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New Garden Projects

20190516_124404-COLLAGESunshine, warmth and of course rain (it is Britain), and the garden is getting busy.  In the quest to be too busy to mow the lawn or cut the hedge I have been quite diligent  in exploring the idea of the textile garden.20190506_093118-COLLAGE

It began well; layers, lines shapes, but then it went all cutesy and fluffy minded.  OK, one target was to create an easily accessible method and style for teaching.  Mackintosh flowers later and that was done, shame about the rest.

IMG_20190509_135538576img_20190509_135503315.jpg In the time honoured manner I tried to make progress by going sideways. Sketching focused the mind and made me think about how I wished to use line, colour, shape etc. Then a taster pack of Setacolor fabric paints arrived. The initial experiments with them were only partly successful –

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I was playing with getting the balance of line and colour wash,  handling the interaction and density of colours and then seeing what would happen with a spot of over dyeing. So, the lines are tooo heavy in one area and too fugitive in another, the colours  went muddy but it has potential.

And then, can I translate drawing and painted lines into stitch? For some reason I chose a touchy feelly base fabric rather than  flat calico-  a two tone velvet. I  trid to bleach it to break up the colour but very little happened apart from wreaking the pile so it is now rather crushed.  The rayon threads work well although the varigated fades in and out a bit too much.  Single lines are swallowed by the nap and colours will probably need to be more saturated than usual. The high contrast bobbin thread being pulled to the top surface is looking promising.

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Questions will be about scale? how much definition or detail? how do the fabric inclusions work with the line? How much realism? is it visual texture or actual lumps and bumps?  Plenty to play with! Trying to re educate  is always a pain but I am beginning to like the jumbles/intricate layers of shapes and want more spaces and less lump. I have painted  some scrap silk to tear and apply with the same shapes and colours I want to stitch.  Quite looking forward to next week!

Thank you to all who supported my sale event, very sucessful though there are still a few pieces waiting for a new home. Check out my facebook or website for a fortnightly offer.  I have also volunteered to take over writing the monthly newsletter for the York Textile Artists group. I did warn them and hope they don’t expect me to be too sensible!

 

 

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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…..

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.

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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.

The March of the Sprout

I have promised to stop calling this Sprout,  the same way that the Big Beastie is supposed to known as Middle Moor. Yeh, that worked.

I have sprouted away this week to good purpose. The tipping point is past, and it is now that manic downhill race to completion, exhilarating  and getting faster and faster but so easy to lose concentration and end up flat on your face.

From bones and structure this week has been about clothing and fleshing, some so subtle that it barely shows, other parts have made dramatic impact. It is now about detail, balancing formal elements and making sure the image reads in the way I want.  Spot the difference a week can make? (8) I think you have to be here to see them.


Main areas done would be the sky – inked as promised and fairly gloomy – it is Yorkshire in a soggy January.  And the road way.  This isn’t yet complete – but it reads better with the texture  and the sudden flashes of colour,  but both will be damped down to get that contrast in surface  quality to the undergrowth that I want.  I did try straighter lines of couching but it felt false , and gradually added more and more fluff and contrast. So it may look ambiguous – one friend saw it as a river – but ….. And the pink? Rather like the pink  ( a piece of sari silk)  it does make me question the state of my eyesight – the reds and saturated colours are all so close to the front.  I think more contrast in the verge. Navy or purple?

And the sky? Not impressed.  I like the cloudiness and the subdued tones but the physical surface is so flat and matt. I may feel the need to stitch, possibly quilt just to give it some life.  Quilting is likely anyway – I have not used stablisers so there is a fair amount of  ripple.  The calico has done well coping with the uneven weight and drag of the stitching but if it is going to hang it could do with a bit of support. This did begin as a good rectangle, cut on the grain, but that is distant memory.

And so the saga of Sprout continues. I do intend to have the imagery finished by the end of the week – I think about another 3 or 4 hours of concentrated stitching, with lots of pressing and pondering (coffee breaks).  Achievable? The to do list is nearly in single figures- the time of sprout is passing….  and I have a series of other deadlines to meet.

 

Don’t forget workshops/tutorial times available  on Wed evening and Friday mornings – check the Want to try  tab.

The Most Difficult bit…. and workshop call

I am an experienced and  effective tutor of art and textiles as well as exhibiting artist. I am.  I have spaces in  Wednesday evening and  Friday morning  classes –  all levels and stages of experience and aspiration are welcome to come to play and enjoy creative textiles. Please contact either through email (on right) or the comments if interested. There will be coffee and tea, but I have already eaten the biscuit stash, (marketing not a strong point).   I thought I would get this out of the way before anyone reads the rest of it……

 

Well the Fairly Large Beastie with Sprouts  is steaming along,  nearly all of the base sewing is done and some places have multiple layers of work on them. This is where it gets difficult – there is a huge investment of time and effort in there and it is going from the experimental building phase to the consolidation phase.  Now I have to weld it all together, make those early decisions good and work upon the thing as a whole.

The stitching on the hills is the point of no return – so far a light varigated and a dull mid blue on the far left slopes. Still don’t like it – too flat and contrived. The treeline has  more stitch in it, working in blocks of hatching like the original sketch – might leave the trees behind as they are – very crude and sketchy.

The right is better – closer to the experimental rough work – but I still have to be brave and commit to working on the road way.  There are just too many niggly decisions attached to all the areas.  What I want is to  take alot of that green paint out – it flattens and homogenises now that I’m trying for subtle.

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I may be drastic, it may be bold, or it may be stupid: tell you afterwards.  The inking option is about to be realised. This is a bit derring do – sink or swim- in my best tradition.

 

Always was going to play with wet colour  in the top half – blooms and runs of  ink/stain washed and scrubbed into the fabric. Its time has come – the stark flatness of the calico is distracting  and killing the subtle stitching done in the tree line.     Will this be tightly controlled and considered? Of course not, what a daft question. It is going to be -do it and pray, then do some more, have a coffee, start thinking about bleach, rinse off in the shower and worry about the how and where of drying later.   It is a cold, dank and damp day so not happening outside – this will be attacked  flat on the biggest table and apologise to the carpet afterwards ( I think of the splashes and drips as honourable  battle scars).    I just hope I  have some inky stuff hiding upstairs. Should press it and de-whisker it first. Why is everything so complicated?

Probably not my brightest  idea.  Definitely not, but I can not bear working on something that is going flat and predictable on me. Deciding not to use big, blank spaces in the composition – which twit advised that?  Umm, me.

Please do not call round today – it may be dangerous.

Oops.

Machine embroidery workshops and progress!

I have a series of dates avialable upto mid March  for learners and enthusiasts to come and play in my workroom, a chance to get started or to develop  your own ideas.  There is a basic programme but it  is there to be cherry picked or ignored as desired!  I am offering 2 hour sessions  on a Wednesday evening and Friday morning once a fortnight.  Details are on the website.

As for the new Biggish Beastie – Well, did you really expect me to pay any attention to myself? To follow my own guidelines and expectations?  Silliness.

Could not get my head together so sidestepped the problem to find fresh anxieties and questions to avoid.

This was where we left  it – rough patches of fabric, woll stitching, just beginning to map out the major areas and hint at textures. So found the blankness too big, and processes too slow.  Bring out to paint! Lay down some background, make it so I can see what is to happen rather than having to image it all the time.

This was thin acrylic with textile medium and worked in layers to build a bit of surface –  all so high tech –  printing off  scraps of cellophane and combing. It can not be thick because of the stitching to follow and is only the supporting act, not the main attraction.

The first layer of crosshatch stitching has started to weld the conifers together and wandering lines have begun to describe the scale and nature of the belts of vegetation and hedge lines.   There is still far more work ahead than behind but the structure is established . How much of this will be evident at the end? Very little, I expect, but I have more confidence in it now, it is less fluffy ideas and more directed intentions. Does this mean I know how it will look? Of course not? As ideas come together they will have to adapt and compromise untill they fit together, but this is the start of the real dialogue.

img_20190106_095710824Next steps? – Probably map out the treeline and foreground. Start on the empty space in the right bottom corner, but keep the interplay of spaces and concentrations of colour and texture going and build on them.

It needs ironing again. Already.