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After Saturday’s talk, a whole Sunday workshop with Alice Fox. We had just been asked to bring our normal sewing kits plus threads, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, making it even more exciting. There was a tempting array of papers, threads and ephemera laid out…

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…along with some examples of Alice’s own work for inspiration. To start, we were each given a selection of different papers…

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…and a prompt sheet asking us to explore how it felt to stitch into them. I used a template from my silversmithing course five years ago to do some feather stitch in various weights of thread..

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I really liked the rough texture I got from putting stitching holes into the heavy tracing paper, so once I’d stitched through it, I used a metalworking scribe to mark wavy lines into the paper without piercing it before punching varying sized holes from either the front (smooth) or the back (rough).

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I really like the differences of line and texture on this. And it reminds me of the sea.

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The next prompt was cutting and patching.

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So a piece of old map cut along the grid lines became the fragment on the right.

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As you can see, by this time I had succumbed and made a little book for my fragments. It started off as an origami book, folded from a single piece of paper with one cut, but I wanted a bit more stability and to have access to all the sides of the pages, so I pamphlet stitched it in two places and tore the double pages into singles. Winging it, but it works.

Next was couching.  I followed the road and river lines on this scrap of map.

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By this time we were all engrossed in our own thing, and although there were two more prompts about deconstructing marked papers and accentuating printed marks, everyone was well away with their cutting, stitching, tearing, patching and experimenting.

At the end of the day we ended up with with a fascinating range of responses.

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Alice uses rusting quite a lot in her work and so when I got home to my rusty washers, I couldn’t resist some mark making on tea soaked paper.

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My little book was over half full by the time the workshop ended.

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With my rust and tea stained papers and these that I didn’t get round to exploring…

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…I have every intention of playing with some more of Alice’s prompts and completing my little book!

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This was my starting point:

dscn2537The only other stipulation we were all given was that the finished article must be three- dimensional in some way. I had an initial load of over-complicated and grandiose ideas, but soon realised my best bet was to stick to what I know so I decided to make a book.

I’ve made what I call lotus-fold books before, with origami square bases stuck back to back and opening like a concertina, but several years ago my middle one came home from Guides with  one she had made which opened up and folded back on itself to make a star. I’d always loved the idea and it was perfect for this project.

I started by making a double sided copy of the carol ‘Ding Dong, Merrily on High’ and ageing it with a deftly wielded tea bag. Odd coffee granules added a foxed look and then I cut the sheets into squares and folded them into a set of square bases.

20161210_230756_HDR.jpgThe next stage was to stick the square faces together to form the star shape. You can see the gap at the bottom right hand corner which is where the covers will go.

20161210_231039_HDR.jpgNext job was to embroider the cover. I experimented with applique and various other techniques on some lovely dull gold silk  but came back to needlelace using some Mulberry Silks I’ve been saving for a special occasion. The medium and heavy weights make the most fabulous needlelace.

20161215_171828_HDR.jpgAlso, one of my required elements was couching, and the stitch is buttonhole couching.

20161215_232203_HDR.jpgMy lace element was the bow and after I had added gold kid leather clappers to the bells the cover was laced over a piece of mounting board.

20161217_103827_HDR.jpgI trapped a piece of gold ribbon between the cover and the endpapers as a closure when I stuck them together…

20161217_104141_HDR.jpg…and did the same with the back.

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As well as tying a bow to close the book up, the ribbons also hold it closed and form the hanging loop when you bring the covers together to make it into an ornament.

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And best of all, Sandra was delighted with it. :o)

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The cuff book is now lined, pressed…

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…and about to have a selection of papers stitched into it.

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A damaged leather and chain boho style leather bracelet is having new leather flowers.

DSCN1102 Embroidered like the original felt ones with long stitches in variegated thread with bead centres.

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One more to go onto here.

And a beautiful Art Deco buckle which was cracked in two places (centre and bottom right)…

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…is becoming an assemblage steampunk style brooch.

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In the background, two vintage watch faces, one further embellished with a mother of pearl disc, and a random piece of filigree added to the outside with a humming bird charm dangling from a convenient loop.

Still a little more finishing to do on all of them – I’m finding it difficult to settle to complete one thing at a time these days!

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As well as doing the costume for our panto last week, I was also the dame’s ‘dresser’. Those elaborate costumes can be difficult to put on, especially with hoops underneath some of the full-skirted frocks, and constant changes of wigs, shoes, jewellery etc. so we always have someone whose specific job is to help. This, naturally, means being at the theatre for every performance.

Spending every evening backstage for a week is a bit of a long haul after a full day’s work, but there are advantages. Firstly, I was on hand for all the last minute costume tweaks and any mends that became apparent over the course of the run and secondly, in between costume changes and when there was no mending, I could actually get on with some of my own work.

First of all, I finished off the second strip of James’ patchwork cushion. Here it is, alongside the first.

Blue crazy patchwork strips 1 and 2

And then I started the feather stitching on the third strip:

Blue crazy patchwork strip 3

Blue crazy patchwork strip 3 close up

Blue crazy patchwork strip 3 butterfly end

I also finally finished off the second denim cuff book (the one with lazy daisy flowers) with a beaded spine.

Denim cuff book 2

Denim cuff books

Denim cuff book beaded spine

Denim cuff book 2 open

More to come, including a birthday card I can’t unveil until the weekend!

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Our last Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was a full day workshop led by one of our members to make a gorgeous book bound with what I know as French Link Stitch with the aim of using the front to showcase a piece of embroidery. I’ve used this stitch several times to make fabric books but it was my first time using this binding on paper and I love how it turned out.

French link stitch indigo book 1

 

Having only discovered at the last minute that I could actually make it to the workshop, I had to make do with the contents of a bag of fabric scraps that I had hastily grabbed on my way out of the door to find something to use for a cover. About the suitable only piece was this oddment of indigo dyed cloth that was annoyingly only big enough to fully cover one of the boards.

French link stitch indigo book 2

However, what was left would be big enough if it was joined… So I decided to do just that, using some natural coloured silk thread and boro/kantha type stitching right across the two pieces I wanted to join.

French link stitch indigo book 3I really like the way it turned out, especially the way the join is almost invisible below the layers of stitching.

French link stitch indigo book 4

Then came the question of what to put on the front. I toyed with weaving scraps of indigo dyed cloth, but they disappeared against the indigo cover. Then I tried some beading on another piece of indigo dyed cloth, this one with a vibrant sunburst in the middle.

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I like the sunburst and I like the beading but… next to the cover, somehow it’s not quite right. The indigo of the sunburst is a different colour and texture and if I did apply the beaded piece to the front then I would lose the marbled pattern behind.

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In fact I like my boro mend so much that instead of making it the back, I’m tempted to make it the front and not add any extra embroidery at all.

French Link Stitch indigo book b

Any thoughts?

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I was delighted to be tagged to take part in this by the very creative, talented and witty Iz, from Threadnoodle and it was lovely to welcome people who had popped over from her blog. So this week is my turn to talk in a bit more depth about myself and my creative process.

I live in North Lincolnshire in the UK although I’m originally, like Dickens’ David Copperfield, from the little village of Blundeston, in Suffolk. Among other things, I’m a writer, a jeweller and textile artist. But not necessarily in that order.

1. What am I working on?

Erm… everything? I have a second book of short stories and a novel both on the go as well as an article which has been back-burnered for various reasons. There’s a box of partly completed rings,

silver acorn ring

pendants and other odds and ends which need finishing.

Norwich stitch pendant

Journals, books and altered books,

York Minster altered book

kits, summer holiday diary fragments,

holiday diary fragment

the crazy patchwork cushion for my son,

James' cushion strip 1

felted and goldwork brooches,

Goldwork brooch

 

my hearts commission,

hearts commission

my rusted fragments art quilt…

rusted fragments art quilt

…you get the picture. I long to have a go at everything and greedily want 36 hours in each day to try, test and explore my latest passion to its full extent.

My latest obsession is upcycled jewellery, whether replacing broken/damaged elements with beads like this vintage necklace…

 

broken vintage wire necklace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

upcycled m.o.p and haematite necklace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

or adding textile elements – felting and beading…

 

Felted beads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncycled felted bead necklace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… embroidery or patchwork.

Bullion rose upcycled pendant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

upcycled patchwork earrings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love being able to make something from bits that someone else has discarded as worthless. Little things fascinate me too, and each of the projects is so small that I can be almost finished before I start to get bored. I really admire people with the stickability to work on large ongoing projects, but that’s not me. Whatever I do tends to be small, detailed, and precise, whether it’s stitched into fabric, wrought from metal, words on a page or even part of a show in theatre. For me, the devil (and the interest) is in the detail.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

That’s a difficult one. As regards my jewellery, with its mix of metalworking and fine embroidery, I’ve certainly never seen anything quite like it. There are other artists who create  jewellery with textile components, but it seems to fall into two categories – fairly traditional jewellery shapes such as earring drops, pendant and rings set with pieces of textile work, or textile work with metal findings to make it into earrings, pendants, brooches etc. I do both…

Turquoise spiral brooch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bullion rose upcycled pendant

…but prefer to do neither

Moss mixed media pendant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indigo book charm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I suppose that everything we do is unique, but at the same time, everything we create is the result of our experiences. I’ve often thought that if we could break down the DNA of a piece, trace its bloodline of influences and inspirations, it would be fascinating to see precisely how it was born from the tiny fragments we draw from so many things we’ve seen, done and experienced.

3. Why do I create what I do?

Every project gives me pleasure to work and it also gives me pleasure to see how it is received by other people but essentially I create because I need to. Like so many creative people, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t create, from wobbly junk models and roughly stitched dolls’ clothes to furnishings for my doll’s house and stories set in imagined worlds.

It’s my way of responding to something of the beauty in the world I see around me, my way of revelling in the power of fashioning something that is mine alone. I bend the media to my will and I say how it turns out – mostly!

4. How does my creative process work?

The first thing to fire it off is usually a single item but it can be anything: a bead, a thread, some fabric, a fragment of something, an image or artefact. The alliums piece below was the response to the challenge, ‘A flower beginning with ‘A’ for an Embroiderer’s Guild competition.

Alliums sketchbook page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alliums hanging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An idea from a curtain I saw on a course

kantha patches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and an image from a dream…

Dream kantha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It can be a very dangerous process to sort through my stuff – I get sidetracked onto new projects very easily!

In terms of how things then evolve, I let my creative subconscious do a lot of the work. Usually I have clear idea of the starting point and an image of roughly what the end point will look like (I write like this too). Then it’s a case of starting and seeing how and where things go. If I get stuck I just walk away for a while and its unusual for that break not to have straightened things out in my head.  If I’m lucky, things work out as well, or sometimes even better than I’d hoped. If not, then it’s good to learn from your mistakes and chances are, I can always turn it into something else one day…

Phew! I think that’s the wordiest post I’ve ever put up! If you’re still with me, then please go and visit my two nominated bloggers.

Firstly, Debbie at Debbidipity. I met Debbie at our Embroiderers’ Guild when I joined several years ago and we’ve been good friends ever since. In the last 5 years, as a mature student, she’s done ‘A’ levels in Art and Photography and then followed them up with a Fine Art degree at Hull. She likes to experiment with all sorts of media and her inspirations are rooted strongly in the natural world that she loves.

From the local to the other side of the pond and Penny at Art Journey. Penny creates wonderful textile artwork in areas that I don’t tend to dabble in but love to look at – punch-needle, doll-making and beading are some of her latest delights, and I consider myself very lucky to have Valentine, one of her wonderful unique dolls sitting on my shelf watching me as I type.

Penny's Valentine

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the next stage of the bloghop!

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Well, effectively, that’s what it’s made from! I really enjoyed making my Eden project paper carrier and chocolate box book last year and when I went to a local food and drink fair last November I earmarked the advertising postcard and another carrier for the same treatment. I cut the postcard in half for the covers…

Rubbish book 1

…and sliced up the carrier into signatures.

Rubbish book 2

And then Christmas happened and it got well and truly shuffled aside until yesterday when I needed to turn some work I’d done with a group of children into little books using Coptic binding. I had five to do, so another one wasn’t going to make much difference, so here it is, finally finished:

Rubbish book 3

Rubbish book 3

 

I’m really pleased with the chain stitches across the spine.

 

Rubbish book 5

 

No idea what I’m going to do with it now I’ve made it, of course…!

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