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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Felting Flowers...

for my fascinator.  I thought it would be a good thing to get the hats finished, so I started with felting.  And then, I thought, better try out the skills I learned over the weekend... so, I got my blocks out.  And here is my hat making corner in the studio...  meet Dolly, the head, and the small hat block set.  The iron is essential; steam is the milliner's not so secret weapon.  And the little box has my hand sewing kit.  The little lilac and cream things scattered around the blocks are stylised sinamay flowers for decoration.  As well as making the felt flowers, today, I managed to finish off the binding of the saucer hat, and start to think about how to decorate it (still not sure...), as well as make a sinamay base for a second fascinator, in eau-de-nil.  It's merrily drying on Dolly, and the bias binding for round the edges will be added tomorrow morning. 

The flowers are still drying; when they have, I'll be adding stitch to create movement and line, and then see which ones I want to use.  The pink wool is commercially dyed, but the lilac I dyed myself.  It's great to have so much of the creative process within my own hands.  Control freak?  Me?  Surely not!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Hat Heaven!

I have just got home from the best workshop I have ever been to, in any capacity.  Louise Brooks, from Hats From The Hall was the inspired and inspiring tutor to myself and Clare Hedges ...and that was it!  Almost individual tuition.  Each of us made three hats, various Fiddly Bits and had a truly wonderful time.  It was held at the workshop space of Hat Blocks Direct , a wonderful family firm, really welcoming and knowledgeable about hat making; mum is a milliner herself!  Fantastic.  Can't overdo the superlatives. 

So...what did I make? can see them above.  None of them are completely finished; the saucer, below, has to have its binding completed, whilst the other two are complete hats, but are missing embellishments (as is the saucer, of course...).   We started by making a fascinator base by hand (I don't think I've ever stitched so much by hand in my life!), and added sinamay embellishments.  I really wanted to make a pillbox hat, so that was next, made over a lovely dimpled hat block.  Not bad for one day, huh?  Day two, and we made the saucer, which I suppose you could say is half way between a hat and a fascinator; bigger than a fascinator, easier to wear than a hat, and doesn't ruin your hairdo. 

I've never felt so at home with techniques and craft.  At the end of it, I felt that I have finally found what I want to be doing, the reason for collecting all that knowledge, skill and experience.  I LOVE making hats.  Clare had just as good a time, and we had a great girly weekend!  If you get the chance to learn with Louise, run, don't walk.  She is an absolute star (and she hates getting her photo taken...sorry, Louise!!!).

This image shows Clare stitching and listening to Louise in full flow.  The 'dolly' or head shaped block on a stand, came home with me (oops...) as did a set of small blocks to make...well, yes, small hats... just don't tell Robin...  The one on the far right of the shelf is used for extra large coolie hats, apparently.  There were an assortment of hat brims and crown brims and really everything you could possibly want to make hats with.  We both loved it, and I really didn't want to come home... but all good things come to an end eventually, don't they. 

These last two images are of the almost completed hats.  You know what it's like; you take bits and pieces you think you might use to a workshop, but if you don't have enough, there's only so much you can do!  The fascinator has a hand made felt flower on it, but it needs more; probably a couple of buds, or different sized daisies.  And I have an amazing black and glass button to go at the bottom of the feathers, and will probably add a little puff of black veiling... very burlesque!  This is bringing out the frivolous parts of my soul... and it couldn't happen at a better time.  Watch this space!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Breaking Through...

As you know, or may know, I offer creativity coaching, and work as a volunteer mentor for people starting their own businesses.  I've got a background in personnel and self development, so I hope I'm fairly good at helping people to work out what they want, and how to get it.  That's particularly important in a small business, because you are often your only resource.  One of the most important things a coach can do is get you to listen to yourself, to what you and others are saying (often about you and your business), and work out what that means.  I'm currently working with another textile artist, and we came to a somewhat unexpected conclusion to what her business might actually be.  In reaching that conclusion, I said to her that the word people use about me and my work most often is 'inspirational', but that sadly, they never seemed to actually buy the work. 

On the way home, I was reminded of a Facebook conversation between myself, Annabel Rainbow and Felicity Griffin Clark, about the making and selling of work.  Annabel's comment (and I paraphrase wildly...) was that you either made work to sell or you made the work you needed to make, but the two didn't often go together.  That rang in my mind with the comment about being 'inspirational' (you, of course, may have another word to describe me...feel free to add it to the comments, I'm always interested in feedback).  And suddenly, it all clicked together in my mind.  I may have to make the work...but I don't have to sell it.  I don't have to do anything, really, except what I want to do.  What do I want to do?  I want to inspire's what I seem to do best.  Perhaps the nicest thing anyone said about me  was that when I was on form, everybody around me changed their lives for the better.  That's what I love most.  Much of the art I make, is to illustrate a point for something or the Spunbond Sensations! blog, which is predominately a teaching blog, which I hope, eventually, will become a community. 

This feels like a huge breakthrough.  My art is important to me, and I won't stop doing it (actually, I don't think I could),  but the pressure of working to sell is something I just don't need.  I would rather enable others to do what I do.  I want to make up some kits using spunbonded fabrics, and others using hand dyes, for people who would like to try working with these things, but aren't quite sure where to start.  Enough 'stuff' for the project, and full instructions.  Hurrah!  I feel so much better about things now... sometimes, all you need is to listen to yourself...and the feedback you're getting.   Phew.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

If You Are My Sister, Look Away From The Blog!

Everybody else, you can look, but don't tell anybody, especially my sister!!!  Yes, Frank and Kate, that means you too!  I sat last night and finished a lap quilt for my sister Jane.  She loves autumnal colours, hence the leaf motif.  At the time she said she wanted a quilt from me, she had a cat, hence the small cartoon block of cats, and the similar binding.  Each fabric has its own quilting pattern, mainly leaves; the gold borders need quilting, but that'll be done today, just with some abstract squiggles, methinks...  I forgot about them when I added the binding, and thought I would be as well to finish that before finishing the quilting.  I may live to regret that... but it's too late to worry about it now.  Even mitred my corners...

I very rarely make useful quilts, and I'm wondering why, to be honest, I thoroughly enjoyed making this one, and the two cat lap quilts I made for my son and daughter in law as birthday presents (there will be photos when they come back from honeymoon).  Meanwhile... see what you think of Jane's quilt.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


is becoming something of an obsession.  This is a shawl collar, made from Nuno felt, with stitch round the edges of the collar, to give it some definition.  I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out.  I'm not sure that it looks great on my chair, there, but on a person, it looks great.  I'm now trying to decide how to fasten it.. perhaps frogging, perhaps a loop and fascinating button... perhaps a vintage brooch. I'd love to know what you think.

As well as the coaching I do, I work as a volunteer mentor for people who are starting small businesses.  I met a new mentee today, and as always, it inspired me to do more coaching.  It is not a part of my work that has ever really caught on, though I have had some success working with people who are in some way stuck at some part of their creative journey.  I'm working on a new workbook, intended to help people find their own symbolic visual language, which I'm finding quite interesting.  Actually, it's more of a work bag, as you get a journal as well as the book in E-book form, and some other bits and pieces.  I hope it'll be fun to do. 

I've intended for some time to start a creativity blog; even made one here on Blogger.  I've held back from working on it for some reason, and my recent experience with Spunbond Sensations! is making it even more doubtful.  I had hoped that people would participate in Spunbond Sensations, as I can't answer questions I'm not's a bit like talking to yourself.  Perhaps it is just the blog structure... you can comment, but you can't blog on someone elses' blog, unless they allow you to.  I'm aiming for a cross between a blog and an email list; so far, it much more blog than conversation...  Perhaps if I started a list to support it?