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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!
After along hiatus in painting activity around here, I have unpacked some lovely new paints and re-discovered my happy place. Inspired by our French holiday I have added some colour and warmth to my otherwise cold studio.
One way to cope is to wear lots of layers – these dungarees are 27 years old! They started life with me at art college, have decorated every house we’ve ever lived in, have helped create most of my paintings and are still going strong today
I took delivery of a new sewing machine which is able to do free-motion machine embroidery – lots of fun ahead adding that to hand-prints and the like.
And yesterday I allowed myself a moment of celebration when I saw the book I’m in on the shelf in my very own local Waterstones bookshop!
Have a happy week everyone.
I get to dream up lots of fun projects for kids and adults alike as part of my job at MAC which in turn challenges me to keep things fresh, re-visit techniques long forgotten or delve in and learn new ones.
And as a part of my Mixed Media Textiles teaching, I played around with some potato printing which I hadn’t done for as long as I can remember.
It’s often the simple, childish things that are the most fun to do but can be brought to a new level as an adult.
One thing I’ve rediscovered is my love of drawing with threads – either by hand or free-machine stitching. It’s just another form of colouring in and mark-making.
And all of that play has got developed into a one-day course Print, Sew, Make on Dec 15th where you can use simple fabric printing methods and stitch and leave with a drawstring bag if you like.
There is a big gap forming between what I’m doing each day and the speed I get here to show it!
I’ve been busy lately making fabric butterflies and moths for an upcoming MAC workshop.
I’m loving the variety of work that teaching Textiles opens up.
I have loads of photo reference from my trip here last year which has come in really handy.
I love it when you follow your heart’s inspiration only to find things come together at a later date.
I couldn’t have known back then how useful the trip to the Oxford Natural History Museum would be and I guess that’s why artist play dates are so important (explanation here)
And it’s interesting for me to see the marriage of painting and textiles coming about too on this project.
BTW did you see my new website header sneak in!
I have been having a lot of fun over the last few months teaching Mixed Media Textiles at MAC Birmingham. This is a fabric collage piece based on the lovely village of Marken in the Netherlands.
The students are full of talent and creativity and sometimes it’s easier to show someone how they could approach their work, rather than explain it.
So I have been using our Amsterdam trip as inspiration to re-aquaint myself with techniques and ways of working that I haven’t used recently while painting so as to make a sketchbook of samples.
This past week I’ve been doing a little screen printing project at home.
A little zippy bag for my soon-to-be aupairing girl.
And the time and the weather gave us a chance to get into the garden this long weekend and sort it out a bit- the upside of which is finding flowers once hidden.
And the opportunity to photograph socks freshly off the needles.
The Fairisle flower was finished first. You can find it here but I added the toe pattern which has made them a little pointy – elf socks!
And this wool I bought when Debbie Bliss came to our local knitting shop recently, bringing a discount day with her.
I hope you’ve enjoyed your long holiday weekend too.
What is it about Decembers approach and shorter darker days that seems to gobble up time and energy?!
I intended to be back here much earlier in the week to tell you about the wonderful V and A Museum. I have loved that place since the first day I discovered it in my teens. It’s like getting a round-the-world ticket to visit every culture and museum under one roof – so much design inspiration from every corner of the globe.
I had gone to see the Fabrics of India exhibition and I had taken a pen and paper because I so often come home with a book or some postcards and put them on the high teetering pile of ‘Future Inspiration’ but fail to get around to it.
This time I thought I’d work while at the exhibition and cut out the lazy and forgetful stage and come home ready with some drawings to develop. And I’m glad I did because a) it was a no photos exhibition and b) there was so much to feast on.
So you may ask where did all these photos come from? The answer being the Asian Art gallery that I just happened to duck into on the way.
I so love Indian Miniature paintings – all the jewel colours, intricate patterns and the stories being told.
And there is something about the embroidery which inspires me endlessly too although I would never want to embroider it – I’m too impatient!
The exhibition is beautifully set out and the videos of fabric being made are fascinating – like watching a caterpillar farm (well mulberry silkworm) harvesting silk – now I understand why it’s so expensive.
I thought before I’d finished with my trip to the American Quilt Museum that I would show you these pictures of it as I know some readers love quilts and some Folk Art.
The American Quilt Museum shows artefacts and information on the history of America from the early settlers through to the twentieth century.
The exhibitions show the highly varied array of American traditions but I only photographed a few as time was tight and it was very dim in some of the rooms.
Folk Art is generally a bit of a misunderstood term but in this museum they use it to mean the artistic heritage of ordinary folks living in pre-industrial America.
In one room, painted a striking red, is the display of home decoration made ‘by the people, for the people’. The guide explained how portraits were painted by travelling ‘artists’ who worked quickly and simply to keep the cost down, thus making a portrait attainable to the poorer classes. That’s why they look naive and plain (sometimes more than others).
The museum has over 200 quilts, although only 50 are on display at any one time.
This ‘giraffe’ here is actually from a fairground carousel which is why it’s neck is a bit short!
One thing I love about places like these is the wealth of inspiration it fires in the imagination.
I made a few colour palettes from things I’d seen, like this set of old sewing threads, for future design work.
I’ve got a feeling that this is a Kaffe quilt but as I was whizzing about at this point, I never made a note.
Lovely colours though 🙂
Let’s finish with this super-cute baby bed with a tiny quilt, pillows and netting – I hope it was for a doll and not a real baby!
I’d definitely go back again as I only scratched the surface of what it has to offer – I think Bath in general calls for a longer visit sometime especially as I hear they’ve opened an Anthropologie there and you know how much I like Anthro!
A couple of weeks back I took a day trip to Bath to meet up with a friend and catch this wonderful exhibition.
Coming up the drive to the American Museum we were greeted by some beautiful yarn bombing – the tree was decorated with fabric covered plant pots (looking like lampshades) and pompoms and crochet.
And inside the exhibition just got more and more colourful.
The Colourful World of Kaffe Fassett showed over a hundred pieces of textile, mosaic, painting, tapestry, knitting, quilting and beading spanning Kaffe Fassetts creative life to date.
He says himself of this exhibition “I want my message to come across in this mood altering show – I’m flying high on colour.” And it’s so colourful and in your face that it’s going to be like Marmite – love it or hate it. I LoVeD it of course because of the colours.
The main reason that Kaffe Fassett is a hero of mine is because of his mastery of colour – whether it be in paint, yarn, cloth or ceramic – his colour aesthetic is beautiful to me.
He can harmonise or punch you in the face with his colour choices.
He has had the biggest influence on my own work ever since I discovered him whilst I was at college and he still does today.
The exhibition has lots of his personal treasures incorporated in it and I loved drooling over the little pin boards of his inspirational materials to see what was there.
Hard to believe any one actually wore the knitwear back in the day (let alone could afford to knit it in all those colours) but they are truly works of art and it’s difficult to conceive that he made some of them up as he went along.
He can even do beige well!
My favourite room was this green room housing all things vegetable.
I remember back in about 2008 chancing across his cabbage painting in my box of cuttings and being so creatively inspired that I got my paints out after a decade of them languishing in the loft while I brought up the kiddo’s and went back to work teaching.
So it was a special moment to revere it in the flesh.
His colour palettes have something to teach either up close or as a whole curation of items of work.
I could sit and paint juxtaposed colours for months and still only record a tiny amount of the inspiration there is here – Kaffe describes the exhibition as “an opera of colour” and I feel like I can hum a tiny bit of the chorus!
I often go to exhibitions and take hundreds of snaps and never quite get around to digesting what I’ve seen through to some actual work, so I’ve tried hard this week to take time out of proper work to just play around with paint and paper using the photos as a prompt.
You can never tell what ideas will get sparked.
There was also the American Heritage Exhibition and the Folk Art room which I will show you some pic’s of another time.
It was so hard to edit these photo’s down but here’s just one more quilt to finish on.