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

Dorothy Rowe

Tuesday 30 October 2012

The forecast was for sunshine...

Wensleydale fancied a trip to Stourhead, so off we set on another Tuesday trip, passing the Stones on the way. No, not the Rolling Stones, these Stones.

(I have to confess that there has been a certain amount of editing of this photo.) 

As we got nearer to Stourhead the weather got gloomier.

(There has been a certain amount of editing of this one too.)


As we got nearer, I began to wonder if the place was on fire (no editing apart from a crop).

The good news was that the house is, as far as I know, still standing.

The bad news is that we never got near enough to find out. Half the population of southern England seemed to have decided to go to Stourhead too. Wensleydale and I are impatient souls, and when we realised that we were in a traffic queue to get onto the road that leads to the road that leads to the car park - and the queue wasn't moving - we decided to go to Kingston Lacy instead.

This involved a scenic drive along the back roads of Cranborne Chase - and very scenic they were. (A touch of tilt-shifting.)

We stopped off for a very good smoked salmon sandwich at Cranborne Manor Garden Centre, and found no queues and no trouble parking at Kingston Lacy.  Perhaps the autumn colour wasn't quite as spectacular as ar Stourhead, but there was some - and we had probably left it too late anyway.

There were also roses

mysterious doorways


and lost wellies.

Bet you don't get all those in World Heritage Sites.

And on the way home I got to take more of my signature photos of the car wing mirror - which only needed cropping.

(All photo fiddling with Snapseed and Color [sic] Accent.)

Saturday 27 October 2012

Catching up...

with Karen's class.  This section has taken me a long time, partly because of all the other commitments I've been whinging about, partly because I had so many ideas - and I still haven't got them all down on paper.

We started by looking at lace for inspiration. Now, for someone who lives in jeans and t-shirts, I have rather a lot of lace. Some inherited, some sent to me by a kind on-line friend, some bought, little of it ever used. 

Drawing the lace was more of a challenge than finding some. I made a few sketches before we went on the drawing course, but when we got back I started again... Still not brilliant, but definitely better than before.

That was just the start of Karen's ideas,  as you can see - although the ribbon and tassel were my own. The little edelweissy things are embroidered inserts, as suggested by Karen, (although she puts hers in much more neatly) and inspired by this lace, which has what look like woven picots in one of the motifs. I wish I knew more about lace - any experts out there?
It's not stained, by the way, just a c**p photo.

At about the same time we started this section, I came across this image, which got me thinking about the difference between black lace and white lace. How different the 'feel' of the portrait would have been if she had been wearing white! 

So things turned a little dark.

For this page, as well as this weeks ideas, I went back to some of the first techniques Karen taught us, as she keeps encouraging us to do. I really enjoyed making the little blackwork stitch sampler - just wish I'd mounted it straight... 

Lots of room on this side for more explorations, but I want to get on to the final section of the course before too long, as I've signed up for Karen's next one, staring soon.

More pictures of my work, and everyone else's, here.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Popping up for air.

Life has been getting in the way of courses, embroidery and photography just recently, so the only progress I have to report is this - a few picots worked for Karen Ruane's course. Since I took the photo I've added another three of these little squares, which tonight, with any luck, will get a few French knots, before being added to a lace-inspired page. 

The lace I was inspired by has much neater, more delicate little picots on it  - perhaps when I'm feeling more energetic I'll photograph it - and when I've finished the page I'll photograph that, but it won't be before next weekend, as life shows no sign of letting go its grip on my throat before then.

Next week is half term, which means less time out of the house on courses, but more time with Babybel and the VHC. We are, of course, going to Manor Farm - this was requested by Babybel weeks ago, and she asked so nicely she could not, of course, be refused. To tell the truth, granny and grandad like it too, and I suspect the VHC will be interested in the 'dogs' - everything with four legs is a dog at the moment. 

I keep telling myself that next week will be quieter - but somehow it never is!

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Twenty five years ago today...

we were awoken in the morning by Cheese Minor, standing at our bedroom window, and telling us that there was a tree in the drive.

'Don't be silly', I said.

He e-mailed me this morning to remind me. I told him always to believe his children.

For those who don't know what I'm on about, it was the morning after 'The Great Storm', a.k.a. 'The Hurricane of 1987'  and there was, indeed, a tree in the drive. When we went to bed It had been in the garden of the house opposite, the owner of which subsequently complained because we still had power, and she didn't. I pointed out that it was her tree which had brought down her power line - and her drive was unblocked.

Wensleydale subsequently cut up the tree, and struggled into work - where there was no power and therefore no students (Health and Safety). He's like that.

I took the boys to school on foot (I'm like that), and discovered that the school had no power either, so I had to bring them home. I'm surprised Cheese Minor didn't remind me about that as well, but perhaps they've forgiven me at last.

Speaking of education, we enjoyed our drawing for beginners class at Walford Mill. Some bits were familiar to me, but it was all new to Wensleydale, and the teacher, Yvonne Lee, was very good at explaining the purpose of what we were doing.  Inspired by what we'd done, I had another go at some drawing I'd done for the Karen Ruane class, and improved it a bit. No pictures of that yet, but I do have some of the previous exercise, based on transfers.

The results of some of my design explorations, all starting from the transfers you can see at the bottom. Before they were ripped up, glued down and stitched into.

The two page spread - the blue flowers on the left hand page are embroidered using one of the transfers before I ripped it up.

I love the interactive nature of what we are encouraged to produce, very inspiring. I can feel a hand made book coming on when if I get some time.

When Wensleydale saw some of these he looked at them for a long time in silence, then said 'It's not like your usual work. It's pretty'. I'm still trying to work out whether to be pleased or annoyed...

However, I know what he means, but although I might never follow up any of this design work directly, the techniques are great and I will definitely use them again, perhaps with some of the stuff from the Contemporary Textile Workshop last Friday.

Saturday 13 October 2012

After seven or more years...

of attendance, it seems that I just can't keep away from Eastleigh College. So I signed up for the twice termly 'Contemporary Textiles Workshop', which I used to attend in the hiatus between C&G and the degree. Yesterday was the first meeting for this academic year.

I was not my usual cheerful smiling self, having been given a lovely cold by the VHC, or his sister, or his father, and that may be why, to begin with, I was a bit underwhelmed. Monoprints (never my favourite), emulsion paint, stick and ink drawing, waxing - a touch of déjà vu here. I'm never sure what to do with this sort of open-ended design session, but I decided to go with the weaving and do lots of cross-crossing lines - and in the end I enjoyed myself and made some little bits I quite like.

A string stamp dipped in wax, painted with Koh-i-Noor and ironed.

Wax,  scratched, Koh-i-Noored and ironed.

Emulsion paint monoprint on tissue with Quink on the back.

Emulsion paint and ink-drawn-with-a-stick lines.

You may notice a square theme here, although some pieces refused to comply.

Ink-drawn-with-a-stick, scraped with a credit card, then waxed, etc.

Labels, ink-with-a-sticked, cut up, stuck on calico and emulsioned. I like the look of the ink under emulsion, but the labels are reluctant to stay stuck.

In the afternoon, after one of those exercises I hate and so will say no more about, we used some of what we'd made to construct a 3D something no more than 6" wide. So I made a book. But I can't find it to photograph it, not that it was that wonderful.

However I am going to add stitch to some of the others, and make a book for them, perhaps with some Karen Ruane type design exploration work - which I think was the point of the exercise, although my head was so fugged up I may well be wrong.

Well, that's my excuse.

Tomorrow to fresh fields and pastures not so new - W. and I are going to drawing lessons at Walford Mill. Just hope I doesn't rain like it did today.

Sunday 7 October 2012

An Embroiderer's Ledger: Part Three

Sunday seems to have become my 'trying to keep up with Karen's course' day - perhaps because I am out of the house at some time on every other day of the week. You can see lots of images here  of the inspirational ideas Karen is showing us.

And here are my rather less accomplished efforts

Stitch inspired by the colours and shapes from the first exercises.

More design work.

A different approach - the inspiration for this came from embroidery transfers, of which I have a large, and vintage, stock. Good to find a good use for them.

I really, really wish I had done this course before I did C&G - and before the degree, obviously. The style of Karen's embroidery is a long way from my own, but that doesn't matter, because what she is teaching is a methodical approach to design work, and I do like 'methodical'. Even when feeling uninspired, I could work through some Karen's series of exercises and expect to come up with some ideas -  for example motifs to embroider on photos.

The other thing I'm enjoying is that the result of our efforts - the 'ledger' itself - is a great object in its own right. Karen is very neat, and as long established readers will have noticed, I'm not - but the emphasis on neatness rubs off and pays off. Karen emphasises that what we are making is a resource for the future, something we can enjoy looking through and continue to find inspiration from.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

A Wednesday Wander.

I've been meaning to get to one of the exhibitions at the Crafts Study Centre in Farnham for at least three years, and their current exhibition by Ismini Samanidou ever since it started in September.

Today, just a couple of days before  the exhibition ended, we made it. It's a small space, so a small exhibition, but well worth the visit, both for a weaver-wannabe like me, and for someone with a general interest in art, like Wensleydale. The work, delicate both in structure and colour, is inspired by the environment - skies, crumbling paint, etc. - and by traditional Greek embroidery. 

The exhibition includes both photos of the objects which inspired the work, and details of design development, which I found especially fascinating. Unfortunately there were few labels and the promised information sheets were not in evidence, so although the design ideas were clear, this non-expert would have liked a lot more information about technique. I don't aspire to a 'digital jacquard loom' but some of the small, sampler-like pieces looked to me as if they had been made on something much simpler  - it would have been nice to know.  It would also have been nice to know which was warp and which weft in some pieces  - perhaps obvious to experts, but not to me! But a minor quibble, and I have bought the exhibition booklet, so maybe that will answer some of my questions.

No cafe at the gallery, but we found a Starbuck's, which we never go in normally, so that was quite exciting <g>. I wonder if the guy who disappeared into the loo 10 minutes before we left, and never re-emerged, has come out to reclaim his laptop yet?

Tuesday 2 October 2012

As I expected...

the 'Embroidere's Ledger' course with Karen Ruane is taking our colour study exercises to places we never reached on C&G. 

We've been looking at shapes drawn from the original image. Unfortunately my original image didn't really lend itself to this exercise, so I had to peer at negative shapes and shading within shapes, in a rather small   reproduction, to try to find something interesting. I rather like the flame shapes, but I've chosen to use the Paisley one for now.

We've also been looking more at colour, using thread as well as paint and pencils. It was impossibe to find threads for all the subtle colour variations in the original - I don't have a wide range of tans and creams, for some reason!

If you want to see what my fellow students are doing, there's a Flickr group here. 

We are moving into more stitch, pattern etc. Karen keeps us moving, so I am struggling to keep up!