Category Archives: commission

My Journey – Unveiled

Today saw the first unveiling of the triptych. It was such a lovely event. As the work was unveiled a very strong ‘Ooh’ echoed around the room. Everyone seemed to be delighted with how the work had developed and it was great to be able to talk with people about their responses to the work – and to share in person the ideas and processes behind its development.

So now I have to think about what to do next! I have plans (of course!) and I’m itching to start some new work. After the glories of the morning, the afternoon has been spent doing admin’. I’ve applied to the Great North Art Show that takes place in Ripon Cathedral in September. Four and a half months away – but seeing how fast the first few months of 2016 have slipped by…I’d better get motoring on that machine again!

I’m going to be doing a short talk about the importance of colour in my work later this week too – Jesmond Library is the venue, this Thursday from 6pm. I’ll be joined by two lovely talented artists Ailsa Miller and Cath Hodson. The evening will be hosted by the fabulous Lesley McNish the mastermind behind the Loveartnortheast Art Markets. So pop along if you would like to find out more about colour in art!

Time to dig out those sketchbooks now!

My Journey – Journey’s End

That’s it. I have stitched my last stitch, ends tied in, loose threads trimmed. Photos taken.

All of a sudden it’s done…and I feel quite bereft.

(Then I remember the aching arms and the workroom that really needs tidying.)

My last job is to take it to the framer’s tomorrow. Anxious thoughts..will it stretch well over the frames. Will the three pieces ‘marry up’ as I intend them to? Will there be any last minute ‘touch up’ jobs to do?

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There’s been some choppy waters – broken needles, manipulating large pieces of fabric through the small space of a sewing machine, time speeding by…aching limbs after stitching for hours on end, sometimes I felt it would overcome me but I kept on going

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Until finally, this week has seen me speeding towards the conclusion of more than three months of workshops, planning, drawing and stitching.

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And then all of a sudden, the harbour is in sight, Journey’s End indeed.

I’ve learnt so much through this project, stretching myself as an artist , working around issues of size and scale, incorporating other people’s stories into one theme, planning and delivering everything to a deadline. It has been a joyous task to work on, thank you everyone for the opportunity.

But now its time to move on, the April showers are holding back and I’m off to enjoy the sunshine. The triptych will be unveiled later this month and then I’ll write about the meaning behind the imagery, with photos of it in situ at Heaton Baptist Church.

Now, I think I left my family somewhere under a pile of fabric! Better go and find them!

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My Journey – some final details

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Oops more casualties!! Good job I got all those extra needles delivered – I haven’t quite got through them all today but the soil in the garden  section was definitely in need of some fine raking!

I said I was going to only let you see small sections now until its all complete – but I thought I’d give you a sneak peek…

…of the backs!

It’s an opportunity to see all the different stitch marks anyway! That’s the right hand panel on the left (!) and the centre panel on the right!

There is a tiny amount of machine stitching left to do – I want to add some shading to the houses in the central panel and I’ve got to add in the bunting , tonight I’ll be tying off all the threads I’ve not done so far and adding a little bit of hand stitch to the garden on the right hand panel.

Better get the daylight lamp ready for action!

 

 

My Journey – almost there!

It’s been a day of stitching – eight hours at the machine today – anyone know a good masseuse??

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New needles and metallics have arrived! Needle breakages won’t be a problem now!

All of the sea is now stitched, I’ve really enjoyed working on it, building ripples and waves into the surface to give a sense of movement to the work. I’ve got two of the three panels hanging up together in the studio whilst I work on the third – sometimes, out of the corner of my eye, I think I see the waves rolling in – but maybe that’s the effects of a long day stitching!

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This section is on the final panel, the last bit of the sea – as it calms down and wends its way around the headland. I’ll add some of the metallic threads tomorrow, to show sunlight glistening on the waves.

There’s a bit more to do on the garden – makes a change to be doing greens not blues! You’ll see that I’ve been changing the direction of stitch to differentiate between surfaces – water, sand, bushes.

I was certainly very glad to get to the end of the sea wall this morning – and no more broken needles!

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Here, you can see the garden fence going in, with zigzag stitch used on the grass in front of it. Zigzag still works when doing free machine embroidery and its possible to stretch and curve the zigzag to create texture effects.

Time to do some shoulder and neck stretches now – ready for the home straight tomorrow!

 

 

My Journey – building a town

Another busy day stitching – you can tell because the fabric piles aren’t quite so neat and tidy today!

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I paid a visit to the local library this week and was delighted to discover a copy of ‘Threads – The Delicate Life of John Craske’ by Julia Blackburn.  The book tells the story of the author’s investigations into the life and work of Craske, crippled by a mysterious illness, he could no longer work as a fisherman/ fishmonger and turned to painting and, later, embroidery. His work was shown in London in the early part of the twentieth century but unlike Alfred Wallis, the painter fisherman of St Ives, he slipped out of view until this book was published last year. Intrigued by his story and by Blackburn’s prose I brought the book home and began to read – one passage caught me up short, it seems to capture some of the meaning I am trying to show in our project – My Journey

‘All these fragile vessels: tossed by waves and sometimes almost engulfed by them, out there in the vastness of the ocean. Some were pinpointed by the angled glare of a lighthouse like the eye of God staring straight at them, others had smoke billowing from their funnels as they tried to  plough a way through a storm. I had the sense at once that it was all true: the tilt of a boat in relation to the swell of the waves and the strength of the wind; the rigging, the billowing of the sails.’

Julia Blackburn Threads Ch 3 pg 11 (published 2015 Jonathan Cape)

I don’t credit myself with a fisherman’s knowledge of boats and I hope our lighthouse will seem more welcoming rather than glaring – but I did feel a connection as I read these words. (You’ll have to wait until I’ve finished the book and returned it to the library if you want to read on!)

I’ve been working on the town and the light house this week. The reason the fabrics are so muddled is because I’ve been searching for pieces to become rooftops – with slate or terracotta tiles, walls – either painted or brick, and stone for the lighthouse. So there’s been a lot of rummaging, ripping and snipping going on!

I haven’t finished working on the lighthouse yet – I’ll go back and add further detail later on – but it has got some neighbours now…

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Larger pieces of fabric used to construct the buildings

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Checking how these two panels link together

I’d better update the list of fabrics I’ve included so far!

Faye, Gill & Harry, Prathiba, Hannah & Reggie, Murray, Alie, Louise, Rachel & Anna, Emer & Harry , Louise, Sarah W, Louise B, Barathi, Donna J, Bethan, Donna, Caz, Anne & Martha, Louise D, Mel C, Beth, Kemmy & Dilan, Viveka… Plus pieces from the LAB and Heaton Manor sessions – sorry I didn’t stitch your names onto the pieces at the time!

Don’t worry if you’ve not been mentioned – I’ve got a lot of blues and greens saved up for the seas!

I’ll be back soon!

Donna

 

 

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!

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!