'If you make happiness your goal, then you're not going to get to it… The goal should be an interesting life."

Dorothy Rowe

Monday, 31 August 2009

Minimal embroidery – and images.


Another piece of Banksy inspired work – I've been thinking about phrases which include textile [-ish] words but which mean something else. Like ‘a tissue of lies’. Worked on silk gauze and backed with a piece of graffiti-ish painted paper. You can see that I slaved for hours over that one.

I have other ideas, so the muse may have been kick-started again. I have made myself go and do stuff in my Installation Art sketchbooks for Contemporary Textiles – which, surprise, surprise, has led to some ideas for embroidery. I have even tried some drawing but those you won’t see – this blog may include warts but there is a limit…

On to the images. I have mentioned Lunapic before – I think it was the first program I found when I started all this on that fateful insomniac night …

At first glance it looks quite old fashioned – especially after Flauntr – but sometimes I like old-fashioned. [Memories of Eartha Kitt singing ‘Old Fashioned Girl’ come into my head.]

I like Lunapic’s easy ‘Undo’ – and the way it stlunapic-colouring bookores your ‘Undos’ as thumbnails below the image so it is easy to click on one to regain your original.

There are a wide range of effects – even animations if you want – but only a few of them allow you to tune your image. So an effect like ‘Colouring Book’ which  works well for a passion flower …coloring book

may work less well for  a dahlia – and you can’t do anything about it.






But there are some nice effects – like ‘Lego’, which might work well in a counted thread technique -






and ‘Bars’ – especially if you played around with the colour by adding a different effect -




colour spotting

like ‘Colour Spotter’.







The ‘Custom Collage’ setting allows you to make a collage of several different effects – the yellow one is ‘Thermal’, but I can’t remember all the others …




And, although Lunapic will make a conventional motivational poster if you want one -  the ‘Obama’ effect [really] is much more interesting,





lunapicobama-1 and you can use ‘Focal Black and White’ if you want something a bit more subtle.






I find Lunapic relatively easy to use, and it offers you a fairly wide range of effects, many of which I haven’t found elsewhere. The major drawback is that it doesn’t allow you to tune images much. Probably worth getting to know the effects you find interesting for occasional use.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

I’ve been Pollocking again …

august '096

and this is the result. I am trying to pluck up courage to try Dunnewold, Benn and Morgan’s paper lamination with them – or probably with scans of them. Which has prompted me to put some varnish on the wood of my silk screen – how’s that for constructive procrastination? Each side will need at least three coats, and each coat needs hours to dry – and they tell you to do it in the book, so I’ve got to do it …august '095

And here's some other art. I’ve been meaning to photograph these for a while, but never had my  camera with me – and when I did the battery ran out, so I only managed part of this lively display.

These are designs by children from 2 local primary schools, decorating an underpass. [Hence the flash, for which I apologise.] The images are of local landmarks – so we have two versions of the King Alfred statue, one of ‘our’ Elizabeth Frink, one which may be the Cathedral – and I’m not sure about the unicorn …

Aren’t they great? – they cheer me up every time I walk through the underpass. I’ll photograph the rest if possible. And I promise not to apply any effects to them, unless there is one which will take out camera flare, as opposed to adding it.

Speaking of effects [how’s that for a subtle link?] FlauntR is a very glitzy site with lots of bits and bobs – which have different names, to confuse the easily confused. [Not a good idea on a site which is trying to sell you something – in this case prints of your photos.]

I don’t find the process of uploading a photo, saving it to an album and then editing it very user friendly. To use the program [and to get rid of the ads] you need to use pop up and drop down menus  which you access and remove by clicking on up and down arrows – this may seem obvious to you, but it wasn’t to me! The crucial one is headed ‘Editing tools’ and is to the right of centre of the screen. It has a habit of folding itself up but comes back if you click on the down button.

Start with EditR, click on ‘Desktop’ and upload your image. It is a good idea at this stage to create a new album. Save the original in ‘My Album’ and any changed images in your new album – otherwise you end up overwriting the original, and having to upload it again, if you want to go on playing. Once you have saved your edited photo to the album you can download it to your desktop. [Or not – see PicasR below.]

Click on FlauntR, My Album and click and drag the image you want to use to the workspace. Confusingly, this is  behind the pop up menu and may still show your previous image. If your image is small you won’t be able to see it there until you drop the pop up.IMG_7950flantrmosaic

Is it worth all the hassle? The program does have some effects which may make it worth struggling through. 

This is the mosaic effect, which looks like lots of little star stitches to me.



This is the ubiquitous Warhol effect.

Many of the effects allow little or no tuning, so if you don’t like the way it looks – tough.





However, if you click on StyleR, lots of goodies appear [amidst the dross – er - stylish frames and messages.]

This is a cropped passion flower [do you sense a little boredom creeping in?] in one of the better frames. Click on ‘Showcase’, ‘Frames and Overlays’ and ‘Blue Gradient’. Unfortunately the effects are not in alphabetical order, but you might find something even better during the search.


This is ‘Wood Grain’ in ‘Distortions and Light Effects’. . Could be quilting?





This is called ‘Colours 2’ – sorry, ‘Colors 2’ - layered sheers, perhaps, or canvas work?




stylrcolours-1 Confusingly, this is also called ‘Colors’ – I like the way the frame modifies but doesn't hide the image. Definite possibilities there.



The section PicasR is perhaps the most interesting – it allows you to recolour your image using the colours from a selected piece of art – but for some reason I can’t download the results in a form which allows me to show it to you …

There are other sections which I understand even if I don’t want to use them – like TextR – and some I don’t understand – like ProfilR and MobilR – and you can put your image on a magazine cover if you so wish. And you can pay FotoDsk AG – or possibly Colormailer - to print your image in lots of exciting ways. Can’t speak for the service, I haven’t availed myself of it.

If you’ve got the patience and determination to find your way round FlauntR there is some interesting stuff there – but if you only want to play with basic effects,  Picnik or Fotoflexr are much easier to use and allow you to tune your images. I think I will add it to my Favourites category ‘Things to do when bored’ – as it could be fun to play around with when I’ve nothing better to do – like at 3 a.m. which is what led me to this malarkey anyway.

And thanks to Karen for her comment - which she advised me not to publish. [I do like to be gnomic.*] I have actually been thinking about that myself – but I don’t know whether I have the time or the courage … Could be fun, though!

* “Of, or relating to gnomes; Mysterious and often incomprehensible yet seemingly wise.”

Saturday, 29 August 2009

And for my next tricks …

I move on to Fotoflexr – although it is quite possible I’ve already mentioned it as I’m getting all these similar names a bit confused …

I like this program quite a lot, although I couldn’t get the distortion effects to work. Apart from that it is quite simple to use and has a range of over 20 effects, all of which allow a certain amount of tuning.FotoFlexer_coloursketch

This is the ‘Colour Sketch’ effect, which I think would be a good basis for some traditional embroidery – if I ever did such a thing.




FotoFlexer popfade_Photo

One of the adjustments you can make is to fade out the effect and fade in the original – which is what I did with this one, combining the original image with the ‘’Pop Art’ effect.



FotoFlexer_blueprint fade Photo

I did the same thing with the ‘Blueprint’ effect, which I haven’t found anywhere else. These are my sort of colours – I like this a lot.




FotoFlexer_inkstamp   fadePhoto


And this is ‘Ink Stamp’ + fade – fading in the original adds a little bit of colour.




FotoFlexer_neonfade And this is ‘Neon’ + fade.







Fotoflexr, like Picnik, seems like a good place to start if you are new to all this – not too many decisions and pretty straightforward to use – although if anyone works out how to get the distortion effects to work, please let me know!

Friday, 28 August 2009


Thanks to Karen for the information about what I now know is a bracket fungus – and what is more, having Googled for pictures of it, I shall recognise other bracket fungi when I see them. I think it probably is, as you suggest, ‘Jews Ear’.

And thanks to Mr Cheddar for the word cloud – I have managed to work out how to upload it!

I’m moving on …

to the programs which offer effects, photo editing [e.g cropping, red-eye removal etc.],  and/or paint programs – although I’m not getting into paint programs, that’s far too scary. This group vary in complexity from relatively simple to ones which  I find almost as difficult as PSP.

Most, if not all offer ways of changing the colour of the image and ways of distorting it. Some programs don’t do much more than that, so I’m only going to look at those which offer a bit [or a lot] more. Many offer you the option to add text,frames or speech bubbles, but if that’s what you want to do you’re on your own!colorize

One of the more basic programs is Phixr. I find it relatively easy to use, and it offers the usual range – I had fun ‘colorizing’ the passion flower.



IMG_7950cropcolour-12_phixr You can also add one [or possibly more – I haven’t tried] preset images – like raindrops.





dot art

The ‘Dot’  effect is quite effective too - although it is less effective on some images …






than others.

Sorry for the shock intrusion of a dahlia - ‘Bishop of LLandaff ‘ - photographed at Kingston Lacy yesterday.

I think this offers ideas for simplifying the image for embroidery – and I like the greyed background.




Here is the original photo.






Phixr also allows you to overlay one photograph on another  - which I find surprisingly effective. Possibly layered sheers?






Picasa  will also do this – so in the spirit of scientific enquiry here is Picasa’s ‘Multiple Exposure’.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

A question, an outing, a mistake and an embroidery.


First – are there any fungi experts out there who know what this is?  It is growing in our front garden under my beloved cherry tree and I would like to know what it is. And whether I should worry abut it, as well as seeing it as ruffled calico…

Second – we had a grand day out. In the morning we went to Walford Mill, to see the exhibition, ‘A Banquet at Walford Mill’. Which could have been naff, but wasn’t. It was amusing, stimulating, and enjoyable. And the coffee and biccies weren’t bad either.

Then we went on  to Kingston Lacy, which is fast becoming one of my favourite places. Last time we went round the house but today we hit the gardens, starting with the Sculpture Trail, which is a smaller, wilder version of ‘Art in the Garden’. Kingston Lacy

Three artists have works on display, evocative bronzes by Clare Trenchard,






Kingston Lacy1

powerful abstracts by Phil French, 






 Kingston Lacy2

and my favourites, wonderful animals by Jo  Burchell. Would you believe that fox is made out of barbed wire?






Third - I have realised that when I said I had finished with the ‘one [or a few more] trick wonders’ of the photo imaging world – I hadn’t. There’s another one – Pixisnap. Which has two tricks.

This one, ‘Polaroid’

and this one, ‘Mosaic’. pixisnapmosaic

Both effects allow you to do a certain amount of tuning, and I can see possibilities in the mosaic.




And finally – an embroidery.image-24 Graffiti meets Kantha. I did it on a Colour Catcher – which didn't like repeated unpicking. In future I think I will bond the CCs to fine Vilene to make them stronger, as they are soft and pleasant to work on, and some of mine are very interesting colours. Well - all of them are good if you like shades of grey mud …

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

An oversight.

I've forgotten to mention that on Monday, Wensleydale and I went to this at the Discovery Centre. I had heard of the Chapman brothers but never seen their work. This was an excellent introduction – and the images were much more varied that the website suggests. Jokey, clever, beautifully drawn, and worth studying closely. 

The accompanying exhibition is by students from a local secondary school, Henry Beaufort. [Blogs are good for you – I realised I didn’t know who Henry Beaufort was, so Googled him. 15th C bishop of Winchester, apparently. I’m not sure from the Wiki site what he did to deserve to have a school named after him, but I digress.]

The students’ exhibition, inspired by the Chapmans’ work, is brilliant – drawings, altered toys, [“Toy Box Transplants”] storyboards and stop animation films, with music chosen and played, I suspect, by the students too.  I wouldn’t take a small child, unless they enjoy the macabre, [or an older person without  a broadminded view of art, come to that], but it is a very enjoyable little show.

Today's image editing swarholizerite is probably my favourite of the more basic ones, BeFunky. It only offers 9 effects, including the ubiquitous ‘Warholizer’, but there are options for tuning with each of the nine. For example with the Warholizer, there is only one image but you can change the colour and the size of the dots [bit of Lichtenstein in there, I think, as well as Warcharcolahol].

You’ll notice Befunky labels the image but it is easy to crop off in another program.

This is ‘Charcoal’ , which gives you a choice of colour and amount of detail.



Another version of Charcoal. I think this is a beautiful effect, and very inspirational.

There is no visible ‘Undo’ button but if you click on another effect it seems to start again from your original image. I think. Unless you know better.


Another drawback is that you can’t see the effect of the options in advance – but clicking on the original effect again will resetpatriotic_2 the image if you don’t like the changes.

If you are like me, the idea of ‘Patriotic’ effects will not be immediately appealing – especially if your flag’s colours are not red, white and blue – but click on ‘Patriotic’ and the fourth dog from the left produces this – with maximum saturation and increased ‘Colour Space’.[You'll understand if you go to the site!] 

I could go on giving you exastencilermples but you would probably all be asleep very quickly. There isn’t one of the 9 effects which didn’t produce an inspirational image if I played around with it. But given my Banksy-inspired interest in graffiti, I can’t help but show you this one, produced with the ‘Stenciler’ effect, which is something I haven't found anywhere else. I really like this - definitely embroiderable, but it could be transfer printed as well for a more faded effect.

So – if you are looking for an easy image editing program for ideas for embroidery, I think you’ll get the best value for [no] money from BeFunky. You can even add frames and text if you desire.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009


[See here if you don’t know what I’m on about – or if you do and want a blast from the past.]

Uppards to the next program in my selected highlights of free image editing software.

Big Huge Labs is another site I used even before I started all this. I’ve mentioned the Hockneyizer and the Pop Art Poster, but amongst thebeadsf77451911363d4b9b1fed9669ec54431da8ad946 rather eclectic collection of things to do with [or without] your photos there are some that might interest embroiderers. 

This is the ‘Bead Art’ effect. You can choose from 4 different shaped beads - these are circles. The site advises choosing  a strongly coloured image – so I did.


beadart 2

Definite improvement. These are cubes.







There are a number of options under the ‘FX’ heading, [sharp intake of breath from this old fogey], although you don’t find out what they are until you have loaded your image. I liked ‘Sketch’ – not embroiderable [by me] but pretty.



I liked the colours of  ‘Negative’.








This is ‘Halftone’ with the contrast and strength as high as they will go – you can do a certain amount of tuning of the images.

If you are very very dedicated this might be patchwork – but I think something interesting might come out of using it for counted thread work of some type. I like the idea of the image concealed behind a lot of black blobs. Well, I’m weird.

I turned the version above to black and white and tried playing around with contrast and strength to see if I could get something suitable for black work, but without success – I think the original image is probably too complex for that. trading card

In another part of the forest – er – site – you can use your photo in an ATC. You can add text underneath if you wish. Nice if you are into ATCs.






Or, should you need one, you can make a motivational poster.

Perhaps I ought to make one that says ‘Embroider’.


Actually, I have been – embroidering, that is, not making a poster – apart from the one above, obviously. I’ve been embroidering sort-of-graffiti. See what Banksy has done to me? It is not in a fit state to show at the moment, and it won’t ever be brilliant, due to  a slight technical failure, but I have hopes it may lead to something better.

Watch this space.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Another insomniac night …

so a bit more research- although as you may have guessed I've done some during the days as well…

Today I'm looking at Dumpr, which  offers around a dozen free effects and a few more which you have to pay for. Not all them are of interest to embroiderers – or not this embroiderer anyway. Embroidered Rubik’sdrawing cube anyone?

I’ve already mentioned Amazing Circles, but the site also offers a ‘Pencil Sketch’. Lots of sites offer this but I like Dumpr’s version, although you can’t edit it.  This would make a good start for development, I think.


photo in a photo

I also like the ‘Photos within a Photo’, or ‘recursive’ effect, although I’m not sure how you might embroider it …





recursive alien

The ‘Alien’ effect, despite its name, is useful because it offers some pre-set colour schemes – with a bit of effort you can apply it to a previously Dumpr’d image, and get a recursive alien. Somehow this looks more embroiderable – with a bit of simplification I think it might work in canvas work.

recursive alien pixellated

For example, I pixelated it in Picnik – which makes it a pixelated recursive alien.

Lots of programs offer pixelation, which looks as if it should be useful for counted techniques. This is a bit rough but could be tidied up if I was actually to embroider it.  Although it is a bit too brown for my taste …


Dumpr also has a ‘Lomo’ effect – which you can also find, in an adjustable form, in Picnik. A Lomo, the site says, is a Russian camera. One deduces that it is not of particularly high quality, but produces interesting effects – like a slight colour change and darkening of the edges of the image.


Here’s the original in case you’ve forgotten what it looks like, after all this faffing around.





recursive lomo

And here’s a recursive Lomo, which looks to me as if it had been printed on lace. 





You may have noticed that there has been no mention of the book.  I couldn’t face deconstructing it but it is not fit for publication. The covers look OK  but the binding is a bit of a disaster area – but as the covers were made from magazine photos I can’t show them to you [the C*******t word – NO, not that one, there are too many **s!]