Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Finishing things off.

I have been finishing the book I started on the weekend course with Frances Pickering - above is the front cover decorated with rubber stamped images machine stitched alongside the letters, cut from offcuts of the printed fabrics which make up some of the ages, and spelling out the name of the poet whose words inspired my drawings. 

I have several rather nice rubber stamps of wild flowers which gave a fitting design for the lining of the cover.

These are the pages which needed more work - I think I have improved on them.



This is the back cover lining featuring more wild flowers.  I made the covers from a printed fabric with a pattern of roof tiles.  I used the reverse of the fabric and knocked the design back further by overlaying it with muslin, and bound the edges with the reversed fabric.


My other finished book is the one made from assorted fabrics which had been bundled up and left in the garden for weeks.  They have taken on interesting stains which give them a lovely antique look - not easy to see in these photos.  I call it my scruffy book.
I toyed with the idea of making a separate cover then decided that the largest page would be ideal for the purpose.  As all the fabrics were just bits and pieces from my ragbag (I didn't want to risk anything special)  my pages are all shapes and sizes as you can see.
It gives quite a nice effect and I deliberately arranged them in a very random fashion to make the most of this.

I haven't bothered to photograph all the pages separately as you have already seen them in an earlier post.
This is the back cover.

So what shall I do next?   I have several ideas - it is simply a question of which one is the most persistent and keeps pushing itself to the fore.

Monday, 8 September 2014

A wonderful weekend.

This is Hawkwood College near Stroud in Gloucestershire where I have been enjoying a weekend workshop tutored by Frances Pickering and enjoying meeting up with several of the students I met last year, and yes, I did sign up for next year.
It is in a beautiful setting and a haven for wildlife as the gardens are not manicured but allowed to naturalize.  There were bees and butterflies everywhere and birdsong all day and owls hooting at night.
There was a huge clump of these magnificent globe artichokes growing just outside the studio windows.
And St.Francis of Assisi stands in the overgrown rockery.

I love this giant mobile hanging from one of the enormous trees.  I think those stones might be old roof slates - they are quite big

Our theme for this workshop was 'Black and White and Read all over'.  We were asked to include text in our designs and work mostly in black and white plus shades of grey, and one other colour was permitted.   I chose yellow but kept forgetting to include it.
All of my text has been taken from lines of poetry by John Clare.   To get us started we did mono printing or transfer printing on white fabric.  I decided to stick with mono-printing and found that my abstract marks turned out to be very useful and easy to adapt to landscapes and woods.   I printed with a feather on this page so thought a quotation featuring birds was in order for this one.

Most of these pages need more work done on them but I am not quite sure what.  I shall put them away for a day or two, then take another look at them.

I was very brave and did all my drawing directly onto the fabric pages with a black Pitt pen.  The one above is from 'Open Winter':  "In sheltered spots - primroses, when they get behind the wood's old roots where ivy shields their crimpled curdled leaves, will shine and hide".

This one is "Old elm that murmured in our chimney top - the sweetest anthem autumn ever made".  I like that swirly pattern of my background print and thought it could represent the tempest that felled the elm tree.  It was so hard trying to make it look like a fallen tree and I haven't quite got it right.


This one also needs more work and I think I will make the moon a bit larger.  It's a bit lost behind those trees and I need a few more branches here and there to break up all the vertical lines.

I think we all felt exhausted by the end of Sunday but had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and worked ourselves to a frazzle.   The  weather was lovely, the food was delicious and plentiful, the bed was so comfortable and the company was delightful.    If that wasn't enough, among the other students was none other than Jan Messent who has been a textile heroine of mine for many years.  I love her work and have several of her books.   I took the Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Embroidery one with me so that she could sign it, which she did.   I even sat next to her one lunch time - she is a very serene person but has a lovely sense of humour.  It took great control not to be like a schoolgirl hyperventilating with excitement!

So it's back down to earth today, with chores and gardening crying out to be done before I start work on my pages again.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Busy playing.

I finished the rune book cover with a rub of copper gilding wax and was very relieved when the pages went in fairly evenly.
I now have to decide what to do with the spine.  Shall I leave it alone or do something decorative with it?

I am going on another of Frances Pickering's weekend courses shortly, and to get myself in the mood for the approaching one I folded a long strip of paper and made this tiny accordian book with a doodled sketch along it's length and a couple of lines from a poem by William Wordsworth.  The theme for the workshop is the written word and we are to work in black and white, though they can be mixed to produce grey, and we are allowed one accent colour.
I am hoping to work with lines from John Clare's works as I love the countryside and trees in particular.
But I do have a terrible tendency to change my mind at the last minute and do something completely different.   I shall find out on the day!

I look round at my overstuffed workroom and decided that I either need to throw a lot more stuff away or start using it all.   As I can't bear to part with any more I have made a start.  Here are the first pages of an altered book.  The book was 50p from a charity shop and I gessoed the pages before spraying them with coloured inks and when dry I stuck the torn top layers of paper serviettes on top.  I used gel medium as the glue because it doesn't tear the tissue as easily as ordinary glue.


I am not used to working in this way and haven't decided quite what to do next.   It's a nice project to have on hand to go back to when I've nothing else in the pipeline.

I also looked at my collection of fabric, lace and bits, and took pity on my daughters who will have to clear my workroom out one day if I become incapable of doing it myself.   As I seem to keep wanting to make fabric books and love these old illustrations from another charity shop book.  (I also have ideas for at least two more books and plenty of old sheeting for pages).
Some of the pages are made from fabrics I bundled up and left out in the garden for weeks last year.  They have lovely discolourations, some from the plant material I included in the bundles.
Not all the fabric pieces are the same size so I have added strips of lace to make them wider and/or deeper.
I must just decline the next offer of fabric and threads when someone says to me 'You sew don't you?  Would you like my mother-in-law's sewing threads/tapestry wools/rag-bag?'  

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Nearly Done.

The front cover of my rune book with the word 'runes' spelt out in runic lettering made from Friendly Plastic.  I may bring up the texture with a little copper gilding cream.   
This is the back cover.   The runes included in the book are Anglo Saxon ones taken from a sword found in the River Thames in the 19th Century.   The cover is made from pelmet vilene and has scraps of lace and muslin randomly stitched in place, then gesso painted on top and sprayed with Quink ink with a further spray of blue Glimmer Mist and copper Moon Shadow Mist.   I lined it with a buff mottled cotton fabric and bound the edges with copper ribbon.

Each label carries the name of the rune, it's meaning and the letter it represents but unfortunately the book I was using had incomplete information for two or three of them and I can find nothing about them so far in any other books so I have left a blank space to be filled later.
I had great fun thinking up the various heads, tails and feet for each character.   Originally I wanted to make them more sinuous but in doing so I lost the true shape of the rune, so I tried to keep the shape and just add the heads and tails. 

This is the Mother Rune from which all the others can be made.   There is no other meaning offered for this one.

I now have to bind each group of pages into the cover and am waiting for courage to arrive to make a start.  I have measured and marked where the stitching should be placed and will be interested to see whether the pages will all lie together evenly when I have done it!   Wish me luck.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Medieval splendour.

Our travels yesterday took us to Tewkesbury where we visited the Abbey and I had actually remembered to take my camera.  I make no apologies for the number of photos and could have taken dozens more!  Above is the view towards the choir and altar beyond.
A closer look at the wonderful painted ceiling.

There are dozens of ceiling bosses in almost every part of the Abbey - when I saw one on the ground which had been moved for repair, I was amazed at it's size.

Looking in the opposite direction back through the open door.

These banners hang on either side of the doorway - not a very good picture, sorry.

Similar ones hang from most of the buildings lining the main road into and through the town.  They are put up at the beginning of May in preparation for the Medieval Fayre which is an annual event over 2 or 3 days and commemorates the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1461.  (I hope that is the right date).  The Fayre is held on fields just outside the town, one of which was the actual battlefield.  The banners seem to be left up throughout the summer months - each one is different and they make the most humdrum shops front more interesting.

There were many of these lovely canvaswork kneelers each with a different design.

The tiles in the choir area and up to the altar really took my fancy.   I wanted to photograph each one!  There were so many different patterns.


They were in such good condition I am sure they are not the genuine article and probably replaced the original ones in Victorian times.  Nonetheless they are beautiful.

The altar cloth is a beautiful piece of ecclesiastical embroidery.  I couldn't get a close look as the area was roped off but it looks as if it is appliqued.

I loved this tiny side chapel with the remnant of a wallpainting still visible.

As well as some original and later stained glass windows, these two modern ones are very striking.  I have lost a lot of the vibrant colour in my photo - they are so rich and deep in reality.

It was only when I looked at my photos back at home that I realised how much the light must have changed while I was in the Abbey.   This view, similar to my earlier one, is so much lighter.  You can just pick out the two banners right at the end there.

This is a bit out of focus but I spotted that lovely almost triangular window at the end.

A clearer view of it.

This arch looks quite impressive for such a small and modest doorway.  Signs of alterations in the past I think.

On the way back to the carpark is this magnificent copper beech tree.  I have taken many photos of it down the years.

At present it is smothered with an enormous crop of beech nuts.

It's branches sweep down almost onto the ground.

The trunk is massive and every spring it sits encircled by a beautiful carpet of purple and white crocuses.

On our way home we stopped to pick some blackberries.   They seem to be very early this year and I didn't want to miss them.   We found we had nearly 4lbs - that's 2kgs to you youngsters!  I must get some more while they are still so good, then we can have blackberry and apple crumbles as well as a few pots of jam this winter.