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…..
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
This is my latest post, written for the Felting and Fibre Studio, about my trip to Northumberland earlier this this month in search of inspiration for a piece of work…..
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.
One of my favourite workshops has to the Layer, Stitch & Burn which I will be running again at the Alford Craft Market Centre on November 16th. This class teaches a technique made famous by the American mixed media textile artist Susan Lenz.
The title sums it up exactly, we begin by layering our fabrics, we use free motion machine stitching to hold them all together and then we set them fire! OK, so we don’t go quite that far but we do apply heat to manipulate and burn away sections of our work which results in a beautiful lacey effect.
I first discovered Susan’s work via a video on YouTube where she was teaching how she made her “In Box” series. I had only just discovered there was such a thing as textile art and had started experimenting with my own projects, so to see a Textile Artist with a heat tool and a soldering iron was pretty exciting stuff! It inspired me to research further which led me to Margaret Beal and her book New Ideas in Fusing Fabric…..needless to say I’ve had an interest in manipulating fabric by burning ever since!
Originally In this workshop we made a square piece of work to fit a small box frame but there is also the option of using this technique to make several smaller pieces which can be used as brooches. These leaf brooches were made using the same fabrics that are supplied for the workshop and the same method but students can apply it to any shape or subject matter.
It’s very strange times right now and, understandably, lots of ladies are not yet ready to come back to classes. I’m just hoping that we get enough interest to run this workshop on the 16th……fingers firmly crossed!
They say the longer you put something off the harder it becomes. Well I definitely find that’s the case when it comes to blogging! I’m not a natural “writer” but even so I can’t believe it’s been more than six months since my last post! Note to self….must try harder!!
Back in April I created two pieces of abstract wall art for the bi-annual Waltham Textiles Exhibition. It should have been happening later this month but, as with so many events, will now be taking place in 2021, fingers crossed!!
This first piece will be mounted onto board measuring 50cm x 100cm. Inspired by sunsets it consists of various wet felted fibres, Viscose fibres and a mix of natural and synthetic fabrics. It’s all held in place using machine free motion stitching onto a painted Lutradur background. I love the textures that can be achieved when using this technique and I particularly like adding synthetic glitzy fabrics for a little bit of bling!
This second piece was constructed in the same way. Rather than mounting it on a board, I think I’m going to mount this one behind glass in a black edged 40cm x 80cm frame.
My latest work, Roots, was made in response to a challenge set by the Waltham Textile Group who meet once a month at Waltham Windmill. This is an exhibiting group and, like many such groups, we all aim to produce a piece of work to a particular theme. The work will be displayed together at our bi-annual exhibition at the Windmill next August. Our current theme, leaves, couldn’t suit me better! There are absolutely no limitations for this main piece, it can be any size, any technique, 3D or 2D. This freedom in itself can be a headache because there are so many directions you can go in……..consequently I’ve yet to start that piece!
Running alongside our main theme we also have other, more specific, “challenges”. One of them is to produce three A4 pieces of work using three colours, each piece to predominantly feature one of those colours plus a little of the other two. This can be any style, any technique and any subject matter. You can see how I approached this challenge in a previous post “work in progress” and Roots is the result of that challenge.
Originally I made three wet felted backgrounds to which I was going to add lots of texture with fibre and stitch. The felt was put to one side for a few weeks while I did other things and by the time I went back to it I had changed my mind (surprise, surprise!). Instead of using the felt I reached for my roll of Lutradur, practising what I preach and using the techniques and materials demonstrated in my Forest Floor Workshop.
It turned out to be a very mixed media piece with felted pebbles, free motion stitched ferns and weeds and Lutradur leaves and forest floor. The only items not hand made are three small brown Beech tree pods.
With this challenge finished its back to trying out ideas and working up samples for my main exhibition piece. I’ve no idea how that will look as yet but I’m thinking along the lines of it being “abstract”…..that thought may change several times between now and completion!
Last year I joined a group of creative ladies who meet once a month at Waltham Windmill. As well as working on our own projects we have a number of set “challenges” requiring us to work to a certain theme. This week I began one those challenges which is to produces three A4 size pieces of work using just three colours. Each piece is to have one predominant colour, plus a small amount of the other two. The format can be landscape or portrait but all three will be displayed together. The design, techniques and materials are entirely up to the individual.
Today I was invited down to North Kilworth, Leicestershire to work with fourteen ladies from the textile group “Textend”. We spent the day painting fabric, layering with sheers and tulle and stitching to create our tree themed landscapes. Some ladies worked from imagination while others took inspiration from photos or cards. Although there is still work to be done, as you can see, the pieces are looking great. Many thanks to Ruth for inviting me and look forward to seeing some of you again next week.