Friday, March 16, 2018

delicate decisions

thank you for all the wonderful comments on my last post... the heart card especially has inspired further ideas

the other day i stitched some random strips together to create a surface for embroidery

silk, lace, handmade rosebud paper {not made by me} and a strip cut from some ivory silk i pin-tucked a while ago

it pays to have a stash of goodies like that when inspiration strikes

i've been adding french knots in white and pale, pale pink, crystal seed beads and a row of simple running stitch... so far...

then the great debate started up in my head...

what else to add?

bullion knot roses perhaps?

a spray of leaves in chain stitch or feather perhaps?

maybe fly stitch fronds?

last night this sat in front of me for the better part of half an hour whilst i waffled back and forth between any and all of the above... finally putting it aside to think about

this morning i decided that though enough was enough with my decision dithering, well, clearly i didn't have enough of this to experiment with...

so i made six more - not as large as this... tiny, diminutive even

little miniatures...

and tonight i will play

Sunday, March 11, 2018

little bits

this is one of my favourite days of the year... 

"spring ahead" day

some people are complaining bitterly about the time change but in a nod to my mother's attitude of making the most of things, for me, it means just what it's called... spring is truly ahead and so all's right with the world

 it's especially nice on a day like today where the sky is as blue as it can possibly be and the sun is beaming brightly

sunny days like this are especially nice in my sewing room as it has a big corner window and though it faces north-east, the light is beautiful, making it a happy place to be

most days I stand at my worktable for a few hours, working away at various bits of hand-stitching and lately i've been working on cards

cards are so much fun to make - using random bits, left-overs from other work, they come together quickly and oftentimes, no two are alike... "mini works of art" might be a stretch, but i think "delightful" might not be

the one above was a pure joy - simple, but so pleasurable to work on

there's just something about making french knots, and lots of them, that pleases me to no end

below is a play with some petal paper bought last september... it's very thin, in some areas especially, so it's been layered with a fine english muslin to add a little strength as well as give me a place to tie off threads... since this photo was taken the running stitch has been finished and a few more french knots added 

i like the way the pin-pricking and knots extend the lace, something i'd like to investigate further

this last bit is me experimenting with relief appliqué - hook, line and sinker, this is my new favourite technique... love it

all those wrinkle

it's a fiddle, no doubt of that, but so worth it

just in the process of working out the centre - more knots, beads maybe??? 
there will most likely be stitching that gets added between the petals - frondy-type ones?

it amazes me how many tries it takes to get things just right - designing is not easy, at least not for me

figuring out what to do with all these bits and pieces and ideas and things takes a lot of time, more time than if i just followed a pattern, and even though it's an exercise in frustration at times, it's so much more satisfying to figure it out for myself

and with a little bit of time, a little bit of effort and a little bit of this and that, i make a little thing that hopefully brings a little bit of joy to someone

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

it's a waiting game...

thank you very much for such a wonderful response to my last post - you are all so kind

i thought perhaps you might be interested in seeing what i'm getting up to now...

as i mentioned, that book was made in a class i took with karen ruane called "artist's books"

it was such a great class we all said we could make artist's books for a year, and so karen very kindly gave us what we asked for and created a new class:

this time around i thought it might be nice to have some sort of theme or direction to work with so chose the fashion designer christian lacroix as my inspiration

he has such a beautiful, bold style, and a flair for colour

i began making samples but couldn't quite make up my mind what format i wanted for the book itself and eventually stalled - without having some sense of page size etc. it was difficult to make certain decisions  

the other day i found the solution...

several years go, perhaps five or six anyway, i made a book with pages that were made up of bits and pieces of all types of paper that were sewn together by machine - loads of fun to make and rather eclectic

every so often i would pick it up, flip through the pages, thinking of various things i could use it for but always ended up putting it back on the shelf... the other day i was showing it to a friend when the wheels started to turn...

this is the frontispiece for the book pages, a beautiful old-fashioned image and a scrap of lace i had sewn in back when the book was made

looking at that image, i immediately realized this book was the perfect thing for my lacroix inspired work from the new class

the pages are all the same height but not the same width...

i laid one of my samples alongside a compatible page just to be sure - perfect! 

i had even used decorative machine stitches now and again when sewing the pages together and am so glad i did - they add yet another layer of interest

now that i had a format and a set of parameters for my page compositions i rooted out all that i had worked on and began playing about with page compositions

i even found a small painting of rosebuds from a couple of years ago

we had a great discussion in our class flickr group about a couple of options for ribbon choices and placement, which is another reason i love these classes so much

thoughtful and inspired discussions and suggestions, a wealth of knowledge and sharing... such an amazing and talented group

and no better teacher than karen - i could never thank her enough for all that she has taught me, both in technique and in awareness

"look, consider, see the bigger picture, never throw anything away, sampling informs"

and here is the beginnings of another page spread - some of this has already changed since the photo was taken but there is a plan that's developed and i'm ready to go

my work is taking the form of a scrapbook now, much like the way lacroix himself works: embroidered samples, scraps of fabric, snippets of trims and ribbons, photos and other inspirational images, ideas gleaned from here, there and everywhere

anything that inspires

some new, others that have been hanging around for a while, waiting for the idea to strike, the connection to be made

and then the waiting is over...

if you want to make books like this one or the one from my last post, and need a guiding hand, have a look here

you won't regret it...

Thursday, January 18, 2018

gone and done it...

well, i did it... bought myself a new laptop and am pleased to say, just getting the photos imported, edited and then on to here was lickety-split

easy as pie...

my old laptop is 10 1/2 years old and though it's a gem and i love it, slow doesn't come close to describing how it deals with certain tasks like loading web pages and dealing with images

what a treat!

in honour of that, here are sixteen or so images of my latest body of work

this is my artist's book, made over a few classes i took with karen ruane

there are just six folded pages but they are so crammed full of bits of stitching that i had to make the spine about 3" thick

in order to facilitate the flipping through of the pages i thought i would try a "bent" spine, or "curved" i suppose

the pages are sewn into the book in groups of two, so three signatures

there is a rather large gap between the groups and i plan to add some kind of detail into those spaces... just mulling it over for now

I do love how it looks from above...

here's a page-by-page tour...

gathered lace sewn to a curved page

crossings of fabric, lace and stitch

strung beads

french knot squares

padded applique

a pocket with a tiny book

a stitched flower

a decorative tube with lace pulled through

a game of x's and o's

a circle of tiny brass staples and embroidery with a layered flower of tissue paper collage

scrim lace

and another tube, this one with gimp

there is still more that can be added to these pages, anytime the mood strikes... the story doesn't have to end here...

Sunday, December 24, 2017

oh christmas...

christmas eve... the quiet hour before dinner

time to pause, breathe, gather thoughts, anticipation

it's interesting, getting older...

it always surprises me how differently i see things as the years slide by

when i was young i was enthralled with the story of st. nicholas... "santa" was who i believed to be the bearer of gifts but in grade five i read a book about the story of st. nicholas and i loved it

i thought then, and do still today, that it was a better story, a truer belief and something we could all aspire to, every day

to give what we can to those who need it more than we do

to think about others before we think of ourselves

a few years ago i made a "wrapping cloth" in one of karen ruane's classes - she spoke of a wrapping cloth being a cloth you make in honour of a person, to symbolically wrap them up and keep them safe. stitching your love for them into every part of it

i made mine in honour of christmas and all the love and memories i have of those early christmases of mine

of my mom who did everything she could to make them special, of my brothers and my friends, the importance of loving and giving

of sharing

of the year my oldest brother went out after we younger ones were asleep

he cut down a tree, set it up in our bedroom, decorated it and put presents under it - what a grand surprise that was!
there are stars on it like these. for the wishes that need wishing

and hearts like this one, for those who need loving...

christmas, with all it's beautiful layers of meaning, might seem like an odd thing to want to keep "safe"

but sometimes this world would like to drag us down a different path

and the love and joy the season brings, and all that goes with that, need a helping hand


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

cobbled cloth

ever since i embraced piecing fabrics together without a traditional seam i have been stitching together the tiniest scraps to make larger pieces of cloth 

it's bordering on a addiction now which is fun but also frustrating as i work with pieces that are sometimes no bigger than 1/2 inch square

they do wriggle and squiggle around

but they also create wonderfully unique pieces of cloth that i can use as they are, cut up, or in this case, handquilt

and for a purist, this is indeed three layers, held together by stitch

the top layer is all the snippety-bits which are carefully stitched together on a base of the lightest muslin 
once that is done the cloth is placed on a square of soft, spongy flannelette and then i hand-quilt it

a beautiful unique base for all sorts of interesting things
(which i haven't made yet!)

i've been distracted with card-making again

 here i've taken a fragment of paper and cloth, tacked it on to a piece of hand-made paper, added beads and french knots
as well as a few other stitches

mounted on a card blank, it becomes a small piece of art in it's own right

a few other designs i've been playing with... the heart below is adapted from a design put out by quilt mania a few years ago during one of their christmas advent projects available online

the stocking is of my own design

a simple appliqued stocking, a few french knots and felt holly leaves combined with scattered seed stitching

below you can see two designs from a process i'm developing at the moment

i'm playing about with gesso and matte medium, brushing them on linen, sketching with a permanent marker and then painting with watercolours
 finally, a little hand embroidery to add texture and interest

thrilled with the results, now conjuring up more designs... it never ends...

 maybe i'll try throwing a little applique into the mix?

and now back to cobbled cloth again... this time purpose-built to be backgrounds for collage-style cards

 i have two bases on the go, on one i'd like to do a tree, on the other i'm thinking about a deer

seems deer are everywhere in the design world though so i'm letting my thoughts on that one percolate for a bit whilst i finish up a few other things that have been lying around a little too long...

 the flotsam and jetsam of an inspired mind and fingers that can't keep up!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

you've come a long way baby...

many years ago i took a book-binding course in vancouver

it was a fabulous day, folding paper, making signatures, covering bookboard, working with book cloth, learning how to glue

the result was a lovely little little hard-bound book

the only thing i didn't like about it was the way the book block was cased in - we had to cut slits in the spine and then thread the linen tapes (or ribbon, in this case) through the slits, pulling the book-block firmly against the spine and then tying bows

i hated the look of the bows so after the class i undid them, tied knots and cut the ends short

which proved to be a dumb idea as they keep coming undone

the frayed knots can be seen quite clearly in the photo below...

for years i puttered at book-binding, improving my techniques with advice gleaned from here and there but i wasn't satisfied - they weren't as good as i knew they could be...

whilst in london this past spring i was generously taken about the city by a kindred spirit who knew all the best places to go for textiles, ribbons and trims, and paper

first stop was shepherd's book-binding

"oh to be in england in the spring-time"
especially if i could be here...

 the selection of specialty papers is astounding and though i did treat myself to a few, i was really after actual book-binding tools

i did find a few of those and in addition, i treated myself to a very good book of proper book-binding techniques

over the past few weeks i've been working my through the various lessons - not difficult but definitely daunting

i've made a pamphlet book, a single folio (signature) hard bound book and now this

 a hard-covered, rounded-spine cased-in book

and i smocked the spine!

 i've long admired kate bowle's books 

especially her smocked spine ones

they sell almost the minute she posts them so i finally decided i would attempt my own but before doing that i wanted to learn how to make a better book

 first i learned to smock - several amazing tutorials on the internet helped a lot, and after a few trial runs, i got it right

 then on to the book-binding techniques, working my through every stage, patiently waiting the days and hours for glue to dry, papers to press, over and over and over again

and then came the day where i had to glue the spine, round it, cover it and cover it again

breathe deep and jump in

 thrilled is an understatement!

next up is to learn head bands which will be the icing on the cake

i have all sorts of plans for these new skills, the first of which is to make myself a 

"book of trees"

doing that was never on my radar but sometimes things in the universe conspire and if you stop long enough to recognize it, something wonderful might just happen...

the trees across the street from us, many of them 100 years old and more, have started coming down

 the first day was heart-breaking 

the thudding sound as they hit the ground in sections reverberated through the house - i couldn't ignore what was happening if i tried

over and over, one by one, they felled the first four

there's a pause now, until someone buys the wood and hauls it away

 and then the rest will follow

sad doesn't begin to explain how i feel, but they aren't mine and there's no choice in this

that evening i stumbled upon an online course coming up this month on making your own "book of trees" and i thought it might be just the thing to do to capture the memory and perhaps pay my respects

100 years is a long time

standing sentinel on that corner, the land falling away to the lake below

imagining the changes over time, the houses built, the people who walked by, children playing under and in them, climbing from branch to branch

the generations of birds that have sheltered there, year after year

they have stood there, in that same place, for a century and more, strong and silent, bending but never breaking

standing still, yes, and yet what a long way they have come