Thursday, 28 May 2015

Travelling Sketchbooks April - Alphonse Mucha

So my inspiration for my Travelling Sketchbook for April came from my recent visit to Prague in the Czech Republic. Known for its excellent beer, an ornate 9th century castle dominating the landscape and the most wonderful buildings and architecture dating as far back as medieval times, Prague was  home to Alphonse Mucha, a late 19th and early 20th Century Art Nouveau painter. His style of painting influenced an entire generation of painters, graphic artists, draughtsmen and designers and  in the minds of many, his work epitomizes the Art Nouveau.

This is a watercolour I did of one of his distinctive designs.

Which led to this piece in stitch. 

I used layers of calico, wadding, even a kitchen towel which I had used to blot and clean up my paints. These were then covered with a layer of  muslin and I then machine embroidered the poppy design. 

Prague is one of the most beautiful and cultured cities in the world and the historical capital of Bohemia. With its many art galleries and museums to visit, the Mucha Museum is just one of them and not to be missed along with the Prague Beer Museum for its excellent beer of course!  

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Travelling Sketchbooks March - A Good Beginning

As you know I love working in my sketchbooks and I always have 4 or 5 on the go at any one time, switching between them using a combination of stitch, watercolour and acrylic paints, printing, text and collage to name but a few and I try each day to set aside time to complete a page or two. I find it very relaxing even if it is just to put a watercolour wash on a couple of pages ready for a creative technique to go over the top.

I am very excited though about a collaborative project I became involved with starting in March of this year with six other members of  Solihull Embroiderers' Guild called Travelling Sketchbooks.  We each started off with our own sketchbook, putting in a piece of our own stitched work including our inspiration source which could be a photo, a picture, a poem, a memory etc. then at each of our monthly meetings we hand the book over to the next person on the list and the book goes off on its travels, the idea being that at the end of the summer, I will receive my own book back with work from the rest of the group inside. We settled on using a Pink Pig 8" x 8" sketchbook each which contain good quality paper ideal for painting, collage and stitching as you can see above where I have stitched a cutting from a 1930s vintage magazine direct onto the page.  

The left hand page is a piece of  'Texture Magic' fabric, a steam-activated shrinking fabric which when stitched and then shrunk creates a wonderful textured surface.  For the stitching I used a twin-needle in random patterns and then shrank with a steam-iron hovered close over the fabric but being careful not to touch directly. I then hand-dyed the piece using Procion MX dyes I had mixed myself and then put in small plastic spray bottles bought from Boots, in order to spray the fabric rather than immerse. I used various colours which mixed to give a subtle rainbow palette.

For this page I cut petal shaped pieces of calico which were 'Bondawebbed' onto scrim, placed into an embroidery hoop and then randomly machine zig-zagged which gives this lovely lacey effect.
Rather than just stick or stitch the piece to the page I cut a window first and then stitched the piece behind the window. I decorated the page using a wooden block and acrylic paint to give it more of a frame.

Before my book went off on its travels I also made a cover for it from scraps of old jeans and embroidered it inviting members to be creative and to use a variety of techniques. I admit I am a bit late in posting about the travelling sketchbook scheme as I did these pages back in March. I have since had April and May's books and sent them off on their merry way but will tell you about those very soon.  Time for bed! Happy stitching.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Monday, 4 May 2015

Journeys #2 & #3 - Punchings & Aboriginal Art

Here are the next two journeys in my rail ticket challenge. 

Using a large and small hole punch to create negative and positive. 

Taking my inspiration from the aboriginal art of Australian artist Tim Johnson, here I used a cotton bud dipped in white acrylic.  

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Journeys - Rail Ticket Sketchbook Challenge #1

Having just been on a mixed-media sketchbook workshop and eager to fill a cute little sketchbook I bought at the Fashion, Embriodery & Stitch show recently I was wondering how to use each page.  Now as every textile and mixed-media artist knows we hang on to everything - tickets, receipts, stamps, cards, envelopes, sweet wrappers and all kinds of ephemera etc. hoarding them because we know they will come in useful in a future project at some point. I travel to work by train and for months have been saving all my old rail tickets knowing that I wanted to use them in some kind of project.  So I have set myself a challenge to fill every page of my new sketchbook with one rail ticket and to be as creative as possible with each ticket. The idea then is that the whole sketchbook will be filled with 'Journeys' using as many mixed-media techniques as I can think of such as drawing, painting, stitch, fabric, printing, transfers, embroidery, felting, rubbings - the possibilities are endless.   So here is the first page.  Admittedly not too ambitious yet but I wanted to kick start the project and not think too hard about each page, to just get on with it and set myself a time limit which should avoid my usual proscratination when faced with a virginal blank page in a sketchbook. 

So here's to many more 'Journeys'. 

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The Bean Bag has landed

So the bean bag is finally finished!  Having started it in February it has not been without its trials and tribulations.  Namely, the blessed poly beads just seemed to spill everywhere no matter how careful I was in filling the bag. I am still finding them now in the most unusual places as they become static and stick to everything and I do mean everything! I downloaded the free pattern from allaboutyou which seemed quite straightforward until it got to the bit where I had to pin and stitch six evenly spaced darts around the top of the bag to fit into a smaller circle at the top where the handle goes.  Now to do this I had to calculate the circumference of a circle and maths has never been my strong point but after much googling found I needed to use the formula C = 2πr.  Tricky! Anyway I got there in the end and very pleased I am too with the result.

Micky and Goofy seem quite pleased too...

And it's just perfect for sitting and watching TV on....

And for resting my feet on after a long day.  Bliss, especially if Poldark is on TV.  Well recommended - both  Poldark and the Bean bag that is.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Fashion, Embroidery & Stitch 2015

Never one to miss out on a chance to add to my SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy)  I couldn't wait to get myself over to Birmingham's NEC for the Fashion, Embroidery & Stitch show a couple of weeks ago. Combined with Sewing for Pleasure and Hobbycrafts it's also an ideal opportunity to see the work of some really great textile artists and group collective exhibitions and there's nothing better than seeing an artist's work up close and personal to find inspiration to  kickstart the creative processes.   Here are a few things that caught my eye:

I loved this Mary Poppins style embroidered bag with the wistful eyes. 

Below is the work of one of my favourite textile and mixed-media artists Ineke Berlyn. She is from the Netherlands but moved to Bromsgrove in Worcestershire in 1978.  I find all of her work very inspiring especially this quilted fabric book.  

Ineke makes the most wonderful dress quilts - they look like dresses hanging up but in fact they are quilts.  This dress made out of recycled denim has certainly got me inspired to make something similar as I have not thrown any jeans away in our house for about ten years, hanging on to them with the idea that I will eventually get round to making something really useful with them. 


If you look closely at the detail, Ineka has used a Sashiko hand quilting running stitch to make a Boro style patchwork which is Japanese for tattered rags and is the method rural Japanese housewives used to repair clothing, cotton bedding and futon covers.  I think I feel a throw coming on for my old sofa! 

Here Ineka has made the quilt from a patchwork of hand-dyed fabrics then machine quilted.

Instead of throwing away all the newspapers covering Obama's inauguration in 2009, Ineka kept them to make a dress quilt using a paper-lamination technique combining the newspapers with organza and silk-screen printing.

You can never have too many jumpers - a quilt of Nordic style jumpers by Gillian Travis

How very Sofie Grabol

Great beetroots of our time? Or turnips? 

And here is the best of the rest:

Inspired by the Klondyke Gold Rush this artist had embroidered a monochrome picture of a gold panner combined with text from an old newspaper which had been ink-jet printed onto a background of silk organza.

So I have an old deckchair in the garage and this would be an ideal way of upcycling it. Lots of great ideas and yet more inspiration for more projects which should keep me well and truly occupied till the Festival of Quilts hits town in August. Happy stitching! x