Monday, 28 December 2015

Friday, 18 December 2015

Journeys # 12 - A Gingerbread Latte

A festive gingerbread latte for a cold, dull, damp day. Deliciously satisfying and decadent.

Journeys # 11 - A Pumpkin for Halloween

We are nigh on Christmas so a bit late to post for Halloween but here it is anyway.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Travelling Sketchbooks November - Markel Paint Sticks

So I have started a new Travelling Sketchbook with my textile group Running Stitch and carried on with my Autumn theme using a range of techniques including lino cut rubbings, printing with leaves and free machine embroidery.

This is a lino-cut of a leaf I made a while back which I made a rubbing of, onto plain white cotton using markel sticks which are sticks a bit like large wax crayons but made from solid oil paint. I love them! I use them to colour paper as I would a crayon and they are great on fabric to draw and print your own designs so it's a bit like designing my own fabric.

With a metallic thread I embroidered the outline and veins of the leaf then used a quilting stitch called vermicelli stitch to make the leaf stand out.

This was a monoprint where I inked up a plastic sheet with metallic acrylic paint then with a wooden skewer drew a leaf in the paint then flipped the inked up plate straight onto the page of my book. 

Prints of real leaves using acrylic paint.  

A nice bit of splashing and splodging with my acrylic inks.

My old jeans always come in handy. The first page of my new sketchbook which I actually use as a pocket on the page to keep bits of ephemera. Happy stitching! 

Monday, 30 November 2015

Journeys # 10 - Autumn Leaves

Well it's December tomorrow which in my book is well and truly Winter so my Autumn Leaves journey just about makes it today if you regard today as the last day of Autumn. All the trees are looking a bit bare now but I do love the colours of Autumn so have used my Liquitex acrylic inks to splash on a bit of Autumn colour. 

Friday, 20 November 2015

Journeys # 9 - 2-Part Return

So for my journey this time I have tried to make the ticket look like part of the page. It's important when sticking a photograph, photocopy, or item of ephemera onto the page of your journal or sketchbook that it does not look like it's been plonked down otherwise your sketchbook is in danger of ending up looking too much like a scrapbook.  Using gesso I painted over the middle section of the ticket, glued the ticket onto the page then with an orange oil pastel coloured over the two orange bands top and bottom including the page of the sketchbook.  With a fine black marker pen I wrote over the gesso the details of the ticket.

Here is an example in another sketchbook where I have blended in a photograph I took at the V&A of a fabulous bejewelled stiletto shoe with the background of the page.

This is the original photo. I wanted the shoe to stand out so applied bleach to the background and then stuck the photo onto the page using gel medium.  A watercolour wash was then flooded over the page and the background of the photo making the shoe look part of the page. Great shoes!!

I have used the same technique here using a photo of a ceramic bowl taken in the ceramics section at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. 

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Travelling Sketchbooks October -Turn Collar Right Side Out

The inspiration for this month's pages in the travelling sketchbook is a photograph I came across of my mum taken when she was only eighteen years old.  I love using photos in my work so decided on using the technique of image transfer, a technique not without its trials and tribulations in trying to create a replica of the original photo onto fabric or paper. Indeed much has been written in books and craft magazines of how to achieve the 'holy grail' of a successful image from the original photo.

One of the best books I have read about Image Transfer is would you believe called Image Transfer Workshop by Darlene Olivia McElroy.  It is American which I don't normally like as different names and terms are used in the US and they often use materials not available in this country but this one is really good and choc-a-bloc with methods with one even using wintergreen oil.  Isn't that what people use for rheumatism and arthritis? Anyway the image above of my mum was transferred onto white cotton poplin by first cutting the fabric to the size of an A4 sheet of paper, then attaching it to an A4 sheet of copy paper with 404 temporary spray adhesive and then fed through my ink jet printer, peel the paper away and you are left with the image.  Remember to flip the image especially if you are using text.

So the other image transfer technique I have been looking at is how to get an image transferred onto  the page of a book so it looks like it's actually been printed on the page without just sticking on a  photocopy.  This method was also taken from the Image Transfer book where the the image is printed onto a transparency sheet (or acetate) fed through an ink jet printer then placed face down onto a slightly dampened page of the book and burnished with the back of a spoon. A plant spray does this quite well. Peel away the  transparency and you are left with the image on the page. I thought this was a reasonable success although some of the paper had stuck to the transparency so maybe next time I should make the paper a bit damper. I added a wash of black watercolour too around the image but I love the faded quality this technique gives. Often a perfect image is not what's wanted.

I added a border of various bits of lace and embellished with a few buttons. Oh I love a bit of embellishment!

My mum was a keen dressmaker, in fact when she was only in her early teens she used to help her uncle out in his tailor's shop and he taught her the skill of tailoring. This was a photocopy of the  original photo collaged onto a page along with cuttings from an old dressmaking pattern I picked up in a charity shop, then overlayed with a sheet of tracing paper to give a misty image.

Turn the collar  right side out. Press lightly. Baste raw edges together. This is a sewing term I know only too well as she taught me how to dress make using commerical sewing patterns like Style and Simplicity.  I hasten to add that baste is not as in baste the turkey but to sew together with a tacking stitch which is a temporary stitch usually handsewn before the seams are stitched with a machine.

More cutting and sticking using photocopies of old snaps. My brother isn't in many of our holiday snaps because he was always the one behind the camera although you can see him top left in his cricket jumper and is that a tie Andrew?!! On holiday?!! Really?!!  These are holiday snaps taken in Bournemouth and Boscombe on the obiligatory caravan holiday when I was only about 3 or 4.  Love the one of me and my mum in our macs. I remember my mac came down to well below my knees almost to my ankles. Good old Gramps came along too for the ride.  

And this is the original photograph of my beautiful mum.  I bet she knitted that jumper herself. She taught me everything about sewing, knitting and life and I miss her loads. 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Travelling Sketchbooks September - Art Van Go

I have long been a fan of Art Van Go, a company that has been supplying artists, textile artists and crafters with specialist art materials since they started out in 1989 with just a mobile van taking their art materials to colleges, schools, art societies and textile groups, hence the name Art Van Go.  Based in Knebworth they also have a large shop and studio where they run a series of creative workshops but you can still see the van at shows like the Festival of Quilts and they take their workshops on the road which is how I came to attend a workshop at Solihull Embroiderers called 'What Goes Around, Comes Around'.   

Viv from Art Van Go focused on the versatility of printing using various materials such as acrylic paints, metallics paints, bronze powder, fabric paints, gilding, paint mediums and gels. We used stencils, rollers, rubber stamps, pads and wooden printing blocks and just about anything we could utilise that might give us a good print. Viv's mantra throughout the day was 'don't be washing expensive paints down the sink' so we were taught to be economical and roller excess paint onto ordinary copy paper to create painted papers for collage, or roller into our sketchbooks for backgrounds. 

It was these painted and printed papers that I used in my pages as collage which I then stitched into. 

Here I sandwiched printed papers between two pages into which I had cut little windows. 

Paint  rollered through stencils onto white cotton. 

And here is the van itself, the Aladdin's Cave of art materials - 'Taking the Art Shop to the Artist.' 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

A little bit of Splodging & Flicking for Autumn

I am always excited when I order any new art materials (oh the joys of on-line shopping) but am absolutely delighted with my new Liquitex acrylic inks. Liquitex are my favourite brand of acrylic paints and I have their full range of acrylic tubes. The inks have the fluidity of water colour with the high pigmentation of acrylic paint. So what to paint?  Well it's autumn so I took a turn round the garden and came back with a handful of leaves to paint. 

Here are the results in my sketcbook with a bit of added flicking and splodges which the acrylic inks are so splendid at.

Highly recommended.  I feel a lot more flicking and splodging coming on. Available on-line at all good art suppliers. 

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Journeys # 8 - The Big Hoot

I am really missing the owls from the Big Hoot now they have all but disappeared from Birmingham city centre.  I got used to seeing them on my journeys to work this summer and they seemed to move about too, the crafty things.  There were 89 owls and 122 owlets altogether and not only in the city centre but dotted about the burbs of Brum too. It was an amazing concept bringing lots of owl spotters to the city (residents and vistors) all attempting to complete the trails and take the photos of every single one. 

I did not attempt the trail myself and surprisingly did not take many photos either rather taking them for granted on my hurried journey to work and now they are gone I really wish I had taken the time to photograph more of them. As an homage to them though here is my own version using one of the rail tickets on one of my journeys to work. 

I did manage to snap this one though.  The Oozells Owl was stood for a while outside No 5 Brindley Place which is the building where I used to work when I worked for BT, working here from 1997 to 2008, the year I left to do my art degree.  BT vacated the building back in 2012 and it's now occupied by Deutsch Bank but what was particularly poignant to me was the painting of Ikon Gallery painted on the front of the Oozells Owl which is the building where I now work. My former HQ mixed with the latter.  

   It seems I have come full circle.  

On my journey into Snow Hill station on the train I would see this owlet on the roof of the Custard Factory in Digbeth.

And I passed the Wise Old Owl every day standing in front of the New Library

Although the owls have now flown away there is a special farewell to some of the favourites this coming weekend at Birmingham's Eastside City Park next to Millenium Point, before being auctioned on Thursday 15th to raise money for Birmingham Children's Hospital Charity.  As one of the city's biggest ever free public art events The Big Hoot has been a huge success attracting lots of publicity, attention and tourists to Birmingham and offering opportunities for local businesses, schools, charities and local communities to sponsor the owls. The event has also supported the creativity of the artists providing an inspiring relationship between the city and the arts. With the opening of Grand Central station it has been a great summer for Birmingham and I love anything too that puts my home town well and truly on the map endorsing its second city status. Us Brummies are really gonna miss those owls. 

Monday, 5 October 2015

Travelling Sketchbooks July - Sari Silk Ribbons

Am a bit behind on my posts for the travelling sketchbooks considering we are now into Autumn and these are July's pages but no matter. My inspiration for July then was to use recycled sari silk ribbons which are the waste produced from factories in India making silk saris which get sewn together end to end and then wound into 100g hanks, approximately 60 yards of vibrant jewel toned colours that can be knitted, crocheted, spun, woven or used to wrap gifts in place of ordinary ribbon.

The manufactured waste which are the left over scraps that get swept up off the factory floor would normally be destined for landfill but groups of enterprising women from India and Nepal have got together to produce the hanks of ribbon which they can sew from home and then sell enabling them to become self-sufficient and provide an income for themselves and their families to buy food, medical care and send their children to school. 

So then, what to do with said ribbons.  I turned to experimental textile artist Maggie Grey's book Stitch, Dissolve, Distort which she co-wrote with the late textile art designer Valerie Campbell-Harding. Full of inspirational techniques using machine embroidery combined with all sorts of mixed-media.  One of the techniques in the book was to weave strips of paper and organza so I substituted the organza for sari silk ribbons instead. I used black paper which had previously been used for experimenting with acrylic paints and printing.

I then free-machine embroidered over the woven fabric and paper. 

Another technique I used was to needle felt the sari silk ribbons onto fabric.  I used a piece of black cotton here which I thought would be an ideal contrast for the jewel like colours of the ribbons. 

I love using my Janome embellisher which looks like a sewing machine but has no thread, just 5 barbed needles that quickly does the job in minutes. 

I can highly recommend working with sari-silk ribbons because they are so versatile.  You can pick  them up on the internet and they are always on sale at any of the quilt and textile shows and the money you pay for them goes to such a worthy cause. Happy stitching.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

At Home with Vanley Burke

Working at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham I am lucky enough to get to meet artists who exhibit there and I have to say that it's been an absolute joy and privilege to meet, work and get to know photographer Vanley Burke whose exhibition At Home with Vanley Burke draws to a close this coming weekend on 27th September.  The entire contents of Vanley's flat in Nechells were transferred to Ikon and set up exactly like his home so as you enter the first floor gallery you step into Vanley's hallway then move to his kitchen, bedroom, office, living room and even his balcony with all his plants. 

Vanley left Jamaica in 1965 with his parents at the age of 14 to come and live in Birmingham. He took his first photograph on a Kodak 127 Brownie given to him by his parents and this love of photography stayed with him establishing himself as one of the leading phtographers of black culture in Britain.  Here are just some of the images I have collected over the last few weeks of my favourite things in Vanley's flat.

Vanley's first camera

This is one of his old ones but you never see Vanley without his trademark trilby hat

Jamaican Rum

Just some of Vanley's video tapes recorded from his favourite TV programmes & films over the years

Just some of Vanley's vinyl record collection which we got to choose from and play everyday on his record player.   

One of Vanley's iconic images with his vast record collection in the background.

Khus-Khus perfume made in Jamaica which Vanley would dab behind his ears when he was in the gallery

Out of all the exhibitions I have ever worked on at Ikon this has got to be the one I  have enjoyed the most and we have have all got used to Vanley dropping in to his flat for a cup of his favourite Rooibus tea where he would often sit at his kitchen table playing dominoes and chatting to visitors. It really has been a pleasure . Vanley we will all miss you.