Monday, September 23, 2013

Tent London

Last Friday I found the energy to go up to London to see Tent London, part of Design Week. There were a number of pop-ups and exhibitions throughout the city but I concentrated on this one exhibition which comprised both Super Brands downstairs and new designers, including student work, on the upper floor.

One of the first displays which literally caught my attention with an explosion of colour was the ‘Banish Beige’ display by parriswakefield. They have been working with a charity for young people called ‘Outof the Dark’, which gives new life to lots of the old brown furniture which used to be thrown away but which is now often donated to be Up-cycled.

I admired the creativity of Jess Shaw, here she had woven a willow frame and covered it with ‘old man’s beard’ to make a lamp shade.

There seemed to be a vogue for furniture which rocks, swings and spins.

I spoke to a young woman from the Tartu Art College in Estonia and even tried out the green upholstered chair with a hole in the centre; I didn't fall through but probably liked the fabric better than the chair design.
There were young designers brave enough to be working in virtual studios, and these included Rebecca Robertson a recent graduate in embroidery for fashion. The most beautiful work was that by Lou Gardiner who was showing digitally printed floor cushions and quilts; some of these had the most intricate stitching and beading. The one I most coveted was in dark sumptuous colours in highly stroke able velvet. Take a look, she has a blog.

I saw the Crafted in Kyoto stand where a skilled craftsman was weaving a bamboo ‘stool’, I walked round the display of beautifully crafted products from Ireland, and saw the extremely boring display of Women of Iceland in the Olympus Image Space. There was just too much to take in and remember, but I am hanging onto the Maroc Tribal card, as I really would love to buy myself one of their vintage Moroccan carpets.

 Lunch was at Rosa’s Café, like me you may think this was a traditional café but once inside I realized it was a Thai Café, but based on a traditional café, with mint tea served in a red spotted teapot and fish cakes in an enamel bowl but with lovely carved carrot leaves as decoration. There were many street food stands but I didn't find them until later, and by then a strawberry milk shake in Spitalfield’s Market fitted the bill. I managed to find a bus back to the South Bank and stuck in a traffic queue I had a great view up the Pinnacle which is just being completed.
And so home,not by boat, just a train.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thoughts on Colour

My favourite cheer-me-up colour is zingy lime green. I hate all other green, for me green belongs outside, nature does it so well, but I can't be miserable with lime green in eyesight :)

 Butter yellow is a favourite. I'm not real keen on the olive green camouflage colours but... ;) ;)

My favourite colour is blue in practically all its hues. I usually choose dark blue to wear and lighter, greenish tones to work with. Aren't all colours fascinating though?

Olive and pea greens have been my faves for a long time. I love that everything seems to work with them. Pink is my least fave colour although I have printed paper with pinks earlier this year and rather liked it that way. I don't think I've worn pink since...ah yes, my pink phase in the mid-1980s.

I love green - all shades!! My least favourite would be brown, despite the fact I'm wearing a brown jumper at the moment!

I used to avoid yellow but now I am drawn to it. It has gone from worst to best in quite a short space of time.

I love ashes of roses pink but really dislike black, I find it so hard to sew with.

No matter how hard I try I always end up using blues, greens , purple when dyeing. I never go for reds or orange

I love muted tones like washed out blues, faded browns, and quiet greys. I tend to shy away from forest greens and burgundies.

Chartreuse is probably my favorite, but periwinkle is so close, it's hard to choose one. I avoid pink.

My favourite colour is teal and I tend to shy away from grey.

See my post of Sept. 10th to be included in the draw for a copy of 'Tie Dye' written by Shabd Simon-Alexander.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Houses and Hideaways.

This month the Sketchbook Challenge Blog has a special theme of Houses and Hideaways and is linked to a blog hop; if you have hopped over from there, you are very welcome.

 One of my first exercises in white work was a picture of my house worked in Hardanger Stitch. I have to admit two things, one it is in fact a rather grand interpretation of my house, and it was the first and last time that I tried Hardanger. Having just been to the Norwegian Fjords I noticed we were in fact not too far from Hardanger where this type of embroidery was popular from 1650-1850.  If you like precise work you should give this a try as the results are satisfying.
In case you would like more details of what Hardanger embroidery is I have looked it up for you:-
Hardanger embroidery uses satin stitch blocks known as Kloster blocks, consisting of 5 parallel satin stitches, worked over a group of 4 x 4 ground threads. These blocks enclose areas of fabric where a number of warp and weft threads are cut and withdrawn, leaving a network of loose threads and large holes within the shape defined by the Kloster blocks. Various decorative filling stitches are then worked over the remaining loose threads and holes to create a lacy effect.

Some of the stitches and special techniques used are:
·        Simple satin stitch surface motifs, often resembling stars, ships, crescents and crosses.
·        Other decorative surface stitches such as fly stitchrunning stitchcable stitch and French knots.
·        Woven bars: weaving the needle over and under four threads until they are completely covered, and wrapped bars (overcast bars) where the thread is wound around groups of four threads.

·        Filling stitches resembling wheels, spider's webs and dove's eyes.
·        Picot: twisting the thread once round the needle before inserting the needle to produce a decorative loop.
·        Edging stitches such as four-sided stitchbuttonhole stitch and fancy hemstitching techniques for finishing items.

Another stitch project came from a stay in a flat right on the harbour front in Lyme Regis; it was so noisy but only because of the crashing waves.

 I brought back a postcard and made a small hanging loosely based on it.

 Some appliquéd and stencilled houses.

 The fragments of machine embroidery worked on dissolvable material are supposed to represent the houses going up into the hills and at the base are the waves worked in cords again on dissolvable material. 

 This is a view over The Cobb the setting for ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’; the film starred Meryl Streep who walked along The Cobb in the rain, very dangerous and probably done by a stunt man.
If you would like to follow along with the blog hop see my earlier post for a list of the participants.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Shabd Simon-Alexander Book GiveAway

This is a busy week with The Sketchbook Blog Hop and now a Blog Tour (is that more sophisticated). I was lucky enough recently to be able to read a review copy of Shabd Simon-Alexander’s book entitled ‘Tie-Dye'.  It is a beautifully presented book; the gorgeously illustrated cover looks so tactile that one could stroke it. Even if you are not tempted to try or retry tie-dye there is so much detailed information for anyone who enjoys surface design, practical information about dyeing and particularly about the use of colour, that I think you would enjoy this new book. Living in New York, Shabd has a background in fine art, and designs her own clothing line. She has been kind enough to answer some questions for Stitchworks, and to offer a free copy of her book for one reader. Read on to find out what you need to do to be eligible for the draw.

1. The splashes of colour in your book are lovely. I understand that you teach colour theory, which can be daunting, your illustrations and explanations are clear and make it a more approachable fun subject. Do you have your own favourite colour combination?

I love to use lots of bright colours but always like to tame them a bit with neutrals, tans and greys. I like my colors themselves to be a little off, so I mix the neutrals right into the dye to subdue them a bit, or I’ll use the neutrals alongside the brighter colors within a garment to make a more complex color palette.

2. Many people stick to one palette of colours and avoid others; are there any colours which you avoid?

I like a challenge, so I often try to work with colors that I have an arbitrary bias against, and figure out how to create something that I love. This may mean mixing a version that I like, or finding a new way of using the color alongside other colors that bring out its strengths or show it in a new light. Often the color that I originally didn't like but worked so hard to tackle turns out to be the universal favorite in a collection.

3. How would you spend a day in the studio, if you had no commitments other than to enjoy yourself?

Just playing around with new colors, techniques, and methods, and doing tests that don’t need to go anywhere specific. Most of my favorite things I've made have been the result of happy accidents!

4. I like the introduction to ‘Tie-Dye Around The World’ with its interesting illustrations and I wonder if there is a particular place or country which inspires your designs?

When I started dyeing fabric I wasn't looking at anything – historical or contemporary – and was specifically trying to get to know the technique within a vacuum so that I could figure out my own methods and aesthetic. Over time, especially after I began teaching and working on the book, I went very deep into historical research and found that there is an amazing wealth of techniques from all over the world, each with very different aesthetics that show a lot about the place where it comes from and the people who made it. My current favorites are the Berber tie-dyes, which are really free-form, abstracted and artistic; some feel like train of thought sketches while others are like abstract Rothko paintings.

5. Do you have any plans to teach or to visit the UK?

I would love to - someone please bring me out for a class!

To be included in the draw for a free book you need to comment here letting me know your favourite colour and one you usually avoid. I will make the draw at the start of October.

 Here are the other blogs participating in the Blog Tour:

Wednesday 11th September –
Thursday 12th September –
Friday 13th September –
Monday 16th September –

Monday, September 02, 2013

Houses and Hideaways

Over on the Sketchbook Challenge blog the September theme is 'Houses and Hideaways', Jamie Fingal has written the first post and there will be added excitement around the accompanying blog hop which starts next Monday.

Here is a list of the Blog Hop participants:-
 September 9 - Gina Lee Kim
 September 10- Jacqueline Newbold 
 September 11 - Sue Bleiweiss  
September 12 – Jackie Bowcutt
Sept 13th - Kristin La Flamme  
Sept 15 Lyric Kinard
Sept 16 - Terry Grant
Sept 17 Carol Sloan 
Sept 18 Leslie Jenison  
Sept 19 - Leslie Riley  
Sept 20 - Traci Bunkers  
Sept 21 Lynn Krawczyk  
Sept 22 Desiree Habicht
Sept 23 – Jamie Fingal  
Sept 24 - Mary Beth Shaw 
September 25 –Kari McKnight-Holbrook  
Sept 26 – Deborah Boschert  
Sept 27 Susan Brubaker Knapp  
Sept 28  Laura Cater Woods  
Sept 29 Jane LaFazio   

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