Thursday, 31 July 2008

Take it Further Challenge

OK! Where did July go?! One again I have arrived at the end of the month without even mentioning the TIF challenge. Sharon said at the start of the month ; "The challenge this month is perhaps a bit obvious but I am going to ask …What is it to be at the half way mark?" It doesn't seem possible that we are indeed at the mid-point of this challenge, and the mid-point of the year, in fact, past the mid-point of the year. I started off the TIF challenge with great intentions and they have slackened somewhat but I feel I am still working within the spirit of the challenge, if not on the challenge itself, then at least in my artistic journey.
My piece for the July challenge is a piece I have been working on at my Tuesday afternoon class. You may remember several weeks ago we painted fabrics and threads. The next step was to consider some design principles. As a very simple introduction to achieving our own design our teacher told us to start with the number 8 (you may not be able to draw but you can write the number 8, right?). As you can see from the photo below we drew the figure 8 in various orientations and exploited the shapes in several ways.
As I explored the shape and from of the figure 8 it became obvious that there were many permutations and possibilities with the lines that make up the shape of '8'.
The next step was to take any part(s) of the doodles that appealed and play about with them some more to find an appealing design. This part was quite hard I found.
My subconscious seems to have been preoccupied with angels and a cat but the design I decided on was the one in the bottom left corner (there were other scribblings but I seem to have lost them!).
Excuse the tacking stitches in the photo above, I have yet to remove them.
The colours are totally wrong in this pic as they are much richer in life, but here is the result of my first venture into designing for textile in this way. I was guided along the way by my teacher but the design is basically mine. The felt triangles were from the felt we made using the J-cloth method. The yarns have been couched down and then french knots dotted about. I have added beads but have tried not to overdo the effect . The piece is about 6" x 4".
In the spirit of TIF I have started work on a second piece using another piece of the material we dyed previously. I plan to echo the triangles and the snaking line on a similarly sized piece but you will have to wait to see it as it is only part completed. In case you're wondering it's the lovely organza at the end of the dying workshop and which coincidentally has a meandering line through it. All planned of course!!
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Tuesday, 29 July 2008

A bit more catching up

Some time ago Annabel, who used to blog as The Wittering Rainbow, was going to send me a piece of work she had done on the theme of snowdrops. Unfortunately for me but happily for Annabel, the snowdrops are still doing the rounds of various exhibitions. By way of recompense, which wasn't necessary at all, Annabel has very kindly sent me a beautiful bookmark which she had also made. The colour is beautiful, you may have noticed that I like gold, and I will enjoy using it to mark my place. I think Annabel had dyed the fabric herself and I think she has used Angelina in the squares. Lovely!

The card is laying on a flyer for Ineke Berlyn whose work I also admire and whose book "Landscape in Contemporary quilt" is in my collection.

I finally got another colour set made, this time in my favourite blue colour. Again I used painted and collaged papers I had made previously, photographs, carrier bag and waxed paper that had had metal washers painted on it.
Last, but not least, the first 2 pages of my (so called) Soul Journal (as devised by Sarah Whitmire) which I completed on Sunday. The instruction was to cover the first three pages with any printed page(s) and to circle any words that stood out. Next, start with the words "Today I feel...." and write for 5 minutes to fill the pages. The pages were then painted over with gesso as thickly or thinly as you wish so that the writing is fully or partially covered.

It took a long time to stencil the legend on as I had to keep waiting for the paint to dry before continuing. I used a couple of stamps and painted a very light watercolour wash over the stencilled words.
The instruction was to repeatedly write your full name all over the page but I preferred to just use my first name because that is who I am. I had painted a light wash of payne's grey over the gesso and then used gel pens for the artwork. I've decided to try and be positive in this journal and as I was listening to Take That's "Shine" while I was working some of the words crept in! That should help with positive thinking! God knows what the neighbours thought, I was singing away with the headphones on! sounded allright to me!! VBG
BTW If you follow the link to Sarah's blog you will see that I am a long way behind in this journal. I shall be doing it when I have time because I am already committed to the journalling course but it was a lot of fun!! :o)

Heckington Show and shapes

I've had some reassurance from my brother (thank you bro!) that I can safely use my computer so we're back in business! (I will probably be upgrading the memory anyway as D doesn't think there is enough. He's probably right as I have over 5500 photos on my laptop!). I seem to have so much to catch up on so I'll start with the Heckington Show.
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Heckington is home to the only working 8 sailed Dutch style windmill in Western Europe and it makes an imposing sight as you enter the village. The Show takes place in a collection of fields on the outskirts of the village and is a massive and varied event with a dog show, vintage vehicles, a 10km race, cycle races, camel racing(!), historical re-enactment, folk musicians, dancing, horticultural competitions, fairground, merchandising, evening concert, fireworks........ the list is endless. The highlight of the Show on Saturday was a free-fall display by the Red Devils Parachute Display team.

All eyes were turned to the skies as the plane carrying the parachutists climbed to over 10000 feet.

The first man down.

The smoke is coming from a flare to guide the skydivers in.

These 3 men linked up in the sky before separating to land.

While I was at the Show I took the opportunity to look out for shapes around me for the design journalling course. Look what I found:

Parachute lines

More lines, on a seat this time,

And yet more,


and a lovely diamond on a tractor. There are more but I'll save them till I've got enough to make a collage.
OK. I think that's enough for one post so I'll tell you about my trip to the Luttrell Psalter next time.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Soul Journal and Computer Glitch

Well, I was all set to show you what I have been doing today. I started uploading the photos of my Soul Journal which I have started, following Sarah Whitmire (as if I didn't have enough to do already! lol). I've spent most of this afternoon working on the first two pages and was feeling really pleased with myself. No sooner did I start putting the photos on the computer than I get a warning "Low virtual memory"! What does that mean!?!! Apart from anything else, it meant the laptop seized up and I couldn't do a thing with it. Even switching it off didn't help! You may have gathered tho' that I have managed to coax it back in to life but I daren't open Photoshop again until I get some more memory, if that is all the problem is.
Out of necessity this is going to be a short post with no pix for the moment. Yesterday we had a lovely day at Heckington Show. It's a village show which is in its 141st year and although I have lived in Lincolnshire for many years this is the first time I had been. It was great! Piccy's to come!
Today is my birthday and I've had a lovely day playing in my shed with DH bringing me cups of tea, sandwiches and a roast lamb dinner. Well, I did come in for the roast lamb dinner. :o) I'm off to fetch a birthday brandy now and have a go at Picasa to see if that will work.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Journalling and crazy quilting

Following on from the journalling post the other day I have found some time to work on the colour studies suggested by Sharon. The instruction was to gather 1" squares of a predominant colour, a different colour each day to reflect your feelings on that day.

The first day I did this it was dull and rainy so I decided to scour my magazines for shades of grey. I tried to look for all types of grey - red grey, blue greys, green greys........

The next day I looked at complimentaries on the colour wheel - yellow and violet. I found it harder to find samples of these two colours in the magazines.

It may be because of the ramshackle way I had cut out the pieces but I didn't particularly like the block arrangement on the right hand side. I preferred the slightly staggered arrangement on the left.

Instead of using magazines clippings on the third day I went through my stack of painted and mixed media surfaces as well as photographs and cut squares of all the reds I could find. On the page I arranged them from (warm) yellow reds through to (cold) blue reds. Hopefully that comes over in the pic above. I think I can see I was feeling brighter because the sun was put, hence the red.

My fourth choice, on another bright, blowy day, was shades of green, again taken from my stash of painted/textured papers, photos, handmade paper and the fabric they use to make hats! This time I arranged the greens from light (maybe more yellowy) to dark (more blue or red) greens.


I still have one more day to do this exercise and then have to take it further by matching to fabrics and threads.


A few days ago Lesley blogged about a crazy quilt base she had prepared. You may remember that Kate sent me a bag of scraps which I was desperate to play with and, inspired by Lesley, yesterday I had a play. I was too impatient to turn lots of little edges so I bondawebbed the pieces to a square of cotton, leaving the edges raw.

I don't think the colours above are too accurate as the whole assemblage is a little more into the orange/brown spectrum. My plan is to maybe free machine all ove to hold everything together and then to use embroidery and beads to decorate. I may not get back to this piece for a few weeks but at least I now have a piece ready to pick up whenever I feel inclined.

Sunday, 20 July 2008


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Today has been a bit of a non-event for me as I have plonked myself on the settee and not moved all day except to go to bed for a sleep this afternoon. As you may guess from that, I was totally wiped out for some reason so I listened to my body and took it easy. One good thing to come out of it is I've gone through my photo files and extracted every circle image I can find. This is for an exercise in Sharon Boggon's Journalling course - for lesson 4 actually, bearing in mind that I am still on Lesson 2, but I couldn't resist this one. I have got enough images to make several of these collages so I will be revisiting it and maybe looking at circle images of a similar colour or texture. The idea is also to look at other shapes, squares, triangles or at straight lines or curved lines. This could be a life's work! (I should actually be exploring the local neighbourhood with a camera as the aim is to get you to be more aware as you go about every day but energy levels today wouldn't stretch to leaving the house - poor old beggar!)

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Jill Tattersall and TAST

An artist friend of mine has let me know that she is featured this month in an interview on the net so I thought I would post a link here for anyone who is interested. Jill Tattersall lives in Grantham and is a mixed media artist who bases her abstract art in nature. She works with all types of mediums, paper, fabric, metal, found objects and produces works on canvas, on paper, on wood and in sculptural form. Her work is experimental and it was seeing her work at an open studio event that encouraged me to be more experimental in my own work. Jill is featured in an interview at 1st Angel & Friends and you can see more of her work at her website

I've had a play with Cretan stitch which is, I think, the stitch for week 4 at StitchinFingers. Just 2 weeks behind now! Algerian Stitch and Chevron here I come! Thank goodness next week is a catch up week - no new stitch!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Busy, busy!

I made my mind up to get busy with some creativity this week, not necessarily to make anything but to catch up on my Free Machine Embroidery practice and to try and catch up a little on the Journalling course that I am taking with Sharon Boggon. The course started just as I was going to Austria and is now in its third week. I am still working on the exercises for the first week! More of that in a minute.

Yesterday I had a play on the sewing machine and tried out a few FME ideas. I think my control is improving a little, although I do tend to keep my foot over the foot pedal when I've stopped stitching and find that the machine sets off again! The practices above were done with straight stitching with the darning foot on and the feed dogs down. It all felt a bit random as I hadn't a design in mind but I was quite pleased with the little fish I managed to draw and the stars. I shall keep practising but I wonder if it would be better if I had an actual design or project in mind.

This second piece was done in zigzag and I enjoyed playing with this stitch. Excuse the yucky colours, I don't like wasting my best threads.........skinflint! You can see the stitching more clearly on the sample below which is actually the reverse.

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I'm working up to printing a photo onto fabric and then machining on top which I thought I had seen on Gina's blog but I can't find it now. Must have seen it somewhere! It had to do with printing a photo onto fabric, ironing on painted Bondaweb and machining and hand stitching on top. Oh well, I shall just have to try it out!
As I mentioned at the beginning I have made a start on Sharon Boggon's "The Studio Journal as a Designer's Workhorse". The idea of the course is to 'help you establish a pattern of observing, notating and using your studio journal'. This is done through a series of exercises which so far I have enjoyed.
The first exercise I did, after setting up the Journal, is an exercise in frottage or texture rubbings.
My DH and I took a walk round Belton House one day last week and while he was busy with his camera I took the opportunity to take rubbings of the different tree barks. Eventually I selected 5 of these in a range of tones from light to dark.


I particularly liked this rubbing of yew tree bark and, as it was quite an open pattern I decided there was scope to turn thepaper through 90 degrees to make a mesh.

As I've noted in my journal, I can see this being interpreted in an open weave fabric or by weaving yarns or ribbons and threads. I have left the opposite page blank to come back to sometime to actually try it out.
The second exercise was to make texture marks and interpret them in stitch. I feel at a bit of a disadvantage here as I don't know many stitches but I did find ideas were sparking.


I had planned to work this exercise in colour but the ideas were coming thinck and fast so I never got to picking up the colour pens!
The final exercise which I did today involved looking at a painting by Van Gogh and thinking about interpreting it in stitch. I have to admit I cheated a little as I had already got a sketch I made some time ago so I have put that into my journal.

I think when I did this original sketch we were looking at the movemnt through the painting.
Van Gogh's brush marks are so distinct that you can almost 'see' the stitches on the canvas! My little sketch above shows just a few of the stitches I have considered and as yet I haven't given any thought to the actual threads. The colours are only to identify the areas and are not representative.
The next lesson concerns colour and I have made a start but not enough to show here.

Take a Stitch Tuesday

Oops! Nearly forgot! I'm behind in the Take a Stitch Tuesday stitchalong at StitchinFingers but I have now completed the Week 3 stitch which was Detached Chain.

I have to admit I picked up a few ideas from people who have already done this stitch but I really enjoyed doing it, it is so versatile! I'm not so sure I like my base fabric though, I may have to rethink what I'm working on. Ever onward, next is cretan stitch which I have done before (a whole 2" of stitching!) and I have a few ideas for experimenting with it. Watch this space!
Please excuse any vagaries in the layout today, blogger seems to be having a funk!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Of presents and dwagons

I had to nip on here quickly (I'm supposed to be practising FME today) to show you what the postman brought me this afternoon.

My friend Dilly St George sent me a parcel and as she is a princessy croco-dwagon she decorated it with princessy stickers! I knew Dilly was sending me a present because she blogged about it here but I didn't go and look because I wanted a surprise.
When I opened the envelope this is what I found,

A lovely sparkly box and a very pretty, sparkly pink card - well it has to be pink from a princess, doesn't it? The box is decorated with skeleton leaves and glitter but it was hard to get a good picture in the bright sunshine today.
Inside the box, wrapped in a tissue which I think maybe Bob T Bear had isshooed was this lovely soft, pink, pwincessy brooch,

It is absolutely lovely, Dilly, thank you very much and thank you too to Mummy for helping you make it. If you'd like to see how Dilly made the brooch please do have a look here. Dilly's mummy had a great idea to get the shape!

Inside the card Dilly had written me a special note. I'm glad to be your friend, Dilly, you are a very special 'wagon :o). Oh, and, I love your self portrait Dilly, it's great!!
On the subject of dwagons, we did see one or two on our travels thro Austria.

These chaps were waiting to be adopted and taken to their new homes (some of them were only babies and were having a little nap!).

If you look very carefully at this photo of a beautiful Austrian house you can see one of Dilly's friends peeking in at the bottom.

I think this beautiful rusty sculpture is just pretending to be a dwagon. (Oh, It's got a bit stretched, oops!)

And, unfortunately, these dwagons are being a bit rude as they are spitting water everywhere in a fountain in Innsbruck!

Oops! This is a better pic, the previous one was blurred. Well I was in a moving carriage at the time!

Well, I had better get back to my sewing. See you all later and thank you again, Dilly for my lovely present. I am going to wear it when I go to the Festival of Quilts next month.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Post and patterns

Before we went away Kate offered a swap with some ATCs she had made. As I like Kate's work I offered to swap with her and yesterday I received said ATC from her.

It was very prettily packaged in a little parcel tied up with assorted yarns in my favourite turquoise and blues.

Inside the lutradur-like outer wrapper was the ATC I had chosen. The centrepiece looks like part of a brooch and I love the colours and the "wish" sentiment.

Also from Kate, from a giveaway on her blog, I received a bag of scraps which I had put my name in the hat for. As Kate has come to the end of her marathon giveaway we all got a bag. There are some lovely pieces in this collection which are tempting me to play. You can just see the top of a batik tree in the foreground which I love as I do all the pieces uppermost in this pile.

Back in Austria I was up to my usual tricks, taking photographs in the 'Ladies'! This fossil was on the surface of the counter round the washbasins in a hotel in Aachensee. I think the rock must have come from the same range of mountains as the Steinplatte, it's a beautiful surface.

This building, also in Aachensee, houses a fitness centre and echoes the shape of the surrounding mountians. I loved the reflections of the clouds in its glass.

It's funny what takes your eye, isn't it? This sandwich was at my feet where the wall of the mountain top cafe met the floor. I like the different textures from the cement wall through the lead flashing to the base surface (not sure what that's made of).
More interesting textures here from the play of aerated water over stones in a pool outside the fitness centre. Must be able to do something with this in Photoshop!