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.