Community Spirit Project Launch

Calling all covid-related volunteers!

Have you volunteered to help others during the pandemic in Leicester, Leicestershire or Rutland?

You’ve done amazing work over the last two years, supporting communities throughout the pandemic. 

I am collecting stories and making an artwork to celebrate the incredible work of local people during the pandemic. The stories will become part of an artwork, also made by volunteers, to be showcased in the autumn. There will also be events during volunteers week in June.

Please share your volunteering story and join in with the artwork (if you want) by visiting ruthsinger.com/community-spirit 

tinyurl.com/communityspiritleicestershire

Where do you get your ideas from?

Maker Membership with Ruth Singer, for textile makers who want to be inspired, creative, imaginative and make work with meaning.

I get asked this question all the time, as though people are looking for The Magic Answer or trying to understand how I do my research and develop original ideas for my creative work. It’s something I’ve pondered a lot and for years had an idea that I could share some of this process in a workshop or course. One of the things I always say is that ideas take a long time to filter, percolate and turn into the thing you see. This is a case in point. It’s probably 6 or 7 years since I wrote myself a note to create a course which helped others through this process. And finally in 2021, here it is. I’ve created Maker Membership, an online programme which I hope will take textile artists (and aspiring artists) towards The Magic Answer.

What is Maker Membership?

It’s about tapping into your own interests, researching, thinking, considering, editing, testing and rejecting lots of ideas until the right one filters out. My approach to teaching in Maker Membership is about growing your confidence in exploring and refining your ideas. It’s about seeding those ideas with research prompts and exercises in exploration and investigation and then refining your thoughts to filter out all the excess to get to the thing that’s important. 

This programme is not about learning to make what I make, it’s about learning to think like I do and applying textile skills that make sense with the meaning of your work. 

But where do you get your ideas from?

Mostly I develop new ideas through research which falls into three areas: learning (by reading, listening to documentaries and talks and chatting to interesting people), visual research (which is generally visiting museums) and experimentation (thinking through making). Then comes the refining and selecting, editing and dropping ideas and selecting the one that is right for you. That’s what Maker Membership will focus on: generating ideas, refining ideas and creating work which is true to your unique artistic voice. There will be some textile technique in there too, as a way of exploring and demonstrating processes but it’s very much a thinking programme.

What will it be like?

Each month I will create resources (audio, video, written – it will vary) around a theme which fits into a quarterly over-arching topic. Members can then develop their own ideas, sketchbooks (if they want), samples and research in a way that works for them. There’s no testing, no right or wrong and no fixed outcome that you have to produce. Everything is digital so you can join from anywhere in the world. There will be a monthly live event on Zoom, repeated so those in different time zones have the chance to attend. You can fit it in around your commitments and make it part of your daily /regular studio practice. The membership runs through the established teaching platform Podia. You can find out more here.

Are you ready to learn and grow with me?

Maker Membership is £25 per month and you can join for as long as you want. Membership is open now.

Textiles & Sustainability

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about the sustainability or otherwise of my own artist practice. I’ve been using Melody Vaughan’s sustainability audit to look at my working practices and think about things I could change. I’ve been very consciously working towards a sustainable practice throughout my nearly 16 years of making. When I started out making products I chose to work with recycled fabrics and did a lot of research into more sustainable textiles which I used for some of my ranges too. I also wrote a book about it (currently out of print) called Sew Eco, focussing on sustainable home sewing practice. The projects are a little dated now but my research into textiles and my passionate belief in re-use not buying new still stand today. In the wider sewing world I rather despair that so little has changed in more than a decade. Why do people still buy brand new, chemically-laded printed cotton which has travelled all over the world just to cut up into small pieces and sew back together again? I personally find it bizarre and shockingly wasteful. I have realised I don’t talk enough about how important I think this is.

My own practice is pretty sustainable although there are things I do which I don’t feel entirely comfortable about but at least most of my stash is decades old and I make conscious choices when buying for projects like Libraries Live. I was recently interviewed by TextileArtist.org about recycling and textiles, which puts my work alongside others who use old cloth, factory waste and other re-used materials. My tiniest scraps go in the compost if they are definitely natural fibres and cannot be used for anything else, while larger pieces go in materials packs or workshop kits.

This week I’ve been recording the videos for my Scrap Patchwork workshop (27th Feb) and talking about why I believe so passionately about re-use, about old cloth, about the important of using our waste and the power of creating something beautiful out of tiny, precious pieces of cloth that might otherwise go in the bin. Creating new work from these tiny, precious pieces is a meaningful and mindful act of making.

Daily Make (17)

This week I’ve started a new commission for Harefield Hospital

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and made some dye bundles at the first community workshop

 

The patchwork continues to grow (on the cat, as usual!)

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Puss & patchwork. My usual evening. #dailymake2015 #missmayacat

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I rarely get a day just stitching, so attending a workshop on Indian embroidery was a real treat this week.

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My first ever shisha mirror! #embroidery #dailymake2015

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Some preparation for my artist residency day

 

and some stitching stains during the residency day

Daily Make (14)

This week’s creative endeavours include decorating, curtain-making, skirt-making, patchwork and embroidery. Its been good to be making, almost every day.

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Hexagon stack. #dailymake2015

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Stitching day on the studio. #narrativethreads #dailymake2015

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Daily Make (13)

Yet more hexagon patchwork, whilst hiding upstairs during building work at home.

 

The work at home involved the installation of this:

 

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Fire! 🙂

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and dealing with the preparatory and subsequent chaos of furniture and dust everywhere.. then the inevitability of this:

 

 

Its not been the most creative of weeks but it has been worth it!

Daily Make (11 & 12)

Week 11 was a complete whirlwind of final works and installation of Interlace exhibition which is now up and looking fabulous!

 

I was also hurtling through finishing a quilt for a big birthday present at the same time as opening the exhibition. It was more than a little close to the wire getting it done but it was nice to have lots of sewing to do.

 

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Trimming down gorgeous quilt blocks.

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Stripy quilt binding in gorgeous organic cotton. #dailymake2015

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Pretty pleased with this mitred corner. #dailymake2015

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As an aside, I am teaching this type of improv(ised) patchwork later in the year, along with the paper pieced type too. Find out more here.
Since the exhibition opened, things have been somewhat different and the pace of life changed completely with a few sunny, chilly days on a canal boat. There’s a lot of work to do on a boat, and lots of walking and exploring, but there was time for some simple making too. I’m slowly working on a very time-consuming piece for my Narrative Threads exhibition and making hexagon patchwork with antique fabrics, also for the exhibition.

 

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Hexagon stack. #dailymake2015

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A little stitching at the end of the day #dailymake2015

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I’m also working on the easiest bit of knitting ever – yards and yards of icord made from scrap yarn to make into long, loop necklaces.

 

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Knitted worms. To be a necklace, eventually. #dailymake2015

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Postcards from San Francisco – Birds

Sitting, quietly, this Sunday morning, watching new-visitor long tailed tits in my garden, has reminded me of the surprise delight of bird watching in San Francisco. We’d been there less than 24 hours before the purchase of a bird guide became essential. The sea shore is awash with birds, as are the many parks and gardens we explored. Sadly my camera is not quite up to long-distance bird photos so my pictures are mostly somewhat fuzzy, though they act merely as a reminder of the real thing.

Daily Make (8 & 9)

Owing to a foul illness over the last week or so, recent daily makes have just been knitting and more knitting. Both the scarf and the illness are done now, I’m pleased to say.

These #dailymake2015s also overlap with an artist in residence day so proper making has taken place too.

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Stitch ghosts. Pondering loss. #dailymake2015 #narrativethreads

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Working on ochre and yellow today #dailymake2015 #interlace

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