Artvango & The Finished Vessel…..

Last weekend a friend and I drove down to Knebworth to see the “Artists in Residence” at Artvango.  It was my first visit and turned out to be a really worthwhile day.  The three textile artists demonstrating their skills were Clare Bullock (Feltmaker), Sharon Osbourne (Mixed Media) and Lynda Monk (Thermofax).  Not only was it interesting to watch these artists at work but it was wonderful how they were so enthusiastic to share their advice and tips so freely.

While I was there I had my grey/lemon vessel in mind and within the first two minutes of arriving Clare had given me the answer to a problem I was having using synthetic organza with Merino tops.  I wanted to include the organza as a another texture but I’d found that my fibres were not migrating through the fabric enough to bond the two together.  Clare explained that using a very thin layer of fibres and rubbing, not rolling, was the best way to approach it, and it worked.  Thanks for that Clare.

In another part of the studio Lynda Monk was demonstrating her use of Thermofax screens and expanding foam on leaf and hexagon shapes cut from Lutradur.  What I found interesting was the fact that the wire she was using to give the leaves their shape wasn’t silver or copper coloured like I had in my workroom, Lynda’s wire was covered with white cotton.  She explained that she uses this so it can be died to match whatever she is making.  Call me sad but I hadn’t seen this stuff before and I was so excited I had to buy some!  That was vessel problem two sorted.  How to hide the wire?  Colour it grey and lemon.

Opposite Lynda was Sharon Osbourne with the most wonderful collection of mixed media work on dispay.  Sharon was demonstrating the use of wax crayons with rubbing plates to create patterns on fabric, the crayon is then sealed with a medium.  I was standing next to another lady who, like me, works with LD students and we both agreed that having spoken to Sharon we were coming away with several ideas that we could use in future workshops.  A couple of days later I tried the wax crayon technique at one of the care homes where I do craft sessions with LD adults and they loved it!

Anyway, back to the 3d piece.  It’s now finished, compete with coloured wire, organza and felting.  I decided that using all 3 panels would result in a vessel too large for the space I wanted to put it so I only used two of them.  Once the machine stitching was finished the holes were burnt out using a soldering iron and hand stitching was added across the larger openings.  The cotton covered wire was coloured to match the panels and sewn in place using zigzag stitching.  I’m really happy with how this has turned out and it’s something I would definitely like to do more of, particularly incorporating felting into my work and continuing with a more abstract theme.

Finished vessel with the felted bowl which, along with the Flower Tower, provided the initial inspiration.


Detail showing the silver coloured organza.


Close up showing the burnt out sections which have been decorated with hand sewn threads.


Another 3d vessel…..

Since finishing my Flower Tower (and wondering what on earth I am going to do with it) I’ve been thinking about making another 3d vessel.  If it’s a success it will be destined for the lounge to sit next to a felted bowl I made last year with Jenny Pepper.  I love the grey and lemon colour scheme of the bowl and so I began by wet felting some fibres to match it.

My starting point for the grey/lemon vessel.

My starting point for the grey/lemon vessel.

I didn’t have a shape in mind but they turned out a bit like grey bacon rashers!  I repeated the exercise, this time laying out three lots of very fine fibres and covering each of them with a strip of white organza.  If you click on the photo below to enlarge it you will see the organza more clearly.

The painted Lutradur and pieces of felt ready to be sewn.

The painted Lutradur and pieces of felt ready to be sewn.

The next step was to roughly cut 3 pieces of Lutradur and paint it with Inktense Blocks.  I say “roughly” because I want the finished effect to look organic and distressed so I’m not working to a precise measurement or shape.

The FM embroidery is work in progress.

The FM embroidery is work in progress.

I have several threads of dubious quality (I haven’t a clue what some of them are made of) so I spent a bit of time last night blasting them with my heat gun to confirm which are 100% cotton, as opposed to polyester, and which are Rayon, as opposed to Nylon.  That job done, it was time to start machining with cream, grey, gold and dark olive.   It needs a lot more stitching yet but I will put this piece to one side for now and work on the other two sections.


Flower Tower…..

A couple of weeks back I was invited to attend a “Flower Tower” workshop which was being held at the Cranwell Contemporary Stitch Group. Before the workshop I was shown an example of what we would be making, the 3d tower was made from painted Vilene and covered with scraps of fabric which were machine stitched in place. The whole vessel was then embellished with beads and flowers made using a variety of techniques.

I liked the basic shape of the tower and the idea of painting onto Vilene and immediately thought that I would like to paint and embellish mine as a “scene”, rather than as an abstract. I have based my design on the velvet piece I did a couple of months ago, using some of the same stamps and threads. The tower has a wire frame which was couched on using zigzag machine stitch and it stands on tiny felted feet.

In my hurry to get finished I forgot to paint the lining fabric! As the vessel is hollow, and there’s no way I can add colour past the “curls”, I’m thinking of just sponging the tips blue and adding a felted “stopper” so you don’t see any further down into the tower. Once it’s done I will post an update and after the next meeting will add photos of the towers made by the other Cranwell ladies.