Monday, 28 December 2009

Festive holiday weaving

In between the endless eating, sleeping & being merry - this festive season I have also been working on my second tapestry sample. For this I used two colours of axminster yarn from Texere Yarns. The final piece is approx 26cm x 6cm.
I tried a variety of different techniques in this sample, many from Tapestry Weaving by Kirsten Glasbrook. I initially started by trying to merge one colour into another, imagining each tapestry bead as a pixel, with each colour gradually being taken over by the other.

The middle section contains horizontal stripes, regular spots, pick and pick, and my first attempt at distorted wefts and irregular shapes. The distorted weft gives an unusual movement and texture, and is certainly an area to explore.

Finally in the last section I tried to create different textures, carrying loose wefts across areas, soumak, exposed warps, hatching and rug effects. Next I hope to experiment with using different materials for the weft.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Christmas tattoodles

I hope Santa was good to you all!

As a present to myself I got new tattoos to represent my crafty & science sides!
The only problem with new ink, is that it makes you want more & more!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!!!!

Have been rushing to finish Christmas presents, firstly cute catnip filled crochet mice for cats Bill & Marsha. The pattern is available here.
Handwarmers for Kate, made from altering the pattern I used for these.
Last Saturday we went off to Falkirk to Callender house. As well as looking around the house and the working Georgian kitchen (freshly baked mince pie - with real mince anyone?), we also saw the Winter Warmth exhibition at Park Gallery. Some of the many highlights of the exhibition including tapestry weavings from Louise Oppenheimer. I love the movement of colours within her work. There were also intricate embroidered mixed media pieces from Midge Gourlay, as well as retro prints from Clare Nicolson and fun cross stitch from Miso Funky. Whilst inside in the exhibition, the snow came to Scotland! Here is me in the snow outside the house:
The snow covered ground is great for spotting animal footprints, check out these squirrel & bird prints - I wonder where they were off to?
Have a great Christmas everyone!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Tapestry Weaving & some silliness

At the end of November I attended a 2 day workshop at the stunning Stirling Castle. The course was an 'Introduction to Tapestry Weaving' tutored by the very knowledgeable and very lovely Louise Martin. Louise is the senior weaver at Stirling Castle for West Dean Tapestry Studio, producing the hunt of the unicorn tapestries. Louise took us through the basics of warping a loom and starting to weave. After 2 days of hard work I had managed to produce 12cm x 10cm - which certainly makes me realise the huge amount of hours that would have been needed to produce the tapestries seen hanging in our museums and stately homes! I have finally finished the exercises given to produce a 12cm x 26cm sample. The final exercise was to weave a circle (this I was dreading) and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome!
Having been bitten by the tapestry bug, yesterday afternoon I went to visit Burrell Collection. Sir William Burrell gifted his collection of over 9000 items to the city of Glasgow, of which over 200 are tapestries. Currently these tapestries are being catalogued to produce an accessible archive. The Burrell Collection is within Pollok Park, a huge park on the south side of Glasgow, and well worth a visit. On walking through the park, I was reminded that it wasn't just humans who could weave.
Finally, some silliness. The combination of Movember and craftster lead to some fantastic knitted facial hair! (PS: It is not my stubbly chin in the pic! But that of my boyf).

Monday, 30 November 2009

Namads for NEEDLE

Earlier in the month I went to see Bita Ghezelayagh's exhibition 'A Persian Journey in Felt'. Here are a couple of taster pictures from the show, my full review can be found in the very first edition of NEEDLE Magazine. Enjoy!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Super Action Hero Fingerless Mittens!!!

I found an easy pattern for fingerless mittens on Ravelry which I knew I had to make. I used a ball of Stacy Charles Baci that I'd brought on holiday for a couple of dollars. I like the variegated colours in this yarn. The mittens only took a couple of hours from start to finish.

I have to admit I feel like a bit of an action hero with these - hence the POW!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Birds Birds Birds...

This week I have been mostly drawing birdies...
A rather proud bullfinch in watercolour.
Charcoal and pastel birdies - I like the greedy gannet and the cute penguin belly myself.
Penguin cut outs, are they happy or sinister shapes?
Using charcoal and a wet brush to create a bird in water.
And finally a little blue tit resting on some cherry blossom.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Kantha embroidery

I recently attend a class on 'Kantha Inspirations' at my local branch of the Embroiderers' Guild. Kantha originates from West Bengal and Bangladesh. Kantha stitches are essentially running stitches, they were used to layer old saris to make quilts. This resourcefulness did not stop at recycling old saris, the thread used to sew was often drawn from the borders of the used cloth. Traditionally the running stitch would be decorated into birds, flowers and whatever else the embroiderers' found as inspiration in their day to day lives.

In our class we used pre-prepared stencils and acrylic paints to transfer motifs on to brightly coloured cloth. Once dry we layered fabrics together to create a wavy, quilted surface. Here I used a golden organza at the top, pink turban cotton, followed by white muslin. A pink bird is stencilled on the organza. Running stitches surround the bird, with flower and sun details added. The stitching scrunches up the fabric, enhancing the shimmering of the golden organza. Interestingly the central bird looks almost appliqued, I think this is due to the pink cotton behind creating a depth to its colour. Kantha embroidery used such a simple stitch, yet creates a strong effective technique. I have many more fabrics to embroider that I printed at the class - should keep me busy for a while!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Pacific North West Adventure!

At the end of my last post I mentioned how I was in desperate need of a holiday, and lo and behold... off I went to the Pacific North West!
In Vancouver I saw an Emily Carr exhibition. She was one of the first artists to produce modern Canadian paintings, inspired by landscape and First Nations totemic art. The exhibition had many of her paintings from the early 1930s. Often the shapes were quite bold and geometric, colours muted and a feeling of tension on the landscape.
Seattle saw a quick trip to SAM. Here they have two sound suits by Nick Cave. One was made from knitting and crochet, which I thought was very fun and comforting. The other was made largely from human hair, which I admit I found very sinister. It is strange how hair (wool) from sheep attracts me yet I found the human hair repelling?
My final stop was Portland. Here I got to see the Call + Response exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Craft. I really enjoyed the work by Jiseon Lee Isbara. One of her pieces 'Scattered' recreated a pin board, cluttered with memos, immigration letters, timetables etc. The formal text is printed, whereas the answers are sewn in a scribbled, indecipherable scrawl. Hopefully this trip will inspire me, however I really must clean my desk first!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Fallingwater Clincher & Card

Following on from the previous Fallingwater samples I used mistyfuse to add merino wool tops and clippings of threads. This produced a delicate wispy effect.
I then painted some tyvek with acrylics, ironed to create texture and sewed to cloth using seed stitch and french knots. I think it looks like the earth from above.
Then whilst I had the paints out and was eating shop brought pizza, I used the polystyrene base to print on the surface of the cloth. Pizza definitely has a purpose!
I then had a look at all my samples to create a piece of my own. I chose a waist clincher/belt/under bust corset/thingy... The front is made from 4 panels, 2 printed with the pizza base (again!) and various dilutions of bleach (this really stripped the colour well), wisps of wool tops added with mistyfuse and lightly stitched; and 2 panels manipulated into a honeycomb effect. The back is plain green cotton and is linked with corset hooks. It is intended to can be worn with red ribbon wrapped around, to bring it back to my original sketch... remember?
Finally, my friend Paul is moving away from Glasgow, so in honour of many a night drinking in West - the only brewery in the UK to produce (intoxicating) beers to German purity laws. I made a cross stitch card, inspired by a pattern found in a charity shop bargain book Cross Stitch Year by Jo Verso.
After all this hard work, I think I am in need of a holiday ;)

Monday, 7 September 2009

Fallingwater texture samples

I'm currently working on 'a piece of my own'. I've taken as a starting point a collage that I did earlier in the year, based on a sketch of Fallingwater. I decided to focus on the right hand side of the collage; the contrasting textures and complementary colours of the red & green paper scraps.
I then did some rough collages focusing on this area using different papers:
And using fabric scraps:
I've then been trying to re-create the texture in the greens. Inspired by my current reading 'The Art of Knitting' by Francoise Teller-Loumagne, I used knitting stitches to create samples. All the swatches used the same yarn, needles and the same number of stitches cast on. I like the bobbly surface of moss stitch, the swirls of the random cable and the nodules created by little 'sock heels'.
Using some green cotton as a backing, I added layers of machine sewing using only two stitches. I like the way the fabric gets pulled and distorted by the stitches.
Finally using the green cotton background, I pinched the fabric together and sewed with embroidery thread. This created an odd honeycomb effect.
Next to create textured samples with tyvek, printing & mistyfuse!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

September update

Things have been quiet on the blog front of late, I was busy finishing my work for the hand embroidery network exhibition. Must now get back on track with my OCA work! Remember my lovely jumper I'm knitting? I had a terrible incident where my circular needles broke, and am still awaiting a replacement. Fortunately the accident happened whilst I was at Stitch 'n' Bitch, and Gillian very kindly came to my rescue and saved my stitches. I'm sure if I was at home I would have just cried and ripped it all out, to start all over! Will my jumper get finished in time for winter? I am now working on a secret cross stitch instead (shhhh!!! details to follow I promise!).

A bargain bookstore has opened in town, which has forced (!) me to buy a book on International Arts and Crafts. Some gorgeous images in this book, especially by Lindsay P Butterfield and Charles Voysey. I found a company that produces Arts and Crafts wallpapers, if only we lived in an old property, they would be just perfect!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Wax Wave & Rabbit

A lovely non-work Wednesday! I attended a Frances Hider workshop on 'Beautiful Batik on Silk' organised by the Guild of Silk Painters - Glasgow & West of Scotland branch. I've only ever tried batik a couple of times previously, and never on silk, so jumped at the chance to have a go. I should point out that my photos here are not of the finished pieces! The work has gone off to be steam-fixed; to set the dye and remove the wax. It will be interesting to see how the removal of the wax changes the image. The first piece is inspired by a photo of a wave. Layers of wax and dye were built up using tjantings, brushes, splattering and dabbing.
The second piece was inspired by a photo of a rabbit in silhouette. Using a paintbrush with its bristles coagulated in wax takes some getting used to, as it doesn't quite flow as you would expect! Layers of progressively darker dye were built up to create the image. By the end of the workshop I had noticed that on the wet surface the dye colours had shifted a little... Here's hoping that when my piece is returned my bunny's ear hasn't fallen off!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Sketchbook creatures

I have entered the hand embroidery network on-line exhibition, as usual I'm a little behind schedule, but getting there! The topic is living organisims, and to get me in the mood here are some pen & pencil creatures from my sketchbook.
I particularly like the rather cheeky look of the oyster catcher - though I'm not sure if oyster catchers will really 'fit' in my final piece!

One other thing to mention is that the knitting group I go to is now on the web! Check here to see the lovely work that has recently been completed & how I'm still stuck in the land of rib!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

And relax...

I have been sooooo busy of late; frantic some might say. It's that darn day job getting in the way of all my play :(

On the positive side I have finally finished my next project for Textiles 1 and will put the HUGE envelope in the post on Friday morning. The final piece was to try to combine a sketch with the fabric manipulation techniques learnt. I used one of the windows from Sweetheart Abbey with furrowing and shadow quilting techniques. This really exaggerates the window spaces, by creating such volume. I like the delicate mystical effect.

I have also been making the effort to drag myself out of bed early on a Sunday morning to pop along to my local knitting group. I'm working on the Stanwyck Pullover by Nancy Griffin, though am so far stuck in the world of rib. Maybe I'll be there by Christmas?

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Quilting & YoYos

I have just had a very productive afternoon (it is so nice when that happens!) finishing my quilting samples. Firstly a hand quilted flower sample using a piece of polyester wadding sandwiched between two pieces of white cotton. Basting stitches where first added to stop movement, the flower shape sewn in running stitch, then surrounded by stippling, finally the basting stitches removed. The overall effect is subtle, pretty and time consuming!
Then a shadow quilting sample. I loosely tacked small shapes of nets and transparent materials onto a piece of white cotton. This was placed on a piece of wadding backed by cotton, and on top a piece of sheer salmon pink fabric; this was then all basted together. I then outlined the shapes with running stitch. This method produces a more muted effect compared to applique.
Finally, some Suffolk puffs or YoYos (depending on which side of the Atlantic you are on). These cuties are simple to make and create great shapes when joined together. They are perfect for using up scraps of material and would be a good starting point for making brooches.
Now, after all this hand sewing I am in desperate need of some hand cream!!!

Monday, 13 July 2009

Flags, Fraying and Folding

Just back from the wonderful T in the Park, had a great time but am now so very tired! Among the many things happening at the festival was a flag installation in the main arena by Angus Watt. These beautiful flags in various hues and differing designs looked stunning in the sunshine!
Back to my OCA work... at the end of last week I was playing around with tearing, slashing and fraying. Firstly a sample of these techniques using different fabrics. It is interesting to note how much effort was needed to pierce and tear some fabrics compared to others; and how some fray much more easily.
I also painted a piece of pongee 6 silk in bright colours, and then manipulated it. A black background really makes the frayed edges stand out.
Finally I have been folding stripy fabric to try to 'hide' a colour and trick the mind in to thinking it is all pink. I was tempted to add a hidden message to the white stripes for peeking eyes only! This reminded me of some cushions I had seen by Showpony, at first glance these are covered in a pretty floral pattern, but on closer inspection there are bugs lurking!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Applique & more gathering...

I love the look of applique; it reminds me of a child's fabric book, fuzzyfelt and cute motifs on t-shirts. In fact my favourite skirt is covered in applique (courtesy of Monsoon not me!). I tried to do some applique that wasn't typical of this and came up with...
Reverse or Sans Blas applique using brightly coloured felts (no fraying - yeah!).
Using sheer fabrics and 'hiding' secrets inside - well when I say secrets I mean silk strands and gold stars. I've also being doing some more gathering samples, firstly using bright stripy fabric:
I like the way the stripes distort, bending and flowing into new shapes. I also used some blue hessian, using the strands themselves to gather the fabric rather than sewing thread in. I think this creates a strange rigid shape which reminds me of insects!