Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New design

I never use purple...

...not as a primary colour for a design at least. It would seem one should never say never because when it came to choosing colours for a new little design it seemed like the only right colour to choose.

Some time ago I saw a lovely piece of fabric printed with scrolling vines in, yes you guessed it, purple and green. But it wasn't just any purple and green. It was that exactly perfect purple and green. Since then I have had this lingering and somewhat vague idea of 'something' in purple and green and I have been kicking myself that I didn't buy a piece of that fabric just as a colour reference. 

'Lauderdale', Jacobean Crewel Work  by Penelope

Then one day, I spotted another beautiful reference of a similar colour scheme that I love. It is a beautiful piece in 'Jacobean Crewel Work' by Penelope. I love this old book (early 1900). Have a look at the Smithsonian Libraries online version here - isn't it just fabulous?

So I ventured into purple, with a few splashes of aqua, just where would one be without aqua? Besides, those tiny bits of brightness seems to bring the best out in both the purple and the green and neatly tie the two colours together.

I am having a lovely time with this. As you may know, I love stitches - lots of different ones, but for this piece I am focusing on soft shading and satin stitch and it is really nice keep it simple for a change.

So why a new piece in the middle of this one? I am excited to have been invited back to teach at Pak-Ka-Pao House studio in Bangkok and the Hobbyist studio in Chiang Mei in April (hurray, we had such a great time last trip and it will be such fun to see everyone again). This little piece is what we will be doing this time so I better get back to the hoop.

Happy Stitching,

Thursday, December 11, 2014

If only I could...

... I would make the trip to Europe in August to do some of the workshops at the Bath Textile Summer School.

Held from August 17th to the 22nd at the Holburne Museum and the Bath Literary and Scientific Institute, the beautiful venues and surroundings alone would be worth the trip.

'Boat' Sue Dove
In 'the land of make believe', I imagine doing the Artwork for Textile workshop with with Sue Dove. I have her book 'Painting with Stitches' and the way she interprets colour in stitch is really intriguing. Spending a couple of days in her company, ripping paper and playing with crayons before interpreting my so called 'art' in stitches sounds like so much fun.
Beadwork by Heather Kingsley-Heath

Or, I would do something completely different...

I would learn the intricate techniques of traditional Beadwork Embroidery with Heather Kingsley-Heath. I confess, I did bead embroidery for a living for a couple of years and I have not had the inclination to use beads much since, but this bronze coloured pod of peas really caught my eye - how do you do that?

The Holburne Museum recently acquired the most beautiful beadwork basket. The work is amazing, just have a look at the close-up picture on the Bath Summer School website. During the 2 day workshop you learn many of the techniques used - now that would be something.

Beadwork basket (46 x 33 x 13 cm)English Glass, coral and wooden beads, lampwork, fine wire. Ca. 1670. Holburne Museum. 

After that, for something completely different and to really step out of my comfort zone, I would definitely do Jo Lovelock's  Poetry of decay and learn to see things in a different perspective. At first glance this doesn't look very pretty or embroidery-like but the idea of seeing things not traditionally appreciated for embroidery in a different light really appeals to me. Have you ever looked at rust for instance? I mean, really looked. The patterns and colours are amazing. Imagine interpreting that - or an old discarded tin can in stitches. Somehow.

But that is all in 'the land of make believe' - I can only dream of going. If you are lucky enough to be able to go, you will need to book soon as some classes have already booked out and others are close to.
As for me, I guess I will wish for a new piggy bank for Christmas and start saving. Perhaps next year.

Happy Stitching,

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I am inspired...

...by Marianne Burr
'Cotton Candy' (detail) by Marianne Burr, 2013

Those colours, oh those colours! - and shapes! - and layers! - and textures! How can you not fall in love with these magnificent art quilts?
'Thru the Lens' by Marianne Burr, 2013
When I first came across this extraordinary pieces on Pinterest I had to look twice. At first glance I was unsure what these intense but at the same time soft, beautiful and sometimes almost translucent coloured shapes were; watercolour? or glass perhaps...? 
'Theo's Garden' 20008
...but no, these beauties are made from hand painted silk with layers of hand appliqué and embroidery! Aren't they amazing?

'Berry Trifle' (detail) by Marianne Burr

"My work is a joyful enterprise"  is the first words on Marianne's web page - and isn't that just so evident in her work? I do urge you to browse through her portfolios, it is real eye candy, wholesome food for the soul. 
I am always curious as to how artists work, that 'what is your process' question - how does these beautiful things come to be, how do they appear? 
"I start with a line drawing of the shapes.  The colours are created by mixing my liquid silk dyes. The colours are spontaneous; I try them out on a separate small piece of stretched silk before I add them to the piece.  I am brave with the colours because I can always use another piece of appliquéd silk to change anything I want.   
For me, one of the special aspects of the process and a reason I enjoy myself so much is that when I add all the stitching the colour of the ground is changed, sometimes dramatically."

I too, start my work with not much more than a line drawing and a rough idea in my mind about colours and textures. It is so nice to know I am not alone in starting things without having all the fine details planned out in advance and finding myself (mostly) happily surprised watching my work change and take shape under the needle.

I am pretty sure I will ever grow tired of looking at these. Those colours, those ever so beautiful, colours...

Hope your week is beautiful and colourful,