Poppies

york textile artist logotmbBeen  dotting about and fairly busy, so the only sewing I have done this week is a distraction…is it possible to have pre-emptive brinkmanship?  Talk about organised,  actually made these for an exhibition  I am part of over Remembrance weekend in November.  We are at the Chapel in York Cemetery (beautiful Classical style building and not at all creepy) on Remembrance Sunday – which going to the hundred years since the end of the First World War.

There are 9 of us exhibiting as a textile group so it seemed appropriate to make a hundred poppies between us and hopefully sell them with the funds going to the British Legion.P1180230

These were fairly simple to make, technically a bit twitchy, but pretty effective.

The idea was to make simplified, wearable fabric  variations based on the iconic British Legion poppies. The fabric is a quite light weight fulled wool, which gives it a kind of felted , matted surface so it shouldn’t fray(!) The stitching is intended to give shape and modelling rather than aiming for  decorative thread surfaces.

The problem with free machining is that it causes distortion  as the stitches pull the fabric. This is what I am using to give the 3D shape to the flowers.  I did try with different threads but settled on a very thick top thread and a standard dressmaking thread underneath. The imbalance gave the most exaggerated distortions

P1180231but it took a bit of fiddling to get the tensions right.  The spiral pattern made cones, the petals created  lumps and bumps and it all worked best on a solid piece of fabric not individual petals. I did try, but kept falling off the edge as the fabric constricted so spent forever digging bits and tangles out of the needle race. (Pah)

The finished ones have silk velvet centres and brooch backs. They are simple, direct and hopefully effective enough to be attractive, and to take their place in the group piece.

The new season of workshops is out now – check the Want to Try tab for more details. There are fewer, different  timings and prices, but still in York , small, informal and friendly.

 

 

 

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Despatch and Hatch.

Hurrah the first batch of work has been delivered – this was to Art In The Mill Gallery for their Summer Salon, part of the FEVA festival.

Bit of a scramble to get everything ready, onlyP1180139 picked the work up from the framers on Friday afternoon – the one opportunity to get the work across was on Saturday after work.  Rather busy Saturday morning, breakfast was on the hoof in the rush to prep, record, price  and pack,  then off to work for a rest!

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I had wanted longer to reaquaint with the work in its new clothing, somehow framing does make the scruffiest work look ‘proper’. But it is gone now – hopefully someone will love and buy! (still waiting for my millionaire to come along and insist on buying all of it- I would resist of course out of creative modesty, but after subtle persuasions ( poss invovling chocolates, flowers, etc,) I would give in  and  then live in happy self indulgence until the next P1180153one  comes along….)  Lacking a millionaire I did settle for icecreams…..  and then set about prepping the neP1180152xt idea – and as you can see the first ‘stones’ have been hatched. They are carved out of old insulation block so should be much lighter to work with now I want to increase the scale a bit.

Shame about the mess.

Persevere

Perseverance, sticking to a task, dogged determination or just plain stubborn. Either way it can pay off, or it is the biggest waste of time, emotional energy and effort.

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Before- detail.

I do suffer from this, but this time it has worked well. This piece was conceived years ago, sliced and diced when it didn’t work out and then has lived in the bottom of one of the stash hide aways – it came back out a few months ago, lived in full sight since, and then last week it met the scissors again. The same people who apparently have never seen it before ( been on the main wall in the work room!) suddenly went Wow! so I guess it was an improvement.

moors and coast

And the After – still needs de-whiskering and framing.

Considering this- looking at the working methods it seems I do go round in circles while travelling forward. I use materials differently now – far less fusible and fibres, more lumps and rawness,  less precious,  but the colours, contrasts, ideas of line are so familiar. Even putting it along side the landscape stones there is the same thinking, the same perceptions evident, but these new quiet monochrome daft pieces are far braver and far more challenging.

 

woodland stitching

P1070181 Yep, it is a woodland view. Honest! Can’t you see it?  Arching canopy, meandering path, tree trunks, sunlight?  It is a leap of faith and an act of will.  Even at this stage the thinking about stitch patterns is apparent – directional to describe surfaces, and more random for textures.P1180092small         Spent ages on the detailed study – went round the corner and preferred that composition! Typical. Only had time for quick sketches to record the general idea. The sketch with the arrows is the stitching plan. Flat lines, some zigzag, lots of little happy squirms  for the canopy.  On the whole the machine stitches follow the basic patterns set by the hand work, but in some areas an under strata of filling stitch were put in to increase the density or to surpress the bulk of the wools. And this is what it became.  P1180091small  Looks a bit 18th century to me. The frame is the same as used for the rest of this series but without a mount – it was just too stark, the mauvey colour is the fabric colour.

This may be last of these for a while – I want to get back to the happy anarchy of lots more texture and building as I go rather than in predetermined layers. They are soothing and relatively swift but a bit like white bread – great in small doses, bland if over indulged in.

And the whole series?

Field View

This is a record of this way of working with colour in its most simple form.

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  1.  Select subject – clear shapes and lots of tonal contrasts. Colour palette is restricted, so is the texture. Should have photographed without the front stuff and before the sun went down!IMG_20180713_143459425_BURST001
  2. hand stitch. This is the main source of colour, but can not be too dense or the machine will grumble. Use direction to give ideas of form and textures.IMG_20180713_143732604
  3. Threads – muted range, chosen more for tonal value and warm/cool values than hue. (the purples were far more brown and dull, the end colour is dark olive!)Aviod plain grey – too stark, use more sophisicated colours.  One or two stronger colours for get out jail free cards, but to be used sparingly.IMG_20180713_151235095 (1)
  4. First layer- establish main tonal zones, vary stitch patterns to create more separation.IMG_20180713_162948339
  5. Second  layer – highlights and shadows, working in a variety of ways to build surfaces.Spot the vertical lines, cross hatching, wriggly squirms and zigzags.                      IMG_20180713_163841876
  6. Top dressing – final tweaks, adding details, evaluating and finishing. This style has to be at a distance- pin up, make coffee and walk towards it to make sure the contrasts and values work.                                              IMG_20180713_163905165
  7. Drink coffee. Still need to press it. Later will do.

These method at this scale is relatively quick and surprisingly effective. This mini series is part of the Falling Light family of woodland studies so this style which encourages me to emphasise tone works well. This little beastie was done in a morning – or would have been if I remained focussed  (blame Wimbledon and the Tour de France). I find it quite limiting so the selection has to be strong enough but without too much fuss. The limited palette range could be expanded at will though I like the simplicity of focussing on tone – been doing a lot of pencil drawing at the moment so I guess the two disciplines are cross pollinating again. Scale is a problem – bigger means more time hand stitching and the need for more complex stitch patterns.

nose and grindstone.

Thank goodness that is the end of June. Far too much going on.  July looks like a just getting on month…  fewer workshops and classes, and major deadlines looming.

I have proposed the evolving landscapes and the Falling Light series for Knaresborough, they are now at the framers, but still want to make more. I am applying for the Great North Art Show again, that will be the Written Wolds series – I want to re frame one or two of those but haven’t decided how exactly, what ever it will be mega bucks.  Also got the Staithes Festival at the same time – hmm……

So, just got myself a little bit of stitching to do.

Can you tell what it is yet? P1070174 I went back to an older technique with the  hand understitching  (Roger Federer was playing at Wimbledon). It gives a structure, some bulk, a bit of texture and colour to work on. The flatness of fabric can be just too flat some days.  This was from a 5 minute pen scribble P1070179sketch – took an awful lot

fBrammer

longer to stitch.  Not yet entirely sure it is done –  the  machine stitching has lost the energy and directness – might be the addition of colour and a bit of the tonal range. There are lots of tweaks to do now I look, – the right side of the tree does look a bit too Harmony hairspray, the path is too stark, could do with a dull tone in the distance. Maybe a leaf layer in the foreground in a contrast green? Just in line to keep that Summer undergrowth jungle theme going. The tree trunks to the left have disappeared – subtle I wanted, not invisible.

May be try a more monochrome one over understitching?

 

And as for the last landscape stone – mounted onto some more fine cotton, glued to make rigid, painted and stitched…. the frame is temporary.

fBrammer (2)

 

Peeling II

These landscape stones are becoming a bit of a fixation. Sewing them became welcome relief from the weight of sewing the robes (fingers still sore).  The second one is painted, dry and ready to peel. This should be easy – would be if I didn’t paint it first. I literally smear base coat all over it, rubbing it into the fabric, it changes the nature of the surface, blending and pooling around the stitches and pulled details. It also stiffens the fabric and unfortunately glues it to the stone. Oops. Does make the peel difficult and destructive.

Post Peel-  It took 3 hours this morning of creative sunbathing to get it free. The peeling has lost all pretence of being precise or new, the fabric is distorted and torn, the paint has been disrupted in places and flaked in others. Flattening it caused even more damage and the whole effect is aged and worn. So much better. It does have a history now, a character, a story to tell. It has the shifts of texture, shapes, I associate with landscape, those sudden details and concentrations in the midst of big spaces, on the down side, it does make me think of roadkill.

I have been a little more experimental with this one. There are a wider range of stitches, the old favourites of chain, french knots, back, whip, seed and of course running. Some I imagined would trap more paint, others give more emphasis or surface. Totally right but not as expected, the bold stitches have become claggy  and lost definition and pattern. I think there was too much stitch, there is a lumpiness rather than a lightness.

I think I will mount this on more of the orginal cotton lawn and present it as something fragile and ephemeral, unless of course another idea occurs.