Saturday, 26 March 2011

Another week

I have had a really busy week again, but I have manage to fit in an hour or two for practising my free machine embroidery skills. By drawing with my needle, I have stitched two butterflies.
I first painted them onto pelmet weight vilene using Koh-i-nor watercolours.  The top one here, based on a Peacock butterfly, I covered with a piece of 'shot' polyester organza to give it it some shimmer. I then machine stitched using a straight stitch varying the top and bottom threads, often tightening the top tension to bring up the bottom thread to break the colour.

Here I have scanned the two pieces.  I added a bit of hand stitching to the Peacock one.

This is the reverse side which is also quite nice, but the colour is less intense without the painted background.

Here I have photographed them with a packet of machine needles for scale.  Since taking the picture I have cut out the peacock one, using a fine soldering iron which has sealed the edge of the polyester organza.  I am experimenting with making it into a small book. 
 I'll let you know how it goes.

Meanwhile I have done a few tasks in the garden, cutting the the grass always makes such a difference, even if nothing else is done.  I was pleased to see this frog in our little pond guarding her great pile of spawn.  As I was shooting into the sun I used the integral flash to add a little detail and sparkle to her eye.

I was also pleased with this shot of the water iris and its reflection, not looking quite real.

I seem to have yet another busy week coming up, but hopefully I'll manage to fit in a bit of creativity.  I think another week of sunshine is too much to hope for,  but a few more days of fine weather would go down well.

I hope you are having a great weekend, and have a good week.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

This week I have...

As so many of you have been  so encouraging in my 'Teach Yourself Textiles" venture I thought I would keep you up to date.  However I am pooped.  Yesterday I helped Mr T spring clean the green house, which involved empying it out, scrubbing it down, and then refilling again.  Mr T did most of the initial work, but I was involved in driving off to Homebase for supplies,  the scrubbing part and putting everything back!  Today I have been switching our e mail address, contacting etsy, paypal, and so on, as well as friends and other contacts. It  has taken hours, so I have nearly had enough of comouters for today.  I did manage a short break hanging out our laundered gardening clothes from yesterday and a quick tidy up on one of the small flower beds. So this is what I have been doing textile wise this week.
On the left are a couple of pieces of couched threads from Pam Watts' book. catching the threads down with sheer fabric and then top stitching and on the right some experiments I did ironing plastic sweet wrappers between sheets of baking parchment - great fun!

These two pages record my last workshop session with Marian Murphy. We concentrated on free embroidery using a zig-zag stitch.  She showed us lots of effects and textures which can be achieved.  We also zig-zaged onto butter muslin which gives a drawn fabric.  This is great fun. The muslin must be stretched in a hoop first and a wide zig-zag is used to make a grid.  The stitch pulls the muslin threads together. You can then 'darn' over the squares giving them texture.  
We also zig-zagged over lengths of knitting cotton and other yarns to create cords,  Marian then showed us how we could join these to make braid and mesh.

Going back to the Kim Thittichai book 'experimental textiles' I took one of her design ideas and played around with it. The theme was Spirals.  I was rather taken with the shapes of spiral galaxies and anticyclone cloud formations. I also stitched a couple of samples

This is black voile on black felt machine stitched with a silver thread on the bobbin and a tight top tension to bring up the silver thread with beads added. 
This one is my favourite french knots on felt.

Not sure what I will do this week - rest?  But I'll let you know.

Have a good week,  and let us hope the news is more hopeful for all of those living through times of revolution and disaster.


Sunday, 13 March 2011

Sketchbook analysis

Lesley at Printed Material has posted some of her sketch book pages as one of her friends has asked how people use theirs.  I have stacks of them as I always have a book by my chair and a few pens and pencils. So I picked half a dozen that were easily accessable - one dates back 15 years - and looked for common subjects running through out. 
Firstly a draw a lot of faces.  There are a lot of them, often done from the television. Occassionally I can even recognise a TV personality, here are a selection with a few close ups.
My favourite drawing tool is a waterproof 0.1 or 0.3 drawing pen.

Another common subject in all my books are cats.  Several of these are of Tess - cat before Marvin, she was a pretty little Siamese cross.

Here is Tess in Karisma colour pencils, sadly no longer available.

I am also fond of drawing flowers and often buy an inexpensive bunch to draw if there are none in the garden.

When you can't find any other subjects there are always body parts - your own hands and feet I mean.  They are always available!

When all else fails I just let my imagination run riot.

These drawing very rarely lead to anything ... but I'm sure they must say something about me.  Perhaps I am just at the bottom of a hole with all my art work trying to get out!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Stepping out

Thank you for being so supportive in my journey into new territory trying to develop my design skills. As many of you asked me to keep you informed of how I was doing, I thought I would share my first chapter.  Of course this could be just a new 'fad' too, but  hopefully I can keep coming back to the path even if I stray.  I have lots of vague ideas in my head for pieces of work, but I don't know how to 'realise' them, so I am hoping that a bit of formal skill acquisition will help me on my way.

Firstly I drew up a 'mind map' and wrote down all the things I could think of relating to design and specifically textiles. I did refer to a few internet sites and found Kim Thittichai's book 'Experimental textiles' useful. Clicking on the images should bring them up larger if you're interested.

Out of this exercise I decided the two main areas I need to develop are my ability to extrapolate a design out of my initial ideas and secondly, my ability to translate that design into something workable. For example I have lots of photographs that I think could become interesting textile pieces, but it is getting from the photograph to the textile that I need to develop. 
My workshop with Marian Murphy at Art Van Go has got me started. I have had two sessions so far and this has mainly been about techniques, but Marian does suggest design ideas as we go along.  Having been inspired by her books of designs I got myself an A3 and a A5 Pink Pig sketch book to keep my work in.  I especially like the cartridge paper that these books are made of as it will take a bit of punishment which my Art Journals give testimony to.
Here are my samples that I made during her class.
 Above, just playing with free stitching and tension with the use of a mirror tile to create a little symmetric motif ...
...and some much more exciting techniques we covered the second session, including reverse applique.

I also decided to go back to basics and in my A5 book did a few exercises with the colour wheel.  When I was doing water colours I purchased a set from Michael Wilcox who wrote a book entitled ' Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green' so it was fun to look at his theory again.  Of blue and yellow can make green, but he is talking about the fact that traditional water colour paints are not pure pigments and you get violet blues and orangey yellow and so on ... it was a good exercise to tune up my colour sensitivity.

Above is the free embroidery face I stitched after my first workshop. 
Marian told me how to stretch it over a piece of card so here it is with another page of a colour mixing exercise.
I am sure you are all familiar with the follow colour concepts...
...however triad harmonies, split complementaries and mutual complemetaries were new to me (Thanks to Kim Thittichai's book.
Below I have followed up one of Marian Murphy's techniques of stitching channel in a sheer fabric over a plain one and threading different coloured cords through the channels.
I am going to snip the channels and pull out loops of cord and embellish with some beads and stitching.
I think this could become a purse.

There are also lots of techniques to try out from 'Beginner's Guide to Machine Embroidery' by Pam Watts so I have probably got lots to keep me going for a week or two. I am hoping to go on a printing workshop run by my friend Sally, so I can use that opportunity to develop some designs rather than just going and having a ''play' ... it is all rather exciting.

I even managed a short walk with my new shoe orthotics today and heard a sky lark here, on Sharpenhoe Clappers (photographed here in December a few years ago)

Into 2009
Thank you all again for your lovely support, I really do appreciated your comments.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Time Marches on ...

I am a bit tardy getting my March calendar pages posted, but I have actually started it, I have just had an adversion to going through the process of scanning the pages etc.

 I am glad to say good-bye to February - it has been not only a dreary month, but one of restlessness, especially the last couple of weeks.  Every few months I feel as if I am turning another corner in my creative journey so hopefully March will be the beginning of the next phase.

I rather slopped this page together in my new journal - I love filling in the little squares, but my creative energy has been focussed elsewhere. 

Thanks to everyone who was so encouraging after my last blog, ` I quickly came to a decision after writing it.  I have decided not to registar on a college course, but to try to follow my own path taking part in as many workshops as I can, buy books, build up my  local contacts and set myself goals.  When I began this blog with the sub-heading "chronicles of a mature learner" so that is what I am going be doing.  Watch this space.

I took advantage of the sun this afternoon,  so join me and Marvin in the garden.

Have a great weekend,