Sunday, 22 April 2012

Map trail with a difference

Separating the layers of a portion of napkin ready to affix it to my map-trail
We were out again yesterday, seeking solitude; this time in our motorhome. Not a repetition of our days away last weekend with car and caravan in the Welsh Marches, but less than twenty miles from home; a secret spot we have loved for years. I started to write this post whilst sitting on the banks of the River Teme not far from it’s source, but had no WiFi signal. So this is a bit of a mixture prepared over two weekends but one topic, with text somewhat modified:

Two of many diaries: the one on the left is a journal - illustrated -
of my creative endeavours over the last four months; the pink
'blossom' notebook contains my latest poem-spills (most are written
on scraps of paper, which I am apt to mislay
“I cannot recall which of my LAYOUT-SKETCHBOOKS would have been appropriate for this away-from-home project. Whichever, I did not bring it with me(!) though I had loaded the car and caravan with a bag full of others. So here goes with my latest 'Map Travel Trail' - more an amalgamation of that whole weekend, which had no title until just now: MALVERN to MONAUGHTY.”

Double-click on this image to read my notes (you will see a draft pagination
top left, and various figures dotted about which relate to word-counts
“I am not even using a sketchbook/diary for my thoughts and ideas, just a journalist's lined jotter; maybe at last intending that the end result is more important than how I get there. Actually, this IS different, for the words I will use, and the images I have taken, are destined for many things: work (travel and gardening features), ETSY/WOS, and new experimenting. But I could never forsake LAYOUTS and PLANNING, and trying new techniques or variations when I have the time. Even this is an exercise in what can be achieved almost from scratch in a caravan or motor home. So I am in part writing this on the spot for a potential article.” (NB WOS = Warwickshire Open Studios, in which I am participating.)

When I start visualising a project, I am full of ideas and enthusiasm, start to make a few notes and invariably get cold feet. In the past, this is the point at which I would put everything away and forget it; so many unfinished projects. Nowadays, I think of a theme and stick with it even if it changes along the way. This one is to be milestones encountered on  our recent away-from-home days. Words are written (usually as we travel). I pick out and précis to fit the six-fold map, each 'page' measuring 7.5" x 3.75". I have learned to limit what I do in any one project, being selective with the nature and type of materials in any one creation: less is more, and gives more impact.

Experiments on map sample, more-
or-less as described here
(double-click on image
to see it at a larger size
I trialed some of my ideas on a spare map page, discarding from my mind what did not work, or seem appropriate.  Before  leaving home, I painted the map folds with child's poster paint – ‘Primo Tempera Liquida’ from Sainsbury’s – much cheaper than gesso. Text will be hand-written, and most if not all decoration will be paper napkins. So experiments were to trial the nature of my chosen napkins. Usually I fuse these with Bondaweb, but I wanted the map to show through so first tried GEL MEDIUM, but this was too tacky and scuffed the paper as I applied it. ACRYLIC WAX bought from Art Van Go (their own formula) was perfect. The map still shows and the application of the wax renders the white paint less opaque. I loved the way the text on the chosen napkin gave the whole thing a medieval feel. Which set my theme and title, and caused me to abandon some of the napkin images, partly because Spring was not as advanced as I thought it would be. (NB Acrylic Wax is in the Gilding section of the pdf catalogue that you can download from the link I've given.)

Text Experiments – three trials, as follows: words in an ordinary biro, and pen (Signo Gel Grip 0.7), both overwritten with sepia alcohol-based permanent ink from a ‘Zig Artist Sketching Pen’. The biro does not work over the white paint after the first word, so that has been discounted.  Neither the biro nor Signo pen writing tool works well over a napkin surface, so that idea cannot be used either. But I liked the effect of the napkin toning down the writing, so tried laying a napkin OVER the words once written, waxing it in place. Perfect! 

A final trial was choice of napkin-text image for the overlay. My original choice is better as it in no way obscures the writing, just tones it down. I also tried a rubber stamp of grass that I might use, or some other floral stamp; can't tell until the layout is done whether there will be room. This is what I call the THIRD LAYER - final embellishment, just that extra touch. A theme had emerged.

CREATING LAYOUUTS: stage one - first I drew around the sample (previous pic)
and then added  sample pieces of napkin for top and left hand border, andscans of a strip of map for the bottom of each page

Then I positioned the images on each layout (note the page numbers
are incorrect; should be 3 and 4, and I did not have a print of one image

The final 'spread' has the page border indicated, a couple of notes
regarding embellishments, and text inked over to check if my hand 

was too shaky for my chosen method of lettering

Whilst in Wales (last weekend), I selected, sized and printed images (printer in caravan!), worked out the page borders and produced a rough layout, and a word-count so I can assess which words will appear, edited from my travel notes.  That was as far as I got last weekend; Yesterday, this time turning the motorhome into a mini-studio, I started on the actual map.

Working yesterday on the actual map-trail: top border first, then text -
images and lower border come after text as the position can be adjusted
(just in case my lettering was not as accurate as planned)
Panic! The map-folds I had prepared were wider than my sample layout. No matter, better that way as at least I will not have to re-edit the words, and there will be more room for embellishments. I cut and waxed into position an upper border of napkin pieces, but will have to re-size the map-band for the bottom (Photoshop). I copied the text for the first two folds and then realized I had left the layout and words for the middle folds in the scanner at home !! 

To be continued: (Oh, and if you are wondering what has happened to the ‘Winter Trees’ project, it’s almost completed, but a sewing machine in the mo-home or c’van is as yet impossible, though I’m working on it and in the meantime can relax by created crocheted or knitted textile borders which quite often feature in my work.)

P.S. Some very odd things have happened to this blog layout. Sorry.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Getting back to normal

Back in my workroom again
I've been without proper access to my workroom and without electrics since before Christmas - but am now restored to a sort of normality. Electric fault cured which had nothing to do with the fact we were installing new washing machines. But, in order to position them, whilst the electrics were being sorted, I had previously had to remove many boxes of fabric, supplies and equipment so that my husband could gain access - and then he was ill, poor man. In a way (apart from his illness) it was a blessing in disguise, for as I was restoring all these properties to the room that was once a cellar, I decided to discard what was no longer needed; for what I now create is very different to what I did ten or more years ago when I took over this space.

Fused images and words, with some stitching completed (double-click to enlarge)
Of course, despite a logical new storage plan put into action over the last two days, I cannot now find anything! I've mislaid the 'Bird' piece I was working on at a workshop last weekend, so instead decided to start stitching the 'Winter Trees' concertina paper and fabric booklet about which I posted two months ago. Bliss to be at the sewing machine again - I began edging the fused photos onto the background pages. I had previously found in my stitching trials that the machine does not like feeding paper, which slips, so I have fused the pages to cheesecloth, and that works perfectly. I stitch close to the photo edge using a stitch length of 2.5 and then overstitch the same line, reducing the length to 2.0. This gives a nice firm line, almost as if I had framed the photo.

The last two pages, partially completed (double-click to enlarge)
Here, you can see two of the pages in close up. A similar technique will be used for the words, but in cream thread so they do not dominate, and then I will stitch around the actual pages (about 1cm, 3/8th inch from the edge). Calico will be used for the other side (with a title stitched to the 'cover'), and the whole calico strip will be fused to the picture strip and zig-zagged around the edge. I will post more as I make time to complete this. Right now, I need to undertake more sorting, for I have much to complete and create before Warwickshire Open Studios - even though it will be my studio caravan that is open and not my cluttered spaces within the house.