Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Interesting show about the Australian Tapestry Workshop

Having missed the show on Art Nation about the Tapestry Workshop I couldn't resist looking at it here.
The sound tapestry was amazing, it was a theremin instrument.  I would like to know more about that.  Here is a link to it in action, being used by Chicks on Speed.
I had heard of the theremin before, in relation to Dr Who and the new version of the theme.  There are links to more info about the theremin if you follow this link.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Contemplative art

As I have said, I am making a game based on a maths activity that I used to use with my primary school grades.  But I am finding that it is good for adults too, especially ones who like making mandalas.
The Pattern Blocks will not make rectangles, if you use all the shapes, and tend to take you into mandala territory, especially if you do not have a plan in mind as you start.
So my game is proving to be a good contemplative activity.
When I was teaching, I loved the activity and the way it could be used by the children to produce all sorts of examples.  I don't think I would have thought of making this version if I hadn't loved using Pattern Blocks myself.

I have only used 5 of the 6 shapes (I didn't use the triangle) but it looks like more because they are double-sided.

This is the same design as the first image, I have simply turned over some of the pieces.  You can see a small piece waiting to be used.

The same piece, added to.

The same as above, just some pieces turned over.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Patterned Pattern Blocks

I have just noticed that I haven't posted for over a week.  Whatever happened to my resolution to post at least once  week?  Obviously, I have been busy - or uninspired.  I'd rather go with busy.
I have been working on our Play theme and have come up with something that is, once again, related to my past teaching life, as well as my love of textiles.  In fact, this one is also rather closely related to patchwork.

I have made a set of pieces that are based on the Pattern Blocks that we used to use at school.  I have had fun going through old photos of patterns the children made as well as finding sites online in which you can manipulate the shapes to make your own patterns.  Great fun.

But I wanted to make a game that is more tactile than going online and that plays with colour and pattern more than the traditional Pattern Blocks.  So I have made double-sided fabric ones, to give some extra options.

It has been fun choosing which colours to use, what patterns to choose, how to put them together, etc.  And I have been able to use up some of the fabric stash that comes under the heading of 'why did I buy that??'.  They are lovely fabrics, just not the colours and designs that I usually use.  They have been perfect for this though, offering some very bright and cheery options in my game. In the samples you can see here, I have used fabrics that I already had, I will admit to buying some 'out there' fabrics for my prototype - I may post some pictures of those later.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sewing on Plastic 2

As I had enjoyed the different outcome when sewing onto PVC plastic, I thought I would play around with it a bit more.  The bag project seemed like a good idea.
We had to research the history of bags and I found interesting information about the use of pockets that ladies in Britain tied around their waists.  Initially they were worn under their skirts but later they became a fashion accessory and were decorated.
I have always loved crewel embroidery and Jacobean designs, so this was a great chance to indulge myself.
I found lots of examples of Jacobean embroidery online.  I also researched some books and found that crewel embroidery does not refer to the style of stitches or embroidery, it really only refers to the use of wool as the embroidery thread.  Apparently crewel embroidery can use a large variety of stitches that appear in other sorts of embroidery, it is often the first sort of embroidery mentioned in embroidery books because it uses so many different stitches.

Anyway, I decided to run with this.  Part of the assignment was to marry the old with the new, so I decided to do free motion machine embroidery.  I have not used a different thread in the bobbin but decided to try this time.  I used some of my tapestry wool, it was a perfect thickness.

I made my design and traced it onto some dissolvable fabric so I could have a symmetrical design - no way could I have done that free-hand on the machine.
I used water soluble pens from Crayola but the colour did not wash out completely in a couple of parts and has made the wool a bit murky.  I will try to use a better pen next time, if there is a next time.

The original idea was to have a pocket, or bag, that has a clear front so that you can always find where things are in your bag. Initially, the pocket was going to simply be the plastic front and the cloth back but then I thought about the need to have some things that you might not want to have on public view, so I made a separate section at the back.  It even has a pocket for an iPhone.

So far the design is not completely practical but practicality was not the point of the exercise, so I am not worried about that.

I am pleased with the design and how the wool has come up. Of course, it is not in the same class as hand embroidered crewel work but it was fun to do and I might do more and get better at it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sewing onto plastic

For some of our assignments in the Textiles and Design course, we have had to design work for an outdoor installation at the Coburg Carnevale Festival and another piece for a research project about bags.
In both I have discovered the fun of free machine sewing on plastic.  I have based my outdoor piece on tiles in Turkey, again, just as I used this idea for the Graphica exhibition.  The theme for our group includes pomegranates and there is an element of light and shadow, so I decided that transparent plastic would fit into the light and shadows part of the theme and my design is a stylised pomegranate.

The technique I have used harks back to the quilting I used to do.  I cut out shapes as if for applique, placed them in their design onto a layer of PVC and then laid another sheet of PVC on top.  Then I free-motion sewed the pieces in place.  There are four larger pieces made up of the original design repeated four times in each.  All I have to do is work out how to attach it to the place I am going to display it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Busy Week

As I was looking back at the week this morning - I was putting off getting up and facing the cold - I realised that I have had a busy week.  A friend and I went to Castlemaine (it was freezing!! our first blast of winter this year) and visited the art gallery.  It was between shows, so we got to see the permanent collection free.  It is an interesting collection and we might not have taken as long to look at it if the special exhibition had been on.

The new show is Geoffrey Stocks Survey and the works were all standing along the floor, waiting to be hung.  We had a peep in and it looks worth a visit.  It starts today.

After lunch, we visited the historic house Buda.  The guide there told us an interesting story about the house and it's founder and his family.  It was built by a Hungarian silver smith who came to Australia in the gold rush.  He had six unmarried daughters who live in the house for many years.  They did a lot of art and craft work including silverwork, wood carving, ceramics, cloisonne, embroidery and rug making.  I am sure there were other arts and crafts included, I have probably forgotten something.  It sounds like it was a very creative family.
There is a textile exhibition coming up in 2012 that you can start working for now.

Then, the next day, I visited Bundoora Homestead with another friend and her friends from the Box Hill textiles course.  We saw the tea cosy exhibition that is in support of the Cancer Council.  There was a very large number of tea cosies - most were knitted or crocheted but there were a few other techniques included also.  I especially liked the series of chickens.

I occasionally revisit The Artist's Way and the journalling in which you reflect on the artist's treats you have given yourself during the week.  I have done very well this week.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Class Excursion

Today we went to an exhibition as part of our Experimental Textiles subject.  It was at the Incinerator Arts Complex in Moonee Ponds.
The exhibition was called ARTECYCLE and artists were asked to explore the themes of environmentalism, recycling and sustainability.  There were many interesting works, of different construction and making techniques. While I like to do my best for the planet, sometimes I get overwhelmed by the seemingly incessant, and often depressing, messages about mankind's misuse of the resources, the impending demise of the planet.
So it was great to see some works that didn't have the doom and gloom feel that can come with this message, that there were whimsical pieces as well as more upbeat ones.
The works were very diverse and I found it hard to vote in the people's choice part of the exhibition.  There were several pieces that appealed to me.
Here are several of the works.  

Sunday, May 8, 2011

ATASDA meeting, May

I went to the ATASDA meeting on Saturday, we were celebrating finally having a permanent place and a new day (the first Saturday of the month) for our meetings. It is at the Hartwell Church Of Christ Hall 
cnr of Milverton & Highfield Rds Hartwell.  
Congratulations to the committee members for their hard work in setting up this group.

It sounds like I missed a fun workshop last meeting.  There are pictures of it on the ATASDA blog, here.
There are also plans for some interesting workshops in the coming months.  I'll be keeping an eye out to see what is on.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thank goodness for modern science

Where would we be without modern inventions ?
I have recently been playing around with sewing onto PVC plastic. (Inspired by an article in Stitch magazine, Dec 08/Jan 09.) I have used two layers with pieces of fabric between, then free motion sewing them together, technically a quilt I think, as it has three layers put together.
My sewing machine drops the feed dogs, allowing the free motion but I kept finding the free motion not so free - upon close examination, I realised that the plastic was sticking to the machine.

In comes the modern invention - teflon.  (Actually, it is only relatively modern, I looked it up and it was invented in 1938. Wouldn't you know it, there is some thought that it might cause cancer!)

I had bought this handy looking thing a few years ago, when I was visiting my friend in New York and had visited the City Quilter shop and HAD to buy something - but I hadn't wanted to buy anything bulky that would take up room in my suitcase.  So there it was, this thing that looked like it would be ever so useful.
This is the first time I have used it, at least three years since I got it, if not four.  It is actually rather fortunate that I remembered I have it.  Anyway, it worked a treat, the plastic slides around on it beautifully. So now I am happily sewing on the plastic.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Setting up a business

We have just finished doing our Business Practice course and it was quite eye-opening.  There is so much to consider when setting up your own business.
Coincidentally, one of the students who graduated last year has just opened Urban Textile, focussing on machine knitting.  Her site looks great.
Maybe I could be tempted to have another go at knitting, her workshops look interesting.  It would be great to do workshops that don't get assessed, that don't have short (seeming) timelines and the stress of trying to pass a subject.
Good luck Leeana.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

More Kerr Grabowski workshop

I seem to be in a bit of a slump creatively, I haven't done much at all since I got home from the Ballarat Fibre Forum.  I have restarted classes for this term, the second half of the semester but I don't have a lot
of enthusiasm at present.
I have spoken to a few people about the workshop and realised how much I enjoyed it.  This time I am going to talk about the use of a syringe to draw directly on the screen.  We did this with black dye in the alginate and then let it dry.  Then we either just used clear alginate, or coloured if we wanted to, to wet the dye and have the image appear on the screen.  As usual, the first images were a little lighter as the dye on the screen had to take time to wet through.  But it was a fun way to do it and, as the dye got wetter, the image changed.

These are Kerr's demo pieces, as you can see, you can draw back into the image with a foam brush or add colour with coloured alginate.

This is one of my samples, it shows how the dye acts as a resist at first, then the coloured dye comes out as it gets wetter.
Here I have added some coloured alginate to the image.  It is still wet, hence the grey background.

I hope this description wasn't too confused, that you can get some idea of the process.  If you want the actual instructions, Kerr has a very entertaining DVD of her processes available on her website.