meta name="p:domain_verify" content="c874e4ecbd59f91b5d5f901dc03e5f82"/>


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The One That Got Away...

... or OTGA, as it is likely to be known forever, now, complete with crease, which I'll have to iron out.  I love the shape, though, so it got to be a small piece all by itself.  I was working on a piece to demonstrate just how interesting it is to work with a single shape, to get to know it (part of the FOQ workshop I've been banging on about here.  This is the actual piece;

The OTGA should have been in the top motif, but somehow I missed it.  I'm actually rather glad I did, because the other two motifs have three elements, and it would have been unbalanced if the top one had had four.  This will be one of the exercises we work through during the workshop.

I have a very simple rule in my workshops... participants can't get anything 'wrong'.  I'm really looking forward to seeing the variants that will come out of this exercise.  It's very much unfinished; it desperately needs stitch, and the addition of line.  But that's something we'll talk about in the workshop, I think...though I will probably work today on the OTGA, just so that we can see that it's possible!  I've been thinking about working in this way for some time, as I have masses of drawings that are really lines creating shapes.  (Yes, I know, that's how drawing usually works... but I'm talking about non representational drawing, random lines creating random shapes.  These pieces are coming out of that thought process, albeit in an altered way.  I love it when that happens.

If you would like to come and play with us at FOQ, there are still spaces available; check out the timetable here 

PS.  The background of both pieces is made from hand dyed cotton; the motif, from hand dyed lutradur.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More To Monoprinting...

...than meets the eye.  I usually monoprint with ink, fabric paint or transfer paints, but today, for some unknown reason, I decided to monoprint with transfer dye, instead.  In case you're wondering, the difference (as they used to say on a long defunct advert) is in the thickness; transfer paints are thicker than transfer dyes.  I'm really rather pleased with the results.  The paper I'm using is newsprint, my paper of choice for working with transfer dyes and paints, as it is thin and therefore doesn't hold onto as much of the dye as a thicker paper might.  And here are the end results, with one or two painted papers mixed in.

These are, as you can see, fairly large papers, so the monoprinting process was done, not on glass, or my favourite plastic, but direct onto the surface of a picnic table; worked a treat.  Here's a closer look at one of the prints.

Monoprinting has to be the simplest form of printing, and the most direct.  However, there is, I believe, more to it than meets the eye when you're working in textile.  The six million dollar question for me is, where is the stitch going to go?  There has to be room for stitch in your design; if it looks absolutely perfect without stitch, then it probably is, and you should leave it be.  If it's really ornate and fiddly, there might also not be room for stitch.  So I like to keep my monoprinting simple, and try to remember that this is not the end of the process, but rather, the beginning.

The other half-day workshop I'm teaching at FOQ is on monoprinting (Friday and Sunday).  I've been working on some small samples to show my pupils, and to hang on the stand, as well as making up monoprint kits to sell.  The workshop is called 'Monoprint Magic'.  So, what's the magic?  Well, that would be'll just have to come and take part, to find out!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Preparing For Festival Of Quilts...

...continues apace, making up kits for the workshops and finishing off samples and new pieces of work to hang on the stand, to give you an idea of what I'm up to, and about to write about next, to boot.  One of the workshops I'm teaching this time is called 'Take Two Shapes (...and a Line)', and it's about making your own appliqué designs.  I don't suppose I'm particularly associated with appliqué, but I frequently use fusible appliqué in my work, though it is never the focus.  Over the years, I've watched people make ever more complex applique designs; for myself, though, I prefer to keep things simple.  Dear Jane has nothing to fear from me... I'm more likely to make and use abstract and naive designs.  I admire realism, but I'm more interested in suggesting a flower, than describing its every detail in cloth.

I've always thought that there were two ways of working.  In one, you start of with a picture in your mind of what you want to achieve, and then you render it.  This sort of artist keeps copious sketchbooks, plans a lot and often frets at the end if what they make is not exactly what they envisaged.  And then there's people like me.  I like starting at the other end, with no definite plan.  I start with a simple shape, and I play with it, get to know it.  Cut it up.  Combine it.  See what it naturally suggests.  And then, I develop a design or series of designs, based on those ideas.  It's a bit like an exploration.  And yes, I too keep copious sketchbooks (and then totally fail to refer to them...sigh).

Often, I combine two shapes, in a variety of ways, and then think about stitch, which creates the line.
The quilt above is a case in point.  I'm very fond of penny rugs, which were made from felted wool scraps, and, whilst called rugs, were really bed or table covers.  I wanted to make something that referred to that tradition, without necessarily following it slavishly.  So... I took two shapes, a circle and a square.  The cloth is Evolon, which I've rust dyed and then acid dyed.

 The squares are beads; the large ones are made of glass.  It's a (very small) wholecloth, about 12" square; the line, in this case, was first hand quilting, and then, because that wasn't strong enough, I couched sari yarn along the lines.  So now, I have two lots of squares; the beads, and the suggestion of squares made by the lines.  I like the idea of using embellishments like beads and buttons as an integral part of the applique design, rather than added on at the end, because it seems like a good idea...

If this is sounding like a cross between a tutorial and an advert, it is.  I'm teaching this particular three hour workshop on Thursday and Saturday mornings, and there are still places if you would like to come and explore with me, I'd be delighted to see you!  More about all the workshops can be found here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The One .err...Two...That Got Away...

No, I haven't been fishing.  Heaven forfend.  But I have been transfer dyeing lutradur to turn it into samples for my workshops and stand at Festival Of Quilts.  Yes, it's a bit late in the day, but as you know, I've been battling demons for the past two years.  The good news seems to be that I've turned a corner, and feel well for the first time in a long time.  So, I'm applying myself with gusto, to make sure that I'm really well prepared to teach and demonstrate.  It's the first time I've done this under my own steam, having demonstrated for Colourcraft in the past.  It's scary, and a big risk.  This kind of thing is Very Expensive, and I haven't been making much in the way of money recently; illness will do that to one, especially a self employed one.  But I'll be bringing books, kits and myself, to show you what I'm up to, and hopefully encourage you to try some of it for yourself.

Anyway.... yesterday, I painted a lot of papers.  Some of them are monoprints, like the red heart shape, others are painted pretty much at random, mostly intended for colouring lutradur for beads.  So far so good, huh?   The monoprints are fine.  It was when I looked at the results of the random painting, that the trouble started.  I liked them.  They were interesting.  This is the first one;

And what I saw, was a landscape.  Rats.  Fortunately, I was able to cut off one of the prints (I got four, which I merged into each other to make a long piece of cloth).  Well, okay, it was really two of the prints, because I saw a landscape with a tree in it.  So far so good, huh?  The second piece of cloth, I thought, was much simpler.  I saw a sunset, in an individual print, so I cut it off, thinking that I now had lots of multicolour cloth to cut up for beads...good, right?  So I squared up to it on the cutting mat and.... couldn't...  

Now those of you who have met me in person will know that one of my mantras is, cut it, there will be a better bit along in a minute....   But I really can't bring myself to cut this I'll have to see what it suggests.  I usually have Much More Willpower Than This when it comes to cloth.  Clearly I'm Going Soft.  Telling myself I can hang it in my booth, doesn't really help, either....  Ah well. These things happen.  Sometimes.  Cough.  Oh well, back to the beads...

ps in case you're wondering what I'm teaching, it involves pretty postcards, lutradur beads, monoprinting and a wee bit of appliqué (or cloth) design...  hope I'll get to meet some of you in Birmingham this year.


Monday, July 08, 2013

More KISSes...

I did some printing a couple of weeks ago, trying out some new blocks; I wrote about it here.  I liked this simple leaf block, and it printed fairly well.  I'd intended the motif for using individually, on little cards, but thought it might be interesting printed on fabric, too.  So I tried it on a postcard sized piece of lutradur, as you can see here;

I began printing using red fabric paint (from Colourcraft, for those of you who like to know these things...), making the two strong leaf shapes to either side of the lutradur.  Boring, I thought.  So, without removing the remains of the red fabric paint from the block, I added some blue, and overprinted.  That, I thought, was more like it.  But I still didn't like the contrast of the white against the red and lilac/blue.  So... I decided to transfer dye it, using some yellow that I had lying around... and here's the result.

I'm really rather pleased with that; it's a lot warmer.  I can't decide whether the leaf shapes really are leaves, or whether they are massed shields... either way, they're ready for stitch.  Just have to decide what to put beneath it; lutradur being semi transparent, different colours behind will have differing effects on the piece.  Ah, decisions, decisions...

Above all, it's amazing to me what can be done with a simple block and an enquiring mind!