Monday, 30 April 2012

Mapping marks

Friday evening was the annual 'Spring Fling' at my local branch of the Embroiderers' Guild and we were treated, as usual, to a delicious meal provided by the Committee members. Fiona Wilson was the speaker and it was very interesting to hear about her methods of working as she took us on her journey from Business Studies to the Embroiderers' Guild Scholar and to being the practising artist she is now.  It is always nice to see work 'in the flesh' and Fiona bought some of her lovely textiles, her sketch books and her printed blocks. I would love to have a sketch book like hers and I feel inspired to do some more sketchbook work myself . I couldn't resist buying one of her blocks that were for sale.

You can't see from the photograph but there is a 1p piece embedded in the back and I wish I'd asked her about the significance of it. It's adds interest to an area you wouldn't normally pay very much attention to. Fiona also ran a workshop for us, which I was looking forward to even more after the talk.

In her talk Fiona told us how important drawing is to her and her design process and I made the promise to myself to do more drawing. It wouldn't be too difficult to do more but it would be difficult to do less! So it was no surprise when we started the workshop with a number of drawing exercises. We had very little time to do the drawings & this one was I did without taking the pen off the paper and without looking at the paper. Mmm....Starting to draw can feel quite daunting for me but I felt quite liberated with this method because there was no expectation that this would/could look like the image I was copying....and it didn't!

Fiona showed us some of the creative machine embroidery techniques she used and encouraged us to try as many as possible. Although, I tried a number of them, possibly the simplest stands out in my mind. I really liked the plain straight stitch, sewn with a matt thread on the top and a metallic thread in the bobbin. The metallic thread showed only slightly on the top but really lifted the stitching. This may be one way to use some of those cheap metallic threads I have, which always seem to break when used as the top thread.

I was keen to incorporate maps into the day and in particular the old fabric lined map that my friend Laura had given me. I embellished the map onto a piece of blanket and as the fibres of the blanket were pushed to the front, the map began to take on a more textiley  look and feel. I also embellished blue scrim, from the back, roughly where the water was on the map. I then used a couple of the machine embroidery techniques which I had tried earlier and 'corrected' and an area on the left hand side which I thought was too dominant by embellishing it to blend it in.

Here is a close of a section of the piece, albeit that the piece looks a bit washed out in photograph.. The bluey pink area which looks like a finger print is the area I embellished to tone down. Who would have thought that this had been really obvious zig-zag 5 minutes before? Who would have thought the surface was made of paper?

Next steps? Well I feel some hand embroidery is now required but finish my first piece for the next round of Whispers first......

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Taking Textiles Further Feb 12

My City & Guilds courses were tutored by Janet Edmonds and I completed the Diploma in the summer of 2011. In order to continue developing my design skills, I signed up for Janet's 'Taking Textiles Further' course at Missenden Abbey.

In the February class we created grids by wrapping threads around frames and dipping these into paper pulp. Once the paper pulp was dry, we sprayed ink through these and other grids.
I must admit that I wasn't looking forward to the spraying as I'd tried it before and hadn't enjoyed it but this time I liked the results. All my spraying was done using only 2 colours, black brusho and a copper acrylic spray and I was really pleased at how many colour variants this produced and using only two spray bottles certainly made it a simpler process

As well as the sprayed paper, I also liked some of the paper grids I had created and I think that these could offer possibilities for inspiring a piece of textile work but more more thought required about that.

These were my favourite pieces of sprayed paper and I like the inclusion of the 'tube'. Perhaps this could be included in a piece of work?

We also combined papers together and drew sections of them in charcoal. Here's a partial view of my charcoal drawing:

I wanted to create a simple thermofax that I could use for printing on cloth, so I used black ink to spray through the grid (no over spraying). I selected a portion of the image to create my thermofax which looked something like this:

I think that this thermofax is going to be one of the most useful that I have created so far and because I am  still trying to get my blog posts to catch-up with my work - I can tell that I have already used it on a number of pieces of cloth but more on that in other posts.... 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Soft Circuits

In March I attended a one day 'Short Circuit' course at the V&A. I was really looking forward to learning how to incorporate a soft circuit into a cushion and it took me back (slowly!) to my science lessons at school and at the beginning of the day I wished that I had done a bit of pre-course revision.  Once it started to make sense it was fun and it was very satisfying when each circuit was completed and small LED light lit up.

Below is a photo of the circuits that I made on the course and by no means a beautiful piece but it did incorporate a number of techniques for creating a circuit and serves as a good reminder of the course.

The circuit is powered by a small battery and is made by linking the LEDs to the battery with  conductive thread.  The piece included a number of circuits:
  • a simple circuit where the LED lights up when the battery is on
  • a circuit which is closed/completed when a metal bead at one end of the circuit touches another metal bead.
  • a circuit which is closed when conductive fabric is stitched to two sections of velcro and the velcro is closed 
  • A circuit closed when the pressure pad is pressed
  • A circuit including a resister which switches the LED on when it is light and off when it's in darkness. I'm struggling to think of an appication for this type of light...but maybe you can?

The course inspired me to buy the book Fashioning Technology . Although I have enjoyed both the book and the course I am struggling to see how I would use it. It's clever, it's interesting but I haven't yet seen any particular application that has inspired me enough to want to make it. But now I have had my eyes opened to some of the possibilities that inspration may be around the corner.

mztec is a website which is aimed at women and the use of technology in the arts. I'll be keeping my eye on this for the elusive must-have application. 

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Inspiration from Turner

Yesterday evening I went to see the Turner inspired exhibition at the National Gallery and thoroughly enjoyed it. I particularly liked the warm colours of Turner's impressionistic landscapes and the less detail they contained the better for me. I too am inspired by landscapes and have been thinking about how I could use his work to inspire my own fabric printing.  Realistically, this is going to take a lot more looking and studying of his work and a lot of trial and error.  In the meantime I have got some very different pieces that I'm working on but I must come back to it. Watch this space....but don't hold your breath!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

In February, I exhibited at the Courtuard Gallery, Hertford, with 5 other textile artists. Our exhibition was called Chinese Whispers and was based on the children's game of Chinese Whispers. Each artist created a textile 'whisper' passing it on to the next member to use as inspiration for another textile, which was in turn passed to the next person.  There were 6 beginnings and 6 very different endings.  

It was about two years from our first meeting to the opening of our exhibition. Our Private View was held on 7th February in snowy icy weather but we were very pleased that so many people came. Visitors seemed to be interested in the concept of the Chinese whispers and as there was a great variety in the work, there was something for everyone.

Below is the 'whisper' that I started. Following a very enjoyable holiday in Nambia, I was very keen to create a textile based on my experiences but due to the work I needed to do for my CIty & Guilds it had to go on hold. This piece was inspired by the oranges and terracotta of the dunes set against bright blue cloudless skies in the Namib desert.

Jan Simpson created the next piece. In Jan's words: 'Marian’s landscape is of a hot place (given the terracotta earth etc.) so I decided to do something based on the hottest place I have ever been, which is Bryce Canyon, Utah, USA.  It is also the most mesmerising and fascinating place I have ever been to with its Hoo Doo monoliths of terracotta stone carved by millennia of water and ice standing hundreds of feet tall in endless canyons.'

Judith Coxell created the next piece and in Judith's words: 'Jan’s piece reminded me of statues maybe on Easter Island or Mount Rushmore. Thinking of a British equivalent I thought Henry Moore and his sculptures and made this piece. This looked fine but slightly dull so for fun I added sheep as Henry Moore is also famous for his sheep drawings.'

Sue Hickman created the following piece and in Sue's words: 'My first impression of Judith’s piece was of sculptures resting in either a field or a wild garden. I decided to try to keep the background colours similar, but to change the scale of the sculptures.  One of the sculptures looked like a ruined castle and I decided to make this the focal point.  I enlarged the size of half of another sculpture to create the illusion of looking through this to the ruined castle in the distance'

Jenny Alderson created the following piece and in her own words: 'When I first looked at Sue’s piece I immediately saw what represented to me a never ending road so I produced a piece based on the yellow brick road. I have used Kantha work, an Indian method of securing together fragments of various fabrics. The analogy here is that I also see the characters in Dorothy, the tin man, the lion and the scarecrow as fragments of the world they are in at the time and the way they hold together.'

Debbie Brindley Lewis created the final piece in my 'whisper' and in Debbie's words: 'When I saw Jenny’s piece it seemed to sum up the whisper process for me. The end had arrived and happy with friends after various trials and tribulations. I followed the theme of films. The background fabric was made up of various film stars from a similar era. A cine camera was added and a “film strip” border completed the piece.'

So from sand dunes to film stars. Who could have predicted that? Certainly not me. I was very pleased with all the pieces that were in my stream - thank you all!

We also created a book with the pieces in it, so we each have a record of all 36 pieces.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Here at last!

For sometime now I have been meaning to start a blog and at last I am writing my first post! Once I'm over the initial hurdle of setting up the blog then it'll be easier and less daunting to post to it - well that's my theory! Only time will tell.  I aim to use this blog primarily to record the progression of my textile work but where to start? I've decided to start at the beginning of 2012 and take it from there.

In January this year, I went on the 'Digital Design for Fashion Fabrics' course run by Fabpad  at the University of East London. I would thoroughly recommend the tutor Vicki Fong, I learnt a lot on the course and I was very pleased with Fabpad's fabric printing.

On the course I practised with a number of different images, some provided by Vicki and some of my own.  But the really big decision came when I had to decide on an image for my final project. This would be printed on fabric which I hoped to make into a blouse.  This is the image I eventually chose:

I 'played' with the colours, extended the water and selected part of the image for my blouse.  I also created some machine stitching which I used to replace some of the leaves - well I had to have some embroidery in it didn't I? 

I then used my images to fill my pattern pieces and filled in the gaps with additional images:


 After many hours of tinkering and work, my blouse was finished.


Now  all I need is some warmer weather so I can wear it!