Sunday, 25 November 2012

My Von Trapp Family of Bags

Do you remember that wonderful scene from The Sound of Music when Fraulein Maria rips down the curtains from her bedroom window and uses them to run up a few lederhosen and dirndl dresses for the children much to Captain Von Trapp's annoyance. Well I had a similar flash of inspiration myself a few weeks ago when I  attended a bag making workshop by Jennie Rayment called 'Bags Galore'.

No I didn't rip down my curtains but lets start at the very beginning and I will explain. I needed enough material to make 4 bags but when I looked into my fabric stash on the night before the workshop I hadn't got nearly enough.  How do I solve a problem like that? As luck would have it, a few years ago I had bought a huge remnant of curtain fabric for £4 from a charity shop.  I simply remember thinking one day I might actually get round to using it to make curtains but truth is I'm not wild on the design anyway so then I don't feel so bad about using it for bags after all.

So, with a needle pulling thread, I got creative and at the workshop ran up the 4 bags out of said curtain material. I have confidence I thought that this might work and I had so much material I could easily have made sixteen going on seventeen bags.  

There really is something good about being creative and resourceful.  One of my favourite things I made at the workshop was this 'scrip bag' designed by Jennie.

I never thought I would make 4 bags all in one day but the first three bags just happened to be so easy.  Jennie kept us really busy all day and the sound of sewing machines was music to our ears. We agreed that it had been one of our favourite workshops and at the end of the day it was quite sad when we had to say so long, farewell to Jennie.

Monday, 19 November 2012

SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy)

SABLE or Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy is a fabulous acronym I first heard used by crochet and knitting artist Pauline Fitzpatrick when she was our guest speaker at the Solihull Embroiderer's Guild meeting earlier this month.    It refers to the stash of wools and yarns that a knitter buys, acquires, accumulates over the years and even if they live to 100 the likelihood of them knitting it all up is quite remote. It's a physical and logistical impossibility.

For anyone with a SABLE of wool Pauline is the perfect inspiration as she produces and designs crochet accessories – jewellery, bags, scarves and hats, and the most amazing wallhangings using free-form crochet.

Pauline says of her work:

"I usually start out with a general idea for the piece I`m making, which evolves during the working process. This is particularly true with freeform crochet, where different yarns can be added as the piece progresses. I am fascinated by colour and texture, particularly the way colours are affected when placed next to each other."

I keep my SABLE in a large linen basket and the other day I tipped it all over the floor to see just how much I had acquired over the years.

It's quite a lot but pales into insignificance when I came across this SABLE from a lady in USA.  

I think it's an addiction thing.  I am certainly addicted to wool and love a bargain so whenever I see a Rowan Wools sale I try to stock up.  The thing is I am a really slow knitter (more a time factor here than skill or dexterity and it's not for the want of trying you must understand - just not enough hours in the day) and the fact I have been knitting a Fair-Isle cardigan for the last 21 years does not really come into it.

I am addicted to books too, particularly cookery books because of my love of cooking.  I also have an Amazon habit so the two go hand in glove but I got to thinking about all my cook books and the recipes contained within and see them as some sort of SABLE for recipes which could be RABBLE (Recipe Acquisition Bloody Beyond Life Expectancy) or CABLE (Cookbook Acquisition beyond Life Expectancy). I am always thinking about where my next meal is coming from though so I can have a damn good try at cooking them all. 


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Culture and Chips

Another grand day out in Walsall last week, this time with fellow SAFers (Solihull Artists Forum) at the New Art Gallery Walsall to see the Fiona Rae exhibition - Maybe you can live on the moon in the next century.   Rae, who at only 27 was shorlisted in 1991 for the Turner Prize, paints huge canvases with bright bold painterly splashes of Abstract Expressionism.  Here are Fiona and Paula looking longingly at Rae's work.   

Time spent in Japan has influenced her work and computer animated Japanese motifs such as angels, Bambis and pandas regularly inhabit her paintings. 

Sculptor Mark Tilley also seemed suitably impressed with Rae's work.

Also on Floor 3 was  Jodie Carey's exhibition Solomon's Knot.  Carey focuses on an exploration of time passing and memories fading.  Ultimately she is concerned with the fragility and vulnerability of human life.

I was very impressed with this epic piece of crochet Untitled (Bouquet) suspended from the ceiling which the artist has stitched by hand. (Goodness, that's a lot of evenings spent in front of the TV). The choice of stitch is significant and provides the title of the show.  Solomon's Knot can be traced as far back as Roman times, is commonly associated with wisdom and knowledge and has no end and no beginning. 

Untitled (Slabs) is a sculptural installation of plaster slabs which Carey has meticulously hand-coloured using pencil crayon.  This raises many imponderables: 

a) Similar to the crocheted piece, how much time and effort would that have taken? 

b) How many pencils?

c) How much pencil sharpening would she have had to do and surely not using a tiny hand held one, maybe one of those with a handle seen clamped to teachers' desks which seem to devour the pencils up, sharpen them to within a millimetre of their life and then the minute you put them to paper always break. Maybe she would have treated herself and splashed out on an electric one. I expect she did. 

d) All those shavings too and there is always the stray shaving that escapes the bin and sticks to your jumper.

A quick blast out onto the roof top to brace the  November chill  and see the Rose Quartz sculpture and the Walsall sky line.  

And finally a couple of pieces from the Garman Ryan permanent collection at Walsall which I never tire of seeing.

Sally Ryan - Mother and Child

There is also a Damien Hirst exhibition of his sculptures, paintings and prints presented within the Garman Ryan collection until October 2013.  Sorry, no photos allowed I'm afraid so can't post any of his work here. No bad thing I think.

A not too dear lunch in the pub next door to the gallery rounded off our grand day out.  We go home feasted on culture and chips but as always after visiting Walsall, lamenting the lack of art galleries and exhibition space in Solihull.  Now, like the Tardis, if only we could teleport the New Art Gallery Walsall to Solihull.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Allsorts Art Fair

A busy Saturday morning spent helping Julie and Ann man the Solihull Embroiderers' Guild stall at Saturday's Allsorts Art Fair at Solihull Arts Complex.  We are always on the look out for new members and meet at Solihull Methodist Church on the first Tuesday of each month 2 - 4pm or 7.30 - 9.30 pm.  Our next meeting is tomorrow and our guest speaker is crochet artist Pauline Fitzpatrick so please come along and join us if you can.

Next to our stall was King Pleasure himself artist Mark Skirving selling original prints of his wonderful atmospheric contemporary paintings. Mark is also a member of Solihull Artists' Forum,a group of contemporary craft based artists working and living in the Solihull area.

Two other members of Solihull Artists' Forum were also at Allsorts. Here is sculptor Mark Tilley with some examples of his work and his amazing portrait heads.

Mark welcomes commissions for his portrait head sculptures so if there is anyone you would like immortalised in stone or bronze then he would be only too willing to do one for you.

Here artist Fiona Payne takes her inspiration from architecture to produce vibrant colourful abstracted images.