Saturday, 21 November 2009

I am so excited ...

first notebook page detailing my new commission - double-click on each pic throughout this posting to see it at larger size.

Hot on the heels of my euphoria at actually completing a project (the little fabric keepsake for one of my grand daughter), my 2010 commissions arrived for a magazine for which I write every month. I am thrilled to bits about one of the topics, for you would not expect what will be essentially a craft article to appear in a gardening magazine.  Though when I come to think about it, I have had other 'craft' articles published in other gardening magazines. However, this one is different and stemmed from a suggestion I put to 'Grow it!' magazine some months back:

This is the idea I put forward: 'Garden Journals: more than a useful record, a visual delight to remember the gardening year. Starting from scratch – a bought or handmade book – and suggestions (with techniques) as to how to fill the pages.'

And this is what the editor asked for when he commissioned the article: "If we could cover this as a one-off piece, perhaps with a step-by-step somewhere within this, and plenty of pics showing relevant examples and the journey of recording the information to presenting it beautifully."

"Presenting it beautifully": with these words running through my head, I knew I must start now, even though the copy deadline is not until the end of September 2010; not just the words but the actual 'Garden Journal'. A month at a time. This is such an opportunity, to be able to combine the two things I love - journaling AND making an artifact that I hope will give pleasure to readers. I am so excited.

working thoughts are coming together on the page

Ideas were instantly flooding my mind; jottings on numerous pieces of paper all around the house, in pockets and diary and my various journals in whichever room I  happened to  be. And so I decided to catalogue the journey and make a notebook to keep all my ideas together. The first pages are a mish-mash as I jigsawed together the scraps of scribbles, and then tried to combine them into semi-decorative pages to which I will refer as I make the actual garden scrapbook/journal.

I am ready to begin

And herein lies a dilemma, for I want to make fabric pages as well as paper-based ones and I cannot yet decide how the two will marry. Then I also want to add some of my paper 'pocket-pages' as 'seed-keepers' - places to stash seed packets or notes as the months progress. I want readers to feel they are creating something they can use in their own garden, a record and a worthwhile reference to their personal gardening year.

Then came a feeling of pure terror, for as I pulled out some of my samples prepared for other projects using techniques I want to suggest, I could not in many instances remember the sequence of how I made them! So as I work through experiments and the actual making of this new fabric/paper journal, I decided only this morning that I must record instructions for every single technique I use. I only have 2,000 words for the article itself when I come to write it, but at least all my notes of the making will be there to guide me, and to be able to respond to anyone who asks for further instructions.

next stage is to prepare the base pages - both fabric and paper and start to assemble the materials I will use. Everything must be documented in photographs to visually record my progress.

I hope you will follow and share my journey. I will post my notebook pages and little experimental pieces from time to time, though not the actual 'Glory of the Garden' journal, for that should wait until the article is published in a year's time. Please join me on my journey, and feel free to comment; I welcome input from my dear online readers - your thoughts, constructive or critical, will encourage and sustain me in the long months ahead.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Fabric Keepsake Finished

At last the fabric keepsake I was making for the birthday of one of our grand-daughters is finished. I was fortunate to be able to spend a whole week on its construction. It didn't turn out as expected, for I decided to adapt what I had started making after K. said she would like something connected with swimming for her birthday. So the lacy little book I was making shifted into something quite different - a loose-leaf book with spaces to add details of the races she wins and medals she is awarded, with the story of why she learned to swim included.

The various pages and pockets are show below, and because I like to know how the artefacts I look at on other people's blogs have been constructed, I have added a few notes on materials and construction. Click on any of the photos if you want to see any page at larger size.
Textile pages were made from some fabric I bought at least 30 years ago, using the reverse side which had almost a watery feel to it. I also scanned a dictionary definition of the word 'swim', and tiled them on the computer to give a sheet of text. This was printed on 'Cool Peel' transfer paper, ironed onto muslin and backed with bondaweb (wunder-under). Whenever I wanted to use some text, I cut out a portion, ironed it in place on the page, stamped letters where needed, and stitched around the shape.
The right hand page is one of my hand-made paper-bag pocket pages, with little hand-made journal inserted into which K. can record her races.
Definition of swim on left hand page, printed on 'Cool Peel', mounted on muslin and then stitched to the paper page. Right hand page featured in my lastpost - the hand-stitched page with bead embellishment (before I realised I could no longer manage to hold a needle easily to hand-stitch). At that point, my machine took over.
More part hand stitching (the hearts are cut from the text panel sheet I prepared); the flowers are taken from a spray of artificial flowers obtained from the garden centre, with beads sewn into the flower centres. The right hand page tells the story of why K. learned to swim - typed on computer, printed on cool-peel, ironed onto muslin and stitched onto the fabric page; click on the photo to read what happened.
Adapting one of the original panels - the keepsake was to have been a collection of verse specially written for K. with embellishments. This is again associated with swimming. The little fish 'racing' on the right were purchased in a craft shop whilst we were on holiday in Wales.
I discovered how to lay words over a text scan using Photoshop, and then printed it onto Cool Peel - more ironing onto muslin and then stitching onto the background of dyed muslin which had a lovely sea colour. Right hand pocket-page holds a collection of tags for K's swimming notes.
The right hand page - and the left that follows, were one of the original hand-stitched pages - if I'd continued hand-stitching I would never have finished.

Right hand page is furnishing fabric overlaid with an angel cut from printed net curtain, attached using bondaweb.
Left hand page incorporates some gorgeous velvety flowers that came from my friend, Kristin Steiner (South Carolina), as does the little cream flower; all stitched on with buttons and beads. Right hand page shows K. racing.
Finally, my last poem written for this sweet child, kingfisher blue ribbon (also from Kristin), a silk flower from the garden centre fixed to the page with a large blue brad. K. right is truly a bronze, silver and gold girl.

And here she is on her eleventh birthday looking at the little book which I hope will remind her of her swimming journey to date. Maybe I now need to think of a football keepsake for her brother's birthday next Spring.