Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Do you have a CD you can add to my birdscarer?

I have a birdscarer in my garden which is made up of unwanted CDs. CDs I either bought on a whim, went through a phase with a particular band or artist and now I can't stand them, CDs bought on the strength of one song (always a bad mistake - once did that with a Smiths album) ones I feel completely embarassed about having in my collection or they may be associated with not very good times and I can't bear to play them anymore. I hang them on a long string between 2 bamboo canes and they dangle over my vegetable plot happily keeping the birds away from the seeds I have planted - the sunlight reflected off them is what keeps the birds away in case you wondered.

Have you got a CD you would like to add to my Birdscarer?  For reasons of practicality this can of course only be a Virtual Birdscarer but if you have any nominations you would like to submit then please add them in the comments below - with a picture if possible.

My current candidate for my Birdscarer is a John Barrowman CD I bought when I was going through a John Barrowman phase.  At the time he seemed to be popping up everywhere - Torchwood, Dr Who, Skating on Ice, looking for Marias and Nancys. I couldn't get enough of him and I do admit I quite fancied him so  thought I would take a punt on his CD.

Big mistake!  Problem was he sounds a lot like Sir Cliff and I just couldn't separate Batchelor Boy with Captain Jack so hence he's been relegated to my birdscarer.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Image Transfer & Wax Experiments/Making of the Housewife Apron


Have been working with image transfer which is always a bit of a challenge.  The holy grail being the perfect way to transfer an image onto fabric without too much faffing about.  There are lots of techniques but by far the best one that worked for me in the end was direct transfer of an image onto calico fed through an ink jet printer.  Took a lot of courage to press the START button as the last time I had tried this last year I nearly broke the printer which happened to be new.  Husband was none the wiser but had to do battle with the printer to try and get the dam piece of calico out of the machine.  Didn't seem to want to let it go but eventually won and printer escaped unharmed.

This time round I had done my homework and researched the exact process which I found in a Stitch magazine.  The trick is to use 505 temporary adhesive to glue an A4 sized piece of calico onto A4 printer paper.  Place the calico about 1cm below the top edge of the paper and then fold down over the fabric. Place the glued paper and fabric into the feeder tray of the printer, insert your image on scanner bed and then press start.  I was really pleased with the result.  Just a bit was missed off the top left hand corner but I can maybe draw that in.  My intention is to sew this onto my apron.

Had a go at the water spray method too which was a bit of a disaster and I've ended up getting printer ink all over my Cath Kidston ironing board cover. Sod!  The technique is that you spray the piece of fabric with water, then place your printed ink jet image face down and iron over the top remembering to protect your iron with baking parchment to protect the sole plate.  This I duly did but forgot about underneath the fabric and this unfortunately bled onto the iron board.   If using text you have to reverse your image so that it printe the correct way round.

My ruined Cath Kidston ironing board cover

This technique is OK if you want a watery image but no good if you want sharp results.  Not to be repeated this time round.

Also experimenting with waxing paper using melted candles.  I rubbed a candle over the hot plate of the iron.  NB this wasn't my best Bosch iron.  I had bought a bog standard cheapie from Sainsbo's.  Just the trick for this and I had set up the workbench in the garage as it gets a bit messy to say the least.


Here I had melted the wax over empty tea bags filled with cut out pieces from vintage Woman's Weeklys.



For the apron I have used a vintage antimacassar and tray cloth sewn together to form the basic shape of an apron.  With a water soluble marker I traced the Housewife image in the style of the old 'Omo' washing powder - the iconic blue and red star burst. I decided to quilt the bib and then use vermicelli stitch to make the lettering and the star burst stand out. Vermicelli stitch is one long meandering line of stitch and the secret is never to touch or cross over the stitching.  Effective but time consuming and tedious to do. 


 I embroidered a picture of my newly cleaned bathroom onto the antimacassar which is the skirt of the apron. I used stitch and tear to stabilise the linen so it could be embroidered.  I decided to incorporate the original embroidery into the image so I just kind of ignored them when I was stitching.

What the hell happened here?  I used water soluble marker at first to draw the image then changed my mind and drew the picture on 'stitch and tear'. In the meantime I had to get rid of the marker by sponging off with water which I did but there was still a bit left which kind of goes into water marks.  I was such a dope here; why didn't I get rid of it all before I stitched the image onto the stitch and tear because what happened then was the water picked up the drawn image on the stitch and tear and above is the result.  What a sodding mess.  This didn't come off and what made matters worse it turned sort of yellow which  looked absolutely bloody brilliant on the white linen.  I ended up having to paint over the inky mess with white acrylic.  There is no accounting for this kind of eventuality.   You think something is going to be quite simple and then you encounter problems like this.  As much as I find using the soluble marker really simple when it comes to getting rid of it with water it can be quite erratic.  Think a lot of it is down to the fabric you use but its widely used by textile artists in quilt making so they obviously don't find it a problem.  

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Draw Paint Video Install @ The Custard Factory

Went to see my friend Wendy Smith in her group exhibition at the Custard Factory called Draw Paint Video Install. Wendy's work is very intriguing.  She explores the relationship with common objects and the meanings that emerge from small experiences. I loved her piece where she has turned the cover of a leather bound book into a pair of leather gloves - the fingers of the gloves clasped together. 

The two other artists taking part are Saranjit Birdi whose drawings are of life classes he attended at the Friends Institute in Moseley and Penny Mason's exploration of elements of natural landscape placed in an abstract context.
The exhibition continues until Saturday.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Laser Cut Printing on an Antediluvian Press



I cut an image from the Woman's Magazine from November 1930 onto a piece of plywood using the Laser Cutter then with a roller painted over it with waterbased printing ink. 


Using an ancient press that Bob had got lying around the 3D studio I printed the image onto a mixture of calico, canvas and cartridge paper.


 The press looked as if it had seen better days. What a bloody shame the college got rid of the old London press which had a rolling drum. Apparently it had been broken up for scrap.  Mmmmmmm!!?   Anyway beggers can't be choosers and here are the results which seem not bad. 

Show this to your husband


I am thinking of sewing the ones on canvas/calico onto an apron/quilt for the Pre-Degree Show. We'll see anyway as I need to do some experimenting and not quite sure yet whether to make the apron out of tea towels or my vintage anitimacassars.


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Lost in Lace at the BM & AG



Lost in Lace at the BM & AG is just an incredible exhibition.  Don't be put off by the title of this exhibition - if anyone thinks that this is just an exhibition about lace through the ages or display cases full of moth eaten lace they can think again.   20 UK and international artists have come together to create their own interpretations on lace in a very contemporary way. It deals with structures texture, space, line and the architecture that lace creates. Its about scale both large and small using materials such as latex, polymers, Tyvek and video.  A truly fascinating look at how artists can take something as traditional as lace and transform it into a contemorary art form.

After the Dream - Chiharu Shiota
Shiota concentrates on line in randem patterns of black wool and clothes which form memories of the people that once wore them.
While I was in Birmingham I also nipped into the IKON to catch the last few days of Nedko Solakov's All in order with exceptions.  No tea and buns today unfortunately as I had missed the afternoon tea day but was intrigued by some of his rich textured canvasses. It seemed a pretty tame exhibition though compared to the innovativeness of  Lost in Lace.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Experimenting with Free Motion Stitching



I have been looking at the imagery and text in vintage women's magazines finding it absolutely fascinating how quaint life seemed for women all those years ago.  This image came from Woman's Magazine dated November 1930.  The caption beneath the picture read that "We simply aren't staisfied with feeding the canary and watering the ferns" intimating that there is more to life than the gentility of feeding the birds and watering the plants.  The technique I used was: 
  1. Take a photocopy of the image enlarging to 150% 
  2. Print the image onto artists' canvas using a laser cutter.  Tip: Use the college laser cutter as this isn't the kind of equipment you find lying around the house - it costs thousands of pounds. 
  3. Paint with watercolours
  4. Put the canvas into an embroidery hoop and then free machine stitch over the paint using a variety of threads.  For the dress I used a variegated thread which lends itself to give the appearance of texture and pattern to the dress.   

    Wednesday, 2 November 2011

    Maria Walker at the Embroiderers' Guild

    Attended  a fabulous talk at the Solihull Embroiderers Guild meeting last night from textile artist Maria Walker.  She was so inspiring.  Absolutely loved her work on combining old photographs and text with fabrics.  Particularly loved her work on The Lightfoot Letters which she explained was about a sheaf of letters she had found in an antique shop which had all been written to a young 16 year old girl from members of her family while she was away in service as a maid.    Maria like myself often deals with issues of domesticity and the feminine using the written word translating it into an embroidered text.
    Make me a Dress