I came across the organisation, Guldusi, in a recent edition of Embroidery. The project aims to help women in Afghanistan earn a living by selling their beautiful embroideries. The current projects encourage fibre artists in Europe to purchase an embroidery to incorporate into their own work. So, when my husband asked what I’d like for Christmas, I sent him to the website to choose a piece for me. He was a bit overwhelmed at the amount of choice but he selected well. I don’t think a bad choice was possible. The work is exquisite and characteristic of the region with its Persian eyelets. I’m not quite sure what to do with it yet. I don’t want anything I add to overwhelm the original design. Watch this space…
He also bought me a book of the latest exhibition, Gardens Around the World. A fascinating look at how each piece of work evolved. It was started by a European embroidery, sent to a woman in Afghanistan who added to the work and then returned to the European woman, who started it, to finish the piece. You can see how some partnerships let the work evolve, whilst others took charge and reordered the final piece. I’m hoping to get working on something for the next project, Keep Your Eye on the Planet. Perhaps you’d like to get involved too?
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and New Year full of warmth and creativity!
You may remember that I attended a Textile Tales workshop earlier this year which rekindled my enthusiasm for printing. Well, I was tidying my pile and decided that I would work spontaneously and incorporate one of my experimental monoprints into a piece of work. I love the cow parsley print so it was a good starting point. The composition seemed to want to be machine stitched. The spontaneity, however, resulted in some mixed ideas for piecing it together. I started with curved lines to hold the fabrics in place, then decided it needed curls to bring it all together, but they seemed to be at odds with each other. I like the uneven bottom, but the uneven top was difficult to work with and I really must learn that there is a time and place for uneven edges and the top of a hanging isn’t one of them. The addition of the organza ‘shadow’ behind is okay, but again, spontaneity wasn’t my friend. I think it should have been longer and gone around the pole. The cord (made with my special cordwinder machine) is okay, but works its way in to squeeze the top of the fabric. I did like using some worn and favourite fabrics, even going back to my childhood and I enjoyed working onto wadding. I don’t often think to do this, but I like the added texture it gives.
Why I am sharing this with you? I need to say out loud that a basic plan goes along way towards achieving perfection! There, that’s my lesson of 2017 which I will pay attention to in 2018. Return to artist research, experimentation, samples, consideration of hanging mechanism! Back to the City & Guilds files for me!
I like to make my Christmas cards and I wanted to get ahead of the game this year and stitch something ready to transform into a card. Lacking inspiration, I went on to search Pinterest. Only when I let myself get side-tracked did I find something inspirational – the work of Jackie Cardy, a mix of quirky handmade felt, velvet and machine embroidery. Her work looked so bright and tactile, so I thought I would experiment along similar lines. I already had some handmade felt and knew there was some velvet in the scrap box. This Christmas tree was the first experiment. It was such a pleasure to stitch – no need for a frame, you could just hold it and move it easily through the machine; some straight lines with the presser foot and then some free machine embroidery for the curls. The following weekend I raided the scrap box again and made a winter house scene. I used wool fabric, for the background, furnishing velvet for the house – which I have to say was hard to get the stitches to show up on as it was so thick – handmade felt for the bushes and I decided to back it with a layer of woollen blanket to make a more sturdy decoration. I remembered feeling inspired by an artist at the 2016 Knitting and Stitching Show who had made beautiful large flowing pieces stitched into blankets. Then, by coincidence, I noticed in Embroidery magazine this month a small piece of work by Michala Gyetvai – the same person, I think! I’m going to enjoy doing some artist research over Christmas, I feel even more experiments coming on for 2018.
Finally, 20 months after I started, I’ve finished my rag rug! It looks lovely next to the Victorian fireplace on the dark red carpet in my bedroom, but I won’t be making another. If you need something to keep you warm over the winter, then its a great thing to work on but if, like me, you have a dust allergy or you’re just very house proud, I wouldn’t do it. The technique I learnt at Penelope Davis’s workshop using an anti-slip mat for the backing was much better than using hessian, in terms of dust. I just can’t believe how much fabric it took though. Thankfully, my husband gets through lots of sweatshirts – the benefit of working over a longer period of time, you get to collect more clothes and remnants. I just hope the dog doesn’t take a fancy to it. He loves all of my handmade rugs but this one will malt forever!
An enjoyable Saturday was spent with Alice Hume at her wonderful Hotwalls Studio in Portsmouth. If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I’ve dabbled with weaving, even exhibited some with TRAC’s Line of Flight and the latest Ryde Sands weaves. But there is no substitute for learning a technique properly with an expert. Alice patiently guided us through the whole process of threading the handloom, weaving the sumac and weaving the pattern. I learnt how to integrate 2 and even 3 colours along the line and how to tie tassels properly.
Alice incorporates copper into her tapestry weaving and uses recycled denim too – I have plenty of that I could experiment with! I also admire her floor loom work – it isn’t just a piece of fabric, it has texture and echoes her tapestry weaving style. People travel from all over the South to Alice’s workshops and I can see why. You can even buy a workshop gift voucher for a friend. I think I will try her Macrame workshop next.
Here’s what I accomplished in a day: