Sunday, 31 August 2008

The Beauty of Silk

As well as all my landscape photography I have been working with some silk again. I spun and dyed some a little while ago. I just love the results that I get with this.. When you think that I start off with this:
Raw silk, It is actually a lovely pale cream/golden colour, it almost looks white until you look a little closer. The sheen on it is exquisite. As I say you start off with this and then after spinning and dyeing it you end up with this:
I wish the pictures were better. I love rainbow dyeing. I love working with colour in this way and it is true, silk does take dye ever so easily. These skeins were done in the microwave, a 3 minute zap and they are done.
Some of the photos seem to lose the brilliance of that shine, I don't know why.
The way I have been exploring colour with these skeins is through the use of the primaries. Difficult to beleive but I just have three colours, yes, red, blue and yellow. That way the colours that I am trying to find whilst experimenting are either the secondary: greens, purples and oranges. Also I mixed up some browns, in the picture below, I wanted to go from a warm chocolate brown to a tan, then a golden right through to a colder almost green/brown, it worked.

Here are the four skeins ready to use. I will be embroidering on to my felt with these. I love the contrast between the flat/matt colour of the felt against the shiny silk thread.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

As far as the eye can see.

I am rediscovering my childhood, about a week ago when my daughter came to visit I went down to the Isle of Sheppey. Now when I was a child I would visit there once a year with my family, I grew up till I was 11 in London. In a little row of Victorian terraced houses. My Parents were not that well off, they were buying their own house, so for the 5 of us to go away every year was quite an expense I expect, and quite an adventure too, for me. I only ever saw a green field when I went on holiday or when my primary school took us to the common for sports day. We didn't even have our own playing field.

Now I know that everything looks bigger when you are young, last week I realised this more than ever. My daughter drove me into the chalet site where I used to stay, I even recognised the chalet that we would stay in, it's still there!!! The campsite looked tiny and very overcrowded, many of the chalets are in poor repair but I think that they must have been sold off. Mind you they are goodness knows how many years old. We started to go there when I was a nipper so we are talking about late 1950's. It sort of brought a lump to my throat when I think back to how my parents managed that holiday every year. We would go by coach, my Dad wouldn't drive, even though he had during the war in the desert. In those days, we didn't have all the facilities that we have today. Clothes were heavier, wool and cotton, not so many light weight fabrics. My Mum often said I don't know how I managed those suitcases! Still we went every year.

So this week I went down to Sheppey to explore a part of it, that I didn't know existed. Along the inner edge of the Island, that part that edges the Swale River there is a fantastic nature reserve. Ok, the scenery to some people might be a little bland but I love it. You can see for miles and miles. It's mainly a bird sanctury on wide open marshes but whilst we were there, I saw my very first hare in real life. I wish I had been quick enough to get a picture. We saw allsorts of birds, Marsh Harriers, A beautiful Heron and other water fowl.

It really is hard to believe that all of this is on our doorstep. It took us just 45 minutes from door to door.

I just love the open spaces of this place.

Now this scene is along the edge of the Swale. The tide was well out as can be seen. We were trying to figure out what all these sticks were in the ground and then realised that they must have been from a landing stage of some sort. The mud flats were covered in some sort of algae/weed

Coming home we took the old bridge, the new one is to the right. I sort of recollect going across here, in my far distant memory way back in those very happy childhood days.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Inspirational Landscape Artists and my experiments in felt.

My inspirations come from all sorts of sources but there are two artists one of whom I met when working as a teacher in a secondary, the other a very well known artist, they both give me a taste of what I would like to create as landscape.

The first is a Russian Born artist who I met after she had been working in Ireland, having never been to see my own roots from Irish Grandparents I was fascinated by her take on a landscape that has always held a mystery for me. Her name is Varvara Shavrova, if you visit her website here and go to the past work, the work I was introduced to in a slide show held at the school was entitled Inscriptions. So was I taken with the work I rushed down to the Gallery where her work had been, even though I missed the exhibition itself, I managed to buy a copy of the exhibition catalogue. During the workshop which she managed with my students she showed techniques that would change the way I looked at how I work and what landscape is all about. We did some large scale mono printing directly from the art room desks/tables, they were fantastic. She described how she made some of her work with graphite and her descriptions fascinated me for a long while afterwards. She managed to create landscapes which for me were both abstract and yet real. A fine balance between in order to succeed with this.

This leads me on to my other favourite landscape artist. Ivon Hitchins. His work is also abstract and yet he painted in such a way that you feel you could walk into it. He often used elongated canvasses for example one entitled 'Garden Cove' measures 44 x 108. He said he often used this long shape because he found a square-shaped painting unsatisfactory because the horizontals are cut short. Garden Cove fascinates me, it is a landscape and yet there is a suggestion of a door in the image. When I say a suggestion, I mean just that. You could almost miss it. You scan his work visually and are looking for the tangible, it is there but you can't say for sure where. If you get the chance then take a look at his work, there are a few pictures on the web at certain galleries.

Now this all brings me on to a body of work I have been trying to create with my embellisher. I have been creating a series of samples in Postcard and ATC size from a larger piece which was made from scraps of wet felt that have been in a bag for sometime from larger projects. I joined all these scraps on the embellisher, my idea was to randomise the colours and shapes to see what is possible in the abstract. The only control I had over this process was when I was cutting the small rectangles from the larger piece. I tried very hard not to look at where the colours and shapes fell when I cut these out. My idea was to take it to the extreme, I therefore told myself to use all the fabric I had made and tried to fit in as many as I could from the large piece I had created. The results you can see below. As a series of rectangles which can be seen as abstract landscapes I hope. I am trying to work into these by adding some texture with stitch, either following the lines within the piece or by infilling the shapes.

the first few I have not sewn into yet.

Some of the rectangles work better in portrait than in the landscape format, purely because of the horizontal lines within.

The picture below shows how a scrap was embellished into the piece, this scrap was originally a little leaf that I had sewn around, it seems to work for me, but I can't say why, can you?

The piece below reminds me of geology and rock formations, where rocks have made abstract patterns where the different kinds of rock have been laid in layers and then moved and squeezed together.

This is where I start to add texture, in the form of seed stitches.

The stitches on the left hand corner of this were already in the felt before I embellished it together.

The texture, or should I say small motif in the piece below was just a scrap I had experimented on long ago before I put this together.

I was thinking of framing these, rather like I had framed all my atc's. I am now very unhappy with the result of doing this and I won't be continuing as I do not feel it adds anything to the work.

Below following the line of the shapes this time with a little seed stitching added.

Atc size below, again following the line of the shapes.

Before I finish this post I am showing some other felt pieces I have been experimenting with. Felt with machine embroidery below:

Below is some reverse pattern felting, well that's what I am going to call it. Working from the reverse, the first one is the front and the second shows the back and how the little circles of linen have come through from behind.

Some further scrap paintings as I think I will call them. Just putting scraps of felt together on the embellisher in order to see what can be made from them

Here to finish off this rather long post is a traditional landscape that I made last month, this is slightly larger than the other landscapes I have shown on my blog, it is nearly A4 in size.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Two Bracelets for Two lovely Lassies

Before my Grand daughter went home from her holiday with us, I promised I would make her a bracelet. Actually times two. She has a very dear friend whom she trains with in her gymnastic's profession, they are inseparable, and because when their Mum's buy something nice for one of them, they usually buy the same for the other one, rather sweet thing to do really, they often walk around like twins. Who am I to break with the tradition?

I don't often use beads, except sparingly in my work. When my GD asked me to make a bracelet I had visions of sitting for hours threading, as it happens, it still took quite a while but I decided to make the bracelet base from felt, no surprise there I suppose.

I decided to plait some white and lilac coloured rovings to begin with, then I lightly felted it under the embellisher. I continued by sewing small seed beads along the edges of the plaits, then I added some of my finger braiding with a large bead at each end, this is to tie the bracelets with. I sewed some more seed beads to the top of the braiding. At each end I added a special glass flower bead, these are quite lovely and they came from my mother's collection of beads. In handing these little beads down in this bracelet from my mother's collection to my GD, It was a very special moment I found when I was sewing them on. It's funny how the simple things in life can mean so much.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

A day at the beach and some challenge swaps.

Everyone needs a break now and then, I've had my Daughter and my very talented Grand Daughter staying with me. Some of you may remember my telling you that this little girl is an acro gymnast. She has worked so hard in her little life, we are all so proud of her. She is already a British Champion and she is only 11 years old. That's not all, she qualified this year to go to the Worlds Competition which is being held in Scotland and she will be on the British Team competing with athlete's from all over the world, I can't say that she gets her suppleness from me but she is very artistic when she is performing her moves. Well, we had a real fun day at the beach, and when she saw the trampolines, well, it had to be done.

When I
got home I found this on the door mat. Sue one of our textile challengers had not only sent me this beautiful brooch for the brooch swap but also some really special treats. A beautiful hand made card. An absolutely amazing little envelope made from hand made paper and finished wonderfully with a bead fastener. Enclosed in the envelope I found the brooch and a really special key ring. I don't know how Sue knew but my favourite ceramic is blue and white, I collect willow pattern so I adore this key ring. Thank you so much Sue.

Here is my little brooch. It is hand made felt and embroidered with my own hand spun/dyed silk with couched hand spun/dyed mohair with beads added to the design. Well, after my little break I should be refreshed for some more work. back soon......

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Eye Candy, Samples and Experiments

Plenty to see here, lots of visuals, I decided to make some samples, the following small rectangular pieces are all atc size. I had cut some backing fabric ages ago to this size when I first became quite excited about doing lots of swaps. Realising that I didn't want to do that many now, I decided a good use of these would be to do a series of experiments, which became samples and in turn became a sort of sampler.

This first one is needlefelted, the lighter shapes are pieces of my hand made paper that I have cut out and embellished between the layers of wool.
I decided to do some of these pieces as experiments in stitch.
Here is some more hand made paper shapes between the layers of fleece.
Some experiments in border stitches.

To break the monotony I decided to play with some free style stitching.

More handmade paper, this time just torn, more abstract.
Just playing with colour in chain stitch.
This was interesting, hand made paper circles outlined with stitching.
An image from Rock Art, simple stitching of outline.
A nice way to make a frame, stitching over a thick yarn which had been felted down to begin with.

I couldn't resist trying the circle idea again, it was so much fun to do.

An abstract piece, thinking primitive shapes.
Playing with stitches again over hand made paper square/diamond.
Framing a circle.
Hand made paper again, letting the abstract go free. I kept thinking standing stones, or doors when I was stitching these.

Voila! Here they all are stitched together, it is just a visual record of my ideas and experiments, to place on the wall to remind me of what is possible.
Another Experimental Piece.
I just wish that I had taken pictures of this in progress, it would have been easier to explain and also to remember how it was done.

I began this piece by making a natural white/cream felted background. I was inspired by some stones that I have been sketching. I started to embellish some blue linen into the felt and then decided that I didn't want this effect over the whole piece. I experimented with different colours and then when I had finished what I felt was enough of an abstract background I decided to add some stitching, I did this with some hand dyed cotton which I dyed with rust/tin last year, it seemed to tie in perfectly with the colours that I wanted.
The next two pictures will let you in on a little technique I have discovered. This is the back of the piece. After stitching I felted some of my hand spun yarn down to make a rock art design. The beauty of this if you look closely at the following pictures is when it comes through to the right side it punches the design right over the stitching and it is slightly raised so you have another layer/texture.
These first two pictures show the back of the work.
These next photos are close ups of the front. I hope that you can see how punching the yarn from the back makes another layer. It is slightly raised.
I must admit to being very pleased with this discovery and I feel that I will be using this technique again to create different layers.
I don't know whether the photos really show what I am trying to explain, but if you look carefully you will see that the stitching does indeed disappear under the embellished outlines of the rock art drawings.
Well, back to work. BFN Tricia