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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Yes, I Know...

...I did wax lyrical about building time into the process...but...   I looked carefully at the book, and realised that, actually, there's a theme already there... it's about curves.  The brain is a wonderful thing; it insists on finding meaning in seemingly random marks.  It's a tendency I'm profoundly grateful for.  To my intense surprise (I'd love to say it was planned, but it so wasn't...), each of the spreads created by combining the three monoprints in book form, seems to create a new coherent whole, with a flow from one side of the page to the other.  Have a look, see what I mean.  Each of the spreads comprises one side that is the reverse of a print, and one right side of the next print (if you see what I mean), with the exception of the centre spread, where both sides are the reverse of the print.  Come to think of it, I could have turned one of the prints round, so that I got the print side showing as the spread, but actually, I think this way is best.

Spread One:

The first spread is quite intriguing (okay, I find them all intriguing, what can I say, I'm an artist, it's what we do...).  This one has two curves, which seem to echo each other, but they do meet in the middle...can you see it?  Interestingly, if you placed the original prints together, they look quite different, but combined in this way, they seem similar to some degree. 

Spread two:

To me, this reads almost like a semi-abstract snail, or a strange beast of burden...but you can see the curve running from the top of the 'head' to the base of the 'shell'. 

Spread three:

Here, you can see how different the reverse of a print really is.  This, to me, looks similar to a ghost print, the second print that you take from a monoprint.  The stitches on the left hand side have a really random feel; I like the sense of space that I get from it...this time, the strong curve shown by the dark stitches then continues on and upwards, over the egg-like shape on the second page. 

Spread four :

Here, the dark curve above what appears, on this side, to be more circular than ovular, continues on into the lighter area, sitting inside a second curved shape suggested by the print.  The straight lines of that dark curve on the left are echoed by the lighter, longer lines in that curved shape on the second page. 

Spread five :

This is the most visually incoherent of the spreads, but there is still a suggestion of a curve, in two places, though one is not as obvious in the image as it is in real life.  The first of those curves sits where the pages meet, the lines stitched into the beige coloured area on the left, meet the curves stitched into the lower brown area on the right.  More abstractly, though, the upward  movement of  that beige area continues until it meets the brown semicircular area at the centre top of the opposite page.   Interestingly, this is the only other spread in the book where the stitch appears more abstract in places.  I think that idea of stitch on one side not matching the stitch of the other side, is something I'd like to explore. 

So, there you are.  One finished book, other than the stitch to bind it.  I think its name is Curvilinear.  Interestingly, I've already made a quilt with that name, a long time ago, admittedly...the two are not particularly similar; you'll find it here, in a post entitled 'Creative Surprises'.  Not unlike this book, really.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Last Page... finally complete. 

I wanted to continue the theme of long, straight lines that I started in the 'tail' section of the larger motif, so used blanket stitch again in the circular section.  That, of course, meant that I was limited in the number of stitches I could get into the small circle at the centre, so I ended up adding a couple more straight stitches in places that seemed too wide by comparison with the others (if you see what I mean).  I don't think you can tell the difference, really. 

And then there's the vertical secondary motif.  That is made up of long, straight stitches, couched down with that same thread, as in the 'tail' section.

The reverse of this side is intriguing...for some reason, it reads in a circular format, rather than a straight line...who knows how that happened.  But for the vertical lines to make visual sense, I decided to whip them, to make coherent lines.

What next?  I hear you holler.  Well... ostensibly, I sew the pages together.  In practice, however, I'm going to leave them for a week or so, and go back to them.  I'm contemplating drawing on them, and it would be easier to do that if I leave them unbound.  I'm undecided, and the best thing to do for that, is to build some time into the process.  We get too close to the work while it's being done, and stop seeing it objectively. 

I'm still not sure if these pages make a coherent whole, but perhaps that's the point.  That's another reason to live with this a wee while, and see what emerges.   There's a lot to be said for having no deadlines or imperatives other than the lack of energy; I don't have to make immediate decisions any more.  The lack of energy has its upside, though there is only the one... I no longer procrastinate.  I can't afford to; I don't know from day to day whether I'll have any energy at all, so I tend to use it while I do.  I've always said that procrastination comes from fear; the only fear I have left is that I'll be bedridden and unable to do the work, or anything else, for that matter, so I choose to work when I'm able, and try not to waste too much time on regretting the amount of time I wasted in the past.  Sigh.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Thinking Back And Front...

...albeit coincidentally, at least at first.  Working on the last page of the book, I decided I wanted something as textured as the chenille whipped stitches, but not using chenille (mutter, mutter) chain stitch, it was.

I rather like that.  I liked the way it worked on the reverse, too.

Pure fluke, I have to say...but then I started to think about it all in earnest.  The simplest thing to do, would have been to have worked more chain stitch within the motif, but that didn't work for two reasons...firstly, I thought it was boring.  And predictable. Secondly, and more importantly, the motif stretches over two pages, and I wanted something to work across the fold, and that meant something other than just reinforcing the overall motif.  So, I worked long stitches on the 'tail' of the motif, but quickly realised two, that the need to fold the paper would mean that those long stitches were likely to gape, or at least, move around, and the second, that it would give nothing to look at on the reverse, other than a small stitch top and bottom, if that.  So, killing two birds with one stone, I couched the long stitches down, using the same thread.  And because it is a hand dyed thread, with variations in colour and tone, it reads, close up, as if it was a different thread.  That was, I got lines on both sides of the paper, clearly delineating this section of the motif.  Hurrah.

More tomorrow (I ran out of steam).

Thursday, September 13, 2018

One Of Those Moments...

...when you think, why the hell did I think this was a good idea?  It involved chenille thread, just in case you're wondering.  Chenille thread is lovely...until you try to sew with it.  I was working on a page of the ongoing book, and I had used the hand dyed dark brown thread, only to realise that it wasn't showing up well enough on the predominately dark brown background.  So...I looked for something else...and something else was a random dyed chenille, brown, grey, gold, cream number.  Reader, I got it threaded first time.  And then it went to hell in a handcart.  Still, I managed to stitch with it...and then whipped it back through the stitches...

So then, I decided to whip the chenille through the previous stitches.  After all, the thread had been quite easy to put into the needle I was using... should be simple.... Reader, I finally switched to a wool needle.  I figured that whilst the needle was considerably thicker, I wasn't actually stitching with it, other than the beginning and the end, so that would be okay.  And it was.  Eventually.  Oh, how I hate chenille thread.  Somebody remind me not to buy any more...

Do I want more stitch?  Don't think so...but if I change my mind, you can be pretty sure it won't be with chenille.  Growl.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


...more stitch on the book I'm currently working on.  Here's the progress.  I've finished the front page now...I think... I'm never entirely sure until the whole thing is done...

You're going to have to imagine it folded, admittedly...but this is both sides.  I'm intrigued by the reverse, because, of course, the stitches don't look the same on the back, as on the front, so things get a bit more abstract (or should that be random?).  So...that's the front and back of the book (as well as both sides of the paper, if you see what I mean) here's the central pages.

The central motif is stitched with a rayon hand dyed, corded thread (the rest are cotton), which proved a pain to work with, but its sheen goes nicely with the metallic paint that was used.  As this isn't a colouring book (and don't get me started on the point of colouring books, or lack of it...), I didn't feel the need to continue the stitch so that it filled the entire motif.  I decided I wanted to have large vertical stitches on the bottom dark section.  Blanket stitch, I thought.  Ha ha ha, said my memory.  I know you've done it lots of times, but I don't remember how you did it... ME affects memory, and a lot of what I used to know, doesn't come to mind easily.  In this case, I could remember how the stitch works, but not how to start it.  Got there in the end, though, by process of logic.  Just as well that hasn't gone, too...

I did briefly think about swapping the front and central pages round, but decided not to...they've been trimmed to fit the way they are, swapping them round would require a further trimming, and I want to avoid that.  Given that no real narrative for the book has yet emerged, it wouldn't have affected the flow or meaning of the book.  That's unusual for me; usually there's a story, a meaning, a sense of how things relate to each other, that requires a particular structure, even when the work is largely abstract.  I think that's why I'm drawing a blank on writing a poem to go inside the book.  Perhaps something will emerge...that often happens with titles and concepts.  I start with one thing, and end up with that thing, but also with other meanings and ideas.  That's what I like about making art.  I'm not following a pattern or a template; each piece is unique.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Stitch Up.

I felt like doing a bit of stitch, so decided to do a bit more with the second of the two monoprint books I talked about here.  I started by trimming it carefully (and that took all the energy for a while...).

And because of that, I decided to hand stitch.  I have no proof that it takes more energy to machine sew...but it does when the machine isn't set up... sigh.  And in truth, I wanted to see how the hand stitch would work.  I think it does...but it does come with its own issues.

We are taught from the very first stitch, that the back should look as good as the front.  That's fairly easy to do when working with a quilt sandwich, just by burying the knot in the batting.  This, though, is flat, so it's an exposed knot or a double back stitch.  Reader, I went for the double back stitch.  So far so good, huh?   I stitched all the way round the shape (have a look)...only to (stupidly) catch said double back stitch with my needle, and pull half of it out.  No, I really wasn't up for unpicking, so thought, okay, I'll catch the end with the stitch I'm making... and then the paper tore...sigh...and I ended up, yes, you guessed it, with a knot, albeit a small knot, which you wouldn't notice unless you knew were it was.  No, I'm not telling you...and yes, I continued with small knots... they're not particularly noticeable either... fortunately.

The temptation is to work the page as a whole, and that, I felt was necessary for the main motif, that curve, which runs over the fold of the paper.  On reflection, though, I decided that, other than stitching any single motif that occurred in that manner, I needed to respond to each individual half as a separate piece of work. 

The stitch is important, not just because of its effect on the 'front' page, but because of its effect on the reverse.  The reverse has only the bleed from the front, which clearly is not as strong, so the stitch is important in delineating what's going on in the image.  Here's an image showing you how that worked out...I think it's at least as interesting as the reverse, if not more so, in some ways.

I wanted to add some stitches above the main motif, and added crosses to the yellow area which I seem to be reading as the sky.  Another of the rules we're taught right at the beginning, is that all stitches have to be even and similar.  Fortunately, however, this is art, and I can use the skills I learned then, to subvert the tradition. 

And that's as far as I've got.  Time for a rest. 

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Playing About...

...with the watercolour crayons again.  For quite a while, I've been wondering why my paintings are so unlike my textiles, notably, these garden paintings such as 'Summer Garden', which hangs in my living room.  I have made several garden quilts; a series called 'Dawn In The Healer's Garden', which, astonishingly to me, don't appear on this blog, except in this little glimpse... from which you can see that the quilts appear to be significantly more structured than this painting, although, interestingly, the intention behind both approaches was the same.  I wanted to suggest a series of random glimpses of colour and movement that is possible in a garden, particularly a cottage garden, where flowers are grown en masse, and wave in the wind. 

I went out for half an hour yesterday, which has left me too damn tired to do anything with textiles, but the crayons and a sketchbook were to hand, so I thought I'd play with them, to replicate this sort of look.  Only to discover that it wasn't really possible...or not in the way I was working...

I think the problem is the type of mark it's possible to make with crayons.  They're not as easy to manipulate as paint, or maybe I'm just too lazy, or too tired, to make the kind of small mark that I was aiming for.  This drawing makes me think, not of a garden, but of a distant forest in autumn... or it did, until I applied water, and then it all went to hell in a handcart.  I had expected a bit of muddying of the clear colours that the crayons give, but what I wasn't expecting was the brush to moult.  Substantially. Which you can't see in the image below, but trust me, there's lots of the little blighters.  Growl.  I suspect I would have got the result I wanted, had I been able to spray the paint with water, rather than using a brush....but we'll never know.

You've heard me say that 'nothings succeeds as planned' frequently throughout the life of this blog.  I can actually see some potential for further work, though... not done in this way, though.  It's possible to make monoprints using watercolour crayons; in truth, that's why I bought them in the first place, it's just that I never actually tried it.  I can see that blocks of colour would be really interesting... possibly combined with a bit of collage.  So it's not all lost.  Play is never a waste of time; there's always something to learn.  Hurrah.