Back to Work

The 5 days at Alexandra Palace rushed past in a whirl and I did not get to see half of what I intended. However given that I am going to Dublin and Harrogate which will hopefully be less frenzied I shall hopefully be able to post more about what I see there. I am particularly looking forward to Dublin since I have never been before. However there is no rest for the wicked and I am back at work again. In the New Year I am joining the two halves of my Common Thread work and exhibiting it all together and since the Gallery in question likes to sell off the wall on the spot I am going to need backups. More details about this later when the publicity comes out.

I have taken the opportunity to do a bit of experimentation and also to revisit something that I singularly failed with at the beginning of the year which in the previous year was very successful. This time I was sucessfulIMG_0063
This piece (still wet) is composed of mulberry tissue. When I tried this at the beginning of the year it was a singular failure and I wasted a huge amount of paper. It also has a radically different look to the paper I did last year. I cannot put a finger on why this should be so, there are so many different factors at play. I guess one has to go with the moment
I also have been experiment with some Japanese Printing paper. Again a completely different look
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I like the precision this one gives me.
The last experiment is on very thick but very cheap lining paper. This has a lovely surface and gives extremely good results
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Countdown Time (again!)

It is about three weeks to go before the first Knitting and Stitching show opens. The first one at Alexandra Palace is the big one since not only am I exhibiting as Embroiderers Guild Scholar but also I still have a stand shared and manned (womanned?) ably by Alison Hulme who again will be selling her beautiful pinnies. We are to be found at TGB 13. My exhibition is located at TGJ14.

I have been laying out my completed work but until I get there I am not sure how it is all going to hang together. To give myself some options I decided that I needed something else. So out came the pot and I spent yesterday with leaves and Khadi paper.
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I am not sure how to proceed with these. Ideally I would like to stitch on them but time may prevent this.


Another Direction

I have been experimenting with my jar dyed fabrics. I wanted to do something loosely based on the flaky scots pine bark that I have been playing with from the Common.

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These are a couple of samples. In the interests of testing whether the dyes are at all colourfast and to distress the pieces, i threw them in the washing machine. Apart from a slight colour shift the dyes held well including the elderberry.

I then went onto working on a much larger scale

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I am not sure this will make it into the exhibition since it is radically different to all the other work I have completed


A Complete Fugitive

Last night I finally managed to crack open my jar of fabric with honesty flowers in. The lid had stuck fast and all occupant to the house and several visitors had failed to get it off. The contents looked promising…

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Said jar is on the far right and when the fabric came out it was a lovely shade of lavender. However when dry it was clear the colour was completely fugitive. I had expected this but felt I ought to try. Since for me colour is not a priority I will be happy with fifty shades of grey and will work with what I get
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Meanwhile another cloth in a  ‘before’ picture about to be completely transformed. While I really like it as it is it does rather look like a lot of other work around

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High Summer on the Common

Took a walk n the Common today without my faithful friend. Since he has become epileptic I find that he needs my full attention, so I reserve my walks with him merely for observation and a little light gathering. It is a very hot sultry day and I could hear the hum of the insects
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One of my aims was to fine some suitable flora to refill some of my now empty jars. The above is a potential candidate. I also gathered some dock seeds and some blackberries.
They are now all sitting in jars of water. I am going to see what happens to the water before filling them with fabric. I suspect I need more of all.

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Lots of flowers in bloom still to be spotted
However it is clear that seed and berry season will soon be upon us.

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Another aim was to take some of my finished cloths and photograph them in situ as it were
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A Reveal

I returned from my holiday and checked on the jars that have been stewing gently on my conservatory windowsill. Since it has been very hot I decided that it was unlikely they would go any further – the liquid in the jars were all clear. I also want to try some more plants etc and there is a limit to the number of jars I have

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As is soften the case with natural dyes some of the promise of depth of colour was lost when they were opened

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This one is oak bark on alum mordanted cotton. It was originally very much like the birch bark from my previous experiments so I added some rusty nails. It has come out a pale mottled grey with some quite lovely marks including some tannish areas
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This is the willow leaf and twig cloth I chucked in some copper staples which has definitely had some interesting effects
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This one is the Forsythia mordanted with alum. This has come out a yellowy green – I was expecting more green than I achieved
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This one is the cherry bark I was hoping for more pinkish tones but the mistake is mine. I added some vinegar when I should have added some alkali. I am going to repeat this experiment. I am still pleased with the results
Lastly and most interestingly I froze some elderberries last year. I kind of expected purplish colours and in the jar the fabric appeared black. I was surprised therefore with this result.
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a beautiful shade of teal. I am well aware of the notorious fugitive reputation that elderberries have. I am interested to see whether the act of freezing has any effect on this. I am going to have another go with this years elderberries too without freezing.
I am working very much on the principle of the need to work with nature and not try to influence it too much. I am going to use what I achieve with no preconceptions and let it inform me of the next step. Thus if the fabric fades so be it I shall still use it.
I still have 2 jars of St Johns Wort, one jar of honesty flowers and a jar of birch bark which has yet to exhaust.
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St Johns Wort #2

Now that I was looking, I found some more St Johns Wort on the Common. I decided therefore to experiment with wool. The process of extracting different colours only works with the flower heads and I was able to gather enough for my purpose.

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The idea is to boil the flowers until a deep wine colour is achieved

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So far so good. The first colour to come out is supposed to be green, the wool needs to be mordanted with alum.

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The result I got is the fabric at the top not green at all. The second colour is supposed to be a rich burgundy. I should say that my picture is a bit washed out so I ended up with not a bad approximation. I then went off piste a bit a put in some alum mordanted khadi cotton ( no 3 from the top) I was expecting it to come out yellow as with my bottled experiment but it came out a tan/rust. The fourth fabric was left in the pot overnight supposedly to mop up all the remaining red dye. Lastly another alum mordanted wool which was supposed to come out a bright gold. I would say mine was more of a butter yellow.
Not entirely a success. However natural dyeing is like that and I did like the colours achieved. I would be interested to hear from anyone who has had better results. I may also have another go maybe with larger pieces of fabric.