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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.

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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……

Textile Artist, mid dither.

20190503_150538-collageLIMBO. I am amusing myself with the big stonelandscape- now called Bob. I have worked hard on it but it still feels as if I am waiting for the some thing else to happen.  

Setting up for the sale event this coming weekend is not helping me to focus – selecting and hanging the work was the easy part, trying to publicise it on social media is frying much needed braincells.

If you would like to come it is running Sunday and Monday in Acomb, York – contact me for details.

Hopefully when that is over it will settle down and I should be able to close the door on the junk/storeroom without fear of avalanche.

I am also toying with a floral theme for workshops for the Viking Loom (most strange). Mad, crazy things full of texture and colour, or should they be serene and controlled and terribly elegant? No prizes for guessing which. Doing samples tomorrow, so bye bye clean carpet.

The head is definitely not fully engaged- probably good thing – I keep having random thoughts and distracting myself-  seeing as I work with an uncaged powertool (sewing machine) should I be wearing protective clothing – steel toecapped boots? hard hat? One of those chain mail gloves that butchers wear to protect against the unguarded blades (scissors) puncturing tools (awl, needle, pins). Can I have one of those saggy tool belts constuction workers wear? Hmm, problem with being a textiley person is that the braincell is now wondering if I could make it in some left over chintz? And which interfacing?

But as for Bob? He is blocking the hallway at present. img_20190505_161610861I did subtle paint treatments to add depth and more stitching, yet random thought this morning was it needs drama, big gestures, lines etc. String didn’t hack it, so out with the strips of waste sari silk. I can’t decide if this is a good idea or not, or how many or few, so placed it where it would cause maximum disruption and I can not ignore it. (Plan well and truely scuppered by going out to the Pocklington area Open Studios for the day. Some lovely textiles on show, but fell for  a little lino print.)

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Scratching Hare – Pete Edwards

 

 

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

York Open Studios – nearly ready.

3 days and counting!  Time is galloping.

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April 6th & 7th, and 13th & 14th,  10-5pm. 

All are welcome to come and visit artists and makers of all descriptions in their own spaces. Come and see what is happening and where, it is amazing what secrets can  lie behind the most ordinary front doors.  Grab a free brochure/guide from  a  local library, shop, pub , cafe, or go on line to yorkopenstudios.co.uk to get a list, pretty pics and maps and just roll up! We would love to meet you.

My  venue is no.96 and my workroom is still just that – a room for working in. I have been clearing out all the things that have crept in  from the storeroom and have firmly taken them back upstairs. The workroom door is off again – this is the point of no return.

This year the work is in a series of series, all inter related but also distinct. It will make displaying them all quite a challenge in what is a modestly sized room.  There is a lot more small things, more 3D things and then the ginormous painted scarves.  It will be an interesting week. And don’t forget the eternal tidying up.

This is the current state  I was going to leave the hang until Thursday, so began it on Tuesday. So of course it went ‘hammer hammer hammer,  mutter  mutter mutter, oops’ as I had to keep stopping to move things, complete some framing, trip over some bits that are awaiting relocation, fill in holes in the wall and find the matching paint.  But as you can see most of the chaos is being resolved, the work is up apart from one or two pieces -one is currently hiding, at over a metre tall it can’t hide for long, and the other hasn’t been released from exhibition yet.

I have barely scratched my to do lists –  I think I need a new approach to list making, but have bought cable ties to put up the signage and a supply of biscuits.  This blog was on Sunday’s list, the draft was done but only remembered it today – and rewrote most of it anyway! There is still much to do, the scarves need to find a home, labels etc, setting up the standing landscapes, reorganising the furniture and so on. But it will be ready on Saturday to welcome people into and hopefully share my enthusiasm for textiles and making.    Must remember to remove that post-it note. But on a happier note, every time I think about mowing the lawn or cleaning the windows, it rains. Must have been good in a previous life.

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.

anything other than the Sprout!

img_20190106_095710824This was last week, rough and scruffy paint to give me some idea of where and what when I roll it up to sew, ( also handy when upside down and stitching!)  It is very sparse and undeveloped with the two blobs waiting for attention on the right- they will become thorn trees.

I worked on this on and off during the week and then took it as my work in progress/demo piece for the open day at Viking Loom yesterday. It has progressed in many ways. This is it now –  the blobs are very sprout- like,  day old boiled sprouts. I do love this colour but at this time of the year the associations are somewhat unfortunate….

IMG_20190113_103426461 The bottom left is just about done – some areas will be plucked to break up the colour and surface, and a top dressing  required on the conifer belt and the major bushes, but they will happen later as part of the ‘balancing’ stage. It is a case of where has all the brown and orange silk gone? Waste putting it in? Never – it peeps through in places and lends an intensity to the colours above.  and most of all it makes the thin spots in the stitch work as a positive rather than look like holes! Really pleased with the mad green varigated section of tufty chenille wool and the scrunched  and shredded bleached sari lengths at the bottom.

Pics below show some of the evolution – working in layers front to back, the type and density of stitch and the fabrics used.

I don’t like working one section up like this but I kept losing sight of the whole and started to get worried by the scale of the thing.  It really does show how dense to work is – the plain calico looks blank and bland, the paint looks flat, the sprouts and tree line look like a bit of nonsense. The other problem is the distortion caused by the stitching. This badly needs stretching before I do more. I had meant to leave the distortions as part of the nature of the beast but the piece is already very out of true.-

Next tasks – fore and middle ground to the right- sort out hillsides, get some flatter stitching in , maybe partially  happen to a sprout or two as well.

I am trying out Instagram (oops), so see daily-ish updates if your life is lacking sproutiness, and of course don’t forget about the upcoming opportunities – every fortnight Wed eve and Friday am  from 23rd Jan – introductions, techniques or project work, as you please.