Tag Archive | art

The Big Beastie’s Bigger Cousin

Still have not got a working title for this one yet. Progress is good but appears slight as it is spread over such a large area. Think of this as a time- delay film, one that has not been speeded up .

These are the start and finish of a morning. Some serious stitching took place, but I can not see where! Can you? I brought him home for my open day, but he is just too big for my house ( had to move furniture……). I prefer the picture below, at least he looks small and managable.

The effort is now going into the background, teasing out surfaces and inclines to make a landscape. The big block of metallic organza opposite the tree blob is being nibbled away. This is meant to be a complex area of small fields, copses, moorland, so details and textures needed. Thread colours used so far are mid brown, mauve and moss green with a dose of bright fawn. As the stitching becomes denser the colours will become more intense and distinct, but of course you can’t see it yet!

I’m afraid you will just have to be patient, so will I, which will be much harder.It is doing wonders for my storage of threads, it is eating up all kinds of odds and ends. Colin the old machine will sew with almost anything without complaint but I am using bobbin thread underneath now. I can get more on each bobbin and am filling several at once, which cuts down on frustration.

As ever I am beset by distractions, someone has decided that Christmas should happen soon, visitors insist on coming and avoiding housework can no longer be my favourite past time, and the fabric samples ordered for a new commission for the Company of Merchant Taylors are dribbling in and need stroking and testing out, and I still have what feels like millions of newsletters to write and …………..but at least stollen is back in season, lebkuchen is lurking at me, plus any excuse to heat and spice some apple juice.

Nothing really changes.

Very Big Beastie

I shared his beginning a couple of weeks ago, but then got distracted by the York Textile Artists’ Winter Show. This is his evolution so far….

This was the start, calico, 2m x 1.5m, the scene is of Wharfedale, just very rough, pinning blocks of colour and pattern until confident of the composition.

This was time consuming, moving and refining masses, but most of these areas will be buried in stitch or cut away to reveal the underlying painting. The stitching begins. It is a menace using a hoop, having to move it every few minutes, but it makes handling the fabric under the needle so much easier. Stitch patterns are going to be kept simple, happy squirms and manic shreddies (not their formal names, but as they are varieties of scribble vermicelli and cross hatching seem rather pompous).

At the end of hours of sewing over several days this is him so far- at 9.00am and then at 12 o’clock.

More filling with dark, and then bright and light, the background skyline, the distant hills, the wall line (pink), the midground, trunks, path and foreground. So not much left! I guess it won’t be done for the Open Day next Sunday….


Last time of writing I was looking forward to a busy October. Looking forward may be too strong.  October seems to be state of mind.

The little taster show  at Helmsley Walled Gardens is done and the work is at home , waiting to be sorted.   The next event is the group Biggie, so there is a flurry of finishing, preening, labelling and everything else waiting,  November 16th and 17th  did seem such a safe distance away

I took the opportunity of a pop up studio in town organised by Uthink PDP, just need the keys so I can secure a machine in there- waiting. Said machine needs a PAT test – my local electricians  open at 10 so I am waiting.

One day I will finish everything, promise, and then probably look around for the next thing to not finish.

Thought the new stuff would probably the most interesting to follow so let me introduce my new space.

It is in a redundant office block waiting for redevelopment. Taken one month at a time the tenancy is going to be short term but…. It is a “mess room”. Half a kitchen area and half carpetted, right at the top of the whole building. Great light but no heat, and yes it will be very cold! Trust me, very cold.

But the space!!  I have laid out about 5 metres of calico and drill to colour up and  it looks dinky. The best bit is being able to splash paint around and not worry, and then to leave  it  flat to dry  while I go home and get on  finishing and sewing and doing other tasks! Joy.

These are the pieces so far  – 2 large single pieces – the largest 2m x 1.5m. And then a small piece to be divided up into 4 landscapes.  These are now waiting. The colour I used is a mish mash – very dilute emulsions,  ready made fabric paint and acrylic with medium in.  I shall go in today after delivering the machines for testing, and try pinning blocks of fabric on and sort out the moods and atmosheres I want. And then it will be waiting to get the machine in and running.

Added benefit  should be a fitter me – cycling into the studio and then going up and down the 8 flights of stairs.  Fly in the ointment – very bad at waiting – tend to snack/eat, ( liquorice allsorts and Pringles so far) or start something new to go into the “pending” pile, and then of course wait for the right time to finish it!

Wooo! Gone 10 o’clock! Now I can take the machines round!!!! Then wait for them to be tested and certificated. Ah well.

Garden 8 into Autumn

September –  the ending of summer. The annuals are thinning out, there are seed pods, straggly bits , gaps. Some of the summer flowers are still going for it  yet the colours are changing, less rich and vivid,  the shadows longer and at the moment the light is greyer and less intense.  In fact the garden is looking a bit tired and tatty.

I want to show the change, but in my own way of course. And it is raining again- like the way the gathering drops create mini highlights, and how some colours glow.

This is a picture show of its progress, from a layered photograph, drawing, work in progress shots. The pale rings in the velvet are ‘bruises’ caused by the hoop.  I hope they will fade and disappear as the fabric is steamed and pressed.



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So black short velvet not the plush shiney  green/bronze.  There is less structure and ‘picture’ in this, it is layers of the plant and leaf shapes growing across each other. The colours are more subdued – though for someone who never likes pink why do I have pink sweet peas, lychnis , purpley asters and a new pink Japanese anemone. Just hope the new sedum breaks the mold and turns red!

still more to do….




The start of a Ronald


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.



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

Garden is still growing.

img_20190712_095536111The garden is expanding. I found a tiny patch of North Yorkshire where some dumped topsoil has bloomed with a vibrant collection of poppies. So how come the ones in my garden are naff colours and these, orphans on the roadside, are fabulous in colour and form!!

And the result? Can I mix the garden style with a broader landscape? I don’t want it to be a standard applique picture,  but something more….. other. How can the garden style adapt?

franbrammer garden2019 (2)

Detail of gardenV

In its barest form it is multi layered line drawing, some bold, some more pattern orientated. The richness and improbability of the velvet gives it  luxury. Combine the two and you get an exuberence, changing as the sheen and pile on the velvet catch the light so the colours and stitching appears and disappears.

I use line differently in the landscapes- there it also is used to create direction, or hatched to make tone or volume. FBrammer-Folding Landscape (2)

And what about perspective? The landscapes rely on it, the gardens mostly work as a flat picture plane. It isn’t really surprising that I am hovering on the brink of this one.


It is the contradiction in approach that really has me stumped. For one it is about adding and adding, more colour, more line, moreness personified. On the other it is about making spaces, reducing, removing, using less.  Are they  going to have a common ground or is this about working the two as conflicting ideas and let them argue?

Is this a new situation? Nah. It is frustrating- I want to get straight on in there. But even more frustrating is that this seems to be an essential part of my creative process. I have always hated it if asked a question when the answer is already known. I do get stale if it is too easy….Pah.

And today-  nothing will happen- I am manning the exhibition at Art in the Mill, Knaresborough, with others of the York Textile Artists.  We are there to engage with the visitors, trying to appear knowledgeable and interesting,  but I think alot of gossip and giggling will also happen. Please do come by if you can, the show is on until the 19th, it would be great to say hello!


I won’t even be watching the Wimbledon Mens’ final!!!  Hope it is as good as the Mens’ Doubles last night.

Meet Garden IV – It has come together quite quickly, not finished, but not far away.img_20190616_131721563

This is again based on my little front garden. This is my colour space, my home head space – it is right out side the workroom window. It is a joy watching it grow, even the weeds, and given half a chance I sit on the front step in the sunshine with a coffee and see the plants at their own level. Apologies to the neighbours.

The idea is not to reproduce as in a photograph but to try to give an impression of the garden, so no individual plant details just notions of shapes, scale, textures and colours, and back to no real sense of perspective other than by layering.

This has a fulltime velvet ground, two differnet kinds, one part dyed and pieced with the nap running in different directions so that it catches the light differently. And then off with the stitching, and then more stitching, and even more. The fabric patches – silk chiffons and red velvet were scrap donations from Natalie and Ruth, local textile artists who have just joined the same exhibiting/support group-  York Textile Artists.

Then more stitch – simple leaf patterns, layered up in different colours, scale and orientation. The hard bit is not to get stuck in representation. The trick seems to be to have multiple viewpoints so the relationships between the different areas changes and boundaries are fluid.


The back – remarkably like the initial sketch ( reversed of course)

The current status is close, the background needs more tone and contrast, and it is missing the yellow weeds which should give the foreground more pop. I feel a bit of a pluck coming on, so out with the pointy tweezers of doom.

There is only a week of making time left before the group exhibition so it had better happen quickly!!

Remember – 28th June 7-9pm Preview  Event, 29th til 19th July – exhibition – Wild About Textiles.  At the Art In The Mill Gallery, Knaresborough.