Tag Archive | embroidery

landscape with coats

This is it.

Spot the handstitching, echoing the  original crewel work. Spot the pink and  high lustre green/gold. I am still not sure that this is right yet, some days it reads as a landscape, others it is a mish mash, others it is enigmatic and intriguing.  Not all of the ideas have worked as planned, or even worked as not planned, but do they have mileage? Even the photography has improved a bit!P1170626

The writing  has lost it’s sense of purpose, along with most of its legibility – merging into the other lines and patterns , only fragments come into focus. Inclination is to do more, tried whipping with slight contrast colour, but would rather get it right first time.

The long stitch towards the horizon is done with machine thread, 30 or 40 wt,  so is too thin  to cover the fabric. It is much more delicate looking than the areas machine stitched. The differences are fun and add to the vocabulary.  As for using the crewel patterns – maybe they read as too random but in places they do mimic the field and ridge patterns

I have another about to begin-…… hmm……… may be less colour, may be tighter …..

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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.

Stone in My Shoe

Yup. Annoying, painful, niggling, just has to be dealt with before moving on.

Meet Wold and Vale – the latest offering from House of Brammer ( or at least – Cluttered Workroom of ‘Er on the Corner).

 

Fran Brammer_Wolds and Vale _freehand machine embroidery

This caused some real heart ache. I completely lost the vision and faith in that vision. It became a mess – bitty, dirty, un-everything,  in fact the total focus of a major grump.

Now I nearly like it, some days.    It has been  cut about, dyed, abandoned, rained on, bullied, brutalised,  and now  it is plucked, preened and pressed. It hasn’t the clarity  I wanted initially but has something else that I haven’t defined yet.  The all over composition doesn’t have the theatrical space that I usually build in – something I have been experimenting with this year. Some  look askance when I say that linear perspective is an easy composition device, but working without those zooming lines and focal points, or even a defined picture, is  still a struggle.  I look back to those happy days of abstract painting and collage, I wish I had kept that brain and not swapped it for one that now sees pictures.

The stages of making are in the slide show- click on them for brief captions, play spot the sequins.

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The surface on this one is delicate due to the extreme plucking , see detail  pics, so it will have to be under glass ( didn’t stop me hoovering it to pick of the stray fibres though….)Wolds Vale plucking detail.

Usual questions – do I take it further? Make it more pictorial?  Too obvious-  Is this piece really only a background?  I think  frame it as is but have a rework as an option – so leave on the surplus fabric and plonk it in a frame (sorry- carefully stabilise and place carefully in an entirely enchanting mount and frame).

 

 

Just  another day in textiles land –

 

Twisting Tree demo/tutorial

This one of my favourite teaching things.  The sewing is really straight forward but the effects can be amazing.

It begins with these drawings – with and without foliage.twisted tree drawing

Drawing up is simple – trace through your fabric (lean up against a window for an instant light box)  Fancy pen required? Nope – it will all be sewn over. Lots of detail ?- nah – wriggly lollipop with a bad hair day.

 

 

First stitches set the twisting movement throughP1060987 the trunk so no worries about sewing straight – don’t even try. Layers of stitch are built up as the tree’s framework is established. A spot of stabiliser underneath if the fabric pulls may help.

 

 

 

 

P1060988The canopy starts with organised scribble in a strongly contrasting colour (purple), and extended in a glorious sludge colour.

P1060990

The stitch pattern is fairly consistent – cross hatched blocks- but varies in scale and density. Top dress with greens of mixed hues, add in sharp colour to lift if needed,  finish off the trunk with contrast tones – I used navy  and a quick twiddly bit of grass to anchor it and it is done!

A good press and…..   ta da……

machine embroidery.freehand machine embroidery sample

This is quite a simple do, yet can be so effective. It is a good learning curve  and can be adapted to all skill levels. I love that the equipment list is basically machine, foot, hoop, pencil. Materials list is also slim,  fabric (  I used a scrap of rust dyed cotton), threads – what ever you want/what ever you have got, and possibly a bit of stitch and tear.

Fun.

I have been watching craft TV again –  this is available  in four easy instalments of oodles of money,  10% discount for people I like or who have daft cats. Just quote discount code DUNKINGBISCUITS.

 

Perhaps I should offer it as a kit? Hmm. Need a new packet of biscuits to consider that one.

Self promotion spot-  Last week or so  of the Ripon Great North Art Show

Last but one week of the Knaresborough  exhibition in Art in the Mill.

First week of the Micklegate Art in the Window Trail-  You MUST go into Spelmans bookshop. I had forgotten just how fabulous it is ( think Edwardian woody splendour)

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.

Yorkshire Wolds-

After all the intense woodland work I felt the need for horizons, to be in amongst landforms and feel the effort and stretch of moving through it. At the root of this is the simple fact that I like lumpy and bumpy country.

 

The Wolds are chalkland rather than limestone country like the Dales, so they have their own character. The flat land seems to be the hill top not the valley bottom,  smooth, steep hillsides and oddly, more Highland cattle than sheep along the route I took.  After a morning of wandering and looking an idea was formulating. This is ‘smaller’ then the Dales, and I kept seeing pattern in the arable crops, the movement of wind through the crops, the networks of field margins, paths, stands of trees. I tried my best to ignore the infestations of the Greater Lycra Cyclist in full summer garb.

Huggate, Yorkshire Wolds.

Huggate. Collages of plucked and stitched fabrics – mostly silks. The exposed oil painting seems to blend in well.

This has emerged initially as a patterned landscape over an oil painting –  still not sure about that dark red. I think it is a bit on the busy side but has a sunlit quality that I like – the contrasts are in brightness and colour rather than just tonal value. I will get it famed up this week then it is ready to go.

It has spawned a little gaggle of mini  ones  as I played with pattern and  shapes. Still want to be bolder and less fussy with this but keep losing sight of what I am aiming for and get side tracked by the fun details.  Just to keep things interesting I am trying two versions of the same view side by side to see if I can separate the safer responses on to one and the dodgier responses onto the other. I fear insanity.

I have added July workshops and dates for exhibitions over the Summer to the Me page- or just check the frantextiles  facebook page.

 

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…..