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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Scrap Bag Blues

...or greens, browns and yellows, not to mention the occasional red.  I'm struggling with depression, and the best thing I've found for that is to take bits and pieces of fabric that might not get used for anything else, and turn them into something meaningful.  The theme was spring... but as I pieced, I found myself thinking more and more of the Highlands.  Maybe it's because a friend from the Strath found me on Facebook, and connected... or maybe it's the colours, all of which I've seen in the hills.  I think these wee blocks are snapshots, Highland snapshots.  Though there's no deep green for the forests, there is the odd strong yellow for the oil seed rape, which doesn't come out up there til May, though here in Norfolk it has been blooming for a couple of weeks already, a very early start.

What to do with them?  If the depression continues, I'm likely to add to the pile.  As it is, I'm wondering about making little quiltlets out of them, and hanging them together.  Or I could sash them in deep brown, and make a small quilt. Or stitch them all together and put a couple of borders round them, dark green and brown, probably.  Decisions, decisions.  Thankfully, I don't have to make them all at once.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

I've Started (Stitching)...

so I might as well continue.  This is a lino cut, stitched with more of Dale's lovely variegated threads.  When I made the original print, I looked at it and thought, There's too much white space in that, it'll never hold together coherently.  And yet, it does.  I used two similar threads; the darker version to delineate the flower heads, the paler version to explore the surrounding areas.  I think it works.

I think it's an object lesson in trying things out.  Those prints have been around for ages, but because I felt disheartened, I didn't bother trying to make them work.  I'm actually really pleased with this piece, and actively want to get on with stitching some more!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Stitching Up A Storm...

...or, more precisely, a lap quilt top and some quilting on small pieces.  I'm having a shoulder break ( I don't know why I sew with my shoulders, but I do...), and showing you one of the small pieces.  This is one of the 'Cracking Up' images that I took a couple of years ago, intending a series.  This one, an image of a very old brick wall, has been manipulated and printed out on Evolon.  I'm really grateful to Dale Rollerson ,who, some time ago, sent me a load of her variegated threads to try; I'm using them here, and they are lovely...great colour combinations, gloriously subtle.  They definitely did the job here ( I used Barrier Reef and Cradle Mountain on this piece, and they worked beautifully).  The only other thread I've used on this piece is a dark Madeira metallic, to emphasise the crack in the wall, and some dark madeira rayon in the bobbin.  I don't think it looks quite so much like a wall now; more like an inner landscape.  The colours may be gentle, but the stitch is spiky and sharp; I'll leave it to you to decide what that means in terms of mood.  I've tried to vary it quite a bit... see the close up, below.  It gives you a good view of the thread, too...isn't it yummy?

It feels good to be stitching again after a long time away from it.  Partly, the impetus is from Spunbond Sensations!, and partly from the need for work for an exhibition in the summer.  Either way, I'm happy to be back to work. 

Friday, April 06, 2012

Silk... just so lovely to work with.  This is a piece of Habotai, about 13" by 36", which I made many years ago.  I came across it when tidying up the cloth studios, and it seems to be holding its own very nicely.  It is made from layers of fabric screen printing inks, acrylic paints and mediums, with feathers and leaves working as both resists and printing blocks.  I like it a has the sheen of silk about it.  I have to say, it looks better in the flesh, as it were.  At the time, I couldn't think how to stitch it.  Now, I think it needs some hand stitch... another one to add to the pile.

I had forgotten this particular piece; it comes from a time when I did a lot of screen printing.  I was using up some inks that I'd made some screen prints with, and serendipitously produced this painted/hand printed piece.   Like everyone else, I'm guilty of stockpiling techniques, and then abandoning them for new ones, despite having written a book that talks about NOT doing that!  I think you teach what you most need to learn...  I do have some screens in the workshop, but haven't used them in a long time...maybe now is the time.  I had also forgotten how much I enjoy surface design work; would like to do more of that, too.  I spent a chunk of today ironing colour onto Evolon and Lutradur, ready to stitch.  I would be stitching, but Robin is in bed recovering from a really nasty fluey cold, and my sewing machine is right above his head.  So instead, I'm remembering all the different bits and pieces that I have ready for stitch, and contemplating going upstairs again, to cut batting.  After all, he can't spend the whole weekend in bed...there's football on Saturday!  Or maybe it's time that silk piece met a needle...

I'm also hoping to take possession of A New Toy on Saturday...more of that when I get it in my sticky paws!  Have a wonderful Easter, or Pesach, depending in what, if anything, you celebrate at this time of y ear.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

One Of Those Days...

where nothing goes right. I started stitching an interesting photograph, but couldn't settle to it.  Then, I started something else..that didn't work, either.  Finally, I picked up an innocuous monoprint of a leaf on Lutradur XL...and this is what it ended up as.  Happy?  No.  

I wanted texture... the good news?  I got it.  But it's unbalanced.  The yellow is too yellow, and the stitching outside the central motif isn't strong enough to balance it.  What it really needs, is a fine yellow cord.  Now fortunately, my friend Clare makes great cord... so with a bit of luck, she'll have some bright yellow threads to make some with...  in the meantime, I'll just have to brood.

Sometimes, when I'm depressed, as I seem to be today (it's been a two bar of chocolate sort of a day...I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions...), work is Just The Thing to get me out of it.  Today, though, it hasn't been.  As a rule of thumb, if I get more and more frustrated with what I'm doing, instead of getting sucked into the Zone, then the best thing to do is to go for a walk, or, in this case, go have a cup of coffee with a friend...preferably one who makes cord!