Thursday, January 31, 2008

TIF Jan2008 - Time for Just One More....

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Here's a closeup to show the textured surface.

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I've worked into this version a bit more than the previous ones. There is much more additional hand stitching and some extra ink added on top for definition.

If I were to really stretch things to get back to my original concept, I suppose I could say this is how Fleming felt when he realised what he had found - hence the title 'Hatchling - The Dawning'. But frankly, that's just pretentious!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

TIF Jan08 - Just under the wire.........................

a couple more design ideas and a WIP. The designs are now getting slightly more complicated - I may need to explore some different techniques.

Hatchling - Life Cycle

Hatchling - Follow Me

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

TIF Jan08 - Lots More Mileage

It's nearly the end of the month, but I couldn't resist a bit more fiddling around with the design motifs. Some more 'manipulating':

There is loads more mileage in these motifs. I dare say I will revisit this work at some later stage.

TIF Jan08 - More mileage continued

I couldn't put all of these in one post, so here is the second installment:

Monday, January 28, 2008

TIF Jan08 - Colour scheme in the style of:

Having mentioned the work of Winsome Douglass, I thought I should make at least a token attempt at interpreting her style. I matched the colour scheme as close as I could with what I had to hand.

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I space dyed a piece of calico (muslin) with green and purple dyes to get a range of different hues, selected a range of stranded embroidery threads and used some of the decorative stitches that feature often in Winsome Douglass's work. It looks a bit 'flowery', but I think that is down to the way I've used the colours.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

TIF Jan 2008

Although there is still lots more mileage to go with the sketches for this month's challenge, I thought it was time I produced something, so I've translated my latest simplified bacteria motifs into fabric and thread....

I used the 'sandwiches' that I made in response to the Needlefelt Challenge I blogged about a couple of posts ago.

I've a few bits left over, so this may develop into a 'Series'. Just in case, I've given them titles - this one is 'Hatchling'

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and this one is 'Hatchling, Reach for the Stars'

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I cut the motifs out of one of the 'sandwiches' and some left-over polyester suede. I bonded two open wing 'hatchling' motifs to the 'sandwich' I made with muslin then machine stitched over the top to add texture. I put a backing of felted washing up cloth on the 'sandwich' I made without muslin to strengthen it and give a quilted appearance and machine stitched over it, adding the polyester 'hatchling' to it, then I bonded the 'larva' motif to the stitched 'sandwich', and stitched on top of it. I added hand stitches to both pieces to add more texture.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

TIF - Flying free

I had another look at the simplified bacteria sketches and designs. I simplified bacteria 2 even more:

There's not much of the original left at all now, but I like this simple shape. I tried it as a repeat pattern:

and then I 'graphically manipulated' it, and came up with this kind of flying insect, alien, angel motif:

I really like this one!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

TIF - admiration for another

Looking at my simplified bacteria, the embroidery style of Winsome Douglass came to mind. I've always admired her work, although I don't know much about her. She wrote a book 'Discovering Embroidery' in 1956 and she was very much involved in the Needlework Development Scheme during the 1950s, with her work featuring in their publication 'And So to Embroider', published in 1960. Winsome Douglass also wrote a book 'Toys for Your Delight' published by Mills & Boon in 1957. To my mind, Winsome Douglass was the doyen of 'traditional' decorative stitches and often she used those stitches to embellish 3D articles that she made. Her work appeals to me partly because of the neatness of her stitches and also because I so much enjoy working in 3D. Her designs seem to me to have elements of both Wessex Work and Dorset Feather Stitchey, along with a good helping of fun and whimsey.

Here's an illustration of her work from the aforementioned 'And So to Embroider'

Winsome Douglass was also featured in 'Embroidery Studio' published by the Embroiderers Guild. This piece is in the Guild Collection:


Needlework Development Scheme - Founded in Glasgow in 1934, the aim of the Scheme was to collect examples of contemporary embroidery from throughout the world for use as a national teaching resource. The collection was split up when the organisation disbanded in 1961, and is now dispersed throughout Britain. Some of the textiles can be seen here

'And So to Embroider' University of London Press 1960 SBN 340 08521 5

'Embroidery Studio' David & Charles 1993 ISBN 0 7153 9905 5 - 'The Ultimate Workshop - Design, technique and inspiration'. A stunning book, well worth a look if you haven't seen it. Pieces from the Embroiderers Guild collection were given to contemporary embroiderers to study and use as inspiration to produce a new piece of work.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

TIF - Fleming step 2

I've been looking at my bacteria sketches and I have simplified them. Here they are:

Next I decided to indulge in what, when I was doing my City & Guilds, was known as 'graphic manipulation' or, in my terms, mucking about with shapes.

I decided the bottom one was still a little too complicated, so I simplified it a bit more and then made a repeat border pattern with it:

Then I used both shapes in a 'mandala':

And I arranged four copies of the top shape in this design:

I quite like this last one. I think it would lend itself well to applique. Perhaps I will look at the colour scheme again too......

Monday, January 21, 2008


There is a needlefelt challenge for embellisher users here. I haven't signed up to the challenge, but I do like to keep up with what people are doing, so I have it in my Bloglines feeder. The last challenge was to make a sandwich on the embellisher, using whatever you wished, and I was inspired to follow it.

Here is my sandwich recipe:

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Disposable nappy (diaper) liner
Paper kitchen towel previously used as drip mat for fabric painting
Silk roving
Wool roving
Cotton and silk fibres

and here's what I made with it:

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Anti-clockwise from the right:

Bottom layer nappy liner, top layer paper kitchen towel, filling fine wispy wool roving.

Bottom layer nappy liner, top layer nappy liner, filling paper kitchen towel.

Bottom layer nappy liner, top layer nappy liner, filling paper kitchen towel with a thin layer of cotton and silk fibre. Garnish fine wispy silk roving.

The resulting fabric is very fragile, but the nappy liner gives it a nice sheen and a translucent effect.

I did one extra sandwich with a bottom layer of nappy liner, a top layer of black muslin (scrim) and a filling of paper kitchen towel and fine wisps of wool roving. This was more substantial. Here it is:

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The current challenge is to use stitch. That is right up my street because I like to hand embroider fabric made on the embellisher, then run it through again, then machine stitch on top!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

TIF - Fleming first steps

I 'googled' Alexander Fleming. (I cannot agree with the pundit who announced this week that Google is 'white bread for the mind'. Frankly, I think it's meat and two veg with a pudding and a glass of wine. Where else can you, with one typed word, travel the world collecting information without leaving home? I have been sent on all sorts of journeys of discovery as a result of information I have found by using Google. Clearly that academic has no imagination!) I won't put Fleming's biographical details here, if anyone is interested, they could do what I did and the benefits of his discovery to the world have been known for a long time. Of course, having 'googled' him, I was sent off on a tangent by pictures of the victims of his noxious compound - bacteria.

After browsing Google Images, I made a couple of sketches.

Next is to look at the sketches, simplify and work out some designs.

BUT I have to admit, I am already looking at those sketches and thinking about how I could make the bacteria! On the first sketch, there should be a complicated tube arrangement on the surface of the thing, a bit like worm casts, and I've already subconsciously modified that because as I drew it I was thinking about bugle beads, bullions and french knots! And there are so many possiblities in that wormy rat's tail....................

I'm going to find it hard to 'stick with the programme'!

Take it Further - beginning

For this month's challenge, I decided to go with the theme.

The key concept for January is a feeling we have all had, the feeling of admiration for another. Ask yourself who do you look up to and admire? Why? What is it you admire about them? This is a the first Take it Further challenge in 2008. Take the idea, develop it into a resolved design during that month and apply it to fiber or paper.

That's a very wide canvas. I went around for days thinking about all the people I admire and why. There are people who have, in one way or another, had a direct effect on me and there are people who have done something that has affected the whole world or the human race. There are people that have certain qualities I admire, or people that have made things I admire.

Then I had a phone call to tell me that my grandaughter has a raging ear infection and I said 'Thank goodness for penicillin!'.

So, today Matthew (that's a reference to a UK TV programme that I don't even watch!)I am admiring Alexander Fleming.

For the uninitiated, Take it Further is an on-line textile or paper design challenge. The challenge is now closed, but you can still watch what everyone is doing. The details are here.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

** Updated** Sharing information - Constance Howard

Sharon B posted a link to the work of Constance Howard here, and Elizabeth of Quieter Moments asked for any information on her books. Many years ago I bought two of her books in a second-hand shop and they whetted my appetite for more and were partly responsible for me signing up for City & Guilds.

Here's the cover of the first one:

Published and reprinted in 1979 by Batsford. ISBN 0 7134 1005 1

Here's the 'publisher's blurb'.

Stitches have become an international language. They have been handed down from generation to generation, family by family, the repertoire being added to by travellers returning from all parts of the world. New stitches continue to be invented and these pages contain a number of new ones worked out by Constance Howard who has been asked by so many of her students to prepare such a book so that they, and a much wider audience, may be able to enjoy further experiments on their own. The idea of this book therefore is to show some of the enormous scope of stitches, their versatility, the fascinating textures and patterns obtainable with them, and the variety that is possible in working a stitch in different threads, changing its scale and spacing, working carefully, working freely, combining stitches to make new ones or altering the angle of the stitch.

and for Elizabeth, here's a double page spread on buttonhole stitch:

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I had never seen anything like this before!

Here's a picture of the cover of the other book I have:

It's another Batsford book published in 1976. ISBN 0 7134 3125 3

Here's a list of the contents:

Because the book was published in the 70's, most of the illustrations were in black and white with a few colour plates. Here are a couple of double page spreads to whet YOUR appetite!

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When I bought these books in the late 70s early 80s I had never seen work like this before - it was a relevation!

To my mind, Constance Howard was a major influence in contemporary creative embroidery. She fits in with Sharon's TIF challenge in that many, many people admire her work, both in execution and in teaching, and she had green hair!

There is nice tribute to Constance Howard on the Embroiderer's Guild site here


a link to two pieces of work by Constance Howard at Embroidery

a link to 'The Country Wife' at the National Needlework Archive

and a close-up of 'The Country Wife' at Embroidery