A summer celebration.

To celebrate summer, which has unfortunately mostly ended, I thought I would gather together some summer pages and words from some of my artist’s books. The books are basically constructed using mostly fabric and paper, with stitch, and my words. I’ve been making them since 2009, when I made Into the Cacao Grove, my first artist’s book.

This post was prompted by a lovely person in Guildford who wants to read some of my poetry [she kindly describes my words as poetry] to her poetry group. Their theme next month is summer, so this led to this gathering together of some summer images and words. This is, I confess, quite a long post.

The books here, or rather the pages I am showing from the books, are collections of bound pages, excepting The Moth Pages at the end. I bind in a not entirely traditional way. Three of my artist’s books are quite large, the largest being 90 x 56 x 8 cm, and quite heavy with it. They are well travelled and frequently make appearances when I teach. I hope to be taking one at least to Embroidery, Fashion and Stitch next March, depending upon how much space we have.

To start, the cover of The Summer Gardens. The whole of this book is on my website, if you want to see and read all of it.

There are selections of pages from all my books on my website.

Next, some pages from the summer section of Shadow and Light, one of my big books that measures 75 x 35 x 10 cm. First, the cover, then I have grouped each two page spread together.

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Below, two sets of pages from The Stone Bird, another biggie measuring 80 x 58 x 9 cm.

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Continuing with three pairs of pages from Concealed Revealed, a book featuring a collection of my haiku.

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I couldn’t resist including The Moth Pages, as it rarely has an outing, being rather large hanging book. It’s based on the lime hawk moth. Below, the full piece. It measures 2.5 x 2 m, and is made from a mix of fabrics, digitally printed fabrics and papers, stitch and embellishment.

Colour and light.

The light changed a couple of weeks ago, from bland summer light one day to more considered autumnal light the next. I’ve noticed before that it can seem to be an overnight occurrence. Whilst I miss the long summer days,  I love the complexity of this light, and the cooler interludes suddenly invaded by a a few hours of hot sun before some quite wonderful clouds move in to take charge of the situation.

I was at the Festival of Quilts in August, and one of the many things I enjoyed there was stocking up on some fabrics. This was interesting, as I only intended buying calico to paint and print on. The thing is, new fabrics bring stimulation and new ideas, increase creativity and basically are just so much fun to choose and buy. To be honest I just loved buying stuff. However, it’s not just adding to my stash, honestly, my fabric supplies had gone right down to basically just some calico, and my own painted and printed fabrics, which were also quite low.

So, here’s my new fabric drawer, full of lovely raw materials for future work. I also bought more calico to use for some new painted fabric, as I always like to use personal fabrics as well as commercial fabrics in my work. There’s a mix here of Moda Grunge, Oakshott cottons, silk, felt, African and Japanese fabric, plains, and a couple of patterned pieces I liked.And probably one or two other bits of cloth I’ve missed.

So, some new work has emerged using the new fabrics, which proves, as far as I’m concerned, everything I’ve just said about increased creativity…

One of my favourite little birds, Gouldian finches, make from a mix of painted fabrics, commercial fabrics and silk organza, waiting to be hand stitched. 48 x 48 cm/19 x 19 inches.

Below, the whole piece and the stitching started.

Below, more colour with this red throated bee eater, the same size as the piece above.

I’ve used quite a lot of my pained fabrics in this piece, but the background, as in the Gouldian finch piece, is Moda Grunge fabric. This is handy fabric as it looks hand painted; I have a very small studio so it helps not to have to paint large pieces of fabric for backgrounds, I can concentrate on smaller more intense painted and printed pieces. I need more acrylic paints too, goodo, another shopping trip!

To finish, some early autumn reading. Not having been on holiday for quite a few years gives one the wonderful justification for a little book buying spree. Naturally this justification can be used indefinitely.

I saw the Opus Anglicanum exhibition in 2017, and it is one of a handful of my favourite exhibitions of all time. The book is fantastic.

Another favourite exhibition, one I saw a few years ago, was of illuminated manuscripts at the British Library. The colour and detail of the illustrations in the manuscripts and Opus Anglicanum embroidery is such an inspiration. So I went a little crazy and bought three books about medieval manuscripts; Christopher de Hamel is such a good writer, witty and erudite and addictive. The Seeds book I have wanted for ages, it is so brilliant. And lurking beneath is Dorothy Dunnett, not that we can ever accuse Dorothy of lurking. It’s the first of the House of Niccolo series. I now have all eight books, purchased by various methods, from charity shop to new, and although I have read the first two, some years ago, I’m starting at the beginning again. Got to love Dorothy, also witty, erudite and addictive.

 

A few more stories.

I’ve finished laying down the last few pages of my Stories project, and to keep everything as adjacent as possible, ie two posts together on the same subject, here they are.

The first three images show a variety of pages, with the final image being just one page. They are all A3.

So this project will be one I will be working on for quite a while, so probably now won’t be seen until it’s finished. How it will be displayed is something I hope will unfold as I complete the pages with stitch and so on.

I had an excellent time last week at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham, in the Art Textiles: Made in Britain gallery. I had spent a great deal of time over the last 6 months organising this space, so was more than relieved it went so well. I would point out that other members of the group contributed too, as it is a huge undertaking.

It’s a fabulous group of very talented textile artists, and to say the stand was popular would be an understatement. Enough bigging us up, here’s a few images. There are more on our website, link below, and Facebook.

 The above two images show some of my work from the gallery, Dark Tiger, a mixed media series of panels, 2.5 m x 80 cm, and Nest, 60 cm diameter, made from various wires, stitched paper, plastic, wood, and pebbles.

www.arttextilesmadeinbritain.co.uk

All text and images, and text within the work is copyright Stephanie Redfern.

Stories.

I’ve had a piece of work on my mind for absolutely ages, nagging away. It wasn’t, for some long time, a piece of work at all, but lots of jotted down and sketched out ideas, some pieces half done on textile and paper, with accompanying words. I wanted a couple of pieces to include work that isn’t brand new, but hasn’t been widely seen. The project was unwieldy.

I thought I might make the work across several formats, and went in and out of many ideas and combinations for ages. It was frustrating as I knew I wanted to make the piece but was certainly getting nowhere. It did eventually gain a title – Stories.

Eventually I decided that as a mostly orderly sort of person, I would fare better if I just decided on a format and get on with it. This decision took about 18 months…

I have some very nice Fabriano Accademia cartridge paper, A3, which is satisfyingly neat, matte, and prints nicely, in inkjet terms. I’d already made some collages using it and these will be included in the whole piece; I’ve shown them in a previous post. With this regular format I then realised the piece would just have to be a book. I haven’t decided yet whether it will be a hanging book, or a bound one. As the pages are a mix of landscape and portrait, a bound book could be interesting!

It’s based on the seasons, and these images show spring and summer. I’ll be making autumn and winter next, so all the pieces will be prepared and ready to be finished in the next stitching stage of the project, to aid continuity.

So dotted through this post so far are some of the pieces, ready to be finished with some stitch and other mixed media.

Below, a few close ups.

Naturally this won’t be the last time I blog about Stories, I have a feeling it will go on for a while. I’m a bit slow at the moment, blame the hot weather, not my favourite by any means! Cooler weather asap please, less to do in the garden and more energy all round.

For those who can visit, it’s Festival of Quilts time next week at the NEC in Birmingham, UK. It’s not all quilts though; I’m with Art Textiles: Made in Britain, and you can see our work in gallery TG13. It will be fabulous, we have some very talented members.

www.arttextilesmadeinbritain.co.uk

 

 

 

All images and text copyright Stephanie Redfern.

A romp through the RA.

I love the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy in London, and this year I was lucky enough to visit it again. It’s an annual pleasure and such good fun. There’s so much to see and it’s so diverse that there’s no pressure, you’re never going to see or remember all or even a good sized part of it so you can just relax. Of course in adopting that approach you probably do actually remember more of what you’ve seen, and of course photographs help. So, here’s a shot of one of the working areas, a corridor where they store the odd statue and all the spare coat hangers, of course, as we all do. I confess to finding these behind the scenes areas as fascinating as the exhibitions at times.

In the courtyard, Anish Kapoor’s Symphony for a beloved daughter.

Grayson Perry’s yellow rooms.

Infinity by Olga Lomaka.

Anthro Earth by Jess Warby. There seemed to be more textiles in the show this year than I’d seen before, could it be Grayson Perry’s influence?

Reflections in the artist’s spectacles by Anthony Green RA.

Living by the sea, with your dog, what’s not to like. In between the islands by Jenny Wheatley.

I always enjoy some Joana Vasconcelos. This is Royal Valkyrie.

Half and half art by Russell Davies and Ben Terrett.

Europe running through my veins by Tisna Westerhof. Says it all.

Vegetable portraits, one of my favourite genres. Runner by Jane Hopper.

Above, Gnasher, and below, Rufus 3rd, by Timothy Blewitt. These were amazing pieces, attracting much attention.

This was a very large piece, Le village Hollandais by Jock McFadyen RA.

Below, loved the silver foil wall covering.

Eggy Pop by Gary Miller, and Fergus by Peter Jones.

Red bear by Debbie Lawson.

Above and below, some models from the architecture room. These always amaze me.

Centre above, a large mixed media piece by El Anatsui, Hon RA.

On the left, Maritsa by the late Gillian Ayres RA.

More general views, with below, Temporary fence by Graham Guy-Robinson.

Above and below, two enormous pieces by David Hockney, Inside it opens up as well, and, Seven trollies, six and a half stools, six portraits, eleven paintings and two curtains.

I love the wall colours the individual room curators choose, from Grayson Perry’s bright yellow, to the silver foil, pearlescent  blue in the architecture room, turquoise blue and this yummy pink.

Il letto by Geoff Uglow, above, and the sculpture is Pissenlit 3 by Amanda Benson.

Below, Young academician by Yinke Shonibare RA, followed by a view of one of the print rooms.

Well, there we are for another year. It's always tempting to give it a go and 
enter a piece of work for consideration, who knows, next year perhaps...

Dark Tiger and Nest.

I’ve been making new work for the Art Textiles: Made in Britain gallery at the Festival of Quilts this August at the NEC in Birmingham. This wasn’t actually  my original plan, I was going to show some work that is in my new book, but I was waylaid by some pieces I’ve made in a sculpture class I’ve been attending at mac in Birmingham.

I decided to use the objects I’ve made to start off some new pieces for the show. The theme for the gallery is Wild, which is, as they say, right up my street.

I was planning to use plaster and other messy materials in the class, but after a rummage through the materials in the studio spotted a variety of wires.    I’ve wanted to make a giant nest for some time, but hadn’t got round to it, and without the class would never have made in with wire. I did like the result of all that twisting and weaving.

Here are some images of Nest in progress.

It started with a base of chicken wire, too which I added a mix of aluminium wires.

After the initial basic construction I brought it home to finish. I decided to use Khadi paper printed with some of my words and images and cut into leaf shapes, to line the bottom, and added some plastic leaves made from milk containers, pebbles and beads. I wanted to keep to the cool, austere palette of colours suggested by the silver wire.

The leaves and beads were stitched onto the base. I can’t pretend, this took ages and I was glad when I’d finished. The nest is about 65 cm in diameter so it was quite unwieldy, if very light.

And below, the finished nest.

The next piece that developed from the sculpture class is a series of five panels called Dark Tiger. I’d spotted some dowels in the materials cupboard, and wanted to use them for something, so started to wire them together. The resultant screens lead to Dark Tiger.

Here they are, a little pile of screens that have driven me slightly crazy by constantly entangling themselves with each other.

The designs for Dark Tiger emerged from this collage, below, that I made some weeks ago. It’s around 80 x 30 cm. I liked and wanted to use these painted and printed papers for something; it had no destination at the time. I added some black and white images of tulips, some bold stitch for texture and detail, and this was the result.

Thinking it would be ideal for the project, I photographed it, and printed various images of it onto fabric using my inkjet printer, using cotton poplin and cotton twill on a roll. This fabric is made by Blumenthal Craft. It’s really easy to use, with good colour and definition, but I did a test piece as you need to jiggle with your images to get exactly what you want.

 Some of the printed fabrics, and also some images and drawings of mine I printed out too; these didn’t make the edit for this piece.After constructing the five panels using appliqué, I machine stitched them, and added many beads and some hand stitch.

Above, a close up of one of the panels, and below, the centre finished panel, mounted onto the wooden frame. The tiger is from one of my drawings, she’s had a prowl through Photoshop. The frames have been inked black with Indian ink, and the stitched textile panel was mounted onto a double layer of A3 Khadi paper, also inked black. There has been much use of my bodger, or bradawl to give it it’s proper name.

The screen will be about 2.5 metres in length. I’ll be working on it at the Creative Craft Show this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the NEC, Birmingham.

Sue Bibby and I are sharing stand E28, and it looks as if it’s going to be a great show, with lots of textile artists and suppliers, so come if you can.

If you don’t like the heat it’ll be really cool too, the NEC has great air conditioning.

http://www.stitchandhobby.co.uk

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A blog post without an image seems weird, so here’s a gentle summery picture, one I made earlier.

 

Scissor action part 2.

Working with collage has been one of my favourite ways of exploring and planning new work for a very long time. This is how I start, below, by basically getting out far too many papers and mixed materials. Generally I then begin to put groups of related materials together, and that will either spark ideas, or furnish ideas I already have.

I usually make the collages as preparation for work in other media, namely textiles, artist’s books and needlepoint, but lately some pieces have branched out and declared independence.

I began this piece, above, with the intention of making just one collage based upon spring. I then decided to use the text in another piece, and also liberally took the scissors to the coloured papers; this caused it to develop into five pieces, echoing, I like to think, the generosity and vitality of the season. Many enjoyable hours were spent in digital experiment using some of my images taken in museums and gardens, and in printing out more papers, even though I had planned to use what I already had. This plan nearly always fails.

The finished pieces are all A3 size, and although I planned to print them digitally onto fabric, I like the flat crisp appearance of the paper pieces, so I reckon these are the finished pieces now. It’s possible I may add some long metallic thread stitches, through some pre-made holes; there is a nice little Japanese tool available for this, and I am tempted to buy one.

I placed 3d objects on the collages too, which would work interestingly should the pieces ever become digitally printed textile works. If they were printed onto fabric I feel they would work best if they were quite large, perhaps about 2 m wide. It’s a thought.

Onto some collages now that I think would work as textile pieces at exactly the size they are, which is about 65 x 55 cm. I like them as paper pieces too though, and like the collages above I placed some 3d objects on the first piece.

 

They definitely need more fine detail, for which stitch would be ideal. The collage below isn’t yet stuck down, and has no 3d additions as yet. This was entirely inspired by the acrylic painted and printed papers.

I’m using the scraps in an accordion Moleskine pad, as you can see at the top of the image.

I’m very fond of this one, above, basically because I love a black background, and it’s based on fossils. It’s a little bigger than A3, and I think could be a versatile chap, in that I would quite like to see it digitally printed, with machine and hand stitch stitch added. It would make an interesting needlepoint too.

These two collages above are now stuck down, and as they are on Khadi paper I am going to machine stitch them, photograph them with some added 3d pieces such as wood and shells, then print them onto fabric and see what happens next. It’s a convoluted project that I’m letting unfold; I possibly have some sort of constructed screen in mind.

Thanks for getting this far, nearly there now. I have been mentioning my book over the past couple of years on this blog, and it’s now available, published by Search Press, and Amazon are willing to sell you a copy should you fancy it.

Back to work on those collages, I’m running out of glue.

 

Wols.

It’s handy to have a couple of needlepoint projects to get on with between other work and when you just need to stitch easily through some nice big holes. It’s particularly easy when large areas of one colour are being stitched, but I tend to make colour combinations and mixing decisions as I go along, so it’s not always entirely chilled. But it keeps the process lively, which is good.

Recently I decided that I wanted to make a piece of work featuring an owl, so duly drew a rather regular image of a barn owl, deciding I could make the piece more exciting using unusual combinations of yarns and stylised patterning.

However, whilst searching through some images to inspire an interesting background, I found an image of a collage I made a couple of years ago. It was quite large, so I photographed it and then let it go. I thought it may be useful in the future, and so it has been.

Immediately those two chaps in the top left hand corner introduced themselves; they were all the owl I needed. And then, the small black and white block on the right became owl number three. Also there’s a budgie in there, he’ll have to be included I think, but there again he may think he’s owl prey so maybe not…

I find using collage the most exciting design and idea tool. It produces vigorous and entirely surprising results which lead to original and quirky work. Luckily browsing through my images reminded me again of the power of collage. I’m looking forward to getting my paper and materials out to start some new collage pieces, which may remain simply as themselves or be translated into other media and work at some point.

So, back to the owls, who I can’t help calling Wols, as Owl called himself in the Winnie the Pooh books. I love those books, they have been a comfort.

Here we have the needlepoint drawn out in black pen, with the stitching started. The owls are less intimidating than in the collage as I felt I had to give them eyes.

Obligatory flat lay image of materials.

I’ve also started this piece, based once again on collage, in this case a mix of fabrics I collaged to stitch as part of a throw. I like to have two pieces on the go with different colour themes.

It’s been started, unpicked a little when I changed my mind about colours, and features a favourite subject, the full Moon, in addition to the other elements in the original piece. I notice increasingly or perhaps more attentively that he time of a full Moon makes me very twitchy and I sleep poorly. This is nothing to do with the light of the Moon as we are under thick cloud mostly these days so I didn’t even get to gaze at it this time, which is a pity, I do love it. There is apparently no scientific evidence for these effects, but I know I’m not alone…

 

Botanical inspiration.

Spring must be here. For the first time in months a touch of gardening appealed; mostly chopping down, superficial clearing up and sweeping, and in the rain too, such was my enthusiasm.

I like to keep the garden at a certain level of decency, and it does perform quite well, at a distance, due to the fact there are a lot of plants, from shrubs to trees to perennials and bulbs, in quite a small space. Close up examination of its various areas shows more work could be done, but there we are, a garden is never ‘done’, and birds and wildlife like a bit of disarray.

The reason there are lots of plants is because over the years I kept buying  them, as basically I love plants. In another life I would have liked to have been a botanist.

So, there isn’t much of a scheme, it’s variety rather than planned order; an amazing leaf, a fascinating structure, an unusual flower will always thrill me.

So I thought I would post some images and a few words about some of the plants from our garden and the pieces of work they have inspired.

I like to work from my own images and drawings as much as possible. Here’s a selection.

I photographed these auriculas, below, a couple of years ago, and did a series of design and idea sheets from the images, and several pieces of work, some of which are shown here.

The two pieces below are about 75 cm and 45 cm long respectively.

The piece below is quite small, about 20 cm by 20 cm.

These images below are of our toad lily, the flowers of which I love, as I so enjoy a speckled plant. I used the images as a basis for textile work and prints, many of which appeared in one of my artist’s books, Mist and Grey. Some of the pages from the book are shown below.

The piece above, also from Mist and Grey, was inspired by these exquisite and tiny fallen toad lily petals, which I laminated before stitching onto the page.

Nasturtiums, plants I have loved and grown since childhood. I even wrote and illustrated a little book when I was ten called Mr. Nasturtium. They don’t grow as well in the garden as they used to, perhaps they were put off because we kept eating them. Anyway, here are just a few pieces based on this charming plant, starting with work in progress.

The two pieces above are around 20 x 20 cm and 40 x 18 cm. The piece below is a triptych, each piece measuring about 75 x 45 cm.

This piece, below, is from an autobiographical hanging book called 14 Books. I made the plant illustrations using ink and watercolour, and applied them to Khadi paper, with added fabric leaves. I then added stitch. The plant featured was in our garden for years, unfortunately it’s gone now. Its name escapes me.

And finally, to celebrate the season, a little sprouting bean I stitched some time ago.

Also, for those of you in the vicinity, I have a stand with textile artist Sue Bibby at the Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch show at the NEC, Birmingham, from March 15-18. Visit if you can, it’s a great show, and come and say hello.

Scissor action.

A couple of weeks ago I collected quite a lot of work from Search Press in Kent, which was there to be photographed and included in my book, Stitched Textiles: Nature. This is due out this year, sometime in May, no less.

It’s been a while since I finished writing it [ November 2016 ] and also since the step by step and so on photographic sessions last summer, but hopefully, and I always say hopefully, it will soon be here in person. I’ve seen the flat sheets and they look very good, mainly due to the amazing work done by my editor, Beth Harwood. How she does that job I don’t know, it would drive me crazy!

So, the returned work has required a lot of attention, re-mounting, framing and so on. I was going to send some to the framers, but I was lucky enough to buy a small selection of large gold frames at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists annual sale. I’ve been fancying a move away from the pale Scandi look frames I have favoured over the last few years, so now I have this rather grander, richer looking group of frames for some of the work. They are not new, and although I’ve done a little retouching, they do look as if they have some history. I like this, and I like reusing and repurposing  as much as possible these days. It’s a minor and enjoyable obsession. It’s a pity there weren’t more, but I found a couple more larger frames in a local charity shop too. I did have to supplement these with a couple from Habitat but there we are.

Some of the pieces featured in the book will be at the Festival of Quilts, in the Art Textiles: Made in Britain gallery in August.

So, with just one more piece of framing to finish, which I must do, I enjoyed myself yesterday with a bit of free form composition, using some fabrics I have been holding onto for a while. I need a throw, and in the spirit of using what you already own, thought it was time to use them, and make one.

So having made card templates for a leaf, a spiral and a cross, and with a lot of free snipping, I made a collection of appliquéd fabrics ready to stitch. I will wad and finish them separately and construct the whole thing afterward.

I do love design with the emphasis on the use of scissors, it’s a really free way to work, and I often like the results as much as if I’d have drawn, designed and agonised for ages over the work. There is also the freedom of knowing the throw is just for us, and it occurred to me that most projects benefit from being approached in this way.

Anyway, waffle over, here’s some images.

I used a mix of fabrics, included some I had printed and painted, scraps from my old kimono and a top I had during the 1990s, some African dyed indigo, some vintage curtain fabric, and some plain pieces of variously coloured cottons. I think I’ll go for hand stitch, using some off white thicker thread rather than lots of different colours.

 

 

Close to home.

I find that the same themes, with variations, appear over and over in my work. These include the rainforest, landscape, natural history collections, birds, the sea. However, one piece of subject matter to which I have frequently returned is extremely close to home. This is our small, suburban back garden. It has appeared in many pieces work, and has influenced countless others. I have been looking out at it and looking after it for nearly 37 years, so obviously it’s fairly profoundly etched into my conscious and subconscious mind.

So, when people ask where I get my ideas from, I often list those inspirations above. But I could make work based upon our garden forever. It’s small, crowded, interesting, not perfect, houses a pond with two ancient quite ugly fish, of whom I am very fond, has something going on throughout the seasons and entertains a good variety of birds. At the moment, there is an open space beyond the garden, which in winter affords a different dimension and sense of distance, as well as foxes and badgers. So I count myself as very lucky indeed, and what follows are some pieces of work inspired by this little plot.

Firstly, The Summer Gardens is an artist’s book I made a couple of years ago, which hasn’t been out and about very much. I may take it to a couple of shows this year. Below are some images of it’s making and pages, some of which, shown here, are based upon our garden.

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Below, a number of pieces either of the garden, or in the case of the last four images, work that was inspired by the garden and that have become woodland pieces. This is no surprise as the garden has a few [over] large trees and we are overlooked by even larger trees too.

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So, there we are, close to home and plenty to be going on with.

All the pieces of work are between A3 and A1 in size.

Happy New Year!

More images than words in this post, well, not really, but hopefully not too much in the way of text.

A little round up of finished work, work in progress, and shots of some rather nice materials.

First, some work waiting to have some hand stitch applied and to be mounted and finished.

This is In the Blue Forest, based upon some haiku I wrote earlier in the year. This piece has been through several permutations, which is basically the way it works with me and multiple part pieces; many changes are made before I’m happy with the arrangement.

The Light through the Trees, also based upon some haiku. These two pieces will be framed when completed; I have a few exhibitions coming up this year so they will earn their keep.

Above, Yellow Birds, a piece which has a story attached, which may appear in the finished work, or at least beside it when it’s exhibited.

A little screen print of one of my favourite bird drawings; he looks quite worried this chap, in need of reassurance. The needlepoint they have been photographed on is actually finished, but I have yet to hang it on the wall to photograph it properly. It’s serving as a useful background in several shots though.

Some rather lovely yarns from Blacker Yarns, a birthday present in early December. They’re below too. I don’t want to un-hank them.

Below, a chunky winter journal that I completed just before Christmas, using a mix of papers and some fabric too. It’s a collection of memories, textile pieces, and a story I wrote, Mistletoe, which I hope to also turn into a needlepoint. This may drive me nuts as I am planning, at this stage, to include the text stitched into the piece. This is not a definite, I’m still at that lovely stage of imagining it done before it’s even started.

Below, a needlepoint in progress, a little Gouldian finch. This one is moving along quite well due to the holiday season.

And to finish, a recently finished jolly needlepoint, Two Leaves, 40 x 22 cm. I decided upon a few colours to use to start with, but then reverted to my usual habit of choosing as I went along. An interesting seasonal shift happened, moving from winter on the left, to spring in the middle, and summer on the right; then in the corner perhaps a bit of autumn and early winter moving back in.

So, there we are, work to be getting on with, finish, and then new pieces to start on, when these are done. Yes, they must be finished first, and that’s as close as I am coming to a New Year’s resolution.

So, Happy New Year! This year may your creativity blossom, your inspirations flow, and may you give yourself enough time and space to have a go at all those new ideas and projects you have in mind.

Ready for framing.

I am doing quite well at the moment finishing work. I must say this is my least favourite part of the whole process, so I tend to have a pile of pieces of work in various stages of incompleteness always in the periphery of my vision, making feel guilty about starting anything new.

But I think it’s necessary to keep new ideas flowing and developing, and not at all good to dam them up until all the more tedious tasks are done. It’s also very good to move work along, and that’s what’s happening with these three pieces, they’re off to the framer. So shall I ignore the ‘to be finished’ pile this afternoon, or start something new?

From top to bottom, Morning Moon, Three Leaves, and Forest Flowers.

Moving the needlepoints along.

I started this needlepoint in December 2015, and have just finished it. Phew.

It did rest for a while, as I have the habit of starting other needlepoints, [ this is not a good idea ] and also making my fabric and mixed media pieces, which move along more quickly. Needlepoints go into a different time continuum as they approach their completion, just to really irritate you. Those last few rows will not let themselves be hurried.

This one started like this, as a collage; the bird image is a screen print from one of my drawings. You will see the blue was edited out in the final piece.

Below, the drawing on the canvas.

And the finished piece with some close ups. It’s about 55 x 55 cm, 21.5 x 21.5 inches. I used a variety of yarns, including linen, wool and cotton.

It’s vaguely skewiff and needs blocking.

Optimistic as always, I will say now that I’ll be back soon with yet another finished needlepoint…

New work and work that’s actually nearly finished…

I’ve had a burst of creative energy lately, and have made some decisions too in terms of various pieces of work and how I want them to develop. This is a relief, particularly as I’ve been pondering over work based on some stories and words I’ve written.

Previous blog posts show how I have started to make them into artist’s books, but, typically, I’ve changed my mind.

They are now going to be small format framed pieces.

This piece is called ‘The light through the trees’, and will feature five haiku. I may not use all the pieces as I want to include text too.

I love this indigo dyed fabric; I didn’t dye it, it’s African.

This piece, above, has been stitched, with the addition of some wonderful chunky gemstone chips. All the components will be finished in this way before construction.

Another piece of work being put together here, from pieces I made earlier. The birds were finished examples for a pattern I produced, and the trees are cut out of a finished fabric piece which works better cut up! This is now finished too, happily.

I’ve been working away at another piece, below, using some more of those cut up pieces of discarded embroidery. I liked them so much reduced into components I had to make something else, and this is a mostly paper collage with those fabric additions. It’s a design exercise for what will most probably be a needlepoint.

It’s largish, 75 x 58 cm. I was intending to keep it to around 30cm each way; failed.

So onto my everlasting needlepoints, which are actually winding up quite nicely now. The piece below has been on the go for ages, and actually I have completed more of it since this image was taken.

I’ll show the whole of it when it’s done, which if all goes to plan will be later today.

And this chap, below, has been around for a while, and has but a few more stitches to go. This is just the top of it, it’s quite large. The pieces will need blocking, which I know I will hate doing, so they may have to be sent to finishing school, if I can find someone willing to take them on.

And to finish, a little collection of sweetly inspirational things from what I like to call my nature table.

Decisions and development.

Although the image below……was my main inspiration for some new work, clearly my creative brain had other ideas. Getting some fabrics out to play around with lead me along another, considerably more muted path with two of the pieces, and the poor old bird I’d added to one of the pieces, shown in my last post, was banished altogether.

Not that it matters of course, it just takes time to realise you are not going to make what you thought you were going to, and to stop wasting time trying to make what you obviously don’t feel at ease with. There will perhaps be another time and place for those colours and images to make an appearance.

So, this is what I have so far, starting with the colourful piece. The single block of appliquéd fabrics has been cut into three, and laid down as a triptych, a favourite arrangement of mine.

Here is the finished piece below, Forest Flowers. It’s hand stitched, and is around 50 x 35 cm/21 x 16 inches, but will be trimmed a little more to be framed, and ironed, as it’s on linen which as we know loves nothing more than to crease alarmingly.

All three have become landscape pieces, which is interesting, I had no plans for that. The piece below once included the jolly bird but I wanted it to be more contemplative and serious than he was allowing. It’s not stitched yet.

The third piece, below, is awaiting a good iron, and stitch.

So there we are. Those vivid greens and pinks are still haunting me though. The theme for the Art Textiles: Made in Britain group’s exhibitions next year is Wild, so I hope those colours will make an appearance in some new work then. Failing that I may just buy a pink jumper.

 

Leaves, buds and birds.

Using colour, either bright, muted or in between, is one of the things I most enjoy about textiles. When I made ceramics, strong colour was something that happened after a series of processes. Using fabric, fibre and paper with their immediate colour hit was a joy when I changed my media, and it still is.

A recent walk in our suburban streets and a brief forage in the garden turned up some inspiring leaves, in terms of both colour and shape. The ginkgo leaf is from one of several ginkgo biloba trees planted by Birmingham City Council, who whilst cutting costs in every way seem to be keeping up their tree planting programme. Perfect, as they look good and mop up pollution and prevent flooding. I am sort of obsessed with trees, they seem to appear automatically in much of my work.

A lovely group of fresh bright greens and a fuchsia bud, with a few materials sorted, to provide more inspiration for some new work.

The colours were making me feel that it’s time to explore one of my favourite topics, the rainforest, so out came this little gem of a book picked up second hand ages ago. It has supplied me with quite a few subjects over the last few years.

I do like to use my own source material and images as much as possible, but  since these birds don’t seem to visit our garden, and I don’t visit theirs, books like this are invaluable.

Above, some collage papers and fabrics, ready to experiment with. I use these to make actual work or just to try out ideas.

Of course, the first piece I made completely ignores those luscious greens and pinks. I painted the yellow and black watercolour composition at the bottom a couple of years ago, just as an experiment in loosening up and not aiming to produce anything in particular. As is the way with these things, I produced several painted pieces that I liked more than the more considered work that one slaves over for ages.

So, here it is used in this mixed media piece, in fact it made all the decisions about which direction the work went in. The piece is mostly paper, with some fabrics, and I will add some stitch for texture and definition, but not too much. It’s 65 x 38 cm, 26 x 15 inches. I was hoping to work small, but failed.

The work below is entirely fabric, and once again the original colour inspirations have been waylaid. I don’t mind this, it’s just the way new work goes. You choose the materials that you like best and work with them, even though that fuchsia pink and those bright greens seemed to be the whole purpose of the exercise. I liked this quiet linen as a background, and also used some recycled pieces of an unfinished embroidery made using painted fabrics, for the trees.

The image goes with some words I have written about the Moon and the rainforest, and that has dictated the colour scheme too. It’s 50 x 35 cm, 19.5 x 14 inches.

Above, three shots of work in progress.

And below, a small pattern piece, in which those greens and pinks make an appearance at last, in the form of giant floating fuchsia buds and ginkgo leaves.

They have all yet to be stitched.

And to finish off, below, a little drawing to remind me of a design idea for a future piece of work, medium as yet undecided.

 

 

The Festival of Quilts 2017.

I was in the happy position of neither having my own stand nor being involved in a stand at the Festival this year, my first year off for at least 10 years. It was wonderful to just visit the show for a change.

Here are a few of my favourites. There seemed to be a very healthy amount of quilts in the competitions, with a high standard of work throughout, and the professional galleries were mostly very good too. I particularly enjoy the non professional work; so much care and love has been put into some amazing pieces.

Without meaning to I managed to buy some fabric. I didn’t go too crazy, which is commendable, bearing in mind that buying fabric is very high on my list of things that I really like to do.

I’ll be back working at the show next year, on the Art Textiles: Made in Britain stand, and very much looking forward to it.

So here are a few favourites.

Elly van Steenbeek.

Helen McBride Richter.

Mary Palmer and Anne Kiely, above and below.

Below, several images of one of my favourite galleries, featuring the work of Diana Harrison.

 

Bethan Ash.

Annabel Rainbow painting live and raising money for Save the Children, in another of my favourite galleries, Through Our Hands.

Above, admirers in Ineke Berlyn’s gallery, a friend and brilliant textile artist. Some of her wonderful dresses are below.

 

Sumandip Dhesi.

Anne Forgan. I loved this, it was called, I think, ‘My Ageing Face.’

Janice Gunner.

Margaret Ramsay, winner of the Fine Art Textiles category.