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

Dorothy Rowe

Sunday 28 July 2013

One thing leads to another.

Today I decided it was time to stop procrastinating and do some 'Repetition'. 

Well, to be honest, yesterday I decided it was time to stop procrastinating and do some 'Repetition', but then I got distracted into tidying up, which turned into a wastebin-filling clearout.

But today, as I had finished two books - another pocket book, which is the same as the first, and this one from the remnants - 

and the never-ending using up left-over wool blanket has begun to pall, and is temporarily in the 'to be continued' pile - at least until I have some subtitles to read -

I decided it was time to stop procrastinating and do some 'Repetition'. 

Back to the Evolon I was playing with a couple of posts ago.

In my tidying I came across a couple of old 'Workshop on the Web'  articles on Evolon by Judy Fairless, suggesting a number of techniques to try.

One was cut-back applique with a soldering iron. I am never reluctant to get out the soldering iron, so I free motion stitched down this scrap, previously printed with transfer paints with a string mask, and attacked it. 

Mmm. A definite 'maybe'. I think the background is too strong for the rather anaemic colour, and it needs some more stitch to rescue it. Into the 'to be continued' pile.

Fairless also suggests a Cathedral patchworkish approach, again with the soldering iron. You sew the Evolon face down, stitch and slash.

So I drew guidelines on the back of the Evolon. Whoops, it will show! 

The second mistake was to make the squares too small, so hardly any of the already pretty faint transfer crayon design on the other side shows. 

My solution was my fallback colouring for most synthetics - soluble crayons (Inktense works as well) and a baby wipe. Now this one is in the 'to be continued' pile waiting for some stitch to hold the flaps back.

Then I digressed. I saw a picture somewhere on the web of layered papers with holes burned in them with, I think, a joss stick. I liked the effect but I have tried burning paper with a joss stick and the #%$+]>} thing always goes out. Plus I haven't got any.

So I fished out some stuff for wrapping flowers which I bought from the woman who used to come to college with floristry supplies, and which may or may not be be Sizoflor, or Lutradur, or something completely other, and cut it up into pieces.

In the process my left hand moved from right to left to put something down, as my right hand moved from right to left holding my rotary cutter which I had neglected to close.


I did manage not to burn myself with the soldering iron, but half way through making these holes I decided that I should have used more than one colour.

So I made a second one.

It was at this point that I asked myself how I was going to mount them in my sketch book. As you can see I decided to stitch pin them to a backing. 

So that's two more in the 'to be continued' pile -

along with the holes. Did I hear someone say 'throw them away?' Of course not! 

The leaf shaped holes have been machine stitched together, in what has to be my worst bit of machine embroidered lace ever. No-one but me will ever see the back, which means I will have to back it with something. Another one two in the 'tbc' pile.

Also in the pile is this, which I started a while ago, and which is languishing awaiting beads, and these two for the little brown repetitious sketchbook, which is itself a work in progress.

Knitted, ironed Tyvek on the left, which needs stitching down, and my response to Babybel's response to my cross stitch on the right. Still much more inhibited than hers, though. It's an idea from an old book 'Filling Stitches' by Edith John. It just needs a border.

I daren't count how many things that make in the 'tbc' pile, and there are lots more ideas of things to do with Evolon...

Tuesday 23 July 2013

It's amazing...

how much you can get done when there's no cycling to watch. 

Like these. My new 'office chic' range of recyled stationery. Or, to be honest, some notebooks I knocked up in a hurry, using old file folders, copy paper and staples.

This took a little longer. It is a 'pocket book' from 'Book Play' by Margaret Couch Cogswell, and appealed because it provides a home for all  the flyers and postcards I keep collecting from exhibitions.


What has this got to do with repetition? Not a lot, although I shall probably make another one, because i have enough of this paper and fabric left over, and  this one is nearly full already.

Making the pockets was quite wasteful of paper, so of course I had to find a way to use up the left overs.

I shall get back to repetition eventually, but it has been good to make a few books for a change.

Sunday 14 July 2013

In between...

watching cycling on the TV (Go Froome! Go Cav!) I have managed to find a little time for repetition.

Earlier in the week, after a mini sort-out of stuff, I said to Wensleydale that when I'd finished repeating, I'd start experimenting with some of the stuff I'd bought over the years and never used - like Lutradur, and metal, and foil, and - well, you get the picture.

On Friday I thought 'Why wait?' - I can repeat and experiment at the same time. 

The result of this flash of inspiration was a lot of sorting through boxes, writing an embarrassingly long list of stuff to try, and spending a lot of non-TV watching time Googling what I'd found. I haven't been able to track everything down (has anyone any idea why I might have bought clear polyester sheets from Ario? They're like OHP slides but aren't - so what are they?) - but I've got ideas for most of the rest.

First out of the box(es) was some Evolon - which I bought and then decided I didn't like the texture. It is a not very exciting off-white, but you seem to be able  to colour it with all sorts of things, so as I also found some papers I'd coloured with transfer dyes, and a teetering pile of printable paper bags, that's what I tried.

This was transfer crayon (a rubbing of our garden table) over a mask of a jumble of thread. Not very exciting, but it got a bit of quilting onto felt and will go in the little brown book.

This is a paper bag. The panel on the far right was ironed straight on to the Evolon, top left is on something very translucent which may or may not be light Lutradur, and bottom left is one layered over the other. The pattern on the paper looked very fly-stitch-like, but printed off it looks less so. No idea what I'm going to do with it - possibly a book cover? (Now there's a surprise.) I also found some Lamifix, and as Google tells me you can't wash it, I decided I'd try adding it to book covers, because books are about the only thing I don't chuck in the washing machine. 

So, am I converted to Evolon? No. I still don't like the handle, it doesn't take transfer dyes as well as my favourite, in-your-face polyester satin, as shown on the left, and it makes an irritating popping noise as the needle goes through it. However I am open to persuasion if anyone has any suggestions.

It may make good book covers though, and I have enough left to experiment with other ways to colour it - like the Gelli plate, and someone suggested Inktense sticks.

After those experiments, I went back to the tried and tested - a little repetitive collage, mostly playing with stripes, and using yet more paper bags. They weren't ironed off, this time, just cut up and Bondawebbed into my sketchbook, with a bit of felt tip and rubber stamping. I like the deconstructed triangles, and the layered ones. 

Mmm - it's just dawned on me that if those sheets from Ario are polyester, I might be able to colour those with transfer dyes. I feel further experiments coming on...

Wednesday 10 July 2013

The good and the bad.

Good thing 1.

I managed to complete a special request from Babybel, for her school float in the local carnival.

These are a unicorn tail and unicorn hooves. Obviously. Not sure about the hooves, but her daddy thinks they will be OK.

Good thing 2.

We went into Southampton to see the exhibition 'Uncommon Ground' at Southampton Art Gallery. The sun was shining, the traffic was relatively light, there was plenty of parking space, and the exhibition was good. What we saw of it. 

Bad thing 1.

The Gallery now closes at 3 p.m. (and doesn't open at all on Sundays, when it used to be busy) so we had about 45 minutes, which meant we managed a room and a half before they threw us out, very politely. I expressed my disappointment, very politely, because it isn't the staff's fault. I just wish the city council realised what an excellent gallery they have. 

Good thing 3

We were delighted to discover a herd of rhinos has invaded Southampton. We spotted five, and photographed 3. 

Bad thing 2.

All the photos I took turned out blurred. Every blooming one. And the ones of the Spitfire artwork on the Solent University building next to the gallery. (Well done, Solent! Don't get me started on the city's neglect of the Spitfire connection while spending £££££ on a Titanic museum.) But I digress. 

Either my little camera is packing up, or letting the VHC experiment with it was a bad idea. Or both. It seemed to have been set on macro, which I hadn't done, but maybe the VHC had.

Good thing 4.

A friend had recommended the Art House Cafe, which is just across the road from the Solent Uni building.  We used to like the Gallery cafe till the council in its wisdom closed that too, but the Art House is a more than equal substitute. Good coffee, good cake, and the main meals looked good too. 

On the whole the good things outweighed the bad, so it wasn't a bad day. And we have an excuse to go back and have lunch at the Art House, in between visiting the gallery again in the morning and photographing rhinos again in the afternoon.

Sunday 7 July 2013

One thing and another.

First, congratulations to Babybel and her mum for successfully completing the Race for Life and raising over £100 for cancer research.

To the victor, the spoils.

For the runner's rest and recreation after school tomorrow, granny has prepared an embroidery kit. Pink, purple and orange, as requested, and I have assumed a bit of bling will be appreciated.

And lastly, can anyone identify the blob which is growing in our cherry tree. (That bed seems to be very popular with fungi.)

It looks like a cross between a sponge and a cauliflower. It hasn't been raining here, the blob seems to ooze liquid.

We return you to your normal once a week posting.

Friday 5 July 2013

It's been a busy week...

and it's not over yet. I helped set up the College exhibition, (which closes at lunchtime tomorrow if you want to see it), stewarded it this afternoon and will dismantle my bit tomorrow. 

In between that and our usual child minding, we squeezed in a visit to Walford Mill and Kingston Lacy - two favourite destinations which are conveniently close to each other. At the Mill we enjoyed the exhibition by silversmith Chien-Wei Chang, especially his silver/annealed copper waterpipes/bamboos/vessels - and a delicious smoked salmon salad in the cafe. At Kingston Lacy we had a walk in the gardens and a cream tea. Greedy, or what? 

These are the two latest 'Repetition' pieces - one deliberate, one an embellishing experiment which morphed into a finished piece. The answer to 'can you embellish skeleton leaves?' is 'yes, provided you don't mind them breaking up a bit, and it works best from the back'. 

The other one is all worked with the same space-dyed thread - three skeins of it!

I had intended to start another one, but Babybel decided otherwise. She is a girl whose idea of suitable after-school activity includes running, jumping, climbing and swimming. Having her arm in a cast, even if it is a red one, and a strict ban on all such activities, is very boring. TV and games on the iPad pall after a while, so on Thursday, when, in the absence of her little brother (who would not mix with sharp pointy things), I pulled out my embroidery, she asked me about my 'knitting'. Then she asked to have a go.

Just compare granny's prissy little cross stitches with Babybel's lovely big ones. She made me rethink what I was going to do with this bit of left-over aida. 

It's a good match with one of the pages in my Repetition book, so I can't let her have this piece, but I have promised to give her her own  on Monday, together with pink, orange and purple thread, as requested. I shall be fascinated to see what she does with it.

She would have done more with this piece, but 'Peter Rabbit' started...

On Sunday, cast or no cast, she is participating in the 'Race for Life' with her mummy, and we will be there to cheer her on. I wish I had half her courage and energy!