page three from my farmhouse project notebook
Although I am creating my fabric 'Farmhouse Memory' album in celebration of our 40 years here in this beautiful part of England, and of the work we have done on the house and garden, and our family life together over the years, it does have another purpose. I want to offer pages from it as illustrations to a commissioned magazine series upon which I shortly start work. The series is entitled - or will be - 'Recipes from a Farmhouse Kitchen' but is to be more than a cookbook.
I suddenly realised that I have not yet started on any actual fabric pages and my first copy date is 1st June! They will add an extra dimension to the articles. I am almost ready to begin, but find with all my projects that I have first to go through a notebook period when I brainstorm my ideas, and then sampling time when I experiment with various bits and pieces integral to the project. Some people laugh at this stage in my creating but it is so necessary to the way I work, and certainly serves its purpose in these days when I cannot remember most things from one day to the next. However hard I try to just create, I always come back to planning, even when I start spontaneously with just the germ of an idea. (I could no more write an article or lay out pages in a magazine without some structure and planning - it would be like throwing words or images into the air and publishing them exactly where they fall.) My method works for me even though it is slow and sometimes tedious. And so the project notebook builds and the samples accumulate n my workbench.
page four from my farmhouse project notebook
My initial brainstorming is now complete and I have moved on to the sampling stage: preparing page backgrounds (using Angie Hughes' method which she describes in her book 'Stitch Cloth Paper and Paint'. Basically, you use curtain interlining soaked in a solution of pva glue and water. When dry, you iron it and collage onto it bits of tissue paper and scrim (open-weave muslin) using very diluted pva. I have made this before (I call it faux-suede, because it really does feel like that before you add the collage bits) but this time I decided to try other collage materials - lace curtaining and open-weave jute etc. The pages when finished need to have just the right 'feel'; sufficiently stiff that they are not too floppy yet pliable enough that I can hand-stitch into them where needed.
four 'faux-suede' samples awaiting next stage
The next step is to iron the pages and then stitch at random to anchor all the pieces, and then you cover them all with gesso which results in a lovely texture.
one of the page samples before adding gesso
The gesso stage (not shown) adds a pliability to the surface and seals it ready to take a wash of acrylic paint to add colour. I hope to do this today and then decide which sample to use. Meanwhile my notes are up-to-date - it is frightening to look at samples a week after making them and not be able to remember how I made them.
page five from my farmhouse project notebook
Reclaiming our house and garden over the years has been a labour of love, as will be this fabric celebration of it. I do a little each day (in spare moments), but deadlines always spur me on and so out with the paints today, in between digging out nettles in the garden and transplanting seedlings in the greenhouse, and then a decision on which of the samples will be 'manufactured' into some starter pages.
Please click on any of the images to view them at a larger size.