Wednesday, 30 April 2014

It worked!


I got the eucalyptus leaves from Hardy's florist, and set to work.  The scarf had been soaking in a vinegar solution to mordant it in advance of starting the printing process.  I laid the felted scarf out on my longest studio bench, placed a line of leaves along it, folded it in half lengthwise so that the leaves were covered, and rolled it in a bundle around some plastic pipe.  I secured the rolled bundle with elastic bands and jute twine, then steamed it in (a non-food use) electric steamer for 1 hour.  I removed it, and left it to cool over night.  I unwrapped it today, and you can see the amazing colour that the eucalyptus gives on the wool.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Felt making project

This is a felt scarf I'm working on.  I bought the wool tops quite a long time ago at Woolfest, in Cumbria.  From memory it is Teeswater fleece, which has a lovely lustre.  I have no recollection what breed of sheep the curls for the ends came from.  I've wet felted it using Heartfelt Silks palm washboards.  These are great for anyone who can't manage the rolling normally required for wet felting.  You can buy them from their Etsy shop.  The felted piece is currently soaking in a vinegar solution because I want to try eco-printing onto it.  I'm off to see if the local florist has any eucalyptus leaves.  I hope to be back later in the week with the finished piece.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Pace, Pace and more Pace

If you are anything like me, dear reader, then patience with yourself isn't your strong point.  I can be infinitely patient with other people who need it, but when it comes to myself I want things done yesterday, if not before!  It's one of the many things that makes my MS so frustrating.  I say "my MS" because it is a disease that affects everyone differently, so other people with MS will have their own pet frustrations.  For me the lack of energy and fatigue are the things that most annoy me.  I have my wonderful new studio shed; I have a large collection of craft materials acquired over two decades, and I want it all in place ready to use immediately.  Instead it takes days of doing a little bit now, and a little bit again, with hours of rest in between.  Every hour of activity needs about 2 to 3 hours of inactivity for recovery.  Adding insult to injury are those wonderful female hormones.  Being 49 means I'm on the brink of the menopause; or to give it the correct medical term I'm peri menopausal.  Oh the joys that brings!  Hot flushes, mood swings, food cravings and an extra dose of tiredness just to kick a woman when she's down.  Yes, I know it could be worse; no, that doesn't help.  

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Great to be back

Unlike the return to school following a holiday, I was delighted to get back to college today.  We had a number of potential students for next year's course come to find out just what is involved in the City and Guilds' curriculum.  I enjoyed having a chance to show my work to them, and discuss how much I love creating things, and learning new techniques.  They were all very interested and enthusiastic.  The joy of this course is that everyone doing it wants to be there, and so we are all of a similar mind set.  I am so pleased to have my studio space to work in during the summer, otherwise I'd have terrible creativity withdraw symptoms!  My biggest problem will be pacing myself so that I don't trigger a bad bout of fatigue; and of course any MS symptoms can strike at any time, even if I am "sensible".  Ho hum, fingers crossed and hoping for the best.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Ready for delivery

It has taken me a while, and now they are completed:

These are my Textile Stories banners about coal mining and South East Northumberland.  The only way I could think of to photograph them was to hang them on the clothesline!  The first one in the top left hand corner depicts coal mining during the industrial revolution.  At that time very young children, including an ancestor of Stephen's, were employed to haul heavy tubs of coal.  They wore leather harnesses, with chains attached to the tubs.  I dyed
some calico fabric with tea to create an aged appearance, and used leather for the hanging loops as a representation of the harnesses.  The second banner, in the top right hand corner, depicts the promise of safety and security by nationalisation.  The wording on one of the black and white adverts I have printed on cotton, and quilted, reads: "Miners, the skilled men the nation will always need", now so ironic.  The coloured pictures are copies of two works by The Pitmen Painters.  I printed them on photo canvas and padded the back.  I covered them with chiffon to knock back the brightness of the colour, and give a feeling of the past.  The third banner, bottom left, has images of the Miner's Strike of 1984.  This is probably the most controversial topic!  I used images of: striking miners being manhandled by the police; women protesting in support of the miners; and Margaret Thatcher, blamed by most people for the death of the deep mining industry in the UK.  The only bright spot of colour is Maggie's blue rust stained pussy-bow, symbolic of her Iron Lady status that eventually decayed.  Lastly, on a bright background fabric, with colour photos, is the Hope in the 21st Century banner, depicting some of the things we have to be proud of.  I hope my work will be included in the exhibition, which runs from 2nd to 5th May at Newbiggin Maritime Centre.

Hand made paper

This is a photo collage of the pieces of recycled hand made paper I created at my last workshop with the lovely Eve Studd at Cornhill Crafts.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Deborah O'Hare: Now for something completely different...

Deborah O'Hare: Now for something completely different...: This is a first for me. I am taking part in a blog hop!  I am presently the head administrator over at The Prayer Flag Project blog ...

Blue Moon River: My prayer flags

Blue Moon River: My prayer flags

suchity such: Prayer flag project giveaway!

suchity such: Prayer flag project giveaway!

Studio progress

My husband hard at work this morning, laying the carpet in my studio.  He's just gone to B&Q to get some more supplies for putting in the benches we bought at IKEA on Wednesday.  The electrician is coming on Monday, so I'll have power in there by Tuesday.  After that the shelving units can go in, and all my supplies can be organised in their new home.  I can't wait for it to be finished so that I can get in and start playing.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Peg loom and Brinkley loom weaving workshop with Eve Studd of Cornhill Crafts.

The photos of my woven wall hangings are finally available to share with you - Google+ can be a pain!!!!  

The top photo is natural wool fleece, which has been washed and dyed with natural dyes by Eve, woven on a jute warp thread, using a peg loom.

The longer piece was woven on the Brinkley loom.  This was the one I enjoyed most. I was amazed at the range of materials that could be used in the weft.  The warp is a hand dyed wool yarn, dyed by Eve with natural dyes. I started off with a blue wool yarn in the weft to create a stable foundation.  I then began to add in short lengths of wool fleece.  This gives a wonderful fluffy edge.  Eve doesn't card the fleece, thereby allowing the natural curls and characteristics of the particular sheep's breed to show in the work.  I decided to use yellow and purple, which are complimentary colours, and added a few pops of other bright colours that caught my eye.

Eve's workshops are relaxed, experimental, and great fun.  She allows the participants to play with the things that they feel most attracted to.  I'd happily do any of her workshops again, and I could easily spend a whole day weaving on the Brinkley loom - I now have one on my wish list!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Some hand dyed cotton

These are just a few of the pieces I tie dyed, using the Tulip Super Big Tie Dye Kit.  I got my kit from Amazon.  It has 12 colours - just add water to the little plastic bottles and squeeze the colour on where you want it.  By folding, tying knots, and binding the fabric with elastic bands, you can create a huge range of patterns.  It's great fun, and very easy.  If you've never dyed anything before these kits are a great way to start as they are easy to use, and come with instructions.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Wrapped and tied

Some of the ways I prepared my fabric, and added the different dye colours, to create a variety of patterns.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Yet more dyeing!

If you've been following this blog for a while you'll have noticed that I love dyeing things.  I was delighted to get my 12 colour Tulip one step dye kit yesterday because it is so easy to use.  I've spent a happy afternoon mixing colours and generally playing with the kit. It will be a few days before I wash out the dye, so until then here's a photo of my fingernails - the gloves split 

Friday, 4 April 2014

Allowing room for rest

I strongly suspected that my busy week would catch up with me, and bite me on the bum.  I was right.  Today I'm allowing myself to just stop and rest.  It's really tempting to dive in to playing with my new Tulip Super Big, One-Step Tie-Dye kit, which arrived in the post yesterday, but I'm restraining the impulse because I am so very tired.  I loved the weekend workshops with Paddy Hartley, and the natural dyeing on Monday with Eve, however they have taken too many spoons.  If you aren't sure what I mean by spoons please google "spoon theory".  I'll be back with more to tell you when my energy levels permit.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Natural Dyes Workshop with Eve Studd

I had a lovely day on Monday up in the borders, at Cornhill Crafts, with Eve Studd.  Eve runs lots of great workshops.  This one was using natural dyes on wool fleece.  As you can see some of the colours are stunning.  There was just one other person on the workshop, and it was held in Eve's home.  We had a great time.  If you are interested in finding out more about Eve's workshops go to: