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!


  1. Lovely! Does it have a closure of some sort?

  2. Love it!, I love the way you've incorporated the printed fabric and the images you've used. I must keep my eyes open for old fabric maps- what a brilliant idea!

  3. wonderful! wish i could see it up close!

  4. I don't know where my comment went that I started!! pressed something by accident, oh well start again! Your Journal is really beautiful. A gorgeous piece of art. Your making me itch to make one!