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Badges and brooches.

yos badgesStraight from why do I make them so big, to why are they so small!   Who likes easy…..

These are for York Open Studios – The last few big pieces are so layered and complex they are going to be silly expensive…..   the badges are going to be pocket money prices, so hopefully can fill that little impulse buy spot.

These are fun and quick to do –  only 1.5″  across. They are modified cover buttons  with a brooch back attached, so quite easy to make up and pretty robust.   The only difficulty is the change in scale. It is so tempting to go slow and to be careful – if I do that then I get big awkward stitches, so have to stitch as fast as I dare!

The other limitation is keeping the fabric lightweight – not getting carried away with too much stitching or applique bits – thicker fabric is more difficult to stretch over the button – so I have had to hoop it using my vintage Bernina’s darning hoop rather than using stabiliser. It is so small!!! but does work a treat.

Went back up to Barnyarns on Monday with the ladies who come to my “open \house\” mornings – some of these mini broideries are testing out the new polyester variegated threads –  – their Polyneon range.  Really pleased with them.

Taking work into Blossom Street Gallery next YOS Logo Short_CMYK 2018week for the York Literary Festival – that will be on for the whole of March.

And don’t forget YOS starts the weekend of April 14th.

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Complete.

Consider now that this part is written.  I have sandwiched it between acrylic sheets so that I can’t get to it to tweak.  It is done, dialogue is over, arguments are finished. (hope)

 

fran Brammer Writing the Wolds wix

I have deliberately left it raw – elements are untidy, thread tails left on, it is after all about histories,  they are never as tidy as we would wish and will soon include now and next so don’t ever really finish.  The layers and fragmented quality is still strongly there, but that is how I see these places –  an accumulation of influences and needs , altered and adapted,  not always coherently or aesthetically.

These pieces should go on exhibition for the Literary festival in York in March and then for the York Open Studios in April.YOS Logo Short_CMYK 2018  Framing decisions are being painful – every thing looks wrong, maybe need more marmite in my life- but it is going to happen, I need to see them out and about.

Looking at them all as a group  is quite unsettling. I have been wolding now for the best part of a year and it is still changing.  I tried to put the slideshow in order, starting with Huggate – strong colour and pattern, then through the abstracts to the last 3 written ones. There is a sense of belonging together but only if you see them all.  Spot the summer ones and the winter ones!

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I have also put a few more dates on my website for starters’ workshops and for the more adventurous, please take a look.

 

 

 

 

Progress

 

P1170747

Well the body of the piece is together, all the water soluble is washed out, leaving great water marks. As predicted some of the lettering has unravelled, decided to encourage it in the background areas to start a sense of aerial perspective. I have been plucking at the trees on the right ready to work over on machine, even did some hand stitching on the big one to give a bit more colour and texture/pattern to it.

The text is White’s (1840) in the background, Baines’s Yorkshire (1823) in the middle and a Domesday Book translation for Pocklington (1086) in the front-  thank heaven for Google books and the local library.      Now thinking that it should have been the other way round, the oldest at the back as the history the other two were built on. A bit late now, live with it decision made.

Next on the task list is to establish the landscape fully, bringing in more colour and surfaces. The lettering is to be part of the land, not separate from it or superimposed upon it. Lots to do, but I think the back of it is broken now and it should be faster and faster towards the finish now.

Having ideas is such a pain,  If this was a simple, straightforward image it would be done-ish. I’ve been at this for weeks and it is just getting to the picture stage! Pah.

Progress may be a little delayed, so I don’t recommend the holding of breath. Am having a bit of a self pity wallow post dentist visit, and have promised to paint the workroom! Double Pah.

Landscape.

I decided it was time. All the elements were coming together, at least in the head.  The vision was nearly there.  Time to get to grips with more than the visual again.

England is a very lived in landscape. It wears the past up front, it has been altered, adapted,  scarred, as needs and fashion dictated.  This isn’t the romantic wilderness but a  work place.WHERN K WELL

I have spoken before of  tenuous thoughts of how to combine the different strands of my work, the flat work and the historical costume, of how they should entwine,  and this may be the most successful  attempt so far.

I want this to be made of parts, remnants and fragments of things,  a landscape of layers and ghosts, of things half seen, half understood.

P1170577It is worked over a found piece of crewel work, a chair back. The style has roots in the Jacobean designs, even the idea of a chair back or antimacassar is an old one ( They were to protect the furniture from the late Georgian’s hair oil!) Some will be unpicked leaving  holes to mark the pattern. Some will be exposed, some painted into the background.

On top of this are the usual lines and divisions of a landscape, but these are muted in colour and are worked across with text from an 1840 publication. I had thought of using text from the Domesday book, but it seemed contrived, this will take more plotting.

The text is also worked across the next layer-  a miniature lawn frock coat split in 2 and laid out along the lines of the landscape. Did make a pig’s ear of doing this – it began with experimenting with writing the text in pen and then washing it out. Fairly safe? It wasn’t . Across the collar and on to the front I had written ‘moors’ but when the coat was washed  the collar  was opened out. It  left me with a collar that quite clearly says ‘moo’. The ‘rs’ on the front had been erased.

The coats are stitched in place and now I am building up more, vintage lace and more strips of lawn.  This is only the beginning.  The coats dominate too much at the moment but the plan is to work the crewel design back on top, maybe  even do some hand work. The cotton lawn is easy to pull and fray or dye, so is open to creative vandalism. I think is definitely going to be made to suffer, it is too ‘nice’ and clean and pretty and delicate and even prissy.

What this will be like next week…. who knows?

General reminders – work is still on show at Art in the Mill, Knaresborough, and in shop windows in York as part of the Micklegate Art Trail.

If you fancy having a go at any these techniques ( not writing ‘moo’ but freehand/motion stitching, etc)  have a look on the workshops tab on the website, or just email me for the latest newsletter.

Please Ask!

Well it is done.  I rough framed it on Wednesday and so far have not wanted to tweak or alter it in any positive way, so it is declared ‘finished’.

fran BrammerWalking in the Wolds

Quite like it, more in some areas than others, but that will true of everything I do.  The leaching of the colour out of the shiny yellow is still a niggle, The  upper sections are duller (more subtle) than intended and the patterns fainter (more sophisticated and delicate). A  general ‘PAH’ is warranted.

I think is does have some of the qualities I was after, it isn’t a single image but a story of many places, a path through the dry dales, seeing the harvesting patterns curving over the hill tops, the paths carved into the hillsides.  The colours aren’t as strong as I initially wished, Pah about the yellow, the orange and blue/green are  softer and perhaps too close in tone. The purple line works wonders, it wakes up these colours and helps to bring the disparate shapes together. All carefully planned  of course. Well, nearly planned. Rather more just hoped for. The questing line wandering through

layerwolds

A quick go at layering photos from the walk, just to see which shapes and patterns dominate. Is it similar to the textile version?

the landscape is a bit of a recurring theme, it is nice to have it back, even if this time it is flat across the picture rather than seeking distance.

 

Shame in a way, it has missed going to Knaresborough, Ripon or into York.  It shall have to sit on the wall for a while and wait for its first public appearance.

I have a strange compulsion to call it Bruce.

Oh dear.

Middleton Wolds

 

The Wolds.

Chalk upland. Mix of arable and pasture, characterised by steep, dry valleys, scattered with small, isolated villages.

Never told me about the nosey cows.  The wind.  Wild flowers and small, high speed, unidentified squeaky things.

What was a little walk became 8 miles and took forever! Loved it.

I have been struggling with a piece over the last few weeks  based on this landscape, still trying to redefine how I work and use colour  for these very different hills.

Trouble is I have got so used to the Moors and Dales, the sparse often gnarly hills, the subdued colour, the spaces.  I saw these hills in bright flat sunshine, there was no depth in the shadows,  I was half way up one side of a tight dry valley, couldn’t see the bottom and even the tops were rolling away from me.  I sat for ages just soaking it up until I stopped looking analytically and just absorbed. It became patterns,  the linear qualities dissolved. The movement of the wind through the barley on the hill tops became more important than the shape of the trees. It waved and rippled and then broke into squares and diamonds and back again.  The light was so unforgiving that the barley shone as brightly as the sky and the whole sparkled with reflected colour.

In this piece I set up a flat perspective, tried creating definition and depth with blocks of fabric before stitching. The grand stitching plan was little  down to lots, again trying to push the tops away and bring out the foreground with denser stitch patterns . And again with the colour – lighter and subtle  down to brighter,  mixed and contrasting. Having made friends with purple, now it may be time to work on orange.

It all made sense but it was the result was flat and as unexciting as an elderly Jaffa cake ( found some in the cupboard – very disappointing). Too safe and too considered, where was the personal narrative, the fun, the unexpected elements?

Since finishing (1st time) the piece has been attacked with the demon tweezers, the horizon has been broken up, sections of land turned into sky and the land pattern quilted up into the sky  trying to blur that boundary.  The diagonal of the path up the face of the hill was too strong,  a lot of fabric has been pulled out  and re coloured to soften that. The trees are upside down, colour stitched onto roughly dyed green fabric, spot the orange. Rather than tone the stitch patterns show the differences in the hedgerow. The darkest tone was a deep blue/green put on the second bank of trees and worked as a single colour.   The foreground is stitched vertically with small inclusions to break it up.middleton wolds nearly done

Since finishing (2nd time)  This has been festering, on the wall, under the table, at work, in a bag. Working in perspective lines would have been so easy, but so predictable, so safe.  So…. demon tweezers – the rematch,  soften the horizon even more. Draw the attention away – bright yellow stalks crossing foreground/middle ground boundary, contrast detail colour shouting  about that same boundary – red on green was the loudest option.  P1170439

Has it worked? Does the  piece have more life? Does the simplistic composition give rather than take? Has the colour and pattern compensated  for the narrower tonal range? Do I want to make the trees to the right more distinct- or is that old thinking?

middleton wolds machine embroidery

And this is now finish 3. This has been difficult, but happier now. Not entirely convinced still…..   time to move on.

Okay may be give it a day before the really official declaration of Finishedness.

Don’t forget – Summer Salon exhibition in Knaresborough from next weekend and there opportunities still available this month to come and join a Stitchy Day  workshop.

Back to the Woods

Weellll…..    the new creative burst began with an encounter with curious bullocks, dragonflies, two hares and a crazed cyclist ( his lycra must have been too tight).

At this time of year I like being up and doing early. I think my neighbour would object to sewing machines  before 6 am so I am going out sketching instead- just collecting ideas and options, (this did lead to the bullock encounter). P1060814

This morning was in the local woods and it was the little places, the ordinary ones that caught my imagination.  This was a simple view at the edge of the wood, the sun catching the birch tree on the fringe and it was glowing with light seen through the trunks and delicate foliage of the wood proper. A very quiet beauty. No great drama of composition or texture, or even colour, but…..  The sketch is crude and under developed but that view and idea was the one I thought about on the way home.

It is now beginning in stitch. To be honest it is at the questioning phase, so looks like nothing. Hopefully the questions will lead to answers and the whole may be resolved but it will take time.

P1060806Layer 1 the birch – worked on water soluble fabric.  When washed away the black lines  should also go leaving a lacy  web.  I quite fancy manipulating this to create differing densities and concentrations of colour and textures, so the overall shape may change. And it may need some blue for shadows. And….

 

 

 

 

Layer 2 – mid ground – tree trunks. The purple pen is air erasable so should have faded by morning. Used a heavier thread, and for the top set of branches worked over crewel wool to give it more body.

And then decided to add on foliage. This was delicate and almost silhouetted, so the first pass was a dark teal stitched in a stop start pattern. Added in purple for more density, then dark red for dark contrast, bright jade for light and a mid blue to fill in the holes. So the planned 3hrs sewing turned into 5. (Sorry hedge, may be we will get together with the trimmers tomorrow) And this is how is staying for the moment. At least until  tomorrow morning.P1060812

Questions –  What will happen when the fabric is washed out.   I am imagining adding a stitched layer to each of the floating layers as they are fixed down, or perhaps not. It will depend on how they wash out.   Also may need to add more colour  in each layer – again won’t know until the soluble is washed out.  Is there enough for the idea to work?  It may get washed out and then put straight back on another piece for more content to be added.

Do I put it on  a neutral background? or a colour or a worked ground? Or none at all?

And the foreground – how much/ how little? Inclination is to go very dark for strong contrast, but……   I don’t even know if the composition is going to work – will it have that little bit of magic that I saw?

Oh well. I will find out tomorrow, you may have to wait until next week.