Winter Draws On

The temperature has dropped and its now definitely winter. All the leaves are now off the trees and it is now stitching season. I have been working on the grey pieces for Room 6 exhibition at the NEC next March. This is something of a sneak preview

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On Thursday I am heading off to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate where I will be demonstrating on the Artists in Action stand run by ArtVanGo. There are 6+ artists demonstrating a myriad of techniques there every day so well worth a visit if you are going. I will be doing a bit of ecoprinting and then Alison Hulme and I are going to be demonstrating screen printing with natural dyes.


Going Grey

In actual fact have been going grey since the age of about 24 and the process has yet to be completed. However the reference here is to work I am embarking on currently. It is for an exhibition entitled ‘Six Shades of Grey’ in which I am involved as part of the exhibiting group Room 6 at the Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch Show at the NEC in Birmingham ¬†on 17th – 21st March next year. I have collected my fabrics

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and dyed the threads

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Just the small matter of combining together to produce something. It seems like a long way away, however with 2 other large exhibitions coming up after its as well to get ahead of the game. Watch this space for updates.


Always more to Learn

I am not an habitual giver of workshops – it is not really my style and I feel that I still have so much to learn. However when the opportunity arose to do a workshop at ArtVanGo, I decided to cave in. In the end I had a blast. The students were lovely and wanted to work really hard and the results were stunning!
We worked on fabric and paper and I think everyone went home with something rather special and my point about learning was proven since I came away feeling I had learned as much as they had!
Here are some of the highlights – there were many many more but not captured on camera.

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For anyone interested, the orangey red on images 3 and 4 come from aquelegia – who would have thought!

Many thanks to Viv and Kev for their hospitality. If anyone is in the neighbourhood of Knebworth and doesn’t know about it, ArtVanGo is a treasure trove of supplies of all kinds.


From the Earth

I realize with all the juggling and irons in the fire that has been happening recently I have completely forgotten to mention here, the very exciting event, I have been starting to plan alongside a fellow textile artist with whom I share very similar interests, Jenny Leslie – her website is here

This is some of her lovely work
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During the month of June 2016 we are planning to hold an exhibition which celebrates ethical and natural practices within textiles in its broadest sense. This will be staged in the barns at PS Arts, Datchworth, Herts, website here. Alongside this we are setting up a series of related workshops led hopefully by some well known names. The whole thing is entitled From the Earth. Its has a dedicated website and blog and a page on Facebook. We are also pleased to announce that Jenny Dean has very kindly agreed to open the exhibition for us.

We are going to announce a Call for Artists at the end of January 2015 which hopefully will give anyone interested in participating plenty of time to put something together. I am hoping that we will get at least a few expressions of interest from overseas in order to give the whole thing an international flavour.


London

It has been a hectic couple of days here at the Knitting and Stitching Show. I have spoken to literally hundreds of people, many of whom have had very kind words to say about my work. As usual I have had difficulty getting decent photographic images.

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I am hoping that I have better on my big camera which will be posted on my return home


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.


Sneak Preview

I have just completed one of my pieces for the Knitting and Stitching Shows. I am not entirely sure how I feel about it.
These are a few details of the piece which is on Eco printed paper. Dimensions of the whole thing are approximately 25cm by 150cm.

It’s just over a month to go and still an awful lot to do.

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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.


St Johns Wort

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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.

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If I have time and I can gather sufficient flowers I am going to try and experiment with some wool.