I’m working steadily on a piece of embroidery for the Embroiderers’ Guild partnership with the Landscape Institute, National Trust and English Heritage who are celebrating 300 years since the birth of noted landscape gardener, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, 1716 – 2016. Work will be shown all around the country at various stately homes, gardens and Knitting and Stitching Shows. I’ve chosen to exhibit at Stansted Park and at such a public venue I want it to be worthy of inclusion, so I’m taking my time.
Living on the Isle of Wight, I chose to base my work on Appuldurcombe House where Capability was called in by Sir Richard Worsely in 1779 to redesign the gardens or rather the landscape. Nothing remains of the plans, but 19th century travelers tell us it included some of his notable features, a gothic ruin – Cooks Castle, an obelisk, a ha-ha to keep out the cattle, without disturbing the view, and groves of noble beech trees indispersed with oaks. Usually water is a prominent feature of his gardens, but this proved difficult at Appuldurcombe. Eventually, in the 1830’s a circular basin with fountain was added.
All I have to show you at the moment is this sample. I am experimenting with a new technique, discovered in Wendy Dolan’s Layer, Paint and Stitch where pieces of different sorts of white and cream fabric, including scrim and lace, are layered to create a new surface before being painted. I have taken a motif from the ornate Freemantle Gate that welcomes visitors from Godshill to incorporate into the design. I have experimented with stitching it and have also made a print block to stamp the design. The central feature will be in the shape of the Isle of Wight and worked on rug canvas, with stitch and applied felt and fabric.
Well, the TRAC show is over and I’m left with a supply of Christmas decorations and lovely (I think so!) sketchbooks. So friends… guess what you’re getting for Christmas! It was an interesting learning curve, the Christmas show. I’m not sure it really was for me. I sold a few organza flowers, but not much else. Do I feel disheartened? Perhaps a little, but I must stay true to myself. It wasn’t my intention to try and make money by making cards and baubles. Next year I’m going to focus on the ‘real’ pieces, not the small diversions.
I love hand stitching into felt. Once you’ve made the felt, it’s so relaxing simply to sit and stitch as the mood takes you. I like a touchy feely notebook to take to work meetings and my old faithful is running out of pages so this is for me to keep. After I photographed it, I decided to trim the edge over the spirals slightly, just to neaten it, not straighten it. I’m pleased with the result. Not a scrap was wasted either. I stitched this little purse too. And I get to use some of my lovely buttons!
Attaching the cover to the book is relatively easy. I attach double sided sticky tape to the long edges of the book to keep the felt in place. To secure the short edges, I make holes about 1.5 cm apart with a large needle about 1 cm from the top/bottom edge. The felt is turned over top and bottom and I might secure with a thin strip of double sided. I start stitching from the inside – go through the first hole, over the top, through the second hole over the top etc. then stitch back along the row making that V shape along the top. This notebook already had some elastic over the edge, but if you want to add some, punch two holes about 1 cm apart in the back cover and attach a loop of elastic, large enough to go over the button to secure your important notes. The purse was made by folding the felt and machine straight stitching along both edges, remembering to leave the flap open! I then zig-zag stitched along all edges, including the flap. Underneath the button is a press stud.
This little project kept me occupied whilst stewarding at the Garlic Farm. I made the pebble at a TRAC workshop a little while ago and its been sitting on my table ever since. It was made to stitch into and I enjoyed it. I wanted it to be bold and I think it is. I never know what to do with those silk cocoons – the lumpy bits which I’ve stitched over. What are you supposed to do with them? It also includes metal washers out of the garage, that were stitched around in the same way as the Dorset posies. I originally looked for rusty ones that I was going to include as they were, but I think that’s for a different project. I have incorporated a range of stitches, including chain stitch, sorbello and whipped stitches. I’ve also included a handmade bead – the long pointy one, made using a long triangle of fabric, backed with bondaweb, wrapped around a kebab skewer and stuck with a soldering iron, I seem to remember. I like the sticky out beads too – piling one on top of the other. I’m taking it to sit on my desk at work next week – to add colour to the stark whiteness, and it will be useful too!
… or how to do a tidy demonstration in a church. One of the things I like about TRAC is that its exhibitions usually include some kind of demonstration of an artist’s practice. The next exhibition is taking place in a church which limits the kind of demonstration that can be done. One of the group thought that embroidery might be the answer, but looking around my work space which is covered in fluff and threads, I had to disagree. However, with a little thought, I can diversify… newspaper and string won’t be too messy will it?
Giant newspaper cord