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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Free form

Dyed with paper bags chopped up at random and placed face down all at once. Not much opportunity to plan. You get what you get type technque. Much more child friendly and much more me too. No room for agnonising. Think I would start with this technique which doesn't allow for failure and means all the kids will have success first time out. Could then guide the more able ones toward bonding fabrics while the others could play at stitching into their randon design. I see roses in this one. Golly gee gosh, Valentine's day is creeping up on me already!

Dyeing and bonding

Here's my first fly past the art and music target. Don't know where the fish came from! If anyone asks, I'll have to tell them it was in response to Handel's Water Music!

Monday, January 29, 2007


Here you go. Great, quick, one skein scarf from Debbie Stroller's Happy Hooker crochet book. It's just a double crochet strip with fans up the side. If you only put the fans on one side, it naturally curves. I joined it in a giant circle and I can double it twice and still get it over my head. I can also wear it round my head in bizarre ear muff fashion but I do kind of look like an entrant for the mad woman competition. The yarn is Noro which I adore. Picture doesn't do it justice.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Music and art

I'm intending to kick off my joint music and art project in the local secondary school by showing my 40 13 to 14 year olds this piece of work and asking them to image they have to compose a piece of music from it. I'm guessing they'll stare at me blankly........which will give me the opportunity to talk to them about art in musical terms. My good buddie Maggie, who is a proper art teacher and more besides, pointed me towards Kandinsky and like the virtuous girl I am (almost ALL the time) I've been doing my research. He had it going on. He could see the rhythm in art and hopefully, eventually, the kids will also be able to. I'll talk to them about the repetition, the combination and the change of scale.

Then I'll break the good news that their task is actually the reverse. They have already 'invented' as their music teacher calls it, their own piece of music. I think we're going to have them draw a graph of it and from that graph an expressive drawing and from that drawing a piece of textile art. There is a long distance between here and there and very little travelling time but at least now I have an approximation of a map which I'll adapt and add to as I go.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Shruken heels

Anyone can shrink heads but it takes a woman of dexterity and talent to shrink a heel, wouldn't you agree? I finally bought myself a proper needle felting tool instead of trying to stuff a bunch of lethal barbed needles with a right angle at the end of their shank into a champagne cork. It doesn't work.

The needle felting tool with its lovely wooden handle works beautifully. I guessed the colours of roving I might need and ordered sight unseen over the phone with pretty good results. Only one dead duck and I'll be able to swap that with another felting chum.

The point (which I stuck into my thigh several times) of this needle felting exercise is repair holes worn in the heels of my much loved hand knitted socks. I don't want to have to do hours of mad stabbing motions all that often so I tried to make the replacement heels as substantial as I could. May have gone slightly mad with these. This is six layers of roving felted down and it is a little on the lumpy side. I have another pair with a three layer repair (try saying that with your teeth out) so I will compare, contrast and report back.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The End

Big Draw book is oh so nearly finished. Am pleased with it -or should that be glad to see the back of it?
Drawings can now be displayed in the round if you see what I mean.
Unfortunately I am stumped when it comes to putting on the front cover. The book is so large and unwieldy I have already ripped the last signature by pulling too hard on the thread. Think if I balance the cover alongside instead of laying it on top I should manage.

This is the desired effect.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


After finishing my book gluing yesterday I have a nice big wadge of pages to stitch into it when I go to the shop this afternoon. The shop is VERY quiet at the moment, as always this time of year, so I pretty much have four hours to myself each afternoon when I have to be there. I find being trapped and bored like this is a big creative kick in the pants for me. When the alternative is dusting it's amazing how creative you can become.

However, if I have a specific project in hand, like this Big Draw book I've been making, I tend to go at it relentlessly until I am unable to straighten up. SOOOOO stupid!! Anyway, it’ll soon be done and I’m debating whether or not to take my sewing machine back in the shop and get stitching. Not keen I must admit. If my February schools project engrosses me, that might take me up to Easter when the shop will be busy again and I’ll be saved from stitching. Phew!

On the downside, if I haven't made anything new that will mean I won't be able to take part in the several exhibitions I like to do each year. Oh well, maybe this will be the year to cut loose from exhibiting and move on.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Last leg

I strode into my workroom this afternoon with the firm intention of getting to grips with the last of the the Big Draw book. The pile of 400 drawings had dwindled down to less than 100 and I knew if I could focus I could finish.

However........I still hadn't unpacked from Saturday's workshop and there wasn't much in the way of table space.

Suddenly I felt more like going for a nap....but I didn't. It was on with the cordless headphones and with Lily Allen blasting out I went for it and HURRAY AND HUZZAH.....I'm finished gluing! The pages are having themselves a nice little squash under some of those fully loaded Ikea bins. With a bit of luck I'll have them all stitched in next week in time to clear the decks for my February project. The book itself is in the shop at the moment. It's outgrown its Fed-Ex box and is so heavy I can no longer lift it with one hand. It's going to be a monster!
By way of celebration I thought I would share with you this wonderful blow up a Giles cartoon that was lurks behind my sleeping puppet. It shows my customers during the summer season....God bless them every one!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Crazy Aunt Purl

This is my favourite blog in all the world. Ostensibly it's about knitting but really it's about surviving life. It rocks.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

More junk jewellery

Here is my smiling friend who came across to choppy seas to join us for another junk jewellery workshop. It was a fun day. I think the results speak for themselves.

Check out the safety pin challenge. Cool brooches!

This artist is going to combine her piece of embellished wood with some gold work and present it in a deep frame.

Steeling myself

Hurray! I have a new school's project. My favourite kind of work. This time its in conjunction with the music department, perhaps with a Caribbean theme. The lucky participants will be 40 13 to 14 year olds and as always, our time together will be very limited. Need to come up with something fun, fast and furious.
This morning I went back to my old college notebooks and found this idea I like. Am thinking large scale reverse applique.
The art department in this particular school doesn't have a textile background and it was suggested that it might be useful to cover as many techniques as possible. Costume design to music followed by sampling various of ways of making pattern, texture, etc would be my suggestion there. Next step is meet with teachers. Should be kicking off in February so more soon I hope.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

At the embroiderers' guild last night we were playing at making heads from old pop socks stuffed with wadding and manipulated with stitch. Included my thumbnail in the picture - it was deliberate, honesty - so you can see that he's just a little guy. Do you like his string comb over and his Christmas decoration teeth?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

You put your right foot in....

I've been knitting these bizarrely complicated socks from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. They included lots of swearing. The pattern abbreviation for this is (sw) or if it's really difficult (SW). Also lots of shouting 'don't talk to me...I'm KNITTING!'
I shortened the leg length because I thought I wouldn't have enough yarn but actually I had loads. Bit of a strange pointed toe. Partly my fault for being a smarty and insisting on grafting instead of just gathering up last few stitches as per the instructions. Just have to work up the enthusiasm to knit the other one now. Or hop a lot.

Picture this

The Draw book in progress certainly is BIG...and heavy! I'm about half way there and the thickness of the spine is the length of your thumb. So hold your two thumbs out to the sides with the tips together as if you were making a viewing frame for a film you were about to shoot, turn your palms to face one another and you can see what the Big Bad Book is going to look like.

On my more deluded days I aspire to be a teacher of yoga. Think I'd be any good at the instructions? Stand up and lift both feet off the floor for a minute and we'll find out.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Knock, knock, who's there?

Debra's comment sent me surfing again to try and solve the mystery of the envelope's blue insides. The preference for blue is still a puzzle but I did find this site where the image of your choice, even your portrait, can be repeatedly morphed into an envelope security screen. Is this the ultimate in megalomania? You thought having your Christmas card printed was posh? You ain't seen nothing yet!

I guess it's a bit of the old Chuck Close syndrome. Reads one way close to and quite another from way back. Any of us who make visual art will have had to come to grips with this one. My father-in-law drives me mad because he always knows better than I do and passes on his wisdom prefixed by the words.....I'll just give you a wee tip. So gentle reader, in the spirit of FiL, I'll just give you a wee tip to help you see how your work in progress is going to read. Get one of those door spy hole things and look at your master piece as if you were checking to see who the bad boy outside was. Gives a great illusion of viewing your work from a distance and you know instantly what needs to be done.

If your neighbour gets tired of you calling her up and asking her to stand across the hall clutching your latest UFO to her bosom, you could always nip down the hardwear store and buy a new door spyhole to keep in your pencil case specifically for solitary art viewing purpose.

Good way to get to know your neighbours though.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A stitch in time...

The stitching has started on the Big Draw book project. Maybe not as neat as it might be but it's the best I can do and we can do no better than our best.

At least with this method of book making it lies beautifully fully flat no matter what page you open it at and this was the desired effect.

Here is another small version of this kind of stitching with used envelopes. The envelopes have been folded in half and stitched up the middle. The benefit of this is that you can keep things in them. This envelope came from from Twinings, the tea manufacturer. That's what I love about used envelope books. The franking and postmarks.

This is a Japanese stab bound version with a cover based on the hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil theme. I used new envelopes for this one, unsullied by any kind of communication.

And here we have a pamphlet stitch version with a cover of pelmet vilene decorated with tissue paper leaves. It's secrets are contained by two buttons and a cord. Must be mighty big secrets!