Wednesday, 25 March 2015

In the Absence of a Design Wall

You just have to make do.

Start with shapes

find something that balances sort of

turn over


then start linking bits together

I might do this in part with colour, by adding bits of plain fabric, and part with stitch for more linear elements. Not sure how well the drawn line shows here, but it's a start. I can make small units using printed and plain fabrics, which can then join together to make a larger whole. These "blocks" could be embellished with stitch, carrying elements from one printed piece to another across the spaces, so that some kind of pattern takes the eye for a walk across the whole. Of course this is providing I find the time to do anything at all!

Now I need to work out how big this might be, by taking pieces from the pile of real ones on the cutting board, and laying them out on the floor 

then playing with the plains to fill in the spaces. The top two in the pile were frugal finds - the inner linings of some old cushions that belonged to Ganna: a physical link with the past - her hands touched where mine will now go 

magic .....

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Trim away

I'm working with the breakdown prints once more - with apologies for the I-Pad pics again; not good quality. I began looking at them while I was waiting for the Shibori to take last Friday. I popped the various bits I'd extracted up on the design wall so I could see them, take a photo and hopefully cut it up and rearrange to try out some conjunctions of piece with piece. There are, of course, the plain solids I dyed to go with these, to give space and reflect colours one to another. I also have a lovely piece of warm rusty yellow cotton that once lines one of Ganna's velvet cushions which perfectly echoes the rusty yellow in this

now I'm trimming them to some kind of consistent measurements and squareness - never forgetting Christine's insistence on accurate measuring and cutting of course

I look at these offcuts and wonder whether they have a bit of Jude potential, to be woven in and out and become something else. I suspect not though, they are very very slender.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

More shibori

So, another session at Studio 11 in my regular monthly workshop, rather than the one off lamination of last weekend. My goal this year has been to explore shibori in more depth - in fact I think I could explore it for the next ten years and not lose interest! I prepared four pieces for the dyepot this time. The three here are fabrics that I dyed in my first year with Christine now due for another layer of colour. These three were all folded first then stitched with either leaf patterns or a series of wavy lines, as shown below. 

The fourth piece was some linen that I bought at Potters Farm Studio during the Michel Garcia workshop last year. I stitched it with a variety of shibori stitched resists, loosely based on a minimal drawing of the moon over the Downs. I divided the space into rough areas of sky, sea and layers of Downs, marking the lines from the original with a disappearing quilting pen. Here it is pre pulling up of the threads. 

Stitching done, I pulled all the threads as tight as possible to gather the material up for the next stage. I used some shibori thread, bought recently from Jane Callender's website - check out her galleries for some awesome shibori pieces. It runs very smoothly through the fabric, but really has a mind of it's own when it comes to tying off the pulled up stitches - all those little threads had to be dealt with. Christine's tip, which I'll try next time, was to take a couple of back stitches rather than tying off.

Next the fabrics were put into three small tubs of dye - great practice in assessing the amount of dye powder to use - I did, of course, take notes! The "leaves" went into a mixture of scarlet, golden yellow and deep brown - I was hoping for an autumnal effect; the waves went into turquoise with a touch of petrol green; the plain white into a mix of indigo with a touch of electric blue and a pinch of acid yellow. not terribly precise but I wasn't trying for precision really, just testing out the colours with an overall amount of powder in mind. And the results?

Here they are.

The leaf patterns have lost some definition, though the maple leaf shape comes through quite well. I suspect they would be clearer had I been stitching through one layer of cloth rather than three, but I'm still happy with them. The wavy lines I love, especially the way that the folds create some symmetry, while the crinkles make each bit individual, and the moon over the Downs?

I lost Orion in the sky because some of the ties came off as I was moving the cloth around in the pot, so he only has shoulders, no hips. The moon has come out well, though I think had I run the stitching vertically I'd have had more of an impression of wisps of horizontal cloud drifting across. There is a vague sense of a landscape with the sea in the background, but I lost the definition in some of the middle foreground as I suspect the knots just slipped out and the fabric relaxed. However, that is all fine as I am just learning, learning, learning and that is one of the things that life is for.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Lamination results

So here's what happened. I had a bit of a rethink about the content when my dear heart suggested that the Venetian door might look interesting surrounded by flowers. My mind immediately jumped to my most favourite book in the world, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. For those of you who don't know it, it is the story of Mary, a lonely little girl, orphaned by cholera in Colonial India, who is sent "home" to her Uncle's house in England. Home is a forbidding Yorkshire mansion, Misselthwaite Manor, full of secrets and strange cryings in the night from behind closed doors. Here, another lonely little boy, Colin, is cooped up in an upstairs room because he is an "invalid". Mary discovers him, unbeknownst to the adults and, having been spoilt herself, has no truck with his spoilt ways, ignoring the tantrums and his determination that he is dying. She also discovers a walled garden in the grounds of the Manor house, locked away behind an old, ivy covered door, in which no one has been since the Colin's mother died. Mary finds her way into the garden, and takes Colin there because she is sure it holds a Magic, which will make him well. Gradually, with the help of local boy Dickon, who has a skill and instinct for all growing things, they weed and plant, prune and sow seeds, laugh and play and, as the garden comes back to life, so the children flourish. Eventually Mary's uncle, Colin's father, returns from abroad, where he has been wandering, deep in mourning for his lost wife. He walks out into the grounds of the Manor, to discover sounds of laughter from behind the high walls of the garden, and his son full of life and joy, racing through the door, with Mary not far behind him. 

So, I took some text from the book, my worn Venetian door and some images of flowers from our garden and combined them to produce this - with apologes for the poor quality of the images - the iPad just isn't as good as a proper camera.

Here it is shown laid against white fabric, and below, some of the spare bits put together without much thought just to see what happened. Because the matte medium goes on through a textured screen you end up with a broken image, hence the white showing through the voile.

I think I may be able to work with these, adding embroidery and embellishment to enhance the images. However, I do prefer the lamination laid over some of my previously dyed fabrics, the white shining though the voile is too stark a contrast, dark fabric underneath makes the image look ghostly, whereas here the colours blend together and might become something rather nice. I might try dying a piece of fabric specifcally to get the right colours behind the differing elements of the image but, as a trial, this gives me some ideas.

I've taken elements of the text in the book to give a hint of the story, focusing on the key points. The broken nature of the image means that some of the text is lost, but I think I can reinstate it with stitch to make the story clear.

We also did some laminating onto solid fabric - a similar technique, except you apply the matte medium to the fabric and the surface of the image, rather than through a screen and the layer of voile. This was a hurried amalgam of a picture of a beautiful diamond leaded window in a church in Suffolk, and some images taken from old herbals. I cut the images up and recombined to make a patchwork of stained glass, plants and words. Very fiddly as the individual bits of paper have to be taped together on the back to hold them all as one piece. Once dried and heat set, as with the voile, you soak the whole thing in a bucket of water, then rub away at the back of the paper until only the images from the front are left. Obviously I had to reverse anything with words on them so they came out the right way round. 

Perhaps a grid of black ribbon and some additional stitch might give me a rather nice panel for a cushion cover or some such. It may take a while though, back to work on Monday, so don't expect a fininshed article for a while, or perhaps several whiles!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Saturday, 7 March 2015

The danger of blogs

I love wandering round other people's blogs, there are just so many creative people out there, doing their thing, making beauty in the world and sharing it generously with the rest of us.

BUT, they are dangerous. Having returned home from a lovely workshop with Christine today, I came to my computer to add an album to my digital collection, by the band Rising Appalachia, discovered in one of Terri's always inspiring series of posts Tunes for a Monday Morning. I thought I'd "just browse" for a bit while waiting for the CD to add itself to my PC. Seven or eight blogs later, having met Els's wonderful sheep, caught up with Jude and Judy, admired some lovely stitched forget - me - nots, dropped by Penny's daily scratchings and drifted though several other creative places, I realise that I have wandered around the world, but also have run out of natural light to photograph my experiments from today, so they will have to wait I'm afraid. I also haven't confessed to my purchases at the Knitting and Stitching Show yesterday, for how could I go all that way to London and come back without something to add to the creativity store? It was a lovely day, always a delight to spend some time with darling daughter.And now I must run off to watch the latest Battles on The Voice - a pleasure I can't resist - more people sharing the beauty they make with the world, or at least with those of us who love the programme :-)

Sunday, 1 March 2015

A workshop to look forward to

I'm going to a workshop at Studio 11 at the end of this week, another try at paper lamination. I had a go in 2013 but was a bit dubious about the results. You can click on them to see a bigger version

The technique involves placing coloured magazine or toner printed images under fine poly/silk voile, then screening acrylic matte medium onto the top of the voile through a patterned screen. Where the medium comes through the screen it penetrates the voile to the images below. You set the medium by ironing, immerse the whole lot in water so that the back of the paper gets soggy, turn over the voile and peel all of the back of the paper off so you are just left with the coloured image; the texture reflecting whatever pattern was in the screen. Looking back at these now I can see that I left far too much space between the images. I've seen other students working with this technique during my Friday sessions - one of the many pleasures of going there, as you get to see people using all sorts of techniques.

So, this time I am a bit forewarned. I'm hoping to do something with some of the pictures I took in Venice when my dear heart and I visited 11 years ago this month. It is a wonderful place, so full of light, texture, rich colours and a myriad of interesting things to look at. I'll print out some of my photos and, using the image below as a focal point, see if I can create something that echoes both the worn and historic textures I saw there and the marvellous byzantine enamels and mosaics in St Mark's.

I was entranced by the special atmosphere there, the richly decorated churches, the colours of the walls reflected in the canals. In particular, we were struck by the complete absence of traffic noise because, of course, there is no road traffic at all.

Here are some of the images I hope to use, somehow. All very experimental, but at least I have a vague idea of what I'm doing this time.

I might also take a copy of this along

Dad as a young boy of around 12 - and this
Mum and Dad together in happy times during a family picnic.
My darling Dad died when I was seven; he was only 44. It would be good to do something with these images, but I have no idea what. Christine might help though, as she has done a series of works about her father and his loss of memory, so has experience of working with personal imagery like this. This one is particularly lovely I think.

However, before all this happens, my lovely girl and I are going here - on Friday. There may be have to be confessons of a retail nature!