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Finalising the Ronald Tree.

So Ronald is done. He has spent most of the week just hanging around, getting pressed, and re-pressed. An occasional stitch or two just to tweak, but I have bought the curtain interlining which will give a bit of body, and the calico  to back it all with.  Since plucking most of the stitch-n-tear off it it hanging more naturally but my finger ends are still numb.

 

I am still suprised at how little was needed to make him. It was all immediate, decide and do. He is one of the quickest large scale pieces and the friendliest. This post is largely a pictorial record of him.

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  1. Ronald context – the sketch, record photos and also past birching efforts in a variety of media. I think that Ronald  is a child of the painted scarves, all about direct markmaking and limited colour palette.

 

 

 

 

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2. Early Ronald. Splash and dribble background, and stitch patterns. Can I convince you that the drawn plans happened before the stitching on the actual piece?

 

 

 

 

franbrammer-collage3. Mid Ronalds – the red is dressmaker’s chalk – on big pieces I find it easier to navigate my way around the image when it is folded or rolled to go through the machine. It will fade over time but I don’t mind Ronald’s history making showing. Again can you believe that the compositional sketch happened before starting.

 

 

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Ronald – before final finishing. This still leaves me with a massive problem – what should he be called officially?  Do I want to have everyone on first name terms ? or to have to explain repeatedly why he is a Ronald – besides which he is pretty feminine –  should there be gender reassignment before his first public appearance?

My usual practice is to name after locations or just be very factual – ‘Birch, Skipwith Common’- lacks a certain charm or warmth.  ‘Squeaky Tree’?  ‘Summer Birch’,  ‘Sitting In The Woods Getting Rained On’?  or  ‘Oh Look! It’s A Tree!’ I just can not decide…… Any ideas?

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Ronald Cribbins – the making

Ronald Cribbins is a large silver birch machine embroidery, a work in progress. His back story and beginnings were told last week , so he has history, he has context, just needs to be made.ronald augustwip1000

The Ronald is worked in only 2 colours, a fine dark petrol blue rayon thread on the trunk and dark olive green on the canopy, any other colour comes from the inclusions of a delicate knitting ribbon.

The trunk is short runs of angular hatching, overronald trunk1000 lapping and then sparse, trying to give the idea of the texture on the mature tree. It is at about 80% done, leaving space to add in the “silver” if needed. The stitch becomes almost regular at times, like a herringbone weave, but I have tried to keep  away from this by being deliberately scruffy and imprecise. Being neat is too easy, I don’t want it to look prettily refined, more rough and rugged.

As a contrast  the foliage is done in jerky scribble hatching. It is hard to keep the machine running just that little bit slower so the scribble comes out with uneven stitch lengths and disjointed curves! Out of step with the world again, I strive and slave to achieve imperfection! ( When the machine runs faster and the stitching and shapes are smooth  it looked like a tight  perm or a Persian lamb coat.)

The knitting ribbon isn’t that coloured but being the only colour on there it stands out far more than I expected. It again isn’t refined – I am expecting the scale to do a lot for me, just short lengths straight off the ball and trapped beneath the stitch. Nothing fancy or clever at all. The joy of working this big is the space, things have to be bold, direct and simple or they get swallowed whole.

Inspite of this robust approach Ronald is looking kind of wispy and a bit wimpy all on his own, apologetic about the space he is taking up.

The original Ronald was growing in a small wood, so there was a lot of trunk with a mad tufty hairdo of foliage at the top. Without that company he does look rather spindly, a bit mannered. The temptation was to fill him out a little, I have given in a little, but have comproronald treesmised and introduced a chorus line of background trees to keep him company. The stitching is deliberately rough and crude, and all in greys, the focus is on Ronald himself. It hasn’t worked yet, they are in the flamingo stage, but there is hope! and with a foreground sketched in it should balance out more…. still hope.

Other things – there is a couple of spaces on courses left in August- listed on the workshop page. Also dates for your diary – if I could remember them – Great North Art Show in Ripon Cathedral, on over the first half of September, and Staithes Festival the first full weekend in September, plus the York Textile Artists’ show in Novemberish. I write their newsletter, I really should know these things!!

Also contact me to join my own newsletter circulation list, or to discuss…well anything stitchy, arty, exhibitiony.

The start of a Ronald

THE BEGINNINGS OF RONALD CRIBBINS, THE SILVER BIRCH.

I blame Alison.

She fancied coming out sketching, and close to her is Skipwith Common. So off we went and started wandering. The rest is legend.

“It were a fickle day of bright July, in the heart of ancient Yorkshire.

Dismounted from the loyal steed, Polo of Volkswagon, our brave hero ventured forth into the vast unknown expanse named Skipwith with her noble companion Alison of CraftyWytch….”

Enough of that – too exhausting – we settled down to sketch in a birch wood, and then began the oddest of sounds. We thought it was bird-like, almost the chuckling and honking of a grouse – intermittent and conversational. As usual I try to make a character- anxious, dithering, peering glasses, pot belly, spindly legs, and the gentle mad humour of Bernard Cribbins. As we drew the noises changed, it became squeakier, more guinea pig than bird. And was immediately named Ronald. At this point we realised how the weather had deteriorated, the wind was strengthening and rain settling in, so beat a retreat back to the cars leaving the Ronald/Bernard Cribbins behind. Our unromantic, everyday explanation was of two birch trunks rubbing in the blustery wind.img_20190719_144815 But I prefer the idea of a mysterious playful identity lurking in that singular place.And this has led to a new project, instantly called Ronald Cribbins.The back clothis heavy calico elegantly dribbled over to suggest the birch wood. Areas of wet fabric soaked up the colour to make the broad coloured places, the dry fabric repelled the water so made the dribbles for the tree trunks – good fun. It is the only quick thing about this – it is 2metres long so the stitching is going to be an epic.

The pictures show the first 4 hours of work.

 

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Just so much to do!!!  This is only the first layer- Ronald’s underclothes……

New Beginnings.

It feels like waking after too deep a sleep. I sat down to do a bit of stitching  and have just come to a stop  roughly 6 hours later.  My fingers hurt, I am stiff  and tired. I think I remember enjoying it, I think there was a brief lunch stop too.

The piece that caught up my attention so completely is a coming together of several ideas and processes, and is BIG.  The stone landscape ideas meet text, meet pattern and meet string.

The plan formed as I discovered a torn blank canvas when clearing out after Open Studios.  Rather than discard I decided to try  an experiment and work with the damage. I also had some reject pieces of cotton lawn with text  and stitch on from a previous good idea, and well they had to be made to work.  As you do.

 

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Glued and inked, drying in the garden . See the hole on the right?

The pieces were soaked and glued onto the canvas  letting them form mini landscapes of lumps and bumps, shapes and patterns, then a fair amount of acrylic paint and ink were sploshed (carefully) around.

 

 

 

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What do you do with a large canvas with holes and glued on wibbly bits and thin paint? Well stitch it of course.  There is no point in doing things by half. Lots of little holes….

It is still on the stretcher so all hand stitched. The scale required really chunky yarn so out came the hairy string I use in the garden-  all of the fancy wools and cords  looked too slick.  I am now using 2 strands of  unbleached cotton yarn and making denser areas of stitch, just about to begin stitching across the hole.

This is  quite intuitive in approach, letting things happen and responding to them, yet there is  direction. I intend to add more layers of paint, some monochrome to absorb some underlying colour, some layers of thin washes/glazes so that the colours float, haven’t really decided.  It may well depend on the weather – I will paint it in the garden if fine so I can be really messy and the colours used will be stronger in sunlight! There may be fabric added to extend the textures but I think I want this to be sparse. How it will look in the end I will tell you when I get there. Whether it will come off or not  is not truely important, this is a learning curve crossed with a twitchy fingers project – it is all about the doing.

And as for everything else?  I have signed up to do Staithes Festival in September, have submissions for a few other things out there and am waiting to hear back. The York Textile Artist group have a show in July, a new exhibition in November in York and  are already booking venues in 2020. My own little sale event is  getting closer –  I have found more of the older work that I would like  to move on so instead of a tasteful selection  I have 2 wall fulls to sell!   I will have to tidy up again.  Contact me if you would like an invitation. img_20190426_082332

Grudges in Textiles

It is wrong to hold grudges. They are a waste of energy and can be damaging. On the other hand they can be such fun.

This is a stonelandscape that I was working on over the York Open Studios weekends. How sweet.  Looks well behaved?  Even when ‘peeled’ off its fake stone and laid out for sizing?

It still looks deceptively  ‘nice’ after some dye and ink experiments. What lovely detail and texturing  after that loving hand stitching.

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And so I go out to retrieve it  after a little weathering…..and there it wasn’t.

 It chose the wrong morning to hide.

The collage below shows the next 3/4 of an hour…. look in the workroom, check through piles of stuff, check the front garden – I often leave things on the front step to dry. Check more piles of stuff . Check in all random bags. Double check outside, the hedge, under the bushes and then……

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Returning to where I had sat to have breakfast in the sun…. right next to the garden chair….  oh what is that resting on the back??

I took this personally and inbetween attacking the garden plants have brutalised the piece with first paint, then screen printing ink, spirit-based  cleanser and now drawing ink. The original idea was about lines across a landscape, field edges, plough lines, harvesting patterns. But mostly it is about vengence.

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It is now drying on the lawn. It had better be there when I go out after posting this!

2 points of interest –  don’t forget the new run of day and evening workshops starting this week. Check the ‘want to try’ tab at the top of the page for details. And  I have a proper sale of work – some at over 50% off the listed price- coming up soon. All those who follow me on the various social media or subscribe to my mailing lists are invited. If you  should have received an invite but somehow escaped my mail shots please email for details.

 

 

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…..

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…..