Friday 30 September 2011

T. G. I. Friday

This week has whizzed by but I'm not sorry it's Friday.

My first day at University was rather uneventful... queues to get passwords, queues to check I am who I say I am, queues to have my photo taken, queues to receive my college I.D card and queues to hand over vast sums of tuition fees. This was all followed by an afternoon playing getting to know you games more suited to 12 year olds and being told what a wonderful museum the V and A is and how we really should try and visit. I guess the only way is up...

Wednesday saw me in Norwich stewarding the ERTF Concepts and Meanings exhibition in Dragon Hall.
For the exhibition, I finished a third standing figure to accompany my original two standing figures from the telephone kiosk.

Ideally they look best in the context of the phone box and failing that I like them displayed overlapping against light but because of the nature of the building and certain restraints in hanging work this wasn't possible, but overall I was really pleased with the way they looked. There is some lovely work in the exhibition which is still open for another week.

Today I've been teaching up near Huntingdon at Bee Crafty... my first time at this shop that is only seven weeks old yet absolutely buzzing with activity. It is a real treasure trove of beads, buttons, yarns, trims and of course fabric... well worth a visit. I had been told to expect cake but I wasn't prepared for the wonderful plate of homemade biscuits that appeared with elevenses. By the time I grabbed my camera this was all that was left! It doesn't get much better than homemade jammy dodgers!

As well as eating cake and biscuits, we also did some sewing and these are some of the wonderful books finished by ladies on the course...

And as for me...  you know I said I had an urge to make an even smaller book... you know I said there wasn't time this week... well, I guess you also know me well enough by now to know I'd do it...

So here it is, just 4cm square.

With a bonded and stitched cover with real ivy leaves

and sixty four little folded pages! I'm not going any smaller because cute though it is, it is also pretty useless!

As for tonight... I think wine, knitting and Strictly Come Dancing are on the agenda... before all the madness starts again next week.

Monday 26 September 2011

More Books

I've been a little obsessed over the weekend with making more samples of these little folding books with bonded covers.

Some have real leaves painted, bonded and trapped under chiffon on a paper background.

Others have skeleton leaves instead.

All are machine stitched with free machining and tied with braids made to match.

But as I've been making them I've had an increasing desire to make them smaller.
Precious little books that fit into your hand.

And I've experimented with the folded pages so that this one has thirty two little folded sections made from a single sheet of A3 paper.

It has a lovely solid compact feeling...
So now I want to go even smaller and see just how small I can make these books and how many folded pages I can include.

But I can't... I mustn't...
Tomorrow is the first day at University for my MA, followed by a day up in Norwich and then two days teaching. After the weekend I'm driving down to Cornwall for the week (more teaching) and then back for another three days teaching and a day filming. Somehow I have to fit in studying and family stuff as two sons have birthdays during the next couple of weeks so there will be special dinners and cakes... so no time to be fiddling about making little books.

I shouldn't even be on here blogging...  unless of course I finish another little book!

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Embroidered Books

I've spent the last couple of days making more samples.
This time some little origami fold books with embroidered covers for a class I'm teaching on Friday 30th September.

I'll be at Bee Crafty in Huntingdon which is a new venue for me.
That's because Bee Crafty is a new store, only open since August 6th so it's all very exciting. 

I believe there are a couple of places left on the class so I would love it if you could join us for the day.
Apparently there's free cake too!

Monday 19 September 2011

Sketchbooks and Cupcakes

As summer draws to an end so have my sketchbook tutorials, although I hope everyone who has been joining in over the summer will continue to work in their sketchbooks.

At the weekend I had a chance to join in a day class with Jan Beaney at our Embroiderer's Guild and it seemed a good opportunity to develop some of the images from my summer sketchbooks.

These photographs and quick sketches of daisies from last years work, had led to the monoprint collage below in this year's red themed book, which I though might translate well to an embroidered panel.

Jan was teaching a technique of creating a personal cloth by working onto a surface of water soluble fabric. (I should say before I forget, she was a excellent and entertaining teacher.) So I combined the layout of the monoprint with the colors of the photographs and came up with this panel below.

Layers and layers of both machine and hand stitch built up to create a dense fabric...

With a few beads thrown in for good measure.

It is still very much a sample at this stage but I think it could have potential to develop into a larger panel.
One of the questions I often get asked is how can sketchbook work be developed into finished pieces and there is no one simple answer. The point which I hope to illustrate here is that the more you work in sketchbooks and the more you work samples, the better informed your work becomes.

Other news here... I finished my final panel for the ERTF exhibition in Norwich... but I'm keeping it under wraps until the exhibition opens so you'll have to wait until next week. I've also received rather a lot of parcels in the post too... just look at all these cakes that have arrived already for my Pink Friday Party... and it's still over a month away! Of course my excitment was dampened somewhat when certain male members of my family pointed out the irony of raising money for Breast Cancer Care with knitted cakes that look remarkably like breasts!

There have been real cupcakes too (not that they deserved them) ... coffee and walnut though... I couldn't face pink cakes with cherries!

Friday 16 September 2011

Henry Moore

Amid all the crazy stuff going on I had a little oasis of peace this week. My friend Anna and I had a day out to Perry Green to visit the Henry Moore Foundation, the Hertfordshire home of Henry Moore.

Neither of us could quite believe that we have lived so close to this amazing property for so long yet have never visited before. Our first stop was Hoglands, a timber framed farmhouse that had been home to Moore and his wife Irina from 1940 until Irina's death in 1989. No photographs allowed unfortunately, but it had been restored to appear exactly as it would have been when they were living there. We were given a personal tour of rooms full of wonderful books, amazing artefacts and fabulous artwork, including drawings from the likes of Degas, Picasso and of course Moore himself.

Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge 1976

Immediately behind the house is Irina's beautiful garden and then beyond that acres of gardens, orchards and farmland full of some of Moore's wonderful sculpture, all quite breathtaking.

Three Piece Sculpture: Vertebrae 1968

We were really lucky with the weather and were able to wander at our leisure. We both thought we would do some drawing but decided there was so much to take in on this first visit that we would return to do that another time.

Reclining Figure 1982

Reclining Figure 1982

Figure in a Shelter 1983

Large Figure in a Shelter 1985-86

Large Interior Form 1953-54

In the grounds, several of Moore's studios have been restored to to the way they were when he was using them, all open to visitors. One of these studios backs onto a pasture full of grazing sheep, where Henry Moore used to sit at the window and sketch them.

Studies of Sheep, Ballpoint pen, 1972

I love the sculptures and especially love all his drawings but the best for me were the tapestries hanging in one of the converted barns. In the 1940s Henry Moore worked on textile designs, many of which can be seen on the curtains hanging in Hoglands, but after that period his work was mostly sculpture. Then in the 1970s he returned to textiles, producing drawings that were made into tapestries. There began a collaboration in the 1980s with the West Dean College tapestry studio where 23 large scale tapestries were woven from Moore's original drawings.

Mother and Child Holding Apple, Tapestry, 1982-83

Moore himself was adament they should be interpretations of his drawings rather than reproductions and they work so well with a beautiful painterly quality. Absolutely stunning.

Row of Sleepers, Tapestry 1986

I can see me returning to Perry Green on a regular basis and could certainly recommend it. It was such a wonderful day out and virtually on our doorstep! I would also like to say that the staff and guides were among the most pleasant, helpful and courteous I've ever met.

Henry Moore 1898 - 1986

Monday 12 September 2011

Concepts and Meanings

I should have mentioned yesterday that the exhibition I'm taking part in will be this:

Concepts and Meanings
by members of the Eastern Region Textile Forum
27th Sept - 9th October
Dragon Hall, Norwich

I will be there stewarding on Wednesday 28th September when there will also be a private view from 4 - 7 pm. If you live in the area and would like to come along please email me and I'll email you back an invitaion. It would be good to see you.

I will be exhibiting these two panels along with a third standing figure yet to be completed... I guess I'd better get back to work!

Sunday 11 September 2011


I feel as though I've been absent for a while.
(although it has been less than a week)
I'm not really sure what has been going on to keep me away...

  • I made cake... blueberry and lime drizzle
  • I've started a new term teaching
  • I took my samples to be photographed... filming starts next month
  • I've done housework... a rare event so worth a mention
  • And today we went to see some alpacas... funny looking things!

So just a bit of this and that really... but I feel like I'm biding my time before stuff really gets busy. The next six weeks seem just a little bit crazy. My MA starts in a couple of weeks, I've got work in an exhibition in Norwich which requires my presence for a day (not to mention actually finishing the work), and a teaching schedule like I've never tackled before... including four days in St Ives. So I may well be absent on and off for quite a while. Lets just say blogging will be erratic and I'll be back properly at the end of October... for my Pink Friday Party!

For other members of my family life seems to be one long party... Joe, still in New Zealand has been watching the rugby world cup... apparently he was spotted on the TV coverage which I have to say I missed! (Joe's the one in the middle.) I miss Joe too!

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Back to School - Back to Work

As an end of summer holiday treat I took Jacob and his girlfriend Paige into London yesterday and we played at being tourists for the day. Being born in the capital and having spent part of my childhood in or around London it is easy to forget what a wonderful place it is.

Our first stop was the London Eye. Jacob was not keen but we did eventually persuade him to stand up and look out!

Back on firm ground we crossed Westminster Bridge and I got rather excited that we were passing St Stephen's Tower just as Big Ben chimed midday. (It doesn't take much to make me happy!) 

Past Westminster Abbey and then down Whitehall where we walked past the end of Downing Street, past the guardsmen at Horseguard's Parade, peeking down to Buckingham Palace as we went.

In Trafalgar Square we stopped for lunch before heading to the National Portrait Gallery

Where we saw Glamour of the Gods... a small but beautiful exhibition of Hollywood studio photography.
Paige is studying photography, in particular portraits so we were combining some research with our day out.
We ended up touring the entire gallery, there was so much to see.

Today they are both back for their last year at sixth form college and so it was back to work for me too.
I've spent the day sorting out and making new machine embroidery samples.

Some will be used for forthcoming classes

But most are being put together in a box to be taken to be photographed later this week.

They will be used as promotional material because next month I'm going to making a DVD (about which I am also quite excited... okay, VERY excited!)

Keep an eye on the Colouricious website for more information. Or better still, sign up for their newsletter.

Although you can be sure I'll let you know more as it happens too