Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Pair of 'Goth' Frankenfish

I've been busy perfecting the technique for the felt fish. Here's my latest effort:

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Two fish hanging on a machine wrapped cord. Each fish face is hand embroidered, note the inevitable trellis stitch around the mouth! One of the pair is further embellished with more embroidery, beads and sequins. Here are some closeups:

I'm really pleased with the 'gothic', 'horror', deep sea monster look of these!
I've put them in my Etsy Shop

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Review - Losing the Thread - Part 1

As promised, here's my review of the Losing the Thread exhibition last month at Chequer Meads Gallery in East Grinstead. Its such a nice venue, plenty of parking and a cafe. I'm sorry for the quality of the pictures, I'm not the world's best photographer.

As I entered the gallery, the first things I saw were some exquisite miniature patchwork quilts by Lilian Harris. I really like the detail on these, the use of buttons and prairie points especially.

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and some of her textile art pieces, a series called 'Fading Glory':

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and as I turned to face the doorway to the main gallery, on the wall facing me, her wonderful 'Firecracker'. I've admired this piece on computer screen, it's even better in the flesh!

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Then my attention was caught by a display in the window facing the car park - another piece I have long admired but never seen in real life - Maggie Harris's 'Leaves':

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Back along the corridor and turning left into the main gallery, again my attention was caught by two quilts by Lilian Harris - 'Road to Chantilly' and 'Bits and Pieces', especially the 'raised applique' on Chantilly:

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Blogger seems to think that this is enough for this post, and anyway it's time I went to bed. I'll have to divide this review into 'chapters' and do some more tomorrow!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Something fishy going on around here..........

I wanted a change from making things with a 'seasonal flavour' and decided to go for something 'fishy' instead.

My friend Tarni saw some felted fish I made for City & Guilds years ago, and asked if I would make her some. I made hers in goldfish colours, red, yellow and orange - and while I was about it, I decided to try some more in different colours.

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They are wet felted first, then finished off with a hand felting needle. I have it in mind (once I have perfected my wet felting technique - these are quite rough) making some that are embroidered and embellished in my usual fashion!

Tarni called them 'singing fish' and says she is planning to put them on her Christmas Tree with little presents in their mouths. I'd have to go along with a family member who said they are more like 'Franken Fish!' Maybe, when I've made a heavily embroidered and embellished sample, I'll be able to call it a 'Faberge Fish'.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Losing the Thread

I went to this exhibition here yesterday. if you are in the area it really is well worth a visit. So nice to see pieces I've admired on the internet in 'real life' and to look at an item and think 'Oh! I wonder how she did that?'. Nice to meet Maggie too. I was allowed to take photographs, so I will post a review as soon as I get a few minutes to concentrate on it. I'm not the world's best photographer, but they are just about good enough to give a flavour of the art on display. Here's a quick taster:

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Getting ready for the Christmas rush!!!!

Yeah, that'll be the day!

I am getting ready for the next Creative Co-op outing on 6th December though, it's our own Christmas Fair.

Here's the lastest in my 'fleecy ornament' range.

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Very simple, but I still don't do myself any favours because I couldn't resist the trellis stitch edging. I know that the more hand work I add, the higher the price has to be, but frankly I just don't like any of them without it.

Here's what I plan to do with some of those fleecy hearts on my sales table:

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Two separate photos, but you get the idea. That's a dollar or pound shop Christmas tree I got last week. Tacky and puny, but at less than 2 feet tall, just the right size for my table. I bought 2, 1 for the 'traditional' ornaments and 1 for the lurid pink and green ones. I'm told it helps if you 'show the customers what to do with them' rather than just putting them out on the table. See, I'm still trying. Sadly, I seem to have exhausted my Etsy customer base for the moment!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Getting Festive

Yes, I know it's only the beginning of November, but you have to start early if you want to have a good supply of handmade goods for the Christmas season. The Creative Co-op will be out and about again on December 6th, so I've started by making a pile of brightly coloured fleecy tree ornaments. Here they are, waiting to have hanging loops attached:

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I have observed that people hereabouts want to shell out only pennies at craft fairs and the like. I have also been advised by more experienced marketeers that if people like your work but cannot afford it, it is nice to have smaller, less expensive pieces, or pictures on cards or postcards, for them to buy. With this in mind, I plan to make tree decorations in varying degrees of complexity, priced to match.
You can't say I don't try!!!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another Outing for the Creative Co-op

The Creative Co-op made a block booking for space in the Craft Hall at last weekend's Local Life Show. Several of us shared the cost by taking tables. It was the 3rd year that the County Council had put on this event and it really is becoming well worth a visit. Many local traders, service providers and community organisations were represented in the Main Hall, along with entertainment in the form of fashion shows and displays by children from a local dance academy. Especially noteworthy was the Community Chef and his mobile kitchen. He gave demonstrations showing how to produce a nourishing seasonal soup and tasty lamb kebabs. The Chef drew quite a crowd, watching him cook and sampling his endeavours. The children were not forgotten - they were able to make themselves a delicious smoothie using healthy ingredients and his bicycle-powered machine! Local artists, makers, alternative therapists and organic products were represented in the Craft Hall and there was also a farmers' market and a vintage fairground ride for the little ones.

Here's a picture of my table - mostly dolls this time, with a couple of embroidered containers and some heavily embellished fabric badges.

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We were given 4ft tables instead of the 2 metre ones we were expecting, so unfortunately it has the look of the jumble sale about it! You can see some of Suze's knitted, felted bags in the left-hand corner, along with some of her jewellery made with semi-precious stones and a display of cards featuring her artwork.

Here's Suze:

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with some of her unusual and colourful necklaces featuring hand felted and knitted beads and semi-precious stones.

This is Tarni, the Chair of the Creative Co-op, with her table:

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and Alana:

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Alana's super halloween spiders and their webs practically walked off the table and she also had some of her summer best-sellers; her driftwood hangings and some brightly coloured tassels made from rescued and recycled fabrics.

Rosie was there anticipating the coming winter weather and doing a roaring trade with her hand-knitted and crocheted hats and scarves:

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And so were Sharon, with her beautiful beadwork and colourful candles and Ruth, with her very original silver and gemstone knitted jewellery:

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Tarni took the children's entertainer, Frankenstiltz, in hand and instructed him in the philosophy and techniques behind some of her artwork and also took the opportunity to introduce him to the RegenerART project that some of the Creative Co-op members are involved in along with other local artists' groups and the The Royal Project .

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Boxing Cretan

I thought I'd have a bit of a change from doll making - I've been doing quite a lot of that lately.

I'm not sure if this is a box or a vessel, but it IS embellished with cretan stitch.

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I made one of these before, to drop my specs in. I've got 3 pairs - walking around, reading and computing - and I was always putting a pair down and losing them when I changed over. Then I started putting things like scissors, haemostats and pens in it, so I need some more.

I used the cardboard tube from a large reel of crochet cotton and some odds and ends of picture framer's board. The fabric is one of my old favourites. Chiffon and wool sliver (roving) layered onto a synthetic felt dishcloth with the embellisher machine. Then machine 'quilted' with preprogrammed stitches. It's divided into three sections inside and the lining and the base covered with oddments of fleecy fabric. I padded the lining and the base with light quilt wadding, to give a little bit of protection to the specs!

Here are a couple of views of the stitching and embellishment:

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Of course, I couldn't stop at just stitching and added beads and sequins too. And then I got really carried away and made a smaller one with the leftovers.

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I would normally use ladder stitch (zipper stitch) to attach the base but here I used cretan stitch. It seems to have worked really well and is quite decorative.

Co-incidently, cretan stitch has just been featured as stitch of the day on the Hand Embroiderers Network Blog. If you haven't seen HEN yet, do go and have a look, it's well worth a visit.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Who's a pretty ghoul then?

Just having a bit of fun in anticipation of Halloween!

The season is changing. The leaves are beginning to turn, berries are ripening in the hedgerows, it's cooler and it's getting dark earlier. Thoughts turn to the autumn and winter festivals that cheer us up in those darker months. Well, mine do anyway, and I made this:

Here's a close-up of the stitches:

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Cretan and herringbone. And I'm still fixed on that trellis stitch from an earlier "Stitch Explorer".

I've been taking part in Sharon B's Stitch Explorer Challenge. Find out all about it here. This month's stitch or technique is pattern darning.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Hear the buzz!

A little bit more work on the bee.

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I've added some beads. And the little bit of 'armour plating' that they have on their backs. (A piece of needlefelted fabric with trellis stitch around it). It's not anatomically correct, but I do want it to have 'the look' of a bee. I'm not sure about that hair around the armour plating - that part of their bodies is hairy but somehow it seems to spoil the line of the thing. On the other hand, I do want it to be a sparkly jewel of a bee with a slight 'cartoon' flavour, like the flies I made.

It's the legs giving me problems at the moment. I've made two felted balls for the pollen sacs for the back legs. Now I need to think for a bit more!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hi Honey!

I've just waved the children and their Mum off on their way back home, so once I have got all my stuff out again, hopefully I can make some more progress on the bee!

I now have what is clearly a very dead frog partially submerged in water with its head resting on a pile of leaves in a tray on the back steps and a nicely handwritten list of instructions, including putting it in the shade, pouring water over it every hour and getting flies from the spiders' webs in the runner beans for it to eat. Apparently, some sign of life was seen when it was poked! The big question is - does it have a miraculous recovery and joyfully hop away - or does it have a quiet and dignified demise from frog flu?

I wasn't allowed to whack it under the scanner for future reference!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's a BEE!

I'm hoping to take part in the Hand Embroidery Network On-line Embroidery Exhibition starting on 1st September. I'm a bit behind schedule so I'm not sure if I'm going to make the deadline.

This is what I've been doing.

First make the fabric:

This is black muslin (scrim), needlefelted on the embellisher machine with dyed wool tops (roving), in approximate bee colours and an approximate bee shape.

Then make a pattern:

and cut it out:

Then sew it together with a plain underside, stuff it, shape it and begin to add embroidered detail.

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This is likely to be a rush job, so just a few simple stitches - cretan stitch and bullion knots, and some hand needlefelted eyelash yarn. (You can't see it very well in the photo, but that's trellis stitch around that eyelash yarn!)

This is as far as I can go at the moment, because it's coming up to the August Bank Holiday here and I have a house full of very small people. All my sewing has had to be put away for both their safety and to preserve my stuff!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stitch explorer - July - one I prepared earlier

I'm taking part in Sharon B's Stitch Explorer Challenge. Find out all about it here. This month Sharon was thinking about contemporary embroidery and asked us to use something unusual.

I've been busy lately, so I haven't done much 'serious' embroidery. I looked back at some of my previous work to see where I had used unusual materials.

These pieces are all based on the same design.

Here, I used tissue paper. The background was ironed on to interfacing. I rubbed a wax candle all over a piece of baking parchment and ironed it on. Then I added cut out motifs backed with bondaweb (wonder under) and waxed it again. Finally I added more cut outs and finished it off with some simple machine stitching. This made a richly coloured, pliable sheet.

In this piece, I ironed pieces of plastic tablecloth and cellophane in a baking parchment 'sandwich', then stitched the result to a synthetic felted discloth. I added some motifs cut out of a different type of dishcloth, applied some shot taffeta and embellished with beads. Very messy!

Here I used dishcloths and bits of plastic tablecloth to make this reverse applique piece.

This is one of my favourite pieces. It got quite complicated. I layered woven strips of hand dyed muslin and giftwrap onto iron-on interfacing. Then I applied the motifs. Some were cut from a discloth. Others were cut from a dishcloth layered with a nappy (diaper) liner marbled with oil paints. The nappy liner was bonded to the dishcloth with bondaweb (wonder under). I like the look of this piece, but the paper giftwrap makes it quite fragile.

Just lately I've been playing with stitching over needlefelting, both by hand and by embellisher machine. Here are one or two examples:

Monday, August 03, 2009

Summer festival

This weekend was the Llammas Festival. I was sharing a marquee with some other Creative Co-op members. Well, we called it a marquee - it was jerry-built in the English allottment style from two pop-up gazebos and six spare sides. The sides didn't fit very well but we tied them on with string, clamps and clothes pegs.

Here we are setting up, with people already trying to buy although there was at least an hour to go until opening time - perhaps they thought it was a car boot sale!

Leave us alone, we're trying to get ready. Some-one tried to buy my shopping bag. It had my waterproof and a cardigan in it!

Finally we get it sorted out. Here's Rosie's earrings and Sharon's beaded jewellery.

People start to arrive:

Then come drummers and giants:

and Morris Men start to gather, ready for their displays:

The Darkside clothing emporium, with the proprietor in his every day attire

contrasts with a fairy and her friend collecting for the Lifeboat Institute, the very deserving beneficiary of this annual fest.

It's all going so well. But then the English weather does what it does best, it rains:

Our makeshift marquee just wasn't up to the job!

Ah well! tomorrow's another day......................

Summer Festival Part 2 - a better day!

Sunday and the weather forecast is much better although the wind is getting up. We set up again, in a slightly different arrangement, and once again people want to look around before we are ready. You can see one half of the makeshift marquee beginning to blow up in the wind.

That's Alana, sitting there by her table of driftwood pieces. You can just see Suze in the opposite corner, trying to finish setting up her table amongst the browsers.

The sun comes out and crowds start to arrive. The Hunters' Moon Morris begin their display against a backdrop of the sea and the South Downs, the Grand Hotel catching the sun and looking like a wedding cake in the background. (You can just see our makeshift marquee, with the green top, blown up like a balloon in the wind!)

More crowds arrive. There was some excellent musical entertainment. People had picnics on the Western Lawns, browsed the stalls selling exotic and colourful clothing and bags, sculptures of dragons and strange mythical beasts. They examined all sorts of interesting books, crystals and knickknacks, listened to tales in the story telling tent, watched the Punch and Judy show and inhaled the scents of coffee, incense and bacon butties wafting on the wind.

Footfall is good. We had a constant stream of browsers all day. Lots of people stop to look at my dolls, ask lots of questions about them, say some complimentary things and take away my leaflets, but no-one is buying; not even the little things I made specially. I overhear many nice comments but, human nature being what it is, the one I remember most is "Well, they're way over-priced for what they are. It's not even a craft fair. I certainly wasn't expecting this!" And the runner up was "Sixty-five quid. Jesus"!
(Just look at that green top, it looks ready to take off!)

More crowds arrive. Everyone is having such a good time. The catering wagon runs out of food and the icecream van runs out of 99s. More customers come and finally someone buys one of my brooches; a present for a friend. A rather elderly gentleman does a rather bad Michael Jackson impersonation in front of the band and is easily upstaged by a group of small children. (We wouldn't have known had it not been for the white gloves and back hat!). Then, suddenly, it's time to pack up our things and go. Most of the group had sold enough to make a profit - but I made the princely sum of £15.50! Am I making the wrong things, or selling them in wrong place?

Remember that windblown makeshift marquee? Well, although we had constant problems with the wind, it lasted all day. As we were packing our things away one of the sides blew off, left literally hanging by a thread!

Anyway, it was a great day out!

(I had so many photos I wanted to use that I wrote another post about our weekend here featuring more of the Creative Co-op and their wares!)