Sunday, 28 August 2011

I bought a spinning wheel!

I bought this spinning wheel at a car boot fair yesterday for £20 - woo hoo! the guy selling said he'd bought it for £60 in an auction in northumberland, but just wanted to get rid of it. He wanted £45, but I said I only had £20, and quite understood if he couldn't go that low. He did.

I’ve done a bit of spinning with a drop spindle in the past, and always fancied trying on a wheel - so when I saw this I couldn’t resist! I think it’s a proper wheel rather than an ornamental thing, it had the remnants of someone’s last project on the bobbin. It didn’t have a drive band, so I’ve improvised with a bit of pink yarn to have a play!

I’d love to know how old it is, and what make it might be - I can’t see any marks. I’m guessing it’s 1970s? There is a shop in York that does spinning classes a couple of evenings a month, so I'll pop along there some time to learn some more.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A square for Erin's banner.

Big girl panties

Because that's the thing-- unless you've been a part of a community on the Internet, you don't know how deep, human connections can be made through a mere computer screen, and you Just. Don't. Understand. (Spiffy)

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Actual marks

It's a bit rubbish to talk about mark making and not show any of the actual marks. So here are some!


It's fun looking back over this and remembering how freeing it was to just... make marks! Not worrying about what things looked like, just trying to represent something differently by use of different media. When I used to draw before, I'd draw really slowly, trying to get everything right. But this showed me I really like drawing fast and loose - I've been doing some studies of plants I found in the allotment, and drawing really fast - it's very cool, and I'm pleased with what I've been producing.




I love this particularly for the mark in the top right corner - "wine and kitchen towel". Guess what happened there...


At the moment, I'm translating marks into stitch, and palying around with different threads and fabric, in different stitches, on different fabrics. I got a bit distracted by couching roved hanks of wool with cotton, and decided to make a wood engraving print of bjork with couched wool for hair. I probably shouldn't get distracted, but Bjork can be very demanding.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Making Marks

I've finished the first bit of the OCA Textiles course, which was about experimenting making marks on paper. I had to answer questions on the process - here's what I thought about it all.

Have you ever thought about drawing in this way before?
No, it was new for me. Previously, I’ve tried to draw by making an image that looked like something – my focus was on the object being drawn, not on the marks I was making.

I’ve found it very helpful to break down the very basic elements of drawing, and experiment with them. I’ve found it’s also changed the way I look at things – I caught myself looking at the patterns and textures on plants, and thinking how I might represent them.

Were you able to be inventive about the range of marks you made?
Yes – I enjoyed the ability to make marks with freedom, without having to worry that I was drawing something accurately. It was fascinating to see how pressure and the speed at which I was drawing made such a difference in the marks I made.

Were you able to explore a wide range of media?
Yes. I bought some art store supplies – watercolours, sketching pencils, coloured pencils and charcoals, and I also raided my stationary drawers and pots for pens, crayons, printing inks and more. I had some lovely paper in my stash already – tissues and some handmade paper made with cotton rags. That was lovely to make marks on! I also experimented with cardboard, paper bags and newsprint paper.

Are you pleased with what you have done? Do you think it will help you to approach drawing more confidently?
Without doubt! What I’m most pleased about it how much fun I found it – it took all the fear and anxiety about drawing away, and excited me about the possibilities.

Which way of working did you enjoy most?
- Making marks in relation to words?
- Making marks in response to an image?
- Making marks in relation to real objects?
Did you find each of these very different?
I think I most enjoyed making marks in relation to images – both my own from my sketchbook, and from paintings by artists. I was fascinated by the idea of looking at artists’ work to see how they made marks. It sounds very basic, but it’s something I’d never considered before! I loved looking at marks as the ‘building blocks’ of paintings, and seeing how different artists used different marks in different pictures. It allowed me to look at my own pictures in my sketchbook, and experiment with how I could use these ‘building blocks’ in similar ways. It allowed me to think of myself as an artist.

I found the process of making marks in response to an image quite similar to making marks in relation to real objects, as they were both exercises of vision, whereas making marks in relation to words used the imagination more. I found it fun!

Which media did you most enjoy working with? Can you say why?
I liked making marks on richer, more textured paper. I preferred my A3 notepad with its thicker paper to the newsprint paper, and I loved my Indian handmade paper made with cotton rags. The marks I made on these papers felt rich and luxurious. I enjoyed working with the watercolour paints and the charcoal in particular, because of the smoothness of the paint and the chunky texture of the charcoal. However, when I was working on small, sharp marks, I liked using a pen.

Have you fully explored the possibilities of mark-making? If not, what else would you like to try?
I feel I’ve only just started! It’s given me a great tool in drawing and making visual representations of images and concepts. I want to keep focussing on marks as the basic building blocks of visual representation whenever I’m drawing.

Do you have ideas about how this work will enrich your textile work in the future?
I’m excited about exploring the possibilities of how I can make marks with stitch. I feel more excited about the texture of stitches, and the way smooth and fat marks, like the ones I made with the watercolour paint, might be able to work with sharper, thinner marks, like the ones I made with a pen. Previously, I’ve mainly worked with embroidery thread, and I want to work with ribbon and chunky pieces of fabric too.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Hedgie pictures

I was thinking the other day that I needed some better photos of Yona - hedgies are very hard to photograph, due to wriggling. Today, I was looking through an old file and found these!


Tummy and legs


Monday, 10 January 2011

Sad news 2

I posted here when Bryher died, and I'm posting again to mark the death of Tommy cat. He died on 1st January, seemingly from a big heart attack or stroke. He was in good health. I was lying on the sofa, and he was on the back - he stretched out his legs and fell into my arms. A couple of yows and he was unconscious, a few shuddery breaths and he was dead. The whole thing took a couple of minutes.

He was such a lovely, slinky boy. He loved jumping up in my lap, stretching out the full length of my legs and hanging his head over my knees. He loved having his tummy tickled - such soft white fur. He loved looking upsidedown at things - lunchtime on the day he died I was heating up some baked beans, and he ran to see what was in the tin I'd opened. He stood by my feet and looked up at me with the biggest, most beautiful eyes.

He was always jumping up on things and running around, such a scampy boy. He had a favourite toy, a piece of hyperbolic crochet on a string that I'd wave for him. He'd catch it in mid air, and carry it away to a corner to disembowl.

I'm glad he died quickly, and in the arms of someone who loved him very much. RIP Tombly Boy.


Open College of the Arts

After much deliberation, I've signed up for the Open College of the Arts level 1 Textiles Course. It's a big commitment - they say it should take about 10 months, with 7 - 10 hours of work a week. Eeek!

One of the first things you need to do is think why you're doing this course. This is what I've sent to my tutor, Irena Boobyer.

I'm taking this course primarily for my own enjoyment and growth. I love the creative crafting that I do, but I've felt recently that I'd like to push myself more. I have a lot of passion but little formal knowledge! So I'd like to gain skills, and put 'tools in my toolbox' to help with my artistic expression. I want to stretch myself, and surprise myself with what I produce! Like a lot of people who weren't good at art at school, I have a bit of a fear of drawing and painting, so I'm looking forward to pushing myself to use these methods to help with my textiles.

As I work full time, I'll be studying for the course in my spare time - evenings and weekends. If this course goes well, and I'm able to balance it with my work, I'm quite keen to go further with the OCA. I'd like to do the level 2 textiles, and maybe some courses on printing and drawing - who knows, it might end up as a BA!
I love church textiles, and I've made a few stoles for a friend who was being made a Deacon in the church. That's something I'm keen to develop, and combine the church's liturgical images and traditions with Christian symbolism and my own imagination. I'm hoping to focus on this in one of the projects.

So, on with the first project - mark making!