Category Archives: craft workshops

Something Fishy & All things Holy (T)!


Getting ready for tomorrow’s workshops- blanks cut and painted ready for participants to add their creativity! 

Some of the demonstration pieces will be for sale at the Holy T Art Fair – to raise funds for the project. See you there 23/24 September!!


And this view of Holy Isle should be framed and ready to go too! 

Summer Time and the stitching is…

The stitching is mostly being fitted around the daughters on school holiday ­čÖé

We all went to the Last Shift Banner picnic on Saturday afternoon. It was great to see the school banner on display with its bigger brothers and sisters from local collieries!

The picnic was in full swing when we got there, with brass band, folk singing, rapper dancing and shuggy boats. A wonderful way to finish off the festival.

So now its time to get on and develop new work for Autumn shows and exhibitions. I’m really taken with the idea of doing some pieces based on hedgerow flowers. Has anyone else noticed how beautiful, and prolific, the wildflowers are this year? It would be lovely to capture them in stitch and cloth. I’ve been sketching and photographing for a while so I think its time to start experimenting now. Perhaps with soluble fabric as I think the spaces and layers between the plants are important.

These lovely flowers are on the bike route into town, a great border between the bike and foot paths!

I’ve had some time out to see the textiles art that local branches of the Embroiderers’ Guild have displayed to celebrate Capability Brown’s 300th birthday. The teatowel display at Gibside looked gorgeous, blowing in the breeze in the walled garden. There are more pieces on display in the chapel, and another collection at Wallington too. Well done to all my friends taking part in this – we had fun spotting all your work!

 

The Last Shift – all done!

I have so enjoyed  this project, meeting and working with the children at the Primary School and using their designs to complete the banner.

Last Shift Finished

So now you can see how it has all fitted together, I’ll have to add a picture of the reverse but this is the front. There was a lovely ‘Oooh’ from the children and visitors when the banner was unveiled at school last Thursday.

It’s always nerve wracking to take in a finished piece – will they/ won’t they like it?? Its safe to say I was a bit anxious as I drove over to the school, luckily, I think this was a hit!

The central panel is created from those details I shared in my last post, making a stylised view of Greenside and it’s Colliery past. I wanted to use features of the traditional banners, so the children’s block prints form strong contrasting borders and the school name is on a scroll at the top. The panel that shows ‘Today’s Children’ reads ‘Tomorrow’s Future’ on the reverse – a phrase found on the reverse of the updated Greenside colliery banner.

The back is covered in the block prints made by Key Stage 3 classes, arranged in stripes that link to the striped brickwork in the Miners’ Cottages in the village.

All of the children’s prints have been included – if they are not on the main banner then they are stitched like prayer flags to the streamers that hang from the sides. This banner truly represents all of the children in school!

The banner will get its first official outing at The Last Shift Picnic next Saturday, 23rd July. I hope the rest of the village like it as much as the children and teachers!

Many thanks to the Banner Tales team and Greenside Primary School for giving me the opportunity to work on this lovely community project!

 

The Last Shift

Construction begins…

All the workshops are done, so now it’s time to transform piles of print and spiral dyed fabric into a brilliant banner.


I’ve dyed the background fabric and the ribbon streamers.


All the scroll text is cut out. I cut the letters with bondaweb so they’ll stay in position when I stitch them.

The back panel has had its ‘first fix’ with postcard prints from years 3-6. I’ve used a brick wall pattern with stripes of different colours to echo the stripey brickwork in Greenside miners’ cottages.


This will make the back of the banner visually interesting as the children march along the street.

I’m off to do hospital workshops tomorrow – a silk painted sea, amongst other things …so more updates on Thursday ­čśŐ

Screen Printing from scratch

screen made from old frame and net curtain!

For the next stage of ‘The Last Shift’ banner project, I’m going to ask the children to screen print dates from the era that Greenside Colliery was open. 

Screen printing can be very technical and complex…or it can be an improvisation challenge- we’re going for the latter!

We’ll be using screens made from old picture frames and net curtain. I trialled two different nets that were in my fabric stash (people give me all sorts of things that will get used one day!)  I’ve stretched most of the frames with the finer net but will use the coarser fabric for the 1950’s design because I think it will work better with that text (B movie horror font!) 


  I’m using Speedball screen painting fluids to make the screens.

I tested out the nets using stencils made from kitchen paper- the plasticised surface makes it stick to the screen so it’s a great temporary stencil. You can cut or tear the kitchen paper to make stencils but they’ll only last for a couple of prints. 


With the speedball process – blue screen drawing fluid is used to draw the design onto the screen.

First I traced the design onto the screen. Then I painted it out with the blue drawing fluid. 


This needs to dry completely.


Then the screen filler is spread over the entire surface of the screen and left to dry. 

The Last Shift begins…

Safely back from the excitements of Essex and Carters Steam Fair (more to follow soon!) Monday was the first day of the ‘Last Shift Project’ to make a primary school banner – and what a busy day it was!

Working with toddlers (and their grown ups!), two nursery classes and a reception class, we ‘spiral dyed’ the fabric that will be used to make the banner. I wanted to use spiral dyeing as it produces similar results to Tie Dye -without the need for knots!

As the project is inspired by the time span of the Greenside Pit – from 1906 to 1966, the spiral dyeing linked to the Sixties. I’ll be linking print and design ideas to the other decades, with the help of older children in the school.

On arrival at school I quickly got set up in the hall and added the auxiliaries to the dye powders in the bottles. The dye ┬ábecomes ‘active’ once┬áthe chemical water and washing soda┬ásolutions are added. So for best results the dyes need to be used on the day they’re mixed. Trying to use them a day or two later results in faded colours.

Dye bottles

Ready to add the auxiliaries

Spiral dyeing is a great project to do with little ones as once the dye is mixed in sports cap bottles the children just have to choose colours and add a few drops to the fabric spirals.

I was kept busy ‘spiralling’ the pieces of white cotton throughout the day, I think there are over sixty of them! ┬áBut the hardest task was getting little hands into adult sized vinyl gloves! We managed it though, everyone wore gloves and aprons and, as far as I know (!) most of the children kept their hands, and uniforms, free of dye!

Once the children had finished adding the dye to their pieces of cloth, the spirals were carefully placed in clear plastic bags and kept in a plastic crate. The dye needs to ‘cure’ in the fabric for about 24 hours before washing off to ensure bright colours – its also a good idea to prewash the fabric to remove any industrial finish that might impede the uptake of the dye and then to soak the fabric┬áin chemical water before adding the dye. The chemical water helps the fabric stay damp for longer, so the dyes have more time to react with the fabric fibres.

I took all of the fabrics back to my workshop and rinsed them off the following day.

As you can see its important to wear rubber gloves as quite a lot of dye comes off when the fabrics are rinsed. It’s always nerve wracking – will there be any colour left?? Will the spirals look exciting??

Well, take a look…

On the line

lots of different colours

Lovely colours

beautiful colour mixes

pegged out

sky blue pink!

All the squares will be ironed and then I’ll take them back to school next week so the children can see what they made. Then it’ll be time for designing and printing…after a few more days of sketchbook work for me!

 

All at Sea

Surging towards a market next Saturday 28th May ┬á– Newcastle ArtsFest organised by the Lovely Lesley! My ‘transport co-ordinator’ loves it because he gets to drive up to Gray’s Monument in Newcastle city centre! So, I’m busy finishing some new pieces and planning the set up. It’s always lovely to be in the centre of Toon, lots of people to chat too and lots of lovely artwork to admire – get yourselves there if you’re in the area!

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These two are awaiting their frames, the weather has turned a little stormy! I’ve been developing ideas with my hand dyed fabrics, trying to emphasise mood and texture.

Meanwhile, it’s all a bit shipshape at the Arts in Health project I work on too – this time its all about boats. Those owls we made are lovely but maybe a bit Autumnal? So I thought we could all sail away on a seaside theme over Summer, redoing our window display with a new installation.

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A sample driftwood boat

One relative on the Chemo’ ward kindly donated some old map books, so the pages are going to be repurposed as sails. I have sterilised lots of bits of driftwood and disassembled a roll of willow edging (Poundland !) ┬áSo this week we’ll be making driftwood boats to sail over the seven seas. Then we’ll add needle-felted lettering across the top of the scene and a silk painted ocean at the bottom. That should keep us all busy for a few weeks!

I’ll post more images as the project develops. (And if you want to know how to sterilise driftwood – you need to boil it in a very big pan for several hours, changing the water a few times too! Steamy!!)

 

 

 

Chilli Rd Proggy Rug Complete!

It seems to be a Spring time of finishing projects! The Chilli Road Proggy Rug project was commissioned a couple of years ago now, as part of the celebrations of the school’s 120th birthday!

The project is another triptych – even bigger than My Journey! My role was to work with the children to develop the design, to introduce children and parents to the craft of rug making and to oversee the development of the three panels – each of which is about 2m x 1m. The panels go around a column that juts out into the main school entrance corridor – the back of the old stove chimney! It is now a huggable wall feature!

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This is the top part of the panel, there’s the metro line heading out to the sea from Chilli’ Rd metro station.┬áThen below that, there’s Chillingham Road, with a lovely red fire engine ┬áracing towards the ‘Thunder Thursday’ canoeist.Below that are some more Heaton landmarks and then you get into our lovely parks, you can just see one of our regular ‘Proggers’ Helen the ace cake baker next to a tree on the left!

The brilliant Proggy team decided to get into the rug, as it were, so they pop up in scenes on this panel! Well done to Della, Heather, Helen, Ingrid, Jude, Kate and Meera for their hard work on this final panel. Can you guess who’s who in the following images – and yes – they did me too!

 

Now all that’s left to do is get it fixed to the wall next to the others! Luckily that’s not my job!

Now I’m off to prepare driftwood boats whilst its sunny – an artist’s life is never dull!

Oh My Giddy Aunt!

Well, there I was collaging a new bit of sky…bluer than it is outside at the moment, when I paused to check my emails only to find this…

Details

I know it doesn’t take much to distract me but…!

So, a great big thank you to everyone who voted for me and to the judges for appreciating the importance of personal and community making in my work.

You can read the Judge’s comments about my work┬áHERE

And now I’m in need of a celebratory cup of tea!

(Then I’ll go and finish that sky – got to be ready with new work for the LoveArtNorthEast Spring Art Fest┬áat the end of May!)

Silk Painting Spring Theme

A different sort of project! Working on the theme of insects, the group I work with on Wednesday have been using silk paints to create beautifully coloured insects in circular motifs. Why circles? Well, I’m doing a bit of up-cycling…a certain Swedish store ┬ásells a scarf tidy, I found one in a charity shop and disassembled it. This gave me a lot of string and a whole load of plastic rings. Haven’t thought of a use for the string… yet, but the rings are going to be used to frame these insects – are you with me so far?

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Wise birds Wise Words 2016

Remember these guts? The Wise Birds I posted about a little while ago? Well, there’s another window next to them that’s looking a little bare. So the insect display is going to go up there. ┬áThe idea is that the insects will all be flying around a central panel (see below) showing a Spring time garden. The panel is all ready for the colour to be applied. It’s a relaxing way to pass the time whilst receiving treatment – and as several people can work around the table at once its a good way to encourage peer support.

I’ll post more images when it’s all finished.

It’s been a nice change from stitching for me too! Although, you know what…I am almost ready to get back on the machine – maybe I’ll ┬ájust keep drawing ’til the sunny spell we’re having here is over though!