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Revisiting the revisited – waterloo dress

 

 

 

I made this  so long ago!  A decision to hand sew and embroider  means that I still think it owes me big time!

It began as an idea of a Regency dress (think Jane Austen),  from  a Thomas Lawrence portrait crossed with fashion plates from period publications such as Ackermann’s Repository, and  also some extant examples held in various museums , plus Janet Arnold and Nancy Bradbury.  (take a look at some of my pinterest pages!)   The making is recorded in a  blogger blog

 

 

This has been revisited once in the attempt to tie costume to histories –  giving a context beyond a personal garment.  Quotations from Lady Louisa Lennox’s letters were machined around the skirt. ( She was  the daughter of the Duchess of Richmond who gave the famous ball on the eve of the battle of Waterloo)     This still too pretty for me so it sat in full sun  and was used to wipe down the windowsill !   It has marks of wear and  subtle staining now, some of the stitching has pulled and the evil muslin has escaped in  places – perfect.

 

 

I blame the Winter Olympics – I decided to hand stitch again – the innocent opening line from Magdelene de Lancey’s account ” A Week at Waterloo”, just inside the back neck  (well worth a read – have tissues and a strong stomach).     She wasn’t the only  woman there –  one  served as a  sergeant in the Prussian army,  many more  were on the battle field during the fighting, involved in the conflict, in the care of the wounded  (one had her leg broken by a musket ball as she took her injured husband away from the action.) or in support roles.   The names I  found have I added to the sides, along with a distressing quote from Charlotte Eaton’s account,  did revert to machine stitching for reasons of sanity. Some washing out is still needed – used water soluble fabric as a stabilizer and that seems to like 2 rinses to leave completely.

Waterloo Dress

Soggy frock hanging to dry.

 

 

The additions have changed the feel of the garment for me –  it is now just as much about those women as a pretty dress.

It doesn’t matter how careful I am there are always bits!

Remember- have some workshops happening – check the website for dates and info. Also  get the York Open Studios into those diaries – 10 textiley people exhibiting this year!

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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)

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

Writing the Wolds

Happy 2018!

Some things do not change – I am still working on this series, trying to respond to the landscape in more than an oooo isn’t it pretty,  or a purely practical factual way.  These local hills are self contained, even a little out of place – chalk uplands happen across the South of the country, very few outcrops occur in the North. They are less dramatic than their more famous neighbours of the Moors and Dales, but have their own charm and character.

 

The latest effort has its own charm too. Somewhat eccentric and well hidden charm.

The premise was simple. The research I have done threw up contradictions, this landscape and  attitudes to it  are quietly dynamic. What we see are the results of time, fashion and economics , as well as the odd ogre events such as William the Conqueror’s Harrying of the North. I wanted to include some of these things into the landscapes that I create.

 

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This is the background, textured cloth backed with

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Outside, on the washing line during Storm Eleanor!

calico and covered with machined excepts from  Wm White’s 1840 History, Gazetteer and Directory of the East and North Ridings of  Yorkshire. This describes the transition to enclosures and plantations of trees, also the changes in crops and land use. He was optimistic, changes were happening for the better, the place had a future. The rayon thread was perhaps a bit too subtle – an attempt to stain and dye took the newness off the cloth but no more. It also caused wobblage and bobblage of the surface fabric making it even harder to read! I can’t press it out yet – it would fix the marker pencil I’m using.

 

 

On top of this are going to be scraps and remnants from previous landscape work. Shredded and frying edges should help to bring the layers together…..P1170725 still experimenting…

The foreground text is a translation from the Domesday Book about Pocklington, how it belonged to Earl Morcar valued at £56 but now to the King at £8. Many manors are described as “waste” – still not having recovered any  taxable value since the Harrying. This is worked out from the remnant onto a layer of water soluble fabric (prob not a good idea). P1170740Strips of colour and texture are going to be added to give more form to the landscape so some of the words may well get lost, others may unravel (will), but a few may still be there. A little like the evidence of Norman occupation of the Wolds themselves.

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More fragments and excepts  are planned – the trees to the left are earmarked for Baines’s Yorkshire , but all of this is going to be worked over with a pictorial landscape- knowing how much to do and in which sequence is giving me a head ache. I have tried ways of stitching the layers but have yet to get it work, text on the water soluble is also hit and miss, the misses offer as many  opportunities as the text does. So how much effort do I put into getting it to work? How do I wing it and just work with what happens?

And then framing this series ……. nightmare……

But new opportunity for workshops to be investigated, showing work at the Merchant Taylors for Residents Weekend v soon,  some pieces to sort for Literature week for the gallery in town, and of course Open Studios to work for! So why don’t I feel busy?

A Stitchery Interview.

I made a pact a few years ago not to say ‘no’ to new  opportunities just on auto pilot.  Self made ruts can be very deep and then become destructive. Being ‘safe’ isn’t always safe. When things go wrong there is always comfort eating (indulgence), hillwalking (exertion) or attacking the garden with sharp implements (aggression).

This is why I said yes, cautiously at first,  to the approach made by Susan Weeks to ‘appear ‘ on her stitchery stories podcast.stitchery stories

I hadn’t come across Susan’s work or site before, well worth a look/listen, the interviews are fascinating ( go very well with a coffee and bourbon creams).

I hate the sound of my own voice,  cringe at the pompous vocab left over from the formality of the education world, and generally like to change my mind and opinions every time the wind blows from the west. So, yes, an obvious thing not to do. The last interview I did was for local TV news when doing costumes for the York Mystery Plays – seriously embarrassing – even my specialist doctor saw it and commented on it several months later!

 

So said yes and did it – over the internet, so not even properly face to face! Feel the terror at giving up control! Susan was very good, easy to talk to and completely professional in her approach and preparation – unlike me.   Thank you  to her for the opportunity and outcome!  It was broadcast last week.

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http://www.stitcherystories.com/franbrammer/               podcast interview

Not yet decided if this was a masterstroke or not , so I am  viciously cutting back several huge buddleia bushes ( with a bow saw!) and indulging in pre-emptive comfort eating, again.

In the mean time –  don’t forget – I will be selling bits and pieces at Askham Bryam  next Sunday, have only  the Twisting Tree stitchy workshop day  left before Christmas, still have work up in Art in the Mill, Knaresborough,  work is for sale  on the website ( nowhere near  all is listed so just ask for availability/ price etc) and don’t forget the offer of  gift vouchers to use against workshops, purchases or commissions, and the new ‘stitchiness’ group on facebook ……

For some reason I don’t feel busy!

 

Christmas strikes early.

 

Some of the tribe at the show in Ripon Cathedral this week-  but meanwhile back at home…..

“No problem. Need samples for the December class. Shall I take one of the pre printed forest animal panels and see what I can do with it. Must showcase the fabric and engage people to come to try freehand/motion working. Not a problem.”

I do wish that when at work  I would shut up at these strategic moments.

 

2 garland ideas for a visiting group to try, a metre and a half of decorative panels strung together ( reminds me of  a pelmet crossed with a hockey skirt), quilted pictures, quilt block proposals, and a  small “quilt” later…..even did a little hand sewing…… ( I do work in a quilt/embroidery shop)….

 

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Moda, who produced the animal images, are usually a bit tight, so why did they decide to populate whole forests with just one panel!!!!

Never mind. Working with found images can be fun, and although this isn’t really my preferred style of work it should provide a bit of entertainment, technical practice, be a ‘safe’ start point and act as a confidence builder. Just got the backing and binding on the ‘quilt’ to do then it is back to my own stuff!

Will admit, cutting the hedge is starting to look like an attractive option.

I gave in. Used about half the panel – the rest has been divided up and is on sale in the shop as smaller blocks.

 

New Toys!

More like tools than toys really.  The choices of thread colour, thickness and quality are a major part of the vocabulary I use to build an image.

In the last creative spurt I have cleaned out a lot of thread, especially the nice, useful, basic colours and some of the fancies. I decided it was splurge time so went for a coordinated set to try out with….  I have not dealt with this brand before, nor have I seen it in my usual suppliers but was feeling brave, so,  thanks to the magic of the internet, these new babies came knocking, courtesy of Wonderfil ( and Mr Paypal).

First impressions – ooooh.  Shiny. Thin. Pretty. Want to stroke them……P1170407

The main local competition is Sulky/Gutermann Rayon ( can buy from local shops((big tick)) or Madeira Rayon, outlet in Ripon (20 odd miles away, boo) or online.  All claim to be 40wt and Rayon, and all want me to use them for machine embroidery.

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The blue/green is Sulky, the green across it is W’fil. Spot the difference.

 

Visually the Wonderfil looks finer and with a less noticeable twist. The colours and lustre are soft, less strident than the remnants of Sulky and Madeira that I have left. Worked out to about £1.40 per 100m, but the really big question is how would the machine take to it? How would it sew? becomes expensive if it is not used.

dancing detail

The white is Madeira, the others are cotton or polyester. The pale olive is W’fil.

 

The new-ish machine (Probably Malcolm) has been getting a crash course in don’t be fussy and shut up and get on with it approaches to stitching and is bearing up very well under the onslaught. Swapped the new stuff in, threaded it and stitched, no adjustments, no frills or favour. Sewed brilliantly. Considering it was Moon thread on the bobbin it took to the machine very well. I have had trouble with the Madeira 30wt  fraying on the needle in the past ( should really buy specialist needles but….)  but while this looked and felt just as soft, it has behaved with perfect manners. Even switched to bobbinfil without any hassles. This is my kind of sewing. Plug it in and go, no temperament, no fiddle.  The piece was a reworking of the Dancing Trees, so multiple rough, uneven layers of fabric, enough to test the stitch consistency of any set up.

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See how the delicate lines merge in?

 

Concerns – It does sew very fine – I guess the 150ms won’t cover a huge amount of ground.  The sheen can be a distraction, the colour doesn’t work in the same way as a matt thread would and tends to show up  much lighter and not as rich in tone when in a rugby scrum of a mix. I do like it though and will certainly make use of the set. May be I should take a look at the rest of the threads Wonderfil do –  something a little thicker for the bigger pieces perhaps.

Does any one else use these?  Or any thing else?

My upcoming dates – 23rd July at Art@HomeFarm, Sledmere House, Yorkshire.

Summer Salon – August,  Feva Festival, Knaresborough.

Great North Art Show- September, Ripon Cathedral.

The new Silver Birch

hThis is sat stillish at the moment – sorting out the nature of the background. Will prob go with the washed blue uneven dyed with texture.  The sample piece was the scrap used to wipe the surfaces clean after post-microwave ( oh it’s hot!!!!) minor spillage.  So currently diluting and re-dying with a touch more sky blue in the mix. And remembering that PING means hot. This has been quick to come together and simple to do, but of course I didn’t really enjoy it. It became mechanical, and the physical separation of the layers meant less experimentation and arguing with colours. A little tweaking and balancing was possible after washing out and more will happen as it is compiled but if too much is added then what was the point of the separate layers?

In the interim this has been happening – imaginatively known as The New Silver Birch for the moment.    Early progress was quick, now working harder but  progress is only at breakneck tortoise pace. At the really slow and annoyingly intense stage – will be at this for a few more days yet.

Quick sketches- just to get started with – intend to keep returning to refresh the ideas each time gathering more and specific info. Unless it rains.

First layers – rich blue base colour and first stitch and fray to establish the central tree. Then building up the trees to the left, patterned silk for the lower and then mix of sheer and tufty silk pieces for the foliage. The pics show it as the fabric layers are built on.

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When I woke this morning the stitchy fairies had not arrived, so had to stitch again today. Below is today’s effort – working on the left section, fraying and stitching, and then beginning the foreground.

A good idea, looks good, but so time consuming. There is a coloured base then  thin silk which is loosely stitched, and then the bulk of the silk is pulled away.( Repeat. Sore fingers from some serious tweezering.)  Love the ghost patterns and textures but the surface is very soft so a lot of sewing to moan about is required.  At least now I can get a feel for the whole composition, it will continue to change as stronger colours are added and shapes and textures defined – maybe another week? Month. Lifetime?

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Close ups of the stitching,  just because,- crude, long, mostly straight. Just getting the fabrics and composition sorted ready for the finer top working.

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Will be putting July and August Workshops on the Me page here and on the facebook page in the next week. Only planning a few over the Summer, so…..