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!!