Sunday, 22 December 2013

Hands Up for Uganda and Star Child Shoes Challenge

Whilst at the Knitting and Stitching Show a few weeks ago, I picked up a piece of barkcloth with a very special purpose.
'Star Child Shoes' is an initiative from Janet Middleton, aimed at raising funds for the charity 'Hands Up for Uganda', a charity founded by textile artist Bobby Britnell.
Hands up for Uganda is a small personal charity which works at grass roots level with the people of Kisaabwa, Uganda, helping them towards a sustainable future. This is done through various projects and with a guarantee that every penny raised gets out to Uganda.
This particular initiative focuses  on a creative craft link between Star Child Shoes and traditional crafts and materials from the village of Kisaabwa. Artists have been asked to decorate and embellish a piece of bark cloth in any way they liked and the pieces will be made into 'Art Shoes' by Janet and be part of two ICHF exhibitions in 2014 in Birmingham and London.

I love the whole idea, and have been toying with using barkcloth for a while. So this small project gave me an opportunity to enjoy myself and add a small amount to a much larger initiative.

To begin with I was a little stumped on what to do. The cloth is so lovely in it's own right. My daughter solved that - she wanted me to use Angelina fibre and metal cloth, to layer them and cut back through the barkcloth to reveal to iridescent fibres and the metal. In fact she was so determined, she fused the Angelina for me.
What to use as a pattern?? As the pieces are to be cut into to make the shoes, I thought that I needed to use some dense, overall stitching so that it wouldn't matter which sections Janet has to use for the shoes, and not too much loose stitch in case it all falls to pieces when cut into. So I reverted to a common theme of mine - bark. (Seemed appropriate enough).

The result:

Bark Cloth with Angelina and bronze by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Bark Cloth with Angelina and bronze by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Bark Cloth with Angelina and bronze by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Bark Cloth with Angelina and bronze by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

I can am really looking forward to seeing the shoes by so many different artists.
After my thoughts in the last post about  the difference in feeling between hand and machine stitching, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed sitting out in the sun doing the hand stitching, whereas having to be inside to do the machine work was not quite the same!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

How do you feel when stitching, and why?

From 'Absence and Presence Series' by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

A recent discussion started me thinking about the differences in how I feel about hand stitch and machine stitch and whether the same is true for other stitcher's and why.
For me, however much I know that I am 'allowed' to stitch, it is, after all, a large part of what I do, I still find  that the hand stitch part of my work feels as though I am 'playing', or 'wasting time'. Whereas I can be on the computer, I can draw, sketch, design, sit at the sewing machine or embellisher machine for hours and feel as though I am doing 'real' work!! Now I know this is a mental artefact, but still ....
I find that whilst hand stitching my mind tends to move away from what I am doing and I begin to think about what else I could/should be doing at that time instead of stitching. Does anyone else find this?

Now I am thinking about associations, it reminds me of why I haven't done any needle weaving since college. I had to stay in hospital overnight after a miscarriage, and decided to take my college homework with me, so as not to fall behind and as something to keep me occupied. The piece of needle weaving went into my folder in the same state it was when I left the hospital and I haven't re-approached the technique since. I have talked to many other people who use their creative outlets to help them through rough times, and who don't then pick up negative associations from this.

Detail from 'Gathering' by Hilary Hollingworth

Chatting with Hilary Hollingworth and Jean Draper, who both are primarily hand stitchers, Hilary felt in her case, sitting at the sewing machine was related to making clothes for her children, mending and other domestic jobs, and she felt that using the sewing machine was a chore and not perhaps conducive to her artistic expression. So Hilary's experience is diametrically opposed to mine. It was really fascinating that a professional such as Hilary, with many years of experience, still carried mental hang ups about part of her creative tool-kit, associating it as a domestic instrument. Also interesting is that one of Hilary's signature techniques is darning, which is a hand stitch technique associated very firmly in the domestic repair/mending category. Mmm ...

See more of Hilary's work:
Jean Draper has a fabulous new book all about using hand stitch and thread to create structure, called Stitch and Structure

From 'Absence and Presence Series' by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on what techniques have what associations for you and whether they are positive and helpful or whether they become an issue which you have had to deal with.