Monday, 11 March 2019

Page a Day Sketchbook Challenge

During February I took part in a page a day sketchbook challenge with ten other people - only one of which I knew.   I really enjoyed it and because I didn't know most of the people taking part it kept me committed as I didn't want to let anyone down.  Below are some of the pages I was particularly pleased with - most of the time I only used found tools to draw with, mostly used acrylic paints and torn papers and masking tape and a couple of print blocks. 

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Tollesbury Marshes

The landscape that I had been working on late last year is finally finished - based on the Tollesbury marshes - I picked it up from the framers a week last Friday and because it is difficult to photograph as one piece, I have taken photos in sections working left to right.

Fabrics used were silk organza, cotton scrim, silk habotai and linen.  I have dyed all the fabrics using procion dyes, sometimes mixed with Manutex, to get the effects and colours I wanted.  It is embellished with hand embroidery and, before I took it along to my framer, I mounted it on a piece of wood panelling I salvaged from a reclamation yard in Colchester.  

For the rotting posts sticking up out of the mud I printed onto organza using a black/brown acrylic paint pushed through a strip of Portuguese cotton lace.

The trees are hand embroidered using a variety of grey threads.

I included some pieces of net to add further texture and the hints of yellow in the background is the habotai silk laid under the organza.  

I think this is my favourite picture from this piece of work - I like how the light has caught the distant clump of trees.

French knots were added to represent the seed heads on the top of the long grasses swaying in the wind.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Power of Stitch

At last I have a chance to update my blog - life seems to get busier the older I get - either that or I'm slowing down.  Have been busy stitching for the next EAST exhibition - "Power of Stitch" but have also taken the opportunity to see the Anni Albers weaving exhibition at the Tate Modern - fabulous - and have been to see The Favourite - thoroughly enjoyed it.  Have decided that when I need one of those days to myself (between sewing of course) - when I pull up the drawbridge, lounge around in my nightdress, eat cake and am generally grumpy, especially to my husband - I am going to call it having a "Queen Anne Day". 

Anyway below are a few pics of what I have been working on.

Last year, or it could even have been the year before, I went to a salvage yard in Colchester and bought some old wood panelling.  It needed a good old clean up but love the holes and general signs of age and wear.  I thought it might be an alternative way to present a landscape, however, after my initial enthusiasm I didn't really come up with any ideas until the early part of last year.  The picture above shows the top part of the three panels I am working on - the panelling has been trimmed up so that all three are now 5 foot 6 inches in length which is why they are difficult to photograph in their entirety.

One thing I have enjoyed is making use of the holes in the panelling - again last year I visited Holt with friends and we found a reel of rusty wire in a junk for which I paid the sum of one pound.  I cut several lengths of the wire and with a pair of pliers shaped one end into a bird in flight, the other end I poked into one of the holes in the panelling.

I have really enjoyed working on these - they show a snapshot of three different walks at the top (Chalkney Woods, Wickham St. Paul - Butlers Farm and Marks Hall near Coggeshall) but as they develop down the panelling they will merge into one landscape.  The centre panel is complete but I am still working on the other two.  The cretan stitch on net represents tyre tracks on the cold winter land.

Below are a few pictures of more ideas for winter landscapes - here I have painted procion dyes onto silk organza, making marks with bits of hose, a paint brush, the edge of a credit card, etc. and over laid them and arranged them.  Very rough idea at this stage.  I buy the silk organza from Hilary Williams at the Silk Route - I use the ivory rather than the white.

Monday, 29 October 2018


The start of a new landscape, this time based on Tollesbury where I have walked a few times this year.  I did the walk round Tollesbury Wick with my sister and I also did the walk round Old Hall Marshes on two occasions, once with my sister and once with friend Angela.  The Old Hall Marches is a nature reserve which comprises extensive grazing marshes with brackish water fleets, reedbeds and salt marsh.  The three images below are the beginning of the landscape, which I have laid out and which is much longer.

The photographs below I took whilst on the walks and were the inspiration behind this piece of work.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Praa Sands Finished

The rolling landscape based on Praa Sands is finally finished - I have spent the week constructing the pot around which the landscape is wrapped.  Started absolutely from scratch making the pot from extra thick pelmet Vilene which was stapled to hold the correct dimensions and then covered with fabric and lined with cotton rag paper.  I have a wonderful circle cutter for cutting the base and lid from grey board, the base was covered with fabric and stitched to the main body.  For the lid, I wanted it to fit snugly so that it didn't move around and, of course, I needed to find a way that I could attach my wire birds.  Everything just seemed to go right with this pot - it didn't take long before I came across my stone with the hole that goes right through - it has been wandering around my workroom for years and now I have found the perfect use for it.  

Once the pot was complete I attached the rolling landscape and added the fastener to secure.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Rolling Landscape - Cornish Coast

Three wonderful weeks in Cornwall which gave me the time to make progress with my latest rolling landscape and to gather material for the next.  With this one I have put two pleats or folds in the piece to give a feeling of depth when it stands.  All that is left to do now is add the backing and make the box to which it will be attached.  The box lid will be finished with wire birds in flight.

The photo below shows the various layers of organza overlaying to give the final effect.

I snapped the image below from our apartment window last year when in Cornwall which was the basis for this piece - the apartment is in a coastal village with a wonderful view of the sea and this little collection of buildings I pass when on the way down to the beach. 

The other end of the rolling landscape was based on the photo below which I also took last year in Cornwall - I was walking along the coast path and in the distance I could see this blue colour.  

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

On the edge

It has been a little while since I last wrote a post but with the weather being soooooo hot - I don't enjoy this extreme heat at all and it doesn't exactly encourage me to sew.  Going to pottery has not only been a joy as I am loving everything about it but also it is lovely and cool in the barn and on most days there has just been two of us and two technicians.

Anyway I have done a little bit of sewing (I gave a workshop in early July in Stoke Mandeville and had to do some preparation) - I have finished the landscape based on a painting by Samuel Peploe and I have started another based on photographs I took in Cornwall last year. 

Above is the painting by Samuel Peploe of Iona Abbey and below is my finished rolling landscape.  I started this piece in the autumn, I think, of last year but found it impossible to work on during the long drawn out winter - I just couldn't seem to get the colours right - I wasn't aiming for the specific colours in the Samuel Peploe painting, what I like is the varying tones of the rooftops and the subtle marks in the landscape.  As soon as the light improved I found I could work on it again. 

I made a lidded pot to wrap it around and found the bird handle in a shop in Totnes.  

The painting by Samuel Peploe is of Iona and Iona Abbey and although in Scotland the landscape reminded me very much of Cornwall and it's pretty coastal villages - some villages have already succumbed to the sea, others edge closer.  Where we go on holiday in Praa Sands - a tree in someones garden in now on the beach - it now stands on the beach as it stood in the garden, bleached white by the sun.  It has stood there for at least a couple of years and I'm looking forward to going back to see if it is still there this year.

Below are a couple of the photographs I took in Cornwall which are the basis of my new landscape.  The buildings and shapes and angles are very like those in the Samuel Peploe painting.

Initially I sorted through the dyed fabrics I had left over from other projects - I like working with scraps - the odd shapes and bits which can then be held down with net or organza.  The sky I think is a silk chiffon I dyed some time ago - it takes the dye beautifully and gives a lovely soft effect -  I then overlaid with silk net, the land on the right is a cotton scrim. I then dyed organza to get the more specific effects and colours that were missing and below is what emerged.  

By overlaying the dyed organza and net over cut shapes a more painterly effect can be achieved.  I also decided to put two folds in the fabric as I felt the overall length of the piece was too long and I liked the feeling of depth that this gave.  All is then tacked down and stitching can be added where necessary - some stitches are just discreet holding stitches, others to add detail.  The piece is far from finished but I'm really pleased with it so far.  More detailed pics below.

Below are the fabrics I dyed for the sea and the foliage - procion dyes have been mixed with Manutex to make the dyes liquid a little thick (you don't want it too thick) - if you then paint the thickened dye onto plastic it will give the effect of water.  Lay the organza gently over the the top. For the foliage I used bits of roughly cut sponge bound together and dabbed and dragged and splashed the dye onto the organza.  The fabrics can then be torn or cut and used as and where you want it to go.