Tag Archives: artwork

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  becomes ‘active’ once the chemical water and washing soda solutions 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!  But 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 in 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!

 

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!

 

New Beginning and a Sculpture Garden

What to do on a cold, grey Bank Holiday? I know – Start preparing for a new community project!

I’ve been commissioned to produce a banner with the children of a primary school. The banner will be in the style of a Miners Banner as the village is celebrating 50 years since the closure of the village pit – the main mine having been open for 50 years from 1906 to 1966. The banner must be of a size that the children can manage to carry and the idea is to celebrate life in a pit village, rather than the work of the pit itself.

Measuring dyes

Measuring chemicals

 

Dye bottles

Measuring chemicals

So the dyes are ready, the fixing solutions are mixed and the fabric squares are prepared. The youngest children in the school are going to colour the fabrics that we’ll be using, then I’m aiming to use different print processes with the older children.

Each group will have a different decade as the theme for their work – 1906, 1916,1926,1936,1946,1956 and 1966. They’ll look at the culture of each decade and let that influence their ideas. So, I’m busy sourcing music, fashion and art from each era to get them thinking!

Its not all work though! Yesterday we took some time out to visit Cheeseburn Sculpture Garden. It is a beautiful place. Originally a farm linked to Hexham Priory it now has gorgeous gardens with sculpures placed throughout. Wandering through flower gardens, walled gardens and woodland gardens you come across stunning sculptures and sound installations.

These two can be found on the edge of the woodland garden. Some of our party found novel ways of viewing the sculptures…

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I was overcome with Wisteria envy…

Maybe one day my wisteria will achieve such profusion!

Alongside the sculptures and beautiful gardens there are lots of curious and intriguing objects to discover in ancient outhouses and dusty corners…

Rusted metal and moss strewn surfaces all setting creative ideas going…just look at these rusty old bellows…

I love the colour and those strong circles contrasting with that crumbling wood. Think I may have to return with a sketchbook – do check the website though because the Sculpture Garden is only open for a few weekends each year – and yes they do a lovely cup of tea and slice of cake!

All at Sea

Surging towards a market next Saturday 28th May  – 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 !)  So 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!!)

 

 

 

Just a few ideas…

After my little jaunt up the coast, I’ve been trying out ideas in my sketchbook – I brought a kelp root back from the beach and I must get it sketched because to be honest its a bit stinky!

One reason I’m not doing so many markets at the moment is because I want to develop some new work (the other reason being the My Journey project I’m also documenting in this blog.) I have a feeling that these new pieces might get quite big, in comparison to other work I’ve been doing recently. So, I’m trying out compositions, colours and processes in my sketchbook. I’m trying to practice what I preach – don’t settle for the first idea, do get out and draw on location, play and experiment. Often, I find, that deadlines mean I skimp on some of these – so I’m giving myself a bit of time to get really stuck in to the research. I’ve got two new boards on my Pinterest site Joan Eardley and Anne Redpath. I’m fascinated by how they use paint and want to try their sort of approach but with  fabric and stitch.

(c) Anne Morrison; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Summer Grasses & Barley on the Clifftop Joan Eardley c1962

There’s so much life and energy in this painting. I love the layers, the marks and the use of colour. I think that I’m moving towards this in my own work as I develop themes and ideas.

Yesterday was such a beautiful Spring day, sunshine with some warmth! (Quite rare in the North of England at the moment!) so I treated myself to an afternoon in the garden with my sketch book. Just working on capturing the flowers that are starting to bloom. There are Bluebells still tightly clenched in buds and Magnolia Stellata starting to unfurl. Beautiful shapes and colour changes that are so subtle. I found out the Bluebells are also known as Endymion, after the youth put into an eternal sleep by the Greek Moon goddess Selene. I love these stories of how names arise, I store them in the ideas cupboard in my brain ready to use when I’m trying to think of interesting titles for my work. But is ‘Land of Endymion’ a bit too romantic for a scene from my garden or the local park?!

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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 -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!)