Category Archives: embroidery

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!

 

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