Sunday, 27 February 2011

A successful workshop

I've got to say I'm delighted with how well my first public workshop went yesterday. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, made a variety of notebook covers, cuffs, bookmarks, a needle case, ipod cover, a piece for a cushion & were happy with what they  achieved. So was I! Thanks for coming everybody ;)

You can see below one of the inspiration books I took, Jan Beany & Jean Littlejohn's of course, "Seductive Surfaces"  The cover features work by Louise Baldwin, someone I've admired for a long time, when I came across an article, possibly in Country Living mag when she said she painted, ripped & stitched brown paper & 'mundane' bits & pieces. She's a little elusive - the link is just to the first google entry. Work your way thru a few entries & you get a variety of her work. I'd love a workshop with her.

7 lovely ladies work

I could NOT have done it without Rag Tag's wonderful girl, Beth who volenteered to come & help, mainly with the 7 different machines, & rewinding bobbins etc but she was worth her weight in gold! I'm so tired but so glad I've done it ;)

This weeks collage was meant to be a wonderful monoprint, inspired by the fabulous book "The Painted Quilt" by Linda & Laura Kemshall. What a feast for the eyes. It's another book I've had for a long time but not quite sure what to do with. Over time I find, when I've tried a few things out, then go back to a book, I understand a little more, lovely. I started a Printmaking short course 5 weeks ago at the  West Highland College up the Island in Portree. We started with linocutting & were going to move on to monoprinting then collography, my favorite part. My lino block was of drawings of the last few seedheads clinging on in my garden; poppies, honesty & fennel & some lovely grasses down the road. But the tutor had a horrific car accident, broken leg, hips/pelvis, ribs, arm & cheeks. What can you say but wish her a speedy recovery; she is walking a bit on a frame but what a life changing thing.

My friend & I are carrying on ourselves until they can restart the course one day - she has a baby printing press, well, the kind you roll the work thru. So there's more to monoprinting than meets the eye, I discovered but I had fun trying! As I was doing poppies at college I thoought I'd continue before Spring is really here as the Kemshalls do them so well -  I love Ro Bruhn's poppies too!

That's DH's birthday card on the right

The idea is you can draw in the paint, cut out a shape to resist the paint & paint thru a stencil . As the monoprint wasn't clear & the painted stencil smudged i drew into them.

Then I markal paint sticked a stencil into a resist ('scuse the English!)

Then you can carefully peel up the resist shape & stick that down - far right above & in the top 2 pics - by the time I cut out 3 shapes my joints were falling off! I will make a stencil to keep out of my newly aquired freezer paper but I enjoyed adding the newspaper ones to the mix. These samples will go into my sketchcbook & for the actual collage, once the joints had a nights rest ;)  I made these two.

Might add these to the Sketchbook Challenge, just realised they are 'opposites' :) Crooked, I know.....tired! & I will get them mounted!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Went for a walk

when I should have been finishing up. I figured carpe diem - my boys are always throwing that back at me from when they didn't want to do  chores "seize the day Mum, seize the day!" It was sunny outside & the last day of my youngests half term - good training for his trip to Mongolia in June, & my possible climb (walk up) of Bla Bheinn (Blaven) this summer. It would be a 2 1/2 hr walk & I prevaricated because I'd promised to volenteer at Rag Tag & was worried my (slightly) aching joints wouldn't hold me up thru the day. The final reason? I hadn't walked along the coast from Knock Bay to home before & didn't want to miss out. So we togged up & went. Well worth it. 

Knoc Bay

Knoc castle; the crumbling stronghold & modern mast

youngest peering over the cliff

lovely striations & lichen

Trying to photograph as many trees as poss before they break into leaf

He had to climb up to this platform, don't mind him scaling cliff walls

but you've no iDEA where my heart was while he was here!

We were so right to give the kids this beautiful place as a playground.

Slightly intriguing shape,  I know, but I do love a bit of burnt plastic, a bouy I think.

My A4  collage paper from a couple of weeks ago cut up & stitched into pieces for cards, I got 19, one or 2 a little small on their own.

Some purply blue samples for the workshop - book cover, brooch, pendant & earings. I remember sitting in that Jan Beany class & the woman next to me had this aMAZing notebook cover. I never thought I'd have one like it (this one is MINE!) It's only taken me 15 years, or so. I bought the booklet by Fibre Fusions ages ago 'Beyond Boundaries' but it's taken me the last year or so to work out the stages for ONE effect, well maybe 2,  from the first page! If I read something maybe 50 times it goes in. Really, it's a matter of doing it - I know EVrybody is saying that but what they don't say is that sometimes you need Blind Faith to do it; if we waited to just have faith in ourselves, forget it!

Nearly forgot the cuff, I was wearing it ;)

Actually it's page 11. The first time I did this I read to make (one of many versions - I've got enough to last me years, a great value book !) a sandwich take a fabric base layer of calico, then wadding (I didn't have any so used plain cotton, not thick enough, really), then silk, then  bondaweb, then snippets of fabric & threads then bondaweb then chiffon. Free machine all over to join layers then you could knock back chiffon with a heat gun, then add a bit of Xpandaprint then highlight with metallic paint. I was exhausted but exhilarated!

This time, in the above blue example I had a base layer of cotton, bondaweb, snippets of fabric & thread then chiffon & lots of stitching. I didn't like seeing bondaweb under chiffon before. In my sewing room there's a red version with all the snippets laid carefully out .....only I forgot the bondaweb.  ;) He he, I can hear you experienced ones chortling but I am good at learning & hopefully showing others, my mistakes! I'll get to it! If you don't have wadding it's good to try out different fabrics to achieve the desired thickness. I back mine with recycled corduroy, soft on the skin & gives the cuff  body. I think last weeks strips (have you seen Sweetiepies beautiful raggedy postcards? This link will lead you on to another link where you'll find her gorgeous notebook covers, too, they are all the rage & more book covers at Quilters Cottage, just lovely.) Anyway, the strips & snippet samples will be enough to be going on with at the workshop.

Just briefly (!) this weeks collage is a work in progress.

I never think I can draw but I tried, I'm practicing  & I'm pleased with the start of these. My DH said "very artistic" ;) !

I plan to add organzas & stitch...of course, don't think DH wants me to ruin it :)

Sunday, 13 February 2011

something a little different

to my collages. I've been busy making samples for my workshop . As I had out alll the white cream & lacey fabric I thought I'd start with that. As Rag Tag n Textiles are all about using making beautiful things using recycled fabric to aid mental health recovery I decided my workshop would be along the lines of making a new fabric using the unwanted bits from the recycled fabrics, particularly as there's always a bucket under the table for tiny pieces that could be used later. They are always kindly keeping little bits for me, stuff even they can't reuse. Recycled recycled - in fact it's very hard to find a real bin in the place!

For these samples I 'stripped' pieces of fabric into about a rulers length, or whatever the length of that fabric was (within reason!) The idea (not mine!) is to make a piece of new reconstructed fabric. The bit that's my idea is to make the size with which to make a notebook cover a cuff & a brooch in one.

I started of with the fabrics still out from last week  (just a bit of continuity ;)

My A5 notebook cover, including flaps is 450mm x 220mm wide. Add about 65mm to the top which will be the width of the strip of new fabric left after you've cut the book cover off. That strip is still 450 long so out of it can be  a cuff of about 180mm leaving 260mm to make a brooch, a pendant, a square motif for your notebook, motifs for your cuff & a button for the cuff. Confused?

Lots of stitching up & down, straight & zigzag. I tried to make a 'neat' cuff as the book was quite 'hairy' I used an old sheet as backing, not substantial enough, the corners kept disapearing down the feed dogs. (maybe that was just me)

Decided to try an old towel next, quite thick, .....& blue? Lesson learnt, use a backing in your chosen colors - how many times have I read that?

The one below is cut, you can just see.

Lots more stitching & extra strips to cover the blue towel peeping thru ;( (learning all the time!)

Notebook cover, lovely & hairy, feels great ;)

Decided to make a cuff

Looks like something swimming in the depths of the sea!

Getting nearer! Looks quite nice on! Then a needlecase - everyone is making them & I need one, can never find a needle!

Look at these by Julia, Ro Bruhn's friend, quite quite delicious! (scroll down to the bottom of the post)

just added, hello to Borgens 2, welcome! I can't visit you back as you don't have a link, I'd love you to comment then I can come over, thanks;)

I got behind myself this week. My middlest boy has just gone off to New Zealand with a mate for 3 months to travel & work - fruit picking hopefully. So exciting for him & I'm looking forward to more 'space' in the house. The longest we've been apart in his 18 years? A week or 2 here & there. I'm not weeping & wailing, just missing him...already. I'll try & get the rest of my samples up mid week....if I can keep the emotions in check ;)

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Collage week 5

Got some lovely fabrics from last weeks Rag Tag jumble sale. That's what I love about helping out at these things, we get one or two new items for our wardrobes at very affordable prices & help in looking for silky shiny bits & pieces for your work. The trick is to get them washed ironed & cut up so you can see what you have - if I see it as a piece of clothing I get distracted.

This week I am inspired by Ruth Rae who makes little piles of fabric, paper & treasure & stitches them all together making beautifully messy soft lacey gorgeous collages. I'm working from her article in Cloth Paper Scissors Sept/Oct '07 called "whispered words, ethereal fragment squares" Each part of that title appeals! My challenge is to work in pale creamy fabric - Ruth has used lime green lace & scrim but I thought I'd stick to pale.

Feel free to skim or just look at the pictures! I'm put off by great blocks of words, too & I can see a couple here!

First I gathered together my fabrics, I never realised I had so much pale stuff!

cotton, calico, builders scrim silky & lacey bits

And my papers (lots of those!) - sheets of music, book pages & I added a rusted piece & a tea bag (sans tea).

then the treasures

These are what I could lay my hands on quickly, Ruth had twigs & broken bits of jewellery, too. She'd added words to dominos & had starfish, rusty keys in the mix. She gets her words from her vintage books so you can cut out from books or magazines 'meaningful' words or stamp them yourself & add those to the pile.

A few stamps; I used a butterfly &  a celtic heart & would have used my own carved spiral but I couldn't find it , drew it instead. I stamped them on watercolor paper & tore interesting edges. I tinted these with terracotta stamp pads, gold on top. Gold edged some of the book papers too. Note to fingers - use thinner paper to stamp on if you're hand stitching later! Ruth suggested stamping organza but I forgot that & did the paper instead!

I made this one above first, as a sample & my DH, bless him said it was great, mount it & frame it! Oh! So I added the lace at the bottom & the linen backing to make it more substantial.

Ruth advises 2 ways of coloring your fabric & paper. coffee stain - 1/4 cup of instant coffee (not sure how many teaspoons in there) to 5 cups of very hot water. Wet fabric first then steep in mix for 30 mins. Blot papers & for added effect, sprinkle both with a few coffee granules for a 'spekled' effect, add some coffee water to deepen stain. Dry.

The other way is with acrylic paint - wet fabrics, one part paint  to 5 parts water, mix & dip, blotting the papers. Keep going till you like what you see.

This is the sample - I can add bits or stitches from time to time. There's my trusty washer & the spiral hidden behind the gauzy fabric

Well, my coffee didn't work, not enough coffee, I'd drunk it all! So I tried tea, instead, just dunking & blotting as above. It affects each fabric in different ways - this is where I need a dyeing sample book! I actually also need a fabric sample book, I could put both kinds of samples in one book of course. I know what some sik is, might spot a Habotai but there must be hundreds of silks! then there's scrim, muslin, tulle, cotton this, cotton that, fake, real! it goes on & on, as you know. That's one problem with recycling, you see what you like & it's either smooth, rough, seethru or just silky. Some of the fabrics used here are recycled but I can never resisit those sample packs of a mix of fabrics at shows, so some of this is new!

Well I had to use a key, didn't I! Shame I didn't straighten it but I do love that these things are loose inside.

Ruth says to cut/tear some fabric 7x7. place on top of felt or batting. Add book text, then lay out 'elements' you want to trap under fabrics, add layer of cheesecloth or organza, add layer of 'altered' & stamped paper or fabric or lace. Pin if you need to & sew a running stitch along edges & around the treasures to keep them in place, adding 'hidden' elements & snippets as you go, making little pockets. You can machine quilt a little design here & there.

I found that things fell out all over the place but with this way of working you can start from the bottom & lay everything out or stitch down bit by bit, or you can start from the top & make a few 'pockets' & then lay those out on top of a half made piece. Practice, play! I decided to do more than one as I might as well while I had the spare double bed covered in everything (or is this what sensible people usully do?) I do enjoy just making little squares, I mean thumbnail size or inchy size without really knowing where they will end up. That way you make your own 'treasures' or embellishments or medallions, whatever you want to call them - my favorite word for them is jewels, lovely, fires my imagination.  This is where Ruth stopped but did suggest you/we could add further beads & embellishments. I did on some of them untill my eyes started to fall out!

The above collage was inspired when I went to Ruth's blog - she's doing a heart swap so I couldn't resist. I wrote the word with the darning foot - it is so much slower than fme! Glad to have got a little more delicate & 'girly' with all this lace & 'ethereal' inspiration, thaks to Ruth.

 My next problem is framing. I've said before that my DH thinks my creative mess needs to be contained neatly in a 'propper' frame. He's right, they do look good if I say so myself. I'm having an exhibition in September, have I already said that? So I applied to Hi-Arts for a grant towards framing but as I am 'self promoting' ie not under the wing of a reputable Gallery & not having it in a 'real' gallery - it's in a lovely L shape of a room which leads into the village hall of Plockton 6 miles into the mainland, where many artists have shows - I didn't get the grant. I'll try other places - I was a 'visual artist' for this grant but I can turn myself into a Maker for say, Craft Scotland. Any ideas? Or more importantly, any ideas for innovative framing?! I can think of rods - bamboo, chopsticks, driftwood 'twigs' or lengths of driftwood, wrapped wood, brass or wood stair rods (both of which we found in Granny's attic!) using hooks or machine cords to hang............

I made 2 cuffs - I need to keep the numbers of those up, so while the mess is out....!

edit - when I went to Ruths blog it was at the sun Jan 30th post, honest - just checked now for the link & she's talking about cuffs! Is that a case of "great minds" ...?

Not the 'squarest' creations in the world - they do look better rolled up. Even better on a wrist ;)

Now I need to clear that 'spare bed' it's in the eldests old room where my sewing is taking over more & more ( why waste it) but where we need to move into as we've got a few nights B& B next week, wonderful!