2014 textiles workshops

Just a brief outline of the new workshops to come in 2014, full details soon!

Workshops 2014
All workshops are 10am-4pm on Saturdays at Ruth Singer Studio, Leicester. £55 each or book 3 for £150

Miniature Art Quilts. 25th January
Criminal Quilts 2

Shadow Embroidery. 23rd February

Criminal Quilts 2

Cut-surface quilting. 22nd March

'Squares'  hanging, 2013. More details here

‘Squares’ hanging, 2013. More details here

Family Stories. 26th April

Whiting Laundry

Handmade fabrics. 31st May

Suffolk puff cushion

Smocking, Shirring & Gathering. 28th June  Rescheduled for 21st June

English smocking

Found objects and amulets . 19th July

Metamorphosis detailPhotos on Fabric. 30th August

Monumental Folly pincushion  25x15cm More  details here

Monumental Folly pincushion 25x15cm More
details here

Wild Dyes. 28th September Rescheduled for 20th September

mixed dyes

Trapunto Quilting. 1st November

Trapunto quilting

Transparency. 6th December. Rescheduled for 13th December

shadowwork detail

Natural Dye :: Comfrey

On holiday I picked masses of comfrey, growing abundantly on the canal bank in Staffordshire. I brewed it up in the enamel pan again and the initial colour looked very promising. I left a scrap of silk organza in the dye pot while it was brewing and it came out a bright, olive green – far right in picture.

mixed dyes

The other colours in this photo are: top left, tea on habotai, blue silk ribbon overdyed with comfrey, pinks are avocado, silk thread is comfrey, tatting on silk is avocado exhaust, purple / green mottled is red cabbage and the lower piece is comfrey

I then soaked the fabrics in the dye for about 12 hours, but they didn’t come out the same kind of vibrant green.  The silks mostly came out pale khaki or greeny-beige, and most of the cellulose fibres did nothing much at all – except, strangely, the overdyed Liberty lawn (pink flowers). This has never been washed so I assume there is a fabric treatment on it which has caused the reaction. Mid green-brown from a light cream fabric. Overall these are not the most exciting colours but they are exactly the kind of colours I like and use a lot, so I am very happy with them.

comfrey copy

Top left: silk habotai, filament silk thread, Liberty lawn with flowers, silk / viscose velvet beneath nicely splotchy, just how I like it, as is the linen on far right. Silk chiffon, the crinkly one at the bottom, silk ribbon and hemp silk bottom left. Silk thread, at the top, just peeking into the photo came out the same kind of greenish beige.

None of the fabrics was mordanted this time, so my next comfrey experiment will be.

New Work :: New York

I’m slightly astonished at the amount of new work I am churning out at the moment. I usually work on one project at a time, but suddenly, this autumn, there are lots of exhibition deadlines which is pressured but wonderful. My latest completed work is for a Design Factory showcase in New York at the Textile Art Center.

The show opens on 10th October so please do go along if you are in the area. I won’t be there, I’ll be a the Knitting & Stitching Show in London that week. I’ll be spending the next week or so making new pieces for The Knitting & Stitching Show and for The Salon exhibition in October run by EC Arts, and then I have another exhibition at the end of the year at Llantarnam Grange.

Creative Twinning - Co.Lab Craft Conversation E-vite

 

 

The Making of Metamorphosis

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More images of the whole piece here

A few months ago I saw an opportunity advertised locally for artists to make work using the idea of metamorphosis and using an object in the collections of New Walk Museum as inspiration, as part of a conference in the School of Museum Studies at Leicester University.  I decided to visit the World Art gallery at New Walk, which is full of wonderful things (although they don’t seem to have a page about it in their website!). I took photos of lots of intriguing and beautiful objects but couldn’t find something that really worked with the metamorphosis idea. I photographed this Nigerian ‘charm gown’ because I thought the decoration was fascinating. It wasn’t until later that I realised it would work with the metamorphosis concept.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe idea of the gown is that the words, drawings and amulets added to it, make the garment protective. I was intrigued by the idea that by marking marks onto cloth, it can be changed from mere fabric to something spiritual and powerful. I found the following text on the British Museum website, about a similar object:

Curator’s comments

Register 1940: ‘Jibbeh’ W. Sudan (?)

Register 1940 later addition:
[N.Nigeria? (W.B.F.)](LaGamma and C. Giuntini, 2008)
‘Every inch of this simple cotton tunic was inscribed and invested with prayers by an itinerant Hausa artist who sought to transform it into a mantle of invulnerability. The extraordinary measures taken suggest that the garment was made for an important warrior to wear into battle. The Islamic belief in the power of the Koran’s written word is manifested here in a creation configured so its Koranic texts encase the body, affording a line of mystical defence superior to armour’ 

I wanted to explore how the role of the artist can transform a plain piece of cloth into something powerful. In the same way that the artist made the charm gown, I wanted to make a modern, personal charm gown, using humble textile and the hand of the artist to transform its meaning.

Since my grandad died in December 2012, I’ve been wanting to use some of the textiles from his home in my work. When we cleared the house (and extensive sheds) I gathered up all kinds of cloth from old sacking to neatly starched and pressed handkerchiefs, knowing that I would find a use for them. This project seemed like the ideal opportunity.

Initially, I intended to make a small garment, maybe a shawl or scarf, to represent the charm gown, but when I visited the School of Museum Studies, they offered me a HUGE glass case and I couldn’t resist taking it on.  Despite all the perfect tablecloths and pristine white sheets from the hoard, what I kept coming back to was a large, old dust sheet. It must have been a high quality cotton sheet, once upon a time, but had been used for painting jobs for many years. My step-grandmother’s family ran a small laundry and no doubt this is where the sheet originally came from – things were not always collected, hence the huge collection my step-granny acquired. The sheet has laundry marks and even an address in Ealing marked on the edge.

Whiting Laundry

Almost everything else I have used in the piece comes from Grandad’s. The pegs used for display must have been from the laundry too.

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Rust dye using tools and scraps from the sheds, encouraged with tea to create a soft, brown stain.

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Outline of tools in stitch and appliqué.

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Floral embroidery transfer, found in my late Grandmother’s sewing basket. She was a professional seamstress and died before I was born. I had no idea that her embroidery things were still in the house, waiting for me,  40 years after her death. I’m so pleased I could use them too in this piece.

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Scans of letters, local maps and war time documents printed onto textile to make amulets and appliqué.

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Hapazome or flower-pounding, using flowers transplanted from Grandad’s garden to mine.

flower pounding

Found objects, all but one came from Grandad’s things.

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Patterns, embroidered text and details taken from the original charm gown and given a twist.

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Details of the original dust sheet with collar stud found in the things.

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The work is now installed in the School of Museum Studies and is open to the public 10-4 Monday to Friday. Part of the appeal of this commission was the link to Museum Studies, where I did my MA 17 years ago. There is something very pleasing about now creating art works inspired by museums when my whole adult life has revolved around museums in so many ways.

This is only the start of a body of work using textiles and themes from my family history. I am working on a series related to Grandad’s tool shed for Llantarnam Grange Art Centre for later this year and there will be plenty more, I hope!