Tag Archives: craft

Wild flowers and strange times

It’s been a day of getting on with things – workshops to prepare and exhibition dates looming – but all with the threat of postponement or cancellation as the Corvid19 virus swirls around the globe.

I read a very lovely article by someone who has to stay home most of the time for health reasons, advisng on good practice for people new to self isolation or working from home. My big tip after a stressful weekend is to limit news and social media viewing – so I can get on with making rather than fretting! ( Bimblings by Josie George if you’re interested)

So today I have got all ready for a workshop with 60 children tomorrow (I know- right!) We’re going to be silk painting lovely, colourful scenes that the children have designed. So that’s 60 frames filled with silk, 30 pipettes filled with gutta, silk paints packed, palettes and fine brushes packed, samples made and some of my work packed because I’m also going to do a short presentation to the whole school about my work as an artist – they’re on a two week Arts focus – lovely to see!

This afternoon I’ve been hand stitching different elements of my next (Extended) Urban Efflorescence piece – this is one of the words I’m including

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and of course it took me right back to thinking about the crazy ongoing situation where people maybe aren’t thinking about sharing enough as they stockpile toilet paper and bread flour! Wouldn’t it be lovely if we came out of this crazy period as expert bakers! I like the idea of the nation spending their time in self isolation learning the magic of sour dough and plaited loaves! My street has set up a Whatsapp group so we can help each other out if necessary – I’m sure baking tips will soon be flying about but today’s chat was mainly about whether you cn buy a guillotine in Lidl and who in the street might be up for knitting by said guillotine! Needless to say – I’ve had to mute the conversation so I can get on with some work!

Here’s another word that seems relevant  – trying to be content with the shrinking focus of things, I have lots of books to read, sketchbooks to fill and threads to use so that will keep me content!

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We’ve had to postpone a pretty big event we’d planned for the weekend so we’re trying to remain content with the knowledge that it is just a postponement and not a cancellation – at least I’ve got more time to finish the bunting I’ve been making!

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The work I do in hospitals is being postponed too, understandably hospitals are trying to reduce footfall where possible. So, I’m going to post some project ideas on the Facebook page for the organisation I work for – why don’t you bob over and take a look? Its @RoomforYouArtsinHealth you never know, there might be something you’d like to share or have a go at making to keep you contented as we go through this strange time 🙂

 

Do Your Own Thing..

Tuesday was such a lovely day! My first public workshop of 2020 – held at the lovely Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead.

I started out early so I could squeeze in my regular Tuesday swim before the workshop and managed a kilometre even though I forgot my goggles 🥽- tried swimming with my eyes shut NOT a good idea when you’re swimming in lanes !

The workshop was designed to share methods to help develop unique and personal approaches to creating art – in textiles or other media. First, a talk about how looking at other artists work can help us to make progress with our own work. Then some practical drawing exercises.

Working with a lovely group,I talked about what is ‘Critical for Creativity’ using a methodology I learnt in my first teaching post  – last century!!  We explored how to follow up when a piece of art catches our attention, using a bit of detective work to find out more about artwork and artist – no stalking! I used an example from my own experience – talking about how my love of Vincent van Gogh’s work influenced the creation of  my piece ‘Shingle and Stars’

Shingle and Stars

Shingle and Stars, the influence of Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Having talked through how to analyse an artwork – and spend longer than 15 seconds looking  at it! We went through to the gallery and everyone chose a piece of work that appealed to then to try the methodology themselves. I then talked a little more about how I continue to use this methodology and how it helps me to develop as an artist – stressing the importance of continuing to ‘feed’ ones creativity and imagination by learning from other artists. I shared the impact that more recent art ‘crushes’ have had on my own work such as Joan Eardley . The power and scale of her work has encouraged me to work bigger, and her use of collage encourages me in my choice of processes.

Then it was time to tackle drawing – now I know from my experience with students and workshop participants that those who stitch often say they can not draw! But I want to encourage drawing as a way of developing ideas, experimenting and… enjoying the process! So, I put together a series of tasks that would encourage the group to engage with their chosen subject matter and think about what exactly they needed to get from a drawing.

We started by working very quickly, with a range of media and NO Rubbers! When there is only a minute to draw, what do you focus on? The form, the texture? Mark making? Working on sketches for a minute or two can be surprising – it’s amazing how much information you can capture and, as you’ve only spent 60 seconds you don’t feel that pressure for it to be ‘good’ or look ‘right’. I encourage participants to make notes about the drawing experience as we go on …. what works, how it feels, what ideas pop into their heads whilst doing the drawing, the process of drawing can help to clarify the ideas of the artwork to come.

We finished the afternoon with a more extended piece – but drawing using collage – a process that really helps me in my applique and free motion embroidery work.

As with any workshop – I wouldn’t ask participants to do anything I haven’t done myself! So here is one of my 5 minute sketches – and the developing textile work. Once again, the magic of drawing has helped me extend the ideas I have for a piece of work and set me off down another creative pathway…lets see where this one leads to!

Weeds

A continuous line drawing – 5 minutes

 

Weeds

Weeds transferred to soluble film and ready to stitch

Weeds - stitched

Free motion embroidery and applique ready to wash off

I think that I will do several fragments in this way to add further layers to my Urban Efflorescence pieces. I only hope the participants got as much out of the workshop as I did!

I will be running more workshops this year, at the Shipley and independantly, please get in touch if you’d be interested in booking a workshop for your group – and head over to my workshop page for upcoming events!

 

 

British Craft Trade Fair 2017

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Drowning in a sea of bubblewrap as I get everything wrapped up ready to take down to Harrogate on Saturday! I’ve spent an enjoyable day deciding on just how I want to display everything. Pleasantly surprised to discover that I do have enough work to fill my 2 x 1 m shell space. I know this because I mocked up the show in my, almost, 2 x 1 m bay window !!

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There’ll be some jiggling and adjusting but I’ve got an idea now, and in the shell space I’ll have a bit more height so things will have a bit of breathing space. I’m glad I didn’t go for the additional storage unit – there’s no room!!

I did spend/waste quite a lot of time finding the fishing line that I use to find work – why did it take so long to find? Because it was in my exhibition tool kit/vanity case – where it was meant to be but obviously the LAST place I looked for it!

The wholesale price lists, labels and bio are typed up, printed off and mounted on foam board. I’ve still got a whole day to finalise things so I’m feeling quite calm – which feels quite odd!

I’m very grateful to Heaton Baptist Church for the loan of one third of the ‘My Journey’ triptych, and to St Bede’s Palliative Care Unit for the loan of one third of their triptych. I wanted to show community projects alongside my fine art textiles work, and that Heaton Map is just too darn big! (All of these pieces can be found in earlier blog posts).

The rest of the show will be made of recent work and a few old favourites, as I want to give a flavour of everything that I do.

So now its time to pack the tool kit, the step ladders and my trusty flask, and some smart clothes!

I’ll try and do an update whilst I’m at the show..see you in a few days!

Grand Designs Workshop

One of the great things about being a textile artist is being able to share my passion for creativity with others, I offer a range of workshops and talks that can be tailored to meet the needs of all ages and abilities.

I’ve just spent a lovely couple of days in North Yorkshire.  The fabulous Snape Textile Group invited me down to teach my workshop on making 3D beach huts and garden sheds.

 

The village itself is gorgeous  – reached via an avenue of lime trees with a carpet of snowdrops and aconites.The village hall, right in the centre of the village, was a perfect venue.

Lots of room to spread out and the newly refurbished kitchen meant hot food and plenty of cuppas were available – big thanks to Mary and Sarah! Having lunch together was a great way to find out more about the group’s interests – even if it did go a bit off topic sometimes (murder and mayhem with your apple sponge anyone!!)

So working with a group of 12 each day we got cracking on converting old tin cans into ‘des res’ on a miniature scale.

The main elements of these pieces are the building (obviously!) the side panel that wraps around the tin and the ‘ground’ that the building sits on. its important to have a good plan of what the finished piece will look like , so that each of the elements will harmonise and make a complimentary whole. Other than that, its up to the maker as to what the finished item will look like – a beach retreat? a gardener’s hide away? There’s lots of fun to be had working out how to make miniature features to perfect the scene – this time I shared top tips for making bunting…and cabbages!

It was lovely to see everyone get stuck in and really engage with the project. I’d sent down a materials list prior to the workshop and I always bring a lot of supplies to help people along, so the hall was soon a colourful hub full of beads, threads, fabrics and tins! (Frist job; check that the templates fit around your chosen tin – if not – adapt them!)

It is easiest to customise the building before it is constructed, so people added doors and windows, embroidered flowers and made bunting. Similarly, the roof can be one piece of fabric, or can be layered with tiles and finished with rick rack or ribbon. Decisions, decisions!!

 

The side panel wraps around the tin lets you ‘set the scene’ of the building, this weekend we had pebbles, flower gardens, fish and boats decorating the surfaces.

After a full day of stitching and constructing we had some very nearly complete Grand Designs, the plan is that the group will get their pieces completed for their annual show at the end of August…I can’t wait to see the final results!

 

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!

 

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. Then below that, there’s Chillingham Road, with a lovely red fire engine  racing 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!

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  sells 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.  The 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  just keep drawing ’til the sunny spell we’re having here is over though!