Monday, 28 September 2009

Creative spurt

I don't know if it's the thought of winter coming or just a general creative surge after a rest period, but I'm feeling very energised at the moment. I've finally managed to get back into the routine of taking my 2 dedicated creative days a week and have found that really helpful. I never quite know how the day will pan out but I find it a good discipline to stick with the project and see what happens.

I'm gradually moving the African project forward and as a result of my sketch book experiments, I've moved into stitch earlier than I usually do, which is a good sign, maybe I'm becoming more confident, who knows.

Anyway I wanted to see if my paperwork plan would work in reality, so I took some fabrics as close to the original colours as possible and started to work the appliqué patches. Despite having a couple of hand dyed samples, thanks to a swap with Françoise, I wasn't happy with the colours and knew I'd have to dye some fabrics to the colour scheme I'd worked out.

It was such a lovely day I did it outside so I could make a mess with impunity. I used Procion dyes, using the immersion method as I'd run out of Urea and couldn't paint on the dye as I usually do.

The colours came out paler than I would have liked, so I'm now wondering if I should have left them in the dye bath for longer (more than an hour) or put in more dye. My dyes are about 10 years old so it could have been that too. Still, I like these shades so will experiment with them.

Still on a roll I decided to dye my sock wool that I bought back in the Spring. It was pack with the dyes included to be done in the microwave, I couldn't believe how easy it was, can't wait to knit it up now.

And finally I decided to dig out the tailored jacket that I started before the C&G, and have now decided to finish it.

Oh! and plus I blocked my jumper at last today, so now I can sew it up, phew I feel tired just thinking about all of this.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

New African project

At last I've been able to get back into the studio after the hectic goings on for the past few months.

Having been so inspired by our holiday in Tanzania I had to make a start with a new sketch book to flesh out some ideas of where I wanted to go with it.

I started with a double spread looking at the various influences I had found exciting, from the people and textiles to the animals. I set the page on a brown Parker ink base ( that I knew would bleach), because it reminded me of the African dusty soil.

From here I went on to look at the colours and designs that the Massai use in their clothing and jewellery. I was also struck by the fact that they use quite a lot of found objects to add to the beading, such as fragments of Coak cans that shine like precious metals in the sun. Their colours and patterns are very bold by Western standards, so I may have think quite hard about the colour pallet that I want to use.

I noticed these wonderful cushion covers in one of the lodges and recognised them as Shoowa cut pile embroidery made by the Kuba people of Zaire. It was great to see them and feel the rough texture of the raphia panels, as I'd studied these textiles on the C&G.
I thought I might use the designs to develop a print, either paper or cloth and maybe experiment with a starch resist.

These cloths, also Kuba, and made with raphia, had been used for lampshades in another lodge. They consist of strips that are joined together with the seams exposed and have various appliquéd shapes. I had the idea to maybe create a coloured version of this using the colours I'd seen in the Massai blankets, and also using the sewing machine to construct it. I wondered what the people would do with our textiles and machines if they had them at their disposal. Maybe they'd wonder why we bother to spend so much time, energy and money, in setting up a machine to do what they do naturally and with virtually no equipment.

As you see I'm a long way from making any decisions yet, but at the moment I'm just enjoying the feeling that I can take this any way I want to, be it a paper print, a painting, or a textile piece.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Freedom exhibition

Well the day came at last on Saturday for the 20 finalists of the Charles Henry Foyle Trust Award for Stitched textiles to see our work on display and find out who had won the coveted prizes.

The standard of the entries was extremely high with several finalists having completed their BA's and pushing on to MA's or finishing them, so it was no surprise the that the stunning winning entry was an MA graduate/student (I'm not sure if she has finished her course) of Nottingham Trent University.
Her name is Donna Rumble-Smith and her piece was called 'Casting a Line'. She had used nylon monofilaments and other yarns 'to create a net that would catch technical words and sayings used, and observations made by both fishermen and embroiderers'

The piece was strung across an area of the Needle Museum the made it feel as if it was in perfect harmony with the surroundings, and gave the total 'wow factor'.

As some of you will know, I decided to make a hat for my entry and this was my entry in the catalogue.

On receiving the invitation to make a piece on the theme of Freedom, my first thoughts were ‘creative freedom’. Like many people I have always suffered from an interfering inner critic that does it’s best to undermine my artistic confidence.
I decided that I wanted to make something really special that would give me confidence and freedom from the voice. Every time I wore it or used it I would remember that I processed great creative strength and determination.
I would also like to think that other people might be tempted to make their own inner critic silencer.

It was remarkably difficult to photograph as I'd made it with reflective sheers and shiny threads, as Iwas trying to create a play of light on the fabrics and threads.

And this is the 'all seeing eye' that looks for unhelpful critical influences.

I would like to have shown more pics of the other entries but my DH took all the shots in raw and I can't convert them :-(

But if you get the chance to go in person it's well worth a visit.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

A little bit of creative stuff

Things have been a bit thin on the ground creatively speaking since I got back off holiday so I thought I'd take the opportunity to show the PC's that I've received and created for the CG group, since June.

I'm very late in my acknowledgements, so apologies to those concerned.

First up was Neki's beautiful PC for June, a very unusual take on the original source.

And here's mine.

We certainly managed a great variety of ideas that month.

Next was Lynda's beautiful cool version of the mountain scene we had for July.

And mine, extremely late I'm afraid.

August saw us messing about with hearts and I received this lovely romantic PC from Debbi

I'm afraid my sense of the ridiculous got the better of me on this one.

And lastly a joint effort with my DD1, who did all the designing and most of the stitching for this memorial cushion for my DS and his lovely wife's wedding. My DH was away for the w/e so my DD's and I had a lovely creative retreat and each did our own thing and thoroughly enjoyed each others company, roll on the next one girls.

I've started the paperwork for my African project so will be able to show some WIP pics next week, I'm really enjoying being able to follow up the experience while it's still fresh in my thoughts.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Tanzania part 3

This is the last post I shall put up on our African holiday as time is passing and life is slowly returning to normal, just, with other things taking their place in my consciousness , mores the pity.

As you'll see from my journal entry, I had actually worried, before the trip, that I would be bored on the game drives, how wrong can you be ?

Although trying to sketch the animals on the move was very challenging, I found it gave me an enormous buzz and made me feel much closer to the animals than taking photos did.

After spending 2 nights at the crater we moved on to the Serengeti National Park, another bone shattering 5 hours on the dirt road.

But what sights we saw along the way.

This page appears to have all the sketches done in landscape and the text in portrait, sorry about that, must have been tired.

How about this for pattern inspiration

When I got home and was able to process my pics I added small prints to the sketches to remind me how the scene had looked at the time and how close, or otherwise I had got to capturing the essence.

I think this pic of zebras being spooked at the water hole has to be my favourite shot of the holiday.

Followed closely by this one.

There were so many highlights on this trip it's very hard to say which was the best, but one of them has to be our balloon flight over the Serengeti. It was a wonderful experience, slowly drifting over the tops of the acacia trees watching the game running below us.

And our wonderful pilot who carefully landed us in a text book landing.

And best of all the flight was followed by a full English breakfast under the acacia tree in the middle of the Serengeti.

It was a sad evening when we left the Serengeti for the last time, not knowing if we'd ever come back.

It was the most amazing trip, that has left a life long impression on me and I'm so grateful to my DH for making it possible, and at the same time I'm so sorry that I was such a wimp during the previous 1 1/2 years of preparation for it. I should have trusted him that I would find it an amazing life changing experience and want to go back for more, which of course I do.

Thanks too to my wonderful children who also had to put up with my winging, but consistently gave me the courage to do it.