Friday, 26 November 2010

Triggering Words

I cannot show you what triggered these words. for it is now too dark to take a photograph. I have not journaled, properly, for nearly a month - have been downsizing, de-cluttering, jotting down so many ideas for what is to be, whilst writing endless proposals connected with work, and suffering the lack of any heat in this old house - that's quite another story!

I jump back almost a year, and the wonderful book written by Tracie Lyn Huskamp entitled 'Nature Inspired'. I planned a seasonal fabric book, collected such fabrics, wrote poems, took photos; and then the summer came and reminiscing about glittering cold is not the same during those hot, herbal-scented days; and anyway we were on our working travels. I continued to collect antique fabrics, old lace, and lush ribbons, have them stashed away for THIS winter.

OK, I know what I want to do and have a collection of 'stuff' large enough to create at least a hundred little concertina books. Come today, in town, dawdling because I was awaiting various phone calls on my mobile about the non-defunct boiler, and - well, I called in upon my favourite Banbury fabric shop. I fall in love with a deep green tulle-like diaphanous fabric encrusted with tiny stars. The day is frosty, still, cold and it's wonderful to be striding around town thinking textile art. Back home this evening, I can see the glittery words image-transferred onto a starlit page. It's forecast to get colder, and what better time to start cutting and stitching. So sorry this is all words - (I even bought a minimum-maximum thermometer today to record the temperatures in this old, old house so full of images and memories). 

I cannot end with words alone! This photo has nothing to do with stars or fabric but is a page in progress from my new 'junk journaling' experimental book. The colours are nothing like this - the pic was taken by candlelight because the bulbs over my work desk blew and all was dark. Pages are a collage of entries from an old magazine publishing directory, ripped and stuck down every-which-way, then washed with watercolour in vandyke brown and indigo, much diluted. The picture is taken from a flyer for a local art gallery (I will acknowledge the artist when I have finished the collage). The colours perfectly match those of my watercolour wash but the card on which it is printed is far too stiff, so I have been peeling apart the layers. My pages are called 'Deconstruction' and the accompanying words, already written, will be hand-lettered. My theme is that I cannot afford to buy these works of art, but can promulgate other artists' work by adding them - acknowledged - to my book.

This is meant to be a 'journal in odd moments' book. But although I write spontaneously, I like to plan my layouts, and there's the rub ... But if you read my other blog and the post on Downsizing, you will see the cluttered desk which is now sorted and multi-tasking; work when I must, and play when I cannot bear to be without some other form of creativity.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Nature Enlarged

Despite the fact I blogged last night about my 'nature trail' concertina booklet - bragging perhaps because for once I actually finished a project rather than just talking/writing/experimenting - I decided this morning to photograph each 'spread' in close up. So the imperfections and stitchery could be seen in detail.

Now I did not properly explain: this piece is one of a number I was rushing to photograph and write about for an article to appear next month on creating gardening journals, which I augmented somewhat to include 'nature'. For when I came to re-read all my written journals over the years, I realised that what I wrote about more than anything else was natural history, which has absorbed and captivated me ever since childhood.

But this creation was a rush job - none of my usual dithering ("should I do this, or that, or perhaps delve into other techniques?"). No, I had to make, finish, photograph and write about not just this but half-a-dozen other creations as well. So no page is as perfect as I would wish, but I do hug myself that for once there something is finished. All my creative journeys have been like those of my childhood, on wobbly footsteps, or walking on my hands around a swimming pool, always biting off more than I can chew (though I did manage that feat); or as my school report once said - almost 70 years ago, "Ann could do better."  Well, Ann is still striving to meet whatever was expected of her then, and now.

My apologies for the ennui that may be induced by an almost duplicate post. I thank Toni and Yvonne for their kind comments to date (as of 20.00 UK GMT). And to answer Yvonne's query as to whether this concertina booklet has a closure of sorts - not yet, I am dashing to get the photos off to the magazine editor tomorrow, of this and other artifacts. But now you come to mention it, I think two narrow calico straps could be fastened to the two outside edges, and wound around as a tie ... easy to release. Like the one below - my concertina fabric herbal; and maybe also, a little bag to hold each 'trail'.

You see, the idea of concertina journals made from old, altered maps seemed so easy; to have a series of them in my travel bag, ready to depart at a moment's notice. Each distressed and sprayed with various colours to suit all manner of places, themes and situations.

A bag-holder and strap for each one, perhaps, to hang around my neck, with pen for sketching and scribbling ... leaving space for the photos I take along the way. Now: each map makes three such journals (each of eight pages); and as I have amassed around 30 of these antiques - the shop was selling them off cheap - that's an awful lot of journals; and I have so many other things up my sleeve .........

P.S. You can still click on each image and enlarge it even more ... I love the way the scrim becomes almost tactile; must see what happens when I slather it with diluted acrylic paint.

Monday, 1 November 2010

'Nature Trail'

Nearly two months ago, I wrote about the magical workshop day I spent tutored by Rachel Anne Cronin (see 5th September). At last, I have completed something using the techniques to which Rachel introduced us. Nothing as I had imagined; indeed I cut up both the image transfer and the fabric-print made from my own carved stamp and turned it into something quite different! But isn't that what workshops are all about? A stepping stone to someplace else. In my case a concertina booklet created from an old map bought recently in a local antique shop (map £2.00).

I began by ripping a canvas-backed map into sections, and used just one concertina section. I distressed the map by painting it with diluted acrylic paint (child's 99p type) to slightly obscure the map so it was barely recognisable. I sprayed it with diluted walnut ink to 'age' it - even though this particular map was already around 70 years old. I cannot think what I intended this to be, but the idea of a 'nature trail' emerged; a sort-of diary using images and words for which the map analogy seemed appropriate. At this point, I covered the rear (canvas) side of the map with calico, to which I had stitched a portion of the image transfer and carved-leaf print from the workshop for the front and back covers. The title was stitched free-form on my sewing machine.

Now to add images and words onto the map (click on the image if you want to view it at close quarters):

Nearly all of my work is experimental, and this was no exception. I used paper table-napkin motifs, fused onto cheesecloth, and then onto the map with matte gel medium (first three 'pages'). The next three pages comprised scans from my various travel journals - sketches or actual reduced pages, printed onto 45gsm layout paper, fused onto cheesecloth and stitched around to frame the images. The final spread (two pages) utilised the same technique but incorporated photo prints - again on the layout paper. So, a variety of image sources but melded together by the use of the fragile cheesecloth; enmeshed as you might say. I always like to use some unifying object within my work to marry the various divers objects. In this case, it was the cheesecloth; and as I have a 50 metre bolt of it, it is likely to feature in many of my forthcoming projects!

And so to the final stage: words. My journals invariably start with words; they are the catalyst for whatever I create. Only recently have I begun to first think visually rather than verbally; turning my creative world topsy-turvy. This little concertina 'nature trail' is a poor reflection of what a true artist would achieve; but for once left-brain overtook right-brain (or was it the other way round? - I can never remember), and I was never sure whether the pen I used would take to the distressed surface or sink without trace. Checking this post in 'preview', I realise that none of the detail is visible, which may be the   fault of poor camera technique (I'm struggling with a beautiful new camera) but more probably that I should have photographed the concertina spread by spread. You live and learn; and the older I become, the steeper my learning curve!