Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year Everyone!

I managed to finish off the 'TAST' Icicle dolls, but not the TAST challenge. I have a list of the stitches I missed put by for a dull, rainy day..................

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Thank you to all of you out there for visiting my blog, commenting and offering your support this year. And thank you to all the blog authors out there in our corner of the internet for taking the trouble to share your inspirations and ideas. Here's to peace, goodwill, prosperity, health and happiness in 2008 to all of us!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

I'm a little late with the........................

Season's Greetings. I had a fun and frantic family Christmas, hope everyone else had a good time too. I didn't sell any of these little fellas, so I decided to make use of them myself. I think they made great christmas ornaments!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Arlee Barr gives me the bird!

Arlee Barr of Albedo Design Journal held a draw on her blog and I won this amazing piece of 'Arlee Art'. (you can't see very well in the photo, but the beak is copper!)

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I'm a regular reader of Arlee's blog. Her work is fun, innovative, sometimes thoughtful and always inspirational.

Thank you Arlee. The bird is now on the wall by my sewing machine, where I can look at it and smile!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Slow Cloth debate

There’s a discussion going on at Sharon B's In a Minute Ago that started when she read a post on Red Thread Studio about Slow Cloth.

The Red Thread post made Sharon think about how much time is spent on ‘traditional’ crafts and how many ‘quick and easy projects’ are being sold and advertised and our attitudes to both.

You’ll see, if follow the link to Sharon's post, that thinking about this lead her in several directions - and I followed! I’m not a quilter, crazy or otherwise, but even so, much of the comment that followed on from Sharon’s post is still relevant to me.

Machine versus hand. Just lately, I’ve got two kinds of project on the go. Creative, contemporary embroidery and cloth doll making.

I produce my arts and crafts by both hand and machine. I don’t see that using today’s exciting tools, methods and materials lessens the value of my efforts or my enjoyment of the process in any way, in fact I think it enhances it. I use the sewing machine to make the bodies of the dolls I make, because not only is it quicker, it also makes for stronger seams. I use pre-programmed machine stitches, a needle punching machine, a soldering iron and a heat gun in addition to hand embroidery to add texture to pieces of work. I look at the work produced by today’s ‘experimental machine embroiderers’ (the late and sorely missed Val Campbell-Harding, Maggie Grey, Margaret Beale, Gwen Hedley spring to mind straight away) and ‘modern’ doll makers like Patti Culea – they also spend many, many hours on a piece of work using a variety of ‘traditional’ hand work and ‘modern’ machines, tools and techniques. I do like to have a piece of hand embroidery on the go at all times though, ready to pick up at odd moments. I find it very relaxing just to sit hand stitching sometimes, and hand work is very portable, you can do it almost anywhere!

Art versus craft. That’s an old chestnut, very relevant to me right now. I’ve just joined the Creative Co-operative, a group formed to establish a supportive community and network for all creative people in the locality. Anyone can join. You don’t need any formal qualifications, just a love and enjoyment of your particular creative activity. The co-operative has been holding monthly artists and crafts markets for a while, and just before I joined voted to separate the art from the craft. Because I work in fabric, or textiles, what I produce is generally considered to be craft. But some of my contemporary embroidery pieces, 3d items and character or art dolls are much closer to art and really wouldn't fit comfortably into a designated craft market. Not everyone would agree with that, however, and some people may also think that my work should be cheaper because it is not done on paper, canvas or even hardboard. Bit of a dilemma. Thankfully, currently I’m being encouraged to have a ‘foot in both camps’.

Craftsman versus crafter. I think I’m a craftsman, or craftsperson if you prefer. I’ve worked and studied to perfect what I do, and I’m still learning. I take great care, put a lot of thought and a great deal of love and affection into the things that I make. Everything I make is unique and original to me. I take care in selecting the materials and techniques that I use; is it safe, fit for purpose and will it last? To be a craftsman used to mean studying, serving an apprenticeship, being accepted into a guild. (From my point of view, I needed to learn how to use a simple swing needle sewing machine properly before I could successfully tackle machine embroidery, for example.) It was something to aim at. But language changes and evolves. Now I see TV shows like ‘Create and Craft’ with card making, teabag folding and scrapbooking using ready made cut-outs and stick-ons. People come to a craft fair now and they expect to see the kinds of ‘craft’ goods and ‘gifts’ you can buy in High Street chains, like the ‘hand made cards’ from a well-known bookstore, sold much cheaper. A huge industry has sprung up catering for ‘crafters’. I don’t think that is the same thing as a ‘craftsman’, but now I’m thinking of calling myself an ‘artisan’ to highlight the difference.

The value of real craft work. Here’s an extract from the aims of the Creative Co-operative:

We aim to promote awareness of the value of art, crafts and creative pursuits, the time and care it takes, in addition to the cost of materials. Many people don’t know the difference in value between hand made and home made or individually created items and mass production.
Our arts and crafts are fighting against a rising tide of cheap imports and mass produced 'craft' items, which are 'hand made' but in a production line style by one person doing the same thing over and over. This has nothing to do with creativity.

(As the old saying goes) I wish I had a pound for each time someone has said to me “Oh, that’s nice. I’d like one of those but they cost a fortune in the shops. Would you make me one, I’ll pay for the material?"

Monday, December 10, 2007

On a cold and TASTY morning...........

I saw this Icicle Doll Swap and of course I immediately wanted to make one, but I wanted to catch up with TAST too. The answer was obvious, icicle dolls embellished with TAST stitches.

I haven't joined the swap, but I've started on these three:

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The green one with the head on has knotted cable chain, thorn, pekinese and pistil stitches along with some seeding for texture. The white ones have pekinese and pistil stitches and seeding.

I feel much better now! It was so nice to sit and do some hand sewing just because I felt like it!

**Update** I keep forgetting to give sizes. The 'bodies' of these measure about 7 inches or 17.5cm.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A siren of the silver screen and a TASTY opportunity

Thank you everyone for your supportive comments. You remember right Jowynn, maybe I should move house!!! Today, I feel like giving up on the dolls but I heed all your good advice, I'm girding my loins, pulling myself together and I'm building a website ready for putting some up on EBay and Etsy.

None of my friends and family are in the least bit interested in my all consuming hobbies and passions so I have joined a local group, the Creative Co-op, in the hope of meeting some like-minded people to chat and swop ideas with. It was through the Co-op I got the chance to do the craft fair. The Co-op is also running an Art Show later this month and I have the opportunity to take some space there for my textile work. I've decided to use it as a chance to exhibit, rather than sell. That way, I think I will find it a much more enjoyable experience! If people are interested in buying, than that will be a bonus. I'll be switching to TAST mode for that, tidying up some of the 3d pieces and samples that I made. I was definitely getting withdrawal symptoms while I was working on the dolls!

In the mean time, here's a picture of a 'S'mockery Siren' inspired by the screen goddesses of the 40s and 50s. Nobody wanted to buy this at the craft fair either!

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

This is why I've been so quiet.

I was offered a table at a local Christmas Craft Fair, so I made a dozen of these:

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and a dozen of these (you can't see it in the picture, but he also wears a red knitted hat):

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After all my hard work, and a very disappointing day, I sold two of the first and none at all of the second!!!!!