Monthly Archives: March 2016

My Journey -green hills and chimney pots

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This is what I’ve been working on today – the top section of the third panel and look…! The first buildings are appearing!  I should also mention that yes, I really did need three different pairs of scissors – little silver ones for threads, purple handled ones for cutting papers, black shears for FABRIC ONLY..sorry I didn’t mean to shout but woe betide anyone who uses the fabric shears for anything other than cloth!!

The sky now links across all three panels and so do the green hills. So that meant I could move on to the first buildings (anyone recognise that ruined windmill? I thought we needed a local landmark – and it was fascinating to read about this and the lost ‘Millionaires Row of Heaton !)

A lot of the detail in the triptych will come from the way I lay down the fabric pieces – in the sky, the blues are fairly horizontal, whereas the clouds tend to curve around. The grassy hills have the pieces running in a sort of diagonal curve to show the shape of the hill. The trees are treated a bit more like the clouds, with smaller pieces placed in curved or upright lines to show the form of the trees. I also stitch differently over the different surfaces.

In the first of these three pictures, you can see that I’ve used some zigzag stitches on the grassy area and long straight lines in brown tones on the path.

The middle picture shows the windmill with bushes behind it, the foliage was stitched down first, with looping stitches to represent the leaves and direction of growth, Then I added the windmill structure, using straight stitch to hold down the pieces and a very small zigzag to thicken up the window frame and door arch.  In this ‘first fix’ to use builders’ terms (well, I am adding buildings!) I don’t put in too much detail, just enough to show what each section is. As each panel gets ‘filled in’ with the colour pieces, I will go back and work into them more, using machine and hand stitching to add detail and give a sense of depth – more detail in the foreground.

I need to work more on the path and road in this panel and the left hand one, at the moment I’m thinking that they stick out a little too much, so it looks like road works tomorrow – and the small matter of a lighthouse to construct!

Until the next time…:) ( and I’ll update the list of names as to who’s fabric has been used too!)

Acres of blue sky…

It was such a lovely morning today, so before starting to stitch I went for a walk with a friend in the sunshine (observing blue sky for research😊) Lots of chat, fresh air, exercise and a cappuccino set me up nicely for a day in the attic – and we saw one of these too –  

  a tree creeper doing what it does best!

I had to decide how to work on the three pieces before I started work this morning – would I continue working down the first panel to get all the colours blocked in before adding further stitch detail? Or  should I complete all of the sky across the three sections before continuing to work across all three panels to block in the colours? 

Weighing sense of completion, against colour cohesion, I went for the latter – it would have been terrible to run out of the turquoise pieces I’m using in the sky because I’d used it some where else! 

So, sew 😄 several hours later the sky is all ‘blued’. 

  
I wouldn’t like to count the number of small patches I’ve ironed and stitched into place today – but I do now have a new stitching technique- the panel is so big I’ve been standing up to machine it! 

 
I think I made the right choice as this is all that’s left of two particularly ‘sky-ish’ spiral dyed pieces!

  
I’m off to Gallery 45 in Felton tomorrow for the Meet The Maker event – so if you fancy a trip to the countryside – and some lovely cake😄 come along and say hello!

  
See you soon!

Recent Work now on display

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One of my freelance roles involves working on Arts in Health projects. These three pieces are from one project I’m involved in. These three applique panels show the philosophy of  hospice care. Patients and staff were involved in choosing the colours for the words. They chose words with resonance to themselves and selected a colour for it.

It was quite a task to get them hung! Measuring the gaps, keeping them level AND getting to grips with concealed hanging devices! But we managed it in the end.

The pieces bring a fabulous splash of colour to a busy part of the unit and will be seen by staff, patients and visitors as they move through the building.

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Its lovely the way the colours link through to the tall piece further along the corridor created by other artists on the project too.

 

My Journey – storm clouds gathering!

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This is the first panel of the triptych under the needle! This is an upside down view of the storm clouds at the very edge of the piece.

It has been great to finally start stitching – definitely prefer this to all that measuring and crawling around on the floor!

To create the image, I select the colours from the spiral dyed and painted fabric, then tear them into small strips and place them in the right parts of the design. The plain white base fabric is covered with a fusible web – this means that I can see the outline of the design through it and, once the colour pieces are in place, I iron them so that they fix to the fusible web. this means they stay in position without the need for pinning or tacking.

I work on smallish sections because, otherwise, the manoeuvering  of fabric through the sewing machine can make some of the fused pieces fall off – very frustrating! (Can you tell I worked this out through experience?!) I  straight stitch with the machine set for freestyle embroidery, so I can go back and forth along the fabric pieces to secure them. Once they’re stitched in place I move on to the next section and repeat the process. Then, when an area is complete – the sky say, or the fields, I’ll work over it with more machine or hand stitching to add detail. On the clouds in the picture above you can see I’m starting to add some definition. I’m trying to create a squally shower effect at the bottom edge of the darker clouds.

So far I’ve included fabric from the pieces dyed by the following – Faye, Jill & Harry, Alie, Louise (mon), Prathiba, Rachel & Anna, Mumay, Emer & Harry, Louise (tues),Sarah W, Linda, Hannah & Reggie, Sue & Ted and two of the girls from Heaton Manor ! I’m not sure if you’ll be able to spot your colours but I’m going to try and keep a record of whose goes where!

I’m looking forward to starting the waves tomorrow – that will probably include some embroidery on soluble fabric to create the sea spray.

Be back soon!

Trace it and then trace it and trace it again..

Preparing any project is time consuming and I’m continually reminded of the adage ‘measure twice, cut once’ as I scale up the design for the triptych. It’s a 500% increase to get it to the right size, so there’s definitely lots of measuring going on!

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I scale up the design so that each piece is the finished size of 900 x 700 cm. These are on card and, once drawn out the image is strengthened with black marker (1)– this is so that I can see it through the vilene stiffener that I put behind larger pieces of work. The image is traced onto the vilene (2), then I cover the surface with fusible web and trace the image through onto the backing paper (3). The backing paper is carefully peeled away so that I can use it as a pattern later. Finally for this preparatory stage, I iron on the plain white fabric that will form the background to the piece – this takes a while as I want to keep the grain of the fabric as straight as possible so that when it is stretched onto a frame later it will behave nicely and not twist or pucker!

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Tracing onto Vilene

After taking a bit of break on Friday, I spent most of Saturday going through these preparations. Chuckling merrily to myself because I’d read an article online about how much healthier we’d be if we stood up more during our working day – how much more does standing up, kneeling down, crawling around the floor and stretching across a 210 mm wide design aid my health then? Being an artist is definitely not a sedentary job!

But hey, look – it was all worth it because here comes the sky!

I’ve been out for a blast of fresh air this morning – not so much blue sky but I did find some lovely images of boats and harbour walls up at Seaton Sluice to add to my research folder for these pieces..

Some of the waves out beyond the harbour will be good inspiration for the stormy sea section of the first panel too!

And you may recognise the Seaton Sluice headland in this smaller piece I’ve just completed – it’s on display in the Coast exhibiton at Gallery 45 in Felton this month

 

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My Journey – developing the triptych

The workshops are done, the fabrics are all prepared and I’ve looked at all the stories and words of participants relating to their own journeys. Ideas began spiralling through my mind. How to capture a sense of all these amazing people, and their beautiful stories. Some joyous, others complex, all fascinating and all leading to Heaton Baptist Church and on again.

I started to record words and images working quickly to capture ideas in my sketchbook…

I was thinking about many different people travelling towards the same destination, from different backgrounds. Colours are used to show all the people and to hint at their back stories – some bright, some muted. Some journeys are straight forward, others more twisting or troubled. I played around with abstract and representational images; spirals of colour, rough seas and safe harbours, birds in flight, plants growing, blossoming…

Lots of people talked of finding friendship, support and comfort within the groups they joined. Finding a purpose, growing in confidence and  gaining independence also came through strongly. I wanted to find ways to visually share these themes.

After discussion with others involved in the project, it was felt that the harbour scene might best get these stories across. Boats of different sizes and shapes sail across seas rough or calm. They all head towards a safe harbour, a town of friends, new and old. From there, the vessels move on, through calmer waters, refreshed and guided on their own routes.

Now I have to scale up the sketches, prepare the fabric ground and start stitching…

 

Gallery 45 Coast Exhibition

What a lovely way to spend the day! We started with a trip to the lovely Gallery 45 in Felton, Northumberland, so I could drop off some of my work for the ‘Coast’ exhibition that starts tomorrow. There are several artists taking part –   Fiona Carvell , Sarah O’DowdPeter Davidson , Linda Mumba , Deirdre Foster  so there’s  a wide range of media (and prices!), go along and take a look!

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After that, we just had to go and try out the menu at the Running Fox Bakery just down the road on the edge of the Coquet River. It was a breakfast brunchy delight and kept us fuelled all day! (I’d recommend the Foxless Scone – eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes on a cheese scone – yum!)

So, then we thought we’d go and seek inspiration – and burn off some calories – with a walk on the beach. There was a glimmer of light and a sliver of blue in the sky and we hit lucky – I’m beginning to believe that the sun always  shines on Alnmouth!

I love the way the long grasses frame the views on Northumbrian beaches. It was a bit too breezy to hang about, or paddle (!) but a brisk walk on a Northern beach in a Northerly wind does clear the head!

We only saw a few other folks, along with a lot of oyster catchers, a beautiful sight on a fabulous Friday.