The other thing I got involved in this summer was an initiative led by Alice Kettle at Farnham Maltings called Stitching Together.
Children had drawn some pictures based on given themes relating to Farnham. Incidentally, its the UK’s first World Craft City! Surely that wouldn’t be too difficult would it? My “drawing” couldn’t have been more complicated. Well, it wasn’t actually a drawing, more a series of icons taken from the Internet and put together. Agh! Thankfully, or not, the pack came with a sheet of carbon paper to trace down the design. I carefully watched the video and followed the instructions, using the carbon paper to outline the design on the back of the fabric. Oh no! It was all back to front. It just didn’t work. Have you ever worked with carbon paper? DON’T – its nasty stuff that won’t come off and is smudgy and horrid. There was nothing else for it – I shoved the instructions aside and traced the design on to the front of the fabric, regardless of the fact that I could see the design on the back coming through – what a mess!
Anyway, I couldn’t let this poor child down I had to keep going. I used water soluble oil pastels to fill the spaces and give a watercolour effect, leaving me to stitch only some of the design. It was way out of my comfort zone and I don’t want to see a Bart Simpson or Kermit the Frog ever again. I’m still not sure what they have to do with Farnham – maybe a TV studio connection? So here it is. Maybe when its added to its background and hung high up on a wall, no one will notice the carbon paper outlines coming through from the back? I hope not, its embarrassing sending it to them in this state, but I didn’t want to let anyone down by not submitting it. Note to self: be careful what you commit to!
The year I got slightly interested in gardening… so here’s a summary of my craft things. Things I could do in front of the TV, post-gardening. My Guldusi project is coming along quite nicely. Its ready to come off the frame to back and finish it with bias binding – all 120cm x 50cm of it. I can’t show you a picture as it’s against the terms of entry. So I’ll share this little piece with you instead.
Inspired by Sue Dove, a textile artist based in St Just, Cornwall, it was completed whilst joining in with the endless team webinars during this crazy period requiring me to work from home. I don’t think anyone noticed! It kept me calm, anyway! I love the way the fabric moved as I worked around the design. Edging it was a little unconventional as a result but it gives it a nice folk art feel.
Its been a long time since I’ve worked in this style and I loved doing it – you don’t need to think too much, just stitch. The colours aren’t my usual either. I decided to just take my mixed thread bag and work with what I had been given. I used Aida fabric (I think) I always get my holey fabrics mixed up! It’s the softer cotton-type rather than the canvas that Sue recommends. It seemed to work just as well.
I was drawn to the green and pink section of my Nansen Hill image, maybe because I’m spending a lot of time staring out of my window looking over the garden and the pink roses at the moment. Curves always present a challenge to me, so I thought I’d try something I’d done previously that worked pretty well. I used my Hume Loom and created a woven border and left space in the centre to work my piece. Experimenting a little, I decided to take the image right up to the edge of the border. Midway up I started to get anxious about the gap that was beginning to form so I wove some threads into the border. At the end I decided to stitch up the gap using a kind of ladder stitch worked on the back. This worked really well and so next time, I don’t think I’ll worry about the gap.
The border: last time I used the variegated green acrylic but interspersed it with real wool. This gave a better texture and less garish finish. I think the side tassels looked better as well so will revert to this next time. I love making them and there’s 7 more options to go so keep watching!
Our first trip out was on my birthday – just after lockdown was eased a little. We took a flask of coffee and some lemon cake and drove to this lovely spot just outside of Ventnor.
Sometimes, I just get the urge to get my oil pastels out and that day was one of them. I chose water-soluble oil pastels to record my visit from memory, adding the route, I felt we had taken – the black lines.
There were some elements that stuck in my head that day, can you spot them in the pictures below? I didn’t take a photo of my lemon cake – but its in there!
The thing is, I don’t mind if you can’t spot them, I enjoyed the process. The pastels have a child-like quality and remove my fear of drawing. I chopped the piece into 8 for some little projects to weave or stitch. There’s already a weaving underway.
I’ve been working hard on a piece of work to submit to an exhibition call out; Guldusi’s Hand in Hand. I can’t show you any pictures because under the terms of submission, you can’t show the work online prior to the opening of the first exhibition (if the work is selected). Originally, I’d decided not to submit anything. Hands, they’re difficult aren’t they? I didn’t think I was up to it! Then lockdown came and, despite having to work through it, it felt right to have something else on the go, so I purchased my “hand” made by an Afghan lady, and made a start. This is her hand:
I had to make quick decisions and couldn’t really attempt my usual “more is more” style. The piece is huge 0.6 metres squared. The maths was hurdle number 1 – but I worked out that I can make a piece 120cm x 50cm. The thing is, I thought I had until the end of May to complete it, but no, sharing my anxiety with a friend, I discovered that the deadline is May 2021! Doh! So if you want to have a go, there’s loads of time.
You can see my previous Guldusi project, Colours of Flotsam and Jetsam, here. It is currently on tour and last Saturday was supposed to be the last day in Argenton-sur-Creuse, France, in the Musée de la Chemiserie et de l’Elégance Masculine (Museum of Shirts and Men’s Elegance). Sounds like a fabulous venue!
This small weaving was inspired by a photograph taken at Rew Down. I think the rusted structure is detritus left over from the war. Somehow it just fits into the natural environment. It was woven on my homemade pin loom using all sorts of wool, choosing colour above anything else. There’s even a bit of silver thread mixed in with the blue/grey. Attempting to add a bit of stitch to my weaving, I machined into some areas, as well as adding a few woolly French knots. I’m not sure that the machining added anything to the piece, but the knots did. It was just something I had to try!
My ‘sew-in’ friends encouraged me to show them what I learned at a workshop last year – how to make a bird. I was well outside my comfort zone trying to show them how to wind wire together and not really being strong enough to do it myself. Nevertheless, it worked well even if the wire armatures were a bit bendy. Adding the fabric was the bit everyone was looking forward to. One of the group used up some fabric she had screenprinted. It was really effective, but was very hard to stitch through and her first lesson was not to do that again! Its amazing how starting out with the same template you get quite different birds. This time, mine was quite a giant! I put him on a wood block I found on the beach and made some bunting out of machine wrapped wire and fabric off cuts to finish off the base.
I thought I would support the Embroiderer’s Guild call for entries of pieces reflecting my ‘favourite things’. Looking back at my photographs, I think I’d planned to start this quite some time ago. However, I didn’t. I started with less than 2 months to complete it. For me, that leads to a sense of urgency; planning, preparing and making a 30cm x 30cm piece for public consumption.
The piece is an interpretation of 3 of my favourite things: a Chinese cockerel ornament, a Japanese friendship plant and a small painting by Susie Prangnell, a local artist. It uses my favourite techniques too; working on rug canvas with free-style hand embroidery and applique, machine-made cords and a machined patched and pieced border.
Struggling to take a nice photo in the winter gloom!
A small piece to keep my hands busy over the festive season. Taken from my automatic colour drawing of Rew Down, this piece encapsulates an autumn landscape with a sense of ancient history and spirit.
Worked on rug canvas, using free-style hand embroidery, applique and structured with handmade machined cords. I feel happy when I look at it and hold it!
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!
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I made this little bird, only 8 months after my favourite workshop of 2019!