Tag Archive | embroidery

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.

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The Most Difficult bit…. and workshop call

I am an experienced and  effective tutor of art and textiles as well as exhibiting artist. I am.  I have spaces in  Wednesday evening and  Friday morning  classes –  all levels and stages of experience and aspiration are welcome to come to play and enjoy creative textiles. Please contact either through email (on right) or the comments if interested. There will be coffee and tea, but I have already eaten the biscuit stash, (marketing not a strong point).   I thought I would get this out of the way before anyone reads the rest of it……

 

Well the Fairly Large Beastie with Sprouts  is steaming along,  nearly all of the base sewing is done and some places have multiple layers of work on them. This is where it gets difficult – there is a huge investment of time and effort in there and it is going from the experimental building phase to the consolidation phase.  Now I have to weld it all together, make those early decisions good and work upon the thing as a whole.

The stitching on the hills is the point of no return – so far a light varigated and a dull mid blue on the far left slopes. Still don’t like it – too flat and contrived. The treeline has  more stitch in it, working in blocks of hatching like the original sketch – might leave the trees behind as they are – very crude and sketchy.

The right is better – closer to the experimental rough work – but I still have to be brave and commit to working on the road way.  There are just too many niggly decisions attached to all the areas.  What I want is to  take alot of that green paint out – it flattens and homogenises now that I’m trying for subtle.

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I may be drastic, it may be bold, or it may be stupid: tell you afterwards.  The inking option is about to be realised. This is a bit derring do – sink or swim- in my best tradition.

 

Always was going to play with wet colour  in the top half – blooms and runs of  ink/stain washed and scrubbed into the fabric. Its time has come – the stark flatness of the calico is distracting  and killing the subtle stitching done in the tree line.     Will this be tightly controlled and considered? Of course not, what a daft question. It is going to be -do it and pray, then do some more, have a coffee, start thinking about bleach, rinse off in the shower and worry about the how and where of drying later.   It is a cold, dank and damp day so not happening outside – this will be attacked  flat on the biggest table and apologise to the carpet afterwards ( I think of the splashes and drips as honourable  battle scars).    I just hope I  have some inky stuff hiding upstairs. Should press it and de-whisker it first. Why is everything so complicated?

Probably not my brightest  idea.  Definitely not, but I can not bear working on something that is going flat and predictable on me. Deciding not to use big, blank spaces in the composition – which twit advised that?  Umm, me.

Please do not call round today – it may be dangerous.

Oops.

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.

Machine embroidery workshops and progress!

I have a series of dates avialable upto mid March  for learners and enthusiasts to come and play in my workroom, a chance to get started or to develop  your own ideas.  There is a basic programme but it  is there to be cherry picked or ignored as desired!  I am offering 2 hour sessions  on a Wednesday evening and Friday morning once a fortnight.  Details are on the website.

As for the new Biggish Beastie – Well, did you really expect me to pay any attention to myself? To follow my own guidelines and expectations?  Silliness.

Could not get my head together so sidestepped the problem to find fresh anxieties and questions to avoid.

This was where we left  it – rough patches of fabric, woll stitching, just beginning to map out the major areas and hint at textures. So found the blankness too big, and processes too slow.  Bring out to paint! Lay down some background, make it so I can see what is to happen rather than having to image it all the time.

This was thin acrylic with textile medium and worked in layers to build a bit of surface –  all so high tech –  printing off  scraps of cellophane and combing. It can not be thick because of the stitching to follow and is only the supporting act, not the main attraction.

The first layer of crosshatch stitching has started to weld the conifers together and wandering lines have begun to describe the scale and nature of the belts of vegetation and hedge lines.   There is still far more work ahead than behind but the structure is established . How much of this will be evident at the end? Very little, I expect, but I have more confidence in it now, it is less fluffy ideas and more directed intentions. Does this mean I know how it will look? Of course not? As ideas come together they will have to adapt and compromise untill they fit together, but this is the start of the real dialogue.

img_20190106_095710824Next steps? – Probably map out the treeline and foreground. Start on the empty space in the right bottom corner, but keep the interplay of spaces and concentrations of colour and texture going and build on them.

It needs ironing again. Already.

Fractured

I set myself a task of reworking ( repurposing?)  an experimental piece I found lurking in the deepest, darkest cupboard. It must be at least  be of an age to be taking exams and leaving school for an exciting future – well, it got me and my rotary cutter.

Carrying on with this compromised landscape theme of imposed divisions, patterns and shapes being distorted by having to fit onto an imperfect surface, it seemed appropriate to play over the top of this discarded piece.

It was sliced and diced totally arbitrarily into 3″ish pieces and patterns and lines from the current sketchbook worked over the top.  The images are from Great Fryupdale and Rosedale on the North York Moors.(and yes, they are real names).P1180246  The level of  aesthetic consideration and planning was kept to a minimum – after all most landscapes are the result of practical and  pragmatic  decisions.  Some I think have worked well – they retain an element of landscape, others are more abstract, some have all the charm of  the Vale of York on a cold and soggy  Sunday. At this scale the stitching often feels crude and working over the mixed layers  of flimsy synthetic sheers and net  was a bit of a nightmare – no wonder I shifted onto heavier fabrics.

These are going to be presented as greeting  cards rather than get reassembled, so may achieve that exciting future after all, as they spread far and wide.

Please check the workshops page or website for the next classes – the next, Colour, is fully booked but there are spaces after that.

Do make a space in your diary for the York Textile Artists exhibition  in November, and I have taken an opportunity to stand in a hut in the middle of Middlesborough 2 Sundays in December  selling my wares, so please come along if you can.

Persevere

Perseverance, sticking to a task, dogged determination or just plain stubborn. Either way it can pay off, or it is the biggest waste of time, emotional energy and effort.

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Before- detail.

I do suffer from this, but this time it has worked well. This piece was conceived years ago, sliced and diced when it didn’t work out and then has lived in the bottom of one of the stash hide aways – it came back out a few months ago, lived in full sight since, and then last week it met the scissors again. The same people who apparently have never seen it before ( been on the main wall in the work room!) suddenly went Wow! so I guess it was an improvement.

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And the After – still needs de-whiskering and framing.

Considering this- looking at the working methods it seems I do go round in circles while travelling forward. I use materials differently now – far less fusible and fibres, more lumps and rawness,  less precious,  but the colours, contrasts, ideas of line are so familiar. Even putting it along side the landscape stones there is the same thinking, the same perceptions evident, but these new quiet monochrome daft pieces are far braver and far more challenging.

 

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?