Monday, 28 March 2011

Lots to tell ...

Where do the weeks go? It was Monday, then it was Sunday.
However, this mornings' walk was beautiful - an early morning fog and a ground frost, all overlaid by a sun which was bright and warm. I do need new wellies though - one has developed a leak!

Apart from the usual weekly tasks, my main focus this week has been to move forward on the 'Folded Thread Booklet' and to complete my examples for a new workshop which was happening on Saturday.
First the Thread Booklet. I love the effect of the texture gels, and when combined with reactive metal paints it's scrummy. I needed to see how a few different  textures and colours worked together ...

Heavy Gel Gloss with Copper paint
and Green Patina Solution
Heavy Gloss Gel with Baroque Paint and Patina
Blended Fibre Gel, Iron Pint and Rust Patina
Resin Sand Gel with Bronze Paint and Blue Patina Solution

Deciding on the heavy gel, a favourite paisley print block to texture the gel with and the baroque paint and patina solution, I set to on the Thread Booklet. Obviously, had I been less impatient, I would have done this before making up the booklet - but that's how it goes!

Adding texture gel in the pockets

Wet texture gel

I now have a painted and patinated booklet which is ready for stitch. More to follow as it happens.

Texture Gel when dry, ready for painting
Painted, ready for patina

The workshop on Saturday was held for the Living Threads Group. The idea was to get out that bag of bits that none of us can quite bear to throw out, the bits and pieces that are all tangled up, the snippings of threads from other pieces, sweet papers, sequins etc. These were stitched or fused together, then cut up to create other appliquéd surfaces. Most of the pictures are on my Flickr. Just a couple here:

Small book cover with trapped scrap appliqué

Heritage style panel using trapped scraps to make a textured background fabric.
I got away with out burning food this week by the expedient technique of handing that responsibility to others!

Steve at Big Ant Video has just completed filming for me and I will sheare the link as soon as it is published.
Have a good day.

Monday, 21 March 2011

World Heritage Site at Cromford

View of mill buildings and an overflow sluice
When things are on your doorstep, it is easy to ignore them. So when my middle daughter asked if we could 'go somewhere' yesterday I flicked onto the 'Visit Derbyshire Site' and was reminded that within 20 miles of us is the 'Derwent Valley Mills' World Heritage Site, in particular Cromford Mill,  where Sir Richard Arkwright in 1771 pretty much began the Industrial Revolution. And, all in the name of textiles, his main invention mechanised the spinning of cotton and developed the first successful water powered cotton spinning mill.

Painting of the second mill which is now just foundations
 Last time I visited it was still mostly a derelict site. Since then much work has been done, though there is much more still to go. We took a guided tour which set the visible remains in context. My daughter was particularly taken by the unmarried mens' dormitory, the canons set outside to deter the 'Luddites' who were active in the area, the bell which was rung at the change of shift and which could be heard from 2 miles away, the thought of 7 year old children working 13 hour shifts, the noise (much reduced nowadays) of the water on the wheel race and the first indoor privys so that the employees wasted less time getting to the toilet and back! Richard Arkwright was entirely practical and interested in maximising efficiencies, though many of his ideas about looking after his workforce would put the later Victorians to shame.

Foundations of the spinning machines and the privy's

Because my textiles are personal, small scale and rarely for practical use, I tend not to think often about the amazing influence and economic power of textiles in our history. This was both a lovely afternoon out and a reminder of the rich history in the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire area around me.

On Saturday I went out walking with the dogs and with Steve from Big Ant Video to get more footage for the video he is creating about my work. I have just seen the first cut, and can't wait to be able to put it on line for you ... won't be long now.

Though it was not really the point of this blog, it does seem to be highlighting my diabolical cooking skills - today, having put the toast under the grill, I turned my back to do the washing up, then had to I offer 'dark brown' cheese on toast for lunch.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Encouraging creativity

How many times do you hear people say 'I'm not at all creative'?

It's really sad that so many have either had the enjoyment of being creative or the confidence that they can be creative taken away at some stage. I am sure that we can all be creative in our lives, but that often it is channelled into areas which we don't immediately see as being 'creative' - I have watched business men solving problems, engineers working on plans, cooks, gardeners, doctors etc. - we just use our 'right brains' for different purposes at different times. Also I think that, as we become used to achieving well at one thing, we less often move outside our comfort zone. Trying new skills or gaining new experiences is something we should all do now and again - however uncomfortable it can be.

   Wiggly wrapped wire sample                     
Wrapped wire and bead example
Wrapped wires and beads

So, on Thursday night when a group of 22 ladies from a local 'Ladies Circle' came to have a craft night and to create some treasures from wire and beads, I heard the usual cries of 'I can't', 'I don't know where to begin' and 'Why is mine always rubbish?'. By the end of the evening everyone went home with a pendant or bracelet or ornament or hair piece and big smiles on their faces as you can see. Well done everyone.

Just one more snippet to add - the burnt offering to the family last night was over toasted nachos -oh well!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Appreciating a lovely spring morning

 Burnt offerings this weekend were the new 'lemon and mascarpone muffins' which we are trying out for the Gallery cafe - I was left tending them and forgot -as usual!

Walking along the floodbank
With the horrendous news about Japan over the weekend, I really appreciated my walk this morning.
It was a frosty morning with a frill of ice on the waters' edge but a clear sky and bright sun, which after a long winter is finally beginning to feel warm,  the wild garlic and pussy willow coming through, birds singing, I saw the first pair of Curlews and heard the Woodpecker loud and clear.

A few crochet with wire and bead samples
My middle daughter is just doing her GCSE exams, and for her sea inspired art project was really taken by the art pieces of Arline Fisch  ( which is great because I have a couple of her books and was able to help - don't you feel privileged when your children actually ask for help?!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Meet the boys ...

As you will be hearing lots about the dogs, I thought I would introduce them.
We have two border collies, a black and white called 'Stjarna' (Norwegian (I think) for 'star' which is his pedigree name) and Idris who is red/chocolate and white, taking his name from a welsh king, from Cader Idris the Welsh 'mountain' near to which he was born and true to the meaning of the word is red and impatient!
In this picture they are looking much cleaner than usual as our walks involve lots of water and lots of mud as a general rule.

Thread Booklet 1
This morning was lovely and bright and warm in the sun, but still very windy in the open, so all cobwebs (and possibly a few brain cells) have been blown away ready to get on.

Thread booklet with open containers
I love books and containers and have played with various structures before. Right now I am making a version of a 'folded thread booklet' which originates from South West China. The original is made from painted paper with a fabric cover and as you can see opens out into many boxes and layers which are for storing threads, needles, partly made embroideries etc.
Thread Booklet 2
If you have ever come across these booklets, you will have been as mesmerised as I was when I first saw them. The Beetroot Tree will be showing some during our '2 Continents' exhibition which is to be held between 23rd April and 5th June showing fantastic textiles and sculptures from Africa and Asia from the collections of John Gillow and Martin Conlan - I know I will be financially poorer by the end of the exhibition, but I do love my textile collection and so will be richer in spirit! 
Starting to make my own version

Getting back to the point, my thread booklet is to be made from Lutradur which is currently being stitched prior to burning away and I think addition of texture gels -that bit is yet to be decided -you know how it is when experimenting.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

In the beginning ...

What a week to be starting this, burnt pancakes were only a part of it, other offerings below.

After several weeks of fairly solid working and sore fingers I have just completed my latest series of textile works. These are created from metal fabrics (stainless steel, copper, brass and bronze, Lutradur and stitch, they are all based on views which I see daily on my dog walks. The process has been filmed and will soon be edited for you to see - I'll let you know as soon as it's ready. Here are some of the pieces:

'The Back Field'
'Black O'er Bills'
'Moonset at Sunrise'
'Standing Alone'

I have also signed the contract for my next book, working with Search Press it will explore ideas for using metal, fibres, mixed media and stitch, with a hoped for publication date of autumn 2012. This will be exciting as I really enjoy having to develop new ideas and explore new materials.
And finally, it was one of my favourite outings of the year on Sunday -The Antiques Textile Fair in Manchester. This fair is like visiting a museum except you can actually get your hands on the goodies and bring them home! I'll no doubt be using some of the fabrics, lace, buttons, thread and 'bits' that I picked up soon enough. I will also get pleasure from the early hand-made chain 'misers purse' I found and the full length Edwardian linen coat will make me feel very special when I 'swoosh' around in it.

After that, it is back to paperwork and tidying my studio ready to get on with new pieces.