Monthly Archives: March 2016

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.

Seaton Sluice Surprise

Sometimes you find something surprising almost on the doorstep! Often walking across the beach at Seaton Sluice, I’d look up to the headland and think ‘That looks almost like Brittany – whitewashed buildings on the headland, seas all round’ and wonder whether it was worth exploring. One evening early last Summer, we finally went along for a look – it was fabulous – the sun was setting over the hills as we followed footpaths over the grassy headland, stumbling across crazy driftwood and flotsam sculptures and discovering the tiny Watch Tower museum. We walked around the headland and back along the riverside before a well earned (!) pint at the pub (the biggest white building).

Inside the pub we found information about the history of the area – 13th century salt manufacture and 18th century bottle works, and learnt that what we thought was a river passage was man made! The Cut had been blasted out in the 18th century to make a better entry to the harbour for bigger boats to take coal and salt, south to London.

It was so lovely that we went back the next morning with a breakfast picnic of hot (veggie) sausage sarnies, a flask of tea and the children! Then we discovered the next bay along  Collywell Bay, with fantastic rock structures standing proud on the beach.

This weekend adventure inspired me to get sketching, and the first result can be seen above. It is created with hand dyed fabric, appliqued and stitched to capture the texture and detail of the scenery. I’ve called it Spring Tide – Seaton and it’ll be on view at Gallery 45 in Felton from this Saturday, 5th March. I’ll be at the gallery the following Saturday for their Meet the Maker event when I’m promised there’ll be tea and cake!

In the meantime, I’ll be getting on with that commission…..

My Journey continues

Well, that was a busy month of workshops. There is now a huge stash of gorgeously coloured fabric in my work room, awaiting transformation into the triptych for the church.

The Lab Youth Group got to try fabric painting. The aim was the same as for the spiral dyeing workshops – using colour to represent ideas and emotions linked to each participant’s ‘Journey’ to and with the group. By working with thickened dye they could also use shapes and mark making to further explore their ideas.

All in one short session so there was time to make (and eat) pancakes too!

 

Young people from Heaton Manor also got to try their skills at fabric painting. Beautiful mark making and very thoughtful comments about how colour could show our moods and emotions. Such a wide variety of images emerging during the afternoon session.

Since the workshops finished I’ve been busy thinking about the writing from all the groups and the colours created in the fabric workshops. Now I’ve got ideas in my sketchbook so its time for me to get creating….