Saturday, 20 April 2013

A New Approach

Some time ago I decided that something in my working life had to go. I love giving talks, I love teaching, I love producing Workshop on the Web and working with Michael Wicks on the d4daisy books is a blast. But it all combined to be greater than the sum of the time available and the decision was made (very reluctantly) to put a temporary stop on the teaching. I don’t seem to have any more time and I really miss teaching but an alternative has occurred to us and we road tested it in Wales on Thursday with around fifty participants.

I had such fun at Busy Bees in Newport and I think I have found a format that really works as an interesting and fun day. Taking the topic of Dissolvable Delights, the morning format was a talk, the first part of which covered stitching on Romeo-type film – lots of samples discussed and ideas passed on. Because we had all day it was a longer talk than usual with a coffee break halfway through. The second part looked at dissolvable paper and its role in mixed media. We also had a mini movie. Then we had a close look at the work I had brought and how it related to the talk. By then it was time for lunch. The venue was next to a National Trust property and also had a handy fish and chip shop – so lots of choice.

In the first part of the afternoon we split into two groups. I produced new work, sketchbooks and books for one group, who also had the chance to take photos and make notes of any of my textiles, like this sample of a water-soluble cast stamp stitched to a silk background.


I swept off the other group for a mixed media demo. We worked through the making of the little tower books which form one of the free online workshops for my Textile Translations book. I love making these, just as well as I have lost the originals and had to make more for this class! The triangular shapes have water-soluble paper casts, set into gesso and sprayed with strange substances.


Here you can see how well the paper can be moulded over an ammonite.


This time, I made little loose inserts for pages, attached by cords.


After this, we swapped groups before coming back together for a group session on oiled paper and a chance to ask questions about other aspects of mixed media.

Sue and Sandra at Busy Bees were wonderful and they had arranged volunteers to keep the tea, coffee and biscuits flowing. Small samples were distributed as parting gifts and everyone seemed hugely enthusiastic. I really hope to be able to repeat this as an alternative to a teaching day so I hope some of the West Country and Guild branches might take it up.

While sorting through my stuff I found this sample (right)  – another idea for using WS paper. Trap it between two layers of net and stitch auto patterns or text on top. Then partially dissolve the paper and squirt with a little paint. Would make a great background.



Thanks to Jaci, who I know follows my blog, for all the kind words you said about the Busy Bees day. It was great to meet you.

I am having fun, Dorothy. It is so good to finally feel better. Even managed to go to the singing group last week without coughing. I have furniture in the summer house (also from the garden centre) but this seems like too good a chance to miss to update it. 

I am sure you are all right and that I will love the conservatory. Great chance to have a whole new room without all the mess of an extension. It is booked for early July. I want it NOW but I think it is a good sign that the firm are pretty busy.


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Interesting Times

Well, it has been an interesting week. We have made a sudden decision to have a conservatory (which I am quite excited about), found some amazing new authors for the September issue of Workshop on the Web, made great inroads in the preparation of pieces for the DVD I’m making and been to the Warner Studio set to check out the Harry Potter experience. No wonder I am shattered.

The conservatory came about because the east wind that has been with us for so long has made the back of the house very cold, in spite of double glazing. This, coupled with our council’s new recycling scheme (which involved Clive braving the elements to feed four different bins, as well as bringing in the logs), made us think about a porch. This led to market research on Facebook as to how useful conservatories are – an overwhelming yes vote - and we were hooked on the idea. Hoping it will be finished in June and planning the furnishings.

The Harry Potter thing in Watford is amazing. We were taken by daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter and it was wonderful to be driven. We knew we would like it, being fans of all things Potter, but it exceeded all our expectations. The sets are so detailed and to walk down Diagon Ally, looking in the shop windows was a surreal experience.


Love the Owl Emporium………….


But the best thing for us was the chance to see the detailed designs and the white models, so carefully made.




At the end there is a model of Hogwarts which is simply beautiful, photos can’t do it justice but I might try in another blog when I've stitched all the photos together. 


The grand-daughter loved it, especially the Butterbeer.




Clive and I already want to go again.

The only down was the long queue to get in, even with a timed ticket. Still worth it, though.

It has taken me days to get over it as I’m not quite back to normal after the flu thing but it was well worth it.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Almost Normal

I have been really poorly with this flu thing - I keep feeling better and then it comes back to bite me again. It is only in the last few days that stitching, drawing and walking have been possible and then only in short bursts.

I meant to tell you about my visit to my friend Elli Woodsford who does fantastic work. I expect you have seen her book Machine Embroidery and Textile Decoration (Elli wanted to call it Body and Sole as it had lots of lovely projects for bodies and shoes). I saw her, and managed to infect her, the day before I took to my bed. Anyway, one of the reasons for my visit was to see if she would be in the DVD I am making on the embellisher machine. I am doing lots of stuff with mixed media and paper on the felting machine and am also excited about embedded stitching, but thought it would be good to make up some yardage and turn into jackets and such-like wearables.

Not only did she agree to help me but she produced some wonderful pieces, like this jacket, made on her embellisher. So I will be able to show you them.

We will visit her Embex Studio for some filming. I have another mystery guest for the DVD and will tell you more later. I am determined that it will be full of ideas and information but not too static. I plan on having free, downloadable technique sheets to go with it as I find it annoying to play movies in my workroom.

Elli has lots of animals - three lovely dogs, a Maine Coon cat and a Ragdoll like Smudge (a distant relative of his, actually, also bred by my daughter). Her Ragdoll is called Genghis Ken and is quite unique. He has his own Facebook page (Ken.Genghis Ken) and gets up to all kinds of evil deeds, egged on by the dogs who are his partners in crime.

Ken was very interested in the samples that I took to show Elli. In fact he thought a little more distressing was needed, as you can see.

So they had to be placed in Elli's larder for safety. Then he took an interest in my scarf and that had to go in the larder, too.

It was a really good and fun meeting, especailly with Genghis.


Thanks for all the heartening messages, they really helped.

Anna, I have heard that Kingcombe was wonderful. Can't wait until next time.

If anyone is still waiting for their prize, do email again, in case yours got lost.  Fiona has sent them all out and thank you for saying that you are pleased. I am working up tp another giveaway on Workshop on the Web's Facebook page so watch out for that.