Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Loose ends

Before I launch head-long into Uckfield Art Trail prep, I need to finish off some loose ends from teaching. I have hand-outs and recipes to email to the Fairwarp crowd (what's more important, how to stitch something or the recipe for the break-time biscuits??) and I need to send photos of the C&G students' work to the Powers That Be so that the displays at school can be updated for the first time in three years.....

So without further ado, here is the wonderful work presented by my students for their C&G Level 2 Award in Machine Embroidery. 

Carole's samples:


and the finished green man:


Fiona's samples:


and her lantern:




(and yes, it did end up a bit bigger than Fiona expected!)

Then Judith's samples:


Judith's finished item was a wedding dress, and the wedding hasn't happened yet so I didn't take any photos! It isn't your standard white meringue dress, it is green, short and multilayered, like a fairy costume. The machine embroidery was the finishing touches, including a corsage and lacing down the back of the bodice. Beautiful!

Morag's samples:


and her finished item, a book about Peter and Paul:


And I LOVE her rationale for making this book! Forgive me Morag, but it's too good not to share...


And finally but by no means last, Vix's gloriously whimsical wall-hanging, featuring the classic childrens' fairy tales:


Can you spot all the fairy tales?

I realised too late that I didn't take photos of Vix's beautifully presented samples, but here is a collage of all the detail from her wall-hanging.


This is Once Upon a Time, and I'm told there's at least one sequel to come....Happily Ever After?! 

I don't know about happily ever after for the students, as they're coming back for more in September (gluttons for punishment) but I am so proud of them for what they have achieved in one year - exhausting, for everyone, but wow, it was worth it wasn't it?!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Oasis of calm

This is definitely the best time of year for my little garden.


(BBQ thing is ugly, though - and I keep thinking it's a "person" doing a spot of weeding)



And this morning's rain has perked things up, made the leaves shiny again, and will hopefully be plumping up the courgettes. Yes, I know there is a dead thing in a terracotta pot, but apart from that I think it's all looking good. Even the rambling rose has made it as far as the roof of the little house, which itself is nearly completely lost in the shrubbery...the little house which is no longer pretending to be a studio, btw, and now houses Mr G's midlife crisis/desperate clinging onto youth miniature train layout.

Looking out over the garden at breakfast is my oasis of calm at the moment. Everything else is a "bit mad". For example, this is my actual studio space. 



It looks like this because I've only been at home long enough to dump stuff down, then go again. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. I have, however, spent a lot of time in here this week:


The conference room full of City & Guilds work to assess and grade! Yes, bribes in cake form have been promised to the students in return for such a wonderful collection of work. Cross everything that the External Verifier thinks it's wonderful too...

Once this madness is over on Wednesday evening, some sort of normal creating and blogging service will resume. It had better do, as Art Trail is in less than a month...

Back soon!





Monday, 16 June 2014

The staple gun's day out...

It was my birthday last week, where I set aside all shoulds and oughts, and do just what I want to do (for most of the day, anyway!).

This year I was struck with a sudden urge to peruse a charity shop for a flat picture frame, rip out the staples, glass and back board, and turn it into a screen printing frame:


I've been meaning to do this, like, forever! (as Girl would say...)


I also found one of these in the shop, which was a bonus.


My very own twisted-cord-making-device!

Then of course to test drive my new screen, I needed to make a proper printing surface. Staple gun, wadding, calico - check.


Large piece of chipboard? Not to hand, no. So off I went again, to the DIY shop to buy some board, then on a whim I popped into another place on the industrial estate and persuaded them to cut it to size for me, for the small fee of £2.40. Genius! Quicker than asking Mr G to do it, by several weeks at least...

And so a "few" staples later....


Ta da!


I even glued an extra cutting mat onto the back. How snazzy is that?! Happy Birthday me!*


Unfortunately life has now got in the way again, and it's back to the shoulds and oughts with no time to test it out - but at least I can now screen-print things when I have the time to play again! Meanwhile, it is a handy portable ironing board just for textile stuff, and I've even broken out the "extra" table space on my desk to use it:



* This wasn't all I did on my birthday, a large quantity of strawberry meringue and Prosecco was also consumed but I couldn't take a photo of that as it didn't sit still long enough.


Monday, 9 June 2014

Themes emerging

The past few weeks, I have been collecting bendy twigs from the woods.


And then doing this to them:


Some of the stick circles are for other things, but I've also made some felty pots


with the intention of doing something like this


minus the string, natch. (How long until they will stay coiled and I can cut the strings off??)


Meanwhile, still thinking sticks and nests, I found this in a charity shop:


And then this twine-wrapped ball:


Hmmm...

And inbetween these musings with sticks and pots and felt, I've been trying to finish this:


Put it all together, it looks quite coherent! There may be hope!


Whisper it, I'm even managing to devote some time to sketchbook experiments...

But then the amazing Di Buttenshaw came to talk to our Guild and brought some incredible work. Wonderful texture, very clever felting techniques, including lots of pre-felt and cut-through bits and pieces, including stitch. A lot of feltmakers don't use a lot of stitch but Di does.


Just love that bag, with the dangly beaded yarns felted in, and the lines of that rug...

So I now have more ideas for the decoration on my felty pots, and will try a bit of inlay/cut-through - but I definitely feel that I've only ever scratched the surface of felt making. Sigh!

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Into gear

It's that time of year, and I can't really believe it's come round again so quickly.

My weekdays are now mostly occupied with exam invigilation. Due to the increasing numbers of students using computers, it's all slightly more complicated than just standing at the back trying not to yawn, handing out pencils, and seeing if I can blag a GCSE or two! But there are the occasional quiet moments, and I can surreptitiously jot down ideas for Art Trail.


Yes, Uckfield Art Trail is now less than two months away and I need to stir my stumps. And as always, I'm pushed for time due to the exam season! I've also got to see my ladies through and out the other side of their City and Guilds, and I don't know who's more scared, them or me! A first for us all, but I'm sure all will be well, as their work is a-m-a-z-i-n-g!

Anyhoo, I've made a start. I have ideas, I have scribbles, and I have started to piece fabric. 


(Sorry about the rubbish photo, it was late and dark outside!)

I can't say exactly where this is going, and it may not even make the cut, but starting is the hardest thing and so now I have!

I'm particularly inspired by nests and pods at the moment, as well as the usual leaves and spirals, and playing with wire and vessels in class the other week started to spark lots of ideas...





I went to see the hugely inspirational PRISM exhibition in London today, and on the train home I made myself write notes about what I liked, and why. I then went and bought 8 stretched canvases for new work (which I had to carry around London in my quest for a Chinese newspaper, don't ask) and yesterday I even sent the Art Trail people my Artist's Statement and the details for my CD weaving workshop.


SO now I've laid down the gauntlet by stating what I'm doing, I've nailed my inspiration, I've gathered the raw materials and today I found the motivation to get going and start making.

Oh, you mean I have to stitch something now?!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Experiments in spontaneity

This is a picture-heavy post, so apologies for that, but hopefully you'll like them!

I wanted to do something different in the Thursday class, something to break us all out of our comfort zones. I also wanted to revise some neglected stitching techniques, such as whip, feather and cable stitch, and teach them to the "new" girls. So while I was pondering how to go about doing this, I tripped over the work of Lauren Shanley, entirely by coincidence at the same time as Gina! I posted the results of my first experiments back here.

So fast-forward to this term. First off, stick a quick collage. Use pictures from magazines, keep your eyes peeled for motifs, shapes, colours that appeal. Try and get things stuck down fast before the inner critic wakes up and starts getting you to double-think and dilly dally.


These are all postcard size.



Hopefully you will have warmed up your spontaneity muscles by now. Repeat, but this time stick down fabric onto a piece of Bondawebbed calico. We used an approximate A5 size of fabric. Again, work fairly fast.

You will find as you do this, that you start to "audition" different pieces. This is absolutely fine, just don't over-think it or worry about the colours clashing. You will instinctively know what colours to use where, and whether you have got the balance of light/dark/size "correct" (whatever that is). Just go for it.

Here are Carole's collages, paper and fabric:



You'll note that Carole has actually followed the paper collages quite closely with her fabric piecing. This wasn't my intention, and was in fact a mistake as Carole now freely admits. It has made it very hard to continue with the spontaneity.

The first fabric piece is the hardest to work with, as it is the most similar to the collage. This is now a practice piece for the stitch techniques. The second collage is more successful as it loosely follows the colours and blocks of tone, but without being too prescriptive.

Onwards!

When you have ironed your fabric pieces firmly onto the Bondaweb and backed the whole with some sort of stabiliser (I use a tearaway paper type of thing) you can start to stitch. 

I outlined most of the blocks then started to add some detail. I used free machining patterns and doodles, and some textured stitch with whip stitch and cable. I also couched some thicker threads by hand. 


At this point, there was a halt in proceedings for people to get to grips with pulling up the bobbin thread to create whip and feather stitch, and using thick threads in the bobbin to stitch cable stitch:


And here's where we're up to after today's class. 
First of all, Maureen's fabric collage, only started this afternoon:


The Indian motifs were 'found' not stitched today :)

Then for those who had already stitched their "backgrounds", we tried breaking out of the confines of bands and blocks, with large patterns and motifs crossing the whole piece. Doing this helped enormously, and things are starting to take shape and feel more cohesive, less random. This is Sheila's:


This is Sue's - she included a fabric/paper transfer (using the Bondaweb on organza method) to add the flower - the other half was used in her paper collage:


and here is Jill's:


I must say, I am mightily impressed with Jill's work! She probably struggled the most to feel "happy" with her paper and her fabric collages, but now she's off and away and starting to enjoy it!

Here is where I'm at (my excuse is I am busy teaching not stitching, so I'm lagging behind now!)


I'm not sure I like them, I prefer Jill's! They might grow on me...definitely need more work, I've only really just started...

Finally finally, to complete this very long post of pictures, I have started a mini book of collages, trying to use bits and pieces I find every day. Here are the first couple of pages:



Look at that, some bits and pieces found at Brighton's Open Houses a weekend or so back.

And looky here, some other bits and pieces I found!


None other than Emma from Skye, and Alison Fibre Frenzi! Oh, and some tea and very good banana cake...

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