Variety is the spice of…

There are many ways of approaching your creative practice. When I made ceramics, I put my creative effort into that practice, but kept up a little textile experimentation on the side, when I had time. There wasn’t a lot of time, and I became a little frustrated.

When I eventually moved into textiles full time, I concentrated on hand stitching using fabrics I painted and printed myself, bringing in machine stitching after a year or so. I loved that practice, and still enjoy these methods of making collaged pieces.

This developed into artist’s book making, using mixed media and fabrics, still with a lot of stitch. This is also ongoing, and as long as the ideas and words keep coming I will keep doing it.

Then I developed an urge to do a spot of needlepoint. This developed because I love woven textiles, but I’m not a weaver, and I met Tina Francis, whose needlepoint works I  greatly admire.

So, at the moment, I appear to be working in all these disciplines, either separately, or in combination. Whatever develops intrinsically and without forcing, that will be the way.

So, after that long preamble, a little visual mix here of what I’m up to at the moment.

I’m making some new artist’s books. These are based on some text and stories I have written. The stories are each basically a few paragraphs long, based upon my observations of life, and are autobiographical. They are just something I need to say, and making books is my way of communicating them.

Above you can see some of the materials I am collecting, mostly digital images of my work and photographs, sometimes collaged via Photoshop, sometimes collaged with scissors and glue. The results will be applied to Khadi paper pages, then stitched.

The books are part of the satchel project I mentioned in my last post. This is an imagined travelling private library; there is a large square format book in the making, and there will be a concertina book, and perhaps one other smaller book.

Above are some of the materials for the satchel, namely the front and back. The blue fabrics are joined together leftovers from a previous project, and the floral piece is a cross stitch picture my mother sewed some years ago. She wasn’t that keen on cross stitch, but gave it a go and was determined to finish it.

Initially I was going to frame it, but using it as part of the book satchel has more meaning for me; when the stories satchel has been exhibited and done its little tour, I will use the satchel, albeit carefully.

I’ve started to get another needlepoint ready to go. This is naughty, as I have 3 on the go at the moment; they will be finished, but when I have an idea I like to move it along. Moving things along with tent stitch is not recommended if you are in a hurry…

Drawn out on the canvas. It’s not too large this time, about 30 cm long. It will be colourful, as the bird is a Gouldian finch, but I haven’t yet decided on the yarns.

Lastly I have actually made something useful. Our new bed needed an end of bed quilt to tie the colours in the room together, and this is it. I made it using a lovely piece of vintage linen curtain, with appliqué squares, and some of my very old kimono. It’s hand stitched with beads, but machine stitched around the border. It is, as usual with my work, quite stiff, but lies well and doesn’t misbehave. It doesn’t so much tie the room together as totally dominate it, but that’s good enough for me.


12 thoughts on “Variety is the spice of…

  1. Love the quilt! It has a mid century modern look to it with the black/yellow and red fabrics and I also love this breakdown of your working practice. Being able to turn your hand to all these processes and choose which medium suits the message you want to convey is great. Don’t worry about starting something else, just keep going Steph. The time to worry is when you have no ideas whatsoever and don’t want to do any of the ones you do have! Can’t see that happening any time soon somehow.
    Using Mum’s cross stitch in your satchel is perfect. That way you’ll stop it becoming a relic and make it something you see and use frequently; and when you do it will be a lovely reminder of her. That stitching must have taken hours to complete so let it be seen and admired.

    1. I think the fabric is mid century Lesley, well spotted. I’ve had it for ages so it’s good to use it. That’s my thing at the moment, using rather than storing; I’m glad you see the point of using the cross stitch in a similar way.
      I must say it’s good to want to get going with my work again; I have been through quite a long period of feeling distinctly unenthusiastic. To anyone in a similar position I would say just do 10 minutes a day, which may expand naturally as these things do, to keep your balance, and to attempt to keep yourself tuned in.

      1. Just picked up a You Tube film by Hilary B about Concealed at Llanidloes and see it still has a week to run. If the weather is good we’re going to take a run up there and I will FINALLY see your work in the flesh. That will be so cool after all this time. It looks like a wonderful exhibition so I shall hope for a sunny day for a long drive up the coast with a textile treat at the end of it!

  2. I quite agree with moving things along as you think of them. There are always times when inspiration falters, and having something already thought-through to work on gets you over that hurdle!

  3. That’s so true Rachel, it’s good to have something to just pick up and get on with. Of course needlepoint is ideal for that…especially when you have three lots of it on the go.

  4. The satchel project sounds glorious Stephanie; a portable private library of artists books, what’s not to love! And that quilt is so beautiful 😊

  5. I used to be a strictly ‘one at a time’ sort of person, but I think that was largely because the needlepoint pieces wouldn’t have got finished if I’d diverted – and also because they told me what they wanted as I stitched them rather than beginning with a proper plan. But having started to explore freer hand stitch and fabric I’m finding it much easier to have a couple of pieces on the go, and at this rate who knows what next 🙂

  6. Hi Anny, I think we tend to change the way we work fairly frequently, depending upon what medium we are using and how many different approaches we can cope with.
    It’s true that needlepoint does require a stronger grip though, that’s one area I may have to devote more time to, to actually make sure I finish projects.

  7. Llanidloes in the sunshine today was glorious! It is years since I went to the Minerva Centre and my how it has changed – for the better. I really enjoyed the exhibition Steph and enjoyed donning the white gloves to finally work through one of your original books. I would have taken home the two neighbouring panels with yours and Louise Baldwin’s work on. Two great creative artists side by side. So glad I went to see your work up close but I enjoyed all of it and was glad to have made the journey.

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