Monday, 25 May 2009

Spring Fling!

Yesterday was a lovely sunny day and perfect for an adventure in the country! So off we drove to Spring Fling - an open studio art & craft event in Dumfries and Galloway. We managed to see quite a few studios and take in the beautiful scenery. Including a group of llamas in a field just outside Castle Douglas. Some of the many highlights included the textile work of Maggie Ayres (who incidentally has a great e-newsletter you can subscribe to), beautiful bird artwork from John Threlfall and should you even need some bespoke gates Adam Booth is certainly the person to call!

On our drive back after taking in the scenery at Rockcliffe, we stopped for tea in New Abbey, which is home to Sweetheart Abbey, a striking 13th Century ruin. Founded by Lady Devorgilla of Galloway in memory of her late husband. Lady Devorgilla was later laid to rest in the abbey with a casket containing her husbands embalmed heart!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Guinea pigs & Tapestry fiction

As a proud owner of two guinea pigs, when I brought some pastel pencils and wondered what to draw, the answer was obvious...
This I should point out is not one of my beasts (they wouldn't pose!) but one from a book. The marks of the pastel pencils remind me a little of Quentin Blake (he who illustrated Roald Dahl books).

I have also just finished reading The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier. This is a fictional book based on the The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries. It tells the tale of a rather amorous painter who is asked to design a set of tapestries for a wealthy nobleman, and the Belgian weaver family who set about creating the pieces. The author describes the weaving process perfectly with great attention to period detail.

Somebody Smock Me...

... from making terrible puns. This week I have been mostly learning how to do smocking. It is certainly a time consuming craft, I can see how a pleating machine would come in handy, and how elastic was revolutionary. This aside, smocking is a delicate, quaint craft with a very practical purpose.
I also attempted to make some three dimensional shapes by wet felting, and using a variety of objects found about the flat. The yellow shape above did hold a lego brick!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Peony Flower

I saw this picture in a magazine, and really liked the colours and shapes of the flower. I though it was a great starting point for some work. I used gouache paints to create the image below. I consciously tried to focus on the colours seen rather than the shapes. Overall I think this gives an impressionist effect.
I then created this mixed media piece; using felt, threads, papers and beads. It was quite fun to make. I think some parts of this are more successful than others, I particularly like the centre of the flower.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

White folds of fabric & fiction

For my textiles 1 I am at the 'manipulating fabric' project. Before I start this properly, I decided to have a play around experimenting with different techniques on some white cotton. I used the wonderful resource book 'The Art of Manipulating Fabric' by Colette Wolff. I particularly liked the furrowing samples, and how the fabric flows; rather than be constrained by stitches.
During the week I picked up, at a charity shop, the book 'How to make an American Quilt' by Whitney Otto, for the bargain price of 50p. I must be the only person in the world who hasn't seen the film. It was the perfect read for a rainy Saturday afternoon. The book tells the stories of the attendants of a quilting circle, and each chapter is interspaced with quilting instructions in the style of one of the attendees. The story draws on the similarities between quilt making, life and love.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Tapestries & Wallpaper

I spent the bank holiday at the lovely Stirling Castle. Currently the palace is being restored and a series of seven medieval tapesties commisioned to adorn the palace. The tapestries are to be replicas of The Hunt of the Unicorn. The weaving is being split between West Dean Studios and a purpose built building within the castle grounds. I would certainly recommend a visit to see the weaving in action. Especially at 1pm, as the weavers stop to talk about the project (you are not allowed to disturb them at other times!). This is a fascinating process, and watching the pace of the weaving really makes you appreciate the dedication and the enormous quanitity of hours needed to create such works. This visit has spurred me on to sign up to a tapestry course later in the year... so watch this space!

I have just finished reading (and admiring the gorgeous pictures) Off the Wall - Wonderful Wall Coverings of the Twentieth Century by Lena Lencek & Gideon Bosker. There are great variety of wallpaper designs covered here - kistch, quirky, abstract - all with a generous side serving of Americana. As someone who lives in a wallpaper-free home, this made me crave some vintage wallpaper. Although the tales of creepy crawlies feeding off homemade wheat flour wallpaper paste gives me the heebie jeebies!