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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Surface Design...

is great fun, but I don't see myself getting out to the shed today. There's still lots of snow in the garden, and I doubt if the Berco Boiler has defrosted itself yet... so I'm staying put and playing with the cloth that I've already made. Like this sample, Lutradur 100 coloured with Brusho. All the colour was added using these flexible little watercolour inks. I'm really quite pleased with the outcome, a sample for a class I hope to be teaching soon, smaller than A4. As you can see, I've added a couple of small pieces of felt, and embellished them with some free flying fleece. I was contemplating adding some stitch, but I'm not so sure now. Small and uncomplicated seems to suit my mood. See what you think. I have to say, it looks better in the flesh... but that's the way of these things.

Monday, January 11, 2010

...And Brightening Up.

It's remarkable how much better a tidy workspace is for one's morale. I've unearthed a few medium sized pieces that need to be worked on, like the one above, which is layers of both Lutradur and Evolon, with red wool tops felted into them, as well as throwing out quite a few small pieces that just didn't work and really aren't worth working on any more. And if you marry that up with a long conversation about The Work, and what I'm intending to do, then you have a process that takes you not just out of the blues, but into the Zone. Thanks, Sally, for listening while I droned on about what was going on in my head, and for giving me your opinions, gently but firmly. And having the patience to let me sort things out in my own head.

In many ways, that's the real trick, when you're talking to someone about their work. Let them talk. Someone much smarter than me said 'I know what I think when I hear what I say'; Sally listened to me talking about how dark the earlier work had been, and how dark this new stuff also seemed. We worked out why that was, and what it meant, and then, at the end of the conversation, there was room for a small but definite brainwave unrelated to the work we were talking about, but a definite possibility for a series of work with BB. Watch this space!

Friends, what would we do without them?

Oh, and the other thing I've stopped doing is the procrastination around the images for the book. My lovely designer should get the whole thing tomorrow. The thing about procrastination is that it's SO good when you stop! Why not try it with whatever you have been avoiding, lately? You know you want to...and I bet that whatever it is is not as difficult as you think it is going to be. Trust me, I'm a quilter.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tidying Up...

is, I suspect, best done in a bad mood. Failing that, a questioning mood. Why do I keep all this stuff? Why don't I tidy up as I go along? Why do I feel as if I want to work larger than I have been? Do I really need all this fabric? Where can I put all these books? You know the kind of thing, I'm sure. It helps you to throw things away, or give them to others, which makes it easier to find places to put things; and that, in turn, gets things clearer in your mind. I write about it at length in the Creative Focus book. At times like this, I rather think I should be taking a large dose of my own medicine.

And that really is what I intend to do. I spent an hour in one of the fabric studios today, and it still looks like a large bomb hit it. Partly that's because my son has several boxes of his stuff, mainly books (wonder who he gets that from...?), in that particular studio. They're going back up to Scotland just as soon as I can manage it (mwahaha...). But it's also my doing. There is a lovely (or rather, unlovely) guddle in both cloth studios, and I'm sick of it. So the next few days will be partly spent working on putting things to rights, and the rest of the time spent telling the cats that I didn't order the snow up just to spite them, and that there's plenty of food in their between cuddles, of course.

That 'work larger' thing is intriguing, though. Partly it's just Bertha's influence. Partly, though, it's a need to give myself the space to express things, as I do in my paintings. I don't like painting small, and I no longer feel I want to sew small, either. And partly it's the restlessness that you get at the beginning of a new phase of work, as you wonder, is it worth it? Do I really want to do that? Say that? Express that? Will I be able to do the theme justice? I don't know any of that. But I do trust the process, and at the moment, the process seems to be saying, tidy up, get ready to work, get out of your own way, and hurry up about it. So that's what I'm doing. Wish me luck, it's scary.

Friday, January 08, 2010

On A Roll...

carguably, with the odd disaster still creeping in... This is a variation of the original cave painting image, where I've used the software to allow me to draw on top of the manipulated photograph, and then used those additional lines to suggest the stitch lines. What I've produced, is a primitive, semi abstract man shape. If I could only see it as that, I'd be happy.

However, I also see it as a badly drawn man shape. When I was stitching it, I couldn't see the head as I originally envisaged it, which was quite a bit larger than the one in the image, and in a completely different position. I can see it now, of course, in the photograph, but at the time, I couldn't. So I stitched what I saw, and went with the flow, as I always do. The head seems to suggest that the body is facing one way, where the leg in the bottom left corner, suggests that the body is facing in another. Now that I've seen that, I can't unsee it.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to intention. My intention was to create a semi abstract, primitive man shape, and that's what I've produced. What's more, despite my own discomfort, I'm not going to change it to conform to the 'rules' of what a man shape should look like. In fact, the more I look at it, the more I warm to it. This is a 'man' who is ruled by his body, not his head. Who is, perhaps as a result of that, confused and unsure of where he's going. Tentative, hesitant, almost.

Like I said, I can't unsee the 'wrong' bit. But I can accept it for what it is, an expression, resulting from my process, which has taken me a bit of thinking to comprehend. This post is very much for me... but it's also for everyone who has worried that their intention will not be seen by the viewer. My suggestion is that you live with it, just as I'm doing. Ambiguity is good. Risk taking is good. Expression is good. Above all, you have to trust the process... at some level, you really do know what you're doing, and why. It might take a little time for the conscious you to catch up, but that's okay.

ps It's worth looking at the images enlarged, I think...just click on them. The first one is a detail shot, that shows some of the drawing I did, as well as some of the stitch.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Returning From The Brink Of Disaster...

...or how to survive One Of Those Days. I'm definitely having one, and much of it centres round this piece, called 'Cave Drawings I'. It started as an inkjet print on Evolon, as I'm writing a section about doing just that thing at the moment. I then added some net, and some stitch, but felt it needed Something. A gel transfer, I thought. Forgetting, of course, that I hadn't actually set the ink (I use a spray). So, what happens? Ink runs in one section. No problem, I thought, just whip the gel back off again, which I did, and we'll add something to that area. I know, a print done on Bondaweb.

Problem was, the Bondaweb wasn't sticking well to the backing sheet, so I covered it with greaseproof paper and ironed it. So well, in fact, that it stuck to the greaseproof paper. No, that has never happened to me before, and to be honest, I didn't believe it. So I ran it through the printer, fusible side up. Nifty print of a fossil. Try to iron it onto the piece. It did. Trouble was, the paper didn't want to come off again. Stood for half an hour peeling it off laboriously. Some of the Bondaweb stayed on the piece, some of it didn't. In the meantime, I'd forgotten where exactly the original problem area was. Ahem. And I left a few pieces of the paper on the cloth, as they looked interesting.

Meanwhile, ran two other pieces of Bondaweb through the printer. One was successful; the other was eaten by the printer, and disgorged itself slowly in shreds. That kind of a day? Oh, yes. Still, I'm quite pleased by the work. Wait til you see the next one in the series...if I get that far...

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Directions...

and who knows where they will lead. This is the inaugural piece from Big Bertha (BB), my lovely printer, and it's called, 'Are We Dancers?'. It is made from Lutradur 100, silk and wool fibres, and measures 17.5" by 24"; it's great to be able to work on a larger scale than A4 with a photographic image! Although the piecemade in layers, I don't think it really qualifies as a quilt (of which more another time). The image is manipulated; the original was a picture of a crack in the floor of one of the buildings at the museum at Gressenhall, just up the road from here. I did contemplate beading this piece, but thought better of it. I think it's complicated enough without it. There's always the risk that you add too much to a piece, and distract from the original intention. Sadly, the main picture doesn't do the colour justice; the colours are very subtle in places. I hope to get a better photograph of it when the snow disappears and I can get to the gallery, where the lighting is good. The close up does a much better job of rendering the colours of the original.

As you can tell from the image, I've given my embellisher a bit of an outing, and intend to work much more with it in the next few months. I've rearranged my work space so that it has a table to itself, and I've already used it more in a week than I did in the whole of last year, just about. Which is sad, really. I didn't buy it as a toy, but other than buying rather a lot of things to use with it, I didn't make time to work with it. Now, I have a clear plan about using it, and a clear purpose, and I do feel better about it. And I'm wondering what other bits and pieces of things I'll work with next... other than BB, of course, she's an essential part of my new directions. Hope you like what you see...

Monday, January 04, 2010

Playing With The Inner Child

I've always had a thing about crayons. Chubbi's in particular, the kind they have in nursery schools, the big thick ones. Only thing about them was, they sometimes didn't make all that great a mark...there was something hard about them, and they sort of squeaked on the table sometimes... I've often felt the same about textile crayons; the idea is great, but they always seem so hard... and then I went to demo for ColourCraft at Harrogate last year. Oooh, crayons, I said. Yes, they said. They're just for kids. But when I pouted, they said, go on then, you can play with them too.

So me and my inner child played with the crayons for a bit, and they were Good; very satisfyingly chunky, not unlike Chubbies were. As you can see from the illustration, the colour is bright, and they work nicely on Evolon that had been transfer dyed in places. What you can't see from the illustration is how nicely they work on cloth; they feel really soft and smooth, and I loved them! But they're just for kids, they kept saying. I'm of the view that I don't care who they're for; if they work, they work! And they certainly do. (The flower tops are made with copper Gutta, by the way...).

So now I'm having a conversation with my inner child. We're thinking... resists under Procion... detail over Procion... drawings just for fun... tshirts.... all we have to do now is wait until the Little Green Shed defrosts a bit (the water for dyeing has frozen), and go Try It Out! In the meantime, my inner child and I are going to prepare some Evolon for blasting with heat... and colouring a little doll, too. We like colour. We like easy. We like fun. Hurrah!!!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

What Do You Do...

when the BBC is showing a feature length episode of Casualty? Well, I don't know what you do, but I sit and stitch by hand. This piece has been hanging around for a while, only a third done. I used to take it to the Gallery to do on open days, but that stopped when I got the Paid Job. Last night seemed like a good moment to resume work on it, and despite a little jockeying for postion amongst the cats, and Merlin deciding that the thread was To Be Played With, I got quite a lot done. I'll be doing Open Studio in May this year, and I'd like to have some new pieces to show, other than the work I'm doing with BB. Besides, hand stitching is possible in lunch hours and the like, when I do go back to work.

The piece is provisionally entitled Strata, reflecting the way that the stitches increase in size in some places, as well as the markings of the rust, which seem stratified, somehow. The cloth is rust dyed silk habotai, stitched with cotton hand dyed threads by Myfanwy Hart. I very rarely dye my own threads, too fiddly for my liking, but I like Myfanwy's. I've got some rust dyed Evolon still to play with; there's instructions for that in the upcoming book, two different methods. I love the effect that rust dyeing gives; must do more of it. In the meantime, though, I'm happy to work on the first of BB's pieces; pictures of that tomorrow.

It's lovely to be back on the blog. Thank you to everyone who has been patiently waiting for me to come back...and a particular thank you to everyone who comments. I read every one, and appreciate them greatly.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Tidying Up...

mainly, today, in the Gallery. We're going to use the smaller of the two spaces as dedicated workshop space, that can be used on a drop in space, rented out by groups or artists for small workshops, or in which we'll conduct our own workshops, as usual. The adult group I run on a Tuesday is not meeting until the first Tuesday in March, and we'll be kicking off with a fabric swap. In my case, that'll be a fabric getting rid of, I hope... too much fabric, not enough time. I'm certainly going to start selling my hand dyes in the gallery, soon, so that will take some of the pressure off, at least. Phew.

Tomorrow, I start to tidy up the Evolon book, adding the chapters I talked about yesterday, and getting it to the designer, so that it will be printed (at last, I hear you holler...). And I definitely need to tidy up the threads I have in my possession, as I started using one in particular on the piece I've made on BB, and I can't find any more of it, though I know there is some somewhere...

In the meantime, though, I'm going to finish off this particular day of tidying with a quick dash through the kitchen, where too much of the shed's stuff is lurking. Back it goes tomorrow, but meantime, I hear the allure of the empty dishwasher, and the rumble of my tum. Off to clear the decks, and cook the tea!

Friday, January 01, 2010

A Leap Of Faith

Last year was the year when I made my first true leap of faith. When we realised that the future of my husband's employers was a little...well...shaky, I decided to go back into HR. For me, that was a leap of faith. I didn't know if I could cope or not with the demands of paid employment, which was the reason I got (really) ill in the first place, last time round. But needs must when the devil drives, and I spent a joyful five months working in a great place, which is now, sadly, closed. You would have noticed the quiet blog, here, which was a direct result of the Paid Job, and for that, I'm sorry. I missed talking with you all. Now, though, I'm about to take another leap of faith, which is to continue to look for paid employment (anyone looking for a proactive HR Manager?), but to combine it with a simplification of my creative life. I'm coming back to textiles in a focussed way, with a bit of mixed media on the side.

You see, I've got a new toy. She's called Big Bertha, and she's a printer. She's not any old printer, though; she's an Epson 7880 (check her out here). I'm going to be working almost exclusively with images that are derived from photographs, just like the image at the top of the blog, one of the illustrations for the new Evolon book (more of that in a minute). She's too big for my studio, so she lives in the gallery in Dereham, where we'll be offering a range of services for artists and photographers based on BB. Watch this space for more details... but first, I need to master using her on cloth. That starts next week... the gallery may not know what hit them .

And the Evolon book. Yes, I know, I promised it for last year. I failed...but for a good reason (for once). I'm adding two new chapters, one on using evolon and the printer, another on distressing with heat. It will be ready in March; I hope you'll think it's worth the wait.

Oh, it's good to be back. I spent part of this afternoon in the studio...would still be there, but himself has a migraine, and the embellisher makes a lot of noise... I'm half way through working with my first large scale image on Lutradur. It's really exciting!

Finally, I wish you all a Guid New Year... one that is joyful, exciting and creative, just like mine!