You know that feeling when you’ve learnt something new but you go back to it a month or two later and it feels like you’ve forgotten everything? Well, Alice Hume had the wonderful idea of a establishing a weaving club to keep her students coming back for more. I thought I had better start something before turning up, so I muddled through the sumac, not quite the way Alice had taught me, but it sufficed. The first club night reminded me about joining two colours together and I ambitiously embarked on a curved shape. Carrying on at home, I attempted to mirror that curve and Alice told me I had invented a new weave. Isn’t she kind?! Then she told me that curves were perhaps one of the most tricky things to accomplish. Nothing like getting in at the deep end!
The second club night, I saved for re-learning the sumac to end the piece and then tying on the tassles. I was pleased with the result, which incorporated a few copper-thread highlights. I stitched a few other lines of copper through the white bits of the weave too. They are quite subtle, but glint nicely in the sun.
I added some beads to the top for decoration. A handmade cord, made with a small cordwinder (a very useful gadget) incorporates white and copper thread. A piece of dowl, painted with antique white finishes it off nicely.
Its that time of the year, when you starting to think about what to buy your sewing friends for Christmas. Here is a suggestion. This beautiful book, accompanied the exhibition, Keep Your Eye on the Planet, at the Carrefour Européen du Patchwork im Elsass, France in September. It explains the work of Guldusi as you may have read in my previous blog entries, as well as showcasing the work of the exhibitors, including mine! Its so exciting to be in print.
If you would like to buy a copy for yourself or for your friends, it costs just £12, from the Guldusi website. Postage is free and its written in English, German and French, so no excuses. Buy it here: https://www.guldusi.com/en/to-order-embroidery/books.html
More is definitely more with this piece. It could have had several endings but, to me, this is the best one possible. Made on single weave canvas painted with water-soluable oil pastels and coloured in with threads. Organzas and silks appliqued to the canvas for the”fireworks”, accentuated with handmade cords. The washed crow feathers were more fragile than I expected but, with care, they made it in to the final piece. Stitches in a variety of threads included chain, herringbone, zigzag, buttonhole, running stitch & straight stitch. Metal “spinning flames” were made out of an old tomato puree tube – just the right colour.
The wire wrapped cords edging the piece were machined using organza and a mixture of threads. The felt leaves and berries, are commercial felts joined together using the embellisher – I have to make use of it! The little bells were the only things I had to purchase. A nice find from Oliver Twists at the recent Knitting and Stitching Show.
Too fat for a box frame, I decided to leave the piece unframed – afterall you won’t hear the bells behind the glass. I had to think hard about attaching it to the velvet. I fixed the velvet to a stretcher frame and stitched the piece on to it. The velvet was laced in the traditional way and then I stitched a felt backing on to it to cover up the strings.
To me, it captures the spirit of Montol: the excitement, other worldliness, musicality; the death of the Winter sun, its rebirth and renewal. I’m there already!
Montol, mixed media embroidery, 25cm x 25cm
I’ve been wanting to make this piece for a couple of years now, but once the event happens, I procrastinate and then it doesn’t feel right to make it out of season. It is based on the Montol Festival which happens at the Winter Solstice in Penzance, Cornwall. A once low-key beacon lighting event has now turned in to a much bigger event with parades, dressing up and the soulful music of Raffidy Dumitz. As a Cornish girl, I always try to be at home for this celebration. I want this work to be about the feeling I get at marching with the parade. But there might be another piece to follow of Old Ned…
Collage is a good technique to help me work in a more abstract way. Sometimes I just don’t know where to start. As you can see, I’ve just begun to move it along on to my canvas. I’ve used water-soluable oil pastels to get some colour down and have just begun to tear up and fix on strips of sheers. I’ve also added some crow feathers – I’m going to see how these go as I start to stitch.
I’ve been enjoying the extended summer so much, I’ve only just got around to posting some pictures of the summer dress I made, following another pattern from Simply Sewing magazine. I’m delighted with the fabric and I’m pleased with the sewing up. However, I’m slow to learn about getting the sizing right – trying on as I go. The top section now fits beautifully, but because it hasn’t got any zips or fastenings, other than a hook and eye, the dress as a whole makes me look about 8 months pregnant! So I’m also beginning to learn about what kind of styles suit me and I think I need to make things that are more fitted with a few darts and a zip. Anyway, a nice dress for relaxing in.
With an open heart and mind I set off for one of my favourite London destinations last week, the Fashion and Textile Museum, to see the exhibition which gives this post its name. FTM has staged another top quality exhibition drawing on company archives as well as works by numerous collaborators of this successful and influential designer. I said that I went with an open heart and mind, because I’m not sure that I like her work. I’m not normally one to ciriticise and I can usually find something to enjoy and what’s not to enjoy? I love textiles, colours and patterns, surely I’m half way there to enjoying this exhibition? Perhaps it is because I grew up in the 1970s surrounded by these bold repeat patterns in oranges, greens, mustards and pinks; from flower stickers on the toilet seat to patterns on saucepans and flowing party dresses – the latter with the addition of ric rac – but I just couldn’t feel the ‘joy and happiness’ (Kiely, p.13) of the brand.
The fashions at the exhibition were described as, “Appealing to confident, stylish and intelligent women” and in the Autumn/Winter 2015 collection lifestyle film these women were in a library! What a cliche.
However, if you are a fan of Orla Kiely, you will love this exhibition. It runs until 23rd September, so there is still time to go. But, if you’re not going to make it, you may be interested in the accomapnying book: A Life in Pattern: and how it can make you happy without even noticing. Heavily illustrated with Kiely’s signature patterns, it is representative of her work. Take a look and decide for yourself.
Well, I’m very pleased to say that my latest embroidery, Colours of Flotsam and Jetsam, has been accepted for the Guldusi project, Keep an Eye on the Planet. 45 pieces were accepted out of 113 submitted. I wonder if I will make it over to France to see it exhibited at the European Patchwork Meeting? If not, its great to know that there will be a publication to accompany the exhibition – guess what you’ll be getting for Christmas! The big reveal:
The centre is all handstitched, apart from the cords which were made on the machine and couched to the surface. The border is made from patched and pieced fabric – several cuts were made into the ‘fabric’. You can see where I started, on the left, and where I ended up, on the right. I was fortunate enough to find a bargain embellishing machine a little while back and added to the piece by using the embellisher to incorporate additional fabric snips and to give it an all over texture. I cut the strips, and machined the edges. The piece is backed with cotton and incorporates a hanging sleeve. An excellent sleeve hanging tutorial is available from the AQS website. Its lovely to learn how to do this properly!