Friday, 28 February 2014

Texture, continued ...

Having been out for coffee this morning, then picked up the traditional Friday night pizzas, I've spent most of this afternoon trying out embroidery stitches.  I like how my little piece I started yesterday has turned out. Some of tonight's I'm less keen on, but it's all learning by trial and error. I need to know what I don't like in order to avoid doing it on my assessed piece. 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Texture and trees

We're moving on from Colour to Texture in our textiles class. I took all my colour work for the display boards for the tutor to take a look at.  She explained how the boards have to show progression, and tell a story.  I've had to buy another board in order to get it laid out in sequence, with explanations and diagrams.  So now I know what exactly needs to be done and how to do it.

After getting our presentations clarified we were able to embark on the subject of texture.  Our theme is trees, and tree bark in particular. We created drawings of a section of tree bark using soft pastels, which create instant texture.  It's a messy medium to work in, but gives a good and quick result.  Next we did rubbings of textured surfaces that could be interpreted as bark-like, first onto paper and then on to fabric.  The fabric ones were done using Markel (aka Shiva) oil paint sticks. These need to cure for 24-48 hours and can then be ironed to make them permanent.  We'll be stitching onto the fabric ones.  


While waiting for these to cure we started on sampling embroidery stitches that are good for creating texture.  I've been stitching a tiny free form embroidery sample using various threads, and stitches including French knots and Bullion knots.  I love the way it is taking on an organic life of its own, and I'll photograph it when it is a bit bigger.  Another thoroughly enjoyable day.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Back to school

It's time to return to classes this week.  I've been to my evening one, trying to create a watercolour sea scape. I don't think realistic reproductions will be my forte! I'm looking forward to returning to college on Thursday for the textiles course.  Somehow I see myself as a fibre artist rather than a painter - unless I can master abstracts. The main thing is that I'm having fun, and the rest of the students are lovely.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Playing with paint

I'm doing two online workshops with the lovely Tammy Garcia from; Watercolour Playground and Painted Paper Paradise. This is my page of blended watercolours following Tammy's video tutorial.  This one is actually my second attempt, and I rather like it.  I'm going to scan it into the computer and play around with printing it on a variety of media. You can still join the workshops by going to the website.  If you would love to try painting, but don't think of yourself as artistic - which describes me - then these workshops are perfect.  No previous experience is required, jut a willingness to play and have fun.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

I found this old book at the jumble sale yesterday.
I'm planning to use it in an altered book project.  I love the design on the spine. The illustrations are perfect for collaging.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Bits and bobs

I did make it to the jumble sale today, and it was heaving with people. It took quite a bit of effort to wiggle my way through to have a rummage in the textiles.  I did find several pieces of unused fabric, plus an assortment of napkins and crocheted doilies that I need to sort through. I also got some books including: vintage M & S cookery books, a book on Turner in the North with wonderful paintings, and a quaint little old book suitable for altered art. And a couple of bits of pretty vintage china. I then popped into Morpeth to get Stephen's paper and a pad of watercolour paper for me from W.H. Smith; a quick visit to a charity shop where I'd parked the car netted me some unused dress fabric at a price that makes it suitable to experiment on. So, all in all a successful day so far.

I also printed a scanned image of a piece of woven paper onto some Polaroid canvas fabric printer paper (3 sheets in a pack from Poundland). I then sewed the lines with a zigzag stitch on the sewing machine. It looks like a small patchwork quilt, and is going on the board for my C&G coursework.  I've included a photo: 

A Pic Collage of my woven paper samples

Friday, 21 February 2014

A good cup of tea

As any British person will tell you, there's nothing like a good cup of tea to refresh body and soul, and I'm drinking one right now.  My personal preference is Twinnings Earl Grey; when I'm avoiding caffeine I usually opt for Rooibos (aka red bush). 

I'm relaxing with my feet up after my trip to Newcastle, where I had a lovely lunch with Dee. I was surprised by how quiet the City centre was, particularly as it's half term week.  I was expecting hoards of bored teenagers to be thronging the aisles of Primarni, but I didn't even have to queue to pay for my single purchase - an interesting shawl-with-sleeves cum long, loose cardi - that will be perfect for my summer cruise holiday in July. 

And as I sit sipping tea I'm mentally ticking things off my to-do list.  The colour photocopies of my paper weaving have turned out really well, and I'm keen to try a transfer to fabric technique on one in particular that looks like tweed.  I'm also contemplating cutting some of the copies into strips and weaving them together to create a new design - but maybe a trial run using copies from the computer would be best in order to avoid a disaster with the expensive copies.  Decisions, decisions!

Progressing, slowly.

People can be kind and generous.  I needed some very heavy duty card to mount some of my fabric samples on, so I called into the Chantry picture framer in Morpeth to see if I could have some off cuts, and came away with a bagful.  I've been able to prepare more bits for my colour boards, thanks to his generosity. So a bit more progress has been made.  I need to get it all ready for class next week, and I have other calls on my time.  My sister in law and her 9 year old daughter are up in Northumberland for a few days.  We don't get to see much of them as they live in Bath, so it was lovely to have a couple of hours with them this afternoon. Tomorrow I have lunch in Newcastle planned with a good friend, and there's a jumble sale I want to investigate on Saturday morning. Plus the online painting workshops with Tammy of that I haven't been able to get stuck into yet.  I must get all my textiles prep done first to create the space for those. 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Shopping and more

I braved Ikea in the middle of half term week today, and it wasn't too bad.  I was looking for one of the cheap soft wood picture frames they used to sell to make a fabric stretcher for batik. Needless to say the type I had in mind is no longer available, but I did find a cheap enough one to try out.  If it doesn't work for stretching fabric I'll just put a picture in it.  I also got some of their £2 per metre 100% cotton for dyeing, some plastic children's plates to use as palettes for paint, a pack of tea light candles to melt for batik, and some pretty napkins for decoupage.  In other words, I'm not going to use anything I bought in the way it was intended. I wonder how many people buy things to adapt? I love it when people creatively repurpose everyday items.  There are lots of examples on Pinterest. Which reminds me; I also bought some cork mats to cover with fabric for my display board...  I've used one for my Sharpie marker and alcohol art sample. I've got almost all my sampled pieces of work ready for the display boards; I just need to get a photo printed and photocopy my woven paper. I'm planning to transfer the photocopies onto cotton fabric that can then be embroidered, but the copies need to be made with toner-based ink so an inkjet printer copy won't work. That's tomorrow's job.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Elbows and other issues

I've been experiencing tennis elbow - such a misnomer - for months now.  It's probably a combination of how I use my iPad, plus excessive free motion machine embroidery at a single sitting. I get so absorbed I forget to stop. Anyway, today I had hoped to persuade my GP to give me a steroid injection; sadly I got an exercise sheet instead. Apparently injections are not currently considered to be good medicine. This was a big disappointment as I am really suffering with my right arm, and it is restricting my activities. Ho hum, as a good friend is wont to say. Apart from my visit to the doctor most of my day has been spent preparing my samples for the Colour display board needed for my City & Guilds course. I hadn't realised just how time consuming it would be. I have managed to get quite a few pieces ready, but there's still a lot to do. I have been enjoying the course so much, and deciding what to include is really difficult as there is so much to choose from. I'll photograph it all when it is completed.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Day One

Hello and Welcome,
Let me introduce myself, I'm Michele and I have MS. To cut a long story short I'm no longer able to work, so to stay mentally healthy I'm exploring my untapped creative side. I'm taking the City and Guilds Textiles course at Northumberland College, and learning to paint and draw at an evening class. This blog is my way of recording and sharing how I get on with the business of living with a chronic disease, and making the most of life.