Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Winter light

Over the last few weeks, my two stitch groups have been working on embroidered lampshades.  Inspired by some of the lovely examples on Pinterest, we have all spent many hours sewing intricate patterns onto cloth.  The next step is to make them up into lampshades using the brilliant kits from Dannells.

Here is my test piece - looking great in my daughter's bedroom.

Friday, 25 October 2019

Journey 3

The third cloth is constructed from silk fabrics representing the aspirations of the Butterfield family as they move into Cliffe Castle.  When I first saw pictures of the Castle in its heyday, I thought it was a Disney-like fantasy house, aloof amongst the mills of Keighley.  However, when I walked around the town and looked up at the buildings, I realised that they shared a common architectural style.  I love the round tower and domed roof of Russell Chambers.
In modern-day Keighley, North Street is resplendent with fragile cherry blossom in the spring.  I have embellished the wall hanging with cherry trees: these are formed from bleached outlines of plants with scraps of silk and organdie fabric appliqued with silver thread trunks and branches.  

Journey 2

The second cloth is constructed from woollen fabrics – the mainstay of textile manufacture in Keighley.
The buildings in the centre of Oakworth are a jumble of mills and houses ‘cheek by jowl’.  In between the houses and ginnels, an abundance of dandelions grow.
Dandelion leaves cut from woollen fabric, felt and cotton organdie have been appliqued along the base of the hanging.

Journey in the footsteps of the Butterfields

For those of you who have kindly followed my blog over the last few months, you will have noticed that my posts have not been as frequent.  I have been busy creating some new work for a Textilia 3 exhibition which opens at Cliffe Castle, Keighley next month.  This work is a story that has been wrestled out of the landscape!  

Like many of their contemporaries, the Butterfield family rose from humble farmers to wealthy mill owners in a few generations.  Following their progress from farmhouse to Cliffe Castle, I realised that my own house is located on the same road on which many of Henry Isaac Butterfield’s family lived:  the poetically-named “Two Laws and Keighley Branch of the Toller Lane, Haworth and Bluebell Trust” a turnpike road constructed between Bradford and Colne.  I walked along the length of the road, sketching the views, the buildings and the gaps in between.

My wall hangings are constructed from strips of different fabrics and the composite cloth is hand-dyed.  Each surface texture absorbs the colour in a slightly different way giving natural pattern and interest.  The final process involves printing outlines of buildings using a bleaching paste.

The first cloth is constructed from cotton and linen.  Textile weavers in Keighley started making cotton but switched to wool when it became more profitable.  Contemporary accounts of the textile trade, indicate that weavers often swapped between materials depending on demand and price.
The buildings are often grouped in small rows, comprising a farmhouse, workers cottages and some barns.  They are hunkered down in the landscape to gain some protection from the prevailing winds. 
I have continued the bleaching paste print using fronds of bracken harvested from the roadside and then embellished this with cotton organdie and stitch.

Detail showing bracken print and applique

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Tiny treasures

Fabric collage workshop looking remarkably calm and under-control yesterday!  I had a fantastic day in the company of 7 lovely ladies making these pictures from scraps of hand-dyed material.  Everyone had brought a small treasure to incorporate in their work:  vintage linen buttons, sparkly beads, small charms.  Precious items with lots of memories attached to them.

After auditioning different pieces of fabric, a final choice was made and then the pieces stitched down to a calico background.  We tried a few new stitches, making small samples to include in the work whilst pieces of lace and ribbon added continuity to the final collage.

I felt really proud when newbie Janet said she was 'Feeling accomplished' at the end of the day.  Thank you everyone!

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

A little bit of homework

We all need to do it!  A little bit of homework is required before I take the next step with my project for Textilia 3.

I am usually very methodical with my dyeing and printing, making notes of what I have used to produce different colours and the conditions that I have applied them.  My note book is full of splodges of colour and scribbles detailing the quantities of dyes used.  It looks a bit messy because I do it as I'm working.  

For my latest piece of work I am using pieced fabrics constructed from cotton, wool and silk.  I need to make sure that I use the correct pH for each substrate and this will involve soaking the fabric with either soda ash or vinegar before I apply the dyes.  In this way I can use the same dye solution for both cellulosic and protein fibres.  Genius!

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Waiting (and walking) for inspiration

Waiting for inspiration to strike!  I know it won't happen if I just stare at a blank sheet of paper.  I'll clean the house/do the ironing/rearrange my cupboards/go for a walk.  Perhaps if I just take a very small sketchbook (like a concertina book) it won't look so scary and white.  I could use a simple drawing pen and take my phone for photos, no one will notice me.

20 or so drawings later and achy legs, I realise I have walked in the footsteps of the Butterfield family all the way from where I live to Keighley.  I might even have the start of a project......