Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A Creative Merry Christmas

I have been waiting for a bright day to take some photographs to add to my blog - the light levels have been so bad during November and December and it has been hard to feel inspired to stitch, although I have continued with my altered book and have taken up my knitting needles to knit a throw for the settee.  However, yesterday and today we had a few rays of sunlight - just enough to snap the following pictures  - below are the lovely rays of creativity made by my friends Corinne, Lynne and Gill - thank you - how wonderful - perfect presents.  And my gorgeous early Christmas present from Don.  

Corinne made this lovely little paper mache bird which is perched on the wonderful plant support that Lynne made for the garden and Gill made this pretty little cotton reel purse.  


Below is my early Christmas present from Don - this lovely sculpture by Sarah Jenkins on my favourite subject of landscape - I love the marks in the foreground and the shapes, especially of the barns on the horizon.

Heres looking forward to another creative year ahead and being inspired by others.

Friday, 11 December 2015

A Choir of Angels

With Christmas speeding towards us at an alarming rate, the Billericay Girls wanted their  2015 Christmas decoration project.  I call her the grumpy angel - she has so much to do and she isn't getting any younger.  She can be a centre piece for the table to remind everyone how busy she has been or she can simply grace your mantel piece.

My effort is on the left - the basic angel pattern is cut from pelmet vilene and then decorated.  Her   halo is made from tomato puree tube, her wings are covered in a black gold lamé with beading, her dress is made of silk, her arms covered in silk velvet, she is threaded onto a stick which runs through the centre of the cotton reels on which she is mounted.  And finally when looking for something to add to her dress I found my mothers old rosary which I thought perfect - a reminder of those we miss.

On the right are all the Angels that were made by the girls together with the origami Christmas trees which Kirsten kindly demonstrated.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Paper Dolls

This week I have again been working on my altered book and in particular on the bookmark(s) which I thought I would make as paper doll figures of my mother and my two grandmothers.  I never met either of my grandmothers as they died before I was born but I have some lovely photographs of them and family stories told me by my mother.

After I needlelaced around the top of the book spine I made a chain stitch cord, adding in additional threads so that, as I worked it, it divided into three.  In this way it gave me the three cords I needed to attach my paper dolls.  I printed a paper doll pattern onto paper (I did this three times) and then stuck the pattern onto cardboard.  I then printed off from photographs the head and neck of my mother and two grandmothers.  These were then applied to the three figures after which I very carefully cut round the three figures with a very sharp craft knife.  Next they needed to be dressed and I carefully selected the fabrics - I wanted to keep the colours sympathetic to the colours I have been using in the book.  I wanted to wrap them in rich fabrics, my mother in cotton and silk velvet, my maternal grandmother in linen and silk and my paternal grandmother in silk and wool, all finished off with a lovely old button.   

While I was working on my grandmothers I was thinking of their lives - last week I went to see the film "Suffragette" - I knew that women got the vote in 1928 by which time both my grandmothers were married with children, in fact my maternal grandmother was a widow and remarried with five children.  It is not that long ago really - not even 100 years.

The two photographs above are the original pictures that I used for my grandmothers head and shoulders for the paper doll.   On the left is my maternal grandmother, Ethel Emma, it is her wedding day to her first husband Walter - sadly Walter died from meningitis just eight years later.  In fact in the picture just behind my grandmother is her sister, Alice, who died in childbirth (it was her first baby and she was 36) and behind her is my great grandmother, Eliza Ann.  On the right is my paternal grandmother, Jenny - the photograph is taken in India where she lived between the wars with her husband and children.

A few years ago I made paper dolls of my mother and grandmothers which I then affixed to old photographs of my sister and me as children - these hang in a quiet corner of the sitting room.  My two grandmothers are bearing gift of toys they may have brought us and my mother is holding a camera as she was the one who was always behind the camera.   


Sunday, 15 November 2015

The Continuing Story of

Having had a wonderful course at West Dean with Rosalind Wyatt learning how she gets that beautiful flowing handwriting onto fabric using a fine thread and hand stitching, I finished the book cover for "Emma" by Jane Austen.  I started the cover before I went on the course but finished it off while there having learnt Rosalind's technique.  Rosalind mainly using couching and chain stitch applied with a loose tension to achieve the lovely flowing handwriting effect and uses a single strand of a fine silk sewing thread.  We were told to look at handwriting as marks rather than specific letters which would allow you to break down the shapes more easily.  We looked at different handwriting as well as type faces and then stitched over words printed onto fabric before tackling a piece just by eye. I found I needed to put a line of running stitch to keep the lines of writing straight - this running stitch could then be removed later.  We all worked at a steady pace on the course as the technique was quite intense but I found this suited me as it gave me time to think how I was going to proceed with the other book I had covered which I intended would be about my mother and my childhood.  Below are the results.

The cover of this old copy of "Emma" was falling apart so I have collaged different papers, printed letters on fabric, images and dyed fabric to create a collection of correspondence/writing and then added embroidered words.  Any paper that I have used has then been covered with silk organza to not only hold it down but by adding some drops of blue dye to the fabric makes it appear as ink blots.

This is the book I covered which I intended would be about my mother and my childhood.  The story so far follows:

So this is being done as an altered book and the photo on the left is my mothers favourite photo of my sister and me playing "wash day" in the garden - it has been printed onto cotton fabric.


This photo of my mother has been printed on organza and the writing is stitched by hand on to silk organza.


Here I have created a pocket into which I have tucked a pattern for baby shoes/slippers.  The photo which again has been printed on organza has been set in an aperture cut from one page and backed by the next.

This is the instructions for baby shoes handwritten straight onto the page which has been painted with white acrylic - there are also lovely little images in the book which I have kept.

This is a photo printed onto cotton fabric that was taken sitting on the hall floor by a passing travelling commercial photographer - the image was black and white but the photographer tinted our play suits, our cheeks and our hair.   I know my mother made our play suits and I found a very similar pattern that she might have used.

Again, the instructions for the play suits have been written straight onto the page.

Here we are pushing our prams in our party frocks and again I found a very similar pattern - but looking at the photo the garden is still quite young and I remembered how the hedges grew around the garden, a shed was added and various fruit trees, in particular a greengage tree.

I have lots more to do to finish this book but plenty of material and ideas.  One idea in particular is that of paper dolls - I loved paper dolls when I was young and thought it would be fun to do all the female members of my family dressed in colourful finery.  I also thought I could do them as bookmarks.  The book is split into three sections - you may just see that I have used old, vintage thread cards to mark the start of the other two sections.  

The image below is my first attempt at stitched handwriting on organza that I did with Rosalind Wyatt.

And finally I have very quickly collaged together images of writing and printing that I have either done or collected on different fabrics and papers - perhaps another book cover!!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Writing with a Needle

Next week I am off to do a workshop at West Dean with Rosalind Wyatt called "Writing with a Needle" - Rosalind uses embroidered words in her work which I have admired for sometime - she manages to get a really fluid effect that looks as if she has literally written with a thread.  

I have been covering books - one that I did a few weeks ago for a workshop I gave at Fantasy Textiles - I have been adding embroidered detail to the spine (needlelace) and have inserted collected items into the pages of the book, such as patterns for items of children's clothing.  

This week I have prepared another book to take with me to West Dean that I thought I could work on or add to if appropriate.  The book I found was "Emma" by Jane Austen - again I found this book in a second hand bookshop - in the front of the book the year 1922 has been written in pencil (this was the year my mother was born).  The cover I have partly prepared will be removable and will not damage the book in anyway.  I wanted the cover to look like a collection of letters, cuttings, snippets, smudges of ink - I have a book on the illustrated letters of Jane Austen which includes some letters which refer to "Emma".  

Next, I photographed a book cover prepared by Marilyn at the workshop I gave at Fantasy Textiles - I thought it was really lovely - it looks as if someone has quickly covered a book and dashed out to the garden to make notes - the cover is incomplete as we ran out of time on the day.

Finally, when I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show this year a stand that really caught my eye was the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland and below are two pieces on the theme of books which I thought were so beautiful - they are by Lesley Stothers and Sandi Sexton.

Monday, 12 October 2015

St Ives School of Art

I have just returned from a holiday in Cornwall, had two fabulous weeks not just weatherise but creatively as well.  Before we went I went onto the St. Ives School of Art website and booked myself a couple of taster days with two artists - Liz Hough and Kerry Harding - Abstract Landscape and Mixed Media.   Both artists were very friendly, enthusiastic and encouraging and I see that they do a longer workshop which they run as joint tutors.  I think from a textile point of view I probably got more out of Kerry Harding's workshop than Liz's but nonetheless I still had a good day. 

The results below are from Kerry Harding's worshop which was the one on mixed media.  She explained that we should first experiment with different mediums to see what effects we could get by working through a table of words - blob, smear, flick, splat, drip, dot scratch, smudge, twist, blend, rub, swirl, wash, scrape, print, brushstroke, thick, think, fast and slow - nothing complicated and quite basic really but fun and it is always nice to see what results other people get - I think a large glass of wine beforehand definitely helped to loosen me up!  Oh and we were to use different tools to apply the different media, such as card, fork, spoon, rag, etc.

Then there were three other tables of words based on landscape, rocks and sky elements.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Hemingford Grey

Had a lovely day out at Hemingford Grey near Cambridge - a delightful little village situated on the southern bank of the river Ouse.  The Manor at Hemingford Grey was the home for many years of the children’s author Lucy M. Boston, the first book in a series of six was titled “The Children of Green Knowe”.   The house is more attractive from the outside really having gone through many additions and then a fire over the years but the gardens are lovely - definitely worth a visit.  


One thing I noticed before we left was a DVD for sale titled “From Time to Time” starring Maggie Smith, Timothy Spall, Hugh Bonneville and Dominic West (who was in The Wire) - I remembered seeing this film advertised - I think last year some time - and the reason it was being sold at the Manor was that it is “based on Lucy M. Boston’s best-seller The Chimneys of Green Knowe”.  Apparently it is just the thing to watch at Christmas for a bit of escapism.

This was a useful trip gathering ideas for books, both for covers and contents.  This weeks stitching has been a bit of collage using up odd bits of old tablecloth, dyed and painted fabrics and pleated silk.