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November update

I have yet to get to core of blogging – really should be blogging more when busy not leave it unblogged.  Oops.

The exhibition at the Chapel went well, most enjoyable, sold a couple of pieces, nattered alot  and met a lot of people.  That feels like ancient history now. The existance of an artist seems to be very complex, there is no single timeline, no single goal or agenda.  It is the time of year when I want to hibernate, or at least eat crumpets ( with ginger jam) (or even marmite).

I am trying to focus on getting work together for an open call  and for Open Studios  while trying to get little things made for my selling days in the Christmas market – ha hah- low wattage lightbulb moment-  use the offcuts and samples  to make badges  etc.  I reaaly don’t want to go down the crafty maker route – I am a thwarted perfectionist- the role doesn’t sit comfortably. So the badgey things are quirks and favours, a little daft, a bit me and  very not precise. Spot the ones that were originally trying out ways of showing reflections of autumn leaves,  frosty rough ground and landscape as colour.And the birds- I think I was having a Rococo moment.  The mini trees are try outs for some transfer designs.   At the moment I may like them more than the ‘proper’ work….

and as for the main piece still part done-  feel like leaving it in baby bio overnight to see what grows.  Need to find the sharp tweezers and get the extra strong colour threads out.

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Fractured

I set myself a task of reworking ( repurposing?)  an experimental piece I found lurking in the deepest, darkest cupboard. It must be at least  be of an age to be taking exams and leaving school for an exciting future – well, it got me and my rotary cutter.

Carrying on with this compromised landscape theme of imposed divisions, patterns and shapes being distorted by having to fit onto an imperfect surface, it seemed appropriate to play over the top of this discarded piece.

It was sliced and diced totally arbitrarily into 3″ish pieces and patterns and lines from the current sketchbook worked over the top.  The images are from Great Fryupdale and Rosedale on the North York Moors.(and yes, they are real names).P1180246  The level of  aesthetic consideration and planning was kept to a minimum – after all most landscapes are the result of practical and  pragmatic  decisions.  Some I think have worked well – they retain an element of landscape, others are more abstract, some have all the charm of  the Vale of York on a cold and soggy  Sunday. At this scale the stitching often feels crude and working over the mixed layers  of flimsy synthetic sheers and net  was a bit of a nightmare – no wonder I shifted onto heavier fabrics.

These are going to be presented as greeting  cards rather than get reassembled, so may achieve that exciting future after all, as they spread far and wide.

Please check the workshops page or website for the next classes – the next, Colour, is fully booked but there are spaces after that.

Do make a space in your diary for the York Textile Artists exhibition  in November, and I have taken an opportunity to stand in a hut in the middle of Middlesborough 2 Sundays in December  selling my wares, so please come along if you can.

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.

 

 

 

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.

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.