Monday, 31 December 2012

In which I reflect on 2012, and look forward to 2013

Oh 2012, where did you go?  You disappeared in a flurry of embroidery thread and dissolved in a vat of printing ink. 

 At the beginning of year, I made the following resolutions:
  1. Finish the OCA Textiles 1 course
  2. Start (and do most of) the OCA Printmaking 1 course
  3. Tidy and organise my studio into a pleasant working space
  4. Blog more
  5. Draw more!
(I also want to get a bike and do more exercise.)

Yay!  I achieved almost all of these - Textiles 1 is finished (I got a 2:2), I'm well over halfway on Printmaking 1, and I have made 75 blog posts this year.  Woot!  

I did not get a bike, and am still as fat as butter.  Also - my fucking studio is a fucking disaster area.  Sorry for the swears but I am so cross.  It's in our tiny back yard - it IS most of the back yard - and was built by the guy we bought our house from.  It's got a plastic roof which leaked - we got someone in to fix the leaks from the roof, but there are still drips coming in everywhere.  It is so damp in there - I went in to do some tidying yesterday and everything was covered in a fine layer of mildew.  I just sat and cried.  So until I have proper money to sort it out and get a new roof, I don't have a studio.  But, I have tidied all my crafty/ art supplies into boxes under my bed. 

I did draw more in 2012, but it's there that I'm making my biggest resolutions for 2013.  I want to do a sketch a day.  Wildly ambitious?  Yes.  Likely to be going awry by the second week in January?  Hell yes.  But I'm going to aim for a sketch a day.  It's the only way to improve my drawing, and I need to stretch myself more with visual ideas.  So, my resolutions for 2013 are:
  1. Finish the OCA Printmaking 1 course
  2. Start (and do most of) the OCA Textiles 1: Exploring Ideas course
  3. Keep blogging
  4. Keep my craft/ art supplies tidy
  5. Draw a sketch a day!
I also want to join a gym and get more out of my allotment this year.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

In which I embroider a seahorse

I took part in the latest Phat Quarter swap, organised by the fabulous cocoaeyes.  The theme was tiny things, and my swapee was cocoaeyes herself.  Woot!  I love her embroidery, so it was a real honour to make something for her. 

She mentioned she's really into saturated, vivid colours at the moment, so I decided to make something really bright.  I've been interested in seahorses for years, and decided to have a bash at embroidering one.   I looked at loads of pics on the internet, and sketched some composite seahorses.  The tough bit was how many ridges there are on a seahorse!  They're made up of bony ridges, so to look good this embroidery would have to have some good texture.  Here it is. 

I used little French knots for the high points of the ridges, and different shades for the lines between the knots.  One line is a slightly lighter colour than the background shade, and one line is slightly darker.  The dorsal fin is satin stitch, and the background stitches are long and short.  I think I used nine shades of orange for the little seahorse - they were all already in my embroidery box.  And a couple of greens for the seaweed.  The background fabric was a bit of batik from my fabric box.  The frame is 4 inches by 3 inches, to give an idea of scale.

Monday, 24 December 2012

In which Tess loves catnip Cameron

I made an early Christmas present for Tess-cat - a catnip Cameron toy.  My original purpose with these toys was to train my cats to attack David Cameron, should he ever come to my house.  But I think I may have taught Tess to love him instead - she's not destroyed it, but every now and then rubs herself up against Cameron's face.  Like Nick Clegg. 

Oh well, if Cameron does ever turn up at ours, he'll at least get a rub from a stinky fish-breath cat. 

In which Robbie Coltrane is riding a unicorn

For Christmas I made my bezzie mate an embroidery of Robbie Coltrane riding a unicorn.  As you do.

It's specifically Robbie as Cracker - Jess loves Cracker.  And unicorns.  I can't remember why they came together, but it's magic.  Here's the preliminary sketch, and the final hoop is below.  I painted the fabric with watercolour - first time I've tried that - and embroidered some details, the outlines, mane, hooves and horn of the unicorn. 

I think in this picture, Robbie and the unicorn have just come from the Middle East, where everyone is now crying and hugging each other, and they're just on their way to a cancer research facility where Robbie's going to tell them about a great idea he's just had.

Monday, 19 November 2012

I'm a piece - are you?

I've made a piece for the #imapiece jisaw.  It's going to be a piece in a big artwork for Save the Children's Race Against Hunger Campaign.  I made two stamps of babies looking sad and crying, by carving into an old rubber.  I found a pale blue/green fat quarter in my stash, mixed up some fabric paint, and printed my babies onto the fabric.  I ironed the piece to fix it, and started embroidering.

 I chose to focus on the fact that 2.3 million children die each year becasue they don't get enough of the right sort of food.  This was the most depressing thing I've ever embroidered - and that's as it should be.  It's outrageous that children are still dying of hunger and malnutrition in the 21st century.

But I'm not stopping there.  I'm going to make another piece stitched with the words "I'm a piece" to give to my MP, and a piece for myself as a reminder to be part of the solution.  Want to join in?  You can find more info and templates to download here.

Friday, 9 November 2012

In which I am half way through

I'm halfway through Fiona's red stole - I've done one side.  It's looking like this (on my groovy ironing board).

The next side will be the same, but with a mirror image of the figures.  Does it need anything else adding?  I'm wondering about adding radiating lines from the figures to their haloes - not lines showing where they've thrown their haloes - but more like lines from fireworks going off in the sky.  What do people think?

Thursday, 8 November 2012

In which I swear

I'm not a huge fan of Christmas.  But I am a huge fan of 'The Thick of It' and Malcolm Tucker.  So I came up with this cheerful Christmas card design last night.

I don't think I can send it to my mum.

In which I am a piece

I've finished the first half of the red stole (more on that tomorrow) so I'm putting it aside for a bit to get involved with a brilliant project.

Various brilliant crafty types (including Mr X Stitch, Deadly Knitshade, Hilary of Craftblog UK and the Craftivist Collective) are making a giant jigsaw embroidered with provocative messages to support Save the Children's Race Against Hunger Campaign. The project will create an art installation to raise awareness of the issues of world hunger and injustice.

The idea is that crafters like thee and I make 3 jigsaw pieces - one for the big jigsaw artwork, one for yourself to keep as a reminder to be part of the solution, and one stitched with the words "I'm a piece" to give to your MP, to ask them to be the positive change they wish to see in the world.  You can find more info and templates to download here

So why is this project happening now?  In 2013 Britain is hosting the G8 summit.  It's a great chance for the Government to use its power and influence to tackle child poverty, and the "I'm a piece" project and giant jigsaw artwork will hopefully remind us that we are all part of each others' live, and our actions can help or harm other people.  When I write to my MP I'll be asking him to urge David Cameron to make the most of this opportunity to end child hunger.

So, get stitchin'!  If you're sharin', use the hashtag #imapiece.  I'm thinking of organising an event in York in early December to encourage people to get involved.  And in the meantime, you can sign Save the Children's Race Against Hunger petition here.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

In which I sketch Frida

I decided to sketch Ms Kahlo the other night.  Here she is!  I just used a pencil and my watercolour pencils to start with.  I'd given the pencils a quick brush of water to blend them, and then decided to give her skin a wash of red wine with the brush.  It looked lovely and blushy pink at first when it went on, and then turned a bit purple-grey when it dried.  Kids - don't paint with wine.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

In which I organise a cat

Tess, the howling cat beast, has some complex needs.  She takes medication for her arthritis, for her diabetes, and is on medicated diet food as well.  Mr P and I adopted her a few years ago, when she'd already had surgery to remove a lump in her kitty-boob - she now has only five nipples.  She's now 11 and just the best kitty ever.  She head-bumps my face and gently bites my chin when she's really happy. 

With her diabetes, Mr P and I have to inject her twice a day with insulin.  And we need to make sure we do this, and let the other know so she doesn't get injected twice in one morning.  We'd been keeping track on scraps of paper, but I made a little blackboard chart for the kitchen which looks a bit nicer. I got the blackboard from Hobbycraft, and wrote the days etc on with a white paint pen.  I then found a bit of thin plyboard, and cut and filed it down to the right size, and stuck it on with wood glue to make a shelf for the chalk. 

So tidy!  Tess couldn't care less. 

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

In which I print a Gormley

In the summer Mr P and I went to Crosby beach and saw Anthony Gormley's installation Another Place.  I took lots of photos, and when we got back, made some sketches from them, and finally this print:

It's a Gormley man!  Gor-man?  Anyway.  I like the colour of the muddy sand, it just didn't work as well as I'd hoped as cloud.  Perhaps I should have used less of it there.  And the sky's a little too vibrant, maybe? 

Monday, 29 October 2012

In which I want to go to Brazil with Michael Palin

I watched the first episode of Michael Palin's Brazil last week.  Dear old Michael "the lovliest Python" Palin stopped by São Luís to see some Bumba Meu Boi action.  Bumba Meu Boi means 'jumping the bull' - it's a folk dance thing where people make a big old embroidered bull costume, and act out the bull's story on the street.

Whut?  Embroidered bull costume?

Oh yes.  It was amazing!  You can see the episodeon iPlayer here, with the bits on Bumba Meu Boi starting at 3 mins and 12 mins. And here's the best screen grab I could get of the bull - I think it's mainly done with beads and sequins - and it looks fab.  

I want to go to Brazil!  Ideally with Michael Palin, I think we'd get on.  Failing that, I want to learn more about Brazilian embroidery.  Anyone got any ideas where I could start?

Monday, 22 October 2012

In which there is a third figure

I've been carrying on with the stole, here's the third figure.  The colour's a bit wrong, the background is redder than that.

And a bonus shot of Tess cat sleeping.  I love cat toes.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

In which a lady jumps

Here's Ms Top Left, jumping on the stole. 

It may look like a ghostly hand is fondling her knee, but that's just empty space for the next figure.  He and his neighbour will be done in a slightly darker gold thread, and the two at the bottom in a darker shade still.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

In which I geek out like a big geeky geek

I'm going to be meeting three of my heroes this autumn.  I'm getting a bit overexcited.

Mr X Stitch is going to be at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate from 22 to 25 November.  I think it's the first time he's done the Harrogate show!  His site is a proper good resource for stitch art and he's done loads in bringing embroidery to the public attention.  He's also involved in Fine Cell Work which is a brilliant organisation, taking embroidery into prisons.

I'm going to pull up my big girl panties and go to a comic festival for the first time.  Thought Bubble is in Leeds from 11 to 18 November, and John Allison and Kate Beaton will be there.  Holy cow.

Kate Beaton's Hark a Vagrant is just the best comic website out there.  She is a fabulous illustrator and her jokes are always funny.  Full stop.  But John Allison... his comics Scarygoround and Bad Machinery have been a huge part of my life.  I've read them every day (Mon - Fri) for nine years.  I identify so much with Scarygoround's Shelly Winters - she's a tiny maniac.  This comic expresses so much of my own anxiety - when I read it for the first time I had tears in my eyes.  And his current Bad Machinery stories are just some of the best stuff he's ever written - his plots and characters are great.

So, heroes.  I just hope I don't make too much of an eedjit of myself in front of them...

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

In which I stitch like a bastard

I really cracked on with some stitching last night, and decided to time what I did.  I stitched most of the next figure for Fiona's stole in three hours ten minutes.

That's pretty good!  So, assuming it takes me about four and a half hours per figure, fourteen figures, plus a few extra hours to make the stole up, it should take me seventy hours to make this baby!  Fiona, you might get it some time in 2017...

Monday, 15 October 2012

In which I pick up the needle again...

Aaah, embroidery.  I've missed you.  If I don't go a couple of weeks without the old needle in my hands, I get withdrawal symptoms.  I've been working hard on my print course, but it's time to take a little break and start work on Fiona's stole*.

My friend Fiona is a priest, and I've made her a few stoles before.  She wanted a red one with golden saints throwing their haloes in the air, like graduates throwing their mortarboards in celebration.  I had a go at one on this theme about a year ago, but it was pretty shitty.  I'd done it with gold fabric paint and the design and execution was just shittens.  I was pretty embarrassed about it.

So I'm having another bash - albeit rather late - I promided this to Fiona months ago.  Sorry Fi!  But I've finally started work.  Here's the sketch - the design will be repeated on the other panel of the stole*.

I'm using fairly traded cotton from Fair Trade Fabric, in their Christmas red shade.  And here's the first little jumping saint.  As you can see, he's Mr Top Right corner, silk shading stitch, couched around with gold.  Sweet as. 

*If you don't know what a stole is - it's the scarf-y thing that priests wear in services.  They are different colours at different times, depending on whereabouts in the calendar we are.  Red is worn during Holy Week, Pentecost, and can be used on All Saints' Day or any service focussing on the Holy Spirit. 

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

In which I print Alice

This weekend I cracked on with my Alice print.  As I said in my last post, I wanted to do this on two bits of lino as I didn't think the blues and the fawn colours would work well together.

So, I started off with the blues, then added the fawns.  Light blue first, then I cut away on that lino to print the dark.  Same process with the fawn lino sheet.

Then, I cut up my two bits of lino and stuck them together to make a Franken-lino.  My thinking was, this would reduce the amount of empty lino that might get a smudge from the roller.

And it worked pretty well!  Here is the finished Alice.

If I were to do this again, I'd make the black lines around Alice's face and arms thinner, and leave the grassy area blue rather than fawn.  I started out with 20 copies of the pale blue and got 11 finished prints at the end of the process.  Not bad, I only need 2 for my course.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

In which I sketch Alice

I love Alice in Wonderland - in fact, I prefer 'Alice Through The Looking Glass'.  I've not been very imaginative for my printmaking course so far - I've been making prints of things that exist in real life - so I thought I'd add in a print of something from my own imagination.

So I decided to do something about Alice and the Fawn from 'Looking Glass'.  Alice moves into the wood where creatures forget their names, and meets a fawn.  Neither of them can remember what they are, so it's only when they leave the wood that the fawn knows what it is, and that it should be frightened of humans. 

That passage has always struck me as something Edenic, with the loss of innocence of both Alice and the Fawn, as they realise humans and animals cannot live in harmony. 

I started out by sketching a fawn, from a picture in a nature book and some images of deer from “4,000 Animal, bird and fish motifs” by Graham Leslie McCallum.  I wanted Alice and the Fawn resting in the wood - even though they don't do that in the book, it gives them a little more time together?  So I tried to draw Alice reclining on the right of the fawn first.  It didn't work.  I'm not great at drawing human figures, so I lay down on the floor, hugged a cushion as though it were a fawn and got Mr P to take a photo that I could sketch from.

I didn't really like the design of this - Alice looks a bit clingy, and the overall shape is low and flat.  So I tried again, looking at the Tenniel drawings in my copy of 'Looking Glass' and trying to find one where Alice is kneeling.  I did, and adapted it so she's on the fawns's left.

Then I thought about background and colour.  I knew it had to have a limited palette if I were to do it as a print, I'm really only up to 3 colours at the moment!  I wanted the woods to be a bit dreamy and dark, so I went for blue, which is the traditional colour for Alice's dress.  I added a couple of bats because I like bats, I think they are friendly.

I took a pic, uploaded it to my computer and tinkered around with the colour.  I tried it as green, but I think I prefer it as blue.

So the next stage is to transfer the design onto lino and start cutting.  I want to try doing this as a reduction print, where I print the palest colour, then cut away more lino and reduce the surface as I print the darker colours.  But I think I'm going to have to do this with 2 pieces of lino, one for the dark blue and light blue, and one of the light fawn, dark fawn and black.  I don't think it would work laying the fawn over the blue or vice versa.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

In which I talk to an inanimate object

I used to be pretty scared of sketching.  A blank page was a bit alarming - worse still was the first page in a new notebook! I think it's partly being a perfectionist, and partly having been put off art at school.

My OCA Printmaking tutor Niki White helped by pointing me to this blog post about sketchbooks.  I love the idea of a sketchbook being a friend you can bounce ideas off.

So, this year my sketchbook and I have been to Southport, Blackpool, Oxfordshire, Liverpool and Leicester.  We're starting to be pretty good friends.  Like any friendship, you need to put some time in together - sometimes I don't talk to my sketchbook for a week, and that's not good.

But the more time I spend with it, the easier it is.  I'm more confident about using paint, not just pencils.  I've even done some cut paper sketches.  Might have a play with some collage some time.  Who knows?

So, I'm going to show off now and post a couple of sketches I was well proud of, both from photos of statue 20 in Anthony Gormley's "Another Place" at Crosby Beach. 

The first is a watercolour.  Anthony Gormley has a big willy.  Hee!

The second is pen and coloured pencils.  Anthony Gormley's head isn't really that lumpy, it was encrusted in little barnacle-y things. 

Monday, 1 October 2012

In which I assess my aims

Back in January, I made five crafty resolutions for the year.  It's now October - where is 2012 going?  So I thought I'd check in and see how I'm doing.

  1. Finish the OCA Textiles 1 course.  Woo!  I've done this!  I got a mark in the 2:2 area.  I'm a perfectionist, so I was a bit unhappy with this.  But reading over their course materials, the OCA say they're pretty strict with their marking and a 2:2 is ok.  Ok then. 
  2. Start (and do most of) the OCA Printmaking 1 course.  I have started this, and am 2/5ths of the way through.  Loving it.
  3. Tidy and organise my studio into a pleasant working space. Aaaargh!  I painted the walls white, but that's about it.  I need to clean it, make shelves for the recycling bins to sit on, and properly sort out all my crafty supplies.  The table in the studio is well wonky - the top got bent in the great washing machine deluge/sauna of the new year, and it's pretty impossible to work on.  Need to shell out many moolahs at Ikea to buy a new table top.
  4. Blog more.  Well, I started the year well, but it's tailed off a bit.  Keep on blogging, kid.
  5. Draw more! This has been a success!  I am keeping 2 sketchbooks and enjoying drawing.  Need to do a bit more, but have at least cracked my fear of drawing!  Here is a drawing of some fawns I did last night.
I also said back in Jan that I want to get a bike and do more exercise.  I have not done this and am still as fat as butter.  Yum!

Monday, 24 September 2012

In which something will stink

I think I'm going to have to do a bad thing.

I harvested my flax a couple of weeks ago.  It looked great!  But the weather's turned cold before I've retted it, and you need warmth to ret flax... Essentially, you need to give the flax moisture, warmth and time (about 5 days?) and it starts to rot.  That breaks down the outer, bark-y bit of the flax and allows you to get at the fibres inside.

I don't know how long you can keep harvested flax before retting it, so... I think I'm going to have to ret this indoors.  Rotting vegetation.  It will be steeeeeeeenky.

Sorry Mr P. 

Friday, 21 September 2012

In which I update you

Oh man, I’m really sorry, blog!  I done deserted you for two whole months. 

And what have I been up to in that time?  I’ve been cracking on with my print course, that’s what.  After my Clifford’s Tower linocut I made this linocut of a goose.

I was at the University while the Church of England’s General Synod was on, and snapped a quick pic of one of the campus’ savage graylag geese.  When you look at these little dudes you can totally see how they are descended from dinosaurs.  There’s the touch of the T-Rex about them.  I offered this one my hand to see what he’d do, and he nipped me with his beak!  It was very cute.  I wanted to cuddle him but he wouldn’t let me.  Anyway, I printed out my photo and copied it onto lino – I like the way the pattern of the feathers contrasts with the pattern of the bricks.  I think the balance of dark and light is pretty good too.

Then, I went up to the moors with Mr P.  It was a gorgeous sunny day and I stood in a field and sketched the White Horse of Kilburn.  It’s always been on my mind to try to make a print of it – first time I went to York’s Open Studios I visited the workshop of Catherine Sutcliffe-Fuller who had done some gorgeous intaglio prints of it.  So, I converted my sketches into a three colour lino cut. 

Then, I made another three colour lino cut, this time of Joan of Arc.  I’ve been listening to Kate Bush a bit recently, because she is amazing.  On her album Aerial she has a song called ‘Joanni’, with the lyrics

“Who is that girl? Do I know her face?
Who is that girl?

Joanni, Joanni wears a golden cross
And she looks so beautiful in her armour
Joanni, Joanni blows a kiss to God
And she never wears a ring on her finger”

I wanted to make a print about Joan, so I looked online for pics of here.  I found a great poster of Sarah Bernhardt as Joan, and used that as a basis for my print.  I took out the weapons and the banners at that seemed a bit complicated!  Glad I did – thei was hard enough as it was.  It’s A4-ish, and the black outline was pretty tricky.  But I’m really proud of it – I think it reflects something of Kate Bush’s lyrics.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

In which I embroider some Davids

One of my favourite blogs is Mr X Stitch, and the Phat Quarter community regularly do embroidery swaps.  I've seen some amazing things come out of these swaps, so I decided to dip my toe into the waters and take part in the 1970s themed swap.

I was allocated Sewphie T as my swapee.  She's an amazing stitcher - I love her boxing hares, and her stumpwork is just stunning.  She said she liked David Bowie, so I decided to take him as my inspiration.

I love Aladdin Sane era Bowie, so I looked online to find pictures of the album cover where he's got that big lightning bolt zigzag over his eye.  I found a painting of the album cover that used blocks of colour to delinate his face, and thought that would be a good basis for an embroidery.

The hoop I used is about 6 inches in diameter, and I used mainly satin stitch to fill the colours in.  I couched metallic thread for the lightning bolt - looking back, I wish I'd used coloured thread to couch this down.  I used a translucent thread, but I think it looks too white on the red and blue.  I also wish I'd centred the image a little lower - the eyes should be closer to the centre.  Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the stitching, and its a strong image.

I like cats, and puns, so I also embroidered little David Meowie!  Look, he has Bowie's mismatched eyes!  He's about 3 inches in diameter.  Cute! 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

In which I make a print of Clifford's Tower

For the next bit of my OCA Printmaking course, I had to make a black and white print of something near where I live.  I live in York, so I popped up the road to Clifford's Tower to sketch it for a print.  I sat in a cafe and drank tea and sketched.  This printmaking business is HARSH.

Then, I took some black paper and drew the sketch out on that with white chalk, so the chalk marks would be where I'd cut away the lino.

And this is the (nearly) finished product.  I like the print - I'm happy with the way the different tools have given appropriate cut marks.  I like the way the bush on the left balances against the cloud on the right.

But it's not finished - it's not a great print.  I'm still a bit impatient - I need to work to get a more even print - there are lighter patches on this that just. won't. do.

Monday, 23 July 2012

In which I buy a bee

Mr P and I went to the car boot sale on Saturday, and I paid £12 for something that could be worth £400.  I am a freaking antiques genius! 

We had a good wander round, and although there were lots of good stalls, nothing much caught my eye.  Until I saw this little bronze bee thing.  It's about 4 inches long, and the bee's body lifts up to reveal a hollow where things (small things) could be stored.  I like bees, I like shiny things, so I asked how much the stall holder wanted.  He asked for £15, we settled on £12. 

On the bottom of the bee, there's a stamp reading "W Avery and Sons, Redditch, The Bee Case".  So, with the miracle of interweb phones, I looked up said info.  First site I found was a page from Christie's, the auctioneers, where a similar case sold for £400 in 1993. 

Holy. Poop.

My bee case dates from 1869 - 1898 ish, was designed to hold needles and pins, and they are well collectable!  Now, mine isn't in great nick - the top of the leaf is bent, the catch is broken, and even after a fair bit of cleaning it's pretty tarnished.  So I doubt I'd get anywhere near £400, even if they cost the same as they did in 1993.  But I reckon I'll take it to an antique dealer and see how much they'd value it at.  I'd be dead excited if it would be worth putting it in an auction!   

Thursday, 19 July 2012

In which my flax is flowering

Looky look look!  My flax in the allotment is flowering!  I went down at the weekend, and there are little blue flowers all over, like little stars.  It's just gorgeous. It's very wet, so I hope the flax is ok - there's still a lot of buds waiting to flower, and then I think it'll be a couple of weeks until the stalks turn golden and I can harvest the fibre.  The bindweed LOVES my flax - it's everywhere. 

In other allotment news - red ants.  Everywhere.  (Shudder.)

Also, my foxes featured on Mr X Stich again - this time in the 'Too Cute Tuesdays' slot curated by Olisa from Feeling Stitchy.  Yay!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

In which I make marks on lino

I’ve finished the monoprints assignment on my OCA Printmaking course, and I've posted them off to my tutor.  Now, I'm on to linoprints!  Yum.  I love relief printing.

For the first assignment, I used a variety of cutting tools to make 24 test squares on an A4 piece of lino.  I'm referring to each square left to right 1 to 4, and top to bottom a to f.  So the top left square is 1a.  I used a variety of v-tools and gouges, and a craft knife as well.

A few of the marks remind me of different things - 1e looks like a school of fish swimming in a circle, and 2f looks like a school of fish darting through water.  The short, vertical strokes of 4a, 3e and 1f look like grasses or crops.  2c reminds me of a choppy pond and 3f of a still pond.  3a could be a flock of birds above a cornfield?  2d looks like hail or snow.  The more delicate qualities of 3c and 4c (made with the craft knife) are a bit like cobwebs.

Overall, it's an ok print?  I like the marks, but the ink isn't as clear and black as I'd like.  I used watercolour ink, and it was my first time using a baren.  I think I need to use more ink and more pressure!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

In which my sloth is shown some love

Hello blog.  Sorry I've neglected you.

Anyway - the sloth has been getting some internet lovin'.  The internet's premier sloth blog, Sloth Action has featured my whitework, as has Mr X Stitch.  This is the third time my work has been featured on Mr X's site - that's very cool!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

In which I embroider a whitework sloth

I love sloths.  I really, really love them.  If I’m having a bad day at work I just have to watch a clip from ‘Too Cute! Baby Slothsand I’m good again.  One day, I’d love to go to the Sloth Sanctuaryin Costa Rica

So what’s the obvious choice for my next foray into whitework?  Sloths!
After doing my Carrickmacross lace, I wanted to have a bash at cutwork.  I decided to embroider some hibiscus flowers, just about to be eaten by a sneaky sloth!  Sloths love hibiscus flowers.  I gave the flowers a bit of texture – the stamens are done in French knots, and I gave the sloth a nice furry coat.

This was so much fun to embroider!  If I did it again I’d use a whiter thread – this one looks a little cream, and use a sharper pair of scissors to cut the background cloth away.  You need really sharp scissors for this.  If you’ve got sharp scissors and know how to do buttonhole stitch, you’re pretty much sorted on cutwork! 

Friday, 1 June 2012

In which I print some self-portraits

Oh, I've been so lax.  Bad me.  I've been working away at my OCA printmaking course, but just haven't been blogging about it.

I'm currently working on the first section, which is on monoprints.  I have to submit four final prints, and one should be a portrait. 

I asked the mirror on the wall who the fairest of them all is, but apparantly Lucy Worsley wasn't available to sit for a portrait.  So I decided to do a self-portrait.

1 - I propped a mirror up and sketched this.  It looks nothing like me.  I think part of the problems is my eyes and mouth are too small here.

2 - I then put that under a sheet of glass, and painted on it using printing inks.  I looked terrifying - the nose areas is all weird and wrong.

3 - This is my final print - I used masks to print the areas of colour, and backdrawing to define the nose, chin, freckles and ears. I kept the whites of the eyes by positioning little masks on the inked surface.  I first printed the green layer, then the pink face, then the hair and eyes, and finally the red lips.

4 - Then, I mucked around a bit.  I rolled out the browny ink and did some backdrawing - this is the original print...

5 - And this is the negative - after I'd taken the first print, I just covered the inked plate and pulled another print.

6 - The one that looks most like me, really, is just this print I did of the 'brown' mask so you can just see my hair, eyes and eybrows.

So - overall, I'm please with my final print, but I wish my nose wasn't wonky - the print on the pink layer got slightly out of alignment. 

Friday, 18 May 2012

In which I complete a tapestry weaving

I've finished my tapestry weaving.  It took flippin' ages!  But it was fun - interesting to see how it's easier to make the letters when they are sideways - I think 'weft' came out better than 'warp'.

It's about 20cm squared, but it's not very square.  I guess I could pin it out on an ironing board and block it like I'd block crochet?