Linen on paper

I said in the last post that I’d say something about what I’m doing with my collection of linen threads. As regular readers may remember, I’ve been very impressed for a while by the work of Emily Barletta. She has produced quite a lot of very striking stitched work on paper. I experimented a bit with this last year when I was working on my whitework project. One of the images I produced at the time has been repinned a few times on Pinterest, so it seems to be quite appealing. Here it is as a reminder of what I was doing:Whitework on paper - resolved piece

This was actually a very complicated and time-consuming piece of work to do. But as an experimental sample it was very absorbing. So, the next stage, I felt, was to produce some more samples to see what I could do with the combination of linen and stiff paper. Here’s the first one that I tried:Linen on paper

I drew out the design, then used a needle to make holes in the stiff watercolour paper. Then it’s just a matter of filling in the holes with stitch – quite easy really once you’ve decided what to do. I was only moderately pleased by this one, but it was just an experiment and the intention behind sampling is just to see what happens if you do certain things, combine certain materials and so on. In this case, I drew the design on the back of the piece of paper, and punched the holes through from the back. I don’t think this is particularly satisfactory as it creates a slightly raised area around each hole.

So for the next sample, I punched the holes in from the front. I decided to keep it simple, but to try to create a textured surface. Here it is:Textured surface linen on paper

I deliberately photographed it at an angle to emphasise the surface texture. I really like the effect. The technique I’ve used is wrapping – just a simple running stitch but each stitch is then wrapped to create the texture.

Currently, I’m working on another sample, which I’ll put on the blog when I’ve finished. It also uses wrapping but this time of single chain stitches. More on this very soon!

Linen thread

I’m very attracted by linen thread. Over the last year or two I’ve built up quite a collection. I got them all out the other day and put them in my useful shallow basket:Linen thread collection

At the bottom right is some of the thread I bought from Namolio at a show. This is lovely, but comes in quite a limited range of colours. On the left is a little stash of vintage Swedish linen thread which I got at the Linladan stall at K&S in Harrogate in 2015. (Click on the links to get to the Namolio and Linladan websites).These are beautiful threads, although pretty expensive. As usual, when I buy something quite expensive I’m wary about using it. Which is a ridiculous attitude if you spend half a second thinking about it. The only thing that could possibly justify the expense, surely, is actually using the materials. Well, it’s illogical, but I think it’s quite a common attitude. There’s a feeling that you’re under pressure to produce something really good, and it would be wasteful to just experiment and maybe produce something you’re not satisfied with. Understandable, maybe, but it’s an attitude that needs resisting.

At the time I pulled back from buying a whole box of Linladan thread – at £38 per box, it seemed a bit much. But look at this example here and you’ll see why I was tempted…Linladen thread box

Isn’t it lovely? Now that I’ve got my actual threads together I see that they’re mostly in rather sombre hues, and there’s very little contrast. Either I shell out on this box of threads, or I use some cotton or silk when I want a bit of colour contrast. I think for the moment I’m content to do the latter.

And what am I going to do with these threads, I hear you ask? Well, more on that next time….

 

 

Tate Modern

Just a quick note here about Tate Modern. I was staying nearby last week and dropped in for a quick look. I hadn’t been for ages, and not since they opened the new Switch House. There is a 10th storey viewing gallery from which you can get a very good view of London. Have a look here for more on this. We got the lift up to the 10th floor and spent quite a while on a wet and blustery afternoon looking out over the grey view of grey London. London has changed a lot in the decades I’ve been looking at it. When I first went to live there and to work in the City of London, there were very few high rise buildings. Now the City is full of them, and there’s a view of Canary Wharf and also you can see the Shard which is pretty tall. I guess it’s sensible to build upwards when there is so little space, but I’m pleased I had the opportunity to appreciate the London skyline before it got too crowded with very big concrete things.

So, what about the art, I hear you cry. Well, actually I didn’t look at all that much of it. I do sometimes find that I just get outfaced by the scale of the thing, and if I don’t have something specific to see, I end up wasting time. There were some interesting photos of the Ukraine during the Soviet era, which interested me because they’re good photos, and also because I went to Kiev and Kharkov and some of the surrounding countryside during the Soviet era. I’m sure it’s all very different now…. And I spotted an El Anatsui which I liked very much: El Anatsui

I had my phone with me, and it was charged which is not always the case, so I got my act together and put the photo on Instagram. I’m a bit cautious about social media – still haven’t got onto Facebook and I’m not sure I’m going to – but I do quite approve of Instagram. Not so much for what I put on there, but for being able to follow other people I don’t see very often. One of my daughter’s friends, Justine, is a florist and she puts some beautiful photos of her flowers on Instagram. She’s also set up a lovely website – see it here – so if by any chance you are located in the Peak District and need some wonderful and original flowers, she is the person to go to.

Oops, I’ve wandered off the Tate Modern theme a bit there. Never mind. If you look at this blog a lot and nothing much is happening (which is the case for regrettably long periods) it’s worth having a look at Instagram to see if I’ve posted anything there. Also Pinterest – I’ve been more active there of late, encouraged by the fact that some of the images of my own work are proliferating. They’re proliferating in a rather modest and retiring way – we’re not talking many thousands of repinnings – but one of the Cochineal Dream images from this website has been repinned a lot. It’s a thrill to see it, I must admit.

Ramsters

The next Ramster exhibition is from 10th March to 26th March 2017. I’ve been aware of it for years, but have not previously applied to exhibit here. By the time I did so in 2016, applications were closed, but Miranda Gunn kindly put me on a waiting list. And, woo hoo, someone has dropped out so I have the opportunity to send some work in. Sending the work in doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be selected for exhibition, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for this.

I was hoping to include the rather nice poster for the exhibition, but I can’t currently work out how to import the pdf into WordPress. There’s usually a way of doing these things, but I’ve had a few goes and can’t just get it sorted out at the moment. Anyway, click here to go to the Ramster events website where you can find out more about the exhibition. It’s in Chiddingfold in Surrey, so rather a long way from where I live. I’d love to go, but there are various events going on in my life at the moment which could make it difficult to get away.

I’ll report back if I do get to have my work exhibited here. I’m also planning to send some unframed pieces and some cards, so if you’re there and in the shop, please do look out for my work.

 

More pincushions

I’ve decided to produce more pincushions so I can put some of them into the Prism shop at the Birmingham exhibition to see if there’s any demand for them. If there is, then I’ll feel more confident about offering them via an Etsy shop (yet to be set up, but you never know – I may just get round to it one of these days). I had to think about how best to present them, and decided that they would look better presented in a box. Cue much searching around on the internet for suitable cardboard presentation boxes. I wanted black, 10cm x 10cm, and deep enough for the pincushion. In the end I couldn’t find black, but I did find a very nice off-white which come flat-packed. Yesterday I made them up and put the pincushions in. I may add some tissue paper, but this is how they’re looking at the moment:Pincushion, boxed

Nice, and a good fit. I’m pleased.

Previously, I’ve read artists accounts of how much time they spend on applying for exhibitions, boxing work up, dealing with the admin, and so on. I can attest to the truth of this. Some of the time it’s taking up at the moment is no doubt because of my inexperience, but still, it just does take a long time. When you still have a day job, this means even less precious time to spend on actually making. However, there is a certain satisfaction to be gained from doing these things properly.

As well as the finished pincushions, I decided I’d try offering them in kit form. Again, this is experimental. Now, this really has taken up a lot of time, as it’s required some careful thought and sourcing. But I’ve loved putting the kits together, and some aspects of it are quite creative. Here’s a photograph of part of the assembled kit: Pincushion kit

On the left is the base material of strips of silk and cotton appliquéd to a ground fabric of lightweight calico. The block of solid colour is the fabric for the base of the pincushion. Then there is a knot of threads (selecting these was the really fun bit), plus a couple of needles and two buttons from my collection. Also in the kit, although not visible on the picture, is an embroidery hoop (not sure about this, but thought I’d perhaps better put one in), a bag of polyester filling and three pages of instructions with colour illustrations. We’ll see whether anyone goes for it or not, but I think they would make nice presents for sewists in your life, and actually, they could be made up by someone with very little experience of sewing. I’ve produced seven of these so far. They’ve taken an age to put together, but I guess now I’ve got the hang of it, I could produce a few more if there’s any demand for them.

Excellent present

It seems (and is) rather a long time since Christmas, but I thought I’d just tell you about an excellent present I received. My son and his girlfriend have been spending quite a lot of their spare time recently producing mosaics. They’re both really into it, and it’s a lovely, creative, activity that they enjoy working on together. On Christmas Day they gave each of us (husband, me and daughter) an identically sized package to open, which turned out to be a very well-executed mosaic. It’s such a pleasure to be given something that’s been made by the givers, and the more so in this case, because the mosaic theme, colours etc. had been carefully selected for each of us. And in each case, the mosaic expressed something about the character and interests of the person to whom it was given. Very clever.

Here’s mine:1-IMG_0395

Those readers who are familiar with my work and tastes will realise that this piece ticks a lot of boxes for me. For one thing, it’s square, and I dearly love a square. The choice of colours and the regular gradation within a strict format are also likely to appeal to me. So, well done them. It’s also a great pleasure to see your children being creative. Like me, my children have chosen careers in the professions/business, but of course, like me, they can make the most of their spare time to do other things.

This piece of mosaic is framed and stands on my desk so I see it while I work. What a pleasure!

Prism 2017

Yes, it’s been a while, hasn’t it….. I’ve been both busy and not very well for the last few weeks, a killer combination as far as writing blog posts is concerned. More to come in due course about what I’ve been up to. For the moment, just a brief post to say that I’ve had some work accepted for the 2017 Prism exhibitions in Birmingham (from end of April 2017) and London (from mid October 2017). I’ve had the work ready for a while, but hadn’t yet framed it, so I’ve been busy the last couple of days getting the work framed and ready to send. I’m very pleased about these opportunities, and feeling a little more on top of it this year because I know more about what is involved.

I won’t show any images of the Prism work, but I can say that it is fairly sombre in respect of colour palette. All the more important, then, to keep going with some more colourful bits and pieces in odd moments. I’ve been continuing work on the pincushions of which I have quite a collection now. They’re great to do, original in the sense that each one is unique, but easy to pick up in an odd moment here and there.