Wednesday 30 November 2011

Creative Striking

 I'm  on strike today over pension reform - the first time ever and not a decision I made lightly but having said 'yes' in the Prospect ballot I felt I should.  Although not strictly 'Public Sector' as we're  one of those 'Arms Length Bodies' , we are part of the Civil  Service Pension scheme. As I  was in my 30's when I joined the scheme ( up until that point I had been contributing to a private pension)  I am buying 'additional years' to make sure I am paying enough in to the tune of 14% of my salary. With  a 2 year pay freeze ( and then a 1% cap!) it's going to be difficult  to pay an additional 3% on top.  Our pension  benefits are part of the package to make up for the lower pay that scientists and other specialists  receive in comparison to the private sector - we're deeply committed to our work (conservation is long-term)   but there are limits to how much they take that for granted
Anyway I've been making the most of my days unpaid leave, testing paints on  my red and cream ebay purchase , taking photos of the red stick against it.

 After cleaning the kitchen,then baking rolls and ginger biscuits, I've been sorting through my fabrics , making a gradient of blue/green tones with a larger 'Anavriti' door piece in mind.
So it was quite opportune to read  '29 Ways to stay creative' posted on Linda's blog. Not doing too badly on several fronts (apart from 4- get away from the computer!)  No. 25 resonated' 'Stop trying to be someone else's perfect'

Friday 25 November 2011

Shinkansen (International Quilt Challenge)

 Ever since  my first digital camera , I've been taking photos from trains at speed - I love the blurring. I've made a few journal quilts and one experimental piece  but have always wanted to scale up . The current theme 'Through the Window' of the International Quilt Challenge  gave me an opportunity to start  down that road (or should that be rail?!!!!)
 In 2006 I travelled with Susan Briscoe to Yuza-machi  in Japan   and took lots of photos from the Shinkansen train from Tokyo to Yamagata. The  green of rice paddies, the purplish grey roofs , the mountains and the coast were so different from the train photos I'd taken in the UK
 Techniques and materials used? Photos  were printed on colour catchers treated with 'Ink Aid' . I used Photoshop to increase saturation slightly but that's all -the blurring is as captured by camera. These were applied to a section of lightweight fabric from a secondhand kimono bought for Pojagi in Tokyo.
A silk organza scarf with woven lines was laid over the top and attached with twin needle stitching. Interesting difference  between the raised ridges produced  when stitched through 1 layer of kimono and the flatter ones where stitching through both kimono and colour catcher. I really should have stabilised the kimono fabric first but I actually like the effect!
I'd like to produce an even bigger piece next perhaps  inspired by the paintings of Atsuhide Ito although quite how I'd photograph it and display it....

Monday 21 November 2011

Fusing and Reusing

 A most enjoyable meeting of Thames Valley Contemporary Textile Group in Bracknell on Saturday.
I haven't been since January so it was great to catch up with people. We had a  talk from Ali Mesley (CQ co-ordinator) in the morning and then spent the afternoon fusing papers with Sandy.  I'd had a good dig through stuff I had finished with for the popular 'Been there, done that' stall run by Delia but couldn't resist a bundle of her hand dyed fabric.
When I got home, I realised  the colours  were  the same as the buggy cultures I found in the broken cold store at work! Inspiration in all kinds of places. I couldn't resist taking a photo to put in my talks to MSc students to demonstrate the need for sterile technique!!
 Rather than fusing small pieces of paper together and applying to fabric, I  made tissue/handmade paper 'sandwiches' with new sketchbook project 'surfaces and stitch' in mind.
 Our BT Homehub has given up so we had an internet free weekend. Time to catch up with house hold chores, 'inkaid' some more colourcatchers, stitch into my indigo sea piece and contemplate chopping up this old red and white quilt I bought on ebay ( detail on right) . It's actually only 2 layers , the backing an interesting heavyweight homespun  twill but it's beautifully handstitched with chevrons.
 I bid for it thinking it would make a suitably distressed background for the 'stick' inspired fabrics  produced on Jo Budd workshop. I did like stitching into canvas for 'Violet Seas' but that's her technique  - rescuing and giving new life to old textiles makes it more mine.

Friday 18 November 2011

Enlightenment and El Anatsui

I left work early on Wednesday to go the private view of latest exhibition  of ColourFX , hoping to go to the Grayson Perry exhibition at the British Museum on the way. I was initially diappointed that unfortunately  all the tickets were sold out but decided to have my own tour in search of the 'unknown craftman' via Sutton Hoo, flint knives and the Hans Soane collection of  artifacts in the bookcases that used to be the Kings Library now the 'Enlightenment Gallery'. After a quick trip through Mexico and North America (!)  I ended up in the African Galleries (Room 25)
The first thing you see on entering is a huge metal ' Man's Cloth' by  El Anatsui  made from discarded foil bottle-neck wrappers based on   the traditional narrow-strip woven silk cloth made in Ghana, a source of national pride.
 There was another piece by El Anatsui in wood which I don't remember seeing before. This was fantastic (although difficult to photograph). With grooves carved into wood, from different angles it appeared to ripple, like cloth in a breeze.
 On the way out via Montague Place , I popped into the Islamic galleries  - drawn in by the re-interpretation of an Iranian felt cloak covered in amulets by Bita Ghezelayagh  ( sorry to miss her exhibition at the Quilt Museum )

It was great to see so many people at the Framers Gallery and to  talk  with not only the artists themselves but to catch up with other 'viewers' . It was a lovely space and interesting work from everyone - hope it does well.  Ian came too - he particularly liked Alicia's maps and  has all kinds of ideas about how I might make something for him based on his military war game scenarios ! He'll be waiting a while....

Friday 4 November 2011

Violet Seas

I've so enjoyed stitching this piece , I'm sorry to have finished it! 'Violet Seas' was composed from fabrics produced in CQ Summer School with Jo Budd and I wanted to have a go at stitching on canvas as she does. It's certainly easy to stitch and produced wonderful textures where the stitching alters the surface of the cloth. The downsides  include the terrible fraying of the canvas - had to tack the edge down. The main problem is  I don't know how to mount it for hanging. I wished I'd allowed more canvas so I had more to play with. I'd like to maintain the soft ragged edges of the top fabric. Any ideas? It's about 17x 17 inches.