols), used past wear, so renewing themselves to a different purpose here. They once belonged to Connie,  my grandmother's older sister and Harry, her lifelong lesbian companion - but that's another story.

Christine was a delightful tutor and, whilst enlightening me on the marvels of tied, resist, clamped, twisted and crumpled dyeing, we found ourselves chatting about; family, studying history, playing music, adopting cats, living by the seaside and other enjoyable things.

The studio itself is really lovely, with windows on two sides, an open airy atmosphere, plenty of big trestle tables to work on and a space for being messy by the sink - not to mention a rather delicious pink tin containing bicuits!

I thoroughly enjoyed tearing my sheets into smaller pieces of differing proportions, then wrapping up a variety of things; rectangular blocks of acetate, ice lolly sticks, kebab sticks, acetate circles and donuts - clamped over folded fabric, rubber bands holding pleats and pinches of fabric and, on one small piece of silk, brought for a particular reason, a combination of folding, tying, clamping and sticks!

I was shown how to mix up the dyes, add salt, immerse the fabrics and, later, add mordant to fix the dye. She also talked to me about design, balance, using colour and texture, proportion and repetition, contrast and the placing of lights mediums and darks to achieve an interesting harmony of shapes on the final piece. Then, whilst the fabric was taking up the colour, I sat down with squared paper to design, trying to bear in mind what bits of fabric I'd dyed with which technique and how much of each! I've come home with the plan and finished making out a cutting list. I've run my bits of fabric through a hot wash, and I've found myself with these.

My favourites are
Some moons
a sun filled forest

Flowers of the field
and this rather nice
Tomorrow I have the fun of going back again to think about how to put bits of these together to match my design - or rather to work with design and these bits of fabric to create something, hopefully, beautiful. With any luck my fellow student will be feeling better so there'll be twice the fun.

I am genuinely stunned at the wonderful patterns and colours that have resulted from all of this. Not because I think I'm particularly clever, but because such simple techniques well taught, can produce such riches.

Can't wait

Sunday, 15 July 2012

London, the Downs and Autumn

This weekend we went up to London to take my dear one's grandson to the station to go home. Said grandson had been very useful chopping wood, not drawing water, but painting the other shed a deeper brown so that it blends more into the background of the garden. All very much appreciated, and we enjoyed having him to stay, but it was time for him to go back to the frozen north in Yorkshire, so he could spend the late afternoon kayaking at which, I understand, he is rather good.

Since we were there we took the time to look round.  The King's Cross refurbishment is stunning, a great filigree arc of steel and light which ties it all together and brings the outside inside in a breathtaking fashion.

After we'd seen grandson off, we wandered down to Tate Modern, now surrounded by all sorts of shiny new buildings cheek by jowl with the old.

We went to see the Munch Exhibition, which was extremely enjoyable,. but raised a lot of questions in my mind about the why's and wherefore's of what makes an artist's work notable, or worth seeing. I enjoy Munch's work, but the paintings on show seemed to me to be sketchy and unfinished, lacking the emotional resonance of some of his earlier works. There were also quite a few rather tiny, blurry photographs which, we whispered to ourselves sotto voce, might have been less notable had they been taken by someone else! Still, it was a good show and worth seeing. It's always a deep pleasure to be able to get up close to works of art, looks the brush strokes, the mark making, the blend and flow of the paint, feel the energy of the artist and then stand back and take in the whole.

When we left the Tate, we went around to the river side of the building to cross over the bridge to get the Tube. I absolutely love this planting of slender birch trees at the front, it always reminds me of Klimt's Birch Forests

 We crossed the Millennium Bridge
 Were amazed by the Shard
Then found ourselves a train to bring us away from the busy dirtiness of London and home through my beloved Downs

Once home I set to with putting the various bits of Autumn together - tacking on the left, very much in the style of Jude - whose videos are well worth watching if you want to see how her patient stitching build into wonderful things. Sadly her blog no longer has a list of links to individual videos, though they are still all there within the structure of her blog. On the right it all looks a little bit squonk but will, I hope, find more structure once the stitching happens. What stitching? Hmmm, not sure yet, I'm waiting for it to tell me, thought I do have an idea to begin with, and you can't go beyond until you begin.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

the Return of the Petersfield Fairy

I found this the other day, going through one of Mum's old photo albums looking for that velvet bridesmaid's dress of previous post
I can still remember the feel of that dress; it would slip from my shoulder as I flew about the green, gauzy train riding the air behind me, so sure that if I just believed hard enough, and ran fast enough, I could find myself in fairyland.
Very 1960's ....... I thought you might enjoy it!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Autumn beginning to happen

I mentioned this little piece quite a long time ago now here. It has been sitting in the study waiting patiently  for me while I was busy with other things. I took it up again last week and played about with it, pinning and repinning, photographing each redesign so I could have a think about how it was to go together. Eventually I printed little versions of each photograph in Black and White - OK sort of sepia really, but monochrome, so I could see the design and the balance of tones without the distractions of colour.

I thought I'd decided on the version below as a format, but once I'd started pinning and then tacking the bits onto the ground cloth, I realised that I preferred to leave the right hand edge of blue in one line, rather than staggered as it is here. It feels more secure, better enclosed, protective; protection seems to be a feeling developing with this piece....
Gosh, hark at me, talking as though I were some kind of expert - I promise, I'm not!
So, I've got the most part of it tacked down now, ready for the "proper" stitching - no that's not the work in progress above, I'll take another picture when it's a bit further along, but I have managed to get that odd little swing from left to right in the background sorted out now. I have a vague idea abut how I want to do this, but only very vague, I'm quite happy to let it become as the stitching takes it. I watch Jude's magic blog and see how she allows her cloths to tell her their story as she stitches them. I also try to keep up with a wonderful variety of others, who also follow her path. I know I can't manage the same, but will see where this one takes me. The gentle pink of the background was once a bridesmaid's dress, a vibrant magenta velvet with swansdown at the neck, sleeves and hem. I tried a little bit of the waste fabric (found in a box, having been hoarded by Mum over the years) in one of my earlier dyeing experiments. A lot of the colour leached out in the pot, but I rather like its soft, muted hue now. I have to say, I did adore the dress. Mum made it for me, and I really felt like a princess for the day

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Quite early one morning

the little fox came sidling up Wol's Walk, peering through the ferns, careful, cautious, ears all a twitch
 s/he poked about round the clay pot with water, but it wasn't the water s/he was interested in, rather what Things Edible might be lurking, perhaps a juicy slug or two to slurp up with that tongue
 Raisin, in his basket was quite worried that this pretty visitor might investigate the cat flap
 who me?
 no, I'm too busy following up interesting sniffs and running with the morning breeze to bother you