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Monday, October 15, 2018

What Do You Do...?

...when you don't have the energy for machine stitch, but you want to do something constructive?  Well...I fished out the box with my 'special' hand dyes, the ones that have been printed, or screen printed, or dye painted.  The jury's out on some of them...I kept them because of the work involved in them, I suspect, rather than because I really want to work with them.  Or they would look good in a large scale project, for which I don't have the energy at present (though things are looking up on that front...but I digress...). 

Here's the box itself... not very big at all, as you can see; I have another one that size with plain hand dyes...not that I consider my hand dyes particularly plain, but that's an entirely different post. 

A variety of colours and textures.  The top one was an attempt at breakdown screen it is with another one, made far later in the process...

I'm going to make a journal from the top one, but I may cut up the lower one and reassemble it, with or without another cloth or two...actually, it would make a good basis for another series of haiku quilts (find out about them here ).  Might do the same with the top one, actually... it would fit into the ME series really well. 

And then there's this...

It's a lot more orange than this image, but I can't persuade it to behave itself, so you'll just have to make do.  A piece of low water immersion hand dye, which has been overprinted using fabric paints, using two different lino blocks.  Sadly, I don't think I have the leaf shaped lino block any more, and doubt I have the energy to cut another was quite effective.  If there was more of this fabric it would make a good skirt, or some other piece of it is, it might become a panel in a larger piece, but I'd need to have a good deal more energy to make that happen.  It'll go back into the box, and wait.  It would certainly make good cushions...but I don't have a room they would fit into... sigh.

There's a lot more cloth in there, but it'll have to wait, too.  Enough is enough.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Done And Dusted... least, where the stitch is concerned...have a look...

The top 'side' is actually a lot more yellow than that, but because Lutradur XL is semi transparent,  and the piece is back lit, the pink from the other side is showing through...and vice versa.  I did contemplate noodling a line across the whole piece, with the occasional leaf on it, but decided against it.  I like the feeling of space in this work.  I am, though, contemplating adding some text...'dreaming the crimson daisy', which is the title of the book. 

Have another look at an individual daisy.

The stitch is fairly even, but it's by no means perfect.  It's the stitch equivalent of colouring outwith the lines; I wanted a relaxed, modern feel, and I also wanted to even out the relative sizes of the petals, hence the stitch.  I usually vary stitch length too, for visual interest, but decided that it would be a distraction rather than an enhancement.  What I'm trying to say here, I suppose, is that I wouldn't win any awards for stitch with this piece, but that doesn't make it any less beautiful.  It works, and that's what's important.  So many of us worry about work not being perfect...well, guess what?  Perfect, by and large, is boring.  And it's really not necessary to enjoy either making or appreciating a piece of art.  Mother Nature doesn't make each petal of an individual flower the same; she doesn't like boring, either.  That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Getting Sidetracked... a fairly common occurrence for me, and it usually leads to something creative.  Unfortunately,  it also brings problems.  The days are gone when I can just poddle about in my workroom, doing a bit of this, and a bit of that...or at least, not if I intend to do something specific.  And I did have that intention.  I wanted to do more machine stitch, and thought I would work on this book, which has been hanging around for ages, waiting for me to feel well enough to do it.

First, I needed suitable threads...and finding those took quite a bit of the available energy.  I realised, as I did it, that unpacking and shelving in order of finding things, was not the most effective way of doing it.  I need to have the threads near the machine, so I don't have to cross the room to get them.  Yes, it's only four or five steps there and back, so ten in all.  But add in the amount of time it took to stand and work out what I wanted, and select them, and you're into a major energy drain.  So I'm going to have to get someone, probably Robin (sorry, Robin) to move stuff around for me.  But I digress (at least digressing in my mind doesn't take quite as much energy, huh?).

While photographing, I noticed the little ME quilt on the cutting board...okay, I thought, two minutes... and that's what it took.

I'm pleased with it, though I have to say, it looks better in real life.  But back to the book.  Bobbin wound, machine threaded, I worked on a single flower.

Reader, that was enough.  No more energy.  But it's a decent enough beginning.  Here's the back...and this is why I like machine stitch on books.  The back is the same as the front, other than being a different thread (cotton on the front, rayon on the back, both variegated); no need to worry about what the stitch is going to look like, as you do with hand stitch...and for this particular book, it's important, because it was designed with that in mind.

I'm pleased with how it's looking so far.  I wanted to give the idea of a sketch, rather than a full blown representation of a flower, and I think this is working really well.  I may only be able to do a couple of flowers a day; tracing the image with stitch requires a lot of concentration, and that's tiring, too.  But it's worth it.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Testing, Testing...

...because, after all, it has been a while, and I haven't touched the machine since its service, a good couple of months ago.  Today, though, felt like the day.  Lovely stitch...until I dropped the feed dogs. and realised I couldn't remember what the tension ought to be for free motion... so a bit of farting around, and muttering under the breath, and we were sort of good to go.  I grabbed another one of those pieces that have been lying about forever, this one a combination of lutradur and evolon, and doodled....  to discover that I was seriously rusty.  Oh well... you know what they say about practice...even if you can only cope with doing it for a maximum half hour at a stretch.... here's what I ended up with.

I originally had it the other way up, but somehow, with stitch added, this seemed to be the right way up.  Not that it matters, really, because it was just a test piece, and will either end up in the bin, or be cut up to make jewellery.  Here's the other option, just so's you know...

When I started to feel a bit more comfortable with things, I did some details... mock Charles Rennie Mackintosh roses...

And for those of you who like this sort of thing, here's the back...just wadding...

I'm not the worlds greatest stitcher, but I did have fun.  Hopefully, with a couple more of these under my belt, I can start on the little queue of books that's building up...

Tuesday, October 09, 2018


...another of the pieces I kept out of the cull.  This is a piece of evolon, and it has been transfer dyed; that, I know for sure...the rest is speculation.  I think this is a monoprint.  I'm persisting because I love the textures in some of the areas, mostly the left hand section.

I was finding it difficult to decide which way is up, hence the two images.  The jury is still out, but I'm going to work with the top image, and see where we go. 
I've argued with myself, long and hard, about whether to work with this.  The main problem I have is the dark section, which seems to dominate the piece.  In the bottom image, it looks a bit like a semi abstract figure running away (bizarre, huh?). 

So, I need some way to redress the balance, and decided that a continuous line of stitch along the textured section would help to define it.  I happened to have some appropriate thread, but the question was, which stitch?  I feel quite lazy when it comes to stitch, so I decided to use one I haven't used before, split stitch.  Basically, it's a back stitch, but instead of meeting the edge of the preceding stitch, you come out within it, splitting the thread.  Here's a close up...

Reader, it's fiddly.  It's not helped by the evolon, which is not easy to hand stitch.  The best advice I can give, if you want to try it, is to keep the thread taut by catching it underneath, before bringing the needle upwards.  That makes it easier to trap the thread.  It drove me nuts....though I suspect it would have been easier, had it not been evolon....sigh... 

It may have been fiddly, but it worked.  The balance has shifted from that purple morass in the centre, out to the edge, as I hoped it would.

Now to decide what to do next. 

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Autumn... definitely here, seemed like the appropriate moment to add some stitch to this wet felted piece, in the shape of a leaf, yet another something or nothing saved from the cull.  In truth, I suspect that I meant it to be a petal...but who was made several years ago, can't do wet felting now. 

It was, however, always intended as a three dimensional piece.  It reminds me of autumn leaves that have turned colour, and are just beginning to dry out.  They buckle in intriguing ways.  This one has a natural curve on the edge, and slopes as if it were a very shallow bowl.  I really regret that white; I don't know what I was thinking.  So, to break up the white, and encourage the natural curves, I added stitch, as always, hand dyed cotton thread.

Happy now? Not really.. the stitch achieved what it was supposed to, perhaps too well in some places.  Might consider painting that white, using watercolour paint, to see if I can decrease the contrast.  I suspect it may be flogging a dead horse.  Not everything succeeds as planned...hell, not everything succeeds.  It's okay.  It's called learning.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Today... National Poetry's the website.  There are events all over the place, if you're quick, you might get to one!  So...I thought I'd share a poem.  The artists among us might appreciate it.  It's new, so probably subject to change, and it hasn't got a title yet.  Maybe it doesn't want one.

Please, do not ask
How many hours it took:
Think days and weeks and
Long, long years, think lifetimes
Thought and practice, reflect
On observations,
All those sketches, notes and plans,
That led us to this moment, this
Construction, this depiction.
Ask, instead, its story,
I will tell you what I know of it
It may not match your viewpoint
But it's mine.

 Quilters in particular seem to be very keen on knowing how long something took.  To me, that's irrelevant, as are the technical considerations they usually ask about.  To me, it's all about the meaning, and even that may not be shared by all.  And that, to me, is the beauty of it.  Happy National Poetry Day!

The image is 'Losing My Religion'.  It has it's own story, but I won't bore you with it now.  See what story you find in it, instead.