Thursday, 31 January 2013

Taster Workshops Coming Very Soon At Estuary Arts, Orewa

Sorry for the short notice, but, here are the workshops I have booked at Estuary Arts between February and April. They are mostly 2 hour taster sessions and will be light, fun and get you in the mood for more!
To get the full brocuhure, go to the Estuary Arts site.

Mixed Media Textiles and Embroidery

Quickie Introduction classes     
                                              with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden
$50                               Members $45 per person per class.                 Fee includes starter kit.
A textile artist from the UK, Alysn specialises in unusual materials combined with textile, fibre and embroidery techniques. Her classes are open to any level of experience (including none) – just bring enthusiasm for trying out something a bit different! All of the techniques Alysn introduces have possibilities for development once you have mastered the basic ideas.
Have a play with a mixture of tradition and innovation in textile, fibres, threads, paints, paper, metal and more! Each of these short sessions will concentrate on a small project, the materials are provided and you will take home a unique textile art piece.
All ‘Quickies’ have a starter kit built into the fee.
Get Hot With Angelina Fibres.
Tues 12 Feb 10am-12pm Make a small panel using fusible fibres and film in unusual ways to create impressed and distressed surfaces for you to complete with stitch and beads.

Founding Chains
Tues 12 Feb 1pm-3pm Use coloured metal wires and beads and the simplest of crochet stitches (the foundation chain) to make a bracelet, or necklace if you are quick.

Impressive Metal
Tues 26 Feb 10am-12pm Using fine metal and beads, create a truly ‘impressive’ artwork. Learn how to manipulate and colour metals and embellish with beads and fabric to create a small panel for use as a card, book cover or wall hanging.

Wild Weaving with Metals.
Tues 26 Feb 1pm-3pm Weave with wires, metals and beads to produce excitingly textured and sculptural surfaces. A great introduction to manipulating metals, meshes and wires.

Lasting Impressions.
Saturday 2 Mar 10am-12pm  Use Angelina Hot Fix fibres to make a raised and embossed, iridescent centrepiece, then enrich with beads, sequins and a little hand stitch to create a small panel for use as a card, book cover or wall hanging.

Getting to Know You.
Saturday 2 Mar 1pm-3pm  Spend a session learning how to ‘go off grid’ with your sewing machine. Get ready to see your sewing machine as an art tool – you may never want to stitch in a straight line again!
You must bring your sewing machine.

Stitch and Shrink.
Tues 5 Mar 1pm-3pm  Colour and stitch, add fabrics and beads to Shrink Plastic then see it transform into a unique brooch, pendant or small panel

Wire crochet Jewellery
Sat 23 Mar 10am-12pm Crochet a pretty and wearable piece of jewellery using metal wires and pretty beads.

Silk and Fibre Papers for Backgrounds.
Tues 2 Apr 1pm-3pm  An addictive technique using silk, flax, linen and other fibres to ‘felt’ together with acrylic mediums. These can later be painted, gilded, stitched, cut etc. for use in other projects.

Take a Stab at it.
Tues 16 Apr 10am-12pm Use dry needle punch techniques to combine ultra thin reflective copper, Angelina and other fibres and threads. Then add a smattering of beads and sequins for a real ‘wow’ factor result.

If these sessions have interested you, then look out for regular classes by Alysn in future terms.

Monday, 21 January 2013

New Textile Links and Yarn Bombing

This Sunday was my first invited talk in NZ. I gave a short introductory talk to the Embroiderers and Lacemakers Guild of Auckland. I send them my heartfelt thanks for being so warm, welcoming and enthusiastic.We did at one point have a discussion going about what kinds of flames and heat they would be needing to colour the metals I was showing them. I now have to experiment on the ubiquitous gas bbqs to add to the possibilities, and I also came home with a bag full of foil fishes from the chocolates handed out at the end which will have to be used in a piece somewhere!

Foil wrappers from chocolates - yet another source of 'pre-loved' metal to play with!

As I write, it is a cloudy 18 C morning in Mairangi Bay whilst I am checking constantly on the Birmingham Airport flight updates in the UK to see how long a delay there will be due to the snow before my daughter and my parents can get on their plane to begin their flight to NZ. Fingers crossed that they are not stuck at the airport for too long. At least my daughter will have had a ‘proper’ winter, not the usual UK grey, wet and dreary one!

Just down the road from us is a small town called Devonport. This ‘quaint’ town has preserved much of its European heritage, with many older buildings from the mid-1800’s onwards including a great pub (The Patriot) and an telphone exchange (now called the Stone Oven) converted into a lovely cafe/deli. No doubt it also boasts other features of interest, but getting the eating places sorted out has seemed to come top of the list on our visits so far!

The Stone Oven, Devonport

More to the point, as we were walking wandering along the shopping arcade, I suddenly noticed that all of the legs of the balustrades had been covered in crochet. Each pole had its own label describing the piece and the maker. The little I can find out about them suggests that they are an art project from the Devonport Arts Festival which was in November last year, and they are called ‘the woollypoles’. Just fantastic.  

Knitting, yarn bombing, new zealand
The Woolly Poles in Devonport

I really like the guerrilla art movement, with weird, wonderful creations just appearing out of nowhere. When knitting and crochet is involved, it tends to be called ‘yarn bombing’.  Find out more about the whole idea at

New Zealand, Devonport, woollypoles, yarn bombing

Knitting, yarn bombing, devonport, new zealand

We are still waiting for the arrival of the contents of our container. We know it has docked and been off loaded, so hopefully we will be reunited with our gear soon!
In the meantime I couldn’t quite wait any longer to have fabric and threads around me, so took a trip to the local fabric and allsorts shop, called ‘Ikes Emporium’ in Browns Bay and made their day by buying huge amounts of fabrics with which I can get started on new projects. I have acrylic felt, cotton, organza, calico, sacking, threads and wool all ready to go. 

Alysn Midgelow-Marsden, fabric, thread, textile art
Fabrics and threads ready to go ...

So I intend to get onto the embellisher as soon as possible and get making – yeah! I do have an exhibition in the UK at Easter for the Living Threads group and think that these fabrics and colours will be the starting point for that. 
Do you think that my parents will mind if I ignore them for the month they are staying with us? Would that be a little rude?
As is found with other places around the world where there is strong sunlight, many of the painters and textile artists seem to be influenced by this, and indeed, vibrant colour is much more necessary if your work is not to look pale and washed out, so I have resolved to give colour a go.

I have just seen that my parents and daughter have left the ground, four hours behind schedule which may mean missing their connecting flight, I will look into it to see when they might really arrive, but the sun has come out so I am off to have a coffee in the garden, have a lovely day yourselves.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Bark, or barking mad? Thoughts about new artwork.

With the holiday season in full swing here in NZ and no materials or equipment available to speak of, I have not had a great deal of chance to start on new work. I am however taking hundreds of photos of bark, dead leaves, shells and beaches and I think my unconscious is working on something. Yesterday as I was sat in a traffic jam in the car, I began to wonder what it was about bark which was attracting my attention. 

Not only is it very appealing. Thinking visually, bark has layers, crevices, peels and twists, each species having a unique bark pattern and style which seem to be crying out to be used. It is tactile and extremely stitchable without any further analysis.
However, bark is more than a tactile treat; it is a practical, functional organ of a plant. Bark is a part of the plant where many of the waste products are deposited to prevent damage to the plant inside, it stops many diseases, contaminants and pests from damaging the plant, it stretches and grows with the plant and aids in its support.

A quick Wikipedia definition is: Bark is the outermost layers of stems and roots of woody plants. Plants with bark include trees, woody vines, and shrubs. Bark refers to all the tissues outside of the vascular cambium. It overlays the wood and consists of the inner bark and the outer bark. The inner bark, which in older stems is living tissue, includes the innermost area of the periderm. The outer bark in older stems includes the dead tissue on the surface of the stems, along with parts of the innermost periderm and all the tissues on the outer side of the periderm. 

Kauri - described by the Maori as looking like whale skin


Of course that is not news, but thinking in terms of barks function as a protective layer, separating the inner, living world of the plant from the outer environment -it divides and defends. Both of these words could easily have a relationship to our own inner and outer worlds. The defensive can become oppressive as well as protective. It can be an encumbrance and restrictive as much as helpful. Don’t our personal responses to the world get filtered through a bark-like structure in our minds which is composed of previous experiences? If these are helpful, then it is good, if these are harmful and distorted they become a problem for our communication and interaction with the world. We should all be very aware of what goes into our own protective shields, working to make them positive filters, rather than messy, unconscious thickened and unhelpful structures which contain us and prevent growth.

It has set me thinking about representing those ideas visually, words such as wrapping, protecting, containing and dividing will be helping me to explore new ideas both visually and metaphorically. The next stage is to start to play with the images and ideas, to ‘hush and hold’ the thoughts, then begin to see where they are leading.