Friday, 6 March 2020

Holidays past

I'm taking part in the Embroiderers' Guild Travelling book challenge again.  It's a great way to boost your creativity because you have to do a piece of work each month in response to the theme chosen a member of the group.  The books are swapped every month, new theme, new challenge!

This month's theme is Gwynedd, North Wales.  This sparked lots of memories of family holidays to the area and after a couple of phone calls to my Dad, photos too.  This is me aged 7 outside the station with the incredibly long name.

One particularly vivid memory was a trip to Beddgelert and sad tale of the prince who returned from a hunting trip to find his favourite dog, Gelert, covered in blood next to his son's cradle.  The prince assumed the worst and killed the dog, only to discover a large wolf my the child's bed.  The dog had killed the wolf to protect the child.

My work is inspired by the Bayeux tapestry.  Of course we know it's not a tapestry but an embroidery, cleverly worked in wool using a special filling stitch - Bayeux stitch.  The legend of Gelert is set in the 13th Century a couple of hundred years after the famous tapestry but I imagine that similar materials and techniques would still be in use.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Looking, seeing, observing

My absence has been punctuated by a holiday, mini-break, birthday weekend, oh and rather a lot of work (the paying kind).  To let you know that I haven't neglected my sewing completely, here are a few photos of currently projects. 

I am participating in another Travelling Book project for the Embroiderers' Guild.  I chose 'The Selfie' as my theme, thinking it would be interesting to explore how we see ourselves.  I did a simple outline sketch of myself on a very old hankie and then a negative space version of the same picture

The other challenge for the year is to make a small (4x4") square using 3 prompts: a colour, a technique and a theme.  This has come from the Textilia 3 group with the aim of increasing our creativity.  So far it only seems to have added to my stress.

The first piece was inspired by Emily Dickinson's envelope poems, using the colour grey and incorporating a piece of vintage fabric.  I failed on the last part but used some lovely silk devore that I had printed a couple of years ago.  It has been cut to reveal a North Star and embellished with tiny beads.
The second piece used the colour combination of black, white and ochre, with fabric manipulation.  The inspiration was In my Garden but there wasn't much happening in February except a small witch hazel bush.  I used traditional smocking technique with some more contemporary stitches worked in an asymmetric way to portray the shrub.

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Happy Christmas 2019

Thank you for following my blog and wishing everyone a happy and creative New Year!

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