Tag Archive | making

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……

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?

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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!

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

Garden III

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Garden III is making slow progress,  more of that, garden II is about to be properlyframed, but what has taken most energy is prepping for the Knaresborough exhibition. All that needs doing is finishing work, framing, newsletter, social media promotions, co ordinating group members and gallery, herding cats, biting furniture, gentle running round in circles and mild panic. And all of the usual day to day business as well. Which all equals chaotic headless chicken-ness.

It is going to be fun. Just a couple of weeks to get it sorted out.

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And back to Garden III  – This has been stitched, trimmed, plucked and stitched; and still doesn’t look much different. The first layers of flowers are in place – these will be the amorphous blobs in the background with bolder shapes and tufts of fine silk to give it body over the top. The velvet is enjoying itself, it is eating all of the colour I put on, do you believe there is burgundy, royal purple, dull straw and  bright straw, bright navy and of course 5 shades of green, and pale grey and white in there?

There is the splashes of flower colour, stems and balancing to do, and then it will be done. Say it quickly, and it sounds easy….

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Garden II

Great things are happening! Huge progress made!! It looks fab! You will be amazed!!!

Well, I would be too.

In other words – status = fairly normal. But in a big way.

There are elements that are coming together – I am not trying for an identify the flower, walk that path, kind of image – too obvious?  My garden is about growiness not rigid control or any form of ‘aren’t I clever’. It tends to happen, mostly without me. I let things grow to find out what they are and also let them stay long past their ‘best’. It is this chaotic nature I want, the mixture of shapes and forms aswell as colour. At the moment a native geranium is wrestling for world domination with the ladies mantle while the bugle knows it is still king, the rebellious  forget me nots  are in colonising mode, and the giant poppy plants – new arrivals this year- who have seeded in weird places  currently looking like snooty lettuces…..

I sit and watch and just dwell. The individual plants are not important, it is the whole, seen from the corner of an eye,  how it moves in the wind, the sounds, the light catching foliage edges or reflecting off raindrops, glimpses of form and colour. That is what I want on cloth.  Not too much?img_20190526_085215897

So layering, cutting away, drawing shapes and patterns, multiple layers of colour and stitch, incomplete edges, suggestions and hints. And this is the beginnings. The shot velvet is a menace but also gives alot, I have found that I can pluck it with the Pointed Tweezers of Doom and create areas of a smooth soft brick red. The thread colours are gobbled up by it but remerge if enough stitching is done. The laid fabric goes into a strange perm-like frazzle if pushed. All in all it is an adventure.  img_20190526_085241263

At present the purples dominate but the next colours are going to be other brights, pale blue, mauves, hot pink and an orange or two, to create more focal points. Then more green and blues and deep colours to disrupt or emphasise those and then….. don’t know. Everything is changing as the idea gets its corners worn off and new opportunities arise.  Bit of a roller coaster actually, and not a gin bottle in sight!

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.