My interview for the Whitley Bay Carnival Lockdown Art Market.
Developing a piece of work is a slow process, an idea percolates, sketches are drawn and samples made – although in my case the samples often end up being included in the finished piece – not so great for the sketchbook but it does advance the making process!
The idea for this hare has been percolating for a long time. Ever since I stitched one for a community project, I have wanted to incorporate a creature into one of my wildflower scenes. My daily dog walks during the current Covid 19 lockdown, are proving inspirational in that I’m noticing daily changes in the wildflowers, bushes and trees in the little local park – though I don’t think my lovely canine companion is going to appear in stitch!
He usually gets a treat when I stop to take a photograph, its the best way to keep him still for long enough to take a good shot!
This partial lockdown does mean that I’m not getting to see my beloved wild flower border, though it’s just a mile away from home but seeing wood anenomes, honesty, marsh marigolds, forget me nots and yarrow coming into bloom is lovely. And the number of birds I can see and hear is wonderful.
Anyway, I started with a sketch of this hare in the hedgerow and he has been growing daily over the last few weeks. Collaged from hand dyed fabrics onto pelet vilene and then stitched with free motion embroidery
Now he has been cut free from his background and is ready to fit into the hedgerow, I ve added a base layer of greens to a sheer chiffon ground – recycled fabric already printed with some leafy images.
I positioned the hare and used a contrast thread to mark his outline so that I could matched the stitched grasses to those in my initial drawing.
Now I’m starting to add in the wild flowers, the Lady’s Bedstraw has been stitched on soluble fabric, the knapweed and clover have been stitched onto more hand dyed fabric and then cut away from the base. The tricky bit is to decide when to stitch the wire hoop into the background fabric – I’m using an embroidery hoop whilst I stitch but it is not quite as big as the wire one, I’m just concerned that if I stitch it to the wire then it will be harder to machine stitch if I decide to add more detail – patience required at this stage!
Getting back to my daily dog walk – I started to stitch the red clover yesterday and this morning, saw some growing in the park – it’s as if I have conjured it up – or did my subconscious draw it to my mind on a previous walk?
New work is my focus, I’m applying for several, larger shows so I’ll need work to display (& sell!) I’ll let you know which shows if I get accepte!
I would like to make larger pieces but these are obviously time consuming, and more difficult to transport. So, I’ve decided to focus on 40×40 landscapes for a while- my plan is to get 4 done in the next 6 weeks 😱 that’ll keep me out of mischief (but p’raps not too busy for school and national politics 😉)
Our family week in Wales was fantastic- why did none of you tell me sooner how gorgeous West Wales is??
In between sea swimming and ice creams there were cliff walks on the beautiful Pembroke Coastal Path and visits to Tenby and St David’s. My sketchbook didn’t get quite as much use as I’d hoped but my mind is full of experiences and my photo album is full to bursting.
So this week I’m sketching out the four images that I’m hoping to develop. I’m drawing them to the chosen scale and taking a quick tracing of the main composition to help with building up the appliqué.
Then I get the paints out. I’m using watercolour, water based dyes, inktense and some acrylic. When I paint, it is never the final stage- it is very definitely part of my process; painting allows me to assess how I am going to construct a piece. I can think about colour, texture and composition.
When I’m mark making with brush or pencil I’m thinking about how to transfer it to cloth and stitch. When I apply colour I’m thinking about what fabric and threads I’ll need (thanks Oliver Twists for the threads 😉) The process of painting and drawing helps me to develop my composition ideas into textiles and work through any issues.
I’m pleased with the two images I’ve developed so far, now I’m deciding whether to crack on with these in fabric, or to focus on getting the other two designs developed to paint stage. I’m tempted to start the textiles but I think it would be interesting to get the 4 designs done and then work on the four pieces.
What would you do?
21 years of an Angel Exhibition
Thursday 31 January – Saturday 30 March 2019
The Gallery, Gateshead Central Library
This week sees the opening of the 21 Years of an Angel Exhibition. The show marks the end of Angel20, a yearlong programme of activities in Gateshead which began on the Angel of the North’s 20th anniversary in February.
I delivered a one-day workshop as part of the programme. We made needle felted replica angels. During the workshop, participants learned how to create and felt over, a wire armature.
The basic armature is covered with polyfill – this can be needle felted to build the form, saving the need to use wool fibres at this stage.
The shaping of the Angel was entertaining 😊
It’s important to keep things simple at this stage though as greater definition can be shaped once the wool fibres are added.
We used rust coloured merino tops to match the Angel’s construction materials- it’s made of weather resistant Cor-ten steel, containing a small amount of copper, which forms a patina on the surface that mellows with age.
Details were added with a deeper brown fibre.
Then thread was used to add finer details.
Each angel is mounted on a ‘landscape’ created from a fish tin and fabric
As I’m busy making new work for several shows at the moment, I’ve been very aware that my stash of hand dyed fabrics is diminishing.
I dye natural fibre fabrics with procion dyes so that I can have the same control over colour as a painter mixing their own colours might have. Presoaking the fabrics and then painting on the dyes allows me to layer up the dyes to create primary, secondary and tertiary colours. I can also create textures by using different brushes and sponges to apply the dye.
Greens are going to be important in new work I have planned; as I’ll be doing more landscapes I will need everything from acid yellow greens through to dark olive and bottle hues.
This is going to be my surprise selection- I didn’t want to waste the dyes left over after the painting session so I found more fabrics and added everything to a dye bath. I haven’t stirred the mixture so I’ll see what happens tomorrow when I wash everything off.
All I have to do now is wait until tomorrow when I can unwrap the bundles, wash off the fabrics and see the results…..
With each piece I get so far with machine stitching and then discern the need for the marks that only hand stitch can make.
I guess it’s the first indication that a piece is nearly complete.
I also find my thoughts move onto what’s next – a new piece on the same theme, a change of idea, a return to sketchbook observation. So, whilst I used to find hand stitching frustratingly slow, I’m growing to appreciate the pause and reflection it encourages (just don’t tell anyone😉)
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!!
Tomorrow is delivery day for the Great North Art Show!! So my bank holiday is being spent adding mirror plates and searching for bubble wrap!
I’m taking five pieces to the show – but I think one of them is still in Edinburgh so there may have to be a last minute substitution….
I’m hoping to take Glimpses of Summer
(I’ve just had this one re-framed and added in some sneaky extra details! Can you spot the difference?
There’ll be some more images soon of the show itself, I’m so looking forward to it!
The stitching is mostly being fitted around the daughters on school holiday 🙂
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!
I have so enjoyed this project, meeting and working with the children at the Primary School and using their designs to complete the banner.
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!