Friday, 31 May 2013

Reelin' I and II

We're just back from an enjoyable and relaxing holiday in Sardinia. The weather was a bit windy during the first few days and that kept the temperature down but when it stopped blowing it was glorious. I ate too much of the lovely food and despite trying to convince myself that I was using up lots of calories walking round the sites, I can tell from the fit of my trousers that I am now carrying a reminder of my holiday around with me. 


In between eating and sight seeing, I stitched some cotton reels. I did two pieces in two different colourways, both 4 inches square.  This piece was stitched on some of my printed fabric using my current favourite thread.

It took a while for the piece to take shape and I was starting to worry that it wasn't going to work. Fortunately, the more I stitched the more I liked it, which is just as well or I would have been left me on holiday without any stitching to do. Not a position I like to be in these days.

The second piece was similar but using plain black fabric and stitched with white and black thread.

I preferred the first piece to this one and I think that's because there were no variations in the black background fabric and the black in the thread just merged into the background fabric.

What next? I would like to mount them on an artists canvas if I can find one the right size. I thought that I might print one of my landscape photographs onto fabric and then stitch the reels on that - that could be interesting. Just something small that I could pickup and stitch when the mood takes me. 

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Lichtenstein Exhibitioin

Last week I went to the Lichtenstein exhibition at Tate Modern. I must admit that I'm not particularly attracted to Lichtenstein's war comic images but prior to visiting the exhibition I watched a documentary and went to an informative talk at the V&A Museum. By the time I went to the exhibition I was much more knowledgeable and was quite looking forward to it

Whenever I go around an exhibition I am always thinking about how the work in the exhibition relates to my own work and this exhibition was no exception. If there was one thing I was inspired by it was his ability to break things down into simple shapes and patterns. I spent some time looking at how he had achieved this in his 'Tire' picture. I don't find tyres inspiring in the least but it made me consider whether this approach could work in my own work.   

I really liked this cubist style picture 'The Red Horseman'. Again it was the shapes within the picture that I liked and how they read together as a whole. I would quite like to have a go at abstracting images and drawing in the cubist style but really have no idea where to begin. If anyone can point to any reference points, I'd be very grateful. I think, perhaps naively, that if I can go through a simple exercise to get me started then I could take it on from there.

Then there were his landscapes and I liked the simplicity of them and could see how they relate to the printing that I do.

It was interesting seeing how he moved from portrait to a completely abstract picture in his 'Portrait Triptych'. Could I use this approach with my cotton reels. Could be worth a try. 

My prior research into Lichtenstein made the exhibition much more enjoyable and I'm glad that I went and it has left me with plenty to think about.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Appliqued Garden

Earlier this week we spent a very enjoyable day with our friends Helen & Pete. We started with a nice lunch and then went to the Chelsea Flower Show. I'm not a gardener but I do appreciate flowers and nice gardens...and nice lunches come to that!

We took lots of photographs but it was the Massachusetts garden that I wanted to show you. The stream in the garden is not water and the flowers in it are not real but made from leather applique, as are the flowers on the wall at the back.

The applique flowers were created by Susannah Hunter and it was nice to see textiles used in an innovative way. This is a detail of the back wall:

and this is a detail of the 'stream'.

Not sure how the wall would stand up to the elements and we very grateful that the elements didn't test them whilst we were there. It wasn't very warm but it was dry - I was happy with that.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Sewing Bee - in the making?

Even before the Sewing Bee came to our screens, I have fancied making myself some clothes. In preparation I have bought several patterns and even some fabric but as most of the fabric was for winter clothes and time has moved on, I now need to buy some summer fabric, which is easier said than done these days. One of the things that puts me off making clothes is the risk that I'll make something only to find that it doesn't fit me. So having thought about it for some time, I have taken the plunge and bought a dressmaker's dummy.
Ironically, the first thing I fancy making is quite loose fitting but that will have to wait until I finished a couple of the textile projects I have on the go.
The advertising blurb says that you can also use it to hang tomorrow's clothes on it before going to bed. I can't see me doing that! But it has been used to model a bra, when my sister-in-law came over from France to do the Moonwalk. It was the least I could do to dye her bra pink. As you can see it came out a good deep colour.

I normally dye natural fabrics rather than synthetic fabrics but spurred on by my successful bra dyeing, I bought this dress from Marks & Spencer. 

Now white doesn't do much for me but as I liked the shape of the dress, I thought I would buy it and dye it. A bit risky I admit. I looked in my box of acid dyes and decided to dye it aubergine. Although it took the dye, it came out a little pale, so I'll be dyeing it again just as soon as I can get my hands on some more aubergine dye.

When my dressmakers dummy was first assembled, I looked at it and convinced myself that  I had bought the wrong size. Surely I'm not that big? With some difficulty and lots of help, I have adjusted the dummy to my size as best I can and it appears that I am (unfortunately) that size. It's been interesting and a little challenging changing the size of the dummy to fit my various measurements. Either the dummy's a funny shape or I am...mmmm.....

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Threads Galore - The exhibition

Our branch of the Embroiderers' Guild has an exhibition on at the Letchworth Arts Centre  and Thursday evening was our Private View. 

It was lovely to see everyone's work and preparing for the exhibition has given an additional buzz around the branch. It's encouraged us to finish pieces, we might not otherwise have finished ..or at least we have finished them sooner than we might otherwise have done. I know that staging an exhibition takes a lot of work and so a big thank you to the exhibition committee members.

It was also nice to see and catch-up with friends. Where did the time go? Here I am on the right with my Gridlock II piece and Gina in the middle and Vintagerockchick on the left. I love their blogs and they have been so supportive to me starting mine.

The exhibition is in a big space, there's lot to see with some fabulous and varied work in it, so do go if you can. I have blurred them some of the faces in the photograph below, just to make them less recognisable. In case anyone objects to their photograph being here. Just in case you were wondering why our members looked a little strange

The branch members were asked to create an A5 size piece of work on the theme 'arboreal'. I know you can't see any of the detail but I thought they made a nice display grouped together too.

Our branch's Young Embroiderers', run by Gina, also had a display of arboreal pieces, which looked just as good and I hope seeing their work in an exhibition will encourage them to continue with their textiles work.

I wish I could had had an inspiring teacher and a group like this to belong to when I was their age. Who knows what that would have led to?

Monday, 6 May 2013

Landscape in the Cotton Reels

It's beautiful weather here today but I have spent quite a lot of  it inside in front of my PC. Next weekend is my 'Taking Textiles Further' course and I wanted to get some design work done so that I could discuss it with our tutor Janet Edmonds. There are only 3 of these weekends a year and the next one will probably not be until November, so you need to make the most of the opportunity.

In a previous post I showed how I was exploring the cotton reels in the landscape. Today I was exploring, landscapes in cotton reels! Firstly, I took a few cotton reels and randomly through them down on the some paper, took a photograph and traced round the outline of the reels.  I placed the tracing over some of my landscape photographs and thought it had potential, so continued to work with the idea digitally. Here's some of my results:
Photograph of a local Field

Bluebell wood

The images I was looking forward to using the most were of Dutch bulb fields but they didn't quite live up to my expectations.

Dutch bulb field
 So I made a pattern with it to see if that improved things.... but I don't think they did.

Conversely, I was surprised by how this image of a snowy road worked. It needs some tweaking but I feel it has potential.

Snowy road

So what next? Now that I'm clearer about what type of images make stronger designs, I will look through my landscape images again, just as soon as my (now) square eyes are back to normal. I would also like to explore different arrangements for my reels but still keep it simple and of course the different arrangements of reels will reveal different parts of the landscape. Eventually, I would like to stitch a piece, where the stitching in the trunk of the cotton reel is inspired by a landscape.