Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Birthday bookmarks

Some birthday bookmarks for cps, these will be in the mail this week. I like making bookmarks, everyone reads books. Of course I use a bit of old card to mark my space......

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Winter twinchies

These are for a swap at cloth paper studio. We made twinchies using the theme 'winter'. I thought of those roaring fires that I used to stand in front of, burning my legs. And having to go out in the freezing cold to fetch a bucket of coal.
The coalhouse was part of the house, but the door was on the outside. The loo was next door to it. We didn't linger in there in the winter months! Soon after I left home my parents had a loo fitted in the upstairs bathroom and the coalhouse and loo converted into a downstairs bathroom, bricked up the outside doors and had a new entrance built via the utility room. They also had the coal range taken out, central heating put in and a gas cooker. Luxury.
In case you are thinking how ancient I must be, I will tell you that I didn't leave home until 1975.

Natural dyeing

Workshop day yesterday with Linda Rudkin, we boiled away in the kitchen and came away with loads of samples.

The Indigo is a scrummy colour and I think I might have a proper go at this in the summer, using some shibori techniques. The green yarn had been previously dyed using saffron. The other pieces are only small samples of wool, silk habitai, cotton scrim and silk/viscose velvet. The dyes used were from right to left: Madder root, Walnut, Saffron, Brazil wood, Weld and Log wood.
Dyeing with natural dyes is a bit more of a palava than using procion. First we boiled the fabrics and yarn for 45 minutes in a solution of alum and cream of tartar. The dye stuff was put into pans of water and boiled for an hour. This had to be strained a couple of times. Then the mordanted fabrics were put into the strained dye and boiled for around 30-45 minutes. Then a good rinse. There were 11 of us in the class and we had 8 huge pans boiling away. Bit steamy. Indigo was easier, once the vat was made and rested it was just a case of dipping the fabric into the vat, waiting a couple of minutes and then lifting it back out again.
I like the colours we acheived but I think I prefer the more random splodges that I get when I bung my fabrics into a confined space, I think I will be procion dyeing in future.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I have been trying to make my twinchies for the clothpaperstudio swap, but someone is trying very hard to prevent me from using my sewing machine.
It worked.

Monday, January 07, 2008

I AM a doting grand-ma

Of all the things I am not, a grand-ma isn't one of them. Yep, I dote. This is my little princess ready to leave for her very first day of school. A tiny treasure. Almost 5 and each time I see her my heart beats a tiny bit faster.
GG and her slightly bigger cousin E are the lights of my life.

What makes an artist an artist?

Darned if I know. Do the critics decide? Do the people you sell your work to confirm your status? But what about those great Artists who never sold work in their own lifetime?

Am I an artist? Or a wannabe? I know that I like creating and I often create a mess. I occasionally make something that I like. I have my fans, encouraging mentors and detractors. I have doubts. I throw stuff in the bin. I work endlessly to create the effect I want, I rarely achieve this. Does this mean that I will never be considered a real artist?

Miro is one of those artists who is endlessly copied. Badly. Yet he never sold a work, he gave it all away. He had enough faith in himself to continue to create and also to encourage others. I wouldn't mind being a 'Miro'.


White romance postcard

I made this postcard for the romance swap over at cloth paper studio. It has a quote ripped from an old book of marriage proposals overlaid with one of my favorite angel images printed off onto ExtravOrganza. Then I layered some lace and trims and papers and the lace heart motif which I found in a drawer. The buttons reminded me of crosses so they were added too. A few beads and sequins and voila.
Hmmm. A bit contrived I thought.

So at the last minute I threw this together to cheer myself up. I have had this piece of hand dyed cotton hoarded for a while, it was time to use it. I can always dye some more, hmmmm. I grabbed a handful of my 'Essex Girl' fabrics (purchased from Chelmsford Market ages ago - Market town of Essex for those who don't know) bonded some bondaweb on the back and cut out a handful of hearts. The pink velvet house is a silk velvet shibori experiment which is lovely to touch and it shines in a rather nice way. I like this quote "Come live in my heart, and pay no rent" (Samuel Lover).
I sent a couple of each off to Texas for swapping. I will have to hold my breath and wait to see if they arrive within the deadline.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Hand made twisted cord

I like making my own cords and this one is easy and can be made with threads which match any project. The length of finished cord depends on how long your arms are, mine are only short and I can make a cord long enough for a shoulder length bag.
Cut two or three threads each 100 inches long. Tie a simple knot in one end and loop over a pencil. (It is easier to show than to describe so I have included photographs of this, stage by stage). Put a dolly peg into a clamp, head first, and put the pencil behind the peg with the yarn through the slots. Smooth the yarns and tie a knot in the other end.
Slip a pencil behind this knot and twist it in a clockwise direction (ie to the right). Keep twisting until the bunch of yarn starts to buckle/kink. Hold the pencil in one hand and keeping the cord taut,
fold it in half, and hold the centre fold in your other hand. Put the cord through the slot in the peg with the pencil at the back. Start to twist the cord from the centre fold in an anti-clockwise direction (ie to the left). The cord will want to twist in this direction naturally and if you accidentally drop the end it will still twist and form a firm cord. Lift the pencils off the peg, trim the ends of yarn and tie them together to prevent the cord from un-ravelling.

Pauline's Plethora of Paper Possibilites

At the beginning of December I went off on a weekend workshop playing with paper and stitch with Pauline Verrinder. We coloured and stitched and made books, bowls and other stuff. Pauline throws out so many ideas that very little is finished on her weekend workshops and I always come back with a pile of UFO's.

My New Years Resolution this year was to finish something. This little book was pretty awful. I had painted the paper a lovely yellow/pink/orange and then stitched it with a black core metallic thread. The contrast didn't work but it had taken so long to stitch that I felt I had to try to fix it before I threw it away. I painted over the whole thing with fabric paint and it looks much better. The inside has hand-made paper sheets. The cord has a core of threads and copper beads. It will do now.
Happily now that I have finished something I have fulfilled my NYR so can get on with the rest of the year consience free.