As promised, and I’m sure you’ve all been waiting breathlessly, here are all eight pieces from my now finished series called Gift. Based on some words I’ve written, in my own small way it’s a celebration of our planet, via the medium of mixed media and textiles.
I’m working on a new series of work at the moment, with the hope that it will go to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC, Birmingham, later this year. Hopefully the Festival will run, but if not they do a wonderful online show, with many things on offer including excellent courses.
‘Gift’ is a group of stitched pieces in hoops, based upon some words I’ve written. I imagine it could be called a poem.
It’s basically about appreciating and being amazed by the Earth, its immense history, its place in the Universe and so on. These themes inform much of my work. It delves into my love of living natural history, and natural history collections, and in using mixed media; the pieces are all made from appliquéd fabrics, a mix of plain, printed and hand painted, and paper, printed with my digital images.
The pieces are hand stitched and porcelain pieces and beads are used throughout. The hoops are 12 inches/30 cm, which I find a good size. There’s a good amount of space to work with, and although the stitching and beading take time, the end is always in sight since the pieces aren’t huge! I’ve been through that stage of making large scale work and I don’t think I want to re visit it soon.
The drum like and contained approach of stitching in a hoop really works for me. And they can carry a good amount of heavier media should you wish; I still want to stitch lots of pebbles onto a piece, those lovely flat ones. And sea glass too.
Here we are, above, working on the first piece, which is of course actually the 5th piece in the series. Why start at the beginning? The ideas for the other pieces evolved from this first hoop.
Below, some more materials lined up for possible inclusion. These are digitally printed papers and silk, except for that zebra stripy piece of fabric, which is a commercial fabric and I love it.
Above and below, in no particular order, as they say, more pieces in progress.
So, that’s seven so far, some more finished than others. There’s one more to go, which I’m planning to lay down later.
I’ll be painting the hoops white. When they are all done I’ll post them, in order…
Since the botanical world has decided it’s time to get going, and the days are longer, it must indeed be spring. But watching our magnolias through the rather beautiful snow storms yesterday reminded me of the fickleness of this season. I love that it is, too.
However, I am also very fond of the magnolias, both of which are blooming profusely this year, so I don’t want to see the flowers shrivelled and browned. Amazingly they look ok so far; they’ve certainly stood up to those winds whipping down from the Arctic.
Our small but complex suburban garden is rather full as a result of years of my enthusiastic plant buying. It’s been taking up a lot of my time recently too, having had quite a sort out. It was good to be out in the fresh air so much; there are times when I am grateful for a complicated garden.
So creative work has been fitted in around the garden tasks, and I must admit I am so dragging my feet when it comes to finishing some bigger pieces. This week, yes this week, this one, below, will definitely be done and mounted.
It’s about 65 x 40 cm, so not that large really, but it is absorbing a lot of stitch and beading.
I have started some new pieces that I’m hoping will go into the Festival of Quilts this year. The Festival is all set to go ahead, but if it doesn’t they will undoubtedly be holding the digital exhibition again.
I’ll write about the new work when it has progressed a little more. The artist’s book I posted about last time has had its finishing postponed. I like my books to be looked at properly and I doubt that people will be encouraged to touch. So next year perhaps.
Last week I needed some small, in front of the tv work, so quickly assembled some pieces from various squares and half – done felt experiments. The felt is purchased wool felt, I didn’t make it. Felt, as you know, is lovely and soft to stitch. My usual work is difficult to stitch by hand, yet I keep on doing it, so the felt is a wonderful relief. One day the hands will decide enough is enough!
So, as relaxing noodling along pieces, these are great to work on. The first piece started as a square but then developed onto a pebble, and others followed. I’m not sure what will happen next, I’m just working my way through them, adding hand stitch and beads. They’ll be around for a while I should think, filling in gaps between other projects.
There’s a project that I’ve been working on for some time, which existed for quite a while in one or two uncompleted forms, and last year was realised in a series of embroidered work in hoops. This is called Stories of the Lost and the Found, and was due to be shown last year at the Festival of Quilts and other venues afterwards. The pieces are based on various pieces of my writing; an autobiographical wander through the seasons, observations, and life with its attendant complexities.
I wanted to also use the images together with the text, in some way, but hadn’t moved on with the idea. But recently I decided it needed to be done, and started to make an artist’s book, with the writing and the hoop embroideries as the foundation.
I started by thinking the book would consist of collaged papers, prints and perhaps fabric, but it quickly evolved into a digital experience, using images from the hoops, other embroidered work, text, drawings, lino cuts, screen prints, other images I’ve taken, [ two of which I haven’t, credit below ] and Photoshop. I’m no wizz at Photoshop, I must point out! But I am happy with the results, and the way the pages relate to each other since I decided on just using digital techniques. The pages are designed, though, to incorporate some stitch. Not a lot, but enough to add a human, non digital touch.
Also, although I keep banging on about the book being digital, that’s just about the construction of the pages, which were then all printed out onto a mix of papers. I like paper so much, I could just collect it. The pages are A3 size, but will have to be mounted onto larger sheets of Khadi paper when I construct the book. This is to protect the more delicate papers, and so that people can actually turn the pages and look at the book. I’ll have to buy some biodegradable disposable gloves too, should the book be exhibited, to protect people, just in case, not the book. You know the way things are these days.
Here are a few of the hoops. There are 16 in the first original series, and 9 in a later series of black and white hoop pieces. The latter group wouldn’t have been at the Festival anyway, since I made them late last year, and neither of course would this book. If the festival goes ahead this year, hopefully they will all be there.
Here’s a couple of images of a few of the original ideas and materials for the pages. I eventually incorporated them digitally.
Below, a selection of pages put together with Photoshop, and ready to be finished with stitch before being bound.
The moth image above is one of two images that are not mine. This was a photograph taken by a friend of an Emperor moth in her garden. An amazing creature. Also, three above, the sea/beach image is my daughter’s. It’s in Wales, Tywyn or Barmouth.
Thanks folks, more soon, hopefully of the finished book…
I love to see the beauty of a translucent Moon floating in the blue sky, it’s always a gift. I’ve wanted to use this title for some time; I tend to store up and keep titles until they find a home. This piece was conceived after the first heavy-ish fall of snow we had at the start of the year and as I made it it became apparent that the title Moon in the blue sky had a destination.
I took some images of the snowy trees and garden, it was relatively early so the colours were quite dark and dramatic. I later printed them after a brief edit onto some fairly unpleasant bright white stiff silk. I have no idea where it came from, disconcertingly, but the prints were beautiful, so I think its found its purpose, at least. Typically I don’t have that much left and now wouldn’t mind some more. I used my inkjet printer, after ironing the silk onto Bondaweb, and putting sellotape along the feed edge.
We have jays visiting our winter garden, not so many lately, but in the past we’ve had a visiting pair and one, many years ago, who would take peanuts from your hand.
So I decided this piece needed a jay, especially as I had a drawing ready to go of a jay that I had never used, and I sorted out some other references too. Yes, this image was in the last post, but I thought I’d pop it into this one too, for a bit of continuity.
Above you can see the A4 sized snowy garden prints, with some thread and bead inspiration too. The little images of arches are a hedge from a garden visit, I can’t remember where, and what I think is a little stone altar, on a wall in Venice. I didn’t use these references eventually, they are saved for another day. I’ve always liked an arch.
Above, the finished piece, mixed materials on felt, 45 x 67 cm, 18 x 26 inches. I hand stitched it which did take a while, but when a piece is this sort of size manoeuvering it through the machine is unpleasantly difficult and can damage it, I’ve found.
A close up, above. The sky is indigo dyed silk. And below, a slightly closer view.
The stitching wasn’t particularly mindful or relaxing, as is the current fashion, but I didn’t think it would be. I use quite a few layers in some parts of my work and the needle doesn’t go through them with much grace. I use a sharpened bradawl to help. I’ve been doing this for years, one day I hope I will make something that is easy to hand stitch…I’m not holding my breath.
Below, an even closer view.
I have another five pieces waiting to be stitched, and no reason not to get on with them, so I’d better be off.
One of my intentions this year is to use materials I already have, and although my stash is small compared to many, there’s still enough to make a lot of work. I did actually decide this late last year, and although I wasn’t supposed to be buying anything new, I had a notion to use felt for some new work ideas, so naturally I had to buy some, albeit far too much. After buying it I decided it wasn’t for me, or at least the ideas weren’t for me.
It turns out that I was quite wrong. I had started to plan and make some new work, and found myself choosing the felt as the background. It’s lovely heather wool felt, and of course doesn’t fray, which makes edging really easy. I hate thinking of solutions for edging, so felt may be the chosen way for quite a while.
I am a member of Eclectica Artists, and we have regular Zoom meetings. We decided a project of sorts would be a good idea to keep us going, share developments at meetings and eventually hopefully exhibit the results. Naturally we didn’t pick a theme of any kind, as we never do, we are fully into each of us going our individual ways; we just decided to use recently taken images to work from.
I chose some images of a rose I had photographed, and did a fair amount of collage work, and some drawn ideas for applique and needlepoint pieces. I love a stripy flower.
When I started to choose fabrics and felt, the palette reverted to was one that is basically more my normal toned down approach, except for the brighter pink I still wanted to include, below. I had wanted to use full on bright pink and acid green, but they are making a guest appearance rather than being the leading participants.
Then the subject matter veered away from roses and butterflies, and landed once again on birds. Here are three pieces, all laid down and ready to stitch. They are around 65 45 cm/26 x 18 inches.
So these pieces were distinctly unplanned, but I believe in making what comes naturally. It may be that the more vivid pieces happen at some point, I hope so.
The recent snow inspired me to take a few photographs, and print some images on some silk. The silk was fairly horrible, very stiff, shiny and bright white. I have no idea why I bought it, but I’m glad I did, as it produced some snowy lovely tree prints. The two small images of arches were a possible idea for inclusion, which didn’t happen, but like the pink and green, may do in another piece.
Inspired by the previous flying hoopoe I wanted to do another flying bird. They both seem to flying in the same direction, so they must know something. This time I chose a jay as we often have one or occasionally two in our garden during the winter. I wanted the pink, black and white against the winter colours, and I’ll use beads to introduce the bright blue on the wings.
Now I must stop putting pieces together and actually finish them, so let’s see if that’s what the next blog is about. I have five to finish in the queue, but I may need to lay down a nice tropical bird using some of those bright colours first…
Periodically I declare to myself that I’ve made enough work featuring birds. I generally then make a few pieces with no avians, then, without actually being invited, they’re back, flying in, perching about the place, posing under the sun, or looking at the Moon.
I’d been mulling over some autumn coloured fabrics I’ve had for ages, and also some lovely textured silks that I was convinced I would never use. You know, the sort of thing you get out, stroke a bit, and put away again.
This time I didn’t put them away. Having a little experiment with them was the start, and I was convinced that I was going to make some pattern based pieces.
This was the first piece. Boring. So naturally I took the scissors to it and then the birds arrived. Painting some calico with Indian ink for the background seemed to get it all going, and these are the two pieces, below, that happened.
I’d like to make a third, I have enough silk and so on left, and having found a context to actually use it in that I like, I’m enthusiastic about making a third piece. With a bird, probably.
Here’s one of them, below, pinned up, waiting to be stitched. It’s between two other bird pieces that have a slightly more convoluted story, which undoubtedly I will post about at some point.
I didn’t deliberately set out to make a number of black and white pieces. I had some hoops, and some nice bits of painted black and white fabric, and some thick silk and so on, and they started to come together.
I sorted out a few drawings for some promts, and got going with the scissors. Hoops suit me these days. They’re easy to handle, the piece is all laid down and easy to stitch [up to a point, some of my textured painted fabric is like rock] and I can explore lots of ideas without wrestling with billowing large amounts of fabric. They’re my version of illustrated manuscripts, small detailed and contained worlds.
The start of a sea piece.
A fern piece on the go.
A somewhat exuberant starfish.
And another one.
An arch, based on topiary.
Painting some calico and the hoop with some Indian ink, lazy but an effective way of getting black fabric and doing the hoop at the same time.
Adding some white acrylic paint to another piece to make an active painterly background for the piece below.
Feeling a sudden need for a touch of colour, I added some orange to this piece and the two below.
And below, the last one, number nine, which will be absolutely covered in silver beads. I feel it needs the bling.
To follow, some close ups of some of the finished pieces. When they are all done I’ll put them on my website. They may be going to the Festival of Quilts next year, all paws crossed.
I fully endorse using whatever medium inspires you for whatever project you are developing. Conversely a medium and materials frequently inspire the creative process, so although I’m fully into using what you own as much as possible, new materials coming into the studio can really spark some fresh ideas.
I like to use needlepoint a lot these days to interpret ideas, but I still enjoy collage, drawing, using coloured pencils and paints, and appliquéd stitched fabrics and mixed media. I don’t force myself stick to one medium, the aim is keeping things totally enjoyable and as relaxed as creativity can ever be.
I had some hoops left over from previous projects, and thought about moving them along, but I’m glad I didn’t, because I’m stitching some small pieces in them at the moment with great enjoyment. They are fabulous for working on quite rapid pieces, and because they are so drum – like when stretched I can indulge myself with much beading and addition of other materials, like my porcelain pieces, and the odd pebble or bit of wood.
Above and below, sorting out some materials.
The materials in the image above inspired me to start a series of mostly white and black pieces, with the addition as necessary of small amounts of colour. This idea basically came from just going through my fabrics and grouping them together.
For the moment, back to the the two original pieces, shown here in progress.
And below, two white pieces in progress. I’m not sure if the sea theme will continue, we’ll see.
These are mixed painted fabrics and an ink drawing [on the first image] on silk. They are now being stitched.
Collage is my go to idea and design tool. I like a few simple line drawings to get down a selection of composition ideas, but collage adds in the shapes, colour, pattern and texture. It’s definitely a make it up as you go along and let’s see what happens medium. I find from this approach the best and freshest composition ideas emerge; it’s as if those simple childhood tools of scissors, paper and glue banish reserve and inhibition, and also simplify, which is something I always aim for in my work.
A mix of collage papers made from digitally manipulated images and overlays of papers photographed and printed out. To these papers I add paint, coloured pencil, screen print and mixed media.
Gathering together some materials to start working on some collages in a new A4 zig zag book, below.
Below, some pages from the book, simple shapes and blocks of complex imagery, open to interpretation in a variety of ways.
Above and below, collaged papers and screen printing over the collage.
Above, ink and cut out digitally manipulated prints from a drawing I made.
Above, a mix of printed digitally manipulated images, painted paper, gold leaf and screen print over the top.
The image above is a combination of digital and cut out paper collage photographed, fiddled with in Photoshop, and printed.
A few pages of the zig zag book. It’s great to work in and stores a lot of ideas for potential work.
More pages and some on going design ideas.
Above, an older collage that inspired the needlepoint below, almost finished, in great need of blocking, so please excuse its parallelogram nature.
I started this one with the intention of it being mostly whites, greys and black, but autumn crept in. It’s a mix of Rowan wool, bamboo yarn and tapestry wool.
I particularly like looking at peoples’ workshops and studios online and occasionally in real life. Naturally there is a lot to see, from amazing huge spaces to tiny corners and work stations in cupboards.
It seems this is a shared interest as when I posted an image of my little fabric trolley some time ago I had quite a few emails asking more about my workspace, small and less than amazing as it is.
I think people struggle with too much stuff, much of which is quite nice and may come in useful some day [if we lived to 250 or longer that is] and want a magic solution. I do too.
My main room is compact, now there’s a description, about 240 x 190 cm, approximately 8 x 6 feet. There’s a lot in it but I do pare down some of my materials for various reasons, which is probably a good idea, given the lack of space. I do however feel more creative with less stuff, and to move forward editing out ancient materials that seem to demand I use them even though it’s never going to happen, seems to be the way.
Some people love their stuff though and that’s fabulous.
The little trolley isn’t in use at the moment, he may come back soon, but I thought it would be fun to show a few images of the studio/workroom, and my plan chest, and my other work station downstairs [basically not far from the tv.]
I took these images after I had tidied up, I am a tidy person but don’t mind a mess when working, obviously. Well I say obviously but really only up to a point. I do have to be careful though as I fear I wouldn’t be able to get into, or worse, out of the room, if I didn’t keep an eye on things.
And to round off, some tomatoes. Well why not, they’ve done really well this year. I haven’t grown them for many years and it’s nice to be back.
Creativity is an interesting beast, being both a joy and a challenge. I have recently found myself being increasingly challenged by feeling creative but somehow managing to block it by demanding of myself that I work at something new, different, a complete change: all the usual stuff which can stop you in your tracks.
About five years ago at a birthday lunch with some friends we were chatting about our work, and when asked what I was working on, I admitted a need to try out some needlepoint, which had been on my mind for a while. I was reticent to admit it, to be honest, as I think it has a fairly middle of the road and staid image, although I had researched some exciting practitioners of the process.
Wonderfully, they were, as good artists and friends, very enthusiastic, almost thrilled, and this was emboldening. I have made several pieces over the years alongside my other textile practice, but find that stitched tapestry is increasingly becoming the way. Above and below, a few examples of my needlepoint.
So, I’ve concluded that overnight changes don’t work for me. I’m a slow burner, less exciting but going with the way I am is the only path that works for me. You may be different, and can boldly go, at warp factor 9, no less, and completely change tack, with huge enjoyment.
Whatever sort of artist you are, some assessment of your creative personality and, most importantly, acceptance of your make up will pay dividends. I think for me in the past this came naturally, but time can force us to be over analytical, question to the point of extinguishing an idea, and prevent us from any sort of progression.
So, to move on from a recent block, instead of demanding the shock of the new from myself, I responded to some recent advice and decided that doing things that came easily to me is fine, using inspiration that is an old friend is fine, and working with these rather than against them is more than fine, it’s the way for me. This creates a flow rather than a block, and with flow comes enjoyment, and I’m the sort of artist that likes enjoyment in my work.
Then, with that flow comes new ideas and creative directions, almost without trying. They may be slow in arriving but that’s fine. Don’t force it, just get something chilled going.
With all the above in mind, podcasts on, I got out my images folder, and picked out a few pictures that spoke to me. What I really love is collage, with some drawing and paint thrown in, a sort of loose playing around with shapes and patterns, scissors to hand, some nice pieces of printed paper to work with.
In its very early stages, above, a collage of mixed media. Coloured pencils, paint, fine liner pen, papers to be added, quite a lot of work to be done. This is heading in the direction of a design for a largish needlepoint, part of a series, but also, I hope, a piece of work in its own right.
Of the series of needlepoints, one is finished but not photographed properly yet, one is partly done, and this one, still at this stage. I know that the collage will be more complex than the needlepoint, as I tend to like a marginally simpler look with the stitched pieces.
So basically I get the spontaneity of collage and mixed media, and the interpretation into another, very different medium, something considerably slower to make, in which I can still make creative decisions as I go along, and one that will, believe it or indeed not, still surprise as it gently evolves.
I’ve finished some work which is waiting now to be wrapped in cellophane. I like the wrapping, it shows the job is done and that’s that, into the drawer, onto the next thing. Simple pleasures.
So here are a few finished pieces, and if browsers are actually allowed they will be in one at my show at the RBSA Gallery in Birmingham in November. If they’re not I’ll be sad, but there we are. I tend not to frame a lot these days; that was the plan a few posts back, but sensibly I’ve found people like to choose their own frames, and, if the work doesn’t go to a new home it comes back here, and frames are tedious to store. I am short of space and they do like to damage themselves.
Fossil sun 40 x 35 cm
Moth night 45 x 40 cm
Fossil Moon 35 x 35 cm
Gold Moon, moth forest 45 x 20 cm
Dragonfly forest 30 x 28 cm
White tree 30 x 25 cm
Blue forest 48 x 48 cm
And to finish, two jolly hoops.
Tropical night 30 cm diameter
Tropical Moon 30 cm diameter
I’m writing this on a very wet dull day, that definitely calls out for more colour. Time to get the paints out, let’s see what happens…
I seem to be on a mission at the moment to use up what I have when making work. This practice has been ticking over for a while but has gained momentum recently.
I have bought some new materials this year, some paints and new coloured pencils, some threads and fabric to experiment with something new. This last purchase was probably not wise, but you have these ideas…
I have a pile of old embroideries, work that has been to a few shows, work that’s been in my browser for sale for a while, work that just went nowhere, started but unfinished work. I’ve been sorting through it and basically cutting it up, repurposing it, and hopefully regenerating it into new pieces. It’s quite a relief to be rid of the accusing pile of old work. I thought I’d finished going through it but found another couple of pieces stored away, so they are for the chop next. It’s difficult sometimes as the work is quite nice, but I seriously don’t need any more stuff hanging around; that’s the problem when you have been somewhat productive.
I’ve mostly made smaller pieces from the materials, which will be machine and hand stitched, and mounted for framing. I have a show at the RBSA Gallery in Birmingham in November, so it’s good to have a destination for some work, at last.
Here are some of the materials either waiting to be regenerated or having gone under the scissors. There are about 15 pieces in all, probably more to follow.
These pieces, above, were one big piece, laid down but not stitched. They are now 4 pieces. I made a nice new useful fabric from lots of painted silk scraps bonded onto some silk gauze, bottom left, and this will be cut up and added to the jungly pieces. I spent ages cutting those leaves out and I’m not wasting all that effort!
This piece of printed fabric, below, has been around for some time. It only needed some simple applique, as the images are too nice to cover up. That’s what I love about printing, the beautiful surprises and crunchy visual texture. It’s metallic screen printed acrylic paint on cotton, over dyed with indigo.
Any useful bits and pieces left over go into my collage folder. There’s s a lot of useful stuff in here, lots of potential for cutting and sticking. I still find collage one of the best design tools.
So, next, some hoop action. I had some hoops I wanted to use up, and these ended up featuring some recycled older work too. The first three are 30cm/12 inch hoops, the other two are 25cm/10 inches.
Working at these and in the garden, with some outdoor outings and meet ups, are mainly what I am doing these days. I’ve taken up Qigong again too. I used to really enjoy it when I went to Tai Chi, where we did series of Qigong exercises before the Tai Chi part of the class. I didn’t really enjoy Tai Chi at all, but loved Qigong. After a couple of weeks of short daily practice my frozen shoulder was healed. This wasn’t t the intention of going to the classes, it just happened.
There’s a great chap on YouTube, Jeffrey Chand.
So, a few garden images, yes I know everyone is putting up garden and plant images, but let’s celebrate the plant world, we wouldn’t be here without it.
The vegetable patch, mostly in pots around the garden. Things are a bit slow, but no too bad for a north facing semi shaded garden.
A bit more sun and the tomatoes will ripen. Above is a very mini Turk’s turban squash, which I don’t think is going to be very big, but I didn’t expect anything at all and love the way the plant is rambling everywhere, using any plant it passes to hold itself up. I have a fairly random approach to vegetable growing, fully appreciating the daily pickings. Salad leaves and courgettes seem to be the stars this year.
Hopefully, next time, some finished regenerated pieces. Have safe fun everyone!
I’m continuing with my minor obsession of stitching in hoops; actually I could do quite happily do all my work in hoops, I love a circle.
These are part of my Midsummer series, named after the subject matter and the rich dense colours in the pieces. The first three are 36 cm/10 inch hoops, the last three are 15 cm/6 inch hoops. More may follow…
Well, after having been around the block [still channelling Quincy Jones here] with blog/no blog/Instagram, here I am back again.
Many thanks to everyone who tried to follow the blog when it moved to Weebly, who proved to be particularly hopeless at blog hosting. Then I thought I’d rely on Instagram, keep it fresh and so on, but no, some idiot decided to have a go at copying my account, disappointingly badly too, I must say.
So I’ve ditched IG for the time being, quite possibly forever. It’s a shame, I liked it, but I can’t bear being messed around. No harm to any of my followers though, and thank you for all the support. Not the support from Instagram though, who are also particularly hopeless, so that puts me off too.
So, whinging aside, I hope everyone is well, as indeed there are unfortunately more important things afoot. So here’s some hopefully nice pictures, for your entertainment.
A collection of finished landscapes, all mounted and ready to go to the framers, hopefully to go in some exhibitions next year. Below, some individual pieces; they are all smaller than A3 size.
I thought it would be interesting to try out a few pieces in a mix of white and cream screen printed fabrics, and to add some porcelain pieces too, below.
I admit some black and more gold crept in, and the porcelain didn’t really want to be involved as much as I wanted it to be. It is creamy coloured and looks wrong on a strong white. Above and below, some pieces in progress.
Time now to get out the sewing machine to get going with that stage of the making. The prints are based on fossils, moths and flowers from my own thermofax screens, printed using acrylic paint. There is appliquéd fabric too.
As a complete change, I thought a touch of tropical colour would be fun to work with next. I got these two pieces of stored work out ready to chop them up and repurpose them, but it turns out I quite want to keep them as they are, and finish them, albeit with dark glasses on, especially for the chappie on the left.
I’m hoping, but not promising, to make some more colourful work. I can’t help thinking that the inevitable black and white may creep in, but I resolutely have little piles of brightly coloured fabrics around to prompt me.
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.
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.
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.