Layer, Stitch & Burn…..

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.

This is an example of Susan’s work

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.

Leaf Brooch made using the Layer, Stitch & Burn technique

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!

Must Try Harder…..

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!

Abstract Sunset
Detail of Abstract Sunset
Detail of Abstract Sunset

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.

Burlesque – Abstract Wallhanging
Detail of Burlesque
Detail of Burlesque

Roots….

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!

Roots – a Waltham Textile Group Challenge.

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.  

Detail from Roots showing the Lutradur leaves

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!

Work in Progress…..

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.

My first thought was that I wanted my 3 pieces to be joined together and initially I was thinking along the lines of a leaf motif, using the veins to span the gaps between the work. The first design was for a very simple “spear” shaped leaf.

The second idea was to simplify it even more and loose the outline of the leaf. The background would possibly be heavyweight interfacing or Lutradur and the veins would be free motion stitched, spanning the gaps by stitching onto dissolvable fabric.
In the meantime I happened to take my dog for a walk in the woods at Hubbard’s Hills in Louth when I had a lightbulb moment! There were some wonderful exposed tree roots at the top of the hill and I suddenly saw these as being the joining element of my 3 x A4’s. The design now was for a “forest floor”.
Sketchbook page showing a design for piece of textile art
I realised that I would need a sturdy backing so I’ve wet felted these using Bergschaf fibres and they will be individually mounted onto stiff card…..at least that’s the plan so far! There will be little background showing on pieces two and three but far more on piece one so I included some thick cords under that sheet of felt to indicate buried roots.
Wet felted Bergschaf fibres
The tree roots above ground have an aluminium wire as their core, wrapped with wadding and strips of medium weight Lutradur before being painted grey.
Tree roots made from aluminium wire and Lutradur fabric
I’ve started making the weeds using free motion stitch on dissolvable fabric but I will look at alternative materials, possibly Lutradur, to introduce different textures, create more bulk and not least to speed up the weed making process!
Making weeds using free motion embroidery
The fallen leaves at the base of the roots will be FM stitched on Lutradur. Once they’ve been cut out using a soldering iron and heat distressed to make them curl they will be painted in varying shades of gold.
Lutradur leaves
I’ve managed to get a couple of other group members to send me images of their work in progress…..
Jacky approached the challenge by choosing blue, green and gold as her colours and using the “stack and whack” method to cut them up. After selecting her fabrics they were cut up quite randomly and then machined together in strips. The three sets were then layed on top of each other and sliced through again. The yellow and green shapes in the resulting strips made her think of plant pots and this led to her theme of “neglected pots and plants”. In this piece Jacky has added an appliqué cactus and free motion stitched the neglected straggly plants on the left. This one isn’t far off being finished but Ive been told the other two are still piles of fabric on the workroom table!
Carole has chosen to use a combination of plain and patterned fabrics in her chosen colour scheme of red, blue and yellow. Each of her A4’s feature a different piecing technique i.e. strips, curves and crazy patchwork. Again this is a work in progress but already you can see how individual members are putting their own mark on their work and how different everyone’s finished work is going to be. I will post images of the completed challenges next time.

Paint, Layer & Stitch…..

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.

Jeudis at Manchester…..

Yesterday I travelled over to Manchester’s EventCity with fellow Jeudis member Christine Plummer for a day of stewarding at the Creative Craft Show.

We were there as members of the mixed media textile group Jeudis, to promote our group and our most recent body of work on the theme of Abstraction.  The work is very varied and include 2D and 3D pieces, wet felting, quilting, collage, hand stitching, machine stitching, etc, etc.  My main piece was inspired by rockpools and made with wet felted Bergschaf fibres,  found shells and pebbles, hand and machine embellished.

Rockpool on display at EventCity, Manchester

I took this theme further, making several items of felted jewellery for the sales table, and was delighted with the response these brought.  The rock pool bracelets were particularly popular and the grey necklet found a new home with a lady who looked absolutely stunning in it!

Rockpool Brooches

Rockpool brooches made from Bergschaf fibres

Rockpool inspired Necklet

The following photos show more of the groups work…..

…..by Gill Green

Close up detail of Gill Greens bowl

…..by Jean Baker

…..by Sue Lewis

…..by Cathy Ball

…..by Linda Settle

…..by Elaine Winterton & Sue Lewis

…..by Christine Plummer

…..by Hazel Brewer

Our next Exhibition will be at Birmingham NEC and I will confirm dates nearer the time.

Abstract Wall Hanging…..

Inspired by rock pools this Wet felted Abstract Wall Hanging, made from natural shades of Bergschaf fibres punctuated with orange, is very textural and tactile. It’s a mixed media piece combining pebbles, shells and paper with free motion stitching and hand stitched colonial knots. Size approx 54cm diameter x 10cm deep.

Wet Felted Abstract Wall Hanging
Close up detail of 3 dimensional abstract wall hanging
Abstract Wall Hanging detail

I will been exhibiting this piece with textile group Jeudis at the Creative Craft Show in Manchester from January 31st to the 2nd February.

Lutradur Forest Workshop…..

Day two of the Lutradur Forest Workshop saw the ladies layering and stitching their Forest designs to their base fabric.

As often happens in a workshop, although all of the ladies worked constantly over the two day’s and the quilts are looking terrific, everyone has some finishing off to do at home.

Clare is adding clumps of bluebells to her Forest floor, hand embroidering them with Colonial knots

Janet’s design featured trees in leaf as well as these wonderful old gnarly tree stumps

Sue created lots of depth with her shading

Clair based her design on a photo she took while visiting a Canadian lake in the Fall

Janice is making lots of individual leaves which will be added to the foreground on the right of her design

Patricia has created a very strong contrast with her dark foreground tree and the lighter grey trunks in the background

Lyn will add stitched detail the her ferns to create interest in the foreground

Thanks to Nicola at the Simply Stitch Studio for being a wonderful host and to all the ladies for their enthusiasm and hard work.  I will look forward to receiving photos of your finished quilts.

Abstraction…..

Abstraction – 27cm x 14.5cm Mixed Media

This is Abstraction, the finished Mixed Media piece I’ve been working on for the past week.  The theme was set by the textile group Jeudis and my interpretation is purely non-representational.

The shapes, formed by laying out and felting the Merino fibres, fabrics and silks, have been traced with free motion stitching which in turn has produced ridges and valleys, adding to the overall textural effect.

For now it’s got pride of place hanging in the lounge in a simple, flat profile black frame…..

Tyvek Seed Pod…..

I developed a ganglion on my right hand as a result of making the bird mask last week.  It’s giving me some gip so I’m resting the hand for a while and doing a few pieces that don’t require a strong grip.  Yesterday it was a Tyvek Seed Pod incorporating sari silks and acrylic paint…..

Today I made a start on a mixed Media piece with the theme “Abstraction” which was set by the textile group  Jeudis which I became a member of a couple of months ago.   I’m combining free motion stitch with painted Lutradur and wet Felted Merino, for now it’s work in progress…..

Abstraction