Pandemic Treat Workshop – Sue Stone

July 6th, 2020

This week’s interesting workshop was presented by Sue Stone, one of the UK’s foremost textile artists, well known for her portraits and other works using principally hand stitch.

The video, workbook and inspiration booklet were all very inspiring. The class project was designed to encourage us to search out and repurpose fabrics from used garments or other sources, including garments/textiles with a history of something significant to us. I’m always in favour of using what’s around for workshops, if at all possible, rather than buy new stuff for each one. While watching the video I remembered some old textiles I have including one or two things of Gran’s. I found one of them to be a white-on-white embroidered front panel of what had been a laundry bag – the clue being “Laundry” stitched in flowing script across the front. Hand printed in indian ink on the inside of the hem was my grandmother’s maiden name – ‘M.I. Scott’.

The first part of the project was to construct a fabric background from several printed fabrics, cut or torn into strips of varying width. These were woven together and pinned or stitched onto a backing piece about A4 size or smaller. This in itself is an interesting idea, and I asked Sue what size was the largest woven background she’s ever done – she said about 1.5m x 1.2m or so, so it is a technique that might have some potential some time.

The second part of the project was to stitch the outline of an object or a figure onto that, giving a nice ethereal effect of the figure floating against the background. I drew this figure from the memory of an early photo I have (in storage) of Gran holding me, aged about 2. The idea is to do lots of stitch along the strip borders, with some infilling stitch highlighting parts of the patterns on the print.

You can see strips of the white-on-white embroidery from Gran’s linen bag with my other fabrics. But it turned out that the rooster fabric was not colour fast, as even after just this small amount of stitching, already greeny-black colour was rubbing off onto the white fabric. Because of that and other problems, I won’t finish this piece; but I still have the drawing, and will repeat it with a different background. Or I could wash some of that rooster fabric and use it again …

This workshop was fun and some wonderful pieces were produced.

Lines, Marks, Stitches

June 30th, 2020

Recently the regional South and Central America and Caribbean group of SAQA revved up and is now communicating as never before on social media, particularly Facebook We were all asked to post a pic of one of our art quilts that featured some of the way we work. I chose to put up About Red, which I think particularly encapsulates my interest in lines and shapes with marks as stitch, plus of course, colour.

About Red”, 2014, 40cm x 100cm. Fused applique, hand quilting.
Samples for “About Red” included these fractured landscape slices

All the handstitching the I’ve been re-focused on since signing on for the Stitch Club workshops is starting to influence me, as I knew it would. I have even brought out for an airing my 40+ y.o. UFO, a hexagon patchwork quilt, adding some cream shapes to the border each day. It’s fine hand stitching of course, but nice to do while listening to the news which you don’t need to keep your eyes glued onto. This afternoon I’ll be listening to a one hour webinar in the Textile Talks series and it will be nice to be stitching during that, too. This week I dabbled with the following sample – I want a key element in what I have in mind to be hand stitch, and the glorious straight stitch is my favourite for its versatility.

This sample is telling me

June 2020 sample: slices of fabric oversewn with gold thread. Grid approx 6 -7cm
  • Colour oversewn with gold on cream looks restful, gently rich. I have many miles of gold and quite a large amount of silver thread ­čÖé
  • Colour on cream oversewn with flourescent could be dramatic.
  • Colour on black oversewn with either metallic or flourescent could be dramatic.
  • I want to follow this further but need to decide if I prefer the frayed look that developed as I worked on this, or to go for a fusion adhesive backing before cutting the segments of colour.
  • I love the fine gold lines but without the fabric behind the stitches they look blah on cream, but similar on black could look good.
  • This type of fine metallic thread is not really strong, so to use the gold to actually quilt such a work would be best in poly thread of cream on cream, black on black, etc.
  • I often work in the squares or grids that I love which are a remnant of the traditional patchwork influence in my work. Of course this basted black grid would be removed if this were a piece going on to completion.

Pandemic Treat Workshop – Emily Tull

June 25th, 2020

Well that was fun! Today I finished the workshop assignment – three sets of lips using the straight stitch in a set of tones of the one colour to represent the lips in a 3D manner, if possible! Emily Tull made it look so easy.

I took quite a few pics and eventually chose these three, which Mike says are pretty typical, and stitched these three sets of lips:

It got easier with practice, and I think my effort compares fairly well with other people’s posted within the last few days.

There are two live Q&A sessions tomorrow – the first very early in the morning, for which I plan to rise and be in the front of the computer by 6am Montevideo time. The other will be at noon local time. If I don’t make it to either of them, they’re recorded and available to dip into later.

I’m trying to think of an interesting question to ask … You always learn something from every workshop teacher, even the ones you don’t think you’ll pursue in the future, because you never know when something you learned waaaay way back will pop up and be just what you need, sometimes many years later.

Pandemic Treat Workshops, Week 5

June 23rd, 2020

The fourth of each month being a catch-up week, the next workshop is one on the expressive straight stitch by Emily Tull, UK, a prominent textile artist particularly known for her stitched portraits of people and studies of animal and bird life. Her stitching is simple and being mostly arrangements of straight stitches, often layered in linear marks, looking very like drawings, but done with needle and fine thread.

The assignment is to use straight stitches in 4 tones of one colour to embroider mouths or lips in several expressions, I’m going with her suggestion that we take pics of our own lips with various expressions and stitch three of them, so uninspiring as I think my own lips are (I’m sure everyone says that) these are expressions that Mike says are typical:

Pics of AlisonÔÇÖs mouth in various expressions for the Emily Tull worskhop

I will be starting to do the stitching today – maybe finish it. A decision has to be made whether to stitch in tones of grey black and white, or in white plus vivid oranges from medium to dark on black, perhaps.

Straight stitch of course is the basis of so many other more complicated stitches and patterns in embroidery, but used just on its own there are so many ways it can express a stitcher’s creative ideas. In 2013 I blogged on “The Glorious Straight Stitch”, where I mentioned a book that enthralled me when I found it (1977) soon after beng drawn to the creative potential of stitchery. Emily’s work reminds me of that book featuring the abstract work in stitch of Nik Krevitsky

Plastic As Fabric 2

June 18th, 2020

Early this morning I spent some time experimenting, making the following samples. For a long time I have been interested in the quality of something being ‘sheer’, of it being something you can see through. Of course ‘holes’ do this, too.

Following my previous feeble initial doodles, I made and bound a few rings from thread (thick cotton string and some polyester heavy duty upholstery in a non-upholstery colour. These rings I then sewed onto the plastic with a very fine nylon thread/monofilament which I just happen to have heaps of (top 3) The ‘ring’ bottom centre is another one of needleworked or buttonhole based on a ring of back stitches, and you can keep on building this kind of thing until you have the length you want or are sick of it. Heaps and heaps of potential – I just kept sewing until that thread ran out, but it’s easy enough to join in another thread and keep going. I think small fine rings could make their way as a textural element into what’s developing.

This mightn’t look much (my samples generally don’t) but it pleased me enormously, because although this is just a small snippet laid and pinned onto the plastic and oversewed with quilting thread, at a point about the middle “i” in the hand written word “invisible”, the right side is overlaid with another bit of plastic, and stitched with clear nylon thread – so, it’s very close to invisible quilting. Also, Sharpie pens come in some nice colours, and I can see a lot of potential here.

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