Sunday, 24 March 2013

Ssh its a secret!

March, April and May are months filled with birthdays and some pretty special ones at that!  I've turned my creative thoughts to finding lovely presents.  Some of them will need to be tracked down and bought so I will be scouring local shops for bits and pieces.  But some require a bit more ingenuity.

Today's page in my sketch book has been with a map of my thoughts with scribbles, doodles and little pictures drawn in ink pen, tinted here and there with gentle water-colours.  I find that it helps me to organise my ideas and hopefully, very soon, they will coalesce into a fully formed plan.

You'll have to wait and see what comes out but in the meantime here is a picture taken by my daughter Frances for her A level art coursework.  Its a collection of scissors and upholstery implements that I have inherited from my family.  Heirlooms of a sort, each with their own story to tell.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Burnt offerings

This week I have been busy in my kitchen chemistry lab.  With dyes and bleaches and devore paste I have been applying myself to some silk viscose velvet and georgette.  Its a long process and the joy for me is not knowing quite what will emerge.

Sadly what appeared after the final session with a hot iron this afternoon was burnt offerings - I had been too heavy handed with the devore paste which was a shame because I ran out of it half way through.  Perhaps that was my downfall, in trying to use up every last bit, I did too many passes though the silk screen.  A lesson learned.

But there is never a mistake in textile art, only an opportunity to do something differently.  So I will wait for my fabric to dry and I will iron it and look at it with fresh eyes to see what I can make of it.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Lessons learned

I like learning how to use new materials, so when a friend suggested that we should try a tutorial by Jean Littlejohn from Stitch magazine it seemed an ideal opportunity to experiment.

We started by applying a metal transfer foil over most of the fabric surface.  I didn't like the heavy gold "brocade" look of the sample in the magazine so I chose copper on a bright green chenille upholstery cloth.  Then I started to build up texture, working with bold stitches and using thick knitting yarns of green, purple and cream wool.  So far, so good.

Next came the interesting bit: I applied a second piece of copper coloured transfer foil over the whole work.  At first it seemed to obliterate everything but when I ironed on a layer of green crystal organza, the copper surface started to break down and the coloured yarns reappeared.

Finally I added some simple stitches in fine green wire (I had been knitting with it and it just happened to be on the table at the time!) and space dyed cotton in shades of blue and green.  These helped to define the texture and it gave the sample a quilted appearance.

The end result showed potential but for my taste, I found that transfer foil is a bit of a thug, covering everything in its path, although I have seen it used to great effect to lift and highlight elements of tapestry and embroidery.  I liked the layers of stitch and cloth but would have preferred to see more of them rather than lumps under a uniform copper blanket.

This project took me out of my comfort zone and given me ideas for how I might use metallic transfer foils in the future but it will definitely be with a much lighter touch!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Miniature Shoes

I spent yesterday in the delightful company of Serena Partridge and the ladies of my local Embroiderer's Guild, learning how to make miniature paper shoes. It was a day of make-believe and fantasy, allowing all who took part, the opportunity to escape from everyday life and to indulge in some creative therapy.  We snipped  and stuck, teased and embellished, pairs of tiny shoes.

Serena's work is breathtaking.  Her playful inventiveness has created whole wardrobes of accessories: not just shoes but gloves, stockings and hats.  Her stitching and embellishment is wonderful to see and I felt particularly privileged to be able to study her work without the usual barriers imposed by exhibitions.  Serena is generous too with both her time and her sharing her techniques.  She has delivered this workshop many times and yet Serena still retains genuine enthusiasm for what her pupils make.