Sunday 31 October 2010

The start of a new project?

I needed a break from stitching my book pages as my hands were tired, so decided to do a bit of knitting with a view to working on it with the embellisher. I am a magpie when it comes to interesting yarns and have quite a collection. They are so tempting and then when I get them home they seem too beautiful to use. I looked out any with a high wool content as I thought they would work best.
This is a Colinette yarn - I think they are gorgeous and the colours are stunning. The picture above shows the front of the piece after a bit of embellishing - I shall do more - while below, is a view of the reverse which has taken on a beautiful impressionist character. I love this effect and will probably add little wisps of wool and/or silk tops, dyed muslin scraps and some stitching although I haven't a design in mind yet.

I think this next yarn is one of the Noro ones from Japan. They are quite expensive but this was a bargain end of line, or similar. I knitted it on smaller needles than the Colinette - 4mm - and have worked a few wisps of wool tops into the blue area and some silk tops into the dark grey bit on the far right. It needs quite a lot of embellishing to alter the surface texture of this yarn as it is a boucle type and I haven't altered it's appearance very much yet .......................

..................... but once again, on the reverse magical things have begun to happen and when I have done a bit more on the front, I shall turn it over and make the reverse my right side and carry on from there.

I love the colours in these next pieces of knitting and when they have been well and truly embellished they will be felted and therefore there should be no danger of them unravelling if I want to cut them up into smaller pieces. Every group of four or five bands of colours says landscape, seascape, sunset, dusk etc. I should have enough pieces here to keep me going for quite a while whether they end up as little scenes, book covers, bags or anything else.

The last piece - if you look at it sideways - looks like a pebbly beach I think. If I don't embellish it too much I should be able to retain that look and make use of it.

I am enjoying experimenting with the embellisher. I have been so busy recently and there has been no time to find out what I can do with it since I bought it a few months ago. Now is the perfect time as my sewing machine has just gone in to be serviced and I need another toy to play with till I get it back. Of course I could wash the paintwork or clean out the kitchen cupboards but this is much more fun.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

It's finished.

There are one or two minor adjustments to be made, such as moving the hook of the clasp a little further onto the fastening flap so that it wraps around the book properly.

A detail showing the bottom right corner of the front cover. The back cover just has the outer stitched border and inner braid border but no other decoration. I've had those funny brass buttons for ages and knew they'd be useful one day. They are stitched through the little squares of gold metal shim.

I found this metal tassel on a cheap necklace and took it off to stitch to the fastening flap. I took the book to the gallery yesterday when I was stewarding and began stitching the pages together, back to back, to hide all the untidy reverse sides. I'm there again from 10 until 5 on Friday but my hands are tired as the stitching is quite arduous so I may take some knitting instead. I have been playing with the embellishing machine and experimenting with embellished knitting. I have in mind to use the results as the background for small stitched landscapes and have found that the wrong side of the surface after embellishing gives a beautiful impressionist painting effect. I'll take some photos and post them next time.
Talking of time, it has flown. It seemed an age before the exhibition actually started, and it's been on all month which stretched far ahead at the beginning, but now we are almost at the end and on Monday it will all come down. A short breather and then we must turn our thoughts to North Somerset Arts Week next spring. Time to make another book maybe?
I'll leave you with a nice restful picture of two old codgers taking their ease! It's amazing that that position is comfortable for our poor old cat who takes ages to sit down sometimes - his joints are so stiff. Obviously his back is the most comfortable and pliable part of his body and he'll lie like this for as long as my husband will put up with it.

Sunday 24 October 2010

Nearly there.

The pages are all finished and stacked in the right order and the right way up! I treated each page like a signature and stitched them individually then threaded strips of calico through on the back to go right round in order to hold them all together. I have stuck the strips to the top and bottom pages and when the cover is complete I will stick the insides of the cover to the top and bottom of the stack. I hope that makes sense. This bit is very scary as I don't really know what I'm doing but it seems to be working so far. The book looks enormous in this photograph and is about 18x25cms - 7"x10"for those who still think in feet and inches. It's about 6cms or two and a half inches thick.

I am in the process of decorating the cover and it is going to be quite ornate. I started with pelmet vilene cut to shape and applied gesso to it, adding scraps of torn muslin and scrim here and there with more gesso to hold it down. I found a scrap of crunchy lace to go over the arch shape and applied that at the same time. I then sprayed all over the surface with Medici Walnut colours and Moonshadow Mist. This looked a bit too colourful even though I had used browns and greens, so when it had dried I painted the whole thing with diluted acrylic in burnt umber. It is more bronze than grey, as it appears in this pic. I will add my favourite automatic stitch and raised chain band border, then work on an inner border and corner decorations. Behind the arch I will add a title feature and hope to make a clasp of some sort. Still plenty to do.
I took advantage of the fine weather today and put in some sweet williams which have been patiently waiting for my attention, and replanted all the bulbs I made homeless when the pond was enlarged. The weeds are still growing so there will be quite a few more gardening sessions before I can put it to bed for the winter.
Another busy week ahead as I am stewarding all day at the Bristol Guild on Tuesday as well as Friday. We are getting about 30 or 40 of visitors each day during the week but Saturdays are really busy. It always surprises me how suddenly the time for an exhibition arrives although during the planning and preparation stages it seems to be an age away. I felt very sorry for our hanging committee who have done such a great job. Last week there was a spot check by some Health and Safety or Fire Safety officer who decided that soft hangings on the stairs were a hazard and must be moved into the main gallery and replaced by framed pieces. What a palaver! The stairs seemed to be the ideal place for the soft hangings, some of which were quite long, and it had taken two days to select the best positions for everything and fit the special screws to be slotted into the hanging system and then actually hang it all, but I must say when I went in again last Friday and saw the new layout it still looked really good, and I doubt whether anyone not in the know would realise that half the exhibits had been moved. It all comes down on Monday Nov.1st and then we can start working towards the next one.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

The Last Two Pages.

The light was very strong when I took these photos and seems to have washed out all the colour. Both these pages have quite a pretty pale green and creamy honey colouring. The sweet cicely leaf was picked from the garden a few weeks ago and pressed. It is sandwiched between tea dyed paper and acetate then fastened to the page with bronze coloured paper fasteners. The initial letter is cut from a scrap of kid leather and stitched to a piece of gold painted fine gauge canvas. I painted the edges with acrylic medium and dipped them in gold embossing powder, then heated it to melt it. I found that by not heating it long enough to melt the granules completely I got this rather nice textured finish. I am debating whether to add any other small embellishments to this page if I can find or make something suitable. I think it needs a little something in the top right corner.

Another 'washed out' page. This is chervil and I wasted a lot of time last evening unpicking the embroidered piece after discovering I had fastened it to the wrong page. It actually looks better than this photo and here again the delicate colours are lost. The text at bottom left is from a colour photocopy fastened to the page with running stitch. The capital letter is actually the card template I made to cut the C for chamomile. I couldn't find a nice letter C anywhere so decided to treat the cereal packet template with gold embossing powder and it worked a treat.
I now have to work out how to fix all the pages together and then put them into the cover. I shall probably use the Sinatra technique for this and 'do it my way'! I have made a start on the cover but it isn't worth seeing just yet.

Sunday 17 October 2010

Mother Nature's Textile Art?

Do you think she created these lacey effects with painted Lutrador and a soldering iron?
They looked even better from the other side, but I couldn't photograph them from that direction as the sun would have been shining right into the camera.
It has been a glorious day today, inspite of the thin film of ice on the bird bath early this morning. I have been dog-sitting so a morning walk was called for which was lovely. The birds were singing and a lovely autumn tang scented the air along with odd wafts of woodsmoke from log fires. I was as warm as toast when we got home again and had to turn the heating off. After lunch I worked in the garden until said dog's owner came to collect her, and it was warm enough to sit in the garden drinking tea. Amazing after such a chilly start to the day.

I have made a few more hearts for the Heart Felt project. The idea is to fix on a tag with details of a 'heart felt' moment which one will remember for ever. I still have to think of ones for the hearts above. I made them from knitted yarn which I then worked over with the embellishing machine. They are backed with velvet and edged with a beaded trim.

This heart has a Union Jack on the reverse and still needs a hanging loop. The label will tell of the wonderful moment when I answered the phone to hear our son say 'Hello Mum', and I knew he was safely back home having been on active service. I am always aware of how fortunate I am, and of all those whose sons didn't come home - this heart is for them too.

Saturday 16 October 2010

Our exhibition 'Connections' at the Bristol Guild Gallery.

I was on duty stewarding all day yesterday and remembered to take my camera. The gallery is two floors up from street level so I got a bit of exercise! This is what you see on your way up the stairs to the gallery. The lighting on the stairs was not ideal for photography and there was strong sunlight coming through the window - well that's my excuse!
A detail of the long panel facing the stairs made from scraps of hand dyed silk with machine and hand stitch. It is more usually hung horizontally and makes the most gorgeous bedhead in the bedrooom of the maker - Bobby Brown.

This study of a plantain seedhead hangs alongside it on the stairs and is again hand-dyed and incorporates machine and hand stitching. Deryll Hibbitt dyes most of her fabrics and threads often from plant material which she has grown.

A general view of one corner of the gallery. I love those felt pots - they are so quirky. Kirsten Hill-Nixon made them and the delightful underwater scene below.
It just invites fingers to be poked into all those little holes and pockets and the colours are amazing.

This little pocket was one of three different ones based on Elizabethan pockets which I believe used to be worn on a belt rather than as part of a garment as we know them. Val Amos made them and loves working in these soft, delicate colours and patterns.

This amazing corset was part of a series. The one above was entitled 'Constraints of the Body Beautiful' .......

................ and this one is called 'The Unattainable Body Beautiful'. The workmanship in both these pieces is incredible.

The same artist - Jan Connet - has expored the use of the pattern shapes which form the corsets and made them up using diverse techniques.

Whoops! An uploading error has occurred - but it is worth a second look.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Another Page.

Another page for my book - as you can see it's Nettle this time. I have used similar techniques for this page as I did with the others. Only two more to do and then comes the 'make or break' bit of assembling everything and I haven't even thought of a design for the cover. I probably do things the wrong way round, but my books always seem to end up fatter than I expect so the cover has to be made last.

The initial letter looks more defined in reality than it does here. The professional photographers who do the pictures for textile books are so clever and know how it should be done. I am always in a rush so it's no wonder my pics aren't very good.

Thank goodness plants don't have limbs or faces, I can't draw those but I can just about manage a leaf or two.

The weather has been glorious for the past few days and we actually sat in the garden at the weekend, with a cuppa. The seritogstigma wilmottiana (I hope that's the right spelling) is looking lovely. Those flowers are a really intense blue, almost as blue as a Morning Glory.

I cut all the hardy geraniums down not so long ago and they are rewarding me with a fresh crop of flowers. Again, this one is much more intense and a really gorgeous magenta.

And this one is a pretty pale lilac but not as washed out as it appears here. The leaves have a lovely shape too.

I was about to empty this large pot a little while back, when I noticed all these new flowers and fruits forming. One of them actually shows signs of ripening so I have put the pot in the greenhouse in the hope that we might have a second crop of strawberries. They have been very worthwhile but the annoying thing is that I can't remember their name and have lost the marker. Hopefully it might be somewhere under all that foliage. All the pelargoniums are repotted and tucked up in the greenhouse too, and I shall be on my guard this winter if it gets very cold again - I lost a lot last year because the metal door became frozen shut for about 4 days and everything rotted through lack of ventilation. It doesn't seem any time at all since last spring when I was taking out the sheets of bubble wrap for insulation and now it's time to put it all back again.

Saturday 9 October 2010

Blog Title.

As promised, Sara Lechner's blog can be found at http:/thefabricofmeditation.blogspot./

Two more pages and two more books.

This is the Vipers Bugloss page. The colours are not accurate -as usual - and the background seems to dominate these pictures. The pressed plant material is from the garden and I suddenly remembered I had some Grungeboard scrolls which I painted with gold acrylic and before the paint dried I sprinkled on some gold embossing powder and then heated it. It gives a rather nice metallic look with lovely uneven texture. A finer powder would result in a smooth finish but I like the heavier result for this project.

This is the page for Betony. Again I have used the scroll shapes to add decoration. Looking at it now it would have been good to integrate that little drawing into the background by overlapping some tinted tissue paper round the edges, but I have only just this minute thought of it!

A close up of one of the scroll shapes which I stitched directly on to the page. Grungeboard is amazing stuff - it wont tear, can be painted, stuck, stitched, takes heat and comes in various packs of shapes or just plain sheets. There is also Grungepaper and both are available from good craft suppliers.

A close-up of the capital. I splodged (a technical term) on some acrylic medium round the edge of the canvas before dipping it into gold embossing powder and heating with a heat tool to activate the powder. Again, it gives the appearance of a metallic edging.

" Art days can be so boring but Missus gave me a cuddle which was very nice".

"Dog Granny was particularly boring today as the postman brought her two books and she had her nose stuck in one or other of them for ages"

Sara Lechner's book 'Faces' is delightful - it's like a fairy story picture book for grown-ups. She works with fine felt, lace, other fabrics and many techniques to create charming and magical scenes and motifs. There is usually a little face (or several) somewhere and a story seems to unfold. The text is in German and English and the photographs of her work are excellent. Her studio is a converted hayloft and her blog is fascinating. I can't be sure of the exact title of it right now but will try to remember to post it next time so you can see for yourself.

Maggie Grey's new book is full of inspiring ideas and good advice as usual - this time she has produced it with Isobel Hall. It is such a treat to have someone to try out all the new products and then tell me how to use them! I've only had time to skim through them so far but know I shall have hours of enjoyment to come.

I must do a bit of gardening today - there are bulbs to put in and I want to plant up a couple of pots and the half barrel with something pretty to look at during the winter. My reward for any hard work will be feet up, cuppa and my two new books.

I forgot to say on yesterday's post, that at the end of the Heart Felt exhibition the hearts will be sold in aid of charity and if anyone would like to take part I'm sure Jan will be delighted. If you leave me a comment and an email address we can work out a way of getting the hearts to her.

Friday 8 October 2010

Heart Felt.

Heart Felt is an exhibition which will take place at Centrespace, Bristol from 19th -24th November. Jan Connett is a Bristol based artist who is putting together a piece of work that explores the feelings surrounding the most powerful events that life brings. Jan is hoping to collect 500 'hearts' and needs about another 200.

She invites people to create a heart from any material - gardeners can use plant material, woodworkers can use wood - to capture a significant moment in life which promoted such a strong emotional response that it will be remembered for ever.

In the exhibition, the hearts will be hung from strings so that they will be visible from all sides. A suggested size is somewhere between 10 and 20cm (4" to 8"). We are asked to write on a luggage label or postcard the story behind our reason for making the heart, and attach it to the heart.

The deadline for her receiving the hearts is mid-October as she then has to photograph and catalogue them for the exhibition.

The hearts shown here are the ones I have just made for her.

Friday 1 October 2010

Short and sweet.

My eyes are dim, I cannot see -
I've done too much em-broi-der-ree!!

I'm taking a break from stitching today and was going to take a photo of the little stream flowing past our french windows. Our patio is temporarily waterlogged. The rain is hammering down and the ripples look rather lovely. However, on a still photo they don't show up and it all looks just ordinary and very wet. Tomorrow is supposed to be a better day for most of us - hope that is so.