Sunday, 25 May 2008

Kickstart Workshop

As part of the Kickstart programme the East Midlands Region of the Embroiderers Guild provides an inspirational day and two workshops. I went on the first one which was mixed-media. We were to take some photos of Snibston with us along with papers, sheers, threads and anything else we wanted within the colour scheme. People who had been on the inspirational day had been given instructions on how to make fabric paper and were to take any they had made with them. Although I hadn't been on that day, I had made some fabric paper beforehand albeit just one layer of paper (a patchwork of several different papers) on scrim, so I took that with me. I'm glad I did as there wasn't the facilities or time for paper made in the morning to dry to work on. I cut my fabric paper in half and covered one piece with tissue paper and metallic acrylic paint and left it to dry. The other half I covered with small pieces of sheers, as an alternative to tissue paper, to soften the colours of my fabric paper. I also made some silk paper from gummy waste and fused some angelina fibres. Instead of taking 4x6 sized photos with me I had put about 12 photos into a collage which was A4 size. This gave me different sized photos to choose from which were a better size for this project. I tore out several that I liked out and arranged them with the silk paper, angelina fibres and small pieces of paper until I was happy. Next step was to sew using the automatic stitches on my sewing machine. I added some buttons and was pleased with my design. However, the tutor suggested adding some handstitiching in brighter colours to pick out the red in one of the photos. I had only taken browns, browny yellows and browny oranges with me so I waited until I went home to add the handstitching. I agree with the tutor that the red has given it a bit of life.

I'm so pleased with it that I had it framed (thanks Dad) and have put it in the exhibtion at Snibston which is on now.

It was while I was at the workshop that I saw a copy of Beryl Taylor's book Mixed Media Explorations. The pictures in it are just so lovely to look at but I resisted temptation to go out and buy a copy. I enjoyed the workshop, using papers, fabrics, photos and buttons and Beryl's book expands on what we learnt, introducing more products to make embellishments, but I wasn't sure if it was really for me. However, I used the mixed media technique for my local Guild's competition (more on that another time) and again enjoyed it. I recently saw Beryl's book again and just had to have it this time.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Life after college

After four years at college studying for City and Guilds what do you do? None of us wanted to go into business immediately so our tutor suggested joining Kickstart which is the tutored development programme of the East Midlands Region of The Embroiderers' Guild. This year the inspiration has come from the Snibston Discovery Centre which is set on the site of a former colliery and includes an interactive museum and old colliery buildings - lots of variery for inspiration. I took over 200 photos from the different galleries, the playground and the colliery tour. Within the fashion gallery the corsets hanging from the ceiling caught my eye but I didn't want to discard everything else that I had already seen. While I was playing with designs in my head I came up with the idea of using my favourite photos as the design for the corset so I would have the corset shape but still utilise the other things Snibston has to offer. My piece is called Snibston Corsetry.

I started using different techniques to make the corsets but felt that there was no cohesion apart from the fact that they all came from Snibston. I was really pleased with my first corset which is taken from a piece of colliery machinery. I'd only had my embellisher for a few weeks and was having a play. I embellished small scraps of fabric onto a cotton base and incorporated some merino fibres and other yarns. I then added some hand embroidery. My sample has turned out to be the actual piece.

For my second corset of the plasma ball in the science gallery, I embellished a dark purple organza onto cotton and added a pale pink and green to finish the design I embroidered again by hand. However, I was not happy, I had been so pleased with my first corset and by comparison my second one looked so amateurish. I know I am not a professional embroiderer but there was such a stark contrast to the first that I was ashamed to put my name to it. I put it to one side whilst I decided what to do. After making the other corsets, I took the plunge and started again with purple and pink/red cottons, a multi-pink yarn for the cirle and green and black merino fibres, then added some hand embroidery. I was much happier this time round.

My third corset was originally tubes of material taken from my stash of fat quarters sewn onto the base fabric which were then embroidered. Although I liked it, a few weeks later I added a tiny amount of merino fibres and embellished them onto the corset to soften the look and to give all the corsets a similar look. The design for this one came from another old piece of colliery machinery.

As with the other corsets, I started the fourth one with a different technique. This time it was applique. The design for this one was taken from an old typewriter with white circles, embroidered around the edge, as the keys. Again when I was revamping the corsets, I embellished merino and other fleece fibres to soften the look and followed it by some hand stitching on the background.

The last design came from the children's interactive gallery where you had to put the cogs onto the correct pegs so that they would all turn when you turned the handle. The background is fleece embellished onto cotton and the cogs are commercial felt bonded on, then added some hand embroidery. However, once again it was too stark so I embellished some dark grey fleece fibres onto the black cogs.

Although I'd had ideas from the start for the background it wasn't until I'd finished all the corsets that the way I made it came to mind. My embellisher was used once more, with a base of calico followed by merino fibres in browns and black and words associated with Snibston on paper, covered by scrim.

I am happy with the end piece. It took a few months to complete as I put it to one side on several occasions whilst I worked out how to overcome the areas I wasn't happy with. It will shortly be on display at Snibston with the other pieces from all the Kickstart participants. Next year's inspiration will come from canals and I am sure I will take part again.

Friday, 9 May 2008

More Journals

Our fourth lesson showed us how to make faux leather using a paper bag. I followed the instructions and painted mine brown but as I rarely make anything in brown I was unsure whether I would use a brown journal, even a 'leather' one, so I had another go and used blue paint - much more me. Inside I used wrapping paper to separate the sets of paper.

Back to fabric for the last lesson. I decided I wanted to create a design rather than using one piece of fabric. My design has wavy lines and I looked through my stash of fabrics and found one in a beigey colour and one with tight swirls in grey. I wouldn't have thought of putting these colours together but I was surprised that they work together and like the contrast of the open and tight swirls. The black stitching is freehand machine embroidery.

I have enjoyed this course and would recommend it to others. Sue Bleiweiss is running it again in June.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Journal Making

I've just finished an online journal making course with Sue Bleiweiss . It has been an enjoyable course and as well as learning how to make different styles of journals you can join the online forum and interact with other students. We've posted photos of our journals for each other to see and you can see them on Flickr. I joined this course to give myself another way of using my embroideries and other textile pieces.

Here's the journal from lesson 1. The pages are sewn in and there are pockets to hold tags.

The second journal, a sketchbook, I made is my favourite as I made it for a special purpose. I want to make some textile art with the theme of Venice and so have created a Venice sketchbook. This time instead of using a piece of fabric from my stash I created my own by printing photos of Venice onto some calico and then added small pieces of scrim and organzas, stitching them on with the sewing machine followed by some hand stitching and then adding buttons.

The inside cover has pockets and I have created pages with pockets to hold my photos. Ring binders are used in this journal to hold the pages, I've also included plain pages for my design work.

After spending a lot of time making the second journal I wanted a quick hit for the third one, but instead of using fabric I already had I made some using three designs of napkins! In this one the pages are held together with a ribbon.

I'll share my other journals with you another day.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Taking inspiration from a child's painting

I received this thank you card from two sisters, the oldest of whom is 3.

Their mum is a fellow crafter who is into felting and I thought it would be nice to make something for the youngest's 2nd birthday using the card design. What could I make? I decided on making a bag that she could play with at home, putting small toys or a book in.

I love using my embellisher and had some red felt in my stash that I could use for the base. I've bought so much stuff over the years that I don't feel guilty not paying out more money for new supplies for presents as I have already paid for the stuff in my cupboards. Included in my stash are lots of fat quarters from my patchwork/quilting/applique period and so I chose reds, blues and bright greens. After cutting small pieces of the chosen fabrics I laid them onto the base felt, added a few merino felt fibres to soften the edges and then used my embellisher to 'mesh' them together.
To help keep them in place I used various automatic stitches on my sewing machine in matching colours, sewing in lines. Next I freemachined circles and lines in an off-white to emulate the wax resist lines in the original picture.

Using some more red felt as a lining and for the handle I made the piece into a bag. Aware that this bag is for a child under 3 I was concerned that it may be possible to pick at the merino fibres and pull some off so I coated the bag with some acrylic wax which glued them in place and also it also makes the bag more durable. I was really chuffed with how the bag turned out and wondered if it was too good to give a two-year old. Possibly one of the youngest children to have a designer bag!


I started my first blog in Wordpress but I can't get it to do what I want it to do so I have transferred over to Blogger and it seems to meet my needs. I tried importing everything across but have failed so now I'm copying and pasting.

It was really heartwarming to receive so many comments to my original first post and I don't want to lose any of them so I've pasted them into a new post here.

Great job for your first post, Fiona. You and I have so many things in common. The only things I haven’t tried that you have (I have some others you don’t) are soap making and lace (except knitted lace), so I’m looking forward to what you have coming up on your blog. I like the retro idea, I’m planning a retro show on my blog while I’m moving in June, since I won’t be able to work on anything.
I’ll eagerly anticipate your future posts.

Hi Fiona,welcome to bloggosphere! I think you will like the community of bloggers. Somehow blogging sometimes helps me to keep my artistic thing together. Plus I learnt a lot about computers - by now I am the computer whizkid at our practice, though I am the second eldest of the employees.Have fun!Angelika

Great start to your blogging, Fiona, and I love the banner!

Blogging is lots of fun, Fiona! And I look forward to keeping up with your artwork!

Welcome, Fiona. I hope you enjoy the new world of blogging. Sounds like you will have lots of pretty things to share with us. I’ll be checking back often.

Welcome to the wonderful circle of fiber art blogs! I think you’ll enjoy it.

Welcome to this wonderful blogging community Fiona. I can tell from your first post that you are going to be good!

Welcome to blogworld Fiona, I hope you enjoy your new journey

Welcome to the world of blogging. I have met so many wonderful people and have learned so much.

Welcome to blogland Fiona! I look forward to following your blog and seeing all the wonderful things you’ll create!

Hello World

A whole new world has been opened up to me over the last few weeks - blog world. I subscribe to Quilting Arts magazine and whilst looking at their website I randomly clicked on the editor's blog, I'm not sure that I've ever looked at it before. From clicking on various links I came across Sue Bleiweiss - she runs online courses and I registered for journal making. Sue has a blog and quite a few of my fellow students have ones as well. I've enjoyed reading their blogs and have been inspired to write my own. We can interact with each other on the class forum and I've received many replies with lots of useful information in response to my queries on blogging.

Here's a bit about me and crafting- as a child I always liked making things and when I was 17 I decided I'd like to make lace so enrolled in classes at the local adult education centre. I made lace for many years whilst being introduced to new crafts. I haven't made any lace for about 3 or 4 years now as other things have taken over. I still go to lace days to meet my lace friends and they are always interested in what I am up to. I've had spells of cross stitch, patchwork, quilting and applique, general needlecrafts, stitcheries and have been on workshops and courses for silk painting, stained glass work, paper making, soap making. However, I seem to have settled with textiles and finished my City and Guilds Part 2 in Embroidery last summer. I took this course to learn about design so that I could design my own pieces instead of relying on patterns, magazines and books to make things from. Embroidery seems too narrow a word to define what I enjoy and I like to incorporate lots of different techniques in my work.

I aim to share what I am currently working on and perhaps throw a few retro pieces from previous years in during quiet moments.