Sunday, 21 December 2014

Life Drawing 9.12.14

Pen, continuous line

My last Life Drawing session of the year and the end of the first set of sessions in a new venue. Moving to the Prism Arts Studios has been a very positive step, it's a great space and is more accessible as it is in the centre of town. It is interesting how the venue affects the session as almost everyone has commented on how much more inspiring the space is and how much they like it, which is great and really helps foster a good environment and atmosphere for the sessions. The models also prefer the space and it is certainly much nicer for them to have a more private space to be able to change in.

Pen, continuous line

Red pen, continuous line

Despite the weather being horrible (strong winds and rain) there was still a good group of us and our model, Jude, gave us some excellent poses. I found it a bit of a frustrating session as I struggled to find my drawing mojo, it was especially frustrating as I really loved the poses but couldn't produce the results I wanted! The combination of a bad week (I know it was only Tuesday but believe me it had been a very bad week until that point) and not having been keeping up with my daily drawing meant that I was quite tense and found it hard to just let my lines flow. I did loosen up as the session progressed and I did do some drawings I'm quite pleased with. It has also got me back into my daily drawing so silver linings and all that!

Red pen, continuous line

Permanent marker, continuous line

Reclining, permanent marker
As usual I worked in pen and mostly continuous line, switching from my favoured uni-ball eye pens to a permanent marker when I got too frustrated with my out of practice/stressed drawings! I did quite a lot of feet this session, some more successfully than others, as I couldn't seem to get hands right at all.

Pen, continuous line

One thing I really like about going back through my drawings to photograph them after a session is the 'accidental' drawings. As I frequently do more than one sketch on a piece of paper I sometimes find these funny compositions, like the picture above where there appears to be a hand resting on the models back. It is actually two separate drawings but they've merged together to make a new one.

Friday, 19 December 2014

No Borders: Applied Textiles #2

Weaving on a peg loom

Fabric collage

I have recently finished my most recent block of sessions with the No Borders art group at Carleton Day Centre. I am so impressed with the work they have achieved in these sessions, it is so rewarding to see how much they have developed and improved not just in this block but since I first worked with them over three years ago. One of the things I find most satisfying is how confident they are becoming in their choices; rather than asking me what they should do they will now ask what I think of a particular idea which is a huge leap forward.



Giving it all a go!

Having worked with the group over the summer on some felt making I was very keen to keep this block very open and to let them direct how the work would progress. We started off by looking at different samples and examples of textile work and by making some thread wraps.

Thread wrapping a branch

The finished branch


One member of the group in particular really took to this technique and created a beautiful sculptural thread wrapped branch. Her use of colour is very instinctive and I particularly like her way of combining different textured yarns and threads. This member of the group was then inspired by the work of one of the others and went on to create a small fabric collage which she turned into a cushion.

Fabric collage, tacked ready for sewing


The finished cushion

Another member of the group, who has been part of No Borders since I first started working with them, was very clear about what she wanted to do. In my very first block of sessions I had introduced her to embroidery and then we'd never had chance to develop the work as our other sessions focused on different techniques. So, this block provided the ideal opportunity to have another go. She began by making a beautiful fabric collage which she overlaid with a sheer fabric and she is painstakingly working on covering it with embroidery. It is very inspiring to see the concentration and commitment to the work and how proud she is of the beautiful results of her efforts.

Laying out the fabric collage

Starting to embroider the tacked collage


Another member of the group who has also been working with me since my first lot of sessions was also very clear about what she wanted to do; weaving with the peg looms. We had done some weaving back in my first sessions with the group and I was pleased that she had remembered and wanted to develop the work further. She decided to work with strips of fabric rather than thread to create a more substantial piece of weaving. Again, the level of concentration and commitment to the work was amazing. Weaving can be quite a slow growing process but she worked so hard that by the end of the block we had this beautiful piece of work to show. This person has a real love of bright colours and bold textures which shines through in her work, I love the exuberance and tactile nature of this piece of weaving.

Setting up the loom

Working on the loom

The finished woven piece

The fourth and newest member of the group had not really done any textile work before so during the sessions we looked at a few different techniques and produced several smaller pieces of work. As well as having a go at the thread wrapping he also had a go at working with fabric pastels and stitch and at fabric collage, producing this lovely collage overlaid with net and then cut back into and embellished with buttons.

Trying it out: Stitching into cloth coloured with fabric pastels

Trying it out: Thread wrapping

Trying it out: Fabric Collage

As always it has been such a pleasure working with this group, as well as enjoying the sessions themselves and seeing the participants develop it has also inspired my own practice, reminding me of semi forgotten techniques and sparking off new ideas. In March I will be helping the group curate an exhibition and I just can't wait!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Apron Project

Pumpkin inspired apron

This term my textiles group up at The Heathlands Project have been working on making aprons. The group decided they would like a project that would enable them to make something useful and practical for themselves whilst improving their existing textile skills and hopefully learning a few new ones too. After some discussion we decided making aprons would be the ideal project.

Original apron design and screen print designs

The screen printed characters

The group started off by looking through books and magazines for different designs and styles of aprons. They then did their own designs and made their own patterns. This was a very interesting process as most of the group had no pattern making experience, this meant that they were less constrained in terms of trying unusual shapes than a more experienced group would perhaps have been as they were not familiar with basic pattern drafting and pattern blocks so less aware of the conventions.

Appliqué with fabric

Appliqué with felt

Once the patterns were drafted we got to the really fun part; choosing and decorating the fabric. Different members of the group chose to embellish their aprons in different ways including screen printing, embroidery, appliqué and fabric pens. This is always my favourite part of a project as it allows people's creativity to really shine and it means I get to do fun things like screen printing demonstrations. 

This apron was hemmed and embellished with buttons

Pocket detail

Once the guys had finished decorating their aprons we had the finishing to do, some people chose to hem their aprons whilst others experimented with bias binding. We used cotton twill tape in a range of colours for the straps and once these were sewn on the aprons were ready to wear. 

Floral apron with appliquéd flowers

Screen printed apron with pockets

Apron with large pocket and bias binding

I think this was a very successful project, it was good seeing people come in each week ready to crack on with their aprons and full of ideas. It took some people just a few weeks and others closer to two months but everyone has worked hard and displayed great commitment and determination. The incentive of having something to wear at the end seems to have been a strong motivating factor for some people.  For me the best bit was seeing how proud the guys were of their finished aprons and how keen they were to wear them and show them off. I liked this project as it was complex enough to give people a challenge and allowed quite a lot of scope for developing embellishing techniques but it was also simple enough that even people new to textiles could complete a useful item that they could be proud of.

Apron with appliquéd hearts

Pocket detail

Appliquéd fish apron

Monday, 24 November 2014

Felting Fun

Happy Felt Heart

I had a lovely time last week working a in a local primary school doing a felt making workshop. I knew one of the teaching assistants from doing craft fairs together and she had kindly recommended me to the teacher who had expressed an interest in doing felt making with Key Stage 1.

Laying out white fleece for the base

Laying out white fleece for the base

Starting to add colour

The class I was working with (Years 1 and 2) were great, they were really enthusiastic and had some great ideas. They also picked up the techniques very well and adapted them to suit their individual designs.

Laying out the designs

This one is a slime trap!

Laying out the designs

It was interesting seeing the varying approaches and range of designs that the class came up with. Some of the pieces were very pictorial with an impressive level of detail, others focused more on colour and combinations of colours whilst others still were clearly more interested in the feel of the material and the process rather than the aesthetics.

Rubbing the pictures to start the felting

Rolling the pictures in bamboo mats

We began by laying out three layers of white fleece as a base, on top of this the children used different coloured fleece to make their designs. I also brought some sparkly fibres for them to work with which were very popular! When all the designs were laid out we covered them with net and added hot soapy water and began to felt them by gently rubbing the pictures with our fingertips through the net. When the pieces had started to felt we rolled them up in bamboo mats and worked in teams to roll them back and forth. The friction caused by the rolling combined with the hot water and soap causes the fibres to mesh together thus creating a solid, strong fabric we know as felt.

Some of the finished felt pictures

Some of the finished felt pictures

Some of the finished felt pictures