meta name="p:domain_verify" content="c874e4ecbd59f91b5d5f901dc03e5f82"/>


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Taking A Break...

from sorting a box of feathers.  Although I'm sitting at the table, my arms get very tired, very quickly, and there's quite a lot of stretching involved in this exercise.  I didn't appreciate how many feathers I've accumulated...when I go for something, I really go for it, as it were.  Here's where I've got to...the remains of the box...
...and the sorted feathers...
Could really have done with another drawer...think I'll combine the red and the purple.  No, these aren't the only feathers in the collection; there's another large box and a couple of unopened bags (cough).  I have nothing to say in my defense...other than they take up a lot less room than fabric does... snigger...

As a child, I was profoundly allergic to feathers; no feather pillows, and the budgie my mother bought me for a birthday (who knows what she was thinking... maybe she got it for free...that was a recurring theme with her 'presents'...) had to go and live with my great aunt, as it made me really ill.  Just as well I grew out of it, really, or I'd have no cats, as well as no hat making.  I'm surprised by the number of orange feathers in this little lot...not sure that I have much orange sinamay...but hey.  I'm sure I'll think of something to do with them.  I usually do.

I guess I need to go through that other box, see what's in there.  And making a few hats might be in order too...with stitch, of course.

Sunday, April 22, 2018


Well... the studio is nearly finished (hurrah).  What I couldn't find, however, were my hat blocks.  Yes, the lovely wooden, heavy, expensive things.  Funny how the easy to replace, cheap stuff never goes missing, huh?  So Robin very kindly went out into the garage...and couldn't find them anywhere.  Until we looked inside the Baby Belling boiler... hurrah.  Gotcha.  This is an old image, from the Little Green Shed... wonder what happened to that painting, come to think of it.  Probably given away in The Great Purge.  Shame, really, it would have fitted in here really nicely....sigh. 

I've found a couple of hats as I go along, including the little fascinator that I needlefelted with yellow yarn to look like a miniature cake; all it needs is a cherry to sit on the top, must try to find something appropriate.  I do have a red glass bead in the shape of a heart, which isn't quite what I had in mind, but in all else fails...  I really do want to get back to making hats, so watch this space.  Now that the room is nearly complete, I don't have much of an excuse.  It's been a while since I did make a hat, so it'll be interesting to see how well I remember the process.  Fortunately, I have a book or two...or six... to refer to.

The other thing Robin found was...yes, you've guessed it, my felting needles.  I now have enough felting needles to have a party with, anyone want to come round and felt...? 

Saturday, April 21, 2018


One of my favourite flowers.  A couple of years ago, I wrote this haiku :

Vaseful of colour
An elegance of tulips

Brightens up the room

Those particular tulips exist only in the poem, of course, but these were on my kitchen windowsill last month... enjoy.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Oh, Wow!

It was just a plain brown envelope.  And then I opened it, and look what was inside...

Threads from Stef Francis...thank you, Stef, they're wonderful.  I really did look at them and say, 'oh wow'.  I bought them really to go with one of the pieces I showed you earlier, Borderlines, the piece with the textured paper.  That wasn't to hand, but these were.  Firstly, the piece I showed you yesterday:
The brown is really strong against that print, and I'll use it on the marks.  The orange, not so much...but it is a gorgeous thread.  And then there's this, which I wrote about here:
Now, I wasn't intending to put much in the way of stitch on here, but looking at the way that thread sits on this piece, I'm now not so sure... perhaps a stitched border round the very edges of the piece...perhaps more... I don't know, but I'll be having a good think about it.  I rather wish I had more of that coloured evolon; it would be interesting to make a pieced top from repetitions of this 'block'.  Life isn't like that, of course, but I may well follow through on this idea once the workroom has settled down a bit. 

And talking of the workroom...the shelves are now where they're meant to be, though I'm still working out what to keep, where.  I promised you a sneaky peek, and here we are...

Thread and fabric mostly along the long wall; paint, drawing materials, feathers and other embellishments tucked away in the corner.  The painting will go up in front of my sewing machine; it's a calming image called 'Goddess'.  My rulers will go up on the walls, too, and doubtless a couple of framed textiles, eventually.  What I don't have, is a design wall.  I had one in Norfolk, and rarely used it.  I did contemplate a blind on the front of one of the bookcases, but the boxes stick out too far.  Besides which, most of the work I'm likely to be doing in the future will be small scale, not much bigger than a napkin.  So I'll be doing what I advise my students to do:  stick it on the floor, and stand up...if you're careful, stand on a chair...just don't fall off.  Or, more likely, I'll take a photograph, and contemplate that.  Works every time: it's the distance that's important.

Things are coming together, finally, both with the work and the room.  If only I could find a new body...

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Minor Adjustments...

...can make a big difference.  I love working with transparency, but sometimes it just feels a wee bit wishy washy...   I'm still working through those scraps, and came across this lino cut on bandage muslin, which had been rust dyed before I printed it.  I've frayed the edges a little, to add a bit of texture and visual interest, though it's not obvious in the image.
It fits a small piece of evolon like a dream...even if I have positioned it the wrong way round, sigh.  But you get the drift.  There's a piece of yarn running across the top and bottom of the piece, which I'll couch on with some hand dyed thread I found yesterday, while tidying up (handy, huh?).  But... I want to beef up the rust colour just a bit... so...I'm going to double up the muslin... clearly didn't print on all of it, fortunately. 

Not sure that it's showing up well in the image, but again, you probably get my drift.  It's a good way of working with lutradur and other patterned fabrics; the combinations can be really interesting.  Meanwhile, I need to think about stitching this...but that will have to wait until the arrival of the brown hand dyed perle I've ordered on line.  I'm just not set up for dyeing at present, unsurprisingly, though work on the studio is progressing; might show you that tomorrow.  The shelves are full, all except the one set that needs to be repositioned.  I've moved the cutting table to its proper place...just need to remove the empty boxes, shift and fill the shelves and move the work table.  Then I can get the machines out and we'll be pretty much good to go...hurrah!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Going To Pieces.

So...what do you do when you're too physically tired to do anything, much, but your mind is turning cartwheels?  Well... there's drawing, of course, and hand stitch...but I really like a jigsaw.  With two cats, however, that's really not advisable; they bat the pieces all over the floor, attempt to eat them... you get the picture (or rather, you don't, because at least one piece gets lost as a result).  Reader, I discovered online jigsaws, and I am hooked.  I've had a wonderful time on Jigsaw Planet reconstructing other peoples' paintings and photographs.  And then I thought.... maybe I could do this with my photographs... so I did.... and that was great fun, too.

So what's that got to do with the price of cheese?  Well... I've talked about it elsewhere on this blog, quite recently (not that I'm obsessed).  It gets more interesting when it's your own image, though.  I realised a number of things.... firstly, that I don't really think about my photography as being an end in itself.  I tend to take pictures either for reference, or to stitch into (see an example of my stitched work here, one of my personal favourites).  So it's useful to look at these images  as potential jigsaws, look at their construction, decide if they're interesting enough to use in this way. 

Secondly, I already knew that I'm mostly interested in detail, so most of my photos are macro.  I try to find details that might otherwise be missed.  The image at the top of the post is a Norfolk flint wall (I think, if I remember rightly, it was a church in Wymondham),  It makes a truly evil jigsaw; all those little stones... you have to observe carefully to fit the pieces together.  The jigsaw format helps you to look at each piece separately, to consider how it fits into the whole, to see even more of those tiny details that make up what I hope is a good image, at least for reference might want cropping if I were to print it out for stitch.  Flaubert said that 'God is in the detail' (or the devil, depending on which of these similar sayings you ascribe to).  Looking at an image this way seems to take me past detail, and into nuance, which usually would be picked up by my unconscious mind, but I don't think it does me any harm to contemplate them in a more overt fashion.  Most of the nuances here are about texture and light; the direction of light, the way it hits a particular section of the flint, the way that flint responds.

Thirdly, I hadn't noticed until I made a couple of jigsaws that my colour palette in my photographs is very narrow, almost monochromatic.  The same cannot be said for most of my work, although the ME piece I wrote about here is moving in that direction; I now have a small bag of fabric in these subdued tones and colours to make more pieces in what I suspect will be a series.  I hadn't realised, though, that my photographs were leading me in that direction, probably long before I consciously chose to explore it.

Finally, the act of jigsaw assembly is not unlike the creative process.  Artists and writers both talk about the blank page... jigsaws, at least, give you a jumping off point, encourage you to look for the edge pieces and assemble them to create a framework.  I think we all need that in some way; my equivalent of edge pieces, in textile, is usually the creation of a small piece using whatever I have to hand (usually, up until now, from the bits lying on the floor).  In paint, it comes from the process of selecting colours for my palette, which I do intuitively.  I think that creating a starting ritual, and using it consistently,  is comforting, but it's also a springboard into creativity.

And then there's the point where you've got the edges more or less assembled (there's always one or two that I don't find til the end, but I don't let that get in the way of assembling the rest of the image).  And then I'm face to face with my own doubts; this is hard.  How will I ever manage?  Well... partly through intuition... that piece looks as if it should fit there... no... but it does fit two pieces along... and on I plod.  Emphasis on the plod; building jigsaws seem to go in fits and starts, depending on how easy it is to group colours together, to assemble little, but obvious, details so that they can then be fitted into the whole.  And there's something about perseverance, too, just keeping going, pushing through the problems (most of which are in my head) to create the image. 

Yes, it's harder for artists; they don't always have a clear idea of what the end goal is, making deciding what the end product actually is, quite challenging.  Fortunately, we don't have to limit ourselves to Just One Ending or Just One Process; that's what working in series is about.

If you'd like to do the stone jigsaw, here's the link; if that doesn't work, look for artmixter...I only have three images up, this one and a couple of floral ones.  There are a surprising number of quilt images available as jigsaws, but I'm not sure that my work would lend itself to that kind of treatment.  Above all, in jigsaws as in art, have fun.,,that's a significant part of the process.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Overturning Those Decisions.

You might remember this post, where I talked about using a wee bit of linen that I'd found in the scrap.  Well...I sat down to work with it this morning, while waiting for the mannie to arrive to service my mobility scooter (he's still not here, so much for 'late morning'; it's 12.30pm and not a peep out of him...

I decided that the brown bit was altogether too brown... so I added some frothy white plastic netting, and some stitch to hold it down;

And then more stitch to hold it on the Lutradur XL:
And then, it all went to hell in a handcart.  Putting the lutradur in front of it Just Didn't work.  So I tried other bits of lutradur; worse.  Then I took the long vertical stitches out, removed the brown bit, put the coloured lutradur underneath... nope.  And just as I was about to give up, I tried this:
Yes.  I thought.  Right balance, right texture (it's evolon, coloured with Brusho); could do with being a bit bigger, but hey...  So I tried it against some white evolon:
So what I want to find now, is a piece of textured linen to mount this piece on.  I know I don't have such a thing, so I may settle for cotton, but it does need to be a woven fabric, just to add a bit more texture.  Natural coloured, rather than white, might be better, but it'll all depend on what I find.  Come to think of it, I need to trim the blue; those lines aren't straight, or parallel, for that matter...but it has the distinct feeling of a well conceived piece.  Finally. 

PS The scooter mannie says my scooter is immaculate... so I must be doing something right... or maybe it's just that I don't go out much...sigh.