Thursday, November 24, 2016

Something new for me.

I was going to blog on the interesting date, 16/11/16, but I didn't have anything interesting to say!
Now it is the 24th - hmm, maybe my life isn't that interesting at the moment.

Anyway, I am working on a small tapestry at the moment, based on the idea of The Four Elements. I am not sure my image is going to work. As usual, I had an idea and started before I had really worked it all out. So my image was a lightly coloured pencil thing (I used two images from 123RF, a copyright image place, if you pay for the images.)
Then I started weaving and instantly began with bright colours! So I am having to make colour decisions as I go, as the cartoon is only a vague suggestion of what I want(ed).

I found that I had woven a small section and didn't like how I had done it. I wanted to change the colours slightly, make them stronger. It is a curving piece and I would have had to pull out some of my weaving to get to the piece I didn't like. I have pulled out more on this piece than I have EVER pulled out in one tapestry and that may have influenced me in my decision to just pull out the offending part and see if I could fix it without having to pull out all the other bits.

So I pulled out the bits that were at the top, lifted some side bits to get at the curve and then pulled it out.

Then I used a tapestry needle to 'sew' the new colour in. It seems to have worked, probably because it was a very small section and didn't need a lot of manoeuvring.

I am not confident that the final piece is going to be altogether successful. So I am considering making a very simple piece, maybe just one colour. Then I can put it out in the weather, bury it in the compost heap and maybe even burn part of it. That should cover the four elements - water (rain - we are having plenty of that at the moment, maybe I had better hurry before summer eventually arrives); air (wind);  earth (compost heap); and fire (could be the heat from the compost, the sun or just a candle).

I'll wait to see how the first one goes. It seems a lot of work to weave a piece and then let the elements have their way on it. But it would definitely suit the theme. But I would have to hurry to finish it, so that the elements will have time to work on it before it is due to be handed in to my tapestry group.

I am even thinking of using different weft yarns, maybe wool, cotton and linen, to see how they react to the elements. It might make the actual weaving a bit more interesting too. Not that I am definitely going to do it.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Spring, moving in to Christmas

It's that time of year again - sort of.
The hydrangeas are starting to get flowers.
One even had a rectangular-looking flower.

The hydrangeas are usually flowering around Christmas. It just seems a bit early this year. I'm not sure if it the very wet spring we have had or if I am just aware of it earlier than usual.

The olive tree is throwing huge amounts of flowers onto the ground. I hope it means a good crop of olives, not that we usually do that much with them.

There are seeds everywhere.
The mulberries are available. The birds are eating them. The berries are making stains on the ground, usually a reminder that they would be good for dyeing fabric (if we haven't eaten in the meantime).

One of our neighbours is leaving bread out for the crows. (Special note: we call them crows here in Victoria, apparently they are really ravens.)
They use our bird baths and doggy water bowls to soak the bread before eating it. Clever birds.

The crows nest is still in the gum tree, despite the baby having hatched and being one of the users of the water bowls. Or is that babies? I haven't been keeping a close enough eye on them to know how many birds have hatched this year.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Post card swap 3

I have sent all my postcards and have received most of my return ones.
So here are the pictures of all the ones I sent.
Free motion sewing on soluble fabric, using some sari silk ribbons and yarns. Dyed silk background. 

Based on fossil idea. Silk roving, chiffon, silk, scrim. Some hand sewing.

Silk hankies, free motion sewing, silhouette done with black fabric, free motion sewing to attach. 
They were sent rather randomly, I didn't have any particular reason for sending different ones to different people.
A couple were sent to New Zealand, so I tried to make them either the Melbourne skyline or based on central Australia.

It was quite good fun to make them. They are quite small, 10x15cm (postcard size). It was a bit of a challenge to make them fit the smaller format in some cases.
But it was a great opportunity to play with ideas and techniques.

I have received most of mine now and am feeling inspired to try some new techniques or to revive some old ones.
It has been quite a challenge to do so many but it has also been very exciting to receive them all in the mail.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Post Card Swap 2

I had intended to make more of the free motion post cards but I got sidetracked by the fossil idea that I had used for making my last Gondwana piece (which I also put in the Buda exhibition).

I used the same technique to make the shell but didn't use batting on the backgrounds. I tried using adhesive interfacing but the fabric was too transparent and didn't work well. I also found that, not having the batting, the texture was less. I didn't use the machine to sew the shell pieces to the backgrounds as that flattens the piece too much. So I spent several hours doing some very simple sewing to attach it all.

Once again, I made the pieces larger than needed, so I could cut them to the correct size. This meant that I had to cut off some pieces that I rather liked, to make them fit.

One thing I learnt - if you are going to put another piece of interfacing on the background, to make it stronger and to hide the sewing, then you should make it slightly smaller than the top. If you don't do that, you can see the white edges and they are hard to get rid of.

So I now have made all the pieces and posted them. Some of them will take 7 working days to get there. As we have a local holiday on Tuesday, for the Melbourne Cup horse race, I am not sure when they will arrive.
I will not post any pictures here of the finished pieces until I have heard that they all arrived - if I remember to do it then.

Perhaps I will have moved on to something new by then!

The postcards have been interesting to do because they have given me the chance to play around with techniques in a small format. The smaller format has some design issues that relate to them specifically but, overall it has given me a chance to refine, reinforce or change some ideas.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Post Card Swap

One of the things my online group has decided to do is make postcards to send to each member who chose to participate. There were 15 of us (if I have counted correctly). So I had to make 14.

I did a few using the first technique we learnt at Michelle Mischkulnig's workshop, a couple of weekends ago.

I can't remember why but I decided to try a technique that I have used before - free motion sewing using some sari silk and other threads and yarns to anchor the sewing.

I only made three as I had forgotten that it is so much easier if you use the sticky soluble fabric. I did the three that fitted on the fabric I had prepared.

 I was going to make more, using the sticky soluble, but ended up only making the three.

I laid the long piece out on a cardboard box top, hoping to pin it tightly so it would not shrink too much. Not a great idea, as it turned out. It stuck to the cardboard and I had to wet it again to get the cardboard off.

So then I pinned it to an old piece of polystyrene that we had lying around. That worked much better.

Then I cut the pieces to size. I had made them all a bit bigger than I needed, allowing for some shrinkage. I then sewed put a piece of dyed silk that I had, from ages ago, as a background. I ironed it onto some adhesive interfacing.

Then I sewed around the edge to make it all secure. I will post images of these once they have been received by the participants.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Trying to use the workshop lessons

I am in an online group that is currently making and sending postcards of our textile works. We have to do 14, which seems a lot. But I am working through them.
So far, I have done 6 using some of the ideas from the workshop with Michelle Mishkulnig.
I used silk hankies to make a background, then put some little bits of threads from other projects, a very small amount of Angelina fibre, then another layer of silk hankie. Then I did some free motion sewing on the background.

A couple of the pieces are based on a picture I have from my trip to Uluru a couple of years ago. The colours just seemed to suggest the Australian landscape.

When I went to put the interfacing on the back, so I could put the address of the recipient, I realised that you could see straight through it. So now I have put card not the back. This means that I now have a sewing machine needle that is for paper sewing, in a special container. I just need to remember that that is what it is for.

The others were done using a silhouette of the Melbourne skyline that I have used in the past.
So far I have made 6 of these.

I won't post pics of the finished pieces till the recipients have got the works, just so I don't spoil the surprise. They don't have to be posted till the 29th of October and I still have 5 or 6 to make, so I had better get a wriggle-on, as they say. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Workshop completed.

We had our second day today of the Michelle Mischkulnig workshop. My friend and I travelled together and we were a slightly worried that we might be a bit early but we wanted to catch up with the people who had started sewing yesterday. I think we may have been the last to arrive! Obviously, everyone was keen to get going, having enjoyed the previous day so much. Fortunately, Lee had everything organised and ready to go.

Today we sewed the background. Mine was a bit too textural and did cause trouble with the foot of the machine. Michelle helped me to flatten it some more and it behaved much better. I was able to do the sewing without having to put yet another layer of Vliesofix on top, to anchor it down more smoothly. Some of the other participants did this and it worked well, and looked good too. But I wanted to have as much texture as I could and still sew.

We sewed around our butterflies from yesterday. The black thread really lifted the colours. We cut them out, ready to attach to the piece, once we had worked out how to place everything.
Luckily, I had photographed my progress because I had thought I had done 5 butterflies and couldn't find the last one. The photo proved that I had only done 4 and should get a good night's sleep tonight.
We also sewed some flat leaves onto the background, as appliqué.

Then we put some of our leaf fabric onto felt and sewed leaf shapes.  I did it the wrong way around, not having read the notes properly. It didn't work well at all. I tried to sew around the edges but the points of the leaves kept disappearing into the works of the machine. Fortunately, Michelle had given us plenty of fabric, so I had enough to sew some more leaves - and then cut them out. That worked much better.

We attached the 3D leaves to felt and sewed around the shape. Once it was sewn, we then pulled it about a bit to make it twist and bend, giving it a much more sculptural texture.

Once we had the leaves, butterflies, a twisted 'vine' (which is a branch on my piece) and a flower, we fiddled around trying for the best arrangement. As I had not done a great job with my flower, I decided not to include it.

Here is the finished piece. All I have to do now is think about how I want to mount and frame it. I will put is aside for a few days while I think about it.

I treated this workshop as a learning experience rather than one to produce an outcome. Therefore, I have used colours that I would not normally use (not a bad thing, really). I probably would do a bit more research about actual butterfly patterns and colours if I do it again. But I am not unhappy with the result.

I must try to use some of the techniques again soon, to make sure that I embed them in my repertoire and don't have to think "How did I do that again?" So I might experiment a bit this week, maybe on a smaller scale.

Here are the pieces done by others.  We put them on the floor for better photos. You will see better images here, on Facebook.