Sunday, 26 January 2014

Busy January

Before you ask, no we didn't get to see the aurora :-( but January has turned into a very busy month.

First of all, the blitz on my shudio (shed/studio).  I've embarrassed myself with photos of said work space on Facebook so I should probably share them here too in the hope that it will spur me on to keep up the good work.

This is the state my studio has got into as a result of being used as a dumping ground.  The table and the counter in the first photo are supposed to be my printing areas but at the moment there's no chance.  I've made a start on de-cluttering and we've already made one trip to the tip.  There'll be a few more yet.

Inside, my sewing space looks nearly as bad:

That shelf on the bookcase is upposed to be empty so I can take my textile books down and have a look at them so how does it keep getting full of rubbish?!  

Work is ongoing to find some space to work in and I am making progress.

As I said in the last blog I have been busy with workshops this month, both teaching and taking.  I am really enjoying a series of workshops with Mary Sleigh exploring hand stitching and its place in design.  Mary has had us exploring some basic stitches and using them in little compositions.

 We started with a little refresher of basic stitches.


 This is cretan stitch which I havn't enjoyed in the past but the penny has dropped and I have plans for this stitch.

 Our first homework had us creating a small scene concentrating on tone and texture.

All of these little pieces are 4 cms square and will be incorporated into a book at the end of the 4 sessions.  I particularly enjoyed doing the cross stitch square which reminded me of the work of Julia Caprara who loved to layer stitch to create texture.

This piece is our homework for this week and it still needs some more stitching to be added. I will probably be unable to resist adding a few beads and a shell or two.

Away from workshops I have been tryng to finish a page I have been working on for a sewing friend to go in her beautiful garden book.

(My photo is a bit over bright because of using flash).  I started with some confetti cloth that I had made and then applied scraps of fabric as flowers and added a few buttons, beads, lace flowers and little flowers from some commercial trim.  I hope she's going to like it.  It's going into this beautoful garden book box.

Last week I taught a Friday Fun workshop on top stitched curved piecing and once again the ladies did really well.  I was nervous beforehand as I had a class of 12 but the general opinion was that the workshop ahd been enjoyed.  Sadly I didn't get to take many photos of the pieces that were made.  

This coming Friday I will be teaching my version of Funky Portraits in a 2 hour session.  I have spent most of today drawing up a handout and researching online versions of fun portraits.  You've seen my original funky portrait as it is my profile photo but I have made a new one for the workshop so I could take step by step photos.

For some reason I look a bit coy in this one!

This weekend I have been taking part in an initiative started by Myfanwy Hart to get people creating, if only for 15 minutes at a time.  Titled 'Be Creative' Myfanwy has set up a facebook page and a blog where she has listed a series of prompts throughout the weekend and people have responded with enthusiasm. My weekend promised to be rather busy but I have enjoyed seeing what everyone else has been doing and I have responded to the first prompt which was to draw 6 interlocking circles and fill them with different textures.  Inspired by a posting form another participant I decided to use fabric and came up with this:

I can't tell you how tricky it was to get the strips to behave but I enjoyed playing with the shapes and colours.

If you want to join in with the prompt inspired fun you can join the facebook page ready for the next round of prompts.  It's a great way to kickstart your creativity if you're feeling a bit sluggish with all the winter storms.  For a small charge you can also join Myfanwy every day on a private blog that will offer all kinds of inspiration and support throughout the year.  The fee is purely to cover the costs of providing a private blog.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Three Go On Another Adventure!

In all that torrential rain last weekend Wendy, Tina and I went on another foray down the motorway, this time to the studios and shop of Art Van Go in Knebworth.  The occasion was a playday that Lynda Monk was having with several friends to check out her new printing press and thermofax machine.  I had never been to Art Van Go before although I had met Kev and Viv many times at the various Shows they attend at the NEC.

This is less than half of the sales space and it was a real treat to be able to browse without the crowds that you get at Shows.  

 Opportunities for  indulgence continue into the large workroom where Lynda and her friends were busy with printing throughout the day.  It must be lovely here in the summer when you can spill over into the garden.  

The central room provides further workshop space and also displays exhibitions.  The works on display included pieces by Marian Hall and Buffy Fieldhouse.  I've just realised that this is part of the exhibition that we  missed when we were travelling back from Cornwall in November.   The work was very varied although I think some of it may have been removed.  As well as Marian's work I was particularly taken with work by Buffy Fieldhouse which spoke to me of layers and transparency.

(Buffy's blog is very new so there's only one post there so far).

Obviously as we were at a shop I did indulge in a little retail therapy but it was all very unglamorous being sketchbooks, fancy paper and things to make marks with.  Wendy was far more adventurous and bought a Thermofax machine from Lynda!  I can't wait for her to get to grips with the thing so I can persuade her to make a few screens for me.

Christmas and New year seemed to be a very long period of limbo and I was really glad when Stitchcraft Studio reopened their doors last week.  Our first Sit and Stitch day was yesterday and it was great to get back to stitching and catching up with friends.  Tomorrow I am back there for a workshop with Mary Sleigh which will continue onto three more sessions.  The workshop will be a bit of a departure from my quilting activities as it will focus on embroidery.  I've met Mary a few times before and I'm looking forward to some hand stitching for a change.

Getting back to the fact that we have had Christmas and a year change since I last blogged I should say that we had a good time at Christmas.  For the first time we decided not to fetch Mum from her care home on Christmas Day as we wanted her to save her energy but we did go and see her on Christmas morning.  We were very virtuous and walked down and back. (I hope my doctor is listening).   The whole point of not bringing Mum out on Christmas Day was so that we could have a family day with her at my brother's on Boxing Day.  I was so delighted that our strategy worked and Mum was on top form when we got her up to Lincoln to see the family.

(Excuse the quality of the photos which were taken with my phone and the hat which Mum didn't seem inclined to take off)  Mum was delighted with the photograph my brother had got for her of his family (taken by his son Johnathan Clover, a professional photographer based in Cheshire).  She was equally, if not more, taken with a week-a-page flip calendar that Johnathan had made for her full of photographs of her great grandsons and spent a very long time turning the pages backwards and forwards enjoying all the images.  I was so thankful for such a good day for Mum as she is so often tired and disconnected so this was a special day.  I could not believe my eyes when she walked into the lounge and then flung her arms wide to welcome the children!  It is so rare for her to react like that.  My heart sang!

2014 has come in with howling winds and appalling rain, high tides and tidal surges which have battered our coasts and caused extensive damage and flooding both at the coast and inland.  The east coast  suffered from high tides and a tidal surge before Christmas and this time it has been the turn of the western shores.

Sadly there has been loss of life caused by the weather and the RNLI have been fully involved in helping people escape their flooded homes and in rescuing the unwary.

If it can be said, even worse is the Arctic weather being experienced in the United States of America and Canada as the result of a polar vortex dragging arctic air down.

I am just grateful that we are past the shortest day and the nights will soon be pulling out and Spring should be coming along soon so that every day that we go without snow is one day nearer to warmer times.

January is going to be a busy month here in Lincolnshire.  I have several workshops coming up at Stitchcraft and will be teaching my Curved Piecing and Funk Portraits workshops as well.  Like many others I have been using the holiday time to take stock of where I am in my creative life and where I want to go next.  I'm not sure I have arrived at any answers yet but one thing I am clear on is the need to de-clutter, yet again, my work spaces.  Lena Krawczyk has been making a timely series of posts about her own efforts to organise her creative space with the help of Mary The Wonder Organizer and I have been trying to put some of her ideas into practice.  There is a considerable amount of throwing out (to recycling or charity shops) of all sorts of things that havn't seen the light of day in ages and I am pleased with how it is all going.  I decided I was being stifled by the amount of "STUFF" in my garden studio and I am determined to create a space that I can breathe and work in.  Photos will be forthcoming when I can see where I've been.

Right, I'm off outside to see if I can detect the Aurora, there's supposed to be a good chance of seeing it this far south tonight.