Tuesday, 31 July 2007

My little boat has been on and off the background of this picture a lot. And not just one boat - but lots of different sorts of boats - long boats, boats with lots of oars, two masted boats, etc.

Anyway today I took the plunge and stitched a boat - below are the stages.

Step 1

I am doing this boat as a type of "Reverse applique". I lay dark coloured fabric over my sunset background.

Step 2

I lay water soluble fabric with the drawing of the boat on over the dark fabric and background fabric.

Step 3

Stitch the boat, with free machine embroidery in a thread that goes with the dark fabric.

Tomorrow I will dissolve away the water soluble fabric, and cut away the dark fabric from around the outside of the boat, leaving a silhouette - which hopefully will be sailing along in the right place .... watch this space!

Friday, 27 July 2007

Ho Hum

Picture so far ........

Lots of faffing about this afternoon placing fabrics and papers on the piece; and taking them off again ..... on and off ....... on and off ........

This is where I have got to now. Layers of fabrics and papers for the "sea" at the bottom.
Layers or sheers, organza's and some tissue paper at the top.

There is supposed to be a boat sailing away in the middle - but when I cut out a paper template and placed it in position - I didn't like it. The sea and sky overpowered it.

So I am having to have a re-think about the design. Meanwhile I still have the original design in my head.

I think in preparing this background - I strayed away from my original design - which was quite ethereal - and have done a more literal sea scape - sort of on automatic pilot - and now I don't know where to take it!

Anyway - no studio time tomorrow - and I must tend the veg garden on Sunday - so that will give me lots of thinking time to resolve the design and process.

Oh ..... my piece "Sacred Mysteries" has been accepted for hanging at the open art competition, so I am pleased about that.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

New Picture Started

Guess what? ..... it rained today! Got completely washed out gardening this morning - and was not very settled in the studio this afternoon.

However I have made a start on a new piece - and got a working title for it - currently "Beyond the Stars"

It is based on a section of Sacred Mysteries - the sailing boat section.


The background is a rough sunset/water painted onto vylene - I always rough out the background colours - even though they wont show in the finished piece as it gives me a starting point for the fabric, papers and stitching - and it is far easier to make a first stitch into colour than untouched white - rather like its hard (sometimes) to draw on the first page of a new sketchbook - I always start a couple of pages into the book.

Starting the layers

For the sea I wanted words in the background. I have transferred a letter onto tissue paper which I have ripped up and placed on the background.

Building up the fabric layers

I am now starting to build up the fabric layers of the sea - that's all I had time for today - but when I next get time in the studio - hopefully tomorrow - I will continue to build up the fabric layers in the sky. At this point they are only pinned down - Giving scope for tweaking when all the fabrics are in place, prior to stitching

Monday, 23 July 2007

To days Journal Page

Tissue Paper, print and fabric layers stuck together, then cut and re-pieced.
Stitching and felt pens.
(size aprox 8ins high)

Very fed up with all these grey skies we are having just now. Not much time in the studio to-day - just enough to do a journal entry.

Friday, 20 July 2007

To Day in the Studio

Had some time today in the studio - but was not very focused!

I was contemplating these papers - When I paint bondaweb - these are the backing papers once the bondaweb has been removed - and they are a happy accidents - and far to good to chuck away - but didn't come up with anything I really want to do with them today - maybe tomorrow!

The next "event" that I have to prepare for is a craft fair here in the village in September - and I want to make some greetings cards.

When I do "small embroideries" as greetings cards, they take a phenomenal amount of time. So I wanted to do something quicker and I am playing around with paper layers and stitching - using papers I created over the years.

Golden Music Paper

This is a piece of paper I made last year (size approx A4) It is made from layers of tissue paper, some of which were stamped or drawn on. Pages from a music book and loose fibres, with more tissue paper on top. The whole piece has been brushed over with quite a thick gold acrylic paint - which was quickly rubbed away. It also had some pearl ex powder sprinkled on top and rubbed in.

I am going to cut this up to make "toppers" for greetings cards - hearts and flowers are always popular. So I have started cutting out hearts from another piece of laminated tissue papers - and stitched this onto the background.

Close up detail of heart

size approx 4 inches high

Still quite fed up with the blog being off line for a day or two this is why;-

Your blog is locked

Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What is a spam blog?) Since you are an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy and we sincerely apologise for this false positive.

We received your unlock request on 17 July 2007. On behalf of the robots, we apologise for locking your non-spam blog. Please be patient while we take a look at your blog and verify that it is not spam.

Find out more about how Blogger is fighting spam blogs.

Is it going to happen again? - If they check you out once does that mean it wont happen again? Should I take my blog elsewhere? All these silly little questions going on in the back of my head. I am glad it happened after I finished the big piece - because the piece and the blog were very linked in my mind.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Locked Blog

To anyone who tried to visit my blog yesterday or today - sorry for the inconvenience of being
"locked" however - google has now verified I am a "real" person and this evening my blog was unlocked.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Piece Delivered .....

"Sacred Mysteries" has gone - I delivered it to the gallery today - and the selection panel meets next Tuesday. They let artists know if their work has been selected by post, so I will know one way or the other by the end of next week.

When I got home after delivering the work I felt a bit lost - this is how I usually feel when I part with a big piece - especially so soon after it has been finished.

Usually on completion of a big piece, or series of pieces I take a day to clean my studio - returning everything to its place ready for the next batch of work - but this time before I start on the studio, I will have to tidy the house for visitors that arrive on Wednesday.

I am not tidy by nature - and my home bears testament to this. However, the cleaning of the studio after a batch of work is therapy. It is a meditation on the pieces that have been finished - and those that are to come. It is a time to pause and take stock - before the next flurry of activity. As I write this I am reminded of those snow globes - which you shake and the glitter and snow flies everywhere, fast at first - then slowing down before gently sinking to the bottom - ready to be shaken up again.

When I tidy the studio - this is sometimes when wonderful "What if" moments occur - which will be triggered by the juxtaposition of carelessly discarded elements from the just completed pieces;- Bondaweb on top of foil. String under foil etc.

Above is a small glimpse of an old piece of work - layers of hand made paper and copper - just a little eye candy!

Thank You

(This post was in response to a variety of comments which have now been deleted).

I would like to thank all of you who visit my blog and take the time and trouble to comment.

I believe that art has no boundaries - neither place nor gender, nor age.

I make my art and put it out there for the world to see - if it touches someone, amuses
someone, brings someone joy, makes someone think, or irritates - than that is all well and good.

I work from my soul, expressing what I need or want to say.
I started this blog as way of showing how I work, what my decision processes are and if the pieces themselves work or not.

I have friends to stay now for 10 days - and will not be in the studio much - although I will probably post about how it feel to have completed a big piece later in the week.

I realize that I will not get my commentary right for all of the people all of the time - and that is something we will all have to live with. But I will take on board suggestions that make it easier for viewers to understand (ie 20cm = 8 ins)

This blog is about my art, my processes and my musings on an artists life and I will welcome comments on these matters. In future I will moderate comments that are not related to the above.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

What's in a Name?

The naming of a piece of work is always something I find thought provoking and interesting.

Sometimes the name comes first - I will hear or read a phrase and immediately it invokes the idea of a piece of art. Other times - as in this case - I was working to a brief "In a country churchyard" and the name of the piece is still undecided.

While working on the big piece - in my mind I was calling it "Fabric of Life" - however I like this title so much that I really want to do a series of work with this title - or use it as the theme for an exhibition.

I have been toying with variations on journeys and songs - as the piece has a "journey line" in it - which is a theme I enjoy but nothing I thought about was really right.

Friends came around this evening to have a look at the art before I submit it for selection tomorrow. We were all playing with thoughts and ideas - what the piece was saying to us as individuals. Trying to find the appropriate name.

One of the group said "Sacred Mysteries" and I knew that was right - Again for me it is an internal click - I suppose like putting in the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle; Click the jigsaw is finished; Click the piece is named "Sacred Mysteries". The title says everything I want the piece to express, and I am happy.

The Gift for a Friend
This piece is now finished, and it is called "The Gift" (Size 20cm x 20cm)
below is the finished piece, and some details.


The embroidery has been mounted onto a board which has been covered with a copy of the service sheet. I have aged this by washing it over with a wet tea bag. Then when this was dry I washed it over with a mix of Gesso and Parchment coloured acrylic paint.

Detail showing ExtravOrganza scroll

The scroll was made by printing a quotation onto ExtravOrganza with an inkjet printer.

Detail showing the service sheet background
(in Welsh)

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Friday, 13 July 2007

A Gift for a friend.

Rain again today - so another studio day as no gardening!

I wanted to make a piece as a gift for my cousin who became a priest on Sunday - and I wanted to complete the piece in one day. I nearly achieved it - but I have got a few finishing touches to do tomorrow.

I have taken the angel element from the large piece - as this angel is meaningful to both of us.

For the background I layered dyed pieces of tissue and tissuetex left over from the last project. I bonded these layers together using bondaweb. As I really did not like the colours - I was left with very dark blue and acid yellow - I over painted the bonded papers with golden and pearl acrylic paint - this left me with quite a strange plasticy surface - but that was fine. I then cut an arch shape out of the bonded papers.

I printed the angel onto ExtrvOrganza and then bondawebed the organza onto heavyweight vylene - which had all ready been coloured with a dilute mix of fabric dye and gold acrylic paint.

I placed the tissue layers over the angel do that she was sitting in the arch - then machine zig-zaged around the arch in gold thread. Then I did my usual thing of putting the whole lot onto water soluble fabric as a support while I did the machine and hand stitching.

As for my big piece - I have ignored it all day - and looking at it this evening - it is finished!
And ...... its OK

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Still Thinking

Rain today - very grey and wet.
Still thinking

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

I think it might be finished

I think it might be finished! So I shall leave the piece alone until Friday when I will stitch it onto the background! Oh - and photograph it.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

The End is in sight

Was in the studio for about half an hour this morning - when I realized that actually the stitching was complete! It came as quite a surprise really.

When to stop stitching is always a tricky one. For me there is an internal click and a sense of "that's it"

Sometimes, when you know something is not right - but you are not sure what - you can hold your work up to a mirror - it is much easier to see what is not working in the reflected view.

I decided the time had come to get rid of all the messy edges - as I could not see the wood for the trees with all the bits of masking tape, water soluble fabric and trails of organza dotted around.

Messy Edges

My first task was to get rid of the water soluble fabric. Normally - when working on water soluble fabric I put the whole piece in a sink full of water and let it dissolve away. However as this piece has so much tissue paper, ink jet prints, and variety of mixed media - I felt that would be a foolish move! So I laid the piece out and cut away as much of the water soluble as I could. Then, with a brush and water - I just wet the embroidery around the edges to remove the water soluble where I had machined off the edge of the fabric. The rest of it I have left in place - as it will not show on the back and wont do any harm.

The piece immediately looked better - so the next task was to burn away the organza around the edges to follow the contour of the piece. To do this I use an electric stencil cutter - rather like a soldering iron with a very fine tip. I slid a piece of metal under the organza to be cut away and ran the hot tool around.

(TIP - If you are burning away fabrics make sure you are in a well ventilated room, some of the synthetic fabrics can give off fumes).

Burnt Edges.

I have all ready prepared the background that the piece is going to sit on - when I painted and dyed the papers for the piece - I did enough to make the background.

(TIP If you are preparing papers for a piece of work - do twice as much as you think you need so;- if you want some for a background, the colour match is there).


The white space is where the work will sit against the background. I have put the embroidery away now - until tomorrow afternoon - when I will look at it with fresh eyes against the background - then decide what if anything needs tweaking

Monday, 9 July 2007

Much Better Day Today! No more Mr. Grumpy

Better day today - it is amazing how one line of stitching can pull the whole piece together again.

The journey line running through the embroidery had got lost on the green side - but as soon as I put a line of yellow stitching it - it reappeared and the piece started to come together. I also covered the maze with bondaweb - then put gold film on top - after it had stuck - I touched it with a hot iron to make it look worn - then re machine stitched the maze . It does look better.

More integrated within the piece. As I have put gold foil on the maze - I will now have to have a sprinkling of it through the piece to link the elements together.

I don't really have many studio hours available to me this week - but I think I have broken the back of the work, and now it will be a case of enriching the surface in some areas with more hand stitching - I toyed with the idea of seed beads everywhere -
It could look rather nice ...........

But remembered my deadline!!

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Disappointed Today.

Not the best day to-day.

Got up this morning and did a couple of hours stitching before the rest of the household surfaced. Pinned the piece up on a big board - and really was not happy with what I saw.

The individual elements have a lovely quality - but the piece as a whole doesn't read well. The colour flow from pink at one end to green at the other is jerky.

I am particularly irritated with this bit showing the dolphin

From a distance - this dark green stands out too much - actually not all the dark green but the little trail of green that arcs out towards the right. It is a bit better now that I have machine stitched in white on top of it. But it is still rather obvious - so I am Mr. Grumpy and we will see what tomorrow brings.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Day Off

I should have visitors at least once a month - when I am in the "creative zone" because everything else gets ignored. Today I found ants under the dining room floor, and white fly on the basil. And possibly most surprising lettuce seed in the bathroom cabinet - I wondered where it had vanished to!

However I rushed around, picking sweet peas for guest room, beetroot and salad for supper, and gave everything a quick once over.

I thought about my (grown up) children and their partner's - then remembered I had spoken to one of them yesterday - and with the other two - no news is good news.

I am an all or nothing person - and when I am in the studio and working well - the days fly by and nothing else gets a look in. When my kids were little and I was doing a City and Guilds course, their birthdays always fell the same week as our end of year shows; although it was only for 4 years - they were extremely good about postponing their birthday celebrations for a day or two!
I know that this week I have started to say things to my partner and then not remembered what I was going to say - or just stop mid sentence. I find myself going around muttering lists of things to do, "go to the loo, make tea, download photos", otherwise I forget what I came out of my studio for. It is because I am so immersed in the piece that nothing else really matters, and shopping, cooking and cleaning are just to trivial to deal with.

Compare this to the fallow times, when displacement activity is all encompassing - surfing the web for random information that I don't really need. Getting fed up because there are so many talented and creative people "out there" who make beautiful things and sell them. I will iron socks, knickers and tea towels. Make long lists of everything and anything as long as it is not art related. Read books about artists block and then ignore the good advice - oh and of course lets not forget shopping! Not the best displacement activity on an artists income.

But in creatively lean times it feels better to be doing anything rather than face the blank page of the sketchbook - or a pile of fabrics and threads.

I am learning though - that often it is in these creatively difficult times - that things are bubbling and connecting - that I have to sit with it - I will come out the other side - and my work will develop and grow again.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Rain Again To Day - so more stitching

Close up of French Knots and Straight Stitch

Rain again today for the most part - so concentrated on more hand stitching, which I really love.
I enjoy the rhythm. Hand stitching also gives me a feeling of being connected to all the women down the ages who have stitched.

I love this bit!

Doing as much hand stitching as I am on a piece this size is not at all cost effective - the stitches and threads I use are so small and fine that they take an age to do so if the piece ever sells - I will probably get twopence an hour for my time! But I still adore hand stitching.

Tip for the day is to use a fine a needle as you can when stitching on tissue paper - or any paper - as the needle leaves small holes in the paper unlike fabric where it has more chance of pushing the fibres aside. My other tip for hand stitching;- if you are using an circular embroidery hoop - is to have the hoop "Upside-down" ie put the big section - the outside rim on the table - place your fabric on top and then push in the inner ring - this means that the little screw for tightening the hoop is underneath - and you do not get your thread caught up in it

No studio time tomorrow - we have visitors for the weekend - so must dash around the house with mop and bucket - I guess you all know how it is when you are in the middle of a piece of work!

Thursday, 5 July 2007

A few hours hand stitching

Only a few hours in the studio today - and this is the area I was concentrating on.

I was really pleased with this bit when I was doing the design and making the paper layers - it has gold oil stick drawn onto a printed page - which has then been overlaid with the tissue paper - so that the gold and the book print ghosts through.

In reality it does not integrate too well into the piece .... yet. I machine stitched a complicated labyrinth on top of the book paper - perhaps too complicated - something simpler may have been more appropriate. So in the few hours available today I was hand stitching this area using seeding and straight stitches - to start to blend the slightly "blockey" colours and to emphasise the outline of the maze

Does all the extra stitching make the slightest bit of difference? - I think it needs more hand stitching and it does give movement and depth.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Free Machine Embroidery completed - I think!

Another good day in the studio - what bliss I have had four complete days in there. The fact that it has rained non-stop has meant that my gardening commitments have not been vying for my time.

Today's challenge;
I now have so many layers of fabric, tissue, papers, organza, plus I have added a strip of felt to the middle as a backing (to give the piece more depth) - it was cumbersome to get it under the machine! I needed to do some of the embroidery in a hoop as it was very precise and it is very tedious to take off the darning foot and wiggle the whole lot into place - but in the scheme of things - it is a very minor annoyance. However it does remind me that when I change my machine to make sure I go for one with the longest arm.

The pink end - showing the water soluble fabric and layers of tissue and fabric

You may wonder why I have a boat in my "Country Churchyard" piece - two reasons - firstly the churchyard I am basing the art on, overlooks the sea - many of the gravestones have images of boats - and some have references to a love of sailing and of course there are lifeboat men remembered here.

Sailing can also represent a metaphorical journey - as in Sailing to Byzantium and what greater journey do we find represented in a churchyard - than that from cradle to grave. Not many studio hours available for me tomorrow - but I have a few days of hand stitching in front of me now.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Starting the free machine embroidery

Good day in the studio today - I had all the layers of tissue and paper in place yesterday. Today I placed the whole lot on water soluble fabric and started the free machine embroidery. The water soluble fabric is so that I can machine off the edges - which will give me a more delicate edge. However the tissue paper was not really strong enough to stand up to heavy machining - so I have decided to incorporate fragments of organza both around the edge and overlaid in the centre of the piece. This will be cut away at the end.

Today's challenging moment was that I wanted an angel from one of my photos in the piece - I transferred the photo with Lazertran onto tissuetex - and it looked quite nice - however when it was on the piece - it looked too strong - so I knocked it back with colour washed tissue paper - and end up with a grey blob!!


My next step was to re-print the angel onto ExtravaOrganza - which I then colour washed greeneyblue - the same as the background


I think it will be OK when it has more stitching on top - we shall see

Diary of a Piece - Planning the design cont

Below is the rough design for the layout of the elements I wanted in include in the piece - the list written in black is me "thinking out loud" on the nearest flat surface - not part of the design.

The next step is to colour tissue papers, tissutex and other papers - to layer over the background fabric - and I will use painted vilene for this

Diary of a Piece - Planning the design

I was pleased with techniques I used in my last piece of work, and want to develop them in my next. So I have decided to do a piece and submit it into an open art exhibition - submissions due on the 16th July - 2 weeks today - no pressure there then (lol).

It is always interesting submitting a "textile" piece into an "art" exhibition - although easier than it was years ago - there is still the eternal debate between "art" and "craft".

The exhibition brief is "In a country Churchyard" - which appealed to me as I have been wanting to do a piece about my local church yard - which I really like. I spent a day there last week with sketchbook and camera. My way of working is not a literal translation of what I see - but concepts and feelings. So the thoughts behind my piece will be around ancestors, life's journey, (cradle to grave), elements.

I want to do the piece on layers of tissue paper - the way it disintegrates is part of the process.

In an earlier sketchbook I had a "journey" design which I wanted to incorporate in this bigger piece. (Canvass size 30cm x 90cm)

The Journey

I also want to include one of the angels!

Sunday, 1 July 2007

First Blog

Thought it was time I had a web presence with a blog - so here is the first post, together with a detail of my latest work "A little piece of Heaven"

Machine and hand embroidery on layers of tissue paper, which have been painted.