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It’s hard to believe it today with all the rain being dumped from the sky but we have enjoyed some lovely sunny weather lately here in the UK and I have made the most of it with a spot of mud printing in our back garden.

Printing with a mud paste can get a little messy so it’s great to be able to do it outdoors. In addition it’s very helpful when it then rains and washes all that mess away – easy clean-up 🙂

However the sunshine means that the paste can get dried out fairly quickly so you can go on with the next step in the process.

You may have seen block printing done with mud (Dabu) in India and of course not only do they have the heritage and skills but also the climate. Dabu printing is a traditional mud-resist hand-block printing art usually done with a wooden block (the metal blocks are more often used for batik printing as the wax can be melted off)

My receipe for the mud paste was little hit and miss – water, clay and lime powder which I tried to avoid using because it can burn your skin badly, but hb helped me out and we mixed it carefully with masks on – another good reason to be outside if you try this.

Make Mud Prints while the sun shines is my new saying!

It’s possible to print with anything pretty much. I own quite a few wooden blocks some of which were excellent and some too fine to cope with the build up of mud after multiple layers had been applied. I also used foam shapes and cardboard rolls with good effect. And one of my favourites was simply a big brush applied in broad strokes.

The mud acts as a resist to the dye and sometimes cracks during the drying process which can cause veining, which in my opinion adds to the final effect.

Once the paste has dried, you can apply colour.

I used a Dylon hand dye so that it would be fixable and washable but I didn’t chance the dip-dye technique preferring to apply the dye with a brush and layer up the colour to make a good dark ‘indigo’ blue. It’s worth mentioning that a pre-wash really helps prime the fabric to receiving the dye.

Finally it’s dried again and then you can hand wash out the mud and admire the beautiful fabric. Where the mud was will have repelled the dye leaving a white (or in some of my cases a much paler blue) print. It will probably be years before I dare to cut into these 😉High on my wish list is a holiday in India with some authentic Dabu printing but until then the back yard will have to do.

How the time just flies by! There I was preparing a catch up blog post about my work as Artist-in-Residence at Winterbourne House and Gardens and then all of a sudden the weather has changed, the gardens developed and what I had to show you looks distinctly wintery!

This week has been glorious, unlike the preceeding two which rained on and off so much I couldn’t chance getting out to draw or paint without a small soaking. Consequently the gardens are thriving and growing. The Anthemis border looks absolutely stunning at the moment and is top of my list to work on given long enough to do so.

I spent a day drawing arounds the grounds on Monday (and looking at old maps in the archives) getting some visual reference for some print work I’m doing and also some embroidery.

Prior to that April brought a beautiful Flowering Japonica which grew all white and blossomy in a dark corner of the garden providing lots of contrast.

I’m spinning a lot of plates atm on a lot of projects and the only way I can move forward is to do a little on all fronts and wait for the bucket to fill! I’m working in bursts when time allows but importantly, enjoying all the variety. This week in preparation of teaching my MAC Birmingham students how to print in repeat, I drew on Mondays Foxglove studies and printed a nodding row of these lovely flowers.

And if you’re interested in stitching and embroidery, this lovely workshop at Winterbourne is on sale now and you can read about it here – it’d be lovely to meet you in real life 🙂

 

Our trip to Southern Asia earlier this year (here, here, here and here) was rich in visual and cultural inspiration.

I’ve honestly felt a little overwhelmed by how deep and far I could go into this vibrant feast of creative stimulus and output – whether to start with painting or stitch or print. And all the while I’m spinning the other plates of my self-employment as an artist: delivery/teaching and all the admin that it takes to run a small business. It can be distracting and actually difficult to get time to be creative some weeks.

So I just began. One day unceremoniously. Just where I was. No fanfare or special time set aside. I just started. I took off simply by doing a little each day – whatever I had time for.

As I teach screen-printing and mixed media textiles twice a week at MAC, I kicked off this intention by focusing my preparation for these classes on my Asia photos – and I have a lot to choose from as I took nearly 7000! inc duplicates for a better shot – you know? So to make that task less anxiety inducing, I split those into files: Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. I currently haven’t got to the end of the 2.243 photos taken in Malaysia!

So if I was demonstrating cutting a screen-print stencil I based it on a motif from of a beautiful textile in the National Textile Museum in Kuala Lumpur or if I was making an example of free-machine embroidery for my Mixed Media Textiles class I referenced a drawing I’d done from a beautiful silk kimono.

Sometimes that was a basic quick line drawing, other times I had paints out to use. On some evenings I have doodled in front of the TV on my ipad pro – not that I’m especially proficient but it’s a great way to easily draw and digitalise your handwork.

It’s true what they say about ‘a little and often’ –  gradually my pile of Asia work is coming to life.

On Saturday 18th May 2019 The Tutors Exhibition  – at macbirmingham opens and in it will be one of my pattern design pieces and products – would you like to hear the story of how it came about?

I recently watched The Creative Brain on Netflix, which advocated the importance of open-ended play for creativity to blossom and this, is very much a story of that process too.

It all began with a painting I did one afternoon where I textured up a piece of watercolour paper with a lovely deckled edge and then overlaid white paint leaving the negative space to describe birds flying. And that was it – that piece of creativity sparked something else and off I went down that rabbit hole leaving this painting in the plan-chest drawer for a few months.

Then by a series of serendipitous events I found myself a member of the wonderful SteamhouseUK community where I get to play about with the most amazing array of machines and learn techniques and processes that have been invented since I was last in college.

Sublimation printing (or dye sublimation printing as it is sometimes also known) is the process of transferring images onto a fabric (or other substrate) using a heat-press to print the image. At macbirmingham we have a heat-press and we use disperse dyes to paint and print onto paper which can then be heat-pressed onto fabric (if you think that sounds fun come along to my Tues afternoon class and have a go!)

But I had never hoped to ever have access to using an actual Sublimation printer until now! In this case the disperse dyes are in the printer ink cartridges and the computer sends your image to print onto heat resistant paper in wide format.

At Steamhouse the heat-press can print onto fabric up to 175cm in width. The heat-press technique is also great for capturing textures in designs onto fabric. The Tutors show was coming up. All this got me thinking what could I make with the size of fabric that I could print to exhibit for the show?

One morning I woke up with the answer ringing clearly in my mind and it didn’t take long to make it a reality – I’m single-minded like that sometimes – use the Swifts painting to make a pattern and construct a kimono!

The pattern had to be cut down the back and re-seamed in order for all the pieces to fit one at a time into the heat-press for printing and the Swifts pattern was easy enough to put into technical repeat using Photoshop so that I could use the sublimation printer to print an all over repeating pattern.

After that it was a steady job to sew it all together nicely including a partial lining so it looked good hanging up for exhibition.

If you’re local and can make it to MAC to see the show ( – Tues – Sun, 11am – 5pm, First Floor Gallery) you’ll see that kimono hanging on the wall and who knows, after the exhibition is over I may even wear it 😉

Our next destination was Vietnam and we arrived on the Friday night of Chinese New Year to find it heaving with people and traffic – quite the cultural baptism.

The traffic in Hanoi is unbelievable and it took us a while to perfect our technique of crossing the road – step out slowly not daring to look and keep going till you reach the other side – then breathe! Motorists scoot round you perfectly – the worst thing you can do is hesitate or stop.

It took us a while to realise that the Kumquat trees and blossom trees we were seeing being driven around are in fact the equivalent of our Christmas trees.

Hanoi was very frenetic and busy (a lot to do with CNY) and we were glad of a trip away to the beautiful and peaceful Halong Bay.

Just as picturesque in real life as it is in pictures.

We visited one of the last fishing villages which the government are trying to phase out as the inhabitants (particularly the young) don’t get access to good schooling, health treatments and opportunities. Tourism is a funny thing sometimes when it can help and hinder simultaneously.

We also travelled down to Hoi An a lovely little town of lights and water where the fireworks went off for New Year celebrations and a street party.

The shopping was great in Hanoi – lots of textiles at very cheap prices – and a lot of it modern and not well made but I did happen upon a bag of scraps which turns out to be this exciting collection of Hmong clothing embroidered scraps. Lots of inspiration in these alone.

I loved Vietnam and it’s people and would love to go back again sometime.

Currently at the Midlands Art Center, Birmingham, UK is a wonderful Textile exhibition by The 62 Group called Ctrl/Shift. It’s on the theme of changes and shifts in the artists way of working whether that be by using new technology or a change of understanding or personal practice.

The 62 group has become one of the most prestigious Textile groups to be a member of and now has both international membership and a strict activity requirement to stay a member of and in doing so it keeps this prestige.

Here’s a few snaps of just a little of the exhibition.

Joanna Kinnersly-Taylor is an innovative fabric print maker from Glasgow.

Recast represents the change of light and space as you walk through a space.

Sue Stone uses machine or hand embroidered stitches (or a mix) to create amazing textures which are true-to-life of the object represented. She draws on the past and present, often in a portraiture style and her pieces are very close to a drawn/painted image but done with thread, fabric and dye.

Caroline Bartlett is based in the UK and produces tactile works involving pleating and fabric manipulation and which also often incorporate ceramics.

Jane McKeating   is an avid drawer – see her sketchbook film in the artists processes area of the exhibition and her instagram page.

This love of drawing translates through into printed and hand stitched embroidered art.

These pieces are found handkerchiefs which represent aspects of old age pertinent to her own experience of caring for an ageing parent.

They were my favourite pieces – so intricate, patterned and colourful yet sombre and emotive and intricately executed.

Come along and see it all before it closes.

I made the most of the recent sunny weather to do some messy dye projects in the garden.

This is some Shibori fun- the Japanese method of clamping and twisting fabric prior to dying.

It is so simple but effective but in the past it hasn’t always delivered the results hoped for until this time when the sun rendered me more patient than usual!

I’m planning some projects of things to make and stitch with these beautiful fabrics if I can bear to cut into them.

I have a ta-dah for you today – a tablecloth I hand-printed recently.

One reason I like to keep blogging is to record such things – when I looked back to see when I started my Fish project, I was surprised to see the date on the upload was May 2017. It takes a long time for some ideas to percolate and evolve and then actually get made.

You can find the beginning of my Fish sketchbook workings here and here although the actual inspiration came back in Summer 2016 whilst on holiday in France when I saw a lovely tablecloth in Fragonard.

I’m very lucky to have the best p/t job freelancing at MAC Birmingham the most brilliant arts center.

And sometimes I can use the space which I needed to for this big print job.

As you can see, the following day I wasn’t so fortunate and was squeezed onto the floor of my studio at home!

It took about 20 hours to print using around 10 colours so I won’t be going into production anytime soon but it’s important to art-play as it releases surprising creative avenues.

And it did – 6 fishy themed surface pattern designs got designed last week to go to market. Now wo’betide anyone who spills red wine on it!

 

 

 

 

Jo Smith

These photos are from a recent exhibition by Prism on at the RBSA (which has sadly now ended) but I wanted to share them none-the-less.

Dorothy Tucker

Called ‘Another View’ it aimed to demonstrate just how broad Textiles can be and it delivered on that and some – it was both ingenious and thoughtful.

 

Claire Blackburn

Members of this Textile group are international but until now their exhibitions have been London-centric  – and it was so refreshing to see Textiles on at the RBSA and to see such a considered, well curated, quality exhibition.

Susie Vickery

The range of applications was very wide but I am always drawn to colour, pattern, stitch and print.

Prism felt

And the thought and development behind a lot of the pieces was very inspiring – lots of inspiration to be had.

Maria Boyle

MAC Birmingham also has two Textile exhibitions running atm so it’s a good time to be a proud Birmingham textile-lover!

Anita Bruce

Over the last few weeks I’ve been inspired to have a go at making a lampshade.

It’s based upon the woods that we live opposite from and can see from our front windows and it’s also where we walk the dog everyday, so of course she features too!

I began by measuring (and measuring again) and making a patchwork textile picture of the right proportions for the shade using colours to suggest the passing of the seasons and some of my favourite rare Liberty scraps.

Then I lino-printed the trees on (regretted using a dark purple but it was too late) and then the fun and time-consuming part was to embellish it with embroidery.

I tried to make the trees show the movement from Spring through to Summer and through to Winter as the shade curls around.

I used French Knots for blossom, diamond-shaped leaves and couching with the bobbin thread.

And of course a bit of free-motion machine embroidery with my new toy*

Still reflecting on what colour to keep the lamp base but I’m pleased to have tried this and it’ll be a whole lot easier now another time – watch this space!

Copyright notice 2015

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Spent a lovely (and last workshop day before Xmas 🥳) making #textileart and #drawingwiththread ➰🧵➰ @mac_birmingham From painting to collage to appliqué and stitches- fun, fun, fun 😝#illustratedstitch #applique #handstitched #textiles #workshop #stitchersofinstagram #stitchery #textilepictures
This Sunday 📆 @paperdollshandmade market 🛒 the @mothershipprojects #MARKit ladies will be selling their #hand printed and #hand sewn products for the first time 🥳 🎉 👏🏻 Please show them your 💙love💜 and be quick to snap up the cutest tea-towels ☁️ (swipe to see just some of the stock) 🏢Custard Factory, Digbeth #refugees #handmadesocialenterprise #everyonewelcome #refugeeswelcome #printedtextiles #socialenterprise #screenprinted #supportlocalartists #womenempoweringwomen #birminghamcity
Yesterday I taught Teacup Totes Embroidery @winterbournehg 🧵 ➿Here’s my sampler for class (finished in front of Strictly last night) #embroidery #embroideryflowers #embroideryart #broderie #stitchersofinstagram #stitch #slowstitching #frenchknots #daisystitch #stemstitch #teacups #stitchlovers #sewingfun #mindfulstitching #drawingwiththread
Ending my part of the #MARKit project @mothershipprojects today with a grateful heart 💖 Grateful for the chance to have shared my creativity and knowledge to welcome, build friendships and empower these awesome women 🙌🏻 #welcomerefugees #empowerwomen #refugeeswelcome #walkamileinmyshoes #motherswhomake #whorunstheworldgirls #craftforchange #womeninbusiness #artchangeseverything #makeadifference #fromstrengthtostrength #socialenterprise #sharelife

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