Sunday, 16 October 2016

Catch-up - Part 2

So here I am back to update you on the week long summer school that I attended with Janet Edmonds.... better late than never, I hope. The first 2 days of the week were a continuation of the explorations in line that we had started in the Taking Textiles Further workshops, this time taking inspiration from the Ann Christopher exhibition which was held at the Royal Academy. We started by exploring the marks we could make with pastels
I really liked the textures I created although frustratingly I couldn't quite recreate the same textures when I tried to use them in my designs. I really enjoyed using the softer pastels and I'm sure I'll soon be investing in more of those very soon.
Using my experiments as a guide, I tried to simplify the landscapes and the use of good quality photocopies allowed me to play with lines and colours in the landscapes without having to keep recreating the backgrounds.
 I used the shapes, if not the colours of the landscape to add additional lines, well we were looking at line afterall.... 
And then I got bolder....and added lines taken from the landscape but on a much bigger scale than they were in real life.
Of all the ideas with line this is the one that I would like to pursue the most - a simple landscape with the lines of the landscape exaggerated and added. What would happen if the colours of these lines were changed? What if the lines were of significantly different thickness? I can't wait until my studio is finished to try it out.

In the other 3 days of the summer school we looked at the artist Chuck Close, who's work was famously made of lots of individual squares. To start the process, I squared off my landscape image, simplified it and recreated the image one square at a time....well until it came to the sky that is, when I must admit to 'cheating' and just colouring it blue, albeit built up with lots of individual colours.
Then taking a plain square print block I printed it again square by square. The nature of printing with a simple block automatically simplified the image further, although when the printing was complete I did work into with pen and collage to put some of the detail back.
Working with a good quality photocopy is very freeing and I should do this more often. I cut up my photocopy, rearranged it and mounted it on black paper. I'm not usually drawn to cutting up and re-piecing my textiles but I did quite like the effect of this. 
I also went back to working with the simple salt crystal shapes, cutting them out of paper and using both the positive and the negative shapes.
 And layering the shapes onto one of my designs.

So..again lots of ideas to pursue and really that's usually why I go on these courses, to take time out to think to develop ideas and designs and to explore ideas that I wouldn't have done if I was working on my own and I certainly came away with lots of ideas that I can't wait to get my teeth into.

Work on the studio progresses but much slower than I would like. Until recently the work has all been outside and has had little impact on our day-to-day living except for all the vans that park on our drive and looking at the front garden that looks more like a builder's merchant's yard than a garden. Now the work on the kitchen is in full swing and it is definitely impacting us. It feels like we're camping but with a more comfortable bed to sleep in. At least we have water in the kitchen which is more than we did a couple of days ago. So with the wall knocked down, the units removed and most of the plastering done, this is what it looks like today.

This weekend I felt determined to do a bit of printing and so sat in the garage amongst builders tools, cement, old units etc and printed and the more I printed the more I got into it and the more I wanted to do. It's not really practical to use the procion dyes at the moment so I printed with screen inks. Now I think about it, I'm not sure why I worked in the garage, surely I could have worked in the warmer kitchen, it wasn't as if I could ruin anything was it? 

I'll show you some of the Chuck Close ideas I have been progressing next time. 

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Catch-up - Part 1

It's been ages since I have blogged....and although this is largely down to lack of time, I think it's also because I got out of the habit of blogging and the longer I left it, the harder it seemed to start up again but I'm here now and hopefully this is the start of more regular posting. 

So let's start with what's happening at the moment....The Taking Textiles Further (TTF) Group that I belong to has an exhibition on at Courtyard Gallery, Hertford and is well worth a visit and whilst you're in Hertford why not visit the Theatre Gallery which has another textile exhibition on, both exhibitions are on until 24th August 16. Here's a couple of shots from the exhibition to whet your appetite.

In the gallery photo, you can just about see my Desert Blue piece which I had framed, not something I usually do with my work and although it cost and arm and a leg, I was pleased with how it turned out but if I've learnt anything it's that I need to try and make my pieces a size that can fit standard frames, to keep the costs down.

I also finished the the collograph print on fabric and entered it into the Regional Day competition...nothing like a deadline to get something finished.

I cut the fabric along the horizon line and inserted additional fabric for emphasis and added paper 'rocks' to add a 3D element and of course some stitching.
There's exciting things happening at home too....we're in the middle of an extension, most of which will be a studio for me but also includes an utility room, which means I 'need' a new kitchen and probably a new patio...and so it goes on. This side of the extension will be my studio and where the doors and the blocks of wood are will eventually be replaced with sliding patio doors. 
I'm very happy with how it's looking and with the workmen but it is taking longer than I'd hoped but I think I'm probably not the first to feel this way about an extension. Thinking through the detail of the design, investigating options etc has been quite time consuming but it's been a job I've been happy to do.

Even though you can't see all of it, you can see it's quite spacious and there'll be lots of storage space, a sink, print table and somewhere where I can leave my sewing machine permanently up. I can't wait!

I've also been doing some dressmaking and here's two of my makes and although the shapes look similiar in the photos, one is looser with set in sleeves and one more fitted with dropped shoulders. Only after I'd taken the photo did I realise that the dress on the right was on back-to-front, so it's even more fitted when the darts are in the right place! 

In a previous post I showed you how I had over dyed some commercially bought fabric and the dress on the left is made from that fabric. I wore the dress on the nice sunny day that visited the Festival of Quilts and I have never had so many comments from strangers about anything I have worn before. At first I was flattered and then I began to wonder whether I looked ridiculous, especially when someone asked to take a photograph of me....all very strange. My Mum said it looked nice so I guess it must have been ok? 

Well I'm running out of steam but not of things to tell you about, so I'll leave details of my summer school to another post. Until then....

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Acrylic Wonderland

I spent last week at Committed to Cloth on the Acrylic Wonderland course which was led by Claire Benn and was described as  'A week of exploring the joys of acrylic mediums and paints'. It was great to spend a week away from work being creative and trying out techniques. 

We explored many things but towards the end of the week, we looked at how acrylics could be used to transform some of our previously dyed fabric 'dogs' into something more pleasing. This was my favourite ex-dog.

...and this is how it started looked before I took the acrylics to it.
This was another piece of cloth that had been dyed and then overprinted some time ago and had been left lurking at the bottom of a box and destined to stay there, it was an ideal candidate for over printing. 
 I over printed it with several shades of grey (but not as many as you're thinking!) and I hope you can see the layering effect. 
Not a master piece but it does lend itself to some brighter over printing as below or perhaps the addition of some dramatic stitching. 
Earlier in the week we had created a paper lamination and this is what I used to overprint my 'dogs' with (not the small red print) and I quite like how this left the paper lamination. I may mount the lamination on a some cloth and stitch into day.

All the time I was experimenting and watching demos, I was looking out for ideas to progress my Chilean landscape theme. One of the ideas I progressed quite far and will show you in another post. Others are still bubbling in my head. It was a good week

Monday, 9 May 2016

Desert Blue

It's over 4 months since I lasted posted about this piece. I had no idea it would take so long for me to get to this stage, which is probably just as well but I'm pleased with the way my idea has developed. When I start a piece of work I usually like to have a view of how the finished piece should look albeit this view can change as the work progresses.  With this piece, try as I might, I couldn't get a clear view of how I wanted the finished piece to look, which may partly explain why it has taken so long. So there was nothing for it but to take it one section at a time.
There is dense stitching in places which was very hard on my fingers but I'm pleased that I persevered. I'm sure I could go on and on with the stitching but I'm going to stop here.

It's not quite over yet though, I still need to finish the work and get it ready for hanging but starting a new piece seems more appealing at the moment. This is definitely the first in a series. I have a number of other ideas to persue, in fact one experiment is 'brewing' at the moment, and I can't wait to see how it develops. More of that at another time.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

EG's Capability Brown Exhibition at Ashridge

Our exhibition at Ashridge has now opened. I wasn't able to go on the hanging day, so  thanks to those members who worked hard to get the exhibition looking good. I felt very lucky to have my Surreal Landscape included on the exhibition poster. 

The exhibition also includes my 'Reeds in the Mist' piece, which has been in a nearly finished state for some time - the power of a deadline!
The fabric was hand dyed and the only stitching is on the reeds. I used wool thread and then lightly embellished it to blend the stitching into the background and to anchor the threads to the fabric, which was important as some of the stitches were pretty long.  
The exhibition is on until February 2017,and Ashridge is a lovely place to visit so do go and see the exhibition if you can. I've seen pictures of some of the other member's work and I can't wait to see them for real. 

On the subject of exhibitions....earlier in the year I submitted one of my Geo Landscapes into RA Summer Exhibition, well you've got to be in it to win it, haven't you? Unfortunately, I didn't get past the first round of selection but I'm sure I'll try again. Let's hope some other textile pieces were more successful.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Collograph Printing on Fabric and Paper

In January, yes as long ago as that, I went on a very enjoyable collograph course tutored by Birgitta Wilson at Committed to Cloth. I have been on collograph courses before but what I learnt from Brigitta was that by using different materials on the printing plate I could influence the tone that was printed. This increases the possibilities no end.
The image above is one of the printing plates I made, after it had been used. As with most of my work at the moment it was influenced by the salt flats in Chile. I loved the effect of the crushed egg shells and the sky was made of sellotape which produced a naturally lighter print area. This was the plate printed onto paper..
We used a limited colour palette, which helped us explore the effects the different materials could have on tone. This piece was printed on fabric and although it's not a great print, I can see that it has potential and I will probably stitch it. 
I layered the plate with another smaller plate before printing, it wasn't my favourite but it seemed very popular with everyone else.
I also made two smaller plates. In fact this one was the first plate I made in class and I used a number of materials to trial the effects it would achieve.
 I printed both plates on top of each to create this image on fabric. If you concentrate hard you can see the two images (one of them is turned round). It makes me think of old map.
This is something that I would like to do more of, perhaps one day I'll own a printing press. This technique has got lots of potential which I'd love to explore more. I would definitely recommend a course with Brigitta and I see she is doing another course at C2C later in the year but I see it's already full. I'm obviously not the only one that enjoys going on her courses.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Surreal Landscape

Quite often I have ideas that I want to pursue but can't for one reason or another.They sit patiently in my mind and my sketchbook waiting for the right time to come along and this was what happened with this idea.
30 X 25 cm
So what caused me to come back to this cotton reels in the landscape design? I was interested in joining in the Capability Brown Festival organised by the Embroiderers' Guild but knew little about him.  Through my research I found that his designs often incorporated undulating landscapes and there was always something along the horizon line and this design came flooding back. Now was the time to dust it off.

I had my design printed on fabric at Finger Print and I was pleased with the quality of the image although it did come out more orangey than my image. This has given it a warm glow and fortunately I like orange!

Foreground detail
I have really enjoyed stitching it but I left the cotton reels unstitched, leaving the scratched marks to suggest stitch.

As it was 3 years since I came up with this design idea, it was interesting to remind myself how I got from the original image to the finished embroidery which you can see below.

That's one piece finished and now I need to finish my other piece. More of that in a later post.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Dyeing in the Washing Machine

I like the bird motif on this T-shirt but whenever I went to wear it, the white seemed just too bright a white for my colouring and so it's hardly been worn and I vowed that one day I would over dye it with cream......and that day finally arrived at the weekend. 
I recently found myself in John Lewis, admiring fabric printed with this Lucienne Day motif but it also had a very bright white background and I had just persuaded myself not to buy it when a fellow shopper helpfully pointed out that it was only £1 per metre and as anyone else would do in these circumstances, I bought 3 metres and vowed to over dye it with cream. After all if it didn't work out, I'd hardly have lost a fortune. 
I dyed the T-shirt and fabric together in the washing machine, the method which gives the best chance of a smooth dyed finish, not a method I usually use as I'm usually hoping to bring textures into my dyeing but it worked perfectly and there weren't any blotches of dye to be seen. I'd definitely recommend the washing machine for this type of dyeing, better still buy fabric and T-shirts in colours you like! . 

PS the dyed fabrics are a much more creamy colour and less apricoty in reality but try as I might I haven't been able to capture the true colour on camera.