Tag Archive | embroidery

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.

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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.

moors and coast

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?

Words and Wolds. Fact or fiction?

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P1170707What has happened to November?  Who’s nicked it?  I started the big mission piece and have just resurfaced to find that  a month has gone!  Admittedly not every spare moment has gone into the piece but  it has gobbled up time and so much thought and energy. It has been on the wall  having fester time for  about 4 days –  since when I have constructed a toile for a new  jacket  pattern,  started little embroideries for the Tree Project, made stockings for the local foodbank appeal,  been to the Knit and Stitch Show in Harrogate, taught a whole day workshop at the Viking Loom, and have sorted out a day of sewing to do today (silk velvet!!!!).

The fester time was supposed to allow detachment, a separation between making mode and  hard eyed assessment.  It may be working too well., I was  expecting a dialogue about the legibility, the weight of the image, the relationship of past and present, but as  yet have no traumas, arguments or quibbles.  I even have new angles and  proposals to take the core idea forward, and instead of slog,  the future  making looks exciting again.

….. I am     content   with it,  at the moment.

 

rules not to follow.

Rule one : don’t have rules, don’t follow them

– Difficult to do, by following the no rule rule I am following a rule  so can’t be following the rule of having no rules, umm. Welcome to my idea of logical and sense.

Rules  make my responses predictable and formulaic. As soon as I make rules the fun goes out it. Yes, there are ways of doing, approaches that work, but they must not become a rut.  The techniques must serve my purposes, not dictate what I can do.

Rule two

Stitching must be neat, lines parallel, corners precise.  Thread must match the fabric and always use the ‘right’ needle. 

Use what you have,  use what you need, use what works. Make not having the ‘right’ colour an asset.  This is a tree with only one green, the variations give it life.

 

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Your tension must be perfect. Either the threads should cross within the fabric or ideally just below for freehand machining. Looping is very very naughty.

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Nah . You sew with 2 threads so why not use both of them?  It can be fun to let the bobbin thread show to give little picks of added colour or tone.,  pull loops through to the surface – get more texture and volume out of that row of stitching..  I am not making seams, there is not going to be that sudden draught  as you sit down too quickly.

Rule three

Keep arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times.  Edges must be neat and all ends sewn in.

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Nope. Surfaces are fun. Okay, sewing through a dense jungle can pose problems but there are always ways and means, from the excellent kebab stick to tissue paper.

Rule four.

Never give up.

Do. Don’t be precious. Let go.

Scissors can be a creative tool. Sometimes the premise is wrong  so putting more and more time into a piece will never work.  Chop it, cannibalise it, use it in another way. Don’t let it hang like a millstone.     This was  one – never happy with it, with the soggy blob of a focal point, now it is in two,   much, much better. machine-emroidery-fran-brammerWill look even better with proper framing

 

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 …..

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.