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!
My fourth piece in the Frost series evolved from an oil pastel sketch via a flat piece of appliqué to a number of stuffed pods as I began sampling. I more or less followed the shapes and colours of the initial drawing, but gave myself some additional rules to follow in choosing the colour threads for the hard-edged appliqué which all adds to the colour dynamism. Joined with invisible thread the pods appear to float in space. This time the pods are small and light and can be easily hung on a picture hook. Out of the 4 pieces, I think I like this one best of all. I have just the space for it in my conservatory!
As you can see, having a long piece of work can be problematic for blogging as the text doesn’t wrap around easily. I do want to get across something of the scale of the piece though and so, the measurements are approximately 121cm x 21cm. For those of you who are interested, I’ve also added the sizes to the other pieces too.
If Frost used fabric he might have decided to mix materials. He might have decided to fray the edges. So my experiments led me to both of those things. Simple colours and shapes took along time to arrange and many drawings to satisfy the need for just the right amount of white. I had already purchased lots of fabric for this series of work and I was having a moment of guilt about doing that, especially as I’d been forced into buying yet more storage containers to keep it all in. So I discovered a remnant of white leatherette, an oddment of black silk and some red cotton. Why couldn’t I mix them together instead of sticking purely to cotton? The leatherette is beautiful to stitch into with the sewing machine – I really must use some more of it.
I carefully, but not too carefully, cut my templates and set about cutting out the fabrics and arranging and rearranging them until they were right. Sprinkling the backs of the shapes with magic bonding powder and ironing them in place, I then stitched them on to the grey background, measuring lots of times to attempt aligned edges. This kind of discipline is good for me even if it drives me to distraction. I admire you quilters for your patience and neatness! But I knew instantly what I should have done. I should have backed the pieces with proper Bondaweb to stop them fraying. But I hadn’t and I had to try and recover the piece without tearing it up in frustration. So I made a feature out of the fraying and frayed it further. On reflection it works well – softening the edges around the leatherette, adding texture and making it a textile piece and not just trying to imitate the painted surface. I’ve grown quite fond of it and it is in my favourite colour combination!
It’s interesting how a drawing can seem quite large, but when translated to fabric it appears to shrink. This piece did just that or maybe it’s just that compared to the previous monster it seems tiny? I haven’t attempted cut-away appliqué since my City & Guilds, but it seemed the right way to interpret the drawing. It also reminded me that there are much quicker ways of working than doing all of that dense stitching I’m inclined to do. However, simplicity isn’t always good for me. My brain doesn’t engage the way it should; it thinks it knows it all and forgets to concentrate. There should have been more divisions within the piece, but I’d missed a few lines in the tracing. Perhaps though, bolder is better.
I’m clearly in need of a holiday, which I’ve now had. I combined it with a work trip to Glasgow. What a fabulously friendly and cultural city. In planning a day trip to the Isle of Arran, I also discovered that it’s not the place where Aran jumpers come from. That’s in Ireland! I didn’t go!