Thursday, 28 February 2013

Not Just Stitching

It must seem as though I do nothing but stitch and I must admit the last few weeks have felt like that. I'm so glad the sun called me into the garden today for a couple of hours of weeding. I would have missed the sweet perfume of the Daphne, the emerging cyclamen, the first Anemone blanda, the Hellebores, the berries on the Gladwyn Iris, the last of the aconites and the marbled Arum leaves that are just at their best. It wasn't exactly warm but the sun on my face was just what I needed.
I may not have been stitching but lot's of crafting has been worked at over the past week or so.
After the inspirational talk by Linda Monk at the Guild last Saturday my friend Paula and I got together on Monday for a play day. 

We were overwhelmed with all the products at our disposal and agreed next time we would limit ourselves to a much smaller selection of stuff to play with. Children and too many toys come to mind. However one or two lovely pieces happened and will bear further experimentation.

On the same day I started a week long on-line course with Dionne Swift I could fill a book with all the reasons why I think this is the future of teaching for the more experienced student. I have always thought that I would miss the 'classroom' atmosphere and lack of peer inspiration but I have found that I have been able to work and think at a much greater depth than I can in a usual one or two day course. I have been crafting for a long time and I'm familiar with most media, I just need silence to concentrate ( I admit that could be age related) and lot's of thinking time, classes have started to stress me with their speed and too much content. The fact that this course is one of the most professional that I have seen also helps. I think she has brought some interesting work out of me. Thoroughly recommended!  

Friday, 22 February 2013

Moving On

Busy, busy crafting day. I thought I would trawl round my usual  haunts today to top up my vintage scraps, but no car! A quick look on ebay provided me with all my needs but it's not the same as the pleasure of hunting through the dross to find a gem or two. Actually I'm glad husband needed the car, I've had such a productive day. Starting with the end of the vintage series. I'm considering doing a similar series on a much larger scale (I must be crazy). 

I've been soda ashing old sheets in preparation for dyeing for a printing class I'm doing for the Guild in March. ( I like to be prepared up front) then tearing them into A3 size. I couldn't resist getting the dyes out, then the printing blocks and the fabric paints and before I knew it I was printing for England and I now have a stash for future work prepared.

Nothing like a potato masher bleach discharge and over dyed with procion to start with, I used a little acrylic white on top to define the print, hopefully once I stitch, it won't shout potato masher at me. 

I chose the thinnest most worn sheet areas to print on and these will provide fragile scraps for future work.

Some will be stitched into and others provide backgrounds.

Linda Monk to look forward to at the Guild tomorrow I'm sure we will have a good turnout.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Just get it done!

This is the final piece in this series and I'm running out of interest and compatible scraps of fabrics. The Victorian broderie anglaise on the sides started off a stark white, a little dye paint toned it down. The daisy trim in the middle is very grey and it won't take dye because it's polyester so I will paint it with acrylics to tone in with the daisy shapes in the other three canvasses and that blue is just a bit much, so when I come to stitch that area I'll probably tone it down with a layer of white cotton organza which will take a dye paint if I need to knock it back even more. I've dispensed with the vylene in the sandwich of fabrics I'm simply using a layer of cotton, soft batting and the vintage scraps on top. It is hard on fingers sewing into this piece with relatively small stitching but it needs the bulk of the layers to add to the texture.
 I already have an eye to the next piece of work. I want to intensify this palette of colours so I have started to collect some fabrics and bits together with a view to working on a much larger canvas.

The beads came from the African fabric stand at Cottenham  last Sunday. Despite not being on top form I enjoyed the show and the exhibits and most definitely the retailers. It was also good to put faces to some of my fellow bloggers. Luckily  the weather was more than kind on the day as the exhibits were in a separate building. I thought  the layout fragmented the show somewhat but that is just an observation, it didn't seem to be an issue for others so maybe it was just me feeling a bit fragile.  

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Series Progress

No emails or blogger for the past three days - thank goodness for eldest son calling to collect the grandsons after a sleepover this morning. Two minutes of frantic typing (which went completely over my head) and everything is working again.
Back to the stitching, this is the third piece in the series. I think that I will do another one because being a square format means that they will look better hung as a square if you see what I mean.

If I had the time I would re-do this pic. but dinner party tonight to cook for, Cottenham tomorrow to look forward to and a friend coming round on Monday for a workroom day means that blogging has to take a back seat this weekend. It's good to have some energy back after the past three weeks of not feeling well.

Friday, 8 February 2013

A Series In the Making

I'm still stitching away at these vintage fabric pieces. When I sat down last week to mindlessly stitch  I didn't realise I had a series in the making. Of course mindless stitching is a misnomer really. Although it doesn't feel like the brain is engaged when sewing without a planned outcome, what actually appears is all the imagery and influences stored in the subconscious. I'm seeing a lot of this kind of work about at the moment  and this is simply my version of it.
 I am stitching the work in just one thread, a fat reel of linen tucked into my hand  ( thank you Linda) at the last Calico meeting. I was feeling pretty dreadful and I left after 20 minutes or so but that reel of thread has engaged me for the past two weeks.

I  think this one will be finished this weekend. I have another background already laid out but I need to give my fingers a rest  before I tackle the stitching!
I hope I feel back to normal next week, I'm so looking forward to 'Textiles in Focus' at Cottenham. I've planned  to go on Sunday 17th. Anyone else going on that day?

Sunday, 3 February 2013


I mentioned the word 'melding' in my last post, I thought it might be interesting to show what it means for me.

Free form work by its very nature has different edges formed by the varying fabrics used, some maybe  torn, loosely woven  and some meticulously hemmed, the area where these  fragments join don't sit well on the canvas. One answer is to hang the piece without a mount or to sew it to a background, but I like contemporary block canvases and have come up with this way of finishing my work without having that 'plonked' on look.

I start by sewing the piece to the canvas all over (a stitch every inch or so) and then round the edges. This is where some areas are still proud of the canvas. I use a brush and Matte Medium gel for the thinner fabrics really brushing out the fibres to meld with the background. For thicker fabrics think 'polyfilla' only this is modelling paste which I use with a dental toothpick.

I work the paste into any raised areas and wipe off any excess with a damp finger.

I go over any filled areas with matte medium.

I then add any finishing touches to the canvas, in this case gently distressing the edges with a little dilute burnt umber and coating all the visible canvas with the matte medium.

 These two pieces were made a few years ago but I was formulating my way of 'melding' even then, the edges look quite crude compared to my current method.
It's all a learning process. 
Cough mixture and paracetamol in hand I'm off for an early afternoon nap to dream up my next mini project.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

This Is no 'Raggy'

I have been stitching relentlessly ( in between coughing and spluttering) and I can say amazingly - I really like this piece. I'm my biggest critic normally but for once I'm totally happy with the outcome. It was meant to be a mindlessly stitched 'raggy' but it  has turned out to be a finished piece in it's own right, I shan't be cutting this one up!
Tomorrow I shall sew this to the canvas - all over. Using invisible thread I will meld it to the back ground and then using some modelling paste I will fill and grade the edges so that it sinks into the canvas.

We have been told that this virus lasts for two weeks at the infectious stage so we are in self imposed quarantine. Despite feeling so unwell we  have enjoyed the quiet days in the warm workroom over the last week or so. Husband building the most incredibly complex ship I have ever seen  and me making a spectacular mess all around him. I'm painting papers in between stitching and flaking out every couple of hours or so. When I feel back to normal (whatever that is?) I will post the painted paper tutorial, in the meantime what can I get up to next - oh there is that machine quilting to do, I feel a bit more procrastination coming on.