We had a busy few days setting up the exhibition and I thought you might like to see a few set up photos.
And then it was the day of the exhibition. We had around 80 people attend over the two days in early July. It was wonderful to be able to see all the hard work accomplished by my fellow students and to share our work with other interested people.
I asked my fellow students if I could share their work and I’m happy that everyone agreed so that you can see some amazing fiber art. These are just a very few examples of their work produced in class.
Maureen Goldsmith wasn’t able to come to the in-person exhibition but was able to send her wonderful work.
Covid Birds by Maureen is a framed wall hanging, you can see it in the first photo behind the group photo on the wall, to understand the size of the piece.
Here’s a detail view so you can see the stitching more closely.
Val has an interest in historical embroidery and needlework.
Her piece “Pleasurable Pursuits” is based on historical needlework studies that she pursued during the class.
Here’s a detail shot so that you can see the amount of hand stitching in this piece.
Sheila Asdal created a machine and hand stitched book about the Big Leaf Maple and the creatures that find shelter and sustenance in the tree.
Here’s a side view and front cover of the book.
And a detail view of the stumpwork moth she created.
Catherine’s interests are from nature, including rocks, plants, seed heads and the winter garden.
She used her original photos of her winter garden to create this handstitched series.
Each of the individual pieces are about 6″ x 6″.
Bobbie Herrick is also inspired by her garden. She took on a tremendous project in creating The Hanging Garden light.
Bobbie’s lamp was created with machine and hand stitching and cut back applique. She found it interesting to work with light during this process as it changed the colors immensely when the light was turned on behind the fabric.
Alana Koehler was inspired by a row of bottles on her windowsill. As she worked through the process, she became intrigued with the difference between the hardness of glass and the translucent fabric that she ended up using in Ethereal Bottles.
The sheer fabric in Ethereal Bottles float away from the wall and the bottles are created with machine stitching. It is definitely ethereal in person.
And lastly, there is me. The Language of Trees is based on the concept that trees and other forest plants, have a vast communication network underground.
This wall hanging is mostly machine stitched on a dyed and painted background. The little bits of orange are words that I selected from tree poems to express the trees communicating with each other.
And because I have had a few people asking, I have also included my book about my dog Edgar. Here is “The Book of Edgar”.
Thanks to all my classmates for their camaraderie and support. Thanks to Gail and Penny for all your expert guidance and perseverance through a challenging three years of class.
This is the nuno background I showed a while back. Surprise, surprise, I created another landscape!
I started by adding some yellow orange sheer fabric to indicate the sky and then started auditioning trees cut from dyed silk organza. The trees went through many forms as I went along auditioning colors, sizes and placement.
I began making the foreground trees darker and the background trees lighter. It felt like the sun was coming from behind the hill. So I continued to emphasize that light perspective as I went along.
I was getting closer, adding more shadows and light.
Then I decided that the ground felt too light in the foreground. So I auditioned some sheer scarves in this area. These are light nylon scarves, you can see the edge hasn’t been removed here. Once the edge is cut off, the scarf can be easily frayed to blend into the background. Then on to stitching everything down.
Here’s the piece after I finished hand stitching the applique pieces in place for the trees. I also use a very small seed stitch to stitch down the sheer scarf pieces.
I decided I need something more in the foreground. The darker marks in the middle foreground reminded me of these plants. I think these are a type of wild orchid. This is a photo I took on one of my morning walks in the woods.
Here are the foreground plants. They are a combination of torn black tulle, couched yarns and pistol stitch in perle cottons.
I felt that the bottom of the orchids was a missing something so I added in some grasses which were couched down.
Here is the final piece on it’s fabric background. I have decided to call it First Light. The coloring in this last photo is the closest to the original. Now all it needs is framing.
As soon as I saw what Lyn was setting as our next Challenge I thought “but I can’t do that”. I have always stumbled when trying to understand Design because, although I can see pattern in a lot of things, I fail entirely in translating what I see into my work. I am very literal in my thinking, and when I see abstract pieces (usually “modern” embroidery pieces) based on images of say, a broken brick, or the reflection in a window, or a rusty piece of metal, or a “fractal”, I think to myself “yes, very clever, but why?” and “what would I do with it?” and “I can’t see that on my wall” (and just occasionally “I wouldn’t give that house room!”). This is why I tend to make my pictures or 3D sculptures as realistic as I can.
I was going to just not bother with this Challenge, and then I remembered that some years ago I had attended a course on Design – I had forgotten all about it and it is relevant to this Challenge.
In August 2015 the Association of Guilds of Weavers Spinners & Dyers included in it’s week long residential Summer School syllabus a course by Alison Daykin – “Design for the Terrified” and I was lucky enough to be allocated a place – most courses were usually over-subscribed. Here is the introductory list of available courses from the brochure for you to drool over!
The course was described as offering “help to ‘painting and drawing challenged’ weavers, spinners, dyers, or other textile practitioners, in understanding Design and using this in their chosen medium”. The brochure went on to say: “This course will provide simple, but effective guidelines in design, without the student feeling overwhelmed by theory. The tutor will also leave plenty of room for participants to express themselves in their chosen medium.
“By the course end students will have at least one sketchbook and understand the basics of: colour studies; textural studies; shape; line/stripes.
“Students are encouraged to make samples appropriate to their own textile skills. They may choose to bring their loom or wheel with them, or to develop further sketchbooks if they prefer.”
Frankly this description of the course frightened the life out of me and I nearly didn’t apply, not least because I would be foregoing the chance to take the offered very interesting felt making course. (It’s headline description was “… an ‘adventure with fibres and fabrics’, combining colour, texture and layering to produce felted fabrics for decorative purposes or garments” and that was what I was most interested in at the time.) However after exchanging a few emails with Alison, and reading the three blogs which she sent out about the course I decided to bite the bullet. The first blog post puts emphasis on your “Inspiration” and resulted in a further flurry of emails with Alison, since I had no idea what it meant or what my “Inspiration” should be in this context. She basically said that I should pick a subject which I found really interesting. I was undecided whether to plump for trees, which seemed a very big subject, or sea shells – almost as big but of which I had recently started a collection. In the end I went with sea shells.
The second and third blog posts and a “round robin” email from Alison encouraged us to bring along as many different types of art media as we might be able to lay our hands on, including different types and colours of paper and “mark making” equipment. In addition we were asked to only bring one image of our inspiration, but as many copies of it as possible. (As I hadn’t been able to choose just one shell my image consisted of most of my collection, which also included sea urchin “skeletons”.) We would also need to take a notice board (if we hadn’t already made a mood board – “Er …. what’s one of them?”) so that we could pin up various bits and pieces as we went through the course. We would also need the equipment and materials required to make samples in our chosen technique. As I didn’t know which shell would be my inspiration the “materials” consisted of most of my stashes of fibres, fabric & yarns! I’m sure you’ve all heard of the saying “everything but the kitchen sink” – very apt, my poor car was groaning when I set off with all this stuff plus clothes etc., and I had yet to fit in the friend I was giving a lift to, plus all her stuff and her walking aid. (She was still a bit frail after an illness.)
The Summer School was based at Moreton Morrell Agricultural College in Warwickshire, where (after we got lost twice on the way) I met Alison and the rest of the class members. There were weavers, spinners, an embroiderer and a felt maker – me. Alison showed us her own work, and took us through her process for designing woven fabrics for specific purposes, showing us her mood boards and pictures of finished fabrics “in situ”. Here is a much abbreviated view of how she followed one inspiration from an image of ancient ruins to cloth samples.
She then started us off on our own design journey. Alison suggested to me that I should pick my favourite shell from the picture of my collection and make an enlarged drawing of the shell, both in monochrome and in colour and using different media. I had a go at this, although my drawing skills are minimal. This was before she had found that we would be able to have access to the college’s print facilities, where we could get photographs printed, and colour and monochrome photocopies made on a copier, which was capable of enlarging. We all made great use of this facility – zeroing in on just part of our inspiration image and having multiple copies made on different colour papers as well as plain white – which enabled us to speed up our progress through the stages of the design processes that Alison had mapped out for us.
One of the “tricks” which Alison showed us was to take two images, cut (or tear) them into strips (leaving one side of the paper still intact, and then to weave the two images. This did produce some interesting results.
We also cut strips across an image and used this to reference yarn (in my case fibre) wraps. Using this method enabled us to achieve a colour swatch giving combinations, quantities and placement of harmonious colours.
Once we had all played around with these ideas for a day, we were encouraged to get on and start creating samples in our chosen techniques, keeping in mind how we might use the finished work. As I was interested in making felt for clothing and accessories, I had brought with me copies of designs from specific sewing patterns and tried to pick the patterns that would best suit. I had by this time branched out to using as inspiration two different Sea Urchin skeletons, one Cone shell (and when no-one was looking I did a bit of crochet based on the end of a Conch type shell).
As you can see, I’m still leaning towards the literal/representational side of designing.
Alison also encouraged us to take our cameras and go out around the college grounds and look for more inspirations for design. At this stage we had all got used to looking beyond the obvious and came up with some unusual images. This was the one I chose to do something with – don’t ask me why – it’s just a picture of the wood surround (and my toes) to a raised flower bed outside the portacabin which was our workshop, where we all congregated for coffee, snacks and chat.
Being full of enthusiasm for the project, I cut down the photograph to a corner and then cut out the image of part of the surround.
which I then had enlarged and with several copies started to develop the design
This is the design I finally ended up with.
There are five versions in this picture, the basic design on top with four colour changes of the small “pops” of colour. And here is the jacket pattern and a tracing of the design.
The last day of the course was mainly taken up with visiting the rooms where the other courses had been taking place for a grand Show & Tell. To this end, we had packed up all our equipment and materials and set up our notice boards and work tables as displays of what we had been doing. Here are mine
And here are some of the displays of other class members’ work. Not all of them I’m afraid, I had camera shake by then so I’ve only included the less blurred ones.
The whole Summer School experience was great, with evening entertainments, a fashion show, a display of entries for the Certificate of Achievement “exams”, a traders’ market (I spent too much money as usual) and a trip to Stratford Upon Avon for a tour of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Theatre with a chance to see some of their costumes “up close and personal”.
We inhabited a bubble, with little contact with the outside world. (There wasn’t even a signal for our mobile phones, short of climbing a hill and standing in the middle of the road.) A wonderful experience and I’ve enjoyed revisiting it.
I am afraid that by the time I got home again I reverted to type and have not made any fabrics, felted or woven, from any of the designs. I just did what I usually end up doing after returning from a workshop – I put everything away and forgot about it! So I still don’t have a 2nd Quarter Challenge piece to show you; though as a result of writing this post and after seeing some of the pieces which FFS members have posted, I do feel better about the possibility of designing from random observations and images.
I am looking forward to seeing what the next quarter’s Challenge will be.
Where did the time go? I looked at the posting schedule and thought I have lots of time to get my post ready but here I am down to the wire,….. again.
I did manage this week to make some progress on my small picture. I started by adding some grass/stems/leaves/. Starting with a very Christmas green.
Then adding other shades
It looks ok but it’s way too short. What am I going to do with the other 2/3 of the picture? So, remembering Ruth’s advice on the last stitch project when I wasn’t very happy with it, she said “just keep adding more”, I decided I was not taking the stitches out. I would just keep going. The next batch of grass was longer.
At this point, I notice the bottom edge was starting to curl a little. This is because I was stitching into the bottom edge. I didn’t want the bottom of the stitches to show entry points on the top side of the bottom edge. I noticed some of the threads were a little loose too. To remedy this I ironed it with steam. I think it helped.
The next step is the flowers. I was originally thinking stitched flowers, then thought maybe seed needs would be good. I asked opinions at my guild social and everyone seemed to think I should do both. I probably will.
And now the Studio Progress.
The walls and floor have been painted. The place that hasn’t been painted is where the ductwork will go for the heating. It will then get drywall put over it and it will be painted. Notice one of my favourite things about this space. It has a center floor drain. The electrical box will get a cupboard built to hide it.
Yes, the floor is covered in blue speckles, for non-slip and to hide the floor repairs.
Next are the sinks, the ductwork, painting my selves, bookcase and small table. They will be boring white, once the books and wool are on them they will be colourful enough. The table gets the microwave so it will not be seen much either.
That’s it for now. I plan on doing the flowers for the next post but I am not sure what else. I am sure I will find something to keep me busy and out of too much trouble.
I declare throwback Tuesday. I seem to have run out of time this week so I thought you might like to see this post from 2017. Jan posted some pictures in our guild group and it reminded me and I thought it was worth another look. I hope it and the links to the other 2 posts about it will give you lots of inspiration for your own work.
I have been working away on my nuno felt landscapes this winter. I always sell more work in the summertime, so it’s good to get ahead of the game and get work ready to be framed in the spring. So what to do with this background. I felt like the diagonal lines of color felt too “tie dyed” and needed to break them up. The colors reminded me of summer flowers so that’s where I decided to go with this background.
I played around with a variety of cotton fabric and cheesecloth and laid these out on the nuno background.
I added a small bud to the small, lower right hand flower.
I pinned the pieces in place and added interfacing to the back to provide support for the machine stitching. I could have fused them down but I find that I don’t like the way the fusing flattens the fabric and doesn’t allow “movement” of the fabric with stitching. This is a personal preference and it is easier to stitch if everything is fused in place but I prefer to pin or baste the pieces in place. I also was looking at possibly bringing some of the dark blue up into the area above the flowers. I tested this out by cutting some small bits of #5 perle cotton and laying it down to give the impression of blue flower stalks.
I free motion machine stitched all the green first. I used two different shades of green to give a little depth to the stems and leaves.
I used three different shades of thread in the centers of the flowers and two colors on the petals. I decided to bring a bit of the burnt orange down into the petals to give a look of a bit of shadows near the centers. Last, I added dark brown to the bottom of the centers which definitely helped define the centers.
Lastly, I added blue French knots with #5 perle cotton thread. I then stitched it down to the background “matte” fabric and laced it on to card. So it’s ready to frame. I decided to call this one “Summer Fireworks”. I have run out of nuno felted backgrounds so I guess that will be my next project.
This last week I joined a free to everyone stitch camp not knowing what we would be doing. The idea being that you get a short instructional video every day for 5 days and it will be a surprise and inspirational and push you to think outside the box. I knew there was cloth and pain and stitching so it seemed interesting.
I gathered some cloth and paint and things to make paint marks.
The idea was to make one painted piece leaving lots of open or negative space and one with only a little negative space. separate colours with a little of the other colour in each. I picked a white background and yellow and blue as my other colours as I could get that paint and had other pieces of cloth in those colours too. I was going to do turquoise but the store was out of it.
I like the one with more negative space the best.
Next was to cut them up and piece them back together. I cut them into 3×5 inch pieces. I was going t make one long piece and then do stitching on the whole thing. as I tried to piece them together I was not happy with them so I made two shorter strips. I didn’t really like them and wasn’t sure I would bother doing the stitching. Ruth suggested making a book with the pieces instead of a long strip and I think I like that better. I forgot to take a picture of them before I unpinned them.
I reassembled them as pairs to sew together. I will do some stitching on them and then attach them to a backing and make a book. Not sure if it will be a regular book or maybe an accordion book that could stand up on its own. I will see how it goes.
and these are some individual pieces I liked but couldn’t find matches for
I enjoyed the process and the camp Facebook group was inspirational. If I was going to do it again I wouldn’t use a white background. I would make fewer blocks of paint and more shapes. I would also mix the colours more and aim for something between a little and a lot of negative space. I know some of you joined the stitch camp. Did you enjoy it? how far along have you gotten?
I am still slowly packing up the studio. The hard part is deciding what to leave so I can still do some work while we slowly work on the new space. slow is the operative word. It has to fit in around other things that are a more immediate need. It is looking emptier. I am not sure the picture really shows that. The pile to go is different stuff.
We have had several more lambs. I think we are at about 15. So the barn needed reconfiguring to make a group pen and space for lambing pens. they are so cute and of course, they can not wait.
I signed up for a stitch camp online. It starts tomorrow (17 January). It’s free but I thought it sounded fun. It’s one video a day for 5 days and they are available for a week after that. Seemed like a fun thing to try and maybe get some creative juices going. It’s here if you’re interested. https://training.textileartist.org/stitchcamp-signup-1/In
In the meantime, while sorting and packing I found some thread I got a long time ago. It is on cardboard, old-style spools. It says FILTEX on the top of some. From what I can find online it is a 40/2 polyester embroidery thread. It is very shiny. I thought I might use it to stitch on some felt balls just for fun.
And I can’t forget that it is Ava’s Birthday on Monday, Jan 17. A big 1 year old.
Hi, It’s me again, out of sync. We had a scheduling problem so I have jumped back in and Ruth will be me later.
A while ago I collected some used coffee pods to try doing some felting with. This was inspired by Judit Pócs. She is an incredible felter and has an amazing imagination. https://pocsjuditstudio.hu/home I believe she used them in a felted ring, free workshop for people that are members of the International Felt makers Association when they had their online conference. I am not a member. Anyway, there were all over Facebook and I wanted to try them out. This is the first attempt.
These are metal pods for a Nespresso machine. I got them by asking on my local buy/sell/give group on Facebook. People with these machines do not throw the pods out they collect them in a supplied bag and then send them back to the company postage paid for recycling. At least that seems less wasteful.
They are pretty and come in two sizes
I had to flatten the pods first. The large domes are much easier to flatten nicely.
I laid out a thickish base and then added to the 2 kinds of pods.
Then another double layer of wool on top.
I felted in the usual way and then cut holes over the disk. I cut the wrong side first, naturally
This is where it starts to go downhill. The texture of the disks makes it hard to rub and heal the cuts. I am not the most patient with this step normally so this was frustrating and didn’t work well.
As a first experiment, this was a good learning experience.
Next time I will mark the top and put a piece of underlay over the pods to make a smoother surface to work on after I cut the holes. That should make it easier to make a better edge. I also think I needed a thicker layer of wool over the pods to get a nicer deeper edge. Maybe just over the pods and not the whole piece. This piece is a good thickness for bag/pouch. Also, as usual, I need to slow down and be patient.
I also made a piece of felt to try out some stitching with the Solvy water-soluble stabilizer. It’s not very exciting to look at and I will probably iron it a little smoother and flatter. I think I will add some needle felting to part of it before using it so I have the 2 textures to try on.
I like figuring out how things are done. I enjoy making samples/experiments much more than I used to. I think it’s all the covid lockdowns and there being no shows. There is not much point in making 20 hats and scarves if you have nowhere to sell them. Have you successfully figured out how to do something you’ve seen online?
Imagine this: you’ve planned that project in your head. You’ve gone through all the steps and know what needs doing. You have all the materials, and you’re getting ready to work on it. It’s going to be epic!
Except… something goes terribly wrong and the end result is nothing like what you expected.
I’m sure we’ve all been there. Craft long enough and, be it due to bad luck or simple statistics, something will go wrong.
The problem: The yarn above is a colourway of mine called Love Heart Meow. At first glance, it looks exactly as it should, except something went wrong during the dyeing process and the end result is “muddy.” You can’t really tell in the photo, but in real life I can definitely see it and it’s driving me mad.
The solution: I’m going to overdye it. I find that when things don’t go as planned, a blue overdye can save things around. Who knows, maybe I’ll create a new colourway?
(Shameless plugin moment: I’m getting back to blogging in my own website and I’ll be sharing the over dyeing process over there very soon! I’ll of course still be working on new content for our lovely blog here.)
A while back I was doing an exchange with a dyer friend of mine and decided to send her some hand dyed silk cocoons. Silk comes at a price for the poor silk worm, so I was very keen to “make it count” (yes, I’m the soppy type).
I carefully dyed each cocoon, making it so that the exterior and the interior were slightly different and adding variation in shade/colour. I was rather chuffed with the result.
Of course, I then proceeded to ruin things beautifully. I don’t know what happened in my brain but I decided to set the colours with more acid… by dunking the cocoons in hot water.
If you’ve ever dyed these precious things, you’ll know they need to be steam set if you want them to retain their shape. Hot water is most emphatically not the right thing to do, as I remembered even as I was dunking them in the H2O.
The problem: I had a hot mess in my hands, the cocoons all melted into each other, were soft and (to me, at the time) completely useless.
The temporary solution: Remove from water and back away from the project! Make some tea. Curse out loud. Come back later.
The real solution: After keeping whole thing away from sight a while, I looked at it again. It was a mess, but I could make it into something different. The colours were pretty. Then it hit me…
Tah-dah, wall art to the rescue. The colours are actually brighter in real life.
I sewed the Cocoon Combo to some black felt, added some beads and shiny embroidered stars in gold and silver. The shape of the thing was asking for an oval embroidery hoop, so I bought one in a suitable size and Bob’s your uncle.
It looks like something done on purpose, doesn’t it? It’ll be our secret.
Now, this wouldn’t be a post by yours truly if I didn’t add a little sewing, would it?
While perusing one of my usual fabric supply sites I stumbled upon the most fun cat fabric. As with most things in the crafty brain, I had the “button” sorted but not the “suit,” so to speak. I had to come up with something to create with that fabric!
I decided on the Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated because it looked comfy and, best of all, asked for two complementary fabrics (the cat fabric had a “friend” that I thought made the cats look even cuter. Aaand, I’ll stop using metaphors now.)
I love this dress. It works great on its own or as a top layer, making it good for more seasons. It’s meant to be reversible, but this one isn’t (there are reasons but I shan’t go into them).
One great thing about being short is, I never need as much fabric to make something as the pattern says I do. After careful calculations, I knew exactly how much to buy and order it I did.
The bad thing is, if you don’t have extra and make a mistake… well.
I was on the phone with my other half and got distracted. Instead of cutting the top layer a specific way, I did it wrongly. I immediately noticed the disaster, but it was too late. My soul hurt. I didn’t want to order more fabric because of this!
The problem: No extra fabric and the huge unwillingness to buy more. I was doomed.
The temporary solution: The same as with the cocoons! Back away from the project. Make some tea. Curse out loud. Come back later.
The real solution: I had a little extra of the gingham fabric. Patchwork to the saving.
I had only made a mistake with one half of the fabric, so that became the back. I cut that piece in two and added a strip of the under layer fabric to the middle. It almost looks like it’s a proper feature, at least to my eyes.
I’ll have to confess I felt rather smug after this. My solution worked, I didn’t have to buy extra fabric and my dress is perfectly wearable.
My smugness was somewhat abated after my mum saw the dress and said it looked like a maid’s apron, but that’s another story…
That’s it, three examples of things that didn’t go as planned but had a solution. If you let your brain think about it for a while in the background, I bet you’ll come up with alternative endings for your “mistakes.” Like the cliché goes, mistakes can be opportunities to do better later. Beats giving up, right?
Finally, the random photo of the day:
My lovely osteopath Jane went on holiday to the Shetland Islands and I asked her to send me some sheep pics. She obliged and I thought I’d share them with you.