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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Learning New Skills...


takes time.  Working in three dimensions, after years of working in two, is great fun, as well as challenging.  The image shows the fruits of a couple of afternoons work...though I forgot to photograph the bag that I made from silk paper.  The rest of the time, of course, was spent tidying up.  Feathers get everywhere, unsurprisingly taking flight at the slightest breeze; so every time the door opened, whoosh!  But I am now set up to make some more silk paper, this time to make flowers with for fascinators, as well as a couple more bags, methinks. 

My favourite is the black flower, but I've always been fond of a bit of glitz... what about you, any preferences?






Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Brightening Up Bags...


seemed to be a good thing to do on a dark and depressing winter's day.  You know, the little cotton ones that you tuck into your handbag before you go out shopping, just in case...  I've been hand dyeing some, and they have come out really well.  I thought that I might embellish one or two, and provide the means for embellishing others in the bags themselves, and sell them as kits with full instructions.  I have something of a money focus at the moment, as Robin is still looking for work, and it's a bit scary.  I don't earn all that much (surprise, surprise...) and may have to go back to the Day Job to help with paying the bills.  Meantime, though, these little bags will go onto Etsy, with and without embellishments, along with some tshirts and other hand dyed bits and pieces. 

Meanwhile, I've started another book, a follow up to 'Finding Your Creative Focus'.  This one develops the theme of where you get your ideas from, which I talked about in the first book, and looks at creating personal imagery.  As I did with the last one, I'd like to set up an online group to work through the text; you get free tuition, I get feedback on what works...and the occasional quotation!  I'm looking for five guinea pigs...I mean, volunteers... if anyone is interested, please email me direct, thanks.

Now, hopefully, the shed will be warm enough for me to work in.  I was working with soy wax yesterday, making samples for my talk tomorrow to Kings Lynn Embroiderers' Guild, 'Waxing Lyrical'.  Hopefully, they will have dried enough for me to add the second layer of wax and colour...



Monday, January 23, 2012

Mixing It Up...

is arguably what I do best.  But even I didn't expect to make hats...or anything to do with fashion.  Though one of the few memories of my childhood I have is making 'clothes' for my sister's Cindy doll, using tissues (the only 'material' I had access to) and endlessly 'designing' clothes for badly drawn mannequins.  It's funny, the things you remember.  And of course, when Andrew was little (he'll be thirty this year, how time flies...), I made quilted waistcoats and jackets to sell, which were quite popular at the time.  Unlike my friend Sandy, though, I don't have a fashion training, so I thought no more of it.  But here I am, learning to make hats.  This is my first fascinator, nearly finished (but not quite).  I can't imagine anything more joyful to do.  On Friday, I met with my friends Jill and Clare, who are learning with me, and compared notes with them.  Jill took lots of photographs, so I'll let you see some more when I get the images.

This one is quite straightforward, really, but I'm planning to work with lutradur and evolon, silk and felt, and lots and lots of stitch, to create art to go to your head...as it were!  Watch this space!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Making Samples...

three samples of experimental cloth
for my class tomorrow, and for a talk I'm giving for the Embroiderers Guild at Kings Lynn next week.  The class focusses on experimenting with the idea of making one's own fabric, whilst the talk is called 'Waxing Lyrical'. One of the 'fabrics' in the picture is suitable for both of these; can you work out which it is?

When the guild selected 'Waxing Lyrical' as a subject for a talk, I was slightly taken aback.  Though it is on my list of workshops, it isn't often asked for.  I'm glad it was, though...I've been reminded of just how much I use wax in my work, one way or another.  It's useful stuff, in all its various forms.  No, I'm not telling you anything else.. but I promise to do a detailed blog or two on wax after the talk!

a close up of a piece of Nuno felt.

 Meanwhile, felt making is on the agenda for tomorrow's class; the above is a piece of Nuno felt.  I love working with wool tops; it's like drawing and painting with fibres.  And the textures are amazing. 

I'm planning to run this set of classes as an online course; I know, everyone seems to be doing them now, but I think it's my turn now .  We're going to cover felt making, silk paper making, lutradur lace and bondaweb fabric, over a period of eight weeks, in sets of two.  The first week, we'll make the cloth itself; the second, we'll make a specific project using the cloth we made.  I know what it's like to have lots of samples kicking around in your workspace; we'll get these into use as quickly as we can!  Watch this space for more details... leave me a  comment if you are interested.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Isn't This Amazing...


...a shot of the new Gallery.  This is the gallery space in the Memorial Hall at Dereham, which has been created from an alleyway next to the original building.  It is truly gorgeous, an ideal space for showing art.  The archway at the end is an original feature; the building is full of them, all carefully and lovingly restored.  Now, it leads through into the workshop space, which is flooded with natural light...windows everywhere.  I'm looking forward to teaching there.  I'm doing something new, for me, at least.  I thought I'd put together a set of classes about making your own cloth to use in your textile work.  Not weaving, I'm afraid, though we might work our way up to a little bit of weaving later on in the classes.  I thought, instead, we'd start with felt making and silk paper making.  One week we'll make the fabric itself, the second, a project using the fabric you made.  The classes will be held each Wednesday from 1pm to 3pm... email me if you want more information, or contact Judy at the Gallery for info about this or any other class.  This is a wonderful resource for artists and craftspeople, not just in the Dereham area, but throughout Breckland and beyond.

The front part of the gallery is home to a wonderful community quilt.  Next time I'm in, I'll take a photograph so that you can see it.  Meanwhile...enjoy the view!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Happy Shop

sounds like a fairy story, but really, it should be the name of The Wishing Tree, my friend Olivia's shop in Long Stratton.  I went there for the first time, yesterday, had a cup of coffee and showed Olivia some of my work.  And I'm happy to say she liked it enough to keep some of it to show in the shop, so I'm a happy woman!   That's her in the picture, in one of the comfy chairs, surrounded by some of her stock.

So why the title?  Well, if shops had several names, like cats, then the happy shop would be ideal for The Wishing Tree.  It is awash with colour and texture, from the wooden fair trade zebras and giraffes, through the silly signs, to the lovely jewellery and unusual cards.  Look for yourself; they have an on line service (just click on the link in the previous paragraph).  I particularly liked a lovely, happy Buddha in the spirit section, and some of the wonderful wall art.  And did I mention the cute soft toys?   But yes, I have to admit that in particular, I loved the coffee shop.  No, I didn't try the cake, but it did look amazing... the coffee was great, and the comfy seats really comfy.  It struck me as the kind of place you could go and write, or knit, on your own, and know that nobody would bother you (that's important to the depressives among us...).  The staff were friendly and warm, and said that the cozy (their word) atmosphere of the place was really important to them.  The cake is home made, and one of the staff is an artist in her own right, making much of the jewellery the shop sells.  And for the Celts among us...the crack was good.


You could argue that I'm biased.  Well, yes...a bit.  But it was really a pleasure to go and talk to knowledgeable, friendly people about my own passions, art and cake! And I was genuinely bowled over by the shop.   I had a really lovely time, and I hope I'll be supplying the Wishing Tree with my own brand of art for a long time to come....  The photo, by the way, is of Olivia herself, in one of those comfy chairs, looking far too thin for a woman who owns a coffee shop... sigh...  So if you do go in, and if you're in Norfolk, you really should...tell them I sent you!  I'm going back sooner rather than later, because they have just opened a new vintage section in the shop, and I didn't get to see what they were putting in there... but whatever it is, it'll be good.  I suspect the fabulous clock you can see above Olivia's head will be in there, it's definitely vintage inspired, and if I had a room large enough, I would have bought it on the spot.  And yes, Gemma, if you're reading, you can come too...we'll call it a field trip!




Thursday, January 05, 2012

Focus, Focus, Focus

a detail from a stitched photograph printed on canvas and machine stitched.
...seems to be what I've been lacking for a while.  I realised that when someone on Facebook asked the inevitable question...'and what is your keyword for the year'.  Last year, I didn't have one...too busy thinking about my health.  This year, focus is exactly what I need. 

So...what am I going to focus on, exactly?  Firstly, much more work with Bertha the large scale Epson printer.  I've got a fair amount of images printed off,. but I need to work with them now.  Secondly, I want to make a lot more felt and generally learn more about creating my own fabric, both alone and with a weaver.  Thirdly, I want to make hats and other excitements, like corsages and fascinators.  Fourthly...I want to write some more about lutradur and evolon, as well as the new non woven that has recently appeared in the Spunart stable, Zeelon.  And the book on landscapes that I'm writing with friend and fellow artist Jill Arnold.  And I think that's more than enough! 

That cuts out a lot of things, potentially, though I don't really know how the work will develop.  There's no mention of mixed media, here, but that doesn't mean  it won't appear.  No mention of teaching, though I will be teaching this year, mainly in the areas I have mentioned above.  I said focus, and I meant it...but that doesn't mean I can't be tempted into other areas if it's related to my major themes this year.  I suspect that this is, in fact, the core of my work for the next few years.  

And now that's settled, time to get on with it...  And watch this space for a few changes to the blog, by the way.  New year, new template, perhaps?  So what is your focus for the year?  Let's see what everyone is doing!


Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Beginnings?


I post every year on the first of January; it's the anniversary of my beginning to blog. Usually I wax lyrical about the good things that have happened over the year, and the excitements to follow. This year, though, I don't really know what to say. Last year was possibly the worst we have lived through in 32 years of marriage. I have been ill for most of that time, and pretty much unable to work (and today, a combination of a cold and a grumpy tummy has me beginning the new year with more of the same...). I made things to sell for Christmas...but didn't allow for the demon depression, which bit me with a vengeance at the end of November and hasn't quite let go, yet. Still haven't made the Christmas cards I designed, and as for the decorations... oh well, there's always next year.

Robin is now officially out of work, and actively job hunting across the country, so everything is up in the air (anyone need a good FD?). We hope to be able to stay where we are; we love it dearly, and have made some wonderful friends. I have ideas for new directions, and a development on an existing direction, including learning millinery with my friends Clare and Jill (watch this space, or one very like it, for more detail...). I usually start each new year with a bounce; this year, it's more of a whimper, but I'm holding on in there. If you are in a similar position, know that you are not alone, and it's okay to feel less than positive about the new year. What isn't allowed, though, is to give up. The bad feelings will pass...they always do... opportunities will arise again....they always do... It helps if you can believe in yourself...or at least, in bits of yourself. The new year will doubtless not be perfect; that's fortunate, because neither are we. Just make sure you look after yourself...and I'll do the same, and we'll keep each other company, one day at a time. I feel better already...and it isn't just the cold remedy....

Thank you to everyone who has kept the faith with me and this blog over a truly awful year... I've said it before, but normal service is about to be resumed...like now. I'm planning for this blog to be a record of my rise out of the depths, and into renewed creativity and action. And if I can do it, so can you. I hope you'll keep me company... and I hope I'll help you to move into creativity and action, whether or not you feel you need it!