Sunday, 29 August 2010

Squeezing time

I can sneak into my laundry room to my new mini-workstation and indulge in a little 'play'

Despite a non-stop and overloaded freelance work schedule that I would never have imagined would come my way, I have discovered how to squeeze time ... nothing new there I am sure, but it has been a revelation for me, brought up to think that whilst there was 'work' to be done, one should not 'play'. And, because anything creative that I do is still considered 'play', I feel guilty. But squeezing time has become achievable because I have set up mini-workstations in my laundry room; not expensive either; just utilising my existing storage boxes which hold fabric and equipment. They can be shunted around to reach shelves and storage cupboards, or the laundry equipment, but what I have also done is to position small cork-surfaces notice boards on top and behind. I work on the horizontal board and pin ideas and notes to the vertical one (you can see the experiments about which I last posted). The cork surface is brilliant for it means I can pin down what I am working upon. Best of all, I can sneak in there whilst the potatoes are cooking, or whilst I wait for the washing cycle to end. So much easier than my workspace in the attic, though I still use the big table up there for paint slathering.

Click on this image to see it at a larger size; it shows the individual tag book pages before they are hinged together, plus my working notes

And so to what I have been working upon ('Remains') since I posted my poor initial experiments three weeks ago. No matter what I am creating, I never jump straight in, if it involves new materials or techniques. I make samples, and note what I have done, for otherwise I forget how a particular effect was obtained. The catalyst for this piece was a prompt by my dear friend Kristi (I refer to her in my notes as 'KS') - Kristin Steiner of North Carolina, who came to stay last month and showed me all manner of exciting ideas for tag books and other things. So my trials turned into a repurposed piece, everything assembled from bits and pieces that would otherwise have been discarded - hence 'remains' as the title.

The corkboard is perfect for pinning down the tag book pages: here I am attaching muslin hinges to join the pages together (kitchen weights also come in handy, too!)

I have almost finished assembling the individual 'pages', hinged with dyed muslin, and will post a photo of the finished tag book once the acrylic wax has dried and I can stand it upright. Meanwhile, when I'm not standing at my mini work-bench, I am deep into tiny fabric books and visual art-journals of one kind and another - all such a blessed release from the daily words, words, words without which I could not afford to indulge in my paper and textile madness.

Monday, 9 August 2010


practising: a poor scan of an experimental piece described below (but click on the photo and you will see an enlarged version in more detail than is shown here)

It's been an age since I blogged - everything has gone haywire for the last month, but I have at least spent every odd moment splattering paint or sewing, ever since the delicious workshop about which I posted at the beginning of July. In between all that, my dear friend Kristin Steiner from North Carolina came to visit for a couple of days this last week after teaching at 'OSS' - Oxford Summer School. She brought me such treats to play with and suggested I made a tag book out of the card separators from an old wine box; you know, the sort you find if you buy a box of six bottles. Buying wine in quantity is outside our financial limit these days, but I ripped out the dividers from the beer box Kristi's husband (Bill) bought us - we drank the four bottles, one apiece.

My tag book is to be called 'Remains' because it uses re-purposed materials. The tags are painted and sprayed as Kristi instructed, but - being me - I wanted to experiment with what I would stick on the pages (sorry Kristi, they are nothing so special as your examples). The pic above is a scan of my mounted experiments. Basically using gesso or emulsion paint as a base, stained with glimmer mist in delectable colours. Words are my version of creating words on fabric - computer manipulation printed onto 'Cool Peel' and ironed onto muslin with additional text overlaid in Photoshop.

Other background text is created using a text-stamp on napkin tissue: the white background becomes transparent when using acrylic wax as an adhesive. The wax also gives a lovely velvety finish and melds everything together, including dyed muslin. My scan is poor, but now that I have experimented and sampled to my own satisfaction, I can complete the actual tag book. One of the experiments (the top panel, using a glimmer mist called Raven that I discovered in a London shop on Saturday was the catalyst for one of my silly instant poetry moments. The experiment went wrong - so relieved it wasn't the finished piece! - and the words flowed as much as the ink had a few moments before.

I'll be working on the actual tag book tomorrow, adding napkin illustrations and hingeing the book with muslin - thankyou Kristi for introducing me to so many exciting techniques in the two short days you were with us. As for the previous project from Annette Emms' marvellous workshop; my sampling also turning into a fabric concertina book, and all the pieces are also positioned for the finished book-in-a-box. I have surprised myself actually with just how many minutes I have been able to 'play' when I should have been a) cleaning the house, b) reclaiming the garden, or c) working - but then I have a really exciting new project up my sleeve and it involves all that I have been playing around with for the last few months.