Friday, 28 January 2011

Different collage, same papers

Welcome, new followers, to my blog! I'd come say hi but you have followed with no links - you need to go to further options when you do the following & add a link, or comment! ;) Anyway, I'm delighted!

Some of you are showing your desks so having had a clear up i thought I'd join in - you can't do a before & after unless you put in some hard work!

Before, after & the sheet I make as I go along. I really can't bear to throw anything away so I make a kind of tiny version of my 50th birthday postcard - lots of bits & pieces that, when I've finished covering this A4 sheet of recycled paper I'll stitch madly all over then make a grid using double lines of stitching, then cut them out, ending up about 2"x3" size, edge with in gold pen & they make popular cards for the studio.

This weeks collage is made using the same papers as before, the scribbling with wax crayons one. I was inspired by Robinsunne to do a little more stitching & beading. The link was kindly sent to me by Jan - thank you!

My squares are back! I had just enough of the crayon paper to make these little squares, stitching & couching down a little & some hand stitching & beads.The gold painted paper is wonderful brown packaging paper softened by crumpling - I know lots of us use this abundant paper. This is in turn stitched to part of some old jeans - my DH was a little upset by the ragged edges & frayed bottom, possibly my favorite parts! I'll make the top edge 'match' (!) the bottom by using some more of that orange thread - I love that Levi orange!

 I've got to try to use a thimble tho, my fingers are pathetic, my needles are too fat, I can't see to thread the beeding needles, goodness, moan moan moan! So, I will finish up the bottom square & if I had been organised earlier I would have taken the photo on a day where there was some light & even with a tripod it's a bit blury when enlarged. This is certainly making me try to be better organised - I'll keep practicing, that's the best part!  

Friday, 21 January 2011

Week No 3

Thanks so much for all the helpful advice last week. I have free machine stitched & love that freedom (altho sometimes I'm running along & wonder where exactly it is I'm going!) I discovered that, in trying to get the bobbin thread up so many times, the screw that holds the needle in became loose from the little 'arm' that's on the embroidery foot & I guess because I didn't notice, it's actually bent the needle holder 'shaft'. Or something in there did! So the needle isn't straight. Still stiches fine. Something to fix next time I can be without my machine for a while....!

This week's collage is a simple one. I made these first for last year's (09) Christmas Craft fairs & they did well, & in the studio during the season. Everybody likes 'smalls', something affordabe, a nice little gift. I also need to justify the beautiful plants in my garden, as I probably said when I showed the other variations last year! *(edit - just not the rose petal one!)

Compile all your bits & pieces - you can have as little or as much as you want.

An oatmeal & a terracotta colored piece of Lokta paper, burgundy acrylic paint, you coud try mixing that with a little bit of Alizarin Crimson (;) )  & gold thread & your chosen leaf or flower.

I've found that dried flowers - rose petals, hydrandgea & Acer leaves fade quite quickly & hope that by sealing with gel medium helps. It's also possible to paint the original color back in once you've seal it with the gel medium - the paint takes better. You could also seal the paint with more gel medium or acrylic wax.

Meanwhile prepare the background by stitching down either side of the terracotta paper & then the silky fabric. I used gm again to stick the leaf to the fabric & pressed it  over night under books, first placing a non stick plastic over the leaf. (remove very carefully)

Then stitch the leaf down, either loosely following the veins as here or outlining the shape. If you haven't used enough gm the leaf can crack - if you use too much it lifts/bubbles by the stitch & turns white. I find colored rubon waxes gently brushed in helps.

This is a commission from '10's craft fair, to pair up with the 3 rose petal one*; hope she likes it!

So, I'd better go & work on my plans for the workshop I've been asked to do at Rag Tag n Textiles, based on recycled fabric, of course & we get the use of their machines. I'd like it to something functional & frivolous, a notebook cover, a cuff & a brooch, all in one. Any tips on what makes a good great workshop would be appreciated! I know I need a sample or 2 to look at & touch & a materials list 'you will need' so I'd better get on with it!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Collage week 2

A little later than expected (no surprise there) but I had one or two technical problems. I'd decided this collage would have a needlefelted base with lots of ribbons made from my recycled bits & pieces including clothes - if I find an affordable silk top in a charity shop I buy it knowing that I'll wear it for a while, watching for it to start disintegrating & gleefully ripping it up for this kind of use. Lots of repurposing.

This is based on my square from the month of September (scroll down to Oct 3) & that was based on looking up all sorts of artists like Jane LaFazio & Arlee Barr. They also feature in the QA e-mag 'In Stitches'. I don't think I'm denigrating the technique if I say it's accessible & one can do as little or as much as is desired.

First I compiled my chosen bits & pieces - photographing stages as I go along makes me quite organised!

There's (one of ) my jar full of odds & ends, the contents of a selection bag, balls/cones of wool that I snap up every time I see them in charity shops, wool tops/rovingribboned items of clothing & bought metallic organza. Also a few threads & beads.

My first technical problem was the white towel all the above is sitting on. I was sorting a chest full of bedding & towels out recently & came across a few 'Guest Towels' of the kind my mother put out when we has Guests. Well, they were my mothers. Why white, I ask?!  I thought, perfect shape for a small hanging or backing for part of a hanging. I didn't know that a needlefelting machine didn't like the way towels were made, hundreds of loops, broke one needle & didn't think how tightly stitched those floral embellishments were, broke the second needle. You live & learn, they'll be used for something else.. So I used some loose weave recycled linen as a backing & felted away.

I added random pieces of wool roving all over

then strips & ribbons of shiny, silky, stretchy & cotton fabric & dyed (not by me) builders scrim & different lengths of yarn. I couldn't help but make a few circles, but I don't feel I'm reinventing the circle or anything ;) It's also quite 'intuitive ', oh how I love that word! It's a bit like a landscape, I'm borrowing from that a bit, I guess. I do see some of these colors in the land/seascapes some of the time, I just love these colors.

Love the blending part where you turn the work over, the needles push the fabric back thru again to the front which tones down all those newly added bits, as much or as little as you want (or would it get muddy after a while?)

Now for stitching, which is where I came unstuck for the second time. I did some travelling about in 'landscape' form with straight stitch then thought i'd put my very newly learned free machining to good use. Well, did i write down what I did before on my machine? no. Went to google again & almost every entry says 'set up your machine as per your operating manual' My manual doesn't say anything about FME. So after 2 hours of research & rethreading the machine a thousand times & trying to 'bring the bobbin thread up thru the fabric'- it's everything set at zero, stitch selector on buttonhole, feed dogs down, basically...isn't it?

anyway, before I thought my chest would explode, I got out the trusty darning foot & meandered around using a mixture of turquoise & gold metallic thread , burgundy & turquoise cotton, again, randomly, following the previous random shapes. If you start, you get something to follow. Amazing, really!

Then it was time to add some hand stiching & a few beads. I'm new to this so I guess I feel this is sort of a sampler, but nothing is that difinitive really, not in my house! Above is the 'finished' piece but I could go on adding ad infinitum. My DH is worried there's no 'focalpoint' i'm happy for the eye to meander. If I made a focal point would that make all of the above 'just' a background? He admitted that if it was called 'red sunset over the sea' he'd 'understand' it better. I'm just glad I went & did it!

(re flash, a necessary evil; I would only get a 15th of a sec, outside under a huge darkening sky)

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Sketchbook Project

By the skin of my teeth I have finished my sketchbook & will send it off to Brooklyn tomorrow. My DH & I were allowed to make it a collaborative effort but as a few others found, it was quite difficult to start but with the deadline looming hugely, here it is.

The cover, I'll probably stick a title plate on just beore i put it in the post tomorrow. Torn strips inspired by the 'muse' bit in Cloth paper Scissors which finally arrived yesterday.

printed Acer leaves & painted papers I already had

DH - across the sound, Bein Sgritheall (that hill!)

painted papers, found papers, my little drawings of houses in the village (mine's at the top ;)

an interpretation of the sea, my carved stamps on scraped acrylic

an interpretation of a rainbow, my torn ribbon stitching!

my version of a landscape, monoprinting & scratching

DH - Isle Ornsay Lighthouse (ok, it's a mile away ;)

DH - stream by the house (we removed a neighbors house - well it wasn't there when we built!)

DH - boats passing down the Sound

My garden?

simple stamping

my simple tree sketch

recognise this? printed it off too big by mistake & thought 'perfect!'

love & flowers round about

DH - herons & oyster catchers in the bay

DH - across the bay to the Sound

print from a piece of seaweed, I'll 'name' it tomorrow...

swallows on the wire

There you have it. I really enjoyed it once I'd got going.

Sad to see it go, maybe I'll do one for me, now I know I can.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Collage week one

These are collages made using recycled  paper, crayons ink & stitch. I've long been inspired by Jan Beany & Jean Littlejohn; in this instance the first part of their book Creative Embroidery & Ruth Isset's Glorious Papers. I look at the books now with a glimmer of excited recognition as when I first bought them I was unsure of what they were talking about. What has helped me understand a little more of the process are some of the, to me, down to earth & yes, step by step 'workshops' in Quilting Arts & Cloth paper Scissors.

I came across Jill A Kennedy's article; QA June/July 09 No39 on making a paper/fabric background.  ( the pic on the link next to the pink cuff is the embroidered paper patchwork in the article) Our very own Jackie Cardy has a wonderful article 2 pages before Jills! ( it occurs to me, after i've written all this, I'm not going to be accused of copywright fraud or plagerism am I? I'm just sharing what I did inspired by, etc, all credits done. What do you think? I certainly don't f'eel' this is wrong, or I wouldn't do it, it's already out there, in public.

She's used pink & blue wax crayons, love those colors but I used burnt orange & blue watercolor crayons for the first collage & once I'd bought some wax crayons I blindly chose & green. Oh. She suggested one page of circular shapes, one page of linear patterns & the 3rd, blocks of the chosen colors. Sometimes you can overlap the colors & sometimes leave gaps, for the ink to sit on or fill. I didn't do much scratching into the wax to add texture.

watersoluable crayon & ink

cheap wax crayon

Cheap wax crayon & ink - quite different

On coming to use the orange & blue Brusho Inks with a sponge brush, I realised my mistake of using soluable crayons, but wonderful colors emerged, see above, 1st pic. I went over & over it, adding a little red or brown here & there & smiled when I read Corrine's "scribbling" post. I could relate to that, it reminded me of my  birthday postcards, total freedom. I don't have a gold paint stick to go over the crayoning here & there so I used my adored Treasure Gold wax. A gold paintstick is on order! (just for ease of use, honest!)) You then layer a darker ink over the gold bits.

The next stage was to iron the pages! I'm not sure if the wax was melted into the paper but it does look very rich. Anyway, the kind of ironing I enjoy! Then more coloring, more gold wax & ink & ironed again. Of course all the ironing is done with a piece of baking paper or parchnment paper either side of the piece.

Then it's suggested to iron on a piece of interfacing on the backs of the papers but i don't have any iron on interfacing so I used the nappy liners I bought a hundred years ago with some shake on bondaweb stuff. laborious to say the least! Mind the heat if you use nappy liners! Next add Bondaweb to the fronts of the papers but as I didn't have any of that either (on order ;) I didn't. Not sure of the purpose of that, to tone it down a little? I didn't like the look of it tho, when I used it (all up) on a sheet of cuff fabric under organza once.

Then you crumple the paper up a few times to soften it. That made the red green & brown paper a little faded. Then you cut out the bits you like/ cut it into sections & reassemble it with pattern next to blocks of color, & I put light next to dark. Easy sentence to write, quite nerve wracking to do, but hey, just go for it! Feel the fear & do it anyway as they say! Jill laid the chosen pieces down onto parchment paper, butted the edges up leaving no gaps with iron on interfacing on top, covered by parchment & ironed it down. Mine wasn't cut that well so I sprinkled more bondaweb onto nappy liners &  ironed bit by bit carefully. Time consuming my way! 

Then comes stitching, lots of stitching. Jill used free motion stitching with matching colored threads, metallic thread, different zig zag sizes, straight stitch along the patterns, light & darks. I couched down one or 2 pieces of wool but you could use ribbon & by hand, shaped wire.I didn't do much hand stitching, guess what, I was on the minutes! I never leave myself enough time. Jill used a variety of stitches & yarns, straight stitch, french knots back stitch. She also added embellishments, flowers using layers of sheers & machine cords. Her work is stunning. Do go & see. Lots to try later!

If you're a member of QA's community (free) you can get tips from Jill under "free stuff" She also said there were lots of embroidery stitches in QA magazine issues 1 - 6 but I have issue 1 &  am missing 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6! Anybody willing to share the contents of those? Are we allowed, especially as they're forever sold out?

I finished the blue & orange one..well, this time round. it's about 12" x 5"

(just viewed these last few pics properly (a cookie has gotten into the program I usually use) & I see they're fuzzy, as I said, last minute, light going, last day...sorry!)

Jill suggests a felt backing for her 9" x 9" piece zigzagging all round for stability.

No felt so I backed it with sturdy denim. I do have a lot of that as it's what my craft fair stand panels used to be made out of. Not sure if I'm going to frame it 'properly' (my DH thinks my creative mess should be presented neatly to the public) or make it a very mini hanging. I also forgot to stitch my initials into the piece, may do it carefully by hand.

Not finished the other one yet. Never thought I'd use pale green & orange cotton that was kicking about - yes the red turned orange somewhere along the line. I think I'll umph it up a bit & scribble with some black thread.

I even made a sample for my sketchbook!

I'm impressed if you got THIS far!

Thursday, 6 January 2011


Adoration of the Magi, Christmas comes down, a tiny present for the boys. In honor of the youngest going camping (!?) 2 nights ago, with a few mates who are part of their World Challenge trip to Mongolia in June, I gave them a small metal pocket torch, (you can never have enough light when camping) & a huge bar of toblerone chocolate, well, it wouldn't fit in their stocking ;)

The middlest has no work at the hotel at the moment which is good as he's planning his working/holiday trip to New Zealand & Australia next month. As a physical release from too much planning he asked me for a project. I said I was desperate for a door so he made me one!

He's pretty much a hands on kinda guy, only a couple of questions for his dad & asked the youngest to hold one or 2 pieces for him. My friends down the road have had these corrugated iron roof pieces leaning behind their garage for me for...years! Behind this working woodpile screen is the compost & oil tank area, only about 5' deep - we can talk to our neighbors when they're up over the compost heap (she calls me the compost queen ;) but with my new door I can shut away the world & sit peacefully in my 'courtyard to be' I'm delighted!

I'll get him, & the youngest (when he wants/needs a break from studying for his prelims later this month) to dig some trenches in the grass stripped, marked out bed around the lawn at the back. We've been here 10 years but without a windbreak for the southwesterlies there wasn't much point in planting...till now when it's grown up, so its a case of removing stagnant earth & filling the trench with a mix of found soil (from local builds) a bit of the de-stoned (within reason) original soil, bought compost & my homemade compost. A laborious process, so great to have help from strong lads keen to keep fit. One day I'll be in the position to have a 'no dig' garden, but it's not just yet. I can feel myself starting to get excited about bringing the garden to life again!

I had a wonderful package in the post today, my win from Maggie Grey her fabulousl "silly bird" brooch. I just love it & have put it on my black cardigan-coat showing it up beautifully.Thanks Maggie!

I must ask her if that's a script stamp, or a newspaper transfer behind the brooch, Id love to get that look...I'm sure she'd tell me or it would make a great article for the wonderful Workshop on the Web - see the badge top right of this page - Maggie gave me easy to follow instructions to get that there ;)

Right.better get on with the collages!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year!

Wishing all of you a really Happy New Year! Had a lovely time last night, nipped down to some neighbours in their holiday cottage about 11pm after enjoying Grumpy New Year on tv. Great mix of fireworks around the village & one on the shore & we could see them from 2 nearby hotels.

Yesterdays news - December squares!

I missed one & admit to 'batching' one or 6 at the end there, a la  Wen Redmond via a Quilting Arts Daily newsletter on using up scraps. What are my squares but scraps!
 The next row up are flowers made out of loose bible pages found when tidying the charity bookcase at work. The next 2 & the middle 2 above were made when collaging into The Sketchbook - will I be finished by 2 weeks time? (that's why i didn't tell anybody I
 was doing it!) The rest is the usual clearing up my desk & sticking it all down, Christmas cards  & practicing some embroidery.

So my sad attempt at a mosaic of the 12 months, too tired to get it better - I will work on it!

July is lacking a bit, it kind of got missed in the fallout from actually becoming 50 & going away. Not an excuse, just fact. I'll photograph the books they're kept in soon, I can't believe I have a record of nearly 360 little tiny collages. What a great year. And I've loved all this world wide surfing this last year, too. Plan to do a lot more! I love blogs that share bits of the persons life, the inspirations, a little bit of sharing of the process of creating , walking thru their gardens & where they live. Some of the many 'challenges' would drive me nuts but some look great, I'll be browsing the sketchbook challenge, certainly.

This year's personal challenge? Simple; a collage a week, if not 2. One for the studio wall in the hope that we have a successful season come the Spring, & one to put aside for a solo exhibition I'll be having in September.  That's enough to be going on with don't you think?

Thanks everybody, for being here in my little world.