Monday, 30 December 2013

Creative gifts

I hope you all had a very happy Christmas. I was very lucky and received a number of books to inspire me....

....and things to use during the making phase...a very posh tape measure, a needle threader, some lovely variegated threads and a vintage cotton reel to use in my cotton reel themed work.

I also received pressies to encourage my creativity in the kitchen. I was very pleased to receive this book as I have fancied making a pizza for some time now. 

I was also given a baking stone and a dough cutter, so with no excuses left....

... I've made some pizza dough, which is (hopefully!) rising, as I type. I confess to being a little bit nervous about how it's going to turn out as the dough recipe has only 0.2g of yeast in it (yes, I did mean 0.2g) . I couldn't believe it was so little and so contacted the authors to check whether there had been a misprint but apparently not.  I'm very pleased that they came back to me so quickly, otherwise I might have been tempted to add some more yeast and a least upped the quantity to a whole 2g!

Well, if it doesn't turn out well I can always have a mozzarella sandwich and given what I've eaten during the Christmas festivities, it wouldn't do me any harm to miss a meal!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Merry Christmas Everyone

As I child I always had a red dress for Christmas and on the spur of the moment I decided that I would make a red dress for this Christmas. It helped that I had some red fabric in my stash.

As I only started on Saturday evening it had to be quick to make and I used Vogue pattern no 8786. I had bought this pattern to make the cap sleeve version in the summer but I never quite found the time to make it but given the time of year and the fact that I had enough fabric, I decided to make the long sleeved version.

This was a categorised as 'Very Easy' and not only was it easy but it was also quick to make, especially as the fabric I used didn't fray. As the fabric was stretchy, I made it into a slip-on dress and sewed up the back seam rather than leaving an opening at the neck and this made it even quicker to make. I also extended the sleeves to make them full length. Two pattern alterations, I'm almost a fashion designer, surely? I wish!

Whether your Christmas preparations include anything textiley, I hope they are going to plan, that if you are travelling you have a safe journey and that you have a very happy Christmas.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

'Stamped' Christmas cards

I really enjoyed the Thomas Heatherwick exhibition at the V&A and I marvelled at the ingenious ideas he came up with. But there was one idea that I thought I could probably recreate and that was his Christmas cards made from stamps.

Like the card above, Thomas had made his from new stamps  and although it was OK I preferred the card I later made from last year's stamps  - even with curly and missing corners.

I only had enough stamps to make one card but I scanned the card....
....and printed it out in different sizes.

These were created after most of my cards have been posted but I have given some of them out to friends I have seen.  This could be a way to make use of your Christmas stamps and it's certainly a simple enough to do with children too.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Angels and Cakes

On Saturday, I enjoyed a Christmas Tea at the North Herts & Beds branch of the Embroiderers' Guild. The event was very well attended and we enjoyed a very entertaining, inspiring and informative talk by Lynda Monk and if that wasn't enough we were treated to a lovely tea prepared by the committee members.
After the talk, Lynda very generously let us try out her technique of printing with Xpandaprint through a thermofax screen. Being in the Christmas mood, I chose an angel design and printed it onto lutradur before blasting it with a heat gun to make her dress look a little more Lacy.
I used the excess paste on the screen to print onto paper and then painted over it and rubbed the raised bits with Treasure Gold.
This technique could be used to make some lovely Christmas cards but it's all a bit late for this year. I had plans for some stitched felt cards this year it just didn't happen.  
At the tea I also collected this lovely miniature Christmas cake, which I had ordered from Gina.
More than 20 years ago I went on a cake decorating course and this is the first year since then that I have not made my own Christmas cake. Partly due to lack of time but also because my Dad always tucked into it and would take a good chunk of it home. Without his help eating it, was it worth making it? So having decided not to make one, I have now succumbed and bought one, albeit smaller than I would normally make.

Gina always presents her work so beautifully too and as we ate it over the weekend (Tut tut, before Christmas) I can tell you it tasted very good too.  

 I'll be interested to see how the bought cake compares to home made ones. It's difficult to know what to wish for, how will I feel if after all these years of slaving over my cakes, the bought ones are better? I suspect I will go back to making one next year, perhaps just smaller than I used to make.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Off the Shelf Textile Exhibition

This week, I enjoyed a visit to the WAC Gallery to see the exhibition staged by City Lit students on the Textile 2 course. Although, I took some photographs you can see much better ones on their Facebook page here. It's only on until 30th November so you will have to be quick to see it. It was nice to see so many red dots too. Well done!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Pencil illusions

A friend of mine recently showed me the Pencil Illusions App on her phone and I couldn't wait to get my hands on it to have a play. Besides being fun, I thought that it might help me simplify some of my landscape images.  It's really easy to use and works like the camera except that you can't zoom in or out. Here is a picture of my friend Andrea, which I think turned out well but I did take photos of other people which were less than flattering to them!

I couldn't wait to try it out on a landscape and without much thought to composition took this photo of a local field.

And here is the equivalent image using the Pencil Illusion app. I quite like it and could definitely inspire a piece of textile art.

I took this photograph in the other direction across one of the fields, firstly with the camera on my phone and then....
....the similar picture using the Pencil Illusion app. I don't think this worked quite as well as the first landscape but it has possibilities.
I think my new toy offers potential and as it was free, I don't think I'm in a good position to moan about the lack of zoom! Have you used anything else like this? 

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Taking Textiles Further Exhibition Photographs

Since losing my Dad I have been very busy helping with arrangements and doing all the things that need doing at these times and so I've not been able to post photographs from our exhibition....not until now that is. 
I have shown the progression of my pieces in previous posts here, here and here so I thought that in this post I'd concentrate on the work of other artists in the group. As ever, (my) photographs of textile art don't do justice to the work, so do visit the exhibition if you can.  

Buffy Fieldhouse

June Withers

Marjorie Haylock

Buffy Fieldhouse

Marian Hall (me!)- Gridlock I
Sharon Lidbury

Mary Gamester

Valerie Knowles

June Withers


Judith McBride

Top: Jeanette Guppy
Bottom 2 rows: Melanie Forrester
There are 48 pieces in the exhibition and so this is just a selection of the work and unfortunately doesn't include anything that was framed behind glass because the reflections from the studio lights made photography difficult. 

I had 4 business cards made for the exhibition, with each card representing a different piece of my work. Last week when I went to the exhibition there were none left, either there has been a lot of interest in my work (well I can dream!) or maybe people like to have the set rather than just one?

I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to exhibit to do so. It certainly makes you get work finished and there's more to staging an exhibition than meets the eye. It was good to work together as a group towards a common goal.  

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Gorgeous Grey

A couple of weeks ago I attended the 'Gorgeous Grey' course run by Claire Benn at Committed to Cloth. A couple of foggy mornings on my recent cruise down the Rhine provided inspiration for the course and my favourite 'grey' photo was taken when a passing barge became visible through the fog. I wasn't happy with my representations of the barge, and so I decided to concentrate on printing simple shapes but then they started to look like buildings.....

So more experimenting with barges is required and when I (hopefully) achieve the look I am seeking, I may even cut off the right hand side of this piece and print my barge on the left hand side. 

But before any printing started we experimented with making different shades of grey (and before you say it, it was more than 50!). I experimented by adding small amounts of colours to black and then reducing the value to see the different greys that could be created. 

And I had some happy accidents. An over generous addition of scarlet, created just the dusky pink I was looking for in another piece, which you can see on the right hand side of the cloth below.

And I was rather pleased with the beigey colours I created  here. Could be very useful in landscapes.

Another trial looked at what would happen when different values of rust orange were overlaid on different values of grey. I know all of these are going to provide useful references for future work.

Here's an 'action shot' of me printing and my grey trial pieces at hand for easy reference. 

I printed quite a lot of fabric during the course and although I didn't print anything that I absolutely loved, I learnt a lot and came away with loads of ideas to follow-up on and I'm sure you'll see more of these in time but here's one other experiment. After I created the fabric background I wet the cloth, added liquid orange dye and tilted the fabric so it ran.  

This reminded me of the reflections on the Rhine. The orange on the horizon line needs beefing up to give the colour some more depth or maybe I could enhance it with stitch? Whatever I do to it, I doubt that I am ever going to really love it. But I do want to experiment with creating pieces where I embellish just the horizon line.  How would this impact the feeling of distance? This could be the piece to experiment on.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Me & my Dad

On Thursday, my Dad passed away. He had bravely fought illness without complaint and was cheerful until the end. He always encouraged me to be creative and if ever I had any tools, equipment or materials on my Christmas/birthday list you could bet he would buy it for me. I am very proud of him and will miss him very much.

Me & Dad on Father's Day earlier this year 
I know he would have enjoyed being at the opening of our TTF exhibition today and had seen all bar one of my pieces in the exhibition.

The exhibition runs until the end of November at Art Van Go and includes around 50 pieces of textile art. Why not visit if you are in the area?

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

TTF Exhibition - Nearly there!

I have finished the last two pieces for the TTF exhibition at Art Van Go in November. Hurrah! Here is my cotton reels in the landscape piece, which I hope will be the first in a series of pieces depicting cotton reels in the landscape. I'm really quite excited about developing this theme. 

From the first in a series to the last in my gridy series. This piece has been on the stocks for some time, partly because of it's size which makes it less portable. It can be too easy to have your head (or fingers?) turned by your latest ideas and to leave older pieces in a corner but this exhibition has encouraged me to finish it. And I'm glad I have, The more I have stitched it, the fonder I have grown of it. 

Not everything is finished, I still have to add hanging devices and to write my personal statement and a few other bits & pieces.  Not to mention bake a cake for the 'Meet the Artists' event which is on 2nd November (2-4pm) and I hope to see some of you there. And never before as anyone needed to sort her threads and put them back to their rightful place as I do at the moment!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Knitting & Stitch Show 2013

Another year on and another enjoyable trip to the Knitting & Stitch show. As usual I visited on the Sunday, mainly because I think it's going to be quieter than on any other day. The trains in my area were disrupted due to engineering works and the weather was horrible so I was hoping for a particularly quiet day but it wasn't to be. It seemed very busy to me and more so around the traders than the exhibitions. 

My impression was that there were less galleries this year but maybe there were just less that 'wowed' me?  There was another thing there seemed to be less of and that was the 'No Photography' signs, so that was pleasing. Now I can show my pics to my friend who wasn't able to go and of course I can show some here.  In no particular order, here is some of the work I photographed. 

As always  Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn gallery was full of inspiring work. I would have loved to take Jan's 'A Magical evening' home.

I also really liked the simplicity of this piece, also by Jan. This is what I would like to achieve more of in my dyeing, a 'complex' build up of colour and texture within a simple structure.

I really liked the way the jar emerges in Jean's 'Ginger Jar' piece.....

....and here's a detail of the work. Again lots of interesting layers and detail to look at when you get up close.

This work is by Bobby Britnell. I really liked the bark cloth and the colours she used but then knowing it had an African theme is a winner with me to start with.
It was nice to be able to get the opportunity to see Dorothy Caldwell's work displayed in a gallery of it's own, with both small and large pieces side by side.
James Hunting told me that he never has a vision of his finished piece when he starts but rather he starts with an idea of the mood he wants to create. I never think of the mood of the piece I'm creating but I'm going to try and think about that for my next piece even if I couple that with a vision of the end piece I want to create.
I enjoyed talking to Susan Syddall in the Graduate Showcase and would have loved to find out more about how she developed her landscape work during her course. I'll be watching her blog to see how her work progresses in the next year.
It was great to see and get close to Margaret Nicholson's work in the exhibition stage by her daughter Anthea Godfrey and to see Art of Embroidery Exhibition. Although I had seen some of these pieces previously in magazines and books it is so much better to see the real things and to the marvel at the detail rarely visible in photographs.
Purchases? Not too many really. I bought this Rectangular embroidery frame, this Book by Jean Draper a few threads for dyeing and some dress fabric. I was just about to say that I was quite restrained really but actually apart from the some textile art there wasn't anything else I really wanted...and I think that is largely down to the fact I have so much already!