"Searching for a change of vision
seeing with new eyes
adapting my usual way of working;
letting myself loose, and
not being afraid of failure.
That's what today gave me:
surprising the great leap forward -
- and I did not fall into the water,
did not drown in indecision.
Just those few short hours
with a masterful tutor
is all it has taken;
and I will never be the same again.
Such joy. A day of wonders."
|materials and photos ready for the workshop|
Last Saturday (24th July) I attended an Embroiderers' Guild day workshop - the title was 'Stitch an Ancestor'. I think none of those attending were quite sure what to expect or what we would be doing, but we all took along copies of ancestral photos, calico and other fabrics. I had already decided (usually my downfall) that I would make a collage page showing the influences that some of my ancestors have had on my life. And as they were all childhood memories from the early 1940s, I decided that my colour palette would beige to reflect the mono prints. I thought to frame the photos in small checked fabric the same as my school dresses. That brown was too dark so I also bought a pale beige and white check which I knew would set off the words I wanted to include.
|photos fused to gingham and roughly positioned on the calico background|
Words? Now readers of my Book-Lover's Journey will know that my love of words and books was influenced by my immediate ancestors - the touch of bright colour to offset all that beige and the grey photos will be the same terracotta red that is used as the background to my BLJ blog posts. So that was what was in my mind as I drove to the class, and laid my equipment and materials out on the table. And what an eye-opener. We had a most excellent tutor in Alison Mercer, who explained that she was going to encourage us to think about the process of creating a piece of work, rather than technique.
|students' work in progress mounted vertically|
(mine, bottom left, is barely begun)
|trimmed images fused to gingham, ready for cutting into panels|
and framing with hand-stitching
Words could be stamped or machine stitched, or hand-lettered using a mixture of fabric, paints, papers. We should try 'anything and everything' and if we could not resolve something that did not look right, should leave it out. Ongoing layouts were photographed so we could record what we were doing. Next we thought of triggers that prompted us to create a piece, and then we wrote down a check-list of what we would do, and what we would try to achieve in the next hour. (I who initially work really slowly achieved my personal goal.)
|one of my photos, fused|
and hand-stitched, then
crumpled to add 'age'
|this was my double-page layout at the end of the day |
with notes top right about what I would try next
and the words I intended to stitch and use
We pinned our work at lunchtime onto the wall, the better to see it from a distance (mine, bottom left is barely begun though all the images are fused to a piece of gingham ready to cut out and stitch). Most people had taken a sewing machine but I travelled light and was glad I had done so, for I re-discovered the calming effect hand-stitching has on me, forgot my arthritis and persevered. All the photos are now stitched around ready for assembly into the pages, once I've created the lettering panels, which I spent time devising whilst in the class. (Hand-stitching has since been accomplished each day sitting in the garden over tea.) By the end of the day, my single collage had turned into two 'pages', each 12" x 12" which will form a part of an earlier in-progress 'Quilt Journey' project; I felt calm and collected and so grateful for the help I had been given by a good tutor. It was a day of memories and focussing on the people who have influenced my life. Afterwards, I sat on the wall outside the classroom and wrote the piece that opens this post.
P.S. I can't make the link to Alison's website work - server error; try googling her. I'll add the link when I post further progress on my 'Ancestral Influences' piece.