Inspired by Nature…..3D Textiles

My recent Forest Floor workshop for the ladies of Snape Textiles up in Bedale has reignited my interest in working with Tyvek fabric. It’s a material I hadn’t used for a little while but making a tiny seed pod a few weeks ago, as a sample for their class, has led to more, and larger, pieces and an idea for a new workshop I’m calling Inspired by Nature…..3D Textiles.

These pieces all start with a wire armature wrapped in hand painted Tyvek fabric which is then distressed with a heat gun.

What I particularly like about this technique is the metallic look that can be achieved…..although they are strong, and look as if they are heavy, these pieces actually have the weight and feel of paper.

The first Inspired by Nature – 3D Textile class will be held at Belchford Village Hall LN96LJ on the 22nd January 2022 so if you are interested in learning this technique, or want to know more about the workshop please get in touch via the contact form.

Forest Floor…..

I recently had the pleasure of running two consecutive one-day workshops for members of the Snape Textile Group up in the beautiful village of Bedale, North Yorkshire.

The group had booked my Forest Floor workshop which covers lots of different techniques for working with heat manipulative materials and creating the kind of stuff you find littering the forest floor such as leaves, twigs, bark and seed pods. With 30 ladies interested it was decided to split this fast paced class into two days to ensure all of them had the best learning experience and no one got left behind!

Real bark v fake bark

After each demonstration the students set to painting, stitching, wrapping and distressing (using heat guns and soldering irons) their Tyvek and Lutradur to create the various elements.

This is a sample based workshop and students are not necessarily expected to produce a finished piece of work by the end of it when it’s booked as a one day class. We do discuss how to pull everything together and create a suitable background but this is something that can be done afterwards at your own pace. If a group particularly want to see it through to the end it can either be booked as a two day class or we simply limit the amount of leaves made on the day to get a finished piece done. Yes, it’s those leaves that tend to hook folk in and then the time just disappears!

It was a full on weekend with the ladies producing an array of wonderful work and, hopefully, having a lot of fun in the process. This was the first time some had used a heat gun or a soldering iron but going by the response it won’t be the last!

Thanks to all for your enthusiasm, hard work and good company and a special thanks to Sarah Lowe for hosting me for the weekend. I’m looking forward to working with you all again at some point in the future.

Do You Recycle Your Coffee Capsules?

Do you recycle your coffee capsules? I’ve recently started doing this, on a very small scale I admit, by getting creative and adding them as inclusions to my felt. It got me wondering what other folk might be creating with theirs. This is a guest blog I’ve just written for the Felting and Fibre Studio on that subject…..

Recycled Coffee Capsules

The Art of Transformation…..

Yesterday I visited the Sam Scorer Gallery on Drury Lane in Lincoln to see their latest exhibition, The Art of Transformation, by Horncastle printmaker Sinclair Ashman.

Sinclair says “I am an experimental fine art printmaker, but prints are not the only things I make’.

“The Art of Transformation will be a review of my latest work in burnt reliefs, metallics and traditional collograph printmaking over the last two years. It will also be an overview of selected prints from 2013 to the present. “

This exhibition provides a fascinating insight into the methods and materials that Sinclair uses as a printmaker and mixed media artist. What I found particularly interesting was seeing many of his beautiful, textural collograph plates, or lamina, which could themselves be hung as a work of art.

Circle I lamina 54cm x 54cm
Circle I was designed in response to the theme of “symbol” and decorated with raffia and hand stitched threads.
The Young Moon lamina
The Young Moon Print

More recently he has been experimenting with applying intense heat to print paper and metal leaf to create the “Treasure” series. Heat from a paint stripper gun reacts with the composition of the leaf, resulting in vibrant, iridescent colours and singes the edges of the paper. “To date, ‘Treasure’ pieces have taken two different forms: images printed from multiple, segmented plates and non-printed pieces made with burnt copper, silver and gold metal leaf.”

Elemental 68cm x 47cm mixed media

Its an inspiring exhibition and it was great to get to speak with Sinclair about the different aspects of his work.

The Art of Transformation runs until the 7th November.

Alford Arts…..

Once again I find myself playing catch-up as the time has flown by and I realised I’ve not posted for three months!

August 16th was the preview evening for the newly opened Alford Arts, a beautiful gallery next door but one to the Craft Market Shop in Alford, Lincolnshire. I had dithered as to whether or not to put my work in here as I didn’t want to pull out of the shop and it didn’t seem to make financial sense having work in the two spaces that were so close together. At the last minute I decided to give it a go and it was really encouraging to have my favourite Rockpool Bag sell on the opening night!

Staffed by volunteers Alford Arts is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10am – 4pm and showcases a good mix of styles, techniques and mediums created entirely by Lincolnshire Artists. I am one of only two textile artists currently exhibiting and selling in there, the other is my friend Evelyn Jennings who creates the most wonderful embroidery’s on hand painted silk fabric such as these two, On The Steps and Hedgerow.

The following photos were taken back in August and I’m pleased to say that several of my pieces have since sold including the Monstera.

You might remember the hexagon samples I made for one of the Felt & Fibre Studio challenges. I removed the glass from a pair of oval frames, sanded and painted them white and adapted the hexagons to fit.

These are just a few of the other works including ceramics, glass, wood carvings, paintings and prints. If you’re in the area it’s well worth a visit. You never know, you might just see something that takes your fancy and, if you do, you will be supporting a local artist!

Alford Arts also offers a range of art workshops which are held in the gallery on a Sunday and Monday. Visit the Alford Craft Market Website for more info or to make a booking.

EYE’s Residential Weekend…..

It’s been a long time coming but last weekend I taught my first face to face workshop of 2021 at Cober Hill near Scarborough. Originally booked for summer 2020, this residential workshop for the East Yorkshire Embroiderers had to be carried over to this year due to the Covid lockdown restrictions.

I did wonder if it was too soon for some and if numbers would be depleted but it turned out the ladies were very keen to get back to normal! Nineteen of the twenty ladies booked for the weekend retreat turned up, sixteen came to do the workshop and three came simply to chill.

Cober Hill was built in 1890 and was purchased by Arnold Rowntree, former Liberal Member of Parliament for York, and nephew of the chocolate manufacturer Joseph Rowntree, in March 1920. Rowntree had a vision for it “to be a place of joy and beauty, …a centre of refreshment and inspiration for many of those engaged in difficult public services… I hope experiments in Weekend Schools, Winter and Summer Schools of various kinds and of longer or shorter duration may also be tried there…” The venue, with its gardens, tennis court, croquet lawn, theatre and numerous other communal spaces, offers an annual programme of craft workshops as well as hosting private groups, businesses and schools.

The theme for our weekend was “trees” and the aim was for the students to combine layers of fabric and paint with machine and hand stitching. The finished work could then either be backed as a quilt or mounted in a frame.

After dinner on the Friday evening the group were shown examples of my “tree themed” work and I talked through the techniques I had used to create them. The ladies then started to plan their designs based on images they had brought for inspiration. Not everyone wanted to do trees, one lady chose to use the techniques discussed to do a moon gazing hare while another went completely “off piste” with her abstract take on an owl!

Maggie went her own way with an Owl
Melanie painting her background layer.
Dorothy and Debra painting their backgrounds.
Ann laying down the background for her trees.
Rachel’s background is painted and now she’s working on her foreground layers.
Sandra adding detail to her foreground trees.

With the bulk of the painting completed and dried on Friday evening the ladies could concentrate on layering and stitching their fabrics on the Saturday.

Hilary’s background has been painted and now she is layering up her sheer fabrics to create depth to her forest.
The moon gazing Hare is starting to take shape.
Dorothy’s forest is pinned and ready for stitching.
Evelyn’s work in progress.

I think the surprise of the weekend was Melanie who only came to Cober Hill to keep Ann, her grandma, company. This young lady doesn’t have the use of a sewing machine and had never done any free motion stitching before…..she borrowed Ann’s machine and took to it like a duck to water!

Melanie’s lone tree is starting to take form.
Rachel adding her gate and railings.
Ruth is beginning to add hand stitched detail to her tree.
Debra used lots of free motion stitch on her version of a tree canopy.
Using the same image as Debra for inspiration, Carol created a tree canopy in autumn colours.
Judy took her inspiration from my Walk in the Forest.
Hilary made good use of zig zig free motion stitch for her background trees.
Margaret did her take on my Three Tall Trees.
Dorothy added hand embroidery for her foreground grasses and flowers.
Melanie’s finished work…..fantastic to think this was her first attempt at machine sewing and hand embroidery!
Rhona’s moon gazing Hare….what this image doesn’t show clearly is the addition of black beads which adds texture and sparkle when you see it close up.
Close up of Sandra’s finished trees.

What I hadn’t realised at the outset was that none of these lady’s had done anything like this before, so for some it had been a steep learning curve! It was great to see everyone throwing themselves into the task of painting, layering and stitching and the results speak for themselves! By the time we left Cober Hill on the Sunday there had been some terrific work created. I hope some of my students will continue to develop these techniques alongside their more traditional skills. At least one of them has since bought herself a soldering iron for doing more of this kind of work which was music to my ears!

I just want to say a huge thank you to the EYE’s group for inviting me back to teach their 2021 residential and for being such willing students and wonderful company. I shall look forward to working with you again at some point in the future.

The EYE’s class of 2021

Final Show…..

No, not my final show! This is the final show from members of the now defunct (CCN) Contemporary Craft Network. The group disbanded in 2019 but five of us have got together for one last time to exhibit at the beautiful Sam Scorer Gallery on Drury Lane in Lincoln’s Cathedral Quarter. The exhibition is free admission, open 10am – 4pm and runs from today until the 20th June. (There is a sixth person mentioned on the poster but unfortunately Andrew had to pull out at the last minute)

We set up yesterday and it’s looking great! There are two feltmakers, myself and fellow IFA member Moira West. There are two glass makers, Kevin Wallhead and Kate Sell, and two mixed media artists, myself and Christine Plummer. The nice thing is that although some of us share a passion for the same medium/craft, everyone of us has a totally different approach and a different style. When combined this has resulted in an interesting mix and what we are hoping will be a very successful show.

If you are reading this and you are local, or even further afield and fancy a day out in Lincoln, it would be great to have you visit. There are lots of other attractions in the area including a wealth of independent shops and bars, our fabulous Cathedral and Castle, the Little Red Gallery, St Martins Gallery and Harding House….all within walking distance of the Sam Scorer Gallery. With the exception of today and the 18th there will be a different artist on duty all day every day so why not come along, see their work and learn all about their craft.

Circles & Holes…..

A few weeks ago, after trying to get from one side of my workroom to the other, I decided enough was enough……it was time for some serious sorting out! When you have students visiting regularly for workshops you have to keep things fairly tidy and organised but obviously, for the past year, this hasn’t been happening and so things had got seriously out of hand!

As well as the satisfaction of filling a bin bag with accumulated rubbish, it was great to discover a couple of books and a few samples of rust and tea dyed fabrics, and one covered with stamped leaves/grasses, which I had made a few years ago and completely forgotten about.

I’d been thinking of doing some felted work with the theme of circles & holes, and still will do, but on finding this fabric I knew I wanted to make some small ”circles & holes” combining the rust dye with the leaf stamps. So this is the result, all pieces are in square box frames measuring 25cm. Each hole was positioned to act as a small view finder for a rusty mark.

Having enjoyed making those I followed up with some more leaf stamping…..

…….and rust dyeing. This is all the same white cotton fabric but the grey marks are a result of soaking the fabric in tea before adding the rusty objects. To achieve the orange marks the fabric has been soaked in vinegar. My favourite piece, second from the right, has the grey background (tea) but also the orange marks from dipping the rusty bolts into vinegar.

These are two pieces made from the second batch of leaf printed fabric and that orange and grey rust print. In both of these the circles have been darkened by adding more paint.

2021 First Quarter Challenge…..

The 2021 first quarter challenge from the Felting and Fibre Studio going out to all felters, spinners, weavers, stitchers, knitters, crocheters and mixed media fibre artists is to make something inspired by the decade 1900 – 1909.

Normally, with so many possibilities, I would spend quite some time looking at the different options but this time I knew instantly where I would be taking my inspiration from. It would be the book Art Forms in Nature which consists of stunning illustrations by the German biologist and professor of zoology, Ernst Haeckel. These illustrations were first published in 1904 and so fit the brief perfectly!

Haeckles illustrations have provided a source of inspiration for many designers and artists over the years starting with the Art Nouveau movement and continuing today.

A recurring shape seen throughout this book is the hexagon, hardly surprising as it’s everywhere we look in nature……from the basalt pillars of the Giants Causeway to honeycomb, it’s also found in the eyes of insects, tortoise shells, algae, fish scales and microscopic Protozoa…..the list goes on and on!

I decided to make two sample pieces of surface decoration based on the hexagonal and using Bergschaf fibres but each sample would have different positive/negative space.

The first was a very simple form which can be open or closed.

The second was created using exactly the same template and resist but what was negative space on the top layer in the first sample became positive space in the second, creating a totally different look.

If you are interested in joining in this particular challenge, or any future challenges, or if you simply want to see what others have created you can find details on the Felt and Fibre Studio website