Posts Tagged ‘Pinterest’

Gathering Ideas

Thursday, September 10th, 2020

Every now and then I mention how browsing on Pinterest led me to discover an artist whose work I really like. Pinterest is a wonderful way to access new ideas and trends previously only accessible through gallery visits or catalogues and books. Of course, designs themselves are the intellectual property of the artist and therefore copyrighted. What is most exciting to see are media and techniques other artists are using to explore shapes, lines and textures, which might be far removed from the textile medium I’m engaged in. Every time we visit a gallery or or look through a book or catalogue, we absorb something we might not even be aware of, but whether subtle or bold, it becomes an influence and brings something new to our own art…. which is I why I browse on Pinterest and occasionally pin something exciting or interesting to me. To see what I collect go here

Having a concept or idea about a proposed artwork is one thing; executing it is another. It is more than 40 years since a wonderful teacher, Cynthia Sparks, introduced me to some low tech ways to apply paint to fabric and add stitch. Cynthia was a leading Australian embroidery teacher and inspiration to many textile artists there in the 70’s and 80’s, and she became a personal friend. Some other wonderful people followed, all contributing to the textile art creativity she encouraged me to develop.

Having stitched by hand and machine most of my life, and having learned additional different surface design techniques along the way, I do have a wide range of techniques from which to choose. However, like most artists, I tend to work in a group of favourite, go-to techniques. It’s interesting how I can number these on one hand: improvisational machine pieced constructions aka freehand patchwork, free machine embroidery, freestyle hand stitchery, simple hand printed or painted design elements … pretty well everything I do belongs in one of those groups. My approach has always been very low tech, for multiple reasons that I won’t dwell on here, except to say that my peripatetic life has played a big part in this.

If I’m considering using straight stitch in a work, for example, I look through my Pinterest pin boards, and copy several selected images of its usage that seem particularly inspiring, even though these may be mark making rather than actual stitches. I insert these few special images into a word document, 3-6 / page, leaving space around them for notes and lists – and call them ideas sheets. Here’s an example using some of my own images – I don’t want to break anyone’s copyright here!

Segments from several works (my own) on what I call an IDEAS SHEET. I use the spaces around them to jot notes.

Once I’ve compiled the document, scanned it and printed it off, I use the surrounding space to add lists and annotations on possibilities. At this stage if a quote or potential title comes to mind, I note that, too. I generally sketch out very simple little pencil line diagrams of a plan / layout in my sketch book; and most often this is some form of grid, as my brief traditional patchwork background still exerts a strong influence. I love grids ūüôā

Sketchbook page diagrams – a key part of my planning process

Once I’ve started to sew the work I almost never look at it again. The searching, selecting and compiling are the important part of the process which pushes me along to pick up fabric, needle and thread and start creating what I have in mind. This morning I spent a little time compiling an ideas sheet for the next project – that theme of ‘girt by sea’ is still rolling around in my mind…

Collecting With Pinterest

Friday, January 24th, 2020

Peridocially I write a post titled ‘Browsing with Pinterest’. Today I have ‘holes’ on my mind again, and invite you to dip into one of my own Pinterest boards with the theme ‘holes’. Pinterest is such an interesting app for those of us who, in an earlier life would have cut pics from Mum’s old magazines and pasted them into a large blank paged scrap book, often without comment. When I was young kids also collected playing cards for their images, haggling with fellow collectors to exchange something we really wanted from their collections in turn for something we hoped they’d want from our own pack. sometimes what you wanted needed two cards to be handed over… and so people built quite large collections, some almost too much for young hands to hold and manage, she remembers with envy.

Just the process of browsing and cutting out images we liked was so satisfying, possibly ‘therapeutic’ using a C21 buzzword, and a perfect ativity to help keep kids occupied on a rainy afternoon, in the same class as sorting out Mum’s button jar, and choosing the best ones for extra attention. When we tired of that, or the sun came out, all the buttons went back into the jar to be sorted again another day. Do kids still do that? Indeed, do people still remove buttons from discarded clothes, or change buttons to give a new lease of life to an aging garmet? It was all about the process, saving or cutting out, maybe sorting, but not necessarily doing anything more. If you kept a few loose you always had something interesting to paste onto the protective brown paper cover on your school books.

From several works and samples

Pinterest subscribers can go online to look for something in particular or just just browse through the images Pinterest selected for us to see because of images we’ve previously saved. It is no exaggeration to say that you can spend hours enjoying images in exactly the same way as we carefully thumbed through discarded colour magazines. To cut up old womens magazines was ok, but we’d never have dared to cut things out of a National Geographic, regardless of age.

A hole’s essential characteristic is that you can see, or have some glimpse, of something beyond the edge of the hole. Holes can be deliberate or accidental, can imply deterioration by aging or be part of something called ‘lace’ , on which I’ve mused before.

Inlaid brass elements, public walkways, Miami International Airport

I have several boards or ‘themes’ for images I save, and holes is one collection to which I fairly often add an image. Holes intrigue me for their potential which is not limited decorative patterning. Enjoy my board!

Broderie anglaise, handmade antique, mended.

Browsing On Pinterest

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

My readers know I dip into Pinterest every now and then, sometimes browsing and procrastinating for hours; but this morning I was a little ahead of my loosely imposed daily schedule so took ‘only a few minutes’ …. then felt moved to write a little on this, create and resize a collage pic to illustrate this, and so really, nearly an hour has flown !¬† But shortly I’ll head back to more quilting on¬†the one I’m half way through.

To me, Pinterest is an ideas source, just like what journalists call a morgue – collection of files and clippings for reference.¬† I’m so glad I don’t have bulging drawers of paper clippings gathering dust somewhere – thank goodness for computers.¬† I watch out for interesting edge treatments, presentations, lines and shapes, contemporary hand stitch, holes, and a few other categories for which I have boards.¬† I just checked and among the 13 boards I have one for recipes – which I really don’t collect at all, hardly ever consult the cookbooks I have, and instead focus either on family favs or on the spot creativity.

With the exception of the broderie lace upper right, included because I own it and it inspires me¬† (holes) the other sections on this collage are samples I have probably tried out for reference having seen something relating to them on Pinterest.¬†¬†This morning¬† I saw and saved some contemporary hand stitch that reminded me of mending, and several¬† things on paper which took me browsing into a couple of interesting bloggers’ sites that seem to have been abandoned several years ago – that’s always a bit disappointing.¬† But, hey, Life intervenes at times, and I’ll look further to see if they are still producing, perhaps in another medium.¬† But my hour’s nearly up, so that’s all for today ūüôā

A Shared Taste? Not Really …

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Pinterest this morning sent this email: ¬† “Alison – meet X! ¬†They say great minds Pin alike. And we just found someone who shares your taste in Pins. Follow their boards to discover more Pins you love!” ¬†I’m about to be disparaging about her pinning, and as I don’t know her, but have two friends with the same name, I’ll just stick to “X”

First up, this person has set up 111 boards to pin her 13,000+ saved images onto. ¬†My experience is that anything over about 30 boards is a red flag, as I typically find such a pinner’s selections are of a ‘pin everything’ approach, and it becomes time consuming and sometimes confusing to sift through. ¬†I’ll back out quickly from such a time waster. ¬†I have no idea how I’d keep track of thousands of pins in hundreds of boards, as I’ve only saved 450 images or so over several years. ¬†I’ve found more rapport with pinners who seem to carefully choose whether to pin or not, and whether something is important to their ideas collections. ¬†I believe it is definitely a case of ‘Less is more’. ¬† Having a huge number of boards somehow seems the equivalent to the groups of ¬†holiday travellers on organised guided tours. ¬†We’ve all seen them, no matter where we live. ¬†All the passengers on the bus are from the same foreign country, they hurriedly alight, take masses of pics of each other standing in front of whatever view/building/monument/large sign is behind them, and then quickly clamber back on board for the next whistle stop on their tour. ¬†Pinterest for some people is clearly the same kind of hurried ‘travel’ in the field of ideas.

Secondly, on X’s page this morning, I scrolled and a few lines down found a board labelled “Kantha Stitch Style Fibre Arts”. ¬†Several years ago I attended Dorothy Caldwell’s wonderful workshop on mark making with reference to¬†Kantha¬†, so thought I was in for a treat. ¬†Kantha is not a technique, it’s a style of embroidery from W. Bengal India that uses running straight stitches to form patterns and fill shapes of ¬†flowers, birds, animals and scenes of everyday life that are meaningful to the maker and her community.¬†

6" square, hand stitched, straight/running stitch filler, chain outline.

From my workshop with Dorothy Caldwell; I chose a kangaroo shape to stitch a 10cm sq. kantha-style stitchery

In the west, with the growing popularity of hand stitch, ‘Kantha’ is one of the trendy hand stitch buzzwords, and while technically it is ‘merely’ a running or straight stitch worked into all kinds of patterns, the scale and potential of Kantha work within its cultural context is rich, often complicated and overall glorious. (see the above link or google Kantha images) ¬†On X’s page however, faced with lots of hand stitchery of many different kinds, I saw nothing ‘kantha’ before pulling out at about image #50 or so. ¬†There were however some mixed media hand stitched textiles, most of which featured some pattern darned areas; and it became clear as I looked further into X’s boards, with “Kantha style 2”, and “kantha 3” listed lower down, that X equates Kantha with pattern darning. ¬†I know, dear reader, that might seem a bit nit picky, but there we are – that’s me. ¬†I am a bit pedantic on things I know a thing or two about. ¬†There were other gems in the boards in X’s boards titles – ¬† “tea bag fibre art” ūüôā ¬† “safety pin fibre art” for heavens’ sakes, and, well as I said, 13000+ pins under 111 titles. ¬†I guess I was overwhelmed at what this represents in terms of time spent looking at, collecting and saving images of other people’s work and inspirations.

We all know social media run on algorithms based on how we use those media sites. ¬†They’re often enough totally wrong, but we put up with that for the other benefits we enjoy by being part of them. ¬†Today Pinterest got it quite wrong when it told me that X and I are an exact match – but that’s ok – I’ve vented and will be back on Pinterest again in a few days’ time, prolly.



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