Sunday 26 October 2014

Let's Move to Faversham

 It seems appropriate that leafing through the Saturday Guardian Magazine this weekend at Whitstable station waiting for the train to Faversham to do some house reconnaissance, that this should be the subject of the 'Let's Move To... ' article. We took it as a good omen!
After our trip to Whitstable a  few weeks ago  we  booked a  B&B  to test out the  'Javelin line' on a Friday evening, and  explore the housing there locally while  doing some of the  artists trail. In the meantime we'd done some more research   and Faversham looked like it had potential but  we decided to go to Whitstable anyway to use  it as a base.
Accordingly  I met  up with Ian at  St Pancras at 5pm ( after a brief explore of the continually changing colours  of the  'magic tunnel'  which leads to his offices!). The journey to Whitstable was about 1hr 15mins, very smooth,  and we  were made very welcome at the 'Pearl Fishers'. We were in the 'Paris' suite,  smart art deco with a very high bed - comfortable once  you'd   scaled it. We had a lovely meal at 'Alimo', a  Moroccan fusion restaurant, highly recommended and then a walk along Oxford Street to  see the sea with the nightlife just starting - lots of  good-natured students.
After a delicious breakfast,  we headed to the railway station, picking up a 'Guardian' on the way.

In Faversham , just 8 minutes away,  we looked first at the housing south of the railway- lots of  new builds  well within our price  about 15 mins walk from the station. Then we headed into town using a walkway above the railway bringing us out by the recreation ground.  I know that Faversham is known for its medieval streets and its market  but I was unprepared for how pretty and buzzy it was . The market was in full swing with lots of  varied  stalls. We'd popped into the 'Fleuer de Lis' heritage centre for some leaflets and the volunteers were so friendly especially when we said we were thinking of moving there.
After an excellent lunch ( with local Shepherd Neame    beers ) at the  Anchor we headed off on the artist trail.    

Lots of inspiration around the Creeks 
 Brickwork patterns
Lost of black and white ( and other coloured!) buildings
We loved the work of Magz Roberts and Mike Roberts. Magz started off in textiles and Mike has a lovely quirky style in his cartoons.  After a detour via the Abbey Physic community Garden, I heard beautiful singing coming from the church  - Faversham Choral Society having a final rehearsal before their performance that evening.
We finished up at ' Creek -Creative' for coffee and cake and a look round the studios. When I asked what the rent was  ( thinking  that a new house might not have suitable painting facilities)  we were given a  behind the scenes tour! 
An inspirational, welcoming place  and  we're both agreed that Faversham feels right for us.  We'll be back in December for the Xmas markets and to explore a  different  housing area.

Visit to Salt Mills, Saltaire

A year ago I combined taking some  plants to handover to Natural England  staff with visiting 'Cloth and Memory 2' at Salt Mills, Saltaire and although there is no exhibition  there at the moment, it worked well  so repeated it this year. Very mixed emotions as it's probably the end of my involvement  after nearly 25 years.  Arriving around 11.30  for discussions  and disbelief over coffee and cakes then a look around the Hockney exhibitions , time spent browsing in the book and art shops  , resisting the gorgeous jewellery ( I succumbed last year!). Most of all some time for contemplation  and reflection away from work, making plans on the trains   

During  CQ winter school  on rust marks with Alice Fox, we were having a discussion about Cloth and Memory exhibition, how interesting it was. People had different favourites and  many of us ( myself included) found that what stuck in our minds  after a year was not necessarily  what grabbed us at the time.  I was also looking around Saltaire this time with fresh eyes , seeing some of the  areas that inspired Alice, like the broken yellow lines on the cobbles. I got some strange looks taking this photo from the gangs of schoolboys that were hanging around the station!
  There was one piece of work by Machiko Agano from that exhibition  that was redisplayed in one of the entrance areas on the ground floor.  It looked very different in a  new context. Many of the Japanese pieces although  based on the themes of Cloth and Memory  do not seem so powerful in retrospect as those that were inspired directly from the building itself and the processes and people  it represents. The following photos are from last year.
Diana Harrison 'Handkerchiefs'  inspired by the flagstones
Jeanette Appleton " Production Line:People's Lives" Felt books/ledgers placed within the walls of the spinning room
Rachel Gray 'Shadow Pieces' stitched layered , patched and mended,  worked well with the peeling paint of the walls.

David Hockney ipad drawings
One of the reasons I arranged the meeting for a Wednesday was that so I could see  David Hockney's ' 25  Trees and other pictures' Besides the 3 huge photographs showing these trees in different seasons, finding beauty in the mundane ( it included a bus shelter!) there  was a projection room showing the latest drawings done on iphone or ipad which he sends regularly to the gallery.  Lots of vases of flowers ( glass works particularly well using this medium)  and other quick sketches, so lively.  'The Bigger Picture' at the RA a couple of years ago  remains for  me one of the most memorable exhibitions of recent years.

Thursday 16 October 2014

Green Tea Rust Dyeing Experiment

 Home with a day off after my stimulating  CQ Winter School workshop  on rust marks with Alice Fox, I wanted to have a go straight away while  it was fresh in my mind.  I found a  bag with some old tools in the cellar ( mainly some of my Dad's pliers) and some Green Tea bags bought from a herbalist in Iran which I hadn't got round to trying ( good for obesity apparently!)
As before I placed some watercolour paper in a tray and placed tools and items either directly onto the paper or wrapped them in silk or linen  with lashings of tea. I then lay a piece of silk chiffon over the top. The photo  below was taken just after setting up, the photo above was the marks on  paper after 3 impatient days!  I'm thrilled  with most of the results - I used the tea  when it was hot and there's less of the brown  staining resulting from normal tea, more variety in colour and tone.
The chiffon layer on top also picked up stronger marks
 I was also pleased with the marks on the strips wrapped round nails 9 although there were a few that took up hardly any caolour.

I liked the effect of the rusty tin bottom ( above)  and the piece of shelving bracket (below)

The wrapped pliers gave the most interesting  and  pleasing results: linen above, silk habatai below. Definitely an experiment to build on.  

Stitched Rust Marks

I've just unwrapped the parcels of stitched fabrics wrapped around rusting items that we prepared on Saturday afternoon as part of CQ Winter school workshop with Alice Fox . After a busy morning wrapping up items , wetting them with tea, it was nice to have  a change of pace, digesting our delicious lunch!  Alice shared some of her samples showing how she'd stitched into the fabrics before dyeing with rust and built up layers and textures. The picture below shows 'before' and the results above 'After' (these are the more interesting ones)
An intriguing idea was to incorporate a piece of metal between 2 layers and stitch around it, the idea being that the metal remained in it ( might be a useful way  to  weight a quilt) I prepared 2 samples with washers- one with linen , the other with cotton organza. In both cases I placed the fabric on top of some watercolour paper  and then put a silk chiffon layer over the top - hoping to catch any marks  above and beneath ( the photo below is after a days soaking in  tea.)

 In the case of the cotton organza ( above) with  stitching out from the centre, it was the paper beneath that gave the most interesting marks
For the linen, all 3: paper, linen and silk chiffon over-layer  provided interesting, sand ripple like marks. It's my aim   to  combine all  of them in one piece and also investigate this  particular method further

Rust Marks at Alston Hall -CQ Winter School

  It was my 5th time at Alston Hall on Contemporary Quilt Summer/Winter school  and possibly the best yet! I love the  peaceful surroundings looking out over the Ribble valley, the food is delicious ( 6 different  cakes at afternoon tea!)  and the company stimulating as ever.
 I was pleased to see that the  peeling  paint of the glasshouse door as featured in my 2 green door quilts was still intact and even more weathered!
 Last time I had a productive time sewing on a retreat but this time I was doing a workshop with Alice Fox on ' Rust Marks'
 Sue generously  shared part of the 10kg of rusty items she brought in  her rucksack on the train ( considerably lighter on our return as she donated several items )
 Rather than using vinegar  as the acid to create the rust marks on fabric and paper, Alice uses sea water in situ as in  her 'tide mark series' or  tea ( which works because of the tannic acid it contains). Apart from 'builders tea' she had a selection of other brews to try including red wine ( which went down suspiciously quickly)
  Our first exercise was using wire woll as this gives very quick results  and lovely marks.

 Than  we got busy  wrapping our items or placing them on  paper until the hallway looked like the scene of an archaeological dig.  Ideally the marks are better if  items are left wet for a few days and dry out naturally  but  most of us couldn't resits opening our parcels on Sunday morning so see what was happening

To retain moisture, I mostly covered my parcels or items with a piece of silk  chiffon or habatai  which also picked up subtle marks

 The  piece of chiffon placed over a saw blade resulted in this charming 'rapunzels tower'
 So that we could see the effect of a longer contact time, Alice had these wrapped nails which had been marinating for a week and we had the pleasure of opening them!
 Even better, we were each given a piece of the silk and linen to experiment with.

 I decided to make a little book ( as for Dorothy Caldwell's  masterclass and in  Crete ) and created several signatures which I have yet to sew together (still playing with the sequence)
 The   marks of wire wool on paper and a piece of silk organza wrapped around a nail was one of my favourite combinations. The subtle marks  and tones  achieved work well in a  small format and I like the interactions that happen.

   My piece-de-resistance  however was a much larger piece -  a fine silk dupion wrapped around the piece of rusting car I found on Aldeburgh beach that Ian very reluctantly allowed me to bring home.

Monday 13 October 2014

Highlights of Knit and Stitch Ally Pally

Liz Hammond - 'A Poplar  and the Moon' . E.A.S.T
  5 days of creative textiles! 1 day at Knit and Stitch, 3 at CQ  Winter School at Alston Hall  with Alice Fox ( more in another post) and a day at home catching up and putting some of what I learnt into practice.
The first thing  at Knit and Stitch was 'Between the lines' by East Anglian Stitch Textiles - I was interested in how the faux chenille/ slashing  was used in Liz Hammond's piece.

 I liked how  the shadows  were integral to Jo Beattie's 'Precious memories' embroideries.
 Among the quilts on show as part of Zero 3 'signature' I particularly liked Cindy Kearney's 2 pieces

  Good to see the second part of  Prism's Coded, Decoded - once again it was the work of Consuela Simpson that caught  my eye and the graphic qualities of Alice Fox's black and white pieces so different to her tide marks.
 I treated myself to lunch in the Londesborough room, and then after a bit of retail therapy ( fabric from C2C and African Fabric Shop, linen threads from Empress Mills ) before a 2 hour workshop with James Hunting 'Transfer a drawing to cloth using couture techniques'. The method he uses (  drawing on silk organza  which is then stitched through) I probably wouldn't use  but the explanation was clear and he gave lots of tips for hand stitching. Most of all it was a fascinating glimpse into his working methods - lots of pieces and samples to look at in detail. The way he builds up couched lines to make interesting marks and suggestions of shapes  and leaves his tacking in to give glimpses of colour  produce such rich results.