Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Books and Things

After a lovely day at the Lost in Lace exhibition in Birmingham yesterday I thought I would be brimming over with ideas for a new project.  Another thing that isn't going to happen! However I always have my books to fall back on whilst thinking is taking place. This is the Kantha covered book I made some time ago, I 'm painting a colour wash on each page to take the starkness off the white paper, but I couldn't resist a little decoration on the first page - now why didn't I leave the cover page plain and start on the next page. Then I wouldn't have had a horrible contrast between the pages. When it's dry I will sew the first page to the cover. Some days it's better to do nothing rather than wreck work already done!

This is another page in my little Balsa wood covered book - a bit weak but not a book wrecker.

This is the start of another book made of papers from an old school exercise book that I know to be at least sixty years old . The paper is faded and starting to break up in places, just what I want for a little vintage book.

I'm still thinking about the lace exhibition and have to say that I was more moved by the Museum's collection of lace from their own textile archives. I was intrigued by the ideas, innovation and techniques shown by some of the artists in the main  show but I felt disconnected and uninvolved. I'm not sure if just making something big gives it more gravitas if it lacks in something to start with. (I'm thinking of the crystal net installation ' Inverted Cathedral' here). I need to think about it a bit more!
 Loved the museum and was amazed at the quality  of the art it contained, definitely worth several more visits. As I hadn't been to Birmingham for at least twenty years I spent the rest of the day acting like a tourist with my mouth wide open - nothing like the City I remember. The |Bullring area looks like some Sci- Fi architect was given free reign to vent his wildest dreams, all this modernity juxtaposed with  the old church in the background was surreal.
 I think I liked it!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Name and Shame

I hope that by publishing part of my stack of U.F.O.'s I will somehow shame myself into finishing a few! The crazy thing is  that 80% of them are a day away from finishing and what am I doing? Playing with a pleater/smocker that I borrowed from a friend. I had visions of turning out yards and yards of Fortuny like silk all pleated and stashed for future projects.

I don't think this machine likes synthetic voiles very much. I'm sure that if I removed the threads the fabric would bounce back to normal very quickly. I'm going to try some silk and cotton organza next. Any one had any experience of this machine?
The cording session is well and truly over  - indeed we have probably produced enough cord to supply our needs for the next century or so. I tested the machine to destruction level by running torrn fabrics and novelty wools and ribbons through it and still it persisted (ah.... British engineering).

Now if I set myself the goal of finishing one UFO a day I could have a self - righteous glow by the end of the week.

It's not going to happen is it?

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Cord Mania


It started with a rather out of proportion tassel that  I finished off during  my Tuesday 'Calico' meeting, the outcome was rather disappointing. I wanted elegant - and ended up with a dumpy looking thing  that was far from what I had wanted to achieve. Whilst making it I needed some co-ordinating cord which took ages to make by hand. (I'm not very partial to those quick make zig-zag cords that you make on the sewing machine). I want a proper cord. It got me thinking how often I use cords and wouldn't it be useful to have a good selection of colours and weights of cord to hand.
Looking through my stash of threads I rediscovered about a 150 skeins of stranded cottons that I had inherited from a friend, I rarely use stranded threads and every time I glimpsed them I felt a twinge of guilt that they were going to waste. 

The next thing to do was to buy a cord maker - £195.00 put paid to that idea. Beloved husband - source of all things practical, took one look at what I wanted and emerged some time later from the loft bearing what looked like the very first Meccano set ever invented. A bit of trial and error and the mark 4 version works perfectly.

I'm producing 2 metre lengths of cord from this wonderful Heath Robinson set up and it hasn't cost a penny. With John's help I have made 36 pieces today of a medium weight cord. Tomorrow we will make the same amount of a much finer blend.

A double length of stranded cotton is used on each hook and then spun so that each colour is twisted quite tightly - then with a small adjustment to the machine all four strands are twisted together giving a multi -coloured cord.

When we had achieved 36 cords we wound them onto cardboard tubes - and gloated!!

A good day's work!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Soft Furnishings

The end of our marathon decorating session is in sight. We started a couple of days after new year and have worked our way through the whole house. I couldn't resist a little bit of soft furnishing replacement once we got to the guest room. I was inspired by some fabric I found at Beecrafty last week. This is the only room with colour on the walls so I decided to really go for it and use a strong contrast. The cushions are a real quick make I devised some time ago (cushions covers get changed frequently round here so I like to make them VERY quickly). No zips or fixings just a self covered button pulled through the whole cushion with some pretty ribbon and tied in a bow on the back.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

New palette

The wonderfully sunny winter days that we have had over the last week or so have inspired a new colour pallete for my embroidered beads - baby pinks for the newness of the year, a little red left over from christmas, seemingly  matching my mood of quiet optimism for things to come. A lot can be read into the colour of my beads!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Rewarding beads

I made an agreement with myself yesterday - no more beads until I'd written my 'embroidered beads' programme. I'm teaching it next month and time slips away so quickly. I'm not good at last minute 'winging it' situations anymore. Six hours later it was done, dusted and printed.  A good feeling, now perhaps I can deal with all my others UFO's in the same way!
My reward was getting back to my beads. I couldn't wait to get this one finished and it shows. I need some different coloured threads and to work in daylight but it's a learning curve and its very pretty for all it's faults.

Now if I just get this piece finished I can reward myself by making another button.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Gorgeous beaded buttons

I attended a class at BeCrafty yesterday with the irrepressible Sarah Payne. Although I have made lots of embroidered buttons in the past I have always been intrigued by her exquisite beadwork that she applies to fabric covered buttons. What a great day - Sarah has a lovely relaxed style of teaching and I absorbed a lot of knowledge about various beads without really being aware of it. These are some of the buttons produced by our class.
I went out to buy some beads this morning and looked at them with different eyes. Thanks for introducing me to delica beads Sarah I can feel a very expensive love affair coming up.

Of course I had do do something totally over the top for my first button!

I'm thinking of something a bit more restrained and thought out for my next attempt!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Gelatin and Vermeer

Tuesday was spent with two good friends enjoying our monthly crafting day (an excuse to get very messy really).
I had seen a lot of references to gelatin printing lately and was itching to have a go. The night before I made up three 'plates' using a recipe from Workshop on the Web. They sat in the fridge over night and travelled several miles with no problem the next day.
We tested several mediums - acrylics -fabric paints - printing inks to name a few and discovered that all worked well with a little tweaking such as adding water or or gels or extenders. We used rollers - stencils - and stamps and just played all day.

I did quite a few paper prints as I often work in this medium and knew that it would be a useful addition to my stash.
I moved onto printing on fabric in the afternoon and although the colours were not quite vibrant enough for me, some useful samples were produced. Good company, lots of laughter some excellent cross-over of ideas for future get togethers, all in all a perfect day.

Wednesday was spent at the Vermeer exhibition in The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge with John and another two good friends. I have to say that I generally avoid Cambridge like the plague: too much traffic and people for my liking,however the park and ride system made the whole experience a delight, yes - I know I'm a bit behind the  times but it was my first journey using this bus even though it's been in existance for a few years.
What can I say about the exhibition - sublime, awesome, thought provoking, I could write hundred pages on the experience. A day to savour and remember for a long time. I remember quoting Vermeer as one of my favourite artists when asked the question at college some years ago and remember being made to feel very uncool and unworldly in my taste.
I stand by my answer to this day!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Post christmas blues beater

On New years day John and I like so many other people we know had a low grade virus. For various reasons were feeling low in spirit and energy - sad news and missing faces over the holiday period had eaten away at our normal optimism.
Almost without discussion we knew what we had to do  - DECORATE - and not just a room - the whole house!
So here we are eight days later having completed the ground floor and about to start on the stairs and landing.
No, it hasn't made everything in life wonderful but it has lifted our spirits, built our energy levels back up and made the house sparkle at the same time. It helps that decorating is an enjoyable process for us both and that the whole house is painted in the same shade - Calico White walls and eggshell woodwork in the same shade. We find it allows us to display a lot of art work without looking too busy.

An indulgence was to replace our two Ikea table lamps in the sitting room. My style is 60's/70s retro scandinavian ( Think G-plan, Nathan, Mackintosh teak furniture) so I wanted lamps that hinted at this era. The ones I really wanted were utterly out of my budget (as usual) and I settled for a pair I found in B&Q  that had black lampshades however they cast an unpleasant light because they were lined with white paper. I really wanted black shades that were lined with copper gilding  which cost £80.00 each and upwards. I thought I would settle for a white retro shade instead but when I tried the shade at home it was out of proportion with the base, really dumpy and squat. 

To cut a long story short (wake up at the back there) I've ended up joining the two shades together and gilding the inside of the black one with copper leaf (as in the first image). Not completely there yet that ribbon is a bit wobbly but you get the picture.
I'm just about to make some gelatin plates for printing fabric and paper with my two crafting buddies at our monthly meeting tomorrow. Will post on the success or otherwise.