A blog about making art and other things using cloth, paper, paint, colour, stitch, and all sorts of exciting techniques, some of which I'm sure I still have to discover! I hope that the joy all this gives me is visible in what you can see here.

Friday, 31 December 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR, and looking forward to more experiments in 2011!

Finished piece!
Over the last quarter of 2010, I did a bit more experimentation, triggered mainly by the 'Wet n Wild' workshops with C2C. Some pieces have turned out
stage 3
more successfully than others, and this one here, is one that I consider fits that description. I have included some photos of the process, it started out as my first attempt at paper lamination, which I cut in half, and mounted one piece on black fabric, and the other on white. These were then joined together, stitched, painted with acrylic paint, and stitched even more. The results are above, and I've decided to call it 'City Reflections'.
Hopefully, more experiments in 2011, so here's wishing you all a very happy and creative New Year.

stage 2

Stage one

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Sunday, 19 December 2010

Flying in the fullness of the moon

This piece started out as a simple mono-print from the top left section of the paper lamination post, 'Taking BIG risks' on 16th October. Once dry, I fixed the fabric (a silk and cotton mix) into a large round embroidery hoop and painted the surface with an olive green silk paint. The result over the turquoise acrylic fabric paint gave a fabulous golden colour, with the painted areas looking almost like old gold. When I removed it from the hoop, I decided to paint all around the circular shape with a blue/turquoise silk paint, and then immediately decided that I'd created an image of a full moon.

Although I really liked the results, I knew that something else was needed to finish the piece. I thought about moths, I really love the patterns on their wings, and they are attracted, apparently to the moon! I tried out some moth silhouettes, but somehow they didn't seem right. I often find that ideas will come to me just as I'm about to drift off to sleep, and on this occasion, that is exactly what happened! Geese.....I would place geese flying in front of the moon. Straight black tends to deaden, so after a bit of experimentation, I bonded some fine black lutradur onto a black, infused with gold fabric to cut the 'geese in flight' shapes from. I am really pleased with the results, and am now considering further 'geese in flight' textile pieces.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

December Journal Quilt

My Journal Quilt for December is called December in the City. It was inspired by watching gulls reflected in the windows of a high-rise office building, but unfortunately at the time I didn't have a camera with me. I new that I had taken some photos of reflections in high-rise offices, and also of some seagulls at the coast. I printed off a photo manipulated in Photo Shop, cut it up and laminated it onto some fabric that I had screen printed in dark green. The gulls were cut from a used colour catcher and bonded onto the surface before being machine stitched down. I hand stitched some areas for contrast, and machine embroidered other areas with metallic threads for a bit of seasonal bling!.I finished it off by cutting some Christmas tree shapes from scraps of fabric and appliqueing them along the bottom.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

November already!

This is another paper laminated piece, part of a commission for two wall hangings for a friend. I have machine quilted quite heavily between the laminated areas, and machine stitched quite heavily in copper thread over the flower shape towards the bottom left. It doesn't show too well in this photograph.

 Hopefully, this is now finished! I have played around with it so much, and even now I don't think I'm 100% happy with it, but there comes a point when you have to accept that enough is enough.....so that's it for this piece!

My November Journal Quilt was initially inspired by a small fragment of hand, tie dyed  fabric. I collected together a few more scraps of hand dyed fabric, plus some colour matched scraps, and hand stitched them together in what I considered a pleasing arrangement. The tie dyed piece reminded me of a sun, but being blue it seemed more appropriate to call it 'Blue Moon'. I also felt compelled to stitch a face on the moon shape, so here it is. November is actually a 'blue moon month, there are two different criteria for a blue moon, this is the older of the two according to 'google'.
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Saturday, 30 October 2010

Fun characters!

Mrs. Moocroak

Mr Moocroak and Junior

Characters with a sting in their tails!

Mrs. Frou Frou...(my alter ego?)

Liz Ebra

Mrs. F takes Liz for a walk!

Patchwork character for my grandson.

I've enjoyed making some fun characters in the past, there is something very satisfying about letting your imagination run riot and producing something truly unique.
All hand stitched apart from the last one, and easy to make on cold dark winter evenings in front of the tele.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Taking BIG risks.

I enjoyed another busy, mind blowing day on Friday at the Wet n Wild workshop with Claire benn and Leslie Morgan. Now, as far as I'm concerned, a workshop like this is all about experimenting, exploring new ideas, stretching  strengths, learning from mistakes and if needs be, taking risks! I decided to take along my recent piece I've called Lamination Blues. (see a few posts back), because I still had a niggle about a few areas, and needed some guidance and hopefully a few ideas as to how these niggles could be resolved. Some of the appliqued areas on the backing fabric were creating lines through the lamination, and I was finding them irritating. It was suggested that it may be better to make a feature of these, rather than to keep trying to camouflage them. Monoprinting was an idea that came up, in two contrasting colours, using the lines as the defining edge of the change in colour. Although I've spent hours already on this piece, I decided to go for it, and take the risk of making a very big mistake! I quite enjoy the challenge of putting things right when they go wrong, and so this was definitely a challenge I couldn't refuse!! I decided to use a dark sea green on the largest area, and a turquoise blue on the smaller section.. With a sense of trepidation, the printing ink was mixed, swirled onto the plastic printing block, and gently but firmly pressed onto the surface of my textile piece. Some interesting results were an added bonus from printing the image left on the plastic onto some silk/cotton fabric, but more on that later. I'm not sure yet what I feel about t the results, they are quite radical for me, and the sea green colour has dried darker than I'd planned for. However, I have absolutely no regrets about going ahead with this, I really do feel that it is what will eventually give me the confidence to fully explore my potential, and it's what workshops like this are all about.....don't you think?

Working from photos/art work.

In 2005, I photographed this prickly pear  while holidaying on Madeira. I loved the shape of  the plant and all the detail on the individual sections as they grow around the edge of the main part. Later, at home I decided to make some sketches of  the cactus and finally the watercolour you see here.                                                                       
Five years on, I've used the watercolour to experiment with paper lamination. I photocopied the image in black and white, enlarged it and then laminated it onto some polyester organza.

I wondered if it would be possible to use watercolour paint on this laminated piece, and here are the results!

Having decided that I liked the effect of the colour, I have started to stitch into the piece. This is still in progress, but I will post a final image when I'm happy with the end result.
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Using my sketches.

Another small landscape from last years sketching day on the South Downs. This one was constructed from different fabrics, cut to shape and bonded onto the backing. Again, I couched down black knitting wool to outline each section and then machine quilted detail in black thread.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

South Downs

Almost a year to the day, I enjoyed a walk on the South Downs in Sussex and made some sketches. I have at last translated one of these sketches into the textile lanscape shown here. I started by meshing some lightweight and sheer fabrics onto some wadding and then outlined areas by couching down black knitting wool. I also used black cotton to free machine quilt other areas for more definition.

The piece called Lamination Blues has had considerably more stitching worked into it. I didn't feel that it was finished, so quilted circles in various matching colours between the spirals and circles. I also hand stitched over more of the laminated areas, and am now happy that it is ready to be backed and bound.
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Saturday, 2 October 2010

Recent textile pieces.

 I started with some cotton wadding, scraps of mainly printed sheers, voiles and silk and meshed them into the wadding with my embellishing machine. I tried to stick to blues and greens, not sure why, but that was my mood. I felt very positive about what I was doing and why! Having covered the whole piece, I free machined with different coloured threads in a very crude, darning style around each scrap to meld them into a sort of 'whole'. My feelings at this stage became less clear, and my direction somewhat 'lost'. I just had to leave it for a day or two, pondering what I was trying to achieve.
Do you ever get to this stage and then find that inspiration leaves you hanging in space? Different ideas popped into my head, but then popped out just as speedily, and somewhere at the back of my mind was an idea that I needed to use black in some way. I started to read about couching threads and cords on another site, and this gave me the idea for using the black knitting wool to outline certain areas, creating this simple design.

I have been enjoying a more relaxed approach recently with the addition of some simple hand stitching, and decided that this was what this piece needed. I think the fashionable term for more hand stitching is called 'slow cloth'. I must admit it really is quite meditative, and just a simple running stitch, flowing in whatever direction one chooses to take can give some lovely results. Hopefully this close up of an area will give you an idea of the handwork. I'm still not completely happy with the way this piece has turned out, but hopefully this will change when I've had the chance to put it away for a bit, and then look at it with fresh eyes.

October Journal Quilt.  
This month I decided to use the paper lamination technique. Just some simple spirals, and once backed onto a plain light cream background, I free machine quilted yet more spirals! 

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Lamination Blues!

My second attempt at paper lamination. This time I hand painted ovals, circles and spirals onto the surface of the organza. When finished, I layered the organza over some cotton fabric that I had started to cover with blue scraps and green leaf shapes. It was a piece that I had started, but that wasn't going well. As a backdrop for the paper laminated organza though, it was perfect. I have machine quilted around the circles and spirals etc, and also added some hand stitching in some of these shapes. I may do more, as they are beginning to take on a rather pleasing 'fossilised' appearance!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Paper and Metal Leaf Lamination with DVD BPMLL

Paper Lamination.....a first attempt.

I had another really good session yesterday at "Wet n Wild", with Claire and Leslie. We did Paper Lamination, something I've not attempted before, but found extremely interesting and something I'm sure I'll be doing more of. I only had a copy of the Evening Standard, but managed to find a few coloured pages, (mainly adds) to use, and after working on it today have produced what you see here. The process involves laying down sheets of coloured newsprint, covering it with polyester or silk organza, printing or brushing liquid acrylic medium....(a bit like pva, although this is NOT reccommended) over the surface and then leaving it to dry. The piece is then heat set for a few minutes with a hot iron and plunged into cold water for five minutes after which all the unpainted/printed newsprint will come away when gently scrubbed. This was what I was left with at the end of yesterday, but today decided to experiment further. I cut my piece in half, put black cotton fabric behind one piece and white behind the second. I've then free machine quilted around all the remaining newsprint in matching coloured thread. Interesting results, but lots more ideas are beginning to form in my mind, so I'm sure I'll be doing more of this. Left is a small close-up of part of the organza on black cotton.

Friday, 3 September 2010

September Journal Quilt.

I took this  photo (bottom one) about a year ago, it looked like an old log with the bark stripped away. I love the texture and shapes formed by the ripples of wood.
I decided to make my September JQ in the style of this log, and washed a piece of calico so that when it was dry, it became all crumpled. I pinched small pleats randomly along the surface and machine stitched them in. When there were enough of these, I pulled it out as flat as possible without losing the crumpled texture, placed it onto some wadding and then free motion stitched circles of varying sizes in between the pleats. I also threaded my bobbin with some variegated perle embroidery thread, and free machined from the reverse to give more texture. I mixed up some watercolour paint and daubed this onto the surface in some areas to vary the colour. The quiltlet is bound with cream sari silk ribbon that I've al;lowed to fray.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Losing my Muse!

I've lost my Muse.....hopefully only temporarily. Such a frustrating experience, to go into my sewing room with no ideas or inspiration as to what I'm going to do!! I think I'm suffering from some sort of "overload". All those photographs and sketches I produced at Dungeness, and then going to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, and trying to remember all the wonderful art quilts I saw there has just fried my brain!!

Fortunately, I think I may have discovered an antidote to all this frantic "input". I've recently been following a blog called spiritcloth.com which is all about a much more meditative and thoughtful approach to stitch and art cloth. Obviously a far slower technique to what I'm used to, but I've produced a couple of pieces of work that have given me a surprising feeling of satisfaction. I don't think that they have necessarily been that successful as stand alone art works, but they have calmed my mind and helped to quell that feeling of panic. One piece has been produced as a possible entry for a challenge that I'm hoping to take part in, so for that reason I'm only showing a small part of it. The challenge is to produce a small quiltlet entitled "Childhood Memories", and I have to say that using this slower, meditative approach has  been really helpful. A very personal memory map, and something that seemed to evolve as I slowly stitched and "remembered".
This second piece was inspired by the view from my sewing room window, all the lush greens in our garden and beyond. I just picked small bits of fabric from my "bits" box, and then hand stitched them down, allowing their shapes and patterns to dictate how and where I stitched.  Hopefully this slower pace of working will give my Muse a chance to recover and return, with a fully charged battery!!!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Meeting other Artists

Today I had the pleasure of sharing "a selling space" with Oliver Lett, a very talented young artist. He paints funky dogs, cats and London Scenes, and is also awaiting the publication of a new childrens' book that he has illustrated. Visit his website http://www.oliverlett.co.uk/  We were at a the Epsom Downs Trainers Day at the invitation of Jackie Kahn, the owner of the Corner Gallery in Carshalton Beeches, Surrey. Both myself and Ollie have exhibited very successfully at Jackie's gallery, but it was good to take our art out to the masses for a change.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Out and About.

Two more observations from my sketch book. The first I made  recently while sitting on the beach at East Wittering as the tide was coming in. The second was made in Dungeness, Kent, and is a study of the late Brian Yales cottage and garden. There are some amazing sculptures and artworks in his garden, but too difficult to see properly or to reproduce in a sketch like this. I have just drawn some very vague shapes in the foreground to indicate where a few of these amazing pieces are.

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Reference material.

Photos of rocks on the beach at Pett Level, East Sussex. I just love the colours and markings, good references for future textile work. Below is a sketch I made from another piece of rock, I should have photographed it too, but forgot as I was concentrating  too hard on "looking".

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