Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Fresh Start

Just before Christmas I finally thought "I have to clear out my workroom and get the decorator in" - there comes a point when it just has to be done.  I have been very drastic clearing out stuff I would not have got round to using in a hundred years and other things that I think I am passed using.  Now I just have to get those creative juices going again.

I have covered my work bench with a drop cloth from the local DIY store - it has a waterproof layer which means I can now dye fabrics in my workroom.  I think the only thing I need to do is to put some sort of splash back at the back of the table, under the shelf, maybe another piece of wood panelling.  I have a large roll of plastic to put on the floor if I want to protect the carpet but generally I don't dye vast quantities of fabric.  To the other side of the oak cupboard (that I picked up for £10 some years ago and stripped back to the bare wood) is a large wooden box which holds all that stuff like cardboard, old frames, large sheets of paper, rolls of plastic and bondaweb, etc.  

I like listening to Leonard Cohen - he's essential - and the white book cubes come from Ikea - you can build your own bookcase according to how big you want it.  Most of my books are actually in another room - I tend to keep only the books I'm currently using in my workroom.

I have been trying to finish this lampshade project for ages - the base fabric is an old whitework tablecloth and I have printed onto sari ribbon - I must finish it but I quite like it as it is.  I painted the standard lamp itself which was actually in the garage waiting to go to the local tip when I had a lightbulb moment!!

Some time late last year I went to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge - I loved all the pottery and found this little chap called "Nobody".  I printed him onto fabric and filled him with toy stuffing.  I have now signed up for a pottery course locally.

I visited the local salvage yard and bought a few planks of old wood panelling - wasn't sure what I was going to do with them but I found it handy as a shelf to keep all those bits and pieces off my work bench.  Each end of the plank is supported by a perspex box - a friend of mine had the perspex boxes made years ago and I have used them for all sorts of things.

I was looking for storage boxes that are easy to access without having to stack them which means every time you want something you have to lift them to get to the one you want.  I found this system which I got from Argos - they open like drawers and when I am giving a workshop I can just take out the drawers I want and take them with me.

The other essential thing for my workroom is a chair - I have an old, dark wood/mahogany chair that I didn't want to part with but which is old fashioned and uninspiring.  Some time ago I bought a large, coarse linen, sheet that had been dyed this lovely uneven lavender/grey.  It had been laying around for ages as I was loathe to cut into it, however, with a bit of origami I covered the chair without making a single cut!  Initially I pinned the folds and gradually I am stitching them all into place and will probably add a few features like some buttons or sari ribbon.  

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Etui - Present Making Christmas 2017

In the past couple of weeks I have been virtually housebound through having an awful cold and having the decorator in revamping my workroom.  We are nearly there now - cold on its tail end and the "stuff" all back in the workroom, new storage installed but just a few things to sort out like lighting, etc.  However, this has given me the time to make a few presents for friends - I couldn't help smiling as I was making them and I'm really pleased with the finished articles which are shown below. 

My friend Lynne has been talking about dying her hair blue for 2018 so I thought I'd give her a preview of what she might look like with blue hair!!  Lynne has long hair which she quite often wears in a plait (see picture below) and is also a very avid birdwatcher so I appliqu├ęd a gold finch on her chest (I think I have the bird identity right) and, of course, we all know women are good at multi tasking so she is also a pin cushion, thimble and scissor holder.  A few vintage cotton reels completes the whole.

I repeated the exercise for friend Ange but unfortunately I had problems with the printer but we got there in the end.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Essex Landscape as Inspiration

The world always seems to go mad on the run up to Christmas with people rushing around trying to achieve their gaols by the holiday break, the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping and what with the weather being a bit grey and hubby down with flu ..............the spirits tend to suffer.  However,  I have managed to escape to go for a few long, country walks with my sister and friends Lynne and Ange which I find really lift and restore me and also have given me the added advantage of taking some lovely photographs of the north Essex countryside for inspiration for my new textile work.

Below is a selection of the photographs - these will give me ideas for texture, shapes and colour.

The first three are views across Finchingfield - the countryside is so pretty even at this time of year.

We see a a lot of sheep on our walks - this one I snapped whilst on a walk which goes through Gestingthorpe. I included some old lead toy sheep in my previous Rolling Landscape works - I think they will be featuring again - can't resist.

Not far from the shortest day of year, darkness comes down early and we have cut it fine on a few occasions getting back before the light goes.  I love taking photographs of foliage and horizons against the sky in the fading light.  The lines that the twigs draw are like fields marked out in a landscape and the silhouettes on a horizon give a source of shapes and features which reminds me of the ceramic landscapes by Sarah Jenkins, one of my favourite ceramicists.

Hopefully, with my workroom newly decorated and organised I will have a chance to start work after Christmas!!!  Cheers and Happy Christmas to all who visit here.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Book Work

November has been a very busy month but I have had time to complete another book cover.  Over the years I have been making, altering and rescuing books but this time I obtained several blank note books from Shepherds in London which had bound pages but allowed you to make/add your own cover. 

Below is the completed front and back covers which are a collage of pages that have been transferred onto organza (top right behind the house), the house is the home where my mother lived when she was a young girl and is printed onto cotton fabric as is the figure of the girl, the little pile of fabrics top right represent a stamp, the layers of fabrics below the house are scrim overlaid with a print onto silk organza that I did from spilling dye onto a thick cartridge paper (representing spilt ink) and then I embroidered words onto the organza from one of my favourite poems.  The trees are from a print block I made which I then printed onto cream sari ribbon and overlaid onto this is a photograph I took last winter of twigs and stems, again printed onto silk organza so that the fabrics beneath (a lovely piece of linen printed with tiny blue flowers) show through.

Below is the photograph I took last winter looking up through stems and twigs against the sky.

All this was collaged onto a piece of vintage french blue dyed linen which you can see top left in the photo below and to which I have added little white running stitches and added a paper moon (actually again it was text transferred onto organza).  The striped fabric below is actually two strips of linen ribbon to which this time I have added tiny blue running stitches.  The misty effect (perhaps clouds drifting across the moon) is a randomly torn piece of net.  The final touch to the spine is the little pile of vintage linen buttons, three stitched one of top of the other.

The blue linen continues over onto the inside of the cover and I plan to add end papers that again will be a print of the spilt dye onto the cartridge paper with the ghost of a print from a lace print block. 

Friday, 20 October 2017

October Workshops

Most of this month so far I have been busy finishing samples for two workshops that I'm giving - one on Kantha and one on covering books.

I have finally finished the piece below which I had started a months or so ago - it was the bottom section that took sometime to do - the pattern is the eye border pattern or chok par.  However, this border pattern can also be used as a filler pattern.

Below shows a close up of the eye border pattern that is worked in running stitch - the yellow section has been worked in another border pattern, the amulet border or Ta' abiz par.

Earlier this month I gave a workshop on covering sketchbooks or note books or rescuing old or second hand hardback books.  Below shows a notebook that I covered - the  notebook was bought from a company called Shepherds - the pages were bound but there was no hard cover.  To give it a hard cover I added (glued) greyboard front and back to the outer pages.  The paper is very good quality and took the glue very well.  For the cover I used an old French linen sheet that had been dyed blue overlaid with a lovely block printed cotton fabric on top of which I have assembled some scraps of my own prints which I have held down with some old net which tears very easy giving random shapes.    

The stitching is running stitch which creates a lovely texture and I have added some stitched words using a combination of chain stitch and couching.

The final touches on the back cover are the circle (or is it the moon) which is text taken from an old book transferred onto silk organza using an acrylic matt medium and the net will be stitched into place using a discreet/invisible stitch.  A few vintage linen buttons finish off the spine. 

Monday, 18 September 2017

Brushing Up on Colour

I have been brushing up on dyeing techniques with Jo Budd - Jo is a trained artist but uses textiles and uses dyes likes paints.  I think you can learn a lot from an artists approach, especially when it comes to colour.

These are the two pieces of work I have laid out using my dyed fabrics - they are only pinned at the moment and there is still some adjustment to be made to the fabrics but in general I'm pleased with these beginnings.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Book Rescue Workshop Chelmsford

I will be giving a Book Rescue workshop in Chelmsford on Saturday 7th October so today I went to a second hand book shop to rescue some books.  I usually buy old hardback books of fiction, stories I have enjoyed or look forward to reading.  I look for something that has a ripped spine or a stained, fragile cover that can be strengthened by making a new cover to support it rather than remove it.  Some I have done in the past are below to give you an idea.