Saturday, September 12, 2015

Contemporary Clay Retreat

Just about recovered from  4 fabulous days at spent at the Contemporary Clay Retreat, Canberra last week.  I am all fired up for next years retreat in October 2016.

I learnt how to make a cane face ( polymer clay) with Janice Laurent, sculpted a dragon in air dry clay with Lex Sorrintino and started a mixed media monkey gargoyle with Bobbi Oliver.

Photos of the works made by participants over the entire weekend can be found here - enjoy.

The dragon came back to Sydney and is about to relocate back in Canberra  this weekend.  Then we are heading off for 2 weeks in southern NSW/northern Victoria to house hunt after making the decision to leave Sydney.

Monday, August 31, 2015

On the passing of a good friend and making blue birds

Life has been just too busy - I find it hard to really believe it has been so long since I posted - though I know that it is three months since I met with the groups I belong to.

I have been making and stitching sporadically. Short trips to the studio have left me with a number of birds like the ones above. They seem to grow in my hands and I love making them. Bandaged birds I call them – they are made by wrapping Paverpol soaked strips of fabric around a polystyrene ball which is shaped with alfoil. Some of them are covered with gauze bandage as well which gives a lovely surface texture.
But, mostly I have been caught up worrying and trying to help an unwell friend who lived quite a distance away - my divided time between her, paid work and family.

Grace passed away on the 18th August and her service was last Friday. I will miss her. She was a great champion and encouraged me in all my art endeveours.
This poem is for Grace:

What the Living Do
Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up
waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through
the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,
I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,
I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.
What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.
But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep
for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.
From What the Living Do, copyright © 1998 by Marie Howe.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Keeping on running, Workshops and an apple a day

I have been adding to my cloth with more running stitch.  It has been a slow task as I have been busy with other things - run off my feet one could say :-)

I have been preparing for another  garden art workshop at Azures Den on the 16th May and we will be making a moon maiden.    Above is a photo of Io (named after a moon of Jupiter) .  I have also made a faceless version for those a little intimidated by the thought of putting a face into their work.

I have had a happy time introducing a new student to fabric sculptures over the the last 3 weeks. Wei was a lovely student with a visual arts background looking for something different to do.    We made a siting lady, a tall elegant stuaue and a bird with some chicks.   I felt a bit in awe as I went to her house and was surrounded by her wonderful art on the walls.  We had fun and Wei made me think outside the square a little with how she went about creating her statues and ideas she had on the way.   I am sure I learnt as from form her as she did from me,   Thanks Wei.  

I also met with my stitching mates at the Embroiderers Guild last Saturday  - I got heaps of stitching done on my cloth then and chatted and shared.  I have it linked it here so you can see some of our show and tell from March.

Cheers all

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Running Stitch and Learning from Others

I am still exploring running stitch.  At the moment I am stitching into a small cloth that I found at the local op shop when I was on holidays recently.

The fabric started life as an old linen tray cloth or napkin with a small amount of clumsy embroidery on it.   I have pulled the embroidery out and been stitching tea dyed gauze bandages over the surface.  With the wisdom of hindsight I realise that I should have left the embroidery in and just stitched over it – well, maybe next time.  It is a sample or prototype for a larger work  I am planning to make for an exhibition in November.  I will have to get cracking on that larger work soon as time is slipping by, and as time passes,  that larger work is getting smaller.

Because the cloth has is old and has been wahed many times it is soft and supple to stitch.  It is very cathartic just to put a needle into same fabric and turn the conscious brain off.  In fact any art exercise turns into a form of meditation for me.   I am sure it is the use of my hands and the sole focus on what I am doing that quietens my mind.  There are times when what I want to do doesn’t work out and I get frustrated and toss it aside but I try to go back to it and work on it again later.   

I have learnt to accept that some things don't work; either because of bad design and planning or it is just plain wrong!   But also that also I have learnt that I need to push through frustration and keep working on a project.   For this I have to thank  textile artist Jean Draper.

I was very fortunate take part in some workshops with Jean in late 2000.  Jean herself is very inspiring and I have linked to an interview on the web here for you to read at your leisure.  Jean was very generous with her time and mentoring during the few days I spent with her.   During the course of the workshops Jean told us about artist JasperJohns and quoted him:  Do something to it. Do something else to it.  

Jean has given me the confidence to strike out and strive for my own voice, to look properly and learn from others and not give up.   As I work I am sure I sometimes hear Jean whisper ‘Do something else to it.’

Jasper Johns - Cicada 700 x402

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Learning from others - Interviews on the world wide web.

Isobel Currie, Or NuĂ© Re-imagined, I2x17x21cm See link below to Isobel's website
Though I promise myself I rarely get to galleries but I do make up for it by subscribing to a number of e-newsletters and blogs which range over food, architecture, gardens and of course textiles.  I don’t always read them in depth – they are a bit like the magazines in doctors waiting rooms – I skim through them and read if something catches my eye.

This week I stopped and read an interview with Isobel Currie published by  Isobel is a three-dimensional embroidery artist who hails from the UK.   

Isobel sees and uses the form of the stitch over 3 dimensions; she works on and in a Perspex ground. Her work is really interesting. Read the interview and see more photos here.

I am interested in process and how and where artists get their inspiration and arrive at their design. Isobel talks a little about this in her interview - as well as resources that are important to her.  

Most importantly - the interview led me to more images of Isobel's work. Click here to visit Isobel's web site and take virtual visit to a gallery.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Inspiration for stitch - a holiday at Angelsea, Victoria

A holiday by the seaside with a chance to walk everyday from the beach up Anglesea River gave rise to these photos.

A little further up the coast at Point Roadnigh the clouds were wonderfull.  The direct winds and water has eroded the coast and there were some interesting tree roots dangling down.

And, because I have a thing about markers and lighthouses - I am sneaking in a  photo taken at Barwon Heads.

Because we stayed in a holiday house I was able to spread out and spent some time stitching - playing with running stitch and couching.   The  grasses, lichens and trees above all have play potential using these two stitches.   I also spent a little time drawing gum leaves and thinking about how I can incorporate them into stitchery ... and remembered I had previously done something using back stitch and kantha.  I will have to dig it out and have a look at it again :-).

Sunday, February 8, 2015

On running stitch and inspiration

I am continuing to explore running stitch and enjoying the exploration.  But as a form of play and investigation it has become limited when the brief I have set myself was to play with the stitch and I haven’t resolved in mind an ultimate outcome.  

I am exploring the stitch but where do I want to take it?  Or go with it?   Have I got something to say?  Is there something which moves me enough to want to record it in stitch and especially in running stitch?

Some of my play, like this one below, has come to an abrupt halt because I didn’t start with a clear idea of where I was going.  Even though I started out with a rough sketch inspired by another artist work and had selected threads I still got lost!

Conversely, I have just completed a small piece which started out as a doodle and was never intended to be anything more than that – maybe with a view to leaving it in the hoop and hanging it that way.   In the end I added chain and fly stitch to the work and have decided to make it up into a small bag or treasure holder. When I look at it it reminds me of Chinese embroidery.  I will post a photo when I am done.

This process of creation can be very confusing!

Inspiration, support and mentoring is all around us: family and friends, colleagues in our own or other art disciplines and on the Internet.

This morning I listened to a very interesting talk by Jane Dunnewald building creative stamina.  It is recommended listening.  It was shared by textile artist Sharon Boggon on her website Pintangle – I have linked it here.

At the conclusion of her talk Jane read the following poem which touched me on many levels

The Way It Is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among

things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.

You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

By William Stafford, from The Way It Is, 1998

Jane Dunnewald has a generous website and an interesting recommended reading list which I will visit over the year.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Playing and learning with running stitch

Tweet Tweet - running stitch & variations  20 cm x 20 cm

The apple theme has slipped just a little but I have continued to play with running stitch.   Who would of thought that you could do so many things with just one stitch and its variations.   I posted a stitched apple a little while ago using running stitch .   As you can see I have also stitched up a bird inspired by a Mexican folk painting.  The backing was small piece of hand dyed cotton which I had held on to and have finally let go of.  I think it was the backing that inspired the colours of the the threads I used. 

Looking at running stitch and its variations (and exploration on the net with my friend Google) has reminded me of the some cultures that use  running stitch stitch in their s embroideries.

So far I have read about and played with Kantha a little.  You can sort of see it in the textured background of the bird above and the apple I put up about two posts ago.  That probably is the only similarity other than the use of running stitch itself.  In Kantha works the running stitches create the colour blocks - in the little bird above I have whipped and wrapped to get a more intense colour.   

Kantha Image credit  - V& A Collection
Kantha is a form of quilting and decorating fabric that is a speciality of women in the Bengal region in the Indian subcontinent.   The running stitches have a little tension to them which gives the fabric textures and shadows.  I found this really interesting link to an article by an organisation called the Institute of International Social Development (an Indian NGO) which talks about the origins of Kantha.

Image credit -
Sunjani embroidery . Image credit

I have learnt that there is a form of stitching called Sujani (or Sujini) which is similar to Kantha in the region of Bihar.   Here is a link which tells a little more about the history of stitch in this region.

So far in my research on the web the only really consistent statement as to the difference between the two styles of stitch is region, traditional motifs used that relate to that region and  that the motif in Sunjani is always outlined in chain stitch.  The other difference stated on a couple of sites was the Sunjani stitch is always in a straight line whereas Kantha lines will curve and circle.  Not all the images i saw backed this up.   I need to find some print sources and check it out st some stage.

Nevertheless, I have enjoyed my armchair exploration of two parts of India and stitch and will keep browsing as many of the tales and images I come across are inspirational.

And of course I will keep stitching and making.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

An apple a day # 2

I have picked up a paint brush again – the first time in ages – and painted (apples).   Looking at the apples – I mean really looking at the apples – made me realise how many colours are actually in an apple.

I purchased a recent inspirations magazine which caught my eye – especially an article about Gary Clarke and a project which was embroidery on organza.   I have linked here to Gary’s bio on his web site.  Take a moment to have a look around and you will see some organza embroidery.  Gary is an interesting designer, an innovative embroiderer (definitely outside the box) and an encouraging teacher.   I had the opportunity to do a ‘whitework’ workshop with Gary a number of years ago and was very happy with the result.

Anyway – thinking out loud – I reckon that Gary’s technique in the Inspirations magazine will be an interesting way to embroider some apples.    In the magazine article Gary embroidered a hummingbird using variegated thread, French knots and straight stitches.    The variegated thread may be the way to get the varied colour of the apples I painted.  Pointillism with thread?  Also, Gary raised the embroidery so there is depth.  

More thinking out loud – it occurred to me that I should look at crab apples - there is a large planting of crab apples near where I live and I will keep an eye on them as they grow to see what I can do.   Perhaps I will try and document the trees over a year?

What else have I been up to?   I went to a machine embroidery workshop run by Susan Barker and have been told I need to love my machine.    Susan is right of course.  I will never get anywhere being afraid if it and I need to leave the machine out and play a bit more rather than just use it to run up a straight seam.  Anyway, I have to say I learnt heaps including that I can use thick thread in the nonadjustable drop in bobbin ... came a way very happy knowing that.  And I learnt quite a few other things as well.   I will have to try and work up some apples on solvy now!

Solvey faces being test driven -  ready to be applied to a background

Monday, January 12, 2015

Back to the real world!

Apple in running stitch - whipped, laced and pulled at the bottom to create a kantha effect. 20 cm x 20 cm

Well I have had quite a break since my last post.  The lead up to Christmas was just too busy but now I am back into the swing of things after some time off. 

I have been thinking about and working on projects which I am committed to in the coming year: group exhibitions with Lateral Stitchers in Wollongong in March and Stitchers Plus at Guild HQ in November. Added to this mix is running paverpol and stitch classes early this year and a longer term plan for an exhibition in 2017.  

I bravely stated last year that I would work an a theme of an apple a day.  I think I have spent the couple of weeks trying reconcile this statement with my commitments this year and have determined that I will keep working on the apple theme with a view to incorporating it into the November exhibition.   This exhibtion is more about process and how each of the group goes about working to acheive a desired end so it is a perfect way to practise putting down ideas in my studio journal and building up a small body of work for the exhibition.

Thats all for now.  Wishing you all a creative 2015.

Not quite a self portrait

Not quite a self portrait
small 8' quiltlet with embroidered hair

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