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 clich├ęs 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. 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Using what you know and learning more..

My textile group, Spectrum has been given a new them for 2015. I was ready for a new focus, and more than ready to leave wrought iron behind me. Gina gave us the prompt "The Gothic Mind" with the task of exploring a different aspect of the Gothic every month, starting with architecture. 
I had a new good quality sketch book that I had got covered with moulding paste while at my Hilary Beatty workshop and also had stencilled some past onto a few pages that were rather uninspiring at the moment. So I turned the book back to front and collected a lot of Gothic images from the medieval to the modern Goth movement and created a collage for the cover hiding the unsightly splodges.

 Like a lot of people I had a vague idea about about Gothic architecture.  Mine started with a school trip after our O Levels when we were given a talk by a vicar about his church and he showed us the difference between Norman and Gothic arches. (Norman arches are round like a penny, think of Norman Wisdom - wisdom of saving pennies - and Gothic arches were pointed like praying hands) I don't know why this stuck in my head, but it did. I think this was the first time I found history interesting, but that's another story.

I tried some italic writing, only with a felt tip, which I also enjoyed at school, combined with some images from the good old internet, The photograph is of Cromer church which I took a few years back.
 I created the pages using the techniques I learned from the Kemshall's Creative sketchbook course...

 … cutout windows and altering photographs...

 Then I collaged with some of the papers I created with Hilary Beattie.

I thought I'd try some printing and stencilling paper and fabric. Mungo thought he'd help with pressing my fabric pile.

Next I'm going to over-dye the papers and fabric with procion dyes. 

We were prettying worn out after all that work! Mungo likes sleeping on my lap for a while, as long as I have my crochet blanket on there first.

Must stop now and try a bit of dyeing. Have a good week.