Saturday, 26 July 2014

When creativity left me in the lurch

Click on this e-news to read it at full size
There's nothing like health issues to deprive one of what normally flows with ease. So it has been for me since preparing for the two exhibitions in West Yorkshire and then Shropshire. My dear and supportive husband ill for most of the time, and then I discover I have breast cancer. Whilst waiting for hospital dates for a mastectomy, and worrying about RQ (husband), I lose all sense of motivation. Work sits awaiting my attention. How ridiculous is this, when normally thoughts overflow, baskets are piled high with fabrics, the camera records ... Tonight, pulling myself together, I play with a new style of personal e-news .... I need to move on.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Todmorden missing word-spills

Yesterday's missing words
There was no time when I posted about Todmorden yesterday to include the word-spills that I had written about fibre art, and the lovely little town in west Yorkshire. Here they are now.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Todmorden tugs at the heart

The 'Rochdale' canal running through Todmorden, West Yorkshire, UK
The last time I posted on this Blog - back in April - I referred to the two exhibitions at which I had been invited to participate. I outlined some experimental work for the 'Arts & Garden Festival' I will be at in a week's time - in Shropshire. All work on that has been in abeyance whilst I worked on the first exhibition. Those of you who kindly follow this blog may not have seen the many postings on Facebook relating to the  this first event, which opens tomorrow in Todmorden, from where I am writing this. So you may be bemused at what follows:

from 'Mapping Garden Treasures'
For weeks now, I have been working on seven mixed-media creations for 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' at the Water Street Gallery, Todmorden, West Yorkshire, UK. It runs until 31st August, with a preview for invited guests this evening. Five of my pieces are for sale - my zig-zag book structures all based on unusual garden/plant-related themes, some with a distinct twist - images, paper napkins and my own words, stitched to antique maps.

I also had the daft idea back in January of creating an art-installation piece - a 'Dream Coat of Earthly Delights'. And thus began the dream coat saga - a full-size lined coat made entirely of paper fused to muslin; hundreds of photo collaged images and my own word whispers. Here's the explanation I wrote last night at the request of the Gallery curator to accompany the exhibit - it's such an honour to be participating within such an inspiring and ingenious venue.

As with all my recent mad ideas, this began with
a flashback to childhood and 'theatre'
A building re-purposed
Tordmorden is a heart-tugging place in more ways than one. It's amazing how quickly one can discover so much about a place never before visited in less than a day. In this case it's history and heritage, playing a significant part in the Industrial Revolution from around the 1820s - and specifically textiles. A cameo of a northern former mill town, with many of its buildings re-purposed in a significant way.

RQ has nearly demolished this platter of dauphinoise pie with fresh salad
You won't find many shops like this, selling packets of fresh edible flowers
Within a few hours, RQ and I had been introduced to somewhere to eat delicious simple food in the 'The Bear' - a licensed vegetarian cafe-bar. Located almost next to the Water Street Gallery, the cafe-bar is upstairs whilst downstairs are all manner of foodie delights; fair trade supplies, and locally grown fresh produce.

'Incredible Edible' in evidence
A patch of edible herbs and flowers
alongside the canal towpath
And there I learned also of the 'Incredible Edible' initiative - I had spotted small parcels of land planted with lush edible herbs in the most unlikely places as I walked around the town, and discovered more about this amazing venture whilst browsing in The Bear. No space or time to expand on this here, but a subject is one of enormous significance, so I will be writing about it elsewhere when I have investigated further.

I'm adjusting 'the coat' - yesterday at the Gallery
And tonight the Gallery preview, and another discovery! I learned that in the fine art world 'textile art' is referred to as 'fibre arts' - words fell out of my head, onto the page; when typed, they will appear in some guise to be advised. Thankyou to everyone who has supported me in this incredible journey: the gallery for inviting me, FaceBook friends who have 'liked' and commented upon my postings; and not least my husband who (without complaint) tolerated the mess about the house as the whole place became a studio.

Water Street Gallery, in Water Street, Todmorden OL14 5AB
(the Gallery is next to the shop with grey shutter as you walk from this 
If you can visit the 'Garden of Earthly Delights', please do so - there's some amazing art: painting, drawing, sculpture, assemblage and collage, ceramics and prints, fibre art and installation work. Yes, Todmorden tugs at the heart, and no wonder.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Experimental Journey

In the beginning: either an actual map, or a printed scan
(this is the latter as it means I can re-use my limited supply of 
specific areas)
Whenever I have occasion to create a new piece, or series of paper/textile pieces, I spend time working through a self-determined series of trial pieces to weed out what does not work. Discarding these allows me to discover those techniques that 'speak' to me, from what I have created. I rarely trial something completely new if I am working on a feature article; usually my focus is on a new topic for which I adapt - and move on from - past successes.

Coming up in a couple of months I have two exhibitions. I was invited to participate (a great honour for me as a non-artist). I have to make a number of stitched paper/textile booklets and know that to achieve the required quantity in time, I must use tried and tested practices. As is my wont, notes are scattered everywhere, but I spent this last week whilst away in Wales sorting everything into folders, allocating images and word-whispers to same, creating a 'base' experimental piece - all finished pieces will be different but based on what I completed today; only the subject matter will vary. (This piece was made a few years ago, experimental in its own way at the time: an actual map plus on this page mounted photo-prints fused and stitched to cheesecloth.)

A print of the map above, onto which I have 'waxed' paper napkin motifs
(this now constitutes the 'base' upon which further experiments will be conducted)
So here is what I trialled whilst away last week. Base of each finished 'book' is likely to be an old map, or to allow replication in different formats, a map scan printed onto the special paper I use. To each base map, I will fuse relevant napkins or photo images mounted on cheesecloth. N.B. The scan of this first stage is then printed, ready for stage two which follows.

I 'monigami' the print shown above - an extra stage but the one I guess
from past experience I may well opt for.
Now comes my first 'Summer Project' decision. If I opt for a printed map-scan, do I immediately fuse it to muslin, once the wax is dry, or do I 'monogami' it? (Monigami is a technique I discovered in 'The Found Object in Textile Art'  by Cas Holmes). 

Smoothing out the monogamy print, ready for ironing and fusing to muslin
I love the results, but if I go for this, at what point do I add hand-written words and free-machine stitching? Of course I trial both! 

Remembering that each map-page is to be folded and cut into either a zig-zag or conventional book-form, I took both the 'plain' sheet and the 'monigami' sheet and fused both to muslin, using Bondaweb (wunder-under I think it is called in the USA). If you look closely (click on the image) you will just about see where I have machine-stitched around the top flowers, and then hand-written the words - very badly; it would have been a good idea if I had sat down for the calligraphy part!

A subtle difference between the first version and the second.
This one is the monigami sheet. If only 
you could feel the texture.
I did the same exercise with the fused monigami sheet, though was most unhappy with the slithery nature of the paper-on-muslin when it came to stitching. I've done this before and it worked perfectly but fear that what with arthritis and a deteriorating brain, I just could not manipulate the cloth in the machine sufficiently quickly. 

Final experiment. Need to do the writing using my magnifying lamp.
What to do? I re-fused the monigami sheet to a piece of calico and stitched through that. Much more controllable though it would make the pages rather thick for folding. Should be OK if I fuse the paper print straight to calico and omit the muslin. I found that with care I could write direct on the textured surface, and the added thickness of the sheet allowed the stitches to sink into the fabric. This will be my chosen process (but then I guessed it would be!) - it does mean extra time and thus would make each piece more expensive to purchase. As yet, I have no idea how to cost my creative work - a feature article, no problem, but I am on new territory here. Very scary.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

It's been a while ...

My new online journal (week four edition)
Creativity moves on a pace and although I haven't posted since January, I have not been idle. And this post is in what may seem a strange format: the new online journal I began four weeks ago is actually appearing on another of my blogs, but as this week's diary is mostly about experiments for two new exhibitions for which I have been invited to submit pieces, I thought you might like to read my news here, rather than link you to another blog.

A lot of fun!
Double click on either page and you will be able to read it at a larger size. My apologies to those of you who follow both blogs. If you'd like to follow each week's entries and don't already follow my 'Wild Somerset Child' stories, here's the link for future editions: Ann's Journal covers many topics; I launched it to avoid endless notifications on Facebook - and because I can prepare it when I don't have WiFi coverage. I hope you enjoy what you see.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

'Memory' Keepsake complete

A zigzag concertina 'keepsake'
I suddenly realised that I had not posted images of the finished keepsake that I constructed last month (December 2013) from a tea towel bought from Ikea, some paper napkins, copies of old family photos and words printed on brown paper bags. It all worked out really well and the notes I made as I worked are now re-jigged into a magazine feature which will appear in a few weeks' time - in 'Reloved' magazine (March issue, I think, published in February).

Open up the zig-zag and you will find some of my memories
Now it would not be right or proper to pre-empt the appearance of this issue, so I will just let you have a sneak preview of the finished project. The magazine feature runs to four pages and was inspired by some old photos of my early childhood. When I was invited to create a feature for 'Reloved', I thought that surely everyone has old photos that they might like to make into a keepsake, so I combined a few of mine with paper napkins, which I collect (I've got boxfuls of them!), buttons off old clothes, pretty ribbon, and the tea-towel. So easy to collect together, and homely; I just needed to work out a way that would allow others to use some off the techniques I have perfected over the last five years. (I could have used other floral napkins but decided that as this is to appear in the Spring, then Spring flowers would be best.)

At the beginning (inside front cover) and onwards (inside back cover)
Techniques were basically the use of computer and Photoshop (software) to scan, resize and print photos - on a special easily obtainable paper that has the feel of fabric when it is fused and stitched, plus felt interfacing, and copious quantities of fusible web (Bondaweb / Wonder-Under in USA) plus its use when fusing napkins so they become almost transparent in places. I deliberately left size and layout open, for my aim was to encourage others to 'have a go' rather than stipulate that readers should follow a set of specific measurements or elements; though I did provide sources of supply of the materials that I use most frequently, and instructions for making a keepsake such as this. If you would like to follow my guidelines, here's a link to the 'Reloved' website from whence you can purchase the magazine online.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

In the process of creation

Components for my new commission
I'm engaged on a new project this weekend - with step-by-step instructions for creating a nostalgic paper and fabric 'keepsake' using old photos and napkins. Can't say more at this stage; but it is just bliss to be making again - and in the kitchen that RQ has been refurbishing all year - so light and airy and perfect for photography. I'll post more snippets from time to time as the magazine that has engaged me to do this cannot possible use them all.