Saturday, 6 February 2016

It's about time...

Oh dear, it's February.  No excuses I'll just get on with it...

Rather shocked by the death of David Bowie whose music I have always loved- he's been one of the artists who has always been part of the sound track of my life. I saw him twice in the seventies and I searched out my badge from the '78 gig. 

I had to make a couple of pages in my journal (written on now) and I keep finding Bowie tracks running through my head, I'm still very sad.

Mr T go a copy of Black Star last week but we still haven't found the right moment to listen to it.

 The high light of January was my Stitch Retreat weekend at Wyboston Lakes.

It was a follow-up from last year's gelli print weekend with Hilary Beattie.
Most of last year's group were there and as quite a few of us have kept in touch via Facebook it was a matter of getting back with old friends so everyone felt at ease straight away. I hope that those new to the group felt that way too.

After unpacking all of our 'stuff' Hilary took us through a routine for sorting potential material for a new piece.  We brought some of our prints from last year and other papers and fabrics we'd dyed, printed etc.

I've 'stolen' Judth's picture here as I'm in it (back, right).  So the first evening we sorted and then worked on our materials till we felt we had enough to create a collage.

I retired to bed quite early, shattered, only to find when I was in my PJs I'd left my iPad in the work room.  It was a long walk back, our bedrooms seem to on the outer reaches of the complex. I didn't quite have the nerve to walk through reception in my flowery jim-jams, but hastily pulled a layer of clothes over the top.
 On Saturday Hilary gave us lots of ideas on developing layouts for collage backgrounds. One of her ideas was to use traditional quilt blocks, but in a much looser way.  Here are a couple of pages in my sketchbook using a "log cabin" layout.

We then used these ideas on our fabric and paper pieces and applied the background to a piece of felt.

The next task was to stitch the pieces down.

By Sunday morning everyone had their sewing machines out.

We finished Sunday afternoon, everyone determined that we should repeat the weekend next year.
I cannot begin to describe how much good the break did me.  Hillary was brilliant at sharing her processes and working methods.  Of course  everyone works in a different way and this was reflected in our final 'show' when we looked at everyones work. I will include a link to Hilary's blog where you can see the photographs she took of everyone's work.

I came away with a battery of practical ideas for developing sketchbook work, with ideas for layout and colour.  I found one of Hilary's recommendations second hand on the web, and I had to buy some Gelato colour sticks to play with.

  I also came away with a nearly completed piece of work which I have finished stitching at home, and it is now ready for mounting. What is great, is that it is thoroughly me, using pieces I'd stencilled with one of my own designs.

I tried the mounting method Hilary shared on this little sampler piece. It's part of the Capability Brown project.  So I now have a small hanging. When I have time I shall try it on my larger piece.

Meanwhile I need to get back to my proper Capability Brown piece.  I was pleased with the free cut pieced background, and I'm now playing around with ideas for appliqué.

My weekend away gave me the break I so desperately needed.  Home life can be a bit stressful, and I know I can be my own worse enemy.   It was wonderful not having to take anyone else's needs into consideration for a couple of days.   I'm going on another retreat in March with Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn. How lovely that a couple of friends from this weekend will be there too.  Looking forward to it very much, and guessing it will be very different. I'm also looking at the possibility of some others later in the year.
Here are a couple of links to other blogs about the weekend:
Heather - one of my fellow retreaters:

Hope 2016 is going well for you - so far…

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Nearly November… No Nearly 2016!!!

I started this post way back in November when I was doing a lot of 'thinking'.  I am committed to take part in two exhibitions next year and I like to take my time, considering my options and then ideas seem to come in a rush.  Firstly I am part of our local Embroiders' Guild group creating work to celebrate "Capability" Lancelot Brown's tricentenary next year. The Embroiders' Guild has join up with the National Trust and English Heritage to stage exhibitions and events across the country in many of the great houses who employed this man to landscape their estates I am working from Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire where he landscaped the "Golden Valley"… and secondly I have joined another group exhibiting next October in Hertford. More on that another time.

I used to visit Ashridge a lot at one period of my life and had no idea of its history. In fact the main forested area was a deer park dating back to pre-tudor times.  Brown didn't do a lot there, but it is part of the beautiful Chiltern landscape which I have photographed a lot. As an extra to my Brown piece I have been working on some small collages in my sketchbook and some samples.  This turned into creating miniature landscapes which I have pieced together, my Chiltern Ninepatch.

Work in Progress:
"Chiltern Ninepatch"



Patch rehearsal

Stage 1

Stage 2 

Now do I add more embellishments and then make it into a hanging or a cushion cover?

The Chilterns around Luton.

I'm going to publish now - trying to keep in brief and trying to post more often. 
My end of year resolution.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Another month goes by

I started this post at the beginning of June, but  stopped as I didn't have a lot to say, but June has proved to be very eventful, and now it's nearly over. At the end of May news brought me up short. My old friend from college and then work rang to tell me that her partner of over 40 years has died after a short illness. They lived a very busy life and I had only bumped into her  couple of times since I retired. However I have seen her lots of times since and we have spent many hours laughing about our mis-spent twenties, before our social lives went their separate ways. All the clichés about old friends has proved right and we have a few outings planned for the summer. How sad that it took tragic circumstances to bring us back together.
I shall be glad of her company as I have lost a regular slot in my diary.  I was totally shocked when Gina contacted the group to say the Spectrum was folding. I suppose it is only natural that these sort of groups run their course but as I am a 'new' member I had no idea things were running down. I feel at a bit of a loss as I had lots of ideas buzzing around for our Gothic theme.  I'm going to try to follow them through. I've lost my motivation at the moment. I hope that eventually I can find another textile group to get involved in as there is nothing like working with like-minded people.

First here is a 'Gothic sampler' quilt I made using lots of the experimental bits of fabric I accumulated trying out techniques and patterns. it is approximately 16x20 inches.  I used a method as described by Jane LaFazio in her blog JaneVille. It was very straightforward and a good way to use up lots of bits. I may do another one.

Here is a collage of my latest Gothic sketchbook pages.

This is another experiment - this time in stitch only. Following on my interest in the work of Beany and Littlejohn and revisiting the work of Julia Caprara. It was inspired by a page in my sketchbook based on a photograph taken in the garden.

It is worked in layers of cretan stitch.  I now need to decide where to add the  pink highlights. it measures about 8x11 inches.

Meanwhile we are very happy to have had regular visits from a pair of hedgehogs..  We haven't seen any in the garden for years. I've been taking a spot of cat food out every evening to encourage them, but not too much as we have a copious supply of slugs and snails. Mungo has taken to being a night cat since our garden has been taken over by a ferocious blackbird - nicknamed 'Cocky' by me.  Cocky is extremely territorial and started off chasing off all blackbird rivals from his patch. Now he has a family in the shrubbery he is picking on the cat who only has to step into the garden to incur Cocky's wrath. At first Mungo just took to skulking in the shadows, but Cocky soon got to spot him, so Mungo just sat in the conservatory and looked out.  However he was too close for Cocky's liking, and he charged at the open door, 'pinking' at full volume causing the cat to mew and run for cover.  We are very glad the blackbirds' family appears to be safe, but the cat may need to go for therapy!

Have a good week, and I try to catch up soon

Monday, 4 May 2015

March to May

Life is moving on here. Mr T will soon be finished with visits from District Nurses and my role as care-giver is moving back to support-supplier.  Meanwhile I fill my days with creative activities - I don't get out much. Once a month with the Embroiderers' Guild and again with my textile group - Spectrum are a life-line, as well as Nutty Knitters at Maxine's  when it doesn't clash with other dates. Everything seems to happen on a Wednesday. 
This is what I've been doing. The photographs are in the order I took them. As you can see, I enjoy working on more than one thing at a time.

I planned a little dandelion triptych which I started by painting on to pelmet weight Vilene.
I then filled it in with lots of machine embroidery. Colouring in with the sewing machine.

Then I spent my 'birthday money' on a set of printing blocks from Colouricious.
I love them and have done some experimental printing.

I also bought this book by Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn as I wanted to add a bit more to my embroidery repartee.
A couple of days after the book arrived, Stitch Retreats announce a weekend with Jan and Jean at Wyboston Lakes next March!!! I have booked myself a place, what an opportunity!!

I've stitched a sampler following their idea of combining hand and machine embroidery.

Mungo is celebrating his year with us by finding novel places to sleep

Back to the triptych and I'm making the cover by sticking down Expanda Print pieces onto more pelmet Vilene, and then stitching it down...

Switch to another embroidery, this time basing the colours on one of my photographs of the stain glass windows at St Albans Cathedral'

My cover gets a couple of coats of gesso then lots acrylic to build up an antique patina.

The hand embroidery is complete...

… and the whole lot is then blended together.

The components for the triptych are read for assembly, but I will live with it a bit deciding if I will add anymore embellishments.

All of this activity meant my workspace was overwhelmed, so a systematic tidy-up was initiated...

only to be interrupted by a spangly spillage!

And finally I managed to put the facing on my little quilt
I think this is finally finished, although I may stitch on some beads...

So that is some of what I've been up to, 
thanks for keeping up. I hope I'll have a few more things to show you next time.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Back again

Here I am with some time to fill so I thought I'd catch up. Oh, how we wished 2015 would be a good year for us, but it is March already and things are still difficult. Mr T has been back into hospital twice. Once for surgery to correct the problem that made him so ill in October and then again to open up the infection in his wound which set in after he had been home for a few days. He is susceptible to infections and this has happened before, last time we had months of nurses' visits to change his dressing, and in looks like this will be the same. Mr T is an inspiration and his despondent moments are brief despite discomfort, pain and people regularly pulling him about.  Last year I was determined to get him to go out and about more,  as I was going a bit stir crazy. I get out on my own, but getting my husband out is difficult, but this looks as if this plan will have to wait. Once again we are chasing prescriptions and appointments, juggling medical supplies, trying to guess when orders will arrive, trying not to waste resources, waiting for people to ring us back when we can't get through. This will be familiar to any of you who are home carers. My husband can look after himself physically, but cannot cope with the management side. However for the time being I don't like to go too far from home. My heart goes out to those carers who have to cope with physical care too.

 How lucky I am that I am a creative person, always fiddling about with paints or fabric, dyes or threads, photographs or the computer. And how lucky I am that I can afford to indulge myself in new materials to play with.  I've been making good use of those resources and filled up a lot more pages in my Gothic note book.  While Mr T was in hospital I took a trip to St Albans Cathedral which has architecture dated from Saxon to the modern. Plenty of examples of Gothic architecture from medieval to Victorian revival.

When you are going out with your camera with a design brief, you look at your subject in a different way,  and on this occasion I wanted to capture pattern and texture as well as examples of the architecture. On my iPad I have an app that will make your photographs look like watercolour paintings. These two turned out particularly well.

I have also stitched a little sampler based on trefoils and  collage a page quatrefoils motifs that are always featured.

Next I've made a little book. Taking inspiration form Maggie Grey from Magstitch blog and the Workshop On the Web know as WoW.  I made a little Gothic inspired book, which looks a bit like a Bishops mitre. It's about 7 inches tall.

I'm particularly pleased with the back. It is a stencil of a church window with transfoil applied to the 'glass' areas which seem to glow.

Another page in my book has been devoted to Grotesques and Gargoyles, another fascinating subject.

Meanwhile the new conservatory has been finished, decorated and fitted with a new floor.

We just have furnishing to choose now. We don't like to rush things round here!
Well that's all from me for now, it's taken me at least two hours to get this blog done. I've got a bit of sticking to do. I will try and catch up on your posts too.