I have now cut up all the stitched pieces of cloth and reassembled them in a 3 metre long strip. Unsure where this is going. Am thinking I need a collection of strips but it is not practical that they all have the same level of intensive stitching. Am also aware of the need for whatever I do at the moment needs to be double sided.
I have recently had the good fortune to have several requests for my work to be exhibited hither and thither recently to the point where I am having to think very carefully about what I can commit where and how to make things work for their living. I do not want to wheel the same old thing out time after time. To this end I am currently working on a piece that will have several incarnations with the view to being placed in several exhibitions that are in the pipeline. Each time it comes down it will be altered in some way or combined into another piece. A kind of journey.
I while back I bought some old cotton cleaning cloths at a car boot sale for £4.00. I loved the rough homespun quality of the fabric and I have used and used them in many pieces and sold a fair few. Sadly I reached the bottom of the pile so it seemed appropriate to use the last for this project. In the last couple of months I have been stitching, a way of getting through the dark winter days. So this is the point I have reached
I confess I have found it rather difficult to get going after the break but here I am at last. Last year was a busy year particularly being Embroiderers Guild Scholar but as that is now coming to an end, I can look forward to another year which promises to be quite busy.
The first event is my exhibition at Rums Eg, Romsey, Hants. which contains quite a bit of the work (and some extras) that I did as Scholar. This runs from 21st January to 14th March.
There is then a bit of a lull for which I am grateful and then I am doing a 2 day workshop at ArtVanGo at the beginning of June. Hard after that is Tea with Rozanne Hawksley hosted by Room 6. This is on 13th June which is a Saturday from 2pm onwards at Lower Upham Village Hall. More about both of these later
I will be part of an exhibition At Eastleigh College at the beginning of July and then as a guest artist with Zeronine textile artists at Hilliers Arboretum from the end of July and all of August.
At the moment I am planning to do Festival of Quilts and The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace with my trusty sidekick Alison Hulme and Bell, Hulme and Moore will be present at The Big Textile Show in Leicester again.
In October also, I am hoping to be part of an exhibition entitled ‘Stitched’ at Romsey Abbey.
In the meantime work will no doubt gather apace on From The Earth for June 2016. For anyone interested the call for Artists will open at the end of the month, giving people about a year to come up with something good.
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.
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
I am not sure this will make it into the exhibition since it is radically different to all the other work I have completed
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…
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
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
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
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.
Lots of flowers in bloom still to be spotted
However it is clear that seed and berry season will soon be upon us.
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
As is soften the case with natural dyes some of the promise of depth of colour was lost when they were opened
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
This is the willow leaf and twig cloth I chucked in some copper staples which has definitely had some interesting effects
This one is the Forsythia mordanted with alum. This has come out a yellowy green – I was expecting more green than I achieved
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.
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.
In the meantime I need to start thinking about how I am to work with my fabrics
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.
The idea is to boil the flowers until a deep wine colour is achieved
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.
I was delighted to find some St Johns Wort on the Common yesterday. It is a magical dye for wool and one can achieve a succession of different colours on wool from the flowers. However since I could only gather a small quantity and I am working on cotton I decided to bottle it and add to my collection. I am hoping for a mustardy yellow.
If I have time and I can gather sufficient flowers I am going to try and experiment with some wool.
Some are destined to be stitched upon and maybe incorporated into work. Some will be used as a record for future reference