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.