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.

Forest Floor…..

I’m currently working on samples for a heat manipulative mixed media workshop with the theme  “Forest Floor”.  This is the first sample in the series in which I’ve used painted and heat distressed Tyvek and Lutradur, combined with natural tree bark, a leaf and hand embroidery.

The first of the workshops will be held at Simply Stitch, East Keswick on April 7th & 8th.  On day one we will be painting on, and experimenting with, various heat manipulative materials.  Using an iron, soldering iron and heat tool we will be working with Tyvek paper and fabric, various weights of Lutradur and polyester.  There will be the opportunity to include hand and machine stitching in your work.

On day two we will use the samples we have made, or create new ones, adding stitching and found objects to build up a layered, highly textured piece of work inspired by the “Forest Floor”.  For more info or to book a place contact Nicola on 07969 578289 or email nicola@simplystitch.co.uk

This is a photograph of two autumn leaves and a leaf skeleton I made from Lutradur.

Autumn Leaf skeleton made from Lutradur

On April 25th I will be running a one day “Forest Floor” workshop at All Sewn Up by Debs in Horncastle.  For this session we will be using the iron, soldering iron and heat tool to manipulate Tyvek paper and lightweight Lutradur.  Once they’ve been distressed these materials will be combined with natural tree bark and hand stitching to create our beautiful, layered Forest Floor.  This class is suitable for all abilities and is a great introduction to working with Lutradur and Tyvek.  For more information or to book a place call Debs on 01507 524566.

 

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.

 

Hockney self portrait update…..

Thanks to Maggy for pointing out that I hadn’t posted a picture on here of my finished quilted version on Hockney’s self-portrait.   I have just added it to “Hockney gets a scarf” under the “Art Quilts” category.

If anyone reading this is interested to learn more about the Lincolnshire Quilters “David Hockney Challenge”‘, which is gaining momentum nicely, we have a blog at http://www.linqsblog.wordpress.com

David Hockney gets a scarf…..

A felted scarf and he's nearly done!

A felted scarf and my David Hockney mixed media quilt is nearly ready for quilting!

This evening David Hockney got himself a dark red Merino wet felted scarf so now he’s nearly ready to be put together and quilted.

To finish off I’v machined four rows of stitching at the back of the figure to represent the newsprint columns, quilted around the edge of the figure and added a black border.

My David Hockney self portrait

My finished quilted version of David Hockney’s self portrait

 

Hockney Challenge…..adding the hair.

 

I want my version of Hockney’s collage ‘Self Portrait‘ to be a fun piece constructed from a mixture of materials and methods.  The face is being built up with layers of synthetic fabrics, bonded together using an 18w Antex soldering iron.  My first attempt was with a 30w iron and a fine point bit….it was awful!  The fabric burnt and I couldn’t control the cutting edge as the iron was too hot and the point too thick.  I took advice from Margaret Beal on her website and bought a lower wattage iron with an extra fine bit…..it’s a lot easier when you use the right tools!

For the mop of blond hair I chose to use a technique which I originally saw demonstrated by Jan Tillett on Youtube.  This involved free machine sewing onto water soluble stabiliser which was held in an embroidery hoop.  I traced the outline of the hair onto the stabiliser before sewing back and forth with yellow and cream thread, overlapping the stitches so that they held together once the background fabric was washed away.  The hair took shape very quickly and I am really pleased with the texture.   The next job will be to select fabrics for the clothes.

Hope Hockney doesn't sue!

Creating the hair using soluble stabiliser.

Portrait of Hockney made from fabric and thread.

The mop of blond hair plonked in place!

 

 

LINQS David Hockney Challenge…..

 

Are you living in Lincolnshire? Do you enjoy quilting and fancy a challenge? If you can answer yes to both these questions you might like to join the ladies in LINQS (Lincolnshire Quilters) and create a quilt inspired by any work of David Hockney’s, past or present. Quilts can be made by an individual or a group and the work can feature any technique or style, including traditional.
The criteria we have to adhere to is…..

1. To be a quilt it must have 3 layers

2. The size must be either 30″x40″ or 30cm x 40cm portrait or landscape. If you want to make a larger size quilt you can hang several smaller ones together.

3. No matter what style we use we must be able to link the finished piece back to DH’s work.

For more information or to register your interest click here.

I didn’t really know Hockney’s work before signing up for the challenge but, after talking to one of the members of LINQS, I took a ride up to Salts Mill to see it for myself. Salts Mill is in Saltaire, West Yorkshire, a few miles from Bradford and it houses a permanent display of Hockney’s work. It also has a terrific book shop and a restaurant serving delicious food on the top floor.

The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate

The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate

 

Background of my monotone quilt.

Background of my monotone quilt.

Trees are added to stand away from the background.

Trees are added to stand away from the background.

Detail of foliage at base of trees.

Detail of foliage at base of trees.

I’ve started work on two ‘mini size, quilts, the first is based on The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate. I decided to strip it back to a monotone colour scheme and started off in a fairly traditional way using machine and hand stitching on the background. I wanted the trees to stand out so I used black acrylic paint on vilene, backed with black felt and attached them with my glue gun. The foliage at the base of the trees was cut from a piece of lace which has also been painted with acrylic. I’m not sure how I am going to finish this one…..do I add the large leaves and the vines? I’ll sleep on it a bit longer before deciding my next step.

The second piece I’m doing is based on Hockney’s early self portrait collage. This is going to be a mixed media quilt using paper, paint and fabric. The background is the ‘Newsprint’ wallpaper from my last post. I have stuck it onto cream netting using PVA. Once it was dry I turned it over, soaked it with water and gently rubbed the backing paper off until the image was showing through. This has created a nice thin layer which I can quilt at a later stage.

Hockney 1954 Self Portrait

Hockney 1954 Self Portrait

Starting work on DH's face.

Starting work on Hockney’s face.

More shading added to the face....the glasses are tried on for positioning.

More shading added to the face….the glasses are tried on for positioning.

Rather than copying Hockney’s 1954 self portrait I have chosen to show him as he styled himself in the 60’s with his trademark dyed blond hair and thick black round specs. After drawing the features onto cotton fabric I am trying a new (to me) technique for colouring the face, using a soldering iron to fuse layers of organza. I got the idea after buying the Margaret Beal book New Ideas in Fusing Fabric. The work in this book is so inspirational I had to buy the iron and have a go! I’m hoping to get some more of this quilt done this week so will post an update when I do.

More Mixed Media…..

I have been asked to show more detailed images of how I created the butterfly and dragonfly pictures seen in my last post so here is version number three with extra photos.

The various items used was the same for all of the pictures.

Various items used to create the pictures.

 

Butterflies and dragonflies cut out from Farfella wallpaper from B&Q

Farfalla wallpaper sample from B&Q was used for the insects

The insects were all cut from a sample of ‘Farfalla’ wallpaper by Statement available from B&Q and the ‘text’ on the first dragonfly picture was torn from a sample of ‘Travel’ wallpaper by Colours, again from B&Q. I used a limited colour pallet of Daler Rowney sap green and process magenta for the first two versions.

 

Travel wallpaper from B&Q was used on the first of the dragonfly pictures and on the book cover.

Travel wallpaper from B&Q was used on the first of the dragonfly pictures and on the book cover.

Each of the pictures began with a background which was stamped using acrylic paint on a wide piece of lace. It worked out blotchy and had very little detail but, as it was only the background, I figured it didn’t matter.

In the latest picture I took my colour scheme from a sample of B&Q ‘Newsprint’ wallpaper. I began by mixing Daler Rowney ultramarine with process magenta and yellow ochre to get the background shade I wanted. This was painted onto bits of lace and onto a ‘leaf’ and these were stamped using a homemade brayer. First time round I did it using a small tin but this time progressed to my deluxe version (a piece of metal clothes rail cut down to approx 3 inches and pushed onto a small paint roller).

Acrylic paint is mixed to compliment the blue seen in the Newsprint wallpaper.

Mixing acrylic paint to match the blue shade seen in the ‘Newsprint’ wallpaper.

 

Frugal crafting with my home made brayer.

Frugal crafting with my home made brayer.

As the background started to take shape I loosely laid the papers to get an idea of where I wanted them.

The papers are loose laid to establish their positioning.

The papers are loose laid to establish their positioning.

More stamping was done using a funky foam flower (central area) while the green stamp in the bottom left corner was made from a leaf shape, again cut from lace and painted with acrylic (a little yellow ochre and magenta mixed with sap green). Sequin waste was used as a stencil, top left and on the right hand edge. For this a little more ochre, a lot more magenta and a little white was added to the background blue and applied with a sponge.

 

Stencilling with sequin waste.

Stencilling with sequin waste.

More stamping and stencilling.

More stamping and stencilling…..the hessian is loose laid and will change position before I’ve finished.

Several transparent leaves, in coral, yellow, blue and teal, were applied using PVA. Rather than pasting the leaf it’s far easier to simply lay them on the paper and apply the paste directly on top, it soaks through easily. The large dragon fly was pasted in place and strips of netting were laid vertically on the paper, and again, pasted over with generous amounts of PVA. As the acrylic paint is permanent once it’s dry you can paste over it without fear of smudging. I discovered this isn’t the case with the Distress Ink, it will smudge, so I was careful to avoid getting any PVA on the tiny dragon flies, which were the last stamps to be applied.

Detail showing the netting and leaves.

Detail showing the netting and leaves.

The ‘Newsprint’ paper was finally glued down and a border of hessian, bleached with Miltons to tone it down a little, was added to the left hand edge using a cool melt glue gun. I got my gun from The Range, it was very cheap but is in use constantly and I would definitely recommend them. To finish off bead accents were applied, again using the glue gun.

Dragonfly mixed media picture in blue.

Third of the insect mixed media pictures.

You could go on forever adding layers of transparent fabric and trims, it’s quite addictive and a fun way of experimenting with different materials/techniques.