The following pieces were constructed from beach string and driftwood found on Ryde Sands before the dog ban marked the beginning of summer. Now each day a tractor combs the beach from one end to the other, burying the traces of flotsam and jetsam, pizza boxes and lollipop wrappers to make a perfect surface for new footprints to mark.
The driftwood in the piece on the left is perhaps from a packing crate washed by the sea and rusted in places from the nail that remains embedded. The beach string is unraveled plastic cord (pale blue), orange fishing twine and the white is elasticated, curling nylon, I think from an old shoelace. Crochet thread was used for the warp on both pieces.
On the right, the wood is possibly marine ply leaving interesting patterns as layers have separated. Unraveled plastic cord in several shades of blue and a piece of orange are layered with orange fishing twine and the nylon shoelace again.
Both pieces are mounted on card and framed in 8″x 8″ oiled pine box-frames.
I have been working on my Ryde themed pieces for the September TRAC exhibtition and as you will see, I’ve decided to work in the abstract rather than to try and reinterpret popular landmarks. There has been a lot in the news about the impact of ‘Ghost gear’ from the fishing industry and a stroll along Ryde Sands revealed that even the beautiful beaches here are not free from such detritus. The pieces of ‘beach string’ seem to be shorter here than what is often found on Cornish beaches, for example, but still just as harmful to marine life. How could I incorporate them into my work?
I collected some multicoloured string and a couple of pieces of driftwood for good measure. After some trial and error, I decided that I would deconstruct the string and work on some small woven pieces. I found my trusty Spear’s weaving loom, a childhood toy that was rarely used, was perfect for working in this way. Tune in next time to see how I turned this into a piece of work:
Spotted an advert in the local newspaper wanting artists to support Ventnor Botanic Garden‘s horticultural apprenticeship scheme. Work has to be A5 and fit in a C5 envelope. It can be in any medium and will be sold for £50. If you want to support this cause, all pieces should be received at the gardens by Friday, May 19th. Further information can be obtained from email@example.com
Although the design can be of any subject, I thought flowers would be appropriate. I chose the beautiful book, Fabric of India as my source of inspiration and decided to work a simple motif in stranded thread on calico. It gave the opportunity to make another piece of patching and piecing which is useful for so many things including framing small works. The biggest challenge for me, as ever, was working to a fixed size, I just about managed it. It fits successfully in a C5 envelope anyway!
This piece was the first started but last finished, partly because it spent the best part of a 3 weeks wrapped together with shards of rust from the groins along Ryde beach. As with Water 2 I had dyed the fabric with Dylon. This time I used the patching and piecing technique to assemble the fabric and then machined stitched it to bring it together. On reflection, this is preferable to the patched approach of the previous piece. I hoped that the rust dying would add another dimension to the surface. However, the rust didn’t take to the Dylon. I had incorporated small pieces of previously rust-dyed fabric into the patching and those were intensified by the process. The cotton sheet on the back is a nice rusty colour too! The soaking had slightly muted the Dylon colours, so I was happy with that. Again, I used my funky foam print block to add green and copper acrylic (stamped on to scrunched paper and them applied to the fabric). This time in circles surrounding the marked out holes. The holes were cut away and, using broderie Anglais technique, were secured with some naturally dyed wool.
Peering through the holes you can see another layer. I intended to conjure up the idea of a vortex behind, but I was impatient and didn’t sample and have ended up with something resembling a cut tree stump or thumb print. Its okay though and, after all, it is just the backing and you’re only getting glimpses by peering through the holes. The prints were created by cutting a lino block and printing with white acrylic. I machine stitched swirls of tricky to use embroidery thread into them. I liked the mixture of fabrics including velvet, linen and denim. I think it would have been great to have patched and pieced this side too, but time is money!
I was pleased with my bias-binding edges, not used since my City & Guilds. Machined on the front and hand-stitched on the back. The hanger is great too – a really useful find at the Knitting & Stitching show last year.
So that’s all my pieces for the TRAC Spring Exhibition at Quarr Abbey (2nd-14th March), but I think I will utilise my other sketchbook drawings and photos for a few more pieces related to this theme. So watch this space.
I enjoyed a relaxing Christmas staying with family in Penzance with plenty of time to sew. I’ve been working on this piece for a little while – its another in the series inspired by water pipes on our local beach. As you can see, I’ve taken the pipe theme a little more literally this time and I’m very pleased with the outcome. I dyed a range of fabrics with Dylon, cut them and assembled them in patches. I used my funky foam stamp, as in Water 1, to randomly stamp the surface, this time with green and copper colours echoing the seaweed coated seawall. I decided to integrate the piece using a twin needle to run from top to the bottom of the fabric in broad swirls. I broke 2 needles in the process, so decided to add some single needle stitching too! I made some cords using the sewing machine and machine zig-zagged them in place. They seemed to embed themselves withing the fabric rather than sit themselves on to it. Should I have used a cording foot? So, I decided to hand couch a couple of the others on to the surface. After various experiments I settled on some thicker handmade cords for the protrusions. (Water 3 which is also in progress will cut-away the surface – I didn’t want them to be too similar). I painted the inside of the protrusions with purple/bronze acrylic. It was dry brushed so the fabric texture shows through. Shining a light makes them glow. Maybe I should consider a lampshade project another time? The 2 thick cords at the top and bottom are wired with pipe-cleaners to give some support to the shape. I’m pleased with the result – something a bit different, yet again!