'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 27 October 2013

Is this a series?

If so, it's still a very experimental one.

The two at the bottom you have seen before, but without stitch - they also appear top right with one of their new siblings. The little one, which is now finished, was relatively easy to stitch into, but I discovered a drawback to making longer ones. I can get my hand inside and stitch right down at the bottom of it, but I cannot finish off the thread. I did think about cutting the cylinder down to a more manageable size, but decided it was better to perfect the art of very neat finishing off on the right side. Or leave dangling ends. 

The one with the black top is destined to become one/all of my 'Visual Marks' pieces, the response to the black and white drawing. I have plans for the colour piece, but they involve a lot more work, so may not happen.

This is the design for the cylinder. With great skill by sheer chance, I made a mould for the vessels which has the same circumference as the length of a piece of A4, which is very convenient. After discovering the drawbacks of a tall cylinder, I've reduced the height to about A4 size too. It remains to be seen if I can fasten off ends at that depth...

The marbled one is very experimental. The original cylinder, made with abaca tissue and bandage, was very soft, so I tried adding an extra layer of fabric, and this bit of marbled muslin fell out of my stash. I discovered that adding more glue to thin papier mâché makes it go very soft, so it was a bit of a struggle getting the extra layer on, but it did suggest that future cylinders could be deliberately distorted.

I'm not sure what is going to happen to it next, but one problem opportunity I shall have to explore is dealing with the area where the fabric overlaps, which is much more obvious with patterned fabric than with plain.

Half term next week, so life will be a little hectic in Cheese Acres. Babybel has planned the programme, and Granny and Granddad have fallen into line. The VHC is a little too young to make his opinion known as yet, but he is working very hard on getting this talking thing perfected!

Sunday 20 October 2013

Despite the weather...

(fortunately we were out of range of the Hampshire tornado) - and despite having a cold - I've had a busy and productive week. 

After Sandy's kind comments last week, I dipped the top of the wonky brown paper cylinder in some walnut ink, then tuned it right way up to drip.

I'm very pleased with the result, which looks distinctly landscapeish to me. It needs some stitch now, to make the most of those trees. 

I haven't got round to it because of exciting day out number 1.

Exciting day out number 1.

Recently I was invited to join a new textile/mixed media group, 'Visual Marks'. The first meeting was on Tuesday, in an area of deepest Southampton I've never been to before (wrong side of the river), so I fired up our new (and first) satnav, gritted my teeth and set off.

And got there and back safely and much quicker than expected - by me, the satnav was spot on. It was even better once I'd told it to avoid toll bridges...

The journey (and the parking) were the most traumatic bits, the session was fun. We did some mark making, as you might expect, given the group name. 

Group mark making, on quite a large scale - one piece in black and white, one in colour. Everyone got a bit of each to bring home and be inspired by.

These are my bits.

I scanned them, so they look a bit fragmented. 

Given the way my mind has been working recently, I rolled up my black and white chunk and thought 'vessel'.

So here's the beginnings, inspired by those chains of 'beads' on the original.

I got quite excited by the idea of beads, as that night we watched a good but too short programme about the Cheapside Hoard, from which I learned that Tudor  grandees were sewn into their jewellry - those long enamelled chains were sewn down to hold them in place. (That link will  take you to the exhibition website, but try Google images for pictures of the actual jewellry - it's stunning!

That led me on to blackwork, for the black and white piece, and Tudor embroidery for the coloured one. No idea if that's how they will end up, but it's how they are starting...

I took a little time out from thinking about - and researching - Tudor embroidery, and exploring ideas in my sketch book, to finish (?) the tesselation. 

Bird side up at the top, bunny side up at the bottom - I hope you can see them! 'Finish' gets a question mark because at the moment it's just a piece of quilting. I think it may become a bag for Babybel in due course.

Exciting day out number 2

The last event in a busy week was another 'neuf' meeting. Our multitalented member Nicky ran a session for us on working with glass. This was in the wilds of Hampshire rather than the depths of Southampton, so the satnav came into its own again. (It took me there one way and brought me back a different one - no idea if that is normal for satnavs but it made life interesting...)

In the session we all made a clock - Nicky even provided movements, and I can confirm that it keeps good time. Even if the placement of the blobs in mine is a lttle wonky. 

Then my colleagues made some exciting 'glass appliqué' images and I - didn't.

I was really taken with this glass, I just wish I had done it justice. I found the glass very hard to cut, hence the erratic edges. I don't see working with glass in my future, but despite that I enjoyed the session. And we needed a clock!

Next week should be a little quieter, except that our long anticipated, much needed new sofas should arrive on Wednesday, so I will no longer need to apologise to guests for the uncomfortable seating!

Saturday 12 October 2013

Endings and Beginnings

After spending a lot of time odd minutes here and there wondering what to do with these...

I poured the remains of a bottle of blue-black Quink into the smaller one. As you do.

As you can see, it spread up the sides in an interesting way. Osmosis - I think. No idea why it looks green on the bottom, though - and it's not just the camera, it really is greeny blue. 

It may not be completely finished - do I add stitch?  Wensleydale says not, as it looks like ceramic, but that makes me wonder whether I should be even making things that look like ceramic in fabric? Isn't a bit like making plastic things that look like wood? 

Long time readers of this blog may remember me wittering on about Tamsin van Essen who has certainly influenced me in making these, as, of course, has Edmund de Waal. Maybe I'm a potter in embroidere's clothing?

The wonky brown paper one definitely doesn't look like ceramic. I'm thinking of making it a sinamay jacket, except that my bit of sinamay isn't quite big enough...

This really is finished - inspiration on the right, completed embroidery on the left, with 5p to show how small it is. Got to use up some of that fine gauge canvas before my eyes get too bad to see what I'm doing with it! 

The beginning that has followed that ending is another piece inspired by the Contemporary Textile Workshop session last week. As I'm sure you can see, this is tesselated birds and rabbits - although I've just realised that if you turn the birds upside down they become rabbits.

I drew out the pattern, painted the birds with transfer paint, and ironed it on to some polyester satin - the duller back side, I resisted the tempation to go for the full bling. Now it's going to get some quilting, which hopefully will make it more obvious what it is.

And finally - a finished subtitle-reading blanket, and the makings of another one. I think this is the last of my oddments of machine knitting wool, so this should be the last blanket.

Does anyone else find that you tend to finish different things that you are working on around the same time, or is it just me?

Whoops, forgot these.  I found this bit of card, which I haved obviously used under some painting, when I was having a clearout. I was going to chuck it away, but it said 'sketch book covers' to me, so that's what it became. So that's a beginning and an ending in one -or three.

Sunday 6 October 2013

Things can only get better?

A slightly more cheerful week this week, although my insomnia has been particularly bad. But I slept well last night, the sun was shining when I woke up, and we had already planned a Sunday saunter. It was the last day of the Kathakali exhibition at the Discovery Centre, so, unusually for us, we ventured out at the weekend.

We thought the Discovery Centre opened at 10 at weekends, so we postponed our morning coffee till we got there. Bummer. It doesn't. And the Theatre Royal, which is our fallback coffee bar for such occasions, was closed too. As was the cafe across the road we've never been in.

But the new icecream parlour on the corner, which I have walked past and drooled at, was open. We resisted the icecream, but had lovely coffee (locally roasted), even nicer cheesecake, friendly and helpful service. And the reflections on the base of the table were fascinating.

I think the library cafe may have lost some customers. 

At 11, when the DC does open, we drifted along to find it was open but the Kathakali exhibition wasn't, yet. Bummer 2. So we went upstairs to watch 'Close Protection' by Graham Gussin again. 

We found it was well worth seeing twice - new ideas came out on a second viewing. (If you visit that link and read the description, although it seems like pure art speak, having seen the videos, it makes sense!)

When we went downstairs the Kathakali exhibition had opened, so we did manage to get a look at that. Wonderful vivid costumes with lots of bling, as well as more everyday dress. It made me want to visit Kerala, and see some Kathakali dance.

That was actually our second textiley trip of the week. Now the VHC is in nursery full-time, we have a little more time to ourselves in the middle of child minding days, and there is only so much shopping you can do. So we have been looking for places that are near enough for us to get there and back in time for the school/nursery pick up. This led to a second visit to the National Needlework Archive. (Only taken 4 years!) The main exhibition was of panels from the Quaker Tapestries. As I have made clear before, I'm not always a fan of representational embroidery, but this was different. Of course it's essential, given the nature of the subject matter, but the panels are beautifully designed and made, and the story they tell is fascinating. And there is an additional poignancy in seeing such a celebration of peace in the spiritual heart of the former Greenham Common Air Base. The women of peace got in in the end!

We also looked at the Country Wife, which who is under conservation there. When we went 4 years ago she was wrapped in bubblewrap and being saturated with nitrogen to debug her, but she is now lying down, being prepared for conservation. If you pay £2 extra admission, you get to see her and hear a talk about the conservation process - which is how I know why she was all wrapped up 4 years ago!

That was Thursday - Friday was the first session of this year's Contemporary Textiles Workshop, for which I have been repeating myself all summer. This session was about pattern - we had a Powerpoint talk (that's a first!) before trying a little pattern making - 

geometric collages

and geometrically based drawings.  In case you can't tell, this are my inept attempts at Escher-ish tesselations. (Actually I'm quite  pleased with them, and I'm thinking of trying one of them out with some transfer dye and a bit of poly satin...

I thought the collages looked like canvas work, so I set out to translate the green and purple one into stitch. I spent a lot of time faffing around with different threads and sizes, then got going with this.

Er - can you spot the deliberate mistake? Bummer 3.

I'm not going to unpick it now, I haven't got enough of that wool to start again, but I may try to do it properly at a later date.