Saturday, 31 December 2016

Before 2016 Is Over

I thought I would squeeze in one more post before the year is over, having had a wonderful Christmas, despite having a rotten cold before Christmas and now having a chesty cough approaching the year end.

One thing I have been doing for years is to design my own Christmas cards, it is rare that I have any left over and so I don't always have a record of the cards I have done.  So I thought that this would be a good opportunity to record this year's cards.  The cards have varied over the years, sometimes they were stitched or beaded but now I have less energy I usually either take a photograph, if the opportunity presents itself, or I paint and then photograph something from my sketchbook.  This year I designed two cards from my sketchbook - on both designs there is a little bit of fabric.  On the card on the left the little house has a house made from organza and on the card on the right I have overlaid a strip of organza across the card between the trees and the field giving it a misty feel and the bird's head is printed on organza.  I photographed both pictures and then went onto the website to have them printed. 

Christmas itself was lovely - I spent most of it laughing as I found someone with a very similar sense of humour to myself but to add to that my lovely husband bought me this painting by Jelena Lukic - I hope I have spelt it right.  I have always been a very light sleeper and often remember my dreams and occasionally suffer from nightmares.  I thought this picture was just perfect - it is so dream like, I love how the horse's ears become the sails of a boat and the dribbles of paint that are it's legs as if it only became a horse when the paint ran.  I had the strangest dream last night - it was very vivid - I dreamt that we had an infestation of insects - they weren't bees but they were stripped like bees - I dreamt they were living in the armchair in the corner of our bedroom - they were all over the floor and I thought I must deal with it.  I was very relieved when I woke to find it was just a dream.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

December Sunset

This afternoon I went for my usual walk round Marks Hall near Coggeshall - it was about 3 o'clock and as I walked the sky was lit up with colours - soft blues and pinks to the east and brighter colours to the west.  These are some of the photographs I took.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Sunny November Days

Today is a glorious sunny November day - I only wish that last Monday had been the same!!  I went for a country walk with friend Lynne - we tried to walk from Clare to Belchamp St. Paul but with the remnants of a cold, rain and darkness coming down, we only managed to do about 4 miles.  However, at least we had done some exercise and once back to the car park we went to the Antique Centre and Lynne treated us both to a large hot chocolate topped with cream and a slice of chocolate malteser cake.

So with a beautifully bright day today I have taken some photographs while the light is good.

This week I have been putting together a small piece of work for my Alfred Wallis collection.  The long tapering triangle is very typical of the tree shape he used but the colours are certainly not - I have been looking carefully at colour and colour combinations, it is such a particular thing as to what brings something to life.  Once I had appliquéd the trunk I embroidered the tree branches and then laid some old net over the top which had flowers embroidered on it.  I then stitched French knots all over the branches and embroidered around the flowers.  In my garden I have a hawthorn tree and I have planted a clematis underneath it which has now almost reached the top of the tree.  I then found some scraps of dyed habotai silk and a block printed cotton to create the landscape around it.  I think it certainly has a naive look to it.

Also this week I have been looking back in my sketchbooks and the marks in a landscape that make it interesting and give it texture.  I had been preparing some samples using procion dyes and just thought I would draw very loosely, without using Manutex, to see how the dye spread and puddled and was really pleased with this piece below.  The top layer is silk organza, the under layers calico, habotai silk and again more organza.  I don't know if I will ever get round to actually stitching this piece, but maybe one day. 

In turn this sunny landscape led me back to the piece I designed back in August - I like the colour theme that my work is starting to develop - a combination of greys and yellows - and I think these colours will definitely feature prominently in my new work.  I can see it may not be to everyone's taste and it has to be carefully balanced but it will be a good challenge.

I like the words within the landscape "a secluded world of cool sun ..... was in the midst of its green world"  - I like the way these random words can suggest a mood. 

Friday, 18 November 2016

In Reflective Mood

During the last two weeks I have been suffering from a nasty cold that persists in hanging on.  However, I've tried not to let it stop me from going out on the brighter days to cheer myself up and last Sunday I walked round Marks Hall Gardens with friends and took the lovely photos below. 

The lovely splashes of red and some sharp greens and that wonderful reflection on a cold November day.  A family was having a group photograph taken against this beautiful backdrop.

I love the varying shades of the berries and the grey stems. 

Once home I felt restless as I didn't feel up to doing much but a little quiet stitching on my rescued books (mentioned in my previous post), a few adjustments, and just enjoying looking at them seemed to be good therapy.  I noticed that a lot of the fabrics I had used included spots - mostly red or grey - I felt a large round red spot was just the final touch this one needed.   This is the rescued copy of Dr. Thorne by Anthony Trollope.

On the left the fabrics have been held down with net which has a flower motif on it - I stitched round it in red and added its stem, blending it with the floral fabric beneath.  On the right you can see I have stitched some lovely vintage lace right round the opening of the book which I found at Rose Hip in Long Melford.

The book below is the rescued copy of The Charm of Birds by Viscount Grey of Falloden - again I was drawn to the colours red and grey and spotty fabrics and papers.  The grey spot is a piece of fabric given to me by my friend Gill, there are at least three different scraps of red spot fabrics and the pink with white spots is actually a wrapping paper I bought in Great Dunmow years ago.  I have distressed it by screwing it up and again held it down with net to protect it.  The finishing touch was the authors name hand stitched in grey silk thread on the spine.  

Here is a little close detail.

The next rescued book had obviously suffering from damp at some time as the hard cover had become quite spongy and the pages very discoloured so I am slowly decorating the pages.  It is about gardens and allotments.  I had obviously reached for the red spot fabrics again - the scraps are getting fewer so I have collaged the scraps and held them together with running stitch - I felt it just needed the large red spot as a finishing touch - maybe its the sun or is it the moon.  

Some of the pages I have completed so far. 

More vintage lace has been hand stitched all around the book opening - again the lace comes from Rose Hip in Long Melford - I learnt this week they will be closing their shop at the end of December, they will online and will do some vintage fairs - will miss visiting their lovely shop.  

Last but not least, sometime earlier in the year I had been playing around with some left over scraps and made this tiny little pot - its very insignificant but has something about it - perhaps it those colour and those tiny little spots again!!

The thing about spots has definitely got me thinking and brought to mind the artist Yayoi Kusama who has a dot obsession - she has said that the polka dot has the form of the sun and of the moon.  From what I understand the difference between spots and polka dots are that spots are random and polka dots form a regular pattern.  I think some time in the New Year I will start gathering a collection of spotty fabrics (cutting them up and collaging the pieces will give a random effect) and even appliqué or print/paint spots on fabric and maybe put then all together on a soft linen background, over stitched with running stitch to make a lovely quilt to snuggle under when I have a nasty cold.

Monday, 7 November 2016

A Few Finishing Touches

With Christmas only seven weeks away and the days flying by, I had that "must finish off some of those unfinished pieces I have started this year" feeling and then I can do a grand tidy up of that room I call a studio!!  One piece that I had been working on was the landscape below, however, I was pleased that I had waited until after my holiday to take it to the framers as, as soon as I returned, I could see immediately what final adjustments it needed.  I always find putting a piece to one side and not looking at it for a while makes it clearer as to what needs altering.  I picked it up from Eastern Frames in Haughley last Wednesday. 

Last week I also finished off these two pots that I started way back earlier in the year.  The tall pot was virtually finished but I just added a piece of organza to the area behind the little house and added the embroidered telegraph pole.    

I took my inspiration for the tall pot from paintings by David Pearce.  The trees are organza shapes applied to silk habotai that has been dyed with some random shapes that suggest distant trees and a thin green tree to the right.  I have used pieces of dyed fabrics but some pieces of vintage fabrics to collage this quirky landscape pot.

The small pot started life as a rolling landscape but something about it wasn't working for me.  I left it to one side for months and then added the trees which are painted on silk organza - the trees are inspired by a painting by Christopher Wood who knew the Nicholsons and who was also influenced by the work of Alfred Wallis. 

When the landscape, which is attached to the pot at one end, is unwound it reveals a third tree.

This year I have also been buying second hand books to alter - one I did about my mother and the other about the poet, Emily Dickinson.  However, I have also rescued some second hand books as well - strengthening ripped spines and covering stained covers. So far I have  rescued Emma by Jane Austen, Dr. Thorne by Anthony Trollope, The Charm of Birds by Earl Grey of Falloden and a book on gardens.  I'm sure I could resell these books and they would make lovely presents.  

The first few pages and last few pages of The Charm of Birds (mainly the end papers and dedication page), were tucked under the pockets that were created in making the new cover - this helps to prevent further damage if these pages are fragile.  I then set about creating new end papers - this is a design I created from a series of prints I did using an umbrella handle which had a series of grooves in it.  I just painted black ink onto the handle and rolled it onto the paper.   Then I extended some of the lines with black ink to create a landscape and overprinted with a tree lino print block that I made.  I then put it into Photoshop and tried all the grey colour effects and liked this one the best.  I then printed the design onto one end of a sheet of paper so that the blank end of the paper could slip into the pocket to hold it in place.

So, it was a good week, on top of which I have also designed my Christmas cards which are now at the printers and have been making Christmas tree decorations for  Braintree Museum for the Braintree Christmas Event on 19th November.

Below is also a new book cover I started to put together - it has some lovely vintage cutwork down the spine and a collection of spotty and striped fabrics overlaid with a photograph of me and my sister printed on silk organza - I love silk organza, it is so versatile.  Just tucked behind the picture is part a print on fabric of one of my Alfred Wallis inspired pictures, a scrap of paper - the words about making clothes - the organza allows it to be seen through but protects the paper at the same time.  At this stage it is not stitched and I had to stop myself and put it aside to work on, perhaps over Christmas or in the New Year.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Sampled and Remixed - Drawing for Textiles

At the beginning of October I went on a Matt Harris workshop at West Dean that was titled Sampled and Remixed - Drawing for Textiles which I have to say was excellent.  I have previously done a Matt Harris workshop which I enjoyed very much and this course did not disappoint.  I would not call myself a good drawer but somehow I always seem to come up with something when I do one of Matt's workshops.  On a previous workshop we had to take something apart, like an umbrella, bag or shoe for example,  down to its component parts and then create an implement from those parts with which to make marks.   

This time Matt brought along a lot of random items such as a paper parasol, bits of broken china, textiles, decorations, wire baskets, twigs, a teapot, a belt, etc., which he suspended with twine.  This was all arranged in a way that the items hung in front and behind and overlayed each other.  We were told to work on large sheets of paper and use a fine, a medium and a heavy drawing media.   We could draw the items from any angle but we should draw those that we saw at the back with something fine, those in the middle ground with something of a more medium weight and those in the foreground with something heavier.  We could move around, not sticking to the same angle, and if possible we should not look down at the paper when we were drawing.  We did this exercise a few times and then we could choose to work on the one we preferred.  Below is a the series that I did which I think I could still take further and breakdown into abstract sections. 

This last one I think is my favourite and I can see this as something I could work on further.  Every time I redrew it, it slightly changed and there are still some lines I'd like to change but I also see that I could break the whole thing down into about six sections to give something more abstract.  I think it has a Ben Nicholson still life feel to it as it is which I don't think is bad.      

Monday, 24 October 2016

Bernard Leach Pottery

Before I left Cornwall, after three lovely weeks, I thought I would seek out the Bernard Leach Pottery in St. Ives. I had heard a lot about Bernard Leach and his pottery over the years but never knew where it was actually located.  Parking in St. Ives can be quite difficult but, funnily enough, the pottery is located just round the corner from the big car park at the top of St. Ives on Higher Stennack.  The pottery was set up in St. Ives in the 1920's but folded, I think, in the late 1990's.  The pottery passed to Janet Leach, Bernard's third wife, after his death in 1979.  However, as we learnt on the guided tour, Janet didn't really have a business head and the pottery folded after her death and the death of her then partner, Mary Redgrave.  The pottery, besides producing art pottery, had produced a range of standard ware pottery and had also trained many apprentices.
Bernard Leach was born in Hong Kong in 1887 but, unfortunately, his mother died giving birth to him so he was sent to Kyoto in Japan to live with his maternal grandparents.  When he was ten years old he was sent to England to continue his education but seemed to only excel at art.  He was seventeen when his father died in 1904 and, although he decided to go into banking to earn a living, he soon became disillusioned and returned to Japan where he discovered raku and the art of ceramics.  
He returned to England in the 1920's after he was invited to set up a pottery by a wealthy philanthropist called Frances Horne.
A Trust was set up in the early 2000's to restore the pottery which reopened in 2008 as the Leach Pottery studio, museum and gallery to celebrate the work and legacy of Bernard Leach.  Alongside the original Leach Pottery building is a modern, purpose built studio where students and apprentices work to produce standard ware for the pottery and to develop their own practices.

After the tour of the pottery, of course, there is an opportunity to buy and after careful consideration I decided to buy two little pots by Russell Gibbs.

Below is a selection of just a few of the pots and pieces I have collected over the past few years.

The two little pots are by Russell Gibbs and the little dish is by Luck Taylor.

The owl pot is by Paddy Peters and the fish pot is by Ken Luckhurst.

Howling at the Moon by Paddy Peters.

Vase by Yo Thom

Monday, 17 October 2016

Book Rescue - Doctor Thorne

Whilst at Trellisk in Cornwall I visited the secondhand bookshop and was delighted to find a copy of "Doctor Thorne" by Anthony Trollope - I think the particular copy I found was printed in the late 1940's/early 1950's and it has a torn spine, mainly due to the binding drying out.  Having seen the three part television adaptation this year, which starred Tom Hollander as Doctor Thorne, Rebecca Front as Lady Arabella Gresham and I believe Ian McShane played Roger Scatcherd, I had to buy the book and am looking forward to reading it.  However, before that pleasure I thought I should rescue it from deteriorating any further and recover it.   This week I am giving a talk and workshop at the Waveney Branch of the Embroiderers' Guild and the workshop is on Altered Books but I thought if participants did not want to alter the pages in any way, they could just cover an old book and restore it for many more years of use.

I have used lots of scraps of vintage fabrics, net and block printed textiles - I find using scraps which may be very random in shape helps to build an interesting collage, otherwise the temptation is to use lots of strips or regular shaped pieces which gives a more deliberate effect.  I have used a print block to print written script onto organza and then added a quote from the book in hand stitching. 

Monday, 19 September 2016

Cornish Delights

I have been in Cornwall for the last week or so - staying at the usual apartment in Praa Sands which has a lovely sea view.  Each evening I walk along the beach and since our last visit the tree pictured below, which was once in the garden above, has descended to the sand through coastal erosion.  It was a perfect, warm, late summers evening and the light was just right.

The photo below is looking out from Praa Sands beach across to Rinsey Head - the sea an incredible blue in the evening sun.

I had packed my latest Rolling Landscape/Seascape which I had laid out before coming down and the subject of coastal erosion and the little copy of a painting by Samuel John Peploe (sent to me by Rene) have fired my imagination and this is the piece so far.

Then last Wednesday I visited Trellisk, a National Trust property that overlooks the Fal River (on the road that leads to the King Harry Ferry), and discovered that the Antiques Road Show would be recording there the following day.  I made a great effort to be up bright and early as the event started at 9.30 and went on to 7 pm - I had a really interesting day watching the BBC crew setting up the selected items, listening to all the interviews, seeing all the experts and discovering a new artist, namely Adrian Paul Allinson.  A lady had brought along two paintings she had inherited and which she knew nothing about.  The two paintings are below - I really like both of them and look forward to researching the artist.

One of the other interviews I watched was with Henry Sandon and the lady who had owned Ozzie the owl which she sold for £17,000.  The photograph is not of the original owl but is a copy she had made.