Thursday, 28 July 2016

Rip, Stitch, Burn (and Bash) Day 3 of 5

On the third of a five day course for the Kowhai Arts and Craft Group, originally called 'Rip, Stitch, Burn', we added a forth word 'bash' because we spent a little time manipulating metal wires to reflect some of the drawings they had created in Day 1 and 2, just as an extra bit of fun.
The main emphasis today was to add another technique and to brush up on machine stitching skills, then to start to investigate the individual projects that the participants were considering.
For the technique part of the day we used metal foils from chocolate wrappers bonded to fabric, layered this with man-made sheer fabrics, stitched these then burned them away using heat guns and soldering irons. Here is Gill doing the fun part:

Gill doing a bit of burning
And if that video isn't working, here's the one on You Tube.

The result

And a few of the other transformations:

Christine's 'before'

And 'after'

Somehow I didn't manage to get pictures of the manic grins which were in evidence whilst we were hammering wires - you will just have to imagine those.

The later part of the day was devoted to beginning the journey of discovering what it was about our starting points and ideas for inspiration which we wanted to bring out in the piece. To start this we developed a 'word sketch' and described this to the group. The immediate feeling is one of worry, that 'my ideas aren't good enough, or deep enough etc. but by spending a short time thinking about the questions I posed, it was evident that we all had some really interesting ideas. These ranged from flight, an unknown grandfather, fossils, tattoos, music and 'digging deep'. Everyone was then sent home to do a little more structured reflection so that when we meet again we will have identified the key points of interest for each person and be ready to begin to translate those into a visual form. I am excited to see where these take us.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Barking up a silver tree

The 2016 New Zealand Embroiderer's Guild Conference was held last week, with an exhibition including many examples of fine embroidery, a sales event over the weekend and then 4 days of workshops featuring tutors from New Zealand, Australia and the UK (don't hold it against me if I have missed any other nationalities).
My contribution was a workshop called 'Silvered Bark' and derived from one of the projects in 'Stitch, Fibre, Metal and Mixed Media'.

Silvered Bark by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden
The workshop explores colouring fabric, colouring metal and metal fabric with a combination of alcohol inks, spray paint and heat, then building bark patterns in metal and metal cloth onto soluble fabric. The final simple assembly method brings out the combination of strong textures, subtle colours and reflects the wide variations in tree bark.
We had about half of the class who had never tried free motion machine embroidery before. It is always such a pleasure to watch a face light up with the realisation that there is a whole new world of possibilities. The exclamations of surprise and delight are fabulous. Well done to everyone who thought they were going to take the hand stitch option but were brave enough to have a go at something new. Never say never!
Though not finished, these images give a good idea of what the pieces will look like after the addition of a small amount more stitching, some beads and knitted wires.

Hard at work in the Silvered Bark class at ANZEG 2016 Conference

Bark like patterns applied to silk for the backgrounds
First time free machining ...

No problem!

With the bark texture laid over. More stitching and removing the soluble film later.

The camera shy Tricia!
Detail showing the variations in metal cloths and stitching

Silver birch - obviously!
Sue working on an image of the bark from the Plane tree

Plane bark textures

All laid out to get an impression of the finished article
Recreating an image of a partially stripped trunk of a Canadian pine tree

Detail to see the textured stitch being added
Jenny's textures

Then after stitching and laid on the backing
This from the professed non-machine stitcher!

And with a little more stitch, it will be there. Well done.
And there is always one who goes their own way! Mentioning no names.

Still going to be great Betty.
A great big thanks to the organisers and participants, I had a fabulous time and hope to see images of these pieces when they are finished.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Rip, Stitch, Burn Development Course (Day 1 and 2)

After the worst storms for may years consisting of amazing sheet lightening filling the sky, thunder rolling around the house all night, lashing rain, flooding and landslips all around us on Thursday night and Friday morning, it was great to be able to get together with the Kowhai Arts and Crafts Group on Saturday and Sunday. The water had been through the downstairs of their building, leaving a dry residue of mud, but otherwise useable Everyone had personal stories of the storm damage and I was glad that we had not had anything happen to us, simply dealing with one very frightened dog!

So what were we meeting to do? The course is called 'Rip, Stitch and Burn' and is a very achievable and approachable exploration of where can you get to if you abandon the idea of a fixed outcome. This is what the Kowhai Creative Group in Warkworth are on the journey of discovery towards after the first 2 days of our 5 sessions together.
My aim in these extended courses is to take creative people out of their comfort zone and stop the end-gaming mindset which we are all prone to. It is very important when doing these types of exercises to provide a very supportive, positive environment as it can be very hard for us to take ourselves away from the familiar and place ourselves in the hands of a process which is strange, new, without boundaries and probably uncomfortable in the first instance. So well done to the brave souls who were with me this weekend and I would like to celebrate with you their achievement so far.
When you look at the images, remember that this stage is a diverse mix of mark making, developments from this and techniques which are not at this stage related to each other (maybe later -maybe not - depends on where the participants want to go after day 3).

We followed lines in our 'subject', without looking, deliberately not the objects or themes which the participants had in mind when they arrived, but a random selection of materials from my shelves.
I love the overlaps and patterns created here, they reflect in a lively and free way the important shapes in the materials being observed. It helps us to get in touch with the item, without getting into full-on observational drawing.
And just to lighten the atmosphere, we spent a quick five minutes doing the same but looking at each other. many of us find it hard to observe and draw faces, we feel the need to see the face. Here we are looking at lines and shapes, not an attempt to draw each other. Having said that, I get the feeling that one of the final pieces might actually be inspired by this exercise. Watch this space!
Without naming who was who, that wouldn't be the point, here are some of the outcomes:

 These certainly made us all laugh during the doing and when looking at the drawings. And there is nothing wrong with that!

To change the pace, we printed and glazed with bright metallics and inks, at first with pre-made print blocks to have fun, create lots of surfaces, and later we began to use patterns developed from the mark-making above.

Finally for this weekend, we used our painted papers and fabrics to collage, applique and start to see what happens when we add colour and pattern to the shapes developed.
It was also a great opportunity to make sure that everyone was up to speed with free machining - including two ladies who have never done so before. And isn't it a great feeling to achieve something new and to realise the possibilities which can be used in the final piece later.

In our next encounter we will pursue a few more ideas to develop the patterns and marks we formed this weekend, introduce a couple more technique and surface decoration methods, then start to consider the personal projects.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Time for Tea and Farewells at the Koala Convention 2016

The Koala Convention continued full swing through the week, with highly talented and specialised tutors covering traditional stitch, feltmaking, book making and my input of left of field use of unusual materials and techniques for surfaces for stitch. Any gathering like this stimulates, reinvigorates and enthuses participants and tutors alike.
They are all run by seemingly tireless, organised, usually small, personal teams, and without these people, noone would benefit. So a massive thank you to Wendy and Andy who are 'Koala Convention' and their crew for inviting me and for providing seamless support. I wish them well for their new venue  at Airlie Beach. The venue sounds wonderful and I look forward to being a tutor again in a year or two.

I last posted on Tuesday. Wednesday was a day off for all and a bus trip to Eumundi market and Montville town. I took the bull by the horns and spent, and spent, and spent! It was hard!! Especially finding an amazing treasure trove of a shop in Montville called Matoomba. I think the owner was a kindred spirit and I could have stayed longer and spent more given the opportunity, if you are travelling near Brisbane, I recommend a visit. It was also great that the sun decided to shine after a few cold days here.

Sunshine at Eumundi market

Montville, Queensland
 I also had a couple of days between teaching which for once gave me a little time to explore where I am visiting. I found a swimming pool just around the corner which though clean, was a little on the shabby side of 'shabby chic'. Cute though, and convienient.

Near the ladies shower!
I took the free bus into Brisbane and wandered through the mall, across the bridge and around the cultural South Bank. It was a good feeling to be in a city which you can see is making great efforts to be interesting, lively and forward thinking.
Building front in the Mall - just stunning!

View from the South bank towards the city centre

Every city needs a wheel these days!

Strolling through the bougainvillea archways past the museums, galleries, bars, swimming pool, temporary kids ice rink, food courts ...
I popped into GOMA the modern art gallery, and though I bypassed the Cindy Sherman (didn't appeal somehow -sorry), the Tim Fairfax gift collection was interesting and I then really, really enjoyed time in the 'Line + Form' selection from the indigenous collection. After which I was mentally and visually 'galleried out', though I am sure it had loads more to offer.

A still of a haunting video 'Siva in Motion' by Shigeyuki Kihara

Line + Form Gallery
 I think I will talk about the Line + Form work another time.

The time away from home also gave me an additional bonus - I finally feel that I am underway with new work explorations for my solo exhibition in the UK at the Knitting and Stitching Shows in October and November this year. I have done a little stitching, sketching and made notes. Fingers crossed that these translate into action next week when I am back in the studio.

My final course at Koala was 'Time for Tea' - basically playing with teabags, gel medium, printing, image transfer, embossing, burning (of course) and a little stitching thrown in for good measure. Everyone left with a stack of exploratory surfaces and some were worked into, a few were even complete.
Here goes with a few of the images:

Lesley 1

Lesley 2

Lesley 3

Lesley 4
A light hearted contribution from Enid

Enid 2

Enid 3

Enid 4

Enid's collection all together

Michelle 1

Michelle 2

Michelle 3, all stitched and beaded.

Vicki's collection ready to mount in the album she was making under the tuition of Jane Nicholas.

Vicki 1

Vicki 2
Great work, and well on it's way to completion by Leonie.

Detail - Leonie
Another fabulously flamboyant work by Aiga (returning after the Crown Jewels course). Just a few more beads and all done.

Detail of Aiga's work

Another delicate piece making use of her extensive collection of lace, beads and sequins from Kerry (also returning after the Crown Jewels course) 
More detail of Kerry's piece
I often seem to have camera shy students, so Kerry and Aiga were forced to pose for me today!
There we go, a great convention, new friendships, new ideas, too much food, stimulating discussions .... then it is home again to see my girls who are on holiday from University.
I am just wondering (hoping) whether the cleaning and ironing fairies might have been in before I get back. Fingers crossed.

Thank you again for everyone involved in the Convention. Safe journeys.