Sunday, December 21, 2014

Using Colour and Tone to reflect mood

As I said previously, I am playing around with some ideas for the design class. We have quite a break till February, it being the summer holidays. I am a bit worried that the time will rush past as it tends to do in summer and I won't have done anything. So I am taking lots of photos to inspire me. My stuff is all still in boxes, waiting for the renovations to be completed, which doesn't look like happening any time soon - factories and suppliers have a tendency to shut down for several weeks at this time of the year. Oh well.

I have thought about doing some pieces around the idea of My Place (which is the theme for the tapestry challenge) and have been taking photos. I have noticed that the season impacts greatly on the colours. So that is provoking some ideas.

For instance, there are some amazing skies that I could use - so far all I have done is take photos and think about it. But the colours and tones will be different. Not sure they will reflect mood, as such, but it might do the job. And I can play around with idea using the computer, not have to worry yet about HOW I am going to do it, or with what technique. Or where the materials actually are.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Christmas Table Again

I went back to the Abbotsford Convent for a floor talk being given to our local tapestry group. It was very interesting, to hear the design process as well as the inspiration.

It was also good to see the members of our group just before Christmas. We didn't have our usual meeting this month as the 4th Saturday will be just after Christmas and the guild rooms will not be open. And we won't be meeting in January as that will coincide with the Australia Day weekend. So this was a good chance to catch up.

I had hoped to see the mannequins in the chapel area again but the chapel is shut on the weekend. I heard that they had been turned around. My images show them going into the chapel and, apparently, they are now leaving the chapel.

The fabric is photographs collaged and then digitaly printed. They are gorgeous. Each mannequin represents different stages of the history of the convent area, from the intial Wurundjeri tribal area to the present day artist precinct.
Apparently they were in an earlier event (Feminine Fortitude) and have been temporarily relocated to the chapel.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Christmas Table

A friend of mine has an exhibition on at the Abbotsford Convent crypt this week. It is only on for a short time as it is part of the pre-Christmas displays at the convent complex. It is on till Sunday, December 21st.
Her work is mainly tapestries, based on the cloth that has been used at her family Christmas meals over the years. She has encouraged her family and guests to write on the cloth each year as a commemoration of their lives together.

Her tapestry designs are based on this cloth.

There was also some of her shifu work that I have mentioned before. (You can read about it on her blog here.)

It was a lovely, intimate setting that suited the work beautifully.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Looking around me

One of the things that is supposed to be coming out of our design course is that we are being encouraged to LOOK.
I have been trying, especially as I haven't been DOING very much.
I have several things to look for:

  • reflections - after doing the Alison Holt course (there are some wonderful, inspiring images on her gallery pages).
  • three designs that reflect mood (or similar) using colour and tone
  • My Place - for the tapestry challenge
So I have been taking photos, mostly when out walking with the dog (thank heavens we have a dog, I don't think I would go out nearly as much).

Here are some images that I might develop further - who knows?

Walking at Willsmere Park this week, early because it was going to be too hot to take the dog out later.

Obviously, these are on the Reflections theme. 
i don't know how I would do them but they are lovely images. And I can feel like I am doing some work even if it is just the thinking stages. 
This seems to be enough images for today, I may post about the other two topics in the next few days. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Playing around with pattern

A blog I visit regularly has a couple of posts about growing a tree fern and it reminded me of an exercise I did recently for my design course.
I took a photo of a fern frond - not even a very good one, it was a windy day - and then cropped it.

I did some of the flip, slide, turn thing again and came up with some cute little patterns.

Still not sure what I would do in terms of stitch with it but it was fun and I got some interesting images.

After that, I was making lunch one day and noticed that the little bit of tomato that was left had an interesting pattern in it. So I took a photo and played around with that too.

Image cut, rotated and flipped - to make a symmetrical image.

I cropped a bit of the symmetrical image then played around with the filters.

Then I cropped a different part of the symmetrical image and flipped, rotated and slid some more. 
The possibilities are endless!!!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Free motion dragonfly

As part of my Design for Stitch class, I am working on some images developed from a dragonfly pattern. 
I decided to try free motion sewing on soluble fabric.  I tried tracing the outline of an image from my iPad - extremely tricky as the screen kept resizing and moving - so it is not much like the image I was using. I only used half. Then I folded that in half and traced the rest from that, trying for a symmetrical image.  (I did my post about dragonfly designs using my iPad, that's my excuse for the amazing number of errors in that post.)

I then traced it onto soluble fabric, using a water soluble pen (it should disappear when I dissolve the fabric).

I still had the naked needle on my machine, from the Alison Holt workshop I had recently attended, so I decided to keep using that as I had my image in a hoop. It turned out to be more difficult than in the workshop, the lighter weight of the soluble fabric meant that it leapt up and down and I couldn't focus the image properly.

I did the first side of the wings without a foot on the machine but decided that I might see better if I put the free motion foot on. It did make it much more stable but the disadvantage was that I couldn't see the lines as accurately, the foot obscured them. So it was six of one and half a dozen of the other.

It was also a bit ambitious to try to do a freehand symmetrical image, next time I will trace the design, or my idea for the design, in every section before sewing. I just made the pattern up as I sewed this time and I couldn't always see it clearly when it was moved in the hoop. Live and learn.

I haven't been able to use my machine for several weeks, due to renovations to the house, so it was good to get back to experimenting, even if it doesn't work out perfectly. I have missed the creative play.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Alison Holt freemotion machine workshop part 2

The first day was pretty much devoted to painting the image.
The second day was devoted to sewing. Once again, Alison gave a demonstration, this time of her sewing technique.
One thing that I had never done was to take off the foot and just sew with the needle. I thought I would find this hard but Alison was clear on how to do it safely (hold the hoop and that keeps the fingers safe) and it worked really well.

We set up our work and began the sewing. Despite mine being a very small image, it took all day to complete and I still haven't quite finished.
Alison demonstrated choosing the colours you want - by laying the whole reel of cotton on the picture, not just a thread, and matching it as best you can. To move from one shade to another, you put the colour in both the bobbin and the top, then you choose your next colour, put it in either the bobbin or the top. The next gradation uses the colour in top and bobbin, then change one or the other, and so on. It was remarkably effective.
Of course, I forgot to be that careful all the time but Alison was always moving from person to person and would remind me.
We started with the darkest colour and gradually added lighter shades.

I discovered that sewing over already sewn parts made the thread break. I discussed this with Alison and she said that she uses cotton rather than polyester or rayon as it holds up much better with her technique. I will have to try it again and a) not sew so densely in the dark parts, leaving some room for the lighter shades, and b)use cotton rather than the odd selection of fibres I took with me.

It was sometimes easier to turn the image and the work sideways so that you would look at what was actually in the image rather than what you assumed was there.

By the end of the day I was getting rather tired, I'm not used to all that concentration over two days anymore.  So I decided to stop and leave the sewing of the grass and the plant that overlaps on the right till another day. Or I might just decide that this is a good workshop sample and not do any more work. I'll see.

One good thing about using such a small image was that it all fitted inside the hoop, no maneuvering the piece. 
I am determined to try another soon, it is always good to repeat what you learnt in a workshop before you forget too much. Luckily, I knew quite a few of the participants and will be able to confer with them if I need their help.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Alison Holt freemotion machine workshop

I was lucky enough to attend a two day workshop run by Alison Holt. I had read a couple of her books and love the effects she gets.
The first part of the workshop was to work on choosing a photo from which to work. The focus of the workshop was Reflections on Water, so I looked at a lot of my photos from walking the dog. I have plenty.
I wasn't quite sure what we were going to do and decided not to include ones where I had some wonderful reflections but it was hard to tell where the land started and the water began. So I chose quite a few that had lovely reflections but you couldn't see where the reflections were coming from. It turned out that these were not suitable for the class.
Luckily I had chosen quite a few images and had one that looked ok to work with.

As the notes we were sent had mentioned photographs, I had mine printed out in that format. I did wonder if that would be too small a format but it turned out ok. A couple of other participants had printed theirs out on A4 paper and had bigger images, but photograph size was fine for the workshop.

The first day was doing silk painting. I had some supplies that I could easily access as I had been using them to teach primary school children in the not-too-distant past. I thought I had plenty of silk so didn't purchase any new supplies. This turned out to be a mistake as I didn't have the correct weight silk, mine was a bit thin. 

For the first part of the work, after Alison had given a thorough demonstration, we chose our image, cropped it to the interesting parts and then traced it onto the silk using a water or air soluble pen. I used the above image but cropped out the left hand side and pretended I could see behind the bush in the front at the right.  

Then we painted the silk. The top part was fairly easy. We put in gutta lines to block in the areas of colour that we would later sew over. The bottom part was much harder. I hadn't realised it but we weren't going to sew over the reflections, they are solely painted. 
The effect is gained by painting the background, then going over it, once it has dried, with a very fine brush to put in small horizontal lines to make it look like shimmering water, even though that effect was not visible in the photo. 
Because my silk was a bit thin, I doubled it up in the hoop when it came to sewing it. We also had to bring our  hoops with tape around the smaller ring, the better to grip the fabric.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Trying different dragonfly designs

I was reminded of an activity I used to do with my primary students. We used to fold out paper in half, pit in some paint, along the middle if the paper, fold the paper and then spread the paint out with our fingers. It gives a symmetrical,image. 
I have tried that again, using gouache paint, which didn't work as well as I had thought it might. I probably should have used acrylic paint but that is somewhere in a box (we are having renovations done and many of my supplies are in boxes).
One ia age has turned out looking rather like an insect - which is the theme of our homework for the design class as. 

I haven't decided what to do with this one, so it remains as is for the time being.

I had two other pieces that I have cut out using the dragonfly stencil. So far I have only cut them out, I will think about using my black pens and may do some more doodling patterns. The quality of the paint  may affect this so I need to consider it some more before launching into it.



They haven't come out perfectly symmetrically but I don't think that matters too much. I think acrylic paint may have given me a better result but will have to wait till I find the paint before I can trial it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Not Trusting the Weather

Yesterday was the day for our get-together - three of us are getting together on a regular basis. We have been talking about sun dyeing but I didn't trust the weather and didn't prepare for it. It was raining most of the previous day, off and on, heavily when on! Just ask me and my dog about that.

Anyway, I didn't take any things suitable for sun dyeing. But one of our group did; it was her first time, so we were happy to give lots of helpful advice when it turned out to be sunny after all.

Since I wasn't going to do the dyeing and didn't have anything specific to do, I decided to do the homework from my Design for Stitch course - the only thing I got done was to come up with an outline drawing of a dragonfly.
Our task was to fold a piece of paper in half and draw half an insect shape, then cut it out so we would have a symmetrical shape.
Then we are to fill in a pattern, cut out parts of it and, hopefully, have an interesting design. Our current topic is tone, so I presume I should try filling in parts of the drawing with different tones.

I looked online at beetle shapes and patterns - lots of lovely images. Then I tried dragonfly images and came across a site that gives instructions on drawing a dragonfly. I folded my paper and drew half the image, then unfolded it and cut it out.

The person doing the sun dyeing asked, in an interested tone of voice, what I intended doing with that stencil. How could I say no? So she used it in one of her sun dyeing pieces. It worked rather well.
The paper stencil absorbed some of the dye. The image below shows the fabric after the removal of the stencil. The sunshine was not consistent but obviously there was enought to do the job.

I copied my stencil so that I now have a cutout. I then found an image that had used an outline and filled in the pattern with Zen doodling.

I thought about how I might fill in the pattern on my cutout and realised that making it symmetrical may be a challenge. That's when I ran out of time and had to leave. However, I did have a chance to try some doodling last night. It reminds me that I haven't done much lately and I need to take it up again. It was very restful.

Ideas are slowly percolating - maybe a free motion piece, maybe a quilted piece. We are expected to come up with textile samples between (fortnightly) classes, so I hope to be able to play around with the idea in the next few days.                                                                                                        

Friday, November 21, 2014

Trying collage as a design technique

The online tapestry group that I belong to has a new theme for the 2015 exhibition. My Place. I want to try a new, less literal, design but have found myself using photos once again. I downloaded a couple of images from 123RF and also had a look at some books of roadmaps and Google Maps. Once again, I found myself doing some rather literal designing.
Then I picked up a book I bought a while ago, art quilt maps. It is uses collage (of fabric) in the design process, and the actual making, and I loved many of the quilts in the book.
I remembered our weekend at Tarndie where I used collage for my designing, so decided to try that process again. I haven't done collage much. I found it quite freeing in that little tapestry and hope it will be so again. So the elements have given me clues to follow - collage!
I used thrums for the Tarndie tapestry and might try that again, if I have suitable colours. If not, I will make up the colours I need using what other yarns I already have.

I tried doing some curved pieces for the part of the design that is the curving creek and park and I just cut straighter pieces for the built-up area. 
We have been doing work on line in our Design for Stitch course, the book reminded me of this also. I made a little template of the streets and roads, cut them out, then used oil pastel to rough them in. 
Here is the design so far. I haven't thought too much about how I will weave it, I will tackle that problem tomorrow, maybe.  It isn't all that big, about 20cm wide. I am going to use this design as my cartoon but only loosely - I will try to make decisions as I go, I think I find that more freeing. Seeing that the collage is not much like my original image, it won't matter that much. I hope.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Upper Yarra Valley outings

I have been to the Upper Yarra Valley a few times lately and have seen some interesting sights.
At Warburton there was a woven basket sitting on a fallen tree, right in the middle of the river. Lovely.

There were also many little families of ducks around. These ducklings were quite grown up but we had to stop on the road for some very little ones one day.

Then, on another day, we visited Mont de Lancey to see the wonderful exhibition by the Papermakers of Victoria, titled Mapping Common Ground.
There were quite a few papermakers represented in the exhibition and the range of techniques was interesting. The gallery space is wonderful.
So, too, it the restaurant!  Lovely lunch. Perfect day.
I especially enjoyed looking at the works and not thinking how I might adapt an idea, or use a technique. I have no intention of taking up paper making, so it was just a day to look and enjoy.

Mont de Lancey in an old house with a working smithy, which has classes for those interested. There is also a woodturning area that holds classes.
We met some men in the very large shed that houses restored (or partially restored) old engines. And there was a lovely Clydesdale horse there, getting ready for the festival being held there this coming weekend.