Wednesday 31 August 2011

Art for Babies

Twin Art: Detail

Earlier this year I was commissioned to do two pieces of work for baby twins born in our family. The idea was that each baby would have a piece of work that marked their birth and that they could take with them through their lives. I think this is such a lovely idea and so personal. I spent a long time deciding what to do, working with the babies mum to make sure what I created fulfilled her ideas. It was a great project to work on and I'm happy to say that the person who commissioned the pieces is really pleased with the results. I haven't posted about it before as I wanted to wait till I knew I'd done a good job!

One of the pieces

The other piece

Detail of purple bird

These pictures are of the almost finished pieces, I also embroidered the babies names and birthdays but I didn't want to post that bit. The pieces are designed so that they work together but also alone so as the twins grow up they can take the pieces with them. I used vaguely mirror images and reversed the colours so that the background of one was the bird colour of the other. I tried to be quite loose with this though as I wanted each piece to be truly unique, just as the twins will be different from each other. They are made from handmade felt (some of which I'd dyed myself) which I then embroidered with both hand and machine stitch. I layered the felts on top of two texts as they come from a well read family. The top layer of text features words and phrases that I hope will be inspirational for them, such as hope, beauty, truth and dreams. I chose birds on a tree as I felt this encapsulated the idea of being able to spread your wings and fly but also of having somewhere to return to.

The finished pieces

Sunday 28 August 2011

Craft Stall-The Day After

Our stall (my stuff on the left of the table and Gen's on the right and far left)
Well, it wasn't a great success yesterday. It was very very quiet, I don't think many people knew about it and as it was in an upstairs venue tucked away in a quiet area not many people happened to find us by accident. However, there were some very nice people there and I enjoyed talking to some of the other stall holders and seeing what everyone had on offer. It was also lovely to work with Gen a bit more and her lovely mum, Michelle. It also means that I have lots of stuff ready to list and put on Folksy so that's good!

Michelle and I were discussing the connotations of the word 'craft' and whether perhaps a better title would be decorative arts. A lot of people seemed to think some of the wares on offer were over-priced, maybe not appreciating just how much time and effort goes into making each piece. Perhaps using the name  decorative arts, rather than crafts, would help to emphasise the time, skill and workmanship involved and help people understand why handmade is often more expensive. An interesting discussion!

(Mostly) My stuff

Beaded Crochet Necklaces and Owl Keyrings

Friday 26 August 2011

Penrith Craft Stall

Some of my crafty stuff

My friend Genevieve has been doing a few craft stalls recently and told me about one at St. Andrews in the centre of Penrith. Unfortunately I didn't have enough stock or time to make enough stuff to be able to take a stall. Gen very kindly offered to share her table with me and I'm really looking forward to doing the stall with her tomorrow. Gen makes, amongst other things, beautiful scarves and I will be taking various bits and pieces including brooches and bags. I've also come up with an ingenious way to display the earrings I've made using wooden picture frames and sequin waste (see picture.) So here's hoping for a sunny day!

Owl key ring and brooches

Earring Display

Monday 22 August 2011

Birdy Brooch

Birdy Brooch


Just a couple of pictures of a little brooch I made yesterday. He's made of felt and feathers and is lightly stuffed and embellished with various stitches.

Friday 19 August 2011

Festival of Quilts

Last weekend was the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham. I'd never made a quilt before but I needed something to work towards so I made a piece and entered it into the art quilt category. For regular readers you will know that this pieces is called Not Lost but Still Searching and looks something like this:

My Art Quilt
The piece and title are about how I felt at the time I was making it. Things in my life were all coming together and starting to make sense and I no longer felt lost but still felt, and feel, that there's a lot ahead of me (in a good way, it's exciting!) In mythology, crows were believed to be the carriers of the soul and to be unaware of time; able to see past, present and future simultaneously and so they seemed a fitting motif to adopt as they are able to see the bigger picture.

Seeing the quilt alongside all the others was a slightly weird experience, the venue is huge and there is loads going on. I really liked some of the stuff but I did find a lot of it a bit samey and traditional (which isn't in itself a bad thing but it doesn't float my boat.) There was some technically brilliant work and some great ideas and I really enjoyed looking round. I'm pleased I entered and went down to see it but I don't think it's something I'd do again. If I did, I would roll my quilt before sending it as unfortunately the creases didn't fall out which definitely didn't add to the display of the piece!

On display, with creases!
I also did a piece with my Textile Group at The Heathlands Project and that was also on display. The guys were all really excited about it being on show and want to do another one next year (by which time I will hopefully have recovered from the stress!) It was great to see our work up and we've had lovely comments about the colours and how much fun it is.

The Forest

On display

I had also entered another exhibition called Textile News: Freedom and had work selected for that show early this year. The opening venue was the Festival of Quilts so I got to see that as well before it goes off to Moscow and various other places. The person who organised it, Gudrun Heinz, was there and it was great to meet her. She was very enthusiastic and told me about some of the other entries and came to see the Heathlands quilt as well. For this show the pieces had to be 30x30cm maximum and the theme was freedom. I made my piece in January and it's a special piece to me because it kick started me working again. I looked at the idea of breaking free and portrayed a bird flying up and away. The piece is called 'Rise' and looks like this:

Rise. Dyed and pieced silks with hand stitching

Rise, detail
So, that's my work from the Festival and here are a few of the things I saw that inspired me! Some of them I liked the imagery, some the humour and some the ideas.

Flying High, Claudia Watkins

The Fun of the Fair, Blackheath High School

Everything Stops for Tea, Anjie Davison

The Fun of the Fair, Kings Sutton Primary School

Billie Joe Armstrong, Charlotte Bailey

Detail of above

Spoon Fed Love, Maria Thomas

Olite, Janine Visser

I got Stitched Up, Hayley Brooks

A Sketch in Time, Susan Chapman

Profusion, Mary Morris

Thursday 18 August 2011

The Lace Space

The Lace Space

This was one of the pieces I made with the Creative Textiles group during our two week community art project, Universal, at The Heathlands Project. We started off experimenting with cutting plastic bags into strips and fusing them with the iron, this produced some nice effects but the 'lace' was not very strong so we decided to knit the strips and then fuse the knitted piece. This created much firmer pieces which we were able to sew together to form the final piece. It took a lot of plastic bags and a lot of knitting, crocheting and weaving but I think the final piece is very beautiful and it is lovely to stand inside and look out. 

I cut out a pattern for the piece from newspaper and used this as a guide to lay out the pieces of 'lace' we'd made. Once all the pieces were stitched together the stitching was also fused with the iron.

Laying out the pieces and stitching them together

Weaving and stitching the pieces together

Detail: Crocheted lace

Detail: Knitted piece

Stepping inside (in the rain!)

Detail: Entrance arch

Swaying in the breeze

Detail: Knitted lace


Saturday 13 August 2011


My Costume

Yesterday and today we held our Space Festival-Universal-at The Heathlands Project, the culmination of two weeks work with various artists, community groups and our members. I'm far too tired to write about it now and I'm away to Birmingham tomorrow so I shall tell you that it was a fantastic two weeks, a great event and here are a few pictures to tide you over until I have the capacity to use words again!

Oi! Zip It! Creature created during the project

Another creature, the Joesoid

One of the Pom-Pomtariums, featuring giant sun pom-pom

Cosmic Costume-Dress up and join in!

The Lace Space

Detail of the lace space

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Harris Re-fencing

Head Space Weaving

If I could do a passable impression of a Geordie accent I would now be saying "Day 7 on The Heathlands Summer Project." But I can't so instead I will regale you with tales of weaving, sunshine and shiny things. This afternoon (in the sunshine) we used the fabric we've been dyeing to weave two panels of Harris fencing. It took rather a long time but I think the panels look really good. One of the panels is just woven in calm restful blues to create a waterlike space and the other panel features a head and 'thought bubbles' and it has a working title of 'Head Space.' These panels also cunningly disguise the bins and recycling area as well as improving the Harris fencing, of which there is a lot around site.

Weaving begins

My Able Assistant!

Weaving complete

Onto shiny things, in Costume I've been making shiny silver space hoods (I'm not totally sure what they want them for) and a Mummy Alien costume. More pictures to follow...