Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Hello Strangers


The longer the time is between posts, the harder it is to know where to begin or what to miss out. And given that it has been a while since I wrote anything, I think that a quick visual resume will work. To some extent the reason for the lapse was that after a busy visit to the UK for October and November I got home to an equally busy home where we had to complete some alterations to allow us to be ready to offer holiday accommodation called the Kaka (native nz parrot) and the Ruru (Morepork owl) apartments through airbnb, and later in the year, when the studio is complete, we will be able to offer workshops and residential retreats. Which is exciting, and tiring!





Before leaving for the UK, we had the final two days of a five day development mentoring course for Kowhai Arts. After 3 days of  new design ideas and techniques, these last sessions were aimed at beginning the development of individual pieces.











During my trip to the UK I showed my latest works at the Knitting and Stitching Shows in London, Dublin and Harrogate. In an exhibition called ‘Permutations’  (more of which later), some of these pieces were also just shown in the Living Threads exhibition in Derbyshire, and there is an on going and developing story involving them which I hope to fill you in on soon.

Permutations exhibition by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Permutations by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Permutations exhibition  by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Children, friends and family were with us throughout December, January and February. So lots of entertaining, sightseeing and as my gardener sister had travelled from the USA to avoid the Trump inauguration, there was lots of garden design, digging and construction to be done. We are reaping the rewards already with heaps of spinach, beetroot, tomatoes, peppers, chillies, one watermelon (we planted far too late really so even one watermelon setting was an achievement). We also have a great load of kumara growing away and hope for a good harvest later. None of which I take any credit for as my gardening skills are on a par with my cooking (burnt offerings).


3 kg of spinach in two cropping so far, we will never be in danger of iron deficiency now!

Brian pickling the first beetroots.

The veggie patch created by the hard work of the family

For my own development, I took part in the 100 day challenge for the second time. This effort involved drawing from life, but not looking at the sketchbook, only looking at the object or view. Sometimes this leads to interesting lines and marks, sometimes to hilarious results. Have a go for yourself. There was a great exhibition of 100 of the 100 day artists work held in Auckland. Many of the projects were photography based, but a good number were thoughtful, skilled or just plain quirky.




100 day artist

100 day artist

100 day artist

100 day artist

100 day artist

The exhibition



I have a small regular group on a Tuesday morning. We have been tending to work on new techniques for a few weeks at a time. After the Christmas break we have changed our structure a little. When you work with a group over a long time, it is not just new techniques which are the focus, but is a great chance to concentrate towards more personal creative development for the participants also. To give us a structure which allows this to be the main focus, we are now working on a cycle of activities. The first week of a month is a design experimental session, the next two weeks are experiments in techniques with the aim to record a process and to store the results in a format which is accessible for future projects. The final week of each cycle is a self directed project or a challenge which will mean that everyone gets to work on something of their own choosing, probably a larger project which are brought for evaluation and discussion. At the moment in these weeks we are working with a linen bobbin which I bought for everyone whilst in the UK. This format gives us a pace and variety which can be lost when you work with a tutor over a long term and so far it is going well, with my class finding that they are happy to approach new ideas knowing that even if they are not their favourite, that there will be a change very soon. And because of this, they relax and have a go, often finding that they do actually gain valuable skills even if they would not have tried the ideas out for themselves or if they had to produce a completed project from a new idea.



Almost finally, a recent trip to New Plymouth gave me renewed inspiration to delve further into the possibilities of non-fusible Angelina fibres. Thank you ladies at the Eltham Retreat.
Not so Standard Angelina workshop



Not So Standard Angelina workshop

Not So Standard Angelina workshop

Not So Standard Angelina workshop
Whew, I will leave you with that for now, back soon.
Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Back in the Northern Hemisphere for a few weeks.




I arrived in the UK right at the beginning of October in what felt like the end of summer rather than heading into autumn, the trees were still green, the temperature was pretty much on par with those I was leaving behind in New Zealand. I have to say that I don’t miss New Zealands frequent wet weather, and during my weeks in the UK there have only been one or two rainy days, for which I am grateful. Autumn did finally arrive with misty mornings and sun streaking through the fabulously coloured trees. And during this last week we have seen temperatures dropping to -8 degrees C overnight and the frost lasting right through the days. The compensation for this are the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets with clear blue skies.



You may wonder (and I have been asked many times recently) what I do about family during my times away. Well, for the first year we are, to use a horrid phrase, ‘empty nesters’ – does anyone else find it an awful term? What this means is that our children are now working or at University, and so no longer living with us on a regular basis. Simply, another part of life has begun. Husband Brian has been left ‘home alone’ for a few weeks until the end of the University year and the return of our youngest progeny who, I predict, will drive him mad very quickly. On a day to day basis, Brian is  much more domestic and capable around the house than I am, so I have no worries on that score. To spice up his life I left him coping with me having converted a perfectly good house into a building site, in the hope that it will be liveable in by the time I return!! Not long now until I find out what the results are. 
When it all comes together we will be able to offer two self-contained holiday units and a studio to work in and invite people to be creative with me (and perhaps Brian if I can persuade him to teach his jewellery, metalwork and woodworking skills – but I haven’t told him that part yet, so please keep quiet). Get your bookings in now – beaches, bars, water sports, walks and creativity. The only downside is having to put up with our company!



As usual, the trip has been a whirlwind of workshops, talks, exhibitions, planning, applications and social events. Who could ask for more?



In no set order, I would like to thank the members of Cotswold EG, Chelford EG, South Cheshire EG,  (lots of C’s there), Trent and Erewash EG, London Quilters, Art Van Go, Zoe at Thimblestitch, and Living Threads, Hillstone Fibre Arts and the team at Upper Street Events who do such a great job organising the Knitting and Stitching Shows.



Also thank you Dr. Jessica Bain at Leicester University for organising a textile researchers networking day which fell beautifully into my schedule and gave me an inspiring day with other textile makers and researchers and left me with food for thought about future possibilities.




What did we get up to?




What Lies Beneath



Using the 'mola' or reverse appliqué technique, we will layer fabrics over a base of metal, machine stitch (free or with the feed dogs up) our design and then cut back through the layers to reveal colours we have hidden and finally the metal layer at the bottom.



Complete the piece with a little surface decoration and you have a piece which could be used at both a large, bold scale and a very small, delicate one



This will lead us to create a deceptively simple piece and stitch into metal with none of the accompanying worries about getting metal under your sewing machine.

 
What Lies Beneath 1 day workshop

What Lies Beneath 1 day workshop

What Lies Beneath 1 day workshop

What Lies Beneath 1 day workshop

What Lies Beneath 1 day workshop

What Lies Beneath 1 day workshop

What Lies Beneath 1 day workshop

What Lies Beneath 1 day workshop

What Lies Beneath 1 day workshop

What Lies Beneath 1 day workshop

What Lies Beneath 1 day workshop

What Lies Beneath 1 day workshop

What Lies Beneath 1 day workshop 







One of my examples, with chance to stitch into the surface for longer than one day gives us chance

Hanging Pods



Needle felted surfaces with subtle glints of metal foil, knitted metals and metal fabric completed with flourishes of beads and metal plate couching.



There were lots more images, I just can't lay my hands on them right at the moment. But we did have fun, in both in Chelford and South Cheshire.

Surveying the results in South Cheshire!

Hanging pods underway.

One finished piece a few days later.



Vain Devices



Who could fail to be impressed by the bold, bright and brilliant designs and colours of Elizabethan era costume? The rich colours; elaborate trimmings; the magnificent and extreme sculpting seen in the clothing of the higher classes are the inspiration here.



Go completely to town combining the padded hose and shoulder rolls, ruffs, gold ‘points’, lacings, fabric roses, stomachers and the finely detailed and embroidered coifs, the decorative scabbards worn by the men etc.



Translate your selection of these features into a textile using velvet, silk, Angelina fibre, metal shim and metal cloth, along with stitch.

Images are from Thimblestitch  in Devon and Art Van Go in Knebworth.

Bonnie's creation

Detail from Bonnie's work

By Carol, the first cuff of a pair of gauntlets

Detail from Chris

A wonderfully free interpretation of the theme and  materials by Daniela

Well on the way, with miles of zig zag cord from Denise

From Gill

Lovely piece by Judy

Pauline -hope this was finished in time for your exhibition?

This was much larger than the image makes you think - a bold piece by Penny

Detail from Penny
Janet's on the day

Janet's complete a month later

Detail of Janet's piece
And from the lovely ladies at Thimblestitch:

Vain Devices


Vain Devices

Vain Devices

Vain Devices

Vain Devices

Vain Devices

Vain Devices

Vain Devices

Vain Devices

Vain Devices

Vain Devices



Vain Devices




Gems from Scraps



I am sure that it is not just me who collects the offcuts and trimmings from larger projects! Do you have a bag of bits too special to throw away, but which you haven’t yet found a way to use? On this day we take these and layer and assemble them into collections of small treasures by adding a few beads, stitches or found objects to create unique greetings cards or small panels without wasting anything. 

Girls all heads down and being creative

Gems from Scraps

Gems from Scraps

Gems from Scraps

Gems from Scraps

Gems from Scraps

Gems from Scraps

Gems from Scraps

Gems from Scraps



Starting from Seeds



A little bit of drawing, but mostly having fun developing a multi textured paper, fabric and stitched surface based on the fantastically varied patterns and textures we see in seed pods from around the world. 
It s really a 2 or 3 day process, but we squeezed what we could into one day:

Starting from Seeds

Starting from Seeds

Starting from Seeds

Starting from Seeds

Starting from Seeds

Starting from Seeds

Starting from Seeds



Devore Developed



Richly textural, coloured, gilded velvet for a very special surface to incorporate into your own projects. Devore is a technique for creating a sculpted fabric of two layers from a particular form of velvet. Once sculpted colour is added with easy ink and dyes add gilding to create a luscious, rich surface for stitch and beads. 

Devore Developed

Devore Developed

Devore Developed

Devore Developed

Devore Developed

Devore Developed

Devore Developed

Devore Developed

Devore Developed

Devore Developed

Devore Developed

Devore Developed



Zipperdy Do Dah



Upcycle old zippers by creating a needle felted surface using lovely coloured wool tops which twist and swirl around the zip. Add simple, bold stitching and beads, and - viola! A broach, necklace, embroidered panel, book cover etc. - the choice is yours.

Zipperdy

Zipperdy

Zipperdy

Zipperdy
 
And I love it when I see developments later, so from this ...

... to this!

 
And this development was great too.
Still to come before I get back on a plane:
Fernery Vessels

A workshop based on ideas from my book ‘Stitch, Fibre, Metal and Mixed Media’.

A lovely subtle and elegant sculptural vessel exploring a variety of coloured and patterned surfaces Rich, varied and highly patterned panels are shown off to best advantage on this simply constructed vessel. Each panel takes an aspect of the fern. Pictures later






A reminder, if anyone would like me to visit your group in the UK during July and August 2017 or October and November 2018, do get in touch on alysnmm@gmail.com to get something organised.




And the next post will concentrate on the exhibition I have been working on for it’s first outing at the Knitting and Stitching Show.