For ’tis spring.

There are a lot of words being spoken, written and read at the moment, so I’m adding as few as I can. Just to say keep well and look after yourselves, observe all sensible precautions and hopefully at some point things will be back to some sort of normal.

So, some images of work, house and indeed garden, for ’tis spring. I hope you enjoy them.

A nice tidy workspace here, showing a few projects on the go and getting started. It does get messier, although I am a tidy bod.

Starting some new work based upon landscape. Mixed fabric applique, much snipping, and also showing the rough sketch which forms the basis of the piece.

Below, six landscape pieces ready to be finished, all to fit nicely into A3 frames, when done.

Above and below, choosing threads and machine stitching on the go.

Although I have plenty to do finishing these landscapes I felt the urge to start a new needlepoint. I don’t know what it is about needlepoint, it won’t let me go.

Above, the rough sketch I based the piece on. It started as a rough plan of some ideas I had for our garden, then I doodled on it, coloured some bits in, and bunged it in my sketchpad. It came out shortly afterwards when I decided I needed another needlepoint in my life.

Adding in a few other collage elements and looking at yarn colours. It’s that bird again, but he’s my favourite so why not. He likes to get into most things I make these days.

The working drawing, which has now been traced onto the canvas. Stitching has commenced! I’ll post that next time; naturally there won’t be a lot to show…

Above, lots of hexagons. I’m also making a book based on our spring garden for the areyoubookenough group on Instagram, which I’ve followed for some time. There’s a different theme each month, this month it’s Hexagon. I’ve started a little late, but hey ho.

And below, the spring garden itself. Cold and wet but lovely.

Also, I’ve been doing a bit of diy, some mosaicing around the sink and on a worktop. It’s only taken me nearly 3 years to get around to it, but it gives the kitchen a Mediterranean vibe. This is good as it’s north facing, and needs some jollity. Naturally I have a few bits to finish off, must gird myself. Also I have some tesserae left, so what to do next, one wonders…

Look after yourselves, keep on making, show us all what you’re doing.

xxx

 

 

Books.

I’m making artist’s books at the moment, which I think is probably one of my favourite activities. I love the way a theme can be explored and developed with a book, and the huge creative variety of structure you can experiment with.

This is a hanging book called Gold, based upon a poem I wrote some time ago. It’s a mixed media piece on circular Khadi paper sheets.

A digitally printed moth that I photographed in a Manchester museum, with, I think you’ll agree, rather a lot of stitches. It’s on a base of painted and printed fabric and paper, with hand and machine stitch.

This little chap is a duck billed platypus skeleton I photographed in Oxford Natural History Museum. I played around with the image on Photoshop and digitally printed it. Mixed fabrics and papers, again, with hand and machine stitch.

Hand stitched ginkgo biloba leaves, that were preserved in glycerine, porcelain ginkgo leaves, paper and machine stitch.

The poem, more porcelain leaves, paper and stitch. And a moth, also porcelain.

Three porcelain moths and a nest, mixed media with machine stitch. I do like the texture you can achieve with machine stitch on Khadi paper.

These are the components of Fossil Moon, another hanging book. It is stitched and done now but I’ll put the whole thing in my next post.

The two books above will have their components strung together, and will hang vertically. This is my least favourite part, but it must be done. I’m planning to show them in the Art Textiles: Made in Britain gallery at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC Birmingham in July-August this year.

These are some papers ready to be made into a book project that’s fairly changeable at the moment. Ha, what’s new! It started as printed papers made from a little screen of stuck down leaves [previous post] and has moved from possibly being a zig zag book, below,

to possibly being another hanging book, below.

Here are the basic components laid down as a hanging book. I stitched the butterflies last year, and there are also porcelain elements. But, the zig zag with some extra elements, such as the acetate sheets, still appeals; a good long zig zag is a wonderful thing, at least for the maker. So it’s likely back to being a zig zag, based on some words of mine, The Paths to Trees.

To save making a zig zag support, I’ve bought an A4 Seabright ready made book, which is very sturdy; some of these finished pieces, with all their additions and so on, will need something strong to hold them up. I admit to not wanting to spend my time making said necessary sturdy book; also accuracy isn’t my strength, and I do want it to stand straight.

I have a plan to finish each component with stitch, additions and so on, lay them all out on a suitable background, photograph them and have the image digitally printed professionally to finish as a hanging. I usually do my own digital printing but can’t do bigger than A3.

A couple of close ups.

And to round up, below, a couple of small pieces I’m making to fit into A4 frames, fabric applique on linocut prints, hand stitched.

Leaving sad news to the end seems to be a tradition, so here is mine. We lost our rather wonderful little dog a couple of weeks ago. He was, basically, a force of nature in a small woolly body, and has left a big gap in our family life.

He was nearly 14, we had hoped for a few more years.

Here he is, George in the night garden.

 

 

 

Decisions, decisions, part two.

I have a couple of projects on the go at the moment which seem intent upon revealing the depths of indecision I can explore. Starting with one intention but finding I actually want to do something else with the work as it progresses isn’t new for me; it became evident some years ago that my processes were fairly meandering. It can be slightly wearying as you fight against the way the idea wants to go, but this quickly turns to delight, as you realise that you are actually making something which is much more engaging, and has meaning for you. These two qualities are necessary for me in producing work that feels honest, to me at least.

I gathered a few visual references together for some new work. The zig zag book is full of small collages, and I find these little abstracts are increasingly informing my work.

As a warm up exercise I made a small piece, using the berries as a subject.

 

This didn’t excite me at all, so I cut it up.

After much snipping I had reduced it to many small but interesting pieces, and made these three wintry landscape pieces, with the addition of some black and white fabrics.

Now I quite like these, but I’m in a book mood these days, and there’s the thing. I think later on today the scissors will be out and these pieces will be manoeuvred into some sort of artist’s  book. I have found in the past that when the book mood is on me nothing gets in its way.

A textile group I am in meets monthly, and we have a little mess around with small projects during the meetings. Last week, we made some printing plates from leaves, simply stuck onto cardboard with double sided tape. Nature does it best, and I love the way simple starts can move into complex, elegant and beautiful work. Not that I’m promising that, but it’s an aim, and optimism is one of my default settings.

Here’s the plate, after being used with black acrylic paint.

Below, the resulting prints, on Khadi paper.

It was my turn to decide on the next group project so I’ve put it to everyone that they could make a zig zag book using their prints, should they choose too. I certainly will, and have gathered together some materials from my collage folder, below. I think the book will be larger, rather than sensibly smaller.

However, here’s something a little more colourful, below. These four pieces, made a couple of years ago, are going to be exhibited in Japan, with another group I am part of, namely Art Textiles: Made in Britain. They will be at Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival, Tokyo Dome, Japan, from 23 – 29 January. We have been invited there to represent British art textiles, which is all very nice, thank you.

The usefulness of winter.

Whilst I have become more of an advocate of summer, winter has its uses, in terms of getting down to some serious work. The garden and outdoors is far too enticing when the weather is decent.

So this month I’ve started a new mixed media project. It’s in my head, mostly, and as I work through various aspects of it it’s becoming clearer and more resolved.

Last year I made a large metal and paper stitched nest, which was in Art Textiles: Made in Britain’s gallery at the festival of Quilts, and is now between dates on a tour of the show, which was called Wild.

I really enjoyed making this nest, and my latest project is, basically, making another nest piece, hopefully smaller. This may not succeed.

I’ve started by making some ingredients, and from these the piece will evolve. Mixed media can drive you slightly crazy, you just have to stay calm and enjoy the ride.

 

 

Above, some leaves that I have preserved in glycerine, mainly as an experiment, but I’ve made the interior of the nest, to be called the golden nest, using some ginkgo leaves, which were very nicely preserved.

And above, some materials gathered for the golden nest. I’ve made some porcelain ginkgo leaves too, which were still being fired when I wrote this post.

Also this month, a short but jolly exhibition here in Birmingham with the Gallery 12 group of artists. Below, some of my work on the wall.

My old school friend and I had our annual pre Christmas trip to London last week. This also included a meeting with all the Art Textiles: Made in Britain bods, which was fun. It’s always great to see them. A great deal of our work is off to Japan shortly, to be shown in our own gallery at the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival in January. This is quite an honour.

My friend and I tend to concentrate on art and shopping, well, mostly browsing rather than purchasing, as we like Fortum and Mason and Liberty’s, for starters. First off, Anthony Gormley, fabulous stuff. Now there’s a mixed media chap. Love the sketchbooks.


Bread. Wonder if I should use that too?

Great piece, one stone was missing. Was that meant to be so, one wonders. The blutack remained.

At Tate Modern we went to the Olafur Eliasson exhibition. Amazing stuff, worth a visit if you enjoy a thoughtful mix of subjects, approaches and some interesting interactive pieces.

This is his piece Model Room, right up my street.

And above, me photographing How do we live together?

Below, a view from Tate Britain, no rain for the whole 3 days!

We also went to Tate Britain, to see the William Blake show. This was fascinating, and huge. He was very productive, we had to have a break halfway through, involving cake. I did particularly like his hand written and hand drawn books, interested as I am in book making and page layout.

To finish, Kara Walker’s fountain, Fons Americanus, at Tate Modern.