York Open Studios – nearly ready.

3 days and counting!  Time is galloping.

logosecret tree textiles (2)

April 6th & 7th, and 13th & 14th,  10-5pm. 

All are welcome to come and visit artists and makers of all descriptions in their own spaces. Come and see what is happening and where, it is amazing what secrets can  lie behind the most ordinary front doors.  Grab a free brochure/guide from  a  local library, shop, pub , cafe, or go on line to yorkopenstudios.co.uk to get a list, pretty pics and maps and just roll up! We would love to meet you.

My  venue is no.96 and my workroom is still just that – a room for working in. I have been clearing out all the things that have crept in  from the storeroom and have firmly taken them back upstairs. The workroom door is off again – this is the point of no return.

This year the work is in a series of series, all inter related but also distinct. It will make displaying them all quite a challenge in what is a modestly sized room.  There is a lot more small things, more 3D things and then the ginormous painted scarves.  It will be an interesting week. And don’t forget the eternal tidying up.

This is the current state  I was going to leave the hang until Thursday, so began it on Tuesday. So of course it went ‘hammer hammer hammer,  mutter  mutter mutter, oops’ as I had to keep stopping to move things, complete some framing, trip over some bits that are awaiting relocation, fill in holes in the wall and find the matching paint.  But as you can see most of the chaos is being resolved, the work is up apart from one or two pieces -one is currently hiding, at over a metre tall it can’t hide for long, and the other hasn’t been released from exhibition yet.

I have barely scratched my to do lists –  I think I need a new approach to list making, but have bought cable ties to put up the signage and a supply of biscuits.  This blog was on Sunday’s list, the draft was done but only remembered it today – and rewrote most of it anyway! There is still much to do, the scarves need to find a home, labels etc, setting up the standing landscapes, reorganising the furniture and so on. But it will be ready on Saturday to welcome people into and hopefully share my enthusiasm for textiles and making.    Must remember to remove that post-it note. But on a happier note, every time I think about mowing the lawn or cleaning the windows, it rains. Must have been good in a previous life.

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York Open Studios Countdown

logosecret tree textiles (2)Somehow I feel aggrieved that YOS has snuck up on me.  Oh no it hasn’t, we all cry. I have been posting and distributing  brochures for weeks.  All of the major work is done, there is some stretching and framing to do, I could get more things printed and get other bits tweaked but I am not sure.  Something about 2 weeks to go gets me anxious that 3 weeks to go didn’t.

Little Things Made and To Make – –

  1. img_20190217_103939266Pot sleeves.  The prototype is growing on me.  That it is covering up an upside down lampshade I use as a brush pot may influence my response.

2.   Two bookcovers have been made out of old  sketches.  An old img_20190322_163111347piece I have fallen out of love with will be next to be chopped.  These are a very basic design,  slip covers, but  are time and material greedy. They also require straight lines and measurement, it is like being back in school.

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3.  The printed fabric – still debating about how to use it. The scarf has had mixed responses (mostly from me) but at least is a fair make even with the topstitching. I have lined it with a very soft fine calico ( bit too bright but….) I have one more full width of the double  mirrored design – scarf 2? and a strip of single mirrored which could end up as book covers – eek, or pot sleeves – ok, or be sectioned off  individually – easiest to do but then what. Would quite like to hand embroider over the central stand of trees….. Sounds like a comfy sofa and decent film kind of job. hmm –  potential.

4.  Individual stitched cards,  trees using the mini transfers I made earlier.   img_20190324_160227065b2

 

5. More Landscape Books – volume II & III at least – much more like fun.

6.  Anything else I can think of.  Maybe a scarf or two?   Must not forget  samples for the workshops in April and May…….   oops, the list is growing…..  Haven’t even got to the pricing, hanging, blurbing, admin, invites, hoovering, the annual window washing…….

landscape books

This is an extension from the standing landscapes. It is a combination of old trends and fascinations and new materials and priorities.

Fun!

Fascination list 1.

Folding. Inside/outside. Angles/ curves. 2D into 3D. Front and back.  Out comes that can be changed rather than rigid. Perspectives. Mark making, textures, simplicity of line. Rhythm. Less not more. The seen and the understood . Denying  the sanctity of vision. Enclosing, revealing. Communication. Enigma. Questions. Narratives.

Oh dear – how many contradictions!

The standing landscapes addressed many of these areas.  But I am going further – or at least trying to….  Communication and narritives – tehse already speak of visual things, of space and textures, lines and perspectives – all physical things, all expressive but have underlying rules and conventions. I wish to introduce some of the deeep and wonderful thinking that happens as I move through the landscape. For me they are entwined into the physical. The obvious is to write – a familiar route. Underlying or overlaying? Woven in ?  to be read or just hint? With or across the lines of the landscape?

Giving the folding a purpose – making a pull out book. Having a cover and the landscape folded within. This seems a very York thing. Driving around the city I see distant hills in 3 directions,  blue and purple horizons, or gleaming in the sunlight, once I get to them they unfold into complexity and character, opening up their secrets and corners.

Proto Landscape Book 1

Construction-  Samples,  vilene panels cut and fused onto muslin to act as hinges. The tall narrow strip will be the spine,  the ones either side will be the covers. The last is of the final blank ‘book’ , stitched around to seal the muslin to the vilene.  The scale is too small for anything other than the briefest experiments.

 Nothing over special about the image – do like the layers in the foreground but the covers are where the interest lies, should maybe have a greater disction between cover and extension – colour? content?  density?

There is no writing on it yet –  that is next. Down the spine like a title? following the perspective lines? in the pale, in the dark or in a slight neutral? 10 minutes later and there is writing! As if by magic! or sewing machine…

The text is one I have used before, and always reminds me of leisurely walking through the Yorkshire Wolds on a bright and breezy day. It  is whimsical rather than deep,  it comes from watching the wind ripple through ripe barley as the clouds scud about above them.

Problem – front and back – writing has a right and wong way round.  Very much a problem on the front cover, so the text has to start only on the inside panels. Should I be colouring the cover? Thread or paint?  I shall try paint……

Who am I kidding? Is this a way to avoid thinking about York Open Studios?  April 6th is just how many days away?? Please do come and see me if you can –  I promise to have tidied up by then…..

Workshops

Just putting together a short programme of day courses – currently looks like this-

Stitchy Days Workshops Spring 2019

10-3pm £35, includes basic materials. You will need your own machine and threads.

Wed 24th – Drawing with your Sewing Machine- No drawing skills required! We shall cheat and develop the gentle art of scribble and sketch. Working with line and patterns to make images and  textures. Good for thoses starting out or those wishing to extend and explore.

May 8th – Creative Textiles – experimenting with water soluble fabric, non woven surfaces and playing with paint on fabric.

May 22nd – Creative Textiles – Ideas to Stitch.  Ever had a great idea or really wanted to make an image but not known how to start? Which techniques, colours and aprroaches to use? This day will walk you through the process, encourage you to experiment and prepare, help you make decisions and work out when to panic or when to just go and put the kettle on!

June 5th – Twisting Tree. A great way to start – or move  it onto experimental techniques.

 

Stitchy Evenings  Spring 2019 :   contact me for details or to book.

Workshops are in Acomb, York – you will need your own machine and materials. There is no set content for each week,  just pick and mix or ignore as you wish.

 –   Wednesday  7-9pm,    £12  March 20, April 17, May 1, 15, 29.

Introduction  –   set up your machine, try out the basics,  get started on a new adventure.   Good for complete novices at this, those who have tried and cried, or those who need a bit of creative headspace..

Develop more complex  working techniques or work on your own projects-

Layers –  building fabrics and other things into your stitching, creating surfaces and   textures

Colour –  doing more than just colouring in. Laying colours on top of each other, working   with ‘grounds’,   creating colour schemes to work with.

Making pictures –  ways of getting from an image to a stitchable design –  quality cheating from creating outlines to building it.

Don’t forget   York Open Studios!  Taster Exhibition – March 30 & 31st.  Studios open 6 & 7th, 13 & 14th.

York Open Studios Logo Black Yellow Background

Painted scarves

These are fabulous, but dinky.  I wanted to get bigger again but to keep the pace  and the challenge without getting trapped by the scale or technicals,  so I decided to paint, of course! Let’s make a scarf, or two.

Matt acrylic and textile medium? Brusho? Indian ink?

Brusho is a powder – often used as a watercolour- and is often used on fabric. Problem would be making it wash-fast. Do not want a scarf where the colour rubs off on to skin or gently dribbles into your clothing.

Indian ink – waterproof ink – more liquid, very strong but will it stay where it is put?

Acrylic paint plus textile medium is tried and tested. Just mix the two and paint it on. It needs to be heat fixed (ironed) before it is washable. It can be clumsy, can create hardspots and can sit on the top surface.

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Play time. results – the red is brusho- far too enthusiastic even with the medium- red everywhere. The black is Indian ink – so strong but better manners.

Decided on the devil I know- the acrylic plus medium, the first a fairly neat mix, the second more dilute to get more flow.  The pieces are 2m x 1/2m muslin.  Far too easy – so dyed over it to give a  warm dove grey. The paint is resistant. Great fun to do even if the room and sink area look like a battlefield and the only place I had to hang them to dry  was the stairwell. But then comes the finishing- hand rolled hem.  It is only 2m. Then 1/2 m across, 2m back, and another 1/2m to complete. Now hate rolled hems, and muslin. (been out and bought 3m more)

Still have a few Wednesday evenings and Friday mornings left if you would like to come round to play with creative textiles. York Open Studios is approaching fast – 6-7th and 13-14th April and I will do more formal workshops after this. Also have a piece at the gallery in the Ryedale Folk Museum on the North Yorks Moors, in their Open Exhibition – things are getting busy…..

Life after sprout continues…. experimenting with the CS800 –

“SPUNBOND WITH UNLIMITED POSSIBLE USES

CS 800

For experimental surface designs, for home decor and interior designs as well as painting.”

 

Well that is the marketing blurb. It is a firm white synthetic, designed to take colour and stitch. Think pelmet vilene/stiffener but with out the thickness and weight.

c

 Applying colour – the surface is reasonably firm but has furred up a bit with the Inkintense pencils I tried above. Thin paint sat on the surface below and soaked in unevenly but with out the  furriness.  P1180353 I washed the piece to knock out any surplus paint before stitching and the structure of the fabric is obvious but not unattractive – reminds me of chip board or wax resist crackle.

Theme-wise I am on one of those cyclic tangents again – this one from years ago – and more years ago before that.

I have been back  up in the landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales and Moors  that I know well, and that has raised the old quandaries about trying to draw them. What am I drawing? is it that one view? or is it more about what I know of the landscape, where the paths go, what is round the corner just out of sight? Are my memories and understanding of walking through that space as important as that photographic image?  Well, I like stories more than photos – I have more books than pictures – narratives are histories – and experiences are personal, tying place and time.  An awful lot of concept and theorising for a very simple visual outcome.

b4

b

Meet the portable landscapes a, b  and c.

The piece of  CS800 was sliced and diced – just in straight blocks. The pieces are reattached edge to edge by zig zag stitch. so that they can flex without bending.  The image is stitched  on directly .  The gaps were made by inserting a piece of solufleece and washing it out after stitching. They are small, soft sculpture, and can be arranged however the mood takes.

a

I like the play on scale and perspective, the ideas of front and back being not important, and also that each time these are put out the angles and emphasis changes. The simplicity is fun – it is about leaving out not embellishing.  It is making me focus on stitch patterns, markmaking with a sewing machine. I am keeping the colours minimal – deep olive, beige and gold, and adding on the odd splash and wash of ink. The monochrome ish-ness is just so lovely and stark.

As for the CS800 – it takes stitch without  quibbling, distortion or complaint. Though it does blunt needles quite quickly,  the machine stitches fairly cleanly and consistently. Problem is the lack of ‘healing’ the holes made by the needle. Also its strength is that it doesn’t fray or tear and cuts like cardboard, but is it happy to stand on its edge without wilting?

Scale is going to increase since I have grabbed some more supplies from work, but this size is pretty cute and easy to manage.  The next batch is going to play with ideas of frame and layers – fun.

a3

My severest critic? Photo crashed by a ladybird.

Colour works

Busy-ish week – now have the brochures for York Open Studios!, Sent in several entries, booked to do a workshop in the extended Hornsea Arts Festival in October, murdered my giant gate that came apart in a gale and even  did a bit of weeding! Remember the workroom is open Wednesday evening and Friday morning if you want to come and sew or for a bit of advice and tutoring. Email for details….

Colour theories meets practice.  I have tried detaching the “Monet” colours from the image and use them  to construct a new landscape. The step by step is below.

It is a competent little piece but…. sneakily I like the first with the bold gold.  All of this thread work makes me long for spaces and room within the picture. I also struggle with the contrasts – I still draw, and draw a lot so tone is as important as hue, and also mark making- with this concentration on colour these have tended to get left behind. The mid tone colours have blended more than intended ( the pinky-yellowness makes me think of fruit salad chews), I ended adding some small touches of red as focus points in the foreground to pull the distance out a little more but still think it needs more recession. this is already using more colour than usual. While it is bright it isn’t me.  And as for the amount of stitching?  I guess that is why they call it embroidery. img_20190217_104102823

As an antidote I went back to a very limited palette and my normal style – blue, ochre yellow and beige seems to manage very well.  This is a prototype for a ‘pot’ or vase sleeve. I am trialing some of the Vilene CS800 – a thin but tough non woven – it is supposed to be an adequate paintable surface, stitchable and nearly everything able. I liked the notion of a stiffener that works well as a stabiliser while sewing. This at first glance works well- doesn’t tear however much I sew it, doesn’t pucker and the machine doesn’t seem to notice it any more than Stitch and Tear. Shame about the rest of it!