Category Archives: embroidery

Fabulous Funfair

I am so excited to be finally paying a visit to the fabulous Carters Steam Fair in June. Given my love of funfairs and vintage style how could i not be drawn to this! I’ll certainly have my sketchbook and camera prepared  as I experience rides like these.

Carters Chair o planeCarters galloper-picCarters Steam yachts-pic

I’ve already stitched some pieces inspired by funfairs, particularly the Hoppings here in Newcastle. I used to visit the funfairs at Scarborough and Blackpool as inspiration for my final degree show back in the day too!

I’m hoping I can put a new sketchbook full of ideas together from my trip to the wonderful Carters Steam Fair. Here’s hoping for sunny weather to capture all those beautiful colours and shining surfaces!

 

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 HERE

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 at the end of May!)

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

 

 

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!)