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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Stitch, Stitch, Stitch

I had a hospital appointment a couple of days ago, so took some sewing with me, Borderlines again, which has been hanging about looking sulky on my sofa, as it hadn't really progressed from the last post.  So...here it is.


This last area is a really strange shape; a narrow piece, right at the top (which is to the bottom of this image, underneath the abstract sun shape), plus a fairly large approximate rectangle, with a curving area along one side.  When I change threads, this time to a darker brown/blue perle, I tend to change the direction of the stitch in order to delineate the different areas.  So, running them horizontally,  parallel to the stitch closest to them, just above the paper blocks, was not going to happen, but running them vertically wasn't really ideal either.  Finally, I decided that the best way to stitch this area, given the circular sun shape that somehow had to be worked round (no pun intended) was to stitch diagonally.  This isn't an ideal image, but hopefully it will give you an idea of how that's working...I'm fairly pleased.  And there will be some larger stitch in that small area above the 'sun', which will echo the larger stitches lower down.


So...nearly finished.  Too tired to stitch today; we were out yesterday (of which more tomorrow), so I need to rest to make up for the energy I expended.  It was worth it, though...a joyful time was had by all concerned.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Added Extras

Sometimes, I just can't help myself... while printing, I spotted a couple of bits of fabric.  This one had been coloured during a workshop last year, and has been lying around ever since.



Yes, I probably should have ironed it first.  No, it didn't seem to matter; it has turned out quite nicely.  I will iron it before I stitch it, however.  The other piece was a bit of rust dyed silk which, as it happens, has bondaweb on the back of it for some reason. 


I think it works quite well.   Admittedly, I have absolutely no idea what I'll use them for, but that's okay.  I've got a bit of paint left...not sure how malleable it'll be after two days, admittedly.  And I doubt I'll get round to using it for another couple of days.  Today was a hospital day, complete with shower (they take up a huge amount of energy); tomorrow, I'll be meeting up with an old friend...who would doubtless say, less of the old..  So not enough energy to spare for print making, painting or anything else.  At least I got some hand stitching done in the hospital; waiting rooms are ideal for that sort of thing. And we're heading for the coast tomorrow, so perhaps a few photographs...  art is life, after all.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Printing...

one of the books that I'm planning around the theme of shields and spears.  I've now carved a couple of lino blocks for that, with a couple left to do....enough for now, I thought, even though one of them was only partially finished. And, just to prove I've learned my lesson, note my (relatively) tidy work surface...


I decided to use acrylic paints this time, combined with a medium that delays the drying time, so that the ink doesn't just dry on the plate.  For once in my life, I followed the instructions; I was a tad alarmed by the idea that too much medium might mean that the paint doesn't dry at all.  It's one thing to get the ink from newspapers on your fingers; entirely another when the visual art comes off on your hands...  \I mixed my own colour, a combination of three paints.  Someone once told me not to use paint straight out of the tube; it was important for an artist to mix their own colours.  And so I have found it.  It's a meditative thing to do, and allows you to really think about the effect you're trying to achieve, and the colour that will do that for you.  It took several tests before I was happy with the colour, somewhat warmer than the dark brown out of the tube.

 The blocks are too small for a double page, and besides, other than the central spread, they aren't seen like that within the structure of the book, so I needed to select elements to print on each individual page.  I started with the partially carved block; here's the test print.


The bit I hadn't thought through was that the whole thing would print, not just the leaf.  Fortunately, I liked that result...if I hadn't, there would have been a lot more carving to do before I could have used it.  I may well cut one of the remaining blocks in half, and carve a block specifically like this, to use in the future. 

I started to print the five pages that make up the signature (the technical word for a combination of pages, if you haven't come across it before).  I wanted a random combination of images, but started with the central motif.


It became obvious quite early on that I couldn't print on both sides of the pages; lutradur is semi transparent, so the print can be seen on the other side, though, as it is printed, not dyed, it hasn't come right through; it's like having a shadow.  And that was okay, because I intended to stitch, so the shadow would be supported by the stitch.  And, without overtly thinking it through, that had been my intention from the start.  What I hadn't realised, though, was that I needed to vary on which side of the lutradur I printed, so that there would be an interesting visual mixture of strong and weak prints.  I only managed to do that once, though... a combination of getting carried away and brain fog...sigh.  I'll be more deliberate about it the next time I make a pamphlet book in this way.


I struggled with deciding what to do with the cover.  In the end, I decided to print the same thing on both front and back covers, and here it is.


I think that works well; the image is a strong one, an eye catching way to present the piece, I hope.  When the ink was dry, I folded the book and combined the pages, mixing up the different images to avoid having the same thing twice.  The joy of working with semi transparent material, is that you get more than you usually would, when you look at the open pages.  Here's a look at that central page again, this time combined with the rest of the pages.


That effect will be something to consider in the future.  And now I'm stuck.  I want to stitch this with the machine, and I still don't have it back (hopefully this week).  Overall, though, I'm pleased with the way it has worked...for once, pretty much as I thought it would.  It needs a poem...I have two of three lines, but one refuses to come.  It'll doubtless arrive in its own sweet time...words are not as biddable as paint.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Getting Lost...

or at least, mildly confused, has its compensations.  For me, at least, it was the view.


We had pulled off into a cul de sac to get our bearings.  Views like this one are very common in Central Scotland, swathes of flat land leading to gentle hills.  Mountains are around, certainly, there's Arthur's Seat, for example (well, okay, that's an extinct volcano), but mostly, there are soft, rolling hills everywhere you look.  And cottages, nestling into the slopes.

I was intrigued by the house at the top of the cul de sac, too.



I've found myself taking a fair amount of photographs of buildings, recently... the house at Callendar Park, the stonework of a commercial property, and eyeing up several more.  Perhaps it's because we've had so many problems with our own, brand new house.  Or maybe it's just harking back to when I originally learned to paint; one of my favourite paintings from that time, was of an old cottage in a field, not far from here, come to think of it.  I feel a hankering to make paintings like that again.  It's funny, the things our unconscious suggests to us.  I can't imagine making textile work that's representational; many people do so, but it's just not my style.  It's not my usual painting style either, come to think about it...but it's not completely foreign to me, so perhaps...

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A Right Dyke

Dry stane dykes are a prominent feature of the Scottish landscape.  This one was at the edge of a farm shop car park.

Have a closer look


Lichen is a measure of the purity of the air; clearly, here, the air is clear and good, despite being relatvely close to Edinburgh.  I love the textures of a dry stane dyke, and would have loved to have learned how to do it.  That's not likely to happen now, of course.   

I've had a thing about walls, and stone in general, for many years.  I find them fascinating.  The softness of these Scottish dykes contrast beautifully with the flint walls of Norfolk, which I find, have a much harder texture, and are more angular        .


To me, though, they share more than they contrast.  There are miniature stories in each wall; the marks on each individual stone, and the way they interact together.  Gorgeous.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Next Steps

So... the paint dried...and now what?  Well, whilst I do have to wait for the machine for the next bit, I did think it would be useful to see what an unstitched book would look like.  The answer turned out to be...too fat... so I've ended up with two. Top image is the front.



\I discovered something else, too.  The paper is not exactly the same size, so it needs to be trimmed to make it so.  If you look carefully, there are bits of the inner pages peeping out from the covers on each book.  Sigh.  Making books is a matter of precision, which is, of course, just what I'm not good at.  For once, though, this isn't my fault; I didn't cut the paper.  And it's infinitely redeemable.

I selected two of the stronger images for the cover, split the paper in accordance with colour, the yellow pages together (no, we're not talking telephones here...).  and then had to pick the centre pages, the only ones that read as a complete image.  And here they are.



I think this has real potential, and I'm glad I did it.  It's not the first book I've made in this way, ie using abstract paintings; sadly, I don't seem to have any examples to show you.  They were altered books, a completely different kettle of fish, and focused mainly on the texture of the paint.  People never touch paintings, yet my work is highly textural; I wanted to give them the chance to feel my work, as well as to look at it.  Touching paintings is verboten; touching books, though, is encouraged.  But I digress, as usual...

Now, I get to trim the paper, and put them to one side until I have the machine back.  Generally speaking, though, I think this has worked pretty well, for an experiment.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Playing With Paint

If you remember, I made a couple of monoprints on paper, recently; I talked about it here.  What I don't seem to have shown you, though, is a couple of prints on small sheets of paper, ready to make a book.  Or if I did, I can't find the post....sigh.  Here they are

Basically, a print, and a ghost.  I wanted to make a few more this size, and to print on the back of these, as a base for stitch.  I thought it would be interesting to see what happened if I had random prints on front and back, and stitched in response to one side.  It could be chaos...it could not...  So today, I made a few more pages...


There's no particular rhyme nor reason to any of these.  They're based on curves, and use the same colours of paint, and that's really all they have in common, other than that all of them are printed on both pages.  I'll be machine sewing, and that will need to wait until I get my machine back from its service.  The problem with using a really well recommended local engineer is that everyone else uses him too, so I've had to wait three weeks for him to do the work, such was the length of the queue.

Here's a few in close up.




The last image is a cheat, to use up the last of the paint; it's a piece of lutradur, too small to go in a book.  It may end up in the bin...but you never know... Looking at them, perhaps hand stitch is the way to go... depends on how difficult the paint is to sew.