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.

Monday, 9 February 2015


I can't believe it's more than two weeks since my weekend retreat with Hilary Beattie. It was just what I needed to charge my batteries. Going away for a weekend with a group of strangers is always going to be exciting, wondering what sort of characters you will meet. Of course we all had a lot in common before we started as we had all seen Hilary's work and were interested in learning from her. Wyboston Lakes is a large complex with an hotel, spa, golf course and conference and training facilities by the A1. We were in the training complex with a hundred-plus psychiatrists,  our group of fifteen were somewhat outnumbered but they gave us plenty to giggle about at mealtimes.
I shouldn't think our workroom had seen anything like like us and all our paints, inks and dyes. Poor Nichola who organises the Stitch Retreats was frequently seen on her knees with the Fairy Power Spray and a baby wipe cleaning splashes off the carpet or the wall! Over the first sessions Hilary showed us how to make texture  and use a Gelliplate to print lots of gorgeous papers, finally we made a start on some collages in our sketchbooks and on canvases. The staff at the hotel were friendly and helpful and didn't bat an eyelid when we wandered through reception with splattered aprons and painty fingers or raided the garden for interesting leaves or visited the Ladies washrooms with a handful of mucky brushes. Hilary is a dynamic and inspiring teacher and best of all, very encouraging. She is also great fun which helped make the weekend most enjoyable.

I had been struggling to complete a piece for our show with Spectrum at Textiles in focus at Cottenham Village College. I had started piecing some fabrics, but I wasn't very happy. With Hilary I had started a long narrow canvas, and looking at a rubbing I had made from a card cut-out of wrought iron shapes, which have been my theme a light went on. I cut up the rubbing and stuck it to the canvas and added leaf and flower shapes cut form my piles of various printed papers.  I added some stitch and ended up with a piece which I was finally happy with. Here it is at various stages.

Finally, I'm really enjoying BBC's Wolf Hall and I think I'm just a bit in love with Mark Rylance, what an actor and well done Hilary Mantel for creating such a likeable character from a man with such a shadowy reputation.