Busy, Busy

Busy, Busy

Since my last post (which only seems like 10 days ago) I have not stopped. Over a hot drink I decided to evaluate the supporting evidence of said busy-ness. Firstly, and with a smile on my face, I have to admit that I have been to France for a week. Why? I have been on Grammie duties with our 13 month grandson (our youngest – by 2 weeks!). He was a delight but then I’m a proud grandparent. On arrival back home I then had one week to prepare for our group’s annual textile exhibition (held 26 Aug). This means not only finding the resulting artefacts from the group’s various workshops but also actually completing them.

I know I’m not alone with having UFOs. In my case I manage to carve out special time for workshops then with the day finished I set my incomplete project aside promising myself to finish it but life just gets in the way! So still weighing up the evidence of my busy-ness I realised that in the last 6 weeks I had attended two workshops. Decisions, decisions….which to complete for the exhibition? Oh I nearly forgot each year the group has a challenge, this year it was butons….so I was also busy creating those.

Here is the evidence (you’ll have to imagine my very cute, happy, smiley, cuddly grandson though)….

My first workshop with Ailish Henderson (ailishhenderson.com) was titled ‘Stitched collage portraits’, with instructions to bring a photo of ourselves. I have never enjoyed being in front of the camera so that was the last thing I intended doing but instead took photos of our lovely 2.5yr old Raffles – a Cockerpoo, or as I like to say a Cockerpoopoo because his mum was a Cockerpoo and his dad a Poodle! But I digress.

It was suggested that we create a painting first then play with paper, fabric and other media to create a collage that we would then stitch to add the ‘character’.

Collage completed and stitching just commenced but sadly Raffles’ portrait remains a UFO.

Collectively there were some amazing pictures from our group.

My stitching buddy decided the portrait of Raffles was a good escape and decided to do her dog Izzy too. It is a great likeness….I’m sure Raffles recognised Izzy – his girlfriend!

I submitted both portraits anonymously as ‘Work in Progress’ to the exhibition….A visitor who knows our family later approached me and asked if that was Raffles in the exhibition….woohoo!

My second and latest workshop was with Justine Warner (Pearllovespaisley.co.uk). We were to create moorland layered landscapes, for which I had bought a card of a favourite local view just a few miles from home.

Justine clearly explained and demonstrated the process which was to use layers of recycled fabrics, yarns, scraps, threads etc to create our chosen landscape.

Justine is actually known as the ‘tie lady’ because she uses old ties in her pictures combined with many other fabrics (look closely and you can see the ties in her work above). Starting with a calico/cotton square approx 40 x 40 cm, strips (about 3cm) of torn or cut fabric are laid from the top down to replicate the furthest away layer – in most cases the sky.

In addition to anchoring my sky fabrics I had to stitch lots of lines using different colours.

Once the farthest layer is complete the idea is to continue forward tackling each layer in turn until the forground is reached. Each layer has multiples of fabrics and stitching, stitching and yet more stitching.

Rummaging through Justine’s huge stash of fabrics that were piled on the floor was certainly great fun.

With all the stitching and constant changing of threads I had only reached the base layer of the foreground by the end of the workshop. However having finally got the hang of the method I made a promise to myself to finish this piece.

But before then….sorting, packing, travelling and much cuddling was next on the agenda!

Home and back to my project (with only days to go) I continued stitching the sky and hills adding layer upon layer of different coloured lines.

This is the back of the piece (post completion and having added iron-on Vilene) you can just see all the stitching – whilst I changed the top thread colour continually I only changed the bottom once. The stitching makes for a very stiff piece of work which tends to buckle, so the Vilene and ironing flattened it.

I remembered that Justine had suggested every piece should have some ‘bling’, so using some glittery netting and sparkling fabric, that is just what I did to highlight the areas bathed in sunshine (not easy to photograph). I then used some felting wools to create the variegation in tree colours and machine embroidered over the top.

With the trees complete the barn was the next, but to make sure I got the perspective right I scanned the original card and increased the size to match my picture then traced the barn and overlayed it.

But this threw up a dilemma – it seemed too dominant….so do I ignore the literal and use artistic license? After a lot of humming and harring……YES. Following this decision I simply concentrated on creating the small stone barn by staining some grey/white textured fabric with tea (Yorkshire Tea of course!) and appliqueing it with glue (stitching would be too much) to the scene.

Then it was on to the foreground to try and create a sense of depth using colour (different fabrics are trapped under netting), machine stitching and finally hand stitching.

My interpretation of the Swaledale picture – I am pleased with the finished result but it took maaaannnny hours to complete. I think Justine might argue that I had been too literal and could afford to make it less precise, but that is the perfectionist in me!

Yes, it made it to the exhibition (just) complete with temporary hanging device….Pheu!….but our dining room had fabric scraps, threads, wools, yarns etc absolutely everywhere!!!! EPH (Ever Patient Husband) was definitely that, fortunately he’s artistic too, so understands!

My picture in it’s raw cut state 40x40cm awaiting framing. On the left photographed during a bright day indoors with artificial light, on the right actually outside in the daylight (on the same background! Can anyone guide me to a better colour rendition solution?), similarly below. Although the mount is totally the wrong size it shows how it enhances the picture.

So I have evidenced my ‘busy-ness’ to you all – what have you achieved recently?

16 thoughts on “Busy, Busy

  1. I’ve just seen that the sky and ‘glittery fields photo’ are both blurred in this post, they weren’t in the original photos….please use your imagination!

  2. Wow, what a ton of work on your landscape. It’s gorgeous!! I keep thinking I will create a landscape this way but now I don’t think I have enough time. Of course if I would just quit lying around and eating bonbons, I might have more time. πŸ˜‰

    I love Raffles too. Not sure he needs too much more.

  3. Oh Antje your post will resonate with many readers!

    Your finished landscape is fabulous and worth all those hours of labour. Are you going to frame it so that you can proudly display it? As for Raffles, he looks good even in his unfinished state.

    We often struggle with the photography and can spend longer getting a true colour likeness of a piece of felt than we spent making it – especially in the darker months. Our method is simple – take a thousand photos then sit in front of a monitor, until our eyes dry out, sifting through them all.

    With a cute grandson around, it’s a wonder you got anything done at all!

    1. Lyn I hope this post does resonate with readers as seeing the ‘warts’ of others has helped me many times.
      Yes I intend framing the landscape….I been invited to enter items to an exhibition next month….it may go in!
      With the photography – what I found the most difficult was that the white background came out every shade of yellow or blue. Adjusting the tint on the computer screen then changed the main image. I’ll just have to buy eye drops and follow your example.

    2. p.s. We published a post back in 2014 that you may find interesting – we’re not photographers so it’s just a bunch of amateur tips that seem to work for us.


      It’s always best to photograph a picture when it’s hanging on a wall but that’s not always possible.
      One way I’ve found is to lay the picture down flat on a table, in front of a natural light source (in my case a bay window that has a white lined voile curtain to diffuse the light), and with a daylight fluorescent tube above on the ceiling. Then I place a stiff white board (it’s an end panel from a kitchen cupboard) upright on the table to reflect the light from the window back over the picture. I rest my forearms on the board to keep it in place and to steady the camera as I take the shot from above. I also hold my breath and use the timer on the camera to take the shot to reduce movement.
      On a sunny day, around midday, the colours are usually true and the camera also picks up any texture in the picture because of the way the light passes over the piece.

    3. Thank you for this Lyn. I’m smacking my hand at the mo, as having read your blog I’ve realised I had forgotten some basic rules – teachers report….could do better!
      I had recently acquired some plain Matt white blind fabric for a backdrop with a view to setting up a photo staging area. It wasn’t ready for my post, and remains so until I sort my space out to be more efficient.
      Your blog post will remain close on hand as it has very useful info. I,ve subscribed your blog for a while but some of your artefacts are new (or my memory is playing tricks again!) – collectively they are gorgeous.
      Thank you for taking the time to add an additional comment.

  4. Great portrait but the landscape truly blew me away. It is gorgeous. I think many of us struggle with matting and framing – an instructor I had kept a handful of matting samples handy to show how best to find the right ‘frame’.
    As for your ‘busyness’ πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚You are amazinng!

  5. I’m glad you liked the evidence of my busy-ness Linda. It is great undertaking a workshop that one can get one’s teeth into….I now need dentures!
    The coloured matting samples are a good idea. I have some ‘L’ pieces of matting which are very useful to isolate the area to be framed.

  6. Thank you Kim, and thank you for the white balance info….I’ll now try to find if I have a setting on my camera as it is something I’ve never used.

  7. You have been very busy and I think you have done well, to get one done. when the guild photographed pieces for a book they were placed on the floor and the photographers had small ladders. They went up a few steps and could rest their arms on the top and shoot down. It was good for the book as all the pieces were shot the same.

  8. Thank you Marilyn. I have great difficulty throwing out any scrap fabric etc, so this is a definitely a good way to use it. But I also have larger ‘whole’ pieces of fabric which I struggle to cut into! Explain that one.
    Raffles is very good natured and melts most peoples’ hearts.

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